MOUNTAIN, JACOB, clergyman of the Church of England, bishop, and politician; b. 1 Dec. 1749 in the parish of Thwaite All Saints, England, second son of Jacob Mountain and Ann Postle; d. 16 June 1825 at Quebec.
Tradition has it that Jacob Mountain’s paternal ancestors were of Huguenot origin. The family was established near Norwich, England, by the middle of the 17th century, but at the time of the accidental death of Jacob Sr on the hunting field in 1752, the Mountains were living at West Rudham. They moved seven years later to Wymondham, Norfolk, home of Mrs Mountain’s brother, and there Jacob and his elder brother, Jehosaphat*, attended the grammar school, as they subsequently did in Norwich where the family settled permanently. Jacob tried his hand at business but showed no aptitude for it and was sent to Scarning school near East Dereham. He became a favourite pupil of the master, the Reverend Robert Potter, an illustrious classical scholar. Mrs Mountain, who died in 1776, was careful with the education of her sons.
On 8 Oct. 1769 Jacob was admitted as a pensioner to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He gained his ba (senior optime), was elected junior fellow of the college, and was ordained deacon by the bishop of Norwich, all in 1774. Three years later he took the degree of am. (He received the honorary degree of dd when he was made a bishop in 1793.) He was ordained priest by the bishop of Peterborough, acting for the bishop of Norwich, on 17 Dec. 1780 in the chapel of Trinity College. On 18 Oct. 1783, in Little Bardfield, he married Elizabeth Mildred Wale Kentish; the couple would have seven children. On his marriage he relinquished his Cambridge fellowship and was appointed perpetual curate of St Andrew’s Church, Norwich, a post he held for seven years. From 1788 to 1790 he was Caistor prebendary of Lincoln Cathedral, and from 1790 to 1793 examining chaplain to the bishop of Lincoln, George Pretyman, whose acquaintance he had made at Cambridge. He was also vicar of Buckden, Cambridgeshire, close by the bishop’s palace, from 1790 to 1794, and for the same period he held in plurality the vicarage of Holbeach. Clearly a bright future awaited Mountain in the English church.
On 28 June 1793 Mountain was appointed to the newly created see of Quebec. Establishment of a bishop there had first been discussed shortly after the conquest, but no action was taken. In 1787 the diocese of Nova Scotia was created and Quebec was placed under the jurisdiction of its bishop, Charles Inglis*. Four years later Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe* of Upper Canada requested a bishop for his colony, but possibly on the insistence of the governor-in-chief of the colonies, Lord Dorchester [Guy Carleton*], the new see was located at Quebec and included Upper Canada. Candidates came forward, among them Philip Toosey* of Quebec, sponsored by Inglis, and Samuel Andrew Peters, backed by Simcoe. However, Mountain was successful after his name was drawn to the attention of Prime Minister William Pitt by Pretyman, who at Cambridge had been Pitt’s tutor and mentor and had since become his intimate friend and chief adviser on ecclesiastical matters.
Mountain was consecrated bishop in the chapel of Lambeth Palace on 7 July 1793. It was quickly decided that all the family should accompany him to Lower Canada. Hence, when the frigate Ranger sailed from the Downs, its passengers were the bishop, his wife, and their four small children; Jehosaphat, with his wife and three children, including Salter Jehosaphat, who had just been made deacon; and the bishop’s two maiden sisters. The group disembarked at Quebec on 1 November after a long voyage attended with discomfort and some danger from French corsairs.
The ecclesiastical situation in Mountain’s huge diocese held elements both of encouragement and of warning. The policy of the British government, to establish the Church of England “both in Principles and Practice” in the colony and to induce the inhabitants “to embrace the Protestant Religion,” had been stated in instructions to Governor James Murray* in 1763 and repeated to his successors. Protestant schools and provision for the support of schoolmasters and clergy by glebes were to have been the means of accomplishing these ends, but the small number of English-speaking Protestant inhabitants and the necessity of securing the loyalty of a population almost totally French-speaking and Roman Catholic had made it impossible to carry out the instructions. Beyond the placing at Quebec, Trois-Rivières, and Montreal in 1768 of Anglican clergy whose native tongue was French and the granting to them of government stipends [see David-François de Montmollin*], little had been done in the quarter century preceding Mountain’s appointment. Indeed the position of the Roman Catholic Church had been strengthened by the Quebec Act of 1774 [see Jean-Olivier Briand*]. In 1791 the Constitutional Act decreed that a generous proportion of crown lands should be set apart for the support of a Protestant clergy, that parsonages, or rectories, should be erected, and that incumbents should be presented to them, but these provisions were still prospective in 1793.
