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The Scot in British North America
Chapter II. The Churches Part A


It would be obviously out of the question to sketch the biographies of even a tithe of the clergymen who boast of Scottish origin, especially those who have distinguished themselves in the Presbyterian Church. The only practicable plan is that adopted here, to take a few prominent men from all the various denominations as illustrative instances, beginning with that head of the Church Catholic which is peculiarly Scottish.

The Rev. Alexander Mathieson, D.D., is the name of a clergyman of the Scotch Church in Canada, who will long be remembered with affection in Montreal, where for forty-five years he laboured as minister of St. Andrew’s Church. He was born at Renton, Dumbartonshire, on the 1st of October, 1795. That village is situated on the banks of the Leven, which the genius of Smollett has made one of the classic streams of Scotland. After a preliminary training, he matriculated at Glasgow University, and obtained his Master’s degree when only twenty. In 1823 he was licensed to preach, and three years later ordained by the Presbytery of Dumbarton to St. Andrew’s Church, Montreal. He arrived at that city on the 24th of December, and at once began the work in which he was to spend his life. Dr. Mathieson’s early life is an apt illustration of the zeal of Scottish parents for education of their children. His father was the son of a farmer in Sutherlandshire, and, desiring to see the world, enlisted as a soldier. Of a garrison life he soon tired, and left the army to learn the mysteries of the printing art. He married, and the couple, who were happy in more than the conventional sense, never possessed much of this world’s wealth. Nevertheless they strained every nerve on behalf of their son, and had the satisfaction of living to see him occupying a prominent position. [Portraits of British America, Part II, p. 82.] His father died at the age of eighty-two, and the mother at ninety-four. During his undergraduate course, young Mathieson, like most poor Scottish students, engaged in teaching, and was a private tutor even after his admission to the Ministry.

Dr. Mathieson early took a deep interest in the Clergy Reserve agitation, not, however, as a secularizer, but as a claimant to a share of the funds for his Church. In this movement he succeeded. In 1837, during a visit to Glasgow, he received the degree of Doctor of Divinity. At the time of Dr. Mathieson’s arrival there were only three Scottish churches in Lower Canada, and only five in the upper Province. An incident of these early times, which reflects great credit on the liberality of the Roman Catholic clergy of Montreal is related. While the Presbyterian Church was being erected, the congregation were tendered and accepted the use of the Church of the "Recollets," and when the new edifice was completed, the ministers of the temporary place of worship, not only refused any payment for the use of the building, but expressed their regret at the removal. Dr. Mathieson was a member of the first Synod in 1831, and Moderator, first in 1832, and secondly in 1860, during the visit of the Prince of Wales. At this period a slight trouble arose which proved the Doctor’s sturdy attachment to his Church. The Anglican address was presented in a formal way, but that intrusted with Dr. Mathieson was only to be sent in. The Scottish clergyman was loyal to the core and a strong Church and State man, but he could not brook what he regarded as a slight. Finally he made his way to Kingston and, as the Prince did not land there, was received on board the steamer, and permitted to read the Address in proper form.

In 1860 a great effort was made towards the union of the various Presbyterian bodies, by means of a compromise. Dr. Mathieson delivered a sermon against the scheme which, for the time, fell through. It is not difficult to understand his attitude. Intensely devoted to his native land and to the Church of his fathers, any movement which threatened to sever his connection with the latter was necessarily repugnant to him. This love for Church, Scotland and Canada absorbed all his deepest feelings. He was a man of unflinching firmness and courage – one of the old martyr stock. As a preacher, Dr. Mathieson was eloquent and impressive, and his sermons always bore traces of deep earnestness. They came from the heart, and appealed to the heart. His life was uneventful, for it was entirely passed in pastoral work. He was the most warm-hearted and genial of men, the truest and staunchest of friends, and when he died in 1870, he left behind him a multitude of mourning friends throughout the city of Montreal. [For many of these particulars we are indebted to the Rev. Mr. Dobie, who still adheres to the remnant of the old Church.]

The Rev. Robert Burns, D.D., filled a conspicuous place in the Presbyterian Church of Canada for nearly a quarter of a century, during which period he was one of the foremost ministers in its ranks, and one of the most indefatigable workers on its behalf as missionary, pastor, or professor. He was born about the middle of February, 1789, near the small seaport town of Borrowstowness, on the Firth of Forth. In an auto-biography, which forms part of a life of him, written by his son, [The Life and Times of the Rev. Robert. Burns, D.D. By the Rev. R.F. Burns, D.D. Toronto: James Campbell & sons. 1872.] Dr. Burns, with pardonable pride, refers back to his covenanting ancestry. From the days of John Knox downwards, the family had not only been staunch in their faith, but had too often been compelled to suffer for conscience’ sake. We have heard that the Doctor was a "far awa’" cousin of his namesake, the poet, but are unable to vouch for the truth of the rumour. Doctor Burns’ father had been engaged until 1779 in the manufacture of linen; but in that year was appointed surveyor of customs. The old gentleman had witnessed the Battle of Falkirk, in 1746. He died in 1817, at the age of eighty-seven, having behind him eight sons. After a preliminary education at the parish schools and under a private tutor, young Robert entered Edinburgh University in October, 1801. Among the learned professors whose lectures he attended were Dugald Stewart and Dr. Thomas Brown. In 1805, Mr. Burns entered the Divinity Hall, after having graduated in arts, and in 1810 was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Edinburgh. His ordination took place in the following year, and he was appointed to the charge of St. George’s Church, Paisley. There he remained for thirty-four years, during which time he received (in 1828) the degree of Doctor of Divinity from the University of Glasgow. At the disruption in 1843 he joined the Free Church, and in 1845 left his congregation and native land for Canada. In the previous year, in company with Professor Cunningham and others, he had paid a visit to the United States and Canada to secure aid for the Sustentation Fund of the Free Church. From 1845 to 1856 he was minister of Knox Church, Toronto. Early in June, 1847, the old edifice was burned to the ground, and the congregation temporarily assembled in St. Andrew’s Church, and subsequently in the Temperance Hall. The new building, with its handsome spire, was opened on the 3rd of September, 1848. For many years, in addition to his pastoral labours, Dr. Burns was an indefatigable labourer in the missionary field. One of his earliest efforts in Toronto was towards securing to the Free Church soldiers of the 71st Highlanders the right to worship elsewhere than the established Church, and he had the satisfaction of seeing three hundred attending his ministry. The Doctor was an ardent controversialist on various subjects, especially in vindication of Protestantism and the position occupied by his own branch of the Presbyterian Church. During the Clergy Reserve controversy, he took an active part on behalf of secularization, and also published in the Banner, a religious journal, afterwards merged in the Globe, a series of letters on the University of Toronto—at that time a bone of contention between the Church of England and the other denominations.

