Neha Patil (Editor)

Anglican Church of Canada

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Primate  Fred Hiltz
Territory  Canada
Anglican Church of Canada

Headquarters  Church House, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Members  545,957 members 1.6 million adherents

The Anglican Church of Canada (ACC or ACoC) is the Province of the Anglican Communion in Canada. The official French name is l'Église anglicane du Canada. In 2007, the Anglican Church counted 545,957 members on parish rolls in 2,192 congregations organised into approximately 1300 parishes. The 2011 Canadian Census counted 1,631,845 self-identified Anglicans (5 percent of the total Canadian population), making the Anglican Church the third largest Canadian church after the Roman Catholic Church and the United Church of Canada. The Queen of Canada's Canadian Royal Style continues to include the Style Defender of the Faith (French: Défenseur de la Foi), and the Canadian Monarch continues her countenance of two Chapels Royal in the Realm.


Official names

Until 1955, the Anglican Church of Canada was known as the Church of England in the Dominion of Canada or simply the Church of England in Canada. In 1977, the church's General Synod adopted l'Église épiscopale du Canada as its French-language name. This name was replaced with the current one, l'Église anglicane du Canada, in 1989; however, the former name is still used in some places along with the new one.

A matter of some confusion for Anglicans elsewhere in the world is that while the Anglican Church of Canada is a province of the Anglican Communion, the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada is merely one of four such ecclesiastical provinces of the Anglican Church of Canada. This confusion is furthered by the fact that Canada has ten civil provinces along with three territories.

In recent years, there have been attempts by splinter groups to incorporate under very similar names. Corporations Canada, the agency of the federal government which has jurisdiction over federally incorporated companies, ruled on 12 September 2005 that a group of dissident Anglicans may not use the name Anglican Communion in Canada, holding that in Canada the term Anglican Communion is associated only with the Anglican Church of Canada, being the Canadian denomination which belongs to that international body.

Anglicanism in British North America

The Anglican Church of Canada's Prayer Book commemorates John Cabot's 1497 landing in Newfoundland on 24 June.

The first Church of England service was a celebration of Holy Communion at Frobisher Bay about 3 September 1578 by the chaplain on Martin Frobisher's voyage to the Arctic was "'Maister Wolfall (probably Robert Wolfall), minister and preacher', who had been charged by Queen Elizabeth 'to serve God twice a day'".

The propagation of the Church of England occurred in three ways. One way was by officers of ships and lay military and civil officials reading services from the Book of Common Prayer regularly when no clergy were present. For example, in the charter issued by Charles I for Newfoundland in 1633 was this directive: "On Sundays Divine Service to be said by some of the Masters of ships, such prayers as are in the Book of Common Prayer". A second way was the direct appointing and employing of clergy by the English government on ships and in settlements. A third way was the employment of clergy by private "adventurous" companies.

The first documented resident Church of England cleric on Canadian soil was Erasmus Stourton, who arrived at the "Sea Forest Plantation" at Ferryland, Newfoundland in 1612 under the patronage of Lords Bacon and Baltimore. Stourton was of the Puritan party and remained in Ferryland until returning to England in 1628.

The overseas development of the Church of England in British North America challenged the insular view of the Church at home. The editors of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer found that they had to address the spiritual concerns of the contemporary adventurer. In the 1662 Preface, the editors note:

...that it was thought convenient, that some Prayers and Thanksgivings, fitted to special occasions, should be added in their due places; particularly for those at Sea, together with an office for the Baptism of such as are of Riper Years: which, although not so necessary when the former Book was compiled, now become necessary, and may be always useful for the baptizing of Natives in our Plantations, and others converted to the Faith.

The Hudson's Bay Company sent out its first chaplain in 1683, and where there was no chaplain the officers of the company were directed to read prayers from the BCP on Sundays.

Members of the Church of England established the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge (SPCK) in 1698, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) in 1701, and the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in 1799. These and other organizations directly financed and sent missionaries to establish the English Church in Canada and to convert Canada's First Nations people. Direct aid of this sort lasted up to the 1940s.

