PROCEEDING northwards from the head of Lake Winnipeg, which in the Cree language signifies "Dirty Water," the Mississippi, or English River is reached, which rising near the Rocky Mountains, and pursuing an easterly course, falls at length into Hudson's Bay. After traversing Lake Nelson, it takes the name of Churchill. On its estuary stands Fort Churchill, already alluded to as being the most northerly of the Hudson's Bay Company's Forts on the Bay.
To the north of this river are found the Chipewyan Indians, a branch of the great Tinné family, of whom some account has been given in a previous chapter. Some of the Crees have also pushed north of English River.
Stanley, the Mission station on this river, is distant from Red River about 700 miles, and from Fort Churchill about 600 miles.
This Mission was commenced in 1845 by Archdeacon Hunter, who formed an outpost at Lac la Ronge. The Gospel was received with eagerness by the Crees found in the locality; in a short time they all renounced heathenism. In the year 1852 the Rev. R. Hunt, who had been appointed to the Lac la Ronge station, transferred the headqu'arters of the Mission to Stanley, about eight miles above the point where the English River is joined by its tributary, the Rapid River. One object which Mr. Hunt had in view in making this change was that he might have greater facilities for instructing the Chippewyan Indians. The sterility of the soil in this locality has in some degree proved a barrier to the success of the Mission, for the necessity of going to a distance to procure food rendered it impracticable for the Indians in any great numbers to form a settlement in the immediate vicinity of the Mission station. The Rev. J. A. Mackay, a native minister, ordained in 1862, now resides at Stanley. The Rev. W. C. Bompas, when going north to the Mackenzie River Mission, in 1865, spent two days at Stanley, which he thus describes:--
"The appearance of the station is attractive; there is a handsome church, good parsonage and garden, schoolroom, lodging-house for the children, together with storerooms for the Mission premises. The wooden houses of the Indian settlers, most of whom have also gardens, and some of them cattle and plots of corn-land, are cheering and hopeful. Fort Rapid stands immediately opposite the Mission station."
Leaving Stanley, and proceeding to the head of English River, Portage la Loche is reached. This is the water-shed of this portion of the North American continent. From this point the rivers all flow northward to the Arctic Ocean. The traveller, having crossed the portage, finds himself in the basin of the Mackenzie River. Of the many tributaries of the Mackenzie, the Athabasca, or Elk, takes its rise close to English River. At Fort Chipewyan it is joined by Peace River, after which the united streams take the name of Slave River, which after flowing onwards for a considerable distance contributes its volume of waters to the Great Slave Lake, which occupies an area of 12,000 square miles. Another tributary of the Mackenzie is the Hay River, which takes its rise near the Rocky Mountains, not far from the source of the Peace River; it skirts but does not traverse a large lake, called Hay Lake, and then, taking a north-westerly course, it falls into Great Slave Lake. In its course it forms a stupendous cataract, which is thus described by a Missionary, who named this magnificent waterfall the Alexandra Falls:--
"It is a perpendicular fall of about 150 feet high by 500 feet wide, and of surpassing beauty. The amber colour of the falling water gives the appearance of golden tresses twined with pearls, while in the spray was a rainbow reaching from the foot of the fall to the rocks far above its brink. We viewed the fall only from its brink, as access from below is precipitous. This waterfall impressed me more with its beauty than did Niagara. The beauty of the scene was enhanced by the rainbows in the spray. The shape and contour of the Alexandra Falls struck me as very similar to the Horseshoe Fall at Niagara, but I think it is superior."
Advancing from the mouth of the Hay River, along the western shore of Great Slave Lake, the Mackenzie is seen issuing from the Lake, whence it pursues a northerly course to the Arctic Ocean. On this river stands Fort Simpson in latitude 61° 51' 25" North, and in 121° 51' 15" West longitude.
It is distant from Red River 2500 miles. Scattered throughout the country around the forts are the Chipewyan Indians.
A Mission was commenced at this place in 1858, by Archdeacon Hunter, who, seeing the efforts made by Romish agents to spread their tenets among the Indian tribes in the far north, felt that it was the duty of British Protestants to preach the Gospel in its purity to the Indians dwelling in the most remote portion of British territory, where as yet no Protestant Missionary had penetrated. Resigning for a time his charge at St. Andrew's, he set out from Red River in June 1858, on an itinerating tour amongst the Tinné tribes, then but little known.
