Project Canterbury

Leaders of the Canadian Church
Edited by Canon Bertal Heeney

volume two
Toronto: Musson, 1920. 299 pp.

by The Ven. Archdeacon Faries
Missionary at York Factory, Hudson's Bay

The Ven. Archdeacon Faries was born at Moose, and as a boy knew Bishop Harden and sat at his feet for instruction. Hence his memories of the great man have all the vividness of early impressions. The Archdeacon is now in charge of the work so deeply and so extensively founded by his great teacher.--ED.

AS soon as it was known in James' Bay that Bishop Anderson had taken up his residence in the Red River Settlement, a petition from the officers and employees of the Hudson's Bay Company was sent to the Bishop, requesting that "a missionary be sent to them to educate their children and to preach the Gospel to the natives." The Bishop immediately wrote to the Church Missionary Society, asking that a layman be sent as schoolmaster, and a clergyman for the spiritual welfare of the people in James' Bay. The Society replied that "a lay missionary would be sent out this year and the clergyman would follow next year."

The lay missionary proved to be most efficient for the special work in Hudson's Bay, and one of the most honoured in the whole list of the Society's missionaries.

This man was John Horden, a young schoolmaster at Exeter. He was born in the cathedral city of Exeter in the year 1828, and had received a primary education in St. John's School of that city. While quite a boy he was apprenticed to the blacksmith's trade, as a preparation for the struggle for existence. Possessed of an ambitious spirit and a studious nature he made use of his spare moments by improving his education. Attending night schools, and patient plodding over his studies by the side of the anvil at odd moments, helped him to obtain the qualifications for a teacher, so that he was able to leave the forge for the schoolroom.

As a schoolmaster he had better opportunities of applying himself to higher branches of study, and in the course of time he could read in Latin and in Greek. He was an interested member of St. Thomas' (Exeter) congregation, and a regular attendant at the Vicar's Bible class, where young men received missionary information as well as a Bible education.

Horden and two others in the vicar's class were specially interested in the great work going on in the mission field, and the vicar was delighted to do everything in his power to foster the missionary spirit of his scholars.

These three interested young men formed themselves into a study circle, meeting at times to pray for, and study missionary work in various fields, declaring that if God opened the way they would devote their lives to missionary work. In due time they volunteered their services to the Church Missionary Society and two of them were accepted, and were sent out to distant fields. Horden was considered rather young by the committee, for a responsible position in heathen lands, but was told that by remaining at his school teaching a little longer, he would hear from the committee when a call came.

On May 10th, 1851, there came a letter from Mr. Venn, the Hon. Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, telling him that "the Bishop of Rupert's Land wanted a schoolmaster for Moose Factory in James' Bay, North-West America; that the committee had appointed him as the missionary for the educational and evangelization work in James' Bay; that he must be ready to sail within a month, and that it was the desire of the committee that he should marry and take his wife out as a helper in the missionary work."

Although this field had never appealed to him, yet with the readiness for service and obedience to the command of the Master, characteristic of the man all his life, he accepted the call as coming from God, and immediately began to carry out the wishes of the committee. He consulted the young lady of his choice--Miss Oke, a young woman with missionary aspirations like himself --and bravely she consented to marry him and go with him to the ice-bound regions of Hudson's Bay. On June 8th they sailed in the Hudson's Bay Company's ship from London for the distant shores of the Great Lone Land.

The young missionary occupied his time on the voyage by following up his studies in the Greek Testament and making the acquaintance of the long-worded Cree language. Several of the ship's officers and sailors had been to Hudson's Bay on previous occasions, and had learned a few words of the native language. From these men Mr. Horden learned a few Cree words, and his notebook contained a small vocabulary before he reached the Indian country. His experience of self-tuition in the Latin and Greek languages taught him that learning a foreign tongue was a very difficult undertaking, but he was determined with God's help "that the difficulty would be overcome; that the long words should be analysed; that he would make the Cree tongue his own, so that in it he would invite sinners to repentance, and preach the unsearchable riches of Christ."

The ship dropped her anchor in the Moose River on August 26th, and the passengers were landed at the Hudson's Bay Company's establishment--Moose Factory. On meeting a young Indian Mr. Horden began to make use of the Cree words he had picked up on board the ship, making many humorous mistakes.

He went among the wigwams, notebook in hand, taking down words as he heard them, and he mastered their meaning and construction so that he could apply them in conversation and sermons. In this way he learned to speak the language very quickly, and in eight months' time he was able to preach to the Indians without an interpreter.

Horden was not the first missionary to attempt the work of Christianizing the Indians at Moose, but he was the first to succeed.

Through the Methodist Society in Canada in 1840, James Evans was sent to Norway House; William Mason to Rainy River and Lake of the Woods; Robert T. Rundle to Edmonton, and George Barnley to Moose Factory.

James Evans became the celebrated inventor of the Cree Syllabics, which many of our Anglican missionaries adopted (and improved) in their translation work. William Mason soon abandoned his post at Rainy River, owing to the hostility of the natives. Later we find him at York Factory working under James Evans. Eventually he was admitted to Holy Orders in the Church of England and appointed to the mission of York Factory.

It was probably due to the touch of God through George Barnley, that the people of Moose Factory sent a letter to the Bishop of Rupert's Land in 1850, asking that a missionary be sent to them. Horden found that the seed sown by George Barnley at Moose Factory had taken root in a few hearts, and he also found the Lord's Prayer and a few texts of Scripture in Cree Syllables among the Indians. He immediately adopted the Syllabic system in committing the language into writing, elaborating and improving it to express the dialect spoken in his district. Although Horden had not the advantage of a university training, he was nevertheless a capable and systematic student, doing his work with the determination and thoroughness of the steady plodder.

His first attempt at translating was the revision of Mr. Barnley's edition of the Lord's Prayer. Then he translated the Apostle's Creed, the Ten Commandments, a few prayers from the morning and evening service, a few hymns and some passages of Scripture. These he copied and circulated among the Indians at Moose.

To the Mission School came adults as well as children, for all had to learn the art of reading and writing in the Syllabic system, and many thus learned of the wonderful love of God in sending His Son to redeem the world. The school and the schoolmaster's translations soon obtained a wide influence among the Indians, and the desire to know God and to serve Him spread from wigwam to wigwam, and the young missionary had the joy of leading many souls to the Light of the World.

Besides the mission school Horden also instituted the village school for the benefit of the white and half-breed children in the country. His previous experience as a schoolmaster helped him to make a success of both. Mrs. Horden was of great assistance to him in this work, as well as in the social and religious activities among the Indians.

The young missionary rightly regarded it as part of his work to minister to the spiritual needs of the officials and employees of the Hudson's Bay Company. They deeply appreciated his ministrations, rendering constant and valuable assistance in his work of building. They erected the church, the schoolhouse, and the missionary's residence, thus relieving Mr. Horden of much manual labour. In the winter occasional trips were made by dog-team to settlements near the mission, when the cold climate often made travelling an experience of unmitigated misery and physical torture.

Soon portions of the prayer book, the gospels, and a hymnal in Cree Syllabic manuscripts were ready for printing, and were sent to England with an order for a thousand copies.

When the ship arrived, however, heavy boxes were landed at the mission, the contents of which were not books as Horden expected, but a printing press, "with every requisite for a printing office except the printer." As there was some difficulty about finding a proof-reader capable of correcting the strange type, the Society thought that the translator had better print his translations himself. So they sent him a printing press, with a fount of Syllabic type, specially prepared, but no instructions for operating it.

With characteristic patience and determination John Horden studied out the mechanism and operation of the machine. For days he passed between the schoolhouse and his residence with a preoccupied look and concentrated thoughts, and the Indians could not understand what was troubling their missionary. One day they were al'armed to see their minister rushing towards the camp, waving a white sheet above his head, and shouting, "Come, see this thing!" On following him into the schoolhouse Mr. Horden proudly showed them the first printed sheet from the press, saying, "Now I shall be able to give you books." For several years Horden and his students printed and bound the books which were circulated among the Indians throughout the regions of Hudson's Bay, and a great spiritual awakening and enlightening movement swept through the wigwams and camps of the natives.

