Chapter VII. The Beginnings of Things (1865-1867)
RUPERT'S LAND has been described by a generally well-informed Church writer as "the most uninviting Diocese on the face of the earth" at the time when Bishop Machray entered on his episcopate; but this sweeping characterisation was not wholly just. Red River Settlement was still isolated--its greatest draw back--among the long stretches of the plains of the North-West; but it was gradually becoming less in accessible. The first missionary of the English Church to enter the country had taken five months' continuous travel from England to Red River, but the time necessary for the journey had now been shortened into six weeks or less. The great expense of the journey was the chief deterrent to settlement, and hardly less prejudicial was the absence of markets.
But the Bishop's earliest impressions of the country itself seen in fine, clear, sunny, bracing October weather, must have been favourable; for at that season of the year the prairies, though clad in sober autumnal colours of mixed green, russet, and brown, are not with out charm or interest. His Cathedral was only a plain, commonplace building, none too well constructed;
but it served its purpose sufficiently for the time. Though Bishop's Court was far from being an ideal residence, its situation was pleasing. It stood in the shelter of a grove of oaks, with a lawn in front sloping down to the river, and there was a large and productive garden. His first impressions, too, of the people must have been agreeable, for he was warmly greeted by the settlers, with whom, in any case, hospitality and geniality were instinctive graces. But they were delighted to have a bishop of their own amongst them again; and all the chief officers of the Hudson's Bay Company and the leading men of the Settlement called on him immediately after his arrival to bid him a most cordial welcome. His clergy soon became devoted to him, and remained devoted to him; then, as in the after years, once they understood something of the nature of a man always a little shy and diffident at first, not facile in exchange of small talk, yet possessed of a keen sense of humour, but ever kind, generous, open-handed beyond expression and large-minded alike in the trifling and in the great things of life, they followed him with a whole-heartedness, with an enthusiasm which in not a few rose into a passion.
On the other hand, however, it is true that there was much in the Diocese that called, and called very decidedly, for alteration and amendment--much that needed the guiding hand and brain of the overseer and organiser. From the beginning he perceived that, as he wrote to the S.P.G., he "would have a great deal to struggle with," and that, at least for a time, his work would be heavy and uphill." An Evangelical, he was yet a strong Churchman who loved the Church, and, to quote from one of his letters, "saw no way of doing things better than that which she has directed." It was, therefore, very painful to him to see that there was a marked lack of Churchmanship and of Church feeling in Red River Settlement. This was an in heritance from the days when the Selkirk settlers, who were Presbyterians, had attended the services of the English Church in St. John's, and to please whom, after a selection of prayers from the Prayer Book had been read, there was what was practically a full Presbyterian service. As the Bishop pointed out, this "medley," though embodying a concession given with the best intentions, "could never win the Presbyterians to the Liturgy of the Church of England--so attractive when worthily and faithfully expressed."
In 1851 the majority of the Selkirk settlers seceded from St. John's, when a Presbyterian minister was appointed to Kildonan; but as late as 1865 the whole district served by the Church of England was leavened with Presbyterianism. The Bishop determined on insisting that his people should be distinctively Church people, and at once set about forming plans with that purpose in view. The celebrations of Holy Communion had been infrequent; even in St. John's Cathedral there were not more than four or five a year. He began by ordering that there should be celebrations at least once a month in St. John's. And there had been no Services on the Festival days of the Church; he now directed that these should be held. Similar instructions were issued to all the clergy of the Diocese. There had been no Church music, no choirs, no chanting, nor organ or musical instrument used in the Services; the Bishop hoped that all this state of things would soon be changed, and he enjoined on his clergy to do their utmost to bring a change about.
Then there was little or no organisation of the parishes in the Settlement. He advised that each parish should be organised under its Incumbent with a Vestry, consisting of two churchwardens, one for the clergyman and one for the people, and of four vestry-men, who were to be elected by the votes of the male communicants. He suggested that the offertory should be a feature of every Service, but that this innovation should be introduced gradually, as the congregations were unused to the principle of contributing to the support of their clergy, and, besides, the Settlement as a whole was poor and living was dear. By the end of November the Bishop had the satisfaction of seeing monthly celebrations, as well as the offertory, established in most of the parishes. The next step was the greatest of all, but to his mind it grew logically out of what had gone before. The people were now being trained in systematic giving to the Church for Church purposes, but mainly for their own support as Churchmen.
