Arthur McGreer: from pastor to principal

Elizabeth Hall

A Walk Through History 

1900 was the start of a new century, and a new era. In the United Kingdom, The Edwardian Era spanned from 1901 to 1910, during the reign of King Edward VII. This era is often extended to include the start of the First World War in 1914. The death of Queen Victoria in January 1901 marked the end of the Victorian Era and the beginning of the Edwardian era. This era was the start of a number of technological and economic changes; electric lighting, telephone lines and factory assembly were all things that defined this new era. Immigrants from both Europe and Asia came to Canada in the years leading up to WWI, including many Chinese families who settled in Napanee.

Many men and women from Napanee served in the first World War, some include Donald Reid, Luva Perry, and Harold T. Rogers. Another man to note was Arthur Huffman McGreer. He was born Aug. 11, 1883 and was the eldest child of Charles and Sarah McGreer. He grew up two miles west of Napanee on Riverside Farm. He attended Napanee Collegiate Institute in 1896 and entered Trinity College at the University of Toronto following his graduation from Napanee. He received a B.A. in Modern Languages, and in 1909 he completed his M.A. and became a priest in 1910. According to his family, he enlisted in September 1914, but his Attestation Papers (the first documents a soldier signed when enlisting in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF)) stated he enlisted Jan. 22, 1915. He sailed to Europe as a Chaplain of the First Divisional Engineers with the rank of Captain, and was sent to France as Chaplain of the Third Ambulance. He served in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and was awarded the Military Cross on Nov. 14 for rescuing the wounded and organizing stretcher parties under heavy fire.

In Oct. 1918 he married an English woman named Kathleen Lee, in 1919 he was made an officer of the British empire in recognition of his services and leadership. After the war he attended Queen’s College and completed a B.A. in Honours Theology and a Masters in Comparative Religion and Christian Doctrine in 1921. He and his wife returned to Canada in 1922 where he was appointed principal and vice-chancellor of Bishop’s College in Lennoxville, Quebec. He held his post there until his death in 1947. Bishop’s McGreer Hall is named after him to honour all that he did for the school in his time as principal.

Random History Fact: Adolf Hitler helped design the Volkswagen Beetle.


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