A stern reality is this death, whether borne on angel wings to kiss
into unconsciousness a lovely child, or whirled in a chariot of fire
to smite a vigorous youth, or carried slowly forward in the wallet of
time to gently garner the ripened fruit of a long and well spent life.
A dispeller of illusions, too, is this relentless pursuer of the human
family. In the dim light of his presence all artistic groupings of
deeds, all dramatic action, all fictitious presentments of our own
importance, are ruthlessly shorn of the glamour that ennobled them
in our eyes ; and we see them only as well or ill-done duties, and
perhaps wasted opportunities. The setting sun throws out a
shadow startling in its lengthened outlines ; and the decline of
life's fitful day carries the soul back over its span of years,,
shadowed too often with phantoms of forgotten misdeeds, of giant-
like proportions. The mind is no longer held captive in a net-
work of complex subtleties, such as bias our judgment, or produce
indecision during our life : it sees only the yea, yea, or the nay,
nay the systole and diastole of conscience. Death, the pursuer,,
at length overtakes the pursued, and, fight bravely as he may, the
latter is to all human seeming invariably conquered. Yet is there a
triumphant ring in the dying cry of the vanquished. " Non
omnis Moriar" not all of me shall die, is the challenge the
expiring Christian throws down to victorious death, as he calmly
passes to a life and a state more real, though less material, than/
Dr. Burke had seen death under various forms, and he felt that
his own race was nearly run. After his return from Eastern Nova
Scotia in September, 1820, he issued, as we have seen, a pastoral
letter, replete with salutary instructions, both for priests and people.
He arranged his temporal affairs, too, and executed his last will
and testament on 2oth September. In those days there was no
Episcopal Corporation to hold in trust the Church property of the
Diocese. Hence Dr. Burke bequeathed all his property, real and
personal, both in Nova Scotia and Ontario, to the Rt. Reverend
Bishop Plessis of Quebec, Rev. John Carroll, and Michael Tobin
Esq., of Halifax, constituting Lawrence Doyle and Patrick Ryan
executors of his will. The subscribing witnesses were Rev.
Thomas Rice, John Loughan, and Michael McSweeney. His
" general intention " was " to provide for the boys' and girls'
schools," as we learn from his last letter to Bishop Plessis.
Having thus set his house in order, he was like " the strong man
well armed " who guards his dwelling, and keeps all things in
peace. He could calmly await the summons which should end
his personal activity on earth. The effects, however, of his
labours would not end : they were seed-germs of noblest deeds ;
fecundated by divine grace, and would pullulate and blossom, and
fructify in an ever- increasing ratio for the glory of God and the
good of souls. As well attempt to destroy the attractive force of
matter, as to deprive of enduring consequences a human action.
For weal or woe, these consequences will be propagated in an end-
less series down the ages, unless, or until, a stronger impulse
modify or change the source of their reproductiveness.
Bishop Burke was not unprepared for his last malady ; he had
felt, for some time, its approach. With the fading of the autumn
flowers, and the falling of the seared leaves, his erst robust frame
grew weak, as if his work, like that of the dying season, had been
done. Lying on his deathbed there were no ghosts of misspent
years to haunt his sleeping hours, or to affright his waking thoughts.
His short, but brilliant Episcopate, rounded, in a fitting manner, the
long years of his missionary life. Scarcely two years and four
months had passed since his Episcopal consecration, and only a
little more than three years since he had control over the Vicariate,
and yet how much had been done. Five priests ordained for his
Diocese, two aspirants nearly ready for Holy Orders ; several
students in college ; a school for boys and another for girls,
founded, and progressing most favourably ; a college inaugurated, in
a modest way, it is true, yet with a guarantee of success should his
views be carried out; every portion of his large and difficult Diocese
visited and blessed by his Episcopal ministrations, and cheered and
instructed by his words ; finally a cathedral of enduring stone,
spacious -for the time, and of imposing outline, well under way.
When we consider the time with its lack of conveniences, the sparse-
ness of the Catholic population, and their comparative poverty, we
can appreciate more fully the vigour and success of Dr. Burke's
administration. We can unite with Rev. Mr. McEachan, after-
wards Bishop of Charlottetown, in regretting that his promotion
had not come fifteen years sooner. In his Vicariate, which com-
prised only the peninsula of Nova Scotia, he now had as assistants
in the work of the ministry, the following clergymen : Rev. Abbd
Sigogne, St. Mary's Bay ; Rev. A. Doucet, Eelbrookj Rev. Father
Grace, Prospect; Rev. Messrs. Thos. Rice, John Carroll and James
Dunphy, Halifax ; Rev. Denis Geary, Chezzetcook : Rev. Colin
Grant, Antigonish ; Rev. James Grant, Manchester Guysborough
Co., and Rev. Father Vincent, a Trappist Father, at Tracadie. At
this time there were in Cape Breton, Rev. Father Gaulin, afterwards
Bishop of Kingston, Ont, at Arichat, and Rev. Alexander Mc-
Donell at or near Judique.
