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Adolphus Egerton Ryerson (1803-82)

Adolphus Egerton Ryerson was born near Vittoria, Norfolk County, Upper Canada. His father Colonel Joseph Ryerson had served as a loyalist officer in the American Revolution and migrated to Canada where he fought alongside two of his sons in the War of 1812.

Egerton was converted to Methodism along with his brothers George, William and John. After training for the legal profession, he had a profound religious experience that prompted him to enter the Methodist ministry in 1825. Egerton came into the public eye in 1826 when he published a letter criticising the political and religious establishment. His reputation as a controversialist was reinforced by his appointment as editor of the Christian Guardian in 1829, a post which he held with brief interruptions until 1840.

Egerton had a strong interest in education and frequently advocated in print the breaking of the Anglican monopoly on higher education. He was instrumental in securing a charter for Upper Canada Academy and after it became Victoria College, served as its first principal from 1841 to 1847.

In 1844 he was appointed superintendent of education in Canada West (Ontario) and during his twenty-six years in that post, laid the foundations of the Ontario educational system.

Ryerson served as the representative of Canadian Wesleyan Methodism at the British Conferences of 1833 and 1840. In 1874, he was elected the first President of the General Conference of the Methodist Church of Canada.

Four of Ryerson's five brothers also entered the Methodist ministry

Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974) and Methodist Magazine 1833, p.670

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