First Bishop of Mackenzie River, 1884-1891
First Bishop of Selkirk (Yukon), 1891-1906
Rector of Christ Church, Whitehorse, Y.T., Canada
MOST REV. S. P. MATHESON, D.D.
ARCHBISHOP OF RUPERT'S LAND
SEELEY & CO. LIMITED
38 GREAT RUSSELL STREET
Chapter I. The Volunteer (1834-1865)
Chapter II. Forward to the Front (1865)
Chapter III. The Exploration of the North-West
Chapter IV. The Father's Business (1865-1870)
Chapter V. The Country and Its Inhabitants
Chapter VI. Among the Children of the Cold (1870)
Chapter VII. Sowing beside Many Waters (1870-1873)
Chapter VIII. Home and Honours (1873-1874)
Chapter IX. The Long Outward Voyage (1874)
Chapter X. Bishop of Athabasca (1874-1876)
Chapter XI. A Synod in the Wild (1876)
Chapter XII. A Race with Winter (1877-1878)
Chapter XIII. Onward and Upward (1878-1884)
Chapter XIV. Bishop of Mackenzie River Diocese (1884-1891)
Chapter XV. Beyond the Great Mountains (1891-1896)
Chapter XVI. The Flood (1896-1900)
Chapter XVII. "Faint yet Pursuing" (1901-1906)
Chapter XVIII. Light at Eventide (1906)
Chapter XIX. The Student
Chapter XX. "Northern Lights on the Bible"
Chapter XXI. Results of Missions in the North-west
IT has been a great joy to me to learn that a life of my dear friend, Bishop Bompas, is being prepared for publication. Quite apart from the pleasure which the perusal of the record of his life will afford to a large circle of friends, it is, I consider, in the interests of missions that the Christian public should know something more of the heroic work of that great "Apostle of the North." That work was carried on in the seclusion of a prolonged isolation in the wilds of a land which was entirely shut out, except at rare intervals, from communication with the rest of the world. The Bishop loved to have it so. He had no care to speak to galleries or to come to the front. On the contrary, he retired before an approaching civilization, and when he saw it coming he retreated into "regions beyond."
His first episcopate covered what is now comprised in the districts of Athabasca, Mackenzie River, and Yukon. When the first subdivision took place, and the diocese of Athabasca was formed out of his jurisdiction in 1883, he selected, not the part most accessible to civilization, but the northern portion, and became Bishop of Mackenzie River. When, subsequently, another subdivision took place, he gave up Mackenzie River, retreated again farther North, and assumed charge of the distant Yukon.
This "hiding of self" was typical of the man. His life was "hid with Christ in God," and he hid the activities of it in an unselfish shrinking from the world's gaze. Some of us thought that in this latter he made a mistake, and he was frequently urged to give us the help and inspiration of his presence at our Synods once in three years at least. We longed to see and show "our hero." But it was of no avail. His unvarying answer was, "You can do without me at your meetings. My work is with my Indians."
As a consequence of this self-imposed isolation, the work of Bishop Bompas was little known to the general public outside of those who were near enough to see it. I rejoice, therefore, that we are to be privileged to have placed before us in this biography a short record of his work, and I pray that its story of simple devotion may appeal to some hearts, and draw from them, while the harvest still is great and the labourers few, the self-surrendering cry, "Here am I; send me."
No matter how vivid the story is made, it will be hard to portray the real greatness of the man. In order even measurably to appreciate William Carpenter Bompas and realize his personality, so simple and yet so great, it was necessary to see him and hear his self-effacing words. After we write our best about him, we have to recognize the inadequacy of verbal description, and are constrained to exclaim, "Quantum mutatus ab illo!"
S. P. RUPERT'S LAND.
BISHOP'S COURT, WINNIPEG, January, 1908.
IT has been the custom in all ages for people to ascribe to their heroes wonderful accomplishments and deeds of daring. The further removed in time and place, the greater the glamour.
There is something similar to this in reference to the life of Bishop Bompas. So long did he live apart from the bustle of civilization, and so little did he speak of his own achievements, that people have loved to weave around his life the garment of romance. Time, instead of lessening, has only increased this disposition, and some of the stories related have no foundation whatever.
In the following pages every endeavour has been made to adhere strictly to facts, and to record nothing that is not well authenticated.
The Bishop kept no journal of his many wanderings, and of his numerous hardships and dangers he seldom spoke. When he did refer to them it was with the utmost brevity, as in a letter to England, dated November 23, 1876: "I have been nearly frozen and nearly drowned this winter already." But all available sources of information have been placed at my disposal.
I wish to record my thanks for invaluable assistance received from Mrs. Bompas, whose journals have been of great service to me; to His Honour, Judge Bompas, and to other members of the Bishop's family, for letters written by him and for information communicated; to the Church Missionary Society for extracts from its records; to the Right Rev. Bishop Stringer, the Ven. Archdeacon McDonald, the Ven. Archdeacon Collison, the Rev. John Hawksley, the Rev. William Spendlove, the Rev. R. J. Bowen, and many others, to whom I am much indebted.
Mr. Eugene Stock's "History of the Church Missionary Society" has been of great use to me, and also Dr. George Bryce's "Remarkable History of the Hudson Bay Company." My grateful thanks are due to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge for permission to quote from the Bishop's little book on "The Mackenzie River Diocese," and to Messrs. J. Nisbet and Co. for leave to make extracts from his "Northern Lights on the Bible."
The illustrations are almost all reproduced from photographs kindly lent by friends, and by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the Church Missionary Society, and the Colonial and Continental Church Society.
This sketch of one of the Church's noblest missionaries is now sent forth, with the earnest prayer that
"The afterglow of his devoted life
Will lead men on to do and dare for Christ,
And win for Him through darkness, pain, and strife."
H. A. CODY.
"CHRIST CHURCH RECTORY,