In building the diocese of Quebec Mountain would try to transplant to Lower and Upper Canada ecclesiastical traditions developed in England. For him the most important of these was the establishment of the Church of England as the state church in the colony. Such a measure, he felt, would heighten the status of the church and encourage dissenters and Roman Catholics to attach themselves to it, thus unifying the population under an institution that, by its very nature, was bound to support the government. And he understood correctly that establishment was the policy envisaged by the imperial authorities on his appointment.
In accordance with the British practice of having Anglican bishops sit in the House of Lords, Mountain’s membership in the legislative councils of Upper and Lower Canada as lord bishop of Quebec had been arranged before he left England. Shortly after his arrival at Quebec, on the advice of local political figures such as Attorney General James Monk, he requested a seat on each executive council as well, they being the loci of real colonial influence on the provinces’ administrators. Bureaucracy delayed his taking a seat in the Legislative and Executive councils of Lower Canada until 1795 and 1796 respectively (he did not attend sessions of either council in Upper Canada), but once he was installed the councils occupied much of his time and engaged him in manifold duties unrelated to his episcopal office, such as acting as a judge when the Executive Council sat as the Court of Appeals.
Although Mountain’s political role resulted in part from traditional British practice, his decision to play it fully was determined rather by his belief that only through the councils could he hope to counter the influence on the colonial administration exercised by the Roman Catholic bishop because of the overwhelmingly Catholic population. Thus in the 1790s and early 1800s he used the weight of his council seats to block a proposal to facilitate the erection of Roman Catholic parishes; to support prohibition of entry into the colony of all refugees, including royalist clergy, from revolutionary France; and to encourage the government, although unsuccessfully, to take over the Sulpician estates [see Robert Prescott*].
Among the instructions that the governors had largely disregarded since the conquest was that concerning the exercise of the royal supremacy with respect to patronage, and no restrictions had been imposed on the Roman Catholic bishop in naming and placing his clergy. On the other hand, by section 39 of the Constitutional Act patronage in the Church of England was in the control of the governor. Mountain was therefore faced with the anomalous situation whereby as head of the church for which he claimed establishment he had less authority to place clergy than his Roman Catholic counterpart. His persistent and strong efforts to have a measure of control imposed on Roman Catholic appointments met with little success, however.
Mountain’s relations with governors Dorchester and Robert Prescott were often strained. The governors found it undesirable to alter substantially the modus vivendi that existed between church and state, but what appeared to them as a policy of political realism was regarded by Mountain as dereliction of duty. When Dorchester was about to retire in 1794 Mountain wrote to Pretyman: “As a gentleman of some consideration in the country he has always treated me with great cordiality and attention; as a Bishop of the Church of England he has never shown the least wish to give me countenance or support.” Mountain was in disagreement with Prescott over ecclesiastical policy to such an extent that it is quite likely he was among a group of executive councillors that succeeded in having the governor recalled over his land policy.
In seeking to impose restrictions on the power of the Roman Catholic church and bishop, Mountain found himself in agreement with the English party in the colony, led in the House of Assembly by John Young* and in the administration by Attorney General Jonathan Sewell* and Herman Witsius Ryland*, civil secretary and from 1796 clerk of the Executive Council. However, they did not fully share his ecclesiastical preoccupations, and there were, therefore, significant divergences of view. Even when they combined their efforts and, after Prescott’s recall, enjoyed a sympathetic administrator in Lieutenant Governor Sir Robert Shore Milnes*, Mountain and his political allies had little effect on the position of the Roman Catholic bishop. When in 1806, following Milnes’s departure, the administrator, Thomas Dunn*, accepted Joseph-Octave Plessis as successor to Bishop Pierre Denaut* without imposing limitations on his powers, Mountain bitterly declared that Dunn had “grievously disappointed my hopes & fatally thwarted my plans.”
