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History General

The Regenerators, 2nd Edition

Social Criticism in Late Victorian English Canada

by (author) Ramsay Cook

introduction by Donald Wright

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
May 2016
General, Protestant, Sociology of Religion, 19th Century
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2016
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jun 2016
    List Price

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A crisis of faith confronted many Canadian Protestants in the late nineteenth century. With their religious beliefs challenged by the new biological sciences and historical criticism of the Bible, they turned from personal salvation to the dire social problems of the industrial age. The Regenerators explores the nature of social criticism in this era and its complex ties to the religious thinking of the day, showing how the path blazed by nineteenth-century religious liberals led not to the Kingdom of God on earth, but, ironically, to the secular city.

The winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction when it was first published in 1985, The Regenerators became an instant classic for its fascinating portraits of evolutionists, rationalists, spiritualists, socialists, and free thinkers before the turn of the century. This new edition features an introduction by historian and biographer Donald Wright.

About the authors

Ramsay Cook is Professor Emeritus in teh Department of History at York University, where he taught for more than twenty-five years. He has published extensively in teh area of Canadian history, and has been a visiting professor at both Harvard and Yale. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and an Officer of the Order of Canada. Since 1989, he has been the General Editor of The Dictionary of Candian Biography.

Ramsay Cook's profile page

Donald Wright is an assistant professor in the Department of History and the Centre for Canadian Studies at Brock University.

Donald Wright's profile page


  • Winner, Governor General's Award for Non-fiction

Editorial Reviews

‘This is a richly documented, elegantly written, and often witty book that is both stimulating and informative.’

Journal of Ecclesiastical History

‘Professor Cook's contribution to Canadian intellectual and social history is not just that he has taken us well along the path of discovery, but also that he has pointed the way for further explorations.’

Histoire sociale / Social History

‘Cook writes with fluent clarity, using telling anecdotes and witty asides to make a difficult subject attractive and comprehensible … The Regenerators is a stimulating book on a major theme. It deserves the honours which it has received …’


‘Cook’s range and his mastery of sources, coupled with a fluid style and invigorating insights, make this book a delight to read.’

Globe and Mail

Other titles by Ramsay Cook

Other titles by Donald Wright