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History of Saskatchewan and The Old North West
Chapter XLVIII - The English Church in Saskatchewan


Foundation of English Church in Western British North America —Rev. John West, 1820—Other Pioneer Clergymen of the Red River Settlement—Bishop Mountain's Visit, 1844—Rev. J. Hunter and Others Penetrate the Interior—Rev. David Anderson, First Bishop of Rupert's Land, 1849 to 1864—Bishop Machray—Creation of the Dioceses of Saskatchewan, Qu'Appelle, etc.—Work of Bishop Bompas in the Far North—Rev. Dr. John McLean, First Bishop of Saskatchewan—Bishop Pinkham—Bishop Newnham—Emmanuel College—Missionary Enterprise in Diocese of Saskatchewan—Archdeacon Lloyd —Rev. Adeldert Anson, First Bishop of Qu'Appelle, 1884— Bishop Burn, 1893—Bishop Grisdale, 1896—Bishop Harding, 1912—St. Chad's College—The Prairie Brotherhood—The Railway Mission.

On October 12, 1820, the Rev. John West, Hudson Bay Company's chaplain, arrived at Red River after a journey of five months, to lay the foundations of the Church of England in the far West. At that time there was no Protestant church or school house in the colony. With the Episcopalians cooperated the Presbyterian settlers, who were still without a clergyman of their own communion, and very soon Mr. West was doing vigorous and effective work in a little log building that was fitted up for church purposes at St. John's. In the following year he visited Brandon and came westward on a missionary tour, spending the winter in the Qu'Appelle valley. In the summer months he proceeded to Norway House and York Factory. There he organized the first Bible Socicty of the Canadian West and through its instrumentality the Scriptures were, before long, available in six of the languages spoken in the great new land. Mr. West's term of service was, however, all too brief, but much useful work had been done before he returned to England in 1823.

He was succeeded by the Rev. D. T. Jones, who undertook the interesting experiment of simplifying the liturgy and order of service of the church, with a view to rendering it more acceptable to the Scottish adherents in the Selkirk Settlement. After fifteen years of faithful service, Mr. Jones returned to the motherland. For many years he had been assisted by the Rev. William Cochran, a useful, popular and generous clergyman, whom heavy labor seemed unable to weary. For a long time his regular Sabbath duties involved a drive of thirty or forty miles and three separate services. The Rev. W. Smithers and the Rev. Abraham Cowley came to his aid in 1839 and 1841, respectively. Mr. Cowley was probably the first Protestant clergyman to extend a mission beyond the Red River.

It is manifest that the spiritual supervision of north western British North America was a practical impossibility for prelates in Eastern Canada. In 1844 Bishop Mountain of Montreal indeed effected an episcopal tour into the West, but none other was afterwards attempted. This journey of the Bishop of Montreal involved many weeks of hardship and exposure, as he travelled from place to place by canoe. At this time there were four churches in the colony and Bishop Mountain confirmed 846 persons.

This same year the Rev. J. Hunter, afterwards archdeacon, entered the country, New York Factory, and commenced work among the settlers and Indians at The Pas. Through his efforts the Indians of that neighborhood made rapid progress in civilization and by 1848. 420 of them had been baptized, and nearly all professed Christianity. From The Pas as centre, the missions of the Church soon spread westward to Lac la Rouge, to which district, in 1845, Mr. Hunter sent James Beardy as instructor in the Christian faith. Other pioneers of the church followed, and when, in 1847, Mr. Hunter visited Lac la Rouge, he had the happy duty of baptizing forty-eight adults and fifty-nine children.

Invitations were soon coming for missionaries from many quarters, and the development of the Church in the West caused the Rev. David Anderson to be chosen first Bishop of Rupert's Land, in 1849. The Bishopric was primarily endowed by a bequest of £12,000. which had been left it by Mr. James Leith, a chief factor of the Hudson's Bay Company. Bishop Anderson established his headquarters at what had been called the Upper Church, in the Red River Colony. This he named the Cathedral of St. John's, and thirteen years later a new Episcopal Cathedral was dedicated by Bishop Anderson on the site of the old church. In 1850 the Bishop ordained the first native clergyman. This was the Rev. Henry Budd, who had commenced his life work ten years earlier as catechist at Cumberland House, and had been eminently successful.

By 1857 the Bishop numbered among his co-workers nineteen ordained clergymen. Fifteen of these were maintained by the Church Missionary Society, two by The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, one by The Missionary Society of the Colonial Church and one by the Hudson's Bay Company. Throughout its history the Canadian Church in the West has at all times received invaluable support from the motherland, especially through the Society for the Promoting of Christian Knowledge, and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.

