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A Selected timeline related to the history of the Baha’is of Alberta

References, Timeline

This post is a shareable personal research and learning tool to collect resources related to the history of the Baha’is of Alberta. All of the resources below are already available online.

A chronology of selected events related to the history of the Baha’is of Alberta

  • 1893-09-11 to 1893-09-27 The World Parliament of Religions, the largest of the congresses held in conjunction with the World Columbian Exposition, was the first formal formal inter-religious dialogue worldwide of Eastern and Western spiritual traditions. The conference included new religious movements of the time, such as Spiritualism and Christian Science. The latter was represented by its founder Mary Baker Eddy. Rev. Henry Jessup addressing the World Parliament of Religions was the first to mention the Bahá’í Faith in the United States (it had previously been known in Europe. A number of Canadians who attended sessions at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, Illinois in 1893 became Bahá’ís (van den Hoonaard ). Since then Bahá’ís have become active participants in the World Parliament of Religions.
  • 23 September 1893 Baha’u’llah’s recent death in Akká was announced to the World Parliament of Religions, held in Chicago, in connection with the World’s Columbian Exposition, 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World in 1492, Rev. George A. Ford of Syria read a paper written by Rev. Henry H. Jessup, D.D., Director of Presbyterian Missionary Operations in North Syria to the audience. In his paper Reverend Jessup called Baha’u’llah “a famous Persian Sage” and “the Bábí Saint” “the Glory of God” had died recently in Akká. Jessup described how Professor Edward Granville Browne of Cambridge University had visited and interviewed Baha’u’llah in Bahji just outside the fortress of Akka on the Syrian coast in April 1890 and that during those four interviews Baha’u’llah had expressed “sentiments so noble, so Christ-like” that the author of the paper, in his “closing words,” wished to share them with his audience. Jessup described Baha’u’llah’s as head of a group of Persians who “who accept the New Testament as the word of God, and Christ as the deliverer of man; who regard all natives as one, and all men as brothers.” Jessop closed his paper with these words,(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, page 256; (JessupHenry H., Ed. 1894. Neely, F. Tennyson Neely. 1894. “The Religious Mission of the English-Speaking Nations.” Neely’s History of the Parliament of Religions and Religious Congresses of the World’s Columbian Exposition. Chicago. pages 637-641.) “That all nations should become one in faith, and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should, and differences of race, be annulled; what harm is there in this? Yet so it shall be. These fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the “most great peace” shall come. Do not you in Europe need this also? Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this that he loves his kind.”|Baha’ullah
  • 7 October 1897 Esther Rennels was one of several Canadians who became Baha’is in Chicago in the years following presentation on the Baha’i Faith at The Congress of Living Religions,  in Chicago on 23 September 1893. Other Canadians who became Baha’is in Chicago in the same year are Paul K. Dealy, William Henry Jackson (Honoré Joseph Jaxon) 1861-1952, James Oakshette, Aimee Montfort and James Carmichael (van den Hoonaard 2010:306).
  • 1913 “Esther R. Rennels is first recorded Baha’i in Alberta (Edmonton) (van den Hoonaard 2010:306).”  (Pemberton-Pigott 1992:23)
  • 1911-1917 Esther Rennels is the first Alberta Bahá’í. She is reported to have lived in Edmonton from 1911-1917 (Edmonton Bahá’í Community 2012).
  • 1925 The National Spiritual Assemblies (NSA) of the United States of America, Canada and the Philippines were established. The first NSAs in the world were formed in 1923 in the British Isles, Germany and India. The fourth was formed in Egypt in 1924.
  • 1941 Four others joined the Faith in Edmonton in 1942  (Edmonton Bahá’í Community 2012).”
  • 1941 Long-time Alberta resident Mabel Pine moved to Edmonton from Vermilion (van den Hoonaard 2010:217, Edmonton Bahá’í Community 2012)
  • 1940 Mary E. Fry moved to Edmonton from Vancouver  (van den Hoonaard 2010:217).
