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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 22. Establishment of St. John's Cathedral, Saskatoon--The Semi-Centenary celebrations of 1924

On Sunday, January 6th, 1924 St. John's Church in Saskatoon was duly constituted as a Cathedral Church by Bishop Lloyd.

It was the culmination of an action which had been begun by the congregation of St. John's Church held on October 22nd, 1923 in the church hall when the Rev. W. S. Wickenden had presided. Mr. Wickenden was on the staff of Emmanuel College. At that meeting a resolution was passed that in the opinion of the congregation it was desirable to ask the Bishop to take steps to make St. John's Church a Cathedral. They therefore wrote to the Bishop and petitioned him to accept the resignations of the warden and vestry, with a view to the foundation of a Cathedral Corporation. The vestry clerk at this meeting was Mr. J. W. Oliver.

Upon receipt of the letter from the Congregation, Bishop Lloyd presented it to the executive committee of the Diocese with the following comment: "For many years past, discussions have been going on in our Synods and in the Provincial Synod regarding boundaries of Dioceses, looking eventually to their sub-division. At the last meeting of the Provincial Synod I stated that no good purpose would be served by continuing that discussion at the present time, for there was no possibility of any sub-division in the near future. The House of Bishops also took this view in the matter.

"But the necessity for re-adjustment has been tacitly acknowledged in both Diocesan and Provincial Synods. It is bound to come sooner or later. The area in Saskatchewan alone is so vast, and the prospect of continuous immigration so evident, that one Bishop cannot long cope with the increasing work."

The Bishop explained that the matter of a cathedral is entirely distinct from that of a Diocese. Under Canon law a Diocese cannot be changed without consent of the Diocese affected, the Provincial Synod, and the Bishops concerned. With regard to a Cathedral Church, however, there is nothing but the usage of the church throughout the centuries. Occasionally, two churches jointly share the distinction of containing the "Bishops' Cathedral". The Bishop mentioned that in Dublin, for instance, Christ Church and St. Patrick's are jointly the Cathedral Churches of that Diocese, and in Canada the same is true in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

The Bishop went on to explain that the property held by a church was held by a Parish Corporation under the final control and jurisdiction of the Bishop and Synod, but in the case of a Cathedral Church the property would need to be transferred to the Bishop and held in trust for a Cathedral Corporation, which would need to be elected in place of the existing officers of the church. The Bishop pointed out that it was the old time distinction which had been characteristic of the Church of England for many centuries, the spiritualities belonged to the Bishop, the temporalities belonged to the Bishop and Synod.

With the unanimous consent of the executive committee by an appropriate resolution the legal matters were completed and St. John's Church was established as a Cathedral on the Feast of the Epiphany 1924, with the Canon residentiary, the Rev. E. C. Earp continuing to exercise the functions of rector. This was the first step in the development of the program which [106/107] resulted eight years later in the final division of the Diocese of Saskatchewan into the Dioceses of Saskatoon and Saskatchewan.

The elevation of St. John's Church to the status of a Cathedral was the first of a number of celebrations which marked the Semi-Centenary of the Diocese in 1924.

Preparations had begun the previous year and letters and announcements had been sent out in September and again in January of that year, advising that Sunday May 4th would be the occasion for the observance of the Semi-Centenary throughout the Diocese. Bishop McLean had been consecrated as Bishop of the Diocese on May 3rd, 1874, and May 4th therefore began the second half of the century. Bishop Lloyd asked that in every congregation a thank offering be made by all the men, women and boys and girls separately so that the next 50 years of the work in the Diocese be not only free of all debt but provide the Diocese with a substantial sum in hand for the opening up of a new work, thrust upon the church by the flood of immigration.

In a letter read at the special services throughout the Diocese, the Bishop noted that at the first Synod of the Diocese sixteen clergy had been on the list, three S.P.G. and six C.M.S. missionaries being stationed in what was still the Diocese fifty years later. He enumerated the S.P.G. stations as being St. Mary's Church, Prince Albert, St. Catherine's Church, and St. Andrew's Church, Halcro. The Indian missions supported by the C.M.S. still within the Diocese of Saskatchewan were Stanley; St. James Church; James Smith Reserve, South Branch; and Nepowewin; Assissippi Mission, and out stations; and the Battleford Reserves. Of the missionaries' names present at the Synod of 1882, Canon E. K. Matheson of Battleford and the Rev. Thomas Clarke of Melfort were still among the members of Synod, but every lay delegate had passed to his rest.

