The Township of Cumberland is located on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people, which includes the watershed of the Ottawa River, which the Algonquins called the River of the Algonquins. The first European settlers to venture into the Bearbrook area cleared a rough road from the Ottawa River by following an old Algonquin trail. This road was named the Forced Road. It’s along this road that Sarsfield appeared about 20 years later. Around the 1850’s, Roman Catholic bishops from Montréal and Bytown (today’s Ottawa) encouraged large numbers of Québec farmers to settle in Eastern Ontario.
That’s when Sévère Daoust and his wife Odille (Adèle) St-Denis settled on Lot 10, Concession 4 in Cumberland Township. In 1864, Sévère donated a 3-acre lot along the Bearbrook Road (the Old Forced Road) for the erection of a chapel for the growing number of Roman Catholics in the area. It served as a mission for Father Onésime Boucher, the priest based in Cumberland Village. The chapel’s location was simply called Daoust’s Corners at the time. However the chapel became more important when the Roman Catholic church in Cumberland Village burned in 1867 and Father Boucher decided to move his parish base from Cumberland Village to Clarence Creek.
The parish of St-Hughes was created in 1886 and its first curate was Father Oscar Cousineau. The chapel was no longer big enough to serve the Roman Catholics who came from as far away as Cumberland Village and Navan. In 1886 Sévère sold an adjoining piece of land to the Archdiocese for $100.00; so did the neighbouring land owner, Alexandre Lapalme, for $400.00. Today’s current church was built in 1895.
In December 1874, Thomas H. Delaney opened a post office near the church and named it Sarsfield in honor of Patrick Sarsfield, Count Lucan, an Irish general. Over the years a small community grew and at one time boasted two general stores, a hotel, a cheese factory, a bakery, a blacksmith, a shoemaker and a school. The church remains a centre of worship for Roman Catholics from Sarsfield, Canaan, Cumberland Village and Navan.