Canada

The Christian religion in Canada was established and maintained by Protestants and Roman Catholics in a dual culture. In personnel and financial support they came originally from France, Great Britain, and the Thirteen Colonies. The ideas of Canadian Christianity largely reflected these outside influences, not only in matters of basic belief, but also in controversies over such subjects as church establishment and clergy reserves.* From the period of origins (c.1600-1840) to the present, five religious groups have comprised the greater part of the Christian community in Canada: Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists. The Church in New France. From the beginnings of French colonization in Canada in the early seventeenth century, the Roman Catholic Church occupied a position of importance. The church gave cohesion and stability to French Canadian society and was associated with French expansion into the interior as well as with the establishment of the church in the settled part of the colony. Samuel de Champlain* (c.1570-1635), the virtual founder of New France, brought Franciscan Récollets from France, hoping they would Christianize the Indians. In 1625 the Jesuits joined the Récollets in Quebec and soon became the dominant element in mission work among the Indians, particularly in the Huron country south of Georgian Bay. In 1648-49 several Jesuits were martyred at the hands of the Iroquois, the enemies of the Hurons.

While missions were being developed, the church was also established strongly in the French settlements of Quebec. Organization of the domestic church was largely accomplished by F.-X. de Laval.* The Roman Catholic Church was active also in Acadia (Nova Scotia) from the first expedition, authorized in 1604 and led by the Sieur de Monts.* Expansion into western Canada began between 1731 and 1741, when Jesuits accompanied the explorer Pierre de la Vérendrye on his trips into the west. The Churches Under British Rule, 1760-1866. After the transfer of Nova Scotia to Great Britain in 1713 and of the rest of Canada in 1763, Protestantism and English-speaking Catholicism became established in the former French territory.

Roman Catholicism held its ground in Lower Canada (Quebec) and secured a hold in Upper Canada, chiefly as a result of the immigration of Glengarry Scots and, subsequently, Irish settlers. Scots, settling in the Maritimes, particularly in Cape Breton, were predominantly Catholic. In general, the French Catholic clergy were loyal to the British civil government after the conquest. Bishops J.O. Briand* and J.O. Plessis* were successful in consolidating the relations of the church with the British authorities.

Protestant churches entered Canada from both Britain and the British American colonies. They were largely supported by British missionary societies. The Anglicans drew support from pre- Loyalist New Englanders, United Empire Loyalists,* British garrisons and administrators, and immigrants from the British Isles. The Methodists consisted chiefly of British Wesleyans and American Episcopal Methodists. Presbyterianism, while derived from Britain and the United States, reflected the traditional breach between the Church of Scotland and the various Secession churches. The Baptist Church was pioneered in the Maritimes, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, and in the Niagara Peninsula from the United States, but also derived support from the Scottish Highlands. The Lutheran Church in Canada kept pace with the immigration of German and Scandinavian peoples. The Lutherans established their first permanent congregation in Nova Scotia about 1750 and entered Upper Canada some twenty-five years later.

Expansion of the churches into the west soon followed their development in eastern Canada. Early missionaries in the west were J.N. Provencher,* John West,* James Evans,* and John Black.

During the first half of the nineteenth century, the position of the churches in regard to education emerged. By 1840 it was clear that secondary education was to be in the hands of the state, but with some provision for religious instruction on a nondenominational basis. Upper Canada (later Ontario) made provision for separate schools for the Roman Catholics; Lower Canada (later Quebec) developed a system divided into Catholic and Protestant sections. For most of the nineteenth century, higher education was largely controlled by the Catholic and Protestant churches which had founded some two dozen church- related colleges by 1867. The Churches Since 1867. Expansion of the churches continued in the late ninteenth century and resulted also in ecumenical movements of organized reunion and confederation. The Presbyterians in Canada were united in 1875, most of the Methodists in 1884, and the Anglican General Synod was formed in 1893. In 1925 the Methodist and Congregational churches and a large part of the Presbyterian Church united to form the United Church of Canada.*

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the Protestant churches in Canada felt the impact of new movements of thought among the scientists and the biblical critics. The challenge gave rise to the development of Christian liberalism, a viewpoint which tended to discard belief in the supernatural aspects of Christianity and to concentrate upon the Christian ethic. Early exponents were clergy such as G.M. Grant and Professors George Paxton Young (1819-89) and John Watson (1847-1939). The growth of Christian liberalism continued into the twentieth century. Many of its exponents, notably J.S. Woodsworth* and other Methodists, laid great emphasis on the social implications of Christianity. After 1930 the Protestant church in Canada was influenced by other trends of thought such as Neoorthodoxy, associated with the name of Karl Barth,* and also Christian existentialism,* but Christian liberalism continued to be the dominant theme.

