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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 26. The Second World War--Fellowship of the West--Overseas and Local sources for candidates for the Ministry--The Cathedral consecrated--Anglican Advance Appeal--Renewed interest in St. Mary's Church, Prince Albert--La Ronge School destroyed by fire and pupils removed to Prince Albert

The grim reality of the Second World War affected every aspect of the national life of Canada. Industry and commerce, social and family life all suffered from the impact of the outbreak of hostilities. The life of the church suffered also, and the opening years of the Episcopate of Bishop Henry David Martin presented him with the recurring problem of an inadequate supply of men and financial resources. Western Canada was still trying to cope with the final years of drought and depression, and when the War came not only did the parishes suffer from the enlistment of multitudes of laymen, but also a number of the clergy volunteered and went on active service either as combatants or as chaplains.

Bishop Burd's long illness had made it necessary for Archdeacon W. E. J. Paul and Archdeacon G. H. Holmes to assume much of the administrative responsibility in the Diocese. Consequently, Bishop Martin in his new work had the advantage of their wisdom and experience in dealing with the problems that arose when he took office. He convened his first Synod in St. Alban's Cathedral on June 11th, 1941 with twenty-nine clergy and about fifty laymen present. In both Indian and white work it was reported that in spite of difficulties and many changes in staff going to the War, the regular work had been continued because of the self-sacrifice of neighboring clergy who carried on in vacant parishes adjoining their own, and faithful lay readers who helped with the services in the absence of clergy. In white work, four parishes and missions were being served on a full-time basis, and nine Summer missions were being cared for by students. In the Indian work, expenses had been reduced by some of the clergy undertaking to teach in the day schools, thereby reducing the cost in stipends. A total of eleven men were engaged in Indian work, two were principals of Residential Schools at Onion Lake and Lac la Ronge, and three were teaching in day schools on their own Reserves. As might be expected, very little was undertaken in the way of building operations at this time, and even necessary maintenance was very often rendered extremely difficult.

At the close of his report to the Synod, Archdeacon Holmes announced his resignation to take effect at the end of the Summer. This announcement was received with great regret. Archdeacon Holmes had contributed greatly to the building up of the parishes and missions in white work since his appointment as Archdeacon, and his work as secretary-treasurer, as well as the visitations of the parishes, had earned him the love and respect of all concerned. Upon his resignation, Archdeacon Holmes moved to British Columbia where he served until an advanced age in the Parish of Ganges on Salt Spring Island.

Due to the economic situation, and travelling restrictions which included gasoline rationing, Synod did not meet again until June 27th, 1944. In the meantime, Bishop Martin appointed the Rev. W. F. Payton as Canon Missioner and Secretary-Treasurer of the Diocese, effective January 1st, 1942. His association with the Diocese had begun in the Summer of 1941, when he had come out under the auspices of the Fellowship of the West to continue the work of the Toronto Chapter of this organization, in the area North-East of Nipawin known as Petaigan. At the time of his appointment, he was Rector of St. James Church, Humber Bay, in the Diocese of Toronto, and had [134/135] spent ten years in that Diocese since his ordination by Bishop Owen. It may be of interest to note that the President of the Toronto Chapter of the Fellowship of the West in 1941 was the present Bishop of Saskatchewan, Rt. Rev. H.V.R. Short, who was at that time a student at Trinity College.

