Dr. Strachan and the Clergy Reserves

Early Years

Clergy in 1820

Clergy Reserves

Clergy in 1844

1842 - 1865

In Old Age

The Bishops of the Church of England in Canada and Newfoundland

Charles Henry Mockridge
published in 1896

Beginnings of the Anglican Church in Ontario
In 1824 Dr. Strachan went to the old country, and had the great happiness of seeing the land of his birth and childhood. But the affairs of the Church in Canada occupied his attention. The struggle regarding the "Clergy Reserves'' had begun. The land which was set apart for the maintenance of the Church in every township was claimed by the Presbyterians as belonging to them as well as to the Church of England; and a similar claims was soon made by all denominations of Protestants. This arose from the loose wording of the Act which designated the beneficiaries as "a Protestant clergy," and it became a very vexed question, and involved Dr. Strachan in much political dispute and agitation.

General Simcoe, first Governor of Upper Canada, as far back as 1792 had two great objects in view for the benefit of the new colony. One was the appointment of a bishop, and the other the establishment of a university. Dr. Strachan, thirty-two years afterwards, felt how pressing these two needs were. The university received his earliest attention. Like all true Churchmen, he knew that education and religion should go hand in hand. Largely by his exertions, grammar schools were established in various places, and in 1826, after having paid a visit to England for the purpose, he had the proud satisfaction of having a university promised for Toronto. It was to have a royal charter, and was to bear the title of King's College. In 1827 Upper Canada was divided into two archdeaconries, York in the west, and Kingston in the cast. The archdeacons respectively were Dr. Strachan, of York, and Dr. G. Okill Stuart, of Kingston. Sir John Colborne became Lieutenant-Governor in succession to Sir Peregrine Maitland in 1828. Through him Upper Canada College was established. Sir John was favourable to the claims of the Church, and in his time fifty- seven parishes were formed into rectories, with suitable endowments. This led to the exhibition of much rancour throughout the country on the start of those opposed to the Church.

Some of these parishes failed to comply with the necessary preliminary steps, and therefore lost their endowment, but the others have retained it to the present day.

The rectories that obtained their glebe lands in 1836, arranged in districts corresponding to the present dioceses, are as follows:

Toronto. - St. James', York Mills, Mimico, Cobourg, Peterborough, Cavan, Thornhill, Port Hope, Markham, Darlington, Barrie, Newcastle.

Huron. - Woodhouse, Woodstock, London Township, St. Paul's (London), Warwick, Adelaide, Amherstburg, Malden.

Ontario. - Kemptville. Clinton, Prescott. Elizabethtown, Kingston, Belleville, Napanee, Adolphustown, Fredericksburgh, Bath.

Niagara. - Grimsby. Ancaster, Wellington Square, Niagara, St. Catharines, Stamford, Chippawa. Guelph, Thorold, Bertie (Fort Erie), Louth (Dalhousie).

Ottawa. - Perth, Cornwall. Williamsburg, Richmond, Beckwith (Carleton Place).

Sir John Colborne was succeeded in 1836 by Sir Francis Bond Head, whose first Government was so intensely Conservative that the Radicals and Liberals of the country resented it. What is known as "the rebellion" broke out in 1837. When this was over the new Governor exerted himself on behalf of the formation of Upper Canada into a separate diocese, and this was at last effected in 1839. Early in that year the newly-erected Church of St. James was destroyed by fire, to the great grief of the Archdeacon. He was. however, cheered with the fact that Toronto was to be formed into a diocese, and that he was to be the first bishop.

The Diocese of Toronto was set apart without any endowment. That was to be an after consideration. The Archdeacon was to have his present income, about £1,000, less what he might have to pay for an assistant in the parish.

In the summer of 1839 Dr. Strachan was consecrated in England, by Archbishop Howley (Canterbury), Bishop of Toronto, and with him was consecrated Dr. Aubrey G. Spencer, Bishop of Newfoundland. On his return to Toronto the Bishop found his church rebuilt and restored; the body being of stone, the tower of wood. Such was the first cathedral of Toronto.

Dr. Strachan, at the age of sixty-one, began his active career as first Bishop of Toronto.1 In 1840 the much-vexed question of the Clergy Reserves was for the time settled by Act of Parliament, the Church of England receiving benefit to the extent of two-thirds and the Church of Scotland one-third of a portion of the property involved, the remaining portion, which was half of the unappropriated lands, to be devoted by the Government to purposes of public worship and religious instruction in Canada.2

Next Page - Upper Canada Anglican Clergy in 1844

1 The diocese at this time numbered seventy-one clergymen. Jubilee Volume. Diocese of Toronto, p. 140.
2 See Bishop Bethune's "Memoir of Bishop Strachan" p. 179.
Original St James' Church, Toronto The Original St James Church, Toronto

Clergy Reserves

One-seventh of the public lands of Upper and Lower Canada were reserved by the 1791 Constitutional Act for the maintenance of a "Protestant clergy,". The phrase was intended to apply to the Church of England alone.

For many years the clergy reserves brought no income since settlers could obtain other lands free. When free land grants ceased in the 1820s, the Church of England decided it should sell rather than lease its lands as it had done since 1819. In 1827, having blocked a transfer to the Canada Company, John Strachan was instrumental in persuading the British government to authorize sales of one-quarter of the reserves, but not to exceed 100,000 acres per year.

An increasingly powerful reform movement, including many denominational rivals, opposed the plan. In 1824 the legislature upheld the claim of the Church of Scotland (presbyterian) to a share of the reserves. In 1828 a Select Committee of the Assembly and the Canada committee of the British Commons recommended dividing profits from reserves among the Protestant denominations. In 1840 the Assembly accepted a bill dividing half the proceeds between the Church of England and the Church of Scotland, leaving the remainder to other denominations.

The controversy continued with secularization of the reserves being widely demanded. In late 1854 the MacNab-Morin coalition of Upper Canada conservatives and Lower Canada reformers passed a bill to transfer reserve-sale proceeds to the Municipalities. Government funds would pay present clerical incumbents their stipends for life; and to allow them to cede their life claims to their respective churches, which could commute the total into 6% annuities.