Labelle QC Chapel of Saint Sergius of Radonezh 1951

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20170322Saint-Sergius-Labelle-QC s.jpg

Labelle, QC, Chapel of Saint Sergius of Radonezh, 1951

The Chapel of Saint Sergius of Radonezh is located on the land next to the home of the late Prince and Princess Serge and Lubov Troubetzkoy, on the eastern side of Lac Labelle, Québec. It is principally a summer chapel.


Soon after having moved to Kingston, Ontario, Prince Sergei Grigorievitch Troubetzkoy and his wife Lubov Alexeievna (born Obolensky) purchased a farm in the Laurentian Mountains, in 1941, on the eastern shore of Lac Labelle (about 173 km/106 mi north of Montréal). By 1939, Robert Keyserlingk had already bought a property, and it was he who advised Mr. Troubetzkoy to approach the mayor of the village of Labelle about purchasing a property also. Mr. Forget was the owner of the general store, and he also held mortgages on some of the farms by the lake. At that time, cows were still more numerous than human beings. The Troubetzkoys bought the old Champagne farm, which had a lakefront of 256 m (840 ft) and a depth of 1.609 km (1 mi), in the usual configuration of Québec farms. The purchase included a farm-house, barns, sheds, and a well. This property was a portion of a 5-kilometre strip of agricultural land which was owned mostly by the Terreault and Francoeur families. The Troubetzkoy family began soon to be known and accepted locally. In the meantime, the family moved from Kingston to Washington, DC. In either case, the travelling distance and time required to arrive at Lac Labelle was very great.

Alexis S Troubetzkoy wrote :

 Except for some clumps of bushes, this 5-kilometer strip was made up of fields and pastures, without trees or 
 houses.  Nothing blocked the view of the lake stretching away and framed by wooded hills.  Barbed wire or wood 
 fences separated the different pastures.
 In addition to the obligatory barn, five of which have survived ... the houses, uniformly covered with cedar 
 shingles, stood humble but welcoming.  Each was flanked by an outhouse fitted with two seats and by an ice 
 Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, life at Lac Labelle retained its rustic simplicity, in tune with the slow 
 rhythm of the changing seasons.  No electricity, no telephone, no television, and, except for us, no ‘maudits
 touristes’.  In those days, this great strip of agricultural land belonged to cows, horses and sheep.  But 
 above all, it was the domain of a handful of fiercely independent, but incredibly welcoming families who 
 worked extremely hard and lived in the greatest simplicity.  In the early 1940s, we were among the first to 
 intrude on this rural world.  When we think of our childhood, we feel we were privileged....

In this case, the distinguished Troubetzkoy family of Russian origin, who, under the leadership of their “patriarch” (or, perhaps better, “paterfamilias”), were searching for a quiet corner in the country for the family and relatives. They hoped for a little piece of paradise that would remind them of their recent home at Clamart, France (in Greater Paris), which itself was a link in memory to the Russian country estate of their parents and grandparents : Akhtyrka (not far from Sergiyev Posad). It is not that they hoped for a mere nostalgic link. They hoped that having such a place might foster in them and their families both a proper appreciation of their family heritage(s), and a reinforcement of their Orthodox Christian way of life. At Akhtyrka, the home and the nearby Temple fostered the natural Orthodox way of life which kept a healthy balance in daily life. This was the case also at Clamart. The worship of the Lord and giving thanks to Him constantly nurtured all the other aspects of daily life in the family. This way of life was inclusive of all those round about them.

Very quickly, other relatives and friends of Russian origin joined the Troubetzkoy family at Labelle. In the 1940s, their number reached 20. In addition, there were already 3 other families of Baltic and Russian descent who now had acquired properties by the lake (the Keyserlingks, the Rentelins, and the Rodomars). Many made the long and difficult journey by car from Montréal, or, mostly, from the USA. From Montréal, the journey would take about 4 hours in those days, since the roads were not paved, and some parts were trails. It was also possible to travel by rail in those days. The train called "P'tit Train du Nord" or "petite rapide" wended its way through the Laurentians, and the trip from Montréal to Labelle took 5 hours.

The community would spend weeks and entire summers by the lake. During the daytime, they would be occupied with the usual chores of rural life, and also with picking wild strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Characteristically, wild mushroom-collecting was a frequent concern. There was plenty of work in the vegetable garden, and all water had to be carried from the well to the house. Of an evening, by the light of oil lamps, there were card games, charades, and old Russian songs sung by Mrs. Troubetzkoy, and accompanied on an old piano (which had been brought all the way from Kingston). Especially on Saturday evenings and eves of feast-days, people would gather for “zakouski” (Russian hors-d’oeuvres) after Vespers, and they would talk, share stories, sing and the like. This custom has never ceased. At that time, cooking was done by wood-stoves, and ice-boxes kept food cool. The ice was cut from the lake ice in winter, and stored under sawdust in a special ice-house.

In the 1950s, Boris Hesketh was the first to purchase a plot of land from Serge G Troubetzkoy in order to build a house. He was followed by Father Alexander Schmemann and his family. Then also came the Apraxine family, and the Episcopalian cleric, Canon James Morton (from New York City). Father John Meyendorff and his family bought a chalet from Napoleon Francoeur, and the Chripounoffs built their house on land acquired from the Rodomars, and the Wrangel family settled nearby. The family of Raphail and Sophia (Sonya) (born Tolstaya) Lopoukhine, of Dr. Katherine Berdnikoff, and some others acquired land on the west side of the lake. Regularly present also were the Miloradovitch and Hahn families. In all the construction, there was considerable assistance from the neighbouring Terreault, Francoeur, Cédilotte and Desgroseillers families. For the most part, these early cottages were made from previously-used materials. By this time, the number of people had risen to about 40. Most would arrive at the beginning of school vacation and stay until their end. However, some Montréalers would often commute between April and November, and during the summers (as did Serge Troubetzkoy), the men would work in Montréal during the weekdays and return for the weekends. Lifelong friendships were forged amongst the adults, and especially amongst the children.