  • 1940 “First Baha’i group in Edmonton, 1942. It was not uncommon to find women among the first believers or “pioneers.” Although there was a Baha’i in Edmonton in 1911, apparently the Baha’i community has been in continuous existence only since 1940(van den Hoonaard 2010:152).” The Vancouver Baha’i Archives has a photo of the First Baha’i group in Edmonton in 1942 with Anne McGee, Lyda Martland, Milwyn Davies, Kay Rimell, Anita Ioas (later Chapman). This photo is Plate 30 in (van den Hoonaard 2010:152).”
  • September 1942 Ina Trimble, a widow, was the first Edmonton resident to become a Bahá’í (Edmonton Bahá’í Community 2012).” Shortly after in the same year, four people from Edmonton became Baha’is (van den Hoonaard 2010:217).
  • 1942 Muriel Warnicker moved to Edmonton from Vancouver and Marcia Atwater moved to Edmonton from the United States  (van den Hoonaard 2010:217). There were only a few isolated Baha’is living in Alberta. (Pemberton-Pigott 1992:8)
  • April 1943 The Edmonton Baha’i Community, composed entirely of women, formed a Spiritual Assembly. It was the ninth LSA in Canada (van den Hoonaard 2010:217).” “Their two goals were to gain male Baha’is, and increase membership from ethnic communities, longing to be “a truly international group”. Towards this end, they organized a Race Unity meeting on November 12, 1943 with Muslims, Jews, Ukrainians and one Chinese in attendance (Edmonton Bahá’í Community 2012).”
  • 12 November 1943 The Edmonton Baha’i community organized a Race Unity meeting with Muslims, Jews, Ukrainians and one Chinese in attendance (Edmonton Bahá’í Community 2012).”
  • 1946 The first male Bahá’í in Edmonton, Roland McGee, arrived with his wife Anne, in 1946 (Edmonton Bahá’í Community 2012).
  • 1940s The Baha’i group in Edmonton made contact with “liberal Christians, Theosophists, and others (Pemberton-Pigott 1988:3) cited in (van den Hoonaard 2010:217).”
  • October 1947 Noel Wuttuneee of Calgary, Alberta, first Native Canadian to enroll as a Baha’i in Canada. (Photo in the Vancouver Baha’i Archives)(van den Hoonaard 2010:153).” ” There is a photo of Noel Wuttunee with his wife(more #792). Melba Loft became a Baha’i on July 18, 1947 while she was living in Michigan. So she was the first Canadian Indian to become a Baha’i. Noel in October 1947 was the first Canadian Indian to become a Baha’i in Canada (Verge, Pat. 5 March 2015.” First Native Canadian Baha’i.” email correspondence Pat Verge in response to Joan Young. )
  • 1948 Arthur Irwin, Seigfried Schopflocher, Gwen Inwood, Milli Rina Gordon, Eddie Elliot, Adline Lohse, Bert Rakovsky, Amine De Mille, Rene Roy were on the LSA of Montreal (van den Hoonaard 2010:153).”
  • 1951 Baha’i Summer Conference in Banff.(more)
  • 1956 Ruth Eyford became a Baha’i (“Obituaries from the Bahá’í World (new series) 1992-2005).
  • 1953 Shoghi Effendi launches the Ten Year Crusade.
  • October 1953 John Robarts (1901 – 1991) and Audrey Robarts, who had become Bahá’ís in 1937 in Toronto, pioneered to Bechuanaland (Botswana). (Bahá’í Community of Canada. “John Robarts.” Baha’i Historical Figures.) “John was a member of the National Spiritual Assembly from 1948–53. In 1953 they became Knights of Bahá’u’lláh when they pioneered to Bechuanaland. In 1957 John Robarts was appointed a Hand of the Cause of God.”(14 May 1954. Messages to Canada) His inspirational words, often during conversations with individual Alberta Baha’is, are mentioned in their biographies. He was “a life insurance executive in Toronto who actively promoted the Baha’i teaching work. His later achievements across Canada and in Africa earned him the title “Hand of the Cause of God” from Shoghi Effendi.” (van den Hoonaard 2010:151).”
  • 1953 Joan and Ted Anderson settled in the Yukon  (Echevarria 2008:57).
