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 25. Readjustment of the Diocese to new dimensions--Extension in mission work and building programme--Illness and resignation of Bishop Burd--Election and Consecration of Bishop Henry D. Martin

The episcopate of Bishop Burd was greatly handicapped by illness. Within three months of his consecration, he became ill and was for a year and a quarter severely indisposed and unable to attend to many of his official duties. The Synod met on June 13th and 14th, 1933 but the Bishop was unable to be present as a result of his illness, and the meetings were presided over by Archdeacon W. E. J. Paul.

Another factor which profoundly influenced the work of the Diocese during that period was what Bishop Burd referred to in 1938 as "an almost overwhelming influx of 20,000 new settlers from the dried out areas of the South." This took place during the economic depression of those years when the settlers in the Southern areas of Saskatchewan, stricken by drought, were compelled to find some relief by seeking new homesteads in the North where the drought had not as yet had any serious effect. While special grants were made available by the church to the areas in which the drought had been most severe, the Diocese of Saskatchewan was forced to cope with this wave of migration but was not qualified to share in the special grants. This in itself constituted a serious problem for the new Diocese struggling to maintain what had been a heavy burden even prior to this situation.

Nevertheless, in spite of this, through the heroic efforts of the Bishop and those associated with him, every year marked fresh progress in the evangelistic and administrative patterns of the church in the Diocese. New missionary areas were created at Meadow Lake and Loon Lake under the supervision of Archdeacon Holmes. The Diocese was divided into three Deaneries, Mel-fort and Prince Albert Deaneries having existed before, and there was now added the Deanery of Turtleford which area had previously been included in the Deaneries of Battleford and Lloydminster. Under Archdeacon Paul's leadership and with the assistance in 1933 of Dr. Westgate, Western field secretary of the M.S.C.C., a conference for Indian work was held for the first time in an effort to relate the work of all the Reserves together with the work of education in both the day schools and the boarding schools. Archdeacon Paul, incidentally, had still the supervision of the few Reserves in the Diocese of Saskatoon, in which work he continued for several years after the division of the Diocese.

Acting upon the recommendation of the Anglican National Commission which had been presented at the General Synod in Toronto in 1931, Bishop Burd attempted to implement the suggestion that informal conversations and conferences between members of the Anglican church and those of other denominations be held, with a view to increasing the spirit of mutual understanding and sympathy necessary to progress towards reunion. In view of the difficulty of the various churches supporting a ministry in small congregations, either under a Summer student or on a year-round basis, Bishop Burd initiated conversations with the United Church of Canada and positive and constructive steps were taken to prevent the overlapping of ministries within the area of the Diocese of Saskatchewan. As a result, a number of communities had either the Anglican ministry or the United Church ministry, but conflict of the two was avoided wherever possible.

The guiding principles for the work of cooperation with other Christian bodies were given by the direction of the Lambeth Conference of 1920 which [126/127] said: "We acknowledge all those who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, and have been baptized into the name of the Holy Trinity, as sharing with us membership in the universal Church of Christ which is His body . . . The time has come, we believe, for all the separated groups of Christians to agree in forgetting the things which are behind, and reaching out towards the goal of a reunited Catholic Church."

Regarding the admission of communicant members of other churches to Holy Communion, Bishop Burd quoted the authority of the 1930 Lambeth Conference as follows: "Nor (we hope) will the Bishops of the Anglican Communion question the action of any Bishop who may in his discretion so exercise, sanction an exception to the general rule in special areas, where the ministrations of his own church are not available for long periods of time, or without travelling great distances, or may give permission that baptized communicant members of churches not in communion with our own, should be encouraged to communicate in Anglican Churches when the ministrations of their own church are not available, or in other special and temporary circumstances. We would repeat the declaration of the Lambeth Conference of 1920 that in cases in which it is impossible for the Bishop's judgement to be obtained beforehand, the Priest should remember that he has no canonical authority to refuse communion to any baptized person kneeling before the Lord's table unless he be excommunicate by name or, in the canonical sense of the term, a cause of scandal to the faithful."

