The Journal of the Bishop of Montreal, during a Visit to the Church Missionary Society's North-West America Mission. By George Jehoshaphat Mountain London: Seeleys, 1849.
As some of the readers of the Bishop of Montreal's interesting Letters may be anxious to know more of the Missionary labours which have been carried on by the CHURCH MISSIONARY SOCIETY in Prince Rupert's Land, it has been considered advisable to give a brief historical notice of the North-West America Mission.
Geographical Position and Inhabitants of Prince Rupert's Land.
Communication is maintained between England and Prince Rupert's Land either through Canada, by the route so fully described by the Bishop, or by means of the Hudson's Bay Company's ships, which sail from England about the end of May or beginning of June, and usually arrive at York Fort, on the shores of Hudson's Bay, some time in the month of August. It is only during four months in the summer that Hudson's Bay is navigable, on account of the ice. This may serve to give some idea of the secluded character of those remote regions. The Territories granted to the Hudson's Bay Company, by a Charter from King Charles the Second in 1669, are of great extent, reaching from the western boundary of Canada to the Pacific Ocean, and from the frontier of the United States, in about North Lat. 50º, to as far North as has hitherto been explored; with the exception of a portion to the North-West, which belongs to the Empire of Russia. This immense tract of country is varied by a succession of plains, lakes, and rivers; and it is intersected, between W. Long. 115º and 130º, [ii/iii] by a chain of mountains called the Rocky Mountains, running from North-West to South-East.
The Indians, who are thinly scattered through out this vast extent of country, have no towns or villages; but live in tents, and obtain a scanty subsistence by hunting and fishing. They have been so fully and graphically described by the Bishop, that nothing need here be added, except the fact that the Tribes among whom Missionary labours have been carried on by the Church Missionary Society are chiefly the Muscaigoes, or Swampy Crees, and the Saulteaux, a branch of the Chippeways.
Earliest Labours of the Society, through the Rev. J. West.
It was in the year 1820 that the attention of the Committee of the Church Missionary Society was first called to this scattered portion of the human family. Two proposals were then made to the Society, one of which had reference to the Indians who lived to the West of the Rocky Mountains. No available opportunity, however, occurred for acting upon this suggestion.
The other proposal related chiefly to the Indians on this side of the same chain of mountains, and [iii/iv] was the result of the following circumstances. In the year 1811, an Agricultural Settlement was formed on the banks of the Red River, to the south of Lake Winnipeg, by the late Earl of Selkirk. After an eventful history, this Settlement was increased, owing to the same place having been selected as a location for retired servants of the Hudson's Bay Company. To this Settlement the Rev. J. West, an active friend of the Society, was, in 1820, appointed Chaplain. Being desirous, if possible, of availing himself of any opportunities which his new position might place within his reach to benefit the surrounding heathen, he laid before the Committee a judicious paper, on the most promising means of promoting the instruction of the Indians; and offered his services in carrying out some of the suggestions contained in it, by establishing Schools for the Indians in the vicinity of the Red River. [See Appendix xii of the 20th Report.] The sum of 100l. was accordingly placed at Mr. West's disposal, for the year 1820, to enable him to make trial of his proposed plan.
Mr. West left England in one of the Company's ships at the end of May 1820, and arrived at York Fort on the 15th of August. He remained [iv/v] here upward of a fortnight, while arrangements were made for proceeding to his destination. During this period, he had many opportunities of visiting the Indians in their tents, and was much impressed with their degraded state. One of them, named Withaweecapo, who had two wives, was prevailed upon to give up two of his children to Mr. West's care to be educated, and it was arranged that one of them should proceed with him to the Red River, and that the other should follow. Mr. West wrote in 1841--
Well do I remember Withaweecapo bringing his son to me in his arms, as I sat in the boat waiting for him; and, as he parted with his boy, with tears of affection saying, "There, I give you my son to teach as you say; because I tbink you will take care of him as you say, and will treat him as a father. But I shall come and see my boy."
It is an interesting fact, that fourteen years afterward, Withaweecapo fulfilled his intention. He came a distance of many hundred miles to "see his boy." During that visit, he heard and embraced the Gospel. He put away one of his wives, and was married to the other. He now sleeps by the side of the Indian Church. His widow is a Communicant, and all their children, seven in number, are Christians.
[vi] On Mr. West's arrival at Norway House, he obtained another Indian boy; and on entering the mouth of the Red River, after having traversed the whole length of Lake Winnipeg, he first be came acquainted with a band of Saulteaux Indians, then encamped at Netley Creek as their summer residence, who, with their Chief Pigwys, occupy a somewhat prominent place in the subsequent annals of the Mission.
The Settlement, at this time, consisted of a number of huts widely scattered along the margin of the River. There was a Roman-Catholic Chapel in course of erection; and a small house adjoining, the residence of the Priest; but no protestant Church or School-house. The state of the European and mixed population was such as might have been anticipated, where no opportunities existed for Public Worship, and where the sacred ordinance of marriage, with its holy sanctions and attendant obligations, had fallen into disuse. From his first arrival at York Fort, however, Mr. West found his ministrations well attended. One of the Settlers, being present at Divine Service at Fort Douglas, on the second Lord's-day after Mr. West's arrival at the Red River, stated that it was the happiest day of his life; as he had not been [vi/vii] at a place of worship for thirty years, since he left England.
In order that no time might be lost, a temporary log-house, conveniently situated near the dwellings of the Protestant Settlers, was repaired and opened as a School under the care of Mr. Harbidge, who had accompanied Mr. West from England with that view. The number of Scholars soon amounted to thirty. The Indian boys, how ever, still continued under the personal care and instruction of Mr. West.
In the beginning of the year 1821, Mr. West, in the discharge of his duties as Chaplain, visited the Company's Trading Establishments at Bran don House and Beaver Creek. During this journey of 500 or 600 miles, performed in a cariole drawn by dogs, he had frequent opportunities of intercourse with Indians, many of whom seemed to appreciate the kind interest which he took in their behalf; and he believed that several children would have been entrusted to him, if he had had an establishment prepared for their reception. One boy was sent to him, about three months afterward, by an Indian with whom he conversed on this occasion.
When the time came for sending letters to England, in the following September, Mr. West [vii/viii] was able to report favourably respecting his labours and prospects. He stated--
Those boys who have been with me since last year can now converse pretty freely in English, are just beginning to read, and can repeat the Lord's Prayer correctly. The other day, I gave them a small portion of ground for a garden, and I never saw European school-boys more delighted than they were in hoeing and planting it.
He also stated, that, as there was every probability that many more children would be consigned to his care, a School-house, sixty feet by twenty, with rooms partitioned off at each end for a Schoolmaster and a hunter, was in course of erection as an establishment for them.
Formation of the North-West America Mission.
On the arrival of these communications in England, a Special Meeting of the Committee was held on the 28th of January 1822, to take them into consideration. This Meeting was at tended by Benjamin Harrison, Esq., and Nicholas Garry, Esq., two of the Directors of the Hudson's Bay Company, who gave such a detail of circumstances connected with the Red River Settlement, [viii/ix] and the prospects of usefulness among the numerous Tribes of Indians to which access by its means may ultimately be obtained, that it was unanimously determined that a regular Mission should be formed under the superintendence of Mr. West; that another Missionary should be sent out to his assistance; and that the establishment for Indian children should be carried on at the charge of the Society.
Tidings of this arrangement were received by Mr. West with much joy and gratitude. He wrote, on the 28th of August--
No one ever received news from a far country which more gladdened the heart than your letters did mine. I read them again and again with lively emotions of gratitude, and with joyful hope, that, as the sinews of war are now afforded, the Banner of the Cross would be successfully unfurled among the British North-American Indians.
At the end of this year, there were eight Indian boys and two girls, with a Half-breed woman to take care of the children, upon the establishment. Two of the boys, who were able to read the New Testament, and repeat the Church Catechism and the chief truths of the Christian religion, had been baptized, by the names of James Hope and Henry Budd; and the School-house had [ix/x] been completed, and used as a temporary place for Divine Worship.
Building of a Church.
A more suitable building for this purpose, however, was felt to be necessary; and in June 1823, a Church was completed. It was an humble structure, built of wood; but it was an object of much interest, as being the first Protestant Church ever built in those wide regions where the Indians roam.
On this subject Mr. West remarked--
I have just had the happiness to see the accomplishment of the wish so feelingly expressed by the late Mr. Semple, who fell mortally wounded near the spot where our buildings are erected. In a Letter, dated in the year 1815, he observed--
I have trodden the burnt ruins of houses, barns, a mill, a fort, and sharpened stockades; but none of a Place of Worship, even upon the smallest scale. I blush to say that, over the whole extent of the Hudson's-Bay Territories, no such building exists. It is surely high time that this foul reproach should be done away from among men belonging to a Christian Nation. I must confess that I am anxious to see the first little Christian Church, and steeple of wood, slowly rising among the wilds; and to hear the sound of the first Sabbath-bell which has tolled here since the Creation.
[xi] As I was returning from visiting some of the Settlers about nine or ten miles below, one evening, the lengthened shadows of the setting sun cast from the buildings, and the consideration that there was now a land mark of Christianity in this wild waste, and an Asylum opened for the instruction and maintenance of Indian children, raised the most agreeable sensations in my mind; and led me into a train of thought which awakened a hope, that, in the divine compassion of the Saviour, it might be the means of raising a Spiritual Temple in this wilderness to the honour of His name. In the present state of the people, I considered it no small point gained, to have formed a religious establishment. The outward walls, even, and spire of the Church, cannot fail of having some effect on the minds of a wandering people, and of the population of the Settlement.
The Congregation at this time consisted, on an average, of from 100 to 130; and among the Sunday-scholars, 50 in number, were included several adult Indian women, married to Europeans.