Dr. Burns was a man of almost unbounded charity, and very often imposed upon, it is to be feared, by unworthy mendicants.[The writer remembers an incident related of him. He had just purchased a new great coat, which with the old one was hanging in the hall. A poorly-clad man appeared at the door, and the Doctor at once thought of his old coat. Being short-sighted, he mistakenly gave the new one. The mistake was discovered too late, and the aged pastor’s only remark was: "Poor fellow, I dare say he needs it more than I do."] Still, he was a shrewd discerner of character, as was proved in the case of one Lublin, who professed to be a converted Hungarian Jew, in 1853. The Doctor did not succeed at the police court, but the ground he took was amply vindicated subsequently. At the time he was much abused for his supposed want of Christian charity, but his suspicions were abundantly justified, and he was presented with a gold medal and an address in 1854. On another occasion a pretended Roman Catholic priest, who was about to hold a meeting to relate the story of his conversion, unluckily for himself, called upon Dr. Burns in the forenoon. After some conversation, the soi-disant priest presented a diploma in evidence. The Doctor scanned it over, and then said quietly: "Sir, there are many bad things at Rome, but there is good Latin. That never came from the Vatican." The adventurer left the city at once. [Life and Times, &c., p. 242.]

As a preacher, Dr. Burns belonged to the old school. His sermons were earnest and impressive, but rather long and "chockful" of doctrine. He was a rigid Calvinist, and adhered with unwavering tenacity to the Confession of Faith. Nevertheless he proved an eminently warm-hearted and liberal man out of the controversial arena. His pastoral visits were always welcome to the young folk because of his gentle ways, and to some extent also, because he was not a hard taskmaster. If the youngsters were behind in their knowledge of Scripture or the catechism, he would not only prompt them, but if need were, answer his own questions, in a low undertone, himself. Dr. Burns’ missionary work extended over the whole of Ontario, and he made frequent tours to the Maritime, Provinces. In two religious enterprises he took a deep interest. An ardent opponent of slavery, he was a devoted friend of the fugitive coloured man, and aided largely in the establishment of the Buxton Mission in the county of Kent. A similar devotion to Protestantism led him to take an active part in the French Canadian Missionary Society of Lower Canada.

In 1856, Dr. Burns resigned the pastorate of Knox Church, and accepted the Professorship, at Knox College, of Church History and Apologetics. This was not the Doctor’s first connection with the College, for he had been instrumental in its foundation during 1845, and served in it until the arrival of the Rev. Dr. Willis as Principal. On his second appointment, Dr. Burns made a collecting tour through the western peninsula, and succeeded in considerably augmenting the College Fund. During this period he also ministered to the Gould Street Congregation as the Rev Dr. Taylor had done before in connection with his professorial duties. The aged Doctor was untiring likewise in his efforts for the preliminary training of theological students, and in the cause of female education. The Montreal College occupied his last thoughts, after advancing years and infirmities had compelled him to resign his Professorship in 1866. The subject of Apologetics was one which specially attracted him, and, as his son writes, he was careful to keep himself abreast of the times. ["He was generous in his treatment of honest and sincere doubters, but with the sophistical lucubrations of pretentious sciolists he had no patience." – Life, &c., p. 257.] It may well be believed that, in earnestly contending for the faith his controversial zeal was often at war with the nobler generosity of his heart. In August, 1869, Dr. Burns returned from his last visit to Scotland; and on the 7th preached his last sermon in Gould Street Church. On the 19th of the month, he quietly breathed his last, at the patriarchal age of eighty years and six months. He was a sturdy soldier of the cross, and had well earned the rest into which he entered, for he had spent an unusually long life of labour and usefulness in his Divine Master’s service.