Upon the arrival of Father Alexander Schmemann and his family in 1951, there immediately began a conversation about the possibility of constructing a chapel nearby the Troubetzkoy home. This family chapel served as a reminder of the chapel in Clamart, and of the significant place it had in family life. In a very modest way, that chapel was itself a link with the memory of the previous family home at Akhtyrka, which had its own companion Temple.

Foundation of the chapel, 1951

In 1951, the Troubetzkoys and the Schmemanns immediately set themselves to making plans and arrangements for a small chapel.

A small, rectangular chapel (its dimensions were 2.4 m (8 ft) by 4.9 m (16 ft)) was straightaway constructed, and on 12 July, 1952 (the Old-Style Feast-day of the Apostles Peter and Paul), the first Divine Liturgy was served. Serge Troubetzkoy commented that

 It was a rough construction made on tongue-and-groove boards, put together without much finesse by Cédilotte 
 and me, and our sons.  Nevertheless, it appeared to us all as a splendid building, and certainly a worthy 
 place of worship for our community.  The simple iconostas was artfully covered with birch by Misha Ossorguine 
 and a number of old family icons were attached to it.  The gates were patiently carved out of plywood by 
 Alexis [Troubetzkoy], and four gold medallions of the Evangelists were taken from an ‘evangeliea’ [Gospel 
 Book] to decorate them.  Adjacent to the Chapel a ‘bell tower’ was erected. 

About the first service, he said that

 It was a simple service, as it should have been and some may perhaps be disappointed to learn that the 
 occasion was a non-event.  No fanfare, totally understated, the service was a perfectly natural and inevitable 
 development, in the tradition of Clamart*.  We had the ‘two or three who are gathered’ and we had a priest — 
 therefore the chapel.  Following the Liturgy, Father Alexander blessed the building and we wended our way to 
 the lake for its blessing.  

Original Chapel 1953 CS.jpg Original chapel 1953

Luba Troubetzkoy completes the largest cupola of the original chapel 1953 C S.jpg Luba Troubetzkoy completes the largest cupola of the original chapel 1953

Chapel Blessing 1953 CS.jpg Chapel blessing 1953

[*Clamart, a suburb of Paris, was the location selected by Gregorii Nikolayevitch Troubetzkoy, Serge’s father, for the relocation of his family following the Bolshevik Revolution. A chapel was built on the newly-acquired property and eventually, a family community blossomed around it.]

Thus, this chapel came indeed to serve not only as a family chapel, but also as a summer chapel for the group of Orthodox Christian families who had established summer homes at Lac Labelle, and for other visitors. Labelle soon became a haven and retreat where many would come together in the summer to relax and rejuvenate themselves (both physically and spiritually) for the daily challenges of the year ahead. Having priests available to serve during the summers gave a clearer focus to the regular Resurrectional cycle of Sundays, and to the special feast-days of the summer. In addition, these priests (Father Alexander and Father John in particular) helped to form the Orthodox Faith and understanding of the many young people who were present at the lake every year. Boys learned to serve in the Altar, and girls learned to sing in the choir. They both learnt other practical details about the maintenance and the adornment of the Temple as well. There were special cakes for Saint Mary Magdalene’s feast-day, a bon-fire for Saint Boris, the blessing of first-fruits (grapes and other fruits) at the Feast of the Transfiguration, and of flowers and herbs at the Feast of the Dormition. Because the feast-days of Saint Sergius were before or after the time when most people were present, the Feast of the Transfiguration on 6 August became the main celebration of the community. Every year, there would be a procession down to the lake after the Divine Liturgy, and the Lesser Blessing of Waters would be served. Afterwards, there would be a festive pot-luck dinner.

Following is an anecdote about the early days of this chapel :

 In about 1954, there was a pastoral visit paid by Bishop Nikon (de Grève)
 of Toronto.  It was a memorable visit for those who were then children, because the children had to recite by 
 heart the Nicene Creed for Vladyka Nikon.  They managed to do this very well, the children say, because of
 having had daily lessons with Father Alexander Schmemann, who already had begun to be present there in the 
 summer-time.  The services, of course, followed the old-style calendar, and the children recited in
 Slavonic.  There was not yet any English in the services in those days.  Such was the immediacy and fulness of 
 Orthodox Christian living in this family and others in this idyllic place, that the children were able to have
 ‘Zakon Bozhii’ (‘Law of God’, catechism) every day with Father Schmemann.  They recall that they had built a 
 sort of shelter made from pine boughs in the forest, of which they were very proud.  This prompted Father 
 Alexander to continue the daily lessons in this shelter.  To this day, they can recall his calm and resonant 
 voice as he held the youngest on his knee with one arm, while waving away a mosquito with the other.  
 Occasionally, one of the 2 cows would stick its head into the shelter out of curiosity.  They clearly recall
 also that the cows and the work horse ‘Pitou’ regularly attended the Divine Liturgy.  They would stand 
 unwavering behind the chapel and peer into the back window of the Altar.  They would appear there as soon as 
 the singing began.  The children (now adults) further recall that what is presently forest was only cow-
 pasture fields in those days, where the now elusive cepe and milkcap mushrooms (which have since disappeared) 
 could be found in profusion.  At that time, the children would be able to get on their knees and lap up water 
 directly from the fresh springs that flowed there.  During that particular visit, Vladyka Nikon was able to 
 rest for a time ; and a photograph exists, in which Vladyka Nikon, wearing his billowing ‘podriasnik’ 
 (cassock), is playing ‘Gorodki’ (a Russian version of ‘Bocce’ or ‘Bocci’, which uses sticks).  

