Bishop John Strachan
Church Society formed, St. James' Cathedral rebuilt, Trinity College founded, Clergy Reserves concluded
Clergy in 1820
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
The detail of visitations in all parts of Upper Canada for the next twenty years, when some relief was granted by the subdivision of his enormous diocese, presents a picture of energy and perseverance that crown with glory a consecrated old age. There are some people still living who remember the short yet sturdy frame of the Bishop, as he drove about in his own carriage over rough roads and log bridges, and his appearance at distant missions to confirm the candidates awaiting him. His Aberdeen accent never left him, though there were times when he himself fancied that it had; but without those well-known northern tones the good old Bishop would not have been Bishop Strachan.
During his triennial visitations of the diocese, there were many things of a public nature which caused him hard and unceasing toil. Some method had to be adopted for enabling the diocese to do the work of the Church on proper systematic and business lines. This was done by the formation, in 1842, of the "Church Society," which, until the establishment of a diocesan synod, and even for some time after it, was the great means by which all Church work in the diocese was done.
St. James' Cathedral was again destroyed by fire in the great conflagration of 1849, but the result was the erection of a building somewhat in keeping. with the growing size and importance of Toronto. It still stands a monument of the zeal and good taste of the Bishop and the congregation. It also remained a parish church, though other churches in the meantime hail been built throughout the city; but the Bishop had placed his chair there, and had made it the cathedral church of the diocese.
Bishop Strachan in his work was doomed at times to many disappointments. King's College, for instance, which he had hoped he had secured as a Church university, was pronouncing the property of all denominations, and therefore was lost to the Church.
Nothing daunted, the Bishop called upon the Church people of the diocese to subscribe towards a new university, heading the list himself with a subscription of £1,000 ($5,000); and, at seventy-two years of age, crossed the Atlantic Ocean, made appeals to the societies in England and to individuals there, and secured sufficient encouragement to enable him, on his return to establish a Church university, so guarded and protected that it could not be alienated from the purposes for which it was formed.
This was the origin of Trinity University. Up to this time a divinity school, established in 1841 at Cobourg, was the only means in the diocese for training young men for the ministry.
In the year 1851 the first Diocesan Synod was held in Toronto. One hundred and twenty-four clergymen and one hundred and twenty-seven laymen assembled in the Church of the Holy Trinity on Thursday, May 1st. On Thursday, January 15th, 1852, Trinity University was formally opened, with the Rev. George Whittaker as Provost.
In 1854-5 fresh struggles arose over the Clergy Reserves; the Provincial parliament could not rest till every vestige of Church and State was removed from Canada; hence the renewed agitation, which was finally settled by a compromise. The Government, for the future, would pay no more stipends to the clergy, except to those already on their list. It was then that the happy expedient was hit upon of asking the Government for a gross amount to be paid to the clergy in lieu of the promised incomes. To this the Government consented and handed over £188,342 (not fair from a million dollars) to the Church Society of the diocese.
The clergy, with one exception, agreed to leave this large sum as an endowment for the Church, they individually to receive the interest on their own proper share during their lifetime. The Bishop spoke highly of this "noble and disinterested'' act, which was to their "lasting honour,'' and by it they had "merited the gratitude of the Church in Canada forever, and won for themselves the cordial admiration of true Churchmen throughout the world."1
In September 1861, Bishop Strachan was present at the first meeting of the Provincial Synod of Canada, an event which marks an epoch in the history of the Church. The delegates appointed to attend this meeting from the Diocese of Toronto were as follows:
Clerical - Rev. James Beaven, D.D.; Ven. A. N. Bethune, D.D., D.C.L.; Rev. T. B. Fuller, D.D.; Rev. G. Whitaker, Rev. S. Givins, Rev. E. Denroche, Rev. W. S. Darling, Rev. E. H. Dewar, Rev. H. T. Holland, Rev. Stephen Lett, LL.D.; Rev. J. G. Geddes, and Rev. T. S. Kennedy.
These were all present except the Provost and Dr. Lett.
Lay. - Hon. J. H. Cameron. Hon. G. W. Allan, Dr. Bovell, Hon. J. Patton, Hon. George Boulton, Judge Boswell, and Messrs. S. B. Harman, T. C. Street, R. B. Denison, J. W. Gamble, and E. G. O'Brien.
Judge Boswell and Messrs. Campbell, Street, Patton, and Harman were not present.
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1For the names of these clergy, see "History of Church and State in Canada." By Rev. E. R. Slimson.