Past Rectors

From 2004 to 2014, the parish was served by four priests-in-charge — the Reverend David Neelands (2004-5), the Reverend Christian Swayne OHC (2005-2011), the Reverend David Bryan Hoopes OHC (2011-2013), and the Reverend Maggie Helwig, who began as priest-in-charge in May 2013 and was appointed rector in January 2015.

Prior to 2004, the parish had been served by nine rectors:

1858 – 1861: The Rev. James Henry McCollum

James McCollum was born in County Cavan, Ireland, in 1826, and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where he received his B.A. In 1855 he was ordered deacon and ordained priest in the Diocese of Limerick, Ireland. He entered the Diocese of Toronto August 2, 1857, as the curate to the Reverend Dr. Lett, at St. George the Martyr. In this capacity he also served as Secretary to the School. A very personable young man, he attracted the attention of Col. Robert Brittain Denison and was offered the incumbency of St. Stephen-in-the Fields.

At St. Stephen’s, he proved a very popular choice with the congregation, although there were differences of opinion with the founder. Like many clergymen of the period, he was trained in the tradition of the United Church of England and Ireland, and the prejudices against Rome were inherent. The Irish Society was organized to educate the poor in Ireland by the non-Roman church, and teachers were all anti-Roman in their persuasion. The Society had a branch in Canada, and the Rev. Mr. McCollum was the secretary.

Col. Denison’s expression of faith favoured the Ecclesiastical Movement, a return to Anglo-Catholic high-church theology. Rev. McCollum and Col. Denison soon clashed over their differences, and a letter writing campaign to the Bishop ensued. Col. Denison prevailed, and over the objections of the rest of the congregation, the Rev. McCollum resigned in April 1861. He went on to become the first Rector of the neighbouring parish of St. Thomas.

1861 – 1911: The Rev. Abraham James Broughall

Born in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada on May 2, 1832. He was educated at Victoria College in Cobourg, and graduated with honours from Trinity College, Toronto, in 1855. On graduation, he became a lecturer in classics at Trinity and continued to instruct until 1869. Bishop Strachan ordained him deacon in 1857 and priest in 1858.

Abraham Broughall came to Saint Stephen’s on April 7, 1861 from a curacy at the garrison church of St. John the Evangelist. He brought his wife, Georgina, and his children. The boys were fun-loving and mischievous. One day when “Billy”, as he was affectionately known, had disobeyed, he tried to avoid the impending punishment by crawling under the porch of the Rectory. With mother laying in wait, he stayed there most of the afternoon. When his father returned, Mrs. Broughall asked him to drag out the miscreant, and Father Broughall went under the porch after his son. Indicative of the relationship that existed between father and son, “Billy” snickered and said: “Is she after you too, Dad?”.

“Billy” went on to become Bishop of Niagara. His brother James, and eleven of the Broughall grandchildren entered the priesthood in the years that followed.

Canon Broughall carried a heavy burden of responsibility. The church of the Victorian era was the centre of all activity, and attendance regularly reached over 600. In 1872, the church built a a roughcast building on property to the south of the church, to house a Sunday school for 400 children. By 1887, there were 650 children on the roll, and the Sunday School was moved to a new building between the rectory and the church.

In addition to his normal work as pastor and teacher to a parish, Canon Broughall was domestic chaplain and then examining chaplain to the Bishop of Toronto for twenty-five years. He was awarded a Doctorate in Divinity by Trinity University in 1904 and appointed a Canon of St. Alban’s in 1907. Failing health forced his resignation in 1911 and he lived in retirement for some years. Press reports reflected the high esteem of church and community for Abraham and his wife, Georgina.

Georgina Harriet Broughall (nee Hurd) strongly supported her husband’s work, brought up a large family and employed her exceptional talents in church and community. Three sons trained for holy orders, one becoming a bishop. She led a Bible Class of two hundred women and girls, assisted in the founding of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine and was responsible for building a Home for Young Women, “Georgina House” on Beverley Street, Toronto.

1912 – 1925: The Rev. Thomas George Wallace

1914: The Rev. Wallace becomes a chaplain to Canadian Forces overseas. Fifty parishioners die in military service during the war. St. Stephen’s is dubbed “The Engineer’s Church”, possibly because many men of the parish join the Engineers.

