Religion [Lat, religio, "respect for what is sacred"] may be defined as the relationship between human beings and their transcendent source of value. In practice it may involve various forms of communication with a higher power, such as prayers, rituals at critical stages in life, meditation or "possession" by spiritual agencies.
May 22, 1611
First Jesuits Arrive in New France
The first Jesuits to arrive in New France, Pierre Biard and Ennemond Massé, arrived at Port-Royal on May 22, 1611.
June 24, 1615
First Mass in New France
Father Denis Jamet performed the first mass ever celebrated in New France on the Île de Montréal.
January 06, 1642
Maisonneuve Plants Cross
Sieur de Maisonneuve planted a cross near Mont Royal on the Feast of the Epiphany.
March 16, 1649
Jesuit missionaries Jean de Brébeuf and Charles Lalemant were executed by the Haudenosaunee.
June 16, 1659
Laval Arrives at Québec
Monseigneur de Laval arrived at Québec as Vicar-apostolic in New France. He became Bishop in 1674.
March 26, 1663
Laval Founds Seminary
Bishop Laval founded the Québec Seminary (Grand Séminaire) to train priests throughout the diocese.
May 01, 1688
Oldest Church in Canada
The first stone was laid for Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, the oldest surviving church in Canada, in Place Royal, Québec.
July 01, 1698
Marguerite Bourgeoys Establishes Congrégation
Marguerite Bourgeoys established the Congrégation de Nôtre-Dame at Montréal.On 1 July 1698 the secular sisters took simple vows and became a recognized noncloistered religious community.
January 12, 1700
Death of Marguerite Bourgeoys
Marguerite Bourgeoys, Canada's first woman saint, died at Montréal. She was canonized in 1982.
October 15, 1701
Birth of Marie d'Youville
Mére Marie-Marguerite d'Youville, who was founder of the Sisters of Charity of the Hôpital Général of Montréal and the first Canadian-born person to be beatified, was born at Varennes, Qué.
September 01, 1824
Cornerstone of Notre-Dame
The cornerstone of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Montréal was laid; it is the oldest surviving Gothic Revival church in Canada.
June 07, 1829
Notre-Dame Church in Montréal was dedicated.
June 05, 1832
Jews Receive Rights
A law giving Jews legal rights was passed in the Lower Canada Assembly. By 1768, the number of Jews in Montréal had grown, and the community established Canada's first synagogue, Shearith Israel. Jews had also settled in Québec City and other parts of Lower Canada. Ezekiel Hart had been elected to the legislature of Lower Canada in 1807 but was denied his seat on the basis of his religion.
October 18, 1840
First Cleric in Alberta
Robert Rundle arrived at Fort Edmonton, the first permanent cleric in what became Alberta.
November 25, 1851
Francis Grafton and James Clexton established the first North American chapter of the YMCA in Montréal.
July 02, 1865
Booth Founds Salvation Army
At a revivalist meeting at Whitechapel, London, England, William Booth formed the Salvation Army. The Army came to Canada in 1882.
July 01, 1867
BNA Act Protects Some Minority Religious Education Rights
The British North America Act of 1867 gave provinces authority over education with one significant exception: Section 93 of the Act protected the religious education rights of the Protestant minority in Quebec and the Roman Catholic minority in Ontario. In Quebec, a dual confessional school system, controlled by Protestants and Roman Catholics, became entrenched in law. Although Jews and members of other faiths could attend either Protestant or Catholic schools, they did not possess equal education rights.
September 16, 1870
Rome surrendered to the Italian troops who wanted to bring about Italian unification. Canadian Zouaves arrived too late to take part in the battle.
September 02, 1875
An attempt to bury Joseph Guibord in the Roman Catholic cemetery at Montréal failed. After the burial was accomplished under armed guard, Bishop Bourget deconsecrated the plot of ground where Guibord's body lay.
January 25, 1876
George McDougall Lost
Missionary George McDougall was lost in a prairie blizzard during a buffalo hunt and froze to death.
June 07, 1886
Taschereau Made First Cardinal
Elzéar-Alexandre Taschereau was created the first Canadian cardinal.
July 12, 1888
Jesuits' Estates Act
The Jesuits' Estates Act was passed by the Québec legislature, authorizing payment of $400 000 for property confiscated from the Jesuit Order.
January 01, 1903
Pinsler Case and Education Act, 1903
After a Protestant school board refused to honour a scholarship won by Jacob Pinsler, the son of Jewish immigrants, the Pinslers sued. However, the Quebec Superior Court upheld the board’s position because only Protestants and Roman Catholics had constitutional education guarantees. Fallout from the Pinsler case led to the adoption of the Education Act in 1903. It stipulated that Jews would be considered Protestants for educational purposes, and the Protestant board would receive funding based on enrolment. Nevertheless, problems persisted and dissatisfaction on all sides increased. (See also Jewish School Question.)
April 25, 1903
Jewish Education Rights (Québec)
The Québec legislature adopted legislation requiring Jews to pay their taxes to the Protestant schools panel and granting them education rights equal to those of Protestants. In 1928, the Privy Council ruled that the 1903 Act was ultra vires (beyond legal authority).
August 31, 1924
Cornerstone of Saint Joseph’s Oratory is Laid
Before a crowd of 35,000, the cornerstone of the future Saint Joseph’s Oratory was laid. Located on the northwestern slope of Mount Royal in Montreal, the minor basilica is the tallest church in Canada and one of the largest domed structures in the world. The Oratory is an important landmark and symbol of Montreal and attracts about two million visitors a year.
Taschereau’s Special Commission on Education
In 1924, Quebec Premier Louis-Alexandre Taschereau established a Special Commission on Education to examine the case of Jewish students in Quebec’s public school system. After the commissioners remained at an impasse, Taschereau referred the 1903 Act to the Quebec Court of Appeal. It concluded that the Act violated section 93 of the BNA Act and was therefore invalid. Jews had no legal rights to attend Protestant schools, teach or serve as commissioners. The court also ruled that the Quebec government did not have the authority to set up separate schools. The government appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. In 1926, it upheld the appeal court rulings but concluded that the provincial government had the right to establish separate schools. In 1928, the case was referred to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Britain, which agreed with the Supreme Court. (See also Jewish School Question.)
June 10, 1925
First United Church Services
The first services of the United Church of Canada took place.
April 01, 1930
The David Bill is Enacted in Quebec
In April 1930, the Liberal government of Premier Louis-Alexandre Taschereau passed a law to create a Jewish school board in Quebec. Under the statute, government-appointed Jewish commissioners were legally required to continue negotiations with the Protestant and Catholic school boards. However, the commissioners obtained few concessions other than an end to segregation. Discriminatory practices in hiring and religious education continued, as did taxation without representation. Opposition to the David Bill — named after Provincial Secretary Athanase David — erupted. Support within the Jewish community was split. The Roman Catholic Church denounced the Bill and French-Canadian nationalists protested. The Bill was repealed in 1931. (See also Jewish School Question.)
June 29, 1930
The eight Jesuit martyrs (including Father Brébeuf) killed by the Iroquois in the 1640s were canonized as the first North American saints.
December 12, 1938
First Mosque in Canada Opens
Canada’s first mosque, Al Rashid in Edmonton, was funded through initiatives from the Arab community, led by Hilwie Hamdon. The Al Rashid Mosque has played a significant role in the growth of the Muslim community in Alberta and across the country.
December 23, 1945
McGuigan a Cardinal
Pope Pius XII named Archbishop James McGuigan of Toronto a cardinal.
March 07, 1965
First Masses in English
Roman Catholic churches in Canada celebrated mass in English and other vernacular languages for the first time.
August 15, 1969
Paul Déjean is Expelled from Haiti
Community leader, secular priest, anti-racism activist and political writer Paul Déjean was expelled from Haiti by the government of dictator François Duvalier. He eventually settled in Montreal, where he became of the great leaders of the entire Haitian diaspora.
June 22, 1980
Kateri Tekakwitha Beatified
Kateri Tekakwitha, a Mohawk, was the first North American Indian to be beatified.
May 23, 1982
Brother André is Beatified by Pope John Paul II
A lay brother of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, Brother André was widely regarded as a miracle worker, although he attributed his miracles to Saint Joseph, to whom he was devoted. Saint Joseph's Oratory was built on the site of Brother André’s original chapel. In 1982, Brother André was beatified by Pope John Paul II, who prayed at Brother André’s tomb in the basilica in 1984 during his visit to Montreal. Brother André was canonized in 2010, making him Saint André, the first male Catholic saint born in Canada.
May 23, 1982
Brother André Beatified
Brother André was formally beatified.
October 31, 1982
Marguerite Bourgeoys Canonized
Marguerite Bourgeoys, founder of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame de Montréal, was canonized (the first Canadian woman made a saint).
October 23, 1983
Dedication of Guan Yin Buddhist Temple
The Guan Yin Buddhist Temple in Richmond, BC, was dedicated. Designed by architect Vincent Kwan, it is the most architecturally authentic Chinese imperial-style Buddhist temple in North America.
February 28, 1985
Zündel Convicted of Intolerance
Ernst Zündel was convicted of publishing false news causing harm to racial tolerance by publishing his claims that the mass extermination of Jews in Nazi Germany never occurred. The conviction was later overturned on constitutional grounds.
April 24, 1985
Lord's Day Act Ruled Contrary
The Supreme Court of Canada found that the Lord's Day Act was contrary to the freedom of religion guaranteed in the Charter of Rights.
March 18, 1986
Death of Priest and Activist Karl Lévêque
Karl Lévêque was born in Haiti, but did his post-secondary studies in theology and became a Jesuit priest in Quebec. He fought the various forms of discrimination experienced by many members of the Haitian community in Montreal and was one of Montreal’s greatest community activists.
September 20, 1987
Pope Visits Fort Simpson
Pope John Paul II visited Fort Simpson, NWT.
October 05, 1994
Temple Murders and Suicides
Fifty-three members of the religious cult, the Order of the Solar Temple, were found dead in Switzerland and Canada, apparent victims of a series of murders and suicides.
July 26, 1996
Bishop Convicted of Sex Crimes
A BC court convicted Roman Catholic bishop Hubert O'Conner of sex crimes committed at St Joseph's Mission, near Williams Lake, in the late 1960s.
January 01, 1997
BNA Amendment Allows Neutral Linguistic School Boards
The Jewish School Question was finally resolved in 1997 when section 93 of the BNA Act was amended. This enabled the creation of religiously neutral linguistic school boards to replace confessional schools in Quebec. The transition to a secular public school system granted legal education rights to the Jewish community in Quebec after more than 100 years of inequality.
November 18, 1997
Constitution Act Amended
Parliament voted to amend the 1982 Constitution Act in order to allow Québec to replace its religion-based school system with one drawn along linguistic lines.
March 16, 1998
Vatican Apologizes to Jews
The Vatican issued a long-awaited statement apologizing for the Roman Catholic Church's failure to take action against Nazi Germany's killing of the Jews.
September 15, 1999
Church Refuses to Apologize
Québec's Roman Catholic Church refused to apologize to 3,000 orphans who claimed that they were sexually and physically abused in church-run institutions. The children had been declared mentally ill to qualify for federal subsidies.
February 07, 2000
Death of Wilfred Smith
Wilfred Cantwell Smith, the Canadian-born scholar of Islam, died in Toronto. He had established or directed centres for religious studies at McGill, Dalhousie, U of T and Harvard.
January 01, 2001
Religious Tolerance and the Kirpan
In 2001, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a Québec student had the right to wear a kirpan while in school. The Québec Court of Appeal struck down the decision in 2004, ruling that community safety was more important than wearing the ceremonial dagger, but in 2006 the Supreme Court again decided that religious tolerance was to be encouraged in Canadian society and that a total ban infringed on the guarantee of religious freedom under the Charter of Rights.
November 21, 2007
In an open letter to Québec newspapers, Cardinal Marc Ouellet issued an apology for errors committed by the Roman Catholic Church, asking Quebeckers to forgive the institution for its former attitudes toward anti-Semitism and racism, indifference to First Nations, and discrimination against homosexuals and women.
March 04, 2017
Death of Edna Rose Ritchings
Vancouver-born Edna Rose Ritchings, who led the International Peace Mission Movement and was also known as Mother Divine and Sweet Angel, died at the age of 92.