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The Bishop of Saskatchewan's Visitation of the Cumberland Mission District.

By John McLean.

From Church Missionary Intelligencer, London, January, 1886, pp. 23-27.

I ENCLOSE my report of the Visitation of the Cumberland district. I have come back from that Visitation with a heart full of thankfulness to God for the faithful work done at the Devon Mission and its outposts by a long line of devoted Christian missionaries. I saw full evidence of its being a solid, lasting work. The pure Gospel has for many years been faithfully preached by earnest men, and the seed has borne its usual fruit. The Indians are all poor in this world's goods, but they show themselves, as a body, to be Christian in their outward life, and I have reason to believe that many of them are truly the children of God. They all show a great appreciation of Christian ordinances and means of grace. They attend church well and join heartily in the services, especially in the singing; they come to Holy Communion in large numbers; they bring their children to baptism, as a rule, at the earliest possible period, and their ordinary life will compare favourably with that of white people. I repeat, they are very poor; their love for ordinances ought not to be measured by what they give towards their support. They are of the poorest of Christ's brethren. Let this be but understood and the C.M.S. contributors will readily continue to help them. I thank God for the number of those contributors who look forward to that day when Christ shall say, "Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me."


The Bishop's Report of his Visitation of the Cumberland District.

July 8th.--Left Prince Albert in the steamer Marquis. She was chartered to convey General Middleton and troops on their homeward journey. The General very courteously invited me to be his guest. The Rev. I. J. Taylor, the C.M.S. missionary at Battleford, had come down to Prince Albert by the steamer to see me. I asked him to go on with me as far as Cumberland, that I might have an opportunity of full conversation with him about his Mission. The Rev. Canon G. McKay was also with me to act as chaplain through the journey.

9th.--I preached to the troops on the lower deck of the steamer.

10th.--Reached a point of the river opposite to Cumberland House. Here Ven. Archdeacon Mackay and Chief Factor Belanger, of the Hon. Hudson's Bay Company, were waiting to meet me. I left the steamer and embarked with them in a canoe for Cumberland House. Here it was decided not to hold a confirmation until I was on my return journey, but to push on at once to Devon Mission, that we might reach it before Sunday.

I accordingly started in a boat the same evening with Archdeacon Mackay, Canon G. McKay, and the Rev. R. McLennan, the Society's missionary at Cumberland. We travelled all that night, and reached Devon on Saturday, the 11th of July, at 4 p.m. I was glad to find that the dwelling-house had been put in an excellent state of repair by Archd. Mackay during the period of his residence as missionary in charge.

Sunday, July 12th.--A large congregation of Indians assembled in Devon Church for the morning service. The prayers were read by the Archdeacon and the Rev. R. McLennan, while I preached from Levit. xvi. 21, 22, the subject being the scape-goat let into a land of separation, bringing out the separating nature of sin, its tendency to separate man from God and man from his fellow-men, and applying it especially to the separation made by the late rebellion between those who ought to live as brethren. [23/24]

Fifty-eight candidates were presented to me for confirmation. I addressed them both before and after the laying on of hands. A second service was held at 3.30 p.m., when I preached from Exodus xvii. 5,6.

The bank of the river was lined with birch-bark canoes, in which many of the congregation had crossed over for the services. I went round among the people, shaking hands with every man, woman, and child, not forgetting even the babies, of whom there was a goodly number. I watched them from the bank as they departed. An Indian would lift up his canoe, carry it easily with one hand to the water; then he and his family would go aboard, and the canoe was swiftly paddled away.

There are 680 Indians in the Devon Mission, all Christians, with the exception of one family of heathens, who live fifty miles from the church. There are two day-schools; the teachers are paid by Government, but are members of the Church of England. One of them, Louis Ahenukew, was brought up at the Asissippi Mission, and then trained for two years at Emmanuel College. He is a young man of excellent character and ability, and has been employed as catechist in the Mission with good results. He has proved himself an acceptable and faithful missionary as well as a successful teacher. In round numbers, there are about 2000 Christian Indians connected with the C.M.S. Missions in the Cumberland district, including Stanley.