It was on this basis that many smaller missions, were encouraged not only to admit to communion but also to admit to membership, and hold office in the groups of the church and also in the church body itself, such members of other churches. Following this pattern, a number of occasions arose in communities where our own Church served all Protestant denominations, where joint services were held when Anglican members were confirmed, and United Church members were received into the church by a United Church minister who shared the service of confirmation with the Bishop.

At the Synod of 1933, Archdeacon Paul read on the Bishop's behalf the charge which Bishop Burd had written. Reference was made in the charge to the matter of Bishops College, the purposes for which it had been commenced, and the results which had been obtained. The experiment was declared to have been abundantly justified, and there were at that time thirteen Priests and three Deacons from the college in the Diocese of Saskatchewan and, as a result of their longer student ministry because of the pattern of instruction, the work in the Missions had been so consolidated that in most cases it was possible to maintain a clergyman instead of a student.

As the situation in the mission areas appeared now to be well in hand, the Bishop announced that it had not been necessary to secure further students for the college for some time, and no further students would be obtained until the occasion arises. The college, however, would continue to direct the further education of the clergy of the Diocese by means of correspondence and refresher courses, leading to the higher degrees provided by the General Synod. This marked the end of the active preparation of men for the ministry by Bishops College in the Diocese of Saskatchewan.

In the meantime, St. Alban's College had ceased to function, largely as a result of the economic depression and the consequent reduction in numbers of the girls who were able to attend. St. George's College for boys was still continuing, and twenty-two boys were in residence in 1933 in spite of the financial problems which had been created for the families who had formerly supported the work of the college in the past.

However, by the time that the Synod met in 1938 the college had been unable to maintain its identity, and a resolution was passed that the Synod [127/128] offer to the Indian Department at Ottawa the use of St. George's College as a residential school for higher education, and definite vocational training for Indian pupils. As has already been noted, the later history of the college which had been formerly known as St. Alban's College, was eventually used by the Indian Department upon the destruction by fire of the school at Lac la Ronge.

With the appointment of Canon Holmes as Archdeacon of Prince Albert by Bishop Burd, the Rev. F. J. Stevens, Master of St. George's College, was appointed as Canon Residentiary of St. Alban's Cathedral.

The development of a more active role for the laymen of the Diocese was urged by Bishop Burd in the charge which had been read to the Synod of 1933. He had suggested that there was a growing demand for a men's organization, not created for the purpose of entertainment but for service. He envisioned the possibility of laymen going out in the name of the Church to hold services in vacant parishes or mission districts, and to speak when required on finances and the missionary work of the church. His words bore fruit and the Laymen's Association of the Diocese was organized, and at the following Synod in 1935 the laymen met for the first time on one of the evenings during the Synod sessions. From their meeting developed resolutions which were presented to Synod, forwarding the work of the laymen, and co-ordinating their activity in such a way that it could be helpful in Deanery and Diocesan levels as well as in local parishes. The idea of training lay readers by the clergy was encouraged and in the years that followed a great deal of work was done along this line.

Linked with the necessity of work among the laymen in the Bishop's message to the 1933 Synod had been his request that consideration be given to work amongst the young people of the Diocese. Again the response to his suggestion was brought to the fore in the Synod of 1935 when the Canon of Okema Beach was presented for first approval. Okema Beach was a property on the shores of Emma Lake which had been transferred to the Diocese by the Provincial authorities in return for the surrender of property at Fort a la Corne which the Diocese no longer required. This Okema Beach property began its development at this time, and became the home of young people's Summer conferences and boys' and girls' camps which have been held successfully from that time until the present. During the war years the young people's conference was discontinued for a short time, but there is no doubt that a great deal of the church's unity developed from the gathering together of the young people of the parishes in study and devotion as well as recreation during the conferences in the Summer months. The Diocese owes much to the many who have helped through the years in the organization and conduct of these camps, as well as those whose practical ability has enabled the property to be developed with more and more adequate buildings as the years have progressed.

