Rev. John Thomas Hiscock


Melvin Baker (c)1997

(A version was published in the Newfoundland Quarterly, vol. XCI, no. 2 (Summer/Fall 1997), 13

"Father Tom" as he was affectionately known, was born in Catalina on July 14, 1879. His parents were John and Maria Hiscock of Catalina. After receiving his early education in Catalina, he attended Bishop Feild College at St. John's and, following graduation, he taught school for a few years. In 1902 he entered Queen's Theological College at St. John's; he was ordained as a deacon in 1905 and as a priest the following year. In 1907 he studied in England at Durham University graduating in 1909 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He was one of two Newfoundland Anglican priests to attend Durham at this time and their association with Durham allowed Queen's College to affiliate with it. Hence, Queen's students could take the Licentiate in Theology at the College and then proceed to Durham for the Bachelor of Arts degree.

Following his return to Newfoundland, he served in various outport communities, including Bonne Bay, Fogo (1919-1922), Newtown (1922-1926), and Catalina from 1926 to 1929. In 1929 he joined the Faculty of Queen's College where he became Vice Principal serving until 1942 when he retired to Catalina. His chief academic interest at the College lay in New Testament Greek and Christian Worship.

In retirement he remained active in the community and church affairs of Catalina and occasionally contributed reminiscences about his childhood and articles about local affairs to the Fishermen's Advocate, published in nearby Port Union. He became a Director of the Bonavista Cold Storage Company established at Bonavista in 1939 by Hazen Russell. This company was active in pioneering cold storage shipping in Newfoundland and Father Tom was an ardent supporter of this endeavour; it had a fish processing and freezing operation, capable of handling large quantities of fish daily and also freezing squid and blueberries. He was also a member of the Board of the Joseph Clouter Free Public Library established at Catalina in 1937. This was the first public library to be established in Newfoundland outside St. John's, where the Gosling Memorial Library had opened in 1936. He also served as deputy chairman of a citizens' committee which successfully lobbied the government in the late 1940s for a public building to be constructed at Catalina.

Father Tom died at Catalina on August 24, 1950. During the 1930s and 1940s Father Tom had invested in the financial stock market. Following his death, part of the assets from his estate were used to help create a pension fund for retired Anglican clergymen in Newfoundland and Labrador. One prominent Catalina resident wrote of him - "Broad minded and tolerant his philosophy of life was a spade is a spade, and call it by that name only. He never believed in colouring his words to make them appear different and perhaps that trait in him might have cost the good will of some one but unless his language was plain it was not Father Tom's."

Father Tom Hiscock