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 14. Saskatoon--Immigration increases--Emmanuel College

Until the beginning of the present century, the work in the Diocese of Saskatchewan continued to be largely Indian. The statistics for the year 1899 reveal the fact that only about five clergy were engaged in white work. This number was doubled in the parochial returns for December 1904. For the first time, St. John's Church, Saskatoon, appears with the Reverend D. T. Davis as the clergyman. Reverend W. R. Edmonds is listed as the incumbent of St. John's, Saskatoon, who had recently left the Diocese. St. John's Church reports for 1904 a total of 59 families, with 207 individuals and 40 communicants. Seventy-six children were attending Sunday School and there had been four baptisms and two weddings and seven funerals in the course of the year. Their total income was listed as $338.15, while their expenditures amounted to $367.97. Assets at that time amounted to $1715.00. Under the title of the Temperance Colonization Society a settlement had begun in the Saskatoon area as early as 1882. As a result of economic problems and the outbreak of the North-West Rebellion in 1885, the Society's contract with the Government was cancelled in 1891, marking the end of the experiment and bringing to a close the prospect of any large migration to that area. Several writers have suggested that the Barr Colony, or the Brittania Colony as it was officially named, was a significant factor in the commercial beginnings of Saskatoon. An account by William Hutchinson, published in Saskatchewan History in the Autumn of 1967, gives a vivid description both of the journey of the Barr colonists and incidentally of Saskatoon itself. He writes "Saskatoon is today probably one of the most talked of places in the North-West. It has had a truly mushroom growth, being scarcely known but a short time ago, while it is now a most thriving town, and during our encampment there we had much that was fresh and strange to interest us. First Avenue is the chief business street, and runs parallel to the Canadian Pacific Railway, which indeed occupies one side of the street, with a busy railway yard which did not exist a year ago. Business houses are almost all of wood, large boxes rushed up without regard to architecture or comfort to meet the growing demands of the town." He describes the accommodation of the colonists in a temporary canvas city on the banks of the South Saskatchewan where between 400 and 500 tents dotted the rolling slopes, ranging from the large five-pole marquees 90 feet long to small bell tents, many of which had probably last been used at some peaceful English seaside resort. Another writer quoted in the article said "Saskatoon at present is merely a collection of stores and hotels, many partly built--some 50 or 60 altogether--mostly new since last Fall when the town consisted of six or seven houses."

So rapidly did the embryonic city develop, that when Synod met there in May 1908 Bishop Newnham spoke of it thus: "The Synod of this Diocese has always met in the See city, but this year we have ventured on a new experiment and accepted the kind and hearty invitation of the church in Saskatoon to meet in their city, which we might almost call the City of Churches.

"It is well perhaps that the city which in a few years has made such great growth, and shown such great enterprise, which has already four Anglican churches, each of them with full congregations, and two of them self-supporting, which was the locality of the catechists' camp, now historic, with [59/60] its attendant scenes of lectures in theology, and practice in camp cooking and horse-breaking; and from which the caravans of catechists and ponies started on their travels, which has within its limits the headquarters of the Saskatchewan Deaconesses and which is the present railway centre of the Diocese, should be visited by the Synod."

The Bishop expressed the fear that meeting in any other place than Prince Albert may almost disfranchise the Indian missionaries North of that city and the lower Saskatchewan. The bishop said also in prophetic manner "I realize that perhaps before many years Saskatoon may be the Cathedral city of a sister or daughter Diocese, and our only chance of coming here to a Synod may be when the Provincial or General Synod is held here." While, in a sense, this may preview some of the story which we are about to relate, the remarkable growth and achievements of Saskatoon in so short a time is worthy of recognition while we are considering its foundations.

Following Bishop Newnham's first Synod in Prince Albert in 1905, all areas of the Diocese began to teem with activity as new settlers poured into Northern Saskatchewan to take advantage of the opportunities that were offered there. New settlements sprang up almost overnight, and the clergy were at their wits end to know how to minister to the many members of the church who made their appearance on the scene.

The Synod of the Diocese met again on June 17th-20th, 1906. By this time Mr. Lloyd had been made an Archdeacon, although no reference was made to this appointment by the Bishop in his charge.

