I want to continue our series on the Baptist history in the west, remembering we are entering our 15th decade. Two weeks ago, we recalled May 1813 when Alexander MacDonald started the first service in Winnipeg.
Today we look at contributions to the Western Canadian landscape in general. It is an inadequate history, as it deals in some ways with only the famous or office holders. These folks, while influential, do not represent the full body of Christ, but they are still members of the body, and many of them were well-known as part of the Baptist family in their communities.
Below are those who were Baptist Prime Ministers (only one from the West… it is always amusing to hear Ontarians claim Diefenbaker, and in the same breath, to exclude Saskatchewan as one of his homes). Also listed are Premiers and Lieutenant Governors.
23 Prime Ministers
Baptist = 3 (Alexander Mackenzie, Charles Tupper, John Diefenbaker)
14 Premiers of Alberta
Baptist = 3 (Alexander Rutherford, William Aberhart, Ernest Manning)
214 Premiers of Saskatchewan
Baptist = 1 (Tommy Douglas)
Baptist = 2 (George Bulyea, John Bowen [Strathcona Baptist])
British Columbia: 28
Baptist = 1 (David Lam)
Baptist = 1 (William Tupper [possible Baptist as is son of Charles Tupper])
There have been four Western Canadian Baptists who have received the Order of Canada:
Dr. Charles Stelck (Geology)
Dr. Ben Gullison (Operation Eye Sight)
Pat Nixon (Mustard Seed)
Dr. Bob Taylor (Contribution to Surgery)
There are so many who have lived their faith as teachers, nurses, farmers, home-makers, and a multitude of others!
Some of you will be familiar with a previous newsletter that includes these two paragraphs:
Tommy Douglas is known for being the father of Medicare. It is true that he was the primary shaper of Medicare. From a balanced, socio-political view, however, Tommy Douglas is more like a prairie populist, Preston Manning, who paid off Saskatchewan’s considerable Provincial debt, produced seventeen annual budgetary surpluses, and believed that people should be charged a nominal amount for medical services so that we value those services properly.
The second set of accomplishments came under John Diefenbaker: giving First Nations the vote in 1960, issuing the Bill of Rights, appointing the first female Cabinet Minister, putting the first First Nations person in the Senate, and leading the challenge against apartheid in South Africa in the early 1960’s.
This newsletter by no means outlines the accomplishments of the Spirit through believers who happen to be part of the Baptist family, but they go part way to understanding how wonderfully encouraging it is that no matter what small part of the Kingdom we occupy, God is able to use us in unusual ways.