The Rev. John Jennings, D. D., was born at Glasgow in October, 1814, the son of a manufacturer of that city. After receiving his earlier education under his uncle, the Rev. Mr. Tindale, in Fifeshire, young Jennings entered upon his theological studies at St. Andrew’s, and completed them at Edinburgh University. As he had determined to labour in a Canadian field, he further equipped himself by attending a complete course in medicine. In 1838 he was appointed missionary of the United Presbyterian Church to Canada, and at Toronto duly inducted as pastor of the first U. P. Church. The city was then a small one, and Mr. Jennings’ early congregation was simply insignificant. It consisted of seven members and twenty-one adherents, and worshipped in a carpenter’s shop on Newgate (now Adelaide) street. Under Mr. Jennings, however, the little flock grew, and when the Baptist Church vacated their Stanley Street edifice, it was rented by the United Presbyterians. As the membership increased, the congregation removed from place to place until it finally settled in the Bay Street Church, now used by the Medical Board. For many years after his arrival in Toronto, the pastor also laboured in the country, riding on horseback many weary leagues. In company with the Rev Dr. Fraser, who was associated with him in pioneer work, he penetrated beyond Lake Simcoe, undergoing many toils and hardships. Of these itinerant labours, Mr. Jennings kept a record, and from it may be learned the fact that in one year he rode 3,050 miles. Physically he was fully equal to the task, and his knowledge of medicine was eminently acceptable to the scattered settlers, to whom he broke the bread of life. In 1851, in acknowledgment of his labours and of several works on university subjects, the University of New York conferred upon Mr. Jennings the degree of Doctor of Divinity,—the first given by that body to any Canadian minister.

Dr. Jennings remained pastor of the church at Toronto for nearly thirty-six years, and also found time to make himself abundantly useful in connection with the educational system of the Province. He was for many years a member of the University corporation, the Upper Canada College Board, and the Council of Public Instruction. During the public discussions on the subject of the Clergy Reserves, Dr. Jennings frequently appeared upon the public platform up to the time of their secularization in 1854. The Doctor entered heartily into both schemes of Union, and after that of 1861 which brought together his own and the Free Church, he was an ardent supporter of the larger project. Before it was consummated, however, ill-health had begun to tell upon him, and in 1874, he was constrained to resign his charge. The congregation consented reluctantly to break the tie which had so long united pastor and people, and manifested their attachment by settling upon him a liberal retiring allowance. In 1875, Dr. Jennings began to fail rapidly, and towards the end of that year he was struck by paralysis. He survived until the 25th of February, when he died with his family around him, in the full possession of his faculties. Apart from his ministerial duties proper, Dr. Jennings was conspicuous for his efforts amongst the poor and the suffering, and was universally popular with his fellow-citizens of every denomination. He left to mourn him his widow, three sons and four daughters. [The writer is indebted to Mrs. Jennings for the facts in the above sketch.]

The Rev. Alexander Topp, D.D., who served for more than twenty years as pastor of Knox Church, Toronto, was a Scot from the "far awa’ North." He was born at Sheriffmill, a farm-house near Elgin, Morayshire, in 1815, and early educated at the Elgin Academy; thereafter entering King’s College, Aberdeen, when only in his fifteenth year. There he succeeded in obtaining a scholarship tenable for four years. In 1836, at the age of twenty-one, he received a license to preach, and became assistant-minister of an Elgin Church. Here his talents and energy made him highly popular, and, when the charge became vacant, the congregation and Town Council petitioned for Mr. Topp’s appointment. The Government acceded to their request, and the new pastor was formally inducted. The famous disruption took place in 1843, and Mr. Topp at once cast in his lot with the opponents of patronage. The greater part of his congregation went with him. In 1852, he removed to Edinburgh, having received a call from the Roxburgh Church there. In 1856, he declined a call from Knox Church, Toronto; but in 1858 accepted a second, and immediately entered upon his life-work. The congregation had sadly run down, in consequence of a long interregnum. Mr. Topp found that the communicants’ roll amounted only to three hundred, yet before his death it had risen to nearly seven hundred. In 1868, the reverend gentleman was elected Moderator of the General Assembly by the unanimous recommendation of all the Presbyteries. In the Church Courts his services were invaluable, because he was not only a shrewd man of business, but also, and above all things, a peace-maker. In 1870, Dr. Topp received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from his alma mater, the University of Aberdeen.

During the negotiations for union with the Presbyterian Church in connection with the Church of Scotland, Dr. Topp took a leading part; indeed, it may be safely asserted that he was the chief agent in bringing it about. The union was consummated in 1875, and in 1876 he was elected Moderator of the General Assembly. Dr. Topp subsequently attended the Pan-Presbyterian Council at Edinburgh, in 1877. For some time before his death he had been aware that he suffered from organic disease of the heart. In 1879 he visited Scotland, and somewhat imprudently preached in his old pulpit at Elgin, contrary to medical advice. He returned home and resigned his pastorate, but before any action could be taken the hand of death was laid upon him suddenly, while visiting a member of his congregation, on the 6th of October, 1879. His life had been calm and equable, and so it was fitting that his death should be peaceful and painless. As a preacher, Dr. Topp was rather impressive than eloquent; as a pastor, he was deeply beloved by every member of his congregation. Gifted with a cordial, winning disposition, his visits to the family circle were at all times welcome. Beside the sick-bed, in administering consolation, or inspiring hope in the hearts of the dying, few Christian ministers were to be compared with him. It may be added that he took a deep interest in all benevolent schemes, and was the chief instrument in establishing the Toronto Home for Incurables.

