Text from the Atlas

Religious Adherence

Except for the formation of the United Church of Canada in 1925, the modern patterns of religious adherence across Canada had largely emerged by 1921. In eastern Canada these patterns reflected traditions brought by migrants from Europe and the United States over three centuries. The varied origins of late 19th- and early 20th-century immigrants were apparent in the patchwork pattern of adherence on the Prairies. The diversity was even more dramatic at the local level. In Saskatchewan, for example, the band of Presbyterians and Methodists mirrored the earliest line of settlement by migrants from Ontario, the United States , and Britain, while the scattering of Lutherans on either side corresponded with settlement by Germans and Scandinavians. The presence of adherents of Greek churches* indicated Ukrainian group settlement on the prairie fringes. In British Columbia the predominance of Anglicans was a consequence of the largely British background of the population; however, the Confucian and Buddhist elements of Vancouver's population showed the significant presence of Chinese and Japanese migrants. Similarly, it is clear that Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montreal were the preferred destinations of most Jewish immigrants.

The deep entrenchment of the Roman Catholic Church within Québec society was a distinctive feature of that province. Even in 1960 Québec Catholics were served by more religious workers per capita than most of the world's Catholics. The strength of the Church was manifest in the lack of religious diversity: Wolfe County displayed this situation at the local level, while adjacent Compton County reflected the early presence of immigrants of American and British backgrounds in an area of expanding French Canadian settlement. Indeed the Eastern Townships, along with west-end Montreal, contained the only appreciable religious diversity in the province.

*Includes Ukrainian (Greek) Catholic, other Greek Catholic, and Greek Orthodox churches.

Presbyterian Vote on Church Union

From the mid-19th century a tendency towards unification was a feature of Protestant church life in Canada. Sectarian divisions among the European parent churches were less meaningful and more difficult to uphold in a country whose churches had limited resources to serve a population that in the West was widely scattered. The series of unions within the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Congregational Churches culminated in the formation of the United Church of Canada. The Presbyterian vote on union across Canada revealed anti-union feeling in the long-established eastern areas, while the more recently settled west was heavily pro-union.

Printed Historical Atlas of Canada source:

Religious Adherence (Volume III, Plate 34; Concise Plate 33)