CCHA, Report, 20 (1953), 81-92
Bishop of Charlottetown P. E. I.
Rev. LAWRENCE LANDRIGAN, B.A.
There hangs in the place of honour in many of the sacrosanct little “parlors” of Prince Edward Island a lithograph of a handsome prelate. The face is arresting. The jaw is square and resolute; the features are well proportioned; the eyes are prominent and commanding; the forehead is high and noble ; the head is crowned with carefully groomed silken white hair. The picture commands attention. It commanded the writer’s attention when he was still quite young, and prompted him to ask his grandmother the identity of “the priest in the picture.” Her answer “The Bishop” was simple enough and terse, but there was no doubt, from the way she spoke, that the definite article had a very large capital T. The Bishop had been gone to his eternal reward for some forty years by that time. During that interval three eminently good and successful episcopal gentleman had filled happily and well the see of Charlottetown, but to grandmother’s way of thinking, they had been just bishops. To only one would she give the supreme accolade of a capitalized definite article. He was the Right Reverend Peter MacIntyre.
It was not that age-old, deeply rooted reverence for God’s specially anointed which alone won for Bishop MacIntyre the veneration and love of that little Irish grandmother and of countless others like her in the Island diocese. He earned it. He came by it hardily. He led his people for thirty turbulent and troublesome years. His flock, when he took up the mantle of his predecessor, was made up of impoverished Scotch and Irish immigrants and the remnant of the Acadians. By law they were citizens with first class rights – Catholic Emancipation had been effected some thirty years before – in fact, however, their first class rights were hard to come by. When he came to the end of his labours, he could review with a sense of certain achievement the universal respect and esteem which his nobility of character, his attractive personal charm, and his tireless labours in behalf of his Church and his people had exacted from an initially hostile and haughty non-Catholic community. The honour and high regard which he won for himself was refracted upon his people. Through his efforts they came to a new stature in the social and political milieu. It was appreciation for this new stature won by their Bishop plus good Catholic piety which kept the name of Bishop MacIntyre fresh and bright in the heart of that little Irish grandmother and in the hearts of thousands like her.
Peter MacIntyre's parents, Angus MacIntyre and Sarah MacKinnon, emigrated from Uist, Inverness, Scotland, in 1790. They were members of the vanguard of the migration1 which came out and settled at that time under the direction of Father Angus MacEachern.2 They landed at Scotchfort, the landing on the Glenaladale estate of Captain John MacDonald, a large proprietor who had led a migration of his suffering countrymen there in 1772. The newcomers were well received. The fact that they had a priest with them enhanced their welcome.
By the advice of Father MacEachern the new settlers moved east from Scotchfort to find land. His own parents and relatives had done this some time previously. The MacIntyres found a place to their liking at Cable Head and there, a short distance from the shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, they built their first home. Like most pioneers, their means were limited, but that they were not destitute is indicated by Father MacMillan’s description of the 1790 immigrants.3
Native thrift and hard work soon carved a comfortable holding out of the wilderness. Angus MacIntyre acquired a small sailing vessel and used it to trade in cattle and black oats with Newfoundland for rum, tea, and tobacco, and whatever was current in the way of coin. He soon had “several long stockings filled with Spanish dollars.”4
Eight children were born to Angus and Sarah at Cable Head, five girls: Jenny, Katherine, Sarah, Flora, and Mary; and three boys: Roderick, John, and Peter. Peter was born on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, 1818. From the house by the shore with the balance pole well in the yard, the children were taken down the old Cape Road – a mere blazed trail which ran from East Point to Greenwich on St. Peter’s Bay where a man by the name of Simonds kept a ferry; from the other side of the bay the road continued on through Morell, St. Peter’s Lake, to Canavoy – to Father MacEachern to be baptized. If their pastor was scheduled to come to the MacIntyre home for the “station,” then the Sacrament would be conferred at home. If he were away on one of his many apostolic journeys, then the child would be baptized privately. Whatever the case with regard to his brothers and sisters, Peter was taken to St. Andrew’s and baptized there by his father’s friend who would be named Bishop of Rosen in the following year.
