John Travers Lewis, first Bishop of Ontario

Pioneer Clergymen

John T Lewis

First Bishop

Early Years



Also by
Charles Henry Mockridge

John Strachan, first Bishop of Toronto John Strachan
Bishop of Toronto
The Most Reverend John Travers Lewis , D.D., LL.D.,
In 1850 the parish of West Hawkesbury, beautifully situated on the Ottawa River, in the County of Prescott, in a line directly north from Cornwall, was formed, and the Rev. John Travers Lewis placed in charge of it.   This accomplished young clergyman was born in 1825, at Garry Cloyne Castle, County Cork, Ireland.   He was the son of Rev. John Lewis, M.A. Having received his primary education at Hamblin and Porter's school, Cork, he entered Trinity College, Dublin, from which he graduated in 1847, after a very distinguished career, in which he carried off the highest honours being senior moderator in Ethics and Logic, and gold medallist in Mathematics.   He also obtained honours in Classics.

Receiving his Divinity Testamur in 1848, he was made deacon by the Bishop of Chester (Dr. John Graham), acting for Archbishop Beresford, of Armagh, and admitted to the priesthood by Right Reverend Dr. Knox, Bishop of Down.   After a curacy of two years at Newton Butler, he emigrated to Canada in 1850, and, as we have seen, was appointed to West Hawkesbury.   Here he met with true missionary work, for he was practically traveling missionary for a large portion of the Ottawa district.   In 1851 Mr. Lewis married Anne Henrietta Margaret, daughter of the Hon. Henry Sherwood, sometime Attorney-General for Upper Canada.

Thomas Travers LewisMr. Lewis soon showed himself to be, not only a brilliant scholar, but an able and fluent speaker - not of the impassioned kind, but of that deliberate and calm style which indicated a sound and logical mind.   He came to the province at a time when men of ability were needed, and when opportunities were opening for the use and display of their powers.   Bishop John Strachan summoned a conference of the clergy and lay representatives of the various parishes in April and May 1851, to prepare the way for regular synodical meetings.   At this meeting the Rev. "J. T. Lewis, A.B.," was present - the last name on the list.

In 1854 the traveling missionary of Hawkesbury was promoted to the rectory of Brockville, a rising town on the frontier.   In the autumn of that year the first Synod of Toronto was held, at which, as rector of Brockville, Mr. Lewis was present.   In 1855 he received the degree of LL.D. from his University, and soon after he proceeded to the degrees of B.D. and D.D.

In the Synod of 1856 very encouraging reports were given from the west (Huron) regarding the raising of funds for the endowment of a new see; but those from the east were not so favourable.   There seemed to be a hesitancy to subscribe until it should be made quite clear that the clergy and laity were to be allowed to choose their own bishop.   The necessary endowment was not made up till the year 1861.   In the meantime Rev. Dr. Lewis had taken a good position in the Synod of Toronto.   He was a member of the Executive Committee, and first among the delegates elected to the first Provincial Synod, which was soon to meet.
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