Saturday, May 25, 2013
Robert West Heritage Centre, 7780 Yonge Street
Refreshments: 2:15 p.m. Meeting: 2:30 p.m.
Our guest speaker will be Dr. Scott McLaren from York University.
Topic: Fire Across the Border: Saving Souls in Upper Canada, 1790-1820
Members - free; Non-members - $5.00On a cold winter night in 1790, a young Methodist preacher with a withered arm crossed the frozen St. Lawrence River into what would soon become Upper Canada. His name was William Losee and he was only the first of a small army of American preachers to cross the border during these early years. The extraordinary revival that followed wherever these preachers went soon became so pronounced that it was dubbed the "Canada Fire" by observers on both sides of the border. This talk will explore how this revival took root, why these American preachers were so successful in their efforts to convert colonists in Upper Canada, and how this brand of revivalism was complicated by a spike in anti-Americanism following the War of 1812.
Scott McLaren holds a PhD in religious cultural history from the University of Toronto. He is a faculty member in the Graduate Program in Humanities and Associate Librarian for Humanities and Religion at York University. His work has appeared in a variety of scholarly journals including the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada, Christianity and Literature, and Renascence. He is currently working on a book for the University of Toronto Press on the relationship between reading and religious identity in early Upper Canada.