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History of the Baptist Faiths in Canada

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General Baptists are those whose doctrine is in the Arminian.[1] at 32.

Particular Baptists are those whose doctrine is Calvinistic.[1] at 32.

Regular Baptists had their roots among the Calvinistic Particular Baptists. They dropped the term Particular and adopted the name of Regular Baptists indicating conservativism and regularity in doctrine and observance of ordinances in regular order with immersion baptism first, followed by church membership and only then communion.[1] at 35.

The Maritime Provinces

1763 to 1795: First Baptist Congregations in Canada

The first Baptist congregation in Canada is believed to have begun around 1763 in Horton (now Wolfville), Nova Scotia. In 1778, it was formally organized as the First Horton Baptist Church. Also in 1763, a group of Baptists immigrated from Massachusetts to Sacksville (then Nova Scotia, but now New Brunswick) with a Baptist minister and formed a Baptist church in Sacksville. Although many of them returned to Massachusetts a few years later, the congregation was reestablished around 1799.[1] at 35. [2] These congregations were of the Calvinistic or Regular type of Baptists. [1] at 35.

By 1795, the Arminian Baptists had also come to the Nova Scotia/New Brunswick area. [1] at 35.

1800 - The Beginnings of Associations

The first association of a group of Baptist churches known to have been formed in Canada was the Nova Scotia and New Brunswick Baptist Association.[2][3] It was formed Lower Granville, Nova Scotia, on 23 June 1800. The ten initial churches in its membership were Upper Granville, Lower Granville, Digby, Digby Neck, Yarmouth, Cornwallis, Horton, Newport, Chester, and Sackville.[2][3] This organization began home mission work in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in 1815, supporting the establishment of new Baptist churches in these two provinces. [3]

By 1821, the number of Baptist churches had grown sufficiently to support dividing the Nova Scotia and New Brunswick Baptist Association into the Nova Scotia Baptist Association and the New Brunswick Baptist Association.[3] In 1847, the New Brunswick Baptist Association divided into two associations – the Eastern and the Western and in 1850 New Brunswick added a Southern Association. In 1850, the Nova Scotia Baptist Association split into three associations – the Eastern, the Central, and the Western. [3][2] at 281. In 1868, 13 churches on Prince Edward Island which had been part of the Nova Scotia Baptist Association, left to form the Prince Edward Island Baptist Association.[3]

Confederation for Cooperative Denominational Work

In September of 1846, the leaders of the Baptist churches and associations joined together to form the Baptist Convention of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island to pursue their common denominational work primarily in the areas of home mission work, education, and foreign mission work.[3] Other sources say these three associations consolidated into one association in 1846 know as the Baptist Convention of the Maritime Provinces.[2] at 282. However, as the formation documents show that each of the three associations was entitled to send 2 delegates and each church to send 1 delegate,[2] at 282, it seems unlikely that the associations for the individual provinces were merged out of existence. Also, the work of the Baptist Convention of the Maritime Provinces seems to have been focused on cooperative missionary and educational projects.

Baptist Educational Institutions

The first Baptist school in Canada, Horton Academy, was established in 1828 in Horton (now part of Wolfville) with a special emphasis on training young men called to the ministry of the Gospel.[3] By 1881, the Baptist education initiative at Wolfville supported by the Baptists of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, had grown to encompass three institutions: Acadia College (established 1838), Acadia Seminary (a high school for girls established in 1861) and Horton Collegiate Academy (a high school and college preparatory school for boys established in 1828 as Horton Academy).[3][2] at 283-284.

1905 to 1906: United Baptist Convention of the Maritime Provinces

Ontario and Quebec

The Earliest Baptist Churches in Ontario and Quebec

In 1793, Governor Simcoe of Canada invited settlement in the area which became Kent County, Ontario by people who had been loyalists during the War of Independence. These loyalists came to be known as United Empire Loyalists. In 1817, the population of the entire county consisted of 530 people in 78 homes, including one minister, Elder Maybee of West Oxford, presiding over a congregation of strict communion Baptists known as the Close Communion Church in Oxford, who did not even have a church to meet in.[4] at 7. Nearly all the members of this congregation were United Empire Loyalists.[4] at pages 7, 9.

In 1822, Elder Thomas Tallman, an open communion Baptist, came from New York to the area which eventually became Woodstock where his son had settled. His visit prompted the formation of an open communion Baptist congregation, which for nearly ten years was the only church in the settlement. The congregation of the First Free Communion Baptist Church in the Town of Oxford included members who had previously been members of the Close Communion Church in Oxford. This congregation ordained ministers and helped groups in other settlements organize additional Baptist churches in the area. [4] at pages 7-12.

