The term “primate” refers to the bishop of the “first see” (prima sedes); the bishop of Rome is the Primate of Italy, in the same way that the bishop in Canterbury is the primate of all England.

In Canada the office of the primate has evolved so that it is a bishop without a diocese, but travels the length and breadth of the country and is our designated national representative.            

The primate of the Anglican Church of Canada has a variety of roles in the life of our church. They are president of General Synod, chair of the Council of General Synod and chair of the House of Bishops, pastoral leader of the church national and the chief executive officer of General Synod staff. 

The primate is elected by the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada through a process in which the bishops offer three to five nominations to the clergy and lay members of synod who then choose one name. The Primate may serve until age 70.            

The primate speaks in the name of the Anglican Church of Canada, after consultation with, or in accordance with the policies of the General Synod or the Council of General Synod. As well, the primate is one who often represents the Church in Canada in international and ecumenical partnerships and dialogues. 

Our current primate 

Archbishop Linda Nicholls was installed as primate of the Anglican Church of Canada on July 16, 2019. Previously, she served the church as bishop of Huron (2016 to 2019), area bishop of Trent-Durham, diocese of Toronto (2008 2016), coordinator for dialogue for ethics interfaith relations and congregational development of the national office, and almost 20 years as a parish priest in the diocese of Toronto.