  • 1954 Western Canada Conference, Banff.
  • 1957-1963 Ministry of the Custodians: An Account of the Stewardship of the Hands of the Cause 1957-1963, by Universal House of Justice (1992). Account of the stewardship of the Hands of the Cause of God from 1957-63, from the passing of Shoghi Effendi to the election of the House.
  • 1960 Arthur Bonshaw Irwin (born 6 June 1915 – died 1994) and Lily-Ann Irwin of Calgary, Alberta were the first to take the Baha’i teachings to the Peigan Reserve (Canadian Baha’i News Augut 1961:10). “Arthur Irwin becane a Baha’i in 1947 and was a very active Baha’i teacher to the native peoples of Canada, Alaska, and the Caribbean. He and his wife, Lily Ann, established the first Native Indian Friendship Center in Calgary, Alberta… He was honored by the Blackfoot, Peigan, Blood, and Morely tribes in Alberta for his honesty and integrity. A geologist with a doctorate in the field, Irwin worked on Indian reserves in Canada ensuring that fair market value was paid for leases on natural resources (Baha’i World. 1994. “Arthur Bonshaw Irwin.” Baha’i World. 1994. Volume XXIII).”
  • 1 July 1960 Ben Whitecow and Louise Many Guns were married in the first Baha’i marriage legally recognized in Canada in a Baha’i service by the Spiritual Assembly of Calgary, Alberta. The Canadian Baha’i News article noted the significance that it was a First Nations couple who had this honour in this unique event. “Thirty people attended from Edmonton, Lethbridge, Regina, Peigan Indian Reserve, and Calgary. This event was unique in that it was the first legally recognized Baha’i marriage in Canada. It is significant that an Indian couple should have this honour (Canadian Baha’i News 1961).”
  • 21 May 1960 ‘Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyuh Khanum visited the Peigan First Nations during her tour of Canada at the home of Councillor Samson Knowlton. Canadian Baha’i News 1961:2).  Ruhiyyuh Khanum was in North America from May 4 to June 5. She visited Canada from May 16 to June 2, 1960.
  • Ridvan 1961 The first Local Spiritual Assembly of Peigan Indian Reserve was formed with Louise Whitecrow, Charles Strike-With-A-Gun, Rose Knowlton, Sam Yellow Face, ben Whitecrow, Joyce McGuffie, Dale Olivier, Guy Yellow Wings and Chief Samson Knowlton (Canadian Baha’i News July 1961). A photo of the nine members was published in Canadian Baha’i News July 1961. page 9.
  • 1961 Chief Samson Knowlton, then-chairman of the first Peigan Reserve Baha’i Assembly, and an elected member of the Band Council for the Peigan Band of the Blackfoot Confederacy along with John Hellson, originally from Cornwall, England were part of a teaching team that visited many Reserves. Over sixty First Nations became Baha’is in 1960-1962. The team carried letters of introduction to the chiefs of all the Six Nations Reserves in Ontario and Quebec and were welcomed with a special ceremony on some of the Reserves. Their itinerary included the following reserves: the Nanaimo Reserve in Nanaimo, B.C., the Squamish Reserve in Capilano, BC, the Mohawk Reserve in Ohsweken in Ontario, the Chippewa Reserve in Kettle Point, Ontario, the Mississauga Reserve in Curve Lake, the Mohawk Reserve in Caughnawaga, Quebec.” The teaching team gave copies of the small prayer book, Communion with God, which has “meant much to the new Indian Baha’is on the Reserves in Saskatchewan and Alberta (Canadian Baha’i News July 1961).”
  • May 1961 Hasan M. Balyuzi (Hasan Muvaqqar Balyuzi) (1908-1980) visited Canada where, in “addition to meeting the friends, he visited a number of Indian Reserves, including Indians of Ontario, the Poorman Reserve in Saskatchewan where he was honoured by a pow-wow, the Muscowpetung Reserve, the Peigan Reserve in Alberta, and Indians of British Columbia. His talks were ‘simple and direct’, appealing ‘to the hearts of the many who came to hear him’. (ibid. no. 366, p. 9) Later he described these meetings as ‘very wonderful’, commending to British Bahá’ís the initiative of individuals upon whom ‘so much depends’, and expressing his confidence in the rapid acceptance of the Faith by Indians.” (In Memoriam: Hasan M. Balyuzi” Bahá’í World, Volume 18 (1979-1983), pages 610-825. Haifa, Israel: Baha’i World Centre, 1986. page 647; Canadian Baha’i News. September 1961. “International News Brief.” page 9.).
