The Bible in Canada’s history
In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, the Canadian Bible Society staff recently held a contest to find out how the Bible helped shape Canada as a nation.
God’s Word played an important role in the founding of our nation, and you will see clues in our history, some engraved forever in special spots across the country. The staff contest yielded a lot of interesting facts, some of which are featured below.
The Parliament Buildings
The Parliament Buildings, the seat of Canada’s federal government, officially opened on June 6, 1866, about a year before Confederation. As a testament to their faith and commitment to building a nation based on Christian principles, Canada’s founding fathers and subsequent leaders engraved carefully-selected Bible passages on parts of the buildings and on Canadian symbols. Some examples:
- In 1921, as a permanent testimony to the convictions of our forebears, architect John A. Pearson commissioned the following Scriptures over each of the exterior arched windows of the Peace Tower:
- Over the East window: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea” (Psalm 72.8).
- Over the South window: “Give the King thy judgment, O God, and thy righteousness unto the King’s son” (Psalm 72.1).
- Over the West window: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29.18).
- Around the interior walls of the Memorial Chamber are several marble panels. On one is carved – both in English and French – Psalm 139.8-10.
- On the largest bell that rings each hour on Parliament Hill is inscribed the following Scripture: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill to men” (Luke 2.14). It was done at the request of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King in 1926.
Coat of Arms
A coat of arms is a special design in a form of a shield used as a symbol or identity of a family, corporation or a country. An element of a coat of arms is the motto, which generally evolved from the watchword or war-cry of the entity bearing the coat of arms.
- Canada’s official coat of arms bears the Latin writing, “A mari usque ad mare,” which means, “From sea to sea”. This phrase was taken from Psalm 72.8: “He shall have dominion from sea to sea.”
- The coat of arms of the last province to join Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, contains the words, “Quaerite prime regnum Dei”. This means “Seek ye first the kingdom of God,” taken from Matthew 6.33.
- McMaster University bears the name of the Honourable William McMaster, a Canadian Senator who donated $900,000 to its founding. The university’s motto is “Ta panta en Christoi synesteken” which means: “In Christ all things hold together” or “All things cohere in Christ”. This line was taken from Colossians 1.17.
Memorial Chamber – Parliament Buildings
The Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower of the Parliament Buildings was built as a tribute to Canadians who have given their lives in wars. The focal point of the chamber is an altar where the Books of Remembrance rest. One of these books contains the names of over 66,000 Canadians who died during WWI. The book is protected by a bronze cover; around all four sides of this cover is engraved a ribbon pattern which bears the text from Ephesians 6.13, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
The Rainbow Bridge – Niagara Falls, Ontario
Photo: Joshua Sherurcij [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons
On Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls, there is a plaque engraved with the Bible verse in Genesis 9.16: “Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
This year, when you travel in these significant spots in the country, look out for these little clues on how God, through His Word, impacted our people and our nation.
To get a full list of our staff findings, please contact us!
Happy 150th Canada!
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The Canadian Bible Society has long been at work, ensuring that every person in Canada will have access to the Word of God. Through partnership with various ministries in Canada, CBS is able to bring God’s Word to:
- Men and women in prison
- Children and youth in summer camps
- New refugees/migrants
- Canadian soldiers
- First Nations communities
- The Visually-impaired
- And more!
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