The Rev. Robert Ferrier Burns, D. D., of Fort Massey Presbyterian Church, Halifax, N. S., is one of the best-known clergyman of his Church, in the east. He was a son of late Rev. Dr. Burns, of whom a sketch has already been given, and was born at Paisley, in December, 1826. When near1y fourteen, he entered the University of Glasgow, at which he ranked high as a student. During 1844-5 he attended the New College, Edinburgh—a theological institution set on foot by the Free Church immediately after the disruption. In 1845 he followed his father to Canada, and completed his divinity studies at Knox College, Toronto. Mr. Burns was ordained in July, 1847, and at once accepted the pastorate of Chalmers’ Church, Kingston, which he filled for eight years. In 1855 he was called to Knox Church, St. Catharines. There he ministered for twelve years, during which time he acted upon the Grammar School Board, organized the system of Sabbath School Conventions, and performed other services outside the duties of his charge. Having received a call to the Scottish Church at Chicago, in 1867, he spent three years there, assisting the Evangelist, Mr. Moody, in his revival work. At the close of this period he received a call to Cote Street Church, Montreal, where Dr. Donald Fraser, now of London, England, and Principal McVicar had previously laboured. There he remained until 1875, when he accepted his present charge at Halifax. In 1866 the degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon Mr. Burns, by Clinton College, N.Y.

Dr. Burns’ congregation is a large and influential one, and his success at Halifax has been highly encouraging. He is also one of the managers of the Presbyterian College of the Eastern Provinces, and has for several years past given lectures to the students. When the College Endowment Scheme was mooted, he was one of its most energetic promoters: Dr. Burns has been a voluminous contributor to religious magazines; has published many sermons and pamphlets, notably on prohibition; and in 1872 issued a biography of his deceased father, which has passed through several editions. In addition to these works, he was the joint author with the Rev. Mr. Norton, of St. Catharines, of "Maple Leaves from Canada for the grave of Abraham Lincoln." Like his father, the Doctor was, from the first, a determined enemy of slavery; but, unlike him, lived to see its entire abolition in the United States. In 1879, the General Assembly, meeting at Ottawa, appointed Dr. Burns one of eight delegates to represent the Canadian Church at the General Presbyterian Council at Philadelphia, and in 1880 he attended the Sunday-school celebration, in London, England, of the hundredth anniversary of the establishment of Sunday Schools by Robert Raikes, of Gloucester. Dr. Burns’ predecessor at Halifax was the Rev. J. K. Smith, now of Galt, Ontario, of whose career, however, we have, unfortunately, no record.

The Rev. William Reid, D.D., whose name is perhaps as widely known as that of any minister in the Presbyterian Church in Canada, was born in Aberdeenshire, in the year 1816. Unfortunately, for biographical purposes, his active arid useful career affords few incidents that can be seized upon by the chronicler. Dr. Reid’s work has throughout been of that invaluable, yet unobtrusive kind which eludes the pencil of the limner. He studied at King’s College, Aberdeen, and received his degree of M.A. in 1833. Entering the Divinity Hall, in that ancient seat of learning, he passed through the usual courses of theology, and was licensed to preach in 1839. In August of that year he was selected as a missionary to Canada, and having received a call from the congregation of Grafton and Colborne, was ordained on the 30th of January, 1840.

In 1844, the ecclesiastical upheaval, which had wrought so potent an effect in Scotland the year before, was felt in Canada. Mr. Reid cast in his lot with the cause of the Free Church, and was one of the founders of the Presbyterian Church of Canada,—the old title modified by omitting the words, "in connection with the Church of Scotland."

In 1849, the Rev. gentleman was translated to Pictou, and, about the same time, became Clerk of the Synod. His zeal in the interests of the church, and his exceptional aptitude for the business of organization were soon recognized. Some years after he found himself not only Synod Clerk, but General Agent of all the schemes of the Church, and editor of the Ecclesiastical and Missionary Record. Dr. Reid has held the same position ever since, both before and since the unions of 1861 and 1875. In the latter year The Record was removed from Toronto to Montreal. In 1876, Dr. Reid received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from Queen’s University, Kingston. The honoured place he fills in the estimation of his brethren may be partly understood by a reference to the high positions he has occupied on three successive occasions, Dr. Reid has been elected Moderator of the Supreme Court of the Church: first, of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, in 1851; secondly, of the Canada Presbyterian Church, in 1873; and thirdly, of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, in 1879.

The Rev. Robert Ure, D.D., Minister of the Presbyterian Church in Canada at Goderich, Ont., was born in Lanarkshire in the month of January, 1823, where his father was a manufacturer in iron. When nineteen years of age, Robert emigrated to Canada and settled at Hamilton. Having resolved to adopt the clerical profession, Mr. Ure studied privately with the Rev. Mr. Gale, and then entered Knox College. Having completed his theological course in 1850, and received ordination, the rev. gentleman accepted a call from Streetsville where he remained for twelve years. In 1862 he removed to Goderich where he still labours; but as there are two country stations attached, Mr. Ure has the advantage of an assistant. Mr. Ure’s scholastic attainments are of a high order, and in recognition of them Queen’s University, Kingston, conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity in May, 1876. He lectured for two years on Apologetics at Knox College, and also on Homiletics at Queen’s. Dr. Ure, took a conspicuous part in bringing about the Presbyterian union, first with the United Presbyterian Church, and secondly with that connected with the Church of Scotland. During the negotiations for the former union, Dr. Ure was Convener of one Committee, and Dr. Taylor of Montreal of the other. When the scheme had been consummated, Dr. Taylor, being the senior, was chosen first Moderator, Dr. Ure subsequently to him. In the subject of education the Doctor takes the deepest interest, and for a long period served as Grammar School trustee. His sermons are remarkable for their earnestness and originality, and he is much esteemed by his flock.

