Project Canterbury

An Historical Sketch of the Diocese of Saskatchewan of the Anglican Church of Canada

By W. F. Payton, Archdeacon Emeritus

Prince Albert: The Anglican Diocese of Saskatchewan, 1974.

Chapter 13. Bishop Jervois A. Newnham--Organisation of the W.A.--Rev. George Exton Lloyd and the Britannia (Barr) Colony

In view of the impending waves of settlers that were to flood Western Canada in the opening years of this century, Bishop Jervois A. Newnham arrived in Prince Albert at an opportune time. Since Bishop Pinkham had decided in 1887 to reside in Calgary, Prince Albert and the Northern area of the Diocese had missed the impetus that a resident Bishop could provide. Bishop Pinkham had diligently visited Prince Albert and the missions in the North, and had held most regular Synods, but nothing could take the place of the constant companionship and the ready communication which had previously been afforded under Bishop McLean by a Bishop living in Prince Albert.

Consequently, when the Bishopric endowment fund for Calgary was complete and Bishop Pinkham had elected to continue as Bishop of Calgary, the Diocese of Saskatchewan became vacant upon his resignation on 30th, September 1903. The following day, October 1st, the House of Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ruperts Land in session at Winnipeg translated the Bishop of Moosonee to the Diocese of Saskatchewan.

Jervois A. Newnham was the son of the Vicar of Corsham, Wiltshire, England, and was born on October 15 th, 1852 in a vicarage near Bath in England. Coming to Canada as a young man, he arrived in Montreal and upon deciding to enter the sacred ministry entered Montreal Diocesan College and McGill University from which he graduated in Arts and Theology in 1878. He was ordained Deacon by Bishop Oxenden on May 5th at St. George's Church, Montreal, in the same year and was appointed to missionary work in the parish of Onslow, Quebec. In 1880 he was ordained a Priest by Bishop Bond and became curate of Christ Church Cathedral. In 1886 he became Rector of the important parish of St. Matthias Church in Westmount, and it was while in that position that he came into contact with Bishop Horden. Bishop Horden was returning from what proved to be his last visit to England, where his wife was now living. He had gone to the far North in 1851 and laboured there until his consecration as Bishop in 1872. As Bishop, his labours became even more arduous and he never spared himself, but travelled constantly, sleeping under the sky even in the bitterest of cold weather. Now the time had come when he recognized his failing strength and he sought help from younger men outside his own Diocese to carry on the work that he had so ably begun.

Thus it was that in 1891 Mr. Newnham left the comparatively easy work in Quebec, and went to the North, reaching Moose Fort in 1891 to work with the Bishop in preparation for whatever responsibilities the future would bring. Within 4 months, we are told, he was able to conduct services and preach in the Cree language. He returned to Montreal in 1892 and married Miss Lettie Henderson, daughter of the principal of the Diocesan Theological College in Montreal. In January 1893 Bishop Horden died suddenly, and Reverend J. A. Newnham was elected Bishop by the House of Bishops of Rupert's Land on April 15th, 1893. He was consecrated at Holy Trinity Church, Winnipeg, on August 6th; and proceeded to a vigourous and dedicated episcopate in his Diocese immediately afterwards.

Here he travelled constantly on foot, by canoe or by snowshoes throughout the Diocese which extended from the height of land in Quebec and [54/55] Ungava in the East, and North of the Canadian Pacific Railway along the South to beyond Churchill in the North-West. It was still bush country, the home mostly of Indians, but Bishop Newnham spent himself unstintingly in the cause of the church on their behalf. Space does not permit more than one reference to some of his many remarkable trips. But in 1901, when he had been strongly urging the division of the Diocese into what today consists of the Diocese of Moosonee and the Diocese of Keewatin, it became necessary for him to have an Act of Parliament passed in Ottawa sanctioning the handing over to the new Diocese at Keewatin a part of the episcopal trust funds of Moosonee. Accordingly Bishop Newnham walked out on snowshoes 400 miles in his journey to Ottawa to appear before the Parliamentary Committees. The result was that the Act was passed and the endowment amounting to about $30,000.00 enabled the setting up of the Diocese of Keewatin. During the summer of his appointment to the See of Saskatchewan, he visited Rupert's House and Mistassinne--a journey which consumed the whole Summer from June to October--and nearly resulted in the Bishop having to winter in the latter place. As a result of his involvements there, it was the Summer of 1904 before he was able to reach Prince Albert.

