The Mormon Church in Canada: History, beliefs, and influence

Who are the Mormons

The history of the Mormon Church, officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, begins in 1830 in upstate New York. Although there are various associations within Mormonism, the Latter-day Saints denomination is best known in Canada. Members of this religious community believe that they are the restored ancient Church of Christ, which was lost through apostasy but has been restored through divine revelation. Unlike Catholicism and Protestantism, Latter-day Saints place great importance on current revelations received through church leaders, along with the Bible. In addition, they consider the Book of Mormon to be a divinely inspired translation containing accounts of the descendants of the House of Israel migrating to the Western Hemisphere and the visitation of these descendants by the resurrected Christ before his ascension.

Beliefs and Practices

Mormons hold to the belief that God joined Adam and Eve by the bonds of marriage in the Garden of Eden, which emphasizes their particular emphasis on family values and practices. Central to the history of the Mormon church is the belief that righteous men who are heads of families have the potential to attain divinity akin to their Heavenly Father. In order to foster eternal family bonds, Mormons perform sacred temple ordinances for both the living and the dead. To facilitate these rituals, they carefully maintain an extensive archive of genealogical records. In contrast to the concept of original sin, Mormons view the transgression that led to Adam and Eve's expulsion from Eden in a positive light, seeing it as an opportunity for moral testing and subsequent reunion with God in the afterlife.

After the rapid growth of the original congregation of the Mormon church, especially under the leadership of founder Joseph Smith, Jr. the movement faced persecution and eventually traveled west after Smith's assassination in 1844. Led by Brigham Young, the Mormons endured many hardships as they relocated from Illinois to Utah. However, their practice of polygyny, which allowed men to have multiple wives, led to conflicts with American authorities until the practice was officially abandoned in 1890.

Mormon temple in Canada

Mormons in Canada

From its founding, the Mormon church actively sought converts in British North America, with key figures such as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young involved in missionary work in Upper Canada. Many Canadian converts migrated to join Mormons in Illinois and then Utah. By the late 1880s, church leaders realized the potential of the Canadian West for colonization and as a refuge, especially for those practicing polygamy. In 1887, the first Mormon settlers, led by Charles Ora Card, established Cardston in the Northwest Territories, laying the foundation for a Mormon presence in present-day Alberta. As polygyny became less controversial, the Mormon church encouraged further immigration into southern Alberta, where settlers played a crucial role in developing irrigation systems and establishing the sugar beet industry. By 1910, Mormon immigrants had significantly altered agriculture south and southwest of Lethbridge.

Although many Canadian Mormons reside in urban centers, Cardston remains significant as the site of the first Mormon temple in Canada. There are currently nine temples in Canada. According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon population in Canada is about 200 000.


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