At the northern end of North America, Canada is a confederation with a parliamentary democracy. It includes 10 provinces and three territories. Its population speaks English and French, and is Roman Catholic, 46 percent; and Protestant, 41 percent.
Seeking ways to finance the publication of the Book of Mormon, the first members of the Church to enter Canada were Hiram Page (1800-1852) and Oliver Cowdrey (1806-1850), who crossed the border from New York in the winter of 1829-30, even before the Church was organized. It is unknown if they did any missionary work. In 1830, Phineas H. Young (1799-1879), brother of Brigham Young, traveled to Earnestown, Upper Canada, now Ontario. Though not yet baptized, Young, a Methodist minister, preached about the Book of Mormon.
Joseph Smith Sr. and Don Carlos Smith entered Canada briefly in September 1830, visiting a few villages north of the St. Lawrence River. Early in June 1832 Phineas H. Young returned to Canada, this time as an ordained elder in the company of his brother Joseph, Elial Strong and Eleazer Miller. By December 1832, Brigham Young, in company with his brother Joseph, joined their brother Phineas to preach in Canada near Earnestown and Loughborough townships. Before the last of these missionaries left Canada, at least four branches had been organized. Missionaries organized a district in Toronto that was placed under the direction of John Taylor. Other missionaries soon followed, including Joseph Smith, who traveled to Mount Pleasant, Ontario, on 26 October 1833. He baptized 12 people and later visited Toronto in August 1837.
Two of the most successful missionaries were John E. Page and Parley P. Pratt. Page baptized almost a thousand converts and Pratt converted future Church leaders John Taylor (who later became president of the Church), Isaac Russell, John Snider, John Goodson, and Joseph Fielding. These last four helped start the highly successful work in Great Britain.
Between 1830 and 1850, an estimated 2,500 Canadians, mostly from Ontario, joined the Church. Most of these who remained faithful gathered with the Saints in the Great Basin. By 14 January 1861, there were only 74 Church members in Ontario.
Little work took place in eastern Canada until the Canadian Mission was re-opened on 22 April 1919 with conferences in Toronto, established 22 July 1919 and Ottawa, on 22 January 1920. President Heber J. Grant visited the Canadian Mission home in Toronto on 4 November 1919. Branches were organized in Toronto and Hamilton by December 1919. Other branches were organized in Kitchener, 1923; Ottawa, 1926; and St. Catherine’s, 1933. The Oshawa Branch began on September 1947 after functioning off and on as a Sunday School since 1944. Membership in all of eastern Canada reached 1,974 in 1950.
The first meetinghouse in eastern Canada was dedicated by President Heber J. Grant in Toronto on 25 June 1939. The first stake in eastern Canada was organized on 14 August 1960, also in Toronto, while President Thomas S. Monson, was mission president. In attendance at the conference when the stake was created were 2,249 members, which constituted 92 percent of the new stake’s membership. The Toronto Canada Temple was dedicated on 25 August 1990.
On 1 July 1993, Toronto’s second mission, Canada Toronto East, was created. Because of the cosmopolitan makeup of the area, missionaries encounter people from upwards of 100 nations in the Toronto area. From Toronto, efforts to improve the image of the Church through the media led to a prime-time television series, “For All Seasons,” across Canada in 1994, showcasing Latter-day Saint programs.
On 22 June 1986, President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency and Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve created the Kitchener Ontario Stake, the 1,600th stake in the Church. They returned on 5 May 1996 to create the Sudbury Ontario Stake. President Monson and Elder Ballard had previously presided over Canadian missions.
On 9 August 1997, President Thomas S. Monson dedicated a marker placed in Bath, Ontario, by the Napanee Branch in honor of the founding of the first branch in Canada.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, accompanied by President Boyd K. Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve, visited Sudbury, on 5 August 1998. There President Hinckley spoke to 850 members. Later, in Hamilton, on 8 August, President Hinckley spoke to 12,000 people.
In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Toronto Canada Stake and the 10th anniversary of the Toronto temple, President Monson returned to Ontario on 19 August 2000 to dedicate a historical monument commemorating the contributions of early missionaries and members who served and lived in Upper Canada.
The Greater Toronto Public Affairs Council of the Church presented the first Canadian Family Values Awards on 17 January 2003, to Mayor Hazel McCallion, a 20-year mayor; Father Thomas Rosica, a Catholic priest; and Dolina Smith, an anti-pornography and abuse activist. In 2003, there were 43,189 members.
Andrew Jenson, Encyclopedic History of the Church, 1941; Melvin S. Tagg, A History of the Mormon Church in Canada, 1968; Richard E. Bennett, “Canada: From Struggling Seed, the Church has Risen to Branching Maple,” Ensign, September 1988; Richard Robertson, “Toronto, a Growing Light in the East,” Ensign, September 1988; Dell Van Orden, “Our Treasure, a New Temple is Dedicated” and “Past Legacy Builds Today’s Faith,” Church News, 1 September 1990; William B. Smart, “Church Begins Series on TV Across Canada,” Church News, 5 February 1994; Gerry Avant, “LDS Stalwarts in Upper Canada are Remembered,” Church News, 26 August 2000; John Farrington, “Family Values Honored in Canada,” Church News, 8 February 2003; Canadian Mission, Church Archives; Journal History, Church Library.