Search just our sites by using our customised site search engine

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Click here to learn more about MyHeritage and get free genealogy resources

The Church in Canada
Journal of Visitation to the Western Portion of his Diocese by the Lord Bishop of Toronto (John Strachan) in the Autumn of 1842 (third edition) (1846)


The Journals of our Colonial Bishops will form the best materials for the History of the Church in their vast dioceses. Several of them are to be found in the Annual Reports of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. That which is now published was considered too long to be inserted in this year’s Report, yet too interesting to be abridged; it is therefore now printed in a separate form. The following passage from the Bishop of Toronto’s Primary Charge in 1841, contains a summary of the previous history of the Canadian Church:—

“The history of the Church in this Diocese, though doubtless resembling that of many other colonies, is not without peculiar interest. For many years after its first settlement, as the favourite asylum of suffering loyalty, there was but one Clergyman of the Church of England within its extensive limits. This highly revered individual came into the Diocese in 1786, and settled at Kingston, in the midst of those to whom he had become endeared in the days of tribulation,—men who had fought and bled and sacrificed all they possessed in defence of the British Constitution,—and whose obedience to the laws, loyalty to their Sovereign, and attachment to the parent state, he had warmed by his exhortations and encouraged by his example. The Reverend Dr. Stuart may be truly pronounced the father of the Church in Upper Canada, and fondly do I hold him in affectionate remembrance. He was my support and adviser on my entrance into the ministry, and his steady friendship, which I enjoyed from the first day of our acquaintance to that of his lamented death, was to me more than a blessing.

“In 1792, two Clergymen arrived from England but so little was then known Of the country, and the little that was published was so incorrect and so unfavourable, from exaggerated accounts of the climate, and the terrible privations to which its inhabitants were said to be exposed, that no Missionaries could be induced to come out. Even at the commencement of 1803, the Diocese contained only four Clergymen, for it was in the spring of that year that I made the fifth.

“It might have been expected that, on the arrival of the Right Reverend Dr. Mountain, the first Lord Bishop of Quebec, the Clergy would have rapidly increased; but, notwithstanding the incessant and untiring exertions of that eminent prelate, their number had not risen above five in Upper Canada so late as 1812, when it contained upwards of 70,000 inhabitants. In truth, the Colony, during the wars occasioned by the French Revolution, seemed in a manner lost sight of by the public.....

“From this period, the prospects of the Church in Canada have steadily brightened. In 1819, the Clergy in this Diocese bad increased to ten. In 1826, they had arisen to twenty-two, — in 1827, to thirty, — In 1833, to forty-six,—and our numbers have now reached ninety.

The official list recently sent home by his Lordship contains the names of 102.

Canada West is divided into 324 townships, each of them averaging an area of 100 square miles — but in 80 of them only is any Clergyman to be found. The entire population of the Province exceeds 500,000, and is rapidly increasing. Nearly 40,000 persons went out to settle there in the year 1842. Being for the most part poor agricultural labourers, they are in a great degree dependent upon their fellow-countrymen at home for the means of public worship, and of an education for their children; and those who shall contribute to supply this want, may be the instruments, under a gracious Providence, of maintaining the cause of undefiled religion among a people destined to become the founders of a great and populous empire.

Christmas, 1843.


I left Toronto on my western tour, on the 19th of July, intending first to proceed to the Manatoulin Island and Sault St. Marie, in company with Colonel Jarvis, the chief superintendent of Indian affairs, who was about to distribute the Indian presents. Our party consisted of eleven gentlemen, among whom was that estimable and accomplished nobleman, Lord Morpeth. The day of our departure was excessively hot, and the roads, after a long and severe drought, were very dusty; but the beauty and improvements observable in the country through which we passed amply repaid for these temporary inconveniences. The whole line of Yonge Street evinced a great progress in agricultural cultivation, and the many spacious houses, and even elegant country seats, which meet the eye, proved that wealth as well as comfort had rewarded the industry of the settlers. The well-supplied market of Toronto attests the fertility of the surrounding townships, and no town on the continent can boast a more thriving "back country."

You can download this book in pdf format

Return to our Religion Page

This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus