Papers : 1794-1940; (predominant 1794-1867).

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LFR .S7J6P3
Category: Family
Creator: Strachan, John, 1778-1867.
Description: 13 microfilm textual records () ; 35 mm
            John Strachan was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, and educated at the Universities of Aberdeen and St. Andrews. He taught school in several locations in Scotland before emigrating to Upper Canada in 1799 where he was engaged as a tutor for the children of Richard Cartwright, Rev. John Stuart, and other prominent people of Kingston, Upper Canada. In 1803 this former Presbyterian became a deacon in the Church of England. In 1804, Strachan was ordained a priest by Bishop Jacob Mountain, and began his appointment to the Anglican Mission at Cornwall. Here he established a grammar school to which leading families in government and business sent their sons.

In 1807 he married Ann Wood McGill, the widow of James McGill of the Montreal mercantile family. The post of rector of York became vacant in 1812 and Strachan moved to York (Toronto) where he served a large parish and where he founded the Home District Grammar School. He was a member of the Executive Council from 1817-1836, and the Legislative Council from 1820 until the Union of the Canadas in 1841. While his interests were many and varied, he remained committed to education and religion, and the Common School Act, which was passed by the legislature in 1816, was written largely by Strachan.

In 1827, letters patent were finally issued creating him Archdeacon of York, and in 1839 he was consecrated Bishop of the newly created Diocese of Toronto. He became known as one of the foremost members of the Family Compact, and a stalwart of the Anglican position in the controversy over clergy reserves. Through his efforts, a royal charter was obtained for the University of King's College in 1827, and the official opening took place on 8 June 1843. He became its first president and continued in this position until he resigned in 1848. However, in 1849 when King's College became the non-sectarian institution, the University of Toronto, he went to England to secure a charter and raise money to found a church university. In this he succeeded, and the University of Trinity College opened in 1852 with Strachan as chancellor. He died in Toronto in 1867, the year of Confederation, having become a great churchman and educator of the next generation of Canadian leaders.

            The collection contains John Strachan's correspondence, letterbooks, and sermons, documenting through them many of the important issues facing Upper Canada in its early development from 1794 through to the mid-eighteenth century.  The challenges and events are seen at the community and provincial levels as Strachan's professional roles progressed through the years from a local teacher and clergyman in a new small community, member of government, and eventually, Anglican Bishop of Toronto. Many topics of concern to Upper Canada are covered, such as politics and the military (War of 1812 and militia), but religion and education were Strachan's main interests. 

 The organisation of the material begins with Papers, 1794-1932, consisting of chiefly incoming correspondence, and including many letters addressed to the Rev. A.N. Bethune, 1835-1866; sermons written and delivered by John Strachan as Church of England minister in Upper Canada, Archdeacon of York, and Bishop of Toronto; and various documents such as reports; lists, memoranda on various topics of the day, minutes of meetings, and land grants.

The next major grouping contains ten letter books (1812-1867), mostly outgoing correspondence and dealing mostly with church matters. Correspondence was directed to clergy of the Church of England , church societies in Great Britain, such as the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (S.P.G.) and the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge (S.P.C.K.), as well as government members and others whom Strachan was trying to influence on matters of importance to Strachan. These would include most importantly religion, and specifically the pursuit of realising the Church of England as the "established church" of Upper Canada; and education, both in the development of grammar schools and institutions of higher learning; as well as many other matters, such as church property issues (clergy reserves), union of the Canadas, and church funding. Also included herein are the journals of John Strachan with accounts of various journeys, 8 July - 23 August, 1840, and 1846; Strachan's autobiography and diary, 1778-1799; the journal of Rev. Alexander Neil Bethune (1800-1879) covering 26 May - 10 June 1852; and an abstract of the journal of Rev. P.L. Ostler, 1839-1840.

Reels 1-9: Contain the papers of John Strachan. These reels correspond with the Archives of Ontario MS 35 reels 1-9 (F983-1). Reels 10-13: contain the Letterbook of John Strachan. These reels correspond with the Archives of Ontario MS 35 reels 10-13 (F983-2).

Originals: The original records are held by the Archives of Ontario.

The original Strachan autobiography and diary, as well as correspondence and other documents, mainly the letters from Strachan to A.N. Bethune, 1835-1855, are held by Trinity College, Toronto. This material is found at the end of Reel 9.

Archival Ref. No.: OA MS 35
Finding Aids:
            An introduction to the Strachan Papers is located at the beginning of Reel 1 along with a calendar (document listing with summaries of content) of the Papers, 1794-1891. Calendars are included at the beginning of each letterbook, excluding the letterbook for 1862-1867 on Reel 13. The calendar for 1844-1849 is found at the end of Reel 11, with the documents beginning on Reel 12. These calendars provide the date of the document, author, recipient (when available), and a brief summary of the item.

A microfilm shelf list, which correlates the reel numbers with the dates contained within, is available in print and online (see Electronic Finding Aid section below).

Researchers interested in the study of education, should consult "Education in the John Strachan Papers" (see Electronic Finding Aid, below), which is a document listing with summaries extracted from the main calendar that referenced education.


Online listing and summary of contents for each of the documents for the two sections of material: Papers and Letterbooks, is available from the Archives of Ontario. Does not include a breakdown of sermons. (These finding aids for F893-1 (the Papers of John Strachan) and F983-2 (the Letterbooks of John Strachan) correspond with the printed calendars available in the red Loyalist Collection Inventory binders. The AO reel numbers match the UNB reel numbers in the Loyalist Collection).

Electronic Finding Aid Record: StrachanShelfListandContents.pdf
Education in the John Strachan Papers.pdf
Notes: Part of the letter book for 1854-1862, found on Reel 12, is illegible due to over exposure of the microfilm. The following dates are legible: October 1856 - June 1857, September 1858 - December 1859.

There appears to be incorrect dates in the Table of Contents on the microfilm.

This collection is complemented by the Metropolitan Toronto Library's collection of Strachan Papers, 1796-1839, which is included in the Loyalist Collection, and shelved at MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .S7J6P4.

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