Canadian Bahá'í History

The Bahá’í Faith arrived in Canada in the 19th century.

In 1898, Edith Magee, a youth from London, Ontario, was the first person in Canada to become a member of the Bahá’í Faith. 

The first Bahá’í community in Canada was established in Montréal in 1902, when May and William Sutherland Maxwell returned to that city from Paris. The dedication of this early group under the remarkable care and support of May Maxwell became the driving force for the establishment of the Canadian Bahá’í community.

The Bahá’ís of Montréal had the honour of hosting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Son and appointed successor of Bahá’u’lláh, the Founder of the Faith, during His 1912 tour of North America. His visit to Canada provided an impetus to the spread of the Faith in communities throughout the country.

Among the first French Canadians to become Bahá’ís were Louis Bourgeois, who enrolled in the Bahá’í Faith in 1906 while in the United States, and Jeanette French, in 1920, while residing in Canada.

In 1947, Melba Loft became the first Canadian Bahá’í of Aboriginal ancestry, followed by her husband, Jim Loft, in 1948.

Canadian Bahá’ís elected their first National Spiritual Assembly, the national governing council, in 1948. The following year, the Assembly was legally incorporated by an Act of Parliament.

The size and diversity of the community increased in the 1980s when Canada opened its doors to Bahá’ís fleeing a resurgence of persecution in Iran.

Today, there are more than 35,000 Bahá’ís in approximately 1200 localities across Canada.

Since the Maxwell family established the first Bahá’í community in Canada in Montréal, a long line of distinguished citizens have contributed to the development of the Bahá’í community in Canada and around the world.