Blog #33:Canada’s Christian Heritage

By John Cline
On July 1st, Canada will turn 150 years old. Did you know that Canada has a traditionally strong Christian heritage? Consider these historical facts:
1. Canada’s official motto “A Mari usque ad Mare” meaning “From sea to sea” is based on Psalms 72:8, “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.” The first official use of this motto came in 1906 when it was engraved on the head of the mace of the Legislative Assembly of the new Province of Saskatchewan.
2. Before the fall of 1983, July 1 was called “Dominion Day” which was a recognition of the sovereignty of God. With only twelve Members of Parliament present, the private members bill that proposed changing “Dominion Day” to “Canada Day” was passed. The Canadian Parliament changed the name to “Canada Day” within five minutes and without debate. On October 27, 1982 with the granting of Royal Assent it became official.
3. Canada’s coat of arms, adopted in 1921, stands upon the Latin phrase “A Mari Usque Ad Mare,” which when translated means “from sea to sea” a reference to Psalms 72:8. The present design of the arms of Canada was approved in 1994 and shows a ribbon behind the shield with the motto of the Order of Canada, “Desiderantes meliorem patriam” which translates “They desire a better country” which stems from Hebrews 11:16 which reads, “Instead, they were longing for a better country”.
4. In 1533, Jacques Cartier sailed up the St. Lawrence River to Montréal. To commemorate the founding of Montréal, Cartier wrote in his diary “…we all kneeled down in the company of the Indians and with our hands raised toward heaven yielded our thanks to God.”
5. David Thompson, explorer and statesman and Canada’s greatest map-maker, developed maps from his surveys of Western Canada between 1784 and 1812. Many of his maps are still being used today. Thompson’s words give the reason he endured the physical hardship of exploration “so that these physically impenetrable barriers may be traversed and the Gospel be spread.”
6. Egerton Ryerson, father of public education in Canada, wanted a “common patriotic ground of comprehensiveness and avowed (or maintain) Christian principles.” He wrote the textbook First Lessons in Christian Morals which was published in 1871. Ryerson clearly said that the Ontario school system was to be a “Christian public school system.” Ryerson University is named after him.
7. Many of our greatest Canadian universities were founded as denominational seminaries to educate future church leaders: King’s College in Nova Scotia, now know as Dalhousie University, was founded by the Anglicans; The University of Ottawa, founded by the Roman Catholic Church, and one of Canada’s first bilingual Universities; McMaster University, was founded by the Baptists.
8. In 1960, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, a Baptist Christian from Saskatchewan, introduced the Canadian Bill of Rights. It begins with, “The Parliament of Canada, affirming that the Canadian Nation is founded upon principles that acknowledge the supremacy of God…” The Canadian Bill of Rights can be found here.
9. In 1981, Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau signed his name to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter begins with, “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of the law.”
10. Our national anthem, “O Canada”, includes the phrase “God keep our land”.
Though the Christian nature of our society is continually assailed and being whittled away, truly our Christian heritage is more Christian than anything else. May “God keep our land”. Happy Dominion –  oops, I guess it is now Canada – Day on July 1st
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