The Presbyterian Church in Canada & Residential Schools: A Narrative History

The Presbyterian Church in Canada & Residential Schools: A Narrative History

This web-exhibit contains content that may be triggering for some researchers. If you are a Residential School Survivor in need of support, please contact the 24-Hour National Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419.


During the 19th and 20th centuries, partnerships between the Canadian federal government and Canadian religious institutions facilitated the operation of a network of Residential Schools for the education of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. These schools were intended to prepare Indigenous children for life in Canadian settler society through academic, vocational, and religious training. Despite (or perhaps because of) this goal, a climate of abuse, failed assimilation, and trauma was often fostered across Residential Schools. In response, students and Survivors of these schools exhibited, and continue to exhibit, resistance and resilience.

The Presbyterian Church in Canada was involved in the Residential School initiative and ran 11 Residential Schools in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Ontario. Following Church Union in 1925, The Presbyterian Church in Canada retained responsibility for two schools: Birtle Residential School in Birtle, Manitoba and Cecilia Jeffrey Residential School, first located in Shoal Lake, Ontario and relocated to Kenora, Ontario. Responsibility for all other schools formerly held by The Presbyterian Church in Canada was transferred to the newly formed United Church of Canada.

Exhibit Topics

Young Canada Works

This Project has been made possible [in part] by the Government of Canada through the Young Canada Works and Heritage Organizations Program. « Ce projet a été rendu possible [en partie] grâce au gouvernement du Canada par de Jeunesse Canada au travail et le Programme des organismes patrimoniaux». This exhibit was created by the Archives summer intern, Victoria McAuley.


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