There has always been, however, a strong conservative reaction to Christian liberalism, based on the idea of an inspired, authoritative Bible and on adherence to early Christian creeds, particularly the Apostles' and Nicene. Although the major denominations became largely liberal, there were many Christians within their membership who were orthodox and resisted the onslaughts of liberal theology. Other denominations, some of them fairly new, did not have this problem, among them Pentecostals, Plymouth Brethren, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Mennonites, and the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches. The Salvation Army first entered Canada in 1882.

Roman Catholic thought in the middle and late nineteenth century reflected the struggle between Ultramontanism* and liberalism which was raging in Europe. The working out of relations between church and state in regard to secondary education controlled by the provinces involved the Catholics in difficulties with civil authorities in Ontario, New Brunswick, and Manitoba. In large measure such problems continued to plague relations between Catholics and provincial governments in the twentieth century. The Modern Church. For the most part, the groups which were numerically large in the early nineteenth century remained so in the latter part of the twentieth. In 1961 the Roman Catholic, Anglican, United, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches comprised over fifteen million adherents-more than 87 percent of the total population. The Lutheran Church and the Mennonites numbered over 800,000. Immigration from central Europe after 1890 had brought to Canada several churches representing old Christian traditions, notably the Greek Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Other Protestant groups were still increasing, notably the Pentecostals (143,000).

Participation of the Canadian churches in missions continued. Domestic missions among the North American Indians and the Eskimos were chiefly maintained by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and United churches. Protestant missions in the foreign field were overwhelmingly in the hands of missionaries who were evangelical and conservative in theology.

The struggle between liberalism and conservatism was still apparent in the last third of the twentieth century. In Protestantism the struggle cut across denominational lines, with the liberals stressing social justice, permissive morality, and flexibility in doctrine, and the conservatives emphasizing the importance of personal salvation and of adherence to the historic Christian creeds. Roman Catholics were concerned with such issues as birth control, services in the vernacular, and relations with other Christian groups.

G.F. Playter, The History of Methodism in Canada (1862); W. Gregg, History of the Presbyterian Church in the Dominion of Canada (1885); A. Sutherland, Methodism in Canada (1903); J.E. Sanderson, The First Century of Methodism in Canada (2 vols., 1908-10); A.G. Morice, History of the Catholic Church in Western Canada (2 vols., 1910); E.R. Fitch, Baptists of Canada (1911); R.H. Gosselin, L'église du Canada (4 vols., 1911-17); A. Shortt and A.G. Doughty, Canada and Its Provinces, vol. XI (1914); A. Dorland, A History of the Society of Friends in Canada (1927); W.S. Reid, The Church of Scotland in Lower Canada (1936); V.J. Eylands, Lutherans in Canada (1945); J.H. Riddell, Methodism and the Middle West (1946); W.E. Mann, Sect, Cult and Church in Alberta (1953); S. Ivison and Rosser, The Baptists in Upper and Lower Canada before 1820 (1956); C.A. Tipp and T. Winter, The Christian Church in Canada (1956): H.H. Walsh, The Christian Church in Canada (1956) and The Church in the French Era (1966); C.B. Sissons, Church and State in Canadian Education (1959); G. French, Parsons and Politics (1962); P. Carrington, The Anglican Church in Canada (1963); D.C. Masters, Protestant Church Colleges in Canada: A History (1966) and The Rise of Liberalism in Canadian Protestant Churches (Annual Report, Canadian Catholic Historical Association, 1970); J.D. Wilson, The Church Grows in Canada (1966); L.K. Shook, Catholic post-secondary education in English-speaking Canada (1971).