History in The Presbyterian Church in Canada

History in The Presbyterian Church in Canada

The Presbyterian Church in Canada

The Presbyterian Church in Canada is founded on the teachings of the New Testament, both in its theology and its form of church government. The word “Presbyterian” comes from the Greek for “elder” and refers to the governance of the church by Teaching Elders (ministers) and an equal number of Ruling Elders (persons ordained to rule, but not to a sacramental ministry). Its theology is called “reformed,” meaning that it belongs to the body of churches that the Reformation gave rise to in seeking to recover the teachings of Scripture.

Presbyterianism accompanied the earliest explorers and settlers to Canada, drawing its ministers and membership first from France and later from the British Isles. The Scottish influence was pre-eminent from the 18th to the 20th centuries.

In 1875, various Presbyterian bodies joined together to form The Presbyterian Church in Canada. In 1925, approximately 60 percent of the membership joined Methodists and Congregationalists to form the United Church of Canada.

In 2019, The Presbyterian Church in Canada has 1,374 ministers and 829 congregations, encompassing 82,457 communicant members and a national budget of $131.4 million.

Denominational headquarters of The Presbyterian Church in Canada are located at:

50 Wynford Drive
Toronto, Ontario M3C 1J7
Tel.: (416) 441-1111 or 1 800 619 7301
Fax: (416) 441 2825

Committee on History

The Presbyterian Church Heritage Centre is a sub-committee of the General Assembly’s Committee on History, the body responsible for encouraging the writing and distribution of works on Canadian Presbyterianism, the awarding of annual history prizes for excellence in the research and writing of Canadian Presbyterian History, and the publication of the pamphlet, Presbyterian History. The committee actively supports the Oral History project, the microfilming of documents and the collection and cataloguing of records and documents for the Archives and artefacts for the Presbyterian Church Heritage Centre.

Contact the Convener for The Committee on History:

Rev. Geoffrey Ross
E-mail: geoff@standrewsbrampton.ca

The Presbyterian Church in Canada Archives

The Presbyterian Church in Canada Archives collects, preserves and makes available records of the church, its officials, ministers, congregations and organizations (for example, baptism, marriage and death records). This is a multi-media archives with records dating back to 1796. A reading room equipped with microfilm reader-printer is available for the use of researchers. For information, contact the Archivist Ms. Kim Arnold, by e-mail at karnold@presbyterian.ca.

The Archives is located at Church Offices at:

50 Wynford Drive
Toronto, Ontario M3C 1J7
Tel.: (416) 441-1111 ext. 310 or 1 800 619 7301
Fax: (416) 441 2825

Canadian Society of Presbyterian History

Established in the denomination’s centennial year in 1975, the Canadian Society of Presbyterian History meets annually in Knox College, Toronto, on the last Saturday of September. Conferences are also live streamed. Lectures are delivered that relate to some facet of Canadian Presbyterian or Reformed Church history and which are later published. Membership is $55 a year and includes copies of the research papers.

For further information, please contact:

Dr. Stuart Macdonald
Knox College
59 St. George Street,
Toronto, ON M5S 2E6
Tel.: (416) 978-2782
E-mail: s.macdonald@utoronto.ca

Ian Mason
3066 Brigden Road
Brigden, ON, N0N 1B0
Tel.: (519) 864-1119
E-mail: secretary@csph.ca

Selected books on Canadian Presbyterian History

Available from the Heritage Centre are a few volumes dealing with the history of the denomination. The definitive history is entitled Enduring Witness by John Moir. Another useful resource is a collection of papers edited by the same author entitled, Early Presbyterianism in Canada. There is also a series of four volumes entitled Called to Witness, containing biographies of leading Presbyterians, two volumes of Gifts and Graces, a very popular series examining Presbyterian women who have contributed to life in Canada through their professions. Contact the PCHC to order any of these books.