Project Canterbury

Colonial Church Histories

History of the Church in Eastern Canada and Newfoundland

By John Langtry, M.A., D.C.L.,
Rector of S. Luke's, Toronto, and Prolocutor of the Provincial Synod of Canada

London, Brighton and New York: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1892.

Chapter III. The Diocese of Quebec

NOVA SCOTIA, the first Colonial Diocese of the English Church, was founded in 1789. It embraced, as has already been narrated, the whole of British North America, including Newfoundland and the Bermudas. By far the greater part of this Diocese remained a terra incognita to the first Bishop of Nova Scotia. The unbroken forests everywhere covered the land, except along the shores of the sea, and the banks of the great rivers; so that it would have been exceedingly difficult and hazardous, if not impossible, to pass by land from the Nova Scotian to the Canadian part of his Diocese; while the journey by water would have involved a long sea and river voyage. The Bishop was moreover fully occupied with the planting and supervision of the Church in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick; and for the present there seemed not much need for attempting to extend his ministrations to the regions beyond.

The whole of Canada had been ceded in 1759 to Great Britain by France, and so at first the only settlers were French Roman Catholics. English garrisons were established at several points in the newly acquired territory. These were provided with their own chaplains, who were supposed to be quite sufficient to supply all needed ministrations.

The straggling settlers who gradually came in had [39/40] to be content with such services as the garrison chaplains were able to give them. No action was taken in the mother country till 1780 for the establishment of the Church in this wild domain.

Work of a purely missionary character had not however been wholly neglected. In 1748, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel had appointed the Rev. John Ogilvie, a graduate of Yale College, as their missionary to the Mohawk Indians in the province of New York. Unceasing warfare had, almost from the first settlement of the country, been carried on between the French colonists in Canada and the English settlers on the Atlantic coast. Constant forays were made by the one side or the other, quite regardless of the fact that England and France were living in peace and professed amity. But now the final struggle in which both the colonies and the mother countries were united (for the possession of the land) broke out. An expedition was organized in the province of New York to attack the French posts in what afterwards became Upper Canada. Nine hundred and forty Indians of Mr. Ogilvie's Mohawk mission joined the invading army. Fort Niagara, the point of attack, was soon captured, and Mr. Ogilvie continued with the garrison that was stationed there, ministering both to the Indians and whites. Many of the former embraced the Christian religion, and were baptized. In her work among the Indians, however, the Church of England was at a disadvantage. The Jesuits had before this time, with heroic zeal, established their missions in every Indian tribe in Canada, and away across the continent to the foot of the Rocky Mountains. They had also supplied them with decent places of worship. Our services, on the other hand, had to be carried on in kitchens and unfurnished rooms, if not in the open air. The Indians were not slow to make disparaging reflections upon [40/41] a religion that was outwardly so mean and so poorly equipped.

After the conquest of Canada, Mr. Ogilvie was stationed at Quebec as chaplain to the 60th regiment, a post which he occupied for four years. From a letter of his to the S. P. G. in 1760, we gather that he organized several congregations in and about Quebec, and that he made many converts from the Church of Rome. After his removal, these nourishing congregations seem to have been neglected until they dwindled away and disappeared. In 1763, he wrote to the Society from Montreal, strongly urging the establishment of a mission at that point; but nothing was done. In 1789, the Rev. Chabrand Delisle, chaplain to the garrison at Montreal, again appealed to the S. P. G. for help, and stated that the Roman priests were making use of the neglected state of the Church of England services to persuade the people that the English did not care for their religion, and would do nothing for the spiritual welfare of their people. He himself had no place of worship, and so had to ask the people to go to the hospital for the services he was able to give them. It is easy to see how many would shrink from the danger, real or supposed, of contagion, by doing so. He, however, reports the baptism of fifty-nine children and one adult, and the admission of three Roman Catholics during the year.

At the conquest, there were about 60,000 French Roman Catholics in the Province, with practically no English settlers. By 1781, the English-speaking population had increased to 6000, and yet provision had not been made for even one clergyman of the Church of England. In 1782, Colonel Claus, then stationed at Montreal, became deeply interested in the spiritual condition of the inhabitants of the country, and especially of the Indians. At the request [41/42] of the Mohawks, who had lately removed from New York to a Canada, he translated the Prayer-book and a Primer into the Iroquois language. He distributed about 250 of these among the Six Nation Indians, then collected about Fort Niagara. This resulted in the conversion of many of these people, who asked to be baptized. In 1784, the S. P, G. sent the Rev. John Stuart, formerly a missionary in the province of New York, to undertake the charge of this mission. He was shortly afterwards removed to Kingston, but with the continued charge of the Mohawk churches; a charge which he faithfully fulfilled till his death in 1812. Mr. Stuart is justly regarded as the real father of the Church in Canada.

About the same time another Loyalist clergyman from New York, the Rev. Mr. Doty, was settled at Sorel, and was the first to organize the Church in that part of Canada. In 1787, Mr. Langhorn was sent out by the Society as itinerant missionary, and was stationed at Ernest Town in Upper Canada. In 1793, at the earnest entreaty of Bishop Inglis, of Nova Scotia, the Diocese of Quebec was founded.


Dr. Jacob Mountain was consecrated first Bishop of Quebec, with jurisdiction over Upper and Lower Canada. Dr. Mountain was a French Huguenot by extraction, grandson of Monsieur Jacob de Montaigne, who purchased and resided in Thwaite Hall near Norwich. He was nominated to the Bishopric of Quebec by the younger Pitt, and probably at the suggestion of Dr. Tomline, Bishop of Lincoln, who was a friend of both. At the time of his appointment there were but six resident clergymen in all Canada, and about the same number of churches. Mr. Delisle assisted by Mr. Tonstall was at Montreal, [42/43] Mr. Langhorn at Ernest Town, Mr. Addison at Niagara, Mr. Stuart at Kingston, and Mr. Doty at Sorel. In 1795, two years after the Bishop's appointment, the Rev. Jehoshaphat Mountain, a brother of the Bishop, was sent to Three Rivers as assistant missionary. Mr. Doty resigned, and was succeeded by Mr. Rudd from Cornwall, and Mr. (afterwards Bishop) Strachan was ordained by the Bishop of Quebec, to take his place at Cornwall.