"I go alone," he wrote, "while the Church of Rome sends five Missionaries. Yet I am not alone, for One is with me who is mighty to save--a Friend who sticketh closer than a brother, and who, I trust, has disposed and called me to this work. I feel indeed that this is the leading of Providence, for with such a band of priests, the whole of the Mackenzie River district would be overrun without any effort to counteract the evil. We have lost much ground among these fine Indians of the North."
On his way he encountered at Great Slave Lake one of the Romish priests, who openlyavowed his intentionof opposing the establishment of a Protestant Mission in the Mackenzie River district. The Archdeacon reached Fort Simpson on the i6th of August, and remained there during the summer of 1859, instructing the Indians who congregated at the fort. After an absence of sixteen months he returned to his home at Red River.
The Rev. W. Kirkby succeeded Archdeacon Hunter in this far-off station, where he had been the first to carry the glad tidings of the Gospel.
The result of Romish teaching was soon evidenced in the unwillingness of the Indians to receive instruction from Mr. Kirkby. On one occasion, when he went to visit a sick Indian, intending at the same time to address others who were present, they manifested marked indifference to all he said. When he knelt down to pray they all remained sitting still on the floor, apparently giving no heed to what was going on. Each had a crucifix suspended from his neck, which had been given to him by a priest.
A few days afterwards, however, the saka, or governor of a tribe, accompanied by three Indians, arrived at the Mission in a starving condition. The saka informed Mr. Kirkby that he had not only suffered much from want of food, but that he had been in great sorrow on account of the death of his son, expressing at the same time great regret that he had died unbaptized. He then earnestly requested Mr. Kirkby to baptize himself and his companions the next day, saying it was chiefly for that they had come. This Mr, Kirkby was reluctant to do, fearing they had erroneous notions respecting the sacrament. He therefore endeavoured to explain to them the real nature of the ordinance, and pointed them to Jesus as the only way by which they could be saved. "Their thoughts, if fairly interpreted," says Mr. Kirkby, are these, 'Baptize us, and we shall be safe.' This they have doubtless learnt from the Romanists at Fort Rae." On the following day Mr. Kirkby repeated to the saka and his companions the instructions of the previous day, and he further explained to them the Ten Commandments. They willingly promised obedience to everything required of them. Mr. Kirkby then asked them what their feelings were; the saka replied, "We cannot stay long here, our camp is twelve days off, we must soon go to it; we don't know what we may find to eat; perhaps we may soon all die; we wish to be the servants of God's Son, and to be baptized, if you will do it." Mr. Kirkby could no longer refuse; following the example of Philip, who baptized the Ethiopian eunuch on his acknowledgment, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God," he admitted these poor wanderers into the Christian Church. "Knowledge," he says "I know they have but little, but none, I think, would doubt their earnestness." In the evening of the same day Mr. Kirkby again visited the Indians, and spoke to them of the duties that devolved upon them, and the blessedness of those who continued faithful.
Here was an earnest of the harvest yet to be gathered in. But much patient labour, years of lonely toil, and grievous disappointments were to follow. The labourer has often "to go forth weeping, bearing precious seed," ere he can "come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
In the summer of 1862 Mr. Kirkby resolved to carry the Gospel message beyond the northern spurs of the Rocky Mountains to the farthest limits of British territory. He obtained a canoe, which he named the "Herald," and having made the necessary preparations for his long and perilous journey, he assembled the little band of Christian Indians whom he had by this time gathered around him, and, kneeling with them on the bank of the river, "he besought the blessing of God on those who journeyed, and on those who remained behind." Then, embarkinginhis canoe,he sailed down the Mackenzie to the point, not far from its estuary, where it receives the waters of the Peel River; he then ascended the latter river to Peel Fort, a great rendezvous of the Indians. Here he remained three days. He thus describes his visit to the Fort:--
"June 15, 1862.---Never to weary pilgrims was home sweeter than was the sight of the fort to us. We arrived at five o'clock in the morning, the sun was shining brightly; indeed, there is very little difference between day and night, the sun just dips beneath the horizon, and rises again immediately, the only observable difference is that during the night the heat and glare are not so great. At ten o'clock the Indians were invited to attend. They all came, and listened quietly and attentively. In the evening I addressed them again. Thus ended my first Sabbath within the Arctic circle."
The two following days were also employed in instructing the Indians. On the iSth, leaving his canoe behind, he set out, accompanied by two guides, to clamber over the Rocky Mountains; up and down they went over several ridges, rising from 700 to 2800 feet, and at last, by a sudden descent of 1000 feet into the valley, he reached La Pierre's House, another of the Fur Company's forts. Here Mr. Kirkby spent another Sabbath; he addressed the Indians, and had an English service in the evening with the family of the officer in charge of the fort. "I never thought to see the day," said the officer, with tears in his eyes, "when a minister of the Gospel would be at La Pierre's House."