Having laboured so successfully in laying the foundation of the Mission, at the sacrifice, which he deeply felt, of being separated for three years from his wife and family, Mr. West resolved to visit England, with the intention of returning with them to the scene of his labours. Circumstances of various kinds, however, prevented the fulfilment of this last intention.
Entrance of the Rev. D. T. Jones on the Mission, and Departure of Mr. West.
In the mean time, the services of the Rev. D. T. Jones had been appropriated by the Committee to this Mission, and he accordingly sailed from England in the Company's ship in June 1823.
Mr. West left the Red River Settlement on the 11th of June, and arrived at York Fort on the 2nd of July. He then proceeded on foot to visit Fort Churchill, on the western side of Hudson's Bay, with a view to obtain some intercourse with the Esquimaux, in whom he felt deeply interested from some conversation which he had had in the preceding year with Captain Franklin and Dr. Richardson, when they returned from the Northern Land Expedition.
Some interesting extracts from Mr. West's Journal during this visit are given in the Twenty-fourth Report, pp. 202-4.
He returned to York Fort on the nineteenth of August, and spent about three weeks with Mr. Jones, who had arrived three days before, conferring on the best means of promoting the Mission.
[xiii] At the end of this time, Mr. West sailed for England, and Mr. Jones, with two Indian boys brought by Mr. West from Fort Churchill, proceeded on his journey to the Red River, where he immediately entered on the sphere of labour occupied by his predecessor.
The account of his proceedings which Mr. Jones was enabled to send home in the summer of 1824 was most encouraging.
He met with much countenance and support from the Authorities of the Hudson's Bay company. The Church had not only been crowded all the winter, but had become much too small to contain the Congregation, so that it became necessary to commence the erection of an additional Church. There were twelve Indian boys and two girls in the Establishment. The number of Sunday-scholars had increased to 169. And the eagerness of some of the Half-breed youths to obtain instruction, as well as the progress of the Indian children, and the susceptibility of religious feeling manifested by them, were exceedingly encouraging.
In reference to the Congregation, Mr. Jones wrote--
It is truly gratifying to my soul, on the Lord's-day morning, to look out of my window, and see the [xiii/xiv] people coming in groups, as far as the eye can reach; and my pleasure is doubly heightened, when I perceive them, as they pass, to be principally Half-breed Natives and Indians. I am ready to cry, from the impulse of congenial feeling with the Psalmist, "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the House of the Lord. whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord."
Completion of a Second Church Trials and Progress of the Mission.
On the thirtieth of January in the following year, 1825, the New Church was completed and opened for Divine Service. It was built on a plain called Image Plain, about six miles lower down the Settlement than the Upper Church. The Settlers subscribed liberally, according to their means, toward its erection. The congregations at both Churches were large and attentive.
Mr. Jones at this time remarked--
The work of the Lord is growing daily. I am hardly a day without some new encouragement to proceed.
In the autumn of this year Mr. Jones was joined by the Rev. W. Cockran, to whose [xiv/xv] character and labours a most favourable and just testimony is borne by the Bishop.
One event, which occurred at the close of this year, must not be omitted in this sketch the admission of the first Native Indian to the Lord's Supper. She was the wife of a European Settler, and had for a long time been most regular in her attendance on the means of grace. Her knowledge of divine things had increased rapidly, and her conduct corresponded with her professed determination to forsake all and follow Christ. Her daughter followed her example, and became an ornament to religion and a blessing to her neighbourhood. Mr. Jones could not help shedding tears of joy at this additional proof of divine approbation afforded to his labours.
The year 1826 was a most eventful and trying period to the Settlement and the Mission. The severity of the winter had been unprecedented. The buffalo in the hunting-grounds had previously failed. The Settlers were compelled to support their cattle upon wheat and barley, there by rendering it doubtful whether any would remain for seed. On account of the lateness of the season it was feared that no wheat-crops could be expected at all, and if any thing occurred [xv/xvi] to prevent the prosperity of barley and potatoes, a famine seemed inevitable. This distress was increased by the destructive inundation to which the Bishop refers, and which might well be regarded by the inhabitants as an era not to be forgot ten. It prevailed from the beginning of May till the middle of June. Nearly every house in the Settlement was swept away, and the country laid under water as far as the eye could reach. The Missionaries, in common with the rest of the inhabitants, were obliged, for about a month, to leave their dwellings, and reside under tents pitched on a high spot of ground. A particularly interesting account of this distressing visitation is contained in the Missionary Register for 1826, pp. 633-637. In the midst of judgment, how ever, God remembered mercy. The Churches, School-houses, and dwellings of the Missionaries, were but little injured; the fears entertained respecting the barley and potato-crops proved groundless; and the happy influence which their distresses produced upon the minds of the people illustrated the declaration of Scripture, "When the judgments of the Lord are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness."
During the next four years, the progress of [xvi/xvii] the Mission was satisfactory and encouraging; but it was not marked by any occurrence of striking interest. Mr. Jones visited England for the benefit of his health, and returned to his labours accompanied by Mrs. Jones. The attendance at the two Churches continued to be good. The number of Communicants was greatly in creased. In 1824, there were only six; in 1828, there were 134, of whom seven or eight were Indians. A school was opened for the reception of the daughters of gentlemen in the Hudson's Bay Company's service. There were altogether four daily Schools, beside Sunday-schools. The number of Indian children maintained and educated by the Society was about twenty; which number might have been almost indefinitely in creased, had the means of procuring subsistence for them been less precarious. One pleasing fact in illustration of this should be noticed. Two Indian boys, who had been brought by Governor Simpson in 1825 from beyond the Rocky Mountains, went home on a visit to their parents, after they had been under instruction for about four years. They soon returned, bringing with them five other boys, four of whom were the sons of four different Chiefs, the heads of large Tribes in that part of the country and [xvii/xviii] each speaking a different dialect from the others. While this circumstance clearly manifested the confidence placed by the Natives there in the good faith of the White people, as well as their desire for instruction, it could not fail to suggest the pleasing anticipation that when these youths should return to their own friends, after having been instructed in Christianity, they might be made an extensive blessing. And this anticipation was not groundless. For when a Missionary visited those remote districts many years afterward, he found a band of Indians prepared to welcome his message, having learned to appreciate the blessings of the Gospel from one of these youths.
Erection of a Third Church.
On the return of Mr. Jones from England, another important step was taken in order to extend the benefits of pastoral superintendence on the banks of the Red River. A considerable population, consisting almost entirely of Half-breeds, had settled in the neighbourhood of a place called Grand Rapids, about fourteen miles from the Upper Church, and eight miles below what was then the Lower Church. This [xviii/xix] distance obviously precluded them from availing themselves of the ministrations provided in those Churches, and at the request of an individual who opened his house for the purpose, one or other of the Missionaries went down once a fort night to hold a Cottage Lecture, which was usually attended by about thirty of the inhabitants. This service was so much valued by the people, and appeared to be productive of so many beneficial results, that it was arranged that Mr. Cockran should take up his residence at Grand Rapids. He was now able to hold a regular Service, first in his own house, and afterward in a Schoolroom. The number of attendants soon became so great that the need of a Church began to be urgently felt.
The manner in which this object was accomplished was very interesting. The people were all poor; but they "offered willingly" what they could, both in money and materials, as well as in labour. They first began by collecting stones for the foundation. Then he who possessed an axe went into the woods to hew timber, which was hauled down to the intended site by him who possessed an ox, and thus by united efforts, and without any extraneous assistance, they succeeded in erecting a House of God, the best [xix/xx] building of the kind that had yet been raised in Rupert's Land.
On occasion of the opening of this Church, May 1, 1832, Mr. Cockran wrote--
It was a day of thankfulness, as well as a spiritual feast to us who were present: our cup truly overflowed with the remembrance of His goodness to us all the time we had been engaged in the work. Not one who had been employed in it was detained by sick ness from the dedication: none had paid the debt of sin: all were permitted, by the kindness of God, to see the object of our prayers and industry devoted to His service.
About this time, Mr. Cockran introduced the spinning of flax into a School of Industry which he had previously established. Such an occupation was perfectly new to the children, who had never witnessed anything of the kind before.
Formation of the Indian Settlement.
Some account must now be given of what the Bishop justly characterizes as a "great and most happy, but, in the first instance, most arduous experiment" of endeavouring "to establish the Natives in settled habitations, and in a compact civilized community, as tillers of the soil."
[xxi] Hitherto the labours of the Missionaries had been chiefly directed to the European Settlers, and their descendants of mixed blood. Some thing had been effected by occasional intercourse with individual Natives; but, with the exception of the Indian School, no systematic effort had been made in their behalf. It was the settled conviction of the Missionaries that nothing of a decided and permanent character could be effected for the religious instruction of the Indians, so long as they were compelled to wander about in search of a precarious subsistence, and thus were prevented from availing themselves, for a sufficient length of time, of the means of grace, and opportunities of instruction. To those, however, who were acquainted with the Indian character, the very idea of inducing them to give up their erratic habits, and heathen customs and prejudices, appeared altogether visionary. But, formidable as the difficulties were, Mr. Cockran resolved to encounter them; and to allow no discouragements, which faith and patience could overcome, to deter him from prosecuting the undertaking.
Accordingly, having obtained the permission of Governor Simpson to try the experiment of locating the Indians near Netley Creek, in the neighbourhood of the spot where Pigwys and his [xxi/xxii] tribe of Saulteaux were in the habit of pitching their tents during the summer, he had several interviews with the old Chief, in which he explained to him his intentions, and sought to obtain his consent and co-operation. The distressed condition of the tribe during winter was referred to, and the advantages of cultivation pointed out. Many questions were asked, and objections urged, by the Chief--Would they be required to lay aside the Indian "medicine?" Would the Chief's influence be lessened? The change proposed was contrary to the customs of their ancestors, which they were unwilling to relinquish. At length, however, after repeated consultations with the old men of his Tribe, the Chief called upon Mr. Cockran, and announced his assent to the proposal; but he would give no encouragement all to the idea of establishing a School for the instruction of the children.
