Arthur Sweatman
3rd Bishop of Toronto

Arthur Sweatman

Bishop of Toronto


From
The Bishops of the Church of England in Canada and Newfoundland

by
Charles Henry Mockridge
published in 1896





John Strachan
1st Bishop
of Toronto



Alexander Bethune
2nd Bishop
of Toronto
Arthur Sweatman was consecrated in St. James' Cathedral, Toronto, on the 1st of May 1879, by Right Rev. Dr. James Williams, Bishop of Quebec, assisted by other Canadian bishops.   In the same year he received the degree of D.D. from Cambridge.

The first Synod under his presidency was held on Tuesday. June 10th 1879.   His charge was a full and able exposition of his own Church views, which were those of moderation.   The dust soon cleared away from the great contest that had taken place.   The Church Association was disbanded, and a fair start of a somewhat new state of things was made.

The Mission Fund, which had been heavily in debt, was speedily relieved of it by plans devised and recommended by the Bishop himself.

In June 188l, the Venerable Archdeacon Whitaker, who for nearly thirty years had been Provost of Trinity College, resigned and returned to England.  The Bishop was sent to England that summer to obtain a successor to him, and secured the Rev. C. W. E. Body, a man with a brilliant scholastic record.

The first Dean of Toronto, the Very Rev. Dr. Grasett, died in 1883, about the time when Bishop Sweatman was endeavouring to have an entirely new cathedral built for Toronto, which should not in any way be connected with, parish work.   The first Bishop of Toronto (Dr. Strachan) bequeathed four hundred acres of land to assist in setting up, if possible, a complete cathedral establishment for Toronto.   The Synod of 1872 contemplated carrying this out as a memorial to Bishop Strachan, by selling the land and building a new cathedral, but nothing ever came of it till Bishop Sweatman revived the matter and earnestly pleaded for it.   The Synod endorsed the Bishop's wishes, and, through the Executive Committee, secured about four acres and a half of land outside the city limits, in what was called "Seaton Village."

The city of Toronto, as time want on, began to grow very rapidly.   The click of the workman's hammer was heard in every direction, and large rows of splendid buildings sprang up like magic everywhere.   The distant territory of Seaton Village" was incorporated within the city limits, and soon began to wear a city aspect.   The Bishop had not intended to commence the building of the new cathedral till such time as the establishment should be set up and a fair way clearly seen for meeting the financial obligations that it would involve.   But the building fever at this time was strong in Toronto. The dangerous period of a "boom in land" had set in.   The unoccupied ground contiguous to the site of the proposed "Cathedral of St. Alban the Martyr" was called "St. Alban's Park."

The trustees of this property, in order, no doubt, to enhance its value, offered (in 1885) to give $2,000 towards the Building Fund of the cathedral on condition that the chancel and choir should be erected at once - or within a period of eighteen months.   The outlook at the time was so bright that the Cathedral Chapter accepted this offer, and building, contrary to the Bishop's first design, was at once proceeded with.

At this time the diocese, as well as the city, was in a fairly prosperous condition.   The roll of the clergy (in 1886) amounted to one hundred and forty-seven, the largest, the Bishop stated, of any colonial diocese except Calcutta and Madras, and the funds were holding their own.   A handsome see house was also erected on the St. Alban's Cathedral property - a portion of which was deeded to the Synod for the purpose - and the Bishop, with his family, snugly ensconced in it before the close of the year.   A branch of the Woman's Auxiliary to the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society was in working operation in the diocese.   The "W.A." had been formed the previous year (1885) in Ottawa, and has since proved itself a most useful and powerful organization.   Bishop Sweatman has always taken the greatest interest in the work of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.   Before his epistopate, the diocese had done nothing for foreign missions, and on this point he spoke very earnestly in his first charge to the Synod.   Through the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, however, the diocese was now beginning to contribute fairly well to the worthy objects represented by its name.

In 1887 the Woman's Auxiliary began to work for diocesan objects as well as for outside missions.   In 1888 the Bishop stated that there were in the diocese two hundred and seven churches, against the one hundred and sixty-three when he became bishop in 1879; but be regretted to state that the parsonages were few.   In that year the contributions to the diocesan missions reached a sum larger than they had ever attained before, viz., a little over fifteen thousand dollars.   It is no child's play to do the work of a large diocese like Toronto.   Every year the Bishop reported large numbers of people confirmed and long distances travelled.   In 1888 alone the distance travelled was 4,346 miles.   In that year, by the generous liberality of Church friends in Toronto, the Bishop attended the Lambeth Conference, when, from all parts of the world, one hundred and forty-five prelates of the Anglican communion were assembled together.

The diocesan Mission Fund, in 1839, did not keep up its good record but began to show a falling off, which somewhat alarmed the Bishop.   The chancel of St. Albans had been roofed in.   It was built of red Credit Valley stone and Ohio freestone; but as yet the inside was not finished, though services had been held for two years in the basement.   The chapter began to feel the want of funds.   In this year the diocese celebrated its jubilee, fifty years having passed since Bishop Strachan was consecrated.   It was marked by a fitting celebration in Toronto, and the Bishop distinguished the event by forming a "Dean and Chapter" for the new cathedral.   A large number of canons were appointed, a few of whom, however, declined to accept the honour.   The Bishop himself became the dean.   Since the death of Dean Grasett, no Dean of Toronto had been appointed.   The Rector of St. James', Rev. Canon DuMoulin, by the new statutes became ex officio sub-Dean, and St. James' was to be allowed to be called, as of old, "St. James Cathedral."

The Diocese of Toronto, for many years, had been singularly wanting in legacies of any kind; but in 1889 Mr. Talbot, a farmer, left $4,000 to Trinity College, and about $12,000 to the Diocesan Mission Fund, the latter to be known as the Talbot bequest.

The old building of Wycliffe College was abandoned in 1891 for a new and spacious edifice on Hoskin Avenue, where under its first Principal, the Rev. Canon Sheraton, D.D., LL.D., it continues its work.

Trinity University, in the meantime, had grown under Provost Body to much larger projections than those of its earlier days.   A supplemental endowment fund was formed, and the building on two separate occasions is extensively enlarged.   Provost Body resigned in 1894, and was succeeded in 1895 by Rev. Edward A. Welch, M.A., sometime domestic chaplain to the late Bishop Lightfoot.

In 1891 Bishop Sweatman was obliged to face an alarming falling off in the Diocesan Mission Fund.   "The old days of mission fund debt," he remarked, "have returned," and, as for St. Alban's, the chancel internally was completed and occupied for divine service; but the debt incurred by it proved a burden well nigh to heavy to bear.   The Bishop, however, has done his best for it, and when Toronto recovers from its financial trouble His Lordship will no doubt be able to overcome present difficulties, as he did those of a graver nature in the beginning of his career.