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 XVI. Gore Bay

Gore Bay is a pretty and clean little village on the Great Manitoulin Island containing about five hundred inhabitants. It is pleasantly situated in a sheltered bay and nestles between cliffs some two hundred feet in height. These cliffs are covered with pine and other trees and protect both the western and eastern sides of the village. Towards the south stretches some of the finest farming land in the country, upon which are built here and there some very comfortable homesteads with large barns and other farm buildings. The scene presented to the eye of a traveller as he views it on some fine spring morning is a beautiful one; with its silver streams and its soft delicious haze holding the outpoured light in folds of colour. The rich shades of the growing crops; the snowy sheep as they pasture, the lowing cattle as they graze, all speak of comfort, and form a picture worthy of an artist's brush.

Gore Bay has its resident clergyman, who has also under his charge as out stations, Kagawong, the Township of Mills, Silver Water, Sheshewaning, and other places in the vicinity. The total number of souls living within this district, which is ecclesiastically [110/111] known as the mission of Gore Bay, is about twelve hundred. The resident clergyman is the Rev. J. H. McLeod, who informs us that a large proportion of the total population are members of the Church of England. The church at Gore Bay is dedicated to All Saints; the congregation here is a good one, but the present building is old, and too small for it. The church family are contemplating the erection of a new church, and they are doing their utmost to erect it with as little outside aid as possible. They have also resolved to raise the necessary funds without resorting to such modern methods as bazaars, entertainments and the like; to which, when held for the purpose of obtaining funds for church building, both the missionary and his people have a great dislike.

In a letter received a few days before these words were written, Mr. McLeod says they have been so successful that the whole of the material is now on the site, and what is more to the point, all the necessary funds to meet the estimated cost of erecting the church, have been subscribed, with the exception of about fifty dollars.

We have already said that the services at All Saints are attended by large congregations. These congregations often include members of many different religious denominations, and in the summer season a number of tourists, who make Gore Bay their temporary home, swell the already overflowing congregation.

[112] When the Bishop visited Gore Bay in August, 1892, he confirmed a class of fifteen candidates all of whom afterwards received the Holy Communion and shewed (to use the Bishop's own words) "by the devoutness of their demeanour and in some cases by tears coursing down their cheeks how deeply they realised the solemnity of the vows they had taken."

In the Township of Mills, the church is dedicated to St. James. It is a log church and was built entirely by the settlers themselves. It is now in a very serviceable condition, for they have recently very much improved it, doing the work by means of their own unaided exertions. The congregations often assemble in such numbers that many have to be content with worshipping outside the building, the church being too small to give even standing room to all.

Kagawong, or Mudge Bay, as it is sometimes called, is situated about twelve miles from Gore Bay. There is no church here and the congregation have to content themselves with the use of a public hall, in which Mr. McLeod is permitted to hold a service on alternate Sundays so long as he arranges the hours of service so as not to clash with the use of the hall by other bodies. The congregation here is a hearty one, so much so indeed that the missionary especially mentions the heartiness with which they sing and respond. It is to be hoped that they will soon see their way to move in the matter of church building, [112/113] and we will hope that at no distant date they may have a church of their own in which to worship.

Mr. McLeod is a hard-working and painstaking missionary, and he is ably assisted in his work by his most excellent wife; and as a natural consequence both are not only respected by the whole community but by many are deeply loved. At all times he is ready to undergo any amount of self-denial, from time to time, leaving his home early on a Tuesday morning and not returning until the following Sunday evening in time for service. On such occasions he holds a service each evening at some different place, and on the Sunday he holds three. He is obliged to keep two ponies, for one alone would be quite unable to stand the continuous work. From this it will be gathered that he spends a considerable part of his life "in journeyings oft," and these journeys are very frequently not over the best of roads particularly in spring and autumn.

Then there are no hotels in the places where he visits, in which, after his day's work, he may seek such rest as they can offer. But instead thereof he has to seek it where best he can; often enough in some small shanty, whose walls and roof are alike, of one material, logs. The sole accommodation of these shanties is one room, with a partition, reaching sometimes up to the rafters, at others not so high, thus forming a second apartment. "When staying in a shanty the more comfortable of the two apartments [113/114] is given to the missionary, but what rest is he likely to find should there be, as in nine cases out of ten there are, young children passing a restless night on the other side of the partition. For children in Canada are much the same as they are in England, and occasionally amuse themselves with screaming, just by way of trying the strength of their lungs. If the missionary has not learnt to sleep through disturbances he will probably learn to do so before he has long been engaged at such work.

At another of Mr. McLeod's out-stations the only building available for service is a public hall, and as it has no windows or other openings save the door, all the light has to come in through the open door. At a service in this hall some time ago, a poor old man was among the worshippers. He had no book, but even if he had had one, the bad light and his aged eyes would have rendered it useless. Nor did he require one either, for as a boy and youth, when in the old country, he had so regularly attended divine service, that he knew the whole service by heart. And now, after the lapse of years he again heard the old familiar words, and once again with as much heartiness as his agitation allowed--joined in the responses and other parts of the service. And as he prayed, the tears coursed down his cheeks. The missionary saw, and felt that he was repaid for many a day's hard labour, and understood still more clearly how great is the privilege thus to serve while he waits.

Project Canterbury