As a boy our subject’s contacts with the saintly pioneer bishop were frequent. His father’s house “was one of the principal stations of the late Bishop MacEachern in that part of the country – before there was a church at St. Peter’s – and little Peter, the Benjamin of the family, was naturally enough brought to the notice of the pious and discerning Bishop.”5 He, who had won the hearts of the slightly suspicions Acadians at Bay Fortune by his very evident love for their children and by their children’s ready acceptance of him, must certainly have captivated and inspired the affection and admiration of Angus MacIntyre's son. At any rate, the Bishop, ever on the look out for possible candidates to serve the altar, insisted that the boy be educated.
In deference to his pastor’s wishes and being well enough off to “spare” Peter from home, Angus sent the lad off to school. This was a rude, one. room, log cabin at MacAskille River, about three miles east, along the shore from Cable Head. An old Irish schoolmaster, Revel by name, presided over this tributary of the Pierian Spring. That Master Revel was a good and proficient teacher was attested many years later by the Bishop himself. Talking over “the good old days” with Little Ronald MacDonald – a neighhour and boyhood friend – he remarked that he had never known “Revel’s principles of arithmetic to be gainsaid anywhere.”
On the feast of St. Andrew in 1831, St. Andrew’s College, the end toward which so many of Bishop MacEachern’s efforts had been directed and on which so many of his hopes and aspirations for the future of Catholicism in the colony were founded, was opened. About the same time, Peter MacIntyre had outgrown the little school at MacAskille River. The youth from Cable Head was among the first pupils at the new college. It was a most unpretentious house of learning. Of the building itself, the founder had this to say: “The house I live in is 38 by 30 feet, two stories high, with a good cellar, and with the exception of one room and bed, may be used till something on a better plan can be made.’6 That was the building. Its means of support were as slender as those of its supporters. Its pantry cupboards supplied but rough and frugal fare such as the boys were accustomed to at home. A letter7 from Bishop MacEachern to the church wardens of St. Andrew’s admonishes them to take oats to the college for his horse and for his boys. Unpretentious and frugal it was, but its intellectual fare was of a high order and only those candidates recommended by their respective missionaries were accepted. Peter MacIntyre’s recommendation would come from the venerable founder himself. Here Peter studied for three years. He continued the study of his Religion, which he had started very probably under the tutelage of John MacDonald,8 in preparation for his First Communion. He also studied Greek, Latin, French, Mathematics, and the subjects usually taught in the ordinary commercial course. Father Edward Walsh9 and Charles MacDonald,10 an ecclesiastic, made up the staff of the school.
On April 22, 1835, the venerable first Bishop of Charlottetown passed to his eternal reward. Before the year was out, Peter MacIntyre was established in the Little Seminary at St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, where he remained for five years. In 1840 he moved on to the Grand Seminary at Quebec for his sacerdotal training. Archbishop Signay raised him to the order of Melchisedech, February 26, 1843. He spent the first few months after his ordination as an assistant at the cathedral in Quebec. In the early summer he came home and was assigned to the spiritual charge of the western portion of Prince County, in the capacity of assistant to Father Perry. He took up his residence at Tignish making the Mission of Sts. Simon and Jude the central point from which to carry on his priestly labour in a territory which is now served by the parishes of Palmer Road, Alberton, Lot 7, Bloomfield, and Lot 11. His superior, Father Perry, made his home at Miscouche. Father MacIntyre served about a year as an assistant. At the end of that time he “was appointed to the charge of Tignish, Lot 7, Brae, and Cascumpec.” He thus became the first resident pastor of Tignish.