In 1812, Mr. Stuart died, and was succeeded in the Rectory of Kingston by his son, the Rev. George Okill Stuart, then serving as a missionary at Little York (Toronto), and Dr. Strachan was removed from Cornwall to supply his place.

The work proceeded regularly, but slowly, following but not by any means keeping pace with the in creasing population. The Bishop gave his early attention to the erection of a cathedral in Quebec, which was completed and consecrated in 1804.

About the beginning of the year 1800, the Bishop called the attention of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to the fact that a large number of English-speaking people were settled in the neighbourhood of Missiquoi Bay, and appealed for help to enable him to provide for their spiritual needs. The result of this appeal was a grant of £50 by the Society, and £100 by the Government, for the support of a missionary at St. Armand and Durham.

To this mission that apostolic and saintly man the Hon. and Rev. Charles James Stewart was appointed. There was no church, no school, no parsonage, and it might be added no religion. In that beautiful and fertile district a large number of people from the neighbouring States had settled. These had brought with them very strong prejudices against everything British, and especially against the English Church. The people on the borders of the two countries were [43/44] moreover rough and irreligious. A clergyman had resided among them for some years before Mr. Stewart's arrival, but failing to make any impression upon them, he had left with his spirits broken.

Mr. Stewart, who may truly be called the Apostle of the eastern townships of Lower Canada, arrived in his mission on a Saturday, and hired a room in the inn for the service the next day. When the landlord was told for what purpose the room was wanted, he tried hard to dissuade him; and warned him not only that no persons would come, but that the attempt to hold a service might lead to serious personal risk. "Then here is the place of duty for me," was the brave reply. In that unpromising place lie remained. After a month the services were held under a more suitable roof than that of the tavern; in the following year a church was built, and sixty persons were confirmed. In this district Mr. Stewart laboured, living in a single room in a farm-house, boarding with the family of the farmer, and removed from all communication with the educated society to which he had been accustomed. In 1817, having built a church and parsonage, he resigned his charge to a worthy successor, and took up new ground at Hatley, some fifty miles distant. Here he manifested the same evangelizing zeal and constructive energy which had changed St. Armand from a godless settlement to a Christian parish. He laboured for nine years in his new post, and met with the same amazing success. Again he handed his work over to another, and in 1819 received what with great simplicity he called his advancement, being made travelling missionary for the whole Diocese. In this capacity he laboured for nine years more, visiting the most remote parts of this vast district, until in 1826 he was called to succeed Bishop Mountain as its chief pastor, with [44/45] the unanimous approbation of the whole Canadian people.

Dr. Stewart was a man of few gifts, personal or intellectual; the great and noted success of his ministry was due to the simplicity and sincerity of his character, to his single-minded devotion to his work; and, above all, to his secret and sustained communion with his God.

Mr. Stewart was the fifth son of the Earl of Galloway. Educated at Corpus Christi College, he obtained a Fellowship at All Souls, and thence had taken a benefice in Huntingdonshire; but he felt himself called on to undertake more arduous work, and specially he desired to fill some post for which no one else seemed likely to volunteer. At first his thoughts were turned to India; but hearing of the great need of clergy in Canada, he offered himself for service in this land.

Dr. Stewart's character was not of a class we should expect to meet with in the days in which he lived. Simple as a child, devout and studious, he avoided all excitement, both in his personal religion and in his public ministration. In an age when asceticism was not regarded by the English Church as any part of Christian discipline, he led the life of an ascetic, probably without realizing the fact that his doing so was singular. Luxuries whether in food or in furniture were never to be found in the rough Canadian farm-house which sheltered him; but such comforts as were available he eschewed. On Fridays his single meal was a dish of potatoes, and he observed the other fasts of the Church rigidly; neither did he alter his manner of life when he became a bishop. He was the possessor of a small private fortune, which together with his official stipend he devoted, with the exception of what was needed for a most frugal maintenance, to the advancement of the Church's [45/46] work. He frequently made collections among his personal friends in England for the same purpose, and so he was enabled, with the aid granted by the S. P. G., to erect many churches in the poorer neighbourhoods.

"The churches of which he procured the erection, the congregations which he formed, the happy change which he was often the instrument of effecting in the habits and hearts of the people" (says Bishop Mountain, his successor), "are the witnesses of his acceptance among them, and the monuments of his success."

In 1822, Mr. Stewart visited the Mohawk Indians' mission, and reports their condition as lamentably bad, and the occasional visits of one missionary as not being sufficient to produce any deep or lasting effect.

The descendants of these Indians are still living on the Grand River near Brantford, and on the Bay of Quinte. Mr. Stewart also visited at this time the Moravian village of Delaware Indians on the River Thames, and reported, "From the information I have received, I am persuaded that many of them are serious Christians, and lead a righteous life." In 1825 he made a prolonged and arduous journey through the Archdeaconries of York and Kingston, visiting again the Mohawk churches, and inducing the Chiefs to undertake the erection of a parsonage for their missionary, Mr. Hough. There were about 2000 Indians on the Grand River at this time, the majority of whom were heathens.

But to return. In 1814, the Bishop of Quebec set out on a visitation of Upper Canada--the wild west of his Diocese--and it is hardly possible now to conceive what that journey involved in the way of privation and toil; the Episcopal progress being made in bark canoes, with long portages, and then through woods and swamps in lumber wagons.