The Bishop realised that he could not expect to bring out this self-support to the fullest extent save on the democratic basis of self-government; and, accordingly, he proposed to hold a Conference, which might become a Synod, of the clergy and laity of the Diocese, the lay representatives being elected by the male communicants of the parishes. First, he called a meeting of the local clergy, six in number at the time, on December 5, at Bishop's Court, at which he strongly urged the views he entertained on Church matters within the Settlement, especially with reference to the encouragement of the congregations in self-support. Then he announced his intention of calling for the following spring a Conference of the clergy and laity of the whole Diocese, so far as that was possible in the circumstances, for the purpose of considering and deliberating on its affairs. He also spoke of the schools in the country, and of his determination to bring St. John's College to life again.
He had already fixed his attention on the state of education in Red River; in his eyes religion and education went hand in hand. Nothing in the condition of the Settlement grieved him more than the unsatisfactory position of its educational facilities. With the exception of a boarding-school in St. Paul's parish, kept by its clergyman, the Rev. S. Pritchard (uncle of Dr. Matheson, the present Archbishop of Rupert's Land), which was attended by some of the children of the better class in the community, the only schools were two or three parish schools of a very elementary sort maintained as part of their general missionary enterprise by the C.M.S. There was no provision whatever in the whole country for higher education. The Bishop's thoughts had at once turned to a revival of St. John's College. His predecessor, Bishop Anderson, at great personal cost and trouble, had struggled for some years to maintain the College, but in the end had been forced to abandon it. Bishop Machray, on surveying the situation in his Diocese, wrote to Prebendary Bulloch of the S.P.G. on November 10, 1865: "I believe that the whole success of my efforts here will depend, under God, upon the success of what I purpose--to establish a College for the training of those who wish a better education, in the fear of God, in useful learning, and in conscientious attachment to our Church."
The College which he outlined was to consist of a Theological School for the training of candidates for Holy Orders and of Indian catechists, and a Higher School for the Red River Settlement. Such a College, he said, would strengthen his hands and the Diocese. "The hearts of the clergy here are almost fainting within them from the discouragements with which they meet, and I am confident there will be no health and life till some such institution as I have indicated shall be established." The nearest Canadian Church College, that of Huron, was a thousand miles away. The Church in Rupert's Land must educate its own clergy, and the sooner the College was started the better. The Bishop's brooding mind dwelt on this idea, and he cast about for some suitable man to place at the head of the proposed College, and for the funds to maintain it. For the first, his thoughts reverted to the old friend of his Aberdeen University days, John M'Lean, then Curate of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, in the Diocese of Huron, under Bishop Hellmuth; for the second, he appealed to the English Church Societies. "This may one day be a very great country," he wrote. "Let the Church have a good start." A year passed, however, before St. John's College was opened.
What so far has been said in this chapter applies to the small, inconsiderable part of Rupert's Land known as Red River Settlement, rather than to the whole Diocese, which was then the largest in the world, with an area more extensive than that of Europe. Several of the missions were an enormous distance from Bishop's Court; roughly speaking, that at Fort Yukon was 2500 miles, and that at Fort Simpson 2000 miles from Red River. They had never received an episcopal Visitation, and when the Bishop learned on good authority that a visit to these far-off stations entailed two years' absence from the Settlement, he felt that it was impossible for him to go. These missions lay at the extreme north and north-west of the Diocese.
