The Right Rev. Charles Hamilton , D.D., D.C.L.
Second Bishop of Niagara and First Bishop of Ottawa

Early Years   -   Bishop of Niagara   -   Bishop of Ottawa


Charles Hamilton On the death of Bishop Fuller the Diocese of Niagara found itself without a sufficient income to support a Bishop.   This had been of very little moment so long as Dr. Fuller lived, for he was a man of wealth; but on his death it became a matter of grave importance.   Fortunately the Synod was able to find another man of independent means willing to accept the position, and this was the Rev. Charles Hamilton.   The Synod met on January 27th, 1885, and Mr. Hamilton was elected on the eighth ballot by a clerical vote of 41 to 14 and a lay vote of 25 to 22.   The laity were deterred from giving a better support to Mr. Hamilton owing to his much-feared "High Church" proclivities; but the repeated confidence of the great bulk of the clergy in him, expressed in seven different ballots, at length procured his election.   On the following morning Mr. Hamilton telegraphed his acceptance.   He was consecrated in the Cathedral, Fredericton. New Brunswick, by the most Rev. John Medley, Metropolitan, assisted by Bishop Binney, of Nova Scotia; Bishop Williams, of Quebec; and Bishop Sweatman, of Toronto.   The Rev. Dr. Mockridge, Clerical Secretary of the Diocese of Niagara, was present, and read the duly attested certificate of election.

At his first Synod (held on the 3rd day of June, 1885, in Hamilton) the Bishop spoke with great earnestness on the subject of missions, especially of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, of which society he has been from its inception a warm supporter and friend.   In 1887 he was able to state that the contributions to the Mission Fund of the diocese had increased by $684, and that new ground for Church work had been taken up.   In this year, also, a noted improvement had taken place in the contributions to foreign missions, the amount being $1,103, as against $371 of the previous year.   Somewhat over $400 more than the previous year had also been contributed for domestic missions.   By the year 1889 four new missions had been opened in the diocese but a deficit of about two thousand dollars had occurred in the Mission Fund.

The Bishop met the difficulty of the weak Episcopal endowment (which was only about $40.000 by forming a new Endowment Fund, not to be used till enough had been secured to make the total endowment at least $75,000.   To this he contributed $1,200 himself, and other subscriptions were given amounting to $7,500. The Bishop also secured conditional promises from England.   In 1891 the fund had reached $12,300.

On the death of Bishop Williams, of Quebec, in 1892, a large number of the Quebec clergy and laity made a long and strenuous endeavour to elect Bishop Hamilton, but a sufficient vote was not obtained.

In 1893 the Bishop proposed that an effort should be made to procure a see house for the diocese.   In 1894 fair progress had been made in the new Episcopal Fund; but it was stated that, in order to secure the English grants, $5.200 would have to be raised before December 1895.   The Bishop professed himself willing to give one-tenth of this provided the whole amount could be raised, which, accordingly, was done.

The Bishop in May 1895 had completed ten years of his work in Niagara.   He had visited it faithfully year by year, and knew his clergy and many of the laity of his diocese well.   He had helped some of them by his kindly advice and ever-open purse out of many a difficulty.   His house had been open to them whenever they should choose to visit him, and a cheerful welcome accorded by himself and Mrs. Hamilton.   Several new churches had been built and fresh missions opened.   Some heated debates had taken place in the Synod over vexed party questions; but they had ceased and the days of peace had come.   The funds of the diocese were fast creeping up to points of comparative safety - and a period of prosperity had been reached.   But before another year had gone by the diocese was disturbed by the sudden call given to Bishop Hamilton by the newly formed Diocese of Ottawa to be its bishop.

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