Edward and Mary Cridge
(1817 – 1913) successfully applied for the position of Fort Victoria’s chaplain in 1854. At the time he had been serving as the minister of Christ Church in Essex, England.
Mary and Edward Cridge, commons.wikimedia.org
Prior to setting out for the colony he married his long time philanthropic compatriot, Mary Winmill (? – 1905). A week later the pair set sail for Victoria aboard the Marquis of Bute, a wooden barque built in 1841 by Thomson & Speirs in Greenock, Scotland. Upon their arrival the couple began their ministry from rooms set aside in the fort by the Hudson’s Bay Company’s (HBC) Chief Factor, James Douglas.
Victoria’s Christ Church
Two years later, in the summer of 1856 the construction of the new Victoria District Church was completed. Cridge named the new church “Christ Church”.
In addition to his duties as HBC Chaplin, Douglas appointed Edward the fort’s superintendent of education, a position he held, without pay, from 1856 until replaced in 1865 by Alfred Waddington.
By 1858 the Fraser River Gold Rush saw tens of thousands of miners and merchants passing through Victoria. New saloons and a number of prostitutes appeared to cater to the prospectors. Recognizing the need for social action, the Cridges became champions for the rights of the destitute and the underprivileged.
Social demands were great so Cridge wrote The Church of England for assistance. Bishop George Hills was dispatched from London to oversee Church operations throughout the Columbia District. In 1860 Hills appointed Cridge the Dean of Christ Church. For a number of years the men worked together to build the diocese. Their relationship began to disintegrate in 1872 in what became known as the Cridge-Hills Doctrinal Dispute. The result was a split in Victoria’s Anglican Church.
The Church of Our Lord
Cridge left the Church of England in the fall of 1874. In 1875 he was been elected as a Bishop in the Reformed Episcopal Church of Chicago, overseeing Church affairs from San Francisco to Alaska. Locally, he founded, and continued to preach at, the newly founded Church of Our Lord at Humboldt and Blanshard from 1875 until his resignation in 1895.
Victoria’s First Hospital
During the doctrinal dispute Edward and Mary continued their community work, campaigning against the deplorable conditions in Victoria’s jails. In 1858 they secured a grant from now Governor Douglas to establish Victoria’s first hospital. Mrs. Thomas Blinkhorn donated the site at Yates and Broad Streets. Demand soon overran the small facility and, after a number of different incarnations, the Royal Jubilee Hospital was erected in 1890 on its current site.
The YMCA and Central High School
Both Edward and Mary were active members in Victoria’s philanthropic and religious circles. They helped run Victoria’s Protestant Orphans’ Home and, by 1893 had helped establish both the city’s YWCA and Central High School.
Mary died in 1905. Edward lived until 1913, passing in his 95th year.
Both Cridge Park, adjacent to The Church of Our Lord, and The Cridge Centre for the Family are named after Edward and Mary Cridge.