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Centennial of Canadian Methodism
Statistical Record of the Progress of Methodism in Canada during the First One Hundred Years of its History


By the Rev. George H. Cornish, LL.D.

THE study of the numerical history of the first one hundred years in Canadian Methodism must prove to be of great interest to all lovers of Methodist doctrine and discipline in this great Dominion. In the year 1790, only a few months before the death of John Wesley, whose Centennial Memorial is to be celebrated by Methodists in all parts of the world on March 2nd, 1891, William Lossee, a young preacher, on probation for the ministry, in the New York Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States, found his way into what was then known as Upper Canada. He visited the settlers, and preached in the neighbourhood of the Bay of Quinte, and along the St. Lawrence. In the summer of 1791 his Conference appointed him to Kingston as the first minister to the first circuit in Canadian Methodism. As a result of his faithful labours, he reported to the Conference of 1792 a membership of 165.

Thirty years later, when the First Canada Conference was organized, there was reported for the year 1824: Ministers, 36 ; members, whites 6,094, Indians 56; total, 6,150.

Nine years more pass away, and we are brought to the period of the First Methodist Union, when the numbers reported were: 1833—Ministers, 81; members, whites 15,126, Indians 913; total, 16,039.

As the years rolled on, and the population of the country increased, Methodism continued to grow in numbers and influence. In 1854, the Hudson’s Bay Missionary District and the Lower Canada District, both of which had been, up to that year, in connection with the British Wesleyan Conference, were, with the hearty concurrence of the Parent Body, annexed to the Canadian Wesleyan work. The following schedule will show the

STATISTICAL REPORT FOR 1854, AND THE TWO FOLLOWING DECADES.

Year.

Ministers.

Members.

Number.

Increase 10 years.

Indians.

Whites.

Total.

Increase 10 years.

1854...........

253

114

1,142

35,181

36,323

12,574

1864 ..........

536

283

1,664

53,898

55,562

19,239

1874 ...........

695

159

2,201

71,356

73,557

17,995

In 1874 a Union was consummated between the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada, the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Eastern British America, and the Methodist New Connexion Church in Canada. The numbers reported by these Churches, on entering the Union, were as follows:—

Sunday-schools.

Wesleyan Methodist in Canada.......

695

73,557

1,002

9,617

71,583

Wesleyan Methodist in E. B. A.......

223

20,950

*154

*1,089

*9.000

Methodist New Connexion...........

113

7,439

356

2,571

| 20,635

Total................

1,031

101,946

1,512

13,277

!101,218

Returns in Minutes of Conference incomplete.

The three branches of Methodism above-named being now united in one body, under the comprehensive name of The Methodist Church of Canada, was subdivided into six Annual Conferences. These, at the General Conference of 1878, reported a net increase for the Quadrennium of 134 ministers, 20,659 members, 221 Sunday-schools, 2,474 Sunday-school officers and teachers, and 19,754 scholars, as may be seen from the following schedule : —

1878.

Conferences.

Ministers.

Members.

Sunday-schools.

Schools.

Teachers.

Scholars.

Toronto.............................

365

36,072

508

4,633

36,160

London............................

330

37,880

532

5,735

43,463

Montreal.......................

220

22.850

293

2,310

17,627

Nova Scotia.........................

106

9,912

164

1,305

9,352

New Brunswick & Prince Edward Is’d

95

7,871

147

1,030

8,028

Newfoundland....................

49

8,020

89

738

6,342

Total ..................

1,165

122,605

1,733

15,751

120,972

Increase .......................

134

20,659

221

2,474

19,754

From the statistical record of Methodism, as contained in the Minutes of the several Annual Conferences, and reported to the General Conferences, we turn aside to examine the numerical strength of Methodism as it is represented in the

DOMINION CENSUS OF 1881, which was the last taken. As will be seen from the following figures, the record is one for which we may humbly and devoutly thank God. What hath God wrought? To Him let all praise be given ! Who could have predicted that in the ninetieth year of its age in Canada, Methodism would occupy a position numerically in advance of all the Protestant Churches of the Dominion.

We will now see how the above Methodist population is divided among the several branches of the Methodist family:—

The Methodist Church of Canada ............................582,963
The Methodist Episcopal............................................103,272
The Bible Christian ..................................................27,236
The Primitive Methodist..........................................25,680
British Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist and Free Methodist .3,830
Total............................................................742,981

If we examine the statistics of the Churches as given for the Province of Ontario, we shall find that Methodism was reported as being far ahead of all the other Churches, both Protestant and Roman Catholic. The figures are :

Methodists in Ontario ......................................591,503
Presbyterians ................................................417,749
Church of England ..........................................366,539
Roman Catholics .......................................... ..320,839

We will pass over the report of the Quadrennium, as given at the General Conference of 1882, and refer to the Journal of the United General Conference of 1883. During the five years from 1878 to 1883, there was a net increase in the six Annual Conferences of 51 ministers, 6,039 members, 235 Sunday-schools, 1,030 Sunday-school teachers, and 11,348 Sunday-school scholars.

Henceforth the Methodism of Canada is to be united: The Methodist Church of Canada, The Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada, The Primitive Methodist Church in Canada, and The Bible Christian Church in Canada, having agreed on a Basis of Union, are to be known by the distinctive name of The Methodist Church.