"The fatigues of the mountains are all forgotten," writes Mr. Kirkby, "and warmly do I thank God for the privilege of being a fellow-worker with Him." Here our traveller remained till the 3Oth of June, instructing the Indians, and learning the Tukuth language. He then embarked in the Company's boat on the Rat River, a tortuous stream, which makes its way through a rough country, until it reaches the Porcupine River, a tributary of the Youcon. Two miles above the confluence stands Fort Youcon. Mr. Kirkby thus describes his arrival at the Fort:---
"July 6.--About three o'clock this morning we came to the portage which is about two miles from the confluence of the Porcupine with the Youcon. It is a straight walk across to the fort. Mr. Jones, the gentleman in charge of the boat, went that way, and I proposed to accompany him, but the Indians begged me to remain in the boat, as they wished to take me to the fort themselves. They enjoined secrecy on Mr. Jones, no one at the fort, of course, having an idea of my coming. In a very little while we met the waters of the Youcon, a magnificent river, at least three miles wide, and studded with islands. We had to mount the current to the fort, which, though only two miles distant, took us two hours to reach. There were about 500 Indians present, all of whom were filled with astonishment and delight to see me in the boat. Before going ashore, I requested them all to stand in lines, that I might shake hands with them, a task I knew I should have to perform. With a little shouting and excitement, they formed themselves two deep, and thus expedited the duty. This being over, I went into the house for a few hours, thinking it best to allow the Indians who had come in the boat to tell their tidings first."
Thus the glorious light of the Gospel of Christ, which first dawned on the land a hundred years ago, when the Moravians established their first Mission on the shores of Labrador, had penetrated to the farthest limits of the British dominions in America.
Fort Youcon is, however, no longer within the English boundary-line. In 1869 the United States'Government laid claim to the fort in virtue of the treaty by which Russia ceded all the forts in the territory to America. Fort Youcon, in latitude 66° 33' north, and longitude 143° 44' 10", is, it appears, seventy-five miles west of the American boundary, and is therefore now included in the province of Alaska. The United States' Government lost no time in placing steamers on the Youcon and the Porcupine, hence there are now greater facilities for travelling, which will enable Missionaries to preach the Gospel to the Tukuth from time to time, with less labour and fatigue than Mr. Kirkby encountered as the first Missionary explorer of the Far North West. The distance of Fort Youcon from Red River is about 3,500 miles. It is, however, easier of access from the Mission station on the western side of the Rocky Mountains, and it would be comparatively easy for a Missionary to itinerate amongst the Tukuth from that point, provided there were an adequate staff of Missionaries qualified for the work. Bishop Anderson pointed out the importance of itinerating work in his charge to the clergy at Red River in 1860:--
"More must be done by itinerating in districts where distances are counted by thousands of miles; we cannot cover the surface with large and expensive stations; we must rather take a centre, and from it carry the truth in diverging lines.
Such must be the aggression on the Mackenzie River and in the North-West."
But to return to our narrative.
"I had been told," says Mr. Kirkby, "that it would not be safe for a missionary to declare the Gospel among the Indians at the Youcon, because it would clash with their habits of infanticide, polygamy, and Shamanism. [Shamanism is a system of demonolatry, sacrifices being offered to demons in order to prevent them doing mischief to the offerer. It was the old religion of the Tartar race before the introduction of Buddhism and Mohammedanism. It still prevails in Siberia. The Shamanites believe in the existence of a Supreme God, but they offer Him no worship. They believe the demons to be revengeful and capricious, hence they hope to propitiate them by bloody sacrifices and frantic dances.--"Land of Charity."] I desired, therefore, to act with prudence. I knew the Indians who had been in the boat would report favourably of what they had heard and seen. Mr. Hardisty, formerly the chief trader here, gave me a letter for them, which Mr. Lockhart, the gentleman now in charge, read to them, at the same time commending me himself to their attention. On his return, I went out, and, seating them in semicircles upon the ground, delivered to them my message. I said nothing about the peculiar sins of which they were guilty, but as plainly and earnestly as possible showed them their ruin by nature, and the marvellous way of salvation our God hath provided for us; after which, with the aid of those who had been in the boat, I sang a hymn, and then all for the first time knelt in prayer. Oh! it was a goodly sight to see that vast number, who had never prayed before, bending their knees, and trying to syllable the name of Jesus. The service ended, the principal chief, a rough, bold, energetic man, made a vigorous speech, and after him another did the same. Antoine, the Fort interpreter, informed me that they were glad I had come down, and that the chief had declared his intention of being guided by what I said, and requested all his followers to do the same. The second chief re-echoed his sentiments. Joy filled my very soul, and I sought my chamber to weep there.
"Mr. Lockhart kindly placed the largest room in the Fort at my disposal; and having arranged my Bible illustrations round it, and divided the Indians into four parties, with a chief at the head of each, I purpose having one party in at a time for instruction, and, morning and evening, to have service with them outside collectively. On these occasions the Fort interpreter has kindly promised to help me, and as he will be engaged during the day, William, who carne down with me from La Pierre's House, will do admirably for the classes.
"July 7. Lord's Day.--At six o'clock we had service outside, when I addressed the Indians on the duties of God's own day. Every soul was present, and paid the greatest attention to what was said, and were really rejoiced when I told them of the way it was observed by the Indians of Norway House, Cumberland, &c. After breakfast I had a short service for the Europeans, of whom there are seven here; and then the Indians in their classes till evening. Tonight they warmed much with their subject, and appear more and more delighted to hear. I cannot doubt that God is inclining their hearts to Himself. They have hitherto been notorious for violence and turbulence of character. Only last autumn a man was stabbed close to the Fort, and his wife stolen. The poor sufferer lingered a day or so and then died.
"July 8.--At the six o'clock service this morning, I exhorted the Indians very strongly to repentance for their sins past, and to holiness of life for the future. At the close of the service, the medicine man, a most notorious person, who has wielded unlimited influence over the minds of all, stood up, and, in the presence of all, renounced his curious arts. If he is really sincere, the Gospel will have achieved a noble victory. He is certainly the great high-priest of Shamanism here, and with him I hope it will fall. Being, however, so thoroughly rooted in their minds, and possessing, as they all do, such confidence in its powers, it will not be a little effort that will overcome it, and therefore I must not be too sanguine. At my classes five men declared openly that they had been guilty of murder, and expressed much sorrow, with the determination, God helping them, never to do so again. At the evening service I spoke to them upon the first four commandments with a view of leading them to-morrow to the sixth and seventh, the sins of which I cannot longer refrain from bringing before them, and openly denouncing.
"July 9.--The sixth and seventh commandments were explained this morning at the early service, and so far from the Indians taking offence, the message brought conviction to some. Cenati, who has killed many Indians, and who now has no fewer than five wives, stood up in the presence of all, and acknowledged his transgression, and voluntarily offered to give up four of his wives. Others who had two wives followed his example. On all it was imperatively enjoined that from this day polygamy was to cease. This met with the most hearty approval of all, young and old, men and women, chiefs and followers.
"Then came the sad and harrowing tales of murder and infanticide. No fewer than thirteen women confessed to having slain their infant girls; some in the most cruel and heartless manner. The day was fully occupied with these matters, and in the evening the following three commandments were explained. Thank God, the way is now clear, the whole counsel of God may be fully declared to them. The gentlemen of the Fort testify that they never could have believed the Indians would be so tractable.
"July 10.--At the morning service I declared fully the way of salvation through a crucified Redeemer. Every one paid the greatest attention. In the afternoon I had the classes as usual, when three more men acknowledged having killed others, but said, 'they were then like people in a thick wood, not knowing the right track from the wrong; now they can see a little, and will never do so again." This afternoon about twenty of the Indians left; their provisions being spent, they could remain no longer. All the others were at the evening service as usual. As I had done at La Pierre's House, I endeavoured here to teach the hymn, and morning and evening prayer, which I had translated into Loucheux, to five or six of the young men thoroughly, so that they may teach others after my departure. To-night three of them, at my request, conducted service with all the others, just as if I were not present, and all of them managed it admirably. As these will each be with a separate party or tribe during the winter, God's praise, will, I trust be sung, from day to day, in places where it has never been sung before. They are also learning the Ten Commandments by heart likewise; and to-night the great medicine man stood up before all the others, as they were seated on the ground, and said them all perfectly, his countrymen repeating them after him. Of course the longer commandments were not said in full. Each one consisted of one sentence only; thus, the fourth was, "Thou shalt keep God's day holy," and so on with the others. It will be a great point gained, however, if one from each tribe learns them even thus, to teach through the winter to others.
