Often it is what a man has done that he is remembered for, but it is who he was that must not be forgotten. Such is true of The Right Reverend Isaac Hellmuth who founded the University of Western Ontario in 1878, and is to this day one of Canada's premiere universities. As the second Bishop of Huron, Hellmuth held a strong belief in the importance of quality, secondary education. Seeing the University of Western Ontario established became a goal he was willing to fund and fight for. It is likely that his own academic background inspired this conviction but it was his personal experiences and character that carried this vision through to fruition in spite of many obstacles.
Born in 1819 in Warsaw, Poland, Hellmuth was the son of a Jewish rabbi and was educated to take the same role. As an adult, after theological discussions with scholars of the Christian faith, Isaac Hellmuth became a Christian causing such a rift between he and his family that he was forced to give up his surname and take his mother's maiden name. His given name is yet unknown. He later moved to England, entered the ministry of the Anglican Church, and was eventually sent to Canada. Although there were some who were put off by what was perceived to be autocratic tendencies, it seems that it was his ability to stand by his beliefs even if others rejected him, that was his greatest strength and the very thing that enabled him to do great things.
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