L’Impartial Illustre,11 in its special edition commemorating the centennial of the founding of the parish of Sts. Simon and Jude in 1899, has this to say of the first permanent pastor. “The administration of Father MacIntyre opened an era of progress. Endowed with great energy, the young priest was not slow to manifest the unqualified devotion which filled him for the temporal and spiritual welfare of his parishioners. He believed strongly in the adage ‘where there is a will there is a way.’” Characteristically his first work was directed toward the beautifying of God’s house. His attention was claimed in another direction almost at once.
During the first eighteen months following his arrival in Tignish, the parish was disturbed by a violent agitation stemming from the perennial “Land Question.” The people, at the end of their patience from being harassed for several years by the “"pouvoir tyrannique du propriétaire, James H. Peters,”12 refused to pay any further rent. No work was done. The community was kept continually on the alert. There was a reign of terror. The people took the law in their own hands. Father Maclntyre, although in sympathy with his suffering people and recognizing the injustice of the law invoked by the proprietors, nevertheless urged upon them the new dangers to which they were exposing themselves by breaking the law. Certain hotheads, however, kept up the excitement with wild speeches, and the mild counsel of the new pastor went unheeded. In the end nothing was won by the agitators and the wisdom of the young priest’s advice was recognized. He had stood his baptism of fire well. He became the guide of his people. His place in their hearts was secure.
All the while the population of his several missions was expanding. New places of worship were needed to cope with the expansion and to replace those built by the pioneers which were crude and small and not always centrally located. Father MacIntyre was one of the first to realize this need for new construction and reconstruction, and much of his life both as priest and as bishop was concerned with coping with these building needs. The manner in which he attacked his building problems tells us much about his character. He organized a committee at Lot 7 to take the initial steps. He inspired them to gather materials and to contribute their time and money. He supervised the actual building operations himself, and dedicated the finished project to St. Mark. St. Mark’s was the first of many such enterprises in which he took an active part or to which he gave his active encouragement and enthusiasm. At Brae in 1848 another church was built and Father MacMillan tells us, “It was he who inspired them with the thought of building their first church, and to encourage them in the enterprise, he practically assumed the task of superintending the work.”13 They had little to work with in the way of tools and know-how, but they made up for what they lacked with great good will and native ingenuity. Their pastor had the know-how, the inspiration, and the energy to carry any project to successful conclusion. The capstone of his building career as parish priest is the magnificent church which he built at Tignish. It was the first brick building built on Prince Edward Island. Considering the church itself, the time and the manner in which it was built, and the fact that his people were “of the poor, poorest,” it is an extraordinary piece of work which could have been conceived and executed only by an extraordinary person.
The need for a new and more commodious church had long been felt. The old church could not nearly accommodate the congregation of a normal Sunday, let alone such a crowd as appeared on the second Sunday of October, 1851, when Captain Gross, a survivor of the disastrous “Yankee Gale” played the new organ for the first time and Moise Poirier sang the “Messe Royale.” To plan to meet the need of a new church a committee was formed by Father MacIntyre. The committee allotted to various groups in the parish the work of gathering money and materials. Everybody went to work. A set of plans was acquired from a New York architect, Mr. Kiely. The plans called for brick. Brick demands mortar and a firm foundation. All must be acquired as cheaply as possible because money is scarce. There was a bluff of sandstone at Lot 7, some eighteen miles away, which would serve admirably for the foundation. Each Sunday during the winter, the pastor would name those who were to go with their teams to haul foundation stone from Lot 7. They would leave before light – the weather did not matter – take their meals with them, and return long after the light had faded with the sleigh loads of undressed stone. And each day their priest was with them! From a clay pit near the village five hundred thousand bricks were fashioned and fired before the cold weather set in, in 1856. The young men of the parish, given the charge of finding the lime and sand for mortar, quarried the limestone at Miminegash, hauled it to Tignish and burnt it in a kiln there. So it went. With the exception of the grey stone need as trim and the slates for the roof, all the materials for the building were procured by the parishioners within the limits of the parish. In the spring of 1859 after the stone and home-made brick and lime were well weathered, the actual work of building began under the watchful end enthusiastic eye of the pastor. The cornerstone . was laid and blessed June 9, 1859, by Bishop Colin MacKinnon of Arichat.