The Bishop remarked that the area now was nearly half what it was fifty years ago but was still large enough for two large Dioceses, containing sixteen rectories, six self-supporting parishes, seventeen incumbencies, twenty-two missions, and fifty Indian missions, making about 260 congregations in all. There were, he said, some forty-five districts which should be organized at once, and judging by the railways building, this number would be largely increased by the following year. While in financial matters the Diocese had done fairly well on the whole, and the white work had been able to meet its expenditure for 1921-1923, with the Indian work it had been far otherwise. The C.M.S. had been withdrawing over ten years, ending in 1920, and in the three following lean years the Indian work went behind to the extent of about $19,000 which was the reason for the special appeal for this Semi-Centenary offering.

From that time on, the Bishop remarked, the Bible Churchman's Missionary Society is bearing the chief cost of our Indian work, so that when once this deficit caused by the Indian work was cleared away the energies could be spent in building up the fast growing white missions.

The official celebration of the Semi-Centenary was held in Prince Albert, commencing with special services on Trinity Sunday, June 15th. An ordination service was held in the morning with the Rev. Professor Hopkins as the guest preacher, and in the evening the preacher was the Rev. Canon C. W. McKim, the newly appointed general missionary of the Diocese. Canon McKim replaced the Rev. H. Sherstone who had removed to the Diocese of Rupert's Land.

Bishop Lloyd presented his charge to the Synod when it convened on Monday morning, and traced the beginnings of the Diocese with special attention to the financial support which had enabled the work to be undertaken. He noted that the S.P.G. between 1850 and 1920 had contributed to [107/108] Saskatchewan and Calgary a sum of £34,000, and to the Diocese of Saskatchewan after Calgary had separated £21,000. This included the sum of £9,000 contributed towards the endowment of the Bishopric of Saskatchewan. The Bishop noted that the first missionary supported in Canada by the C. and C.C.S. was John McLean in 1858 upon his appointment to the Diocese of Huron. After he became Bishop of Saskatchewan, the grant of the C. and C.C.S. was made towards the work of Archdeacon Mackay, and by 1895 they were also supporting the work at Nepowewin, Kinistino and St. Alban's, Prince Albert. Bishop Lloyd remarked that the whole of his work in the British Colony from 1903 was financed by the C. and C.C.S. and for the past ten years the entire work of Emmanuel College had been maintained by them. From 1903 to 1921 it was estimated that the Society had spent no less than $485,000.00, although the larger part of this had been spent on the College. The annual contribution by the C.M.S. to the Indian work in the Diocese had varied from $18,000 in 1888 to $12,000 in 1897. The reason for the decrease had been the separation of the Calgary Reserves which did not appear in the Prince Albert figures after 1890. Until 1910 when the grants were decreased by 10% a year until 1920 when they ceased altogether, the Bishop remarked that the Indian work of the Diocese owed everything to the Church Missionary Society and this would never be forgotten.

Since the Bishop's visit to England in the previous year, the new Bible Churchman's Missionary Society (B.C.M.S.) had taken on responsibility for the Indian work, and had saved the Diocese from a great catastrophe. While lacking figures for the S.P.C.K. and the F.M.L. (Fellowship of the Maple Leaf) and the Women's Branch of the C. and C.C.S., the Bishop said here also there had been a tremendous amount of financial support for which the Diocese was most grateful.

