“Efficiency and Evangelism”: Peter Bryce and the Making of Liberal Protestantism at Toronto’s Earlscourt Methodist Church

  • Todd R. Stubbs


This paper examines the work of Rev. Peter Bryce in establishing a progressive “institutional church” in Toronto’s Earlscourt district during the first two decades of the twentieth century. Ministering to a congregation largely made up of British immigrant working people, Bryce incorporated in his program the tenets of the church efficiency movement, which gained adherents in urban Canada in the prewar years. In order to better reach the urban working class, the movement advocated updated institutional arrangements and business-like clerical management. From this standpoint, Bryce’s broader objective at Earlscourt was to promote the “efficient” gendered functioning of the working-class family within the new industrial order and to encourage accommodation between labour and capital. Located firmly within liberal social Christianity, this approach reimagined the institutional role of the church in industrial life while advancing a moderate position on capitalist social relations.