Though Father MacIntyre had more than enough to do in his own missions, his ailing superior, Bishop Bernard MacDonald, recognizing the superior qualifications and ability of the pastor in Tignish, leaned more and more heavily upon him for counsel and aid as time went on, and he found himself less able to carry out his onerous duties as bishop. He chose him to go to Montreal in his place to negotiate with the Congregation of Notre Dame the procuring of nuns to open a school for young ladies in Charlottetown. Early in Autumn of 1857 he set out: towards the end of September, he returned with four nuns and on October 12, 1857, these daugthers of Blessed Marguerite Bourgeoys opened Notre Dame Academy which has since done work of incalculable value for the advancement of religion and culture in the diocese.
The Right Reverend Bernard MacDonald, second Bishop of Charlottetown, died December 30, 1859. The cathedral chair was not to remain vacant long, however, and Father Peter MacIntyre was appointed May 8, 1860, to succeed his deceased chief pastor. The announcement of his appointment was received with the greatest satisfaction. The bishop-elect was well known and loved in the area where he had been pastor. His name was known “throughout the whole colony as a priest devoted to the cause of religion, while the splendid powers of organization which he had displayed in the western missions was regarded by all as a happy augury of what he would be able to do in the wider field now opened before him.”14 Father James Rogers15 of Halifax, a life long friend, was appointed to the newly erected diocese of Chatham at the same time and the two friends settled on the Feast of Our Lady’s Assumption, 1860, as the date for their double consecration: the place, Charlottetown.
The Islander of August 24, 1860, has this to say about that consecration: “It was the first ceremony of this kind ever witnessed on this Island and consequently attracted much attention. Besides the very numerous of Catholics from all parts of the Colony, anxious to witness the elevation to the episcopal dignity of the amiable and indefatigable priest who is to be their chief pastor – many respectable Protestants were present on the interesting occasion.” The consecrating prelate was Arch. bishop Connolly of Halifax. Assisting Father Rogers were Bishop Mullock of St. John’s, Nfld., and Bishop Dalton of Harbour Grace. Father Mac Intyre’s assistants were Bishop MacKinnon of Arichat and Bishop Sweeney of St. John, N.B.
When Bishop MacIntyre entered upon his duties as chief pastor, his diocese consisted territorially of the colony of Prince Edward Island and the Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The number of his flock is estimated to have been about 38,852. He had fourteen priests to assist him. The problems which he had faced up to with great resolution as a mission pastor again presented themselves magnified tremendously but still essentially the same. Priests had to be found for his people. Educational facilities were an urgent must. The expanded and still expanding population had outgrown the original churches which had been adequate in size and elegance to fill the needs of the pioneers. A building programme of immense proportions was in order. The resources upon which he had to depend were slender. The vast majority of his people were without means. They were pioneers or the children of pioneers and their energy was spent, for the most part, in wresting a living from a new and virgin land. They were long on enthusiasm, good will, and ingenuity. They were short on ready cash, leisure and education. They were faced constantly with the continuing threat of insecurity by the “Land Question.” The Charlottetown Herald of August 12, 1885, sums up the situation which he faced thus: “... he saw before him a Catholic population – scattered over a country where to be a Catholic was to be intellectually, socially and commercially at a disadvantage. There were no Catholic schools outside of Charlottetown; there was no Catholic filling a public office of any importance – indeed to be a Catholic was to be regarded with suspicion and distrust by one half of the population of the Colony. Then, again, there was an inadequate supply of priests; each clergyman was charged with a number of parishes, all to be ministered to in turn, the priest going in all sorts of weather, and at all hours, over roads the very remembrance of which causes a rheumatic twinge to many a veteran missionary at the present day. The majority of the churches were old and unequal to the wants of their congregation; work was waiting for the Bishop on all sides and the work has been nobly done.” All in all the prospect of the years ahead must have been little less than appalling to the new Bishop. Their magnitude and variety, however, merely whetted his determination to overcome them. To face up to the monumental cares of the episcopal throne, he brought all the facets of a truly remarkable personality: personal charm, administrative ability, amiability, kindliness, broad vision, tremendous enthusiasm, infectious zeal for the progress of religion, statesmanlike patriotism for his native land, and eternal vigilance “on the watch towers of Israel” for the welfare of his people.
