Many of my best Indians were men who had two families, and they have told me time and again that before they had heard about Christianity they could have cast off one or even both their wives, with their children, without the least compunction, but Christian teaching had given them another heart; it had made them love their wives and their little ones, and to cut them off and cast them adrift would be like cutting off a part of themselves. I could, of course, have told them about the "Right eye, and right hand," but thought it wiser to leave them to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who, without a single exception, did all things well. In the case of the Chief, his wives were sisters, and the younger was over fifty years of age at the time of which I am writing, and the children of both families were grown up. The elder sister was nearly past doing work of any kind, and it was thought among themselves that the younger of the two was the better able to attend to her husband, so the daughters of the elder sister made arrangements to take their mother into their homes and keep her, and so the matter was amicably arranged among themselves.
This is what took place in every case that came under my notice, and in a few years there were no polygamists among them. There was no definite rule as to which wife should be retained--sometimes it was the elder, and sometimes the younger. It all depended upon which woman had the greatest number of small children depending upon her, and this was the one common sense told them had the greatest claim upon the husband.
It did not mean that because an Indian woman left her husband that he ceased to take any more interest in his divorced family; not in the least. He still remained a father to his children, which did not altogether end when the woman got married again.
About this time I had quite a strange experience, one which I think may be described as almost unique among the clergy. It was this. One of my Indians at Sandy Lake paid me a visit, and remained rather longer than I thought was necessary, considering the conversation that passed between us, but I felt sure he had some object in staying so long, and, in order to help him unburden his mind, I suggested that if he had nothing more to say he had better be going, as I could not spare him any more of my time. He said he had come to see me on some very important business. Then I replied, "Proceed to business at once." "Well," he said, "it is about six months since my wife died, and, just before she left me, she said in the presence of witnesses that, if I remained single until the following spring, I was to get married again, and, as the leaves are already big on the trees, I have come to see you and hear what you have to say about this." "Well," I said, "it seems rather soon to take another wife, but there is no law to forbid you doing so, and knowing how you are situated with no one to look after your little children, it might be wise to do as your wife said, provided you can find the right sort of woman for your wife." "I thank you," he said, "for the information you have given me. I wanted to know if I was at liberty to marry or not," and again there was silence that seemed to speak louder than words. I said, "Have you anything further to say?" "Yes," he replied, "I want you to select a wife for me." "Why," I said, "I should not care to undertake such a responsibility, for if I named a woman and you married her and afterwards she did not please you, you would most likely blame me in some way or other for your unhappiness." "No, I should not," he said. Then I said, "In the first place I do not know whether you want to marry an old woman or a young woman, and I must have something to guide me in making a selection." "Well," he said, "I do not want to be troubled with an old woman, and I do not suppose a young woman would care to be troubled with me; I want a woman about my own age." I was more than pleased with his remarks, and thought they savoured of much premeditated thought, so, knowing a widow woman about his own age, whom I had noticed taking great interest in his bereaved children, I mentioned her name as being a suitable person. "Ah!" he said, "I knew you were always guided by the Great Spirit in all you undertake; that is the very woman I have been thinking about, and how could you have known this, unless the Great Spirit had guided your judgment?" "Well," I replied, "I am glad that you look at it in that way; now you had better go and propose to her." "No,' said he, "I cannot do that. If I knew she would say 'Yes,' I should go, but she might say 'No,' and Indians never like to have their petitions rejected when they go on business of that nature."
Then I asked him what he intended doing. "Why, sir, he said, "I want you to propose for me!" Well, I was in a fix! but having yielded so far to his request, I felt bound in some way to go on to the end. So having obtained my wife's permission, I called on the widow at my earliest convenience and explained matters to her, taking great pains to make her understand I was proposing for the other fellow, and not for myself. Yes, I assure you, necessity was laid upon me to do this, because, as I have said, men in those early days did have two wives, and she might think I had some sinister motive in speaking to her about the subject of matrimony. My mission was successful, and in due course they were lawfully married, and the union proved a happy one. Before leaving this subject I would like to ask any of my clerical readers if any of their parishioners ever had such implicit confidence in their judgment and tact as to trust them with negotiations of such a delicate nature as this one entrusted to me?
The work of the Mission at Sandy Lake went on apace. In addition to day school and regular Sunday services, we had a week-night prayer-meeting, at which hymns were taught and sung, and I had a night school for adults, at which geography was largely taught. The old people, though unable to read, were greatly interested in looking over the map of the world and comparing the size of one country with another, and the area of the land generally with that of the water.
