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The Story of James and Ellen Hebden: The First Family of Pentecost in Canada

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When Ellen Hebden received Spirit baptism on November 17, 1906, she was regarded by many as the first known person in Canada to speak in tongues. Her dramatic experience ignited a revival that launched her Toronto mission into the forefront of the emerging Pentecostal movement. Ellen and her husband, James, became prominent Pentecostal pioneers and accomplished numerous groundbreaking achievements. Yet, despite their formative role in the birth of the Canadian Pentecostal movement, the story of the Hebdens has been largely shrouded in mystery. Where did they originate? How did they come to Toronto? What happened to them after the revival had waned? These questions have remained unanswered for nearly one hundred years of Pentecostal history. This article will answer these questions and firmly establish the Hebdens as the first family of Pentecost in Canada.

Affiliations: 1: Tyndale Seminary, Toronto; Master's Pentecostal Seminary, Toronto, Canada


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