- Ignoring the papal document assigning most of the New World to Spain, France began settling Canada at the beginning of the 17th century. Quebec was settled in 1608; the entire colony was named New France in 1663. Canada remained exclusively Roman Catholic territory until it was ceded to Britain in 1763. In the next decade, it received many loyalist immigrants fleeing the American Revolution.An important step in British control had been the founding of Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1749 and its settlement with British and German colonists. Within a few years the Church of England and a spectrum of Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Congre-gationalist churches took root. Anglicanism had been present marginally after an initial parish was opened in St. John's, Newfoundland, in 1699. However, the Church of England was formally established in 1758 in Nova Scotia and in 1784 in New Brunswick. The first Anglican bishop assigned to territory outside the British Isles was Charles Inglis (1734-1816), the first bishop of Halifax, who took up office in 1787.The 1774 Quebec Act ensured the rights of the French citizens of Canada, and thus guaranteed the privileges of and support for the Catholic Church. That act in effect limited the privileges of the established Church of England. In the mid-19th century, the Canadian government withdrew most Anglican privileges, nationalized Anglican schools, and seized some church lands. Canadian Anglicans began to reorganize for self-governance, including autonomy from the Church of England, which was achieved in the 1860s as Canada became an autonomous dominion. In 1893, the church reorganized as a national body, the Church of England in Canada; it adopted its present name, the Anglican Church of Canada, in 1955.After the British takeover, the wide spectrum of Protestant groups already present in the British American colonies began to flood into the country. Through the 1760s and 1770s, the Baptists, Quakers, Moravians, and Methodists arrived. Ontario (formerly Upper Canada) became the center of Canadian population and the Protestant community.Further growth in the Protestant community was spurred by the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1885. With the western provinces now open for settlement, a number of new groups arrived, especially Anabaptists (Men-nonites) from Russia. Many Hutterites joined them in 1917 to avoid the military draft in the United States.In 1925, most Methodists, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians united into the United Church of Canada (UCC), which replaced the Anglicans as the largest Protestant church in the country. A half century of negotiations failed to bring the Anglicans into the new church. The Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy did not disturb Canadians the way it did their neighbors to the south, though it did split the Baptist community, leading to the formation of the conservative Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada. Thomas Todhunter Shields (1873-1955) was the primary Fundamentalist voice.Pentecostalism spread quickly to Canada in 1906 after the outbreak of the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles. In 1909, Canadians organized a congregational fellowship, the Pentecostal Missionary Union, superseded in 1917 by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Robert McAleister (1880-1953), who had originally brought the revival to Canada, was also responsible for one of its major schisms when he promoted the biblical (non-Trinitarian) formula of baptism. His ideas were later developed by the Jesus Only Pentecostals. In the middle of the century, the Latter-Rain Revival began in western Canada and then spread to the United States, condemning the lack of vitality in Pentecostal worship and introducing a new organizational pattern based on the five-fold ministry of Ephesians 4:11, headed by apostles.As the new century begins, the United Church of Canada is the largest Protestant church, with 3,700 congregations, a membership of 640,000, and a constituency of more than 3 million. The UCC is the epitome of liberal Protestantism. It began ordaining women in 1936, and in 1988 admitted openly gay and lesbian ministers to ordination. It is the leading member of the Canadian Council of Churches. Among other Canadian churches that also belong the the World Council of Churches are the Anglican Church of Canada, Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Religious society of Friends, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Evangelical churches support the Alliance Francophone des Protestants Evangeliques du Quebec and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, both associated with the World Evangelical Alliance. Pentecostals are active in the Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America.several hundred smaller Protestant denominations exist. Most of the larger churches became independent of their American counterparts during the 20th century, but the overwhelming majority of the remaining churches have members in both countries. Roman Catholicism remains the largest religious community in Canada with slightly more than 40 percent of the population.Further reading:■ John Webster Grant, The Church in the Canadian Era (Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 1998)■ John S. Moir, The Church in the British Era (Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1972)■ R. O'Toole, "Religion in Canada: Its Development and Contemporary Situation." Social Compass 43, 1 (1996): 119-134■ Douglas J. Wilson, The Church Grows in Canada (Toronto: Canadian Council of Churches, 1966).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.