Submitted by Rupert Speyer.
Published in The Westminster, 23 April, 1898.
Transcribed by Charles Dobie.

Rev. George Bell


The fathers, where are they? One by one they are passing from the earthly scene. On Saturday last, April 16th, the Rev. George Bell, LL.D., one of the oldest ministers in Canada, died in Toronto at the residence of his son. He was the youngest son of the Rev. William Bell, one of the pioneers of Presbyterianism in Canada, who came to this country from Scotland in 1817 and settled at Perth where many of his descendants still reside.

Dr. Bell was born in Perth in 1819. When Queen’s University was established by the Church of Scotland in Kingston in 1841 he was the first student to register, and he became the first graduate, receiving his B.A. degree in 1845. He was subsequently a trustee of the university, and he delivered several courses of lectures to the students, his special subject being “Science and Religion.”

On completing his college course Dr. Bell was ordained and settled in the charge of Cumberland and Buckingham on the Ottawa River. From there he removed to Simcoe in 1848, and thence to Clifton, now Niagara Falls in 1857. In 1873 he resigned this charge on account of ill-health, but having recovered, he was called to Walkerton in 1872, where he remained until 1881, when he retired. In 1882 he was appointed librarian and registrar of Queens’s University. This work soon became too onerous for one officer and he gave up the library, retaining the registrarship until 1897, when he resigned and removed to Toronto, making his home with his son, Mr. George Bell.

During his fifteen years as registrar at Queen’s University, as indeed in all his undertakings, Dr. Bell was courteous, obliging, systematic and painstaking, and the university had no more devoted and loyal son than her first graduate. He was regarded as an authority on Church law and procedure, and his alma mater fittingly recognized his services to herself and to the Church by conferring upon him, in 1872, the honorary degree of LL.D.

While in Muskoka last summer he suffered a stroke of paralysis, from which he never wholly recovered, and which finally resulted in his death.

Dr. Bell was twice married, first to Miss Whiteford, by whom he had two children, Mrs. R. S. Dobbs, of Kingston, and a son, who, after a course at Woolwich, served as an officer in the Royal Engineers in India and on the Afghan frontier. He died several years ago. His second wife was Miss Chadwick, of Simcoe, who, after a married life of over forty years, survives him, with her two children, George Bell, of the law firm of Thomson, Henderson and Bell, Toronto, and Mrs. C. N. Bell, of Winnipeg.

In accordance with his wishes Dr. Bell’s remains were interred at Perth, a place hallowed by many associations of his early days. At the service held in Toronto on Tuesday morning, conducted, in the abscence of the pastor of St. Andrew’s church, by the Rev. J. A. Macdonald, and in which Principal Caven, Rev. Dr. Gregg and Rev. Dr. Milligan took part, Dr. Gregg mentioned the fact that Dr. Bell and Dr. Thomas Wardrope, of Guelph, and himself were the only surviving ministers of those in the ministry of the Presbyterian Church in Canada when he came to Canada; and now but two remain.