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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 19. The First World War and its effects on the Diocese and the College--Resignation of Bishop Newnham

The war years had a profound effect upon every department of life, in Canada as elsewhere. One consequence to the Diocese was the cancellation of Synod in 1915, but once again in 1916 the Synod met in Prince Albert on June 12th. The Bishop referred to the effects when he said in his charge "When we last met in 1914 there was no sign of a war cloud on the horizon, not even the size of a man's hand, and we adjourned for the usual period of a year. But very soon after the adjournment the War broke upon us with a suddenness and ferocity that shocked the world. At first, few realized the extent of the catastrophe, or foresaw the appalling lists of killed and wounded that had plunged thousands of homes into mourning, or the complete overturning of almost every custom and habit, social and commercial, throughout the Empire."

Eleven clergymen had responded to the call of the services, four as Chaplains and six as combatants or in the medical corps, while 24 students and two catechists enlisted as combatants or to the hospital and ambulance corps in addition to the three sons of Principal Lloyd. The Bishop suggested that hundreds or perhaps thousands of the church members had enlisted or obtained commissions, and that the war consequently still filled their minds and weighed on their hearts as they daily read the long casualty lists. Whereas in 1913, 80 clergy had been listed in the Diocese, by 1916, there were only 64 and two of these were shortly expected to leave as Chaplains for the Forces. There appeared little prospect of adding to the numbers by ordination, as had been possible in the past, since of the Emmanuel College students 24 had enlisted and the total number was now reduced to 14.

Seven of the students, including two of the sons of Principal Lloyd had enlisted in the first contingent going from Saskatoon in the 28th Battalion. The small number of students made it difficult to administer the College financially, and as a result the C. and C.C.S. recalled Principal Lloyd to England where he was employed in advocating the cause from pulpit and platform, in an attempt to provide the necessary financial support. The Reverend Dr. Carpenter was appointed Acting Principal and filled this position admirably in the absence of the Principal. Subsequently, the Bishop reported, Dr. Lloyd had severed his connection with the C and C.C.S. in England, and this also involved his resignation as Principal of Emmanuel College.

The Bishop paid tribute to Dr. Lloyd, expressing regret at the break in continuity which this resignation had made, and spoke of "the great work which he has done for the church in this Diocese, work which perhaps no other man could have done. First as Chaplain and advisor to the Brittania Colony which he largely saved from failure. His work for that Colony is commemorated in the name which they gave to their first town and centre 'Lloydminster'. Next, as Archdeacon, in organizing and carrying out what we know as the Saskatchewan Catechists Scheme. Not very many of the first 60 catechists now remain with us, but many scattered parishes and missions, and their little towered churches, standing like beacons on the prairie, are a memorial of his work. And finally his success in re-organizing the University and Divinity faculty of Emmanuel College, first in Prince Albert, then in the historic 'shacks' at Saskatoon, and now domiciled in a stately stone building on the University Campus. While we could not always agree with [85/86] his program or his methods, we must acknowledge the great impetus he gave to the work of the church, his tireless energy and zeal, and our gratitude to Principal Lloyd."

Archdeacon Dewdney reported that seven new churches had been erected in the two years previously, and paid a special tribute to the building of St. John's Church at Royal under the leadership of the Reverend R. Cardwell. If all the labour which had been given were reckoned, it would have cost in the neighborhood of $2500.00, the Archdeacon said, practically the whole amount required was raised in the parish before the building was undertaken, and practically all of it by the instrumentality of the local branch of the W.A. The church is a credit to the incumbent and congregation and, with its concrete basement and concrete walks and modern conveniences, is the best and most complete of all our rural churches, was the statement made by the Archdeacon.

Archdeacon Mackay gave an account of the new Boarding School at The Pas which had been erected two years previously, and described it as a beautiful building with modern improvements generally, and the number of pupils allowed by the department and for whom a per capita grant was paid is 80, but the attendance was well over that number. The Principal at that time was the Reverend Louis Laronde, a former student of the Battleford Industrial School.

The chief attention of the Synod of 1916 was centered on the conducting of routine business and the encouragement of both clergy and laity in continuing the administration of the work of the church in all the parishes to the best of their ability until peace was restored and more men became available. Again in August 1918, when Synod met once more in Prince Albert, the same situation obtained. The Synod opened on August 6th which was the 25th anniversary of the consecration of Bishop Newnham.

