Contribution of Presbyterianism to the Maritime Provinces of Canada

Contribution of Presbyterianism to the Maritime Provinces of Canada

Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 288
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    Contribution of Presbyterianism to the Maritime Provinces of Canada
    Book Description:

    Presbyterianism was not only the largest and most influential Protestant denomination in the Maritimes during much of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries but also one of the largest and most influential Protestant denominations in Canada. While the important role of religion in shaping the history and culture of Canada has gained recognition in recent years, the Reformed, or Presbyterian, faith has generally not fared as well as other denominations in terms of serious historical study. This interdisciplinary collection of essays redresses the situation by examining the development of Presbyterianism in the Maritimes from its roots in Scotland to Church Union in 1925. Contributors from a variety of disciplines provide fresh and fascinating explorations of the significance of Presbyterianism in such areas as education, literature, social influence, and missionary outreach.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6652-1
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xi)
    Charles H.H. Scobie
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xx)
    Charles H.H. Scobie and G.A. Rawlyk

    It is sometimes forgotten that Presbyterianism was not only the largest and most influential Maritime Protestant denomination during much of the century preceding Church Union in 1925 but also one of the largest and most influential Canadian Protestant denominations. In 1871 Presbyterians made up 15.8 percent of the total Canadian population of 3,689,257. In 1921 the Presbyterian percentage had increased slightly to 16.0 - 1,409,407 members and adherents out of a total Canadian population of 8,788,483. In Maritime Canada in 1871 a little more than 30 percent of the Prince Edward Island population of 94,021 were Presbyterians of one kind...

    • 1 Scottish Presbyterianism Transplanted to the Canadian Wilderness
      (pp. 3-18)

      This essay explores the transfer of religious and cultural life from Scotland to the Maritime provinces of Canada and traces both their continuity and distinctive Canadian development. During the late eighteenth, nineteenth, and first half of the twentieth centuries, large numbers of Scottish emigrants came to Maritime Canada. They established settlements, transformed the landscape, and began to create a new nation. Communities grew and churches and educational institutions were established. At the same time the settlers maintained close links with the homeland. The society, culture, and religion that were established in the Maritimes became the foundation of many Canadian values...

    • 2 The Kirk versus the Free Church: The Struggle for the Soul of the Maritimes at the Time of the Disruption
      (pp. 19-32)

      In the spring of 1844, less than a year after the Disruption of the Church of Scotland, the first official Free Church deputation visited British North America. It received (according to one of its members) an “enthusiastic reception.”¹ In the words of one witness, “the great mass of the piously-disposed Presbyterians of all the Provinces” were “heartily with the Free Church.” The field was open and the Free Church had only to go in and take possession.² Kirk sympathizers described the Free Church deputation rather less enthusiastically. In their view, it had entered British North America on a mission of...

    • 3 The Presbyterian Contribution to Higher Education: Teaching Science in Maritime Universities
      (pp. 35-53)

      Presbyterians have been characterized as strongly supportive of education and are recognized as having played a substantial role in establishing higher education in Canada. Some of the earliest and most vivid examples have arisen within the Maritime provinces. The contributions of such individuals as Dr Thomas McCulloch (1777-1843) and Sir William Dawson (1820-99) are sufficiently well known and were of such magnitude to demonstrate the substantial role played by Presbyterians. Their respective careers provide powerful narratives of the struggle to establish institutions of higher learning through the middle decades of the nineteenth century.¹ These were formative decades for academies, colleges,...

    • 4 Schooling/Credentials for Professional Advancement: A Case Study of Pictou Presbyterians
      (pp. 54-70)
      B. ANNE WOOD

      Educational credentials are such an integral aspect of schooling that today we rarely reflect on their meaning, on their cultural significance, or on their historical roots. Randall Collins characterizes credentials as cultural goods that individuals and ethnic groups use as weapons to obtain and monopolize economic positions and to gain advantage over other groups. Thus credentialism is a type of cultural currency whose value increased and became more abstract as the educational system became more elaborate. He concludes that the

      rise of a competitive system for producing an abstract cultural currency in the form of educational credentials has been the...

    • 5 Thomas McCulloch’s Fictional Celebration of the Reverend James MacGregor
      (pp. 73-78)

      In Tom Stoppard’s 1993 play,Arcadia,the playwright juxtaposes the wildness, romanticism, and irregularity of early nineteenth-century “picturesque” landscape gardening against the serenity, orderliness, and gentleness of the parks and pathways shaped by eighteenth-century exponents of the sublime and the beautiful. “Your drawing is a very wonderful transformation,” notes Lady Croome in the play as she regards the plans for the reshaping of her grounds at Sidley Park in 1809:

      Here is the Park as it appears to us now, and here as it might be when Mr Noakes has done with it. Where there is the familiar pastoral refinement...

    • 6 George Patterson: Presbyterian Propagandist
      (pp. 79-90)

      George Patterson was born at Pictou on 30 April 1824, son of Abraham and Christina Ann (MacGregor) Patterson. His paternal grandfather, John, came out on the “Hector” and is recognized as the “Father of Pictou.” His paternal grandmother, Ann, was a daughter of Matthew Harris, a member of the Philadelphia Company which brought the first white settlers to the Pictou area in 1767. His mother was a daughter of Reverend Dr James MacGregor, pioneer Presbyterian missionary to the Pictou area in 1786. Patterson was a youth of six when MacGregor died.¹ No doubt he retained childhood recollections of the venerable...