This Synod, in a sense, marks the watershed in the history of the Diocese. Many matters were introduced and acted upon which charted the course for the future development of the Diocese in many areas. The building of a new St. Alban's Church, which had been anticipated by Bishop Pinkham in his last Synod, was now an accomplished fact. The Bishop remarked in his charge "last year we had our opening service not in a church dedicated to the worship of God, but in a secular building transformed for the day into the semblance of a church. This year we are gathered in the fine new church of St. Alban which, though without a chancel as yet, and not completely equipped within, has been dedicated to God and set apart for the assembling of His people for public worship, and which I trust will 'ere long be completed, within and without, suitable to its position as Pro Cathedral of the Diocese and the Parish Church of the See City."

The Reverend A. D. Dewdney, later to become Archdeacon of Prince Albert and eventually Bishop of Keewatin, was Rector of St. Alban's Church.

The Bishop commented at some length on the increase of workers in Indian work from the figures of the previous Synod, stating that two additional clergy, seven lay readers, four students and three catechists had been added to the number of those working among the Indians in the Diocese. He stated that this meant not merely the addition of sixteen workers but the addition of 45 or more new mission centres. A further two clergymen coming for the Summer, and two more accepting appointments in the Autumn, probably one clergyman and two or three lay readers almost ready for ordination were expected from England, and these would all be added to the clergy list. During the same period, eleven new churches had been built, one church hall, three parsonages and two 'shacks' facetiously called "Lambeth Palaces", with others in the course of building or being considered.

The Bishop referred to the purchase of the See House, by the executive committee, and commented on the need for the Diocese to assume greater responsibility for the capital indebtedness which resulted. To that time the income had come largely from outside sources and also a substantial amount contributed by the Bishop himself. The building thus referred to is that [60/61] which today houses the Y.W.C.A. in Prince Albert. The Bishop assured the Synod that while the cost may have seemed a little high, he was assured that the property was then worth far more than they gave for it. At the Synod held in Prince Albert in 1910 preparations were made for the erection of the house on 2nd Avenue which still remains the Synod Office. At that Synod a committee was appointed consisting of the Bishop, Messrs. A. J. Bell, T. J. Agnew and James McKay, K.C. to consider the advisability of disposing of the See House garden lot and of setting a price on the same. The committee was also authorized to purchase the Ittner property on the hill for the sum of $5,000.00 for the episcopal residence, and Mr. T. J. Agnew was asked to close the deal.

With reference to Emmanuel College, the Bishop stated that "we should be making plans towards returning to the original idea of the founder, of a Saskatchewan University, with Emmanuel College as a beginning." A resolution was passed at the Synod, moved by Archdeacon Lloyd and seconded by Reverend T. Clarke, that the Synod instruct the executive committee to take the whole subject of the University of Saskatchewan, for which the Diocese holds the charter, into consideration with a view to some definite proposal being laid before the next session of the Synod, and in the meantime take such steps as may be necessary to revive the charter already granted.

Notice was given that Bishop Montgomery was hoping to raise a special fund of $100,000.00 in England to help forward the work in Western Canada. In connection with this, he anticipated spending some time in the Diocese during August and September visiting the principle points in the Diocese and travelling over the railway lines along which towns and villages were springing up.

In the Synod sermon which was preached in the Cathedral by the Rector, Reverend A. D. Dewdney, on the Sunday morning, the challenge which the Bishop in his charge had presented was underlined by Mr. Dewdney.

"The church in Canada is waking up at last. And with all that confronts us in the West in these stirring times of national growth and development, with humanity rushing in upon us like a flood, with new centres of population springing up on every hand, with new problems facing us and innumerable needs to be met, we cannot, we dare not stop.

"These are important days. We are making history fast. We are laying the foundation for the future. There is much to be done. Machinery, organization, plans, diocesan and parochial, must be provided and great is our responsibility as members of Synod, as representatives of the Church of God."

That the Bishop and clergy, together with the increasing numbers of laity, met this challenge successfully is amply proven by the events which followed and by the solid foundations which were laid, and upon which the church is built today.

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