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LLOYD, GEORGE EXTON, militiaman, Church of England clergyman, office holder, school principal, immigration publicist, and bishop; b. 6 Jan. 1861 in London, England, son of William Jones Lloyd and Anne Brown; m. 13 Aug. 1885 Marion Tuppen in Belleville, Ont., and they had two daughters and three sons; d. 8 Dec. 1940 in Victoria.
George Exton Lloyd was born in London in 1861. As a result of his mother’s death when he was only 11, the boy’s instruction was left largely in the hands of his father, a teacher and Temperance Society member. In his teens George enrolled in college in London to acquire the education required for army-officer training. At the same time, demonstrating his penchant for the practical, he enlisted with a volunteer regiment, the West Middlesex Rifles. Despite a promotion to sergeant in 1880, he switched career paths after attending a number of inspiring talks given by the bishop of Rupert’s Land, Robert Machray*. In 1881, having taken only a few divinity courses, he sailed for Canada to serve as a missionary of God and the British empire.
Lloyd ministered briefly near Maynooth, Ont. In 1882 he enrolled at Wycliffe College in Toronto to complete his theological training; as well, he joined the Queen’s Own Rifles, a local militia unit known for its efficiency. In 1885, before he was ordained, the North-West rebellion broke out [see Louis Riel*]. Unable to countenance this Métis-led defiance of law and order, Lloyd volunteered to serve. Singing airs such as “Rule, Britannia,” he marched under the command of William Dillon Otter* to Battleford (Sask.) in April to defend the town. When the threat failed to materialize, Otter led his men in an ill-conceived action against a Cree band near Cut Knife Creek. In a hasty retreat Lloyd was seriously wounded while trying to save comrades trapped under heavy fire. Following the return of the QOR, he was ordained deacon on 12 July by Bishop Machray in Winnipeg and honoured with the retroactive title of chaplain of the battalion. Though recovery from his injury would take years, he had established a reputation as “the fighting chaplain.”
Back in Ontario, Lloyd married Marion Tuppen from Brighton, England, before moving to the parish of Sunderland. In 1886, on account of his condition, he accepted the “less strenuous” post of Protestant chaplain at the Ontario Reformatory for Boys in Penetanguishene [see Thomas McCrosson*]. Convinced that the older, more serious offenders should be isolated from the younger boys, he pressed for separate housing and aid for the charges after their release. When his demands were rejected, he responded in 1889 by publishing a short-lived monthly, The Reformatory Press, which he distributed throughout Ontario. His persistence brought about some change, but his tactics alienated reformatory officials. His inflammatory claim in his little magazine that Roman Catholics controlled the provincial government undoubtedly added to this loss of support. Having been ordained priest on 31 July 1887, he found it wise to accept an offer in 1890 to become rector of St Paul’s parish in Rothesay, N.B.
Recognized immediately as a man of action, Lloyd was asked to help found an Anglican residential academy for boys, the Rothesay Collegiate School, which he headed as principal. His “energy and military discipline” quickly made it famous, prompting the University of New Brunswick to reward him in 1892 with an honorary ma. In 1896, still suffering from his wounds, Lloyd decided to seek a more recuperative climate. The next two years would be spent preaching in the southern United States before he came back to become editor of the Evangelical Churchman (Toronto). In 1900 he returned to England to take up the job of deputation secretary for the Colonial and Continental Church Society.
Centred in London, the society helped clergymen, lay evangelists, and schoolteachers spread the gospel to English residents in European countries and British colonies. Speaking hundreds of times on “the expansion of Canada,” Lloyd promoted emigration to, and assistance for, Canada. In reaction to the large number of unemployed veterans of the South African War, he published a letter in the London Times on 22 Sept. 1902 advertising the advantages of immigration to the Canadian west. If Britons did not act, he warned, “Americans and foreigners” would fill this land of opportunity. Widely reprinted, the letter attracted thousands of responses, including one from the Reverend Isaac Montgomery Barr.
Barr, who had been devising a plan for an “All-British Colony,” established a partnership with Lloyd that would solidify their names in western Canadian lore. The two clergymen were able to win grudging support from the Canadian government while selling their initiative to the British public. On 31 March 1903 almost 2,000 colonists set sail from Liverpool accompanied by their leaders. Lloyd had not intended to join them, but his inability to find a minister with the “proper” credentials to serve as chaplain forced him to make the sacrifice and go.
During an arduous and badly managed trek to their final destination, a reserve of land on the future Saskatchewan–Alberta border, the irate colonists deposed Barr, chose Lloyd as head, and established a townsite and named it Lloydminster. Here Lloyd intended to develop a model community consisting of exclusively British stock and based on the highest moral standards. He would meet resistance in achieving both goals. Although a number of his detractors left, others stayed and frustrated his efforts to ban liquor. One colonist who admitted that Lloyd was liked by many still acknowledged he was widely considered to be a “dictator with very strong ideas.” Extreme or not, Lloyd’s leadership had attracted attention outside the colony, and in 1905 he accepted an invitation from the bishop of Saskatchewan, Jervois Arthur Newnham, to move to Prince Albert as archdeacon and general superintendent of all-white missions.