The attentive reader of these Memoirs can imagine, thanks to
the many letters quoted, the varied panorama over which Bishop
Burke could look back. For thirty-four years he had lived and
laboured in Canada, had loved the country, and felt assured of its
future prosperity. His peaceful life at the Seminary of Quebec,
his close contact with savage, and half-breed, and debased white
men, during two eventful years in the wilds of Ohio and Michigan,
his five years of ceaseless journeying and priestly labours in
Ontario, and his nineteen years at Halifax, the centre of refinement,
as well as of England's power on this continent, during the stirring
period of Napoleon's wars, not to speak of the little brush with the
United States, formed an experience such as few are given to con-
template. Through it all he had " fought the good fight," loyal to
his faith, zealous for the good of souls, and filled with that charity
which seeks not its own, but the things that are of God. He had the
friendship and esteem of the leading men of his time, but no word
or act of his savouring of flattery, or sycophancy, can be adduced.
In a difficult time for Catholics he knew how to obey all just laws
of the state, and to despise and set at nought all that attempted to
interfere with his religion, or to fetter his sacred ministry. He had
a keen sense of man's nothingness in comparison with God, his
Creator. Hence, when death drew near, he requested his attendants
to lift him from his bed to the floor.* Lying in this suppliant posture
he calmly resigned his beautiful soul to God, on Wednesday, 2 9th
November, 1820. For three days his mortal remains lay in state,
and were viewed by many thousands. Death not only levels the
inequalities of rank, but it breaks down, too, all walls of division. In
rightly constituted minds all antagonism dies with the antagonist ;
and where only faults were seen, or perhaps looked for, now only
the virtues and good qualities of the departed flash on the mental
view. Around the bier of the sturdy champion of the Church and
her rights, only expressions of sorrow and admiration were heard.
Men realized that they had lived with one of those strong person-
alities which sum up and embody all that is best of their age, and
from whose action, future generations date an epoch. The Catholic
congregation mourned a father who had lovingly watched over
their interests, a pastor who had fed them with the word of truth,
and the bread of life, and a leader who had built on broad and
deep foundations the spiritual edifice of their faith and charity.
The sentiments of the non-Catholic community can be gathered
from the following obituary, printed in the Acadian " Recorder," on
Saturday. December 2nd, 1820. As already pointed out the age
venerable lady whose mother was present, gave me this interesting,
of Bishop Burke at the time of his death was not seventy-eight, but
sixty-eight. Moreover, the British Government had not the slight-
est act or part in his promotion. We deem it well to emphasize
" On Wednesday last, universally regretted, as he lived respected,,
the Rt. Rev. Dr, Edmund Burke, in the 78th year of his age. He
was a native of the Co. Kildare (Ireland), and parish priest of the
town of Kildare ; which he vacated at the frequent and urgent
solicitations of some of the professors of the Seminary of Quebec,
and arrived in Lower Canada 2nd of August (1780).* There he
officiated as a clergyman, and taught the higher branches of mathe-
matics and philosophy with great credit to himself and benefit to
the numerous students, who crowded to hear the lectures of a
man celebrated in the University of Paris, as excelling most men
of his day in mathematical science, and also the classics, particu-
larly in the Greek and Hebrew languages, till Lord Dorchester
appointed him, as a faithful and capable person, to reconcile the
many powerful tribes of Indians, inhabiting the country around
Lake Superior, and the back parts of the Ohio and the Louisiana,
who at that time manifested dispositions very hostile to the British
Among the savage tribes of Indians he resided six or seven
years, suffering every privation that civilized man could endure,
till he fully accomplished the object of his mission. He instructed
the heathen Indian in the principles of the Christian religion, and
impressed on his mind a knowledge of the true living God by
whose assistance he inculcated into his savage mind sentiments of
loyalty, obedience and lasting friendship for his great worldly
father, King George the Third. Government rewarded these
important services by granting Dr. Burke a pension for life.
'1786 is the correct date.
fBishop Hubert appointed him on Lord Dorchester's request.