In 1864 Bishop Anderson retired. Prior to the arrival of his successor, Rev. Dr. Robert Machray, in the following year, the Rev. T. T. Smith officiated in his place. The following tribute to Bishop Machray is quoted from the reminiscences of the Rev. R. J. MacBeth, a prominent Presbyterian :

"The labors of Bishop Machray were unceasing, abundant and far-reaching in their results on the history and life of the country. . . . Dr. Machray took an active part in the affairs of the country and was one of the factors in the peaceful solution of the Riel troubles in 1870. He afterwards became Archbishop of Rupert's Land and later Primate of all Canada. He took a leading part in the formation of the University of Manitoba, of which he was chancellor from its beginning until his death. In the course of his years of service the country opened up in all directions and the Church of England nobly did her part in sending missionaries to all parts of the 'New West' and as far north as man could live."

Bishop Machray's diocese extended from Lake Superior to the Rocky Mountains, and from the forty-ninth parallel to the remotest North, including the valley of the Yukon. This stupendous territory was in 1872 reorganized by the formation of the diocese of Moosonee. At the same time Rupert's Land was established as an Ecclesiastical Province. The diocese of Saskatchewan was separated from that of Rupert's Land in 1874.

In 1883 and 1884 the dioceses of Qu'Appelle and Mackenzie River, respectively, were organized ; that of Calgary in 1887 and that of Keewatin in 1899. For the present sketch the records of the diocese of Qu'Appelle and the diocese of Saskatchewan are of most concern.

Special mention must be made, however, of Bishop Bompas of the diocese, of Selkirk, in the Far North. "His was a peripatetic episcopate,'' says the Rev. L. Norman Tucker, in his History of the English Church in the West' (page 138). "He sojourned in many places, but never resided in any one—Vermilion, Chipewayan, Simpson, Norman, Wrigley, Pelly River, Rampart House, Selkirk, Carcross—moving continually from place to place. His love for the Indians was all absorbing. To serve them and to save them, he not only lived with them, but he lived like them; and at the last he so felt the burden of the Indian work pressing 011 his soul that he was wont to consider himself the Bishop and the missionary of the Indians, almost to the exclusion of his own kith and kin. Never was a mission more fully and more heartily embraced, and never was a work more conscientiously and more perseveringly clone." The story of the life of Bishop Bompas is a stirring record of self-sacrifice for humanity's sake, of hardships sustained with the utmost good cheer, and of tireless devotion to the interest of the Church.

Very prominent among all those to whom the establishment of the Church of England in Western Canada is owing was the Reverend Dr. John McLean, who became Archdeacon of Assiniboia in 1866. Eight years later he was consecrated the first Bishop of Saskatchewan, in which office he died 011 November 7, 18S6. On his first episcopal journey, Bishop McLean travelled two thousand miles with a temperature often falling forty degrees below zero. At Prince Albert the Bishop built Emmanuel College, which, when opened in 1879. was the first institution for higher education in the diocese. He was profoundly impressed with the necessity of a high standard of education in his clergy, and through his influence an Act was passed by the Dominion Government making provision for the establishment of a University of Saskatchewan. The fulfilment of this dream was frustrated by Doctor McLean's death.

When the diocese of Saskatchewan was created it contained about thirty thousand Indians and only a handful of white people. There were no endowments, no missionaries and no churches. Everything had to be begun, so far as the Church of England was concerned.

Bishop McLean's first efforts were directed to securing the endowment of the episcopate. Very soon thereafter, however, his dearest charge was Emmanuel College, which he founded in 1879. This institution at Prince Albert had its origin in the Bishop's need of a trained band of interpreters, schoolmasters, catechists and pastors, who, being themselves natives of the country, would be familiar with the language and modes of life of the people. Indeed Bishop McLean felt the need for native help to be so pressing that soon after his arrival in the diocese and even before the establishment of any regular and permanent diocesan institution he undertook personally to carry on the task of training future co-workers. While the chief work of Emmanuel College was that of fitting native helpers for missionary activity among the Indians, a collegiate school was also conducted which, of course, did not confine itself to prospective missionaries.

When the Synod of Saskatchewan met, October 11, 1883, the Bishop announced that during the past year Assiniboia, which hitherto had been included in the Diocese of Saskatchewan, had been set apart as a new diocese. Other changes had also been made in the boundaries of his see, which still extended, however, from Lake Winnipeg to the mountains.

