Search just our sites by using our customised search engine
Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

A Sketch of the Life of the Hon. and Right Reverend Alexander MacDonell
The Bishop anticipates the coming Rebellion and warns his Flock

In 1836, Bishop Macdonell foresaw the coming storm, and in an address to the Catholic and Protestant freeholders of the Counties of Glengarry and Stormont, from which I have previously quoted, exhorted them at the elections then imminent faithfully to discharge their duty to their Sovereign and their country by electing men of sound and loyal principles. There was no mistaking where the Bishop stood. He left no room for doubt as to that.

Your gracious and benevolent Sovereign sent you out as his representative a personage distinguished for abilities, knowledge and integrity, to redress all the grievances and abuses that had crept into the Government of this Province since its first establishment but instead of meeting him with cordiality, and offering their cooperation in the important work of reform, what do the radicals do? Why, they assail him, like hell-hounds, with every possible abuse. indignity and insult, and would feign make you believe that they are your friends and the friends of the country, although implacable enemies of yourselves, your religion and your country: and this they proved by stopping the money which the Government had been giving for some years past towards building and repairing Catholic churches, supporting Catholic schools and maintaining Catholic clergy.

"It has been with Government money that the Catholics of Glengarry have been able to proceed with the Parish Church of St. Raphael's, after allowing it to remain in a state of decay for the space of sixteen or seventeen years, from the inability of the parishioners to finish it; and it has been by the aid of Government money that almost every other Catholic church in the Province has been brought to the state it is now in—and further advances were ready to be made towards completing them, when, by the false representations of the Radicals, orders came from home to stop the issuing of the money, and the consequence is that the greater part of those churches are left in an unfinished and insecure state.

"At the same time that those Radicals who aim at the destruction of our Holy Religion are loud in their complaints against Government for affording me assistance towards establishing it on a permanent foundation in this Province, they are cutting and carving lucrative situations for themselves, and filling their own pockets and those of their champion O'Grady" (an abandoned Priest whom the Bishop was obliged to excommunicate) "with your money and that of your fellow subjects. It was for this purpose that they stopped the supplies last session and thereby prevented the issue of the money which was to be laid out on public roads, canals and other improvements of the Province."


It was stated at the time that during the absence of the regulars, Bishop Macdonell had charge of the garrison at Kingston. The eastern portion of the Province, however, except on the occasion of the raid made by banditti from the United States in the neighbourhood of Prescott, was not much disturbed during the rebellion. Rebels did not appear to be indigenous to its soil. Glengarry was able to spare two regiments to assist in quelling the revolt in Lower Canada, while two others were on duty elsewhere. Some of the Priests of the Diocese, however, amongst whom was the Bishop's nephew, the late Vicar-General Angus Macdonell, had a painful duty to perform, as many of the American invaders, notably Von Schultz and others who were taken at the Windmill, were sent to Kingston, and such of them as were Catholics, including Von Schultz, had to be prepared for death by them. They were obliged to attend Fort Henry with the Sheriff to select for their ministrations such of the prisoners as were from time to time doomed to the last penalty. Sheriff Macdonell was supposed to have lost his reason from the shocks produced by the trying scenes he was almost daily obliged to witness in the discharge of his duty.


Bishop Macdonell had experienced great difficulty in obtaining properly educated men for the priesthood, which want seriously retarded the improvement of the Catholic population. He was fully aware that the evil could be remedied only by the building and endowment of a Seminary for the education of his clergy. He obtained an Act of Incorporation from the Legislature and appropriated a piece of land for the erection of a suitable building. At a meeting convened by the Bishop at his residence on the 10th October, 1837, it was resolved that the Bishop, his nephew, Vice-General Angus Macdonell, and Dr. Thomas Rolph should proceed to England for the purpose of collecting funds for the erection of a Catholic College in Upper Canada. It was the anxious desire of the Bishop that a Priesthood should be raised in the Province, fearing God, attached to the Institutions of the country, and using their assiduous efforts to maintain its integrity; until such an establishment was founded he could not be responsible for his clergy as he would wish to be. Such was the reason for the foundation of Regiopolis College, but it does not appear to have realized the hopes of its eminent founder, and has for many years past been closed.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus