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Canadian Pentecostal Reader: The First Generation of Pentecostal Voices in Canada

Martin W. Mittelstadt and Caleb Howard Courtney, Canadian Pentecostal Reader: The First Generation of Pentecostal Voices in Canada (1907-1925) (Cleveland, TN: CPT Press, c2021), xii + 507 pages.

The authors of a Canadian Pentecostal Reader are to be commended for such an exemplary, seminal, and significant reference research resource. The heart and core of this monograph focuses on a collection of early 20th Century primary sources in the form of Pentecostal newsletters, carefully reproduced in reprinted format, with minor and useful amendments. The newsletters are arranged from Eastern to Western Canada: Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia, respectively. Canadian publication locations include the cities of Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Vancouver, and New Westminster. In the context, the authors describe that their collected primary newsletter “sources are historical, theological, testimonial, autobiographical, and biographical.” (1)

For introductory background information for each set of newsletters, the authors have taken a clever and consistent approach exhibiting and including ‘The People’, ‘The Publication’, and ‘Suggested Reading’. In addition, either external documented quotations or photographs conclude the introductions.

How refreshing to read experiential accounts of first-generation Pentecostals during the initial quarter of the 20th Century!

Due to the length of Reader it appears that a wise decision was made not to include an index, but to give opportunity for the keen reader or scholarly researcher to secure a digital copy whereby any word or phrase of the book can be searched quickly and, if so desired, in sequence and comprehensively. Also, since The Canadian Pentecostal Testimony (Later renamed the Pentecostal Testimony, now: Testimony and Enrich) is largely available in digital form, the choice was made not to include this periodical among the set of primary newsletter sources for the book (2).

In spite of this exceptional benchmark work, ongoing concerted efforts need to be made to locate missing issues of newsletter titles included in this work.

Also, in spite of this exceptional benchmark work, ongoing concerted efforts need to be made to locate missing issues of newsletter titles included in this work. Any located issues would need to be archived, to be digitized and function as supplemental research resources to a Canadian Pentecostal Reader. If enough issues are located or other early Canadian Pentecostal newsletter titles are discovered that fit within the 1907-1925 publication delimitation or, even earlier (between1901 to 1906), these, too, would need archival attention, including digitization and may call for an updated edition or sequel. In addition, ongoing research needs to be explored, not only in Pentecostal history and doctrine, but also in experiential-testimonial and biographical-autobiographical studies.

Further research and studies need to be conducted in regard to the following statement: “Ellen Hebden (1865-1923) is widely regarded as the first person in Canada to have the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the accompanying sign of speaking in tongues on 17 November 1906.” ([5]). It would have been helpful for the serious reader or researcher if this statement would have been documented, especially since this information is included in the first issue in May 1907 of The Promise ([12]-13) and since such a specific date is given. In my book review of Thomas William Miller’s Canadian Pentecostals: A History of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada 1, I called into question that Ellen Hebden was the first Canadian person to be baptized in the Holy Spirit accompanied by speaking in tongues in the 20th Century (Pneuma 20: 1, Spring 1998, 119-20) 2. I said, “it appears that John Loney of Snowflake, Manitoba (40-41) and not Hebden of Toronto was the first known Canadian, or at least the first known person in Canada to speak in tongues [in the 20th Century]. 3” (The Apostolic Faith, vol. I, 4 December 1906, 3) in Fred T. Corum’s Like As Of Fire (1981) 4 and in Wayne E. Warner’s The Azusa Street Papers (c1997), 24. 4 Warner was the former Director of the Assemblies of God Archives, Springfield, MO (8) 5. John Loney testifies, “I am in sympathy with your [William J. Seymour’s] work, am baptized with the Holy Ghost and fire, and have received the gift of some as of yet unknown tongue or tongues. It first came two years ago, and is proving more distinct and real. Believe God is preparing me for some special work in some part of his vineyard.” 6 (The Apostolic Faith, I, 4 December 1906, 3) in Fred T. Corum’s Like As Of Fire (1981) and in Wayne E. Warner’s The Azusa Street Papers (c1997), 24. Loney’s testimony could be interpreted that he was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues as early as 1904.6

Reviewed by Laurence M. Van Kleek



1 Miller, Thomas William. Canadian Pentecostals: A History of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Edited by William A. Griffin. Mississauga, ON: Full Gospel Publishing House, c1994. 40-1.

