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Canon English recalled sailing with his wife and four young children in March, 1903 as a first-class salon passenger on the overcrowded S.S. Lake Manitoba that brought Barr's party of over 2,000 settlers to Canada. When trouble broke out below decks, he was one of the deputation appointed to inspect conditions in the steerage quarters. He found the food there, though roughly served, reasonable in every other respect.

Tribulation was the colonists' lot in their 200-mile wagon trek from Saskatoon to the head. quarters' camp on the fourth meridian. A realist, Canon English admits the federal government had made reasonable provision for their well-being along the route, stand-by-aid marquees for shelter every twenty miles, each equipped with stoves, a supply of wood, and fodder for the teams.  Rumblings of discontent first heard at sea, grew to a clamour at Saskatoon, all directed at Barr.  The disintegration of the colony before it reached its journey’s end would have assuredly resulted but for Rev. Lloyd, Chaplain to the party who heard and answered their pleas for leadership.

Canon English recalled being one of the twelve colonists, "irreverently known as Lloyd’s apostles," delegated to investigate Barr's alleged shortcomings.  Bewildered and disillusioned, the colonists were prone to believe every rumour about Barr that circulated through the camps.  How to pry loose from Barr's keeping the account books he never let out of his sight, was a little matter that early engaged the attention of "Lloyd's apostles."  To state they finally "acquired" them is sufficient for this record.  Young English sat up all night going over the books with Nathaniel Jones, another colonist. They satisfied themselves that Barr had been handling at least $30,000 of government money.  Barr was issuing cheques on this account.  Rumour had it they were worthless, and many of the colonists clamoured for Barr's prosecution. Mr. English and a Mr, Still picked up six of the cheques  and took them to Battleford.  If the cheques “bounced’ the police were to be contacted with a view to Barr's arrest. All the cheques however were honoured.

Recalling this, Canon English said it substantiated the view he early formed of Barr, that he was a sharp businessman, but not downright dishonest. The colonists, he believed, actually turned against Barr on other and more personal grounds.

The settlement years that followed saw Canon English it the missionary service of the Church at Bresaylor, Lashburn, and Paynton.  In the early days his parishes reached south to Adanac, west to Manitou Lake, north to St. Walburg and Bright Sand Lake, each, of which he visited regularly, by sleigh in  the winter, and by team and buggy in the summer.  Mrs. English, who laboured faithfully with her husband throughout, died last year.

An ardent militiaman, Canon English was chaplain of the old 22nd Saskatchewan Light Horse for ten years, and when that unit merged with the Saskatchewan Mounted Rifles in 1921 he continued as chaplain until his retirement in 1937.  His eldest son George was killed overseas in the First Great War.

No needy settler ever went away empty-handed from the English home. Anxious mothers, far from other aid, turned instinctively to Mrs. English for sorely-needed counsel. The fourth of her seven children was born two months after she set out on the colonist trail.

Much of the success of the missionary labours of Canon and Mrs. English are traceable to the fact that in every way they shared the lot of those they came to serve, the homesickness, and all the uncertainties and toil of early settlement life.

- from a clipping supplied by Edna Silvester


Further reading: English, Canon W. H., The Last Twenty-Five Years: Growth of the Church in the Diocese of Saskatchewan from 1900 to 1924 - click here

On Lloyd Trail With Barr, Canon English Reminisces

 by Mrs. A. N. WETT0N

The ex-English grammar school master, less than a half mile from Saskatoon, heading west, was already in difficulty.  They were still comparative strangers, he and the oxen he had met for the first time that morning. The Bain wagon, too, that a sad-eyed Saskatoon philanthropist had just parted with so reluctantly (at twice the price) left much to be desired. Hours of toil had gone into that first loading.  Ruefully he watched it disappearing bit by bit along the trail.

He was not far from the old red grist mill when Barr colonist W. H. English learned, among other things, lesson number one in the homesteaders primer, “Always put the tail-pin in the wagon before loading it."

Living in retirement at Bresaylor, SK and looking back on 46 years' service in what is now the Saskatoon diocese of the Anglican Church, Canon English concedes that the trials of the pioneer trails paved the way for his life's work in the Canadian west.

His is the story of Saskatchewan settlement, and the contribution made to it by the Church.  Its review at this time is appropriate in the light of the forthcoming consecration of Bishop-elect W. E. Fuller as sixth in the Anglican episcopate succession in this territory. With the exception of Bishop MacLean, who died in 1885, Canon English has known, and his destiny has been influenced by, every bishop who served in this diocese. He is unique among all Anglican clergy in this regard.

He was playing for Hertfordshire in the football eleven at the turn of the century when Bishop Newnham, then Bishop of Moosonee toured the southern English counties to interest young Britishers in the prospects of Canadian settlement.

Head of a private school in Hitchin, Herts, he was already sold on the idea of coming to Canada (he hoped to enter the Church) when in 1902 Rev. George Exton (later Bishop) Lloyd first mooted the idea of a British settlement, to be led by Rev. Isaac Barr.

Forewarned that Bishop Pinkham was a stickler for academic qualifications in any clergy he appointed in his diocese, young English took care to have all his credentials with him for the first meeting with the scholarly bishop that took place in Battleford in the summer of 1903 and that resulted in his appointment to the Bresaylor mission, and his later ordination by Bishop Newnham. In Bishop Lloyd's regime, his service was extended to include various missions and parishes in the diocese. Bishop Hallam elevated him to the office of Canon.