Bishop Nikon plays Gorodki 1956 C S.jpg Bishop Nikon playing Gorodki

Bishop Nikon (de Grève) was the first bishop who visited this community. He had been assigned to serve as Bishop of Toronto and Canada in 1952.

Extension, 1955

By 1955, the chapel had become too small, so extensions were constructed on either side, and a small entrance narthex was added to the front of the chapel.

Extended Chapel 1956 CS.jpg Extended chapel 1956

Fire, 1958

During the summer of 1958, the chapel burnt to the ground. Serge wrote :

 Raphasha Lopoukhine, from the other side of the lake, was the first to discover the fire.  He and his son, 
 Serge, had been working on the construction of their chalet when they saw billows of smoke issuing from the
 chapel.  They rushed to the boat, rowed across the lake and ran up from Morin’s beach.  The Schmemanns and 
 Luba were in the house blissfully unaware that the chapel was in flames — and I was in Montréal.  The
 Cédilottes were at work in the back fields.  By the time everyone had gathered, it was already too late.  The 
 weather had been dry and the strong east wind fanned the flames into an uncontrollable inferno.  A water 
 brigade was organized to dampen our newly-built barn, which Cédilotte quite rightly was afraid might ignite 
 from the flaming debris and sparks that showered the area.  In no time the well was emptied dry and little 
 further could be done.  All too soon, nothing remained of our beloved chapel except burning embers and red-hot 
 coals....  All was lost, including the ancient icon with relics of twenty saints, which was presented by 
 Tsar Michael Romanoff to the Bouteneffs circa 1620.

Following is the recollection by Matushka Juliana Schmemann in her book “My Journey with Father Alexander” about this event :

 The wind was fierce that day so the fire was spectacular.  Neighbors and the whole community rushed to form a 
 chain from the  well to the chapel.  In an effort to save the house and the barn close to the chapel, the well 
 was emptied and the fire put out.  The surrounding buildings were saved but there was nothing left of the 
 chapel except part of the bell tower and the icon of St. Sergius to whom the chapel is dedicated.  Alexander 
 and Liuba Troubetzkoy drove to Montreal to break the news to her husband Serge who worked there during the 
 week.  He listened to the news, paused for a moment and said, ‘So we will build a new church’ and the work on 
 the new chapel began immediately.  The very next Sunday after the fire we celebrated Divine Liturgy in a tent.   

According to the memory of Masha Troubetzkoy, Sergei Grigorievitch had prefixed this last quotation with “The chapel we had was too small, anyway”. Masha also reported that Serge and Father Alexander immediately sat down and began to sketch fresh plans.

Such is the nature of this man, who might well be called (in every good sense of the expression) “a prince of a man”. About his wife, Luba, the same could be said, and together they behaved as a team.

Second Temple, 1958

The work of reconstruction got underway within 2 days of the debris cleanup.

 Everyone rallied around....  Oleg Rodomar immediately produced a handsome donation of $500 ... and help came 
 from unexpected sources ... six-year old Alexandra Shirinsky sent a dollar from Switzerland ... a donation was 
 received from the parish of Notre Dame du Lac, and when delivery of the lumber was made and the true purpose 
 of its use was revealed, an unsolicited 15% discount was applied to the bill.

As before, Monsieur Cédilotte gave freely of his time as did the Terrault family in helping to rebuild the chapel. The Russians were no longer merely “tourists”.

For the next few weekends, services were held in a tent, borrowed by Raphasha Lopoukhine from the Canadian International Paper Company. Vestments, chalice and other liturgical utensils were borrowed from Saints Peter and Paul’s Cathedral in Montréal. By summer’s end, Saint Sergius’ Chapel had been reconstructed, and the first service was offered within it.

Reconstruction 1958 CLS.jpg Reconstruction 1958

George Olsoufiev adjusts the Cross on the new cupola, Serge Troubetzkoy observes 1958 CS.jpg George Olsoufiev adjusts the Cross on the new cupola, Serge Troubetzkoy observes

Now, a larger, octagonal chapel was constructed, in which the Troubetzkoy family and all the other people gathered to worship the Lord. Many marriages have been blessed, and many baptisms celebrated in this chapel over the succeeding decades.

Regular spiritual and liturgical life continued at Lac Labelle with the Archpriest (later, Protopresbyter) Alexander Schmemann guiding the spiritual formation of the adults and of the youth. The result was a stable and devoted Orthodox Christian life amongst those who year after year participated in the spiritual life surrounding this chapel, and who continued throughout the year in the same spirit in their home regions.

Fathers Schmemann and Meyendorff.jpg Fathers Schmemann and Meyendorff

Significant events, 1961 and the following years

On 30 January, 1961, Oleg Vladimirovitch Rodomar Vukotitch suddenly and unexpectedly fell asleep in the Lord. He was interred in Toronto, Ontario.

On 23 July, 1963, Thomas Hopko was ordained to the Holy Diaconate in the chapel. The occasion of his ordination brought various visitors from abroad, in part because the ‘Faith and Order Commission’ of the “World Council of Churches” was meeting in Montréal at the same time. It provided an opportunity for a secret meeting between members of the “Metropolia” (as it was then called) and the Russian Orthodox Church. These international conferences provided occasions for some conversations between clergy from the Soviet Union and the Orthodox Churches outside the union. On this occasion, the Protopresbyter Vitaly Borovoy of the Russian Orthodox Church went to Labelle in order to have a conversation with the Archpriests Alexander Schmemann and John Meyendorff. It is likely that Archbishop John (Shahovskoy) of San Francisco was also present. They had their discussions around the same kitchen table where more than 10 years earlier plans were being drawn up for the first chapel. In fact, this was one of a series of meetings that culminated in the granting of autocephaly (self-government) and the establishment of The Orthodox Church in America in 1970. The new deacon and Serge Troubetzkoy waited in the sitting room, sipping cognac and eating chocolates.