Mountain also used his council positions to promote the establishment of his own church. He considered that a practical first step would be the creation of parishes and the erection of rectories. Action, however, had to originate with the governor in council and was subject to much delay, which Mountain attributed to political timidity in the face of opposition from Canadian members of the Executive Council. Doubts raised by Sewell about the proper legal course to pursue were also a factor. Finally, on 7 June 1800, a council committee on ecclesiastical affairs pointed out the method to be followed, and Sewell advised the issuing of letters patent under the provincial seal. But no move was made. Crown lands had been set aside for the support of a Protestant clergy as provided for in the Constitutional Act, but their management by the administrator in council of each colony proved unsatisfactory, and as early as 1803 Mountain recommended that the clergy alone should handle them. Again, however, nothing was done. Neither was the bishop able to obtain the transfer from the governor to the church of the right to issue marriage licences.
Mountain felt that the prestige of the state church depended in large part on its appearance at Quebec, the capital of Lower Canada. But the congregation shared accommodation with the Roman Catholics, first in the Recollet chapel until it burned in 1796 and then in the Jesuit chapel. The church needed a cathedral “exclusively appropriated to our Worship,” he had written to Home Secretary Henry Dundas in 1794. “That that worship should be performed only by permission of the Roman Catholic Bishop, and with that permission only once on the Sunday, that the Protestant Bishop should obtain a seat in the Church by the indulgence only of the Superior of the Franciscans; that our pure and reasonable service should only be performed within walls loaded with all the pageantry and meretricious ornament of Papish superstition, amid crucifixes, images, pictures of saints, altars, tapers and burning lamps, these Sir are circumstances which, while they shock and disgust the enlightened mind in the rational discharge of its duty, serve also strongly and publicly to mark a dependence of the Church of England, upon the Church of Rome.” He had unaccustomed success; in 1799 the Colonial Office allotted money for the construction of a cathedral on the site of the Recollet chapel, and on 28 Aug. 1804 the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, a shapely and spacious stone building, was consecrated; additions and repairs would bring the cost of the structure to £25,000.
Outside Quebec the church’s situation in terms of buildings and clergy was modest. In Lower Canada a small wooden church had been built at William Henry (Sorel) before the bishop’s arrival. At Trois-Rivières the former Recollet chapel, where the Anglicans had worshipped since 1768 [see Leger-Jean-Baptiste-Noël Veyssière*], was rearranged as a church in 1796. Christ Church in Montreal, the former Jesuit chapel, burned down in 1803, and the congregation began a new structure two years later under the ministry of Jehosaphat Mountain. The first Anglican church in what had become Upper Canada had been built for the Six Nations Indians at present-day Brantford in 1785. A church had been erected at Kingston through the efforts of the missionary and ecclesiastical commissary John Stuart*. In the nearby mission of Ernestown (Bath and region), served by John Langhorn*, three log churches had risen by 1793. At Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake) the congregation met in the freemasons’ hall in early years. By 1805 only five new missions had been opened: at York (Toronto), Cornwall, and Sandwich (Windsor) in Upper Canada and in the seigneury of Saint-Armand and Chatham Township [see Richard Bradford*] in Lower Canada. As for the clergy, when Mountain arrived the diocese was served by only nine priests. The three ordained Mountains should have brought the number to 12, but of the three bilingual priests in Montreal, Quebec, and Trois-Rivières, who had failed to attract Canadians to the church and were old, two had been placed in semi-retirement by Bishop Inglis and the third was retired by Mountain. The nine effective priests were loyalists or English.
On his first tour of the diocese, in the summer of 1794, Mountain brought the few clergy together in Montreal for an official visitation and the delivery of the episcopal charge. One account of this journey, written for young relatives in Norwich, describes in detail the modes of travel by calèche, bateau, and king’s ship as far west as Newark. A formal record, written for Dundas, told of the religious destitution of Upper Canada and made recommendations for improvement. On a second tour in 1799 the bishop revisited some missions and conducted confirmations. He saw York, the Upper Canadian capital, for the first time, although no clergyman was then settled there. On his third visitation, in 1803, he met with some encouragement, particularly at Cornwall, to which the recently ordained young Scot John Strachan* had just been appointed. He was prevented by contrary winds from journeying as far as Sandwich, where Richard Pollard had been stationed in 1802, but at York he confirmed candidates prepared by George Okill Stuart*, whom he had ordained priest in 1801. On his return to Kingston he delivered an episcopal charge to the few Upper Canadian clergy assembled there. It was an earnest plea to them to be tolerant in relation to other Christians and blameless in their personal lives. He urged them to continue their studies and to avoid a cold, dry, lifeless kind of preaching.
