Religion in Ontario

In the early-to-mid 1800's a religious revolution was underway. With the invention of the printing press and the promise of freedom in a new land, people started embracing new ways of worship. This led to the founding of several 'new' religions. Most were sects of existing religions, they just had different views about the scripture and how one should live life.

The printing press played a role in this revolution as it allowed those with differing views to share and widely distribute them on the printed page. The promise of freedom in a new land offered a place to live to followers who were subject to religious persecution in their homeland. Some of the advertisements enticing people to Upper Canada also spoke of religious freedom in an effort to attract more settlers.

Below is a listing and profile of some of the religions that have been (and most still are) practiced in Ontario. The focus is primarily on the 19th century as this is the time period in which most of us are seeking ancestors. It is basically a hodge-podge of miscellaneous information that may be useful when delving into an ancestor's religion.

*Census Abbreviation refers to the code that may have been used during census enumeration in the 'religion' column. If a religion above has a census abbreviation listed it means at least one person enumerated in the 1871 Ontario census claimed this was their religion.
Census Abbreviation*: AD

This denomination of the Protestant faith was the outcome of a religious uprising in 1831 led by Baptist preacher William Miller of Vermont, USA. In a nod to the founder, some followers were sometimes referred to as 'Millerites'. There's no clear indication of when this religion was introduced to Ontario.

See Also: Seventh Day Adventist

African Association Baptist
Census Abbreviation*: AA

One of the founders of this church was Baptist Minister Richard Preston. There's no clear indication of when this religion was introduced to Ontario.

African Methodist Episcopal
Census Abbreviation*: AME

"May be traced back to the year 1796. Some coloured Methodists in New York organized themselves at that date into a separate congregation and build a church which they called 'Zion'. They remained for a time under the pastoral supervision of the Methodist Episcopal Church, but in 1820 formed an independent Church differing but little from the parent body." 3

"The earliest black Methodists [in Upper Canada] affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in the United States. In 1856, to demonstrate their loyalty to their new home, they created the all-Canadian British Methodist Episcopal Church (BME). Some AME congregations, however, voted to remain with their original affiliation, so both the AME and the BME have continued to operate in Ontario." 1

"In 1847, the African Methodist Episcopal Church (also referred to as the Fugitive Slave Chapel) was founded and built [in London, Ontario]. In 1856 it became the British Methodist Episcopal Church." 6

"If you are an agnostic, you profess an uncertainty or a skepticism about the existence of God or a Higher Being." 2
American Presbyterian
Census Abbreviation*: AP

"The earliest American Presbyterian churches were established in Virginia, New England, Maryland, and Delaware during the seventeenth century and were chiefly of English origin."  1


The migration of Amish families to Upper Canada began in the 1820's when several families came North from Pennsylvania. In 1825 they were joined by other Amish folk from Europe (Alsace-Lorraine, Bavaria, and regions in Germany). Many of these settlers headed for Waterloo County (Wilmot Township in particular) as they knew they would be welcome. By 1850 there were about 1,000 Amish in Upper Canada. Current population is believed to be around 1,500 in Ontario.

See Also: Mennonite


"In 1830 the Anglicans of York set up the Society for Converting and Civilizing the Indians. Although much of its energy was soon diverted to 'destitute settlers', it sponsored at Sault Ste Marie the first Anglican mission to the Indians of Northern Ontario." 5

"If the marriage you are looking for was performed by an Anglican (Church of England) or Catholic (Roman Catholic) clergy, they will not be included in the District Marriage Registers. Only rarely, and much later in the District Period did Anglican and Catholic clergy submit marriage returns. However, just because your ancestor was a devote Anglican does not mean their marriage performed by a minister of the Church of England. When settlers in the woods wanted to get married they were not always willing to wait for months and months for the next Anglican minister to come by on horseback. In many areas it was too far to journey to a church or the weather was too bad to risk a long walk to the nearest church so settlers opted to be married next minister that came by on horseback."  8

Anglican Population: 1871 - 20% of Ontario; 1991 - 10% of Ontario (1,059,900 people) 7

Census Abbreviation*: AT

One who does not believe in the existence of God. Likely does not belong to a church, and likely will not be found in church records.

Census Abbreviation*: BA

"A Protestant denomination which exists chiefly in English speaking countries and owes its name to its characteristic doctrine and practice regarding baptism. "The earliest Baptist church in the Dominion of Canada was organized at Horton, Nova Scotia, in 1763." "This church, like many of the earlier ones, was composed of Baptists and Congregationalists." 3

"We hear of no Baptists in the loyalist migration to Upper Canada, for they were virtually unknown in the areas from which it drew. Small groups began to appear in eastern Upper Canada before the turn of the century [1800]; most of these soon disintegrated. The largest concentration later developed in the area north of Lake Erie, which was on a path of westward migration from upstate New York." 5

"The first Baptist churches in the province were founded by black preachers and were originally mixed, but by the 1830s white congregants had separated to form their own churches" 1

"If you are a Baptist, you owe the tenets of your religion to John Smyth, who launched it in Amsterdam in 1607." 2

Baptist Population: 1871 - 5% of Ontario; 1991 - 2% of Ontario (264,600 people) 7

Bible Believer
Census Abbreviation*: BB
Possibly a sect/off-shoot of Baptist
Bible Christian
Census Abbreviation*: BC
Sect/Off-shoot of Methodist

Organized 1816 in Cornwall, England by William O'Bryan; Followers are sometimes referred to as 'Bryanites' 3

"Bible Christians, who came exclusively from Cornwall and Devon, attained some local importance in the counties just east of Toronto." 5

Census Abbreviation*: BR

See: Tunkers

British Methodist Episcopal
Census Abbreviation*: BE & BME

"The earliest black Methodists [in Upper Canada] affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in the United States. In 1856, to demonstrate their loyalty to their new home, they created the all-Canadian British Methodist Episcopal Church (BME). Some AME congregations, however, voted to remain with their original affiliation, so both the AME and the BME have continued to operate in Ontario." 1

"The 'British Methodist Episcopal Church', which still maintains a separate existence, has only coloured membership. It was formerly a part of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and gained complete independence in 1864." 3

British Wesleyan Methodist
Census Abbreviation*: BWM

See Also: Methodist Episcopal

See: Bible Christian

Introduction of this religion to Canada came by way of Chinese workers brought in to build the railways in the 1870's and 1880's

"If you are a Buddhist, your religion split from Hinduism, and was founded by Buddha, Prince Siddhartha Gautama of India, about 500 B.C." 2

Buddhist Population: 1991 - 0.6% of Ontario (65,300 people) 7

Calvinistic Methodist
Census Abbreviation*: CM

No mention can be found of when this denomination first appeared in Canada, but the first US organization was in 1824 in New York. 3

"The Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church is Methodist almost solely in name. As an evangelistic movement it chronologically preceded Methodism dating back to the preaching of Howell Harris and Daniel Rowlands in 1735-6; as an organization it was partly established in 1811 by Thomas Charles, and completed in 1864 by the union of the Churches of North and South Wales and the holding of the first General Assembly. In doctrine the church is Calvinistic and in constitution largely Presbyterian." 3

Canada Presbyterian
Census Abbreviation*: CP

On 18 May 1861 the 'Presbyterian Church of Canada' and the 'United Presbyterian Church of Canada' united to form 'The Canada Presbyterian Church'

Census Abbreviation*: CD

Founded 1847 in the USA by British-born John Thomas; The name 'Christadelphian' was chosen in the 1860's and is Greek for 'Brethren in Christ' 4

Christian Brethren
Census Abbreviation*: CD

Practicing Brethren were found in Ontario, at Long Point, in 1803 by two US missionaries. The Long Point Brethren had two unordained men who had been preaching in the area for several years.

Christian Conference Baptist
Census Abbreviations: CC & XC
Christian Scientist

"If you are a Christian Scientist, you look to 1879 as the year your religion was founded by Mary Baker Eddy." 2

Church of Christ
Census Abbreviation*: CX
Church of England
Census Abbreviation*: CE

This Anglican denomination was the primary religion in Upper Canada until the migration of those practicing other religions outweighed not only the existing Upper Canadian Church of England supporters, but the incoming supporters as well. Until 1815 the British Crown financially supported the Church of England in Upper Canada, other religions were left to the support of their parishioners.

"If you belong to the Church of England (Anglican), your religion was founded by King Henry VIII in the year 1534 because the pope would not grant him a divorce wtih the right to remarry." 2

See Also: Anglican

Church of Ireland
Census Abbreviation*: CI

Irish counterpart of the Church of England

See Also: Anglican

Church of Scotland
Census Abbreviation*: CS

"The established Church of Scotland - the 'Auld Kirk' in Presbyterian shorthand - had imbibed a strong dose of Calvinism in the sixteenth century under the leadership of John Knox and Andrew Melville." "The appointment of Kirk ministers in Scotland was in the hands of patrons, often local lairds, who preferred cultured moderates to the more fervent preachers whom the people would have chosen. In 1733 the brothers Ebenezer and Ralph Erskine led a secession in protest. Their followers ultimately split into four irreconcilable fragments that spawned counterparts and variants in Ireland and America. None of these, nor other splinter groups that followed them, had more than a handful of adherents in Upper Canada before 1812." 5

See Also: Anglican; Free Church/Free Kirk

Close Communion Baptist
Census Abbreviation*: KB
Census Abbreviation*: CN

"The only church bearing the Congregational name in Upper Canada before 1812, was erected in 1804 at Martintown, in Glengarry County, by Scottish settlers who had been affected by revivals in the homeland led by the brothers Robert and James Haldane." 5

"If you are a Congregationalist, your religion branched off from Puritanism in the early 1600s in England." 2

Census Abbreviation*: DE
Disciples of Christ
Census Abbreviation*: DI

"The Disciples of Christ, who first appeared in western Upper Canada in 1830, were a product of the frontier. Their basic conviction, formulated by Alexander Campbell and his son Thomas, was that the purity and unity of the church could be restored only by following the clear directions of the New Testament." 5. Followers sometimes referred to as "Campbellites" 4

Courtesy of Dr. Dave Lavigne, Bishop: The Evangelical Christian Church (Christian Disciples) in Canada, as a mainstream, Holy Spirit-led, non-denominational Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement in North America, traces its historic roots to the formal organization of the Christian Church in 1804 in Bourbon County, Kentucky, U.S.A., and in 1810 near Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada under the leadership of Barton Warren Stone (1772-1844), a former Presbyterian minister. The Barton Stone Movement later merged with the efforts of Thomas Campbell (1763-1854) and his son Alexander Campbell (1788-1866) to become the Restoration Movement that gave birth to the Churches of Christ (Non-Instrumental), the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and The Christian Connection. This movement sought to restore the whole Christian church, and the unification of all Christians, in a single body patterned after the church of the New Testament. This was done by continually pointing all Christians back to the Holy Scriptures. In a nutshell, it was believed that the church had departed from the New Testament model by following the traditions of man. On June 28, 1804, they adopted the name the "Christian movement" to identify their group with Barton Stone based on its use in Acts 11:26 which became the remnants of the Springfield Presbytery. Of the majority of independent churches that aligned with the "Disciples movement" which identified with the Campbell's group, decided to use the name the "Christian Disciples," until it was renamed The Evangelical Christian Church (Christian Disciples) in 1860.

Census Abbreviation*: DU

See: Tunkers

Eastern Orthodox
"If you are Eastern Orthodox, your sect separated from Roman Catholicism around the year 1000." 2

Eastern Orthodox Populuation: 1991 - 1% of Ontario (187,900 people) 7

Census Abbreviation*: EP

"If you are an Episcopalian, your religion was brought over from England to the American colonies and formed a separate religion founded by Samuel Seabury in 1789." 2

Episcopal Methodist
Census Abbreviation*: EM

Upper Canada's first Episcopal Methodist Church was built at Hay Bay (near Adolphustown) in 1792

Est. Presbyterian
Census Abbreviation*: PE
Census Abbreviation*: EV
Evangelical Association
Census Abbreviation*: EA
Evangelical Methodist
Census Abbreviation*: VM
Evangelical United Brethren
Census Abbreviation*: EUB
Free Christian
Census Abbreviation*: FWC
Free Church
Census Abbreviation*: FC
Off-shoot of Presbyterian
Free Church / Free Kirk / New Kirk
Census Abbreviations*: FK & NK

Off-shoot of the Church of Scotland that formed in 1843 after clergy from the Church of Scotland left.

"Its place in society was closer to that of Wesleyan methodism than to that formerly occupied by the Kirk." "The Free Church attracted a disproportionate share of Presbyterians of American and Ulster background and gradually absorbed the remnants of the American-based presbytery of Niagara" 5

Free Methodist

Free Methodists, who entered the province after the Methodist union of 1874 on the invitation of unhappy members of the Methodist New Connexion and added to their numbers in 1884 through simliar accessions from the Primitive Methodists, and the Mennonite Brethren in Christ (now the United Missionary Church), who represented the union in 1883 of several groups in the United States and Canada who seceded from the main Mennonite body. 5

Free Presbyterian
Census Abbreviation*: FP & FCP
Free Thinker
Census Abbreviation*: FT
Free Will Baptist
Census Abbreviation*: FW
Greek Orthodox
See: Eastern Orthodox

The presence of Hinduism in Ontario was first noticed in the 20th century.

"If you are Hindu, your religion developed in India around 1,500 B.C." 2

Hindu population: 1991 - 1% of Ontario (106,700 people) 7

I. Methodist C.
Census Abbreviation*: MC
Census Abbreviation*: IN
Independent Methodist Evangelical
Census Abbreviation*: IM
Census Abbreviation*: IF
Irish Methodist
Census Abbreviation*: IM
Irish Presbyterian
Census Abbreviation*: IP
Irish Primitive Wesleyan Methodists

Founded 1816 as a separate congregation, but re-united with Wesleyan Methodism in 1878 3

Irvingite / Catholic Apostle
Census Abbreviation*: IR

"Introduced to the province in 1834 by William R. Caird, an evangelist who had been specially dispatched to Canada in order to gain a North American foothold, they were able in 1836 to establish congregations at Kingston and Toronto." 5

Islam (Muslim)

The presence of Islam in Ontario is due mostly to immigration in the 20th century, primarily from South Asia and the Middle East; Muslim migration from South Asia to Canada began in the 1950's.

The Muslim population wasn't specifically enumerated until the 1981 census when it was learned there were about 10,000 Islam followers in Canada, 3/5 of those lived in Ontario (mostly in and around Metropolitan Toronto).

"If you are Islamic, Mohammed started your religion in what is now Saudi Arabia around 600 A.D." 2

Muslim population: 1991 - 1% of Ontario (145,600 people) 7

J. Methodist E.
Census Abbreviation*: JM
Jehovah's Witness
"If you are a Jehovah's Witness, your religion was founded by Charles Taze Russell in Pennsylvania in the 1870s." 2
Census Abbreviation*: JU

"If you are a member of the Jewish faith, your religion was founded by Abraham about 4,000 years ago." 2

Jewish population: 1871 - 528; 1991 - 1% (175,600) 7

See: Methodist New Connexion
Latter Day Saints (Mormon)
Census Abbreviation*: LD

"The Mormon leader Brigham Young and his brothers Joseph and Phineas actively propagandized the eastern part of the province in the early 1830s, and John E. Page was especially successful in the same area in 1836 and 1837. The Methodists around Toronto lost members to the movement, and in 1838 a shipload of 150 converts from Prescott and Brockville were reported on their way to the 'land of promise'." 5

"If you are a Mormon (Latter-Day Saints), Joseph Smith started your church in Palmyra, N.Y., NOT Salt Lake City, which would have been my guess. The year was 1830." 2

Lutheran / Evangelical Luthern
Census Abbreviation*: LU

"In 1708 a number of 'Palatine' Germans left the Rhine valley for America to escape economic hardship and religious persecution, and many of them ultimately settled on a fifty-mile stretch along the Mohawk [New York State] known as the German Flats. When lands were allotted to the loyalists, Dundas County [Upper Canada] was assigned to members of this group. They included Lutherans and Reformed, but Lutherans were the larger group. Disbanded Hessian soldiers formed another concentration of Lutherans around the Bay of Quinte and in Prince Edward County. In 1794 William Berczy sponsored a further Palatine settlement in Markham Township, and a succession of convoys of Conestoga wagons brought many Lutherans from Pennsylvania to neighbouring Vaughan both before and after 1800."  5

"Lutherans demonstrated their determination to preserve their faith by instituting services and erecting church buildings without waiting until ministers became available. They were fortunate enough to receive a sympathetic hearing from the New York Ministerium, which adopted Upper Canada as a special mission field and provided several ministers. In 1790 the Lutherans of Williamsburg in Dundas called Samuel Schwerdfeger."  5

"Other early congregations had pastors by the end of the century, but keeping them was another matter. Mainly because of a lack of money, but perhaps also because in Germany the clergy had been paid by the state, Lutherans failed to pay their pastors a living wage."  5

"Among these early congregations only Williamsburg would retain its Lutheran affiliations; several others eventually defected to the Methodists." 5  Some German Lutheran's settled in Waterloo County due to its high number of German-speaking settlers

"If you are a Lutheran, your religion was founded by Martin Luther, an ex-monk in the Catholic Church, in 1517." 2

Lutheran Population: 1991 - 2% (227,900 people) 7

Census Abbreviation*: MD
Census Abbreviation*: MN

"A Protestant denomination of Europe and America which arose in Switzerland in the sixteenth century and derived its name from Menno Simons, its leader in Holland." "About 1620 the Swiss Mennonites split into Amish or Upland Mennonites and Lowland Mennonites." 3

After the American Revolution (1770's) about 2,000 Swiss Mennonites migrated from Pennsylvania to the Niagara Peninsula, York County (Markham Township) and Waterloo County.

In 1786 eight families of German Mennonites ("Plain Folk") from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania purchased land and founded the "Twenty", a small community in Lincoln County, Upper Canada. They were soon followed by others from Pennsylvania, and in 1801 the first Mennonite Church in Canada was established here.

In 1824, Amish Mennonite Christian Naffziger (from Bavaria) led a group of Amish Mennonites to Wilmot Township from Alsace-Lorraine. This was the first direct migration of what was to become a massive German migration from Europe to Upper Canada. With 60,000 acres of land available around New Hamburg and plenty of German-speaking neighbours it made the area very attractive to German settlers - even those of other religions. Between 1825 and 1880 about 750 Amish Mennonites settled on Crown land in Waterloo County.

Census Abbreviation*: MS
Census Abbreviation*: M

"Methodism, an offshoot of the Church of England, was introduced to Upper Canada by some of the original loyalists." "Among those who entered Upper Canada as loyalists were a cluster of Methodist families who established themselves on the Bay of Quinte and in Augusta Township of Dundas County. Descendants of Palatine Germans who had taken refuge in Ireland in 1709, they had come under Wesley's influence there and in 1760 moved on to New York City." "Since the total membership of their society in New York in 1776 was only 180, however, it is unlikely that loyalists who entered the province as Methodists can have been very numerous. Among later immigrants the proportion would have been considerably higher, for Methodism expanded with unprecendented rapidity during and after the revolution." 5 In the 1884 all white Methodist congregations came together under the union of "Methodist Church of Canada". 3

"If you are a Methodist, your religion was founded by John and Charles Wesley in England in 1744." 2

Methodist population: 1812 - 2,550 people 5; 1871 - 29% of Ontario

Methodist Episcopalian
Census Abbreviation*: ME
The Methodist Episcopal Church was established in the USA 25 Dec 1784 by William Losee. In 1791 missionaries from the church began their campaign amongst British settlers in Upper Canada.

"Until after the War of 1812 Upper Canadian Methodists were a single body, part of the Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States and supplied by it with preachers. During the war the British Wesleyan Methodists, fearful of republican influence, installed themselves at Quebec and Montreal, and in 1816 they appointed preachers to Kingston, Cornwall, Stamford, and York. In 1820, when wartime passions had cooled, the British agreed to a compromise by which they would withdraw from the upper province. They came close to complying with that promise, retaining only the garrison town of Kingston where their adherents stoutly resisted any suggestion of being handed over to the Americans." "In 1828 the two separated and the independent Canadian Methodist Episcopal Church came to be." 5

By 1828 Methodist Espiscopalians in Upper Canada had severed ties with their American counterparts, and in 1833 most of the congregations had joined with the British Wesleyan Methodists to form the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada. In 1854 Methodist congregations in Lower Canada joined. In 1834 the congregations that did not join the union came together as the Methodist Espiscopal Church of Canada which eventually became the 2nd largest Methodist Church in Canada.

Methodist Independent
Census Abbreviation*: MI
Methodist New Connexion
Census Abbreviations*: MNC & N

"The first organized secession from the main body of English Methodism".  3 3 Founded in 1797 in Leeds, England by Alexander Kilham; Members of this church are sometimes referred to as 'Kilhamites'

Census Abbreviations*: MO & MV

"From the late fourteenth century some followers of the Czech reformer Jan Hus has maintained a precarious separate existence in the mountains of their homeland." "Forced out of the Hapsburg dominions by unrelenting persecution, some of them found refuge in 1722 on the Saxon estate of Count Nicolas von Zinzendorf. Zinzendorf had already collected around him a number of Lutherans who sympathized with his emphasis on the religion of the heart. The two groups merged in 1727 and immediately launched the most ambitious Protestant foreign missionary enterprise of the eighteenth century."  5

"At the outset of the American Revolution there were as many Moravians as Methodists in New York City, and some of them showed up along the Bay of Quinte as loyalists. The most significant body of Moravians in the province, however, consisted of the colony of Delaware Indians who moved with David Zeisberger to Fairfield in 1792." "Moravian Fairfield was essentially the product of a series of moves that had taken its Delaware inhabitants from Pennsylvania to Ohio to Upper Canada and would take most of them to Kansas in 1837." 5

Also known as 'Unitas Fratrum' and 'Unity of Brethern'

N. Presbyterian
Census Abbreviation*: NP
Census Abbreviation*: NO
Not Given
Census Abbreviation*: NG
Old Kirk / Old Church
Census Abbreviation*: OK

See: Church of Scotland

Other Baptist
Census Abbreviation*: OB
Other Can.
Census Abbreviation*: OC
Other Methodist
Census Abbreviation*: OM
Other Orthodox
See: Eastern Orthodox
Other Presbyterian
Census Abbreviation*: OP
Census Abbreviation*: PA

Didn't appear in Ontario until the 20th century

"If you are Pentecostal, your religion was started in the United States in 1901." 2

Pentecostal population: 1991 - 1% (167,200 people) 7

Plymouth Brethren
Census Abbreviation*: PB
"Between 1862 and 1877 John Nelson Darby [founder of the Plymouth Brethren], an Englishman who became their most zealous propagandist, paid regular visits to Ontario where each summer a large conference was held at Guelph. The Brethern, who stemmed from the evangelical wing of the Church of England and quickly divided into warring fragments, mapped out a scheme of divine dispensations that would culminate in the winding up of history." 5
Census Abbreviation*: P

"Presbyterianism in Canada dates its origin from 1765, when a military chaplain began regular ministrations in Quebec. There was very little growth, however, until the early part of the nineteenth century, when British immigration set in. Before 1835 there were six independent organizations. The disruption of 1843 in Scotland had its echo in Canada, and secessionist bodies were formed, but during the sixties four organic unions prepared the way for the consolidation in 1875 of all the important bodies into one denomination, the Presbyterian Church in Canada. There remain only two small organizations not affiliated with this main body." 3

"Scottish Presbyterians, who may have been outnumbered at first by their fellow Calvinists from Continental Europe, were to have a greater impact on the religion of the province. Their early stronghold was Glengarry, where demobilized Highlanders of the 84th Regiment shared the Gaelic language of their Roman Catholic neighbours." 5

"If you are a Presbyterian, your religion was founded when John Knox brought the teachings of John Calvin to Scotland in the year 1560." 2

Presbyterian population: 1871 - 22% of Ontario; 1991 - 4% of Ontario (422,200 people) 7

Presbyterian Free Church
Census Abbreviation*: PFC
Presbyterian-Canada and Lower Provinces
Census Abbreviation*: PCLP
Primitive Methodist
Census Abbreviation*: PM

Organized in 1810 3, The Primitive Methodists, of self-consciously working-class orientation, entered the province in 1829 and were especially strong in the Toronto area. 5

"Immigration from the United States after 1783 was almost exclusively Protestant" 3

In Upper Canada the Protestant Church was supported by land reserves

Protestant population: 1851 - 82% of Ontario; 1991 - 44% of Ontario (4,428,300 people) - the combined total of United, Anglican, Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Pentecostal and "other" protestant denominations 7

Census Abbreviation*: PU
Census Abbreviation*: QU

"Some members of the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, followed so quickly on the heels of the first loyalists [1770's] that they are often accounted part of their migration. Probably their chief factor in their decision to leave the United States was resistance to pressure for military involvement in the revolution. Others followed as part of the general westward movement of the time, spurred on by a conviction that their societies had a special mission on the frontier. Quakerism, which had originally taken shape on the left wing of the Puritan movement in seventeenth-century England, was based on the teaching of George Fox." "In Prince Edward County they were for a time the largest denomination, and provided the pioneer schooling on the peninsula. They also dominated a portion of Yonge Street around Newmarket and were strong in the Long Point area." 5


"The Reformed or Presbyterian tradition traced its origin to John Calvin, a native of France who became the leading Protestant reformer of Geneva." "Calvin's influence extended to a number of European countries, inspiring the formation of national churches that differed in emphasis and ethos but agreed on the essentials of the belief. Several of these were represented among the settlers of Upper Canada." "German Reformed background constituted a significant bloc in Dundas County. Other loyalists, who sailed from New York under the leadership of Peter Van Alstyne and settled along the Bay of Quinte, represented the venerable Dutch Reformed tradition of New Amsterdam." "The other important centre of Presbyterian activity was the Niagara Peninsula, where a handful of Scots leavened a largely American population." 5

Reformed Baptist
Census Abbreviation*: RB
Reformed Methodist
Census Abbreviation*: RM
Reformed Presbyterian
Census Abbreviation*: RP
Regular Baptist
Census Abbreviation*: GB
Roman Catholic
Census Abbreviation*: RC

"Some German Roman Catholic's settled in Waterloo County due to its high number of German-speaking settlers" "The Roman Catholic population became predominently Irish during the immigration in 1840s and 1850s making Irish Catholics more plentiful than the earlier majority of Scots of Glengarry and French-Canadians around Windsor" "The dicocese of Ottawa was founded 1847" 5

"Reverend Alexander Macdonald came in 1786 with five hundred Roman Catholics from Glengarry, Scotland. He founded the parish of St. Raphael, and built the first Roman Catholic church in present-day Ontario."  9

"If you are Roman Catholic, Jesus Christ began your religion in the year 33." 2

Roman Catholic population: 1871 - 17% of Ontario; 1991 - 35% of Ontario (3,506,800 people) 7

Russian Orthodox
See: Eastern Orthodox
Salvation Army

"William Booth's Salvation Army, originally an offshoot of the Methodist New Connexion in England, appeared on the streets of Toronto and London in 1882." "In 1891 adherents of the Salvation Army constituted 0.5 percent of the provincial population, by 1901 only 0.3 percent"  5

"If you worship with the Salvation Army (yes, it's a religious group, not just an organization that collects money in kettles on Christmas and serves dinners to the homeless), your sect began with William Booth in London in 1865." 2