On 27 July, 1969, John Tkachuk was ordained to the Holy Diaconate in the chapel. However, his ordination took place under more usual circumstances than Father Hopko's.

On 31 August, 1969, Leonid and Alexandra (born Koulomzine) Kishkovsky were married in the chapel.

On 12 July, 1970, Igor and Elizabeth Saika were married in the chapel. Elizabeth is the youngest daughter of Serge and Luba Troubetzkoy.

In July, 1972, Igor Saika-Voivod, son of Igor and Elizabeth, was baptised in the chapel.

Baptism of Igor Saika Voivod.jpg Baptism of Igor I Saika by Father Alexander Schmemann

Visit of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 1975

In May, 1975, Alexandr Isayevich Solzhenitzyn (who was in his second year of exile and still living in Switzerland) was invited by Archbishop Sylvester (Haruns) to visit in Montréal during Holy Week. At this time, he was trying to decide where to establish residency. When he flew off from Russia, virtually the whole world speculated upon his whereabouts (e.g. one headline from “le Figaro” reads “Mon ‘isba’ [log house] au Canada ?”). Even most parishioners in Montréal were not aware of Alexandr Solzhenitzyn’s presence in the Temple at that time, because he stood in the Altar. It was on Bright Monday that Father Alexander Schmemann (who had flown from New York to Montréal on Sunday night) took him to Lac Labelle and then to Ontario, in order to visit and to talk. Alexandr Solzhenitzyn had heard Father Schmemann’s “Voice of America” broadcasts in the Soviet Union, and Father Alexander had met him when he arrived in exile in Western Europe in 1974. They had spent some time there, talking about Russia and Russian history and many other things. Now, while in Labelle on the Monday, they visited socially with Serge Troubetzkoy, and there remain photos of this visit. Then, driven by Serge Schmemann to different rural places (to avoid the media), the 2 continued to talk incessantly. Serge Schmemann later wrote that “what Solzhenitzyn wanted from my father was an instant transfer of all the Russian history and ideas that had been denied him in the Soviet state”. A conversation (albeit brief) with Mr. Troubetzkoy would supply some of this, certainly. Ultimately, Mr. Solzhenitzyn decided to live in Vermont, USA.

Repose of Father Alexander Schmemann, 1983

The Protopresbyter Alexander D Schmemann reposed in Christ on 13 December, 1983, at his home in Crestwood, New York. The funeral services were offered at the new Three Hierarchs Chapel of the seminary, and they were led by Metropolitan Theodosius (Lazor). Afterwards, his body was taken to be interred in the Cemetery of Saint Tikhon’s Monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania.

Repose of Princess Lubov A Troubetzkoy, 1991

On 27 May, 1991, Serge’s beloved wife Luba [Lubov] reposed in Christ peacefully and unexpectedly on a Sunday afternoon during a nap. She was 76. Funeral services for the Princess Lubov Alexeiëvna Troubetzkoy (born Obolensky) were offered at Our Lady of Kazan Church, Sea Cliff, New York. Afterwards, her body was interred in Saint Tikhon’s Monastery Cemetery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania.

Repose of Father John Meyendorff, 1992

Not long after he had gone with his family to their summer home in Labelle, Québec, the Protopresbyter John Meyendorff became seriously ill, and he was taken to Saint Mary’s Hospital in Montréal. There, he learned that he was suffering from pancreatic cancer. He readily accepted the Lord’s will. He reposed in the Lord in the hospital in Montréal on 22 July, 1992. After his repose in Christ, there were services offered for him in Montréal, and then at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary in Crestwood, New York. Afterwards, his body was interred in the Oakland Cemetery, near Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Yonkers, New York.

On 17 August, 1997, Eric and Anya Lohr were married in the chapel.

50 years, 2001

In July, 2001, the community celebrated 50 years of service. At this time, a new bell-house was constructed, a little farther from the chapel than the previous one. There were especially-designed T-shirts prepared for this occasion. In the following photograph, Mr. Sergei Troubetzkoy and Matushka Juliana Schmemann are cutting the 50th anniversary cake after the Divine Liturgy, and the shirts are evident.

Labelle 50th Matushka Juliana S, S Troubetzkoy.jpg 50th anniversary

Repose of Prince Sergei G Troubetzkoy, 2003

On Sunday, 26 October, 2003, in Valley Cottage, New York, Prince Serge Grigorievitch Troubetzkoy, Archivist Emeritus of The Orthodox Church in America, reposed peacefully in Christ, at the age of 96. Funeral services were offered at Our Lady of Kazan Church, Sea Cliff, New York. There was first a memorial service conducted by the Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky on Monday evening, 27 October. On Tuesday evening, 28 October, Metropolitan Theodosius and 6 priests served the funeral service. Then, on Wednesday, 29 October, the Memorial Divine Liturgy was celebrated in this Temple by Metropolitan Theodosius and concelebrated by 9 priests. The homilies at these services eulogising Mr. Troubetzkoy were preached by Metropolitan Theodosius, and the Archpriests Sergei Bouteneff, Leonid Kishkovsky and Alexis Vinogradov. These services were followed by interment next to his wife, Luba, in the cemetery of Saint Tikhon’s Monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania. The interment was presided by Metropolitan Herman (Swaiko).

