Attempts by Scottish, Irish and American churches to organize congregations in the colonies and efforts to found an indigenous Canadian Presbyterian church all failed, but by the early 19th century branches of the Church of Scotland and its smaller "Secessionist" offshoots had been established.
Since 1925, the total of members and adherents (proportionately wealthier and better educated than the national average) remained almost constant at about 800 000 until 1981, and has since decreased to 636 295 members (1991c, latest figures available), making the Presbyterian Church the fourth-largest Protestant denomination in Canada.
Because of the corporate structure of Presbyterianism, individual leadership is not especially evident in church life, but the church has numbered among its members such well-known Canadians as the vocal nationalist G. Grant, principal of Queen's University, 1877-1902; Prime Minister Mackenzie King; novelist Charles W.
In 18 respectively, the Secession and Free churches in the Maritimes and in central Canada formed 2 regional unions.
In 1875 these and the remnants of the C of S combined to form the Presbyterian Church in Canada, which the 1891 census showed to be the Dominion's largest Protestant denomination.
In that same period Canadian Presbyterians, both lay and clergy, actively supported the ideals of the Social Gospel movement in crusades for moral and political purity, Temperance and social justice.