Census Abbreviation*: SE
Seventh Day Adventist
Census Abbreviation*: SD

See: Adventist

Seventh Day Baptist
See: Tunkers
Sikh population: 1991 - 0.5% of Ontario (50,100 people) 7
Society of Friends
See: Quaker
Census Abbreviation*: SP
Standard Church of America
Courtesy of Lenore Wright: I really don't know a great deal about them, as to when they came to Canada (Ontario), but I do know they did exist. They had a Bible College around Brockville at one time, and one of my uncles was baptised by a Rev. R. A. Hawley, of the Standard Church, in Marmora, in April, 1926. My father also got his grade 8 diploma from their College around Brockville.

Courtesy of Deanna Bowen: My great aunt is a preacher for the SCA in Vancouver. My grandfather & great uncle also preached for SCA in Edmonton, Van. and Calgary. See the following material re: formation of the Church in Brockville, etc.

"Standard Church of America... Brockville, ON, Canada [H.Q.]... Ralph C. Horner had been an evangelist in both the Methodist church in Canada and the Wesleyan Methodist Church... in the late 19th century, but left them to found his own organization, the Holiness Movement Church, in 1895... in 1918 the aging bishop was asked to retire. Not satisfied with the request of the church, he, with his supporters, left and founded the Standard Church of America... There are 4 conferences: Western, Kingston, New York, & Egyptian... There is missionary work in China and Egypt. Membership: Not reported. "
From:Melton, J. Gordon (ed.) The Encyclopedia of American Religions: Vol. 1. Tarrytown, NY: Triumph Books (1991); Chapter: Holiness Family; section: 19th Century Holiness; pg. 215.
Strange Reference
Census Abbreviation*: ZZ
Swedenborgian / New Jerusalem
Census Abbreviation*: SW

"Teachings of this religion could be found in some Lutheran churches in Markham (by 1830) and Berlin [now Kitchener] (by 1834)" 5

Census Abbreviation*: TU
This Protestant sect was founded in 1708 by Alexander Mack in Westphalia (Germany). Followers are also called 'Dunkards', 'Dunkers', 'Brethren', 'German Baptists', and 'River Brethren'. Subjected to persecution, the congregations that were established in Germany, Switzerland, and Holland emigrated to America between 1719 and 1729 in order to practice their beliefs freely. In 1723 some of the congregation followed Conrad Beissel and formed the 'Seventh Day Baptists'. In the early 1880's two more parts of the congregation left to form 'the progressives' and 'the old order brethren', the remaining congregation was then known as 'conservative tunkers'.
Ukrainian Orthodox
See: Eastern Orthodox
Union Baptist
Census Abbreviation*: UN
Census Abbreviation*: UT

"If you are Unitarian, your religious group developed in Europe in the 1500s." 2

United Brethren
Census Abbreviation*: UB
United Church
Census Abbreviation*: UC

In 1925 all Canadian Methodist Churches, two-thirds of the Presbyterian Churches, and nearly all Congregational Churches came together to form the United Church of Canada. The Evangelical United Brethren joined the union in 1968.

United Church population: 1991 - 14% of Ontario (1,410,500 people) 7

United Presbyterian
Census Abbreviation*: UP
Census Abbreviation*: UV

A non-denominational 'Free Church' 5

W. Presbyterian
Census Abbreviation*: WP
Census Abbreviation*: W
Wesleyan Methodist
Census Abbreviation*: WM

"In 1874 the Wesleyan Methodist Church and the Wesleyan New Connection combined" 3

Sources of Information
 2 Ann Landers Column, 11 Nov 1996, Brantford Expositor Newspaper
 3 Catholic Encyclopedia
 4 Christadelphian History
 5 A Profusion of Spires: Religion in Nineteenth-Century Ontario, by John Webster Grant, 1988, Ontario Historical Studies Series
 6 London Public Library
 7 Stats Canada
 8 Global Gazette
 9 Canada: A New Land by Edith Deyell

For more, see Church Records

Additions and corrections to this page are welcome