13th.--Arranged to-day with Archdeacon Mackay that he should go at once as my commissary to Battleford, for the purpose of reorganizing the C.M.S. Mission there, it having been completely broken up, as one of the many deplorable results of the late rebellion.

I also arranged that Canon George McKay, B.D., should succeed the Rev. W. R. Flett, B.A., as C.M.S. missionary and Secretary at Prince Albert district, and tutor in Emmanuel College. I further appointed him an Archdeacon of the diocese, and arranged that he should travel with me through the C.M.S Missions.

14th.--Consecrated two cemeteries or graveyards in the Devon Mission. One of them is called the Eddy Cemetery, and is about five miles distant from the church, up the river. We were rowed there in a boat. The current was very strong, but we avoided the worst part of it by passing through a marsh into a lake that lay parallel to the river. The still waters of the lake presented a contrast to the rushing torrent of the Saskatchewan. The surface was largely covered with aquatic plants, some with flowers and broad leaves, the leaves floating on the water. There were also large patches of a sweet-smelling flower very like the Scotch "gowan." We landed near the cemetery, and first visited the school-house. Louis Ahenukew, already mentioned, is the teacher. There were twenty-four children present, fifteen boys and nine girls. They were quite and attentive, all employed with books or slates when we arrived. I could see that they were making good progress in reading and writing. They sang some hymns very well. I addressed them briefly before I left the school. We then went to the cemetery. It is about an acre in extent, with a neat strong fence. The Consecration Service of the Prayer-book of the Church of Ireland was used. We formed a procession. I went at the head, followed by the two Archdeacons, and by the Indians, about fifty in number, marching two and two all round the cemetery, reading the appointed psalms by alternate verses as we slowly walked. The clergy and myself were fully robed. The day was fine. At the close I pronounced the ground duly consecrated, and then addressed the people on the solemnities of death and judgment. I also spoke of the coming ordination at Devon Church of two Native pastors, expressing the deep interest I took in seeing men of Indian blood trained to preach the Gospel in their mother tongue. I then shook hands with all the people, as did also the Archdeacons. This shaking of hands may be called a great Indian institution. It is one I never omit. We then departed, returning to Devon under sail with a strong, fair wind.

After dinner we sailed down the river for about a mile to a new cemetery, called "Christ Church Cemetery." It is a large one, being about three acres in extent, and it is neatly and strongly fenced. We went through the Consecration Service here, exactly as we did in the morning, there being about fifty [24/25] people present, who took part in the service. At the close I addressed them on the soul being immediately happy or miserable after death, quoting our Saviour's words to the dying thief and His parable of the rich man in torments.

15th.--Left Devon in a York boat, with a crew of five Indians, at 9.50 a.m., Archdeacon G. McKay being with me, while Archdeacon J.A. Mackay remained at Devon for the purpose of going to Battleford by first steamer. Our intention was to go first of all to the Grand Rapids at Lake Winnipeg, and after visiting the Mission there, to take the other Missions on our return journey up stream.

17th.--We reached Grand Rapids Mission to-day, after a prosperous journey. I was pleased to notice that our boat's crew conducted themselves well during the journey. They would sometimes unite in singing Cree hymns when not rowing; sometimes one of them would read aloud to the others from the little Cree hymn-book in the syllabic character.

The Grand Rapids Mission has been under the charge of the Rev. P. Badger for a number of years. The number of Indians here is now reduced to twenty-five families. Mr. Badger is able to minister to a much larger number of people, and it is proposed that he should take charge of Devon in the meantime.

There is a neat, substantial mission-house here, with a plain but commodious chapel. The buildings are prettily situated at the mouth of the river, a fine shingly beach being close to them, with a view of Lake Winnipeg stretching out from the land. Soon after our arrival the chief called. He and one of his councilors have been in the habit of conducting the Church services between them, in Mr. Badger's absence, at a small allowance from the Mission grant of fifty centers per Sunday. I said that this allowance would be continued when Mr. Badger went to Devon. We had service in the church at 6.30 p.m.; about thirty persons present. Seven candidates were confirmed.