"July 12.--Service and classes this morning as usual. At three o'clock in the afternoon I assembled them again for a brief farewell address. I earnestly pressed upon them the necessity for firmness in the truths in which they had been instructed; and besought them with all diligence to cleave unto the Lord Jesus Christ. They were all deeply moved, and begged of me to come again next year so earnestly, that they extorted the promise from me. I could not refuse, and yet I ought not to have done so, as I had in a manner pledged myself to go to Bear Lake, having disappointed them there this year. My hope is, however, that a fellow-labourer will arrive by the boats, and we shall thus be able to meet the wishes of both parties. The speech of the principal chief and the medicine man were very noble and good, and manifested much wisdom and good feeling. A chief from near Behring's Straits said it had all been like a dream to him. He did not know whether he could carry much of what he-had heard to his people, but as I had promised to come again next year, he would, if alive, bring a number of his people up, that they might hear for themselves."
"The very thought of the Redeemer's praise being sung from the extreme cast to the far west is," says Mr. Kirkby, "exhilarating, and helps us to look forward to the time when all dwellers in the wilderness shall kneel before Him."
On the 13th of July Mr. Kirkby set out on his return to the Mackenzie River. He writes:--"We are again fairly on our way. I shall, I fear, be very tired of my canoe long before reaching La Pierre's House. It is so small that there is barely room to sit in, and of course I am obliged to keep motionless, lest the canoe should capsize. In addition to myself, I have a little Indian boy, about ten years old, who was given to me yesterday by his father, to train and educate for future usefulness, if God be so pleased to use him. He is a nice little boy, and will, I think, learn quickly. He has attached himself to me, poor little fellow, but he could not refrain from crying very much last night for his father. His mother died two or three years ago. From his having two rather large teeth in front of his mouth, he is called "Beaver Teeth," but I hope to give him my own name William.--July 27. We have toiled hard, hoping to reach La Pierre's House, but, finding it impossible, we have encamped, and, by a very early start, hope to be there shortly after breakfast. During the fifteen days we have been coming up the Youcon, we have not seen a single Indian, all being in the interior, making their summer hunts. The Indian who promised to have a supply of dried meat for us failed. Had we not therefore been fortunate in shooting some geese, we should have been poorly off.--July 28. About eleven o'clock this morning we reached La Pierre's House. The officer in charge and his wife received me most kindly, as did the few Indians present. I held a service with the Indians, and in the afternoon I baptized the wife of the officer in charge and her daughter, about six years old.--July 29. After sixteen nights sleeping in the open air, on the sand, gravel, or stones, just as the beach happened to be when we encamped, I enjoyed the quiet and luxury of a night's lodging in the house again.--July 30. After breakfast, we wished our friends at La Pierre's House good-bye, and set off on our toilsome journey across the mountains.--July 31. The first night after leaving Peel's River, four Indians joined us with a supply of food for our need, and, by a strange coincidence, this morning, when we awoke, three Indians were with us who had come up to us with a supply of food during the night. As soon as I saw them, I recognized them as old friends. They had been to La Pierre's House, hoping to meet me there, and, hearing we had started they followed us. Two of them will go with us to Peel's River.--Aug. 2. I reached Peel's River in good time to-day. About sixty Indians were present, and standing on the bank was the Roman Catholic priest whom I met in the Good Hope boats. It appears that he heard of my intention of going to Youcon and at once hired a canoe and Indians, and chased me down, arriving here two days after I had left. He was much disappointed to find that I had gone, and made some preparations to follow, but being unwell, and hearing of the bad walking, the rivers to ford, and swamps to go through, he changed his mind, and has remained here ever since.--Aug. 3. I left the Fort at three o'clock this morning with the boats. Up to the moment of my departure I was busily engaged with the Indians, who were just as anxious to learn as I was to instruct. The canoe has taught me to appreciate the comforts of the boats, and twenty-eight nights sleeping outside, with only a blanket, has taught me to value the comfort of a tent. We expect to be twenty-five days going up to Fort Simpson.--, Aug. 6. We came up to a camp of Indians this morning, and remained three hours with them.--Aug. 12. Arrived at Fort Good Hope at six o'clock this morning. About thirty Indians were present, most of them joined us in our evening devotions.--Aug. 29. I reached home this evening in health and safety It is precisely three months to-day since I left, during which I have travelled over at least 3000 miles, and have been honoured by God to carry the glad tidings of salvation far within the Arctic Circle to a people who had never heard it before." In October of this year, 1862, the Rev. Robert Macdonald arrived in the Youcon district, having been appointed to take charge of this new work. He at once commenced the study of the Tukuth language, in order that he might address the Indians in their own tongue. He not only instructed those at the Fort, but he went amongst the Indians in the surrounding country, preaching and teaching as he fou'hd opportunity. A leading chief of the Youcons was a first-fruit of his ministry. This chief died towards the close of the year 1864, "exhorting his people to become Christians indeed, that they might follow him to that blessed place whither he felt sure he was going." Here Mr. Macdonald still labours assiduously, traversing the country, and carrying the Gospel to numerous tribes hitherto strangers to the joyful sound. It is surely a hopeful sign that nearly all listen to his teaching with attention, and to many the Holy Spirit has brought home the message with convincing power, leading them to forsake their heathen customs and to seek admission into the Christian Church. In one tribe indeed there are scarcely any unbaptized persons.