The first Anglican church in Newfoundland and in Canada was the small garrison chapel at St John's Fort built sometime before 1698. The first continuously resident cleric of the chapel was the Reverend John Jackson - a Royal Navy chaplain who had settled in St. John's and was supported (but not financially) by the SPCK in 1698. In 1701, the SPG took over the patronage of St John's. Jackson continued to receive little actual support and was replaced by the Reverend Jacob Rice in 1709. Rice wrote a letter to the Bishop of London detailing his efforts to repair the church which had been "most unchristianly defaced" and asking for help in acquiring communion vessels, a pulpit cloth, surplices and glass for the windows. The garrison chapel was replaced in 1720 and in 1759. The Cathedral of St John the Baptist in St John's, Newfoundland, is the oldest Anglican parish in Canada, founded in 1699 in response to a petition drafted by the Anglican townsfolk of St John's and sent to the Bishop of London, the Right Reverend Henry Compton.

The first Anglican services in Nova Scotia are dated from 1710 when a New England army from Boston with assistance of the Royal Navy captured for the fourth time Port Royal in Nova Scotia and renamed it Annapolis Royal. When Annapolis was captured, one of the chaplains, the Reverend John Harrison, held a service of thanksgiving with the Reverend Samuel Hesker, the chaplain of the Marines, preaching the sermon. When the war ended in 1713 with the Treaty of Utrecht, Harrison continued to act as Chaplain to the Garrison at Annapolis Royal.

The oldest Anglican church in Canada still standing is St Paul's Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia, whose foundation stone - the church is a wood structure - was laid by the Nova Scotia governor on 13 June 1750. St. Paul's opened for services on 2 September 1750 with an SPG cleric, the Reverend William Tutty, preaching. St Paul's became the first Anglican cathedral in all of North America when Charles Inglis was appointed bishop in 1787. It has been a parish church since 1845 when St. Lukes Pro-Cathedral in Halifax replaced it. The Church of All Saints in Halifax was made the cathedral of the Nova Scotian diocese in 1910 and remains as such to date.

After the American revolution

Anglicans were numerous among the United Empire Loyalists who fled to Canada after the American Revolution and the Anglican Church was a dominant feature of the compact governments that presided over the colonies in British North America.

One of the former Americans was Charles Inglis who was rector of Trinity Church in New York when George Washington was in the congregation. He became the first bishop of the diocese of Nova Scotia on 12 August 1787 and the first Church of England bishop of a diocese outside of the United Kingdom and in the British Empire. The Anglican Church of Canada's Prayer Book commemorates Inglis on 12 August.

There were historical connections between the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and the Anglican Church of Canada. Seabury and Inglis knew each other. In March 1783, a group of eighteen clergy - most prominent was the Reverend Charles Inglis - met in New York to discuss the future of Nova Scotia, including plans for the appointment of a bishop in Nova Scotia and the college that would in time become the University of King's College, Halifax.

The connections between the now administratively separated churches continued in many ways. In the summer of 1857, Bishop Thomas F. Scott of Oregon visited Victoria and confirmed twenty candidates as the first British Columbian bishop would not be appointed for another two years. From the 1890s to 1902, the Reverend Henry Irving - Father Pat - was licensed in both the Diocese of Kootenay and the Diocese of Spokane - the two dioceses meet at the border between B.C. and the state of Washington. As Father Pat told his friends, he was:

After the conquest of Quebec and the American Revolution, many leading Anglicans argued for the Church of England to become the established church in the Canadian colonies. The Constitutional Act of 1791 was promulgated, and interpreted to mean that the Church was the established Church in the Canadas. The Church of England was established by law in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. In Lower Canada, the presence of a Roman Catholic majority made establishment in that province politically unwise. Bishop John Strachan of Toronto was a particular champion of the prerogatives of the Church of England.

