Very little has been written on how the Christian churches of Britain’s North American Colonies engaged with the movement to federate the colonies. The rather meagre nod to the work of the churches in the 1860s is surprising given the issues at play during the events leading up to Confederation in 1867. The colonies were torn apart by sectarian and linguistic tensions, often focused on issues surrounding religious education, the separation of church and state, and the place of religion in public life. This lecture takes a trans-denominational and trans-Atlantic approach to the Christian churches in British North America, contextualizing their concerns within global Christianity at the time, while highlighting local issues affected by the proposed Confederation.
Mark McGowan is professor of History at the University of Toronto and serves as the Senior Academic Advisor to the Dean of Arts & Science on International matters. From 2002 to 2011 he served as Principal of St. Michael’s College. He specializes in the social and religious history of Canada, with an interest in the Irish Famine migration to Canada, and in levels of Irish recruitment in the British Empire during the Great War. In 2009, his book Death or Canada was the basis for a joint Canada-Ireland docudrama on the Famine. His fourth monograph — The Imperial Irish: Canada’s Irish Catholics Fight the Great War, 1914-1918 — is upcoming.