Abdu’l-Bahá Comes to Montreal
‘Abdu’l-Bahá was the eldest son and appointed successor of His Father and had shared his banishments and imprisonment for 40 years. We have two pictures of Him, one as a young man in His 20’s, the other as an elderly man with a flowing white beard. Released from incarceration by the Young Turks Rebellion, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was finally free in his 60’s to undertake travels to bring the message of His Father to the Western World. He first visited Egypt, then Europe, and finally the culmination of his travels, a journey to North America.
During a crowded six days in Montreal, from Friday August 30, 1912 to Thursday, September 5th, more than 2500 people met or heard ‘Abdu'l-Bahá speak when he arrived here. Another 440,000 readers heard of Him through thirty four articles in ten of the twelve daily papers. Of His entire journey to North America, no other city had accorded Him a more extensive reception.
Best Response of His Tour
During His stay, "he crisscrossed the city on foot, by streetcar, and taxi, visiting cathedrals and churches, the East End of the city, Mount Royal and the downtown area." The genuine and heartfelt response He received from individuals and the public, as well as the press, persuaded Him to lengthen His stay from the original two or three days. He arrived in Montréal near midnight on the 30th of August, met by Sutherland Maxwell, and driven by carriage to his home at 1548 Pine Ave., where He stayed the first two nights, after which He moved to the Windsor Hotel.
Day One: On Saturday, August 31, He held interviews in the morning with members of the Birks Family and a reporter from the Standard, who He told Montréal was a "city of wonderful progress and prosperity." In the afternoon, He went for a ride around the city with Mr. Maxwell, stopping at Marie-Reine-du Monde Cathedral. Pointing to the statues of top, He said, "Behold what eleven disciples have done. When a person is [detached], he is capable of revolutionizing the whole world." In the evening the Maxwell’s held a reception for "intimate friends".
Day Two: On Sunday, September 1, he gave an address at the Unitarian Church of the Messiah on "The Oneness of Religion". It was an especially significant occasion for Mr. Maxwell for he was the architect of the church, erected in 1905. In the afternoon He spoke at 716 Pine Avenue West to people of "different nationalities" who had called for appointments.
Day Three: On Monday, September 2, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá breakfasted with invited guests, and then moved to the Windsor Hotel, noteworthy in the city for its splendour and elegance, complete with "Egyptian and Turkish Salons". In the afternoon, university professors, church ministers and the press came to the hotel, and a reporter from the Toronto Star Weekly.
Day Four: On Tuesday, September 3, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá met with professors and ministers, and the principal of McGill University, Dr. William Peterson. In the afternoon, after seeing more guests, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá explored more of Montréal by streetcar, but returned by taxi. His evening address was at Coronation Hall to 500 socialists on the topic of "The Economic Happiness of the Human Race."
Day Five: On Wednesday, September 4, the weather was bad, and ‘Abdu'l-Bahá spent the morning in His room. Later He went out in the afternoon and took the "Mountain Elevator" to the East End Look-out enjoying the steam driven lift which was opened in 1886. During the evening ‘Abdu'l-Bahá spoke again at the Maxwell's home to a large gathering of Americans, Canadians, Turks and Arabs.
Day Six: On Thursday, September 5, the Archbishop of Montréal, Msgr. Louis Joseph Paul Bruchesi, paid a visit to ‘Abdu'l-Bahá. Later that day He spoke at "the largest Methodist church in the world, St. James, called the Westminster Abbey of Canada". A crowd of 1200 people heard Him speak on the "Bahá’í Principles for the Happiness of the Human Race."
Day Seven: On Friday, September 6, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá recuperated from a cold, but later went to the Maxwell home.
Days Eight & Nine: Saturday, September 7 and 8 brought ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's sojourn in Montréal to a close, with interviews continuing in His room at the Windsor. In summing up His visit, He told the Bahá’ís, "I have sown the seed, now water it. You must educate the souls in divine morals, make them spiritual, and lead them to the oneness of humanity and to universal peace."