The secular history of Canada depicts Bishop Strachan as an ally of the landed gentry of the so-called Family Compact of Upper Canada, opposed to the political aspirations of farmers and bourgeoisie for responsible government. Nonetheless, Strachan played considerable part in promoting education, as founder of Kings College (now the University of Toronto) and Trinity College. The Clergy reserves, land which had been reserved for use by the non-Roman Catholic clergy, became a major issue in the mid-19th century. Anglicans argued that the land was meant for their exclusive use, while other denominations demanded that it be divided among them.

In Upper Canada, leading dissenters such as Methodist minister Egerton Ryerson — in due course a minister of education in the government of Upper Canada — agitated against establishment. Following the Upper Canada Rebellion, the creation of the united Province of Canada, and the implementation of responsible government in the 1840s, the unpopularity of the Anglican-dominated Family Compact made establishment a moot point. The Church was disestablished in Nova Scotia in 1850 and Upper Canada in 1854. By the time of Confederation in 1867, the Church of England was disestablished throughout British North America.

Autonomy and interdependence

Until the 1830s, the Anglican church in Canada was synonymous with the Church of England: bishops were appointed and priests supplied by the church in England and funding for the church came from the British Parliament. The first Canadian synods were established in the 1850s, giving the Canadian church a degree of self-government. As a result of the UK Privy Council decision of Long v. Gray in 1861, all Anglican churches in colonies of the British Empire became self-governing. Even so, the first General Synod for all of Canada was not held until 1893. That first synod made the Solemn Declaration 1893, which describes how the Church of England in Canada is related to "the Church of England throughout the world" and "the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church". Robert Machray was chosen as the Canadian church's first Primate.


As the new Canadian nation expanded after Confederation in 1867, so too did the Anglican Church. After the establishment of the first ecclesiastical province — that of Canada in 1860 — others followed. The first was the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupert's Land, created in 1875 to encompass Anglican dioceses outside what were then the boundaries of Canada: present-day Northern Ontario and Northern Quebec, the western provinces, and the Territories. In the forty years between self-government in 1861 and 1900, sixteen of the currently existing dioceses were created, as numbers blossomed with accelerating immigration from England, Scotland, and Ireland. The far-flung nature of settlement in the North-West together with a shortage of resources to pay stipendiary clergy early led to a significant reliance on women lay workers, deemed "deaconesses," for missionary outreach, a phenomenon which made the eventual ordination of women to the priesthood in 1976 relatively uncontroversial.

During this time, the Anglican Church assumed de facto administrative responsibility in the far-flung wilderness of Canada and British North America. The church contracted with colonial officials and later the federal Crown to administer residential schools for the indigenous peoples of the First Nations — a decision which would come back to haunt it much later. Such schools removed children from their home communities in an attempt to, among other things, assimilate them into the dominant European culture and language: the merits and demerits of that system in a broad sense, such as they were, have latterly been entirely overwhelmed by the issue of the wholly reprehensible abuse of some of its child wards by sexually disordered mission personnel. At the same time, Anglican missionaries were involved in advocating for First Nations rights and land claims on behalf of those people to whom they were ministering (for example, the Nisga'a of northern British Columbia). One of the earliest First Nations students to be educated at Red River in the 1830s was Henry Budd. He was ordained in 1850 and was the first First Nations priest and became the missionary at Fort Cumberland on the Saskatchewan River and then to the post of The Pas. The Anglican Church of Canada's Prayer Book commemorates Henry Budd on 2 April.

Despite this growth in both the size and role of the church, progress was intermittently undermined by internal conflict over churchmanship. This was manifested in the creation of competing theological schools (Trinity versus Wycliffe Colleges in the University of Toronto, for example), a refusal by bishops of one ecclesiastical party to ordain those of the other, and — in the most extreme cases — schism. This latter phenomenon was famously and acrimoniously borne out in the high profile defection of Edward Cridge, the Dean of the Diocese of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C., together with much of his cathedral congregation, to the Reformed Episcopal Church in 1874, although the movement was ultimately confined to that one congregation in a then-remote town together with a second parish in New Westminster, the then-capital of the originally separate mainland colony of British Columbia.

In 1888, the Church began its missionary activities in Central Japan, which would later result in the formation of the Diocese of Chubu in the Anglican Church in Japan. A Church of England conference held in Winnipeg in August 1890 established the union of all synods.

