Toronto archbishop, Arctic suffragan bishop will retire

Published April 1, 2004

Bishop Paul Idlout is one of several Inuit pictured on the old $2 bill; the image was taken from a 1967 photograph. Bishop Idlout is the man in the middle of the group blowing into a sealskin float.

Two bishops have announced their retirement.

Archbishop Terence Finlay, metropolitan of Ontario and bishop of Toronto, Canada’s largest diocese by population, has announced that he will retire on June 11 – a week after General Synod wraps up – to spend more time with his family.

“I feel it is time for the diocese to have fresh leadership and I’ll be handing it over with many good things in place,” Archbishop Finlay, 66, said in a news release. An election has been scheduled in June to choose his successor.

Archbishop Finlay has been a bishop for 18 years, 16 of those as bishop of Toronto and two as area bishop of Trent, Durham. He has served four years as metropolitan (senior bishop) of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario. His diocese is served by one diocesan bishop and four suffragan or area bishops.

A native of London, Ont., Archbishop Finlay was ordained a priest in 1961. He received bachelor degrees at Western University and Huron College, and a master’s degree at Cambridge University. He and his wife, Alice Jean, a lay person active in church life, have two grown daughters.

Meanwhile, Bishop Paul Idlout, who was the first Inuk to be elected to the episcopacy in the Anglican Church of Canada, has announced he will retire on April 30, when he will be 69.

Bishop Idlout was born in 1935, in an era when most Inuit followed a nomadic lifestyle, living in tents in summer and igloos in winter, hunting caribou and seals.

For his first 18 years, he lived on the land with his family and never saw the inside of a school. “I was born near Pond Inlet (on Baffin Island in the eastern Arctic). In my early life, I learned the skills (of) hunting, surviving,” he said. He met his wife, Abigail, in the 1950s. She had gone to school in the south and coached him in English and writing while he took high school correspondence courses.

He worked for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as a translator and special constable and achieved a measure of anonymous fame when a 1967 photograph of a group of Inuit leaving on a hunting trip was used for the engraving on the back of the Canadian $2 bill.

In 1986, he entered the Arthur Turner Training School to study for the ministry and was ordained in 1990. He was elected suffragan (assistant) bishop of the diocese of the Arctic in 1996 after a two-day election and on the 29th ballot. Now, three of the diocese’s four bishops are Inuit, including the diocesan bishop, Andrew Atagotaaluk.

Bishop Idlout and his wife will continue to live in Iqaluit. They have two daughters and three sons.


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