Also for the first time in the history of the Diocese, the 1935 Synod saw the approval of a special Canon governing the Cathedral Church of St. Alban the Martyr, which bears the sub-title the Bishop McLean Memorial Church. The constitution provided for the Diocesan and Episcopal responsibility and privileges, as well as the parochial organization which was established under the control of the Canon Residentiary. In addition to the Bishop's wardens, the Cathedral Corporation was established to consist of twenty-four members to be elected each year by the communicants of the church. It was also provided that a selection committee, consisting of three members of the Corporation, should in the event of a vacancy, as the result of the [128/129] resignation of the Rector, meet with two members of the executive committee under the chairmanship of one of the Archdeacons to nominate to the Bishop names of those suggested for appointment as a successor.

The Cathedral Canon was a distinct step forward, adding dignity to the Cathedral, as well as clarifying matters of procedure within the Cathedral congregation and the Diocese.

At the same time, provision was made for the first time for the alteration on the Canon of membership in the Synod by including as ex officio members the president and treasurer of the Diocesan W.A. or their substitutes. From this time forward these two representatives of the Diocesan W.A. were by Canon members of the Diocesan Synod. This also opened the way, as the Bishop's remarks had suggested, for the presence of women as delegates to the Synod in the regular way. Consequently, the Synod of 1938 included three women who sat in the Synod as representative of their respective parishes.

After the Synod of 1935, Bishop Burd had been granted a year's leave of absence in order to recover more fully from the illness which had stricken him shortly after his assuming the responsibility as Bishop. This illness had originated with an infection which arose in his leg as a result of a war wound in his foot. While recovery had been reasonably good, the time spent in California while on leave of absence had benefitted him greatly. However, in 1937 tragedy struck when Bishop Burd and his wife were returning from a conference in Saskatoon late one evening. Driving in a blizzard, when visibility was greatly reduced, the car which the Bishop was driving was involved in a head-on collision with another car. Mrs. Burd died from injuries received in the accident shortly after, and Bishop Burd's own physical condition was greatly impaired as the result, and once again he returned to hospital in Winnipeg periodically for further treatment. He recovered sufficiently to preside at the Synod of 1938, and there in his charge expressed his deep appreciation of the affection and sympathy of all members of the church in the Diocese during his bereavement, and associated illness. He said that a sense of friendship, true as steel, from the whole Diocese had sustained him in his hour or need.

On May 12th, 1938 the Canadian Churchman devoted a good part of its issue to the work of the Diocese of Saskatchewan. The Bishop himself, just a month before the Synod, had written a message from the General Hospital in Winnipeg in which he stated that through his incapacity and bereavement he had received a constant stream of letters reminding him that just as our Lord's suffering on the cross helps us today so the ministry of suffering is a very real thing in our lives. He reported receiving a message from one of the settlers in the Diocese who addressed him as "Our Dear Bishop", and said to him "even if God does not see fit to use you physically again in His service, your spiritual example will remain with us and encourage us to live a better life". The Bishop remarked that God's work is greater than his workmen and his work goes on.

This special issue of the Canadian Churchman commemorated the fifth anniversary of the separation of the Diocese of Saskatchewan from that of Saskatoon. It contains an excellent summary of the progress that had been made in the five years since its reorganization. In 1938 there were six self supporting parishes, and among the white population a total of twenty-seven missions in which sixteen priests were resident, the remaining eleven missions being cared for by students either from Emmanuel or Wycliffe colleges. During the Winter the responsibility for the student missions was undertaken by the Archdeacon and two or three travelling priests. A total of 133 congregations existed among the white population, and 66 churches were available [129/130] for their use. Eighteen of these churches had been built during the five years of the new Diocese's separate existence and almost all of these churches were in places where no other church was providing a ministry.