Twentieth century

Expansion evolved into a general complacency as the 20th century progressed. During the early part of this period, the ACC reinforced its traditional role as the establishment church, although influences from the autochthonous Protestant social gospel movement, and the Christian socialism of elements in the Church of England increasingly were felt. This influence would eventually result in the creation of what would come to be known as the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund, in 1958.

By the middle of the century, pressure to reform the structures of the church were being felt. The name of the church was changed in 1955 from "The Church of England in Canada" to the "Anglican Church of Canada" and a major revision of the Book of Common Prayer was undertaken in 1962, the first in over forty years. In 1962, the United Church of Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada jointly published Growth in Understanding, a study guide on union and, on June 1, 1965, the Principles of Union between the United Church and the Anglican Church. Despite these changes, the church was still perceived as complacent and disengaged, a view emphasized by the title of Pierre Berton's best-selling commissioned analysis of the denomination, The Comfortable Pew, published in 1965.

Change became more rapid towards the close of the 1960s, as mainline churches including the Anglicans began to see the first wave of evaporation from the pews. On August 23, 1967, the Anglican Church of Canada agreed to permit the remarriage of divorced persons in their churches. Ecumenical relationships were intensified, with a view to full communion. While negotiations with the largest Canadian Protestant denomination, the United Church of Canada, faltered in the early 1970s, the Anglican Church achieved full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada as the century drew to a close.

New liturgical resources were introduced, which would culminate in the publication of the Book of Alternative Services in 1985. Agitation for the ordination of women led to the vote on June 18, 1975, by the Anglican Church of Canada in favour of ordination as priests, and, eventually, bishops. Social and cultural change led to the church's decision to marry divorced couples, to endorse certain forms of contraception, and to move towards greater inclusion of homosexual people in the life of the church.

These changes have been accompanied by a massive decline in numbers, with a majority (53%) leaving the denomination in the period from 1961 to 2001, according to an independent survey. In the 21st century, numerical decline has continued. From 2001 to 2007, parish membership declined from 641,845 to 545,957, a decline of 14.9%. From 2001 to 2011, according to the Canadian Census, self-identified Anglicans declined from 2,035,500 to 1,631,845, a decline of 19.8% in absolute terms and a drop in the proportion of the Canadian population from 6.9% to 5%.

Twenty-first century

In the twenty-first century a division in the Anglican Communion developed when more conservative churches opposed liberal positions on issues such as same-sex marriage and acceptance of gays and lesbians. The Anglican realignment was reflected in Canada with the development of the Anglican Essentials Canada, the Anglican Network in Canada (aligned with the Anglican Church in North America) and Anglican Coalition in Canada (aligned with the Anglican Mission in the Americas) made up of conservative churches and their congregants and which have either separated from or dissent within the Anglican Church of Canada.


Anglican Christians around the world are held together by common forms of worship, such as the Book of Common Prayer and its modern alternatives, which embody its doctrine. Other formularies, such as the Ordinal, the Thirty-Nine Articles and the First and Second Book of Homilies provide a shared theological tradition. Other instruments of unity in the Anglican Communion are, locally, its bishops and, internationally, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and, in more recent times, the Lambeth Conferences, the Anglican Communion Primates' Meeting, and the biennial Anglican Consultative Council. These last four instruments of unity have moral but not legislative authority over individual provinces.

In Canada, Anglican bishops have divested some of their authority to three bodies - the General Synod, the Provincial Synod (there are four in Canada) and the diocesan synods (there are 29).

The national church in Canada is structured on the typical Anglican model of a presiding archbishop (the Primate) and Synod.

In 2007 the church considered rationalizing its increasingly top-heavy episcopal structure as its membership waned, which could have meant a substantial reduction in the number of dioceses, bishops and cathedrals.

