Patrick McFarlane McLeod was born on July 21st 1843 in Gourock Scotland. His first wife, Janet, died in 1873 a short two years after their marriage leaving him with a young daughter. A few year later, he married Janet Shannon, a widow with three children. Following graduation from New College Edinburgh in 1871 his first parish was in Liverpool, England. In 1878, he moved to Canada to become the second minister of Knox Presbyterian Church, Stratford Ontario. In 1880, he became minister of Central Presbyterian Church Toronto and served there until 1888 when he was called to St Andrew’s Victoria. (1)
In deciding to come to Victoria, McLeod made the difficult choice of leaving a well established congregation where he was much appreciated to minister to a struggling parish that had experienced a period of discord and strife.(2) At 6’4″ the Rev Patrick McFarlane McLeod was a striking figure with prematurely white hair, bright blue eyes, a rosy face and a jolly good-natured disposition.(2) He was eagerly welcomed by his new congregation and the residents of Victoria. With his wife and five children, he immediately set about the challenge of rebuilding the congregation. Within two years the construction of magnificent new church building was completed and the congregation was thriving.
Following the death of the Hon. John Robson in 1892, the church was left with a significant debt and was struggling to cover operating costs. By December 1892 the church was overdrawn at the bank and some $10,000 in debt. In consequence, the Board of Managers sought to reduce minister’s stipend from $3,500 annually to $2,000. McLeod ultimately agreed to a reduction to $3,000(3), but the Board of Managers persisted. At a protracted meeting of the congregation in January 1883 the recommendation of the Board was sustained.(4)
The dispute continued through the courts of church for several months. By March, Presbytery had given McLeod a vote of confidence and granted him three months leave in the hope that some time away would help settle matters. Such was not the case however and by September, the separation from St Andrew’s was final. For a time McLeod set up a new church in James Bay. Although he attracted some dissident members for a short period, that effort ultimately failed and his stipend was significantly lower than even the reduced amount offered by St Andrew’s.(5) Embittered by his treatment, McLeod returned to England to take up a pulpit at Upper Tooting in London. He died in 1907.
- Notes provided by the McLeod family from St Andrew’s Archives
- View Online: Daily Colonist 20 Jan 1888 p 1
- McLeod response to Board of Management request December 5 1892, St Andrew’s Archives
- View Online: Victoria Daily Colonist 24 January 1893
- Acts and Proceedings 1895 reports only 66 families attending Central Presbyterian Church and an annual stipend of $683. There is no reported activity in 1896