It was anticipated that several new churches would be built that year, and mention was made of the personal sacrifice of the clergy in remaining at their posts during these depression years. The problem of maintaining cars became more and more difficult, since the salaries that the clergy received were approximately $60.00 a month, and a part of this was due from the congregations, which in many cases were unable to provide their share of the stipend, although some made contributions of meat and other farm products in lieu of the actual money. This increased the difficulty of repairs with cars when money was so limited. In spite of this, the church throughout the Diocese had succeeded in raising its missionary apportionment in full, which had meant real self-denial and sacrifice on the part of the laity as well as the clergy.

The eighteen new churches that were referred to as having been built were situated at Norbury, Ladder Valley near Big River, Christopher Lake, Loon Lake, Makwa, Iron Springs, Big River, Deer Creek, which had succeeded in building a stone church entirely by voluntary labour, Medstead, Forest Gate near Paddockwood, Mattes, St. Cyr Lake, Waitville, Harlan, Ditton Park, Codette, Bapaume, and Crooked River. In addition, new churches had been built for Indian Congregations at Big Island Lake, Red Earth, Fort a la Corne, and Shoal Lake. Indian work was being carried on in eighteen different missions and at twenty-seven different centres. The total number of Indians in the new Diocese, according to the census, was 5,736 with 2,914 being classified as Anglican, 2,501 as Roman Catholic, and 131 as Presbyterian, 36 as United Church, and 154 still clinging to primitive beliefs.

There were the two Indian Residential Schools functioning at Lac la Ronge and Onion Lake, each with a capacity of a little over 100 children and each with an ordained clergyman as principal. Six ordained clergy were working in the missions, and nine lay missionaries, six of whom were also engaged in teaching in the day schools.

Some of the photographs included in the article on the work in Saskatchewan included the modes of transportation which were characteristic of the work of the missionaries, as well as the limited facilities available to the new settlers who had crowded into the Diocese from the South, with practically no money to support them. Ox teams were again in use, and Bennett buggies were also a favorite mode of transportation, consisting of an old car with a team hitched to it, because it was no longer capable of operating under the power which had originally impelled it. During the Winter, the caboose was utilized, with a horse drawing a closed-in cutter which often was warmed by a small wood stove in the centre.

The fact that so much building had been completed during these years of difficulty and privation, and in spite of the handicap of the Bishop s illness and bereavement, testifies to the hard work and the self-sacrificing devotion of all who contributed to this tremendous concentration of effort and energy. Inspired by the Bishop, and led and directed by the Archdeacons, the clergy and the laity worked together with great resourcefulness in order to fulfill what they saw as their obligation for the ministry of the Word and Sacraments during those difficult days.

In 1936 the Sunday School by Post was organized for the new Diocese in Prince Albert, having previously been administered from Saskatoon. By 1938 the number of pupils on the roll had risen to 4,940, from the previous total of 3,632. This had come under the leadership of Miss Etta Whelpley, who was a Deaconess of the church and had joined the staff of the Diocese [130/131] for this express purpose. Miss Whelpley worked in this capacity until her retirement just a few years ago, and in addition to administering the Sunday School by Post for most of the years in which she served also assumed responsibility for the congregations in the St. Louis Parish, except for the Summer months when a student took over the work. Miss Whelpley was assisted by other very valued leaders who are also gratefully remembered for the contribution that they made, not only with the Sunday School by Post but by their contribution to the work of children and young people in the parishes, and also at the Summer conferences at Okema Beach.

The work of Miss F. H. Eva Hasell began shortly before the final division of the Diocese, and from that time on Miss Hasell's band of workers have spent the Summer visiting the Sunday School by Post pupils and latterly in the visitation of both white and Indian parishes. Miss Hasell and her workers have likewise given a tremendous impetus to the work among settlers in the isolated areas and strengthened the spiritual ministry of the Diocese greatly.

During the five years under review, the Diocesan W.A. had doubled the number of its branches, and also doubled the number of its members. In addition to this, the junior branches of the W.A. had also seen significant growth.

