Project Canterbury

Handbooks of English Church Expansion

Western Canada

By L. Norman Tucker

London and Oxford: A. R. Mowbray & Co., Ltd., 1908.

Chapter IV. History (Religious)

Work among the Whites

AS we have seen in the last chapter, the first work on behalf of the Church in the Canadian mission-field was begun by the Rev. J. West, among the Indians at Red River, in 1820, and it was mainly for Indian work that the first missionaries were sent out, and that the first Bishop was consecrated in 1849. The first white work on behalf of the Church was begun on the Pacific coast, when, in 1856, the Rev. C. H. Cridge was appointed chaplain to the Hudson's Bay Company, and Bishop Hills, in 1859, was called to preside over the Church in the newly-formed colony of British Columbia. The discovery of gold on the Fraser River brought a large number of adventurers, in 1858 and the few following years, to Victoria, Yale, and Cariboo. But little work of a permanent character was undertaken anywhere [44/45] till the acquisition of the North-West by the Canadian Government in 1869, the entrance of British Columbia into the Confederation in 1871, and the formation of the Diocese of Algoma in 1873. The work carried on after those dates will be found in some detail in the following chapter. It will suffice here to give a cursory view of the development of the Church's organization throughout the Dominion, in order to indicate, so to speak, the mould in which the work is being cast and the instrument by which it is being done.

The first clergy in Eastern Canada were the missionaries sent to Nova Scotia in 1749. Their field of labour was extended to New Brunswick in 1769 and towards the end of the eighteenth century. Army chaplains ministered to the troops and to the few English inhabitants of the Province of Quebec after the conquest of 1759. Missionaries followed the settlers into Ontario at the close of the American War in 1783. The Colonial Episcopate was founded in 1787, when the Right Rev. Charles Inglis was appointed first Bishop of Nova Scotia. This first Colonial See was first divided when the Right Rev. Jacob Mountain was appointed Bishop of Quebec in 1793. Then, [45/46] what is now known as Eastern Canada was gradually subdivided by the formation of the Sees of Toronto in 1839; of Fredericton in 1845; of Montreal in 1850; of Huron in 1857; of Ontario in 1862; of Algoma in 1873; of Niagara in 1875, and of Ottawa in 1896.

At the outset the Bishop was the sole ruler of his diocese; but in a democratic age and country, and in an institution destined to become self-supporting, the need was soon felt of calling both the clergy and the laity into the councils of the Church. This led to the formation of Diocesan Synods, which were composed, so to speak, of three Houses, deliberating in common--but voting, if need be, separately--the Bishop, the licensed clergy, and the lay delegates from the parishes or missions. The first of these Synods was called in Toronto in 1851, and all the other dioceses soon followed that example.

The formation of Diocesan Synods soon aroused into vigorous action the feeling that had been long dormant, that the Church at large must find some organ for the expression of her corporate life. This led to the appointment, in 1860, of the Bishop of Montreal as Metropolitan, by letters patent from the Crown, and to the [46/47] formation, in 1861, of the Synod of the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada. This Synod was also composed of three orders, each with a separate vote, the House of Bishops deliberating and voting separately, and the Lower House, composed of clerical and lay representatives of the dioceses, deliberating and usually also voting in common. On the resignation of Bishop Oxenden, the second Metropolitan of Canada, in 1879, the choice of the Metropolitan was placed in the hands of the House of Bishops. Under the auspices of this Synod the Missionary Diocese of Algoma was instituted in 1873, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society was established in 1883, the Woman's Auxiliary was formed in 1885, the Mission in the Shinshu-Echigo Provinces of Japan was founded in 1890, the Church, as a whole, began to awake to her missionary obligations and to enter upon a course of concerted action, and the foundations were laid for the larger plans and operations that were to mark a later period.

The spiritual supervision of the North-West by the Bishops of Eastern Canada was a practical impossibility, and was only attempted once, in 1844, when Bishop Mountain paid his memorable [47/48] visit to the Red River. The work of the Church was carried on under the direction of the Church Missionary Society from 1820 to 1849, when the Diocese of Rupert's Land was formed. The diocese extended from Lake Superior to the Rocky Mountains, a distance of 1,500 miles, and from the international boundary line to the Arctic Ocean, some 2,000 miles; it also included the valley of the Yukon. It was soon discovered that real episcopal supervision and control over so wide an area was beyond the power of any one man, and in 1872 the vast region was divided by the formation of the new Diocese of Moosonee, and of Saskatchewan and Athabasca in 1874. Concurrently with the formation of these dioceses was the establishment of the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupert's Land. Then gradually was formed the chain of dioceses that extend from the coast of Labrador to the Rocky Mountains, and to Alaska--Qu'Appelle and Mackenzie River in 1884, Calgary in 1887, Selkirk in 1891, and Keewatin in 1899.

Entirely distinct from the work in Rupert's Land was that on the Pacific coast. The Hudson's Bay Company transferred their headquarters on the Pacific to Victoria in 1852. A Crown Colony [48/49] was formed in 1858 under the name of British Columbia, and the Diocese of British Columbia, conterminous with the colony, was founded in 1859. The Crown Colony became a province of the Canadian Dominion in 1871. The mainland was formed into two dioceses in 1879, that of New Westminster in the south and that of Caledonia in the north. And New Westminster was further divided in 1900 by the formation of the Diocese of Kootenay. But those dioceses remain independent jurisdictions, never having been formed into a province.

No sooner was the Dominion of Canada formed in 1867, and the Confederation made a practical reality by the inclusion of the North-West in 1869 and British Columbia in 1871, and by the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1886, than a vigorous movement was set on foot to consolidate the whole Church of England in Canada. A conference was held in Winnipeg in 1890, when a basis of unification was agreed upon, and the first General Synod was held in Toronto in 1893. Nine years were required to adjust the relations between the Diocesan and Provincial Synods and the General Synod, and in 1902 the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the [49/50] Ecclesiastical Province of Canada was enlarged into the Missionary Society of the Church of England in Canada, commonly known as the M.S.C.C.

