Vanguard of the New Age unearths a largely ignored dimension of Canadian religious history. Gillian McCann tells the story of a diverse group of occultists, temperance leaguers, and suffragettes who attempted to build a Utopian society based on spiritual principles. Members of the Toronto Theosophical Society were among the first in Canada to apply Eastern philosophy to the social justice issues of the period - from poverty and religious division to the changing role of women in society. Among the most radical and culturally creative movements of their time, the Theosophists called for a new social order based on principles of cooperation and creativity. Intrigued by this compelling vision of a new age, luminaries such as members of the Group of Seven, feminist Flora MacDonald Denison, Emily Stowe, and anarchist Emma Goldman were drawn to the society. Meticulously researched and compellingly written, this careful reconstruction preserves Theosophist founder Albert Smythe's dream of a culturally distinct, egalitarian, and religiously pluralist nation.
Gillian McCann is assistant professor in the Religions and Cultures Department at Nipissing University.
"Vanguard of the New Age is an engaging read about the formation of radical social and political circles in turn-of-the-century Toronto, as well as how Anglo-Canadian intellectuals formed international links and engaged in incipient nation building. Kudos to McCann for unearthing a forgotten piece of Canadian history that enlivens our understanding of our country's diverse intellectual foundations." Canada's History