"In the desert places of the wilderness": The Frontier Thesis and the Anglican Church in the Eastern Townships, 1799-1831


  • J. I. Little


The Church of England was better able to meet the challenges of the settlement frontier in British North America than historians have sometimes acknowledged. Even in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, a region largely populated by American settlers, the British-backed religion of order tended to dominate the religion of dissent during the early settlement period. It was thus well entrenched by the 1830s and 1840s, when American missionary societies and revivalist sects began to take a greater interest in the region. Not only did the Anglican Church have substantial material advantages over its competitors, but the Anglican hierarchy was willing to adapt, within limits, to local conditions. This case study of the two neighbouring parishes in St. Armand, near the Vermont border, also shows that each British-born Anglican missionary responded to the challenges posed by an alien cultural environment in a somewhat different way.