05/07/2012 06:08 EDT | Updated 07/07/2012 05:12 EDT

Winnipeg novelist's Bible from 1896 discovered

A Winnipeg church volunteer has stumbled across a Bible from 1896 belonging to Rev. Charles Gordon, a local minister who was also known as bestselling author Ralph Connor.

The large Bible was recently discovered by Steve Lennon, who was sorting books for a sale at First Unitarian Church.

"Lo and behold, it turns out that this is Ralph Connor's pulpit Bible," Lennon told CBC News.

Ralph Connor was the pen name used by Gordon, who was a Presbyterian minister in Winnipeg and a founder of the United Church of Canada.

As Ralph Connor, he was considered the most popular and bestselling author of his time, with adventure novels that detailed the Canadian experience during the early 20th century.

He published more than two dozen novels between 1897 and 1936, as well as a couple of non-fiction works and numerous booklets, pamphlets and short stories.

Novels sold millions of copies

Three of his novels — Black Rock, The Man From Glengarry and Glengarry School Days — sold a combined five million copies, according to the website of Ralph Connor House.

Lennon said the church will give Gordon's pulpit Bible to Ralph Connor House, a historic site in Winnipeg's West Gate that was originally the minister's home.

"It's priceless, really," he said.

"Canada's bestselling author lived here, preached here, was a strong force in this community, so I think this really does connect with Winnipeg's history," he added.

Gordon's grandson, Michael Cox, said he is thrilled with the discovery.

"Incredible for me and for the family to hear about this. It's amazing," Cox said.

The Bible will be one of the few artifacts Ralph Connor House has of the author, according to officials.