Mr. and Mrs. Horden laboured at their isolated post of duty for fourteen years without taking furlough. During that time six children had been born to them, and one of the little ones had fallen a victim to an epidemic which had left many a home sad and desolate. This suffering in common with their flock drew the ties which bound them as brothers and sisters even closer together.

In the summer of 1865 the Rev. Thomas Vincent of the Albany Mission, was placed in charge of Moose, and Horden and his family sailed for England in order that his children might be educated.

When they arrived, Mr. Horden found that his fame as a missionary was known in every corner of the British Isles, and he was a welcome and much sought-for visitor. No missionary stones were more interesting than his, and none so thrilling as those of the wonderful spiritual movement which was taking place in the snow-clad wastes of the north. He won many life-long friends and created such an interest that donations flowed freely into the funds of the Church Missionary Society.

After an absence of two years, Mr. and Mrs. Horden returned to their work at James' Bay.

As time went on churches were built in several settlements; congregations of Indians gathered regularly to worship the Lord in the beauty of His holiness, and native teachers were trained and appointed to minister to their brethren, and Horden's influence continued to spread.

In 1866, Bishop Machray visited the missions in the district of James' Bay, and like his predecessor, was very much struck with the wonderful achievements of this hard-working man. Mr. Horden travelled around with the Bishop on this occasion, presenting many classes of candidates for confirmation, acting as interpreter for him and revealing to him the wonderful growth of Christianity during his ministry. The Bishop also licensed four of Horden's lay readers "to conduct services and to read the Scriptures among their brethren," and these men were placed at certain stations to carry on the good work. This is remarkable as being the first instance of a Bishop licensing laymen as readers in any of the stations of the Church Missionary Society.

There came a letter to the busy missionary at Moose Factory in the autumn of 1872, informing him that he was to come to England without delay for consecration.

After great heart-searching and solemn hours of prayer he accepted the call and was consecrated in Westminster Abbey on December 15th, 1872, together with Russell for North China, and Royston for Mauritius. Eight Bishops took part in the consecration, among whom were Archbishop Tait, and Bishop Anderson, who had admitted Horden to Holy Orders twenty years before.

Upon his return to the work in Moosonee, he passed through eastern Canada, stirring the hearts of the people into admiration and devotion by his persuasive messages, and winning many friends among the Canadian clergy. When he reached Moose Factory he was warmly welcomed by his people, many of whom had come long distances from the north and east to show their interest and delight at his elevation to the episcopate.

As Bishop he carried the same missionary zeal into his work; was as diligent in visiting the isolated stations in his diocese; exercised the same pastoral influence among the scattered people in the vast territory, as he did in his little parish at Moose; showed a remarkable executive ability in handling the affairs of the new diocese, and his genial and loving spirit made him a welcome guest alike with the stern Presbyterian Hudson's Bay Factor, the lonely agnostic trapper, or the heathen Indian.

In 1876, the Bishop wrote to the Church Missionary Society for a man to take up the challenge of the rugged coast of the east shore of Hudson's Bay, and he mentioned that "the man must be a plain, strong man--a sailor for choice-- who could face real hardships in seeking out the wanderers in this wilderness." Just at this time a certain Scripture reader who had been converted while a seaman in the Royal Navy by reading a Bible given him by his teacher in Sunday school, had been introduced to the Church Missionary Society Committee by the Rev. T. R. Govett, Vicar of Newmarket. The young man was desirous of being "sent to the wildest and roughest mission field in the world, if only he might there be privileged to win souls for Christ." It was the working out of God's plan for the East Main District, through the prayers of the Bishop of Moosonee, and the great Missionary Society. The man was Edmund James Peck, who as we know laboured in this district for many years, accomplishing a great work under God, and who laid a firm foundation which made it easier for others to follow and carry on the work. It must have been a great joy to the missionary Bishop when he was able to report to the Church Missionary Society, "Heathenism as a system with all its abominations has departed."

