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Messages to Canada

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • Bahá’í Canada Publications
  • Pages:
  • 276
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Pages 154-160

Letter of 8 June 1952

8 June 1952

To the National Spiritual Assembly

Dear Bahá’í Friends:

Your letters dated October 9, 1951, signed by John A. Robarts, 1 November 28, 1951, February 15, March 17 and April 19, 1952, signed by Laura R. Davis2 and May 15, 1952 signed by Ross Woodman,3 with their various enclosures, have been received, and the beloved Guardian has requested me to answer you on his behalf.

Your Assembly must decide, as the Guardian already told dear Mr. Schopflocher5 when he was here, upon the advisability of maintaining the Laurentian School,6 in an objective spirit. The Guardian can only outline to you the principle, which is that Bahá’í funds should not be invested in building up a place that has dear associations for a number of the friends, but is not going to really serve a large group of the believers. We are all familiar with the tremendous sums that have gone into the upkeep of Green Acre over the years, without so far bringing returns commensurate with the investment of our limited Bahá’í monies. However Green Acre, through its close association with the Master, undoubtedly has historic importance, and for this reason cannot be abandoned.

He would be very happy to have the National Assembly maintain the grave of dear Sutherland Maxwell.7 His association, not only with Canada and the inception of the Faith there, but with the World Centre and the Shrine of the Báb, naturally endears him to all the friends, and his grave should be a national memorial. When the time comes to erect the tomb-stone, the question of receiving contributions from your Body can be considered.

He feels that the Canadian Community, old in the Northern Hemisphere, but young in its independence, is showing great promise, and he is proud of it and of the spirit that animates both its National Assembly and its members. He also feels confident it will distinguish itself, not only during the coming year, but during the next ten years before our Most Great Jubilee falls due in 1963.

With warm Bahá’í love,

R. Rabbani

P.S.—Regarding your question concerning St. John’s, Newfoundland and the believers living outside the town limits: no exception to the general rule can be made in this case.

[From the Guardian:]

Dear and valued co-workers:

The Plan, with which the immediate destinies of the valiant, newly emerged, independent, highly promising Canadian Bahá’í Community are linked is, as it approaches its closing stage, passing through a very critical period in its unfoldment. Proclaiming as it does the formal association of the second Bahá’í community to attain an independent status in the Western Hemisphere with its sister communities who, in various parts of the Bahá’í world, are prosecuting specific Plans designed to foster their organic development, signalizing the alignment of this community as the sole ally of the Chief Executors of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Master Plan, this collective fate-laden enterprise upon which this youthful and virile member of the World Bahá’í Family has so whole-heartedly and enthusiastically launched—an enterprise on the successful consummation of which the effective initiation of its glorious mission, far beyond the borders of the Dominion of Canada, must ultimately depend—such an enterprise, however vast the field in which it operates, and no matter how circumscribed the resources of the small band of stalwart pioneers engaged in its prosecution—must, under no circumstances, be allowed to register a failure.

In Newfoundland, in Greenland, among the Eskimos and Indians, through the incorporation of its National Assembly, the immediate objectives have been practically attained. The attention of the entire community must, in the remaining months ahead, be focused on the dire necessity of multiplying, at whatever cost, the number of pioneers, the rapid formation of groups, and the conversion of groups into Assemblies, so that the complete and total success of the Plan may be assured, and a triumphant community may step forward, confident and unencumbered by any liabilities, into a vast arena of service, prosecute a still more glorious mission, and win still mightier victories.

While the energy of this community is being expended on the conduct of this fateful undertaking, marking the baptism of this community, a collateral effort must, owing to unforeseen circumstances, be exerted for the establishment of an institution which, though not an integral part of the Plan formulated for that community, is nonetheless regarded as indispensable owing to its emergence into an independent existence, and the necessity of its following the lead of its sister-communities in East and West, which have, at various stages in their development, adopted this vital measure for the consolidation of their national institutions and the raising of the prestige of the Faith in their respective countries. The selection of the city to serve as the seat of the national Hazíratu’l-Quds in the Dominion of Canada; the purchase of either a plot to serve as a site for the construction of this Edifice, or, preferably, of a building to serve as a provisional national administrative headquarters for a rising, steadily expanding community; the association of all other National Assemblies throughout the Bahá’í world in contributing towards this highly meritorious enterprise; my own association with The Bahá’ís the world over in providing for the early emergence of such a Centre towards which the manifold activities initiated throughout the length and breadth of a vast Dominion must converge, and from which the impulses generated by a rapidly evolving, divinely appointed Administrative Order must radiate—these constitute the imperative needs of the present hour. The consummation of this added undertaking, the prompt discharge of this additional responsibility will, no doubt, constitute a befitting contribution by one of the youngest national communities in the Bahá’í world to the world-wide celebrations that are to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh’s Mission, and which will parallel the termination of the fifty-year-old enterprise of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of the West and its official opening for public Bahá’í worship.

