African-Canadians came to Canada to experience freedom, yet they discovered that they were not really welcomed at traditional churches across Canada. They also had their own religious traditions and musical stylings that were frowned upon by polite society. Black communities would erect churches among the first public buildings in their settlements, which doubled as the schools. Additionally, African-Canadians, being denied entry to other social outlets by discrimination, used their church buildings as lecture halls, libraries, gymnasiums, day care centres, and banquet facilities. The church allowed them to find strength in their religious beliefs, joy in the gospel or religious music, support in each other, and offered the guidance of their minister, often the best educated in the community.
The oldest continuously Black-controlled and operated church connection in Canada is the British Methodist Episcopal Church of Canada, founded in 1856, which at its height in the early 1900s had churches stretching from Windsor to Halifax and Bermuda.
Shouter Baptists, Muslims, Nation of Islam, and other growing denominations that have taken up store-front worship sites have been added to the stream of Methodists, Baptists (eg. African United Baptist Association of Nova Scotia), and Anglicans firmly rooted in Canada.
The Blacks in Canada
Read selected passages from "The Blacks in Canada," a book that examines slavery, the abolitionist movement in Canada, and Canadian adaptations to nineteenth- and twentieth-century racial mores.
Reverend Addie Aylestock
Scroll down the page for a profile of Reverend Addie Aylestock. From the website for the Norval Johnson Heritage Library.
The Aylestock Family
A history of the Aylestock family from the website Black History in Guelph and Wellington County.
Scroll down to page 240 for a brief account by Addie Aylestock about working as a “domestic” after arriving in Toronto. From the book The History of Immigration and Racism in Canada: Essential Readings at Google Books.
Scroll down to page 9 to read a biography of Addie Aylestock. From the book The Westminster Handbook to Women in American Religious History at Google Books.
Older Stronger Wiser
A brief synopsis of a documentary film that features African Canadian women talking about living conditions in the first half of the 20th century. From the website for Saskatchewan Libraries.
Rev. Addie Aylestock
Scroll down the page for a brief bio of the esteemed Rev. Addie Aylestock. From the Human Rights Office, George Brown College.
The Black Loyalists: The Search for a Promised Land in Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone, 1783-1870
Read selected passages from the book The Black Loyalists: The Search for a Promised Land in Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone, 1783-1870. From Google Books.
Historic photographs illustrate the importance of religion in the Black community.
The Black Church in Canada
A historical overview of the Black Church in Canada. From McMaster University.
The Souls of Black Folk: Hamilton's Stewart Memorial Community
About Hamilton’s historic Stewart Memorial Church and the local Black community.
The Last Black Church: A Tapestry Feature Documentary
About Toronto’s African Methodist Episcopal Church, destroyed by fire in 2000.
The British Methodist Episcopal Church
A profile of the British Methodist Episcopal Church in Owen Sound.