The Bishop spent a year in the western portion of his almost boundless diocese in 1879-80, arriving at York Factory about the time Archdeacon Kirkby was leaving the diocese. While here the Bishop continued his translational work and made a study of the different dialects of the Cree language. Horden excelled in moulding young missionaries during the plastic stage into promising workers in the special field of missionary enterprise. He possessed wonderful teaching powers, and he seemed to have the happy knack of making his students accomplish a pile of work without feeling the pressure.

The Indians in this vicinity at that time seemed to be in a poverty-stricken condition,, and the daily struggle for existence drew forth the compassion of the Bishop's heart. It may have been mistaken kindness, as it caused other missionaries trouble afterwards, but the Bishop dug down into his pocket to relieve the suffering. Bishop Horden therefore became known among the Indians in the district as "The great Praying Chief who fed the starving Indian."

During the coldest time of the winter the Bishop travelled by dog-team over the windswept plains between York Factory and Fort Churchill, with Joseph Kechekesik as guide. The latter afterward became the faithful Indian catechist, who worked under several missionaries and was a noble uplifting influence among his countrymen. Who shall say but that this journey with the Bishop brought him into close touch with the living Christ? At Churchill the Bishop confirmed a large number of half-breeds and Chipewayans, and spent two months giving the people the opportunity of hearing the Word and learning the Christian faith. The remainder of the winter was spent with Mr. and Mrs. Winter at York Factory. As soon as the rivers were clear of ice the Bishop travelled by canoe to Trout Lake and Severn Post, having Joseph Kechekesik again as guide, and William Dick as personal attendant. The latter had been in training under Archdeacon Kirkby, and was then acting as interpreter for the Rev. G. S. Winter. Eventually he was sent to Trout Lake as a native catechist, where he did such good work that he was admitted to Holy Orders by Bishop Horden in 1889. At Trout Lake and Severn, about two hundred Indians were confirmed, a large number admitted to Holy Communion and two lay readers were appointed to conduct services.

In August the Bishop returned to York Factory, from which port he sailed for England to join his loved ones for a brief period. His furlough did not mean a time of rest and seclusion. His passion for work did not allow for idleness, and all his time was filled up with working for his Indians and Eskimo. It was during this visit also that he began to form the nucleus of an Endowment Fund. In his appeals for men, he mentioned specially two districts in his diocese-- Rupert's River in the Moose district, and Churchill in the York district, where he was anxious to place missionaries. The Rev. Henry Nevitt, of Nottingham, and Mr. Joseph Lofthouse, a student of the Church Missionary Society College, responded to the appeal and arrived at Moose Factory in August, 1882.

For the first time in the history of the mission there was a gathering of five clergymen and a Bishop: the Rev. Thomas Vincent from Albany, the Rev. E. J. Peck from Whale River, the Rev. John Sanders from Matawakuma, with the two new recruits and the Bishop.

The years of 1883 and 1884 were times of great distress for the inhabitants of southern Moosonee. An epidemic of whooping cough swept through the country one year and influenza the next, causing many deaths and much sorrow throughout the land. The faithful men of God ministered to the stricken people, giving Christian hope and comfort to the bereaved, and looking after the weak and destitute. The rugged missionary, Archdeacon Vincent of Albany, was in a state of collapse and depression under the strain, and the kind-hearted Bishop made a quick trip to give this stricken brother all the love and sympathy of his tender heart, and all the support and strength of his unshaken faith in the love of God. He came as a veritable angel from Heaven, and his visit acted like a tonic on the soul of the Archdeacon.

The Bishop always took a keen interest in education, and for many years he walked over to the village school every day and took the advanced pupils for an hour or more. He also devoted two evenings every week during winter to teaching young working men, whose education had been neglected in boyhood. Many of them thus learned to read and write in the night school and became more efficient in their trades and work. The writer knows of two English sailors who studied arithmetic and logarithms in the Bishop's night school, and on returning to England passed their examinations for master mariner's certificate and became captains of sailing ships. Another pupil--a mechanic--wrote a grateful letter to the Bishop for the help received in the night school, which led to higher study and greater efficiency.

