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III. OUTLINES OF CANADIAN CHURCH HISTORY.
When British succeeded French rule in the territories to the north of the United States the population was predominantly Roman Catholic. Of the seventy thousand in Lower and Upper Canada in 1763, only a few hundreds were Protestants. In the maritime provinces
1 H. K. Carroll, in his valuable treatise, “ The Religious Forces in the United States,” based on the census of 1890, gives the following alphabetical list of religious bodies:
I. Adventists, six branches. 2. Baptists, thirteen branches. 3. River Brethren, three branches. 4. Plymouth Brethren, four branches. 5. Catholics, seven branches. 6. Catholic Apostolic Church (Irvingite). 7. Worshippers in Chinese Temples. 8. Christadelphians. 9. Christians. 10. Christian Missionary Association. 11. Christian Scientists. 12. Christian Union Churches. 13. Church of God. 14. Church Triumn. phant (Schweinfurth). 15. Church of the New Jerusalem. 16. Communistic Societies, eight varieties. 17. Congregationalists. 18. Disciples of Christ. 19. Dunkards, four branches. 20. Evangelical Association. 21. Friends, four branches. 22. Friends of the Temple. 23. German Evangelical Protestant Church. 24. German Evangelical Synod. 25. Jews, two branches. 26. Latter-day Saints, two branches. 27. Evan. gelical Lutherans, sixteen branches (as respects interconnection of synods). 28. Mennonites, twelve branches. 29. Methodists, seventeen branches. 30. Moravians. 31. Presbyterians, twelve branches. 32. Protestant Episcopal Church, two branches. 33. Reformed, three branches. 34. Sal. vation Army. 35. Schwenkfeldians. 36. Social Brethren. 37. Society for Ethical Culture. 38. Spiritualists. 39. Theosophical Society. 40. United Brethren in Christ, two branches. 41. Unitarians. 42. Universalists.
The creed of the immense majority of the Protestant population is reckoned as evangelical. Mr. Carroll estimates that the non-evangelical, the non-orthodox (including Christian Scientists, Church Triumphant, Communistic Societies, Latter-day Saints, and Spiritualists), and the nonChristian bodies number together less than half a million members.
the Protestants numbered about nine thousand, against eleven thousand Roman Catholics. It was only a few years, however, before the disproportion was considerably modified. Many thousands who took the loyalist side in the struggle of the American colonies for independence found it desirable to make their home in the British provinces. Nova Scotia and Upper Canada received large accessions from this source by the year 1784, and the Protestant element in these regions was increased in the subsequent years by European immigrants. Lower Canada remained strongly Roman Catholic, but in the Dominion as a whole Protestantism advanced to a majority.
Within the Protestant body the claim of the Church of England to a privileged position was a cause of agitation for a long interval. The special bone of contention was the so-called “ Clergy Reserve.” The legal ground for this was the Act of 1774, supplemented by that of 1791, the one authorizing the British sovereign to make provision “for the encouragement of the Protestant religion, and for the maintenance and support of a Protestant clergy," and the other reserving one seventh of the unceded lands of Upper and Lower Canada “for the support and maintenance of a Protestant clergy.” The import of these Acts depended upon the interpretation of the expression “Protestant clergy." Champions of the Church of England, among whom John Strachan -sucessively Rector, Archdeacon, and Bishop of Toronto was the most able and energetic, contended that the Clergy Reserve should be devoted exclusively to the Church of England in the Dominion. On the other hand, representatives of the Church of Scotland argued that in British law the Scottish Church was just as truly established as the Anglican, and that consequently the ministers of the former had no less a title than the latter to be included within the legal sense of the term “ Protestant clergy.” A third party, composed largely of Presbyterian Dissenters and Methodists, claimed that the Protestant interest in general should have the benefit of the Reserve. This position was favored by a majority of the Protestants in the Dominion; but the government was inclined to uphold the exclusive claims of the Church of England, though it could not find any clear ground for excluding the Church of Scotland. After years of discussion, petitions, and counter-petitions, a compromise was attempted in 1840 on the basis of granting limited allowances to other Churches, and assigning two thirds of the remaining proceeds from the sale of Clergy Reserve lands to the Church of England and one third to the Church of Scotland. This arrangement not proving to be satisfactory, the agitation went on until at length in 1854 it was voted to secularize the Clergy Reserve after paying definite sums of money in satisfaction of the life interest of claimants. This settlement was greatly deplored by Bishop Strachan, as a serious disaster to the Church of England. But there is reason
. to believe that he completely misjudged the issue. As is remarked in a recent history of Canada: “Every part of America has demonstrated that the sympathies and energies of a Church are more developed, and its more intelligent and careful management secured, when the people support their own clergy by individual contribu
1 Compare Gregg, History of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, pp. 406-439.
tions. The Church of England out of the wreck of the Clergy Reserve succeeded in saving a portion which was commuted and consolidated into an endowment fund. It is a question to-day whether even this has not been a 'brake' upon the wheels of progress of that Church.” 1
In point of numbers both the Methodist and the Presbyterian communion in British America have outstripped the Church of England. Both were in the field very soon after the beginning of the English rule.
Methodism in the Eastern Provinces may be traced back to the year 1765, when John Coughlan, a Wesleyan preacher commenced his labors in Newfoundland. Some years later there was a group of Methodists in Nova Scotia, which conducted meetings for prayer and exhortation, though without pastoral supervision. In this company, William Black was converted. The evangelistic labors which he began in 1780 were so successful that he soon found it expedient to apply to the Methodist Church in the United States for assistance in caring for the societies which had been organized. In response to this call Freeborn Garrettson came to Halifax in 1785. His preaching and supervision gave a fresh impulse to the work in progress, so that in 1787 he was able to report seven hundred Methodists in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
Two local preachers, Tuffey and Neal, connected with the British army, were the first Methodist evangelists in Lower and Upper Canada, or the provinces of Quebec and Ontario as they are now designated. Their labors date from 1780 and 1786 respectively. Prior to their coming the emigration of Barbara Heck and the family of Philip Embury from New York had provided a nucleus for a Methodist society. In 1788 James M'Carty, a convert of Whitefield, came from the United States and preached with much zeal until he was seized by violent opponents and carried off to an unknown fate. The period of more regular and continuous labor in this region began in 1790, when William Losee, with the consent of his Presiding Elder, Freeborn Garrettson, crossed from the Lake Champlain district. By 1800 nearly a thousand members had been gathered into societies affiliating with the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States. In 1824 the Canadian societies were constituted a distinct conference, and in 1828 they were granted an independent status by action of the General Conference. The separation was effected with entire friendliness, the main ground for it being the embarrassment to which political jealousy exposed the Methodists in Canada as being ecclesiastically connected with a country that had recently been at war with Great Britain. Meanwhile the Wesleyan body in England had been contributing to the growth of Canadian Methodism. In 1820 it was arranged that Upper Canada should be left to the Methodist Episcopal Church while the Wesleyans should have the field to themselves in Lower Canada. Five years after the concession of independence by the General Conference to the Methodists of Upper Canada a union was effected with the Wesleyan Church. Some however, were dissatisfied with this action, and reorganized the Methodist Episcopal Church of Canada. It was in this time of
1 George Bryce, Short History of the Canadian People, 1887.