Former Vancouver journalist Ian Macdonald, born in Glasgow, Scotland on May 11, 1928, has co-authored, with former Vancouver journalist Betty O'Keefe:
The Klondike's 'Dear Little Nugget' (Horsdal & Schubart 1996 $12.95)
Earthquake--Your Chances, Your Options, Your Future (Cavendish Books 1996) 0-929050 60-6
The Mulligan Affair: Top Cop on the Take (Heritage 1997 $16.95) 1-895811-45-7
The Final Voyage of the Princess Sophia (Heritage 1998 $16.95) 1-895811-64-3;
The Sommers Scandal: The Felling of Trees and Tree Lords (Heritage 1999 $16.95) 1-895811-96-1
Canadian Holy War: A Story of Class, Tongs, Murder and Bigotry (Heritage $17.95) 1-894384-11-3
Merchant Prince: The Story of Alexander Duncan McRae (Heritage 2001 $16.95) 1-894384-30-X
Born to Die: A Cop Killer's Final Message (Heritage 2003 $16.95) 1-894384-69-5
Dr. Fred and the Spanish Lady (Heritage 2004 $18.95) 1-894384-71-7
Disaster on Mt. Slesse (Caitlin Press, 2006). The story of Western Canada's worst air crash, TCA flight 810 in December, 1956.
[See Betty O'Keefe entry for details]
Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Dr. Fred and the Spanish Lady: Fighting the Killer Flu
Quiet Reformers: The Legacy of Early Victoria's Bishop Edward and Mary Cridge
The Sommers Scandal: The Felling of Trees and Tree Lords
Quiet Reformers: The Legacy of Early Victoria’s Bishop Edward & Mary Cridge
from Joan Givner
Anglican Cleric Edward Cridge arrived in Fort Victoria in 1855 as a chaplain employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company. Consequently Cridge’s half-century of service to Victoria was largely dwarfed by the shadow of his HBC employer, James Douglas, who became governor of the fledgling colony.
Quiet Reformers: The Legacy of Early Victoria’s Bishop Edward and Mary Cridge, by Ian Macdonald and Betty O’ Keefe, attempts to give Cridge and his dutiful wife Mary their due.
Mary Cridge, besides bearing nine children in twelve years, organized the parsonage school for young women, established a cottage hospital that eventually expanded to become the Royal Jubilee Hospital, and ran an orphanage for the many homeless children whose parents had died or abandoned them.
Quiet Reformers provides the first attempt to elevate Mary Cridge into prominence as an historical figure. She was one of the first influential European females on the west coast.
Besides founding Christ Church, the first Protestant church in the settlement of Victoria, Reverend Cridge steered his flock through many difficult times, including epidemics that claimed the lives of four of his own children. Frustrated gold miners from the mainland were another scourge, threatening to turn Fort Victoria into a wild west town.
Cridge also had to contend with rebuilding his church after it was consumed by a mysterious fire and acrimonious competition from Bishop George Hills.
Whereas Bishop Hills was an arrogant man, who had arrived to oversee the newly formed diocese of Columbia from 1859 to 1892, Cridge was a much-loved and long-admired figure, as later recalled by his neighbour Emily Carr in The Book of Small. As a sometime member of Cridge’s congregation, Carr wrote that Cridge gave the blessing from the pulpit, “just as if he was taking it straight from God and giving it to us.”
As former scribes for Vancouver dailies, Betty O’Keefe, born in Vancouver in 1930, and Ian Macdonald, born in Glasgow in 1928, deserve much credit for ten previous B.C. history titles. As two veteran biographers, they have learned how to spice up the past with diligent research, often gleaned from newspaper articles. This technique accounts for much of the liveliness in Quiet Reformers.
Any account of a thoroughly decent person doing good deeds does not promise a compelling reading experience, but Quiet Reformers succeeds as entertainment due to the inclusion of a running commentary on events from the Colonist, founded by the flamboyant Amor de Cosmos. The editor’s pseudonym (he was born William Alexander Smith) may have indicated love of the world, but he had plenty of contempt for its individual members, especially for James Douglas and his associates. These he called “vain, puffed up, tyrannical, corrupt, short-witted, conceited mummies and numbskulls.”
Edward Cridge, as an ally of Douglas, came in for his share of derision. When Cridge participated in a project to bring poor women and orphans from England to work as domestics in Victoria, and eventually marry and bear children, the Colonist jeered that some of those on the “bride ship” had seen better days.
Cridge and another clergyman were ridiculed for shielding the women from the ribald remarks and laughter of “breeches-wearing bipeds” who greeted the ship. Despite Cridge’s good intentions, many of the women were clearly unprepared for domestic work and gravitated to Victoria’s “bright light” district.
In spite of his worthy endeavours and popularity, Cridge faced much conflict in his life. Cridge disliked the elaborate rituals that made the Church of England resemble the Catholic Church. His doctrinal views diametrically opposed the High Church ideals of Bishop Hills.
Matters came to a head on the day that celebrated Christ Church’s consecration as a cathedral sixteen years after its founding. The celebrations concluded with a sermon by a visiting archdeacon, who advocated the adoption of High Church ritualism. This was too much for Cridge.
Striding forward to announce the final hymn, Cridge cried, “I rise to protest against the views advocated by Archdeacon Reece. They are wrong and I would not again sit quietly and listen to their expression.”
These words were greeted with a shocked silence; then suddenly pandemonium broke out as his parishioners stamped and clapped their approval.
The disagreement between the dean and the bishop smouldered for a year until an ecclesiastical court was convened. It brought eighteen charges against Cridge, including one count of brawling in the church.
Cridge was suspended as dean of Christ Church, and his right to preach as a Church of England minister revoked. The Colonist took Cridge’s side, called it a kangaroo court that presented a “repulsive picture.”
Undeterred, Cridge went ahead with the next Sunday services, showing no sign of his feelings except for a closing hymn with the last line “Defiance to the Gates of Hell.”
Bishop Hills promptly applied for an injunction to remove Cridge from the church, and Supreme Court Chief Judge Matthew Begbie upheld it. A new rector was appointed, and Cridge was forbidden to enter the cathedral.
When the unfortunate new rector assumed his duties, he faced an almost empty church with no sexton, no organist and only two choir members; the congregation remained staunchly behind Cridge, and decided to leave the church with him. Scenes of chaos ensued, recorded with delight by the Colonist. As the church doors opened to admit the new rector, sixty men and boys dashed in to remove the congregation’s possessions.
For days the dismantling continued, with parishioners carrying off Bibles, hymnbooks, stools, cushions and a strip of red carpet in suitcases and baskets.
Cridge left the Church of England for the newly organized Reformed Episcopal Church. His congregation followed as a body, and the construction of a new church began quickly on Humboldt Street, on land donated by James Douglas.
Named the Church of Our Lord by Cridge, it opened on January 16th, 1876, with a woman from the “bride ship” as its first organist. The same year, Cridge was elected missionary bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church.
Bishop Hills returned to England to spend his last years there, and was little remembered in British Columbia.
Bishop Cridge died at the age of 96, having outlived Sir James Douglas, Amor de Cosmos, his wife, and six of his nine children. The Colonist declared his funeral one of the biggest the city had seen. 978-1-55380-099-6
Review by Joan Givner