Reference to the Fellowship of the West suggests that further note should be made of the valuable contribution that this organization made in the growth of the Diocese for some years. As early as 1930, a team had come to the Diocese under the leadership of the Rev. W. A. Brown, assisted by Mr. Roy Stinson, when they surveyed the South-East corner of the undivided Diocese and organized several permanent centres with Endeavour as the headquarters. Mr. Brown remained to teach at Bishops College and also worked at Endeavour for the Summer months. He was maintained as travelling priest by the Fellowship of the West for the Northern Archdeaconry, a Prince Albert area, until October 1932. The Rev. J. F. Tupper of St. Monica's Church in Toronto also visited the Summer missions in 1931. The Meadow Lake district was visited in 1932, and much of the early organization of the Meadow Lake Parish was the result of their efforts. As responsibility for that area was assumed by the Diocese, the Fellowship of the West team, consisting of a priest and a layman, turned their attention to the area opened up for homesteading North-East of Nipawin. Here the Rev. C. D. Cross worked with a layman in the Summer of 1940 and in 1941 a church was built. This area, however, was flooded by the building of the Squaw Rapids Dam and the church was removed before that took place. This missionary organization of the Diocese of Toronto was of a purely voluntary nature and was instituted in order to assist the missionary needs of the West. A similar organization operated from Montreal and worked largely in the Diocese of Athabasca.

Such efforts were instrumental in stimulating the work of the clergy in the Western Dioceses, and brought encouragement and inspiration to the people among whom they served. The finances were provided by the members of the organization in the Diocese of Toronto for the work that was done in Saskatchewan.

Due to the wartime limitation, work in the Diocese was at this time largely a holding operation. Fortunately, there was a reasonably good supply of students for Summer missions, which enabled much of the work to be maintained where permanent clergy were not available. One of the results of the support of Emmanuel College by the C. and C.C.S., and also the interest of the C. and C.C.S. in Wycliffe College in Toronto, resulted in numbers of students being sent for training to Wycliffe and Emmanuel from both England and Ireland. While in the earliest days of the Diocese many of the clergy were of Scottish origin, the students who came from Ireland contributed a great deal to the growth of the church in the period of rapid expansion in the North following the beginning of Bishop Lloyd's Episcopate. Canon W. S. Noble, who was Canon Residentiary at St. Alban's Cathedral appointed during Bishop Burd's tenure of office, was perhaps representative of many others who like him had come to Saskatchewan as a student and settled into a ministry which was characterized by great loyalty and devotion. Today in Saskatchewan, Canon Isaac Graham of Shellbrook continues this tradition, but during the years there have been many men both of Irish and of English stock who have made a vital contribution to the spiritual development of their people as well as to the administrative development of the Diocese. Canon C. J. Parker is representative of the English students who came to Canada and trained for the ministry, making it their home and giving of their time and talents to the building up of the work of the church. Canon Parker for 33 years lived on the Cumberland House Reserve in isolation, dedicating himself to the work of the ministry among the Indians there. Since then [135/136] he has worked in the central area of the Diocese, and today lives in Prince Albert and is an Honorary Assistant at St. Alban's Cathedral. Another representative of the English students who came out is the present Bishop of Brandon, the Rt. Rev. T. W. Wilkinson who was rector of Tisdale and Rural Dean of Melfort before the Second World War, when he served as Chaplain overseas. Returning to the Diocese afterwards, he became Rector of Shellbrook and Rural Dean of Prince Albert, before transferring to the Diocese of Brandon.

There are many men native to the Diocese who have made a distinguished contribution to the work of the church both here and elsewhere. The Venerable Edwin S. Light was a chaplain with the Air Force during the War, and became the Principal Chaplain for the Armed Services after the cessation of hostilities. At present, Archdeacon Light is the general secretary of the General Synod for the church in Canada, and has made a notable contribution to the church throughout the nation. Archdeacon Light was born at Leask, where his parents were loved and respected by all who knew them. The Rev. J. C. Daisley was a young Prince Albertan who graduated from Emmanuel and served in the Diocese, and he also served as a chaplain with the Army during the War, and after further service in Saskatchewan transferred to the Diocese of Calgary. The Rev. Henry Roderick is another native of the Diocese who is Rector of St. David's Church, Prince Albert, and has spent his whole ministry in the Diocese, working effectively in the parishes of Leask and Nipawin, and recently in Prince Albert itself. Men from other parts of Canada have also aided the work of the church in Saskatchewan, and together the consolidation of the Northern Diocese since the division has been made possible by the efforts and the contribution of all these factors.

