The Origins of the Bahá'í Community of Canada, 1898-1948
Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, 1996 M12 16 - 356 pages
What binds together Louis Riel’s former secretary, a railroad inventor, a Montreal comedienne, an early proponent of Canada’s juvenile system and a prominent Canadian architect? Socialists, suffragists, musicians, artists — from 1898 to 1948, these and some 550 other individual Canadian Bahá’ís helped create a movement described as the second most widespread religion in the world.
Using diaries, memoirs, official reports, private correspondence, newspapers, archives and interviews, Will C. van den Hoonaard has created the first historical account of Bahá’ís in Canada. In addition, The Origins of the Bahá’í Community of Canada, 1898-1948 clearly depicts the dynamics and the struggles of a new religion in a new country.
This is a story of modern spiritual heroes — people who changed the lives of others through their devotion to the Bahá’í ideals, in particular to the belief that the earth is one country and all of humankind are its citizens.
Thirty-nine original photographs effectively depict persons and events influencing the growth of the Bahá’í movement in Canada.
The Origins of the Bahá’í Community of Canada, 1898-1948 makes an original contribution to religious history in Canada and provides a major sociological reference tool, as well as a narrative history that can be used by scholars and Bahá’ís alike for many years to come.
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During lunch in the afternoon, W.S. Maxwell told the assembled guests of his
experience at the Customs House. The inspector had opened the first box, found
a picture of 'Abdu'l-Baha, and taking it in his hand, he said, “It is the likeness of
7 Mary, now two years old, sat often on 'Abdu'l—Baha's lap. He would stroke her
curls, saying, “She is precious! She is precious!”1°3 Baha'is would later
frequently refer to these words when, twenty-five years later, Mary Maxwell
The Star also published two weekly papers, the Family Herald and I/Veelely Star,
which was directed towards the rural population, and the Montreal Standard (
Cooper, 1969: 119), carrying one and two articles, respectively, about 'Abdu'l-
At that moment, 'Abdu'l-Baha stood up and, facing the window, smiled and waved
at the child. Loft later reported that he “was so confused and delighted” that he
toppled backwards off the fence. It was many years later, in May 1948, that James
Exemplar” in the person of 'Abdu'l-Baha. This was as close to the source of the
new religion as they would ever come.“ They needed no further vindication to
embark on establishing the roots of a new religion in Canada, a country still
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The Origins of the Bahá’í Community of Canada, 1898-1948
Will C. van den Hoonaard
Limited preview - 2010