The Bishop preached the opening sermon in which he spoke movingly of the years of his episcopate, first in the Diocese of Moosonee, and also in the Diocese of Saskatchewan. Using the story of the Transfiguration as his subject, he traced some of the critical decisions that he had been called upon to make after his entrance into the ministry. With great humility he spoke of his decision to move from a comfortable parish in Montreal to the Diocese of Moosonee, and his reluctance to accept the Bishopric of that Diocese upon the death of Bishop Horden. He closed by suggesting that a great future was possible for this Western land and for this Diocese "if we are faithful to God and to each other; if we take as our motto 'In all thy ways acknowledge Him', we may be confident of the result."

In attendance at the Synod to commemorate the Bishop's anniversary were the Bishops of Keewatin and Qu'Appelle. After the presentation of the charge, addresses were presented to the Bishop on behalf of the Indians by Canon McLennan, from the Diocesan W.A. by Mrs. Matheson; from the British and Foreign Bible Society by the Reverend E. Salter; and the presentation of an address and Episcopal Robes from the Clergy and lay delegates by Canon Strong.

The Reverend H. Sherstone gave a special report, as the financial missionary, on the Diocesan debt. He had begun this work as acting rector of St. George's, Battleford, but at the request of the Bishop and the executive committee gave up his parochial duties in order to devote his full time to it. The purpose of the canvass was to raise sufficient funds to pay off a long-standing debt owed by the Diocese, which had been of great concern to Bishop Newnham. With the very energetic assistance of Archdeacon Dewdney, the canvass had been a complete success and Mr. Sherstone expressed belief that the debt would soon be a thing of the past.

[87] The contributions that were made were given in thanksgiving for the leadership of Bishop Newnham during the 14 years that he had presided over the Diocese. The money that had been received to that time was presented as an offering at the service and the Bishop expressed his deep appreciation for their kindness in recognizing his scruples, whether well grounded or not, at any rate conscientious scruples, as to the shape which any outward and material expression of their good will might take; and in yielding to his wishes rather than carrying out their own desires. The Bishop made these remarks as an indication of the consideration given to his own wishes in respect to a gift on the occasion of the anniversary and the resultant offering for the liquidation of the Diocesan debt was in that sense a gift from all the congregations of the Diocese in thanksgiving for the Bishop's leadership. Honorary Canons were appointed by the Bishop at the Synod in the persons of the Reverend Thomas Clarke, Rural Dean of Melfort; the Reverend R. McLennan, D.D. of Fort la Corne; Canon J. I. Strong, Rural Dean of Prince Albert; and the Reverend W. E. J. Paul, Meota.

In announcing the appointment of the new Canons, the Bishop reported as follows: "I felt that this year which sees the completion of a quarter of a century in my episcopate, and the wiping out of our bank overdraft, might well be marked by increasing the number of Canonries. The Reverend T. Clarke is one of the oldest clergy in the Diocese, having been at work for over 40 years. Reverend R. McLennan has done faithful work at the cost of health, in a most self-denying manner, always among the Indians to whom his heart is given; Reverend J. I. Strong has been for some time rector of the Pro-Cathedral Parish, a position of responsibility and weight; and Reverend W. E. J. Paul is a good representative of the younger clergy, who gave up a comfortable home and parish in the Motherland to come and help us, and during his few years of superintending a very large district, has endeared himself alike to clergy and laity, and has devoted not only his powers, but also his private means to the work."

Announcement was made of the death of the Reverend J. R. Matheson of Onion Lake, and the appointment of Mr. Henry Ellis to take charge of the work of the school. The Reverend Edward Ahenakew, who had been assisting Mr. Matheson for some time, continued in the work of the mission. Attention was directed by Archdeacon Dewdney for a careful study of two matters which would need attention upon the return of the clergy who were serving in the Armed Forces. The first was the matter of parsonages and the second was the matter of driving equipment. The hope was expressed that cars might continue to be provided, up to that time cars had been provided in two parishes and were beginning to supplant the horse as the principle means of transportation by the clergy.

Reverend E. K. Matheson, speaking as the Rural Dean of Battleford, mentioned the special anniversary of the Bishop with reference to the growth of work in that area. At the time of the Bishop's arrival he stated that there were five centres in the Deanery in white work where the church's services were held; whereas at that time there were 37 where the ministrations of the church are supplied to about 3,500 people. Then there was one church building--now there are 20. Then there were two Sunday Schools--now there are 12 with an aggregate attendance of about 450 pupils and 37 teachers. Then there was no self-supporting parish or district--now there are three with the hope of more soon. Then there was no Women's Auxiliary--now there are 18 branches with a membership of about 200. Canon Matheson said "in viewing these facts we have good reason to thank God and take courage. I desire to bear very grateful testimony to the continued zeal, devotion and persevering labours of all the workers throughout the Deanery."