In part to create conditions more favourable to the growth of his church, Mountain early addressed himself to a contentious political question, education, which in his view was eminently a concern of a state church. He also saw in it the means of establishing direct contact with the Canadian population, whose ignorance of English drew “a distinct line of demarcation” between them and the British. Writing to Dundas in 1794 and to Dorchester in 1795 he urged the setting up of grammar schools in each province and the placing of instructors in Lower Canadian towns and villages to teach English free of charge. His views were largely reflected in the act of 1801 that created the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning, to supervise schools functioning under the authority of the act. However, a clause providing for private schools largely enabled the Roman Catholic Church to prevent Royal Institution schools from becoming implanted among the Canadians, while failure to implement a recommendation of the Executive Council that land grants be made for the support of grammar and free parish schools, or other means of financing provided, hampered organization for many years [see Joseph Langley Mills].
A number of reasons impelled Mountain, after nearly 12 years in Lower Canada, to plan a voyage to England. His sons Jacob Henry Brooke and George Jehoshaphat* had been tutored at Quebec by Matthew Smithers Feilde since late 1800, but their further education was a matter of family concern. Of greater weight, however, were the bishop’s doubts about his own future and his failure to advance the establishment of his church. Three roads out of these difficulties presented themselves to his mind: translation to an English bishopric, partial retirement on a pension with a country living in England, or an improvement in his position in Lower Canada. The bishop and his family set sail early in August 1805 and arrived in England before mid September. The boys were placed under the tutorship of the Reverend Thomas Monro at Little Easton, where they remained until they both matriculated to Cambridge.
Despite much effort Mountain failed to obtain translation or partial retirement; consequently, he turned to promoting the establishment of his church. Bishop Plessis’s London agent, François-Emmanuel Bourret, who feared Mountain’s influence on the government, wrote to Plessis that Mountain “has unfortunately that advantage accorded by the conformity of principles and the interests of his religion. Add to that his presence, his bearing, his gracious manners, his property of being English, his title, his learning, his protectors etc.” Mountain fared less well than Bourret apprehended, however. Although he had asked for the creation of parishes, the erection of rectories, the issuing of marriage licences by the church, funds to complete the cathedral, provision of a cathedral chapter, and the imposition of restraints on the Roman Catholic bishop, the only advantages he gained, apart from promises, were a rise in salary for six of his clergy and an extra £400 on his own in lieu of a see house. The struggle against Napoleon was of far greater concern to the government than the bishop’s problems. As well, his agitation to control the Roman Catholic Church was unwelcome to a ministry that favoured Catholic emancipation in Ireland and tended, in Mountain’s words, “to confound” the situation there with that in the colony. Political changes led to interminable delays; most notably the death of Pitt in 1806 shattered many of the bishop’s hopes. He returned to Quebec in the summer of 1808; Jean-Baptiste Lahaille* of the Séminaire de Québec reassured Plessis that Mountain was “not much listened to by the present ministry.”
Diocesan business was quickly resumed. The bishop set off on an episcopal tour in 1809 and reached Kingston but could not obtain transportation further. On the return journey he paid his first visit to Saint-Armand, and was greatly heartened by the successful mission of Charles James Stewart*, who had settled there in 1807. The following year, accompanied by his children George Robert and Eliza, he was able to get a ship at Kingston but was driven back by contrary winds though in view of York and the light at Niagara (Niagara-on-the-Lake). He made his sixth and most adventurous visitation in 1813, amid war with the United States. His bateau was escorted by soldiers from Montreal to Kingston; there he was provided with a canoe manned by ten Indians and thus was spared the sickness that invariably attacked him on shipboard. At York he had his first sight of the new church and confirmed a large class prepared by the recently appointed incumbent, Strachan. After coasting Lake Ontario back to Kingston, where George Okill Stuart had succeeded his father, John, the bishop had a Canadian crew for the journey down the St Lawrence. A proposed trip to Saint-Armand was thwarted by an American invasion through that region, but the bishop was able to make the 450-mile ride from Quebec by way of Montreal in March 1814 and to confirm a combined class from Stewart’s mission (then with two churches) and the adjoining one of Dunham under Charles Caleb Cotton*. For Mountain’s visitation as far as Detroit in 1816 transportation from Montreal was in a large canoe of the North West Company. Lasting three months, the trip proved more satisfactory than Mountain had expected because “travelling with a canoe enabled me to see a great deal more of the country and of the people than I could otherwise have done.” On his return he inspected the Lower Canadian missions near Missisquoi Bay and then crossed to the valley of the Rivière Saint-François, visiting Stanstead, Compton, Hatley, and Melbourne townships.