Houses of Bishops

Diocesan bishops promise "to hold and maintain the Doctrine, Sacraments and discipline of Christ, as the Lord hath commanded in his holy Word, and as the Anglican Church of Canada hath received and set forth the same." They work collegially as a House of Bishops. There is a national House of Bishops, which meets regularly throughout the year, as well as provincial houses of bishops. These are chaired, respectively, by the Primate and the individual metropolitans.


The Primate of the ACC — originally the "Primate of All Canada" in echo of the titles of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in England and to distinguish the national church from the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada (the former territory of Lower Canada, the Maritimes, and Newfoundland) — is elected by General Synod from among all the bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada. Primates hold the ex officio rank of archbishop; in 1931 the General Synod approved a recommendation that a fixed primatial See (as of the Archbishop of Canterbury) be established and in 1955 it was recommended that "a small See [be created] in the vicinity of Ottawa to which the Dioceses of The Arctic, Moosonee, Keewatin and Yukon would be attached, forming a fifth Province." However, General Synod rejected the proposal in 1959 and in 1969 "the Canon on the Primacy was amended to require the Primate to maintain an office at the national headquarters of the Church, with a pastoral relationship to the whole Church, but no fixed Primatial See" as with Presiding Bishops of the Episcopal Church of the USA and unlike Primates of England, Australia and elsewhere. In consequence, Primates of the Anglican Church of Canada are not diocesan bishops and generally do not carry out ordinary episcopal functions; they originally held office for life but in recent years they have retired by the age of 70.

In recent decades Primates of the ACC have intermittently held a considerable place in public life. In particular, Archbishop Ted Scott, who was a President of the World Council of Churches, was a member of a Commonwealth Eminent Persons committee in respect of the devolution of power from the white-only government of South Africa to a multiracial government. Scott's successor, Michael Peers, continued the close association with the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and was thrust into a high profile in Canadian national life when he insisted that the ACC should shoulder its responsibilities for the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools, and when he protested at what he described as the downplaying of Christian witness in the official commemoration of events of national importance.

There have been twelve primates in the history of the church. The current Primate is the Most Reverend Fred Hiltz, formerly the bishop of the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, elected on the fifth ballot at the June 2007 General Synod.

General Synod

The chief synodical governing body of the church is the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. The Declaration of Principles in the General Synod Handbook contains: the Solemn Declaration 1893; the Basis of Constitution; and the Fundamental Principles previously adopted by the Synod in 1893 and these constitute the foundation of the Synod structure. The General Synod meets triennially and consists of lay people, clergy, and bishops from each of the 29 dioceses. In-between General Synods, the day-to-day affairs of the ACC are administered by a group elected by General Synod, called the Council of General Synod (COGS), which consults with and directs national staff working at the church's headquarters in Toronto.

Each diocese holds annual diocesan synods from which lay and clergy delegates are elected as representatives to General Synod, the national deliberative body, which meets triennially. These delegates join the Primate and the bishops of the church to form three Orders — lay, clergy, and bishops. The most recent general synod was in 2016 and met in Richmond Hill.

General Synod has authority to define "the doctrines of the Church in harmony with the Solemn Declaration 1893", and over matters of discipline, and canon law of the national church, in addition to more prosaic matters of administration and policy. At each diocesan synod, the three houses elect representatives to sit on the Council of General Synod, which — with the Primate — acts as the governing authority of the national church in-between synods.

Provinces, dioceses and parishes

The ACC is divided into four ecclesiastical provinces - British Columbia and the Yukon, Canada (encompassing the Atlantic provinces and Quebec), Ontario, and Rupert's Land (encompassing the prairie provinces, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, and portions of Ontario). Within the provinces are 29 dioceses and one grouping of churches in British Columbia that functions equivalently to a diocese.

Each province has its own archbishop, known as the Metropolitan, and each diocese has a bishop, although there are no metropolitical dioceses (or archdioceses) as such; a metropolitan is styled "Archbishop of [his or her own diocese], and Metropolitan of [the ecclesiastical province]."

As with other churches in the Anglican tradition, each diocese is divided up into geographical regions called parishes, where certain authority resides in the rector or priest-in-charge (as laid out in the induction service, the ordinal, and the cleric's licence) and in the parish council (or vestry) as defined in diocesan canons. The legal relationship between a parish and its diocese and between a parish and its synod varies around the country and even within dioceses depending in part on when each was established.

