Canada's Religions


464 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7766-0557-7
DDC 200'.971




Reviewed by Jay Newman

Jay Newman is a professor of philosophy at the University of Guelph. His
most recently published works are Biblical Religion and Family Values,
Inauthentic Culture and Its Philosophical Critics, and Religion and


The title of this work is somewhat misleading, as most of the book is
about the history of Christianity in Canada, and author Robert
Choquette’s discussions of Canadian Catholics and Canadian Protestants
are not only vastly more detailed but generally more informed and more
reliable than his discussions of other Canadian religious communities.
Choquette intends that his book advocate “no particular ideology in
the understanding of religions,” but a number of biases of various
kinds are evident throughout. Nevertheless, this substantial overview of
Canadian religious history fulfils a cultural need. It includes
discussions of Amerindian religions, the encounter between Amerindians
and Europeans, missionary activity, the development of Catholic and
Protestant institutions in Canada, Catholic–Protestant relations,
revivalism and evangelicalism, church–state relations, evangelical
crusades, religious education, modernism vs. traditionalism, the
religions of immigrant groups, and alternative and new religions. The
book ends with a few thoughts on the future of religions in Canada.

Associated with the University of Ottawa, Choquette is an established
scholar whose writing here is distinguished by an exemplary and at times
extraordinary clarity. He is constantly aware that religion is largely
about ideas, commitments, and culture; and he appropriately emphasizes
the non-Canadian roots of most forms of Canadian religion. His knowledge
of Christian theology, which is more than adequate, serves him well.
This study is not simply a work of scissors-and-paste history: the
author deftly weaves theological and sociological issues and questions
into his narrative accounts. Useful lists of suggestions for further
reading are included at the end of each chapter, and the book contains
notes, 27 illustrations, and an index of proper names, though there is
no general subject index. While sometimes disposed to uncritical
assumptions and dubious generalizations, Choquette is for the most part
conscientious in dealing with controversial subjects. Although his
narrative and biographical accounts are not especially lively, he
compensates for this by his clarity, erudition, and overall
thoughtfulness. This survey of Canadian religious history is a good
choice for personal, public, and academic collections.


Choquette, Robert., “Canada's Religions,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 24, 2024,