Considerable progress was made in the diocese after 1808, although only four new missions were opened before 1816. From the beginning of Mountain’s episcopate most clergy had been paid a government stipend of £100, to which the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel added £50. From 1815 an annual parliamentary grant for North America was put at the disposal of the society, enabling it to pay its missionaries £200 a year. By his insistence that his clergy were inadequately paid the bishop had contributed to this happy outcome. Since the need for clergy was great and the supply from England meagre, beginning in 1815 the bishop obtained from the SPG an annual grant of £200 for the education of theological students. These young men were trained by senior clergy, including Strachan, who had proposed the scheme. The system proved to be a success, and 14 students received SPG scholarships before 1825. Meanwhile, management of the clergy reserves was improved by the setting up of a corporation in Lower Canada in 1816 and in Upper Canada three years later. In the upper province, where the reserved lands were great in extent, the corporation, under the skilled direction of Strachan and with the support of Lieutenant Governor Peregrine Maitland*, transacted much business. The labours of the Lower Canada corporation were less exacting, but research was done on the length of leases. No marked increase in financial returns was made in either province for some years, however. A government proposal to sell the lands was under consideration in 1825.
Progress was also made in education. In 1813 James McGill* left a considerable bequest to the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning for the founding of a university to be named after him. To meet certain conditions of the bequest, trustees of the Royal Institution, which had remained a dead letter since 1801, were finally appointed in late 1818; Mountain was among them. On 4 Dec. 1819 the bishop became principal of the Royal Institution, and he immediately named Joseph Langley Mills to handle the administration as secretary. Mountain prepared a plan for the proposed university or college and played a part in obtaining a charter for it in 1821. Grammar schools, the establishment of which the bishop had proposed as early as 1794, were at last set up at Quebec, Montreal, and Kingston in 1816, the masters being clergy of his diocese. Two years later a primary school, called the National School, was set up in each of Quebec and Montreal by a diocesan committee of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, formed at Quebec in 1818 at the bishop’s prompting. These schools adopted the program of the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church, founded in England in 1811, and employed the society’s teaching method, called the Madras or Bell system, in which senior students were employed as monitors to teach younger children. Through its encouragement of religious education in the parishes, the diocesan committee of the SPCK also pioneered in the formation of Sunday schools.
Mountain continued to press colonial and imperial officials to reduce the authority of the Roman Catholic bishop and to give substance to the establishment of the Church of England. In Governor Sir James Henry Craig* he found a sympathetic interlocutor between 1808 and 1811, but Craig’s enthusiasm was restrained by the Colonial Office. His successor, Sir George Prevost*, on the other hand, was committed to a policy of conciliating Canadian leaders, including Bishop Plessis, before and after war with the United States broke out. Like most of the English party, Mountain strongly opposed this policy: “From a vain hope of conciliating and an ill-founded fear of offending, we have given them [the Canadians] everything,” he complained to Colonial Secretary Lord Bathurst. For his part, remarking that “the Head of our Church has far more disposition for Politics than Theology,” Prevost informed Bathurst dryly that a refusal to endorse Mountain’s ecclesiastical views had “added to my former disgrace with his Lordship for not yielding the Civil Administration to his supreme Judgement.” As a result of this conflict, the bishop was almost certainly among the leaders of a secret cabal, based in the Executive Council, that contributed to having Prevost recalled in 1815. For his supposed role Mountain was sharply reprimanded by Bathurst.