His vanity would have been excited, if he had any, by the sin-
cere and cordial friendship of the late much lamented Duke of
Kent ; as also of every military and naval officer who successively
commanded in British America for the last thirty years; very many
of whom, it may be said, all entertained so good an opinion of
his sound judgment and zealous loyalty, as to consult him on the
most important points of their intended operations, before they
put them into execution. His advice and opinions during the
late American war were gratefully acknowledged by the two great
men who then commanded, and by them honourably reported to
His Majesty's ministers, who in approbation of Dr. Burke's loyalty
and learning, used their influence with the See of Rome to appoint
and ordain him Bishop of Zion and Vicar Apostolic in Nova
It would appear superfluous to enlarge on the merits of this
truly good and pious man, in this province, where his charity, dis-
interestedness, learning and loyalty are so generally known and
acknowledged by all classes of the community, for the last twenty
years that he has resided here as Vicar General of the Diocese of
Quebec. But some men, ignorant of his true character, may
attach bigotry and intolerance to it, from his polemical writings
and publications ! This would be a false picture, as he never
wrote or published a controversial argument in his life with any
other view than justification of himself and the tenets of his reli-
gion, every one of which he firmly believed and supported against
learned and able assailants. Not one of these learned gentlemen
will accuse him of bigotry, intolerance, want of charity and benevo-
lence to all mankind, as there was not a son or daughter of Adam,
no matter of what religious creed, or if any, that he would not.
cheerfully take by the hand, and, if possible, conduct them to
The numerous poor of Halifax, as also the unfortunate inhabi-
tants of the gaol, will have ample cause to lament his death, as he
always relieved their distress, even to the last shilling nay, more ;.
"Inaccurate, as we have seen.
lie would borrow money to do it. The writer can assert without
fear of contradiction, that no man, let his creed, country or colour
be what it may, ever departed from his door without receiving the
boon of charity. Reader, let us imitate the good qualities and
practise the benevolent actions of this worthy prelate, now no
more. By so doing we will be true and loyal subjects to our king
and constitution, charitable to our fellow creatures, moral in our
conduct, respectful and obedient to the constituted authorities of
the province, pious and honest in our sentiments and dealings ;
which will secure us respect and peace of mind here, and eternal
The mortal remains of this good man will, agreeably to his own
injunctions, be entombed in a private manner, this morning,
between the hours of 9 and 10 o'clock."
With the loving sorrow of his spiritual children to adorn, and the
grateful prayers and blessings of the poor and unfortunate to hallow
his lowly grave, quietly and unostentatiously as he had lived, he
was laid to rest in God's acre, adjoining old St. Peter's Church.
Nova Scotia, the first portion of Canada cut off from Quebec, was
early widowed, and the fair promises of her first days of Ecclesias-
tical autonomy were, by various adverse circumstances, delayed of
fruition. After the opening of the present Cemetery of Holy Cross,
Dr. Walsh, first Archbishop of Halifax, caused the remains of his
illustrious predecessor to be exhumed, and had them reinterred in
the new cemetery. In the Halifax " Sun " of May 6th, 1846, we
" The remains of the Venerable Bishop Burke, were disinterred
on Thursday last, from the grave where they had rested for so many
years, in the old Catholic burial ground, and transferred to the
little chapel in the new cemetery, where they remained till yester-
day, when they were again committed to the earth with due solemn-
ity, thousands of persons having visited the chapel in the interim,
to get a glimpse of the leaden coffin which contained the sacred
dust, and to offer up their prayers therein. An immense concourse
of persons were present at the reinterment, and the scene witnessed
was highly imposing. We understand it is in contemplation event-
ually to erect a suitable monument over the grave of the honoured
The " Cross," a Catholic paper, had the following in its issue of
May pth, 1846:
" On Sunday evening matins and lauds for the dead were recited,
and on Monday morning the Rev. Mr. Nugent offered up the Holy
Sacrifice in the Cemetery Church. After Mass Dr. Walsh perform-
ed the absolution over the coffin. On Tuesday morning, the day
appointed for the funeral, an incessant stream of human beings was
pouring from every direction towards the new cemetery. The
Church was soon filled, the three doors in front were thrown open,
and an immense multitude who could not obtain admittance offered
up their prayers outside. At 9 o'clock, the office of the dead was
commenced by the Bishop and Clergy, after which High Mass was-
sung by the Rev. Mr. Nugent, attended by Rev. Messrs. Tracy and
Hennesy, as Deacon and Sub-deacon. After Mass and the absolu-
tion, a funeral procession was formed, and advanced through the
cemetery, the Bishop and Clergy chanting the usual Psalms. Having
arrived at the grave, the coffin was lowered, the last solenm rites
were performed by Dr. Walsh, and the clergy preceded by the
Cross, returned to the church reciting the De profundis* Thus after
the lapse of a quarter of a century was renewed honour given to the
hallowed remains of an illustrious Irishman, an erudite and virtuous
Bishop, a devotad and affectionate pastor."
