Barbara Johnston of Sarnia, Ontario: The First Canadian Pentecostal Missionary to India

Caleb Howard Courtney


In Canada, three early geographic centers of Pentecostal revival emerged within the first decade of the twentieth century, along with its leaders: R. E. McAlister in Ottawa, Ellen Hebden in Toronto, and A. H. Argue and his family in Winnipeg. Ellen Hebden is the first person known to have received Pentecostal baptism in Canada.  We know some detail about these personalities and their work in these cities largely because of the earliest Pentecostal newsletters that have survived until today: The Promise, published in Toronto between 1907 and 1910 by Ellen and James Hebden, The Good Report, published in Ottawa between 1911 and 1912 by Herbert Randall, H. L. Lawler, and R. E. McAlister, and The Apostolic Messenger, published in Winnipeg between 1908 and 1910 by A. H. Argue.  These Canadian newsletters, along with some international newsletters, reported information about the experiences of connected missionaries and evangelistic efforts. Several small Canadian towns and cities are mentioned by name in these newsletters.  The acknowledgement of these little-known communities hints at the establishment of Pentecostalism in less urban centres, each locus having its own story and distinct personalities. As yet, most of these stories remain untold, lost, or forgotten. This biographical portrait of Barbara Johnston of Sarnia, Ontario, is an attempt to reclaim one such story, with a hope that readers might be inspired to recover and retell similar accounts of other early Canadian Pentecostals.


Pentecostalism; Pentecostal History; Pentecostal Missions; Sarnia; Ontario; Canada; Dhond; India; Canadian Missionary

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