The Rev. William Cochrane, D.D., of Brantford, was born at Paisley, in February, 1832. His family, originally from Ayrshire, is sprung of the same stock as the renowned seaman, Lord Dundonald. After receiving the usual parochial school education, William was placed in a bookseller’s shop, where he remained for more than ten years. He was a youth of indomitable energy and devoted all hisleisure hours to study. Starting at five o’clock in the morning, he used to walk from Paisley to Glasgow University to recite. When twenty-two years of age, his persevering efforts attracted the attention of two American gentlemen named Brown, from Cincinatti. They offered him an academic education, if he would go to the United States. He cordially embraced the offer, and entered Hanover College, Indiana, at which he graduated as Bachelor of Arts in 1857. After two years spent in the study of theology at Princeton, N. J., Mr. Cochrane was licensed by the Presbytery of Madison, Indiana, and called to the pastorate of the Scottish Church, Jersey City, in 1859. After remaining there for three years, he accepted a call from Zion Presbyterian Church, Brantford, and has ministered there for the past twenty years. During that time Dr. Cochrane has received flattering invitations from Boston, New York, Chicago and Detroit, but has firmly resisted the temptation. Since he undertook the Brantford charge, the congregation has been more than quadrupled in number. For the past eleven years the rev. gentleman has been clerk of the Synod of Hamilton and London, and for a longer period he served in a similar capacity for the Presbytery of Paris. Judging by the number of Presbyteries which have sent up his name unanimously, he will, in all likelihood, be selected as Moderator of the General Assembly, in June next. In 1864, the degree of M. A. was conferred upon him by his university, and in 1875 that of Doctor of Divinity. In addition to his Church labours, Dr. Cochrane has been President of the Brantford Young Ladies’ College since its inception in 1874, and, for a series of years, President also of the local Mechanics’ Institute. As a preacher, the Doctor exhibits great force and earnestness of manner, and exceptional clearness and fluency. He has published several volumes of sermons, and they admirably stand the crucial test of closet study. There is nothing sensational in Dr. Cochrane’s style; he carefully prepares his discourses, generally writing them out in full; but he uses no MS., and few notes in the pulpit; indeed they would materially diminish the effect of his forcible and animated delivery.

The Rev. D. J. Macdonnell, B. D., minister of St. Andrew’s Church, Toronto, was born in the manse at Bathurst, N. B., in January, 1843. His father, a native Scot, had been for many years pastor of the Church of Scotland congregation there. When his son was about seven years of age, the Rev. George Macdonnell resigned his charge at St. Luke’s to return to his native land. Thus the ground-work of young Macdonnell’s education came to he laid in Scotland, partly at Kilmarnock, partly at Edinburgh. On their return to Canada, the father settled in then western Province, where he laboured successively at~ Nelson, Fergus and Milton, dying at the last-named place in 1871. Meanwhile his son’s education was continued at the Galt Grammar School under Dr. Tassie. When only twelve years of age he entered Queen’s College, Kingston, and graduated when only fifteen, like Cardinal Wolsey, "a boy Bachelor." Mr. Macdonnell would have at once applied himself to teaching; but his youth was against him. He, therefore, devoted some time to theological studies, and for three years thereafter was engaged in tuition. At the end of that period, he repaired to Glasgow to complete his Divinity course. His pastor there was Dr. Norman McLeod, and to his influence, as well as the period he spent in Germany, may no doubt be traced Mr. Macdonnell’s breadth and liberality of view on theological subjects. Principal Caird, moreover, was one of his instructors. The summer vacation was spent at Heidelberg University. He returned to Scotland and completed his course at Edinburgh, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Divinity. During the summer of 1865, in company with some clerical friends, he made a tour in Switzerland; and the winter was passed at Berlin University under the celebrated Professors Dörner and Hengstenberg. At the conclusion of the session, Mr. Macdonnell had the misfortune to be mistaken for a forger at Hamburg, and barely escaped arrest—a circumstance not much to the credit for sagacity of the German police. On his return to Edinburgh Mr. Macdonnell received ordination from the Presbytery in June, 1866. In a few months he returned to Canada, and was settled at St. Andrew’s Church, Peterboro’. The congregation which had been depleted at the time of the disruption, was still in a backward state; but notwithstanding all the hindrances in his path, the new pastor had the satisfaction of leaving it five years after in a more improved condition. Whilst there, Mr. Macdonnell married, in 1868, a daughter of the Rev. Mr. Smellie, of Fergus. In 1870 the rev. gentleman received a call to old St. Andrew’s Church, then on the south-west corner of Adelaide and Church Streets. The "Old Kirk," as it was familiarly termed, was built so far back as 1831. Mr. Macdonnell had had three predecessors, the last of whom, the Rev. Dr. Barclay, who had ministered there for twenty-eight years, relinquished his charge in 1870.

The advent of Mr. Macdonnell was the signal for an immediate revival of the condition of the church. He was young, energetic, and, more than all, earnest and original in his preaching. Within a few years, it was found that the old building was inadequate for the purpose, and a new and imposing structure was commenced at the corner of King and Simcoe Streets. The church is built of stone in the Norman style, with a massive tower at the south-west angle. The building cost no less than $80,000, and is fully equipped with spacious lecture and also class-rooms. Immediately in the rear is the commodious house occupied by the pastor and his family. Mr. Macdonnell’s pastorate has not been entirely without a ripple upon the calm and steady tide of its progress. A sermon preached to his flock found its way into a city journal, and the preacher was at once the object of a prosecution before the Church courts for heresy. Into details it is not our desire to enter; it may suffice to say that the rev gentleman emerged from the ordeal unscathed. Mr. Macdonnell’s popularity has steadily increased year by year and he is widely known as one of the most eloquent and earnest members of the Church; certainly no congregation could be more sincerely attached to its pastor than that which worships in the ornate Church of St. Andrew. Mr. Macdonnell was one of the most cordial supporters of Presbyterian union, and contributed largely to its consummation, in 1875. In works of charity also he has taken a prominent part. The Dorset Street Mission, the St. Andrew’s Penny Savings’ Bank, and other institutions not so intimately connected with the congregation, have all shared his attention, and reaped the benefit of his untiring activity. Mr. Macdonnell occupies a seat in the Senate of the University, having been appointed as one of its representatives by the Ontario Government. The rev. gentleman is still on the sunny side of forty, and has, therefore, the promise of many years of usefulness to come. [The facts given above are mainly taken from the Weekly Globe of March 31st, 1876.]

