Restoration and Church History

“Canada,” Church History Topics



Even before the first published copies of the Book of Mormon were completed, Solomon Chamberlin, an itinerant preacher, visited the Smith family near Palmyra, New York, after he heard rumors about the Book of Mormon. Hyrum Smith took Chamberlin to the office where the book was being printed, and Chamberlin soon departed for Upper Canada (present-day Ontario) with 64 printed pages of the Book of Mormon and preached “all that [he] knew concerning Mormonism.”1 Chamberlin’s preaching in Canada is the earliest known example of preaching from the Book of Mormon. Over the next decade, many Latter-day Saints—including Joseph Smith; his mother, Lucy; Oliver Cowdery; and six of the original Twelve Apostles—traveled to Canada to preach and attend to Church business.2

Preaching near Toronto in 1836, Parley P. Pratt found a small group of Christians seeking a church with the “primitive simplicity” found in scripture.3 Many members of that group, including John and Leonora Taylor and Joseph, Mary, and Mercy Fielding, were soon baptized, and Pratt organized several small branches in the area.4 A year later, when Apostles Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde began preaching in England, they were joined by Joseph Fielding, John Goodson, Isaac Russell, and John Snyder—all converts from Pratt’s mission to Canada.5

Beginning in 1847, many of the over 2,000 Canadians who had joined the Church migrated to the western United States along with the main body of the Saints.6 In 1887, Charles Ora Card, a stake president in Cache Valley, Utah, led a small group of Saints to Lee Creek (later Cardston), Alberta, where they settled.7 Many of the early settlers of Southern Alberta, including Card and his wife Zina Young Card, were members of polygamist families. After the U.S. Congress passed the Edmunds Act in 1882, these Latter-day Saints risked fines and imprisonment for continuing to live in polygamist relationships. As a result, some of them chose immigration to Mexico and Canada. Alberta offered both economic opportunities and a safe haven from the antipolygamy laws of the United States, though polygamist men were supposed to bring only one of their wives with them to Canada.8

Cardston Alberta Temple

Photograph taken August 26, 1923, at the dedication of the Cardston Alberta Temple.

Over the next three decades, Latter-day Saints migrated to Southern Alberta in large numbers. In 1895, the first stake organized outside of the United States was the Cardston Alberta Stake, and in 1923, the first temple outside the United States was built in Cardston. By then, more than 9,500 Latter-day Saints lived in the approximately 20 Mormon communities in Alberta.9 By the end of the 1970s, stakes and missions had been established in every territory and province of Canada.10 Several Canadian citizens have served as General Authorities and General Officers of the Church, including First Presidency members Hugh B. Brown and N. Eldon Tanner and Relief Society General President Elaine L. Jack. By 2018, more than 195,000 members of the Church resided in the country, with additional temples built in or planned for Toronto, Halifax, Regina, Edmonton, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, and Winnipeg.11