Bishop Newnham convened his first Synod for four days, beginning July 23rd, 1905. He reported that in the 12 months that he had been in the Diocese he had visited all the organized missions of the Diocese, and some districts where work was only just beginning, a great part of which he had visited twice. In doing this, he had travelled at least 4000 miles within the Diocese and had been comparatively little at home in Prince Albert. He remarked that "if our church is to take its proper place among the peoples who are making their homes here, and if we are to do the work that God has set before us, we must make up our minds to greater enthusiasm, earnestness and self-sacrificing effort, if God may in his goodness give us opportunity to make up for the opportunities which have been allowed to go unused". The Bishop stated that it was his belief that the church was not holding a place in the confidence of the people, and in the march of progress which it ought to hold, and "there has been, and is, a lack of life and growth in some parts of the Diocese." He went on to say that he was not imputing the blame to any person or persons, perhaps the blame may be laid upon circumstances, the necessary attendant circumstances of a new country, a large field, a dearth of candidates for the ministry, an ever pressing lack of funds, and "on the worldliness and materialism which is so marked a feature of our age."

As a result, the Bishop remarked, "churches are closed and the missions are vacant, support of the clergy promised by the people is withheld, congregations are far smaller than they should be, while our own people go to other churches."

Bishop Newnham challenged both the clergy and the laity to face the facts squarely and shoulder their share of the blame manfully. He challenged both clergy and laity to undertake the responsibility which was rightfully theirs, as well as claiming the privileges. He asked for a greater and more intensive effort in the work of temperance, of Sunday observance, and of personal evangelism.

The Bishop announced that there would be three Rural Deaneries set up, consisting of Battleford which would include Lloydminster, Prince Albert, and the Cumberland Deanery. While Rural Deans had previously been appointed by the Bishop, he expressed the hope that they would co-operate with him by the clergy of each Rural Deanery selecting by vote the clergyman whom they thought would best perform the duties of the office, and he would in turn make the appointment for three years except in case of [55/56] resignation, removal or death. It was his hope that the office of Rural Dean would become a really active one and take some of the work off his own hands.

The Bishop announced in his charge to Synod that the long hoped for boarding school at Lac La Ronge was then in course of construction, the Indian Department having given a small sawmill and funds, and Archdeacon Mackay was acting as engineer, architect and builder. The first houses were to be ready for use by Autumn of that year the Reverent A. Fraser was appointed missionary for the district and vice-principal of the school, the Archdeacon being principal for the present.

Reference was made to the way that he felt on beginning his work in Saskatchewan, to find himself face to face with a debt on the school at Emmanuel College of some $7,000.00 which, since his arrival, had grown to $8,000.00. It had been maintained that the Indian Department was liable for the whole sum but that the per capita grant was far from adequate. After considerable negotiation, the Indian Department had been convinced of the justice of the claim and had undertaken to pay the debt up to the 30th of June prior to the convening of Synod.

Another advance which gave the Bishop great satisfaction was that six parochial branches of the Diocesan Woman's Auxiliary had been affiliated. He expressed the hope that the number would grow till every organized parish had its own branch because he felt that the church owed a great debt to this valuable association of earnest church women, and the people of the West shared in that debt. A significant resolution which was passed at the Synod was a resolution moved by Reverend G. E. Lloyd and seconded by Reverend W. H. English: "that the present status and work of Emmanuel College be considered with a view to reversion of the College as far as possible to the original purpose of its foundation by the formation of Winter training classes of divinity for candidates for the office of teachers and parochial lay readers, Diocesan readers, catechists and Deacons. This resolution was carried and marks the beginning of new horizons for the training of students for the ministry. Throughout the reports of Bishop Newnham's first Synod, the name of the Reverend G. E. Lloyd occurs frequently in many matters of business which were vital and relevant to the conditions of the Diocese at that time. This was the first Synod which had been attended by Mr. Lloyd and reference must be made to the circumstances of his arrival.

Bishop Lloyd, as he afterwards became, was a man of boundless energy and determination, and had a great genius for organization. He was a man with the capacity to dream dreams, and the capability of clothing them with reality.

He was born in London, England on January 6th, 1861 and was educated privately and at St. John's College, London, England. He came to Canada in 1881 and entered Wycliffe College, Toronto, to prepare for the ministry. He graduated in 1885 and was awaiting ordination when the Riel uprising occurred in Saskatchewan. He enlisted with the University Section of the Queen's Own Rifles and cameWestwith them under the leadership of Colonel Otter. He was wounded at the Battle of Cutknife Creek, and records the agony of the medical attendants probing his lung for the bullet. Hospitalized in Winnipeg, he was ordained for Bishop Sweatman of Toronto by Archbishop Machray. His ordination took place on Sunday, July 12th, in the old St. George's Church, Winnipeg, and he was ordained in uniform, sitting in a hospital chair.

Returning to the Diocese of Toronto, he acted as Chaplain to the Boys Reformatory at Penetang, after which he became Rector of Rothesay, New Brunswick, and principal of the Rothesay Collegiate School which he had organized with such success that it became and has remained one of the [56/57] outstanding educational institutions of that province. He remained in this position from 1890 to 1898, after which two years were spent on Sick Leave in various places of the Southern States. In 1900 he returned to England to undertake deputation work for the Colonial and Continental Church Society on a permanent basis. At the close of the South African War in 1902, the Mother Land was shaken by a storm of controversy with regard to South African Colonization. It recalled to Mr. Lloyd's mind the vision of the Canadian West with its wide, untrodden spaces by the mighty Saskatchewan River. He wrote a letter to the London Times offering to advise any who might consider going to Canada, because of his wide experience there. To his great surprise, he received thousands of replies.

