His Excellency Archbishop Duke of Vancouver

The Duke of Deception

The speaker at the last public meeting (May 28) of the Vancouver Historical Society was Dr. Jacqueline Gresko, who has just produced a book, Traditions of Faith and Service, that tells the 100-year history of the Archdiocese of Vancouver. Let me share with you one delightful story from that book concerning His Excellency Archbishop Duke of Vancouver. Says a Knights of Columbus web site: “During his 34-year tenure [1931-1965] as sixth Archbishop of Vancouver, [Archbishop Duke] was deeply respected by all who knew him and worked with him in the city.”

The St. John, NB-born Duke was also, Dr. Gresko informed us, a stickler for the formalities. He insisted, for example, that any priest coming to see him be dressed in a Prince Albert coat. This was a formal black jacket that extended down to a point between the hips and the knees, and was much rarer in BC than it was in NB! It was also costly . . . for a priest.

Local priests were in a quandary. What to do? Then one of them came up with a solution to the problem: they shared their resources, bought one Prince Albert coat and kept it on the Archbishop’s front porch. Then, whoever visited His Excellency need only pick the coat up and slip it on as he rang the doorbell.

Duke knew about the ruse, of course, but he apparently also had a sense of humor.


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