The missions, however, on Hudson's Bay, on the extreme east of the Diocese, presented no insuperable difficulties in the way of Visitations, although two of them, Moose Factory and Fort Albany, were some 1200 miles from Red River, and the third, York Factory, was 800 miles. Of the interior missions, that on English River was 700 miles distant. The only way of reaching one and all of these missions was to travel to them slowly and laboriously by the routes opened up by the Hudson's Bay Company, mainly by boat and canoe on the rivers and lakes in summer, and log-sleigh or cariole across the snow and ice in winter--the same methods as those employed by the officers and servants of the Company, and any other were impracticable. All these missions were located at or near forts or posts of the Company; but while the missionaries acted as chaplains at these places, their chief work was amongst the Indians or, on the north east of Hudson's Bay, the Eskimo. Nearly all the tribes spoke different languages or dialects, and had different customs and traits. By 1865 several bands of Indians had come under the influence of Christianity, but the vast bulk of the Indian population still was heathen. With the exception of one mission, that at Fort Ellice, which was supported by the S.P.G., every one of the missions was maintained by the C.M.S. The Indians, nearly everywhere, were thriftless and improvident--feasting to repletion when game was plentiful, starving and dying when there was little, or, as sometimes happened, none.
"The Indians," the Bishop wrote to the S.P.C.K. about this time, "have absolutely nothing belonging to them, the blankets they wear, and the ammunition they live by, being commonly received in advance for future payment in the furs of the animals they kill." In not a few cases the Indians had been demoralised by drink--the "fire-water" being given them by the "Free Traders," and not by the Hudson's Bay Company, whose officers were forbidden to sell alcoholic liquors to the aborigines. In his frequent letters to the C.M.S. the Bishop referred to the difficulties attendant on mission work among the Indians, not so much because they were difficulties, but rather as incentives to more steady, energetic, and courageous effort; yet the difficulties were very real and very great.
In November, six weeks after his arrival, the Bishop had planned a first Visitation into the interior. He set out upon it in January; but before starting, he sent a letter to each mission within reach, summoning the Conference of clergy and laity he had already announced to some of his people. Each parish and mission was to elect two lay delegates, and the Conference was set for May 30, 1866. Meanwhile he had visited every parish in the Settlement, and preached in every church, driving to them, once the winter had set in and snow covered the ground, in that species of sleigh which is known as a "cutter." The intense cold of the country in winter has often been written about, but he suffered very little inconvenience from it. He rarely mentions it in his letters, thinking, no doubt, that what other men faced without special remark in the ordinary course of their business called for no special remark from a Bishop engaged on the highest service of all.
The parishes having now been ordered more in accordance with his mind, and everything promising fair, he set out from Bishop's Court on January 11, 1866, travelling across the snow-clad prairies by dog cariole--the sleighs for himself and his attendants, as well as the "trains" of dogs, having been furnished by the Hudson's Bay Company, who forwarded the Visitation of their Grand Chaplain by every means in their power, even to the extent of presenting him with the rations given to their chief officers when on a journey, these supplies including delicacies, wine, and brandy. He made a sort of circular tour of eight weeks in the central west of his Diocese, the whole distance gone over considerably exceeding a thousand miles. He visited and held Confirmations at twelve stations, beginning at Westbourne, a short distance from the parish of St. Mary's, la Prairie, and then on to Fairford on Lake Manitoba, whence he proceeded to Swan Lake, Cumberland, and Nepowewin, in what is now the Canadian Province of Saskatchewan, the last-named mission being near the present town of Prince Albert. From Nepowewin he returned to Red River by Touchwood Hills, Qu'Appelle Lakes, and Fort Ellice. Of this Visitation the Bishop said in his Address to his first Conference:
We slept during seventeen nights by the camp fire in the open air. But the perfect comfort of this, when proper arrangements are made, although the thermometer may be lower than 40 degrees below zero, is surprising to a traveller who first experiences it. At other times we slept in an old deserted log-house or an Indian tent. The solitariness of the interior must be felt to be realised. During the whole journey we scarcely saw a dozen Indians in all, excepting those we met with in the immediate neighbourhood of a fort or mission station.