The Bishop had been twenty-one years in his [46/47] Diocese, and yet the whole staff of clergy in his vast jurisdiction, including the military chaplains and the assistants at Montreal and Quebec, had only risen to eighteen.

In 1816 he visited what are called the Eastern Townships, in the district lying to the south and east of Montreal, and towards the borders of New Brunswick. In the same year, 1816, Dr. Strachan of York (Toronto), made his way through the forests to the Indian settlements on the Grand River, baptized 74 persons among them, and extended his visits to the settlements along Lake Erie.

And so the work went on year after year without much variation. The Church, if not keeping pace with the increase of population, was at least gaining in strength and popularity. The Bishop of Quebec, writing to the Society, expresses his conviction that the circumstances of the country were at that time particularly favourable to the extension of the Church. The rapid inflow of population resulting in the intermingling of different religious denominations, had weakened the prejudices against the Church, and caused the new settlers everywhere to join in appeals to the Bishop to supply the spiritual needs of the settlements. They expressed an earnest wish to be united to the Church; these demands the Bishop was altogether unable to supply. During his Episcopate the clergy had greatly increased, with a corresponding increase of churches, and yet there were whole townships and stretches of country rapidly filling up with immigrants, which were left without the Church's ministrations. Societies were formed in both Provinces, and funds raised for the building of churches, and much was done for Church extension. But the system pursued was a defective one. The demand for a classically educated ministry was too inflexible, the habit of preaching written sermons [47/48] too cold and mechanical, and too remote from the needs of the everyday life of the settlers, while the services were read in a formal way.

On the other hand, Methodists, itinerant and local preachers were now swarming over the land, all of them full of zeal, most of them unfriendly to the Church. And before the Church was awakened to the true methods for reaching and ministering to her scattered children, they were lost to her, and have continued ever since hopelessly embittered against her.


Bishop Mountain died in 1825, after a laborious Episcopate of thirty-two years.

The Hon. and Reverend Dr. Stewart, who by twenty years of arduous toil in widely extended, itinerating missionary work, had qualified himself for the duties of a missionary bishop, was chosen to succeed Bishop Mountain in the see of Quebec.

Bishop Stewart was the fifth son of John Earl of Galloway. He was a man of gentle manners and simple piety, who is spoken of by his friend and successor as "the boast and blessing of the Canadian Church." Without ostentation or parade, he had left in the quietest manner, scenes and associations of the utmost attractiveness for the purpose of converting the Indians of Canada to the faith of Christ, and of instructing the more savage whites, the trappers and hunters of the forest, in the principles of the Christian religion. He devoted himself with unremitting earnestness to the discharge of his arduous duties.

At the earliest opportunity he appealed to the Society to renew the appointment of travelling missionary, from which he had been withdrawn. [48/49] "It is not enough," he writes, "that the services of the person w r ho may be appointed to fill this position should at all times be disposable; he must possess an unlimitable acquaintance with the country and with the habits of the people."

In 1826, Bishop Stewart visited a great part of the two extensive provinces under his charge, and entered into a close examination of their religious conditions. Before leaving Quebec he confirmed 205 people. At his first visit to Montreal 286 persons were confirmed--many of them were advanced in years. In Upper Canada the number confirmed was about 400. His next visitation took place in 1828. He endeavoured, but without success, to ascertain the number of communicants; no less than 34 of the clergy neglecting to return any answer to his inquiries on this head. Under Bishop Stewart's administration the number of the clergy in the whole Diocese had increased to 86 at the beginning of the year 1833. Fifty of these were employed in Upper Canada, and 36 in Lower Canada. Among these are found four future bishops, viz. G. J. Mountain, Dr. Strachan, A. N. Bethune, and B. Cronyn, and four future archdeacons, viz. A. Palmer, A. Nelles, G. O. Stuart, and H. Patton. Nearly all the clergy of those times were engaged in pioneer missionary work. There were not more than four towns in the whole Diocese, and but very few villages. The settlers were scattered through the as yet forest-covered land. They had just cleared a few acres in the bush, had put up a small log-house or shanty, and had a very hard struggle to live. The roads, if there were any, were of the worst conceivable description; often only a blazed line through the forest led to the settler's cabin. It is needless to say that in that cabin the accommodation was very limited, and the fare not very [49/50] varied or luxurious. In and out, among these brave unsophisticated people, the clergy went on horse back when they could, but often on foot, holding services in cabins and kitchens and barns, and often in the open air. They were sure of a hearty welcome, and the most generous hospitality that it was possible for the settlers to give them. On the whole they were a courageous, cheerful, uncomplaining set of men.

Bishop Stewart was unceasing in his labours, and his life of exposure and fatigue produced before long its natural results. His health quite broke down, so that he became unable any more to perform the more arduous duties of his office. After long and earnest efforts he succeeded in getting his friend, Archdeacon Mountain, consecrated as his coadjutor, under the title of Bishop of Montreal, and with the right of succession.

In the summer of 1836, Bishop Stewart left Quebec for the last time, with the forlorn hope that a voyage to England might add somewhat to his life, and enable him to be still further useful. In this hope, however, he and his friends were disappointed. He was nothing benefited by the change. His strength gradually failed until he sank to rest, at the age of 62, on the 13th of July, 1837. A saint, unspotted of the world, full of alms-deeds, full of humanity, and all the examples of a virtuous life! He died possessed of no property; the whole of his private fortune had been expended for the benefit of the Church. He laid up his treasure in heaven, and doubtless is finding it every day in the fresh arrival, in the paradise of rest, of some soul brought to a knowledge of the truth, and saved through some of the instrumentalities which his munificence established in the land.


