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Canada's Religions

An Historical Introduction

Robert Choquette

Publication Year: 2004

With nine out of ten Canadians claiming a religious affiliation of some kind - Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Aboriginal, or one of dozens of other religions - faith has huge impact on our personal and social lives. In this book, Robert Choquette offers a comprehensive history of religion in Canada and examines the ongoing tug-of-war between modernity and conservatism within the religious traditions themselves.

Published by: University of Ottawa Press

Series: Religion and Beliefs Series

Front Matter

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pp. vi-xv

List of Illustrations

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pp. xvii-xviii

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-6

The book advocates no particular ideology in the understanding of religions. I have started from the fact that the vast majority of people in the world, past or present, have been and are religious. That is to say that they acknowledge a spiritual or transcendent dimension to reality. This I take as given. It appears in their stories about their origins as a ...

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2. The Religious World of Canada's Amerindians

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pp. 7-26

Most historians explain the origins of the people of North America by referring to a series of migrations that would have occurred from Asia, across Beringia, the land currently flooded by the sea at the Bering Straits, and into Alaska. From there the earliest human occupants of North America would have migrated south toward the southern portion ...

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3. European Religions on the Eve of Encounter

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pp. 27-50

With few exceptions, the Europeans who came to Canada were Christians who carried with their religious faith a cultural baggage going back hundreds of years. It included elements of the religion of the Hebrews, the culture of classical Greece, the political and administrative legacy of the Roman Empire, and the civilization of the Middle ...

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4. The Encounter between Amerindians and Europeans

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pp. 51-66

Amerindians flourished undisturbed by Europeans until about the beginning of the second millennium. When contact occurred thereafter, it would gradually become apparent that the intruders from across the North Atlantic were driven by motives very different from those of the Amerindians. Explorers, fishers, traders, settlers, and missionaries all ...

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5. Missions of Many Kinds

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pp. 67-94

Deriving from the Latin missio and its verb mittere, meaning to send, the word mission has had multiple meanings in Christianity. In theology it has variously designated the mutual relations between the divine persons, the mandate given by God the Father to his Son, and that given to the Holy Spirit when he was sent to the apostles on the day of Pentecost. ...

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6. The Development of the Catholic Church

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pp. 95-116

The Catholic Church is primarily organized on a territorial basis. It is governed by the pope in Rome and by bishops who are understood to be successors of the apostles. Under the leadership of its bishop, a regional church is usually staffed by priests and deacons, some of whom are members of religious orders. However, throughout its two millennia of ...

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7. Theology, Beliefs, Customs, and Piety

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pp. 117-136

The missionary church of New France understood the Gospel in terms of the Catholic theology that prevailed in the home country, and practised the Christian faith as its French fathers and mothers did, all the while developing some of its own particular customs and devotions. While Canada's Catholics founded and undertook pilgrimages to a ...

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8. The Church, the British Conquest, and the Quebec Act

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pp. 137-158

In stages between 1710 and 1790, New France disappeared and was replaced by a new British colony that, in time, spanned the entire northern half of North America. This radical change in the political destinies of Canada was highlighted by the Conquest itself (1760), followed by two constitutional laws adopted by the Parliament of Great ...

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9. Revivals in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries

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pp. 159-180

Upon the Province of Quebec's effective redefinition as an alliance between a French Catholic population and an English Protestant sovereign, and in the wake of the subsequent American War of Independence (1775- 1783), more than 36,000 settlers fled the rebellious southern colonies to seek refuge in Canada. They were the Loyalists whose arrival in Canada ...

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10. Missionary Agencies

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pp. 181-205

Both a cause and effect of the revitalized Protestant and Catholic churches were the various missionary agencies that became more important than ever during the nineteenth century. In Catholicism, religious orders had been important since the founding of monasticism in the third century C.E.; nevertheless, during the nineteenth century they would ...

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11. The Churches and the State

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pp. 206-225

During the first half of the nineteenth century, while the Catholic and Protestant missionary agencies were launching their initial campaigns, the main Christian churches in Canada underwent significant structural changes and rapid development. At the beginning of 1800, only the Catholic Church had large numbers of faithful, some 140,000, ...

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12. The Evangelical Crusade

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pp. 226-254

The intensity of people's religious feelings waxed and waned over time depending on a variety of personal, social, political, and religious factors. Like the Protestant and Catholic Reformations of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Catholic revival in seventeenth-century France and the pietism of eighteenth-century German-speaking regions - all of ...

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13. Alternatives to the Evangelical Crusade

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pp. 255-284

Although each of the two parties of evangelical crusaders became a powerful majority in English-Protestant and French-Catholic Canada respectively, nevertheless significant numbers of Canadians refused to hop aboard their noisy bandwagons that trumpeted the benefits of temperance, the Anglo-Protestant civilization, or the Franco-Catholic ...

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14. Confessional Education

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pp. 285-310

Until the 1960s, the education of young Canadians, both in and out of school, usually bore a strong confessional imprint. While some schools were designated as confessional, Catholic or Protestant for example, many were merely designated as public, masking the fact that they too usually promoted a specific creed. Given the pervasive presence of ...

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15. Modernity versus Conservatism

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pp. 311-330

Since the sixteenth century, modernity slowly developed as a cultural mindset in the West, to the point that it became the dominant one by the year 1900. In the Christianity of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the primary current of evangelicalism had come to dominate the churches both Protestant and Catholic. However, Christian ...

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16. Social Christianity

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pp. 331-352

If the Christian faith was not social, it was nothing. While this has been the case from the beginning of the history of Christianity, the profound and dramatic social questions that were raised at the turn of the twentieth century served to underline the fact anew. How would Protestants and Catholics respond to the troubling new social realities created by ...

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17. Secularization and Church Reform

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pp. 353-376

World War II stands as a watershed between the traditional Canadian, Western, and Christian worlds and a new age ushered in by vast migrations of people, the arrival of television, the onset of the nuclear age, and spreading Western consumerist societies that challenged all traditions whether social, political, or religious. A major social and ...

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18. Immigration and Religions

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pp. 377-408

Until World War II, Canada was a visibly Christian country in just about every respect, the only exceptions being handfuls of members of other faith communities, Jews, Amerindians, and Muslims for example. In the aftermath of the war, the floodgates of immigration to Canada were opened wide. Large numbers of new Canadians arrived from ...

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19. Alternative Religions

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pp. 409-438

Given the number of old and new churches, religions, denominations, sects, cults, spiritualities, movements, etc. and the varying definitions thereof by various authors, it is necessary to begin any discussion of the subject by defining my terminology. In the literature of the twentieth century, the vocabulary used to designate religious communities has varied. Initially, the word church ...

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20. Epilogue: The Future of Religions in Canada

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pp. 433-438

The history that was outlined in the preceding chapters has shown that, from the outset, religions have played a central role in the Canadian story. Canadians of whatever origin, be it Amerindian, French, British, American, Ukrainian, Italian, African, Arab, or Asiatic, have understood the world and their place in it in ways proposed by their religious ...


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pp. 439-458


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pp. 459-464

E-ISBN-13: 9780776615547
E-ISBN-10: 0776615548
Print-ISBN-13: 9780776605579
Print-ISBN-10: 0776605577

Page Count: 464
Publication Year: 2004

Series Title: Religion and Beliefs Series