Both dioceses and provinces hold synods, usually annually, consisting of the active diocesan clergy and lay delegates elected by parish churches. Diocesan synods elect lay and clergy delegates to provincial synod. On the diocesan level, there are effectively two houses instead of three — clergy and laity — with the diocesan bishop required to give assent to motions passed by synod.

Between 1995 and 1997 over 500 parishes closed. Of all the mainline churches in Canada, the Anglican Church of Canada has the most precipitous drop in members; according to their own records, a reduction of 2% in membership occurs annually.

Ecumenical relations

The ACC is a member of the World Council of Churches and Archbishop Ted Scott was a president of that body; the ACC has been an active participant in the Canadian Council of Churches from its establishment in 1944. Through the 1960s the ACC was involved in talks with the United Church of Canada and the Disciples of Christ with a view to institutional union, in the course of which a comprehensive Plan of Union was formulated and a joint Anglican-United Church hymnal produced in 1971. Ultimately such talks foundered when the Houses of Laity and Clergy voted in favour of union but the House of Bishops vetoed it, largely due to concerns over the maintenance of the apostolic succession of the episcopacy.

More recently, in 2001, the ACC established full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). Contrary to the practice in Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox communions, all baptized Christians are welcome to receive Holy Communion in Canadian Anglican churches, in accordance with the resolution in favour of open communion at the 1968 Lambeth Conference.

Through the Anglican Communion, the ACC is also in full communion with the churches of the Old Catholic Utrecht Union (represented by St. John's Cathedral, Toronto), the Mar Thoma Church, and the Philippine Independent Church. Unlike the Anglican Churches of the British Isles, it is not a signatory to the Porvoo Agreement which established full communion between those bodies and a number of European Lutheran churches.

Liturgy and service books

In 1918 and 1962 the ACC produced successive authoritative Canadian Prayer Books, substantially based on the 1662 English Book of Common Prayer (BCP); both were conservative revisions consisting largely of minor editorial emendations of archaic diction. In 1985 the Book of Alternative Services (BAS) was issued, officially not designated to supersede but to be used alongside the 1962 Prayer Book. It is a more thoroughgoing modernizing of Canadian Anglican liturgies, containing considerable borrowings from Lutheran, Church of England, American Episcopal and liberal Roman Catholic service books; it was received with general enthusiasm and in practice has largely supplanted the Book of Common Prayer, although the BCP remains the official Liturgy of the Church in Canada. A French translation, Le Recueil des Prières de la Communauté Chrétienne, was published in 1967. The preference for the BAS among many parishes and clergy has been countered by the founding of the Prayer Book Society of Canada, which seeks "to promote the understanding and use of the BCP as a spiritual system of nurture for life in Christ". The tension between adherents of the BCP and advocates of the BAS has contributed to a sense of disaffection within the Church. There have been increasing calls for revision of the Book of Alternative Services. Those who use the BAS have cited various shortcomings as it ages and newer liturgies are produced elsewhere in the Communion. At the 2007 General Synod, a resolution was passed which will begin the process of revising the modern language liturgies.

Hymnody is an important aspect of worship in Anglicanism, and the ACC is no different. There is no one hymnal required to be used, although the ACC has produced four successive authorized versions since 1908. The most recent, Common Praise, was published in 1998. Anglican plainsong is represented in the new hymnal, as well as in the older Canadian Psalter, published in 1963. Notable Canadian Anglican hymnists include Derek Holman, Gordon Light, Herbert O'Driscoll, and Healey Willan. For a time, beginning in the early 1970s, many Anglican congregations experimented with The Hymn Book produced jointly with the United Church of Canada under the direction of Canadian composer F. R. C. Clarke, but both churches have since abandoned the common hymnal.

