Methodist Rome

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Metropolitan Methodist Church circa 1895 (now the "Metropolitan United Church") played an important role in the city.[1]

Methodist Rome was a nickname sometimes given to the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The moniker implied that Toronto was as central to Canadian Methodism as Rome, or more specifically Vatican City, is to Catholicism.

During the 19th century Toronto had one of the largest (if not the largest) population of Methodists in the world. Methodism played a central role in the culture and political affairs of Toronto, greatly shaping its character.[2] Methodists saw alcoholic beverages, and alcoholism, as the root of many social ills, and tried to persuade people to abstain from these. They were supportive of the temperance movement and helped shape the alcohol laws in Toronto and Ontario, specifically the Ontario Temperance Act of 1924. See for example Letitia Youmans and the Women's Christian Temperance Union. Toronto became known for being very puritanical with strict limits on alcohol.

It also rigorously enforced the Lord's Day Act, restricting many activities on the Christian Sabbath (the so-called blue law). The city was disparaged by outsiders as "Toronto the Good", going as far banning tobogganing on Sundays.[3] Peter C. Newman has described Toronto in this period "a sort of Calvinist Tehran",[1] in reference to the Protestant theology and the theocratic nature of Iran.

Use of the name "the Methodist Rome" declined in the early twentieth century, especially after the Methodist Church in Canada merged with Presbyterians and Congregationalists to form the United Church of Canada in 1925. An influx of immigration from southern and eastern Europe after World War II greatly altered the religious balance.

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  1. ^ a b "The way we were in Toronto in 1892" Trish Worron. Toronto Star. Nov 1, 2002. pg. A.29
  2. ^ Emery, George (2001). The Methodist church on the Prairies, 1896-1914 ([Online-Ausg.] ed.). Montreal, Que.: McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 0773521836. 
  3. ^ Davidson, Hilary (2007). Frommer's Toronto 2007 (13 ed.). John Wiley and Sons. p. 261. ISBN 978-0-470-04852-8. It was still a city of churches worthy of the name "Toronto the Good," with a population of staunch religious conservatives, who barely voted for Sunday streetcar service in 1897, and, in 1912, banned tobogganing on Sunday.