A modest slab with a suitable inscription marks the spot where
he rests after his well filled day.
Had Dr. Burke obtained a Coadjutor, the development of the
Church in Halifax would not have been retarded. Unfortun-
ately the Bishop of Quebec tried to induce Rome to take a
retrograde step, a thing which she never does, although she
frequently suspends action. It is difficult to understand why a
man of the ability, and with the experience of Monsigneur Plessis
should have desired the suppression of the Vicariate of Nova Scotia.
True, it was independent of Quebec as a Vicariate, whilst incorpo-
rated with New Brunswick under an auxilliary Bishop, it would
revert to its former state of dependence, and, we must suppose, to
its former state of somnolence. As already seen Quebec did not
supply Missionaries even to the Acadians, but frankly told Father Jones
that they must become accustomed to English speaking clergymen.
Moreover, the zeal of the Irish and Scotch, in all their poverty and
persecution, was the only resource the authorities of Quebec could
suggest for obtaining priests, for Nova Scotia. Perhaps, indeed,
Bishop Plessis may have felt that he was now in a position to
furnish missionaries, and he may have desired to atone in some
measure, for the very meagre aid extended to Acadia from the
time of the expulsion. Thanks, however, to the considerateness
of Father Jones, for the Acadians, and to the spirit of justice of
Dr Burke, these faithful remnants of a valiant race had been happily
provided with priests speaking their own language. The stranger
had done for them what their own had admitted they could not do.
The Acadians are a grateful people, and are not likely to forget, or
undervalue the services of their benefactors.
Whilst we cannot assign motives for the action of Bishop
Plessis, we have the fact that he endeavoured to effect the sup-
pression of the new Vicariate, and delayed for a time the appoint-
ment of a successor to Bishop Burke. In the Archives of
Propaganda for the year 1820, we find the following, which we
translate from the Italian : " Monsignor Plessis, Archbishop of
Quebec, in a Pro Memoria of iyth November, 1819, proposed to
the Sacred Congregation the incorporation of the Vicariate Apos-
tolic of Nova Scotia to that of New Brunswick. In a recent
letter of 8th January of this year, in making known the vacancy of
the Vicariate of Nova Scotia, by the death of Monsignor Edmund
Burke, he renewed the memorial and revived his instances for the
execution of his above mentioned project.
" The erection of the Vicariate of Nova Scotia is of very recent
date, for it has had only one Vicar Apostolic, in the person of the
already named Prelate. Such a hasty suppression of a Vicariate
which contains nine thousand Catholics, and counts various pious
establishments, amongst them the Seminary of St. Margaret,*
'No doubt the College in Halifax is intended.
should not be undertaken so lightly. The Cardinal Prefect in his
letter of i4th April last, past, did not fail to bring to the notice of the
Archbishop of Quebec the difficulties to be incurred by such a
step. He thought it advisable, however, to invite the Archbishop
to lay before the Sacred Congregation the reasons which could
justify such an action, and make known its utility. Pending this
request, the Cardinal Prefect deems it prudent to defer the nomi-
nation of a new Vicar Apostolic of Nova Scotia, and await the
reasons which the Archbishop of Quebec may produce, and thus
proceed in the affair with full knowledge of the cause."
This unfortunate interference of the Bishop of Quebec prolonged
the vacancy in the Vicariate of Nova Scotia to the span of years
embraced by the Egyptian famine. Luckily, or rather providen-
tially, as in this case, so in that one, there had been a Joseph to
foresee, and provide for a dreary future of seven unfruitful years.
The energetic and wise action of Bishop Burke, during his short
reign, had insured the people against actual spiritual starvation ;
but vigorous and healthy development was stayed. Rome
proceeds cautiously age has taught her that it is frequently a more
happy solution to allow lapsing time to untie the gordian knot,
than to cut it with the ready sword. But she never makes a back-
ward step ; she may pause and examine well the ground ; when,
however, a movement is again made, it will be a forward one.