At Fairford and at the Pas, Cumberland, there were congregations of upwards of a hundred at both Morning and Evening Service, but the bulk of the Indians, even at these stations, were away in their hunting grounds. There were forty-eight communicants at the celebration of the Lord's Supper at the Pas. The offertory had been commenced there, and more than £3 was paid into my hands, being the first payment from the country to the Diocesan Fund. At Touchwood Hills, Assiniboia, I found a congregation of upwards of fifty. In other places I found but few Indians--they were scattered throughout the country, and are so always, with the exception of a few weeks twice each year. The difficulty of missionary work is therefore very great.
He went on to state that he could not always speak well of these Indian missions; there was no great spirituality to be observed in some of them, and there was a good deal of drinking prevalent. But from all he had seen, he had come to the conclusion that missionary work was hard in "this peculiarly situated country, and must be a very patient work, calling for much prayer and perseverance and faith." But there was some undoubted success, and there was the promise of more; he had confirmed candidates. Writing, after his return, to the S.P.C.K., he said he had enjoyed the best of health on his trip, and had come back safe and sound. Ho had found numbers of Indians who professed Christianity, and their attendance on the means of grace was good; but, on the other hand, there was very little teaching of the young throughout the missions, and he observed a great lack of books. One thing more than all others had been impressed upon him, and this was that the College he had in his mind was an absolute necessity for the training of the clergy and the interests of higher education; it "was the greatest boon that could be conferred on the country."
For himself, he was determined to start the College as soon as possible, and to help it he expressed his willingness to take part in its theological teaching, and, if necessary, a share in its general course of instruction. Soon after his return to Red River he began to move in the matter. The first object was to secure suitable premises. Bishop Anderson had bought with a grant from the S.P.C.K. two houses for a College, one of which was now in ruins, but the other could be rendered serviceable. Buildings of a temporary nature, sufficient for immediate needs, must, however, be erected. He had written to M'Lean, giving a full account of his plans, and inviting him to come as Warden of the College. He now proposed to Mr. Pritchard to give up the boarding-school at St. Paul's, and to amalgamate it with St. John's College, Mr. Pritchard coming to St. John's as one of the tutors or masters in the new venture; an arrangement to this effect was speedily arrived at for the ensuing autumn.
A week before the Conference the Bishop held an Ordination, the first in Rupert's Land during his episcopate; a missionary was advanced from the diaconate to the priesthood, and a catechist became a deacon. When the Conference met on May 30, 1866, there were present the Bishop, ten clergy, and eighteen lay delegates from the parishes and missions. Seven of the clergy came from the Settlement, and three from the interior; the former were the Rev. Abraham Cowley, St. Peter's and St. Clement's the latter a parish which had been established between St. Peter's and St. Andrew's; the Rev. J. P. Gardiner, St. Andrew's; the Rev. S. P. Pritchard, St. Paul's, all on the Red River: the Rev. W. H. Taylor, St. James's; the Rev. H. Cochran, Headingley; the Rev. J. Chapman, High Bluff and Poplar Point (two parishes); and the Rev. Henry George, Portage la Prairie, all on the Assiniboine the latter were the Rev. J. Settee (an Indian), Swan Lake; the Rev. T. Cook, Fort Ellice; and the Rev. R. Phair, Fort Alexander. They constituted a majority of the clergy, then eighteen in number in Rupert's Land, of the whole Diocese; two of the clergy were in England on leave of absence; it was impossible for representatives to come from the farthest-off missions, such as those on Hudson's Bay or on the borders of the Arctic.
The Bishop had pondered deeply what, form the Conference should assume, and he had resolved to follow the example set by the Bishops in Canada--it must be remembered that Rupert's Land at this period was not included in "Canada"; this was to have full Morning Service with a sermon and a celebration of the Holy Communion, while the actual assembling of the clergy and laity for deliberative purposes took place afterwards. The Service was held in St. John's Cathedral in the morning, the sermon being preached by Mr. Gardiner of St. Andrew's from 1 Peter ii., "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house." The Bishop was the celebrant, assisted by Mr. Cowley. After the Service the Bishop entertained the members of the Conference at luncheon in Bishop's Court; in the afternoon they all met in St. John's parish school house.
