|Queen Victoria wearing her small diamond crown.|
Photograph by Alexander Bassano, 1882
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Queen Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1837 until her death in 1901. Her reign spanned the episcopates of the first five ordinaries of the Toronto see: Bishop Michael Power (1842-47); Bishop Armand de Charbonnel (1850-60); Archbishop John Joseph Lynch (1860-88); Archbishop John Walsh (1889-98); and Archbishop Denis O’Connor (1899-1908).
The statutory holiday is celebrated on the last Monday before May 25, in honour of Queen Victoria's birthday (May 24, 1819). Victoria's birth was noted by Rev. William P. MacDonald, a Roman Catholic priest who came to Upper Canada in 1826 and eventually became Vicar General of the Diocese of Toronto under Michael Power. In his papers at ARCAT, we have a letter from Lieutenant General Wetherall, on behalf of the Duke of Kent, thanking the Rev. MacDonald for his congratulations concerning the Duchess:
During the Victorian period, the Diocese of Toronto was created, incorporated and elevated to an archdiocese:
|The Act to Incorporate the Diocese of Toronto on March 29, 1945,|
“enacted by the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty.”
Statutes of the Province of Canada, 1845. An Act to Incorporate the Roman Catholic
Bishops of Toronto and Kingston, in Canada, in each Diocese (pp. 499-502).
The number of Catholics in predominantly-Protestant Toronto also expanded exponentially with the influx of Irish Catholics fleeing the Great Famine (1845-52). The Queen and her government’s handling of the famine did not ingratiate the monarch to Irish emigrants. Many saw themselves as dispossessed, forced from Ireland by starvation, which they blamed on Britain's slow reaction to the calamity.
These sentiments are captured in our records concerning preparations for the Queen's Jubilee in 1887 and the Catholic bishops' decision to boycott the celebrations:
|Bishop Walsh of London writes to Bishop Lynch, |
“I don’t intend to have any Jubilee celebration….
We might, it is true, pray for her conversion and that the reign of injustice may speedily end.”
Lynch Fonds, L AD 03.49