Fonds 002 - James Simpson archives

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James Simpson archives

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  • Textual record

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British Columbia

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents of archives.

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  • 1886-2004 (Creation)

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10.5 cm of textual records

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Name of creator

(11 May 1853-29 November 1920)

Biographical history

As outlined in Robert Tuck's entry for Simpson in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, James Simpson was born on 11 May 1853 in Maidstone, England, the son of James Simpson, a surgeon and dentist, and Marion Campbell. Simpson married Alice Maude DesBrisay in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island on 29 June 1891 and had three sons and one daughter. Simpson died in Charlottetown on 29 November 1920. He was educated at Southsea Diocesan Grammar School in England and emigrated to Quebec in 1872. He studied for holy orders at Bishop’s College, Lennoxville, graduating in arts in 1876 (ma 1879) and then worked as a government surveyor. In 1882 he was engaged as assistant master at Trinity College School, Port Hope, Ontario, and was then ordered deacon in 1882 and priest in 1883.

In December 1886, Simpson went to Charlottetown to take temporary charge of St Peter’s Cathedral, being inducted as "priest-incumbent" on 13 February 1887. He was made the first canon of his cathedral in 1907 and an honorary canon of All Saints’ Cathedral, Halifax, in 1915. He was a member of both provincial and general synods, a governor of King’s College, Windsor, Nova Scotia, and a delegate to the Pan-Anglican Congress held in 1908. In 1914 Bishop’s College made him an honorary doctor of canon law. Simpson also served on the committee that produced the first Canadian revision of the Book of Common Prayer in 1918.

Custodial history

The James Simpson Archives are part of the backlog of records held by St. Peter's Cathedral Church, which were relocated from the church bell tower to the church basement and then into a purpose-built archival room. The records had been stored in boxes and bags at one point and original order was lost.

Scope and content

The archives consist of personal and church-related records created or received by James Simpson in his capacity as priest incumbent of St. Peter's Cathedral Church. Series include: correspondence, diaries, speeches, printed communications and addresses, notes and sermons, publications, and records related to personal and life events, along with a file of miscellaneous documents.

Included in the archives are the files summarized below; see also the finding aid.

-- File 1: Miscellaneous correspondence, 1886-1912
-- File 2: Correspondence with newspapers, [1892-1920?] (includes copies of published sermons)
-- File 3: Correspondence with newspapers – letter re: state of Cathedral, March 1906
-- File 4: “DAY BOOK 1917 – Dec 1926”, 1917-1952 - a bound day book recording life events (birth, baptism, marriage, death), organized by day according to the pre-printed pages of the book. There are often multiple entries per day. The book appears to have been used not only by Canon Simpson but also by Canon Malone. The contents span several dates before and after the 1917-1926 dates shown on the label. This kind of book might have been kept as an aide memoire by the minister to help with visits or to remember special events. The book was not intended to replace vital events records.
-- File 5: Rothesay C. Stewart Speech to Leicester Medical Society, 9 November 1904
-- File 6: Printed communications and addresses, including sermons, 1887-1920
-- File 7: Notes and sermons, 1899, n.d.
-- File 8: St. Peter’s Jubilee Celebrations, correspondence, 1919
-- File 9: Memorial service for Queen Victoria – sermon and notes, 1901, n.d.
-- File 10: Canon James Simpson death and memorial records, [1920-1924?] (includes documents related to Simpson’s death and plans for a memorial to his name; also a memorial to Sister Theresa. The records also include information about Simpson’s son Stewart Basil Simpson, who was killed in action in the First World War on 1 October 1916)
-- File 11: Cuthbert Aikman Simpson information, 1969-2004 (documentation related to James Simpson’s son, Cuthbert Aikman Simpson (1892-1969), who was Dean of Christchurch, Oxford, from 1959 to 1969)
-- File 12: Pamphlets, [1899-1918] (pamphlets removed from St. Peter’s Altar Service Book, which was kept at the altar and used during Canon Simpson’s tenure as priest incumbent)
-- File 13: Forms of Prayer for Private and Public Use in Time of War (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1915) (publication removed from St. Peter’s Altar Service Book, which was kept at the altar and used during Canon Simpson’s tenure as priest incumbent)
-- File 14: James Simpson Intersessions and Notes, [1899- ?] (notes, which include references to different parishioners and reasons for providing prayers, removed from St. Peter’s Altar Service Book, which was kept at the altar and used during Canon Simpson’s tenure as priest incumbent)
-- File 15: “Lists of gifts and memorials in St. Peter’s Cathedral from its foundation, so far as can be gathered” 1890; “Names of subscribers to Memorial Chapel to March 1, 1890”; “Collected for memorial: Miss Davies, Miss [R.] Stewart,” (1 sheet) [1890]; loose documents removed from the sacristy to the archives on 25 February 2019 and identified as from James Simpson’s incumbency.
-- File 16: Survey of Clergy, no date, re: a survey of clergy to identify the names of clergy in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and to identify barriers to entering a church career.
-- File 17: Notes re: jurisdiction of Prince Edward Island, no date, re: background to the jurisdiction of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia for the church.

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Some documents are extremely fragile; transcription is planned to support preservation and access.

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