“…He, the Centre of the Covenant, the Greatest Mystery of God, stayed here.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá stayed in the home of May and William Sutherland Maxwell during His ten-day visit to Montréal in 1912. This house is now the only Bahá’í Shrine in Canada because of its association with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá referred to the dwelling as His home. During His time in Montréal, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stayed four days in the Maxwell residence and gave three talks to public audiences. His visit was widely covered by English and French newspapers in dozens of articles that reported on his talks on themes of peace, the oneness of religion, prejudice, and economic inequality.
When He left Montréal, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: “I have sown the seed, now water it. You must educate the souls in divine morals, make them spiritual, and lead them to the oneness of humanity and to universal peace.”
The Shrine is located at 1548 Pine Avenue West, on the slopes of Mount Royal. It was designed by William Sutherland Maxwell himself, a prominent Canadian architect of his time, and it is a culturally significant heritage building.
Since being designated a Bahá’í Shrine, its doors have been open to visitors of all backgrounds. It is a place of quiet prayer and meditation. Visitors are provided with a guided orientation to the ground floor of the Shrine, and the upper room where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stayed is reserved for personal prayer and reflection.
The Shrine has been carefully restored, internally and externally, to reflect the architectural condition of the building when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited in 1912.
The Significance of the Shrine
The Maxwell Family
The Maxwell family occupies a distinguished place in the history of the Bahá’í Faith.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá was drawn to Montréal because of May Maxwell, considered “the spiritual mother of Canada” because of her role in developing the Bahá’í Faith in Montréal and Toronto. William Sutherland Maxwell was later appointed a “Hand of the Cause of God,” a distinguished appointed rank in the Bahá’í Faith, and he was the architect of the arcade and superstructure of the Shrine of the Báb in the Holy Land.
Their daughter Mary later married Shoghi Effendi, the grandson of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Taking the name Rúhíyyih Rabbani and the title Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum, she helped to steward the worldwide Bahá’í community throughout a period of global expansion and development.