The numerical strength of the Four Uniting Churches may be seen in the following schedules :—

I. MINISTERS, MEMBERS AND SUNDAY-SCHOOLS.

Churches.

Ministers.

Members.

Sunday Schools.

Schools.

Teachers.

Scholars.

Methodist of Canada ..

1,216

1-28,644

1,968

16,781

132,320

Methodist Rpiscopal ..

2'.9

25,671

432

3,182

23,963

Primitive Methodist ..

89

8,090

152

1,172

9,065

Bible Chris*ian........

79

7,398

155

1 299

9,699

Total .........

1,633

169,803

2,707

22,434

175,052

* Newfoundland, though n>>t a part of the Dominion of Canada, is part of the Methodist Church of Can >da, therefore the statistics of the Newfoundland Conference are here included.

II. CHURCH PROPERTY.

CONFERKNCKS.

Churches.

Parsonages.

Total value of Churches and Parsonages.

Number.

Valufe.

Number.

Value.

Value of furniture.

Me'hodistof Canada____

2,202

34,438,435

646

$712,906

$102,933

$6,809,817

Methodist Episcopal____

545

1.314,204

126

113,110

 

1,523,514

Primitive Methodist ..

831

 

50

 

 

402,266

Bible Christian.........

281

 

55

 

 

395,210

Total...............

3,159

 

877

 

 

$9,130,807

In accordance with the recommendation of the Committee on Conference Boundaries, the whole work was divided into Ten Annual Conferences. In the Eastern Section—three, namely : The Nova Scotia Conference, the New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island Conference, the Newfoundland Conference. In the Western Section—seven, namely : The Toronto Conference, the London Conference, the Guelph Conference, the Niagara Conference, the Bay of Quinte Conference, the Montreal Conference, and the Manitoba and North-West Conference. Two more Annual Conferences have since been organized, namely: The British Columbia’ Conference, in May, 1887, and the Japan Conference, in June, 1889, thus giving a total of 12 Annual Conferences, 99 districts, and 1,329 circuits and missions.

We now pass over the encouraging report of the first three years of United Methodism, as given in the Journals of the Second General Conference, in 1886, and proceed to the reports of the several Annual Conferences as tabulated for the Third General Conference, in 1890. We shall thus more readily see how wonderful has been the increase during the seven years of Union—from 1883 to 1890.

 

1883.

1890.

Increase.

Ministers and Probationers for ministry.......

1,663

1,748

85

Members (including those on trial)............

169,803

233,868

64,065

 

2,707

3,173

466

Sunday-school Teachers ......................

22,434

28,411

5,977

Sunday-school Scholars.......................

175,052

226,050

50,998

 

3,159

3,092

 

Parsonages .................................

877

967

90

Value of Church Property....................

$9,130,807

$11,597,491

82,466,684

* Note.—At the General Conference of 1886, a decrease of 216 churches was reported ; this was owing to the fact, that after the union of 1883, a large number of the churches were closed, and subsequently sold; hence the total reported in 1886 was 2,943, but in the ensuing four years there was an increase of 149, showing' a present total of 3,092.

It may be interesting now to notice the increase of

METHODISM IN THE CITIES

during the same period. The number of members as here given for 1883 includes the membership of all the uniting Churches, as reported to the several Conferences preceding the Union. The total membership in each city, multiplied by three, will give the probable Methodist population.

Name of City.

Members
in 1883.

Members
in 1890.

Increase in seven yrs.

Estimate of Methodist Population

Toronto ............................

4,358

9,813

5,455

29,439

Hamilton...........................

1,437

2,978

1,541

8,934

London .........................

1,807

2,879

1,072

8,6?7

Montreal..........................

1.523

2,355

832

7,065

Brantford.........................

691

1,482

791

5,446

St. John, N.B....................

783

1,410

627

4,230

Kingston............................

634

1,345

711

4,035

Ottawa..............................

678

1,278

600

3,834

Halifax, N.S.........................

833

1,205

372

3,615

Guelph..............................

678

1,197

519

3,591

St. Thomas..........................

641

1,195

554

3,585

Belleville...........................

695

1,143

548

3,429

St. Catharines...................

676

770

94

2,310

Charlottetown, P. E. I.

CO

*>-

561

88

1,683

Victoria, B.C.....

129

465

336

1,395

Stratford...........................

293

425

132

1,275

In the missionary and educational work, in the operations and conditions of the book and publishing house, in Toronto, in the periodical literature, and in the income of the missionary and other connexional funds, there has also been a wonderful growth, and especially during the past seven years, but the time allotted to me for the preparation of this paper being so brief, in connection with the pressure of other duties, renders it impossible for me to examine the necessary data for the preparation of schedules showing the annual or quadrennial increases. I would, therefore, refer all who may desire further information on the items referred to, to Vol. II. of the “Cyclopaedia of Methodism in Canada,” covering the years from 1880 to 1891, which we hope to publish shortly.

In view of what has been achieved in the century of Methodism in Canada, now closing, and the foremost position occupied by Methodism in this growing Dominion, may we not expect that by the blessing of God this great Church, with her multiplied and ever-increasing agencies, will go forward in the work of winning souls to Christ, and so haste on the millennial glory of His kingdom.


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