It was on the 18th of April 1832, when the River had scarcely become navigable by the breaking up of the ice, that Mr. Cockran set out to select a piece of ground on which to teach the Indians agriculture. The waves were running high, the North wind blew keenly, huge blocks of ice, piled up by the force of the water, garnished the sides of the River, and the whole aspect was [xxii/xxiii] chilling and dreary. On arriving at the Chiefs tent, he could not be prevailed upon to expose himself to the discomfort of the weather in order to assist in the selection. At the distance of from fourteen to sixteen miles below Grand Rapids, the land on both sides of the River, being low and swampy, appeared at this time to be almost inundated by the melted snow. The only dry spot was that which the Saulteaux usually choose for their summer encampment. There were many things which rendered it unsuitable as a permanent Settlement; but as it was a place to which the Indians were attached, and in which there were not many difficulties to be overcome in clearing the ground, Mr. Cockran fixed upon it as the most suitable for his present purpose.
Commencement of Agricultural and Building Operations.
To this place, on the 3rd of May, Mr. Cockran sent two servants, with oxen and agricultural implements; but the Indians had not yet arrived from their winter encampment; and when they came, instead of performing their promise to prepare the ground, they were holding a conjuring feast in order to ascertain whether the [xxiii/xxiv] proposed change would be beneficial. So great was their indifference, that the Chief could not induce any of his men to paddle the canoe to Grand Rapids, to procure an additional supply of the seed-corn and potatoes which was intended for their own benefit.
At length, however, seven families were induced to cultivate a little; and among them seventy bushels of potatoes were planted, and ten bushels of barley, and three of wheat, were sown. An unpropitious season interfered with the productiveness of the wheat and potatoes, and afforded the Indians a plausible ground for stating that they could not be expected to succeed in a course which was contrary to the customs and habits of their ancestors. The barley yielded an average crop, and on the 3rd of September, Mr. Cockran went down with seven sickles, and gave the Indians some instruction in the art of using them. Notwithstanding the awkwardness of their first attempts, these new students of agriculture at length succeeded in securing the harvest.
Mr. Cockran's next object was to build a house for the Chief. For this purpose, in addition to his servant--an old man who could put up the frame of a house, but who never felt much inclined to labour he engaged the services of [xxiv/xxv] three Indians, who were as little accustomed to the business of a carpenter as they were to that of a farmer; a slight blister occasioned by the use of a hatchet being at any time sufficient to induce them to lay aside their employment. When this house was finished, another was commenced for the old man before referred to, who had agreed to spend the winter in that place.
An Indian, whose name signifies Red Deer, had been more diligent and successful than the others in his farming operations, and he now applied for assistance to build a house, and a cellar to contain his produce. A man was engaged to assist him, and both laboured diligently till the house was completed.
Another Indian, who belonged to a different Tribe, and came from the neighbourhood of Norway House, followed the same example, having obtained a grant of land from the Chief for the purpose. This completes the small number of those who were willing this year to profit by the means afforded them for adopting the habits of civilized life.
Change in the Locality of the Settlement--Establishment of a School and Week-day Lecture.
The little progress thus made, however, was sufficient to encourage Mr. Cockran to proceed with his benevolent plans. As has been already stated, the place in which these plans were hither to carried on, originally chosen from its immediate vicinity to the Saulteaux encampment, had many disadvantages. Several families of other Tribes, chiefly Muscaigoes, or Swampy Crees, had also manifested a disposition to settle, and it was undesirable, at present, that they should be brought too near the Saulteaux. [For some time many families of this Tribe had been drifting to the Red-River Settlement, on account of their having relatives among the Half-breeds who resided there. Among these were some very old men, one of whom told Mr. Jones that he had left his own country, not with a view of bettering his outward condition, but because he had heard that One from above had come to this world to save the souls of men, and he wished to learn something about Him. In 1832, at the Upper Church, Mr. Jones preached on Lord's-day evenings, through an interpreter, to a Congregation of from seventy to eighty of these people, whose regular attendance, and desire to learn, gave him much encouragement.] Accordingly, in the [xxvi/xxvii] following year, 1833, another very eligible location, three miles higher up the River, and about twelve miles from Grand Rapids, was selected, on which to form a more permanent Settlement.
To these Indians, as well as to the Saulteaux, Mr. Cockran sent a plough and a pair of oxen, some other agricultural implements, and a supply of seed-corn and potatoes. All wrought well; the old Chief Pigwys, especially, setting a good example to his people by his diligence and perseverance.
In the autumn, nine small houses were built at the new Settlement. Each house was twenty-four feet by sixteen, with a cellar for potatoes. Mr. Cockran remarked--
I do not pretend to say that any of these cottages were either neat or elegant. The seams of the log-walls were plastered with mud; the chimneys were of the same material; the roofs were thatched with reeds and covered with earth; the boards of the floors, and doors, and beds, were planed with the saw; and the windows were formed of parchment made of the skins of fishes.
Each Indian who built a house was supplied with clothing, tools, and a more experienced man to assist and direct him. During this period, Mr. Cockran spent several days together at the [xxvii/xxviii] Settlement, and frequently laboured with his own hands.
A Schoolroom, forty feet by twenty, with a residence for the Master at one end, and a loft above to serve as a granary, was also completed. Lest the children should be dispersed by the necessity of searching for food during the winter, it was arranged that they should be provided with one good meal each day. With this view, twenty acres of land at the Rapids were sown with wheat, and a fishing party was sent to Lake Winnipeg to endeavour to obtain a stock of fish for winter consumption. It was also found absolutely necessary to supply the children with some articles of clothing.
When all these arrangements were made, the School was opened on the 25th of November, with thirty-two children. Mr. Joseph Cook, whose father was an Englishman, and whose mother was a Cree-Indian, was appointed Schoolmaster. On account of the utter absence of parental control among the Indians, it was found exceedingly difficult, at first, to maintain anything like order and discipline; but, by degrees, a marked improvement was observable in this respect.
Shortly afterward, a week-day Lecture was established by Mr. Cockran, in the Schoolroom, [xxviii/xxix] for the benefit of the adults. The attendance at first was small; but it soon increased, and the Lecture became an object of much interest.
The following spring brought with it the usual agricultural operations, and it was encouraging to see the progress which had been made. On the 7th of May 1834, Mr. Cockran observed--
The Indians continue to enlarge their farms. The Bay in which we have commenced is all covered with persons actively employed some digging up roots, others gathering them; some sowing wheat, and others planting potatoes. How soon the industrious hand of man can change the gloomy desert into a garden! The only habitation which this Bay could boast of last spring was a solitary tent of Indians pitched here for the sake of taking fish. Now we can stand upon the opposite shore, and see the smoke of nine chimneys towering to the sky, upward of thirty children beguiling away the cheerful hours of the morning in innocent mirth before they assemble to con their lessons. We can hear the sound of the axe and the saw, the cock crowing, the hogs grunting, and the ploughman driving his oxen.
The Saulteaux Indians continued to manifest considerable opposition on the subject of having their children educated. Mr. Cockran, however, at last succeeded in obtaining from them a [xxix/xxx] reluctant promise of nine children. A new School room was accordingly built, toward the close of this year, near the Saulteaux encampment, for their especial use; but when it was finished, the children originally promised had departed with their parents to their wintering grounds. The School, however, was shortly afterward opened with five boys.
First Baptisms at the Settlement--Hopeful Death of an Adult Indian.
Mr. Cockran was this year permitted to see fruit far more important than civilization, resulting from his labours. The self-denying rides along the bad roads from Grand Rapids to the Indian Settlement, in all kinds of weather, in order to attend the weekly Meeting which he had established, were more than compensated by seeing some of the adults beginning to manifest an anxiety respecting their everlasting welfare. On the 11th of September he baptized ten adults, six children attending the School, and four infants. Several of the adults had applied for the ordinance ten months previously, and they had all given sufficient evidence of their sincerity to justify their reception within the pale of the [xxx/xxxi] visible Church. There was now a small company of those who were "within" to be guided and edified, and reminded of their Christian obligations to "shine as lights in the world, amidst a crooked and perverse generation."
In little more than two months afterward, another Indian, who had for eighteen months been an orderly and improving character, and a regular attendant at the weekly meetings, became danger ously ill. He had for some time felt strongly inclined openly to avow his faith in Christ; but the furious opposition of his wife and mother had hitherto prevailed to hinder him from publicly renouncing the customs of his forefathers. In the prospect of eternity, however, he fully resolved to encounter every opposition, and to profess the faith of Christ crucified; and while the drum of the conjurer, employed by his relatives, was sounding, he sent for Mr. Cockran, who, amidst a volley of abuse from the mother and wife, which made the dying man tremble, baptized him, and two of his children who belonged to the School. He died within three days afterward; and was thus the first, in this part of the wilderness, who died in the profession of the true faith. It is a pleasing fact, that, not many weeks afterward, his widow entirely renounced her opposition, and became a Christian.
Establishment of a Lord's-day Evening Service.
