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A Sketch of the Life of the Hon. and Right Reverend Alexander MacDonell
Arrival of the Chaplain in Canada


After having settled his affairs, the Chaplain embarked for America and arrived at York, U.C., on the 1st of November, 1804.

And now it is as a Canadian, a British-Canadian always, that we have to do with him, who, though long since dead, still lives, and ever will continue to dwell in the hearts of his countrymen of Scottish descent.

The Chevalier Macdonell has been good enough to extend to me in the most kind manner the privilege of using such facts as are in his "Reminiscences of the late Honourable and Right Reverend Alexander Macdonell" as would be of service to me in a short sketch of the. Bishop's life and works in Canada. Mr. Macdonell reviews his career principally as a Churchman, but it will be my endeavour chiefly to show how it was not only the spiritual welfare, but the worldly prosperity of his people as well he had always in view, and how, though the chief bulwark of the Catholic Church in this Province, indeed one may almost say its founder, he was none the less a true subject of the British Crown, second to no man in his unswerving loyalty to the person and throne of his Sovereign, and how, owing to his extraordinary energy, his ability, the intimate knowledge of the country he acquired during his visits to its different parts, from Quebec to Sarnia, and the great bold he possessed over the Scotch Catholics, who up to and including the war of 1812 were by far the greater portion of his flock, he was able to render that Sovereign service of the highest order when the Americans declared war against Great Britain in 1812, and Canada became the battle ground, as well as on other occasions. But even those of another faith to that to which he clung will not take it amiss, I. am sure, if, incidentally, I refer from time to time to his connection with it His sentiments regarding those who differed with him in religious matters I am enabled to give in his own words. It would be well if throughout the Province there were more of such tolerance and charity for each other's conscientious views in regard to forms of religions now, though in this county we can boast that the Bishop's words still bold good.

In an address written by him in 1836, he stated:-

"I address my Protestant as well as my Catholic friends because I feel assured that during the long period of four-and-forty years that my intercourse with some of you. and two-and-thirty years with others, has subsisted, no man will say that in promoting your temporal interest I ever made any difference between Catholic and Protestant; and indeed it would he both unjust and ungrateful in me if I did, for I have found Protestants upon all occasions as ready to meet my wishes and second my efforts to promote the public good as the Catholics themselves: and it is with no small gratification that I here acknowledge having received from Orangemen unequivocal and substantial proofs of disinterested friendship and generosity of heart.

"When a Prime Minister of England (Lord Sidmouth) in 1802 expressed to me his reluctance to permit Scots Highlanders to emigrate to the Canadas from his apprehension that the hold the parent state had of the Canadas was too slender to be permanent, I took the liberty of assuring him that the most effectual way to render that hold strong and permanent was to encourage and facilitate the emigration of Scots Highlanders and Irish Catholics into these colonies.

"To the credit and honour of Scots Highlanders be it told that the difference of religion was never known to weaken the bond of friendship; and Catholic and Protestant have always stood shoulder to shoulder nobly supporting one another during the fiercest tug of battle.

"The loyal and martial character of Highlanders is proverbial. The splendid achievements of your ancestors under a Montrose and a Dundee in support of a fallen Family proved their unshaken adherence to honour and principle, acquired for them the admiration of their opponents, and secured for you, their posterity, the confidence of a liberal and discerning government. You have indeed reason to be proud of such ancestors, and your friends have reason to be proud of your conduct since the first of you crossed the Atlantic."


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