Michael Power: The Struggle to Build the Catholic Church on the Canadian Frontier

McGill-Queen’s University Press

From his role in the devotional revolutions of the 19th century to tending the Irish famine migrants in the fever sheds of Toronto, Michael Power's extraordinary life provides glimpses into the role of the Church during the most important events in early Canadian history. Writing with insight and grace, Mark McGowan untangles the man from the myth. McGowan sets his account against the dramatic backdrop of pre-Confederation Canada, tracing the challenges Power faced as a young priest helping to establish and sustain the Catholic Church in the newly settled areas of the continent. Appointed first bishop of Toronto in 1841, Power became an ardent proponent of the Ultramontane reforms and disciplines that were to revitalize the Roman Catholic Church. McGowan explores the way in which Power established frameworks for Catholic institutions, schools, and religious life that are still relevant to English Canada today. Born to Irish parents in 1804 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Power began his work as a priest in the St Francis River Valley. After a series of other frontier postings, he moved to Toronto, where he died, just days before his 44th birthday, following work with the Irish immigrant community during the typhoid epidemic.


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