The Bishop also aimed at educating and training young men, born in the country, for the ministry. Throughout his term of service there were generally two or three youths at the mission studying under him, among whom were Archdeacon Thomas Vincent, Archdeacon J. A. Mackay, Rev. John Sanders, Rev. Edward Richards and the writer.

In his young days Horden had taught himself Latin, and after coming to the mission field had developed into a Greek scholar. Now at the age of fifty he took up the Hebrew language, pursuing the study with the characteristic patience and plodding which had helped him to overcome all past difficulties.

The Bishop's sermons were delivered in an easy, even manner, with the gentle grace of the true disciple of Christ, and he had a power and a divine magnetism which drew the hidden goodness of souls to the surface as he lifted up the Saviour.

Besides his work as Bishop, pastor, teacher, student, translator of books, writer and printer, he was constantly being called upon for advice or sympathy by the Indians, each of whom took his peculiar trouble or joy to this veritable father in God, and always came away cheered and comforted.

Immorality and intemperance among his Indians in the southern part of his diocese, caused by the contaminating influence of civilization, was a great shock to him in his latter years. He grappled however with this evil with his characteristic patience, faith and love, and it is certain his efforts were greatly blessed of God to the saving of men from the sinful lusts of the flesh. So the great work of the missionary went on from day to day, and from year to year.

"Some work of love begun, Some deed of kindness done, Some wanderer sought and won, Something for God."

In May, 1888, he left Moose for a visit to England in the interests of his diocese, and also to visit en route the northern portion of Moos-onee. On the banks of the river a great crowd gathered to say farewell to him. As the canoe was about to push off from the shore he stood up, lifted his hand, and the people bowed their heads to receive the apostolic blessing. He travelled up one of the branches of the Moose River, took the train at Missanabie Station to Montreal, from which port he sailed for England.

At the Church Missionary Society's annual meeting he was given the honour to preside in the evening at Exeter Hall. Thousands looked upon the bright face of the veteran missionary Bishop from the land of snow and ice, and many hearts and souls were filled with praise and joy that there were such men in the world to open the door of faith unto the Gentiles.

When the Bishop returned to Canada he spent a few days in Montreal, where he met the Rev. J. A. Newnham, rector of St. Matthias Church, and the son of an old friend. The missionary Bishop had long been one of the young clergyman's heroes and an interview with him, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, led to a decision for service in the mission field at Moose.

Leaving Montreal the Bishop travelled west to Winnipeg, where he renewed his close friendship with Archbishop Machray and consulted him with regard to his retirement from active service. From Winnipeg he went to York Factory, where he was again in touch with the work in his vast diocese.

Feeling that his time of service was drawing to a close he resumed his translational work. So far his work in this direction had resulted in the complete New Testament, the Psalms, and the Old Testament Lessons for Sundays and Holy Days. He had, however, refrained from completing the translation of the Bible, because he had hoped that a committee of Cree scholars from the entire Cree-speaking country would undertake the work, and so produce a Bible for the use of the whole Cree nation. The several dialects of the Cree language rendered a translation in one particular dialect undesirable, and there had been some opposition from the West to Horden's translations becoming general. He waited long for such a committee to begin work, but now decided to delay no further, as he realized that his time for this work was short.

Assisted by Archdeacon Vincent and the Rev. E. Richards, he revised his former translations and went on with the great work of completing the Bible, hoping to finish before he resigned his See. Thus the winter went quickly by and the summer brought its demands for further jour-neyings to his scattered missions.

A notable trip was now made, which proved to be his last, to the Whale River district, where the faithful and self-denying missionary, the Rev. E. J. Peck, was doing a remarkable work among the Eskimos. Travelling by canoe along the rugged coast of Hudson's Bay was a great trial to a man of Horden's age and corpulency, but he bore it all in true heroic spirit, ever looking forward to the pleasure of meeting the isolated congregations living along the coast. At each settlement Dr. Peck had Indian and Eskimo candidates ready for the apostolic rite of confirmation, and the Bishop's heart was filled with joy and thanksgiving when he laid his hands on six Eskimos, thus gathering the first fruits of long years of Christian endeavour.

