The diocese's 125 anniversary will be marked at the diocese's first cathedral, Holy Trinity New Westminster, on November 6 and 7.

SomeĀ 145 years ago the Rev. John Sheepshanks responded to the call of Bishop George Hills for help in establishing the newly created Diocese of British Columbia. He arrived in New Westminster in early September 1859 and moved into a log hut deserted by miners who had left for the gold fields in the Cariboo.

Artist Pamela Scott's conception of the early Holy Trinity Cathedral

The following year construction began on the first Holy Trinity Church. Only twenty years later the ministry of pioneer clergy and laity made possible the division of the young diocese into three. Vancouver Island retained the name `British Columbia'. The northern half of the current province of British Columbia took the name `Caledonia'. The southern half of the province was named New Westminster.

On November 1, 1879 Acton Sillitoe was consecrated the first Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster in the parish church of St. John, Baptist, in Croydon, south of London, by the Archbishop of Canterbury Campbell Tait and the Bishop of British Columbia, George Hills, among others. The following year Sillitoe and his wife Violet took up residence in New Westminster where he also functioned as rector of Holy Trinity and made it his Cathedral.

Holy Trinity continued as the diocesan cathedral until 1929 when Bishop Adam de Pencier decided to designate the much larger Christ Church in downtown Vancouver his cathedral. But by diocesan canon, Holy Trinity Cathedral was given the right to keep in perpetuity the title of cathedral.

In celebration of the 125th anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese of New Westminster, the parish of Holy Trinity Cathedral is hosting a Victorian Tea and tours of the original diocesan cathedral on Saturday November 6.

Tours will take place every 30 minutes beginning at 12:30 pm with the last tour scheduled for 3 pm. The tour is free. A Victorian High Tea begins at 1 pm with sittings every thirty minutes until 3:30. For children there will be an authentic Victorian Punch and Judy show presented at 2 pm.

Tickets for the tea are available in advance at $10 from Holy Trinity Cathedral Parish Office (604-521-2511). In addition the parish ACW will host a bake table to raise funds for their various outreach projects and the Primates World Relief and Development Fund will have Christmas cards available. There will be a display of diocesan history.

The next day, Sunday, November 7, there will be a 3 p.m. Evensong at St. Mary's Church, Sapperton, and a walk to the nearby gravesite of Bishop Sillitoe.