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.

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May 22, 1611

Port-Royal (Champlain's Drawing)


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

New France


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

Martyrdom of the Jesuits


Jesuits Killed

Jesuit missionaries Jean de Brébeuf and Charles Lalemant were executed by the Haudenosaunee.

June 16, 1659

Laval, François de


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, François de


Laval Founds Seminary

Bishop Laval founded the Québec Seminary (Grand Séminaire) to train priests throughout the diocese.

May 01, 1688

Place Royale Reconstruction


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

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys


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

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys


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

Notre-Dame Basilica in Montréal (exterior view)


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 Basilica in Montréal (exterior view)


Notre-Dame Dedicated

Notre-Dame Church in Montréal was dedicated.

June 05, 1832

Hart & Papineau


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

Fort Edmonton


First Cleric in Alberta

Robert Rundle arrived at Fort Edmonton, the first permanent cleric in what became Alberta.

November 25, 1851


First YMCA

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.

September 16, 1870


Rome Surrenders

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


Guibord Affair

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

Elzéar-Alexandre Taschereau, archbishop and cardinal


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.

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).

June 10, 1925


First United Church Services

The first services of the United Church of Canada took place.

June 29, 1930

Martyrdom of the Jesuits


Brébeuf Canonized

The eight Jesuit martyrs (including Father Brébeuf) killed by the Iroquois in the 1640s were canonized as the first North American saints.

December 23, 1945


McGuigan a Cardinal

Pope Pius XII named Archbishop James McGuigan of Toronto a cardinal.

March 07, 1965

Roman Catholic Mass in Igloolik, Nunavut


First Masses in English

Roman Catholic churches in Canada celebrated mass in English and other vernacular languages for the first time.

June 22, 1980


Kateri Tekakwitha Beatified

Kateri Tekakwitha, a Mohawk, was the first North American Indian to be beatified.

May 23, 1982

Saint Joseph's Oratory


Brother André Beatified

Brother André was formally beatified.

October 31, 1982

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys


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.

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.

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


Ouellet Apology

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.

March 13, 2017


Death of Vincent Foy

Roman Catholic priest Vincent Foy, an opponent of contraception who served for the Archdiocese of Toronto for 78 years, died at the age of 101.