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290 LEITERS IN CANADA 1998 they could live, work, and raise their families.' (Given that the Yukon's population fell to slightly over 4000 by the 1920S, that over 1500 of these people were aboriginal, and that many of the others in the North remained very mobile, her use of the word 'hundreds' has to be taken as meaning exactly that - a few hundred.) From the chaos that was the Klondike Gold Rush, she argues, emerged a small, regional non-Native society with a strong commitment to the region. She is right in arguing that previous historians have largely focused on the transient nature of the Klondike experience. Porsild has challenged northern Canadian historians to investigate the legitimacy of the important claim that the Klondike also contained the seeds of a viable, stubborn and resilient Yukon society. By so doing, perhaps, she will encourage two much-needed developments in Canadian historical writing: greater attention to the evolution of regional societies in the North and greater appreciation among the nation's historical profession for the importance of northern Canadian history. (KEN COATES) Will C. van den Hoonaard. The Origins ofthe Baha'i Community ofOmada, 1898-1948 Wilfrid Laurier University Press 1996. xii, 356, 39 b&w illus. $39.95 The Baha'i faith became the first religion in Canada to gain official recognition through an Act of Parliament when, in April 1949, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Canada (the annually elected governing Baha'I cotUlcil which oversees all 'Local Spiritual Assemblies' across Canada) was incorporated. Will C. van den Hoonaard's The Origins of the Baha'i Community o/Canada, 1898-1948 provides the backgrotUld which led up to this unusual event and chronicles the transplantation, social adaptation, and development of an originally non-Western religion introduced in Canada in the early twentieth century. Van den Hoonaard succeeds in identifying some distinctive social features of this religious newcomer, the importance of which has been underscored by the recent appearance of several world religions texts that conclude with chapters on the Baha'i faith as the latest of the independent world religions. While commonly classed as a new religious movement (NRM), the Baha'I faith is something of an anomaly in that it broke decisively from its parent religion, Persian Islam, at an early stage. NRM'S are typically classed as revitalization, reform, or restorationist movements, contextualized within the larger framework oftheparent religion, while the Baha'I religion escaped the gravity of its Islamic orbit and became a symbolic world tUlto itself. Van den Hoonaard periodizes Canadian Baha'i history in five developmental stages, leading up to the 1949 Act of Parliament: (1) Initial Chaos (1897-1912); (2) Incipient Community Life (1912-27); (3) Administrative HUMANITIES 291 Institutions (1927-37); (4) Expansion (1937-41); and (5) Emergence of a National Baha'I Identity (1942-48). This progression of implantation, incipience, institutionalization, expansion, and identity follows from the historical facts, meticulously charted and documented by the author, who displays an impressive command of the relevant archival (twenty-nine collections) as well as published sources. A number of individuals are brought alive through anecdotal accounts, as well as appearing in photographs among the thirty-nine plates that accent the narrative. Baha'I community growth rates in various urban centres across Canada are charted and analysed, providing an empirical basis for ascertaining conditions favourable to growth (such as linkages to the wider conununity through organizational, kinship, or business ties) as well as the varying successes of teaching strategies (finding that a diversity of approaches enjoyed greatest success) for gaining new converts. Despite a peripheral and precarious existence during its formative era, the tenacity of the fledgling Canadian Baha'icommunity is ascribed by van den Hoonaard to its distinctive 'religious singleness,' defined as 'the existence of a community ofbelievers who, by virtue of their few members, express their faith in terms of their individual existence, while maintaining their individual ties to a wider society that does not share their beliefs.' Characterized during its first half-century as 'a religion of the living room and hotels,' the Canadian Baha'I community was an essentially house- ,church ecclesia prior to its establishment as a visible Canadian...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 290-291
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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