Canon William Bettridge in Stratford, Ontario

Canon William BettridgeIn 1840, William Bettridge had advertised in the Patriot that he was ready and willing to perform services or attend the sick and dying in any part of the Tract. He came to Downie in September of that year, christened children, and administered the sacrament to John Monteith, who was dying. Again he came, this time to bury a young fellow of the name of Walton, then studying for the ministry, but who died before his ordination. Dunlop, J.P.*, took all the offices he could when no clergy were about. Once on his way from Toronto to Goderich he found a friend at an intermediate point a new-made widower. He remained and performed the last sad rites. Business took him back within a month, and a horseman met him, to say his friend required his services again. This time the magisterial function was a wedding, for "As you did the one job for me, I thought I should like you to do the other."

St Paul's Anglican, Stratford, OntarioIn the big room of the Shakespeare the first Anglican service was held by Canon William Bettridge, of Woodstock, in very early days. The room was unfinished, but chairs, benches, planks, everything available for seats, were in use and the place was crowded. The Doctor* was there. The sermon dwelt upon the need of a church, and called for help. The Tiger* put his hand in his pocket, when all was over, and drew out a five-pound note. "That was a good sermon. Never heard a better, and I wish you well." When in the village to assist a brother magistrate in dispensing the law, he added another note to his subscription. The site given by the Company to the Anglicans began its usefulness as a general burial plot. There the dead of all denominations, more peaceable than those left behind, lay quietly side-by-side, until the Roman Catholic Church, some years later, received its grant. Many were then removed, but the place had by then grown so full, and the graces were so merged, that many continued undisturbed, and deep down- some within St. James' enclosure, some secure in the macadam vault of the street above them - still lie.

* Dr. William 'Tiger' Dunlop (1792-1848).

From In the Days of the Canada Company
by Robina and Kathleen MacFarlane Lizars published 1896 by William Briggs, Toronto.



William Bettridge was rector of St Paul's, Woodstock for 45 years from 1834 to 1879. Rev. Thomas Hickey became Stratford's first permanent Anglican minister in 1844.