[88] Professor J. N. Carpenter, acting Principal of Emmanuel College, reported that the previous year eleven students had been present, and accommodation had been found for them at the University of Saskatchewan, as the council had sanctioned the lease of the Emmanuel College building to the Military Hospital Commission. A temporary chapel and lecture rooms were fixed up and the men read in three groups, there being no divinity class for the second year.

Professor Carpenter announced that as a result of the smallness of the number of students, and partly by family considerations, he had tendered his resignation in a tentative manner to the C. and C.C.S. and it had been accepted. He was, therefore, about to tender his resignation to the council and to return to India. He expressed the hope that plans would be evolved for the continuance of the education of the few students available, and for the future up-building of the College. While the demands of war had inevitably brought the College into this situation, he expressed the hope that it would be only temporary, and in view of the great help that the college had been to the Diocese it would soon be possible to re-establish it to carry on in still further measure.

By the time that Synod met again in 1920, Professor George F. Trench had been appointed Principal and had returned to Saskatoon in order to take up this position. Dr. Trench had formerly been active in the work of the church in the Battleford and Lloydminster area and had returned to England, and spent 3l/2 years in East Africa, followed by the first part of the War in France. He was assisted in 1920 by the Reverend Professor Hopkins and upon arrival of the new Principal in August 1919, steps were taken to re-open the College building. This was done and the building was opened with some 20 students in September of 1919.

Principal Trench paid tribute to Archdeacon Dewdney who once again had acted as principal after the departure of Dr. Carpenter for work in India. At convocation which was held on May 5th, 1920, nine testamurs were granted, and by special request from the Board of Governors a posthumous testamur and Degree of L.Th. were given to the late Herbert Girling. Mr. Girling had died at Ottawa, in a very real sense laying down his life for the Coppermine Eskimo.

It was reported that as a result of the break in continuity of study after 1921, it was not anticipated that there would be any graduates forthcoming for the work of the Diocese for two or three years.

The Diocese at this time had 27 self-supporting parishes which, as Archdeacon Dewdney reported, was one more than the total number of parishes both Indian and white under the care of clergy when he had entered the Diocese 14 years previously.

Before the next Synod of the Diocese met, Bishop Newnham announced his resignation to the executive committee of the Diocese on February 2nd, 1921. The Bishop announced his resignation as follows: "It is with great difficulty and sincere regret that I lay before this executive committee my resignation as the Bishop of Saskatchewan, the resignation to take effect next September or October, as circumstances may demand. I have come to this decision only after long consideration and a deep searching of heart and from a sense of duty to the Diocese. I make my resignation because I have become aware that through increasing age and decreasing physical powers, I am no longer able to perform the duties which are required in such a strenuous Diocese; and I feel it is time that I should give place to a younger man."

The announcement was received by the executive committee standing, and aroused feelings of deep regret.

[89] The Bishop convened his final Synod from June 12th-15th, 1921. He expressed great regret at his approaching separation from the Diocese.

"We have been working together," the Bishop said, "a few of us at least actually and others as successors of those who were here in 1905, for 17 years. I have presided over 12 Synods and this is the 13th, and these 17 years have been those of rapid development in every way, at least until the War came; and have witnessed great changes, as is natural in this new country. When I came in 1904, the people were mostly Indians or natives of the country. Of the 25 clergy, no less than 15--three-fifths of the whole number--were serving Indian Missions. Four others ministered mainly to those of mixed blood, and only six had parishioners originally from the Old Country or Eastern Canada. Now the Indian work forms a very small part of the whole. Las t year there were only 12 clergy engaged in it, or one-fifth of the whole number, while the Diocese is filled with Canadian, British and people from every nation of Europe."

Bishop Newnham compared his first Synod and the one in 1921. He remarked that the old St. Alban's Church had not been large enough for the first Synod, and the services and sessions were held in the City Hall. At that Synod 19 clergy and 27 lay delegates had been present. In 1905 there were in the Diocese 25 clergy only, representing 66 congregations, and not one parish was self-supporting. In 1920 the numbers had increased to 64 clergy, with 322 congregations and 26 self-supporting parishes. Bishop Newnham paid tribute to the Reverend James Taylor who had officially retired as secretary-treasurer. His name had first appeared as the honorary clerical secretary of the Synod in 1905, and he was appointed secretary-treasurer in 1909. Mr. Taylor had been born at Moose Factory on James Bay in 1850 and with his removal to the Red River to St. Andrew's Parish, he completed his education there and for some time had been a schoolteacher in the parish school. In 1890 he moved to Saskatchewan, and was ordained Deacon by Bishop Pinkham in 1896 and Priest in 1898. His first charge had been the Assissippi Mission at Sandy Lake. Appointed Principal of Emmanuel College in October 1899, he bore the burden of conducting it for seven years as an Indian School, with very little practical help or financial support from the Diocese until it was finally closed in 1906. The Reverend H. Sherstone had acted upon Mr. Taylor's retirement, and the appointment of the Reverend Henry Wallace was made and Mr. Sherstone was appointed as general and financial missionary of the Diocese, to continue the valuable work that he had previously done in this area.

