(1835–1902). Born in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Grant became minister at St Matthew's Presbyterian Church in Halifax. In 1872, joining Sandford Fleming's CPR survey expedition, he travelled across Canada and gained a deep appreciation of the potential of the new Canadian nation, especially the West. His observations and adventures were published as Ocean to Ocean(1873). He was a firm Canadian nationalist and a fierce opponent of annexation to the United States; rather, he felt, Canada's destiny rested with its connections within the British Empire. In 1877, Grant was appointed principal of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. He led successful endowment campaigns, promoted the rise of the sciences, fostered the mining and medical schools, and protected the university's autonomy. In the controversies surrounding higher criticism, he argued that Christianity could withstand the challenges of doubt and reform. Critical inquiry led to a clearer understanding of Scripture. He rejected narrow dogmatism and schismatic denominationalism and supported church unions, anticipating a national church. A harbinger of racial and religious tolerance, Grant eschewed the politics of Protestant-Catholic antipathy and refused to get involved in popular Protestant crusades like temperance. He also opposed efforts to exclude Chinese immigration. His progressive outlook was expressed in Religions of the World in Relation to Christianity(1894), in which he pointed out that non-Christian religions had much to offer Christianity.
From The Oxford Companion to Canadian History in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: History of the Americas.