The chief business of the Conference was the Bishop's Address, and the taking of such action as he proposed in it. The Bishop began by expressing his hope that the Conference was a first step to a Synod; a Synod was, he believed, in their position a necessity. A Synod was not a new thing in America, though there was nothing of the kind in England. Synods were in full and successful operation both in the United States and in Canada, where the laity had a voice in the affairs of the Church. And in Rupert's Land the laity must also have a voice. As to the precise form their Synod should take, he advised that the Constitutions of the Canadian Synods should be studied, and recommended that the Conference should appoint a committee for that purpose. He referred to his anxiety that the congregations in his Diocese should become self-supporting, and enunciated the principle that self-support involved self-government within the Church. He spoke with regret of the absence of any endowments for the Church--there was none, save for the Bishopric only, in Rupert's Land, but he was to make it his endeavour to start endowment funds which in the course of time would become of considerable value, and provide an income for various Church purposes.
He deplored the low state of education in the Settlement, and said that schools must be maintained in all the parishes and missions, but a higher school was necessary both for the training of the ministry and for higher education generally in the country. He pro posed, therefore, to revive St. John's College, both as a theological seminary and as a higher school. He had gone fully into this matter with the English Church Societies, and had received much encouragement from them. He had asked the Rev. John M'Lean, a distinguished graduate of Aberdeen, to come as Warden of the College, and Mr. McLean had accepted the invitation; the C.M.S. had co-operated in this appointment by placing Mr. M'Lean on their staff of missionaries as theological tutor for their students in the College, of whom they also undertook to supply the maintenance to the number of four or five.
After alluding to his recent Visitation into the interior of the Diocese, he announced that two Archdeaconries were to be formed--one, called Cumberland, was to include the missions he had just visited, while the other, which was to have the name of Assiniboia, was to cover Red River Settlement and some out-missions. He wound up his address with a characteristic warning much organising work was going forward, but it must not be forgotten that "except the Lord build the house, their labour is but lost that build it." The clergy and laity adumbrated the views of their Bishop, elected a committee to inquire into the Constitutions of the Canadian Synods, and unanimously passed a motion to the effect that the College was essential to the efficient working of the Diocese. With the understanding that a Conference was to be called during the following year, this important meeting came to an end.
In the course of the Address the Bishop mentioned that since his arrival he had held one Ordination and eighteen Confirmations, with 380 confirmed, and had preached sixty-five times. The Address, together with various documents relating to the Diocese at this time, was afterwards published in England in a pamphlet which is of supreme interest to the Diocese for all time. One item deserves particular notice; it appears in the statistical reports, "For a chapel at Winnipeg Town, the Rev. J. Gardiner, £5."
In the summer of 1866 the Hudson's Bay Company held one of their annual councils at Norway House, a post situated on the north of Lake Winnipeg. Mr. Mactavish, the Governor of Rupert's Land, attended it as chairman of the Company, and the Bishop, shortly after the Conference of clergy and laity at St. John's, accompanied him from Fort Garry with the intention of going on from Norway House to York Factory, thus making a second Visitation in his Diocese. The Bishop was introduced to the various officers of the Company who were present at the council in some numbers, most of whom had come from remote parts of that portion of the country, and he spent a few days in their society. The Indians in the neighbourhood of Norway House and of Oxford House, a post of the Company lying farther north, had been Christianised by Wesleyan missionaries, to the excellence of whose work the Bishop testified, and with which, of course, he made no attempt to interfere. He held Services, however, for the officers of the Company.
Thereafter he travelled by boat down-stream to York, having a speedy and pleasant journey in spite of the troublesome and persistent attentions of the mosquito, which infests this region in incredible myriads. York Factory is situated on the shores of Hudson's Bay, and lies some 800 miles from Fort Garry. The mission was in charge of the Rev. W. Mason of the C.M.S., and the Bishop found the Indians to whom he ministered well behaved, and that many of them were able to read the Bible in their own language printed in "syllabic" characters. While at the Factory the Bishop held two Confirmations, at one of which there were more than fifty Indian candidates. The journey back to Red River being up-stream, was slow and tedious, and it was the middle of August before he was home again at Bishop's Court.