2 Canadian Pentecostals Reviewed by Laurence M. Van Kleek, Pneuma (20:1 Spring, 1998). 119-121.

3 Ibid, 119.

4 Corum, Fred T.  Like As of Fire (A Reprint of the Old Azusa Street Papers). Wilmington MA:  Fred T. Corum, 1981.  Snowflake, Manitoba—John Loney. Dec ‘06, p. 3, col. 2 [Using Warner’s Index], Warner, Wayne E. The Azusa Street Papers. Foley, AL: Harvest Publications, c1997. 24.

5 Burgess, Stanley M., Editor and Van der Maas, Eduard M., Associate Editor. The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. Expanded and Rev. ed. Zondervan, c2002. 1185-86.

6 I discovered another Canadian, Harry S. Horton, who was baptized in the Holy Spirit, accompanied by speaking in tongues in the early 20th Century. He was the father of the Late Dr. Stanley M. Horton. In 1906, Harry received this experience at a home in Winnipeg. (J. Shirley Morsch, Editor in Chief of the History Committee. Rejoice: A History of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Edmonton, AB. The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Alberta and Northwest Territories (Mackenzie District); Altona, MB: Friesen Printers, a Division of D.W. Friesen & Sons Ltd., [1983]: 1.J. Shirley Morsch says, “In Elmer Cantelon’s book, Harvester of the North, he reported that his mother, Mrs. Peter Cantelon, of the Manitoba Mather District near Cartwright, received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in her home in 1906.” I confirmed such in Elmer J. Cantelon’s, Harvester of the North (Toronto, Canada: Full Gospel Publishing House, c1969): 69-70. As already was employed as a search strategy for Mittelstadt and Courtney’s book, “,, and” (3), plus, could be used to shed more light on the historical background of people of interest.

So, besides maintaining that Ellen Hebden was the first person in Canada in the 20th Century to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and accompanied by tongues speaking on 17 November 1906, there is evidence that others, such as John Loney of Snowflake, MB, Harry S. Horton of Winnipeg, and Mrs. Peter Cantelon of the Manitoba Mather District near Cartwright also received this experience in the same year. The question is for those who consider January 1, 1901, as so sacred, who was first? Is this date especially sacred to God or is it traditionally and culturally sacred to us? If 1904 is accepted, John Loney of Snowflake, Manitoba would be first! But if 1906 is the acceptable year, how likely would it be that November 17th, so late in 1906, would rule out Harry S. Horton, and Mrs. Peter Cantelon as not receiving the experience possibly earlier than Ellen Hebden? Also, Christian historian scholars need to be careful not to take an elitist position that may rule out testimonies of laypersons.

Dr. Stanley Horton grandmother, Miss Clara Sanford (later Mrs. Elmer Fisher) who lived in Pennsylvania, received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, with the tongues evidence, in 1880.” (Morsch: 1). Claude Kendrick gives further examples of the speaking in “TONGUES PHENONMENA” in the United States in the last quarter of the 19th Century. See The Promise Fulfilled: A History of the Modern Pentecostal Movement. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, c1961. 34-6. Regarding experiencing the Tongues phenomena, in 1875, Rev. R.B Swan of Providence, RI; in 1879, W. Jethro Walthall of Arkansas; in 1890, Daniel Awrey of OH; and in1900 “Sarah A. Smith … in Tennessee” had such an experience. (Ibid, 11). So, during the last quarter of the 19th Century, there is evidence the people being baptized with the Holy Spirit accompanied with tongue speaking. I do not minimize the value or worldwide impact of the Azusa Street revival, but rather agree with Eddie L. Hyatt that since the day of Pentecost such wonderfully blessed phenomena have been throughout history. See Eddie L. Hyatt, 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, c2002).


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Category: In Depth, Winter 2022

About the Author: Laurence M. Van Kleek has been ordained with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada since 1975 and was first licensed as a minister with the PAOC in 1972. After 49 years of service at Summit Pacific College in Abbotsford, BC, in June 2021 he retired from the College. For a decade he indexed and continues to index The Pneuma Review for Christian Periodical Index through the Association of Christian Librarians of which he is a member. He holds a BA from Wilfrid Laurier University, an MDiv from Waterloo Lutheran Seminary (now Luther University College), an MA from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, and an MLS from the University of British Columbia. For 48 years (as of November 2022) he has been married to Darlene Van Kleek and together they have three adult children. He serves as a Certified Funeral Celebrant and volunteers for Ground Zero Ministries, a non-profit organization ministering to the homeless.

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