The West China Mission

Map of West China Mission. Map of the West China mission from Foster's PhD thesis, pg. 474/475. n.d.

The Canadian Methodist mission began their journey in the province of Szechwan (now known as Sichuan) in West China in 1891 and by 1925 it was the largest mission of the new United Church of Canada. The mission staff was made up of 214 Canadians men and women. There were 10 central stations for the Canadian West China Mission by 1910. Each station executed missionary work in three forms: evangelistic, educational and medical. At these central stations they built hospitals and schools and by 1925 the mission had 8 hospitals, and 10 dispensaries as well as 10 higher primary schools, 2 middle schools, 126 lower primary schools and were largely associated with the West China Union University in Chengtu (now known as Chengdu). As a whole, the mission created a Christian community of about 10000 people.

Lantern slide scan of West China Union University graduating class in 1935. West China Union University - Graduating class of all faculties, 1935.

The West China mission was more focused in larger towns and urban areas and was more institutionally organized, compared to the North Honan mission which took place within the rural areas of Honan. The West China mission focused heavily on education primarily at the university level with West China Union University which was founded in 1914 and allowed women to study there in 1924.

In 1927, many Canadian missionaries were ordered to evacuate Szechwan to escape the uprisings of the Chinese revolution. This evacuation led to a number of staff resignations in the West China mission which led to a decline in Canadian missions work in Szechwan.

Lantern slide scan of main street in Kiating after being bombed. Main street of Kiating after bombing, West China, n.d. 


The West China mission is showcased in 138 slides within the ARC collection, more than any other mission within the John William Foster fonds. The slides reflect images of the various cities and central stations associated with the West China mission, as well as the many accomplishments and events that occurred at West China Union University amongst other things. 

Take a look at this map to see the West China Mission locations and some corresponding lantern slides.