History

History of the Bahá'í faith in Canada

First National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Canada elected in 1948. Front row, left to right: Rosemary Sala, Siegfried Schopflocher, Laura Davis, Ross Woodman, John Robarts. Back row, left to right: Emeric Sala, Rowland Estall, Doris Richardson, Lloyd Gardner

The Bahá'í Community of Canada dates from 1898 when Edith Magee of London, Ontario became the first Bahá'í in Canada. In 1902 May and William Sutherland Maxwell established a Bahá'í group in Montreal, a firm basis for much of the early development of the Bahá'í Community of Canada. May Maxwell came to be regarded as the "mother of the Bahá'í Community of Canada." because of her historic role in those early years.

In September 1912, `Abdu'l-Bahá, son of Bahá'u'lláh, the Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, visited Canada. He addressed large public gatherings and was interviewed by the Montreal press on subjects that included economic justice and world peace.

The Bahá'í community attracted a number of adherents who contributed much to Canadian society as well as the Bahá'í International Community. William Sutherland Maxwell was the architect of the Chateau Frontenac tower in Québec City and the Saskatchewan Legislative Buildings. He designed the Bahá'í shrine on Mt. Carmel at the Bahá'í World Centre in Israel. French-Canadian Jean Louis Bourgeois, designed the North American Bahá'í House of Worship in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. Friedrich Schopflocher, a prominent Montreal industrialist, and John Robarts, a well-known Toronto business executive, were among those who helped to develop the Bahá'í Community of Canada in the middle decades of the century.

In 1937 Mary Maxwell, daughter of May and William Sutherland Maxwell, married the then Head of the Bahá'í Faith, Shoghi Effendi, in Haifa, Israel, and undertook extensive travels throughout the world. Known by her title, 'Amatu'l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanum, Montreal's Mary Maxwell became perhaps the most widely recognized Canadian Bahá'í in the world.

In 1948 the national governing body, the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, was established. The Canadian Bahá'í National Centre are today situated on the northern edge of Toronto. In 1949, an Act of the Canadian Parliament incorporated the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada.

Since its inception the Bahá'í Community of Canada has continued to attract people from all walks of Canadian society, and today numbers more than 25,000 members living in every province and territory of Canada, from the large metropolitan cities to remote villages in Canada's north. Bahá'ís are doing all they can to contribute to the quality of life in their local communities. The Bahá'í Community of Canada has developed collaborative relationships with Canadian governments and organizations of civil society, and has sponsored a number of social and economic development projects in different countries around the world.