The History of The Salvation Army Meadowlands

The History of The Salvation Army Meadowlands Church had its beginning in 1882, when Captain Jack Addie opened the doors and Captain & Mrs. Freer were appointed as Pastors. A year later Major Moore of Brooklyn presented the congregation with a flag of red and blue bearing the words “Blood and Fire, No. 3 Canada”. He stated that he wished it would long be waved in front of the church. Little did he know what he had started and how long and fruitful the history of the church would become.

The church was housed in several temporary buildings until 1928, when land was finally purchased and a new church building was erected at 28 Rebecca Street in downtown Hamilton. It was at this location that the church spent most of it’s life, where it saw several renovations and name changes along the way, from ‘Hamilton One’ to ‘Hamilton Citadel,’ to ‘Hamilton Temple.’

As the city of Hamilton has changed and grown over the years, the church was met with the challenge to keep pace with that growth. In June 2002 a decision was made that the church would relocate to the west side of Hamilton on the edge of Ancaster, hence its name today – Meadowlands.

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The History of The Salvation Army in Canada

The first open air ‘meetings’, or worship services, were held in Toronto in January, 1882, and in London, Ontario, five months later. These were led by British immigrants who had known the Army in their homeland. Official 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 eleven ‘corps’ or 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 and salvation’ took hold, later to be developed into the comprehensive social service programs The Salvation Army operates today, many of them in partnership with government.

William Booth was a dissident Methodist minister, who took his Wesleyan sensibilities and Christ’s command to ‘feed my sheep’ to their logical conclusion. Starting as The Christian Mission in the East End of London, England, in 1865, it was re-named The Salvation Army in 1878, to reflect the increasingly military structure the movement had adopted. It was this that came to Canada just four years later, and the Army’s growth as a church and social service agency since then has paralleled Canada’s development as a nation.

There was much opposition to the Army and its methods from civic politicians and other entrenched interests in the early days, and Salvaitonists 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 re-cycling) 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.

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 situation which continues to this day. In its early years the Canadian Territory was led primarily by British and American officers (clergy), but by 1903 a consolidated Training College was opened in Toronto, allowing Canadian Salvationists to take more leadership responsibility.