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Canadian History
Rev. Dr. George Bryce


M.A., LL.B., LL.D., Winnipeg, was born on the 22nd of April, 1844, at Mount Pleasant, Brant county, Ontario. His parents were George and Catherine Bryce, and his mother's maiden name was Henderson. Mr. Bryce, senior, came from the neighbourhood of Dunblane, Perthshire, Scotland, where the family has been traced back by baptismal records to 1640. In the reign of James I., one Walter Bryce was tried at Dunblane on the charge of Wizardry, but was acquitted on the interference of influential friends. Our subject's grandfather carried on a long and extensive lawsuit against the Earl of Moray to protect a feaudal right invaded by the earl. Young Bryce was educated at Mount Pleasant Public Schools and Brantford Collegiate Institute. He matriculated in Toronto University in 1863 with honours. He took numerous honours, scholarships and prizes during his course, chiefly in science and English. He graduated with a medial in 1867, and entered Knox College, Toronto, in 1868, where he became president of the Literary and Metaphysical Society. From this institution he graduated in 1871, taking five out of the six scholarships open. He was selected by the College professors to be assistant and successor in Chalmers' Church, Quebec, whither he went in 1871. It may be added that he took prizes for English essay writing in Toronto University and Knox College. He entered the volunteer service in 1862, during the excitement of the Trent affair. With a young school mate he organized the Mount Pleasant Infantry, a company of the Brant battalion. He was connected with the University Rifles, Queen's Own, in 1863, and entered the Military School, Toronto, in 1864, whence he took a second class certificate of fitness as to duties of captain. he was at Laprairie camp as a cadet under General (the Colonel) Wolesley in 1865, and was with the University company at Ridgeway, acting as ensign, and made out the roll of the company present, killed, wounded and missing, after the conflict. He was appointed by the Home Mission Committee of the Presbyterian General Assembly in august, 1871, to leave Quebec and proceed to Winnipeg, to found a college among the Selkirk settlers on the Red River, and also to organize a Presbyterian Church in Winnipeg. He was ordained in Toronto on September 19th, 1871, and arrived in Winnipeg, going the last 300 miles over the prairies by stage through Minnesota. He organized the college, which he called Manitoba college, the same being established at Kildonan, four miles from Winnipeg. He obtained incorporation for the college in 1883, and the following year it was removed to Winnipeg. In 1877 he was one of the chief founders of the Manitoba University, which combines St. Boniface (Roman Catholic), St. John's (Episcopal) and Manitoba college (Presbyterian). He has been on the executive of the University since its beginning, and has framed many of its most important statutes. He urged in 1880 the erection of new college buildings, obtained subscriptions, and in 1881 saw begun, to be completed in 1882, the present beautiful building of Manitoba college, valued, with grounds, at $70,000. He was elected in 1877, on he first School Board for Winnipeg under the cities and towns act, and served for three years. He was appointed first inspector of Winnipeg Public Schools in the same year, and was chairman of school management. In 1871 and 1872 he acted as examiner in natural history in Toronto University, and has been an examiner in natural science in Manitoba University since 1878. For several years he was chairman of the Board of Examiners of Public School Teachers in Manitoba. He organized Knox Church, Winnipeg, and was its first moderator, 1872-3. He likewise organized St. Andrew's Church, Winnipeg, in 1881, and has held the first service in many of the new settlements of Manitoba. He has opened, or re-opened, some twenty new churches in Manitoba. He is a trustee of all Presbyterian Indian mission property in the North-West, and in 1884 was appointed by the General Assembly the moderator of the first Presbyterian Synod of Manitoba and the North-West territories. he was one of the incorporators, and from 1874 to 1879 a director of the Winnipeg General Hospital, and for 1877 and 1878 was secretary and treasurer of that institution. In 1881 he was appointed delegué regional of the Institution Ethnographique of Paris. In 1878 he was one of the incorporators of the Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba, and was from 1878 to 1883 corresponding secretary of this society, and for 1884 and 1885 its president. On being relieved of the heavy duties of mission secretary, Dr. Bryce, in 1881, began to pay more attention to authorship. In 1882 he published in London (Sampson, Low & Searle, publishers) his work "Manitoba; its Infancy, Growth and Present Condition", octavo, 364pp. This volume has had a wide sale. an English gentleman read it in New Zealand, and coming to Manitoba by way of San Francisco, purchased 100,000 acres of wild land in the province. The work is largely a vindication of the Earl of Selkirk, the founder of the Red River Settlement. The author has had the plesure of reversing the unfavourable opinion formerly held in Canada of the earl. During a visit to Britain in 1881-82, Dr. Bryce visited the then Earl of Selkirk and Lady Isabella Hope, his sister, and had acces to the family papers in preparing his work. The article "Manitoba" in the Enclyclopedia Britannica is by Dr. Bryce. During the year 1884 his publications were, "Plea for a Canadian Camden Society" and the "Five Forts of Winnipeg", published by the Royal Society of Canada; "Education in Manitoba", published in the Canadian memorial volume by the British Associates; "Our Indians", by the Y.M.C.A. of Winnipeg; "Coal", by the C.P.R. Literary Association, Winnipeg; and "The Mound Building", by the Historical Society. Dr. Bryce is now engaged on a work of considerable size and importance on a department of Canadian and North-West history. Our subject has visited England, Ireland, Scotland, France and Italy. Eastern States, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, the Rocky Mountains, and has written descriptions of many of his travels. He received early and careful religious instruction in a Christian home. he is now in church matters, while an ardent churchman, an enemy of ecclesiasticism. He married, September 17th, 1872, Marion Samuel, daughter of the late James Samuel, Kirkliston, near Linlithgow, Scotland.


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