Repose of Princess Mary S Troubetzkoy, 2010

Mary (Masha) Troubetzkoy, the youngest daughter of Serge and Luba Troubetzkoy, a resident of Glen Cove, New York, fell asleep in the Lord on the afternoon of Friday, 4 June, 2010, after a brief illness. Mary was born on 17 July, 1938, and she received her education in southern Québec and in Montréal. She worked in the central chancery of The Orthodox Church in America in New York and in Syosset ; she had a career on Wall Street in New York ; she helped to establish the Saints Cosmas and Damian Adult Home in Staten Island. She had retired in order to care for her aged father. Masha was much beloved, and she left many mementos of her presence at Lac Labelle. She was described as being “a true image of the “wise and faithful steward”.

60 years, 2011

From 27 to 30 July, 2011, the community celebrated its 60th anniversary. By this time, the summer community numbered about 150. Of course, when everyone would be present, the chapel was far too small. Many of those participating in the services at this time did so from the exterior. They stood around the entrance, and beside the open windows. Whenever it would be raining, there would be a colourful array of umbrellas outside the chapel.

Chapel interior after 2010 CS.png Chapel interior

Repose of Father Thomas Hopko, 2015

On Wednesday, 18 March, 2015, Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko reposed in the Lord. After the funeral services at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary in New York, his body was interred in the cemetery of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania. For several years before his repose, Father Hopko suffered from a rare heart disease which increasingly limited his energy and strength. Nevertheless, until shortly before his repose, he continued to record podcasts (a project and responsibility he had undertaken long before) for the sake of the faithful people to come (even though he could no longer cope with correspondence). His last days, his repose in Christ, and his joyful funeral services were all filled with blessings. He and his family had spent very many years nearby the Troubetzkoy residence, and his whole family has a long history of participation in the community.

75 years, 2016

By 2016, 75 years since the beginning of the chapel, there were more than 15 properties which housed the nearly 200 people who had become a part of the extended spiritual family established by Sergei and Lubov Troubetzkoy. Again, at the end of July, the anniversary was marked with several days of festivities. At the Great Vespers and Divine Liturgy, the members of the extended families gathered together around the Holy Table, the focus of their spiritual life and strength. From this flows the Grace and love which sustain these families throughout their lives. From this joy flows also the gratitude to God with which they marked the 75 years since the beginning of this chapel and of its service to the whole spiritual family. A tent was raised on the grounds, and under this tent the whole family took refreshment after the Divine Liturgy.

Labelle 75th anniversaryS.jpg 75th anniversary

Repose of Prince Alexis S Troubetzkoy, 2017

On 22 January, 2017, Prince Alexis Sergeyevich Troubetzkoy fell asleep in the Lord in Toronto, Ontario, after a long illness. Born in Clamart, France, on 6 March, 1934, and a graduate of Concordia University and Bishop's University, he served 8 years in the Royal Canadian Navy (Reserve) as an officer, before becoming a teacher. He served as the Executive Director of the Tolstoy Foundation 1992-95. He also helped the International Orthodox Christian Charities gain the release of 2 of their workers taken hostage in Chechnya for several months. Thereafter, he served as the IOCC Liaison Officer in various parts of the globe for many years. His career in Canadian independent schools spanned 34 years. Twenty-two years were given over as Headmaster of Selwyn House School, Appleby College and the Toronto French School. He served as Treasurer of the Local Organising Committee for the OCA’s 14th All-American Council, which took place in Toronto in 2005.

Mr. Troubetzkoy was unanimously elected Chairman of the Archives Advisory Committee of The Orthodox Church in America (OCA) during its first meeting in December, 2013. Under his leadership, the committee has begun to assess the housing, preservation and access needs of the OCA Archives and to develop strategic solutions. In February, 2015, he addressed the Metropolitan Council, with an update on the Committee’s work and he appealed for guidance from the Council and the Holy Synod with regard to the future housing of the OCA Archives. Despite health issues, Mr. Troubetzkoy chaired and actively participated in the committee’s meeting in late November, 2016. There were memorial services offered in various places after his repose.

Repose of Matushka Juliana Schmemann, 2017

On Sunday, 29 January, 2017, Matushka Juliana Schmemann fell asleep in the Lord in Riverdale, New York. Her repose was on the eve of her wedding anniversary (which she had continued to keep annually). The funeral service was offered at Holy Trinity Church in Yonkers in the evening of 2 February, and the Memorial Divine Liturgy was served there the day following. Afterwards, her body was interred beside that of her husband at Saint Tikhon's Monastery Cemetery. Matushka Juliana had continued to spend every summer at Lac Labelle, from the earliest to the latest possible moment, until her health would no longer permit it. As always, she was an active participant in every aspect of the life of the community.

Baptisms in the chapel

 Igor Saika 				1972
 Daniel Thetford			1985
 Aristides Hadjinicolaou		1991
 Al Braun (Meyendorff family)		1993
 Alexei Lohr				2001
 Andrei Lohr				2003
 Peter Bullock 				2005
 Vera Stirling Lopoukhine		2017

Baptisms in the lake

 Danielle Helen Longfield-Saika		2016
 Maximilian Siemers (Hesketh family)	2016
 Alexandra Foger (Ozerov family)	2016

Rectors of the parish

The pastors of the community have all served in a unique position. This means than they have all been clergy from a diocese in the USA who have been serving in this capacity with a special blessing from the diocesan bishop of the Archdiocese of Canada. Other clergy from within the Archdiocese of Canada have also served from time to time, as have the bishops of the archdiocese, and visitors from elsewhere. After 1977, Metropolitan Theodosius (Lazor) arrived as a brief summer visitor for many years. The Archpriest John Tkachuk was a regular summer visitor from Montréal for many decades (amidst his regular parish duties).