Lloyd arrived during a crucial period for the Church of England in Canada. By focusing on missionary work abroad rather than on immigrants at home, it was losing ground to the other denominations. To address this deficiency, Lloyd established the Sunday School by Post, which distributed religious lessons to children throughout the diocese, and he converted Emmanuel College in Prince Albert from an Indian school to a divinity-training school. His resourceful strategy was to operate the college as an associate mission, attracting men from Britain who would, in addition to taking theological courses, preach in remote areas of the province for nine months of the year. Searching for students, Lloyd travelled to England and, with his boundless energy and impressive oratorical skills, he induced 56 men to return with him. In 1908 he was made principal of the college.
The following year it was moved to Saskatoon, where it became part of the new University of Saskatchewan. Here, Lloyd’s honorary ma, as well as his catechist scheme, with its emphasis on practical experience over theoretical training, left him open to criticism. An attempt by a group of college professors to force his resignation in 1913 failed, but Lloyd’s unconventional methods and aggressive leadership continued to stir up controversy. In 1915, the same year he was awarded doctorates by Emmanuel and St John’s College at the University of Manitoba, he ran into further difficulty.
To save Emmanuel during a period of financial hardship, the Colonial and Continental Church Society had leased it in 1914. This arrangement suited Lloyd, who had travelled many times over the years to Britain to lecture on the west at the society’s request. During his trip of 1915, however, relations soured. Lloyd arrived looking for support for a proposal to attract young female teachers, train them at the college, and then place them in remote schools throughout his diocese. Beyond strengthening the position of the church, Lloyd wanted them to work as well to Canadianize – which meant anglicize – the non-British foreigners on the prairies. Fearing that its limited resources would be stretched by such an ambitious plan, the CCCS declined. In a fit of anger, Lloyd severed all contact, an action that forced his retirement as principal in 1916. By this point, wartime enlistment had almost emptied the college of its students, including Lloyd’s three sons, two of whom would die as a result of the injuries they sustained.
Not to be deterred, Lloyd moved back to Britain, where he pursued independently his plan for creating an agency that would bring teachers to the west. Soon after, the Fellowship of the Maple Leaf was born, with the motto “Keep Canada British and Canadian.” Although never as successful as Lloyd intended, it would attract some 500 teachers between 1916 and 1928. In contrast to his later career, which emphasized restricting foreign immigration, Lloyd’s work before 1916 had been largely dedicated to increasing emigration from Britain and, through the FML and other initiatives, to guiding the education and morality of the non-British settlers. These efforts included spearheading the war against liquor. Recognizing that complete Prohibition would be unlikely to attract sufficient support, Lloyd, in his roles as president of the Moral Reform Association and the Dominion Alliance and as leader in the ban-the-bar movement in Saskatchewan, encouraged the province instead to restrict the sale of alcohol to government stores. In July 1915 Saskatchewan’s premier, Thomas Walter Scott, acceded. Not realizing that the victory would be short-lived, Lloyd was jubilant. His efforts were not soon forgotten, and he kept himself before the Canadian public by writing letters to the press.
While still living in Britain, in 1921, he was elected bishop of Saskatchewan. Consecrated on 12 March 1922, Lloyd settled in Prince Albert, determined to build on his catechist and teacher schemes. His ambitions were clear: not content with placing a “little Mission here, and a Clergyman there” or merely developing a strong diocese, he wanted to train “a New Nation.” During his first three years as bishop, he worked towards that end, ministering to his diocese, supporting the expansion of the Maple Leaf fellowship, and building a new catechist school, Bishop’s College, in Prince Albert. Events, however, soon threatened Lloyd’s new nation, and roused him to energetic action once again.
In June 1925 three prominent Protestant denominations – the Presbyterians, the Methodists, and the Congregationalists – merged to become the United Church of Canada [see Samuel Dwight Chown; Clarence Dunlop Mackinnon]. The increased efficiency of this new body, plus the vigorous immigration endeavours of the Catholic Church, would challenge the Church of England’s ability to compete for new adherents in remote communities. Shocking as it was to Lloyd, this threat to his dreams of Anglicanizing the west was overshadowed by an even greater challenge. In September the federal government signed the so-called Railways Agreement, which granted the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railways the freedom to recruit agricultural labourers from eastern and central Europe. Under this accord, more than 165,000 immigrants would travel to Canada between 1925 and 1930. Sharing a commonly held belief in a hierarchy of nations, with western and northern Europe at the top, Lloyd had kept a wary eye on settlers from central and eastern Europe. In the late 1920s his fears that the west was being “given up to the Union Church” were magnified by the arrival of thousands of these hard-to-assimilate immigrants. His earlier, more muted requests for restrictions and quotas had largely fallen on deaf ears. Now, the menace posed by the Railways Agreement to Canada’s British heritage galvanized Lloyd and his supporters.