His situation not having improved in the slightest, Mountain returned to England in 1816. He attempted again to resign or to receive translation but in these efforts he failed as before. He also failed to persuade government even to pronounce that his church was established. Although the war was over, the government’s primary concern was political and social peace in the Canadas, not the adoption of policies that might lead to strife. Mountain’s relations with Bathurst, like those with his predecessors, were difficult. The colonial secretary, while acknowledging the bishop to be “of considerable abilities,” found him rigid and “of a very striving disposition.” One advantage Mountain did gain was renewed government interest in the creation of parishes and the setting up of rectories within them. In this campaign he now had the aid of a strong committee of the SPG. Further delays occurred, but, between 1820 and 1823, 12 crown rectories were established by letters patent in Lower Canada. Although the bishop succeeded in getting the titles of his assistants, George Okill Stuart at York and George Jehoshaphat Mountain at Quebec, changed from official to archdeacon, he did not obtain a desired increase of £150 in their salary.
Mountain returned to Quebec in 1819, virtually acknowledging defeat for his dream of establishment. He knew that as a result of his persistent efforts to reduce the influence of Plessis, who had won the confidence of the British authorities for his loyalism during the War of 1812, he was suspected of intolerance by the Colonial Office. The limits he wished to have placed on the toleration of Catholicism were those roughly defined by “the Laws, and Constitution of this realm,” which he believed permitted “freedom of religious Worship in the Colonies” but not “the promulgation of Doctrines” or the exercise of Roman Catholic “Principles of Church Government.” British authorities, however, were quietly disregarding many of those restrictions.
In general Mountain’s relations with the Catholic hierarchy were amicable. On his arrival in 1793 he had been greeted by the aged and retired Bishop Briand with words of welcome and the Gallic salutation of a kiss on both cheeks. Plessis described his relations with Mountain as “not of intimacy but of reciprocal propriety.” But, because of Mountain’s vigorous and open efforts to advance his church, he was long viewed with apprehension by the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Following his last and most discouraging trip to England, however, it saw him in another light. “The old bishop was what we needed, since there had to be one,” wrote Plessis’s successor, Bernard-Claude Panet, shortly after Mountain’s death, “because in his last days he was very quiet and scarcely looked to make proselytes and what is better still, he no longer bothered with affairs and had practically no credit.”
Mountain had also become increasingly aware of the challenge by Protestant denominations, particularly the Church of Scotland, to his cherished principle of Anglican establishment. It was to protect that principle that in 1803–4 he had had Clark Bentom*, an Independent minister, prosecuted for keeping parish registers. The right to hold registers, it was thought in Anglican and certain government circles, was restricted to the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, and the court confirmed that view. As with the Catholics, so with the Protestants, Mountain argued, “they who do not choose to conform [to the establishment] lose perhaps some Civil advantages but are not thereby in the smallest degree restrained in the exercise of the public worship of God.”
Because Mountain’s approach to other denominations was institutional – he opposed church to church rather than faith to faith – he was little disposed to endorse proselytism and in this respect the traveller John Cosens Ogden remarked that “his moderation and discretion are very acceptable to all parties.” His response to the proselytism of others reflected his perception that his was a state church; in 1813, for example, he suggested that, for having attempted to convert Anglicans, the Roman Catholic priest Charles French should be tried for high treason. Mountain was aware that in his conception of relations with non-Anglicans he was out of step with his era. To a close friend, James Irvine, he described the times as “so strongly characterized by an unrestrained spirit of Conciliation & an inordinate desire of the praise of liberality” that from others he “might fear the imputation of extreme bigotry and narrowness of mind.”
Mountain’s last visitation, begun in June 1820, took him on the outward voyage to Montreal, Kingston, York, Fort Erie, Amherstburg, and Detroit. On the return journey the bishop confirmed in the Indian council house at Fort George (Niagara-on-the-Lake) since the church, damaged in the late war, had not been completely restored, in a schoolhouse at Grimsby, and in an interdenominational church in Barton Township. After holding a visitation of his clergy at York, he continued on to Hamilton (Cobourg), Ernestown, and Kingston, confirmed in the Brockville court-house, took a difficult diversion for a service in a Perth schoolhouse, and then descended the St Lawrence to Cornwall. Fourteen missions had been seen in the upper province. In Lower Canada he visited St Andrews (Saint-André-Est) and delivered his charge in Montreal to 14 clergy. Travel to other missions, ten in number, was postponed until February and March 1821. The only part of his great diocese that Mountain did not see was the Gaspé, where two missions had been established. George Jehoshaphat Mountain inspected them in 1824.