The Bishop also mentioned the help that Archdeacon Dewdney had been in assisting the Synod office on the resignation of Mr. Taylor. The Bishop remarked that the Archdeacon was ready to jump into any gulf that opens. "I cannot begin to tell you all the lines of work in the Diocese he carries on; but perhaps you already know them. He can run a magazine, a printing press, a Bishop, a young parson, or an old Ford car with equal facility; there is only thing he seems unable to do--to take a holiday. We have advised it, he put aside the advice; we ordered it, he disregarded the order. But now that A.D.D. has been justly made a D.D., perhaps he will consent to take the prescription ordered by other doctors. I will only add that I am very grateful for the variety of burdens he has taken off my shoulders and for the way he has supplied my omissions."

At the close of the Synod, the Bishop and Mrs. Newnham were guests of the Synod at a public reception in the Masonic Temple. In the course of the evening, the Bishop was presented with a very beautifully illuminated address in book form and with a gift of $800.00, both being a parting gift from the clergy and laity of the Diocese The Bishop expressed his pleasure [89/90] and thanks that the Diocese entertained such kind and affectionate feelings towards him and Mrs. Newnham, and that he received his handsome gift with gratitude and delight, not only for its value but also as an evidence of the sincerity of the many kind expressions of their appreciation of whatever he and his dear wife had been able to do in the 17 years.

Later the same year, Bishop Newnham moved to England where he became Rector of All Saints Church, Clifton, Bedfordshire, where he remained in charge of the parish until 1925. In that year he returned with his family to Hamilton, Ontario, and died in 1941, in the 89th year of his age.

At the Synod of 1921, Archdeacon J. A. Mackay presented his report as the Archdeacon of Saskatchewan. Among the announcements that he made were appointments which were to offer promise for continuation of the solid work being done in the Indian Missions. First was the welcome to the Reverend G. W. Fisher, who came from an Eastern Diocese to take up Indian work, and became well known for his leadership at the Indian Residential School at La Ronge. Secondly, Archdeacon Mackay announced that Canon Paul had "been led by no motive of self consideration to change from the white to the Indian work. There may be an element of unselfishness in the joy that one cannot help feeling, at Canon Paul's offering for this work. We realize that the gain to the Indian work is a loss to the white work, but some of us who have done our best in the past to bear the burden and heat of the day, and now feel that the shadows are beginning to gather around us, may be pardoned for rejoicing in the hope that when we pass away the work will be in good hands." Reading it in the light of past events, one cannot help but recognize the prophetic note that Archdeacon Mackay sounded in his announcement of the future Archdeacon's change to Indian work.

Another announcement of the Archdeacon's was that Mr. Henry Ellis had been ordained as a Deacon and was still in charge of the Onion Lake Boarding School. Mr. Ellis continued as Principal of that school until its destruction by fire in later years, when he transferred to Prince Albert with the staff and students. Upon the combination of the Onion Lake School with the Lac la Ronge School in the city, Mr. Ellis was for a time in charge of the parish of St. George in Prince Albert and also assumed the position of Protestant Chaplain at Saskatchewan Penitentiary. After his resignation, he moved to the Diocese of Qu'Appelle and was in charge of the Indian Head parish there until his death on the eve of his retirement.

Principal George F. Trench of Emmanuel College reported in 1921 that during the previous year they had a total of 26 men in residence. Of these, eight were students boarding in the building and in no sense connected with theological studies. Four were freshmen taking the matriculation course, four were taking the first year Arts, eight were taking Theology, some with Arts, one taking only Arts, and one ordained man taking Arts. A total of 18 Emmanuel men were in residence. An honorary Degree of Doctor of Divinity had been conferred on Archdeacon Dewdney in recognition of the long and faithful service which he had rendered to the College. Principal Trench's own resignation had been accepted and the Reverend Professor Hopkins had been appointed as acting Principal.

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