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Europeans in early settlements and up to the Conquest of 1759

Before 1600: religious cultures of Indigenous peoples with a great variety of world views, mythologies, and ritual practices.

First half of 16th century: arrival of the first European explorers. There were no permanent settlement, but an ongoing fishing activity off East coast by various Europeans.

Beginning of the 17th century: permanent European settlement in eastern Canada; mostly French, Roman Catholic.

17th century: gradual build up of European colonies in Maritimes and what is now Quebec. They are mostly French, mostly Roman Catholic. There is an important role for religious figures, from members of monastic orders like the Jesuits and Recollets, to episcopal structures, to new orders like Grey Nuns. Their goals are: serve growing colonist population, convert Aboriginal peoples, including education of children.

1627: French crown expels/bars Protestants from its Canadian Colonies; Roman Catholic church becomes the official church/religion of colonies.

1649: destruction of Huronia by Iroquois peoples, including destruction of Jesuit missions in Huronia (modern Southwest Ontario, on Lake Huron).

1658: establishment of the first Roman Catholic diocese in Canada, in Quebec.

18th century on: the viability religious cultures of aboriginal peoples is undermined as indigenous economies and politics are destroyed. This accelerated during the 19th century and into the 20th century in all areas.

1713: British conquest of the Maritimes.

1755: expulsion of most of the Acadians
British settlement in areas of the Maritimes after early 18th century. The settlement is mixed religiously but largely Protestant.

1759: British conquest of the French colonies in Canada (seven-years war between Great Britain and France).

1763: the Treaty of Paris renders permanent the British conquest of the French colonies in Canada.

Late 18th century: arrival of Baptist and Congregational movements in the Maritime provinces.

British colonial era to Confederation

1763: Quebec Act tolerates the Roman Catholic Church, but not immigration of French or Roman Catholic priests

1791: the Constitution Act establishes Church of England in British Colonies after American Revolution

Late 18th century: immigration from new USA; mostly Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptists and other dissenters

1812: the war between the United States and the United Kingdom brought a colonial policy change, so that the source of immigration thereafter was predominantly from Europe, Great-Britain and Ireland.

1836: the Diocese of Montreal is created.

1837: Rebellions. Publication of the 1840 Simcoe report, which recommends the assimilation of French speakers into the English speaking population. Beginning of the rise of religious nationalism in Quebec.

Late 1840s: the Irish famine brings many Irish Catholics to Canada.

1850-55: the Church of England is disestablished in all British North American colonies

Confederation to the Second World War

1867: Confederation. Article 93 of British North America Act guarantees publicly funded already legislatively established religious minority schools in provinces.

1875: union of Presbyterian churches to form the Presbyterian Church in Canada.

1884: union of most Methodist churches to form the Methodist Church, Canada.

1891: the Canadian census shows that over 90% of population are affiliated with the Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, or Roman Catholic churches.

1876: the Indian Act prohibits the practice of Aboriginal religious practices such as the Sun Dance, Potlatch, Sweat Lodge. It provides for expansion of the Indian Residential Schools whose aim is to Christianize and ’civilize’ aboriginal children. The system was greatly elaborated thereafter. These schools are largely run by churches, especially Roman Catholic, Anglican, and (later) United Churches.

1906: beginnings of the Pentecostal movement in Canada. The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada were formed in 1918.

1917: Ontario government Regulation 17, restricting the use of French as a language of instruction to the first two years of schooling, targets French-language schools, but is also perceived as largely anti-Catholic.

1925: founding of the United Church of Canada, uniting almost all Methodists, Congregationalists, and the larger part of Presbyterians.

1880s to 1923: immigration of significant numbers of non-Christian people from Asia and other areas. Such immigration was gradually restricted after 1885 and shut off completely with passage of Chinese Immigration Act of 1923. Jewish migration is, neverthelss, significant in this period, largely Eastern European Ashkenazim.

Post-WWII to present

1951: beginning of a gradual lifting of restrictions on the practice of Indigenous religious ways, such as Potlatch.

1960s: beginning of the end of the residential school system. The last school closed in 1996.

1967: introduction of the points system for immigration, leading to a rapid influx of non-Europeans and non-Christians (plus diversification of Christians).

1971: declaration of official multiculturalism policy.

1982: Constitution Act and Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It conditions religious diversity and religious freedom in Canada.

1988: Multiculturalism Act.

2011: the National Household Survey shows that Christians are down to 67%, no religion is up to 24%, the Muslim population is over 1 million ( 3%); Hindu and Sikh are 1/2 million each.

D 20 June 2017    APeter Beyer

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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