In the beginning of 1835, by an arrangement with Mr. Jones respecting the duties of the Middle Church, Mr. Cockran was enabled to commence a service in the Indian Schoolroom on Lord's-day evenings. By this means a better opportunity was afforded for calling the attention of the infant Christian community to the duties and privileges of the Lord's-day. The Congregation continued to increase, and an extract from Mr. Cockran's Journal will show the encouragement which he derived, both here and at the Rapids, from this source--
May 31, 1835--I preached, in the morning, at the Rapids, to a large and attentive audience. When I say large, I mean for this part of the world; for, as we never see a concourse of people except at Church, we are liable to more excitement on this head than those who frequently cast their eyes over immense multitudes. In England, I have often expressed with astonishment, What! so many in the market, and so few in Church! Here it is the reverse. On week days, you may travel for miles, and not see a human face; but on the Lord's-day, when you draw near the Church at the hour of prayer, the track is covered with old and young and middle-aged, pressing for ward to the House of God to pay the weekly tribute [xxxii/xxxiii] of praise to the Author of their being. When you enter Church, and glance at full 300 individuals waiting to join in singing the praises of God, you say with astonishment, "This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes." In the afternoon, I visited the Indian Settlement, and preached there. The School-room was perfectly full, and the weather excessively hot. Their heads were well anointed with sturgeon oil, which rendered the effluvia of the place almost intolerable. I should be exceedingly happy if I could teach them to be more cleanly in their persons and in their houses; but, however severe I may be upon them respecting their houses, their farms, and dirty habits, at their own homes, still, when at Church, I take them as they are, and welcome them.
Further Evidence of Vital Religion.
That something more than an external appearance of devotion was to be found among some of the poor Indians who thus waited upon the Lord in His House, is evident from an interesting account, contained in the Church Missionary Record for December 1835, of the death of an Esquimaux lad, named Colon Leslie, and of the expressive and original terms in which an older Indian described the difficulties which he met with in his religious course, plainly showing that he [xxxiii/xxxiv] was no stranger to spiritual religion as a matter of experience.
Erection of a Flour-mill.
In temporal things, also, another advance was made this year. Mr. Cockran mentioned the pleasure which it gave him to see "an Indian ploughing his ground, with his own plough and ox; and his daughter driving it." The quantity of corn raised in the Indian Settlement was now so considerable, that the want of a mill to grind it began to be very greatly felt; and after encountering many difficulties, the indefatigable perseverance of Mr. Cockran succeeded in accomplishing this object. A new impulse seemed now to be given to the Indian character. Mr. Cockran, describing a visit which he made to the Indian Settlement on one occasion, remarked--
It seems quite in a bustle to-day. Some were carrying the wheat to the mill upon their backs; others were hauling it, with oxen, upon sledges. The mill was gliding steadily round, driven by a north-wind. I found 12 persons waiting for their flour. The grist-mill is the most conspicuous mark of civilization that we have planted in this rude waste, and its beneficial effect is strikingly felt by the savage. He seems [xxxiv/xxxv] all at once stimulated to develope a new character. On the blowing of the wind he is out with his wheat to winnow; gets it into his bag, runs to the mill, and stands in eager expectation of his turn. When once it is in the hopper, and the stones at work, he handles it as it falls into the box, to see if it be well ground. I thought it scarcely possible so to rouse the Indian's drowsy powers.
Rebuilding of the Upper Church--Establishment of Schools.
While this remarkable transition from barbarism to civilization was taking place in the Indian Settlement, Mr. Jones was successfully prosecuting his ministerial labours among the more mixed population of the upper part of the Colony. The Congregations at the Upper and Middle Churches consisted of about 800 or 900, including children, and the number of Communicants amounted to about 130. The first Church, though reflecting great credit on the zeal and exertions of Mr. West, and of all who were concerned in its erection, being built of logs, was fast going to decay, and it was found necessary to erect a more substantial edifice of stone. This object was accomplished by a liberal subscription on the part of the Settlers, aided by a munificent grant from the [xxxv/xxxvi] Hudson's-Bay Company, and a smaller grant from the Church Missionary Society. The building was opened for Divine Service on the 26th of November 1834. It is capable of accommodating comfortably 700 people, and 1000 might find room without being over-crowded.
Five Day-schools, containing about 400 children, had been established; beside two Seminaries for children of persons engaged in the service of the Hudson's-Bay Company, which were under the care and superintendence of Mr. and Mrs. Jones, assisted by a Tutor and Governess from England. At the different Sunday-schools, also, nearly 300 received religious instruction. Moreover, the orderly demeanour, moral conduct, and religious habits, of all classes, were, for the most part, satisfactory and cheering.
Trials of the Mission--Death of Mrs. Jones.
The year 1836 was a season of heavy trial to the whole Mission. A severe frost, which occurred in the middle of August, completely destroyed the wheat crops and all garden seeds. The buffalo hunters returned from the plains with empty carriages. The Company's ship, after having landed her passengers at York Fort, was [xxxvi/xxxvii] driven out of Hudson's Bay by a severe storm, and compelled to return to England without having been able to land her cargo or to receive any despatches; and thus the Mission was obliged to remain another year without communications from home, and supplies of various kinds which were urgently needed. But a loss, still more deeply felt, occurred by the sudden removal of Mrs. Jones in the midst of her usefulness; leaving Mr. Jones a bereaved widower, and five children motherless.
In the midst of these complicated difficulties and sorrows, however, there were some important and soothing alleviations. The barley harvest was good, and the potatoes not altogether unproductive. The quantity of cattle which the people possessed, and the large stock of old grain which was in the hands of several, enabled them to pass the winter without much inconvenience. The sympathy and sensibility called forth by the death of Mrs. Jones, was exceedingly touching. When Mr. Cockran, immediately on receiving the melancholy intelligence, set out to visit his afflicted brother, every one he met was equally disconsolate--"a shake by the hand, a few faltering words, a deep sigh, and a flood of tears, were all that passed." Her loss was regarded by the [xxxvii/xxxviii] whole Protestant population as the heaviest of that trying season. Their language was, "Our crops have been smitten by the frost; our supplies are cut off by the non-arrival of the ships: seed-time and harvest will come again: a new summer may bring another ship; but Mrs. Jones will never return!" Among the Roman Catholic population, also, there was a feeling of sympathy, and even the untutored savage showed, by his silent grief, that he had lost a friend.
Illustrations of the Effect of the Gospel.
Many interesting instances might be adduced to illustrate the power of religion in influencing the minds, and improving the characters, of various classes of the population; but two accounts must now suffice. The first is a narrative, related by Mr. Jones, of the death of an Indian boy who had been educated at the Indian School, and baptized by the name of Jack Spense. Mr. Jones observed in his Journal, under the date June 26, 1836--
I found him dying of consumption, and in a state of the most awful poverty and destitution, in a small birch-rind covered hut, with nothing but a few fern-leaves under him, and an old blanket over him, [xxxviii/xxxix] which was in a condition not to be described. After recovering from my surprise, I said, "My poor boy, I am very sorry to find you in this state: had you let me know, you should not have been lying here." He replied, "It is very little I want now, and these poor people get it me; but I should like something softer to lie upon, as my bones are very sore." I then asked him concerning the state of his mind; when he replied, that he was very happy; that Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory, had died to save him, and that he had the most perfect confidence in Him. Observing a small Bible under the corner of his blanket, I said, "Jack, you have a friend there: I am glad to see that: I hope you find something good there." Weak as he was, he raised himself on his elbow, held it in his attenuated hand, while a smile played on his countenance, and slowly spoke, in precisely the following words--"This, Sir, is my dear friend. You gave it me, when we all went down to live at Mr. Cockran's. For a longtime I read it much, and often thought of what it told. Last year, I went to see my sister at Lake Winnipeg"--about 200 miles off--"where I remained about two months. When I was half-way back through the Lake, I remembered that I had left my Bible behind me. I directly turned round, and was nine days by myself, tossing to and fro, before I could reach the house; but I found my friend, and determined that I would not part with it again; and ever since it has been near my breast, and I thought I should have buried it with me; but I have thought since, I had better give it to you [xxxix/xl] when I am gone, and it may do some one else good." He was often interrupted by a sepulchral cough, and sank down exhausted. I read and prayed, the hut hardly affording me room to be upright even when kneeling. The evening sun was pouring its rays through the holes in the bark-covered hut: and I could not but mentally exclaim, on coming away, What a scene for the pen of a Legh Richmond!
The other instance of the influence of divine grace, although it occurred four years later, may be here introduced. It will be seen in the following eloquent and pathetic advice given by an Indian father to his son, who was setting out on a long and hazardous journey. Mr. Cockran wrote, in his Journal--
July 26, 1840--I returned home, in company with a Native whose son had gone on a long journey, near to the Rocky Mountains. I was delighted to find that he had sent his son off with the most pressing injunction that he would pray to God at least twice every day, and read the Bible as often as he might have an opportunity. He said, "My son, as long as you have been in my house you have seen me pray: let this put you in mind that there is a Being, whom we cannot see, who gives us all things. You go to Church: there you hear that this Great Being, whom wicked men hate, and are afraid of, is Love. When you go through the plains, you will not see me praying; you will not hear that God is Love. There [xl/xli] you will meet with men whose hearts are cruel; who will stand up against you; who have no pity: they would drive an arrow through your heart; they would take your scalp from your head, and drink your blood. My son, when night comes on, before you close your eyes, ask Him who draws the darkness round you to look and pity you, and spread His hand over you; for you are alone, far from home, and have no other friend but Him. When morning comes, and your eyes first see the light, thank the Best of all Beings for His protection; and ask Him to go, with you on your journey, to turn men who have bad hearts on one side, that they may not meet you. Should you be in danger, never forget that "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." Trust in it: God has accepted of it as the sacrifice for your soul; and through this, you and I may meet in heaven." The father said to me: "My heart was light and happy when I saw my son take his Bible and some Tracts; and when he squeezed my hand, with the tears in his eyes, and said, I will remember Him who is over us all, till I meet you again. "
Progress of the Indian Settlement.
