Wellington County Methodists
  from the United Church Observer

Christian Guardian

Founded on November 21, 1829, this weekly was the organ of the Wesleyan Methodists. It had a tremendous influence among all non-Conformists, pursuing a political middle of the road. Although violently opposed to the privileges of the Church of England, it generally supported the conservative side. Lord Sydenham called it "the only decent paper in both Canadas", Its most famous editor was Rev. Egerton Ryerson, who edited it from 1829-1832, 1833-1835, 1838-1840. Before Confederation, it was also edited by Rev. James Richardson, Rev. Ephraim Evans, Rev. Jonathan Scott, Rev. George Frederick Playter, Rev. George R. Sanderson, Rev. James Spencer and Rev. Wellington Jeffers. The New Outlook absorbed the Guardian in 1925.

Listings of selected obituaries and some articles taken from the Christian Guardian.

The United Church Observer is one of the oldest and most respected church publications in Canada. Its origins date back to the first half of the 19th century, when Canadian Methodists decided to found a weekly newspaper. They called it The Christian Guardian and named Rev. Egerton Ryerson editor.

Ryerson earned a reputation as a "doughty controversialist who, by his facile pen, fought the battle of civil and religious liberty." His passion and determination were his greatest strengths — and often his worst enemies: in his first 11 years as editor he was voted in and out of office three times by the Methodist Conference.

Starting out with the barest of resources, Ryerson guided The Christian Guardian to a circulation of 3,000 in its first three years. It came to be regarded as the leading newspaper of Upper Canada, a tireless defender of religious freedom, democracy and education. Ryerson went on to serve in government, and is credited with founding the public school system in Upper Canada.

His counterpart in the Presbyterian Church in Canada was Peter Brown, editor of The Banner, begun by the denomination in 1843. Brown’s son George was the paper’s publisher; he went on to found the Toronto Globe, now known as The Globe and Mail, and is a father of Canadian Confederation.

When Canadian Methodists, Congregationalists and most Presbyterians merged into The United Church of Canada in 1925, the three denominational newspapers also joined forces as The New Outlook. The publication became The United Church Observer in 1939. In the early 1950s, as the United Church began two decades of unprecedented growth, The Observer shifted from a newspaper to a magazine format. Under a plan that encouraged congregations to give every member a subscription, circulation peaked at over 300,000 readers in the early 1970s.

Like the Church Union that brought together three Canadian Protestant traditions, The New Outlook was the amalgamation of long- running Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregationalist journals. In 1939 it was renamed The United Church Observer. The inaugural edition of The New Outlook was published on the occasion of the founding services of The United Church of Canada, June 10, 1925.

Editors of the Christian Guardian from 1829 to 1881:

1829-1832 Egerton Ryerson
1832-1833 James Richardson
1833-1835 Egerton Ryerson
1835-1838 Ephraim Evans
1838-1840 Egerton Ryerson
1840-1844 Jonathan Scott
1844-1846 George F. Playter
1946-1851 George R. Sanderson
1851-1860 James Spencer
1860-1869 Wellington Jeffers, D.D.
1869-1881 E.H. Dewart, D.D.

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Last Updated 12/17/04