In 1925, Maple Leaf Gardens did not exist and the Toronto team in the National Hockey League played its games in the Arena. The team was called the “St. Pats” and it had some great players.
No group of hockey players ever worked harder than the 800 people who gathered in the Arena on June 10, 1925. They were representatives of the newly organized United Church of Canada, and some of them had worked for this occasion since 1904.
Methodists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists in Canada saw no reason why differences in doctrine in Scotland, England and the States should apply to them. Negotiations to unite began in 1904, and years were spent in planning the structure for union.
Sentiment generally favoured union but a minority of members of the Presbyterian Church were opposed. The conflict between them was quite sharp and both sides were conducting a propaganda campaign for and against, until 1917, when they agreed to stop until the end of the war.
In 1921, the debate was resumed, but the non-union Presbyterians were more opposed than ever. On the other hand, more than 1,000 congregations had united in one organization on the prairies. If church union had not taken place they would have been forced to return to their isolated groups.
In 1924, the Parliament of Canada passed the United Church of Canada Act and the provincial legislatures passed similar bills. When the first service took place in Toronto on June 10, 1925, all the Methodists, practically all the Congregationalists and two-thirds of the Presbyterians were represented.
The United Church had a difficult time during the depression years from 1930 to 1940. Minimum salaries of some of its ministers fell to $1,200 or lower.
During those tragic years, church members across Canada sent 1,000 carloads of fruit and vegetables, and 25,000 bundles of clothing to destitute families in Saskatchewan, the hardest hit province of all.
Since the union in 1924, the United Church of Canada today counts nearly more than 3 million members.