The Rev. John M'Lean arrived in the Settlement at the beginning of October, to the great delight and satisfaction of the Bishop, who was much attached to him and held a firm belief in his capacity. In a letter addressed to Mr. Perowne, his Commissary, he wrote of M'Lean before his coming to Red River: "My heart is set on an old College friend. . . . I feel he would be quite a backbone to our whole system." The Bishop at once made him Archdeacon of Assiniboia and Warden of St. John's College, giving him at the same time the incumbency of St. John's Cathedral. The two men were a striking contrast in appearance--the Bishop very tall and still very thin, the Archdeacon short and stout. Able, energetic, and a hard worker, M'Lean was an eloquent preacher, an excellent teacher, and a fluent and clever extempore speaker on almost any occasion or subject. The Bishop found profit in discussing his views and schemes for the good of Rupert's Land with a man who was more on terms of equality with him than were any of the other clergy, and he also found much-needed relaxation, and a relief from the loneliness he must now and again have experienced in the midst of his many plans and preoccupations, in listening to his old-time comrade's anecdotes and amusing reminiscences of their Aberdeen days, all delivered with every point well brought out, for M'Lean had a prodigious memory and was a capital story-teller. But he had invited M'Lean to Red River mainly be cause of St. John's College, and it was upon it that the two men now concentrated their energies and thoughts.
The old and somewhat dilapidated schoolhouse at St. John's, which had been refitted and partially rebuilt, supplied class-rooms, and Archdeacon M'Lean took up his residence in a large neighbouring building, called St. Cross, which had long stood tenantless. House accommodation had been provided for Mr. Pritchard, who soon moved up from St. Paul's with his boarders; as his entire services had henceforth to be devoted to the College, he resigned his parish, which the Bishop, now freed from parochial work at St. John's by the appointment of the Archdeacon to the Cathedral, took into his own hands, and he acted as its Incumbent for several years.
On November 1, 1866, St. John's College was opened, there being three students in theology in the College proper, and nineteen pupils in the College school; it was a day of the beginnings of things in Rupert's Land in more senses than one. [Prior to the opening of the College the Bishop had given lessons in Latin composition to three Red River boys--K. L. N. M'Donald (a brother of Archdeacon M'Donald), George Inkster, and Charles Mason--who came to Bishop's Court for the purpose several times each week.] In January of the following year there were four theological students in residence, and the number of pupils in the College School had increased to twenty-six. in the College there were two theological tutors or lecturers, the Archdeacon and--the Bishop; in the School there were three masters, the Archdeacon, Mr. Pritchard, and--the Bishop; and from that time, for more than thirty years, the Bishop continued to take the most active participation in the College and College School in one capacity or another. In 1866-67 he lectured in Ecclesiastical History and Liturgiology, as well as in Mathematics, while the Archdeacon, besides teaching Latin and Greek, gave instruction in Systematic and Pastoral Theology; Mr. Pritchard's departments were those of English, Arithmetic, and Book-keeping.
The College School was organised, so far as it was possible, on the lines of an English public school, such as Westminster, which was subsequently taken as a model, and the Bishop hoped that its pupils would in many instances go up from it to the College and become divinity students--as was the case as time went on. The great thing to the Bishop was that the institution which he desired had made a start, and he cherished a profound conviction that it would grow and flourish until it became a great power in the land. Meanwhile local interest had been aroused in the venture, which was largely one of faith, and an encouraging sign was the foundation of a scholarship of the annual value of £15, afterwards increased to £20, in memory of Archdeacon Cochran, the ablest of the missionary pioneers in the country. From this period, says Mr. Hargrave in his Red River, one of the earliest and most interesting of the histories of the locality, the solitary precincts of St. John's Cathedral and St. John's College assumed an air of life and activity, and the Settlement again saw a public school working in its midst."