Growth in the population of the Canadas following the Napoleonic Wars led to a rapid extension of the church. In the last decade of Mountain’s episcopate 35 new missions were founded, 19 of them in the upper province. In both Canadas Charles James Stewart did more than anyone to organize missions and raise money for church building. The secure though moderate stipends and the SPG’s scholarships encouraged young men to train for the ministry and attracted clergy from England. Among those who began work in these years were Samuel Simpson Wood*, James Reid, and three pairs of brothers, Joseph* and William Abbott, Alexander Neil* and John* Bethune, and Ralph* and William Leeming. Apart from his brother Jehosaphat, his nephew Salter Jehosaphat, and his son George Jehoshaphat – the latter his father’s steady support in all aspects of diocesan life – the only member of the clergy with whom the bishop was intimate was John Stuart. Significantly, it was the son of the former missionary, George Okill Stuart, who, in an address delivered before Mountain at York in July 1820, recalled occasions when “we have seen the Prelate descending into the Friend.”
Mountain was an imposing man. In 1820 when one of the diocesan clergy first saw the bishop he confessed himself “struck with admiration at as perfect a specimen of the human form as I ever beheld; erect, standing above six feet, face what might be called handsome, eye mild yet penetrating, features well set and expression benevolent, limbs fully developed, and symmetry of the whole person complete.” Mountain was then 70 years old. Before meeting the bishop Governor Lord Dalhousie [Ramsay*] had heard him spoken of as “a clever man, amiable in his outward manners but a lazy preacher, very haughty and imperious in society.” When in 1820 Dalhousie heard a sermon by Mountain that pleased him, he described this “fine looking old Gentlemen” as “a Divine of exalted rank & of commanding abilities.” With his background and training Mountain moved easily and graciously in society. Of his wife, Elizabeth, John Strachan recorded that she was “in her manners amiable and engaging – in her religion sincere active and cheerful – in charity unbounded, without regard to sect or nation.” Through her letters to Elizabeth Pretyman Tomline written from 1793 to 1810 much can be learned of the home life of the Mountain family, of Mrs Mountain’s care for her children, of the bishop’s many illnesses, of her continual concern for her husband and her sympathy with his problems.
Jacob Mountain died at Quebec on 16 June 1825 and was buried under the chancel of the cathedral he had built. He had never been able to overcome fully his English background and formation, and in 1823 after nearly 30 years as bishop of Quebec he had referred to his situation as “this long expatriation”; from it he had numerous times tried to extricate himself. His objective had been not so much to adapt the Church of England to the specific and differing circumstances in Lower and Upper Canada, but to bring the religious life of the colonies and particularly the relations between the churches and the state into conformity with the situation in England. This endeavour was impossible given conditions in the Canadas from 1793 to 1825. Dalhousie, a Scottish Presbyterian, despite his approval of Mountain’s ability as a preacher, felt that the bishop carried “high church discipline too far for a colonial church,” and Strachan felt that “his habits and manners were calculated rather for an English Bishop than the Missionary Bishop of Canada.” Mountain gave to position, social dignity, and prestige, both institutional and personal, an importance that they perhaps did not merit in the North American context. His clergy, most of them sent from Great Britain by the SPG, were never numerous enough to minister effectively in all areas of their large mission stations and differed widely in ability. Some, because of strict adherence to church rubrics, were not able to attract to their services settlers without strong church loyalties. Others, because of their fear of religious “enthusiasm” – shared by the bishop – did not meet fully the emotional needs of a pioneer society. To all his clergy he held out high ideals for their conduct and spirituality, defending them in official correspondence, administering reproof and discipline in private as need arose. Jacob Mountain, despite his deficiencies, achieved much as a pioneer bishop, and even Strachan, recognizing the difficulties that Mountain had had to face, acknowledged what had been accomplished. Mountain could not realize a number of his dreams and did not live to see the realization of others, but in his long episcopate he fully earned the title given to him in his epitaph: “Founder of the Church of England in the Canadas.”
