Graham Library houses a collection of Canadian Parish Histories, part of the the Wycliffe-Trinity Theological Library Collection, in one of the most beautiful reading rooms on campus, the “Anglican Room” at the south end of the library’s 3rd floor.
The collection began as an accumulation of items from Wycliffe and Trinity College libraries, along with that of Church House (the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada). Following an appeal to every parish listed in the Anglican Directory of Canada, over 400 histories were donated. At 638 titles, it continues to grow as new church publications are submitted to the library for retention.
Besides supporting a general interest in Canadiana, the Parish History collection is a useful resource for church historians, seminary students, and laity of the Anglican Church as social documentation that chronicles the evolution of religious communities in a Canadian context. It is also an aid to new clergy who wish to gain a feel for the parish where they’ve been assigned or hired.
Anglican congregations regularly compile books or pamphlets to commemorate special anniversary years or other landmark dates. The quality of each largely depends on the level of enthusiasm applied to the project by volunteers from the congregation, and the resources available to them.Today most parishes have a website; publishing their history online has obvious advantages. However, many old parishes risk getting lost in time as they are known only through print evidence that may never be digitized.Some items in this collection represent the only documentary evidence of churches that have ceased to exist, or have been absorbed into larger parishes.
The Canadian Parish History collection includes hard covered books with glossy pages of colourful graphics produced by a commercial printer, along with booklets of stapled pages of photocopied text assembled by dedicated volunteers. There is also an extensive body of black and white pamphlets. Content may include: facsimiles of significant documents, old photographs, and reproductions of weekly bulletins, budgets, monthly newsletters or minutes of meetings. Text may be written by a knowledgeable historian or comprised of informal research and sparse details attached to artifacts. A reader is sure to find plenty of interesting, if anecdotal, memories related by senior parishioners or their descendants.
It is important to Trinity and Wycliffe colleges and to the larger Anglican community in Canada that a physical space is dedicated to this unique body of literature and that the spirit of each parish, along with documentation of its people and activities, is preserved.
Graham Library staff can help you locate items in the Canadian Parish History collection and assist your information search about a specific Anglican parish church in Canada. In the catalogue, search call number BX5617 or by church name and location.