Immediately after his ordination to the priesthood in 1814, the Rev. George Jehoshaphat Mountain removed to Fredericton, to the Rectorship of which he had been appointed by the Bishop of Nova Scotia. The failing health of his father induced him, after a stay of three years, to return to Quebec that he might render him whatever assistance lay in his power. He was appointed "Bishop's Official," and began in Jan. 1818 as a simple missionary, and afterwards continued, as archdeacon, to visit the outlying portions of the Diocese. In 1818, he ac companied his father in what was his first, and his father's last, visitation of Upper Canada. It was in the course of this visitation that he first met with Dr. Stewart, the second Bishop of Quebec. They were both men of refined taste, gentle manners, and humble minds, and of deeply devotional character. They took to each other at once; and a tender and affectionate friendship, which lasted till the end of their lives, sprung up between the two men. Each seemed only to desire the other's elevation. The only rivalry between them was a rivalry of humility. When Dr. Stewart was appointed to the see of Quebec, he was unremitting in his efforts to obtain as his assistant his cherished friend, now Archdeacon Mountain. That friend, however, was more than disinclined to accept the duty, for his desire from first to last was to serve and not to rule. He only yielded when Bishop Stewart declared that he would have no one else. His consecration as coadjutor took place at Lambeth on the 14th of Jan., 1836, under the title of Bishop of Montreal. On the 12th of September he arrived as coadjutor to Bishop Stewart. On the death of Dr. Stewart the [51/52] coadjutor became the third Bishop of the undivided Diocese of Canada. Twice he had been sent to England to urge the authorities there to divide this unwieldy Diocese; but so far the only action consented to, was the appointment of a coadjutor, which issued in leaving the burden of the Episcopal office just what it had been before this action was taken.

Bishop G. J. Mountain's life and character have been portrayed by the affectionate pen of his son. As he passes before us in the halo of private, domestic, and public devotion, we cannot but thank God for the grace which blessed the past years of the Canadian Church with the life and teaching of one who was a saint indeed. From the first he was singularly devout, occupying much time every day in offering prayers and praises to God; but it was during his declining years that the simplicity of his faith became specially conspicuous. He adopted the Psalmist's rule, "Seven times a day will I praise thee; at midnight also will I rise to give thanks unto Thee," as the rule of his life; and for many years before his death he used to rise regularly at midnight to sing praises and render thanks to God. His life was lived with God; his demeanour both in public and private prayer was that of abstracted and adoring devotion. Three several times his fidelity was put to the sternest test. In 1832, and again in 1834, the cholera beginning at Quebec swept over Canada. In the midst of the pestilence we see Archdeacon Mountain, as the commissioned minister of the Most High, standing between the living and the dead if not to stay the plague, at least to point the smitten to Him who had taken the sting from death.

Grosse Isle, about thirty miles below Quebec, had been set apart by Government as the receiving station for immigrants who arrived, in the pest ships, from Europe during those terrible cholera years. [52/53] The graveyard at the island was rapidly filled. The disease leaped across the channel, and having fallen like a firebrand in Quebec, it swept through the city like a leaping flame. In less than ten months 3000 out of a population of 28,000 had died. For two days, at the worst of the plague, Mr. Mountain buried over seventy-five people each day; and with this, he and his assistants were unceasing in ministering to the living, A horse was kept saddled day and night in the stables, ready to fly to the stricken who lived at a distance. Frequently both he and his assistants w r ere out all night, and on many days were not able to return to their homes. Again in 1847, the ship-fever, that fatal product of a famine in Ireland, was imported into Canada. The Anglican clergy, who were few in number, with devoted zeal took the duty week about at Grosse Isle; Bishop Mountain as he had now become taking the first week. Most of the clergy sickened, and two of them died of the fever. The greatness and intensity of this strain may be understood when it is mentioned that over 5000 interments took place at Grosse Isle during the summer of 1847. The misery and horror of this Station are thus described by the Bishop in a letter to the Society:--" On account of the over whelming extent of the labours thus given at the quarantine station, produced by the swarms of miser able beings poured upon the shores of Canada from Ireland, I have found it absolutely indispensable to employ two clergymen at that Station. I felt it right to set the example of taking a turn myself in this duty, and went down for a week. The scenes of wretchedness, disease, and death to be there witnessed, thickening day by day, surpass all description. When I left the Station there were almost 1700 sick upon the island; every building which could be made in any way available, the two churches [53/54] included, being turned into hospitals, together with a vast number of tents, and almost 800 afloat in the miserable holds of the ships." With the utmost exertion on the part of the authorities it was a matter of impossibility to provide the necessary comforts and attendance for these poor sufferers. The daily amount of deaths was frightful. We had not, perhaps, above 300 Protestants sick out of this number; but so dispersed on shore and afloat, and so intermingled with Romanists were they, some times two of different faith in one bed, that the labour of attending on them ministerially was immense. Fifteen of the clergy of the Diocese of Quebec, including the Bishop, took their turn at Grosse Isle. Most of them caught the fever; two of them died the Rev. W. Anderson, who insisted on staying six weeks, and the Rev. W. Morris, who remained two weeks. There were, however, other points in the Diocese where the fever broke out and raged; points where the poor immigrants, who were allowed to pass on from Grosse Isle, were taken down, specially at Quebec, Montreal, and St. John's. The resident clergy at these places were not behind their brethren, the heroes of Grosse Isle, in their devotion to the pest-stricken immigrants. Of them there died at Quebec the Rev. W. Chaderton; at Montreal, the Rev. Mark Willoughby; and at St. John's, the Rev. W. Dawes.

