‘Abdu’l-Bahá Arrives in Montreal 1
MAY MAXWELL’S TWO-YEAR-OLD daughter, Mary, was fast asleep when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá disembarked from his train at Windsor Station in downtown Montreal, Quebec, at about 8:40 p.m. on Friday, August 30, 1912. He and two secretaries were met by May’s husband, architect William Sutherland Maxwell, and taken by carriage to the door of their home at 716 Pine Avenue West. The neighbors were wide awake though, and under the full summer moon caught glimpses of the figure in flowing robes from their windows. That night, after a fire was lit to warm ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, he asked after Mary, but on hearing that she was asleep, declined to wake her. He would sleep just two doors down the hallway from her room, on the second floor, up the winding staircase and at the end of the hall. Before the close of that first evening, he would say of the Maxwell house: “This is my home.”
Abdu’l-Bahá left Malden and caught a train in Boston at 9:00 A.M. on Friday, August 30, for Montreal, Canada, arriving there at midnight. He was met at the station by William Sutherland Maxwell. Reporters and friends packed the Maxwells’ house waiting for Him, and Mrs. Maxwell said that invitations and inquiries had be pouring in all day.
He remained in Montreal for ten days, living at the Maxwells’, and, then, despite their entreaties, moving into the Hotel Windsor. The friends and inquirers flocked around Him throughout His stay. He spoke at meeting after meeting at the Maxwell home, and among other places, at the Unitarian Church, at the St. James Methodist Church, and at the Socialist Club.
29 August 1912, Talk at Home of Madame Morey, 34 Hillside Avenue, Malden, Massachusetts 3
We must not be content with simply following a certain course because we find our fathers pursued that course. It is the duty of everyone to investigate reality, and investigation of reality by another will not do for us. If all in the world were rich and one man poor, of what use are these riches to that man? If all the world be virtuous and a man steeped in vice, what good results are forthcoming from him? If all the world be resplendent and a man blind, where are his benefits? If all the world be in plenty and a man hungry, what sustenance does he derive? Therefore, every man must be an investigator for himself. Ideas and beliefs left by his fathers and ancestors as a heritage will not suffice, for adherence to these are but imitations, and imitations have ever been a cause of disappointment and misguidance. Be investigators of reality that you may attain the verity of truth and life.
Friday, August 30, 1912 4
‘Abdu’l-Bahá left today for Montreal. The only servants He took with Him were Mírzá Ahmad Sohrab and myself. Because He had decided to travel to the Western part of America at the pressing invitation of the friends in California, He said, ‘We have a long distance to go and must therefore leave as soon as possible.’ For this reason, He instructed Mírzá Valíyu’lláh Khán-i-Varqá, Áqá Mírzá ‘Alí-Akbar Nakhjávání, Áqá Sa’íd Asad’u’lláh and Dr Getsinger to remain until His return.
As soon as the friends and a group of Arabs saw ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at the railway station in Boston, they surrounded Him, their faces beaming with joy and enthusiasm. At 9:00 a.m. the train left Boston and reached Montreal at 8:00 p.m. On the way, a Canadian was privileged to speak with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The Master pointed out to him the straight path of truth, and even though this individual had known nothing about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá before this encounter, he was attracted to Him.
When we arrived at the station, we saw Mr [Sutherland] Maxwell hurrying forward to greet the Master. He had two carriages to convey the Master and His companions to his home. There a group of friends and a newspaper publisher were waiting to see the Master. At the table, Mrs [May] Maxwell said, ‘So many people have telephoned and sent letters about your arrival and I have replied to all. I have become very tired but I consider this fatigue the greatest comfort of my life.’ A pastor had telephoned to ask the Master to address his congregation the day after tomorrow. The editor of the newspaper said that he would publish the announcement the next day. When Mrs Maxwell informed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá of this, He said, ‘Very well. You were tired, having undergone such trouble today. You must rest for the time being.’
’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny
Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America
Curated by Anne Perry
- Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Arrives in Montreal.” 239 Days in America, 30 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/30/abdul-baha-arrives-in-montreal/. ↩
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 132-133. ↩
- ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 294. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/20#784101129 ↩
- ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=6#section159 ↩