18th.--We started on our journey up stream. Our progress is now slow, though we have a crew of eight men, as they have to row and push the boat with poles against the strong current of the river. Mr. Badger is with us, with the view of being ordained priest at Devon. For the next three days the men had to work hard at the oars and poles.

21st.--We reached Chemahawin Mission. It is on the Saskatchewan River, near the entrance of Cedar Lake. The word is derived from cheman, a canoe. They use two canoes with a net dragging between them in catching fish here. The net is something like a bag. The meaning of chemahawin is the act of canoeing or the using of canoes for fishing. There is no resident missionary here. It is an outpost of Moose Lake Mission, in charge of Mr. J. R. Settee. Mr. Settee visits it from time to time, and has induced one of the Indians to read prayers regularly on Sundays, in the school-house. Service was held in the school-house, with about fifty Indians present. I baptized three adults and a child, and then confirmed twenty-eight candidates, including the three adults just baptized--thirteen being males and fifteen females. I addressed them both before and after confirmation, explaining very fully in my first address the nature of the vows they were about to take upon them, in my second address, to God's grace as the only power that could enable them to keep their vows, and urging earnest prayer for that grace to be given. The service was read from the Cree Prayer-book by Archdeacon G. McKay. We left Chemahawin after the service was over.

22nd.--We reached the Hudson's Bay Company's Post at Moose Lake at 7.15 p.m. Here we found the Indians of the Mission assembled. Mr. Badger had gone on from Chemahawin in a canoe, to give notice of my being near, and Mr. Settee induced the Indians to paddle in their canoes across the lake, a distance of twenty miles, to meet me, and thus save me an additional journey of nearly two days. This effort was made, as otherwise we should have had no chance of reaching Devon before Sunday, and we were all anxious to do so, that the ordination of Mr. Badger and Mr. Settee might be held there on that day. We were hospitably entertained at the Hudson's Bay post by the officer in charge.

23rd.--We had breakfast at 5.30 a.m., and then held service at 6 a.m. I baptized six children and two adults, and then confirmed thirty-four candidates, addressing them fully both before and after the laying on of hands, in accor[25/26]dance with my usual practice. There were seventeen of either sex. We left the post immediately after service, Mr. Settee accompanying us. Our object was to reach Devon on Saturday evening. Our boat's crew worked very hard at the oars, and we accomplished our purpose, reaching Devon at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 25th.

Sunday, July 26th.--The church was crowded to its utmost capacity at the Ordination Service this morning, several persons remaining outside for want of seats. The candidates for ordination were, Mr. John Richard Settee, for deacon's orders; the Rev. Peter Badger, for priest's orders--both of them of Indian blood, trained to preach Christ to their countrymen in their mother tongue, and both of them men of approved Christian character.

The Special Psalms were: Psalms lxxii., lxxiv., cxxxiii. The Special Lessons: Nehemiah viii. 1-8; 1 Cor. ii. The prayers were read by the Rev. R. McLennan, who had come down from Cumberland to assist at the service. The candidates had been examined and were now presented by the Ven. Archdeacon George McKay, B.D., who, with the Rev. R. McLennan, assisted in the laying on of hands at the ordination of priest. I preached from Joshua i. 8, on the duty of the clergy to study and obey the Word of God, and thus be safe guides or leaders of the people, and on the people's duty to read for themselves, that they might know, like the Bereans of old, "whether these things were so." The special first lesson being from Nehemiah viii. 1-8, I dwelt on the Scribes reading distinctly, and giving the sense of Scripture, as a lesson to the clergy on clear, distinct reading, and full and careful exposition of God's Word.

There were 134 communicants at Holy Communion. I gave notice of a second service at 5 p.m., when I should hold a supplementary confirmation, and when Mr. Badger would preach. I spoke of the fact of both the newly ordained men being Natives of the country of Indian blood, and of my earnest wish to see the Native race furnishing candidates for Holy Orders. I also spoke of Mr. Settee's father--the aged missionary--the Rev. James Settee--and gave an outline of his long and faithful service in the C.M.S. work. When the service was over we noticed that there were no fewer than 100 canoes on the bank of the river. At 5 p.m. a second service was held, about 200 present, the morning congregation being over 250. I baptized 2 children, and confirmed 41 candidates at this service, of whom 21 were males and 20 females. A short and appropriate sermon was preached by the Rev. P. Badger.