One of the councillors was very much disappointed with the size of the British Isles; he had formed an idea that, as the power and wealth of Great Britain were everywhere spoken of, the country must necessarily be very large, and it was some time before he could be made to realise that the England he saw on the map was the home of the Great Queen. After looking seriously at the great expanse of water lying between the continent of America and England, without an island to serve as a landmark to navigators, he said, "The men who navigate the ships that sail from this country to England must be very wise men." "Yes," I said, "but what makes you say so?" "Because," he said, "it seems so wonderful to me that they do not sail right past England without seeing it." I thought there was a good deal of irony in his remarks, though quite unintentional on his part, for, after studying the map for some time, looking at the colours in different parts of the world which indicated the British possessions, the conclusion he came to was that England was not only the home of the Great Queen, but it must also be the home of Ke-che-Mun-ne-to (the Great Spirit). I told him that God dwelt in the hearts of His faithful people in every land, and as there were a large number of people in Great Britain who really loved and served God, I had no doubt it was for their sakes and in answer to their prayers that He was pleased to bless our nation with prosperity, and extend our opportunities for greater usefulness by increasing our possessions, and he quite agreed with me that it was so!
One thing very greatly puzzled them and which they found hard to believe, and that was the rotation of the earth on its axis, or even that the world is a globe. They naturally thought the world was flat and rested upon something, and when I showed them that its globular shape was proven by the fact that vessels starting from the same place and sailing in opposite directions, after due time met on the opposite side. This, I explained, would not take place if the world was flat, for then the longer the vessels continued to sail with-jut altering their course, the farther apart they would get. This they appeared to understand, and some of them agreed that if what I told them was true about the vessels meeting on the other side, the world must be round. But one old man could not reconcile this fact with the action of the water, for, according to my theory, he said, the lakes and rivers would be empty once in twenty-four hours, and people would not be able to stand, but would be found lying on the ground clinging to something to hold themselves from falling off the earth! I then tried to explain to him the action of the two forces centrifugal and centripetal, but either my Cree vocabulary was not sufficiently large, or his powers of conception were not equal to taking in what I said, but he became, as he thought, suddenly inspired with an idea, which, if put in action, would surely convince me that the earth was flat and stationary. So he filled a small pail with water and placed it on the top of my gate-post, saying, "You see that? Now, if the earth turns round as you say, in a short time the water will begin to spill over the side, and before morning the pail will fall off the post." I asked him if he thought it was impossible to turn the pail over without spilling the water? "Certainly," he said. I then took hold of the handle, and, swinging the pail rapidly over my head a number of times, I put it on the ground to let him see the water had not diminished. He at once exclaimed, "I can do that." "Certainly," I said, "but can you tell me why the water did not spill when the pail was bottom upwards?" "Yes," replied he, "it moved so fast that the water had no time to fall out." "That is only partly true," I said. "Now, supposing it was possible to move the pail in a straight line with its bottom upwards a hundred times faster than I made it spin over my head, would the water keep in then?" And after a few moments silence, he said he did not think it would. "Quite right, and the reason why the water would not keep in under such conditions is the forces that I spoke about could not operate properly. Now, in swinging the pail round and round the tendency was to throw the water away from me; this force is called centrifugal, but, in the case of the pail, the bottom kept the water from spilling out." "But," he said, "there is no such bottom or cover to the rivers and lakes to keep the water from being thrown out of them." "Yes," said I, "there is, only it is invisible." "What is it?" he said. "It is the atmosphere that surrounds our globe and presses on the surface, and the swifter the rotation the greater the resisting pressure and this is called centripetal, and Ke-che-Mun-ne-to has made these two forces so as one shall counteract the other, and so we are kept steadily on the globe, notwithstanding that we move round so rapidly." The poor old Indian bent his head, a sign of reverence, and said, "Ke-che-Mun-ne-to Tap-wa" (Truly God is great), and so the work of enlightening the Indians went on from day to day, and the object we had in view was the glory of God. The Indians at Big Child's camp were also improving in knowledge, and many there, too, were already baptised, but, of course, living twenty odd miles away from the central part of the Mission, they could not receive so much attention as those at hand. Big Child excelled all the other Indians in his enthusiasm for hymn-singing; he was too old to learn to read, but he had no difficulty in committing the words to memory, and when he sang, he sang as unto the Lord, making melody in his heart, and, having said this, I have said all.
