Bishop James C.M. Clarke

Bishop James Clarke was suffragan bishop of the Arctic
Bishop James Clarke was suffragan bishop of the Arctic
By on June 1, 2006

Bishop James C.M. Clarke, who served the diocese of the Arctic and the Canadian Forces, died April 28 at the age of 85.

“He came down with an infection around Easter,” said his son, Mark in an interview. He added that his father had been affected by Alzheimer’s disease for several years.

Born in Campbellford, Ont., Bishop Clarke earned a B.A. degree at the University of Toronto and L.Th. and B.D. degrees at Trinity College. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Trinity in 1981.

Ordained as a deacon in 1949 and a priest in 1950, he served the Calgary parish of St. Stephen from 1949 to 1951. He then headed for another parish called St. Stephen, this time in Fort Chimo, Que., now called Kuujjuaq, part of the diocese of the Arctic. In writing about his first Christmas in the north, he showed a keen eye for the social pressures affecting the native Inuit. “A thing I remember, especially from that first Christmas is the way the children went everywhere with their parents. Those families were very closely knit, compared to the way we are civilizing them into fragmentation now,” he wrote in the Toronto Star.

He was appointed archdeacon of the northern Quebec region and in 1974 was named executive archdeacon of the diocese, working out of the office that the Arctic then maintained in Toronto. In 1979, he was elected bishop suffragan (assistant) of the Arctic and lived for a time in Iqaluit, then called Frobisher Bay, now the capital of Nunavut.

In 1986, then-primate Ted Scott named Bishop Clarke as Bishop Ordinary to the Canadian Forces, a position that oversees Canadian military chaplains and represents an even more far-flung constituency than the Arctic.

He retired in 1991 and is survived by his wife of 47 years, Ruth, and three grown children, Matthew, Mark and Penina.

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