The number of Indians who embraced Christianity at the Indian Settlement was constantly increasing. On the 24th of December 1836, five Native women were baptized, one of whom had come a distance of 90 miles to seek admission [xli/xlii] into the Church; and this at a season when the thermometer was 25 below zero. About this time there were 47 Christian families, comprising about 260 individuals. The School-room having become much too small to accommodate the Congregation, Mr. Cockran found it necessary to build a Church. In the prosecution of this object he was liberally supported by the more affluent in habitants of the upper part of the Colony, and the Congregation at the Rapids were especially forward in rendering their aid. Altogether, about 95l. 15l. was contributed, in labour, produce, or cash. In this Church many faults, which had been committed from inexperience in building the other Churches, were avoided. Its size is about 54 feet by 24, and it will accommodate about 300 persons. The day on which it was opened, January 4, 1837, was exceedingly cold and tempestuous; but the Church was quite full, all the Officers of the Hudson's-Bay Company, as well as several of the Settlers, being present. [A description of the locality of the Indian Settlement, and of the interesting appearance of the Church, is contained in the 39th Report, pp. 123, 124. Vide Frontispiece.]
Return of Mr. Jones to England--Appeal for more Missionaries, and Arrival out of the Rev. J. Smithurst.
In 1838, Mr. Jones was compelled by domestic circumstances, as well as by the state of his health, to visit England. He intended to return to his labours; but it pleased God to order otherwise. He gradually became weaker, and in October 1844 he was taken away from this world of sin and suffering.
When Mr. Jones left the Red River, he was the bearer of several letters and messages to the Committee, urging, with affectionate earnestness, the importance of sending out additional Missionaries to them. After service at the Indian Church, on the 9th of August, the old Chief Pigwys came to Mr. Jones, and said, "I send by you a letter to the Missionary men in England: tell them not to forget me: I want the Word of Life to be always spoken in my land." Another Indian, who appeared to take the lead among the Muscaigoes, sent a similar message: adding, with much vehemence of gesture, "Tell them to make haste: time is short, and Death is snatching away our friends and relations very fast: tell them to make haste."
[xliv] In allusion to the efforts made by the Church of Rome, the Indians, in their general letter, made the following affecting appeal--
Mr. Jones is now going to leave us. Mr. Cockran is talking of leaving us. Must we turn to our idols and gods again? or must we turn to the French Praying-masters for protection and assistance, where a good few of our children and relatives are gone to? We see not less than three French Praying-masters have arrived in the River, and not one for us. What is this, our friends? The Word of God says, that one soul is worth more than all the world. Surely, then, our friends, 300 souls are worthy of one Praying-master."
This appeal, taken in connexion with the solitary condition of Mr. Cockran, who had to divide his labours among the Congregations of four Churches, was irresistible; and accordingly, the Rev. J. Smithurst was appointed to this Mission. He arrived at the Red River in September 1839, and with a praiseworthy eagerness to be among the people committed to his charge, took up his resi dence at the Indian Settlement even before the house which was being prepared for his reception was completed.
Present Condition of the Indian Settlement.
The advantage of having a resident Minister, as might be expected, has been very great. Each succeeding year has exhibited a marked improvement, both in the temporal and spiritual condition of the Christian Indians: their numbers are constantly increasing by the addition of new families, desirous of civilization, and inquiring after Christianity; and the testimony of several competent witnesses, acquainted with the Indian character, and experienced in the country, has been of the same satisfactory tenour as that which the Bishop has borne in his valuable letters. [One interesting fact, mentioned by Mr. Smithurst in 1840, must not be omitted--When the Christian Indians are out on a hunting excursion, they usually spend the Lord's-day together, and abstain entirely from the chase. One of them is in the habit of reading the Church-service; and after singing, they all talk over what they can remember of the Word of God taught them either in Church or in School.] In the winter of 1844-5 a new farmhouse was finished, and the Mission Establishment, thus completed, serves as a model to the Indians. A year later a new windmill was erected, the one built by Mr. Cockran having become [xlv/xlvi] unserviceable. The erection of this mill induced the Indians to make considerable efforts toward enlarging their farms.
During the last year or two it has pleased God greatly to try the faith and patience both of the Missionary and his people. In August and September 1846 dysentery prevailed to an alarming extent, and proved fatal in a great many cases. Nearly twenty of the Sunday-scholars died. The crops of the same year were almost a total failure. Whole families were obliged to leave the Settlement for weeks together, to catch fish in Lake Winnipeg. Great efforts were made by them, however, to be at the Settlement on the Lord's-day, and to keep their children at School. Mr. Smithurst writes--
I have often seen the poor children, on leaving School, go to the river, and sit there angling till sun set in order to catch a few small fish called gold-eyes, which have scarcely an ounce of which is eat able upon them.
In the year 1847 48 the Indians continued to suffer greatly from scarcity, and so many were obliged to leave the Settlement, for a time, as considerably to interfere with the regular attendance both at Church and School. The prospects [xlvi/xlvii] of the harvest, however, were in August last promising, so that we trust the Settlement will resume its usual aspect.
Mr. Smithurst states, in his Report for the year ending August 1, 1848, that the English Morning Service is attended, when all the Indians are at home, by about 350; and the Indian Afternoon Service by from 80 to 130. There is also a Service on Wednesday Evening in the School-room, which under favourable circumstances is well attended. The number of Communicants is 86. In February Mr. Cook, the Schoolmaster, died, his place being occupied by his son. The number of Scholars on the books is 68, 35 boys and 33 girls. The Sunday-school consists of 36 Adults in addition to the Day-scholars. On the whole, Mr. Smithurst says, "there are many marks of improvement, in a religious, moral, and civil point of view. If there be much to discourage, and to try both faith and patience, there is much over which we ought to rejoice."
Arrival of the Rev. A. Cowley and Mr. J. Roberts Return of Mr. Roberts.
In 1841, the band of Missionary labourers was strengthened by the addition to their number of [xlvii/xlviii] Rev. A. Cowley, and Mr. J. Roberts. Mr. Roberts returned to this country after two years' labour as a Catechist. Mr. Cowley was at first engaged in assisting Mr. Cockran in the Upper Settlement, and afterward in superintending the formation of a new Station at Manitoba Lake, of which an account is given below.
Arrangements for the Upper, Middle, and Lower Churches--Building of a New Church at the Rapids--Arrival of the Rev. R. James.
By the ordination of Mr. M'Allum, during the Bishop's visit, it was hoped that the duties of the Upper Church were provided for. Very shortly, however, his health failed, and the Church was necessarily closed for three weeks. He was subsequently able to take the duty occasionally; and on the other Sundays, Mr. Cockran officiated at both the Upper and Middle Churches, and Mr. Smithurst at the Indian Settlement and the Lower Church. Under this arrangement these two Missionaries had each to ride twenty-six miles during the day; but it was the only course open to them, except closing the Upper Church.
The insufficient accommodation afforded in the [xlviii/xlix] Lower Church is noticed in the Bishop's Letters, and had been strongly felt also by the Missionaries, The love of the people for the ordinances of God's house had not abated since their erection of the first Church, as will be seen by the following account taken from Mr. Cockran's Journal--
Dec. 31, 1844--I held a Meeting for the purpose of ascertaining what means we could raise for building a stone Church. Almost all the males attended. I addressed them on the zeal and liberality of the Children of Israel, when it was proposed to build the Tabernacle. If Moses found a willing people, the present assembly were equally so. Silver and gold they had none; but stones, lime, shingles, boards, timber, and labour, were cheerfully contributed, and to such an amount as perfectly astonished me. Never, since the day of Pentecost, was self so completely conquered. The shingle-makers proposed to give 10,000 shingles each, and the lime-burners 400 bushels of lime each. The mason proposed to dress the stones for one corner, and lay them, gratis. Boards and timber were promised in the same liberal manner. One black curly-head, descended from the line of Ham by his father's side, stood up in his leather coat, and said, "I shall give 10l." The eyes of all were turned toward him, and a smile played upon every countenance. I said, "I believe our brethren think you are too poor to raise such a sum." He said, raising his arm, "Here is my body: it is at your [xlix/l] service. It is true, I can neither square a stone nor lay one; but there will be the floor and the roof: turn me to them, and then you will see, if God give me life and health, that the value of the sum shall be raised." In materials and labour above 700l., were promised.
The foundation of a stone Church was at once commenced, and the corner-stone was laid by Mr. Smithurst on the 4th of July 1845. Its dimensions are 81 1/2 feet by 40 within the walls, and there will be a gallery at the west end. The tower is 20 feet square, and its base admits of a commodious porch. At the beginning of August last, the roof was finished, and all the stone-work; the spire and the interior remaining incomplete. It was to be opened in a few months.
For some years the health of Mr. Cockran had been seriously failing, and he was at length compelled to retire from the post which he had so long and so usefully held. He preached his farewell sermon at the Lower (or Grand Rapids) Church on the 14th of June 1846, on which occasion Mr. Cowley, being on a visit to the Settlement, thus writes--
Never do I expect to forget the last look which some of the people gave their pastor as they retired from the Church, in which, from its very first rearing, [l/li] they had heard, with so much pleasure and profit, the voice of him whom now, proceeding to their homes at a distance, they looked upon to see no more for ever. Their hearts were too full for words: the only utterance their feelings could obtain was in a flood of tears, as each walked up, silently embraced his hand, and turned away.
On the next day Mr. Cockran and his family left the Settlement for Canada. To provide for the vacancy thus occasioned, the Rev. R. James was sent out in the summer of 1846. He and Mrs. James arrived at the Settlement in the beginning of October, and shortly took up their residence at the Grand Rapids. Of the new Church Mr. James wrote on his arrival--
It is a noble building--by far the best in Prince Rupert's Land. Many poor men here, in their godly enthusiasm, have given donations of 10l., and, to pay it, have forestaked two years wages.
