The Diocese of Moosonee Synod Office fonds attests to the work of the administrative body that oversees Anglican missionaries and clergy within the Diocese of Moosonee. The fonds focuses on the James Bay area in northern Ontario and north-western Quebec, although records document the growing importance of communities south of the James Bay over the course of the 20th century. Early records document the work of Anglican missionaries such as John Horden, Thomas Vincent, James Edmond Peck, and G.W. Walton in communities such as Moose Factory, Fort George, and Fort Albany. Missionary accounts of the harsh climate and difficulties navigating the northern terrain are coupled with accounts of religious ceremonies and interactions between clergy and European settlers employed by the HBC in the fur-trade and other industries, as well as interactions with Indigenous populations, most notably the Cree, who were established in the Moose River region prior to the arrival of Europeans. Records contain missionary accounts of daily life in the north and focus on clergy members’ involvement in the community, their family life, administrative matters between the church and the HBC—Diocesan property was leased from the company initially—, trapping and hunting statistics, as well as the basic necessities for surviving the winter months; annual grocery and supply lists sent south are included. As the majority of the content was created by clergy, the records document a Eurocentric-Anglican perspective, although due to the substantial Indigenous population in the James Bay Area, many of the records document changes to Indigenous communities as a result of European contact. The fonds documents some of the earliest interactions between Anglican missionaries and First Nations, Inuit, and Métis populations, although records become more plentiful after the official creation of the Diocese of Moosonee in 1872. The records of various Bishops, Archdeacons, and clergy members illustrate the structure of the Anglican Church and the administrative interactions between the Diocese and the parishes that it oversees. Records also document the financial relationship between the Diocese of Moosonee and the CMS, the MSCC, and the Anglican Forward Movement. These associations provided financial support to Missionary Diocese of the Anglican Church.
Changes in the social, cultural, and economic fabric of the many communities that make up the Diocese of Moosonee are also evident within the records. Records track the movement of communities including: Albany’s relocation to Kashechewan and Fort George’s relocation to Chisasibi. The rise in industrial interest in the north, especially in hard rock mining, followed by a boom in immigration to northern communities starting in the early half of the 20th century are reflected in the growing demand for parishes across northern Ontario and western Quebec. The Diocesan administration also wrote about and considered other matters including: changes to provincial education systems, municipal power initiatives, transportation, agriculture, and many other Municipal, Provincial, and Federal issues. Records also document broad shifts in policy concerning Indigenous populations from the signing of Treaty No. 9 in 1905 through the Indian Residential School era of the mid-20th century, the period of Indigenous emancipation starting in the 1960s, and the period of reconciliation in the early 21st century.
The fonds consists of correspondence sent and received by clergy, including all Diocesean Bishops; meeting minutes from Diocesan Executives, Synods, and various other committees managed by the Diocese, as well as those meetings concerning individual parishes. Photographs depicting clergy, residents, towns, cities, cultural activities, hunting and fishing, religious ceremonies and celebrations, amongst many other activities, are included. Videotapes, as well as legal and financial records, missionary and Bishop’s journals, diaries, and account books document the foundation of the Diocese and describe the relationship between the Diocese, its parishes, and the communities to which those parishes serve. The records inform us of the administrative functions of the Synod Office including: hiring clergy and overseeing matters of finance. These records also illustrate the different networking relationships between the Diocese and the General Synod, the Diocese and churches of other denominations, and the Diocese of Moosonee and other Anglican Dioceses. Moreover, the records give insight as to the daily existence and development of the many communities within Northern Ontario and north-western Quebec that make up the body of the Diocese of Moosonee. Liturgical records of individual parishes are not found in this fonds.