Project Canterbury

Or, Five Years of Church Work among Ojibway Indians and Lumbermen, resident upon that Island or in its Vicinity.

By Harold Nelson Burden

London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1895.

Chapter III. Sheguiandah

Sheguiandah consists of two villages, the Indian village, and the white. The population of the former is entirely Indian, and all are members of the Church. On Sunday morning a service is held at nine o'clock, which they attend in good numbers, and with evident satisfaction. The services are rendered entirely in Ojibway, having been translated into that tongue by Dr. O'Meara, with the help of one of the natives. The New Testament and part of the Old were also translated by the same clergyman. Several week-day gatherings are held both in the Church and school-house. On Sunday afternoons the Missionary's wife conducts the Sunday School, with the assistance of an Indian teacher who also, when the Missionary is absent, takes the evening service.

At White Village there is a pretty little church on the hill where there is a service in English at 11 a.m. on Sunday, and at other times during the week. Here too the people attend well, but the congregation is small and scattered, and many who would come are often prevented by the terrible state of the roads in bad weather.

Much useful work was accomplished by Mr. Frost [27/28] the clergyman in charge of the Mission, during the winter months, for then travelling is made easy by the frozen state of the snow and lakes. Several visits to distant stations were made. In one of his tours he visited La Cloche, Spanish River and Moncason, at which places he held services, and was occasionally called upon to baptize children. On his return journey he called at Webbwood, and then proceeded to a shanty at a distance of twelve miles, on the way visiting some cabins in the bush. Here a very rough congregation assembled, but they were most attentive, and several helped on the Church's work by giving donations.

Returning to Webbwood next day, he was asked by several men to hold a service. With the object of finding out the wishes of the population he made several calls. He discovered a few Church people and many who professed other religions, and some who professed none at all. However, a service was held in the house of a storekeeper who had offered it for the purpose, and a hearty one it proved to be and was much enjoyed by a large congregation. Next day, which was Saturday, the Missionary started to return home. He had a distance of nearly fifty miles to travel before nightfall, and this he was able to accomplish owing to an early start and good roads. The following day he took the usual services at Sheguiandah, and during the week he went to Gore Bay; here he met with an English family who had [28/31] come from a village near his own home in England. We can easily imagine how much pleasure it must have afforded them to speak of the old days spent in their native land. But Mr. Frost was not idle at Gore Bay, for he held two services, and celebrated the Holy Communion at St. Paul's Church, at which the offertory amounted to ten dollars.

This, then, was some of his winter's work, which was rendered impossible in the spring owing to the breaking up of the ice. During this season the missionary was obliged to confine his work to the limits of Manitoulin Island. Even here the roads were at times a great hindrance to his getting about. However, many gatherings were held at Sheguiandah and also at Sucker Creek, where on Monday evenings the younger members of the population would assemble to receive instruction in the prayer book. But at length the ice disappeared from the rivers and lakes, and it was again possible to make use of navigation. Gore Bay was again visited, this time by steamboat.

Mr. Frost was the possessor of a little sailing boat, which had been presented to him by the children of Grace Church Sunday School, Toronto. In this boat he now took a trip, having engaged the services of an Indian to assist in its management. First they sailed to La Cloche, where the boat was left, and a birch-bark canoe procured, which could easily be carried over the portages. Thus they reached a village near [31/32] the river, where it was found that the Indians had been making preparations for building a church, which was to be commenced as soon as they had planted their gardens. White-fish river was next visited. The Indians here conferred with the missionary about building a church and schoolhouse. The material for the latter building had been promised by the Indian department of the Canadian Government.

Another trip taken by Mr. Frost about this time was to Collin's Inlet, the journey being made by steamboat and tug. At the inlet he borrowed a skiff and rowed down to Beaverstone. Collin's Inlet is only a small village. In the middle is a mill, round which the wooden cottages are clustered; on the rocks, a little to one side of the village, stands the schoolhouse, where services are held. In the winter the villagers are mostly employed in the woods getting out pine logs which are cut up at the mill during the summer. Beaverstone is situated on the banks of a small river about twenty-five miles from Killarney. It is a wood depot, and the chief employment is cutting pulp wood which is much used in the manufacture of paper, pails, and many other articles.

At the mouth of the river the missionary found some of his parishioners, and with these he had lunch in the open air. The "menu" included pork, bread and rice pudding. The luncheon was followed by a short address, and in the evening a service was held [32/33] at a depĂ´t twelve miles distant. This depot had to be reached by a very rough road that was carried over ravines by bridges that often consisted of a tree laid across, Some people, whom Mr. Frost wished to visit, lived on the other side of the river; but he was a little afraid of crossing the river on floating logs, so they came over to him. Several men returned with him to Collin's Inlet, and as a large number were working at the mill, he determined to hold a service. But it was a busy evening with the men, and only a few attended. As the tug left next morning this was their last opportunity of hearing the missionary for the present, a circumstance which was not only regretted by the clergyman, but, also by many of the people, some of whom had hoped he would be able to stay a day or two longer with them.

Carpe diem, quam minimum
Credula postero. Hor. Carm. i., 11.

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