Upon his return from Whale River the annual ships arrived at Moose, and among the passengers was the Rev. J. A. Newnham of Montreal, previously referred to, and who eventually became the Bishop's successor.

In August, 1892, Mr. W. G. Walton from the Church Missionary Society College at Islington arrived, much to the relief of the Bishop's mind, as he was much concerned about the future of the work, owing to Dr. Peck being compelled to retire on account of Mrs. Peck's poor health. The ordination of Mr. Walton took place shortly after, and was the last public episcopal act of the Bishop.

In September of the same year, the writer left the Moose Mission to begin his studies in the Montreal Diocesan Theological College, and I shall never forget the emotional grip of the Bishop's hand and his last words, as I stepped into the canoe. "Be a credit to your teacher, my boy, and be a faithful servant to your Master, the Lord Jesus." As the canoe drew off from the shore I watched his stout figure receding in the distance, and realizing how much I owed to the beloved Bishop, I registered a mental vow, that, God helping me, I would continue to be Christ's faithful soldier and servant unto my life's end, and would serve my term in that field for which my tutor had trained me.

For many years the Bishop was a martyr to rheumatism, and those who were closely associated with him knew how he suffered in the cold weather, and how bravely and heroically he continued his work. In the winter of 1892-93 the suffering increased. On the morning of November 21st, as he sat down to his writing table, he was seized with the most acute pain, and for the first time felt unable to work. In a letter written shortly after this breakdown, he said, "With increased pain came the inability to work, and for a week I lay almost unfit for anything. I seemed for a while to make progress towards recovery, and three weeks after the attack was able to walk from my bedroom to my study with a little assistance; then a relapse occurred, and I scarcely have been out of bed since, and when I shall again, God alone knows. But He has been very, very good. He has kept me in peace .... and endued me with as much cheerfulness as I ever possessed."

His daughter, Mrs. Broughton, desired to have her father removed to Rupert's House to be with her, and thither loving hands bore him. He did not improve as the days went by, and the strong will and vital forces seemed to be on the wane. One of his last acts of love, which showed how he still held his people's interest at heart and how closely in touch he kept with the divine Master, the Prince of Peace, was the endeavour to reconcile two people in the parish, who had been at enmity with each other. They were called to his room and he begged of them to love one another; "For he that loveth not his own brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?"

All his life long he had demonstrated that "God is love," and in his dying moments he reached out his hand to mend the broken link between two erring children. To bring out the best in people; to change the dross of human nature into the pure gold of divine character, was his mission in life, and "this is the victory that overcometh the world."

On the morning of the 12th of January he passed away quietly, and the noble spirit entered into the joy of his Lord.

The burial was delayed to give his oldest pupil and friend, Archdeacon Vincent, time to come from Albany to Moose, to officiate at the funeral, which all the clergy in James' Bay attended.

The episcopal robes which had been used in many a service in churches, trading stores, settlers' houses, Indian shacks and wigwams, were put on for the last time, and the body placed in state in the modest pro-cathedral. Indians, half-breeds and white people, came from far and near to take a last look at the face they loved so well.

In the graveyard at Moose, among the graves of hundreds of Indians and Europeans, beside a long-buried child, lies the body of the first Bishop of Moosonee, left behind till the Resurrection Day.

As a young missionary, Horden came to a land overshadowed by heathenism and illiteracy; by his patient labours, his faithful ministry; faith in God and man; his wonderful influence for good, blessed of God, he left that land with the light of the Gospel shining in every corner, and a literature for the spiritual and intellectual development of the church in Northern Canada, and provision was made for enlightenment and civilization. Surely his works do follow him, and they will act and re-act for good, till time shall be no more.

When the Archbishop of Canterbury--Dr. Benson--was informed of Horden's death, he exclaimed, "I am deeply concerned at the news! I have always regarded him as one of my heroic brothers."

And the Canadian Church, too, will always give him the place of honour among her heroes, recognizing the fact that what Bishop Horden undertook for God's glory, was by the Holy Spirit so faithfully done in his day and generation, that a good foundation was laid for those who came after, on which to build up the Church of Christ.

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