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 XIII. Spring

During the winter the missionary made several journeys to the distant stations of the mission. He had been compelled to purchase a new horse, which he found most useful and a great help in his work. Till the ice became sound he was unable to go very far from home, and so confined his work to the four stations on the Manitoulin Island. It was early in January before he could make use of his horse and sleigh, and the first journey was to Birch Island and White Fish River, including some of the camps on Long Lake. Many interesting services were held among the Indians in the reserve, and some gifts of clothing were distributed, which had been sent by the ladies of the Woman's Auxiliary. These gifts, as well as the services which were held, were much appreciated by the Indians. The following week a visit was paid to La Cloche and Spanish River, where a large congregation of Indians assembled in the schoolhouse. On his return journey the missionary visited a lumber camp, picturesquely situated on the shores of a lake, and was heartily welcomed by the men who were working there.

[93] The next journey was down the Georgian Bay, calling at Killarney, where Mr. Frost held a service. Next day he reached Collin's Inlet and found the population of that village had greatly diminished during the winter; only seventeen persons attended the service that was held in the schoolhouse. He also visited a camp situated on a lake about half-way between Killarney and Sudbury, and a day later arrived at Beaverstone. During the earlier part of the winter a new road had been made through the woods, and by making use of this, Mr. Frost was enabled to avoid that piece of bad ice where his horse had been so unfortunate the previous winter. Many lumber camps were visited during this tour, and many services held, the attendances at which frequently numbered over a hundred. The Indians at Gromline Point were not forgotten, and a service was held in the house of an Indian named Kahgahguns.

On the next day, which was Sunday, the weather was very rough; but notwithstanding the difficulties of travelling, the missionary managed to hold services at three different places, the last place reached being Collin's Inlet. On the Monday Mr. Frost visited a camp where the majority of the people were French. These attended the service, and listened to, the address with great interest. They afterwards gave the missionary a pair of mocassins (shoes made of soft leather, largely used by the Indians and others for travelling over the snow). The next day Mr. [93/94] Frost set out on his homeward journey, but the weather was so bad and the ice in such an unsafe condition, that very little progress could be made. On the morrow he fell in with some travellers who were going in the same direction as himself, and by nightfall they reached Killarney. It was a most laborious journey; at one time the distance traversed in five hours was only nine miles. After staying the night at Killarney, Mr. Frost arrived at his home in Sheguiandah the following day.

After this, two visits were paid to White Fish River and services held both among the Indians and white people of that settlement. During the first visit to the place the missionary remained a week and held a service every evening. Altogether about two hundred persons attended these week-day services. On the second occasion there was a large gathering of Indians in the new church, and there was a celebration of the Holy Communion. At this service some Indians were present who had come all the way from Sheguiandah and Sucker Creek. Spanish River was the next place visited, and having held a service there, the missionary journeyed still further up the river to see a poor woman who had been very ill. He held a service in the house and celebrated the Holy Communion. Meanwhile the bright 3 festival of Easter was approaching, and Mr. Frost hastened back to the mission stations on the islands. During Holy Week service was held [94/95] every evening; three were held on Good Friday, and five on Easter Day. This was a very trying day for Mr. Frost, commencing with an early celebration at seven o'clock. The last evening service was held at a station some distance from Sheguiandah, and owing to the bad state of the roads, it was midnight before the missionary reached home. Some of the services that day were attended by Indians from the north shore, and in all there were about fifty communicants. Throughout the season of spring the Indians were very busy putting in their crops of corn, wheat, oats, peas, and potatoes, nor did these occupations interfere with their regular attendance at the services which were held from time to time in the different settlements. During the period of which we are writing the number of cattle on the reserve largely increased, but there was a decided tendency to get rid of the oxen and keep horses in preference. In some instances, however, oxen were found to be more useful for work on their farms. Several new houses, larger and more convenient than their old cabins, were built, around many of which were trim little gardens enclosed by a neat picket fence; thus the appearance of the village was greatly improved. The missionary discovered that amongst the women it was usual to make a regular cleaning day of Saturday, and anyone neglecting to make her house clean and bright for Sunday was considered particularly heathenish.

[96] About this time the missionary paid a visit to the Indians at Aundagwahmenekauning and found several of them absent from home, having obtained employment at a camp some distance off. Here there were one or two fairly large cottages having outside sheds which were used as kitchens during the summer. Some cottages contained only one room, but all were exceptionally clean and neat.

As Mr. Frost was now able to make use of his boat, he went to see the Indians at Ogahmeekunaung and held a service in the little church there, which was attended by nearly the whole population of the village. Here he found, that although the Indians took much delight in their gardening operations, the gardens themselves did not seem to be particularly flourishing. However some gardens that were situated at a distance' from the village, appeared to be doing better, and their products well repaid the care that had been bestowed upon them. Many of the Indians here were engaged at this time in fishing. Leaving Ogahmeekunaung the missionary next visited Subing, and a large congregation assembled at the service he held there. Although the Indians of Subing live chiefly by hunting, they possess gardens and grow corn and potatoes, but they are not as yet very successful in their agricultural pursuits. When Mr. Frost had completed his visits to these and other outlying stations, he hastened to his home at Sheguiandah, as he was expecting that the Bishop would shortly make his annual visit to the island.

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