Reference was made to the death of the Rev. James Taylor who had been one of the old timers of the West, having come from the Selkirk colony on the banks of the Red River, and was ordained Deacon in 1896 in Saskatchewan and Priest in 1898. He served in the Indian Mission of Sandy Lake as catechist and clergyman and was for 9 years Principal of the Indian School held in Emmanuel College, Prince Albert. He had held the office of Rural Dean of Battleford in 1902, and was secretary-treasurer of the Synod and Diocese for the years 1904 to 1920, when he was succeeded by the Rev. Henry Wallace. The Bishop announced that in 1923 camps had been held within the Diocese for the first time to bring the boys of the church together under church guidance. So successful had the camps been that a meeting of the Rural Deans was called for further study, and it had been decided to hold eight camps in July and August of 1924. The Prince Albert Deanery Boys Camp in 1923 had been one of the largest, with over seventy boys in attendance at Wakaw Lake. Due to the distance from the centre of the Deanery, it had been agreed that in 1924 the camp should be held at Sturgeon Lake and would last for ten days.

The Bishop spoke appreciatively of the work of the newly opened St. George's College, which was functioning in the former Bishop's Residence. It had opened in August 1923, with the Rev. A. E. Minchin as the Master. There were 28 boys in residence, ten attending the Collegiate Institute, and eight the Public School. Ill health had compelled Mr. Minchin to take leave of absence, and F. J. Stevens had been appointed acting Principal. It is interesting to note that the boys attending St. George's College were drawn from British Columbia, Alberta, Southern Saskatchewan, Minneapolis, Lesser Slave Lake, Pelican Narrows, as well as other diocesan parishes. The Bishop expressed fear that the need for more accommodation might yet compel him to move out of his own house in order to provide further facilities!

[109] Dr. Lloyd reported that at the last Synod of the Diocese of Qu'Appelle a strong committee had been appointed to take up the question of the subdivision of that Diocese. He strongly recommended the appointment of a sub-division committee for the Diocese of Saskatchewan before settlement was reached, so that the adjustment of the Southern boundary of Saskatchewan might be completed in view of a possible sub-division of Saskatchewan Diocese.

Bishop Lloyd referred to his success in persuading Canon Sydney Gould, secretary of the M.S.C.C, to come to the Diocese with him following the General Synod committee meetings in Calgary the previous September. The purpose of the visit was to enable him to see for himself the extent of immigration in the Diocese and the need for funds in order to minister to the new settlers. The Bishop had been urged by the Soldier Settlement Board and the Ottawa authorities to visit the settlements and the soldiers who had been placed in them, not only in large numbers but also solitary settlers who were living more or less by themselves. The Bishop said that they were spread from one end of this Diocese to the other, and the object of his visit had been to visit all the white settlements. The area included the new country to the North of the Canadian Northern Railway system and to a large extent to the North of the Saskatchewan River between the borders of the Province of Saskatchewan, although there was still a large block of land corresponding to it in the Province of Alberta. The Bishop enumerated approximately one hundred places that he had visited, many of which have since that time become well known congregations within the Diocese. As a result of the visit, the M.S.C.C. had offered two extra grants to maintain two driving clergy, and Canon Gould had made the remark that in the whole course of his missionary travels in Asia or America he had seen nothing that impressed him so much. In that journey the Bishop had addressed 2,256 persons including 349 children. This marked the opening up of the whole area North of the North Saskatchewan River which has become such a vital part in the Diocese, and which also involved the proposed extension of the railway from North Battleford and Spruce Lake to Onion Lake, and from Turtleford to Hafford.

Modern day readers will be interested in a comment by the Bishop that a catechist, Mr. Steer, was leaving that week to organize church services at Nipawin and later in the Fall the Rev. J. House had promised to take up the M.S.C.C. driving belt with headquarters at Nipawin, while Mr. Steer would take up the organization around the railway town of Ridgedale. Mr. Steer ultimately became the Principal of Emmanuel College and Bishop of the Diocese of Saskatoon.

The name of Rev. G. Hedley Holmes appears for the first time as submitting the report of the Rural Dean of Saskatoon. After graduation from Emmanuel College, he had worked in the British Columbia area but had returned to the Diocese of Saskatchewan to Hardisty and had now become the rector of St. George's, Saskatoon. His name figured largely in the developing history of the Diocese upon his later appointments as Canon Residentiary of St. Alban's Cathedral and then Archdeacon of Prince Albert.

