The whole of the territory forming the Diocese of Huron is composed, almost without exception, of the very best farming land in Canada. The result is that commercial prosperity has always marked its course. The rapid change from forest and hamlet to splendid farms, villages, towns, and cities, is amongst the brightest pages of Canadian history. Bishop Cronyn had the pleasure of seeing marked improvements in the parishes under his care - and a frequent subdivision of them, which taxed his ability to the utmost to keep them supplied with men. To Ireland, his native land, he went again and again to get men, and to his exertions are due the importation to Canada of men like the present Bishop of Algoma (Dr. Sullivan), the present Dean of Montreal (Dr. J. Carmichael), and the present Bishop elect of Niagara (Canon DuMoulin). These all began work under Bishop Cronyn, who frequently expressed himself as well satisfied with "his boys" except, perhaps, when they left him at comparatively early dates for higher positions elsewhere.
In the early days of his episcopate Bishop Cronyn became involved in a controversy regarding the teaching of Trinity College, Toronto, which he considered unsound. The corporation of that institution placed these charges before the other bishops of the "Province." viz.: The Metropolitan (Dr. Fulford), the Bishop of Toronto (Dr. Strachan), the Bishop of Ontario (Dr. Lewis), and the Bishop of Quebec (Dr. Williams), all of whom upheld the teaching of the College; but the Bishop of Huron was not satisfied, and therefore exerted himself to establish at London a college over which he himself could exercise more immediate control. This led to the formation and partial endowment - through subscriptions made for the purpose - of Huron College, which was opened in 1863, under the presidency of Rev. Isaac Hellmuth, D.D., about whom we shall hear more presently.
In 1864 the clergy of the diocese had increased to seventy-nine and thirteen students had matriculated at the college; but the funds of the Church Society (which had been continued as begun in the Diocese of Toronto) had fallen off a little - a fact which the Bishop deplored in his charge of 1865; but steady growth, nevertheless, continued to characterize the diocese. A great domestic affliction fell upon the Bishop in the death of Mrs. Cronyn. The kind sympathy which he received on that occasion the Bishop touchingly referred to in his address to Synod in June, 1867. In that year (1867) the clergy in the diocese numbered eighty-eight, and the churches 145. Indeed. the Bishop found it very difficult to keep his diocese supplied with pastors, for at this time there were twelve vacant missions. In that year (1867), also, Bishop Cronyn attended the first Lambeth Conference in England, the expense of his journey being met by an assessment on the parishes of the diocese. The Bishop, on his return, viewing matters from his old standpoint, did not draw a very glowing picture of the condition of the Church in the motherland.
Bishop Cronyn from his consecration, had retained the rectory of St. Paul's, London; but on his return from England a see house was purchased for him, in which he resided with his second wife, a lady of culture whom he had married in the Old Country.
The S.P.G., which had helped the diocese in its infancy, now began to expect the child to stand alone; and, in the prospect of losing support from it, a sustentation fund was formed, subscriptions to which in 1869 amounted to: $30,000, and to double that sum in 1870. In that year the clergy had increased to 93, and it became evident that the rapid growth of population in the diocese was beginning to make it a matter of great moment as to how the Church was to keep pace with it - and all the more so because the health of the Bishop began to fail. In June, 1871, he said to his Synod that his medical advisers had informed him that to continue the same course of over-exertion that he had done in the past would be little short of suicide, and that he was unable any longer to perform those duties of the episcopate which required constant physical exertion; and hoped the Synod would take some steps to provide for the discharge of the more arduous labours of the episcopal office for the future.
In accordance with this request, a special meeting of the Synod was held in Bishop Cronyn Hall, London, a few weeks after the regular meeting, viz., on the 19th of June, for the purpose of electing a coadjutor bishop. The choice fell upon Dr. Hellmuth, who had risen to the position of Dean of Huron. He took the title of Bishop of Norfolk. In a few months, however, be was called upon to be Bishop of Huron, for on the 22nd of September (1871) Dr. Cronyn died of heart disease.
The Bishop left three daughters and two sons. The oldest daughter married Colonel Burrows; the next, Edward Blake, Esq.; and the youngest, S. H. Blake, Esq. The sons are Benjamin, now living in the United States; and Verschoyle, Chancellor of the Diocese of Huron.
His family and friends erected to his memory the church known as the Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church, now in charge of Rev. Canon Richardson. A hall for Synod purposes was also erected in the grounds of St. Paul's Church, and was called "Bishop Cronyn Hall."