An able parish priest, a good preacher with an engaging personality and sense of humour. He employed modern interpretations of the Bible long before these were generally acceptable. In World War I, he became a chaplain to Canadian Forces overseas and in his absence, the Reverend Dr. Pilcher was Priest-in-Charge. Canon Wallace wrote two books for publication, “Leading Movements in English Christianity” and “Our Debit to the Celtic Church”. His Lenten sermons were printed and he wrote “The Duties of Church Wardens and Sidesmen” for publication by the General Board of Religious Education of the Anglican Church of Canada. Transferred to the Diocese of Huron, where he became Rector of St. James’ Church and a professor at Huron College in London, Ontario.

The photo was donated in June 2000 by Jerry Reid, his grandson. He offered us a wonderful story about his mother’s life at St. Stephen’s rectory:

“My mother, Margaret K. Wallace was born in Georgetown, spent about 5 years here in Oakville prior to my grandfather being assigned to St. Stephen’s. Your church and the rectory were ‘home’ for most of her life. She only left when she married in 1925. There may still be a fire station across the street from the church (there is—Ed.). As a youngster with a strong curiosity, I expect she spent a few hours with the crew. At any rate, one of her stories was that, as she and my grandfather came out of the church, the fire stations sounded their sirens, and she was astounded that they would do that for her! In later years we heard that there were always cats around, because there were lots of places for mice to nest and the cats kept the numbers under control.

The photo is another reminder of family history. At the end of the first war, while my father’s contingent was waiting in England for transport home, he attended a church service. He noted in his diary that a Rev. Wallace had taken the service, and gave a good sermon. Many years after my parents were married (and after Grandfather died), Dad was looking through some old diaries, and realized the significance of the note: At the time, Dad had been listening to his future father-in-law! After a stint as an engineer, my father took early retirement from Bell Canada in 1957 and spent another 15 years as an Anglican priest in Montreal, then Montebello, Quebec.”

1925 – 1958: Canon James Edward Ward

Ward was born in Barrie, Ontario, the son of a British Colonel who had served during the North West Rebellion in 1885. The Ward family homesteaded in Alberta at about the turn of the century. Six years later, young James came to Ontario to further his education at the University of Toronto. He then went to Oxford university, where he graduated in Honour Theology in 1913 and was ordained at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England. In W.W.I he became Chaplain in the 75th Brigade, Canadian Forces. He served in France and was invalided back to England in 1915 after being severely wounded. He served as curate in Yewsley, Middlesex, from 1920 to 1925, when he returned to Canada and became rector of St. Stephen’s.

At St. Stephen’s, he pioneered the radio broadcasting of religious services on CFRB Radio (CBC carried some special events) from March 1927 to the end of his incumbency in 1958. After struggling for relevancy and financial independance in the 1920, the parish became strong and influential through its enlarged on-air congregation in Central Canada and the U.S.A. The work led The Rev. Ward’s to write 75 religious plays, as well as poetry and music. He wrote a weekly religious drama series for the CBC called “The Way of the Spirit”, which received an American award for outstanding spiritual and dramatic quality. From time to time his plays were presented live in St. Stephen’s Church by a cast of professional players (including Dora Mavor Moore, and later, Mavor Moore, and the Earle Grey Players) and members of the congregation.

James Edward Ward was Rural Dean from 1937 to 1939, Canon of St. James Cathedral from 1940, Honorary Director of Radio Affairs for the Anglican Church in Canada, Chairman of the National Religious Advisory Council for Trinity College. Trinity conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1951.

By the new year of of 1956, The Rev. Ward was nearing retirement. One day, he crossed College Street to go to a restaurant for lunch when he was hit by a truck. Frail after his recovery, he announced his retirement in January 1958. Sadly, just months later he had a heart attack and was admitted to Sunnybrook hospital. The Rev. Ward listened to the last radio broadcast from St. Stephen-in-the-Fields from his hospital bed; it was the induction of Canon (later Bishop) Marshall by the Bishop of Toronto. Sadly, he died a few days later, in April 1958. Parishioners, friends, and admirers including local merchants, who closed their shops for the occasion, attended the funeral service. More about Canon Ward on this site in the Radio and Theatre page and in a longer essay by his nephew Ross Trant.