    • 7 “Tabernacles in the Wilderness”: The Open-Air Communion Tradition in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Cape Breton
      (pp. 93-117)

      The outlines of Cape Breton’s open-air communion tradition are familiar to most historians of Canadian religion. The subtleties of its form and function are not. This annual celebratory gathering was much more than an historical curiosity. It was an elaborate composite of cultural meanings, religious beliefs, and social relations. In fact it qualifies, to borrow the terminology of the cultural anthropologist Clifford Geertz, as a “paradigmatic human event.”¹ As Leigh Schmidt’s finely crafted study,Holy Fairs,vividly demonstrates, a close examination of the open-air communion invites the historian into such lush terrain as religion, foodways, gender, rituals, and dress behaviour.²...

    • 8 Presbyterian Revivals
      (pp. 118-128)

      When I suggested to a few people that movements of religious revival among the Presbyterians of Atlantic Canada might be a fruitful subject for research, the typical reaction was one of disbelief that Presbyterianism and revival could be mentioned in the same sentence. On this point there seemed to be little difference between members of the Presbyterian and United Churches. Nor was this scepticism entirely without justification. Presbyterians, in Atlantic Canada as elsewhere, have not typically been known for evangelistic fervour. A verdict of 1855 was, “It is still night to the church, a night of danger, a night of...

    • 9 The Antislavery Polemic of the Reverend James MacGregor: Canada’s Proto-Abolitionist as “Radical Evangelical”
      (pp. 131-143)

      At the beginning of chapter three ofThe Black Loyalists(1976), where James Walker deals with “The Bondage of Dependence, 1783-91” - that is, the period between immigration to Nova Scotia and exodus to sierra Leone, when the free Black refugees oscillated between captivity impoverishment - he observes that among the province’s slaveholders was “the Reverend James Logon [sic: Lyon], Nova Scotia’s first Presbyterian minister.“ The only Black person residing in the New England Planter township of Onslow in 1771 was the teenaged boy slave of Rev. Lyon. (Lyon left Nova Scotia the same year and afterwards became a militant...

    • 10 Strikes, Rural Decay, and Socialism: The Presbyterian Church in Nova Scotia Grapples with Social Realities, 1880-1914
      (pp. 144-159)

      From its formation in 1875 the Presbyterian Church in Canada maintained an active involvement in social reform. By advocating prohibition, prison reform, the abolition of prostitution and gambling, and the need for improved educational facilities for the young, Presbyterians assumed a prominent position in the social reform movement. One challenge, however, to which the Presbyterians failed to devote their full attention during the period from 1880 to 1914, was the amelioration of the poor social conditions facing Canada’s working class. Nowhere does this apparent indifference reveal itself more clearly than in Nova Scotia. An examination of the relations of the...

    • 11 From Sectarian Rivalry to National Vision: The Contribution of Maritime Presbyterianism to Canada
      (pp. 160-172)
      JOHN S. MOIR

      Just two days before the British North America Act transformed the colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the United Canadas into the Dominion of Canada on 1 July 1867, thePresbyterian Witnessof Halifax, unofficial mouthpiece of the Presbyterian Church of the Lower Provinces, hailed the challenge that Confederation offered for Canada’s future: “Never was there a finer field than the New Dominion for the Pulpit, the Press and the Schoolmaster.”¹ The sequence in which theWitnesslisted religion, journalism, and education - those three pillars of a new nationalism - reflected the two-fold vocation of the paper’s editor,...

    • 12 John Geddie: The Canadian-Australian Connection
      (pp. 175-189)

      “His candour, perseverance, orderly methods, unshakeable faith in Christ - qualities both Scots and Reformed - remain imprinted in the characters of many of the people in the church he pioneered.”¹ Thus John Garrett sums up the life and work of John Geddie (1815-72). How important were “Scots and Reformed” characteristics in forming a Scottish culture overseas in the nineteenth century? If Geddie’s cultural background was Scottish then it was transplanted Scottishness that flourished in the New Scotland of the Maritimes. In 1985 Angus Calder noted: “Dialectically, our religious heritage accounts for all distinctiveness in our culture: Hume and Burns,...

    • 13 Presbyterian Missionaries from the Maritimes: Comparison and Contrast
      (pp. 190-206)

      The purpose of this paper is twofold. The first is to establish a profile of the typical Maritime Presbyterian missionary before 1925; the second is to describe the world they presented to their home constituency. I have selected the three mission fields that were started from Atlantic Canada - the New Hebrides (1846), Trinidad (1868), and Korea (1898). My principal sources are thePresbyterian Witnessbefore 1875 and thePresbyterian Recordafter 1875. I have also used biographies where available because biographies were often based largely on material published in the church magazines. This paper is part of continuing research...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 207-258)
  12. List of Contributors
    (pp. 259-260)
  13. Index
    (pp. 261-267)