With the discharge of his episcopal duties, with the College and College School, and his parochial work in St. Paul's, the Bishop's hands were fairly full. Archdeacon Hunter had now definitely severed his connection with the Diocese, and the Bishop appointed to the vacant Archdeaconry of Cumberland the Rev. Abraham Cowley, who already held the important position of corresponding secretary, akin to that of local manager, of all the C.M.S. missions in Rupert's Land. For the benefit of his clergy, most of whom possessed but few books, the Bishop obtained from the S.P.C.K. grants of free sets of "Theological Libraries," and he also established a book depot. He had now spent a year in his Diocese, had become well acquainted with the country and its people, and understood the difficulties and trials which were peculiar to their situation.
The soil of the Settlement was extremely rich and fertile, but there were serious drawbacks. The crops had been partially destroyed by swarms of grasshoppers in i 86; there was always the danger of floods from the overflowing of the Red River and its affluent, the Assiniboine, in the spring with the breaking up of the three-foot-thick winter ice; in Bishop Anderson's time there had been two disastrous floods which had almost ruined the Settlement. But 1866 was a good year, with wheat yielding in many instances an average of forty bushels to the acre, on land that had received no "fertilising" treatment, though here and there, as in St. Paul's parish, the crops were poor; the Bishop accordingly ordered a Thanksgiving Service to be held throughout Red River. Meantime "Winnipeg Town" had been growing by accessions from the outside world as well as from the interior of Rupert's Land--an augury of future development. The Bishop informed the S.P.G., the Society above all others specially interested in Church extension in the Colonies, that he would "soon be trying to build a chapel in the little village of Winnipeg," and wished them to select for it a man of "decided Churchmanship, to be also, like myself, what is called Evangelical--he would then re present my own mind." He told the Society that the whole North-West "would be a great land if only it was peopled," thus hinting that they might be called on in the coming years to do a correspondingly great work in the Diocese.
How the country might develop politically was un certain at this time; there was the possibility that it might become a Crown Colony, ceasing to be under the jurisdiction of the Hudson's Bay Company, or that it might form a portion of Canada by the acquisition of their rights from the Company by the newly founded Dominion, formed in 1867 by the union of the provinces of Upper Canada (Ontario), Lower Canada (Quebec), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. The Bishop thought and hoped that Rupert's Land would soon come into the Canadian Confederation, and that it would be speedily opened up by Canada for general settlement. He was certain that in one way or another it would be opened up before long, and that it would be peopled, and he threw all the force of his intellect into the solution of the problem this new state of things would present--the problem, as he expressed it, "How to hold the ground for the Church." But he had already found some part of the answer, so far as it was in his power to give it, in the organisation of the ecclesiastical machinery of the Diocese--in the archdeaconries and parish vestries, in the College and its School, and, most of all, in the democratic basis of the Conference of clergy and laity; other parts of the answer, to be noted in due course, came later in the subdivisions of the See and in the establishment of his College-Cathedral system.
The second Conference of clergy and lay delegates was held on May , 1867, at St. John's. As at the previous Conference, Service was held in the morning, with a celebration of the Holy Communion, in the Cathedral. Archdeacon M'Lean was the preacher, his text being the twelfth and thirteenth verses of Psalm xlviii., "Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following." The Conference met in the afternoon in the schoolhouse, and consisted of the Bishop, eight clergy, and nineteen lay representatives from the parishes and missions. In his opening Address the Bishop stated that it was now time to change the Conference into a Synod on a representative basis.
"For myself," he said, "I have no hope for the health and life of a young struggling Church like ours, which has no endowments, but in a free interchange of the thoughts and views of its members. If we can but make such a meeting as the present beat with life, it will be like the heart sending forth the life-blood into all the members and extremities of the body." Having expressed his wish and intention that no presbyter in the Diocese should have a stipend of less than £150 yearly, he spoke at length of the need of a general Diocesan Fund formed by endowments, and announced that he had started a Diocesan Clergy Widows and Orphans' Fund, to which he invited donations and contributions. He adverted to the revival of St. John's College and its success; the spirit which inspired the College was seen in its motto, "In thy light shall we see light," "the most happy motto of the earlier, institution." But the College needed endowments, and first of all an endowment of the Warden's Chair of Theology must be procured. The present College buildings were inadequate, and must shortly be replaced by larger and better. He had drawn up a Constitution and Statutes for the College, determining its government, founding two professorships, and defining its sphere of work within the Diocese. Then he referred to his second Visitation and other episcopal labours. Between Easter 1866 and Easter 1867 he had preached 105 times, held two Ordinations, delivered eighteen addresses at Confirmations, and had frequently officiated at baptisms, marriages, and funerals, besides taking an active share in the theological and general instruction in the College and College School; he had also had the spiritual oversight in person of a parish, first St. John's, and then St. Paul's.
