July 12, 2017

The Simple Faith of Sir Leonard Tilley - guest post by Violet Nesdoly

Sir Leonard Tilley still had the previous day’s meeting on his mind when he picked up his Bible one morning in1866 to read his customary chapter. The Confederation fathers’ discussions about what to call the new union of territories they were forming had gone no where. The question of what to call this new country laid heavy on his mind.

His Bible reading that day took him to Psalm 72. Verse eight snagged his attention: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth” - Psalm 72:8 KJV. 

One word jumped out at him. “Dominion.” What a splendid name to give Canada!

When he made that suggestion at the meeting that day, the others agreed. And that’s how our country came to be called the Dominion of Canada.

However, the presence of that Scripture passage in our Canadian heritage doesn’t stop there. In 1921 the architect of Ottawa’s Peace Tower, John A. Pearson, commissioned the words “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea” be engraved over the East window (along with engravings of Psalm 72:1 and Proverbs 29:18 over the South and West windows). 

As well, Canada’s coat of arms includes the Latin words: “A MARI USQUE AD MARE.” This  is a phrase that comes from the Latin Vulgate translation of Psalm 72:8. 

Sir Tilley’s story speaks to us of how God’s word can impact our lives. I love how this founding father of Canada retained his simple faith. It included reading the Bible every day and paying attention to what it said to the extent of applying its words and ideas to the problems and challenges of his life. 

I love too how the Scripture he claimed for Canada that day is now part of our story, engraved on one of our most iconic buildings, and woven into our very identity on the Coat of Arms. 

Let’s similarly read the Bible regularly, and then take God’s words with us into our daily lives. Let’s look to them for answers to everyday challenges. Who knows the effect they will have as they ripple through our lives and through us to our families, neighbourhoods, cities, provinces, country, even the world!  

Bio: Violet Nesdoly lives in Langley, B.C. She blogs daily devotions at Other Food Daily Devos, and shares book reviews and a weekly article about Bible art journaling at VioletNesdoly.com.


Canada: Portraits of Faith - Michael D. Clarke, Reel-to-Reel Ministries, 1998, p. 61. 

Samuel Leonard Tilley - wikipedia

“Canada’s Parliament Buildings Remind Us of God” by Douglas Cryer

“Ad Mari Usque Ad Mare” - Nathan Betts on Canada 150 (RZIM regional Canadian blog)


  1. Thanks for this wonderfully informative post Violet. We have so many great stories to share, don;t we?

  2. Thanks for this moment of Canadian history and the insight it gives to us 150 years later.

  3. A lovely reminder of our country's faith history. Thanks so much, Violet.

  4. Such an inspiring story of Canada's beginning. Thank you for sharing!


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