And in a Report to August 1847 he states--
I have never yet seen, in the present Church, a vacant seat on the Lord's-day. Be the weather what it may, rain or snow, storm or sunshine, frozen mercury or fever heat, the Church is more than full. Many have to walk five or six miles each way, and that often, in winter, through two or three feet of [li/lii] snow. Several families, living between the Rapids and Middle Churches, attend both, and in doing so perform a journey of sixteen miles.
His last Report, to August 1848, exhibits a steady progress in the various branches of his charge.
Contrary to expectation, Mr. Cockran's health was so much improved by a year's residence in Canada, that he considered it to be his duty to return to the scene of his former labours. He arrived at the Settlement on the 31st of July 1847, and undertook the duties of the Upper Church, &c. } as Chaplain to the Hudson's-Bay Company. Although Mr. Cockran has been thus engaged in ministering to the Settlers rather than in direct Missionary work, the Mission will derive great benefit from his presence and counsel, his thorough acquaintance with the Indian character, and the weight of his influence throughout the Settlement.
Formation of the Cumberland Station--Appointment to it of the Rev. J. Hunter, and his Arrival.
In 1839, the Committee had the satisfaction to find that the Hudson's-Bay Company were [lii/liii] disposed to countenance and promote the formation of a Missionary Station at Cumberland House, one of their Posts, about 500 miles from the Red River. The financial circumstances of the Society prevented the Committee from availing themselves of this opening to the extent which they desired. In order, however, that some beginning might be made, Mr. Henry Budd, who had been for some time in connexion with the Society as a Schoolmaster, was sent to that neighbourhood in June 1840. When he had been labouring for about a year, he was enabled to send home an encouraging account of the success which had attended his exertions. After the lapse of another year, the Rev. J. Smithurst was anxious to visit the infant Station, with a view to strengthen Mr. Budd's hands, and to baptize such as might be prepared for that ordinance. This desire was increased by his receiving a communication, through Mr. Budd, from the Indians of that district, earnestly requesting him to visit them. As the journey occupied twenty-six days, Mr. Smithurst's joy may be well imagined when the guide made the pleasing announcement, "Mr. Budd's place is just behind that point of wood." A few minutes brought him [liii/liv] within sight of the infant Mission Establishment, which he thus described--
The School-house in the centre, Mr. Budd's house on the South side, and the children's house on the North, appeared respectable buildings; and struck me as reflecting very great credit upon Mr. Budd's industry. A gentle slope from the houses toward the river appeared to have been cleared, but not fenced; and in the rear, a neat square field was fenced in, and under cultivation.
Our boat was soon observed, and the School-children flocked down to the beach to welcome our arrival. Their appearance was highly satisfactory, considering the short time which had intervened since they were taken from their native woods. Notwithstanding the unfavourable circumstances under which we arrived, amid a deluge of rain, the first impression upon my mind was so pleasing, that I quite forgot the tediousness of twenty-six days travelling through a solitary wilderness.
The School was found to contain thirty-one Indian children, all neat and clean. On examination, it appeared that they had made very good progress in learning. There were but few adult Indians at the Station when Mr. Smithurst arrived, because they were necessarily engaged in procuring subsistence, at a fishing-place about a day's journey off; but he was informed that they [liv/lv] would not fail to reach the Station on Saturday, according to their regular custom. Accordingly, on that day he wrote--
In the afternoon, a whole fleet of canoes made their appearance, and formed a most pleasing scene. The party, consisting of from sixty to seventy persons, pitched their tents alongside the Mission Establishment, in order to attend the services of the Lord's-day. This was indeed one of the most cheering sights I ever witnessed; and called forth feelings of the deepest gratitude to God, that He should have inclined the hearts of so many to seek after the way of salvation.
Up to a late hour on Saturday evening, as well as on the following morning, Mr. Smithurst was engaged in a close examination of the Candidates for Baptism individually. He reported, that "the result of the examinations was highly satisfactory."
June 26, 1842, is a day much to be remembered in the annals of this Mission. In the after noon, Mr. Smithurst had the privilege of admitting into the Church of Christ, by Baptism, eighty-five Indians; of whom thirty-eight were adults, and the remaining forty-seven their children.
In the summer of 1843, Mr. Budd reported [lv/lvi] that the eighty-five baptized Indians continued stedfast in the faith, and manifested an increasing desire after divine things; and that there were fifty-eight Candidates for Baptism awaiting the arrival of a Clergyman. The urgent need of an ordained Missionary for this interesting Station was met by the appointment of the Rev. J. Hunter, who with Mrs. Hunter arrived at York Fort in August 1844, and at their Station on the 26th of September. Mr. Hunter writes--
On landing from the boat, a great number of Indians, who had for some time been waiting my arrival, came to bid us welcome; and we could immediately perceive, from their manner and address, that we were not surrounded by Heathen, but by Christian Brethren.
Mr. Hunter immediately addressed himself to the examination of the Candidates for Baptism, and did not discover any to whom he could not conscientiously administer that sacrament. On the first Lord's-day after his arrival he baptized 31 adults and 35 children. He states--
I had previously arranged that they should come up for Baptism by households, and a most interesting and delightful scene it was to see the father and mother, with their children, approach the font to receive this sacred ordinance. All was breathless attention, [lvi/lvii] many a tear was shed's and both old and young appeared to be affected by the solemn Service.
Thus at this Station there were now 150 Christian Converts, who, four years previously, had been all Heathen, and had never heard the "glad tidings" of the Gospel. When it is considered that Mr. Budd was one of the first Indian boys consigned to Mr. West's care in 1820, it will be seen that this account furnishes a most striking illustration of the value of Native Agency.
Progress of the Cumberland Station.
Mr. Hunter entered upon his work with vigour, amid manifest tokens of the blessing of the Lord. The whole number baptized by him in the first year of his residence amounted to 59 adults and 68 children; in the next year 62 persons, in the next, 32 adults and 53 children, and in the year ending August 1848, 22 adults and 43 children were added to the number. The total number baptized in connexion with the Station, by Mr. Smithurst and Mr. Hunter, has amounted to 424. The Chief of the place was baptized on Easter Sunday 1847.
In his last Report Mr. Hunter states that many proofs existed to justify the conclusion [lvii/lviii] that the work of grace commenced among the Indians was of a permanent character. "In spiritual matters," he says, "we have had abundant cause to rejoice, and ample encouragement to prosecute with greater earnestness than ever our work of faith and labour of love both among our own people and the surrounding heathen." The Indians are very devout and attentive during the Services, and very anxious that their children should be baptized.
The sacrament of the Lord's Supper was first administered in October 1844, the number of Indian Communicants being 12. On Easter Sunday 1848 the following entry occurs in Mr. Hunter's Journal--
At the Services to-day the Schoolroom was completely filled with Christian Indians, about 150 being present. During the past week the Indians have been coming in from all quarters to attend the Services of this season, and to be present at the Communion. After the Morning Service, it was my privilege to administer the Lord's Supper to 51 Communicants, being the largest number that have ever attended at this Station. I have every reason to believe that the majority of these Communicants are sincere and devout Christians, living consistently with the blessed Gospel of Christ, and endeavouring to adorn their profession by a pious walk and conversation.
[lix] Several Indians, who have died since Mr. Hunter's residence at the Station, have given good evidence that they died "in the Lord."
There are a Day and Sunday-school at the Station, conducted by Mr. Budd under Mr. Hunter's superintendence. In the Day-school the number of children on the books is 85, of whom 25 read in the Old or New Testaments. In the Sunday-school there are 12 adults and 2 children in addition to the Day-scholars. The attendance at both Schools is very good during the summer, when the parents are about the Mission Establishment; but during the winter, from the want of provisions and other causes, it is more irregular.
During 1845-6 a commodious dwelling-house was erected, and the farm greatly enlarged. In the spring of 184 8 ten bushels and a half of wheat, and six bushels of barley, were sown, and about 16 bushels of potatoes planted. At the beginning of August Mr. Hunter reports that the crops were "looking remarkably well, and promising an abundant harvest."
For some time the want of a Church had been greatly felt, and on the 11th of September 1847 Mr. Hunter writes in his Journal--
[lx] I called a meeting of the Indians, and invited them to subscribe toward the erection of a Church. They responded to my invitation, not in money, it is true, but in work. The Chief gave a horse, and the subscriptions amounted altogether to 28l.
Before the close of the summer the frame of the Church had been put up, and during the winter the beams, &c., were prepared, and hauled to the banks of the river about 30 miles above the Station. At the beginning of August last, by the assistance of the Indians, the wood had been rafted down, and was lying close to the frame of the Church. Mr. Hunter hoped to complete the "logging" of the building before the winter set in.
We must not omit to record what has been done by the Indians themselves toward leading a settled and civilized life. Their efforts in this respect are peculiarly interesting, as it is well known how deeply rooted is their love for a wandering and, as they deem it, an independent life. What their condition in such circumstances really is, may be seen forcibly described at p. 31 of the Bishop's Journal.
In his Report for the year ending August 1846 Mr. Hunter wrote
[lxi] Several of the Christian Indians have commenced new farms, and those who had farms have enlarged them; so that an entire island, of tolerable size, is under cultivation with potatoes. About ten have commenced preparing wood for houses; and one house, which will make the fifth Indian house, is now being erected. Several of the Indians have also wheat, barley, turnips, peas, &c., growing on their farms.
