Calvinists in Canada and the Courier

What's in a name?

The history of Christian Courier in Canada is a fascinating story. It began in Alberta in 1945. At that time, early Dutch immigrants to Canada wanted a community newspaper in English. That was possible because these immigrants had come to Canada around the turn of the 19th century and had mastered the English language. The magazine was called Calvinist Contact

After the end of the Second World War, a significant number of new Dutch immigrants settled mostly in Ontario. They felt the need for a Dutch-language publication that would allow them to communicate with other immigrants. So, in 1949, the paper Contact began publishing in Ontario. Two years later it was decided to combine the efforts of Calvinist Contact and Contact to provide the western and eastern readers a common newspaper. The only problem was that this joint effort had to make use mostly of the Dutch language. The publishers had taken over the name Calvinist Contact from the early Dutch settlers in the West, but because of the much larger influx of new immigrants to Ontario, most of their articles appeared in Dutch. Gradually, as recent immigrants got used to their new environment, the use of English articles became more prevalent until Dutch was dropped fully in 1983. 

In 1992, the paper modified its name so that it was now baptized with the name Christian Courier – still CC but not so much contact as runner. The focus changed from being inward-looking to outward news bringer. And it was no longer so important to be known as Calvinist as it was to be known as Christian, along with many other followers of Christ in English-speaking parts of Canada.

This is how we put it at the time: “We chose the name ‘Christian’ because our first allegiance is to Christ. The fact that many other believers call themselves Christians is for us a positive thing. We are not called to be exclusive in our claims to be followers of Christ. We rejoice that God’s grace is wide enough to include even us. We chose the name ‘Courier’ because it represents what we do: we are messengers.” 

  • Bert Witvoet is a former educator and editor of various magazines, including the Christian Courier, who lives with his wife, Alice, in St. Catharines, Ontario.

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