His first years as Bishop were darkened by several bitter controversies on religious matters. These were stirred up by designing politicians who were not above using bigotry and fanaticism to serve their own devious purposes. The stellar role on the Protestant side was held by William H. Pope, Colonial Secretary and Editor of the Islander. Catholic belief and practice were ridiculed and there were scurrilous attacks in the press, from the pulpit, and from the public platform against bishop, priests and laity. Using the shibboleth of “Popish Ascendency,” the Colonial Secretary was able to rally Protestant support to the old Tory party for the purpose of making secure his own political position. Arrayed against this doughty opponent, whose religious convictions were, at best, far from deep, were Edward Whelan, Editor of the Examiner, and co-leader of the Liberal party, and Father Angus MacDonald, Rector of St. Dunstan’s College. At the height of the controversy three newspapers were hurling broadsides into the Catholic position. The Presbytery of Prince Edward Island in solemn conclave assembled, issued a Presbyterian pastoral against what Mr. Pope called, “The designs of the Papists in Prince Edward Island.” The Orange Lodges, established principally through Mr. Pope’s efforts were also alerted against the pro-popish, anti-protestant Liberal party. The storm of fanaticism, created for political purposes, served its political ends fairly well. The Tory party remained in power and Mr. Pope’s position was secure. Involved in its maelstrom, however, was a cherished project of Bishop MacIntyre, an endowment for St. Dunstan’s College. A similar project in the seventies came to a similar end for much the same reason when the “School Question” was to the fore.
The bishop, normally a very astute judge of men, was completely without guile in matters political. Always concerned with principles and motivated by the highest patriotism and a deep sense of justice, he was no match for the political trimmers of the time. Though he was duped repeatedly by politicians, the good bishop lent his name and the weight of his influence on several occasions to political parties and causes when he felt that the general good of the province or of religion would be benefited by his so doing. Personalities and party politics had no appeal for him. The issues at stake did. Political grudges were unknown to him. An instance of his forbearance is seen in the fact that in 1876 he sat down in friendship at the table of the same Wm. H. Pope who had made his first years as bishop so difficult. He even supported Mr. Pope’s brother in his bid for election at the time of the “School Question.” That he gained little politically is also evident, but his efforts were not entirely fruitless, because, while the projects nearest his heart were not realized, he did win a considerable degree of respect for the rights of the minority for whom he spoke. Whatever his feelings may have been during the years of controversy and contention (and he was always so sensitive about the sensibilities of others that he could not but have been disturbed by the artificially contrived opposition to his Church and to himself) he could look back in later years and write with equanimity to Archbishop O’Brien of Halifax thus: “During the first years of my episcopate, long before you were admitted to the priesthood, the most intense prejudice had, for political purposes, been excited against our religion; we were ostracized – the press teemed with insults against us to an extent that seems incredible now.” And the Charlottetown Herald could write, while reviewing in 1885 the achievements of Bishop MacIntyre’s twenty five years in the episcopate, that, “Many of the most dignified and important positions in the Province are now filled by Catholics, and the name of a Catholic benefactor of St. Dunstan’s stands at the head of the wealthy merchants of Charlottetown, while at the bar, in medicine, and in the field of literature there are numerous young men who give promise of more than average success.”
