History of SCA International

“If you have the zeal of a Billy Graham, the toughness of a Green Beret, the desire to lead an outdoor life in some of the most rugged terrain in Canada and, in the time of inflation, can live on about $35. a week and expenses, then consider joining the Shantymen.” Excerpt from Toronto Star, 1970's


SCA Founder, William Henderson, with a vision to see every person in this land reached for Christ, traveled on foot, and later with a large sleigh, into the wilderness of the Canadian north, his backpack heavy with tracts and Christian literature. Later, other equally committed men like Oswald J. Smith (founder of People’s Church in Toronto, ON) joined him in ministry. They visited and set up their Bible studies in the lumber camps where the “jacks” lived in “shanties”. Whenever one of these men of God came near the camp, the workers would call to each other, “Here comes the Shantyman” and the name stuck.

Henderson, wanting to reach the men before they got into the bars, used his sleigh as a sandwich and coffee stand. He would set up across from the local saloons where on paydays, he enticed the men to solid food rather than the alcohol that was robbing their families living further south of sufficient means for livelihood. Many men, and their families, were introduced to the truth of the gospel by these early itinerant preachers of the gospel.

Today, a full century later, the ministry that was formerly Shantymen’s Christian Association, continues as a non-denominational Christian ministry working for the kingdom as SCA International.


“In the early days it wasn’t unusual for men to walk 50 kilometres to reach a camp in temperatures of minus 50° C. They walked along the railway line carrying their blankets, food and Bibles in backpacks. When they arrived at a camp, they handed out free literature and a Bible.” Excerpt from Men With the Heart of a Viking, by Douglas Percy.