Archdiocese ; includes that part of the mainland of the Province of British Columbia south of 54 ° N. lat. and west of the Straits of Georgia, together with the Queen Charlotte Islands. It comprises about 150,000 square miles. The first resident of what is now British Columbia was a Catholic and so were the great explorers, Simon Fraser and his lieutenant, J.M. Quesnel. The numerous Catholics in the service of the Hudson Bay Company gave the natives their first idea of Christianity. Later on, Father De Smet visited the Kootenays. In 1843 Father Demers had made an extensive trip through the inland lakes, visiting in turn the Okanagans, the Shuswaps, and the Carriers. In 1843 this district was included in the Vicariate Apostolic of Columbia, under Rt. Rev. A. Blanchet , titulary. Three years later a Jesuit, Father Nobili, went as far north as Bahine Lake. In 1847 Rt. Rev. M. Demers , Bishop of Vancouver Island, called the Oblates of Mary Immaculate , already working in Oregon, to the mainland of British Columbia. These missionaries founded a mission in Okanagan in 1859. About this time, immediately after the discovery of gold in the Cariboo district, the city of New Westminster was founded on the estuary of the Fraser, and here the Oblates organized a central mission in 1860, followed by St. Mary's Mission, 60 miles inland, in 1863, from which they evangelized the lower Fraser Indians and the Sechelts and the Aquamish of the coast.
Father L.J. D'Herbomez, O.M.I., was consecrated Bishop of Melitopolis, 9 October, 1864, and appointed to the Vicariate Apostolic of British Columbia which included the mainland from 49 degrees to 60 degrees N. lat. In 1867 he established a mission 300 miles north of New Westminster at William's Lake, for twenty-two reserves of Shuswp, Chilcotin, and Carrier Indians, and in 1873 another mission, 600 miles north, at Stuart's Lake, for thirteen villages of Babines, Sekanais, Nahanais, and Skeenas. In 1876 the Kootenay mission at the foot of the Rockies was founded for thirteen bands of Kootenays and Okanagan, and in 1878, Kamloops Mission, 250 miles east of New Westminster, was established for twelve villages of Nicolas, Shuswaps, and Thompsons. To meet the needs of the influx of eastern Canadians, Americans, and British, a pro- cathedral was built in 181 at new Westminster, a college in 1866, a hospital in charge of the Sisters of xxyyyk.htm">Providence, and an academy for girls in charge of the Sisters of St. Ann. In twenty-five years Bishop D'Herbomez, assisted by pioneer Oblates, mostly from France, completed the conversion of all the tribes of the coast and interior, built chapels for each band, and established three industrial schools.
At the death of Bishop D'Herbomez, 3 June, 1890, Rt. Rev. Paul Durieu, O.M.I., who had been appointed Bishop of Marcopolis and coadjutor, 24 October, 1875, took charge. The vicariate was made the diocese of New Westminster by a Brief of Leo XIII , dated 2 September, 1890. The regime of Bishop Durieu was characterized by a rare insight and Apostolic gifts; his strict discipline enabled the Indian tribes to resist the contaminating influence of the invading logger and miner, to a degree that makes their annals reminiscent of the early ages of the Faith. In the nine years of his episcopate, churches were built in the mining districts at Fernie, Cranbrook, Greenwood, Nelson, Revelstoke, Sandon, Rossland, and also at Vernon, Lumby, and Kelowna. In 1887 he erected a church, a hospital in charge of the Sisters of xxyyyk.htm">Providence, and St. Ann's Academy, in the growing railroad-terminal city of Vancouver. Father Augustin Dontenwill, O.M.I, b. at Bishwiller, Strasbourg, 4 June, 1857, ordained 30 May, 1885, professor in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ottawa, was appointed Bishop of Germanicopolis and coadjutor, 22 Aug., 1897, succeeding to the see, 1 June, 1899. He carried on the work of his predecessor, giving special attention to educational needs, and established a Catholic weekly, a Children's Aid Society, an orphanage in charge of the Sisters of xxyyyk.htm">Providence, an academy at Nelson, and hospitals at Greenwood and Rossland in charge of the sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. He also erected a monumental church at Vancouver and three parish churches in the suburbs.
On 25 June, 1903, a separate ecclesiastical province was formed in British Columbia, with Victoria as metropolitan see, and Most Rev. Bertram Orth was consecrated Archbishop of Victoria. By a Brief, dated 7 Sept., 1908, that part of the diocese north of 54 ° N. lat., exclusive of the Queen Charlotte Islands, was added to the Yukon Vicariate, and Bishop Dontenwill was appointed first Archbishop of Vancouver, Victoria reverting to the status of suffragan diocese. On 29 Sept., 1908, he was elected Superior General of the Oblate Congregation and resigned the archbishopric, 21 Sept., 1908, being appointed later titular Archbishop of Ptolemais, and since then resident at Rome. Rt. Rev. Neil McNeil, Bishop of St. George's, Newfoundland, was transferred to the See of Vancouver and raised to the archiepiscopal dignity, January, 1910. Since his arrival in Vancouver, six parochial churches and five mission chapels have been erected, and the Religious of the Sacred Heart placed in charge of the higher education of girls in Vancouver. Archbishop McNeil was born in Hillsborough, Nova Scotia , 23 Nov., 1851. He is a son of the late Malcolm McNeil and Ellen Meagher, was educated at St. Francis Xavier College, Antigonish, and in 1873 sent to the College of Propaganda, Rome. He was ordained priest in 1879, joined the teaching staff of St. Francis Xavier College in 1880, became rector of the college in 1884, and Bishop of Nilopolis and Vicar-Apostolic of St. George's Newfoundland, in 1891. He was consecrated at Antigonish, 20 October, 1895.
The diocesan property is by Act of the Provincial Legislature, owned by a corporation-: Title, "The R.C. Archbishop of Vancouver". There are in the diocese : 15 secular, and 34 religious priests, 26 churches with resident priests ; 50 missions with churches; 60 chapels where Mass is said; 1 college, 40 students; 8 industrial schools for Indians, 500 students; 3 academies for girls, and 8 parochial schools, with 800 pupils; 1570 young people under Catholic care; 5 hospitals ; 1 orphanage ; 1 House of Refuge; and about 35,000 Catholics.
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