L'Abbe Francois Piquet founded Ogdensburg on the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin in the temple, November 21, 1748. He called his mission La Présentation. On the feast of the Blessed Trinity, June 1, 1749, he said the first Solemn Mass on the spot where now stands Notre Dame, the largest Church in the Diocese of Ogdensburg. Thus, 268 years ago began the long and honorable history that saw the development and flourishing of Notre Dame Church.
In 1858 the French Canadians petitioned Rt. Rev. John McClosky, Bishop of Albany for a pastor.
Rev. Mr. LeMercier was appointed in 1858 but it was not until spring of 1859 that he took charge of his parish. Upon his arrival in Ogdensburg, Fr. LeMercier found no house, no church and no money to buy a lot or build a church. He found only two hundred poor French Canadian families. About the middle of April 1859 he rented what is now called Eagle Hall where he said Mass until a more suitable place could be bought. The opportunity came in the old Ford Mansion, the most pretentious building in town, which had been idle for some time. The trustees at that time entered into a contract of purchase on July 9, 1859. Father LeMercier, anxious to hasten the building of the church, went through Canada and the United States collecting money. Through these funds and the contributions of his parishioners, he was able to finish the exterior of his church, with the exception of the tower and sacristy.
Notre Dame Church was organized in 1859 and was first incorporated as a Religious Corporation in that year under the title of: THE TRUSTEES OF THE CHURCH OF NOTRE DAME DE LA VICTOIRE OR OGDENSBURG. Notre Dame was incorporated a second time in the year 1868 under the newer incorporation laws of New York State which had been passed in 1863. The new title is as follows: THE CHURCH OF NOTRE DAME DE VICTORAIRE OGDENSBURG. No one knows the origin of this curious misspelling of "Victoraire", but the title remains the same today.
On December 30, 1863 Father LeMercier died. From that date until October 1864, Notre Dame had no regular pastor. Father Renauld was pastor from October, 1864 until June, 1866. He was succeeded by Father Griffa who remained until the latter part of June, 1867. Father Charles Henry Jeanotte, the first French Canadian pastor of Notre Dame, followed immediately after Father Griffa. He built the frame tower on top of the brick one, two large sacristies and the main building of the rectory, which was started in the summer of 1867. Father Jeanotte resigned on April 1, 1877. Rev. Peter Omer LaRose, an assistant under Father Jeanotte, succeeded as pastor.
On January 27, 1885 the school lot, now the site of St. Peter's school, was bought and three days later transferred to Father P.O. LaRose who bought it with his own money and gave it to Notre Dame Church on April 23, 1909. Father LaRose completed the church in 1891 at a cost of $20,761.54. He enlarged the rectory and entered it October 3, 1894.
Holy Cross school was founded in May 1894. Father LaRose resigned as acting rector on May 1, 1916 and Rev. Walter Larocque was appointed administrator the same day. On July 2, 1918 Rev. P. S. Garand arrived from Clayton to take over as irremovable rector of Notre Dame with Ordinary jurisdiction. His first care was to visit every Catholic family belonging to his parish.
In the fall of 1920, October 18-23, a drive was organized to raise funds for the repair of all buildings. It brought in an amount of $26,957.02 of which $3,578.48 was used for expenses.
Again in 1926 all church buildings were repaired at a cost of $10,000.
In 1959, NOTRE DAME PARISH celebrated their hundredth anniversary. At that time, Monsignor Charbonneau was the church pastor. That year also saw the building of a new school on Mansion Avenue, presently known as St. Marguerite D'Youville Academy.
Since the centennial celebration, Notre Dame has witnessed growth and change. In 1988, Notre Dame Parish undertook the Notre Dame Heritage Project which was started to ensure preservation of the church buildings and to act as a reminder of Notre Dame's rich historical background.