The Rev. John Laing, M. A., pastor of Knox Church, Dundas, is a native Scot, having been born in Ross and Cromarty in March, 1828. His early education was obtained at the High School, Edinburgh, where he held a creditable position in his class. In 1843 the family removed to Canada and young Laing continued his studies at King’s and Knox Colleges, Toronto. While at the latter institution, he taught in the Toronto Academy, under a distinguished scholar, the Rev. Alexander Gale, and the writer is able from personal experience to bear testimony to his great zeal and ability as a teacher. In 1854, Mr. Laing was ordained at Scarboro’, and ministered there for somewhat less than six years. Thereafter for twelve years he was stationed in Cobourg. In 1872 the rev. gentleman became connected with the Ladies’ College, at Ottawa, on its establishment; but in 1873 he ministered to the church at Dundas, where he still labours. Mr. Laing received his degree of B.A. from Victoria College, Cobourg, in 1871, and subsequently that of M.A. He is a hard worker and deeply in earnest about his work. In educational matters his interest has always been sustained wherever the duties of his sacred calling have led him to cast his lot. He has largely contributed to various periodicals, and is said to be the author of an unpublished scripture poem entitled "The Betrayal." Mr. Laing has been twice married, and had a family of twelve, four of whom, however, were taken away in early life by diphtheria.

The Rev. Gavin Lang, M.A., like the Rev. Dr. Mathieson whom he succeeded as pastor of St. Andrew’s Church, Montreal, is a warm supporter of connection with the mother Church, and a strenuous opponent of union. Mr. Lang’s father, who bore the same Christian name, was for nearly fifty years minister of Glasford, Lanarkshire. Besides the subject of this sketch, two other sons are Scottish Church ministers—Dr. Lang who succeeded the celebrated Dr. Norman McLeod at the old Barony Church, Glasgow, and the Rev. James Lang who fills a pulpit at Stirling. Mr. Gavin Lang was born in the manse of Glasford in July, 1835, and was educated, both in arts and divinity, at the University of Glasgow. In 1864 he was licensed to preach, and served as assistant minister at a parish church in Glasgow. When ordained in 1865 he undertook a charge at Fyvie, Aberdeen-shire, which he retained for five years, and then became, for a brief period, pastor of his father’s old church at G1asford. In 1870 the Rev. Dr. Mathieson of St. Andrew’s, Montreal, died, and the Rev. Gavin Lang having received a call at once accepted it. The church is an exceedingly imposing structure, of stone, formed on the model of Salisbury Cathedral, built in a central situation, and boasting an elegant spire. It is, indeed, popularly called the Scottish Cathedral. There is also a mission church in the east end. Outside his pastoral work, Mr. Lang has taken an active part in the Evangelical Alliance of which he has all along been an honorary secretary.

When the union between the Canada Presbyterian Church and his own was proposed, the scheme was vigorously opposed by Mr. Lang, Mr. Dobie, Mr. Burnet, and others. Nevertheless it was consummated in 1875, the dissidents standing aloof and claiming to remain still the Presbyterian Church of Canada in connection with the Church of Scotland. The result has been prolonged litigation which was temporarily closed by a decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The United Church sought corporate powers from the Legislatures of the Provinces and Acts conferring these powers were granted. The Rev. Mr. Dobie began a suit against the trustees of the Temporalities Fund, in order to secure it for the minority that had remained faithful to the old Kirk. The case came before the Judicial Committee, Mr. Donald McMaster, M.P.P. being the Canadian counsel for the plaintiff. The decision left the ownership of the Fund still in doubt, but it declared the Provincial Act ultra vires and saddled the trustees personally with the costs. The next step taken by the United Church was to apply for confirmatory legislation from the Dominion Parliament. Mr. Lang appeared before the Private Bills Committee and energetically opposed the measure, It, however, passed by an overwhelming majority. Notwithstanding the rev. gent1eman’s strong predilections in favour of the old Church, he, is eminently catholic in spirit, ever ready to cooperate with his brethren of other churches in any beneficent work. Mr. Lang is an impressive preacher, not given to rhetorical display, but above all things earnest in labouring for the souls committed to his charge. A rumour has lately prevailed that he intends to return to his native land; should he do so, his departure would be sincerely regretted not only by the congregation to which he has ministered for twelve years, but by all his fellow-citizens.