About this time an intimation was received from the Imperial Government that the grant hitherto made to the S. P. G. would shortly be withdrawn. The danger was averted, on the urgent remonstrance of the Bishop, by the application of funds arising from colonial resources, including the Clergy Reserves, amounting to £7000 per annum, to the purposes of the Church in Upper Canada and part of New Brunswick. This set the Society free to apply its [54/55] grant of £12,855 to the payment of the salaries of existing missionaries in Lower Canada, part of New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island. In the Bishop's appeal he says: "While I leave the clergy under the veil as regards the names, I can vouch for such occurrences as these. A clergyman in his circuit of duty passed twelve nights in the open air, six in boats upon the water, and six in the depths of the trackless forests with Indian guides. A deacon, while scarcely fledged for the more arduous flights of duty, has performed journeys of 120 miles in the midst of winter upon snow-shoes. I could tell how some of these poor, ill-paid servants of the Gospel have been worn down in strength before their time, at remote and laborious stations. I could give many a history of persevering travels in the ordinary exercise of ministerial duty, in defiance of difficulties and accidents, through woods and roads almost impassable, and in all the severities of weather; of rivers traversed amid masses of floating ice, when the experienced canoe-men would not proceed without being urged. I have known one minister to sleep out of doors when there was snow upon the ground. I have known others to answer calls to sick-beds, at the distance of fifteen or twenty miles in the wintry woods, and others who have travelled all night to keep a Sunday appointment, after a call of this sort on the Saturday. But," he concludes, "my chief object in all this confident boasting of my brethren, is to draw some favourable attention to the unprovided condition of many settlements, which may not always comprehend any considerable number of settlers, if their spiritual destitution were not sufficient plea in the beginnings of a great and even now rapidly growing population--dependent in all human calculation upon the religious advantages enjoyed by the present settlers, for the moral [55/56] character which they will exhibit, the habits which they will cultivate, and the faith which they will follow. The stream, in all its progressive magnitude, may be expected to preserve the tincture it receives now."

"The demand," the Bishop says, "for the ministration of the Church of England in Canada has been constantly progressive since the date of the conquest. I am in possession of abundant documents to show that the applications to the Bishop for ministers during all this period have far exceeded the means at their command to answer them; and that even on the part of religious bodies, not originally Episcopal, there has existed in many instances a decided disposition to coalesce with the Church; a disposition which might have been influenced to the happiest advantage for the permanent interests of religion in the colony, but for the frequent inability of the bishops to provide for the demands."

By the death of Bishop Stewart the whole care of the Church in both the Canadas devolved upon Bishop Mountain, who continued to be called Bishop of Montreal, until the formal establishment of that Episcopate, when he was transferred to and took the title of Bishop of Quebec. At his first visitation of the Diocese the number confirmed was the largest known in Canada; and he states that the number of clergy, inadequate as it still was to the wants of the people, had at least doubled since the care of churches, less than six years ago, came upon his shoulders.


In 1843, at the request of the Church Missionary Society, Bishop Mountain undertook to visit their Indian Missions in the far-off territory of the Hudson Bay Company. The whole distance involved a journey from Montreal of about 2000 miles, and it was all [56/57] accomplished either in bark canoes, or on foot. Very graphic and touching is the Bishop's own account, in his letter to the Society, of this arduous under taking. Starting at Lachine, about nine miles from Montreal, they paddled up the Ottawa about 320 miles, then made their way by numerous portages into Lake Nipissing, which they crossed. Then down the French river into the Georgian Bay (Lake Huron); then for 300 miles they threaded their way through that wonderful Archipelago, containing, it is said, 39,000 islands, to the Sault Ste. Marie. Thence, after a long portage around the Sault, they rowed across the entire length of Lake Superior to Fort William; thence up to Kemenistiquoia; through the Rainy and Wood lakes; down the Winnipeg river; thence, along the shores of the stormy Lake Winnipeg, to the mouth of the Red River. This they reached on a Saturday long after dark.

They had now occupied nearly six weeks in their journey; and as the Bishop wished to spend the Sunday in the nearest settlement, they moved on all night, and just came in in time for Morning Prayer at the little wooden Indian church probably where Winnipeg now stands. The Bishop visited all the stations occupied by the C. M. S. missionaries except far away Cumberland, confirmed 846 persons, held two ordinations, and made his way back to Montreal on the 15th of August, having been incessantly occupied for three months in journeying or visiting the churches.

In his letter to the Church Missionary Society he says--"It is impossible that I can write to you after my visit without paying at least a passing tribute to the valuable labours of those faithful men whom the Society has employed in the field of its extensive operations. And the opportunity which was afforded me of contrasting the condition of the Indians who [57/58] are under their training and direction with that of the unhappy Indians with whom I came in contact upon the route, signally enabled me to appreciate the blessings of which the Society is the instrument, and did indeed yield a beautiful testimony to the power and reality of the Gospel of Christ." The report of the Bishop on the needs of the North-west led before long to the formation of the Diocese of Rupert's Land, and the appointment of Bishop Anderson. That one Diocese has since been divided into eleven, all but one of which is now ruled over by a bishop.

Shortly after his return, the Bishop visited Gaspe, 450 miles below Quebec. He concludes his account of this visitation by saying--"We go over a great deal of space to effect things which at present are upon a very humble scale. I have just travelled 228 miles to visit one little insulated congregation. The Diocese consists of scattered, often feeble, congregations, enjoying but scanty and imperfect provision in religion; with churches standing unfurnished for years together, and sometimes with no churches at all; with poor missionaries enduring hardships as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, yet labouring for a few here and a few there, so that all looks in some eyes unimportant, Priests and people alike of destiny obscure. But are they not highly regarded, the very objects for Christian sympathy and help? For myself, I cannot but view it as a privilege, for which the deepest thankfulness is due, that I have been permitted, with whatever feeble ability, to follow up the work of my beloved predecessors, and to go on enlarging on their plan from year to year, in such a field."


