Rev. Dr. Charles William Gordon, or Ralph Connor, (born September 13, 1860; died October 31, 1937) was a Canadian novelist, using the Connor name while maintaining his status as a Church-leader in both the Presbyterian and the United churches.
Gordon was born in Glengarry County, Ontario, the son of Rev. Daniel Gordon (1822–1910), a Free Church of Scotland Missionary in Upper Canada, and Mary Robertson Gordon (d. 1890). He later moved with his family from Glengarry to Harrington, Oxford County, Ontario, and like many other young men in the area, came to Toronto to study at University of Toronto, then at Knox College, graduating with distinction in 1886.
Following a trip to Scotland and Europe with a brother and two Knox College classmates that included a term of study in Edinburgh, he became an ordained home missionary in Alberta; which was still part of the Northwest Territories; he served a large area west of Calgary, that today includes the municipalities of Banff and Canmore, in the late 1880's. The congeregation in Canmore is now called Ralph Connor Memorial United Church.
He moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1891, where he spent almost 40 years as minister of St. Stephen's Presbyterian/United Church, which was a new congregation when he arrived.
He was Moderator of the 1921 Presbyterian General Assembly, and was one of the strong advocates for Union of the Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational Churches in Canada.
In June 1925, he was on the podium during the final benediction of the Presbyterian Church General Assembly at Toronto's College Street Church, and encouraged the organist to play Handel's Hallelujah Chorus as loud as he could, in order to drown out the protests of the Continuing Presbyterians, who had met in the front corner to vote on resuming nearby later that evening.
He became interested in writing from his student days at University of Toronto, and published his first novel, Black Rock, in 1898. While his first novel was moderately successful in his native country, his second work, The Sky Pilot, gained him international attention in 1899. Most of Connor's works were frontier adventures with strong themes of morality and justice. He continued to write until his death in 1937. His Autobiography, Postscript to Adventure, the autobiography of Ralph Connor was published posthumously, in 1938.
Gordon United Church, founded in 1956 in Victoria, British Columbia, was named in his honour.
In 1972, the National Library of Canada released; The Works of Ralph Connor (pseudonym of Charles William Gordon), listing some 43 titles, as well as three books in which he wrote the introductory forewords. They are:
- The angel and the star. Toronto, Revell, 1908. 63p.
- The arm of gold. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1932. 314p.
- Beyond the marshes. Toronto, Westminster, 1898. 36p.
- Black Rock, a tale of the Selkirks. Toronto, Westminster, 1898. 327 p.
- Breaking the record. New York, Revell, 1904. 31p.
There are 38 more....
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