Some Notes on the Canadian Mission to Trinidad

The evangelical mission to Trinidad was the foundation of Naparima College and several other significant educational and religious institutions there. It was only the second "foreign" mission to be undertaken by the Presbyterian church. The first was a similarly remarkable venture to the New Hebrides in the East Indies. Below is a list of the missions of the Presbyterian church of Canada:

1. 1846 New Hebrides
2. 1867 Trinidad
3. 1872 Formosa
4. 1877 India
5. 1888 Honan, China
6. 1896 British Guiana
7. 1898 Korea
8. 1902 South China
9. 1904 Gwalior, India
There was actually an earlier shortlived mission of the Presbyterian church to Trinidad. The United Presbyterian Church of the U.S.A. had sent missionaries to the blacks in the Siparia and Princes Town areas. Stressed by the US Civil War, they had withdrawn just before John Morton came to Trinidad. They turned over their church assets to Morton. This dictated the starting-point for the Canadian mission in 1868 in Iere Village near Princes Town, where premises were given over to Rev. John Morton, on condition that a once-weekly service was given to the blacks of the community.

The United Presbyterian Church of New England sent a mission to Hawaii; and within Canada itself the Canadian church sent several missions to the northern territories and to British Columbia. It was a favourable time for missions.

(In fact the Roman Catholic missionary period, over similar world-wide territory, but with different target populations, predated the Presbyterian one by some decades. Princes Town in Trinidad was originally called Mission Village, after an early RC mission to the aboriginal Arawaks and Caribs there).

Canada formally became a country in 1867 - long after the first mission of the Church. Then and now, Canada as a political or national entity had little to do with and scarcely is aware of these missions. This is despite the fact that next to its part in the World Wars, the effect and success of these missions is one of the broadest and most significant overseas adventure to originate from Canada. However, perhaps this is as it should be. The intense commitment, personal benevolence, and evangelism of the 19th-century missionaries stemmed from a-political, spiritual and personal convictions, unrelated to nationalism or politics.

The missions were very much born of the doctrinal evangelical zeal of John Knox's church, and of the 19th century times. In Canada, they were spearheaded by one section of the church in Canada: the Maritime "synod". Within this general context, the missions were even more closely rooted in the personas of the individual missionary leaders, themselves religious devotees of the church, but also highly self-disciplined, determined and resourceful personalities.

John S. Moir , in his book Enduring Witness, states: "A common element in the founding and success of these missions particularly ... in Trinidad, New Hebrides, Guiana and Formosa was the presence of a dynamic even dominating personality."

Trinidad was fortunate in having several such missionaries.

More Notes on the Mission
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