The Emmanuel College report, which was presented by Principal W. T. Hallam showed that the College had had thirty-four students in the 1922-3 season of whom twenty-nine had been engaged in mission work in the Diocese during the previous Summer. In the 1923-4 session forty students had attended including six Diocesan students. A small class had graduated in April of 1924, the first graduating class for some years. Thirty students were spending the Summer months in mission work in the Diocese, and during the Winter senior students had regularly .supplied services in parishes near Saskatoon, [109/110] and other students had done work in the city churches in the Sunday School and assisting at the services.

All the reports presented to the Synod, especially those of the Rural Deans, echoed the Bishop's remarks that there had been signs of increasing growth in the work of the Diocese, but that the problems confronting the church by the heavy influx of settlers required urgent attention in order to meet the growing needs of church people in the newer areas that were developing.

On Tuesday afternoon in the midst of the Synod the meetings were interrupted for the special celebration of the Semi-Centenary when the members of Synod, together with visitors, gathered for the purpose of hearing the reading of historical papers.

Papers were presented on the history of the Diocese of Rupert's Land to 1874 and the beginnings of the Diocese of Saskatchewan. At this session papers were read by the Rev. Canon Strong, Judge A. E. Doak, the Rev. John Hines, and a paper prepared by the Rev. Canon Clarke. In the evening a further session was held when papers were presented by Archdeacon Timms representing the work in the Calgary Diocese, the Very Rev. Dean Dobie, representing the Diocese of Qu'Appelle, and by Bishop Gray of Edmonton. Bishop Gray had been a lay delegate at the first Synod of the Diocese of Calgary after Bishop Pinkham's consecration, the Synod having been held on March 27th, 1888. Bishop Gray at that time was a young rancher and lay reader, and represented Elbow River on the Sarcee Reserve.

A paper was also presented, written just a day or so before his death by the Rev. James Taylor, and was read by Mr. T. E. Parker, warden of St. Alban's. The last paper on the program was presented by the Rev. W. H. English, Rural Dean of Battleford, and was entitled "The Last Twenty-five Years".

The following morning, a commemoration service of Holy Communion was held in the Cathedral which was filled to capacity for the occasion. The special guest and preacher was the Most Rev. Samuel P. Matheson, Archbishop of Rupert's Land.

Archbishop Matheson in his sermon revealed a wide knowledge of all the early leaders of the church and made reference to Bishop McLean as a man of commanding power, great eloquence and real statesmanship. He said that men like Machray, McLean and Mackay had taught him that it took really big men to do small things well, and furthermore that nothing is too small or too menial to do when you are a servant of God and the work is His.

Plans for a commemorative service at the old St. Catherine's Church had to be cancelled because of bad roads, but at the close of the service at St. Alban's cars took the guests to St. Mary's Church where a similar service was held. A brief historical resume of St. Catherine's Church was presented by the incumbent Rev. A. E. Greenhalgh. Mr. Thomas McKay then spoke of the history of St. Mary's Church itself, and the commemorative service was held within the church. With brief prayers and ceremony, wreaths were placed on the graves of Bishop McLean, Archdeacon Mackay and Canon Flett. Then, moving to a site very close to the original place where Emmanuel College buildings had stood, a convocation of Emmanuel College was held. Principal Hallam gave a brief sketch of the history of the College, after which the Bishop conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Divinity upon His Grace Archbishop Matheson. After receiving the Degree, the Archbiship responded by telling the gathering that this had been the tenth Degree that he had received, from Cambridge, from Durham and from many other colleges of renown. But he said that this Degree that he had received [110/111] was of more value than all of them; for it had been conferred upon him by that College instituted by the great teacher Bishop McLean, his teacher, and the teacher of his dear old friend Archdeacon Mackay as well. Bishop Machray he had known and well respected, but he had loved his teacher, Bishop McLean, for to him he owed what he was. The Archbishop remarked that he had seemed to think quite a bit of him but always thought of him as a boy. "Indeed, I think he gave me a cuff on the ear, even after I became a Bishop," remarked Archbishop Matheson. "A stern disciplinarian he was too, a loving father to his students and to those under him."

The convocation ceremony marked the climax of the Semi-Centenary celebration and was largely attended by the students and graduates of Emmanuel College, together with the members of the Senate, the distinguished visitors and members of the public.

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