As the town of Prince Albert sprang out to a distance of three miles from the main buildings of Emmanuel College, it became necessary to maintain lecture rooms in the settlement for collegiate work, which was greatly hampered by existing conditions.

In 1885 the Rebellion prevented any meeting of the Synod of Saskatchewan. In the following year, however, it is interesting to note among the leading delegates were Star Blanket, John Smith and James Smith, three Indian Chiefs who had been largely instrumental in restraining their people within the bonds of loyalty in the preceding troublous year. At this time there were twenty-two clergymen in the diocese, almost entirely supported by the Church .Missionary Society and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. At Fort McLeod, Battleford, Calgary and Prince Albert the missions were self-supporting.

In 1889 Right Reverend Cyprian Pinkham, D. D., D. C. L., succeeded Bishop McLean, whose death occurred on November 7, 1886. In raising and completing the Episcopal Endowment Fund, in commencing the Clergy Endowment Fund, and in his persisting and self-denying labours for Emmanuel College the late Bishop had left an invaluable bequest to the people of the West in general, and to his successor in particular. At the time of Bishop McLean's death he had secured endowments for the work of his bishopric to the amount of but little less than ninety thousand dollars.

Until his death Bishop McLean had been himself warden and professor of divinity in Emmanuel College, and in his place Bishop Pinkham appointed Archdeacon J. A. Mackay. At one time there had been a large attendance of boys at the collegiate school affiliated with the college, but the growth of Prince Albert at a considerable distance from the college, and the excellence of its public schools had very seriously reduced the attendance.

In 1900 Archdeacon Mackay, who had been actively connected with the institution ever since 1887, resigned the principalship. Upon the creation of the new Saskatchewan University, situated at Saskatoon, Emmanuel College was transferred to that city, the venerable Archdeacon Lloyd assuming the principalship, which Archdeacon Mackay had vacated in 1900. As a theological college the institution has entered upon a period of renewed prosperity.

In the industrial school at Battleford, under Principal Reverend E. Matheson, from one hundred to one hundred and twenty Indian pupils have been enrolled annually for many years. In St. Barnelis Boarding School, Onion Lake, thirty-five or forty additional pupils were in 1897 in the care of the Reverend J. R. Matheson, the founder of the school. Mrs. Matheson, in order to increase her usefulness in her husband's mission and boarding school, at great inconvenience and self-sacrifice, took a full medical course in Toronto, receiving the degree of M. D.

Until 1903 Bishop Pinkham had the oversight of both the diocese of Saskatchewan and that of Calgary. At that date Dr. Newnham was transferred from Moonsonee to Saskatchewan, as Bishop, Dr. Pinkham retaining only the rapidly developing See of Calgary.

An interesting feature in connection with the work of the English Church in the diocese of Saskatchewan has been its system of missions. The settled portion of the diocese has been parcelled out into districts about thirty miles square. It is the intention that such a territory should fully employ a thoroughly active worker while at the same time the population that he must reach must not be so great as to prevent his keeping in close touch with all members of the Anglican communion, and maintaining some oversight over the spiritual affairs of the settlers in general. As such an unorganized district is transformed, under the administrations of the hard working missionary, it becomes first a mission, later a parish, and finally, when self-supporting, a rectory.

To man these fields the Church has relied not upon the stipends that could be offered, but upon the self-sacrifice and devotion of those who felt the call to give their services as a labor of love. The money they actually receive is about half the salary of a country school teacher. Nevertheless, this appeal to moral heroism has proved more successful than any appeal to lower motives could have done. In 1907 Archdeacon Lloyd— already very widely known on account of his invaluable services in saving from litter wreck the "All British" colony,- named Lloydminster in his honor—visited England with the call for workers. The old country supporters of the movement provided each catechist with a nominal stipend of $350.00 in addition to $100 for a "shack" and $250 towards the building of a church. In 1910 another such party numbering thirty came out as reinforcements and as this chapter goes to press still a third similar corps of missionary volunteers sails for Canada to augment the forces of this diocese.

The difficulties and discouragements met by these catechists arc many, and for their aid and encouragement they are grouped under the supervision of certain clergymen of experience and ability. These clergymen, whom we may call superintendents, each have under their care six or eight districts, and back and forth through them they drive continually, advising the catechists, administering the sacraments and otherwise supervising the work and interests of the Church. They are expected to make the circuit of their fields six or eight times a year. During part of the year the catechists are withdrawn to be instructed in theology and biblical knowledge at Emmanuel College. At first this interval for special study and instruction was of only three months duration, the catechists coming in relays, and their companions in the field meanwhile doing double duty. At present there is provision for seven months in the College and five months on the field. Almost all of these catechists. if successful in their examinations, reach ordination in about three years.

