Champions of the Antigonish Movement

The Antigonish Movement was a response to the negative effects that modernization and industrialization had on Maritime Canada around the turn of the 19th century. As with any movement for change, its success was not guaranteed and it required effective practical tools as well as individual and organizational support to survive. The Antigonish Movement achieved momentum and persisted because many supporters promoted the ideals and goals of extension work and adult education, lobbied government and foundations, or lent their faithful support and goodwill to the movement over decades. Organizations, such as the Scottish Catholic Society of Canada that predated the Extension Department, provided leadership and a platform to launch ideas and campaign for change. Key religious leaders in the Diocese of Antigonish, such as Bishop James Morrison and his successor, Bishop John R. MacDonald, supported and attended meetings of the Antigonish Forward Movement and the Scottish Catholic Society of Canada, as well as the annual Diocesan conferences, the Educational conferences and the People’s School. They also connected the Movement to the resources of the wider international Roman Catholic world.

Organizations such as the Catholic Women’s League, the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Martha and the Carnegie Corporation of New York responded with financial, personnel and technical aid at critical points when asked by Rev. Dr. Moses Coady and Father Jimmy Tompkins. Governments have also championed the Antigonish Movement for over 80 years. The federal Fisheries Department directly supported the Extension Department at its inception and provincial agricultural representatives and other agencies provided on-the-ground assistance to Extension fieldworkers. More recently, the activities of the Coady International Institute have received substantial support from government bodies such as the Canadian International Development Agency.