He had a tremendous voice which got beyond his control several times in each verse, and personally I found it difficult to keep to the tune if he happened to be singing anywhere near me. But our work did not end even here. Another chief and his followers, living seventy-five miles north of Sandy Lake, had also heard of our doings and had paid us several visits, and pressed me to visit them occasionally at Stony Lake, the place where they resided. This I did in winter, but there was no summer road cut for a conveyance, and so I could not go in summer, even if I had possessed the time. On one occasion the Chief and about seven or eight of his men arrived at the mission just as we were beginning to seed our land, and they expressed a wish to be able to do as the Sandy Lake people were doing. "Well," I said, "you are on your way to Carlton to trade your furs; I will send a note by you to the H. B. Company's chief factor, who is giving out supplies to the Indians for the Government, until such time as special agents are appointed, and I will ask him to give you as many potatoes as you can manage to carry on your backs, as far as Big Child's (thirty-two miles), and David, who is there with my oxen, helping the Indians to put in their seed, will put them in his wagon and bring them on here, and I will find a place in my field in which to plant the potatoes."
The Chief was as delighted as if he had already harvested a big crop, and so they started for Carlton. I do not know how it happened, but the chief factor gave them eight bushels of potatoes, eight bushels of barley, one plough, one harrow, a set of whiffle-trees and a chest of carpenter's tools. This latter item in itself weighed two hundred pounds. (According to the articles of treaty each chief was to receive a chest of carpenter's tools, including a pit-saw.) In addition to the above, they received two hundred pounds of flour, fifty pounds of bacon, and a certain quantity of tea and sugar, to enable them to do their farming. The nature of the Indian is, if he is friendly disposed towards anyone, not to refuse anything that is offered to him by the other party; to refuse a thing so offered would be regarded among themselves as a sign of enmity, and so, following out the rules of their own etiquette, the chief accepted all that was offered to him without making the chief factor understand they were on foot, and had no beast of burden with them. Having ferried their goods across the river, they then became face to face with the difficulty of getting them to Big Child's. That they must carry them on their backs was certain, and it was equally certain they could not remove more than one-third of what they had at one time. The plan they finally adopted was this. They carried a load each, about a mile or so, and left it there, and then went back for another load, and, having deposited it with the first load, they made their final trip bringing up the remainder, and so they kept on until they had landed all their stuff at the place where David was working, and from there to Sandy Lake they were conveyed in my wagon. On their arrival at the Mission they told me that the chest of tools had given them most trouble, being too heavy for one man to carry by himself. They made a rope by twisting a number of young willows together and tied them round the box. They then inserted a pole under the willows, and, placing each end of the pole on a man's shoulder, they managed to carry it in that way. But even then, they said, it was difficult to carry, and their shoulders became sore from the swinging of the suspended load. Having arrived at the Mission, they were anxious to proceed homewards, as they had already exceeded the time they had promised to be absent from their families, and they very much feared they would be in great straits as regards food, as they had not much to leave with them when they parted. In consideration of this fact, I arranged with them to remain one day at the Mission only, to plant their potatoes after the plough, and then go on to their families, and David and I would sow the barley for them after they had gone. I told them not to bother about coming down to hoe their potatoes during the summer, we would do that for them, but if they were successful in killing a few moose or deer during the summer, instead of doing nothing whilst the meat lasted, to commence cutting out a road for a conveyance between Stony Lake and the Mission. This they promised to do, and they kept their promise, and ever afterwards when they came to the Mission they brought either dried fish or deer's meat with them, and spent two or three days each time working at the road, and in due course they had so improved it that I could visit them during the summer months.