Prejudice and other difficulties at home notwithstanding, the Bishop’s Catholic vision was evident from the very first. His first pastoral letter, issued October, 1860, makes a vigorous appeal in behalf of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, a society which he describes as being “in a particular manner the work of the poor classes.” Mission-mindedness, the most characteristic mark of vital faith, is one note which he rarely ceased sounding during his long episcopate. Again and again in pastorals and circulars, he comes back to the same theme.
He felt a genuine concern for the welfare of all his co-religionists everywhere. In his letters to laity and clergy there is much evidence of this catholic concern. He commends to the special prayers of his people the peculiar plight of the Holy Father in Italy. One such appeal –there were several – issued July 3, 1868, has a remarkable paragraph which might have been clipped from last week’s editorial page. The letter directs that a Solemn Triduum be conducted, in all churches and chapels for Pius IX beset by revolutionaries in Italy and for the Catholics of Poland who were being persecuted by Russia. The paragraph reads: “On the other hand the Russian government casting aside the mask beneath which it has hitherto endeavoured to conceal its persecutions, has openly declared a war of extermination against the Catholic Faith. In Poland, as in Russia, bishops are driven from their sees; the clergy are subjected to a thousand annoyances; attempts innumerable are made to corrupt education in all its sources and all communication between the faithful and the Sovereign Pontiff is strictly forbidden.” We find other appeals for famine stricken Ireland and for Cardinal Lavigerie’s Anti-Slavery Fund.
The institutions at home, of course, came in for their share of attention, and we find letters and circulars seeking financial assistance for the Charlottetown Hospital which he founded in 1879 in his own former residence and presented to the City and Province as the first institution for the care of the sick in the Province. He brought the Sisters of Charity from Quebec to staff the new institution. St. Dunstan’s College, the nursery of his priests and lay leaders, was especially dear to him and prodigious were his efforts to make it flourish. At one period the college was such a drain on the resources of the diocese, that someone advised closing it. His epigrammatic reply reveals the stern determination which is, perhaps, the dominant characteristic of the man, “Close my eyes first, then close the college.”
During the course of his episcopate, he travelled across the ocean five times in spite of the fact that he was a very poor sailor. In a letter from Rome, dated January 17, 1877, written to Bishop MacKinnon of Arichat, who had accompanied him to the Vatican Council, he wrote, “My passage across the Atlantic was accompanied with storms of snow and piercing frost which lasted nearly the whole voyage. From your own knowledge of my seafaring capacity, you may judge how helpless my condition was from seasickness.”
At the Vatican Council his constant espousal of the papal cause and his striking appearance won from him the admiration of all present. On the question of the advisability of making at that time the declaration of Papal Infallibility as a dogma of Faith, he steadfastly refused to join his Maritime confreres in voting against it. He had a mind of his own and once it had decided, nothing could change him.
All the while, his building programme was going on. A summary of what was accomplished under his jurisdiction will be enough to show how he met the challenge of the times. One of his first works of any consequence was the rebuilding of St. Dunstan’s College in brick. In 1864, St. Joseph’s Convent was established in the building which had been the old church at St. Andrew’s. The story of how the venerable structure was hauled on the ice from St. Andrew’s to the capital, a distance of eighteen miles, and set up on Pownal Street, is a saga in its own right.16 Besides St. Joseph’s, seven other conventual establishments were built in the diocese and St. Patrick’s School. A splendid episcopal residence was built in 1872. Fifteen now parishes were established by him. Thirty new churches were built under his inspiration, none of which was more imposing than that at St. Peter’s, his native parish which he kept under his personal direction. He was twenty-one years a Bishop before he made any appeal for cathedraticum. It was, therefore, necessary that he keep one parish for his own to defray his expenses.
In 1877 he organized the Central Council of the Catholic Total Abstinence Union, with affiliated societies in every parish of the diocese. He accomplished a great work in the suppression of intemperance in many parts of the Island.
