Saturday, February 25, 2012

George Mountain

George Jehoshaphat Mountain (27 July 1789 – 6 January 1863) was a Canadian Anglican bishop (3rd Anglican Bishop of Quebec), the first Principal of McGill College from 1824 to 1835, and the founder of Bishop's University.

Born at Thwaite Hall, Norfolk (England), 27 July 1789, he was the son of The Rt. Rev. Jacob Mountain (1749–1825) D.D., a bishop and politician, by his wife Elizabeth Mildred Wale co-heiress of Little Bardfield Hall, near Thaxted, Essex. Mountain was directly descended from Michel de Montaigne who was exiled from France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. In 1793 he moved with his family to Quebec City when his father was appointed the first Anglican Bishop of Quebec by his friend William Pitt the Younger.

He lived with his family at Marchmont House, near Quebec, where he received his early education before returning to England at the age of sixteen to study under private tutors until he matriculated from Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating B.A. in 1810, and D.D. in 1819. He removed again to Canada in 1811, and, becoming secretary to his father, was ordained deacon in 1812 and priest in 1816, at the same time being appointed evening lecturer in Quebec Cathedral.

He was rector of Fredericton, New Brunswick, from 1814 to 1817, when he returned to Quebec as rector of that parish and bishop's official. In 1821 he became archdeacon of Lower Canada. On 14 February 1836 he was consecrated, at Lambeth, bishop of Montreal, as coadjutor to Dr. Charles James Stewart, bishop of Quebec.

Dr. Stewart shortly afterwards proceeded to England, and the charge of the entire diocese was under Mountain's care until 1839, when Upper Canada was made a separate see. It was through his earnest exertions that Rupert's Land was also, in 1849, erected into an episcopal see.

From 1824 to 1835, he was principal of McGill University and professor of divinity. In 1843, he was instrumental in the founding of Bishop's University in Lennoxville, Quebec. His missionary journey to the Red River Settlement is recorded in The Journal of the Bishop of Montreal, during a Visit to the Church Missionary Society's North-West America Mission; it remains a lasting church historical and ethnographic resource.

He continued to have the sole charge of Lower Canada until 1850, when he secured the constitution of the diocese of Montreal, he himself retaining the diocese of Quebec, by far the poorer and more laborious of the two. During the greater part of his ministerial career he had to perform long, tedious, and often dangerous journeys into the interior of a wild and unsettled country, paying frequent visits to the north-west territory, the eastern townships, the Magdalen Islands, and the shores of Labrador; also to Rupert's Land, some three thousand six hundred miles, in an Indian canoe.

He came to England in 1853 to confer with Dr. William Grant Broughton, the metropolitan of Australasia, on the subject of synodical action in colonial churches, and he received the degree of D.C.L. at the University of Oxford.

The greatest of his works was the establishment in 1845 of the Lower Canadian Church University, Bishop's College, Lennoxville, for the education of clergymen.

Mountain was a learned theologian, an elegant scholar, and powerful preacher. He died at Bardfield, Quebec, on 6 Jan. 1863.

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