And again, a year later--
The frames of four houses have been put up by the Indians, and are now being logged. Several Indians are away, cutting wood for houses, which they intend to raft down the river. On their farms are growing excellent crops of wheat, barley, potatoes, and turnips; and some of them have horses, cattle, and pigs. They are now dressed in European clothes, and are abandoning their native indolence, and adopting more active and industrious habits. Many of them are excellent sawyers and squarers, and are able very materially to assist the carpenter in the erection of our new buildings. As in spiritual, so in temporal things, a great change is taking place among these Indians: this strikes me the more forcibly when I visit Heathen Indians, who have not had the like privileges.
We cannot refrain from giving one instance of the "great change" referred to above. Mr. Hunter records, in his Journal--
[lxii] Jan. 5, 1847--I went, with Mrs. Hunter, to visit Charles Cook, the Rocky-Lake Chief, at his farm, about six miles from hence. The old man is now residing in a house which he has recently erected, in which we found a cheerful fire blazing, and his family seated around the hearth. They appeared to be both surprised and delighted with our visit, and the old man seated us near the fire. He has put up the house very well, and has a nice cellar in which he keeps his potatoes secure from the frost. Adjoining is another house, in which he keeps a pig that I gave him, and I have promised to supply him with a calf shortly: his sons lately purchased a horse for him. He has a large family, and was one of the first here who embraced Christianity. Before leaving we sang a hymn together, and engaged in prayer to our common Father. Suspended on the trees outside the house were the skins of foxes--one a silver fox--and martens, the produce of the winter's hunt.
Death of Mrs. Hunter.
In the midst of the prosperity thus attendant on the Mission, it pleased God to call Mrs. Hunter to Himself. The intense cold appears to have been too much for her constitution, and induced, or at least developed, consumption. She died on the 20th of November 1847. Her husband writes--
She was much beloved by the Indians for her [lxii/lxiii] affability and kindness. She embraced every opportunity of speaking to them for their temporal and spiritual good, and they all appear to feel that they have lost a kind friend: they all gathered around her grave, and wept for her as for their sister.
Formation and Progress of a branch Station at Lac-la-Ronge.
On several occasions Mr. Hunter had observed that a desire for instruction prevailed among the Rapid-River Indians. One of the earliest notices of this fact occurs in his Journal of May 1845, when an Indian and his family presented them selves for Christian instruction, having travelled about 400 miles to obtain it. This man left his home in the autumn, and continued journeying in his canoe until the rivers were locked by the winter. He hunted until the spring, when he resumed his voyage, the desire for instruction remaining urgent within him.
A month later, while on a visit to Cumberland Fort, Mr. Hunter met with two other Indians from the Rapid-River, who were then on their way to Cumberland Station for further instruction than they had been able to gain from the visits of Christian Indians to them. On this occasion Mr. Hunter relates the way in which the Rapid-River [lxiii/lxiv] Indians had become anxious to know more of Christianity--
Some two or three years ago, one of these Indians, Great Chief, visited the Pas [Mr. Hunter's Station] for instruction; and, after remaining there some time, procured some initiatory books and tracts from Henry Budd, and left for the purpose of returning home, with the laudable intention of endeavouring to communicate a little of that instruction which he had found so profitable to himself. From that period up to the present time he has steadily kept this object in view, occasionally visiting the Pas for the purpose of obtaining further instruction, and returning to his country men to dispense it; and so desirous were the Indians to listen to the message of salvation, although imparted by so inadequate an instrument, that they have kept him up four nights in succession, listening to the truths of the Gospel from his lips. Party after party would enter his tent, and, after retiring for a short time for refreshment and repose, would return again to obtain further information. Their cry is, "Send us a Teacher: we are poor and ignorant; have pity, then, on our poverty and our ignorance, and teach us the blessings of salvation."
Impressed with the great importance of the opening, Mr. Hunter prevailed on James Beardy, one of his best-instructed Indians, at once to proceed to a place near the Rapid River, called Lac-la-Ronge, about 200 miles from the Cumberland [lxiv/lxv] Station. In a Letter dated September 2, 1845, Beardy wrote to Mr. Hunter--
I feel a pleasure in endeavouring to follow your instructions who sent me into this neighbourhood. The Indians here are so desirous of instruction in the Christian Religion that they will not allow me to go back: therefore I have determined to pass the winter among them. They told me that it was the first time they had heard the good words of salvation.
Be so good as to write me a few lines by the first opportunity, and tell me the way I must go on with the Natives; and I shall always try my best to perform your orders.
In May 1846, Heche Hookemow, or the Great Chief, referred to above, visited the Cumberland Station--principally for baptism, to which ordinance he and his family were admitted on the 7th of June.
On the 16th of June, Beardy returned to the Cumberland Station from Lac-la-Ronge, bringing with him a family of Indians for instruction and baptism. On the next day Mr. Hunter writes--
Conversing with Beardy and the Rapid-River Indians who arrived yesterday. The account which Beardy gives is most encouraging. There are twenty families waiting the arrival of a Christian Teacher. He has engaged in prayer with them daily, and on [lxv/lxvi] Lord's-days they have assembled at the Fort; a large room, which they completely filled, being assigned to them. Here they have engaged in praise and prayer-, and as much of the Christian Religion as Beardy could, from time to time, call to remembrance, he has made known to them. "The chief substance of my teaching was," he told me, "to show them that they were all sinners; that they had broken God's holy laws; and thus stood in need of the salvation which God had provided through the blood and righteous ness of Christ."
As soon as possible, on the 8th of July, Mr. Hunter despatched James Settee, one of his Schoolmasters, to Lac-la-Ronge, to continue the work so happily commenced there. Mr. Settee had formerly laboured at Fort Ellice, but various reasons induced the Missionaries to transfer his labours from thence to the Cumberland District. He arrived at Lac-la-Ronge on the 8th of August, a short time before two Roman-Catholic Priests, who afterward settled in the neighbourhood, and just prior to the appearance of the measles among the Indians, who thus stood in peculiar need of his assistance and instruction, many being carried off by the disease. The following affecting passage is from Mr. Settee's Journal--
October 24.--The total number who have died here [lxvi/lxvii] up to the present time is 29 viz.--5 men, 12 women, and 12 children, the majority of whom have been buried by myself. I am happy to add that they were all Converts, that they had forsaken their drums and conjurations, and held Family Prayers. Many of them gave evidence that they died in simple dependence on the merits of the Lord Jesus, uttering with their last breath such ejaculations as the following--"I love my soul and my Saviour, and I will praise Him while I have breath." They anxiously desired Christian Baptism, and it grieved me much to see them dying without that ordinance.
Mr. Settee continued zealously to labour at the Station, erected a dwelling-house, and cultivated a piece of ground. The visit of a Clergyman was now urgently required; and early in the morning of the 13th of June 1847, a canoe, with four Indians, arrived at the Pas from Lac-la-Ronge, in order to take Mr. Hunter back with them. The party left the Pas on the 17th, and on the 30th Mr. Hunter writes--
Accompanied by two canoes of Indians, who were going with me for instruction and Baptism, we made toward Lac-la-Ronge, and about four o'clock this afternoon arrived at Mr. Settee's house, which is pleasantly situated at the base of immense granite rocks 200 or 300 feet high. The whole establishment spoke well for Settee's industry and perseverance, [lxvii/lxviii] considering the short time he had been located here, and the many hinderances arising from sickness, journeys, &c. The Company's Establishment is on the opposite side of the Lake, where the Indians were encamped, and who were to be seen on the hill, with their children, to catch a view of their long-expected visitor. On my landing at the Mission-house, they all came paddling in their canoes to welcome my arrival: their Christian affection and joy almost over came my feelings, and it was plainly discernible that the power of the Gospel was felt and recognised.
July 1--This morning, at an early hour, I commenced examining the Candidates for Baptism, and found them well instructed in the leading truths of the Christian Religion: most of them could repeat the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments; also portions of Scripture, Hymns, Prayers, &c. I explained to them the nature, responsibilities, and benefits to be derived from Christian Baptism, and then baptised 48 adults and 59 children, making a total of 107 persons, the first-fruits of a Station not yet established one year; and had all the Candidates been present, instead of 107 we should have had about 160.
On his return to his Station, Mr. Hunter had the happiness of reporting--"All the Indians at Lac-la-Ronge have embraced the Christian Religion: there is not one Heathen among them." Thus was furnished another wonderful proof of the value of Native Agency.
[lxix] In his last Report, July 1848, Mr. Hunter writes Mr. Settee states, that, amidst many privations and hardships, he has much to encourage him in his labours. The 107 Indians whom I baptized last summer continue steady in the profession of the Christian faith, and are regular attendants on the Means of Grace whenever opportunity offers.
In the Day and Sunday-schools there are 31 boys, 24 girls, and 7 adults, making a total of 62. Three of these children read in the New Testament, four write on slates, and about 30 can repeat the Creed, Lord's Prayer, and Commandments, in English. A great number of the adults can do the same.
In September 1847, 38 Indians, from the neighbourhood of the Churchill River, visited Lac-la-Ronge, in the hope of receiving Christian instruction and baptism. From other parts, also, heathen Indians are constantly arriving. Writing on this subject, Settee thus notices the remarkable earnestness of the converted Indians in watching for souls--
Our Christian Indians are constantly on the watch to see a heathen. As soon as they see one they surround him, and endeavour to persuade him out of his evil ways, and become a praying man like one of themselves; praying at the same time that the Lord [lxix/lxx] would convince and convert all the heathen to worship and serve Him.
Thus do these poor men "warn the wicked," and deliver their own souls. Settee has made several journeys around his Station, and finds the same desire for Christian instruction existing wherever he goes. In June 1848 he was at the Rapid River, and says--"I am very busy at present: the Indians will give me no time to write, coming in every minute to hear the word of God: indeed I have no time to eat sometimes."
