Project Canterbury

Leaders of the Canadian Church

Edited by Canon Bertal Heeney

Toronto: Ryerson, 1943. 191 pp.



WE owe a debt of gratitude to those who have told the story of our Church's growth and have stimulated interest in its background and development in Canada. Canon Bertal Heeney has edited now three volumes on "Leaders of the Canadian Church." Writers with special knowledge of each leader have told the story of his life and work, and have made their narratives not a mere memorial, but a chapter in the growth of the Church. To Canon Heeney all Canadian Churchmen should be grateful.

The "hero theory" of history has been forcefully urged by Carlyle. Certainly no treatment of history is more interesting than the biographical. "The history of what man has accomplished in the world is at bottom the history of the great men who have worked there." While it is true that great men are not the whole of life, it may be maintained that they are largely the condition of all the rest. Isaiah in Chapter 32, verses 1-8, so describes "a man" and personal influence that the Church not unnaturally interpreted his words as a direct prophecy of Christ.

Canon Heeney has given us many facets of our Church history, through the leaders, whose Portraits are drawn by various competent writers. These men are regarded as typical workers; they do not stand or toil in isolation; they represent groups. The emphasis is laid not only on what they were, but on what they did. Here are chief pastors, who in many cases blazed the trail into new regions; bishops and clergy alike who were the missionary pioneers of the Far West, the North West and the Far North. They endured hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ; they planted, often others reaped the full harvest. Through their labours whole tribes of the primitive inhabitants of the continent came to know, to worship and to love the true Great Spirit. Here are great administrators and educational leaders like Bishop Strachan, a Scot from Aberdeen, founder of at least two universities; like Archbishop Machray, a Scot from Cambridge University, the first Primate of the Canadian Church, who laid the foundations of many diocesses and of educational institutions in the West. Here is the group of eloquent Irish preachers, like Sullivan, Du Moulin and Carmichael, brought by Bishop Cronyn of Huron from his native land, noble representatives of that great body of Irish Churchmen who have left indelible characteristics upon what was once "the United Church of England and Ireland" in Canada.

Of the leaders, described in the present volume, it has been my privilege to know all except William Duncan of Metlakahtla, and to number among them some of my dearest and closest friends. Professor Steen and I were at the University of Toronto together, he in Modern Languages and I in Classics and Philosophy.

Canon Sidney Gould graduated in Theology from Wycliffe College in the same year in which I did. He was the first missionary of our Church in Palestine, and as a medical missionary rendered signal service to the Christian cause in that cradle of the faith. I was always thankful to have had a part in bringing him back to Canada as General Secretary when Dr. Tucker retired to be Dean of Huron.

Of Dean Tucker and Archbishop Williams I find it hard to speak, because our friendship was so close. In mind and in spirit I was drawn to them and worked with them for years. Both were men of profound faith, clear thought, deep conviction and great administrative ability.

Of Archbishop Thornloe what better can be said than that he was a Christian gentleman? Who can forget his unfailing courtesy and courtliness? Once, about thirty-five years ago, he and I were fated to be candidates for the same high office--the Bishopric of Toronto. He had a majority of the clerical votes and I of the lay votes. The deadlock continued so long that a compromise was reached and another was chosen Bishop. God's ways are best.

Archbishop Stringer I well remember, when he was an undergraduate at the University of Toronto and at Wycliffe College. The missionary zeal of the whole Church was rekindled when he and Whittaker went to the Far North on Herschel Island to labour among savage and pagan Eskimos. These were heathen when he came; by God's blessing they were Christian when he left. What a life he lived, of service, sacrifice, achievement, and withal of simplicity, modesty, kindliness!

Archbishop Worrell was a born teacher, and efficient administrator. I have always modestly felt a great interest in his episcopate. In 1904, nearly forty years ago, I was elected Bishop of Nova Scotia but at the time I could not in honour leave my parish and so was obliged to decline this honourable service. Bishop Worrell was thereafter elected and became successively Metropolitan of the ecclesiastical Province of Canada and Primate of all Canada. Added responsibilities seemed to call forth from him increased power.


This third volume of "Leaders" will be published during the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the General Synod in September, 1893.

I was present, a young clergyman just ordained, as a spectator at the historic event of the establishment of the General Synod in old Trinity College Convocation Hall, in the city of Toronto. This was the outcome of a preliminary conference held in Winnipeg in 1890. A service was held in the choir of St. Alban's Cathedral. The coats of arms of each diocese prepared by the late Mr. E. M. Chad wick, whose hobby was heraldry, were placed above the stalls in which the various bishops sat. Bishop Machray preached, and voiced the hopes of those who looked for strength and better organization through the consolidation of the Church. Next day in joint conference a committee consisting of Bishop Machray, Bishop Sweatman (of Toronto) and Bishop Sillitoe (of New Westminster) with twelve clerical and twelve lay delegates presented three declarations to which unanimous assent was given and which have formed the'basis of co-operation ever since with such notable blessing to the Cause of Christ.

Thus was great courage shown by our fathers in the Faith of fifty years ago for which we may be duly grateful.

But we cannot live on our past; we must surpass the past and live by present faith and present courage and present power. Some years ago, when our former Governor-General, Lord Tweedsmuir, was still the beloved John Buchan, he was appointed by the King as his High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. In one of his addresses to the Assembly he used words that are equally applicable even in this stern and great day: "What the Church needs today is pride in her past, courage in the present, confidence and hope in the future--strong hands, high hearts and humble minds. What we shall need is a new song unto the Lord, new because we have to face a new world; and a song, because no work can be strong and enduring if we do not bring to it a lyrical, uplifting heart." Sursum Corda.


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