Joseph Smith, Sr., and Don Carlos Smith crossed the St. Lawrence River into Canada in September 1830 to tell friends about the Book of Mormon. Freeman Nickerson persuaded the Prophet Joseph and Sidney Rigdon to visit his family in Mt. Pleasant, near Brantford. They baptized about 30 people on that visit. Brigham and Phineas Young went to Ontario in January 1832 to convince their older brother, Joseph, of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. After Joseph’s conversion, the Young brothers taught their friends and acquaintances around Kingston. They baptized more than 150 settlers and established four branches of the Church between 1832 and 1834. John E. Page and Parley P. Pratt were called on special missions to Canada. Two years and two missions later, Elder Page returned, having baptized almost one thousand people in Elgin, North and South Crosby, Westport, Portland, and other small towns along the Rideau Canal system north of Kingston.
Parley P. Pratt’s 1836 mission to Toronto was equally impressive. One of the first people baptized in Toronto, Isabella Walton was the key to several important conversions. She introduced her brother, Isaac Russell and his friend Joseph Fielding to Elder Pratt, and before long, they joined the Church. Her friend John Taylor and Joseph Fielding’s sisters Mary and Mercy also joined. Branches were organized in Toronto, Scarborough, Churchville, and Markham.
Between 1830 and 1850, approximately 2,500 residents of Eastern Canada joined the Church, but local church growth and activity declined as converts joined the main body of the Saints in Kirtland, Missouri, Nauvoo and finally in the Salt Lake valley.
In 1875, William and Maria Copley settled at Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island and remained the only members in British Columbia until missionaries were assigned to the Island in 1902. The first branch in Vancouver finally had a place to meet in 1925 and the Vancouver First Chapel was finished in 1954. The first stake was organized in 1960.
In 1887, the church sent Charles Card to establish a Mormon community in southern Alberta. The Alberta Stake organized in Cardston in 1895 was the first stake of the church established outside the United States. By 1910, there were almost 10,000 Latter-Day Saints in southern Alberta and in 1913 construction began on the Cardston Temple.
Missionary work in Manitoba and Saskatchewan began in the late 1890’s. Although many of the early converts immigrated to Alberta, membership rose steadily over the years.
Missionaries were assigned to Montréal from the Eastern States Mission in 1918. The Canadian Mission was organized a year later and English-speaking missionaries helped to organize the first branch in Montreal. Mission President Monson sent missionaries to organize a French-speaking branch in 1961. By 2000, there were 8,000 members in the province and in that same year, the Montreal Temple was dedicated.
In 1920, the Canadian Mission resumed proselytizing in Atlantic Canada. The Halifax Branch was reorganized in 1947 with the first meetinghouse completed ten years later.
The first meetinghouse in Ontario was built in 1939 and the first stake was organized in 1960 when Thomas Monson was mission president. The Toronto Temple was dedicated in 1990.
The Regina Saskatchewan Temple was dedicated in 1999 as were the Halifax and Edmonton temples. Additional temples are now operating in Vancouver and Calgary and a temple has been announced for Winnipeg.
Church in Canada Statistics
Population of Canada: 35,540,419
Church Membership: 190,265
Family History Centres: 165
% of population to membership: 0.54%, or 1 in every 187 people.