Many people will recall that during the years of Bishop Martin's Episcopate, students were furnished with a bicycle for travelling on their mission during the Summer months. Road conditions at that time were very different from what they are today; with the exception of the road to Shellbrook, no gravel roads existed West of the city. Travelling North there was a gravel road to Waskesiu, and travelling East to Nipawin via Melfort and Tisdale. There was no asphalt road or hard surface of any kind, and apart from these few gravel roads that did exist, travel by car in wet weather was well nigh impossible. Until the C.C.F. Government came into power and amalgamated the private bus lines into the Saskatchewan Transportation Company, no snowplowing was ever undertaken by the Government during the Winter months. A few farmers clubbed together to plow out the roads in their own immediate neighborhood, but other than that the traveller had to shovel himself through wherever he went in the event of heavy snow. With the advent of highway plows, the situation has changed, and the coming of hard surface highways built to modern standards has greatly lessened the drifting of snow in the Winter and considerably reduced the difficulty of Winter travel.

During the War, new cars were unavailable, and the clergy were compelled to make do with the cars that they already owned. As a consequence, the cost of travelling which had to be met from their meagre stipends was a very severe drain on the budget. At the Synod of 1944 the whole matter of the cost of travel to the clergy was a matter of major concern. Resolutions were adopted, urging that steps be taken to relieve the clergy of the necessity of paying large sums of money for the cost of travelling and also for the renewal of their cars. Stipends of the clergy by this time had risen to $1,000 a year, which left little margin for such expenses. The Diocese of Saskatchewan was not alone in facing this problem, and the matter was considered by the M.S.C.C. from the point of view of the National Policy. As a result, some assistance was granted for the travelling of rural clergy in 1945, amounting [136/137] in Saskatchewan to a total of $753.00. On the Diocesan level an effort was made by the creation of the Diocesan Transportation Loan Fund, which took advantage of a capital sum of approximately $5,000 to make loans to the clergy for the purchase of new cars. In the course of the years this fund has been built up and from the original amount of $400.00 as a maximum loan it is now capable of extending greater help to the clergy for this purpose.

One of the happy features of the Synod of 1944 was the consecration of St. Alban's Cathedral on Wednesday, June 28th. Bishop Martin officiated at the consecration, assisted by Canon W. S. Noble, Canon Residentiary of the Cathedral, and the clergy of the Diocese. The guest preacher on this occasion was the Rev. W. R. Armitage, Principal of Wycliffe College, Toronto.

The Synod also extended to Canon Albert Fraser congratulations on the fortieth anniversary of his ordination. Canon Fraser had spent his entire ministry in the Diocese of Saskatchewan, having been for many years missionary at The Pas and Principal of the Mackay Memorial School in the same place. In his later years he served with great devotion in the Mission of Sandy Lake, from which he later retired and moved to Langley, B.C. As a member of the Diocesan Executive Committee, and of the Provincial Synod, Canon Fraser championed the cause of the Indian congregations with great zeal and devotion. Possessed of great patience, and supported by a strong and vital faith, his life and example are still a source of inspiration to those who knew him.

With the conclusion of the War in the summer of 1945, the church throughout Canada was stimulated by the inauguration of the Anglican Advance Appeal. The Very Rev. R. H. Waterman visited the Diocese in October 1945 to outline the purpose of the appeal. The primary challenge was to a deeper spiritual dedication to the work of the church throughout the Dominion, and also, as a thank offering, to contribute towards the great needs that existed, especially in the missionary Dioceses. The share requested from the Diocese of Saskatchewan for the financial appeal amounted to $25,000 which the Diocese cheerfully accepted. The result of the Anglican Advance Appeal in the Diocese was successful both in the cultivation of higher spiritual standards and in promoting sacrificial giving in all the parishes. Encouragement was also provided for the building needs of the mission parishes, since where the parish quota was met in full 20% of the amount subscribed remained with the parish at the end of the appeal to provide for local needs. Many of the parishes or missions were able by this means to improve the buildings, and in some cases to provide new facilities which had not existed previously.