We cannot refrain from giving the following notice, from Mr. Settee's Journal, of a poor Indian who died in the Lord--
Nov. 13, 1847--Poor old John Venn died. He was baptized by Mr. Hunter, and had for a long time trusted in the merits of his Saviour. I often heard him say to his wife, "I am looking out when my Saviour sends for me. I hope I am ready to see Him who has so much loved me as to die for my sins, and on whom I wholly cast myself. Pray to Him, my wife, pray for our little girl, that you may be saved in the day of His coming."
The manifest need of a Missionary at this Station has induced the Committee to set apart an ordained Student, who will probably leave for Hudson's Bay in the spring of 1849.
Openings at Isle-de-la-Crosse and Fort Chippewyan.
Isle-de-la-Crosse is about as far from Lac-la-Ronge as Lac-La-Ronge from Mr. Hunter's Station. The Indians at this post have long been very anxious for religious instruction, and have been in vain urged to embrace Romanism. At Fort Chippewyan, also, in the same direction, nearly 400 miles beyond Isle-de-la-Crosse, the same desire for Christian instruction prevailed. Hence when Mr. Settee went in July 1846 to reside at Lac-la-Ronge, James Beardy removed to Isle-de-la-Crosse.
In a Letter dated August 3, 1848, Mr. Hunter writes--
The openings which present themselves at Isle-de-la-Crosse and Fort Chippewyan are as encouraging as ever. The only cause for regret is, that while no Missionary is coming out this year for Lac-la-Ronge, an additional Romish Priest has been sent this year to Isle-de-la-Crosse, where two Priests are already stationed. One of them will in all probability proceed immediately to Fort Chippewyan. A Chief at that place, named Tripe-de-Roche, sent to me this summer, requesting that I would send some one to teach them and their children the Christian Religion, as they were unwilling to attend the ministrations of the Romish Priest. I have some reason to believe [lxxi/lxxii] that this disposition is prevalent among the Chippewyans.
The call for Missionaries is here plain enough; but where are the men?
Formation and Progress of the Manitoba Station.
The Manitoba Station, already referred to, is about 200 miles west from the Red River, and was commenced by the Rev. A. Cowley in August 1842. He and his wife at first lived in a tent, and endured great hardships. In December, Mr. Cowley fixed upon a new locality for the Station--a place called Partridge Crop, where he still resides. In August 1843 he was obliged to return to the Red River to assist Mr. Cockran, and the Manitoba Station was left in charge of Christian Natives. During his residence at Red River Mr. Cowley occasionally visited Partridge Crop, and finally returned thither in August 1844.
During the first year of Mr. Cowley's residence at the new Station, a house and offices were erected, a piece of land enclosed and sown, and various other secular labours undertaken. Service was held on the Lord's-day, and a Day and Sunday-school were earned on as regularly as circumstances permitted. Other means of grace [lxxii/lxxiii] also were afforded, and the Indians around the Station were visited by Mr. Cowley as frequently as his duties at home would allow. On the subject of Indian civilization Mr. Cowley wrote--
We have succeeded in persuading two Indians to prepare wood to build themselves houses, another to allow us to prepare wood for him, he being unable, and a goodly number of them to farm: there are thirteen small patches of ground planted with potatoes, &c., by them, and all separately fenced.
At the end of the next year--July 1846--Mr. Cowley was still unable to report the conversion of even one Indian. The Saulteaux Indians, among whom Mr. Cowley labours, have ever been found peculiarly indifferent to the message of the Gospel, and pertinacious in adhering to their own superstitions. The means of grace were continued as in the previous year, and the Day-school numbered, during the winter, 20 regular scholars, 15 of them being boarders. A Schoolroom was built, and occupied for the first time in November 1845. Mr. Cowley wrote, in July 1846--
I have introduced the carding and spinning of wool into the School, to assist in clothing the children, and to teach them habits of industry and economy. In this, as well as in reading and writing, they are making, I think, very satisfactory progress. [lxxiii/lxxiv] Some have also commenced arithmetic. You can scarcely conceive the pleasure which I enjoy in seeing these boys and girls, once more than half-naked and half-starved, now sitting around me, all clean, well fed, and tidily dressed; sometimes reading, either the Word of the living God, or such other books as they are able; at other times, standing by my side, singing with sweet voices the praises of their Maker; or falling down on their knees, with me, to pray to God our Saviour.
This year witnessed a considerable advance to ward Indian civilization. On this point Mr. Cowley wrote--
I do not know, among all the families living about us, one single Indian who has not a small piece of land planted with potatoes. One has also wheat, and many of them maize, in addition to potatoes, growing beautifully upon their land. We number seven houses upon the banks of the River; and the framework of another is erected, and logs cut ready for a ninth. The Indians are also anxious to obtain cattle.
The early part of Mr. Cowley's third year at his Station was marked by a fatal sickness, which carried off many of the Indians. The Missionary was also much pained by the indulgence of the Indians around him in intoxicating liquors, several hopeful Natives being thus seduced from what appeared to be their setting out in civilized and [lxxiv/lxxv] Christian life. Notwithstanding, however, all that occurred to discourage, Mr. Cowley was of opinion that his position was "at least more cheering than at any former period." In the spring of 1847 he called a meeting of the Indians for conference with them on the best things. They acknowledged the kind intentions of the Missionary, but said they were too old to become praying-men now. Their children, they said, they would give up to be taught. Mr. Cowley's main hopes were thus confined to the School. He wrote of it, July 21, 1847--
We have now 27 boarders and 15 day-scholars, of whom 19 are boys and 23 girls. Some read the Bible quite fluently, have learned all the Catechisms we have here, and know a great deal of the Scriptures. Others are following close after them in reading; but are more backward in writing and arithmetic. The remainder are progressing favourably. They have carded and spun a considerable quantity of wool during the year, which is now at the Red River for the purpose of being woven into cloth for their winter clothing.
On the 2nd of August 1846, an Indian from Swan River, with his family, arrived at the Station for Christian instruction. They had heard the Gospel already from Christian Indians, and the [lxxv/lxxvi] mother and some of the children had been baptized. After a fortnight's further instruction Mr. Cowley baptized the father, Peter Brass, and two of his sons. Their knowledge was far less than he could have wished, but their coming a journey of 200 miles for baptism, and remaining for a fortnight under preparatory instruction, convinced him of their sincerity. They were received into the visible Church on the understanding that they were to settle down, and live a Christian life, where instruction might be had both for them selves and their family.
In Mr. Cowley's report for the year ending July 1848, the general condition of the adult population of the Station is described as very discouraging. He writes, July 17--
My people generally manifest the same indifference, apathy, and recklessness of character with regard to spiritual things as heretofore. They are seldom near us for any length of time, but wander through the lakes and woods for months together in search of food. They say they do not forget what they hear while here, but when I question them upon the most simple truths of our holy religion, their ignorance is distressing; and when joined, as it sometimes is, with levity, truly heartrending. There are however a few, though very few, who pay more attention to what they hear, and conduct themselves with more decorum.
[lxxvii] Five families of Indians possess eleven herd of horned cattle, and four or more horses, young and old. There are seven Indian dwelling-houses upon the banks of the River.
The School may be viewed as flourishing. There are 8 Half-breed and 9 Indian boys, and 9 Half-breed and 9 Indian girls; total 35. Of these, 25 are fed and clothed at the Society's expense. Five read in the Bible, write on paper, and cypher: they also learn the Assembly's Shorter Catechism, spelling, and tables. Eight others read the New Testament, write, learn Catechisms, &c.
We have enlarged the farm this year. The whole of the land besides the Schoolmaster's garden within our enclosure forms a square of about 297 yards by 290. This comprises the site of our house, outhouses, yard, garden, and farm. We have sown about 17 bushels of wheat and of barley, and planted 12lbs. of potatoes.
We would earnestly ask the readers of this narrative, to pray for the blessing of God upon the disheartening labours of the devoted Missionary at this Station. Truly the name--Manitoba (Evil Spirit)--is descriptive of the place! Yet even here shall the "strong man armed" be overcome by a stronger than he, all his armour wherein he trusted shall be taken from him, and his spoils add glory to the Conqueror's name.
Visit of the Bishop of Montreal.
It only remains that some reference should be made to the important visit of the Bishop of Montreal. From the time of his consecration in 1836, Dr. Mountain cherished the intention of visiting this distant branch of the Church of England, and the proposal was heartily seconded by the Society. The prior claims of his own Diocese, however, interfered with the carrying out of this intention until 1842, when he fully hoped to be able to accomplish the object. But a severe illness obliged him to defer the visit until the year 1844.
The account of the journey, and other information communicated in the Bishop's Letters, cannot fail to be regarded as highly interesting; and all who read them will doubtless agree with the Clergy of the Mission in considering that "the self-denying zeal which stimulated, and the persevering industry which accomplished, this pious, noble, and arduous enterprise, entitled his Lordship to our warmest acknowledgments of gratitude." [Address of the Clergy to the Bishop.]
The visit greatly cheered the hearts and strengthened the hands of the Missionaries, and there is [lxxviii/lxxix] every reason to believe that, under God's blessing, it will greatly tend to the stability and extension of the Mission.
The impression produced upon the Bishop's mind by what he saw is sufficiently evident in his Letters. It may be well, however, to add the following short but satisfactory testimony, extracted from a letter to the Secretary, dated August 27, 1844, written immediately after his Lordship's return to Quebec--
It is impossible that I can write to you, after my visit, without paying at least a passing tribute to the invaluable labours of those faithful men whom the Society has employed in that field of its extensive operations: and the opportunity which was afforded to me of contrasting the condition of the Indians who are under their training and direction, with that of the unhappy Heathens with whom I came in contact on the route, signally enabled me to appreciate the blessings of which the Society is the instrument, and did indeed yield a beautiful testimony to the power and reality of the Gospel of Christ.