The Anglican Diocese of Rupert's Land was founded in 1820. The current Bishop is the Right Reverend Donald D. Phillips and the Dean is the Very Rev. Robert Osborne.
1820 - The Anglican presence in Western Canada was established when the Rev. John West arrived in York Factory. From there he came to Fort Douglas (now in present-day Winnipeg), part of the Red River Settlement, and held the first Church of England service in the colony. West was sent to Canada by the Church Missionary Society (C.M.S.). West established the Red River Academy and, true to C.M.S. policy, encouraged the indigenous people to raise up their own missionaries and teachers. Henry Budd, James Hope, Charles Pratt, and James Settee were protégés of West, educated at the Red River Academy in the Red River Settlement, north east of present day Winnipeg.
1823 - The Rev. John West returned to England and the Rev. David Jones came to Red River to assume his duties. Jones built the first St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Middlechurch, east of St. Andrew’s. The parish is still extant. Jones was chaplain to the Hudson’s Bay fur traders at Fort Garry and ministered to the handful of Anglicans in the region, as well as the Selkirk settlers (the majority of whom were Presbyterian!).
1825 - Archdeacon William Cockran (known by the sobriquet Rainbow of the North) was a forceful presence in Red River Settlement, establishing Parishes throughout the region. He was responsible for building St. Andrew on the Red (the oldest extant stone church in Western Canada and a national historical site), St. Mary la Prairie in Portage la Prairie, St. Peter, Dynevor, St. Anne, Poplar Point and St. Margaret, High Bluff. All, with the exception of St. Margaret, are active parishes today. Cockran is buried near the door of his first church, St. Andrew on the Red in St. Andrew’s.
1844 - Bishop George Mountain of Montreal visited the Red River Settlement and promoted the establishment of the Diocese of Rupert’s Land.
1849 - The Rt. Rev. David Anderson was sent by the Church of England to be the first Bishop of Rupert’s Land. At that time, the Diocese covered the area that is now the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupert’s Land, as well as parts of what is now the Diocese of Yukon and the Dioceses of Moosonee and Ontario. Bishop Anderson had the first cathedral built on the site selected in 1817 for a church (which was sadly in need of repair by Bishop Anderson’s time) and cemetery by Lord Selkirk. The Red River Academy had been moved onto that site. The present cathedral is the third church on this site. The cathedral was built in 1926 during the episcopacy of Archbishop Matheson as a memorial to his predecessor Archbishop Machray.
1866 - Bishop Robert Machray called a conference of clergy and laity which met in Winnipeg in May, 1866. The purpose of the conference was twofold: to establish a college to teach “Theology, Classics and Mathematics...to be called St. John’s College.”; and to establish a committee to “inquire into and report upon the Canadian constitutions for organizing parishes and vestries, and for calling a Synod.”
1866 - Bishop Machray opened St. John’s College, which evolved from the Red River Academy, with the Rev. John McCallum as Principal. The College is now part of the University of Manitoba and home of the Institute for Anglican Ministry. Until the establishment of the College of Emmanuel and St. Chad as the Provincial Theological College, St. John’s prepared students for ordination to the priesthood. St. John’s Ravenscourt, a private school in Fort Garry, also traces its roots back to the Red River Academy of John West.
1867 - A second conference was held to consider again the formation of a Synod and also to receive the Constitution of St. John’s College.
1869 - The first Synod of the Diocese of Rupert’s Land met on February 24. At this first Synod, the Constitution of the Diocese of Rupert’s Land was unanimously adopted. The present Diocese numbers its Synods from that first Synod in 1869, with the Synod to be held in October being the 105th.
1902 and 1913 - The Dioceses of Keewatin and Brandon respectively were formed. Brandon elected its first Bishop in 1924. The Dioceses of Rupert’s Land, Keewatin and Brandon have a close relationship and a Tri-Diocesan Group exists to deal with common concerns and opportunities.
1923 - Anglican Island in Lake of the Woods was established as the Anglican Summer Camp. In the 1950s, the Island also became home to Camp Wapatek, a camp for children between the ages of seven and fifteen.
“The Great Defalcation.” The person who was treasurer of both the Diocese and St. John’s College adopted a common financial practice and played the margins on the stock market as a means of enriching both institutions. Unfortunately, the 1929 crash wiped out both portfolios and even though there was no criminal intent, the treasurer was jailed.
1966 - Archbishop Clark called a Commission on Renewal, looking into every aspect of the life of the Church in Rupert’s Land staffed by the Rev. Alan Barker, which took place over a over a two-year period. The findings were published in ‘It’s Happening!’
1969 - The Rt. Rev. Barry Valentine was the first Bishop elected by the Synod of Rupert’s Land.
1978 - Women were ordained to the priesthood during the episcopacy of the Rt. Rev. Barry Valentine. Today there are 22 ordained women in the Diocese, including four deacons. Of the priests, at the time of writing, seven are incumbents in parishes and four are in chaplaincies.
1987-1992 - A five-year Tri-Diocesan Stewardship program was undertaken, headed by the Rev. Guy Butler. The Dioceses of Brandon, Keewatin and Rupert’s Land shared the expense of this ministry.
1995 – present – A Tri-Diocesan effort is being made to consider future Diocesan boundary changes and develop a new model of ministry that would honour and facilitate the Native Covenant (a new self determining Anglican Indigenous Church in Canada).