The Bishop’s work in aid of the historian are worth mentioning here. In 1885 he commissioned his secretary, Rev. A. E. Burke,17 to compile a history of each parish and description of each parish church and presbytery and anything else of interest in the parish. Father Burke’s MSS were discovered by Prof. Henry Blanchard of Charlottetown in the Diocesan Archives, and with the generous help of Mr. B. Chandler, Director of Libraries for Prince Edward Island, were published weekly in the Charlottetown Guardian during the past spring and summer. In connection with these parochial histories, photographs of each church were made. The glass negatives of these were discovered by Mr. Chandler in the old Legislative Library and are in remarkably good condition. Cuts were made from these and the original pictures were published with the histories mentioned above. Father Burke also compiled the biographies of the priests of the diocese living at that time. The writer thought he had found a very treasure when these were found, but Father Burke’s biography of Bishop MacIntyre was the only one missing from the lot.
The parish histories cover the time of English occupation very thoroughly. To insure that the history of the church under the French regime would not be lost, the bishop had the voluminous civil and ecclesiastical records of L’Isle St. Jean copied in the Archives in Paris. The result is found in five large volumes, the pages of which are exact replicas of the original entries. They are the work of a meticulous career copyist whose picture adorns the inside cover of the first volume. Their value to the historian is incalculable.
The parish histories, biographies and photographs mentioned above were made up into an album and sent to Rome with a copy of the pamphlet published on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee celebration of Bishops MacIntyre and Rogers. Both volumes were presented to the Holy Father, Leo XIII, by Archbishop Kirby, Rector of the Irish College.
Bishop MacIntyre’s correspondence was prolific. He kept in close touch with affairs at home and abroad with a steady stream of letters. Many of them deal with the minutiae of building with which he was thoroughly familiar. The Diocesan Archives have but a mere fraction of his correspondence. His pastorals and circulars seem to be complete, but of his private and casual letters there are available only those of the last two years of his life. Many of these concern his efforts to have Father J. Charles MacDonald named as his coadjutor. His work to this end was prodigious and tireless.
He had been in indifferent health for some time and age was beginning to take its toll from his great energy, nevertheless he made an arduous voyage to Rome in 1889 to lay his case before the Holy See. He wrote letter after letter to his episcopal confreres in the Maritimes and they point up what was, perhaps the one special facet of his personality to which much of his success as a bishop may be attributed. Having decided that Father Charles was the right priest to succeed him, he pursued the goal of his appointment unflaggingly. No argument in favour of Father Charles was left in abeyance; no argument against him, unanswered. To his old friend, Bishop Rogers, who had suggested that he leave the matter of his succession “to Divine Providence, to the Holy See, and to the good judgement of the suffragan bishops,” he replies: “Certainly I have no lack of confidence in the wise judgements and the high zeal for Religion of our venerable brethren, nor yet do I mistrust the ever watchful providence of God in all human events. But I have faith in the sage principle that man must be, in a manner, his own providence, and provide against all contingencies under the unerring hand of the Almighty. Nor do I see any reason for diverting from this principle in the present case. That God helps those who help themselves is as true in this as in other matters.” Many other letters in like vein and to the same purpose were directed to Archbishop O’Brien of Halifax, who had been a priest of his diocese and upon whose shoulders he had placed the pallium. His single minded persistence and his logic won out for him in this as it had in so many other instances in the past. Father Charles was named coadjutor and consecrated on August 28, 1890 as Bishop of Irina.
