Alexander Macdonell (bishop)

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See Alexander Macdonell (1833-1905) for another Canadian bishop with the same name.
Alexander Macdonell
Alexander Macdonell.jpg
The Most Reverend Alexander MacDonell, 1823-24, by Martin Archer Shee
Born (1762-07-17)17 July 1762
Glen Urquhart
Died 14 January 1840(1840-01-14) (aged 77)
Dumfries, Scotland
Nationality Scottish

Bishop Alexander Macdonell (born 17 July 1762, Glen Urquhart, Inchlaggan, Scotland - died 14 January 1840) was the first Roman Catholic bishop of Kingston, Upper Canada.

Early years[edit]

His early education was at Bourblach, Loch Morar. He attended the Scots Colleges at Paris and Valladolid. He was ordained a priest on 16 February 1787 at Valladolid. After that his life was spent in Lochaber and Canada.

After the eviction of his kinsmen, Father Macdonell led them to Glasgow and later formed them into the The Glengarry Fencibles regiment, of which he served as chaplain, the first Catholic chaplain in the British Army since the Reformation. When the regiment was disbanded, Rev. Macdonell appealed to the government to grant its members a tract of land in Canada, and, in 1804, 160,000 acres (650 km²) were provided in what is now Glengarry County, Canada.[1]

Ruins of St. Raphael Church, South Glengarry, his headquarters for 25 years

In 1812, he raised another regiment, the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles, which came to the defence of Upper Canada in the War of 1812.[1] In 1815, he began his service as the first Roman Catholic Bishop at St. Raphael's Church. Located in the Highlands of Ontario, the Parish established the foothold of Catholicism in the region.[2] In 1819 he was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Upper Canada, which in 1826 was erected into a bishopric. In 1826, he was appointed to the legislative council.[3]

He founded churches and schools and organised the settlement. In 1846 he established Regiopolis College, which offered academic and theological training to Roman Catholic youth. The original building has been part of the Hotel Dieu Hospital (Kingston, Ontario) on Sydenham Street, Kingston, Ontario since 1892.[4]

Clerical appointments[edit]

  • 12 January 1819 - appointed as Vicar Apostolic of Upper Canada, Ontario
  • 12 January 1819 - appointed as Titular Bishop of Thabraca
  • 31 December 1820 - ordained as Titular Bishop of Thabraca
  • 27 January 1826 - appointed as Bishop of Kingston, Ontario, Canada



Bishop Macdonell died from pneumonia in Dumfries, Scotland on 14 January 1840, aged 77.


The town of Alexandria in North Glengarry, Ontario is named after him.[6]

In Guelph, Ontario, Canada, a Catholic secondary school was renamed to Bishop Macdonell Catholic High School in 1962 and Macdonell Street at the foot of Church of Our Lady Immaculate is named in his honour.

Macdonell Street in Kingston, Ontario is also named after him.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b MacDonald 1913.
  2. ^ "The Parish of St. Raphael Glengarry Emigration of 1786 Bishop Alexander Macdonell 1762-1840". Retrieved 16 April 2012. 
  3. ^ "Bishop Alexander MacDonell". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  4. ^ Heritage Trust Regiopolis College
  5. ^ "Bishop Alexander MacDonell". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  6. ^ Lucille H. Campey, The Scottish Pioneers of Upper Canada: Glengarry and Beyond (Dundurn Press, 2005), 32.


External links[edit]