Between 1794 and 1800, Baptist missionaries from Vermont and New York helped to establish several Baptist churches in Lower Canada (Québec). These churches included: Stanstead established in 1794, Abbott's Corners established in 1796 or 1798, and Frelighsburg established in 1799.[5]

Early 1800's - Associations Begin to Form

The first association of Baptist churches in Upper Canada was the Thurlow Association (later named the Haldimand Association), formed in 1803. The Eastern and Grand River Associations were formed in 1819.[2] at 281.

In earliest Baptist churches in Quebec were affiliated with Vermont associations.[2] at 281. The first Baptist church in Montreal was established in 1830.[2] at 281.

In 1835 the Ottawa Association was formed. In 1845, the Ottawa Association divided creating the Montreal Association.[2] at 281.

1825 to 1830 - The Beginning of the Free Communion Baptist Associations

In Jun 1825, the free communion churches met in a convention and formed the Free Communion Baptist Association of Upper Canada. [4] at page 12. In 1829, this group invited some delegates from the Free Will Baptists in the United States to meet with them at their convention. They explored the possibility of a union and discussed their differences, but apparently no union occurred. [4] at page 15.

The Rise of the Regular Baptists

Missionaries from the New York Missionary Society and the Shaftsbury Association of Vermont visited the Niagara area in the early 1800s and were helpful in organizing the First Baptist Church in Beamsville, Ontario in the late 1790's and early 1800s.[6][7]

By the early 1840's, there is evidence of a division among the Baptists of the area over the question of communion. Some churches withdrew from the Free Communion Baptist Association and implemented the Regular Baptist policy of closed communion. By 1842, the number of Regular Baptist churches in the Province were rapidly increasing.[4] at page 18. In 1851, the Regular Baptists established the Regular Baptist Missionary Convention of Canada West. [1] at 36.

The Missionary Societies

1880's - Forced Consolidation

In 1888, the Dominion Parliament passed a bill consolidating all the previously existing Baptist societies in Ontario and Quebec except the Grand Ligne Missioninto "The Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec" with five boards: Home Mission; Foreign Mission; Ministerial Superannuation; Widows’ and Orphans’ and Publication, Church Edifice.[2] at 283.

1928 - Division Again

In 1928, the Union of Regular Baptist Churches of Ontario and Quebec broke away from the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec as a result of the fundamentalist/modernist controversy[8] This division followed a long crusade by Thomas Todhunter Shields, pastor of the Jarvis Street Baptist Church, to force the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec to reject any appointments or other actions which stray in the slightest from hardline conservative Baptist positions.[8]

Manitoba and the Northwest Territories

Since 1881 Manitoba and the Northwest has had a separate Convention.[2] at 283.

The Western Provinces


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 John Byron Richards, Baptists in British Columbia : a struggle to maintain "sectarianism", University of British Columbia dissertation, 1964 (https://open.library.ubc.ca/media/stream/pdf/831/1.0105481/1 : accessed 25 Mar 2019)
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 Henry C. Vedder, Early Canadian Baptists, from A Short History of the Baptists, 1907 pp. 276-285 (http://baptisthistoryhomepage.com/canada.baptists.by.vedder.html : accessed 26 Mar 2019)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 ”Historical Sketch of the Baptists in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland,” The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881 (http://baptisthistoryhomepage.com/canadian.baptists.tbe.html  : accessed 26 Mar 2019)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 R. W. Sawtell, The History of the First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ont: For the First Seventy Years, from April 22, 1822 to April 22, 1892 (Woodstock Times, 1892) (https://books.google.com/books?id=IhU3mWAvXhIC : accessed 26 May 2019)
  5. Jacques Gagné, Baptist Churches of Lower Canada & Québec, Canadian Baptist Archives (https://genealogyensemble.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/baptist-churches-in-quebec.pdf : accessed 26 Mar 2019).
  6. The bell tolls at Beamsville's First Baptist, Niagra this Week, 15 Oct 2008 (https://www.niagarathisweek.com/news-story/3283246-the-bell-tolls-at-beamsville-s-first-baptist : accessed 26 Mar 2019)
  7. First Baptist has stood the test of time, Niagra this Week, 24 Oct 2013 (https://www.niagarathisweek.com/community-story/4175112-first-baptist-has-stood-the-test-of-time : accessed 26 Mar 2019)
  8. 8.0 8.1 W. Gordon Carder, Controversy in the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec 1908-1928 (https://historicalpapers.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/historicalpapers/article/download/39615/35920 : accessed 28 Mar 2019)
  • R. W. Sawtell, The History of the First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ont: For the First Seventy Years, from April 22, 1822 to April 22, 1892 (Woodstock Times, 1892) (https://books.google.com/books?id=IhU3mWAvXhIC : accessed 26 May 2019)

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Categories: Baptist Faiths