1958 – 1968: Canon Guy Marshall

Born and educated in Yorkshire, England, and attended Durham University and King’s College, London. His first appointment was curate at Stoke Newington followed by appointments in the Mission to Seamen at Buenos Aires and Rosario in the Argentine. Before returning to England he was Rector and Sub-Dean of St. John’s Pro Cathedral, Buenos Aires.

He came to Canada in 1957 to open a Branch of the Mission in the Port of Toronto, following construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway. As it was essentially a seasonal operation, he also assisted at St. Paul’s Church on Bloor Street, Toronto. He combined his work as Director of the Mission to Seamen with that of Rector of St. Stephen’s.

Guy Marshall was a rugged Yorkshireman and active in sports. After his playing days were over, he became a referee and then President of the Ontario Rugger Union. He was good at cricket, and middleweight boxer and a keen darts player. He spoke Spanish and French fluently and had some knowledge of Italian and other languages. With his classical background and firm adherence to the Scriptures and Prayer Book, he faced modern social problems with understanding, sympathy and humour.

In 1960, under the Rector’s leadership, St. Stephen’s parishioners became involved in the Mission to Seamen and St. Stephen’s Community House.

In 1967, Canon Marshall became a Bishop of the Province of the West Indies to direct a project of the Anglican Church of Canada in Venezuela. The Rev. Howard C. Best became Priest-in-Charge until May 1, 1968.

1968 – 1972: The Rev. John E. Speers

Came from Aurora with his family to live in the renovated and delightful old rectory around which he created superb gardens. Lemonade on the lawn became a happy feature of the summer months after the morning service. His artistic qualities included music, poetry, sketching and the cultivation of beautiful shrubs and flowers. He was a dedicated parish priest, friendly, hospitable and guided by a strong sense of duty. The Advisory Board was in initiated in 1969 and Education, Stewardship and Evangelism became the key-notes of his plans for the parish. He left for an appointment in Barrie.

1972 – 1982: The Rev. Campbell A. Russell

Came from Midland to St. Stephen’s with his wife and two children. He had been in business for eight years before studying for holy orders. He was an assistant at Holy Trinity, Toronto, then Chaplain of the Canterbury Club at the University of Toronto for five years, followed by a five year term as Rector in Midland. During his incumbency, St. Stephen’s Community House is incorporated and re-organized with a new director, Mr. Brian Smith.

During the Russell’s time, the rectory became known for help freely given to transients and became the forerunner of Stop 103. The Caribbean Outreach Committee met there regularly and sent help to school and libraries they visited.

1983 – 1988: The Rev. Ben Lochridge

He was ordained deacon by the Bishop of Fulham in the U.S. in 1976 and priested by the Bishop of Central Newfoundland in 1977. His curacy was in Grand Falls, Central Nfld. until 1978 when he moved to the Parish of Deer Lake, Western Nfld, as rector. He remained there until 1983 when he and his wife, Viviana, and son, Benjamin, moved to Toronto where he became rector of St. Stephen-in-the-Fields. During his incumbency he served as padre to the Ontario Regiment and Chaplain of the Toronto Militia District.

1988 – 2004: The Rev. Kevin Flynn

Kevin Flynn was born in 1955 in Montreal. His family moved to Toronto in 1964. He received a B.A. in History and French from York University in 1977. He worked for the Workers’ Compensation Board for two years before entering Trinity College at the University of Toronto where he received the Master of Divinity degree in 1982. He was ordained deacon by the Rt. Rev. Lewis Garnsworthy in 1982, and priest in 1983. He served his curacy at the Church of the Redeemer, Toronto. After three years at the Redeemer he became Associate Priest at St. Margaret’s-in-the-Pines in the West Hill area of Scarborough. In 1988 he became incumbent of the Church of St. Stephen-in-the-Fields. His interest in liturgical theology led him to a Master of Theology degree at Trinity College (1994), with a thesis entitled “Rites of Christian Initiation in the Anglican Communion Since 1969.” These interests led to his position as lecturer in liturgy at Trinity College. He became regional dean of Parkdale in 1995. Among his interests at St. Stephen’s have been the establishment of links to artists, the development of multicultural ministries (especially French and Spanish), the exploration of Yoga and meditation for Christians, and the furtherance of the renewal of the liturgy. He left St. Stephen’s to become Director, Anglican Studies / Program/Coordonnateur des Études Anglicanes at Saint Paul University in Ottawa.

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