The return of the clergy from the chaplaincy service also gave new impetus to the work of the Diocese, and thus began a period in which the work was strengthened from the point of view both of administration and in the spiritual welfare both in Indian work and white work. Due to wartime conditions, the young people's Summer conference had not met since 1942 until it was re-opened in the Summer of 1946. Deanery camps had been held in the meantime, and had met with considerable success, utilizing the facilities at Okema Beach.

During these years a new interest was created in quite a different area, that of St. Mary's Church and Cemetery. For some years the church and cemetery had been sadly neglected, but at the Synod of 1944 a new Canon, number 46, was passed by the Synod which provided that four members were to be elected annually to the St. Mary's Cemetery committee by St. Alban's Cathedral, and two members appointed from the executive committee of the Diocese. The initial committee, which served for some years, consisted of Canon W. F. Payton as chairman, and Mr. Arnold L. Agnew, the two [137/138] appointees from the Diocese; the members representing the Cathedral congregation were Mr. John Grist, Mr. H. R. Jacobs, Mr. L. G. Pulsford, and the secretary-treasurer Mr. Harry W. Reid. As a result of the work of this committee, both the church and cemetery were thoroughly renovated, and on September 9th, 1945 a memorial service and pilgrimage was held to stimulate the interest of the people of Prince Albert in the maintenance and care of the church and cemetery. The preacher on this occasion was Canon E. Ahenakew and the congregation in attendance was large.

Since that time services have been held during the Summer months in St. Mary's Church with gratifying support, not only from the people of Prince Albert, but also from areas adjoining the city. In order to provide for the care and maintenance of the property, an endowment fund was begun by canvassing the relatives of those whose graves are located in St. Mary's Cemetery. As a result of the success of this effort, the church and cemetery have been kept in remarkably good condition from that time on, and the church itself has been enhanced by the addition of a sanctuary carpet, an altar rail, a new altar and brasses, and a small stained glass window in the East end. The altar and window were both manufactured at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary, the window being made by Mr. William Fautley, who had in his youth in England been apprenticed to that trade.

The endowment fund was greatly assisted by the generous support of Mr. Hugh M. Sibbald who has also continued to contribute generously to the maintenance fund annually. The family of the late Senator T. O. Davis has also been of great help in contributing to the endowment fund and in supplying the cemetery with access to the city water supply so that grass and flowers may be maintained through the Summer months.

Other special services have been held in more recent years, notably the commemoration in 1959 of the eightieth anniversary of the establishment of Emmanuel College South of St. Mary's Church, and the fiftieth anniversary of the departure from that site to Saskatoon. On this occasion the staff and students of the College attended a special service on October 4th at which Bishop Martin was the special preacher. It was shortly before his resignation took effect as Bishop of the Diocese, and the attendance was such that many of the congregation were unable to find accommodation within the church. During the commemorative service, the Bishop and clergy together with the congregation proceeded to the original site of the College, south of the church, led by Canon Edward Ahenakew, and the Bishop there concluded the service with a thanksgiving for the founding fathers and a prayer of dedication.

Another special service at St. Mary's Church, which is worth recording, was the special dedication in May 1973 of a stone erected by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in memory of the members of the North-West Mounted Police who died in action at Duck Lake in 1885. This service was held in connection with the 100th anniversary of the R.C.M.P. and the service was attended by the Superintendent of the local Detachment together with members of the local Division. Bishop H. V. R. Short preached the sermon and officiated at the dedication of the stone. Following the ceremonies, the local Militia Unit fired a salute and the bugler sounded the last post and reveille. The service marked the close connection which had always existed between the church and the N.W.M.P. in the early years of the history of the Diocese. By means of the regular Summer services, and such special events, the place of St. Mary's Church within the Diocese of Saskatchewan is still hallowed and remembered in a manner befitting its honoured position.

