Church bell lost in derecho storm found, but mystery of where it went remains

·2 min read
Because the bell is considered an important piece of local religious history, the local historical society offered a reward for information leading to the bell.  (Camille Kasisi-Monet/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Because the bell is considered an important piece of local religious history, the local historical society offered a reward for information leading to the bell. (Camille Kasisi-Monet/Radio-Canada - image credit)

More than two months after a bell in western Quebec went missing from the rubble of an old church steeple that had toppled during May's derecho storm, it has been found, but the mystery of where it went has yet to be solved.

Provincial police confirmed to Radio-Canada it had been found on Friday, the day after the local historical society proposed a reward for anyone with information on the bell that had disappeared from the Fassett, Que., church.

Pierre Ippersiel, a member of the Société historique Louis-Joseph-Papineau, said Thursday he didn't know what the reward would be, but hoped the promise of one would encourage the public to share information.

It appears to have worked.

Overnight, local resident Alain Bertrand posted a photo on Facebook with what looks like a bell on the edge of Highway 50.

Chantale Lauzon/Facebook
Chantale Lauzon/Facebook

Ippersiel said the bell was briefly taken to the Sûreté du Québec police station in Papineauville, Que.

The society, which is responsible for heritage preservation in Petite-Nation — the easternmost territory of Quebec's Outaouais region — was also the group to request the Sûreté du Québec investigate.

"If we find the bell, we won't charge anyone. What is important to us is finding it," Ippersiel told Radio-Canada in French on Thursday.

Radio-Canada
Radio-Canada

The bell disappeared from the debris after the May 21 derecho ripped the belfry clean off the Saint-Fidèle church steeple.

The bell is an important heritage item for the area, Ippersiel said. It was used in Montebello, Que., until 1895 and was later installed in Fassett in 1925.

It has now been returned to its owners at the church in Montebello. The parish council now thinks it can trace the history of the heritage item and plans to do so this fall.

The mayor of Fassett, François Clermont, agreed the bell has historical significance and said it was important the bell be found in order to preserve the history and heritage of the region.

Though the church in Fassett was previously sold to a private company, Faubert Enterprises, Clermont said residents were still disappointed to see that the storm removed the belfry from the rest of the tower.

Rumours say tractor took off with bell

Since the storm, town residents have been speculating on where the bell went, he said.

"We hear all kinds of things," Clermont said.

Ipperseil says he's heard that people saw a tractor take the bell from the rubble on the evening of the storm.

Sûreté du Québec said only that they are continuing to investigate. Officers have met with witnesses and arrests might take place soon.

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