Towards the end of 1938 Bishop Burd's physical condition became so serious that he once more returned to hospital. The administration of the Diocese went forward under Archdeacon Paul and Archdeacon Holmes, but Bishop Burd tendered his resignation on March 31st, 1939. Shortly after that, he retired to Victoria, B.C. where he died on August 2nd of the same year. The funeral service took place from St. Alban's Cathedral, being conducted by Archdeacon Holmes and Archdeacon Paul with the Honorary Canons of the Diocese being present as pallbearers. Bishop Burd was buried beside his wife in St. Mary's Cemetery, immediately adjoining the family plot where the remains of Bishop McLean are interred.

Some time after the resignation of Bishop Burd, the executive committee of the Diocese was advised by the Metropolitan, Archbishop Malcolm M. Harding, that there had been proposals submitted both from Eastern Canada and also from Britain that the Dioceses of Saskatoon and Saskatchewan be amalgamated on the grounds of economy. Archdeacon G. H. Holmes and the Chancellor, Judge A. E. Doak were appointed as a delegation to interview Archbishop Harding in Winnipeg. The Archbishop discussed with them the demand that had been made for amalgamation, but stated that the correspondence in connection with the matter was confidential and he was unable to reveal the sources from which the suggestions had come. At the time of the meeting with the Archbishop there had been no word received from Bishop Hallam of Saskatoon with regard to his views in the matter of amalgamation.

Archdeacon Holmes and Judge Doak also discussed with the Metropolitan the question of choosing a Bishop for the Diocese of Saskatchewan, and the Archbishop intimated that the House of Bishops would be glad to consider any suggestions made by the delegates from the Diocese in this connection, since there were not sufficient self-supporting parishes in the Diocese to proceed with an election by the Synod itself.

While the representatives of the Diocese were disappointed that the Archbishop was unable to disclose the proposals that had been made regarding amalgamation, they were encouraged that he had given them some hope that the wishes of the Diocese might receive consideration in the election of a Bishop to succeed Bishop Burd.

Accordingly, a Synod was convened in St. Alban's Cathedral on June 8th, 1939 with Archdeacon Paul presiding. Judge Doak presented a report [131/132] on the interview with the Metropolitan, and also a resolution which had been drawn up outlining the conviction of the Diocese with regard to the matter of amalgamation.

The resolution stated that after a careful survey of the administrative and other expenses of the two Dioceses, it appeared from the statistics that very little saving would be available to either Diocese by such an amalgamation. It was further the feeling of the Diocesan representatives that the reason for the original division was because of the area of the original Diocese being too large for proper administration by one Bishop, especially with regard to the transportation problems and the undeveloped character of a large portion of the area. Since the division, 5,048 square miles had been added to the Diocese of Saskatoon from the Diocese of Qu'Appelle, and the increase in population and the augmented activity in church work in both Dioceses had rendered the necessity of two Bishops even more pressing than it had been previously. While the Diocese was prepared to support any reasonable scheme by which the administrative expense of the two Dioceses could be lessened, it was the opinion of the Diocese of Saskatchewan that it would not be in the interests of either Diocese that they be amalgamated, even for administrative purposes, but on the contrary believed that the work of the church would suffer in both Dioceses by reason of such amalgamation, and that it would in addition violate the terms of the trust creating the Bishopric endowment fund by the Anonymous Donor.

These findings were embodied in a resolution which was passed by the Synod at its first session.

A further resolution was passed by the Synod in which the matter of the election of a successor to Bishop Burd was dealt with, while recognizing that the situation within the Diocese prevented the election of a Bishop by the Synod and that the House of Bishops therefore had that right, the Diocese affirmed its moral right under the particular circumstances to submit to the House of Bishops a name or names of one or more persons from amongst whom it desired that a choice might be made.

This resolution was supplemented by a further motion which requested that delegates to the Provincial Synod should be instructed to support the election of the person or persons who would be nominated by the Diocesan Synod on this occasion.

The Synod then proceeded to vote, with the attendance of 24 clergy and 37 laity casting their ballots, and the result on the first ballot was a majority for Archdeacon G. H. Holmes. Accordingly, the name of Archdeacon Holmes was submitted to the House of Bishops to be considered at its meeting for the purpose of electing a Bishop for the Diocese at the forthcoming Provincial Synod.

