John Travers Lewis, first Bishop of Ontario

Pioneer Clergymen

John T Lewis

First Bishop

Early Years



Also by
Charles Henry Mockridge

Benjamin Cronyn, first Bishop of Huron Benjamin Cronyn
Bishop of Huron
Anglican Diocese of Ontario in the 19th Century
First Bishop of the Diocese of Ontario
Kingston, Ontario, See City of the Diocese of OntarioSince West Hawkesbury had been formed in 1850, the following parishes were added to the list: Smith's Falls (1851), Stirling, Hillier, Loughborough, Portsmouth, Mountain (all in 1853); Gananoque (1854), Mission in Renfrew (1855), Osgoode (1856), Newboro (1857), Huntley (1858), Roslin, Lansdowne Rear, Matilda (all in 1859); and North Gower, 1860.

On the 12th of June 1861, at the call of Bishop Strachan, the clergy and laity of the newly formed diocese met in Kingston for the purpose of electing a bishop.

At this Synod there were 53 clergymen present, and 112 laymen, representing 41 parishes. On the first ballot the Rev. Dr. Lewis received 31 clerical and 39 lay votes, Archdeacon Bethune one clerical and one lay, and Rev. A. Macaulay one lay vote. Upwards of 20 of the clergy seem to have withdrawn or to have abstained from voting. This made a two- thirds vote of the clergy present a necessity, provided also that a quorum (37 at least) were present. The roll of the clergy, therefore, was called, and 38 answered to their names. Dr. Lewis accordingly was declared elected. The name of the new see was left to Bishop Strachan, who designated it "Ontario'' - probably because of the lake which washed part of its shores, as Lake Huron did part of the recently formed diocese in the west.

In September of that year (1861) the first Provincial Synod was held at Montreal. The following were the members appointed to represent the new diocese:

Clerical. - Ven. George Okill Stuart, D.D.; Rev. J. A. Mulock. Rev. W. B. Lauder, Rev. J. S. Lauder, Rev. T. H. M. Bartlett, Rev. W. Bleasdell, Rev. R. L. Stephenson, Rev. J. G. Armstrong, Rev. C. Forest, Rev. F. R. Tane, Rev. H. Mulkins, Rev. H. Patton, D.C.L.

Lay - Hon. J. Shaw, Hon. G. Crawford. Hon. J. Hamilton, Sheriff T. Corbett, and Messrs. T. Kirkpatrick, G. P. Baker, W. B. Simpson, W. Ellis, D. B. O. Ford. E. J. Sisson, S. G. Chesley, and D. F. Jones.

These were all present but Rev. J. S. Lauder, Hon. J. Shaw, and Hon. J. Hamilton.

Owing to some delay in granting the "letters patent" - a piece of routine ever since dispensed with - Dr. Lewis had not yet been consecrated. He was appointed Secretly, however, of the Upper House, and therefore sat with the bishops.

It was not until March 25th of the following year (1862) that the consecration took place. Dr. Lewis was consecrated in St. George's Cathedral, Kingston, by the Most Reverend Dr. Fulford, Metropolitan of Canada, assisted by the aged Bishop Strachan (then 85 years old), Bishop G. J . Mountain (73 years old), the newly-elected Bishop of Huron, Dr. Cronyn, and Dr. McCoskry, Bishop of Michigan.

This was the first Episcopal consecration held in Canada, and the Church had thus attained to a new era in her history.

Bishop Lewis was very blunt for a bishop, being only thirty-seven years of age; but his scholarship, executive and speaking ability, marked him as one well chosen for the position. He was called upon very early in his episcopate to declare his position ecclesiastically. The Bishop of Huron (Dr. Cronyn) had taken exception to the teaching of Trinity College, Toronto. The corporation of that institution placed the matter before the other bishops for their pronouncement upon it. They all declared in favour of Provost Whitaker's teaching. The reply of Bishop Lewis was characteristically brief, and showed that he allowed full play for differences of opinion in many matters of Church doctrine, but thought that these might be held without attaching blame to any one.
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