John Travers Lewis, Archbishop of Ontario and Metropolitan of (Eastern) Canada

Pioneer Clergymen

John T Lewis

First Bishop

Early Years



Also by
Charles Henry Mockridge

Charles Hamilton, first Bishop of Ottawa Charles Hamilton
Bishop of Ottawa
Anglican Diocese of Ontario in the 19th Century
1885 to 1895
In 1885 the Committee on the Division of the Diocese reported a feasible plan by which an endowment of forty thousand dollars might be raised for the proposed see at Ottawa, and the Bishop was requested to arrange for contributions for that object from the English societies. In the following year (1886) the committee were able to report a small amount received - only a few dollars - towards the endowment of the need see, but still it was a beginning, and in that year the Bishop stated that "two new parishes, six new churches, and more than one thousand confirmed members have been added to the diocese every year for the last twenty-four years."

In 1886, the Bishop met with a heavy affliction in the death of Mrs. Lewis. The surviving children of this marriage are: Travers Lewis, of the firm of Chrysler & Lewis, barristers, etc.. Ottawa, and Clement, also resident at Ottawa; Mrs. R. C. Hamilton, of Eastbourne. Eng. whose husband is a nephew of Bishop Hamilton; Mrs. Llewellyn Lloyd, of St. Leonard's Forest, Horsham, Sussex, whose husband is of the family of Lord Overston, the great banker; and Eva, a professed sister in the Convent at East Grinstead. In his absence from home, consequent upon this great sorrow confirmations were held in the diocese by Bishop Hamilton, of Niagara, and the Synod was not held till October. The Bishop was able to tell his Synod then that the Colonial Bishoprics' Fund in England, and also the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, had promised towards the endowment of the new see at Ottawa £1,000 each, conditionally on the sum of £9,000 being otherwise raised. He also reminded the Synod that on the 25th of March he had completed the twenty-fifth year of his episcopate. In that time the number of clergy had increased from fifty to one hundred and twenty, and a Sustentation Fund amounting to $34,500 had been secured.

In 1888 Bishop Lewis was enabled to attend his third Lambeth conference in England, and in the following year (1889) he was married in Paris to Miss Ada Leigh, the celebrated head of charitable homes for English girls in the great French metropolis.

On his return to Canada (in l889) he took up his residence in Kingston. Thus the wanderer had returned to his own see city. The Synod of that year enthusiastically congratulated His Lordship on the attainment of his sixty-fourth birthday, and most respectfully renewed the expression of affectionate confidence and esteem felt by its members towards His Lordship, earnestly hoping that, in God's good providence, their Right Reverend father in God might long be spared to preside over the diocese. The Bishop, with manifest emotion, acknowledged briefly this kindly act. His health to a great extent had been restored.

In 1890 the beautiful residence of Sir Richard Cartwright, in full view of Lake Ontario, was purchased for a see house at a cost of $12,000, the diocese assuming all necessary debt in connection with the purchase.

In 1892, St. George's Cathedral, which had been undergoing enlargement and improvement, was completed and reopened for divine service. By the erection of a large dome, transepts, and chancel - all as an addition to the solid old church which had stood for so many years - a complete cathedral was constructcd, a credit to Kingston and the diocese. It is in some respects a miniature St. Paul's.

In September 1892 the Most Rev. Dr. Medley, Metropolitan of Canada, died, and at the Provincial Synod which was held in Montreal, Bishop Lewis, as senior bishop, opened and closed the Lower House, and presided in the Upper House and House of Bishops. In January 1893, Dr. Lewis was elected Metropolitan of Canada in succession to Bishop Medley, but there was some informality connected with the election, which caused the title to be deferred till the 13th of September of the same year.

This was the day before the opening of the first General Synod which met in the city of Toronto. It embraced all the dioceses of Canada, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Fourteen bishops were present. viz.: eight from ( Eastern) Canada, three from Rupert's Land, and two from British Columbia.

At this Synod it was resolved to bestow upon the Metropolitans in Canada the title of Archbishop. Dr. Lewis thus became his Grace the Archbishop of Ontario and Metropolitan of (Eastern) Canada.

The growth of the Diocese of Ontario is set forth clearly in tabular form in the Journal of 1895. We give below a comparison between its first year and its last:

1863 1895
Number of parishes and missions 58 113
Diocesan collections $5,618.52 $11,652.28
Domestic and Foreign Missions nothing $4,313.00

The completion of the endowment of the new Diocese of Ottawa was at last effected, and its formal separation from Kingston took place. On the 18th of March 1896 the new Synod met, and on the third ballot elected the Right Reverend Charles Hamilton, Bishop of Niagara, its first diocesan.

The Journal of Synod for the Diocese of Ontario for 1895 was therefore its last in its territorial form as originally set off from Toronto. The bishop then appointed has lived through its eventful history, and has had the satisfaction of seeing a new diocese formed from it and started on its way.

It was in 1883 that the Provincial Synod formed the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Church of England in Canada, and Bishop Lewis presided at the first regular meeting of its Board of Management. It was his suggestion that the Church should ask for at least sixty thousand dollars for the domestic and foreign work of the Church. That sum, however, was not yet been reached, though the contributions are creeping up towards it.

From: The Bishops of the Church of England in Canada and Newfoundland:
being an illustrated historical sketch of the Church of England in Canada, as traced through her episcopate
by Charles Henry Mockridge

published in 1896 by Church Bells, London, England; F.N.W. Brown, Toronto, Ontario.

In 1900 The Venerable Archdeacon William Lennox Mills, of Montreal succeeded Archbishop Lewis as Bishop of Ontario. Archbishop Lewis visited New York at the end of January 1901 to attend the memorial service for Queen Victoria.   He was taken ill after the service and stayed in New York.   In May he left New York on the steamship Menommie and died at sea on May 1, 1901.   His funeral was at Holy Trinity Church, Paddington and he was buried at St Lawrence Church, Hawkhurst, Kent, England.