On November 7, 1897, the Reverend John Sinclair, one of the native clergy of the "Western Church, died at Cedar Hill. He was educated at St. Johns College, Winnipeg, and Emmanuel College, Prince Albert, and ordained by Bishop McLean. He served as a missionary at Stanley and at Grand Rapids.

Bishop Pinkham, speaking at Prince Albert on June 8, 1898. spoke feelingly of the recent death of Chief Ahkakoop (Star Blanket), who had been a delegate at the preceding Synod: "Who can forget that stately, gentle old Alan! He was a member of the Synod from 1886 to his death! He was always present and he took a deep interest in all that was done. Those who heard him will never forget his address at the missionary meeting in connection with the synod a few years ago. He loved his God; he loved the Church of God. During the Rebellion he was conspicuous for his loyalty, and afterwards when visiting Eastern Canada he was greatly honored by His Excellency, The Governor-General."

The Qu'Appelle diocese was co-terminous with the old district of Assiniboia, extending five hundred miles from east to west and two hundred and five miles from north to south. It had at first no church, no parsonage, no organized congregation, and but one clergyman, the Rev. J. P. Sargent, later Dean of Qu'Appelle. In the early days it was his duty to minister chiefly to the natives and settlers along the line of the Canadian Pacific Railway. For many years the Church .Missionary Society had conducted Indian missions at Fort Qu'Appelle, Touchwood Hills and Fort Pelly, but there had been laid merely the first stones of the foundation of the great work yet to be accomplished.

In 1884 the Rev. the Hon. Adelbert Anson, rector of Woolrich and Honorary Canon of Rochester, was consecrated first Bishop of Qu'Appelle. He at once sent forth the clarion call for missionary helpers. He promised them only the absolute necessaries of life and no stipend, relying upon Christian heroism and missionary enthusiasm to supply incentives for the work. Six volunteers responded and came to Air. Sargent's relief, and, by 1887. thirteen clergymen, with fifty-four stations, were reaching more or less effectively twenty-four hundred members and adherents of the Church of England. A theological college and boys' school were presently established at Qu'Appelle, and much work of genuine utility was being clone, though the progress of settlement and the general growth of the Church proved less rapid than had been anticipated. The work he had accomplished was much more enduring and far-reaching than Bishop Anson knew, but to him it seemed all too small and as a result of his profound depression he resigned the See, in 1892. During his term of office he had organized the diocese into parishes, created the Synod, raised $50,000 for the endowment of the See, and built twenty-four churches. It was only from the standpoint of Bishop Anson's own profound humility and enthusiasm that such record could seem inadequate.

The Right Rev. William John Burn from County of Durham, England, was chosen his successor. The Bishop was a keen worker and assiduous in visiting his diocese, even in the most remote posts. At this time a large influx of population was starting in the West, and in consequence Bishop Burn had much to do in the way of organizing and readjusting the different missions scattered over his wide See. Bishop Burn delighted in his spiritual work, and his experience and ability would have been of incalculable use, but he died suddenly of heart failure on June 16, 1896, shortly after presiding over his synod. Wherever he went he carried with him a cheerful and courteous bearing, which always won the hearts of men, and his faithful wife is still (1913) carrying on his work in England in the interests of Qu'Appelle Diocese.

Upon the death of Bishop Burn, Dean Grisdale, of Winnipeg, was chosen successor, being the first Bishop of Qu'Appelle to be elevated to such dignity by the authorities of the English Church in Canada. lie was fortunate in having as coworkers a corps of faithful and industrious priests, among whom may be named Archdeacon Dobie, Archdeacon T. W. Johnson, Canon Beale and the Rev. M. McAdam Harding. Thanks to the strenuous labours of these and other clergymen under Bishop Grisdale's leadership, his episcopate was prosperous in the extreme. By 1906 the diocese contained sixty-seven churches and more than thirty-three hundred members of the Anglican communion, served by forty-eight ordained clergymen and twenty-four lay readers. By 1908 there were eighty-two churches, thirty-nine rectories and vicarages and eight parish halls.

