Owsley Robert Rowley Anglican episcopal correspondence collection

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Owsley Robert Rowley Anglican episcopal correspondence collection

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    • Source of title proper: Title based on provenance of the collection.

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    Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

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    • 1795-1939. (Creation)
      Rowley, Owsley Robert, 1868-1949

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    Physical description

    2 m of textual records and other material (777 letters, 13 licenses, 5 postcards)

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    Biographical history

    Owsley Robert Rowley, 1868-1949 - banker, churchman and author 12 Jan 1868 Born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, the son of John William Horsley Rowley and Miriam (Walsh) Rowley 24 Nov 1949 Died in Toronto General Hospital from injuries sustained in an automobile accident on the Queen Elizabeth Way at Oakville, Ontario; survived by wife, daughter, and sister, Helen B. Rowley. Education Educated in Yarmouth public schools and Yarmouth Academy, Nova Scotia Family 1905 Married Mabel Treacher, daughter of the late D. Johnstone Richardson, H.M. Customs, Windsor, Ontario, on June 7 One daughter, Grace (Mrs. R. M. Thomson) 1930s Resided at 25 Rose Park Drive, Toronto 1940s Resided at Alexandra Palace Hotel, 600 University Avenue, Toronto 2, at time of death Banking career 1884-1886 Bank of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia 1886-1889 Merchants Bank of Canada, Brampton, Toronto, Ottawa, Chatham, Ontario 1889-1900 Bank of British North America, Montreal, Paris, Woodstock, Brantford, London, Hamilton, Sydney, Nova Scotia, New York and San Francisco 1900-1902 Accountant, Halifax, Nova Scotia 1902 Inspector of branch returns, Montreal 1912 Chief inspector of branch returns 1916-1918 Chief Inspector and Superintendent of eastern branches, Bank of British North America, Montreal 1918-1932 Inspector, Bank of Montreal [which took over Bank of British North America in 1918]; was Inspector of Special Debts at head office on retirement in 1932 Canadian Militia 1880s Lieutenant, 77th Wentworth Battalion, Canadian Militia, Dundas, Ontario 13th Royal Regiment, Hamilton, Ontario 1887-1902 66th Princess Louise Fusiliers, Halifax, Nova Scotia 1903-1904 Captain, 5th Royal Scots of Canada, Montreal 1905-1909 Honorary captain and paymaster, 2nd Regiment, Canadian Artillery, Montreal Awarded Colonial Auxiliary Forces officers' long service medal Anglican Church involvement 1905-1906 People's warden, Church of St. James the Apostle, Montreal 1911-1912 Rector's warden, Church of St. James the Apostle 1905-1932 Lay delegate to Synod, Anglican Diocese of Montreal 1933-1935 Honorary secretary, Diocese of the Arctic 1934-1935 Lay delegate to General Synod of the Anglican Church in Canada, Diocese of the Arctic 1934-194? Member of executive council, General Synod of the Anglican Church in Canada Publications 1907 The House of Bishops: portraits of the living archbishops and bishops of the Church of England in Canada, in order of consecration, with short historical notes concerning them and their dioceses, together with the portraits of the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Bishop of London and the first colonial bishop, compiled by Owsley Robert Rowley. Montreal : Morton, Phillips. 1928 The Anglican episcopate of Canada and Newfoundland. Milwaukee : Morehouse. This landmark treatise has had three supplements, the most recent published in 2008. Contributed numerous pen pictures of well-known persons to Saturday Night [magazine] and other publications. Political affiliation: Conservative Recreation: Golf Clubs: Royal Montreal Golf Club; St. James' Club, Montreal; Toronto Hunt Club

    Custodial history

    The collection was assembled by Owsley Robert Rowley, a noted Anglican scholar, who used the letters when doing research for his landmark text, The Anglican Episcopate of Canada and Newfoundland and Canada, which was published in 1928. Dr. William Inglis Morse, a Nova Scotia-born clergyman, bibliophile and collector, bought the collection from Rowley in 1939. In December 1939, Dr. Morse donated the Rowley collection to the University of Kings College Library on August 17, 1939.