As a result of his letter, he was also visited shortly afterwards by the Reverend Isaac N. Barr, who told him that he was preparing to take a party of settlers to Canada the following year. Lloyd turned over to him the letters of enquiry that he had received, and ambitious plans were made for the proposed settlement in the West. Plans were made for Cooperative Stores, medical care and the provision of agricultural implements as well as the necessary land for agriculture. Many of those inquiring were interested in discovering what provision was being made for the church and Sunday School. The intended place of settlement was approximately 100 miles from Battleford where the Reverend J. F. Dyke Parker was then the Pastor.

Mr. Lloyd requested the C. and C.C.S. if it would be possible for them to find a suitable Chaplain to accompany the immigrants. Although several applications were received, none was from a clergyman with experience of Canada and, because of this, Lloyd himself finally accepted the position.

It was in 1903, on March 31st, that Rev. and Mrs. G. E. Lloyd boarded the SS Lake Manitoba together with the 2,684 men, women and children who sailed from Liverpool for the West.

It was recorded earlier in this narrative that on his return to Canada after his consecration, Bishop McLean made an appeal in Montreal for young men for his new Diocese. An account was given of one of those young men who volunteered in the person of the Reverend Doctor William Newton. It will be of interest to readers to learn that the other young man was none other than the Reverend Isaac Barr, who was assigned to the congregation of St. Mary's in Prince Albert and to Fort Carlton. To the Bishop's great disappointment, Mr. Barr did not remain long in his new position.

Under date of November 12, 1875 Bishop McLean wrote to the General Secretary of the S.P.G. in London as follows: "I have now to inform you of a great disappointment I have had. Reverend I. Barr has resigned his position here owing to the continued illness of his wife and child whom he left in Upper Canada. I met him on my way out. He would give no assurance of returning, even next Summer, unless his wife's health improved, so I accepted his resignation on the spot. I unpacked my trunk on the prairie--settled accounts in writing--made him give his statement in a letter--press copied it--and that you may see what he says for himself I enclose the copy. I have appointed Mr. George McKay to be S.P.G. catechist here till a clergyman is found to fill the vacancy."

This letter was reproduced from transcripts in the Public Archives of Canada in Ottawa, together with other records, in a booklet edited by the Reverend Frank A. Peake and published by the Canadian Church Historical Society in March 1964. It recounts the Bishop's journey to Saskatchewan, the first visit to his Diocese. It provides an interesting account of his travelling, and the services that he undertook on the way on behalf of the Bishop of Rupert's Land.

Dr. Peake comments that Isaac Barr had a most unhappy faculty for [57/58] getting into trouble. In 1882 problems arose with regard to his doctrinal beliefs and he returned to the West in the hope of obtaining an appointment either in Winnipeg or Qu'Appelle. He is recorded to have been Rector of St. Pauls's Church, Saginaw, in Michigan from 1886 to 1896 and went from there to the Diocese of Tennessee where he spent three or four years as Rector of St. Andrew's, Harriman. In 1901 he was said to be living in the State of Washington, and Canon Boone quotes an article by J. H. McCormick entitled "Lloydminster" published in London in 1920, and containing a reprint of the Pamphlet "British Settlements in North-Western Canada on Free Grant Lands", issued in 1902 by Reverend I. N. Barr, curate in charge, St. Saviour's Church, Tollington Park, London, England.

In any event, most accounts seem to suggest that Mr. Barr was a failure as leader and manager, that much of the equipment and many of the special services, which were paid for by the immigrants before leaving London, failed to materialize at the time and place they were promised. Certain it is that Reverend G. E. Lloyd became the acknowledged spiritual leader and business manager of the Colony from the time that it left London until its arrival and afterwards in the West. The district was laid out in small settlements over an area of 60 square miles. During the first Winter that was spent in the settlement, not only the Archdeacon but his wife worked all Winter for the whole community. They erected a large tent and cooked in the evenings for the young bachelors, organized concerts and church services, played games and encouraged those who were becoming depressed as a result of the climate and their trying experiences.

At Lloydminster the church was built of logs acquired from an old log school on the Onion Lake Reserve as a gift from the Reverend J. R. Matheson. A house, 22 feet by 26 feet, was built and services were held there on Sundays when the weather did not permit them to be held outside. In 1905 the "Minster" was built, a log building 42 feet by 20 feet, with a chancel 12 feet square. Dr. Boone relates that for the privilege of carving their names on the logs, the congregation paid $3.00 for the large ones, $2.00 for those across the front, and $1.00 for the short ones between the windows. This church still remains as an historic site and houses a museum in the town of Lloydminster today.

Project Canterbury