To the earnest and untiring efforts of Bishop Mountain the University of Bishop's College owes its [58/59] existence, and may justly be considered the great achievement of his life. The College was designed first to provide all necessary appliances for the education of the ministry of the Church of England in the Province of Quebec, and secondly to offer to the country at large the blessing of a sound and liberal education based upon religious principles. The village of Lennoxville in the Eastern Townships was selected as its site on the ground of its central position in reference to the English-speaking population of the Province. The College has grown from small be ginnings to be a large and influential institution, with various Faculties and a substantial endowment. It has also built up, side by side with the University, a public school after the model of the great public schools of England, which has done and is doing noble work for the education of the youth of the country. The College was founded in 1845, and erected into a University by Royal Charter in 1852. The Bishop himself and his family contributed largely to the endowment, as did also the S. P. G. and S. P. C. K. The two Societies have always shown a warm interest in the welfare of the College, and largely aid in the maintenance of candidates for Holy Orders in it.

During these early years of Bishop Mountain's Episcopate the Diocese prospered greatly. At the visitation held in 1845 the number of the clergy had risen to 73 in the remaining Diocese of Quebec, and of this number 53 were missionaries of the S. P. G. In the spring of 1846, the Bishop confirmed in the parish church of Montreal 325 persons, the largest number ever confirmed by any bishop in British North America at one time. The number confirmed in the same year in the cathedral in Quebec was 218. During this visitation, which occupied the greater part of two years, 2012 persons were confirmed, and eleven new churches consecrated.


The question of the Clergy Reserves had now come to the front, and as that question occupied such a prominent place in the politics of the country, and in the history of the Church, it may be well to explain briefly what is meant by it.

The Clergy Reserves of Canada were created by the Constitutional Act of 1791. Bishop Mountain, in a letter to the S. P. G., in 1836, thus explains the matter--"The case of the Church in Canada, with respect to the formation and maintenance of its establishment, is briefly this. The territory having been ceded by France to the Crown of Great Britain in 1759, a Protestant population by degrees flowed in, with the prospect of course of continued accession. Measures were therefore taken by the Government to provide for the spiritual wants of this population. In 1791, when the two distinct Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada were established by what is commonly called the Quebec Act, the Royal Instructions to the Governors having previously declared the Church of England to be the established religion of the Colony, to which Instructions reference is introduced in the Act--a reservation of one-seventh of all the lands in Upper Canada, and of all such lands in the Lower Provinces as were not already occupied by the French inhabitants, was made for the support of a Protestant clergy. . . . The little value attached in the earlier stages of British possession to tracts of wild land, and the hopelessness of obtaining a tenantry upon the clergy lots so long as the fee-simple of the same quantity could be obtained in the same way as free grants or for a trifling consideration, caused the property to remain for a long time unproductive; and so it was greatly disregarded by the Government, in whose [60/61] hands the management of it resided. In 1806, however, measures were taken to erect a Corporation in each Province for the management of the Reserves; but it was not till 1819 that these Corporations went into operation." About this time a controversy arose as to the proper legal construction of the Act of 1791, and the intention of Parliament in passing it, as well as to the interpretation to be given to the words Protestant clergy." This controversy waxed hotter and hotter, until it led to the passing of another Imperial Act in 1840, which directed that the Clergy Reserves should be divided into six equal parts, two of which were to be appropriated to the Church of England, and one to the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian), and the other three to be applied by the Governor of the Province for the purpose of public worship and religious instruction in Canada. This settlement, though acquiesced in by the two bodies benefited, did not, as might be expected, prove satisfactory to the numerous other religious bodies in the land. The secularization of the Reserves became the political question of the day, until in 1854 the whole of these lands were resumed by the Government, and the income derived from them was applied to purposes of education and public works.

Tested rights, however, were so far respected, that the salaries of the clergy who at the time of the secularization were being paid out of this fund, were continued for life. Provision was also made by which individual clergy were allowed to commute for a lump sum on condition of paying over this commutation to the several Church Societies, and accepting the guarantee of the Church Society as security for the same in place of the Government as security for the annual payment of their salary. The clergy of Canada, with one exception, came into this scheme; [61/62] and thus what are called "Commutation Funds" were established in the various Dioceses, which have proved of the greatest service to the Church.

In 1842, long before the passing of this Act, in order to call out and consolidate the offerings of the Church for the promotion of its various objects, a Church Society was established. Its special objects were--(1) The support of the clergy and their widows and orphans; (2) Promoting Day and Sunday Schools; (3) Helping candidates for Holy Orders; (4) To be a Bible and Book Society; and (5) To aid in building churches, parsonages, &c.

The system of Church Societies did excellent service for the time being in the Colonies; but the very effort at organization made the need of something more and better only the more felt. The claims of Synodical action were now being pressed upon the Church on all sides, both at home and in the Colonies. The wonderful results of the Conciliar organization of the American Church were ever before the eyes of the Canadian Churchmen. An Act of the Provincial Legislature was obtained removing all doubts as to the right of Churchmen to meet in Synod and manage their own affairs. As soon as this Act was passed, Bishop Mountain proceeded to organize his Diocesan Synod under it. Great difficulties, however, now developed themselves. There had been for many years in the city of Quebec a small but influential party of extreme Low Church views. This party had been a sore thorn in the side of Bishop Mountain from the first. They now proceeded to organize themselves and agitate with a view to secure the control of the Synod, and specially to exclude from its constitution the Episcopal veto, the right of the clergy to a separate vote, and the regulation that all Lay Delegates must be communicants. The controversy extended over the years 1857-1860, and [62/63] the bitterness and ferocity with which it was carried on, especially as against a man of the gentleness, courtesy, and saintly character of Bishop Mountain, are scarcely conceivable in the calmer atmosphere of the present day. The establishment of the Synod, however, largely helped by their own violence, killed this faction. When the Synod met, they were found to be in a very insignificant minority, and the generosity with which that minority was treated by their opponents completed the victory.

