Bishop John Timothy Frame: 1930–2017

Bishop John Frame: "Deeply loyal to his own convictions and to his church." Photo: General Synod Archives/The Anglican Church of Canada
Published August 17, 2017

Bishop John Timothy Frame, eighth bishop of the diocese of Yukon, one-time acting metropolitan (senior bishop) of the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and Yukon and the Anglican Church of Canada’s most senior bishop by years of consecration, died of a stroke August 4. He was 86.

In a funeral sermon preached August 10, his son-in-law, Archbishop John Privett, diocesan bishop of Kootenay and metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and Yukon, remembered him as a man of strong views and rigorous theology.

Frame had a reputation for conservatism – for instance, he opposed the ordination of women to the priesthood. He was, however, committed to remaining a part of the Canadian Anglican church regardless of the changes that came.

“John was always deeply loyal to his own convictions and to his church,” said Privett. He recalled being a youth delegate to the 1975 General Synod in Quebec City, and seeing a “steady stream” of conservative clergy asking Frame to “champion their opposition, or even leave the Anglican Church of Canada for a more conservative sanctuary.”

Frame “was a mender of fences—literally and metaphorically,” Privett added. “He enjoyed the neighbourly chats over a backyard fence and also sought to reach across deeply held differences among a diverse people.”

Archbishop (ret.) Caleb Lawrence, former diocesan bishop of Moosonee and metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario, described Frame as “a faithful priest and committed Christian.” He was “a controversial, but an important figure” in the life of the Canadian Anglican church, said Lawrence, who first met Frame in the early ’70s.

Born in 1930 in Toronto, Frame received an undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto, and completed his MDiv at Trinity College in Toronto. Upon ordination, his first assignment was at the multi-point parish of Burns Lake, diocese of Caledonia.

His ministry brought him even farther north when he was consecrated as bishop of Yukon in 1968—a position he would hold until 1980, when he resigned to become rector of Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria and dean of the diocese of British Columbia.

In an interview, Privett said Frame had not intended to serve as bishop for longer than 10 years, and that after 12 years, he happily returned to his “first love,” parish ministry.

During his time at Christ Church, Frame played an important role in developing the Christ Church Cathedral School, while also maintaining his lifelong passion for gardening.

In his sermon, Privett quoted the Rev. David Widdicombe, who served as curate under Frame during his time at Christ Church and is now rector of St. Margaret’s Anglican Church in Winnipeg, as having described Frame as “one of the best and wisest mentors the Canadian church has ever produced.”

Frame retired in 1995, but according to Privett, he remained “very active” right to the end of his life as an honorary assistant at his local parish, St. John the Divine in Courtenay, B.C.

Predeceased by his daughter Monica, he is survived by his wife of 60 years, Barbara, his daughters Bronwyn and Alida, and his granddaughters Anne and Emily.



  • André Forget

    André Forget was a staff writer for the Anglican Journal from 2014 to 2017.

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