Like most churches of the Anglican Communion, the ACC was beset by intense conflict over the ritualism controversies of the latter 19th century, leading in some extreme cases to schism. Throughout much of the 20th century, parishes - and, to a certain extent, dioceses or regions - were more or less divided between high church (Anglo-Catholic), low church (evangelical), and broad church (middle-of-the-road). Many of these designations have become muted with time, as the passions which fired the debate have cooled and most parishes have found a happy medium or accommodation.

Social issues and theological division

As is the case in churches directly influenced by Anglican ethos and theology, the ACC tends to reflect the dominant social and cultural strains of the nation in which it finds itself. For most of its history, the ACC embodied the conservative, colonial outlook of its mostly British-descended parishioners and of English Canada as a whole. In the post-World War II period, as the character of Canada changed, so too did the attitudes of people in the pews, and by extension, the church.

Ordination of women and remarriage of divorced persons

In recent years the ACC has been a leading progressive force within the Anglican Communion. In the 1970s the then primate, Ted Scott, argued at the Lambeth Conference in favour of women's ordination. The ACC ordained its first woman as a priest in 1976 and its first woman as a bishop in 1993. Many parishes, particularly in the west and even more particularly on aboriginal reserves, were already served by women deacons and allowing them to be ordained priests regularized their situation and permitted a regular sacramental ministry to be available in the parishes they served. Nonetheless, this change — in concert with such moves as allowing the remarriage of divorced persons — caused strains among more conservative parishes, both Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical. In the early 1970s some members of the ACC left to join breakaway Anglican groups such as the small Anglican Catholic Church of Canada.

Life issues

The ACC has taken a moderate pro-life stance on abortion in the past. The official policy was that "abortion is always the taking of a human life and, in our view, should never be done except for serious therapeutic reasons." In 1989, the ACC stated that "In the light of the Government’s announcement of a new Abortion Bill, the Anglican Church reaffirms its position that both the rights and needs of women, and the rights and needs of the unborn, require protection." The ACC hasn't released any official statement on abortion since then. The ACC also opposes firmly euthanasia and assisted suicide. They also condemn the death penalty.

Inclusion of gays and lesbians and same-sex unions

In 2002 the Diocese of New Westminster (located in the south-west corner of British Columbia) voted to permit the blessing of same-sex unions by parishes requesting authorization to do so. Since then another ten dioceses (Edmonton, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Winnipeg-based Rupert’s Land, Ottawa, Toronto, London-based Huron, Quebec, Hamilton-based Niagara, Montreal and Victoria-based British Columbia ) have followed suit. The Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (formerly the Diocese of Cariboo and now known as the Territory of the People) also permit such rites. On September 30, 2012, the Bishop of Saskatoon ordained as deacon a person who is civilly married to a person of the same sex. Also in 2012, the Diocese of Montreal ordained two openly gay and partnered men to the priesthood.

In 2016, a proposal to change the marriage canon to include same-sex marriage received 2/3 in favour in all three houses and was passed; a Second Reading will occur in 2019. The dioceses of Niagara and Ottawa, both of which already allowed blessing rites, announced that they would immediately allow same-sex marriages. It is at this moment uncertain whether these two dioceses will allow same sex marriages immediately or wait until the resolution to include same-sex marriage in the marriage canon is again approved -in second reading- in 2019. Also in 2016, the Diocese of Toronto elected the first openly gay and partnered bishop.

Indian residential schools

During the 19th century the federal Crown delegated the operation of Indian residential schools to the ACC and Roman Catholic religious orders (with some minimal involvement by the Methodist and Presbyterian churches of Canada as well). In the 1980s numerous tort claims were brought by former students of such schools against both the Crown and church organizations in respect of abuse by church personnel in such institutions and to a lesser extent in respect of a perception that such schools had been insensitive to issues of preservation of aboriginal culture and identity.