 Pastors of the Saint Sergius of Radonezh Chapel
 Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann		1952-1983
 Protopresbyter John Meyendorff			1983-1992
 Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko			1992-2003
 Archpriest Alexis G Vinogradov			2003-

Labelle 2014 S.jpg Saint Sergius Chapel 2014

Features of the chapel

In and about the chapel are many noteworthy items :

The painting over the chapel’s entrance is a copy of the famous picture by M V Nesterov (1862-1942), “The Vision of Young Bartholomew”. It depicts the young boy, holding a pair of bridles, as he approaches a monk. This painting was executed by Irina Ourusoff in 1999.

The diskos-and-chalice set were a gift to the chapel from the parishioners of Our Lady of Kazan Church in Sea Cliff, New York, on the occasion of the 90th birthday of Serge Troubetzkoy. He then gave the original set to the Monastery of Saint Silouan the Athonite in Johnstown, Ontario.

The Antimins was presented by Metropolitan Theodosius (Lazor), and it has within it relics of Saint Herman of Alaska.

The Gospel Book in English was presented by Elizabeth Saika in memory of Father Alexander Schmemann.

A cupola was constructed from fibreglass by George Olsoufieff during the winter of 1959-1960 in the basement of his Montréal home :

 And here is the shock of shocks : the cupola was too large and simply would not pass through the basement
 doors.  Every possible position and angle was tried, but to no avail.  Eventually the dilemma was resolved by 
the removal of the doorframes.  Poor George — much sweat did he spill over the cupola ! (Labelle Memoires).  

Mr. Olsoufieff also carved the dove that is suspended within the cupola. Since that time a newer metallic cupola, with a gilded Cross, was installed.

There were ceiling icons of Christ the Saviour, the Theotokos and of Saint John the Baptist which were executed in 1960 by Michael Ossorguine. With renovations, they were later removed and taken to London, Ontario, for safekeeping by Elizabeth Saika-Voivod.

There was for many years a decorative inscription in Slavonic, which passes around the upper part of the walls of the chapel. The letters, cut by Serge G Troubetzkoy, show the words of the Tropar of Saint Sergius :

 As a champion of virtue, a true soldier of Christ God, you were bound to great feats of the passing life.  In 
 song, in vigilance, in fasting, you were an example to your disciples ; therefore, the Most Holy Spirit abode 
 in you, and you radiated His power and beauty.

Likewise, with renovation, this text was removed. Cold weather in winter takes a toll on some things.

On the wall of the Altar, it is written : “... and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh...” (John 6:51). In this fragment is contained the title of Father Alexander Schmemann’s book “For the Life of the World”.

On the iconostas, over the Royal Doors, is the inscription : “Let every breath praise the Lord”. It was the livestock that roamed about the fields in the early days that inspired Father Alexander Schmemann to suggest this phrase. When the farm functioned as a farm, there were four-legged visitors as well as humans. Like catechumens they always remained outdoors, but every time the choir began to sing, the Cédilottes’ two cows and one horse would come as close as possible. They stood attentively, chewing their cuds and gazing through the Altar window where they could see Father Alexander serving.

The icons of Christ and of the Theotokos on the iconostas were executed in 1997 by Olga Poloukhine of Sea Cliff, New York.

The Royal Doors and the Deacons’ Doors were cut by Alexis S Troubetzkoy. The original paper icons were replaced in 1998 by icons from an iconographer at the Danilovsky Monastery in Moscow, which were brought by Alexis Troubetzkoy.

The Altar Cross is the wooden Cross used by Father Alexander Schmemann throughout his years at Labelle. It was mounted by Father Alexis Vinogradov in 2004.

The icons of the Transfiguration and of the Dormition of the Theotokos which hang on the Altar wall behind the Holy Table are a gift of Igor and Elizabeth Saika-Voivod in memory of Protopresbyter John Meyendorff, and of her mother, Lubov A Troubetzkoy.

The Icon of the Ascension in the Altar was presented to Serge G Troubetzkoy by Patriarch Pimen (Izvekov).

The framed Altar Crucifix in ivory was given to Lubov Petrovna Obolensky (Mother of Luba Troubetzkoy) by a Roman Catholic priest on the occasion of the loss of her daughter, Anna, in 1931.

The Icon of Saint Sergius of Radonezh at one time hung in the original chapel of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary. Metropolitan Theodosius (Lazor) provided a relic of Saint Sergius which was inserted later.

The Icon of Saint Herman of Alaska on stone with birch mounting was presented to Father Alexander Schmemann by Metropolitan Ireney (Bekish), who had received it from Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov) of Leningrad and Novgorod, successor to Metropolitan Gabriel, who had sent the first Orthodox missionaries to North America. The stone is from the Valaam Island in Lake Ladoga, northeast of Saint Petersburg, Russia.

The Icon of Saints Seraphim and Juliana (who share the same feast-day) was painted by Masha Struve for Matushka Juliana Schmemann. The large icon of Saint Juliana was a gift of Serge A Schmemann to his mother.

The Icon of the Meeting of the Lord, on ancient wood, was the sole icon saved from the fire that destroyed the original chapel.

The Icon of the Appearance of the Theotokos to Saint Sergius of Radonezh, with a silver "riza" (a metal cover), was presented by the Miloradovich family.

The Icon of Saint John of Rila, one of Bulgaria’s most venerated saints, was presented by Maria Louisa of Bulgaria. It remained in the chapel for many years but it was later entrusted to Mary Ann Lopoukhine for safekeeping.

The Icon of Saint Nicholas of Myra was brought from Bari, Italy, and presented by Igor and Elizabeth Saika-Voivod. In due course, it returned to Igor and Elizabeth in London, Ontario, for safekeeping.

