Salem Bland

Salem Goldworth Bland (1859–1950) was a Canadian Methodist theologian, Georgist,[2] and one of Canada's most important Social Gospel thinkers.[16]

Salem Bland
Lawren Harris - Dr. Salem Bland.png
1925 painting of Bland by Lawren Harris
Salem Goldworth Bland

(1859-08-25)25 August 1859
Lachute, Quebec, Canada
Died7 February 1950(1950-02-07) (aged 90)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Political partyCo-operative Commonwealth Federation[1]
Emma Levell
(m. 1926)
Ecclesiastical career
ReligionChristianity (Methodist)
Academic background
Alma materMorrin College
Academic work
Sub-disciplineEcclesiastical history
School or tradition
InstitutionsWesley College
Notable worksThe New Christianity (1920)


He was born on 25 August 1859 in Lachute, Quebec,[17] the son of Emma Bland and Henry Flesher Bland,[18] a Methodist preacher. As a child he lost the use of one of his legs, likely due to polio. He had the useless leg amputated at age thirty and replaced it with an artificial limb. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree at Morrin College in 1877,[19] and later studied at McGill University.[citation needed] He was ordained a Methodist minister in 1884[20] and served as a preacher in a series of churches in Ontario and Quebec.[21] In 1903 he accepted a position at Wesley College in Winnipeg, Manitoba, as Professor of Church History and New Testament Exegesis.[20]

Originally a relatively conservative Methodist,[22] at Wesley he embraced higher criticism. It was also in Winnipeg that he became committed to activist Christianity and the Social Gospel movement. He became a popular guest preacher across western Canada. At Wesley he tutored a number of students including J. S. Woodsworth, William Irvine, and William Ivens who became early leaders of the social-democratic Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. Bland, a longtime advocate for the creation of a third party alternative to the Liberals and Conservatives, helped found the Ontario CCF.[23]

Bland also became a regular writer for The Grain Growers' Guide, then the main organ of the progressive farmers' movement,[citation needed] from 1917 to 1919.[24] This activism led him into conflict with the leaders of Wesley College and he was dismissed in 1917 after a long battle with principal Eber Crummy.

Bland moved to Toronto in 1919[24] where he became the minister at the Broadway Methodist Tabernacle,[25] one of the largest Methodist churches in the city and one serving the large working-class community of western Toronto. He remained there until 1923, when he moved to the smaller Western Methodist Church. He became a prominent figure in the new United Church of Canada. In 1935 he convinced the general assembly to pass a motion condemning capitalism. He also led the campaign in favour of the ordination of women and succeeded in 1936.

He also remained deeply involved in social activism. He was a supporter of the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War and a leader of the Canadian Committee to Aid Spanish Democracy. Firmly anti-war, he refused to encourage Canadians to enlist in the Republican cause. Rather he focused on raising humanitarian aid for those affected by the conflict. Most notably the committee supported a home for some 100 war orphans in Barcelona that was named Salem Bland Home. He became close friends with the exiled American activist Emma Goldman, and when she died in Toronto in 1940 it was Bland who delivered the eulogy at her funeral. He also wrote a column for the Toronto Star called "The Observer" from 1924 to 1950. A well-known figure in Toronto, he had his portrait painted by the Group of Seven artist Lawren S. Harris in 1926.[26] The painting is today in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Bland died in Toronto on 7 February 1950 and was buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery.[27]




  1. ^ Allen 1961, pp. 204–205; Whiteley 2013.
  2. ^ a b Goldsborough, Gordon (2016). "Salem Goldworth Bland (1859–1950)". Memorable Manitobans. Winnipeg, Manitoba: Manitoba Historical Society. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  3. ^ Allen 2010a, p. 46.
  4. ^ Allen 1961, p. 38; McKay 2010, p. 90.
  5. ^ a b Allen 2010a, p. 46; McKillop 2001, p. 219.
  6. ^ Ginger, Jacob (2009). "Review of The View from Murney Tower: Salem Bland, the Late Victorian Controversies, and the Search for a New Christianity, by Richard Allen". H-Canada. East Lansing, Michigan: H-Net. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  7. ^ Allen 1973; Rasporich 2007, p. 190.
  8. ^ Allen 1968, p. 383; Gauvreau 1991, p. 204.
  9. ^ Allen 1961, p. 19.
  10. ^ McKay 2010, p. 88.
  11. ^ Allen 1961, p. 98.
  12. ^ Antonides 1985, p. 74; Johnson 2017; Mardiros 1979, p. 19.
  13. ^ Bercuson 1990, p. 66; Fast 1985, p. 235; Johnson 2017.
  14. ^ Cole-Arnal 2007, p. 1.
  15. ^ Bercuson 1990, p. 5; Johnson 2017.
  16. ^ Ives 2011.
  17. ^ Allen 2004.
  18. ^ Allen 2008, pp. 24, 323.
  19. ^ Allen 2008, p. 39.
  20. ^ a b Bercuson 1990, p. 6.
  21. ^ Allen 1974.
  22. ^ Johnson 2017.
  23. ^
  24. ^ a b Bumsted 1999, p. 27.
  25. ^ Allen 2010b, p. 46.
  26. ^ Davis 1992, pp. 22–23.
  27. ^ Donovan, Patrick (2015). "Prisoners, Students and Thinkers: Salem Goldworth Bland". Quebec City, Quebec: Morrin Centre. Retrieved 13 May 2019.