The claims were ultimately comprehensively settled but the damage to the morale of the ACC has yet to be entirely resolved: the Diocese of Cariboo was obliged to declare bankruptcy and was liquidated — its successor is the Territory of the People (called the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior until 2016), with episcopal oversight by a Suffragan Bishop to the Metropolitan (of BC). (Its now-unofficial cathedral of St Paul in Kamloops continues to be deemed a cathedral, its rector being styled "Very Reverend" as a dean.) The Diocese of Qu'Appelle and the General Synod of the ACC were in considerable danger of the same fate until settlement of the claims was reached on a national basis. Michael Peers (Primate, 1986–2004) took a major role on behalf of the ACC with respect to reaching a settlement with the federal Crown, which was the defendant of the first instance and which counter-claimed against the ACC and Roman Catholic religious orders. He offered the ACC's apology to aboriginal people and delayed his retirement until 2004 when his successor could come to the primacy with the issue also retired.

In January 2007 the ACC announced the appointment of Mark MacDonald, an aboriginal American and Bishop of Alaska in The Episcopal Church, as the National Indigenous Bishop with pastoral oversight over all indigenous members of the Anglican Church of Canada.


The oldest Anglican cathedral in Canada and North America is St. Paul's Church in Halifax which was made Canada's first cathedral when Charles Inglis became the first bishop in 1787. St Paul's remained a cathedral for 78 years until 1864 when St Luke's was named.

The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Quebec City is the oldest Anglican cathedral in Canada that continues in that capacity, having been "built from 1800 to 1804; it was constructed according to drawings done by Captain William Hall and Major William Robe, officers of the military engineering corps of the British Army, stationed in Quebec City."

Most Anglican cathedrals in Canada are modest parish churches and it is only the cathedrals of Toronto, ( St. Georges Cathedral ), Kingston, Halifax, St. John's, and Victoria which have significant dimensions or imposing designs, though even they are modest by European or even Australian standards. Diocesan services are often held in Roman Catholic or United churches because of the limited seating in most Anglican cathedrals.

The Cathedral Church of All Saints in Halifax, Canada's largest Anglican Cathedral, was officially opened in September 1910 in conjunction with the national celebration of the Bicentenary of the Anglican Church in Canada being held in that city. Notable and distinguished Anglican and Episcopal clergy from all over the world attended this Cathedral opening as well as many other local events that took place over the 10-day celebration. In the spring of 1912, burial services for some victims of the The Titanic were held at All Saints Cathedral.

Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa, while not having any official national status either secularly or ecclesially like that of Canterbury Cathedral in England and the Washington National Cathedral in the United States, is the usual venue for state occasions requiring an ecclesiastical setting, such as state funerals for non-Roman Catholics. Christ's Church Cathedral, Hamilton is the oldest cathedral of Upper Canada, its present building having originally been constructed in 1842, though its curious and evolutionary construction history has left none of the original fabric extant. Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal is notable for having a shopping mall (Promenades Cathédrale) and Metro station (McGill) underneath it.

Notable parishes

The Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Toronto was the home parish of the organist and composer Healey Willan, who composed much of his liturgical music for its choirs. It is the inspiration for the parish of St Aiden in Robertson Davies's novel The Cunning Man. St. Thomas', Toronto, was at one time the parish church of the English accompanist Gerald Moore, who was an assistant organist there. The hymn tune "Bellwoods" by James Hopkirk, sung to the hymn "O day of God draw nigh," by the Canadian theologian Robert B.Y. Scott, was named for St. Matthias Bellwoods, in Toronto, where Hopkirk was organist. St Anne's, Toronto is a notable tourist attraction, being "a scale model of Saint Sophia in Istanbul that was decorated in the 1920s by members of the Group of Seven and associates." St John's, Elora, is a concert venue of the Elora Music Festival; its choir, also known as the Elora Festival Singers, is the professional core of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and its CDs are available around the world. St Bartholomew's, Ottawa, located near to Rideau Hall and also known as the Guards Chapel has been the place of worship for Governors General of the Canadas and then Canada since 1866, before the wider confederation of the British North American colonies.

Her Majesty's Royal Chapel of the Mohawks in Brantford, Ontario, and Christ Church, Her Majesty's Chapel Royal of the Mohawks, near Deseronto, Ontario are the only two Chapels Royal in Canada, the latter being elevated to that status by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004.


Anglican Church of Canada Wikipedia