After and in consequence of the first few years of the working of the Synod, happier days ensued; suspicion and distrust died out; and the last few years of the saintly Bishop's life were years of quietness and peace and goodness.

At the Synod of 1862, arrangements were made for celebrating, on the 2nd of August following, the fiftieth anniversary of the Bishop's ordination. On that day an impressive service was held in the cathedral. Addresses were presented. The beautiful Forelay Asylum, or Church Home for the aged and infirm poor, was dedicated; and a sum of money for the purpose of founding a scholarship in the University of Bishop's College, Lennoxville, to be called "The Bishop Mountain Jubilee Scholarship," was placed in the Bishop's hands.

The University, it is said, was regarded by him as the greatest work of his Episcopate. It was therefore a special gratification to him to have his name thus associated for ever with the child of his special affection. The year of Jubilee was speedily followed by the year of release. The rest of the summer was spent in visiting the coast of Labrador, where a mission sup ported by the S. P. G. had lately been established. In this visitation he had undergone much hardship by land and water, by which his vital powers were perhaps weakened. No one, however, thought that [63/64] the end was near. He entered into the Advent and Christmas services with impressive devotion and joy of heart. On St. Stephen's Day he sickened and took to his bed. The apprehension that the sickness was unto death stirred the heart of the whole community. In every church of his own communion, and in some of the Roman Catholic churches, prayers were offered for his recovery. But it was not to be. On the Feast of the Epiphany, 1863, the saintly Bishop, whose life has left its lasting impress upon the Church, gently closed his eyes in death.


When the Synod assembled to elect a successor to Bishop Mountain, two names only were thought of--the Rev. Armine W. Mountain, son of the late Bishop, and Bishop Anderson of Ruperts Land. The balloting till late in the afternoon showed a large majority of the clergy in favour of Mr. Mountain, and a small majority of the laity voting for Bishop Anderson. The Rev. J. W. Williams, who had taken a good degree at Oxford in 1851, and who had for some time been coming into note in the Diocese of Quebec as the Reviver and Head Master of the Lennoxville Grammar School, had been chosen to preach the sermon at the opening of the Synod. That discourse had profoundly impressed the whole Synod. And so, as the conviction grew that it was impossible to elect Mr. Mountain, the delegates began to vote in ever-increasing numbers for Mr. Williams, until before the day closed he was duly elected to fill the vacant see.

The Bishop-elect was only thirty-seven years old when chosen; but from the first he has manifested the gravity and wisdom of the aged. His administration of the Diocese has been eminently successful, and its [64/65] progress in all that outwardly indicates prosperity remarkable. The Diocese, though of enormous extent, has a very limited English-speaking population, and only about 25,000 of that population belong to the English Church. The very smallness of the English-speaking population exposes them to continual disadvantage in carrying on the business concerns of the country, and has a natural tendency to still further diminish their numbers by an almost enforced emigration. The Diocese, and especially the city of Quebec, the only place of wealth in the Diocese, have lost heavily in this way during the twenty-eight years of Bishop Williams's Episcopate. At the beginning of that period the Diocese had only just entered upon the arduous task of learning to support itself, having hitherto depended almost exclusively on assistance derived from the S. P. G. There was not one self-supporting parish in the Diocese. Bishop Mountain had spent his income as Rector of Quebec in augmenting the stipends of the city clergy, so that by his death the city parishes lost, and had to make good to the clergy at once, 3000 dollars a year. Outside the city of Quebec there were then thirty-four missions, the clergy of which did not receive on the average 100 dollars a year each from their own people; the bulk of their stipend--in many cases their entire salary--being derived from the S. P. G. The outlook was a disheartening one. Bishop Mountain, a man so unworldly in his personal character, and who possessed opportunities of knowledge of the subject out of the reach of other men, speaks of the prospects of the Church in his Diocese, before this heavy loss which his own death entailed, with trembling apprehension. Most clearly does his deliberate judgment, that the crisis was one full of danger to the Church, come out in the calm and well-considered words which he [65/66] addressed to the Synod at its second session in 1860. "It cannot be concealed," he said, "that we have had, arid have now, great difficulties to be faced. We have lost the countenance and recognition of the Government. We have been despoiled of our patrimony, and the great Society which has nursed the Church in the Colonies has been carrying out for some years a system of gradual reduction in the aid hitherto extended to us. Our people in the meantime have become habituated to live upon extraneous aid, and are slow to learn the necessity of adequate exertions and sacrifices of their own." And then, after speaking at much length of the poverty of the Diocese, he closes by saying--"The Diocese of Quebec does not, humanly speaking, present a very encouraging aspect to those who have its wants and interests in charge." "How completely," writes Archdeacon Roe, in his sermon on the twenty-fifth anniversary of Bishop Williams's consecration, "how happily have all these dark forebodings been proved groundless by what we witness to-day! Instead of ruin and decay, we see everywhere life, energy, and progress. The parishes in the Eastern Townships, the English-speaking part of the Diocese, doubled in number; the stipends of the clergy increased by one-half, and the material equipment of our Diocese for its work the admiration of the whole Canadian Church; a provision, steadily increasing, made for our clergy when aged or infirm; the Diocese covered with churches and parsonages, many of them models, most of them built under the new order; our Church University endowed almost afresh, and nobly equipped for its work. For so poor, so thinly peopled a Diocese, to have provided for itself, within twenty-five years, almost exclusively out of its own resources, all these endowments, aggregating as they do so large a sum of money, and that too while in the midst of the struggle to make its [66/67] missions self-supporting, is an achievement I think unexampled."