The Provincial Synod of Rupert's Land met the following week, and Archbishop Harding had this to say regarding the proposal for the amalgamation of the two Dioceses: "It was the sincere hope of many influential friends in both Canada and England that, at least for a time, the Dioceses of Saskatoon and Saskatchewan could be amalgamated and some agreement reached whereby the hard-pressed missionary clergy of both Dioceses might profit financially. After considerable correspondence and many interviews between responsible parties, this arrangement has been deemed impracticable, and a call issued to the House of Bishops to elect a Bishop of Saskatchewan, with the consent of the House of Delegates".

The following day the House of Bishops met and by a majority indicated that the Rev. Canon Henry David Martin had been selected for the See of Saskatchewan as Bishop. The House of Delegates, voting by orders, concurred in the decision of the House of Bishops and Canon Martin therefore [132/133] became the Bishop Elect. Archdeacon Holmes assured him of the loyal support and welcome that he would receive from all the members of the Diocese upon his arrival.

The consecration of Canon Martin took place on August 24th, 1939, with the Most Rev. M. M. Harding as the consecrating Bishop. Assisting him were Bishop W. T. Hallam of Saskatoon and Bishop W. H. Thomas,Bishop of Brandon, and Bishop E. H. Knowles, Bishop of Qu'Appelle. The guest preacher for the occasion was Bishop Hallam, who said that Canon Martin "brought to his new work a strong body and alert mind, training in the care of souls, an understanding heart, and a help-mate in his wife who is and has been a strength in the work of the church."

Bishop Hallam referred to the cloud of danger hanging over the world and the prospect of war, and referred to the need for the fullest exercise of Christian faith at such a time.

The service of enthronement took place later in the day, and the Archbishop conducted the service and delivered an inspiring sermon. A characteristic of the enthronement was that every clergyman in the Diocese was present, and lay representatives were present from almost every parish and congregation.

A warm welcome was extended to the new Bishop and his wife at a reception that evening which was held in the former residence of Bishop Newnham. He undertook the obligation of a Bishop at a serious time in the history of the church and the world, for it was on September 3rd that war was declared between Great Britain and Germany.

Like his predecessors, Bishop Martin brought to his office a profound sense of dedication. He had been born in London, England, and educated there, after which he had undertaken studies in medicine at Edinburgh. Coming to Canada, he received his Theological education at Wycliffe College, Toronto, and was ordained in the Diocese of Fredericton in 1915. Here he served acceptably in St. John, New Brunswick, and went to Winnipeg to a temporary appointment at Holy Trinity Church in 1916. With the re-establishment of St. George's Church in 1918, he was appointed Rector and had occupied that influential parish for 21 years before being elected Bishop of Saskatchewan. During that time the congregation had developed and the church had been greatly strengthend both spiritually and materially by his ministry. His own keen interest in the missionary work of the church had resulted in a greatly increased support for this area of the church's work, and perhaps may well have had a share in bringing his name forward for the position as Bishop of Saskatchewan. A staunch Evangelical, and an Englishman, he was well acquainted with the great church missionary organizations of Britain which had given such strong support to the work of the Diocese. Bishop Martin was of an athletic build, and had been a boxer in his undergraduate days, so that his constitution equipped him to undertake the arduous journeys into the North to the Indian and other distant missions which would become such a regular part of his ministry as Bishop.

The Bishop was ably supported by his wife, a native of Winnipeg, and the daughter of a well known and respected merchant of that city. Mrs. Martin was possessed of a keen mind, and interested herself in the work of the W.A. particularly, and was for many years the vice-president for Central Canada of the Dominion W.A. She not only travelled extensively with her husband on his journeys throughout the Diocese, but also went to address meetings of the Deanery and Parish W.A.'s on many occasions, contributing greatly to their inspiration, and giving them valuable leadership and support.

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