Canadian Origins

Nancy Campbell (1906 – 1980)

Nancy Campbell was born in England in 1906. As a child, she immigrated to Canada with her parents. She grew up in Hamilton, Ontario, and lived most of her life in that area. A woman of remarkably diverse talents, she was an accomplished dancer, artist, pianist and actress. Her first love, however, was dance, and she became well known and respected as a teacher of ballet. Her intellectual pursuits included study of various arts and religions. She was particularly interested in international and interracial affairs.

In 1938, while studying at the Three Arts Club in New York City, Campbell met a woman who told her about the Bahá’í Faith. She was immediately interested and subsequently attended “firesides” — informal presentations of the Bahá’í Faith — at the home of Saffa and Carrie Kinney, members of the New York City Bahá’í community. Upon returning to Canada, she sought out Canadian Bahá’ís and then joined the Faith in 1941. In 1942, Campbell helped form Hamilton’s first Local Spiritual Assembly.

In 1958, she moved to Dundas, Ontario. She was a well-known figure in the artistic and intellectual life of her community, and she was active in many organizations devoted to the public good. In particular, her services to the Hamilton branch of the United Nations Association of Canada garnered wide commendation, and in 1978 she received an award for “Meritorious Service” from that association. The citation referred to the fact that “For many years, racial harmony and internationalism have been dominant characteristics in her relations with people — Miss Campbell found a deep spiritual significance for her art and world-embracing concerns over forty years ago when she discovered the Bahá’í Faith.”

Over the years, Campbell became renowned as a Bahá’í teacher. She talked about the Faith at public meetings, at summer schools and at numerous firesides. She visited aboriginal reserves in Canada and also shared the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith in Europe.

Nancy Campbell passed away at the age of 75, on 20 January 1980.

Early Canadian Bahá’ís

The Bahá’í community has a rich history of members who have contributed greatly to their society as well as to the early development of the Bahá’í community in Canada and the world.