Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Temporary Post: Work in Canada - Introduction

Usual rules. You may copy for personal use. Do not share off the blog. I don't now why we post what no-one reads, but here it is:




In all the Earth: Canada

            There was interest in Canada during the Barbourite era. The first verifiable interest in Canada is found in the September 1878, Herald of the Morning. Alexander Hamilton Clark of Stouffville, Ontario, wrote to Barbour. Clark (October 13, 1831 – January 20, 1904) was an American-born immigrant and is described on his headstone as a “U. S. Pensioner.” His pension was the result of wounds received while enlisted with the 187th New York Infantry during the Civil War.[1] Clark moved to Islington not long after writing to Barbour. Dated August 11, 1878, his letter praised The Herald. It “gave me much light and pleasure to read,” he said. “I can now see the beautiful harmony in the Scripture as never before.” He asked for a copy of Russell’s Object and Manner of Our Lord’s Return.

A. H. Clark

            Clark presents us with a confused religious picture. The 1881 Canadian Census lists his religion as Adventist. The 1891 Census lists him as a Congregationalist, and in 1901 and in his death record he’s described as a Methodist. We do not know if this represents changing religious belief or census taker’s confusion.
            A letter signed L. Kerr was also printed in the September 1878, Herald of the Morning. We cannot positively identify this person. They wrote in the second person: “We cannot in any way do without the paper. It is the only message of the spirit of truth.” This may mean that Kerr wrote for his or her family. We don’t know. Kerr ended the letter with a plea for a meeting: “We are alone here, without any meeting. If you come to Canada, let us know before hand.” A G. E. Pickell from Ontario sent money for tracts or a subscription in late September the same year.
            Some from Canada attended the Worchester Conference in 1872.[2] Russell’s booklet Object and Manner of Our Lord’s Return saw circulation in Canada. A profile of his work done when he died said: “Many students of the Bible throughout the United States and Canada responded to the information derived from that book, and his correspondence became voluminous.”[3] It is likely that Canadians were on the original Watch Tower subscription list. Russell didn’t send special representatives to Canada to circulate Food for Thinking Christians, so there must have been sufficient pre-existing interest upon which he could rely. While tracing interest among Canadians during the 1880s is difficult, there are hints of it. In October 1883, Paton included a notice in his magazine that he couldn’t use Canadian postage for subscription payments.[4] Since most of Paton’s readership also subscribed to Zion’s Watch Tower, this notice presupposes Canadian interest. Among the regions sending representatives to the Memorial Convention in 1889, Russell noted “some from far off Manitoba.”[5] But there is no record of the missionary work that developed interest there.
            Almost the only non-Watch Tower reference to preaching in Canada is Lesslie’s letter to The Rainbow. Though we quote from it in the previous chapter it is important enough in this context to present it again:

There seems among the believers in the second coming and reign of Christ upon the earth, a strong tendency to return to what appears to be the simplicity of believers in the Apostolic age. I send you a number of one of their papers published in Pittsburgh, Pa., U.S., giving indication of this, but embracing some views not clearly taught in the 

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2 comments:

jerome said...

Quote) I don't know why we post what no-one reads, but here it is.

The stats show that people DO read this material, every day. They may not be able to provide additional details, but every so often some will express appreciation for the work that has been done. And you never know. One day a modern relative of some ancient key figure may suddenly come across your draft chapters, and solve a mystery for you. If you don't publish, that is never going to happen.

Anonymous said...

I'm reading these fascinating articles. Considering you have earlier mentioned the difficulty experienced in finding information on Canada's early history, this is a fine start.

Penton's 'Jehovah's Witnesses in Canada - Champions of Freedom of Speech and Worship' mentions some early Bible Student converts in the 1890s by name and location (sadly little else) on pages 37 and 38. Pages 35 and 36 also has useful thoughts on the development of religious thought among settlers who moved to the Canadian West. It appears that Penton's information for this period was supplied by Eugene Rosam (preface page xi) a Witness from American (page 33).

Some Jehovah's Witnesses from Canada with an interest in the early history, including those with family connected, might have later Daily Heavenly Manna books in their possession. These often include inscriptions from a much later period (if my memory serves me right for the period of c. 1908 to c. 1928) but can be a gold mine in respect of locating early Bible Student hotspots and consistency of belief among earlier named adherents.

I look forward to seeing how the Canadian history develops.

Son of Ton