Jacob Mountain is the author of Poetical reveries (London, 1777; repr. 1977); A sermon preached at Quebec on Thursday, January 10th, 1799, being the day appointed for a general thanksgiving; . . . together with the form of a prayer drawn up upon the occasion (Quebec, 1799); A charge delivered to the clergy of the diocese of Quebec in August 1803 (Quebec, 1803); The Holy Communion: a sermon preached in the cathedral of Quebec in the year 1804 ([Quebec, 1804]); A sermon preached at the anniversary of the Royal Humane Society in Christ Church, Surrey, on Sunday, the 28th of March, 1819 (London, 1819); and A charge delivered to the clergy of the diocese of Quebec in the year 1820 (Quebec, 1820). A journal of one of Mountain’s pastoral visitations has been published: “From Quebec to Niagara in 1794; diary of Bishop Jacob Mountain,” ed. A. R. Kelley, ANQ Rapport, 1959–60: 121–65. A portrait of Mountain done in 1778 by John Downman and kept at the PAC is reproduced in Archivist (Ottawa), 12, no.1 (January–February 1985): 19. Another portrait, by Henry Edridge, is the frontispiece of Millman, Jacob Mountain.
ACC-Q, 1–2, 16–24, 72–90, 106–10, 118, 123. ACC, Diocese of Montreal Arch. (Montreal), file C-11; Diocese of Ont. Arch. (Kingston, Ont. ), Group 11, John Stuart papers. MTL, John Strachan papers. Norfolk Record Office (Norfolk, Eng.), T169A (copies at ACC, General Synod Arch., Toronto). PAC, MG 17, B1, C/CAN/Que., IV/32 (mfm.); RG 7, G1, 1–14; G15A; G15C. PRO, CO 42/94–175. Suffolk Record Office (Ipswich, Eng.), HA 119, 503/5, 540/1–5. USPG, Journal of SPG, 26–36. Corr. of Hon. Peter Russell (Cruikshank and Hunter). Corr. of Lieut. Governor Simcoe (Cruikshank). John Strachan, A sermon, preached at York, Upper Canada, third of July 1825, on the death of the late lord bishop of Quebec (Kingston, 1826). Alumni Cantabrigienses . . . , comp. John and J. A. Venn (2 pts. in 10v., Cambridge, Eng., 1922–54). Biographical history of Gonville and Caius College . . . , comp. John Venn et al. (5v., [Cambridge], 1897–1948), 2. A. R. Kelley, “Jacob Mountain, first lord bishop of Quebec: a summary of his correspondence and of papers related thereto for the years 1793 to 1799 . . . ,” ANQ Rapport, 1942–43: 177–260. Philip Carrington, The Anglican Church in Canada; a history (Toronto, 1963). Christie, Hist. of L.C. Ernest Hawkins, Annals of the diocese of Quebec (London, 1849); Annals of the diocese of Toronto (London, 1848). Lambert, “Joseph-Octave Plessis.” Cyrus Macmillan, McGill and its story, 1821–1921 (London and Toronto, 1921). T. R. Millman, A sketch of the life and work of the Right Reverend Jacob Mountain, D.D., first lord bishop of Quebec: a sermon preached on Sunday, October 31, 1943 in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity . . . ([Quebec, 1943]). A. S. H. Mountain, Memoirs and letters of the late Colonel Armine S. H. Mountain, C.B., aide de camp to the queen and adjutant general of her majesty’s forces in India, ed. [C. A. Dundal] Mrs A. S. H. Mountain (London, 1857). A. W. Mountain, A memoir of George Jehoshaphat Mountain, D.D., D.C.L., late bishop of Quebec . . . (London and Montreal, 1866). C. F. Pascoe, Two hundred years of the S.P.G. . . . (2v., London, 1901). Henry Roe, Story of the first hundred years of the diocese of Quebec . . . (Quebec, 1893). [Frederic Rogers] Baron Blachford, Some account of the legal development of the colonial episcopate (London, 1883). “Memoir of the late bishop of Quebec,” Christian Sentinel and Anglo-Canadian Churchman’s Magazine (Montreal), 1 (1827): 5–17.
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Cite This Article
Thomas R. Millman, “MOUNTAIN, JACOB,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 6, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed March 29, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/mountain_jacob_6E.html.
The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:
|Author of Article:||Thomas R. Millman|
|Title of Article:||MOUNTAIN, JACOB|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 6|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||1987|
|Year of revision:||1987|
|Access Date:||March 29, 2023|