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Title: Religious Print Culture and the British and Foreign Bible Society in Canada, 1820-1904
Author: Barnard, Stuart Wayne
Advisor: Marshall, David B.
Keywords: Economics--History;History--Canadian;History--Church
Abstract: This study addresses the central question of how Canadians came to obtain the bibles they read in nineteenth century Canada. Historians of religion in Canada have recognized the importance of evangelicalism in nineteenth century Canada, but have rooted their analyses largely in denominational and intellectual frameworks. This study seeks to examine Protestant evangelicalism through its outworking in the British and Foreign Bible Society, one of the largest voluntary societies in Canada in this period. The Bible Society’s organization, its methods in Bible distribution, and its expansion across Canada in the nineteenth century reveal the enormous influence of evangelical Protestant faith in English-speaking Canada. The Bible Society garnered considerable support across Protestant denominations, building a broad coalition of evangelicals whose active involvement in the BFBS’s enterprise was fuelled by their commitment to religious voluntarism and the centrality of the Bible in an individual’s salvation. The BFBS’s leaders in Canada defined themselves using popular ideas of anti-Catholicism, and used anecdotes of Catholic opposition to their Bible enterprise to highlight the importance of liberty and individual freedom in matters of faith and conscience. By the end of the nineteenth century, the Bible Society operated within a competitive book trade in which emerging consumer tastes created new demands on the Bible Society that challenged the way it operated as both a religious organization and a competitive bookseller. The BFBS’s enterprise in Canada in the nineteenth century highlights the importance of the evangelical movement in Canadian society and offers a unique lens on religion and print culture in this period.
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