THE CHURCHES IN CANADA
ROMAN CATHOLIC. THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. METHODIST AND PRESBYTERIAN. UNITED CHURCH AND OTHER DENOMINATIONS
During the seventeenth century, while their fellow priests, with varying degrees of success and failure, of Christian work and secular negotiation, were extending the power of the Church of Rome in India and the Moluccas, in China and Japan, in Brazil and Paraguay, missionaries of the Society of Jesus were winning over to Catholicism the Huron Indians in what is now the Province of Ontario. As early as 1625, Jean de Georgian Bay.
Everywhere throughout a still wider region of forest and wilderness these and other pioneers of religion preached and suffered and struggled with the forces of nature, and of native barbarism, or died for the faith that was in them.
With breviary and crucifix they wandered far. From the wave-beaten shores of Nova Scotia to the prairies of the unknown West, from the region of Hudson Bay to the mouth of the Mississipi, they passed in a succession of black-robed figures. They persevered in their mission “for the glory of God,” and for the advancement of the Order and of New France, until, as Bancroft, the historian, puts it, “Not a cape was turned, not river was entered but a Jesuit led the way.”
As in the section of America which is now the United States, so in Canada the Roman Catholics were first to establish churches. French settlers brought with them the old religion as well as the old language, and cleave to both today. In Quebec, especially, the Catholic Church guided and modified and controlled the institutions of the province, the habits and customs of the French race, the morals and politics and loyalty of the people. A fairly recent religious census indicates that out of a total population of nearly 19,000,000, there are over eight million Catholics, with 4,635,000 in Quebec alone, and over 1,873,000 in Ontario.
The Church of England, also called the Anglican Church in all the English provinces was a dominant power in the early days, and influence for loyalty to the Crown, for education in the love of British institutions, for adherence to rule by the governing loyalist class, for devotion to the policy of early British governors. It held a high place in the government of all the provinces; took a vigorous position in matters of education, and did much, in cooperation with other denominations, to pioneer Western religious activities. The Anglican Church in Canada has a membership of over 2,400,000, with 1,117,900 in Ontario, and 367,000 in British Columbia.
In the various divisions of the Christian Church in Canada the controversies of the Old Land were reproduced with more or less fidelity. The Church of England disputed over forms and ceremonies of High or Low Church practice just as they did in England. Methodist was divided into the Primitive Methodist Church, the Bible Christian Church and the Wesleyan Methodist Church, while its American affiliations and Canadian position brought into existence the new Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist New Connexion. Presbyterianism had its Church of Church of Scotland in Canada, its Free Church Synod, its Presbyterian Church of the Lower Provinces, its United Presbyterian Church, its Canada Presbyterian Church. If, however, the denominations shared in the shaded differences of thought and creed which came to them from the Old Land, they also shared, immensely and beneficially, in the financial benefactions of the British churches and of the great missionary societies; while the Church of England in Canada received large sums from the British Parliament. The various Methodist churches were largely aided by funds from London, and their early missionaries were almost entirely supported from that source. So with the Presbyterian denominations and the Well-known Glassgow Colonial Society and its practical work between 1825 and
In 1925 the Methodist united with the Congregationalists and part of the Presbyterians to form the United Church of Canada which now numbers nearly 3,700,000 with over one and a half million in the Province of Ontario alone. Many Presbyterian churches declined to join the union, and the Presbyterian Church in Canada carried on with over 800,000.
The Baptists, Lutherans, and other Protestant churches have always exercised a strong influence in public affairs. The one public question in which the strong Baptist denomination of the Maritime Provinces was concerned was that of secular education. The Baptist population is about 600,000 with over 250,000 in Ontario and about 200,000 in the two provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Lutherans number about 663,000, the greatest number being in Saskatchewan and Ontario.
The interesting but troublesome sect known as the Doukhobors, who came from Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century, are for the most part settled in Saskatchewan and British Columbia, with a few in Alberta and Manitoba. They are smaller in number, peaceful, non-progressive people, caring little for education, and refusing to fight.
There are over 152,000 Mennonites in Canada.
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