The Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE and aka the Cowley Fathers), founded in the parish of Cowley, England in 1866 by Richard Meaux Benson, is the oldest religious order for men in the Anglican Communion. The society was the first stable religious order to be established in the Anglican Communion since the English Reformation of the sixteenth century. It is recognized officially as a religious community by the Anglican Church of Canada.
The SSJE brothers live under a rule of life and, at profession, make monastic vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience. In North America, the brothers preach, teach and write on the life of prayer, and offer spiritual direction and formation. Individual brothers work in a variety of local and regional ministries-with students, with prisoners, and with persons affected by HIV and AIDS. The brothers maintained a publishing company, Cowley Publications (now part of Rowman & Littlefield publishers), that produced books on topics related to prayer and spirituality for an ecumenical readership.
With the encouragement of Bishop Rocksborough R. Smith, 4th Bishop of Algoma, the SSJE founded a community in Bracebridge, Ontario in 1928 and based in the Collegiate Church of St. John the Evangelist. Bishop Smith was an annual visitor to the Mother house of U. S. Cowley Fathers is the Monastery of St. Mary and St. John, on the banks of the Charles River in Cambridge, Mass. The community ceased operations in Bracebridge in the mid 1980s and sold the property.
Fonds comprises records documenting the religious communities within the Anglican and Episcopal churches of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE aka the Cowley Fathers), the Sisters of St. John the Divine (SSJD), and the sisters of St.Margaret, who were established in Bracebridge, Ont. in the 1920s. Includes notes, correspondence, administrative records and reports, printed draft revisions of the SSJE's rule and statutes, the dedication of the Collegiate Church of St. John the Evangelist in Bracebridge, publications of the SSJE ("The Dominion" aka "The Little Paper") and of the Sisters of St. Margaret ("The Little Paper: Sisters of St. Margaret") and of the SSJD ("Hilltop and Valley"), as well as other publications and a manuscript about and by the SSJE. Also includes some records on the history of the Muskoka region and Bracebridge.