The first Synod of Qu'Appelle had been held in 1884 at the territorial capital. There were two churches in the diocese, that at Regina under the pastoral care of Rev. H. Havelock Smith, and that at Moose Jaw in charge of Dean Sargent. In 1912 there were one hundred and fifty churches and ninety-two clergy on the roll, under the able supervision of Bishop M. McAdam Harding, who was consecrated as coadjutor to Bishop Grisdale, June 3, 1909, and succeeded him 011 the resignation of the latter, June 9, 1911.

The year 1907 was marked in the ecclesiastical history of Qu'Appelle diocese by the establishment of St. Chad's Hostel at Regina. This college had its inception in Shropshire, England, when at a meeting held in Shrewsbury the Church people decided to assist the Church in the Diocese of Qu'Appelle by supporting a Hostel which should have as its object the training of candidates for Holy Orders. The Rev. C. R. Littler, who had spent about twenty years in Manitoba, but who had been latterly residing in Shropshire, was appointed first Warden of the Hostel and began his work in May, 1907. On his retirement, owing to ill health, in 1909, Archdeacon Dobie was appointed Warden, with the Rev. R. J. Morrice sub-warden. Already about fifteen of the alumni of St. Chad's are at work in the diocese, and the Bishop in his charge to the Synod, in January, 1913, spoke highly of their work and ministry. The College was affiliated with the University of Saskatchewan in 1912. New and commodious quarters are being erected in the capital city in 1913. St. Chad's College is the first of a scheme of buildings which will eventually include the Bishop's Residence, Boys' School, Synod Office and a Cathedral Church.

In 3908 steps were taken to organize a Prairie Brotherhood, similar in character to the Bush Brotherhood that has done such effective service in Australia. Behind this movement stood the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Its work was chiefly among the many thousands of new settlers that are establishing homes in the southwestern quarter of the diocese. The organization disbanded, however, in May, 1913.

From the point of view of church history a quite exceptional interest attaches to the system of so-called Railway missions in the diocese of Qu'Appelle. To avoid a possible misunderstanding, it may be stated that these are quite distinct from those forms of missionary enterprise commonly associated with railway construction works. The scheme simply embodies a policy by which the railway lines are made the basis for dividing the country into missionary districts and establishing the Church in the new communities that spring up like mushrooms along the railway line. Acting upon the suggestion of Archbishop Matheson, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, in December, 1909, made an appeal for men and money to assist in Church extension work in North Western Canada. Fifty volunteers and an annual allowance of £10,000 for the North West was thus secured. Early in 1910 the Rev. W. G. Boyd assumed charge of this work at Edmonton, and a few months later the Rev. Douglas Ellison undertook like duties at Regina in the interest of the Qu'Appelle diocese. Rev. W. H. White, Vicar of Lanigan, rendered valuable assistance in the work of organization and the enterprise was in active operation by October, 1910, with four ordained clergymen in the fields. To each of these was assigned a strip of railway about one hundred miles in length, with the adjacent countryside. In 1913 this force had increased to twelve priests and six laymen. Within two years twenty-four churches had been established, $30,000 had been raised from local sources and Church services were being conducted in sixty-seven places. Upon being assigned his strip of railway, the missionary makes it his business during the first year to find in what localities the Church of England population is strongest. There he leads the people in the building of a church by local funds, encouraging the pioneers by assuring them of free pastoral service for the period of twelve months. In the second year the new congregation assists in the maintenance of the missionary and in the third year every effort is made to render the charge self-supporting. The headquarters of the mission is the Clergy House at Regina. In the autumn of 1912 His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught laid the cornerstone of the present Clergy House. Here each of the missionaries has a room, and from Regina he works his territory by means of the railways. The advantages of such a plan in connection with districts in which the Church population is small and not yet particularly affluent, are obvious.

In 1912 Mr. Ellison devised a Hospital scheme to serve the needs of the smaller towns. The town itself erects the building and the mission maintains it and supplies the necessary staff of nurses. Davidson and Rosetown were the first places to take advantage of this offer, building hospitals capable of serving about sixteen patients. Additional nurses not yet required for such institutions as these are, under direction of the mission, doing private prairie nursing in the meantime (1913).

Of the several great British Missionary Societies to which Saskatchewan owes a debt of gratitude, special mention must be made of the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge. This venerable association celebrated its second centenary in 1901. It has done invaluable works in many parts of the world, the Church in the United States being practically founded by it. By the beginning of the present century it had expended nearly $1,900,000 in Canada and Newfoundland.

In 1901 the Anglican Church stood fourth, numerically, among the great religious bodies of the Province of Saskatchewan, 75,342 of our citizens registering themselves as members or adherents.


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