O Canada: 5 Memorable Canadian Billy Graham Crusades

As our neighbors to the north celebrate Canada Day this weekend (July 1), we wanted to look back at some memorable highlights of Billy Graham’s ministry in Canada through the years. Billy Graham preached 13 Crusades in Canada, with countless more events taking place with associate evangelists. Today, Franklin Graham and Will Graham continue to spread the Gospel across Canada. Here’s a look at some memorable Billy Graham Crusades that have taken place in Canada.

Toronto, Sept. 18 – Oct. 16, 1955

Billy Graham’s first Canadian Crusade, held in Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens, drew 356,000 people over the course of the meetings. Thousands made decisions for Christ during the month-long campaign. During this Crusade, legendary Crusade soloist George Beverly Shea – a Canada native – performed what would later become a signature song, “How Great Thou Art,” for the first time. Both Shea, and “How Great Thou Art,” were staples at Billy Graham Crusades in the 50 years that followed.

Toronto, 1955

Toronto, June 11-18, 1978

In the month leading up to the event, Charette Barta Kvernstoen wrote in Decision magazine:

Toronto is not the same city it was 23 years ago when Billy Graham first held a Crusade there. Since 1955 Toronto has doubled in size and today has a population of more than four million people in the metropolitan area. The Italian population alone numbers more than 425,000 in Toronto…The Crusade comes to a cosmopolitan city, a city proud of its heritage, a city based on being a cultural mosaic rather than a melting pot. That mosaic is formed as people maintain their individual ethnic identities. As one man put it, “Billy Graham doesn’t have to go to Italy to reach an Italian population. He can do it here in Toronto.”

During the week-long Crusade, 209,000 people attended, with more than 9,000 making a commitment to Christ.

Toronto, 1978

Calgary, Aug. 23-30, 1981

As Alberta’s Premier, the Honorable Peter Lougheed, welcomed Billy Graham to southern Alberta, he said to the people, “Your presence in such numbers is evidence of your great respect for Billy Graham and for his message. It is a message of hope which he has brought to people all over the world – a message challenging us to a personal and life-changing faith. It is our searching for this faith that has brought us together. We are experiencing difficult times in our nation. I hope we can include in our thoughts the awakening asked of us by Billy Graham.”

Commenting on the need for the Crusade, The Calgary Sun newspaper editorialized, “The evangelist isn’t selling anything except belief and hope. People who don’t accept what Graham is teaching will at least think about his moral and ethical approach to life. Our city is experiencing a surge in marriage breakups, suicides and crime. Graham may have come at just the right time.”

The Crusade drew 164,000 people to McMahon Stadium; more than 7,000 left the Crusade with new lives in Christ.

Calgary, 1981

Vancouver, Oct. 14-21

During the week-long Crusade, Billy Graham preached a sermon entitled “Peace and Security.”

“You’re not just a body or a mind. God created you with a spiritual nature also. And, that’s one reason why I believe that the only real source of lasting personal security is God Himself. Only in Him do we find out who we are, why we are here and where we are going. As a person comes to know God in a real and personal way, he becomes truly secure. Personal security includes a sense of inner peace, peace with God, peace with oneself, peace with our fellow men.”

That week, more than 229,000 attended; more than 10,000 found peace, committing their lives to Christ.

Vancouver, 1984

Toronto, June 7-11, 1995

Roger Palms writes of the Crusade in the September 1995 issue of Decision magazine:

People in southern Ontario saw firsthand the powerful evidence of the sovereignty of God. They saw it Wednesday, June 7, at the beginning of Mission Ontario with Billy Graham, and they saw God work right through to the concluding meeting on Sunday. They saw what God did in answer to the faithful prayers of believers.

The Crusade, which drew 261,500 over the course of five days, broke SkyDome records. With Toronto being one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, each night’s message was translated into 16 languages at a time.

Toronto, 1995

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  1. Ray Gooch. says:

    So wonderful Billy,
    I too was saved under your Ministry back in your 1959 Crusade here in New Zealand.
    The Lord has been so gracious to me over the years..you are surely a the Gospel Preacher of the Century..how our Lord has used you to bring thousands to Christ.
    I salute you dear brother.
    God bless you abundantly in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    Ray Gooch. Hamilton . NZ.

  2. Michael Ofre says:


  3. Tshidi says:

    Praise the Lord

  4. Joanne Illsley says:

    My daughter at age 3 raised her hand to receive Christ in Toronto (1995).
    She is now almost 24 years of age. Walks with the Lord. Knows Him, Seeks Him and Loves Him.
    Praise God because of the blood of our Savior Jesus Christ and the Truth preached by Billy Graham –
    she is saved for all eternity and as her mom, I will see and be with her eternally in Heaven with Jesus!!!
    What could be better than this. All else pales in comparison. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Dr. Graham.
    Well done good and faithful servant of God.

  5. Cheryl Cavanaugh says:

    I was there at the crusade in Vancouver 1984. I am so grateful to Billy Graham and his model life that we can look to. At the time I was 21 years old and felt his presence all through my life. We need people to stand up for young people like this now. Thank you.

  6. Tessie Villalba Gania says:

    I was here in 1995! What a blessing! Thank You Lord Jesus! Your Name is great!

  7. Pamela Watson says:

    Billy Graham was my inspiration and a true Man of God whose message of love, the gospel of Jesus Christ reach people all over the world and have changed their lives. I was a volunteer who participated in his choir here in Toronto in 1995. Oh, what a joy that was for me, at the end of that crusade, I walked down towards the center of the stadium and saw my hero, Billy Graham close up and had the privilege of praying with people across the stadium. Well done Billy Graham, thou good and faithful servant. Thank God for what the Holy Sprit have done through you thank you and God bless.

  8. April McGeown says:

    I was at the 1995 crusade in Toronto and remember the electricity in the air to see God heal Billy and bring him out to the Youth night with Michael W. Smith. I will never forget the crowd breaking out in a spontaneous wave all around the stadium, to welcome Billy to our city. I would so love to have a copy of that night’s music and sermon. If there is one available, please let me know. I am 65 this year and would love to share it with my 3 teenage granddaughters. Thankyou and God Bless the Graham family for sharing their father with us all these years. April (Born April 1st/53)

    1. bglibrary says:

      Hi April,
      You can hear Billy’s sermons from Toronto in 1995 by visiting our Audio Archives: https://billygraham.org/audio-cat/sermons/?s=toronto

  9. Michael Woodhead says:

    I attended the Billy Graham Crusade at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1955. Although I didn’t really understand what was going on (I was 8 years old), I did enjoy the music and the ‘theatricality’ of it all. I eventually accepted Christ in 1973.

  10. Helena Cabral says:

    My family and I accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour In Toronto(1995)
    God is good and Dr. Billy Graham was an exceptional preacher. Thank you Jesus for giving us life abundantly. Praise God.

  11. Christie says:

    I was 5 at the ’95 crusade in Toronto… I remember 2 things. Psalty the talking Psalm book and giving my heart to Jesus on the stadium floor. Never looked back since. To all those involved from Billy Graham (may he rest in peace) to the man behind the blue costume, thanks for all that you do. God has used you all to bless my life. I’m in ministry currently and doing my best to spread the message of God’s love.

  12. Diane Reid says:

    I became a believer at the 19778 Toronto Crusade.

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