Sunday School Collection

Introduction to the Collection

This website introduces the Sunday School Collection and provides a socio-historical examination of Sunday schools, their libraries, and their books. All of the images can be clicked on, in order to open a larger view within a new window.

Christ Church, St. Andrew's East, Quebec
Christ Church, St. Andrew's East, Quebec
A caricature of Maude Abbott, from the McGill Archives.
A caricature of Maude Abbott, from the McGill Archives.

There are 219 titles represented in this collection, which is a rare example of the 19th-century Canadian Sunday School library. It came to McGill's Rare Book and Special Collections Division in 2001. The library originally belonged to the Anglican parish of Christ Church in St. Andrews East, Quebec.

St. Andrews East is situated in the Ottawa valley, and was originally settled in the 17th century. It was the site of the first paper mill in Canada, which was built in 1803. The first settlers consisted of English, Scottish, and French immigrants, but the population increased significantly after the American Revolutionary war, with the influx of many American loyalists. Some illustrious inhabitants of St. Andrews include:

  • The first Canadian-born prime minister, John Joseph Abbott
  • Maude Abbott, one of Canada's first women doctors
  • James Brown, the editor and proprietor of the Montreal Gazette until 1834

The Anglican Church in Canada has influenced much of English Canada's cultural, religious, and scholastic development. The first Quebec colonial see was established in 1793, and its rapid growth is due in large part to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), which was an adjunct of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK). Both of these organizations provided Canadian colonies with the necessary funds, clergy, and materials to establish Anglian parishes.

The Anglican Church first appeared in St. Andrews in 1811, with the arrival of the Reverend Richard Bradford, and was built up by St. Andrews' first resident clergyman, the Reverend Joseph Abbott. The church itself started to be built in 1819, and reached final completion in 1829. Originally part of the Quebec diocese, Christ Church became part of the Montreal diocese in 1850.