The name of Missionary Society in this case is, properly speaking, a misnomer, because the Society is simply the Church in missionary action, not an organization in any respect separate from the Church itself. It is founded on the principle that the Church is essentially a missionary organization, and that, in consequence, every member of the Church, whether Bishop, priest, or layman, man, woman or child is, in virtue of that membership, called to take an interest in its missionary work. It was called into being by the General Synod, which meets every three years, and is composed of all the Bishops and a graduated representation of clergymen and laymen from all the dioceses; and when deliberating on missionary subjects that Synod includes the members of the Board of Management, and is called the Board of Missions. Between the Sessions of the General Synod its work is entrusted to a Board of Management, which meets every six months, and is composed of all the Bishops and of two clerymen and two laymen, [50/51] elected annually by each of the Diocesan Synods; and between the Sessions of the Board of Management the work is carried on by the Executive Committee, which meets monthly and is composed of three Bishops, three clergymen, and three laymen, elected annually by the Board, and of the General Secretary and the General Treasurer, ex-officio. The method of raising funds adopted by the Society is that of the apportionment, which is a logical outcome of the fundamental principle that the Society is the Church in missionary action, and which consists in ascertaining the financial needs of the mission-field and distributing those needs evenly between the dioceses and the parishes according to their ability. The income of the Society is about £20,000 or $100,000; one-third of which is given to the foreign field, and two-thirds to the Canadian field. The amount given to the Canadian field is voted in grants of varying amounts to the different dioceses, to be expended at the discretion of the Bishops and the diocesan authorities.

Together with this work of outward consolidation a process of inward unification has also taken place. The Canadian Church Missionary [51/52] Society, in its origin an independent organization, and in course of time having gradually become a Canadian department of the English Church Missionary Society, has become an integral part of the Missionary Society of the Canadian Church. Though enjoying a handsome income and having been the means of sending most of the Canadian missionaries in the foreign field, it has agreed to make no separate appeal and to raise no separate fund, all the proceeds of its work going to swell the revenues of the Missionary Society, and to allow its agents to become the missionaries of that Society. It continues to exist for the threefold purpose of administering its own trust funds, of creating an interest in Foreign Missions, and of enabling the Canadian Church to draft men into the Church Missionary Society's fields. It is thus in the fullest sense an auxiliary of the Missionary Society of the Canadian Church.

The Woman's Auxiliary, formed in 1885, is an organization of Church women who are banded together to pray for Missions, to acquire and diffuse missionary information, and to raise funds for missionary purposes. Its income is about £8,000 or $40,000, besides the proceeds [52/53] of its Dorcas work, which are valued at $18,000. It receives appeals directly from the field, chooses the objects to which it desires to devote its funds, and pays out those funds through its own treasurer. It has done invaluable service by making grants for the support of matrons and teachers in Indian Homes, the building and furnishing of churches, the education of the children of the clergy, and such-like objects. It has proved a powerful factor in arousing missionary interest and spreading missionary information. At the outset its operations were carried on under the direction of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, through whom its funds were dispensed. But gradually it has acquired large powers of independent action, and has developed, under a constitution sanctioned by the Church, a strongly centralized organization that reaches out into almost every diocese and very many parishes in the Church.

Ample provision has also been made for the training of a native ministry. King's College, Windsor, Nova Scotia, a Church University and Theological School, established in 1788--the oldest Colonial University--is meant to supply the needs of the Dioceses of Nova Scotia and [53/54] Fredericton. Bishop's College, Lennoxville, Province of Quebec, established as a Theological School in 1845 and a Church University in 1852, is officially connected with the two Dioceses of Quebec and Montreal. The Montreal Theological College, founded in 1874, and now in affiliation with McGill University, was designed to train men especially for the Diocese of Montreal. Trinity College, Toronto, a Church University and Theological School, founded in 1852, was meant to train men for the Province of Ontario. Wycliffe College, Toronto, founded in 1877, in affiliation with the Provincial University of Toronto, and unconnected officially with any diocese, has sent its alumni into the whole Canadian Church. Huron College, London, Ontario, in affiliation with the Western University, was founded in 1863, to train men especially for the Diocese of Huron. S. John's College, Winnipeg, founded in 1866, and affiliated with the University of Manitoba, is intended to meet the needs of the Province of Rupert's Land. The Bishop of Qu'Appelle has established a hostel at Regina, to make special provision for his diocese; the Bishop of Saskatchewan has established a similar institution at Prince Albert; and for [54/55] a like purpose the Bishop of Calgary has received the gift of a valuable site in Calgary. And steps have been taken to establish a Theological School at Vancouver, in affiliation with the newly-formed Provincial University of British Columbia, to train men for the dioceses on the Pacific coast. These institutions, when in good working order, should afford ample facilities for the training of candidates for the ministry for the whole Canadian Church.

It is only the part of common justice, not to say common gratitude, to add that the Canadian Church, as above described, so complete in its organization and equipment, is greatly indebted to the Church in England through the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. The former Society has given grants for the erection of hundreds of churches throughout the land, and has provided many scholarships for all our Theological Colleges; while the latter has played an incalculable part in the endowment of bishoprics, and the provision of stipends for missionary clergy, for almost every diocese in the Canadian Church. Some idea may be formed of the contribution through the latter Society towards the [55/56] upbuilding of the Church in Canada from the statement that from 1749 to 1907, and from Nova Scotia to Vancouver Island, its grants aggregate the stupendous sum of $10,000,000.

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