Alexander Neil Bethune
Bishop of Niagara

Alexander Bethune

Bishop of Niagara

Bishop of Toronto

The Bishops of the Church of England in Canada and Newfoundland

Charles Henry Mockridge
published in 1896


Benjamin Cronyn Bishop of Huron

Thomas B. Fuller
Bishop of Niagara
At the first episcopal election ever held in Canada, Archdeacon Bethune was the favourite candidate of a large number of the clergy, for it was he alone who in 1857 contested the bishopric of Huron with Dr. Benjamin Cronyn.

At the Synod held in August 1866, the venerable Bishop, bowed down with the weight of eighty-eight years, was at last obliged to tell his Synod that he could no longer do the work of the diocese single-handed.   A Synod was therefore convened for the 19th of September, for the purpose of electing a coadjutor.

The "High Church" party were divided between Archdeacon Whitaker, Provost of Trinity College, who received the largest support, and Dr. Bethune; the "Low Church" voted for Rev. H. J. Grasett, and the moderately inclined for the Rev. Thomas Brock Fuller.   After balloting ineffectually for two days, Provost Whitaker in a few graceful words withdrew from the contest, requesting his friends to cast no more votes for him.   Dr. Bethune was then elected by fifty-three clergy (necessary forty-seven) and forty-seven lay (necessary forty-six).

Dr. Bethune was consecrated under the title of Bishop of Niagara, on the 25th of January 1867, in St. James' Cathedral, Toronto, by Bishop Strachan, assisted by Bishop Benjamin Cronyn of Huron and Bishop John Travers Lewis of Ontario.

It was interesting to see the man of sixty-seven kneeling before his old friend and master, now eighty-nine years of age, and receiving the touch of his trembling hand upon his head, the aged pair still associated together in work.   First they stood to one another in the relation of teacher and pupil, then of headmaster and assistant, then of bishop and archdeacon, and lastly of bishop and coadjutor.   Bishop Bethune was of fragile build, and he looked thin and wan, yet he proved himself possessed of considerable vitality, and addressed himself with energy to the duties of his new office.   The diocese was divided into two archdeaconries, named respectively Toronto and Niagara, and occupied by Rev. T. B. Fuller, D.D. (Toronto), and Rev. A. Palmer, M.A., of Guelph (Niagara).   A cathedral chapter was also formed with the Rev. H. J. Grasett, B.D., Rector of St. James' Cathedral, Toronto, as Dean.   Four canonries and four honorary canonries were also formed.   The number of rural deans was also increased to eight.   The Episcopal Endowment Fund had by this time reached $41,518.13, and from the interest of this sum the coadjutor bishop was maintained.

After making confirmation tours in several places in the diocese including a trig to the distant region of Algoma, Bishop Bethane, in August 1867, proceeded to England and was present at the Lambeth Conference, at which seventy-six prelates were gathered: twenty-three from England and Ireland, six from Scotland, twenty-eight from the colonies and mission fields, and nineteen from the United States.

Bishop Strachan died as his coadjutor was on his way home, and Bishop Bethune arrived just in time to take a last look at the remains of his venerated friend, and to attend his funeral.

Next Page - Alexander Bethune, Second Bishop of Toronto