The Rev. Robert Burnet, now of Pictou, N.S., was born at Ladykirk, Berwickshire, in June, 1823. His father, who was a man of independent means, belonged to a family which had been engaged in the milling business for over four hundred years. Robert was educated at Edinburgh and Aberdeen, and received ordination in 1852. He at once emigrated to Canada West as missionary, and was stationed at Hamilton. Shortly after his arrival he was called to the pastorate of St. Andrew’s Church there. When he undertook the charge there were only twenty-four male members on the communicants’ roll. Here he remained for twenty-five years, and then removed to London, in 1876; he had the satisfaction of leaving behind him a membership embracing over two hundred and sixty families. Mr. Burnet’s next charge was St. Stephen’s, London, where he remained for about three years, when he accepted a call from his present congregation, which can boast of over three hundred and seventy families. The rev. gentleman’s preaching, which is entirely "extemporaneous," for he disdains even the use of notes, is described as of a high order, clear, well-arranged, and often eloquent in the highest degree. Mr. Burnet has also distinguished himself in scientific agriculture and fruit culture. Whilst in Ontario, he was a member of both the Provincial and Dominion Boards of Agriculture, of the Entomological Society, and the Fruit Growers’ Association. Some of his papers on the scientific subjects in which he takes so deep an interest have been published in the transactions of the American Pomological Society. Mr. Burnet is a staunch adherent of the "auld kirk," and, we believe, is still one of the minority who adhere to the old connection with the Church of Scotland. At all events, he is a man no ordinary ability, and a faithful labourer in his Master’s vineyard.

The Right Reverend Alexander Neil Bethune, D.D., D.C.L., second Bishop of Toronto, was the fifth son of the Rev. John Bethune, the first Presbyterian minister in Canada. The family was a large one, consisting of six sons and three daughters. Of these, Angus, the eldest, will demand notice in connection with the North-West, and the youngest, Donald Bethune, in a chapter to be devoted to railways and shipping. For the present, only two of the sons require notice. The family was of Scottish origin, and settled in Canada with the devoted band of U. E. Loyalists in 1783. The late Bishop was born at Williamstown, in the County of Glengarry, towards the end of August, 1800, and survived all his brothers and sisters. Educated at the Cornwall Grammar School there, he studied under Dr. Strachan. He was the youngest and, for some years before he died, the only surviving pupil of the rev. doctor. The war of 1812 broke up the school, and young Bethune left Cornwall to join his family in Montreal, where his early training was continued. At the invitation of General Brock, Dr. Strachan had removed to York (Toronto), and, so soon as peace was restored, Mr. Bethune joined him, acting as classical tutor in the school, and also studying divinity under his old master. In 1823, he was admitted to deacon’s orders, and in 1824 ordained priest by Bishop Mountain, of Quebec. After a few years spent at Grimsby, Mr. Bethune was appointed rector of Cobourg, then called Hamilton, the chief town of the Newcastle District. At that time the neighbourhood was in course of settlement, and the young rector’s work was by no means confined within the limits of St. Peter’s parish. Every minister of the Church was then a missionary also, with a wide sphere of labour. Mr. Bethune threw all his energies into the work, and toiled on for forty years there with great zeal and devotion. In 1847, the rector was appointed Archdeacon of York, still holding his Cobourg charge. Twenty years after, Bishop Strachan’s advanced age rendered it necessary to give him episcopal assistance, and, in 1867, Dr. Bethune was consecrated as co-adjutor Bishop in St. James’ Cathedral, Toronto, by the Bishops of Toronto, Huron, Ontario, Michigan, and Western New York. It may be remarked that the right of succession at Dr. Strachan’s death was secured to him on his appointment. He died at Toronto early in February, 1879. Those who only saw Bishop Bethune during his declining years can form little conception of his earlier labours. When at Cobourg, in addition to his parochial and archdiaconal work, he lectured on theology, and also conducted a church newspaper, without in the slightest degree neglecting the duties he owed to the flock committed to his charge. The Bishop wrote a number of works, chiefly of a theological or devotional character, and one of more general interest, entitled a "Memoir of the Rt. Rev. John Strachan, D.D., LL.U., first Bishop of Toronto." Dr. Bethune was connected by marriage with another Scottish family, having married a daughter of the Hon. James Crooks, by whom he had ten children, only five of whom survive. Of these, the best known is the Rev. Charles James Stewart Bethune, M.A., Head Master of the Trinity College School, Port Hope, who has gained a high reputation in America and Great Britain as a practical entomologist.

The third son of the old Presbyterian divine was named after him. He was born in the Township of Charlottenburg, Glengarry, early in January, 1791. He also studied at the Cornwall Grammar School, and afterwards became assistant teacher there. When Dr. Strachan was called to York, in 1812, Mr. John Bethune became his successor as master of the school. His labours were interrupted by the war, and, throwing aside the dominie’s ferule, the young teacher shouldered his musket. In 1814, he was ordained deacon, and became a missionary preacher in the Townships of Augusta and Elizabethtown. His labours there were exceedingly rough and arduous, but they were crowned with success. It is true that the height of his ambition was to be rector of Cornwall, and that he was not successful in obtaining it; yet he laboured on cheerfully for four years. In 1818, he was unexpectedly called upon to undertake the rectorship of Christ Church, Montreal, where he continued to labour during the rest of his life. Even there the work was by no means promising. The congregation was small, the church unfinished and in debt. What the late Dean accomplished during his long career may only be estimated by a comparison of the state of the Anglican Church now with its backward and almost hopeless condition sixty-four years ago. Mr. Bethune was then in the vigour of youth, and threw himself into the work with youthful ardour and devotion. In 1829, he paid his first visit to England and collected money for the Canadian Church Building Fund. In 1835, the degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon him by Columbia College, New York. In the same year, the Archdeacon of Montreal having become Bishop of Quebec, Dr. Bethune was appointed Principal of McGill University, then in its infancy. An unfortunate dispute subsequently arose between the Governors and the Board of the Royal Institution as to jurisdiction over the College. Dr. Bethune sided with the former; his Bishop with the latter. A controversy ensued, which resulted in a recommendation from the Colonial Secretary that the Principal’s appointment should be cancelled. The result was the extinguishment of the theological element at McGill. Shortly after the Diocese of Montreal was set off from that of Quebec, and Dr. Bethune was appointed Dean. The selection was an admirable one since no Anglican clergyman in the diocese was so conversant with the history and needs of the Church in and about the commercial metropolis. Dean Bethune passed a busy life, and never wearied in well-doing. He was deeply beloved, not less for his geniality of disposition than from his zeal and devotion to the work given him to do. He was a most effective preacher, staunch in the faith, earnest in enforcing not only sound doctrine, but holiness of life. The Dean lived to a good old age, passing quietly away on the 22nd August, 1872, in the 82nd year of his age.

