Who was `Abdu'l-Bahá, and why did He come to the West?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

August 30, 1912 Oh, Canada! O Canada!

May Maxwell
Departure from Malden -- arrival in Montreal! 
Mahmud writes: "`Abdu'l-Bahá left today for Montreal. The only servants He took with Him were Mírzá Ahmad Sohrab and myself. Because He had decided to travel to the Western part of America at the pressing invitation of the friends in California, He said, `We have a long distance to go and must therefore leave as soon as possible.' For this reason, He instructed Mírzá Valíyu'lláh Khán-i-Varqá, Áqá Mírzá `Alí-Akbar Nakhjávání, Áqá Sa`íd Asad'u'lláh and Dr Getsinger to remain until His return.
As soon as the friends and a group of Arabs saw `Abdu'l-Bahá at the railway station in Boston, they surrounded Him, their faces beaming with joy and enthusiasm. At 9:00 a.m. the train left Boston and reached Montreal at 8:00 p.m. On the way, a Canadian was privileged to speak with `Abdu'l-Bahá. The Master pointed out to him the straight path of truth, and even though this individual had known nothing about `Abdu'l-Bahá before this encounter, he was attracted to Him. 
William Sutherland Maxwell
When we arrived at the station, we saw Mr [Sutherland] Maxwell hurrying forward to greet the Master. He had two carriages to convey the Master and His companions to his home. [1548 Pine Avenue West, Montreal] There a group of friends and a newspaper publisher [John Lewis, editor of the Montreal Daily Star] were waiting to see the Master. At the table, Mrs [May] Maxwell said, `So many people have telephoned and sent letters about your arrival and I have replied to all. I have become very tired but I consider this fatigue the greatest comfort of my life.' A pastor had telephoned to ask the Master to address his congregation the day after tomorrow. The editor of the newspaper said that he would publish the announcement the next day. When Mrs Maxwell informed `Abdu'l-Bahá of this, He said, `Very well. You were tired, having undergone such trouble today. You must rest for the time being.'"

ah, the Canadian sojourn has begun!  This will shed imperishable glory upon Canada. The visit of nine days will net more amazing publicity than in anywhere else.  Hearts will be stirred. . . . I'm excited about this part of the Master's travels!  And we were just there--shooting footage and presenting at ABS.  This journey cycles back for us--then thrusts us forward--across time and space! 

A note about the history of the Canadian Bahá'í community, from www.ca.bahai.org:

May & William Sutherland Maxwell, c. 1935.
"The Bahá'í Community of Canada dates from 1898 when Edith Magee, a youth from London, Ontario, became the first Canadian member of the Bahá'í Faith. In 1902 the first Bahá'í group was formed by May and William Sutherland Maxwell in Montreal.
William Sutherland Maxwell was a well-known Canadian architect. He designed such Canadian landmarks as the Château Frontenac Tower in Quebec City, the Legislative Assembly Building in Regina, as well as the Museum of Fine Arts, the Church of the Messiah, and many fine residences in Montreal. His wife, May Maxwell, was one of the early Western Bahá'ís when William Sutherland Maxwell met her in Paris in the 1890s.
In 1912, the small band of believers that formed around the Maxwells had the honor of receiving 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the son and appointed successor of the Founder of the Faith, Bahá'u'lláh, during his tour of North America. 'Abdu'l-Bahá's addresses at the Church of the Messiah and St. James Methodist Church, at the Trades Union headquarters on St. Lawrence Street, and at the Maxwell's home on Pine Avenue attracted widespread attention from both the press and the public. His talks touched on subjects of economic justice, world peace, and social cohesion. The Maxwell home where 'Abdu'l-Bahá stayed is today the only Bahá'í Shrine in the western hemisphere."

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