history of the salvation army
(as taken from salvationarmy.ca)
The Salvation Army began its work in Canada in 1882, just fifteen
years after Confederation, and quickly began giving hope to those in
need in this country and around the world.
Salvation Army operations began in July of that year when Major Thomas
Moore arrived from the U.S. headquarters to take charge. By then there
were 11 ‘corps’ or church congregations in Ontario, and a year later
Canada was declared an independent ‘Territory’, responsible for its own
governance within the worldwide organization.
From the beginning, the Army in Canada adopted founder William
Booth’s philosophy that there is little point preaching ‘salvation’ to
hungry people. And so the concept of ‘soup, soap and salvation’ took hold, later to be
developed into the comprehensive social service programs The Salvation
Army operates today.
When the Army came to Canada, there was much opposition to its
methods from civic politicians and other entrenched interests in the
early days, and Salvationists were often beaten and jailed for their
activities in the streets of Canada’s cities and towns. Despite this,
there was eventual acceptance of the movement as it demonstrated the
social benefits that accrued from its activities. The
men’s social work began in 1890 with a Prison Gate Home in Toronto. The
same year a Children’s Shelter was opened. The first Maternity home was
opened in Saint John, N.B. in 1898, precursor to the Salvation Army
Grace Hospitals. In 1901 The Salvation Army recommended to the federal
government that a prisoner probation system be adopted, leading to
Canada’s first parole program. In 1908 salvage work (now called
recycling) began in Toronto, leading to the well-known Thrift Stores. In
1911 the first Juvenile Detention Centre was established in Manitoba
and turned over to the Army to operate. That same year a farm colony was
established in Coombs, B.C.
The Salvation Army’s status in Canada was entrenched in law in 1909
when parliament passed an Act giving the organization legal standing,
its governance to be conducted by The Governing Council of The Salvation
Army in Canada, a structure that continues to this day.
1914 the Army shared in the national tragedy of the sinking of The
Empress of Ireland in the St. Lawrence. On board were more than 150
Salvationists, bound for an international congress in London. Most of
them, including the national commander and members of the Canadian Staff
Band, were drowned. The Staff Band was not re-formed until 1969.
Canada’s involvement in the Great War of 1914-1918 saw the
appointment of the first Salvation Army officer as a chaplain in the
Canadian armed forces, and the donation of five motor ambulances to
forces serving overseas. At the end of the war, military hostels were
opened in Winnipeg, London, Kingston, Toronto, and other cities, for
in social services continued even as the organization matured: the
first seniors’ residence, or Eventide Home, was opened in Edmonton in
1926, and Grace Hospitals were opened in major cities across the
The onset of World War II found the Army accompanying Canada’s armed
forces overseas not only as chaplains but as the operators of Maple Leaf
Clubs, providing rest and relaxation for the troops. By
the end of the war there were clubs in Britain, France, Germany,
Belgium, Holland and India. They were mostly staffed by Salvation Army
Auxiliaries, some of them as young as twenty years old. They provided a
taste of home, with Canadian cooking, mail forwarding and social
activities, including dances and short term accommodation. On the home
front at the end of the war, Salvationists at Canadian ports welcomed
the ‘war brides’ of Canadian servicemen.
In the post-war years further social service innovations included an
anti-suicide bureau and victim witness assistance programs, the latter
eventually being absorbed by the criminal justice system.
Canadian Salvation Army has produced many outstanding leaders, not only
for the domestic scene but also for the international movement. In 1975
Clarence Wiseman was elected General (international leader) of The
Salvation Army, to be succeeded in 1977 by Arnold Brown. Bramwell
Tillsley became General in 1993, but had to retire the following year
due to ill health. In 2011 Linda Bond was elected the 19th General. In
2013 André Cox, of Switzerland, became the 20th General of The Salvation
Army, which currently has more than a million members and serves in
more than 125 countries.
Salvation Army is now the largest non-governmental direct provider of
social services in the country, serving over 1.8 million people each
year, in 400 communities across Canada. The Salvation Army offers
practical assistance for children and families, often tending to the
basic necessities of life, provides shelter for homeless people and
rehabilitation for people who have lost control of their lives to an
The Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Campaign has raised funds for
more than 120 years to meet its demand for services. The Campaign has
grown into one of Canada’s most significant and recognizable annual
To accommodate the changing times, The Salvation Army in Canada continues to evolve. While
the same values and goals still exist, new, innovative and effective
programs such as community kitchens, skills-training and addictions
day-treatment programs are addressing rising community needs.
Our aim is to provide assistance, care and spiritual guidance to those who are in need. Dignity, respect, warmth, comfort and a sense of self-worth are what we aim to give people when they turn to us for help. We're here to support and encourage people on their journey - to walk them through life together.
To volunteer for any of our services, contact us at (250) 248-8794 or stop in during office hours.
To make a donation, please call (250) 248-8794 or stop in at our Administrative Office at 886 Wembley Road, Parksville, BC V9P 2H6, in Breakwater Village.
Mount Arrowsmith Community Ministries