Hence on 24th June, 1827, Rt. Rev. William Fraser was conse-
crated Bishop, and became the second Vicar Apostolic of Nova
Partial list of Misssonaries who laboured in Acadia from 1604 to
the Expulsion, 1755. They were in the country at the
dates mentioned ; in many cases for years before, and for
1604 Rev. Nicholas Aubry and another priest came over with De Monts
expedition : the latter died at Port Royal . The former baptized
the first white child born in what is now Canada.
1610 Rev. Jesse Fleche, Under him the first missionary work on the conti-
nent, north of Florida, began. Poutrincourt granted deeds of land
at Port Royal this year.
1611 Rev. Fathers Biard and Masse, Jesuits.
1613 Rev. Jacques Quetin, S.J,
1619 Two Recollet Fathers.
1629 Fathers Vieulpont and Vimot, S.J.
1631 Colonists and priests of a religious order settled at Cap Sable.
1634 Rev. Julian Perrault, S.J. He wrote the " Relations" for 1635.
1636 Rev. Andrew Richard, and Rev. George D'Endemare, S.J.
1640 Pere Ignace and other Capuchins had a college.
1645 Pere Rousand and other Recollets.
1648 Rev. Cosmas de Mante had been for some years Superior of the Recol-
lets in Acadia.
1652 Rev. Martin de Lyonne, S. J., who died a martyr of charity at Cheada-
1654 Pere Leonard de Chartres.
1659 Rev, Jacques Fremin, S.J.
1660 Two Jesuit Fathers in Acadia, according to Bishop Laval's report to
1671 Rev. Laurent Molin, Recollet.
1676 Rev. Louis Petit. On 3Oth October, 1678, he was constituted parish
priest of Port Royal, the second parish established in Canada.
In 1690 was taken prisoner to Boston, but was back again 1692.
1676 Mission formed at Beaubassin and attended by a Recollet Father,
Claude Moireau, I think, until 1685.
1683 Rev. Louis Peter Thury for a short time. He returned again 1686.
1684 Two Fathers of the Order of Penitentiaries.
1686 Rev. Claude Trouve.
1692 Rev, Messrs, St. Cosmas and Baudoin.
1693 Revs. Alexander "Doucet and Peter Volant de Saint Claude.
1696 Rev. M. de Mandoux Cure, Port Royal.
1698 Rev. Anthony Gaulin . He laboured chiefly among the Indians. His
name is signed to the Register of Port Royal. 1731-32.
170* Revs. Justinian Durand and Felix Pain, Recollets, who laboured for
1708 Pere Patrice Rense.
1711 Rev. Felix Cappes, Recollet, Pere Masson . At this time Sam Vetch
writes : " A great many missionaries are amongst them " (the^Aca-
dians). Only one, he says, had been caught and sent to Boston.
I7 J 6 Messrs. Dominic de la Marche and Gratien Raoul. At this time five
missionaries were supported by the French Government
I7 2 4 Pere Isidore at Windsor, Pere Sanquiest, Sup. of Recollets at Louis-
bourg. Pere Breslay at Port Royal.
I7 2 5 Rev. Fathers Ignace, Pierre, Jocunde and Charlemagne, in Acadia and
1729 Rev. Jean Baptiste Brault, V. Gen., in Acadia.
!730 Rev. Alexander de Noinville du Glefien.
'732 Messrs. Lesclaches, Monfils, Goudalie and Claude de Saint Poncy de la
1736 Rev. M. Chauvreulx.
1737 Abbe de St. Vincent and La Loutre.
1739 Rev. M. Vauquelin.
1740 Rev. M. de Manach for many years.
1741 Abbe Maillard, who died at Halifax 1762.
1742 Rev. M. Desenclaves;
1746 Rev. M. Girard.
1754 Rev. M. Daudin,
1755 The year of the expulsion there were in English Acadia Messrs. Desen-
claves, De la Goudalie, De Chauvreulx, Daudin and Lemaire. In
French Acadia, Messrs. La Loutre, De Manach, Visien, and Le
Guerne. On the St. John River, M. Coquart and several Jesuit
1758 When Louisbourg was taken there were several Recollet Fathers, and
the Abbe Maillard in Cape Breton, On P. E. Island there were
Revs. M. M. Girard, Cassiette, Biscarat and Dosque.
After the expulsion and the capture of Louisbourg, only two priests
were left, viz. ; Desenclaves, who hid with some of his flock in the
woods of Argyle, and the Abbe Maillard, who came to Halifax.
Complete List of Priests who laboured in the " Mission of Nova
Scotia,'' which included Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, P. E.