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Montreal, September 5, 2021 - The world of humanity has been revolutionized since this prophecy of Bahá’u’lláh: “From two ranks amongst men power hath been seized: kings and ecclesiastics.” Those powerful individual who ruled over humankind for centuries are no more! In another Tablet addressed to Shaykh Salmán, He said: “One of the signs of the maturity of the world is that no one will accept to bear the weight of kingship. Kingship will remain with none willing to bear alone its weight.” Nevertheless, He confirms in another Tablet that “We do not wish the countries of the world should remain deprived thereof (the kings).” – this latter point has been materialized to some extent! – We had two monarchs who accepted the Faith in the 20th Century; the Queen Mary of Romania and the late King of Samoa Malietoa Tanumafili II.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá originally did not plan to travel to Montreal. It was the devoted and selfless services of May Maxwell in Paris and on the Canadian soil which acted as a strong magnet to draw Him to Montreal. His visit to Montreal constituted the most remarkable episode in the whole of His American tour. To begin with, the newspaper coverage of His visit was particularly noteworthy. From the first evening of His arrival to this city until the last day there were articles published continuously  in Montreal Daily Papers. A study of the articles published shows that they were free of journalistic quirks and extravagancies. The newspapers in Montreal excelled consistency in tone, range and substance far and above all the other newspapers in the United States and some of Europe!

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’ toured the downtown area on the first day of His visit to Montreal accompanied by the well-known architect Sutherland Maxwell. They passed in front of the Church of the Messiah on Sherbrooke street. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’ said to his companions: “tomorrow from this church we will raise the Call of the Kingdom. It was on September first that He gave His first congregational address in that church. He ended His address by revealing a prayer which ends with these words : “… O God! Endear this assembly to Thyself. Sanctify these souls, and cast upon them the rays of Thy guidance. … O Lord! Make us brethren in Thy love, and cause us to be loving toward all Thy children. Confirm us in service to the world of humanity so that we may become the servants of Thy servants, that we may love all Thy creatures and become compassionate to all Thy people. ....”

The subject of the talk was printed in the newspapers and was subject of many days of public conversation! There were constant telephone calls made to Maxwell residence. Everybody wanted to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and a great number of people turned up at Maxwell’s home. The living room, the dining room, the study, the entrance and even the staircase were full of visitors.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke to them every evening and every afternoon, some days He gave three talks! In one occasion so forceful was His speech, so emphatic His movement that His head-cover fell off and He made no attempt to replace it. He went on speaking for another half hour. Then He walked through the thronged assemblage, upstairs to His room. People could not tear themselves away and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá came back and spoke once again. Even then, there were individuals begging to be received by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His room, and He received a good many. He decided that night to move to a hotel. The next day He took a suite of three rooms in Hotel Windsor. Nevertheless, the meetings continued particularly every evening at the Maxwell home. He had also other meetings with prominent people at the Hotel. There were two other important congregational meetings held in Montreal, one in Coronation Hall on September third and the next one on September 5th  at St. James Methodist church. Both events were reported by the Montreal Gazette the next day.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá was not well enough to keep such a heavy schedule and the weather was not particularly pleasant either during His stay in Montreal. He caught cold that same evening of September 5th and that is why the city was fortunate enough to have Him for nine days otherwise He intended to leave by September 6th! He would occasionally, when finding a moment of leisure, go out for a drive or walk.

Once He went all alone and boarded a tram car which took him some way out of the city. Alighting from that one He rode in another which also had an outward route. He then took a taxi, but could not recall the name of the hotel. However He could indicate the right direction to the cabman who brought him to His hotel! Being amused by the incident, He related to His companions the story of a believer in Akká who was riding a donkey and lost his way not knowing where he was. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had told this man that whenever this happens he should cast off the donkey’s halter. The beast finding itself free, had directed its steps to their destination! In the same manner, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said laughingly, He had rightly directed His cabman!

‘Abdu’l-Bahá had no formal schooling, a prisoner for forty years, unfamiliar with Western culture and languages, nevertheless, He had a reasonable knowledge of English but not enough to give public talks. He knew Persian, Arabic and Turkish in perfection. We are fortunate to have published Tablets, Prayers, Talks and correspondences of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in those language.

He left Montreal on September 9th for Buffalo, changed train in Toronto where He took a walk around the station while He was waiting for His train to Hamilton. There a newspaper man photographed Him at the station, the only photograph of His nine days stay in Canada!

When leaving Montreal, the Master gave to May Maxwell the shoes in which He had walked the streets of the city and all over the rooms in the Maxwell home. He also gave the family a Persian silk carpet which is now displayed in the Montreal Shrine, His home, as He had mentioned in a conversation with May Maxwell!

During the nine days of His visit in Montreal, some 2500 people heard ‘Abdu’l-Bahá speak or had direct contact with Him. Some 440,000 readers of Montreal Press, in English and French, also became aware of His Teachings.

References : - US Bahá’í Publishing Trust - Promulgation of the Universal Peace, Page 297

             G. Roland - Baluyzi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá –

            Wilfrid Laurier University Press - Will C. Van den Hoonaard, The Origin of the Bahá’í Community of Canada 1898-1948

            Canada Publishing Trust - ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Canada

            G. Roland - Mahmúd Zarqani, Mahmúd’s Diary

            UK Bahá’í Publishing Trust - Shoghi-Effendi, God Passes By

            UK Bahá’í Publishing Trust - Shoghi-Effendi, The Promised Day is come!

 

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