Similar recognition was accorded to Holy Trinity Church, Stanley, on July 1st, 1947 when special services were held there commemorating the [138/139] 100th anniversary of the baptism of 107 persons at the La Ronge Mission in 1847. Prior to the service in 1947, an appeal had been launched for funds to restore and renovate the church which had suffered considerable depreciation during the years. The strengthening and renovation of the church was a cause of thanksgiving, and it was Bishop Martin's privilege at the service to baptize ten Indian children, all descendants of those first Christians baptized one hundred years earlier.

Earlier in 1947, on February 3rd, calamity had struck the same mission when All Saints Residential School, at Lac la Ronge, had been totally destroyed by fire. Fortunately there had been no loss of life or injury, but the school and contents including the personal belongings of staff were all lost. As a result of spontaneous gifts not only of blankets and clothing, but also of money, all losses sustained were fully compensated for as a result of the generous response of people in Prince Albert and the whole North country.

The staff and students were removed, after preliminary preparations had been made, to the vacant building which had formerly been St. Alban's College. Here under the leadership of the Rev. G. W. Fisher the school opened once again. The building was leased on a temporary basis by the Federal Government until permanent arrangements could be made. Mr. Fisher had served at Lac la Ronge both as principal of the school and also as missionary for some years, and had but recently returned to the Diocese. He was most successful in organizing the school in its new home, and arranging the administrative details for its continuation. Unfortunately the following year Mr. Fisher's health broke down and he passed away on December 29th, 1948 in Prince Albert and was buried at St. Mary's Cemetery. He was succeeded as principal of All Saints School by the Rev. N. D. Pilcher.

The resignation of Judge A. E. Doak as Chancellor of the Diocese was announced at the Synod of 1948. Judge Doak had been Chancellor since Bishop Newnham's Episcopate, and had served the Diocese in many capacities during his many years in Prince Albert. He had been choir master at St. Alban's Cathedral for a long time, and his contribution both to the parish and the Diocese had been invaluable. Judge Doak had been appointed to a committee in Ottawa, which necessitated his removal there. Judge Doak's resignation created a vacancy which had only once occurred before in the history of the Diocese, when Thomas McKay, Q.C. had resigned the office which he had held from the beginning of the history of the Diocese. Bishop Martin appointed Lieutenant Colonel W. G. Elder, Q.C. as Chancellor to succeed Judge Doak. Colonel Elder had been solicitor for the Diocese for many years, a work which he had done to the complete satisfaction of all concerned. During the War he had served overseas with the Armed Forces in Italy and upon his return became a magistrate of the Court. Colonel Elder's wife is a daughter of Bishop G. E. Lloyd and has contributed greatly to the work of the W.A. both on a Diocesan and national scale.

Following the Synod of 1948, Bishop Martin and his wife attended the Lambeth Conference in London, and from there went on together to attend the World Conference in Amsterdam. The latter was the formation and first conference of the World Council of Churches. At the Lambeth Conference, 326 Bishops were present from the Anglican Communion from all parts of the world, and at the Conference in Amsterdam representatives of 150 churches and 50 different countries were present. Life and doctrine, dedication and unity, were the themes of both conferences which called upon the churches to greater efforts in the battle against evil which had created two World Wars within one generation. Undoubtedly, the impact of both of these meetings was felt through all the churches of Christendom then, and the effects of it are still felt in the growth of unity between the churches and the strengthening of spiritual life in all lands.

[140] Bishop Martin completed ten years in his office as Bishop of Saskatchewan in 1949, and in October of that year the clergy of the Diocese paid tribute to his leadership by presenting him with a Pastoral Staff. Made of black ebony and surmounted with silver, the Staff was made at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary and is still used as the official Bishop's Staff in the Diocese, since it was left to the Diocese by the Bishop upon his resignation ten years later.

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