  • October 1961 Edmund Many Bears (born 1906- died 14 March 1968) Siksika Blackfoot Nation declared as a Baha’i. “He was instrumental in forming the Baha’i Local Spiritual Assembly of the Blackfoot Reserve in 1962. He served on Tribal Council and was a member of the Brave Dog Society.” (Native Baha’i) (“In Memoriam: Edmund Many Bears.” Baha’i World Volume XIV 1963-1968 page 357-58.)
  • 1962 “Jean Many Bears (born 1910 – died 1968) Jean and her husband Edmund were “instrument in forming the Spiritual Assembly of the Blackfoot Reserve (Native Baha’i).” “In Memoriam: Jean Many Bears.” Baha’i World. Volume XIV 1963-1968 page 357-58.
  • 1962 The Western Canada Baha’i School was held at the Banff School of Fine Arts from August 12 – 19. It cost a dollar a day to register and room and meals cost $5.00 to $7.00 per day. Mrs. Betty Putters in Sherwood Park was in charge of registration. (May 1962. Summer Schools. U. S. Supplement. Baha’i News)
  • 1963 1963-1986: Third Epoch of the Formative Age.
  • 197?s???  “Bijan Asdaghi was one of the first Persian Baha’is to immigrate to Canada prior to the Iranian revolution (Edmonton Bahá’í Community 2012). “
  • 1975 The Association for Bahá’í Studies was founded in Canada (Association for Bahá’í Studies).  Donna Seyed Mahmoud (nee Jensen), originally from British Columbia, where she became a Baha’i as a youth, is a life member of the Association for Baha’i Studies. She attended the very first ABS conference held in the 1970s. (Alberta Baha’i Council 2015 “Mohsen and Donna Seyed Mahmoud biography”).
  • 1976 Earl “Black Crow” Healy (born 1937 on the Blood (Kainai) Reserve – died 21 November 2006 (CBNS 2006, Verge nd). He was a “champion pow-wow dancer, respected role-model for youth, and eager promoter of the Bahá’í Faith CBNS 2006).”
  • October 1976 Angus Cowan was appointed to the Continental Board of Counsellors where he served until 1986. Angus introduced the Faith to Dorothy Francis who became a Baha’i in 1960.
  • 1979 There was intensified persecution of Baha’is in Iran in the wake of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. A significant number of Iranian Baha’is arrived in Canada (Horton 2013:70)
  • 1982 December Native elders and community leaders met at Kainai First Nations.
  • May 1983 “Mohsen Seyed Mahmoud arrived in Lethbridge, Alberta — his original assigned city – and where he has resided every since.”(Alberta Baha’i Council 2015 “Mohsen and Donna Seyed Mahmoud biography”).
  • 1980sSee also this Hand of the Cause Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum visited Baha’is from the Piegan Reserve, Alberta, Canada, circa 1980s.
  • 1992 “The Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Edmonton purchased the Orange Lodge on 94 Street and 111 Avenue. The site was chosen because of its capacity to hold children’s spiritual education classes, its proximity to the First Nations residents, accessibility, and furnishings, including dishes and chairs (Edmonton Bahá’í Community 2012). “
  • 1992 There were 3000 Baha’is in 170 locations in Alberta with First Nations composingone third of the Baha’s membership in Alberta, c. 2000 people. But by 1992 there was little contact between native and non-native Baha’is. Pemberton-Pigott argued this was partially because the reserve system prevented non-native Baha’is from pioneering to reserves which created a “cultural and administrative gap” between native and non-native Baha’is (Pemberton-Pigott 1992:8).