These results Archdeacon Roe, in his Biographical Sketch of Bishop Williams's Life, attributes almost exclusively to two causes--the financial organization known as "the Quebec system," and the spirit of unity and self-help that has grown up in the Diocese under Bishop Williams's administration. The main features of "the Quebec system" are--(1) An equitable assessment, graded according to means, of the amount to be paid by each mission towards the stipend of its clergyman; (2) The payment of this assessment, not directly to the clergyman, but to the Diocesan Board of Missions; (3) A simple but effective means of enforcing its regular and punctual payment; and (4) The payment of the entire stipend of the missionary by the Diocesan Board. "Under this organization," writes Dr. Roe, "while the Diocese, at least in the city, has declined in wealth, and while the grant from the S. P. G. has been reduced from 10,000 dollars to 5,000 dollars, thirteen of the thirty-four parishes have become entirely self-supporting, and eleven new missions have been established. The salaries of the clergy have been increased from £100 sterling to a graded scale of from 600 to 850 dollars per annum, according to term of service. The Pension Fund for aged and infirm clergymen has grown from nothing at the beginning of Dr. Williams's Episcopate to 35,000 dollars capital now. And still more satisfactory is it, that the Diocese has grown in missionary spirit, so that out of this poor Diocese there was sent in 1888 3500 dollars to help the general missionary work of the Church.

The system of Local Endowments mentioned above, as one of the most valuable features of the financial organization of the Diocese of Quebec, owes its origin to the wise foresight of Bishop Williams. Shortly [67/68] after his consecration he issued an appeal to the Diocese urging the absolute necessity of endowment to a Diocese situated as is that of Quebec, pointing out the advantages of a large number of small local endowments over a large Central Fund, and calling upon the clergymen and wardens of every parish to begin at once forming the nucleus of such a fund. This effort was seconded by a grant of 1000 from the S. P. G., and an offer of a gift from Mr. Robert Hamilton to every such Local Endowment Fund of a sum proportionate to the amount raised on the spot. "There are now," writes the Bishop, "thirty-six Local Endowments outside the city of Quebec, with special trusts, of which thirty-four, with a capital of 90,485 dollars, are the direct results of this appeal."

"Turning," says Dr. Roe, "to the progress of the Diocese under Dr. Williams in higher things, one feature at once suggests itself--its religious unity and freedom from party spirit. The two addresses presented to the Bishop at his twenty-fifth Anniversary Celebration, both of them drawn up by laymen, made reference to this happy state of things, and traced it directly to the Bishop's influence. Bishop Williams is a man of commanding presence, and dignified manners. His sermons have a majestic stateliness which seems to become well the Episcopal dignity. He has won the unhesitating confidence of his Diocese in his justice, judgment, and common sense. And his social influence, growing out of his intellectual powers, his wide literary culture, and his unfailing and kindly humour, is unbounded."

The following were among the most prominent clergymen of the diocese during this period:--The Rev. Jasper Hume Nicolls, D.D., nephew and son-in-law of Bishop George Mountain, sometime Michel Fellow of Queen's College, Oxford, and thirty-two years Principal of Bishop's College, Lennoxville, a [68/69] fine scholar, a natural teacher, and a man of singularly pure and unselfish life. Best of all his benefits to the Canadian Church was that he impressed, in the case of all who could receive it, the stamp of his own truthful and single-minded character upon the many generations of young men whom he trained for the sacred ministry; and left to the College which he organized and presided over so long, the invaluable tradition of what a true Church of England man ought to be.

He was followed in this position by the Rev. Joseph A. Lobley, D.C.L., a distinguished graduate of Cambridge, whose brilliant abilities, sound judgment, and splendid gifts of teaching and discipline won for him the confidence of all good men, and the affectionate regard of all who knew him personally. After twelve years of the most excellent scholastic work in Canada, he returned to England, where he soon after died suddenly of heart-failure. Never was there a nobler or a more unselfish spirit, or a more fruitful ministry and life.

What the Church of Canada owes to the Mountain family is beyond words to tell. The two Bishops Mountain and Jasper Nicolls have been mentioned. In no respect falling short of the best of them in self-denial and devotion to the souls of men, was Armine W. Mountain, Bishop George Mountain's eldest son. Upon the whole of his life was ever the unmistakable stamp of saintliness. His ministry was nearly equally divided between Canada and England, the first twenty years being given to the city of Quebec. There the extreme self-denial of his life and his consuming zeal in his ministry put to shame the lives of ordinary earnest men. After seven years labour in the district of St. Matthew's, he organized the parish of St. Michael outside the city, built its beautiful church, parsonage, and [69/70] schools, and laboured in it for twelve years so as to make it a model of what a country parish ought to be. The rest of his life he spent at St. Mary's, Stoney Stratford, where at length, worn out with his too zealous labours, added to his ascetic life, he died. His body rests by his saintly father's side in his own parish of St. Michael.

"The diocese of Quebec, however," writes one who is competent to speak, "is more indebted than to any other man after its Bishops for its progress and prosperity, its unity and peace, to the twenty-seven years of loving and devoted service of Charles Hamilton, now Bishop of Niagara. To him it owes the splendid success of its renowned financial organization the Diocesan Board; to him mainly the development out of its deep poverty of a multiform endowment which puts the Diocese for all time beyond the fear of financial collapse; but most of all influential upon the whole Diocese has been the admirable organization of St. Matthew's parish, and his loving ministry there for so many years. What ought not the Church of Quebec to be, with a ministry extending over three-quarters of a century before its eyes of three such men as George Jehoshaphat Mountain, Armine Mountain his son, and the beloved Charles Hamilton?"

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