But the coadjutorship was not his only concern. He was pushing forward his plan for the construction of a new cathedral and administering his diocese at the same time. Meetings were being held in Charlottetown, and he was spreading, with infectious charm his own enthusiasm for a new and worthy church for the capital. In spite of this heavy schedule, he found time to take part in the federal election in support of George W. Howlan in Prince County. The issue on the Island was the construction of a tunnel under the Northumberland Straits, and the Bishop, always in favor of anything calculated to help improve the Province, entered the campaign. A few days before the election he went to Tignish in support of Mr. Howlan, the tunnel, and the Conservative party. His former parishioners, however, would not forget that this same Howlan had played an ignoble part in the celebrated “School Question,” and had been denounced in almost every pulpit from Tignish to Summerside for his share in it by his Lordship himself. Howlan and the Bishop went down to defeat on election day. This rejection broke the old man’s heart. He was noticeably changed in appearance when he returned to Charlottetown.
Towards the end of April, feeling that the end could not now be far off, he set out for the Trappist Monastery at Tracadie, N.S. to make a short retreat. He broke his journey at Antigonish to visit with Bishop Cameron. Shortly after retiring, he suffered a heart attack and died, April 30, 1891. His remains were brought home and he was buried in a hastily constructed vault under the sanctuary of St. Peter’s Church where there is a commemorative plaque to his name.
To this very great and greatly humble man must go the credit of organizing the Diocese of Charlottetown, of founding and firmly establishing most of the institutions which are necessary to the proper functioning of a Catholic community. No sketch as brief as this can adequately describe or estimate his career and his contribution to the Church. About all it can do is serve as the starting point for further investigation, a basis for greater appreciation of him.
Rev. J. C. MacMillan’s two volume History of the Catholic Church in Prince Edward Island.
Pamphlet commemorating the Silver Jubilee of Bishops Macintyre and Rogers.
Pastorals and Correspondence of Bishop Macintyre from the Diocesan Archives.
Mss. of the Very Rev. A. E. Burke, through the kindness of Prof. J. H. Blanchard of Charlottetown and Mr. B. Chandler of the P.E.I. Libraries.
L’Illustre Impartial, issue commemorating the centennial of the Parish of Sts. Simon and Jude, Tignish.
Mrs. Patrick McCarthy of Cable Head East, P.E.I. from whom much data about the Bishop’s early life was obtained.
1The migration from the Catholic areas of Scotland in 1790, 1791, and 1792 was considerable. In 1790 three vessels, the Jane, the Lucy, and the British Queen (and the Highlander?) brought 418 souls to St. John's Island; in 1791 the Queen and the Molly brought 536, and the Queen is mentioned as back again in 1792 with another group unspecified as to number. All from Uist.
2About whom Dr. Emmett Mullally has written an excellent paper in C.C.H.A. report 1945.1946.
3Rev. J. C. MacMillan, Early History of the Church in Prince Edward Island, page 57.
4Daily Examiner, August 12, 1885.
5Pamphlet commemorating the Silver Jubilee of Bishops MacIntyre and Rogers.
6Letter quoted in Early History of the Church in Prince Edward Island.
7Archives of St. Dunstan’s College.
8John MacDonald, the lame catechist employed by Bishop MacEachern, used to assemble all the Catholics on the North Side at Roderick MacDonald’s, Naufrage, to teach Christian Doctrine.
9Rev. E. Walsh, an Irish priest, came out in 1830. He had taught in Ireland. His services were secured through the good offices of Bishop Fraser of Halifax.
10Chas. McDonald, a native of Mohill, County Ardagh, Ireland, came out in the early ‘30's. His ecclesiastical training was incomplete. He studied and taught at St. Andrew’s. He was ordained in 1835 by Bishop Fraser at Antigonish. Became Rector of St. Andrew’s and pastor of the parish immediately. He gave Peter MacIntyre his First Communion.
11Published at Tignish, 1891-1921.
13The Catholic Church in Prince Edward Island from 1835-1891.
14The Catholic Church in Prince Edward Island, Vol. 2, page 154.
15C.C.H.A. Report 1947-1948, page 53.
16The Catholic Church in Prince Edward Island.
17Afterwards Very Rev. A. E. Burke, First President of the Catholic Church Extension Society in Canada.