  • 1994 Four-Year Plan 1994-1999: Messages to the Bahá’ís of the World,
  • 2000 One-Year Plan, 2000: Introductory Letter
  • 29 April – 1 May 2005 Donna M.Stirling-Zoller was a delegate to Canada’s 57th Bahai National Convention held in Montreal .
  • 24 May 2007 The Pincher Creek Echo reported that Allison Healy, Dale Lillico and Donna Mahmoud were the elected delegates from southern Alberta who voted for the Baha’i Faith national governing body of their faith, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahai’s of Canada.Delegates from southern Alberta attend National Convention Pincher Creek Echo.
  • 1995-2008 Redwan Moqbel was recruited to the “Department of Medicine, University of Alberta as a Professor in 1995, he served as the Director of the Pulmonary Research Group.” There he received such prestigious awards as Alberta Heritage Medical Senior Scholar, Heritage Scientist and Heritage Senior Investigator. In 2008, Redwan became Professor and Head of the Department of Immunology at the University of Manitoba, and Professor Emeritus at the University of Alberta. He was well recognized for his mentorship of young biomedical scientists, whom he encouraged to adopt “a noble goal.”
  • 2006-2011 Five Year Plan
  • 2012 There were 400 Baha’is in the Edmonton Baha’i community representing “a wide variety of races, cultures and social classes (Edmonton Bahá’í Community 2012). “
  • 2013 Redwan Moqbel  died 9 October 2013 in Winnipeg (Winnipeg Free Press 2013).
  • 1 April 2014. Allison Healy, a residential school survivor and member of the Baha’i community of the Kainai First Nation, Alberta, spoke regarding the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final national event in Edmonton, “The truths have been told, we all have learned about the horrible truths; now we really have to move forward to reconciliation and act.” (CBNS. 2014. “Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final National Event concludes in Edmonton.” Canadian Bahá’í News Service. Edmonton, Alberta).


    • Pemberton-Pigott, Andrew, 1954-. (1992) “The Bahá’í Faith in Alberta, 1942-1992 : the ethic of dispersion. ”  Thesis (M.A.) University of Alberta (Edmonton).
    • van den Hoonaard, Will C. 30 October 2010. “Appendix D: Chronology of Important Canadian Baha’i Dates.” The Origins of the Bahá’í Community of Canada, 1898-1948Wilfrid Laurier University Press. 368 pages. 
      • “Appendix D: Chronology of Important Canadian Baha’i Dates.” page 306
      • Brookes, Beth. 1984. “Letter from Beth Brookes, Edmonton, AB to Mollie Macpherson, Winnipeg, MB, 9 September 1984 (copy in possession of the author).
      • Davies, Milwyn Adams. 1949. “Brief History of the Edmonton Baha’i Community.” (mimeographed, 4 pp.; copy in possession of W. C. van den Hoonaard).
      • Pemberton-Pigott, Andrew. 1988. “The Formation of the First Baha’i Local Spiritual Assembly in Edmonton, April 1943.” Unpublished Honours Paper, University of Alberta. Edmonton. Andrew Pemberton-Pigott completed his M.A. on the “Bahai Faith in Alberta from 1942 to 1992.” He is now working on his Ph.D. at the University of Alberta on geology in Alberta. He teaches the history of science and comparative religion in the Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta.”
    • Verge, Patricia. 1 January 1999. Angus From the Heart. Springtime Publishing. ISBN-10: 0968589308. 352 pages.
    • Verge, Pat. 2000. “Honouring Blood and Baha’i Traditions: Allison and Earl Healy….Legacy)
    • Verge, Pat. 2000. “Honouring Blood and Baha’i Traditions: Allison and Earl Healy….Alberta Online Encyclopedia)
    • Verge, Pat. “Honouring Blood and Baha’i Traditions: Allison and Earl Healy….)
    • Verge, Pat. 5 March 2015.” First Native Canadian Baha’i.” email correspondence in response to a question by Joan Young.
    • The Bahá’í Faith: 1844–1963 Information Statistical and Comparative, Including the Achievements of the Ten Year International Bahá’í Teaching & Consolidation Plan 1953–1963, Compiled by Hands of the Cause Residing in the Holy Land, pages 22 and 46.

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