Labelling the agreement one of the “most vicious” threats he had ever witnessed to Canadian nation building, he became its loudest and most successful critic. In 1927 he initiated a methodical offensive by forming a league dedicated to coordinating those national and patriotic organizations and individuals interested in maintaining “the supremacy of British language, law, traditions, blood characteristics … and loyalty to the crown as the king pin of Empire.” Though the numbers and identities of those who joined his National Association of Canada were kept secret, there was no hiding the fact that its leader was attracting attention across the country. In the summer of 1928 alone Lloyd sent out more than 70,000 letters; a large number were published in newspapers alongside the editorials and responses they inspired. Hard to ignore, he drew as many detractors as he did supporters. Alberta mp Michael Luchkovich was appalled by his references to continental immigrants as non-preferred, ignorant, dirty, and smelling of garlic. Saskatchewan mla Thomas Clayton Davis felt the bishop was more of a political agitator than a churchman.
Lloyd’s campaign to end the Railways Agreement and restrict immigration nevertheless engendered widespread backing. Emmanuel College bestowed an lld on him in 1929. Although exclusionist Anglicans, anti-Catholic bodies, organized labour, and nativist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan all found reinforcement in his virulent appeals, Lloyd’s push also attracted backing from Canadians not affiliated with such special interests. Under mounting public pressure, Ottawa was forced to reduce the railways’ quota on immigrants in 1929 before cancelling the agreement altogether in 1930. Lloyd’s impact on these decisions was recognized by supporters and opponents alike. The bishop, the Orange order contended, had been “the means of wielding public opinion,” while the Western Jewish News (Winnipeg) bemoaned “the footprints” he had left on immigration policy and racial relations.
Exhausted from his campaign, Lloyd was forced to leave the country in the spring of 1929 to recuperate. He retired altogether in 1931. From his new home on Vancouver Island, he remained vigilant, even briefly reviving the National Association of Canada in 1937 when talk of a new railways agreement surfaced. A life of waging battle, however, had taken its toll, and in 1940 he passed away.
George Exton Lloyd left an indelible mark on the west. Though rarely acknowledged in histories of Canadian imperialist thought, his practical, ecclesiastical imperialism deserves mention for the results it delivered. Through his efforts, thousands of British settlers, clergymen, and teachers entered the west; many served as his agents; few escaped his influence. In a glowing article published in 1907, the Church Missionary Society had praised the “strength of will” and “energy of character” that had made Lloyd an individual “to be reckoned with in the great arena of the modern world.” A “triple line,” the piece continued, had guided his mission as “a patriot, an imperialist, a Churchman in the marrow of his bones.” By the end of his career these individual threads had largely become inseparable. Ever willing to challenge anyone who stood in his way, this uncompromising clergyman had established a national reputation for his single-minded determination to preserve Canada’s Christian Britishness. It is within the context of a career unswervingly dedicated to this triple line that Lloyd’s better-known leadership of one of the west’s largest colonization projects, and his less laudatory role in guiding the immigration debate of the 1920s, must be viewed.
George Exton Lloyd is the author of “White settlers in Canada,” in Pan-Anglican Congress, 1908 (7v., London, 1908), 6 (The church’s missions in Christendom): 1–7; The building of a nation (Prince Albert, Sask., 1928); “Immigration and nation building,” Empire Rev. (London), 49 (1929): 105–6; and The trail of 1903, ed. F. L. Foster (Lloydminster, Alta, 2002).
Anglican Church of Can., General Synod Arch. (Toronto), Fellowship of the Maple Leaf papers; George Exton Lloyd papers; “A sketch of the life of the Right Reverend George Exton Lloyd, m.a., d.d., l.l.d., bishop of Saskatchewan, 1922–1931” (typescript, Victoria, 1943). AO, RG 80-5-0-134, no.4539. Barr Colony Heritage Cultural Centre (Lloydminster), Lloydminster file. LAC, R1206-127-4, file 348818. Univ. of Alta, Bruce Peel Special Coll. Library (Edmonton), Lyle files. Marilyn Barber, “The Fellowship of the Maple Leaf teachers,” in The Anglican Church and the world of western Canada, 1820–1970, ed. Barry Ferguson (Regina, 1991), 154–66. Chris Kitzan, “Preaching purity in the promised land: Bishop Lloyd and the immigration debate,” in Prairie west as promised land, ed. R. D. Francis and Chris Kitzan (Calgary, 2007), 291–312. J. E. Lyons, “George Saskatchewan,” Vitae Scholasticae (Ames, Iowa), 7, no.2 (fall 1988): 423–35.