In conjunction with the various National Administrative Headquarters purchased or constructed, in the course of the last three decades, in five continents of the globe, and for the most part in the capital cities of several countries in the Eastern Hemisphere, this latest Edifice in the chain of Bahá’í national institutions linking five continents will, no doubt, serve to enhance the growing prestige of a world-wide Faith and consolidate the foundations of its administrative Structure. From far-off Sydney, on the shores of the South Pacific Ocean, and successively through New Delhi in the heart of the Indian subcontinent, Tihran, the capital of Bahá’u’lláh’s native land, Baghdad, the Iraqi capital enshrining His most holy House, Cairo, the Egyptian capital, the admitted centre of both the Arab and Muslim worlds, the city of Frankfurt in the heart of both Germany and of the European continent, and as far as the heart of the North American continent and in the neighborhood of the first Bahá’í centre established in the Western Hemisphere, this chain of Bahá’í bastions of a world-encircling Order, must be further extended through an additional link to be forged in the northern part of the Western Hemisphere, and its subsequent prolongation into Latin America as far as the Republics of South America.

One more word in conclusion. The passing, at this juncture, of one who, through a long career of distinguished service to the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, not only since the birth of this community but in more recent years in the heart and centre of the Bahá’í world, has left an indelible mark on the annals of the Faith, has evoked not only the deepest sorrow but the utmost regret at a time when this community is beginning to reap at long last the first fruits of its stewardship to the Cause of God, and the whole Bahá’í world is on the eve of celebrating one of its greatest Jubilees. By reason of his own saintly life, his self-effacement, gentleness, loving kindness and nobility of soul; by virtue of his remarkable endowments which he so devotedly consecrated to both the embellishment of the slopes of God’s holy mountain and the creation of a befitting design for the second most holy Bahá’í Edifice embosomed in its very heart; and because of his kinship, on the one hand, with a wife8 whom posterity will regard, not only as the mother both of the Canadian Bahá’í Community and of the first Bahá’í centre established on the European continent but also as one of the foremost pioneers and martyrs of the Faith, and, on the other with a daughter,9 whose unfailing support to me as my helpmate, in the darkest days of my life, has earned her the title already conferred on her father—Sutherland Maxwell10 has left a legacy, and achieved a position excelled by only a few among the supporters of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh throughout the eleven decades of its existence.

Inspired by the example and the accomplishments of those of its members who have distinguished themselves in the Holy Land, on the European continent and in both the northern and southern continents of the Western Hemisphere, this community must forge on, with added determination, with increasing dedication, with thanksgiving and redoubled zeal, on the road leading it to a still more glorious destiny in the years immediately ahead. That it may press forward, conquer still greater heights, plumb greater depths of consecration, spread wider and wider the fame of the Cause of God is the cherished desire of my heart and the object of my constant supplication.


1.John and Audrey Robarts—John was a member of the National Spiritual Assembly from 1948–53. In 1953 they became Knights of Bahá’u’lláh when they pioneered to Bechuanaland. In 1957 John Robarts was appointed a Hand of the Cause of God. He passed away in Rawdon, Quebec in 1991. See The Bahá’í World Vol. XX, In Memoriam.  [ Back To Reference]
2.Laura Davis—Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada, 1948–54, passed away 1990.  [ Back To Reference]
3.Ross Woodman—member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada, 1948–51, 1952–53.  [ Back To Reference]
4.Dr. Ali Kuli Khan—a Persian believer who lived in the United States and, amongst many other services, translated the Bahá’í Writings into English. More details may be found in The Bahá’í World Vol. XIV, 351–353, In Memoriam.  [ Back To Reference]
5.Siegfried Schopflocher—known as the “Temple Builder” because of his great contributions to the completion of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of the West, appointed a Hand of the Cause of God in 1952, died in Montreal in 1953. For a review of his “numerous, magnificent services” see The Bahá’í World Vol. XII, 664–666, In Memoriam.  [ Back To Reference]
6.Laurentian Bahá’í School, near Beaulac, Quebec—founded 1946, transferred in 1949 to the National Spiritual Assembly, the first national endowment.  [ Back To Reference]
7.William Sutherland Maxwell—architect of the Shrine of the Báb, appointed a Hand of the Cause of God in 1951, died in Montreal in 1952. His “saintly life” is described in The Bahá’í World Vol. XII, 657–662, In Memoriam.  [ Back To Reference]
8.May Ellis Maxwell—spiritual mother of the Canadian Bahá’í community, became a believer in 1898, visited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Haifa in 1899 and returned to Paris to found the first Bahá’í centre on the European continent, married Sutherland Maxwell and settled in Montreal in 1902, achieved “the priceless honour” of a “martyr’s death” in Argentina in 1940. For a review of the vast range of her contributions to the Faith in Europe and America, see The Bahá’í World Vol. VIII, 631–642, In Memoriam.  [ Back To Reference]
9.Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum Rabbani (Mary Maxwell)—daughter of May and Sutherland Maxwell, became the wife of Shoghi Effendi in 1937, appointed a Hand of the Cause of God in 1952.  [ Back To Reference]
10.William Sutherland Maxwell—architect of the Shrine of the Báb, appointed a Hand of the Cause of God in 1951, died in Montreal in 1952. His “saintly life” is described in The Bahá’í World Vol. XII, 657–662, In Memoriam.  [ Back To Reference]