Allen, Richard (1961). Salem Bland and the Social Gospel in Canada (MA thesis). Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: University of Saskatchewan. hdl:10388/etd-07132010-073310.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
 ———  (1968). "The Social Gospel and the Reform Tradition in Canada, 1890–1928". The Canadian Historical Review. 49 (4): 381–399. doi:10.3138/CHR-049-04-03. ISSN 1710-1093.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
 ———  (1973). "Introduction: The World-Welter". The New Christianity: The Theology of the Social Gospel. By Bland, Salem. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-1954-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
 ———  (1974). "Bland, Salem Goldsworth". In Harmon, Nolan B. (ed.). The Encyclopedia of World Methodism. 1. Nashville, Tennessee: United Methodist Publishing House. p. 284. ISBN 978-0-687-11784-0. Retrieved 9 May 2019.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
 ———  (2004). "Bland, Salem (1859–1950)". In Wishart, David J. (ed.). Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. p. 737. ISBN 978-0-8032-4787-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
 ———  (2008). The View from Murney Tower: Salem Bland, the Late Victorian Controversies, and the Search for a New Christianity. 1. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-9748-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
 ———  (2010a). "Salem Goldworth Bland. Part 1: 19th Century Roots of Progressive Christianity" (PDF). Touchstone. 28 (1): 44–52. ISSN 0827-3200. Retrieved 9 May 2019.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
 ———  (2010b). "Salem Goldworth Bland. Part 2: 1903–1950; The New Christianity in a New, Distressful Canada" (PDF). Touchstone. 28 (2): 38–51. ISSN 0827-3200. Retrieved 9 May 2019.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Antonides, Harry (1985). Stones for Bread: The Social Gospel and Its Contemporary Legacy. Jordan Station, Ontario: Paideia Press. ISBN 978-0-88815-061-5.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Bercuson, David (1990). Confrontation at Winnipeg: Labour, Industrial Relations, and the General Strike (rev. ed.). Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 978-0-7735-6267-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Bumsted, J. M. (1999). Dictionary of Manitoba Biography. Winnipeg, Manitoba: University of Manitoba Press. ISBN 978-0-88755-318-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Cole-Arnal, Oscar L. (2007). "'Street Preaching' in Strike Mode – Winnipeg, 1919" (PDF). TST Homiletics Seminar. 1 (2): 1–16. Retrieved 23 May 2019.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Davis, Ann (1992). The Logic of Ecstasy: Canadian Mystical Painting, 1920–1940. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-5916-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Fast, Vera (1985). "The Labor Church in Winnipeg". In Butcher, Dennis L.; Macdonald, Catherine; McPherson, Margaret E.; Smith, Raymond R.; McKibbin Watts, A. (eds.). Prairie Spirit: Perspectives on the Heritage of the United Church of Canada in the West. Winnipeg, Manitoba: University of Manitoba Press. pp. 233–249. ISBN 978-0-88755-614-2. Retrieved 11 May 2020.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Gauvreau, Michael (1991). Evangelical Century: College and Creed in English Canada from the Great Revival to the Great Depression. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 978-0-7735-6255-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Ives, Andrew (2011). "Christians on the Left: The Importance of the Social Gospel in the Canadian Social Democratic Tradition". LISA e-Journal. 9 (1): 188–204. doi:10.4000/lisa.4169. ISSN 1762-6153.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Johnson, Neil (2017). The Labour Church: The Movement & Its Message. Abingdon, England: Routledge. doi:10.4324/9781315304595. ISBN 978-1-315-30457-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Mardiros, Anthony (1979). William Irvine: The Life of a Prairie Radical. Toronto: James Lorimer & Company. ISBN 978-0-88862-237-2. Retrieved 18 May 2020.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
McKay, Ian (2010). "Liberating Theology: Salem Bland and the Emergence of a Radical Christianity". Left History. 14 (2): 87–94. Retrieved 9 May 2019.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
McKillop, A. B. (2001) [1979]. Disciplined Intelligence: Critical Inquiry and Canadian Thought in the Victorian Era. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 978-0-7735-2141-4. JSTOR j.ctt7zszpp.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Rasporich, Anthony W. (2007). "The City Yes, the City No: Perfection by Design in the Western City". In Francis, R. Douglas; Kitzan, Chris (eds.). The Prairie West as Promised Land. Calgary, Alberta: University of Calgary Press. pp. 177–198. doi:10.2307/j.ctv6gqqnw.11. ISBN 978-1-55238-432-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Whiteley, Marilyn Färdig (2013). "Bland, Salem Goldsworth". In Yrigoyen, Charles, Jr.; Warrick, Susan E. (eds.). Historical Dictionary of Methodism (3rd ed.). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-8108-7894-5.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

Further readingEdit

Allen, Richard (1971). The Social Passion: Religion and Social Reform in Canada, 1914–28. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-5252-0. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
Foster, Jim (9 February 1992). "Holy Writ". Toronto Star. p. D6.
"Rev. Salem G. Bland, 90 Champion of Labor, Dies". Toronto Daily Star. 7 February 1950. p. 3.

External linksEdit