27th.--Examined the Mission Library and the stock of Cree books. Had parcels of Prayer-books and Testaments made up for the clergy to take with them to the different Missions. I gave the Rev. J. R. Settee the following books from the library to read for priest's orders, viz.: Boultbee on the Articles, Wheatley on the Prayer-book, Butler's Analogy, Barrow on the Pope's Supremacy, Tyler's Worship of the Virgin.

I directed the Rev. P. Badger to read the following books from the library, stating that I should examine him upon them (D.V.) at my next visit, viz.:--Bridge's Christian Ministry, Hall on the Articles, What is Romanism? Beren's History of the Prayer-Book.

Mr. Badger seems to me to be a man of good natural ability, and of good common sense. I think, too, he is an earnest missionary, and an effective preacher. He is also a man of sound Christian and Evangelical character. He has, however, read very little, so I told him that though he was now in full orders I should wish to take the oversight of his reading for some time.

Mr. Settee appears to me to be also a pious man, of good ability. He is most obliging and kindly in his manner, and I should say is well calculated to gain the good-will of the Indians. I was pleased with the amount of his reading. It was very creditable, considering his few opportunities. I also liked the apparent zest with which he undertook to read the book I prescribed for priest's orders. Altogether, I look very hopefully to the future of these two Native brethren.

I arranged with Mr. Settee that he should go to the Grand Rapids every two or three months, after Mr. Badger's removal, that he might baptize children, and generally look after the Mission.

28th.--Confirmed an Indian woman at the Mission: she could not come on [26/27] Sunday. This makes exactly 100 confirmed at Devon.

29th.--Left Devon at 8.15 a.m., in a boat, with a crew of five men, accompanied by the Archdeacon and Rev. R. McLennan, and reached Cumberland Mission on the evening of Friday, the 31st.

August 1st. Held a Confirmation service in Cumberland Mission Church at 10.45 a.m. I confirmed 38 candidates after the usual addresses, of whom 22 were males and 16 females. Immediately after the confirmation we adjourned to the churchyard, which was consecrated in the same way as the two cemeteries at Devon. The day was very fine, and the whole congregation took part in the service. I addressed them on the solemnities of death and judgment.

At 3 p.m. a number of Indians arrived from Birch River, an out-station of the Cumberland Mission. They have travelled a day's journey in their canoes, and were sorry they were not in time for the service. We therefore held a second service in the church at 3 p.m., at which about thirty people were present, and ten candidates confirmed.

Sunday, August 2nd.--4:30 p.m., I held a Confirmation Service at the Hudson's Bay Company's post, to meet the case of a number of Indians who could not reach the Mission yesterday. I confirmed eight candidates who came over from the Mission in canoes with the Archdeacon and Mr. McLennan, and at 8 p.m. there was a second service at the post to meet the case of eight further candidates who were also confirmed, making the total number confirmed in the Cumberland Mission sixty-four.

The Rev. R. McLennan, B.A., in charge of Cumberland Mission, is doing very well in every way, and is becoming a most useful missionary. The Indians like him very much, and he is fond of his work among them. He was educated at St. John's College, Manitoba, and graduated B.A. in first-class classical honours, gaining the medal given to the first classic of his year. The work of his Mission is progressing very satisfactorily.

The following is a synopsis of my official acts during this journey:--

Confirmed: At Devon Mission, 100 in three confirmations; at Cumberland, 64 in four confirmations; at Moose Lake, 34 in one confirmation; Chemahawin, 28 in one confirmation; at Grand Rapids, 7 in one confirmation. Total persons confirmed in 10 confirmations: 233.

Consecrated: Three churchyards. Ordained: One deacon, one priest. Baptized: five adults and nine children; in all fourteen.

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