The Icon of Saint Mary Magdalene with the red egg was a gift of Father Alexander Schmemann to Masha Troubetzkoy.

The Icon of the Theotokos, painted on stone, was presented in 1994 to Alexis Troubetzkoy by Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia.

The Icon of Saints Boris and Gleb was presented by Nina Spiridovich.

The Icon of Saint Mary of Egypt was presented by Manya Schmemann. This icon was also taken elsewhere for safekeeping.

The Icon of Saint Igor was presented by Igor Saika-Voivod.

The Icon of Saint Raphael was presented by the Lopoukhine family.

The 2 banners were sewn and presented by Tatiana Bouteneff, and by Olga Majaskava (mother of Matoushka Marie Meyendorff).

The panikhida table-covering, dedicated to the memory of Raphael Lopoukhine, was prepared by his mother, Sonia.

Outside, the present bell-house was erected in 2001 as a part of the Labelle Chapel’s 50th anniversary celebrations. It was designed and constructed by Nicholas Ozerov. The plaque within records that the structure is dedicated to Serge and Luba Troubetzkoy. The largest of the bells is from a Canadian Pacific steam-locomotive. The string of 4 smaller bells came from Russia, and one of them is dated 1785.

Outside also, there was for a long time a spruce tree from Spruce Island, Alaska. Taken from nearby the gravesite of Saint Herman on the island, the sapling was brought by Father Thomas Hopko and then planted in 1984. It was later moved to the east side of the log cabin for guests. In its early days, it was nibbled so much by animals that it began to appear more as a bush than as a tree. Ultimately, the tree was unable to survive.

The white Cross by the birch tree near the chapel is the temporary grave-marker of the Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann from Saint Tikhon’s Monastery Cemetery. When the permanent Cross was installed, this one was transported to remain near the chapel.

The Memorial Boards

The memorial boards recall the names of the deceased who worshipped in the chapel. In addition, the names of the parents of the chapel’s founders are included, as well as the names of the Cédilottes (as of 20 October, 2017).

 Board 1
 Apraxine, Marfa				1968
 Apraxine, Petr					1962
 Arseniev, Nikolai				1977
 Bouteneff, Appolinari				1946
 Bouteneff, Maria				1943
 Dournovo, Anna					1963
 Gagarine, Maria				1940
 Gagarine, Marina		 		1925
 Gagarin, Sergei				1958
 Hesketh, Elizaveta				1941
 Hesketh, Aleksandr				1937
 Lamsdorff Nikolai				1951
 Limantoff, Vsevolod				1963
 Lopoukhine, Raphael				1960
 Lopoukhine, Sophia
 Meyendorff, Ekaterina				1971
 Obolensky, Anna				1931
 Obolensky, Aleksei				1940
 Onou, Ekaterina				1966	 
 Ossorguine, Elizaveta				1935
 Ossorguine, Sergei				1970
 Ossorguine, Mikhail 	Archpriest		1939
 Ozerov, Nikolai				1986
 Pisarev, Vladimir				1943
 Pisarev, Ekaterina
 Rodomar Vukotictch, Oleg			1961	  
 Schmemann, Dimitri				1958
 Schmemann, Yelena				1926		child
 Trubetskoi, Grigorii				1930  
 Troubetskoi, Konstantin 			1917-1920	on field of battle in Perekop
 Troubetzkoy, Lubov				1991
 Trubetskoi, Maria				1943
 Troubetzkoy, Nikolai 	   			1900 
 Trubetskoi, Petr				1965
 Troubetzkoy, Sergei E				1949
 Board 2
 Apraxine, Andrei	   			 1992
 Bouteneff, Constantine  
 Bouteneff, Sergei		 		 1974
 Cédilotte, Irene		 		 1982
 Cédilotte, Paul-Emile	  			 1982
 Gagarine, Elizaveta	   			 1989
 von Hahn, Daria	  			 1984
 Hesketh, Boris				 	 1972
 Hesketh, Natalia	     			 1989		
 Hesketh, Sergei				 1991
 Kapinkin, Ekaterina	  			 unknown 	 (Troubetzkoy’s Nanny)
 Lamsdorff, Sofia 		 		 1971
 Lieve, Sofia		 			 1961		 (Hesketh’s Nanny)
 Leuchtenberg de Beauharnais, Dimitri, Duke, 	 1972
 Leuchtenberg de Beauharnais, Ekaterina
 Meyendorff, Ioann	Protopresbyter	  	 1992 
 Meyendorff, Theophile	  		 	 1971
 Miklachevsky, Marie		   		 1988
 Obolensky, Lubov	    	  	 	 1980
 Olsoufieff, George 	       	  		 1992             Built cupola
 Ossorguine, Elizaveta
 Ozerov, Militsa	      	  		 1975
 Schmemann, Anna		  	 	 1981
 Schmemann, Alexandr 	Protopresbyter  	 1983 
 Solak, Infant Michael        			 1993
 Spiridovitch, Nina		  		 1986
 Staritskaya, Alexandra	 		 	 1968	       	 (Schmemann’s Nanny)
 Tolstoy, Alexandra	  		         1967
 Tolstoy, Vladimir	  		         1988
 Troubetzkoy, Marina	     	  		 1984
 Troubetskoi, Mikhail	       	  		 1989
 Wrangel, Dimitri	    	  		 1977
 Board 3
 Apraxine, Marina	       	    		 1994
 Basilevsky, Elena		    		
 Bouteneff, Tatiana	         	    	 1997
 Canisius, George	         	    	 1993
 (Haruns), Archbishop Sylvester      		 2000
 Hesketh, Josephine	    			 2004
 Hopko, Anna 		    			 1993
 Hopko, John		    			 1980		
 Hopko, Thomas  Protopresbyter 	    	 	 2016
 Keyserlingk. Robert		    		 2009
 Lopoukhine, Elizabeth 	    		 	 2008
 Lopouhine, Michael                    	 	 2016
 Miklachevsky, Paul		    		 2011
 Miloradovitch, Leonid		    		 2007
 Miloradovitch, Natalia		         	 2013
 Miloradovitch, Sergei		    	         2016
 Morton, Hilary		    		 	 2010
 Ossorguine, Mikhail S		    		 2004
 Ossorguine, Sophia
 Ozerov, Nikolai	          	    	 2003
 Schidlovsky, Alexei	        	    	 1996
 Schmemann, Andrei		    		 2008
 Schmemann, Juliana  Matushka  		 	 2017
 Shvetzoff, Alexandra 	    			 2001
 Solak, Justin		    			 2016
 Troubetzkoy, Alexis		    	         2017
 Troubetzkoy, Mary		    		 2010
 Troubetzkoy, Sergei G		    		 2003
 Wilson, Oleg					 2004