It may not be amiss to add here a few additional particulars regarding the Rev. John Bethune, already referred to as the father of the church dignitaries whose careers have been briefly sketched. He was born in the Island of Skye, in the year 1781, and educated at King’s College, Aberdeen. With some relations he emigrated to South Carolina, and when the war broke out, the rev. gentleman was appointed chaplain of a loyal regiment. The adherents of King George were defeated, and the chaplain, with many others, were made prisoners. On being exchanged, he went to Halifax, and secured the chaplaincy of the 84th Regiment. When the army establishment was reduced, Mr. Bethune removed to Montreal, where he organized the first Presbyterian congregation in Canada, about 1786. Mention has already been made of the generous courtesy of the Recollet Fathers, some pages back. [Rev. Mr. Dobie states that, as the Fathers would take to remuneration, the Presbyterians presented them "with a box of candles, and to hogsheads of Spanish wine."] In 1792, the St. Gabriel Street Church was finished, and it was not only the first Presbyterian, but the first Protestant church in Montreal. The venerable edifice still exists, we believe, and is used for divine worship. Mr. Bethune had left Montreal for Williamstown, Glengarry, where he ministered until his death, in 1815. Over his grave a monument was subsequently erected by his six sons. Mr. Fennings Taylor [Portraits of British Americans, in the Life of Dr. Bethune, p. 54.] relates that the pastor’s wife was an Episcopalian, which serves to account for the fact that two of the sons entered the Church of England, and became Bishop and Dean respectively. The sturdy old Presbyterian was opposed to "prelacy," but he could not send his sons to Scotland to be trained; consequently the mother easily persuaded him to have his children instructed by Dr. Strachan. Hence their early connection with the Anglican Church. The sons were in no sense converts, since, with their father’s consent, reluctant it may be, they were reared in an Episcopalian atmosphere. Both mother and sons were warmly attached to the father, and it does not appear that theological differences ever cast a cloud over family affection.

It may be well to note here the name of the Rev. John Mackenzie, who, in 1816, succeeded the Rev. Mr. Bethune, as pastor in Glengarry, and laboured there for forty years. He was a man of great courage and ability of character, a true son of the Gael. It is related of him that during the Lower Canadian Rebellion of 1837, Mr. Mackenzie shouldered his musket, at the head of the Highland Brigade, some of whom went out infantry and came back cavalry, having found horses by the way. Mr. Mackenzie was not remarkable as a preacher, his rapidity of utterance being against him, but as pastor, he was earnest, active, and indefatigable— his whole life’s a sermon of the most earnest and practical character.

The Venerable Archdeacon Henry Patton, D.C.L., was born at Chelmsford, England, in March, 1806. His father, Major Andrew Patton was a native of Chatto in Fifeshire, and a born soldier, both his father and grandfather having been Colonels in the army. The Major saw a long period of active service; first in Ireland during the rebellion of 1798, then in Holland, then in Jamaica, then in Egypt under Sir Ralph Abercrombie as an officer of the Gordon Highlanders; next in Denmark and finally under Sir Arthur Wellesley and Sir John Moore in the Peninsular war. He took part in the battle of Corunna at which the latter gallant General was killed. His health, however, had been seriously impaired, and he was not permitted to remain at the seat of war. The gallant Major died in Toronto in 1838, aged sixty-seven.

In 1816 the family removed to Canada, Henry being then only ten years of age. His education, begun in England, was continued at the Brockville Grammar School. He studied divinity at Chambly, and was ordained Deacon in 1829 by Bishop Stewart in the Quebec Cathedral. The family meanwhile had removed from the shores of the Bay of Quinte to Prescott, and subsequently to Little York. In 1830 he was made a priest by the same Bishop, but in St. James’ Cathedral, York, now Toronto. For seventeen years the Rev. Mr. Patton laboured without assistance in the Kemptville Mission which covered four or five townships with their villages. So deeply was the pastor beloved by the people that they successfully resisted his removal to Brockville, and thirty years after erected to his memory "The Archdeacon Patton Memorial Church." In 1845, the rev. gentleman was put in charge of Cornwall, to which his two outlying missions were attached. In 1862, Bishop Lewis appointed him Archdeacon of Ottawa, and at Dr. Lauder’s death as Archdeacon of the whole Diocese of Ontario. It was with great reluctance that Archdeacon Patton left Cornwall, where he had only recently secured the erection of a memorial church to Bishop Strachan. He was, however, transferred to the rectory of Belleville, where he died on the last day of April, 1874. The Venerable Archdeacon was an untiring labourer in the Christian field all his life. His zeal and business tact made him of great service both in parochial and synodal work. On the death of Dr. Beaven in 1871, and in 1873 he was elected Prolocutor of the Lower House in the Provincial Synod, and was Chairman and an active member of all important Committees in the Diocesan Synod. Theologically, Dr. Patton was an old school High Churchman; but his preaching was evangelical and he disliked innovations in ritual. The Archdeacon’s youngest brother, the Hon. James Patton, Q.C., has been sketched in a previous volume.


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