The Tukuth Indians differ in their customs from other tribes on the Continent. "They are," says Mr. Kirkby, "the only people I have met with who either collect wealth or have a system of barter. Their medium of currency is beads; the standard bead is a large one of white enamel manufactured in Italy. They are purchased from the Company's stores, and threaded by the women on strips of fine leather, a fathom being equal to the Company's standard of a mole beaver."
"They are an athletic and fine-looking race, about the average stature, and remarkably well proportioned. They have black hair, fine sparkling eyes, well-set teeth, moderately high cheek-bones, and a fair complexion. They perforate the septum of the nose, and insert two shells joined together and tipped with a coloured bead at each end. Their dress is a kind of peaked shirt, made of deer-skin, dressed with the hair on, and trousers to which shoes are attached. The hinder part of the shirt is fringed with fancy beads, and small leathern tassels, wound round with dyed porcupine quills, and strung with the silvery fruit of the oleaster. The hair is tied behind in a cue, bound round at the root with a fillet of shells and beads, and loose at the end. The tail feathers of the eagle or fishing-hawk are stuck in the hair at the back of the head. The only difference between the dress of the women and that of the men is that the tunic of the former is rather longer, rounded instead of pointed in the front, and more profusely decorated with beads or hyaqua shells."
"For the purpose of taking fish they construct weirs, a practice common in British Columbia, but which does not exist eastward of the Rocky Mountains, while of the nets of the Crees they are ignorant. Their deer-skin tents or lodges are hemispherical in shape, resembling the Esquimaux snow-houses, and the Yourts of the Asiatic Nomades."
Mr. Kirkby has translated into the native dialect a number of prayers, hymns, and tracts, a catechism, short Bible lessons, and an abridgment of Gospel history. He also collected materials from which a skeleton grammar and vocabulary have been formed by the fellow-labourers who came to his aid towards the close of the year 1865, as we shall find in our next chapter. The acquisition of the language will thus be rendered easier to the Missionaries who may in future occupy this post. These translations are in the syllabic character, which is quickly learnt by the Indians.
A handsome church, dwelling-house, and school were erected by Mr. Kirkby at Fort Simpson, and this in a place where only two or three labourers can be obtained at a time. During the erection of these buildings, Mr. Kirkby himself worked as hard as a day-labourer. Nor, while so engaged, were the higher duties of a Missionary neglected. Besides ministering to the Indian tribes scattered over the country from the Mackenzie to Fort Youcon, Mr. Kirkby manifested a Christ-like zeal for the souls of the servants of the Hudson's Bay Company at the posts in the districts. "Quite a revival in religion is attributed by the Company's officers to his exertions amongst them," wrote the Missionary sent to his aid in 1866.
Exposed to temptation, as these Europeans are, far away from the restraints of civilization, how invaluable is the influence of the true minister of Christ, who, instructing in season, and out of season, labours to bring the wanderers into the fold! Here in a remote corner of the earth is noiselessly arising upon the true foundation, Jesus Christ, a portion of the building which groweth unto an holy Temple in the Lord.
". . . . Then in awful state
The Temple rear'd its everlasting gate,
No workman's steel, no ponderous axes rung;
Like some tall palm the noiseless fabric sprung.
.... Hark! white-robed crowds their deep hosannas raise,
And the hoarse flood repeats the sound of praise,
Ten thousand harps attune the mystic song,
Ten thousand saints the strain prolong,
Worthy the Lamb! Omnipotent to save,
Who died, who lives, triumphant o'er the grave."
Bishop Heber's Palestine.