Summers in Labelle have been (and continue to be) a crucial revitalising force in the lives of many, over several generations.

Without Serge Troubetzkoy’s foresight in creating the extended family and church community there, the comfort and joy that it has provided to so many would not have been possible. It will doubtless live on as his legacy for generations yet to come, thanks to the Troubetzkoy family.

A S Troubetskoy sketch 1963 S.jpg 1963 sketch by Alexis S Troubetzkoy

This parish is a part of the Quebec & Atlantic Provinces, of the Archdiocese of Canada, of The Orthodox Church in America. The dean is the Archpriest Gregory Nimijean. The bishop is Archbishop Irénée (Rochon).

This parish follows the New (Revised Julian) Calendar.

The Altar Feast-day of the Temple is the Feast of Saint Sergius of Radonezh, 25 September and 5 July. The major feast-day of the Temple is the Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ, 6 August.

In 2018, the priest in charge of the chapel community is the Archpriest Alexis Vinogradov.

Address :

Saint Sergius of Radonezh Orthodox Christian Chapel

10197, chemin du Lac Labelle

Lac Labelle, Québec

J0T 1H0

Directions :

From Montréal :

From Montréal, Lac Labelle is 173 km (108 mi). The driving time is approximately 2 hours.

Drive north from Montréal on Highway #15 (Autoroute des Laurentides). At the signs for Route Transcanadienne #117 at Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, follow Highway #117 past Mont Tremblant, La Conception and Labelle Village to Chemin de Minerve. Turn left onto Chemin de Minerve and drive to Chemin du Lac Labelle. Turn left onto Chemin du Lac Labelle. After arriving at Lac Labelle, the chapel is on the left at 10197, chemin du Lac Labelle.

From Ottawa :

From Ottawa, Lac Labelle is 171 km (106 mi). The driving time is approximately 2 hours.

Drive from Ottawa to Gatineau, and then drive on Autoroute #50 eastwards until Montebello and Highway #323 north. Follow Highway #323 north to Lac-des-plages. After the village, at Chemin de Vendée, turn left and follow Chemin de Vendée. At Vendée at the T-junction, turn right onto Chemin Gaudias Côté Est. Follow this road and keep to the left without turning to the right. Follow Chemin Gaudias Côté Est and then keep to the left on Chemin du Lac Cameron. Follow Chemin du Lac Cameron past Chemin Jacob and turn left onto Chemin du Lac Labelle. Continue on this road. After arriving at Lac Labelle, the Temple is on the right at 10197, chemin du Lac Labelle.

Mailing address :

Saint Sergius of Radonezh Orthodox Christian Chapel

c/o Troubetzkoy

10197, chemin du Lac Labelle

Lac Labelle, Québec

J0T 1H0

Archpriest Alexis Vinogradov

6, Merlot Drive, Unit 632

Highland, New York 12528-6319


Telephone : 914-474-5867

E-mail :

References :

Troubetzkoy article

Canisius-Hesketh, Elisabeth B, “Sixty Years of Lac Labelle” (Montréal, Québec, 2001). An unpublished essay.

Lopoukhine, Sofia, ‘Célébrant 75 Ans de notre Communauté familiale unique au Lac Labelle’ ‘Celebrating 75 Years of our Unique Family Community’ in “Journal l’Association des propriétaires au Lac Labelle, Saisons 2015/2016” (Labelle, 2016).

“Labelle Memoires” (Labelle, 1989) by Serge G Troubetzkoy.

Troubetzkoy, Alexis S, “Chapel of St. Sergius of Radonezh Labelle Québec : History” (Labelle, 2005). Local booklet.

Additional information :

Archdiocese listing

OCA listing

Archbishop Irénée (Rochon)

Archdiocese of Canada

Archdiocese of Canada Facebook

Wikipedia article about Alexis S Troubetzkoy

Montreal Gazette obituary Alexis Troubetzkoy

Globe and Mail obituary Alexis Troubetzkoy

OCA “In Memoriam” Alexis Troubetzkoy

Selwyn House obituary Alexis Troubetzkoy

Appleby College obituary Alexis Troubetzkoy

OCA “In Memoriam” Masha S Troubetzkoy, 2010

Diocese listing

OCA Listing

Curé François-Xavier S Labelle, etc.

Le petit train du nord

Labelle railway museum

Peterlord source for "livre_le_train_du_nord_vers_labelle.pdf"

‘Summmer Communities: Labelle Chapel’ in “Canadian Orthodox Messenger” (July, 1993), p. 11.

‘Serge Troubetzkoy 15 December 1906-26 October 2003’ by Alexis Liberovsky, in “Canadian Orthodox Messenger” (Spring, 2004), pp. 4-5.