Initially the spiritual needs of the French Canadian settlers in the Black River community were attended to by periodic visits by missionary priests from AuSable. Written records began to be kept in 1883. In 1894, an acre of land was donated by the Alger Smith Lumber Company, the primary employer in Black River. Under the direction of Father Julien Doucet, the mission church was constructed in 1894 and named for St. Gabriel. Based on early drawings of Black River, it appears that the church has not been altered since construction, with the exception of some interior modernization and the construction of a church hall in 1976. This parish served as the center for community activity for the Black River area from the 1890s through the 1950s. This modest, wooden structure has faithfully served the community for 114 years, and remains an active Catholic parish today.
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