Roman Catholicism in Canada

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Roman Catholicism in Canada
Cathédrale de Québec.jpg
Basilica-Cathedral Notre-Dame de Québec
Classification Roman Catholic Church
Associations Canadian Council of Churches; World Communion of Reformed Churches; World Council of Churches;
Region Canada
Origin 1534 in Canada
Members 46% of Canadians (13,070,000 as of 2008) baptized as Catholics

The Catholic Church in Canada is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope and the Canadian Bishops Conference. As of 2008, it has the largest number of adherents to a religion in Canada, with 46% of Canadians (13.07 million) baptized as Catholics. There are 72 dioceses and about 8,000 priests in Canada. According to the 2001 census, Quebec was home to 6.022 million Catholics, or nearly half of the total.[citation needed]


Catholicism arrived in Canada in 1497, when John Cabot landed on Newfoundland and raised the Venetian and Papal banners and claimed the land for his sponsor King Henry VII of England, while recognizing the religious authority of the Roman Catholic Church.[1] A letter of John Day states that Cabot landed on 24 June 1497 and "went ashore with a crucifix and raised banners bearing the arms of the Holy Father". In 1608, Samuel de Champlain founded the first Catholic colony in Quebec City. Later, in 1611, he established a fur trading post on the Island of Montreal, which later became a Catholic colony for trade and missionary activity.[citation needed]

In 1620, George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore purchased a tract of land in Newfoundland from Sir William Vaughan and established a colony, calling it Avalon, after the legendary spot where Christianity was introduced to Britain.[2] In 1627 Calvert brought two Roman Catholic priests to Avalon. This was the first continuous Roman Catholic ministry in British North America. Despite the severe religious conflicts of the period, Calvert secured the right of Catholics to practice their religion unimpeded in Newfoundland, and embraced the novel principle of religious tolerance, which he wrote into the Charter of Avalon and the later Charter of Maryland. The Colony of Avalon was thus the first North American jurisdiction to practice religious tolerance.[3]


The Roman Catholic population in Canada in 2011.

Historical population
Year Pop.   ±%  
1871 1,532,471 —    
1881 1,791,982 +16.9%
1891 1,992,017 +11.2%
1901 2,229,600 +11.9%
1911 2,833,041 +27.1%
1921 3,389,626 +19.6%
1931 4,102,960 +21.0%
1941 4,806,431 +17.1%
1951 6,069,496 +26.3%
1961 8,342,826 +37.5%
1971 9,974,895 +19.6%
1981 11,210,385 +12.4%
1991 12,203,620 +8.9%
2001 12,936,910 +6.0%
2011 12,810,705 −1.0%
Province Roman Catholics %
 Ontario 3,948,975 31.2%
 Quebec 5,766,750 74.5%
 British Columbia 679,310 15.0%
 Alberta 850,355 23.8%
 Manitoba 294,495 25.0%
 Nova Scotia 297,655 32.8%
 Saskatchewan 287,190 28.5%
 New Brunswick 366,000 49.7%
 Newfoundland and Labrador 181,550 35.8%
 Prince Edward Island 58,880 42.9%
 Northwest Territories 15,755 38.7%
 Yukon 6,095 18.3%
 Nunavut 7,580 23.9%
Canada Canada 12,728,885 38.7%


Within Canada the hierarchy consists of:

  • Archbishopric
    • Bishopric

There is also a Ukrainianan Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Winnipeg, which has suffragan dioceses in Edmonton, New Westminster, Saskatoon, and Toronto.

There are also three other eparchies in Canada:

There is a Military Ordinariate of Canada for Canadian military personnel.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Fay, Terence J. A History of Canadian Catholics: Gallicanism, Romanism, and Canadianism (2002) excerpt and text search
  • Johnston, Angus Anthony. A History of the Catholic Church in Eastern Nova Scotia; Volume I: 1611- 1827 (1960)
  • Lahey, Raymond J. The First Thousand Years: A Brief History of the Catholic Church in Canada (2002)
  • Morice, A G. History Of The Catholic Church In Western Canada: From Lake Superior To The Pacific (1659–1895) (2 vol; reprint Nabu Press, 2010)
  • Murphy, Terrence, and Gerald Stortz, eds, Creed and Culture: The Place of English-Speaking Catholics in Canadian Society, 1750 – 1930 (1993)


  1. ^ P D'Epiro, M.D. Pinkowish, "Sprezzatura: 50 ways Italian genius shaped the world" pp. 179–180
  2. ^ George Calvert and Cecilius Calvert: Barons Baltimore of Baltimore "George Calvert and Cecilius Calvert: Barons Baltimore of Baltimore". New York: Dodd, Mead, and Company. Retrieved 2013-01-23. 
  3. ^ "Sir George Calvert and the Colony of Avalon". Retrieved 2013-01-23.