Project Canterbury

The Diocese of British Columbia

From Mission Life, Vol. III (1872), pages 709-712.

Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita, Church of the Province of Melanesia, 2006


THE "San Juan Award" has attracted general attention to this part of the world within the last few weeks, yet how many of the newspaper writers who have had their say on this matter, and how many of their readers, have thought of the toiling handful of clergy who have now for some dozen years been endeavouring to evangelise British Columbia? Truly the Church of England has a special call to make there a full proof of her Apostolic ministry, where the future prospect is full of varied interest, the field extensive, and in many parts untouched by any religious body; where Rome is endeavouring, through the native race and education, to win the an influence of power for her French Missionaries in the heart of British soil; while the Greek Church with friendly overtures is doing her best amongst the native tribes of Aleutia and Alaska directly north, and the Anglican Church of America is offering brotherly sympathy on the south.

Was there ever a time and place in which the Anglican Church was [709/710] more bound, in the face of friends and adversaries, to be true to herself? And then the country! What a variety of resources are here waiting to be speedily developed for the benefit of the world at large, and for the special enrichment of those who shall utilise them! Magnificent harbours, in which the navies of the world may lie in security, and the commerce of China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and America may find a highway; forests of splendid timber; unknown mineral wealth; and for the inhabitants, enough has already been done to prove their capacity for the reception of the truth, and it would seem that it must depend on present efforts whether an ungodly civilisation is to work out its wonted results and extirpate the Aborigines, or the Church, the common mother of both the white and the red man, is to do Her blessed work in this land.

We have before us the last report of the Columbia Mission, and difficult it is to find more interesting reading, or a tale of more hearty work. With the Mission at Metlahkatla, under Mr. Duncan, our readers are, we hope, familiar, as it has received much notice in our pages; we regret to find that the Rev. James Reynard, whose work at Cariboo, almost unique in its kind, has been depicted with much ability in The Net, has been compelled, after a three years' residence in the mountains, to seek a less arduous sphere of work at Nanaimo, and that the pretty church which to the delight of the miners he succeeded in building at Cariboo is now unused.

At Lytton, the centre of the Mission to the Thompson Indians, extending over some 5,000 square miles, the Rev. J. B. Good was made happy by the visit of the Bishop to lay the foundation-log of his new church on St. Luke's Day.

"At 10.50 a body of some two hundred adult Indians, the representatives of the tribe at large, which was scattered about at too great distance from Lytton to allow of any greater assemblage, had collected together in the temporary church. A number of European residents in the town were also in attendance. Our Mission flags were waving in the breeze, and all around seemed to wear a holiday attire. We left the parsonage in due order. The Bishop bore in his hand an ancient stone instrument of rate interest, value, and construction (recently given to me by an old chief who had received it from his ancestors as a kind of heirloom), intending to use it in place of the usual mallet for laying the foundation log. When the time came for employing it, the Bishop explained to the white congregation, and also through me to the Indians, why he cared to use it on such an occasion. It was a prove amongst many of the common origin of the human family, similar instruments having been found not only amongst the Chympseans in the north and the Delawarres in the east--tribes of the great Indian family separated by thousands of miles and by different languages--but also among the New Zealanders."



[712] The ordinary difficulties of Missionary life are exceptionally increased in the diocese by the cost of living. Mr. Good thus describes the sacrifices which a Missionary has to make, unless, like the Roman priests, he determines to go to his work expeditus in the matters of wife and children:--

"In order to have the means needed to send our eldest child to school in Victoria this coming autumn, my wife and I have done ourselves all our out-door and household work, which includes the management of six healthy children, and a considerable piece of land and garden, so that I need not say that our hands have been full of toil, and our hours of recreation few and far between. Perhaps friends at home would scarcely believe, that a boy who undertakes to iron and cook expects to have £3 a month, besides what he eats, wastes, and gives away to his friends; which, all told, will sum up in the course of the year to something not far short of £60, whilst the actual cost of washing represents at least £30; to this one ought to add extra expenditure connected with travel or extraordinary family events; and thus £100 is required to pay for what in England would involve only about a fourth of this expenditure. The same excessive outlay clings to everything connected with family life or requirement in the interior. Thus, it costs much more to get a package from Victoria to Lytton than from England to Victoria. But I am none the less thankful to the personally unknown friends who have sent me such liberal and welcome gifts from England. I have received, amongst other most useful gifts, a chancel carpet for our Indian church; altar linen; two large sets of coloured Scripture prints, which are of immense service; a choice assortment of medicines; a case of surgical instruments, which I constantly carry with me; some popular books and sermons, and a small portable surplice for travel."

On his way to Lytton the Bishop visited the Mission at Hope, some fifty-seven miles to the south; both of these are Missions of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. In the pretty church at Hope, the Bishop baptized sixteen adults, all persons of the rank of chiefs, who had been tested by a long probation as catechumens. Close to this church Mr. Holmes is anxious to erect a native institution.

At the present time the Bishop declares that fifteen more clergymen and eight catechists are absolutely required for the maintenance of the Missions of his diocese. We do not see in the report any notice of the contributions of the colonists for the support of their Church and clergy; of course such are made, but we should be glad to see to what extent, as, if they were on a liberal scale, such a circumstance could not fail to stimulate donors at home.

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