    Scope and content

    Fonds consists of correspondence written by 93 Anglican bishops from dioceses across Canada. Most of the letters were written during the bishops' episcopates, although a few date from before the bishop's consecration. Most of the letters are manuscript, but 95 are typewritten originals. Several of the letters were written to Owsley Robert Rowley, relating to his requests for data and photographs of the bishops for Rowley's book, The Anglican Episcopate of Canada and Newfoundland. The letters range in date from those written by Charles Inglis, the first Bishop of Nova Scotia, in the late 18th century, to letters written in the late 1930s by Archibald Lang Fleming, first Bishop of the Arctic. Subjects discussed in the letters include the mundane, such as arrangements for visits or acknowledging receipt of a book, to those of major significance, such as the development of the Church in the West. The bishops wrote of missionary work, clerical appointments; establishment of new parishes, and political and business figures. Topics include colonial politics; missionary work in the North in harrowing conditions that required travel to remote areas by snowshoe, canoe, motor boat and airplane; debate concerning surplice usage while preaching; Bishop Medley's opinion on church architecture; residential schools; missionary work; financial difficulties; mining; railroads; Lambeth Conferences; Synods; Governor Schultz [John Christian], who was involved in the Louis Riel rebellion; Lord Mount Stephen and Lord Strathcona, prominent figures in Canadian railway history; canon law; elections of bishops; and the University of King's College. The bishops' letters were written in locations spanning Canada, including St. John's, Newfoundland; Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia; Carcross and Dawson City in the Yukon; Halifax, Montreal, Toronto and Winnipeg. In addition to the 777 letters in the collection, there is a poem written by Aubrey George Spencer; a writing sample and autograph from Bishop Stanser; a letter from Charles Ingles, rector of Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia; a letter from J. How to Dr. F. W. Vroom attached to letter of John Inglis; a printed proclamation from John Medley announcing Bishop Kingdon's consecration; a letter from Rowley to Archbishop Matheson; a lease; and an advertisement. These documents are filed in the relevant bishop's series.

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    Physical condition

    • The collection consists of 2 m of textual records. In addition, during the course of the arrangement and description project, each letter was photocopied and the copies placed in three-ring binders. About 90 per cent of the letters are handwritten, many of them on diocesan letterhead. Ninety-five letters are typed. Most of the letters are short, one or two pages, although a few extend to five or six pages.
    • Some letters are fragile, ripped and torn. Many are difficult to read due to handwriting style. Morse applied his “Ex libris” rubber stamp to every document in the collection, obscuring handwriting in some instances.

    Immediate source of acquisition

    Dr. William Inglis Morse, who acquired the letters either directly from Owsley Robert Rowley or another source, donated the collection to the University of Kings College on August 17, 1939. Before this arrangement and description project, the letters were known in the University Library and Archives as ANG 43. Pamphlet Box. Episcopal letters (754), 1785-1938. MSS. The collection arrived at Kings College in 19 manila envelopes (31 cm x 24 cm), each stamped with Morses Ex libris rubber stamp. Morse labeled the envelopes by diocese and also listed the names of the bishops whose letters were in each envelope. The entire collection had been stored in one small file box for the past several decades.


    Rowleys arrangement scheme for the letters is unknown. His book, Anglican Bishops of Canada and Newfoundland, is organized by date of the bishops consecrations. However, after Rowleys book was published, some bishops moved to other dioceses, thus making it difficult to organize the letters according to consecration dates. Morse sorted the letters by diocese, presenting them to Kings in large manila envelopes on which he had written the diocese, bishops names and signatures, and number of letters from each bishop in the envelope.

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        Language and script note

        The bishops' letters are signed using the long-standing practice of a bishop's first name or initials plus his diocese name as his signature, e.g., Charles Nova Scotia.

        Location of originals

        • All of the letters are originals, with the exception of one letter by Rowley to Bishop Matheson.
        • ORR.[series no.].[item number]

        Availability of other formats

        Eighty-nine of the letters were transcribed during the arrangement and description project and are available in digital format from the University Librarian and Archivist. All of the Nova Scotia bishops' letters were transcribed, as were all the letters of John Dart, Jacob Mountain and John Strachan. Some letters of John Medley and George Jehoshaphat Mountain were transcribed. All of the letters have been photocopied. The binders of photocopies may be consulted in the University Library.

        Restrictions on access

        There are no restrictions on access.

        Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

        • The most recent letters may be under copyright. Permission of the University Librarian and Archivist is required to reproduce any of the materials.
        • Written permission of the University Librarian and Archivist is required for publication of any of the materials.

        Finding aids

        A hard copy finding aid with series and item lists is available in the University of King's College Library and Archives.

        Associated materials

        Correspondence from or to bishops represented in this collection may be available in other institutions, such as diocesan archives.

        Related materials


        No further accruals expected.

        General note

        William Inglis Morse referred to the collection as “Episcopal Letters” on a list he sent to Dr. Stanley Walker, President of the University of King's College, on August 19, 1939, shortly after donating the letters to King's.

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