Michael Power was born on October 17, 1804 in Halifax, Nova Scotia to Irish immigrant parents. Something of an unsung hero, Bishop Michael Power started the construction of St. Michael’s Cathedral and founded the Archdiocese of Toronto.
Shortly after his installation as bishop in 1842, Power called a synod. During this meeting, Bishop Power laid down a number of rules designed to put the new Diocese on a firm footing and get it off to a good start. Pastors were not allowed to wander outside of their assigned parishes. Priests were not allowed to charge a fee for the administration of the sacraments. Churches were also required to erect baptismal fonts and confessionals, as well as to keep detailed baptism, marriage and funeral records. Immigrants who wanted to marry were also thoroughly investigated.
One of Bishop Power’s most notable achievements was the foundation of St. Michael’s Cathedral. At that time St. Paul’s parish was serving all of the Catholic population in the city of Toronto. Construction on the Cathedral began in April 1845; however, Bishop Power did not live to see it completed. While ministering to immigrants dying of typhus, he contracted the disease himself and died on October 1, 1847. Bishop Power’s remains were buried in a crypt beneath his unfinished cathedral.