He alluded to the Lambeth Conference, which, in the following September, was to meet for its first session, but stated that he was not to attend it, having so recently left England. When the Bishop had finished his Address, it was proposed by Archdeacon M'Lean, seconded by a lay delegate, Mr. W. Drever of St. James's, and carried unanimously, "That this Conference do hereby resolve itself into a Synod, to be called the Synod of the Diocese of Rupert's Land." A standing committee was appointed, and the Conference was dissolved. Like the former Address, the Bishop's Address at the second Conference was published in England, together with other Rupert's Land documents, amongst them being "The Constitution and Statutes of St. John's College." Included in the statistics is the following note: "About £170 has also been raised for a new church in the town of Winnipeg, which is in St. John's parish, £48 of this being from a sale of ladies' work, £20 from the S.P.C.K., and £25 from the Bishop."
The summer of 1867 passed by without event, but towards the end of August the Settlement was devastated by grasshoppers. "The whole land," the Bishop wrote, "is literally covered with them; every green thing is being eaten up." Part of the wheat crop was saved, but all the fields of oats and barley were entirely destroyed. This was discouraging enough, but the Bishop knew that as the country filled up with people the grasshoppers would disappear, and he felt sure that people would soon come into the country in large numbers. He looked south of the Settlement, and saw the rising tide of immigration in the western American States. Writing to Prebendary Bulloch, he said: "The neighbouring district of Minnesota is growing wonderfully. Emigrants pour into it at the rate of a thousand a day, and chiefly in this direction. The land in that State is being surveyed into farms up to within seventy miles of us. I believe a very few years will bring the population up to us." And he went on to ask, "How is the Church to meet the wants of time? Will everything then have to be set on foot? A little timely help now by Churchmen to the College here and the strengthening of this missionary centre would solve the matter as satisfactorily as has been done by the American Church in Minnesota and elsewhere. Let it be remembered by the Church at home that the small body of people at present here is but the beginning of a great population in the future." Two or three months later he wrote: "Canada is asking for the transference of this country to her from the Hudson's Bay Company, with the intention of opening up roads--this will hasten on that great future which is inevitable."
In 1867 the Dominion began the construction of a road, known as the "Dawson Route," from the western shore of Lake Superior towards Fort Garry. This was before the crystallisation of the schemes for the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway, but negotiations had been begun with the Imperial Government which had for their object the acquisition of Rupert's Land by Canada. The Bishop saw no cause for more than passing discouragement in the unfortunate condition of the Settlement from the plague of grasshoppers; on the other hand, he saw reasons in the Diocese for rejoicing. The people, despite their comparative poverty, were taking kindly to the new measures he had introduced; over £1000 had been raised locally in offertories and subscriptions to Church objects since he had called upon the congregations to adopt, in a practical way, the principle of self-support. The College and College School were prospering, there being some forty students and pupils at the commencement of the second year of these institutions--more than double the number with which they had started in 1866--necessitating an immediate appeal for funds for the erection of new buildings for their accommodation. And there was no doubt that the country was growing, as was seen in the case of Winnipeg, which took on more and more the aspect of a town. The Bishop had already asked the S.P.G. to send him a man for Winnipeg, but as none came, Archdeacon M'Lean, in the middle of December 1867, began to hold Services on the Sunday evenings in a hail, some times used as a theatre, in the rising village which has since become the capital of the North-West.