On my reporting to the Government what they had done, they gave them two yoke of oxen and a wagon to help them cultivate the land at Stony Lake. A few years after, owing to changes that took place at Big Child's, I built a school chapel at Stony Lake, wherein a day school and Sunday services were regularly held, and the teacher appointed to take charge of the work there, under my supervision, was one of my first scholars at Sandy Lake. He, too, in addition to teaching school and taking Sunday services, received the appointment under Government to dispense simple medicines to the band, as well as show them how to farm, and his salary from the Government was, if I remember rightly, £80 per annum. This same Indian is school teacher and lay reader to the same band of Indians which, after amalgamating with another band, removed to Big White Fish Lake, where, it will be remembered, I spent my first winter in the country, and he is there at the present time doing faithful service. Before passing on to something else, I might say that this same Indian, when about twenty years of age, taught one of the schools for settlers' children near Prince Albert, and he was afterwards sent 400 miles from his home to teach one of the Indian schools in the Pas district, and the Government Inspector, after examining his school, wrote to the Bishop of the diocese requesting more teachers of his ability and zeal. This man and his cousin, who also became a school teacher, were among my first pupils at Sandy Lake, and on one occasion, when all the rest of their friends, in response to an invitation to attend a feast at Devil's Lake, given by the old impostor and another heathen from Pelican Lake, accepted the invitation--not as they said to take part in the ceremony, but merely to have a good meal--these two boys refused to go, and hid themselves until the rest of the band had gone, and then they came into the forest where David and I were preparing logs for a permanent mission house, and when David asked them why they had not gone with their parents and friends, they said, "After what the missionary said to us on Sunday, we felt it would not be right to expose ourselves to the temptations of a heathen feast."
To return to the Stony Lake Indians, it is necessary to say that I had again to give up a few acres of mission land which I had intended to use myself, for sowing the barley the Indians had brought from Carlton, but the pleasure it gave them to feel they were actually beginning to be farmers was to me an ample reward.
That autumn we had a very good all-round crop, in fact, the amount of wheat and barley was such that we despaired of being able to beat it all out with sticks, so our thoughts went back across the ages to primitive times and people who were similarly situated as ourselves, and we studied their methods of beating out the corn. We decided to adopt one of their methods, which we thought we could improve upon, that is, we decided to tread out our grain, but, instead of using the slow dirty ox, we proposed using our sprightly ponies, and instead of making a thrashing-floor on the ground, where a considerable amount of soil must unavoidably become mixed with the grain, we decided to make our floor on the ice, and this is how we made it. We went on to the lake and marked out a circle on the snow about thirty yards in diameter, and we then cut holes through the ice along the circle about fourteen feet apart, and, when these were made, we placed two posts or pickets in each hole, and, holding these in an upright position, with a block of wood between each two, to keep them a certain distance apart, we scraped the snow and loose ice into the hole with our feet until the pickets would stand alone, and then we went on to the next hole and did likewise, and after one night's frost the pickets stood as firm as growing trees. The next morning we hauled some fence poles to the place and began to build a fence around the circle by placing one end of a pole between one pair of pickets, and the other end between the next pair, and, starting from the ice, we kept on going round and round until the fence was about five feet high. We next set to work to shovel all the snow out of the circle, and swept the ice clean. We also built a small circle leading out of the larger one, but in this case we did not clean out the snow, as this was intended only for the horses to rest in whilst the men attended to the straw and grain, which will be understood as we proceed with our description. Having finished both the "corrals," we hauled the sheaves from the stacks to the thrashing-floor and placed them in position in this way--the butt end of one sheaf we placed against the fence poles, with the ears pointing towards the centre of the circle, and the next sheaf was placed opposite the last, but reversed, that is, with the ears overlapping the ears of the other sheaf, and so we went on, placing the sheaves close together until we had completed the circle, and, having cut the bands, the time had arrived for putting our horse-power into action. So we opened the gate which connected the two corrals, and drove in the ponies, eight in all, and having guided their heads in one direction, we began driving them round--the fence on the one side and the slippery ice on the other kept the ponies from leaving the sheaves, and, much quicker than k takes to say how it was done, the horses had become accustomed to their work and trotted along as though in harness, and about twenty circles sufficed to tread out the grain from the upper part of the sheaves. We then drove back the ponies into the smaller circle to rest, whilst we turned over and shook up the straw, and, when this was done, the ponies were again turned in, and the trotting recommenced, and in an incredibly short time all the grain was trodden out. Again the horses were turned into the smaller circle and the men began shaking up the straw with their forks to allow the loose grain to fall out of the straw, and then the straw was thrown over the fence. Then fresh sheaves were brought and placed in position and the same method adopted. It took two large loads of sheaves to make a double course around the circle. When the grain, chaff and short straws got to be about six or eight inches deep, they were all shovelled into a heap in the centre, and in a few hours we had quite a large heap of such a mixture in the centre of the floor.
Those who have never tried to thrash grain in this way can scarcely believe how much can be done in one day, but the tedious part of the work still remained to be done, and that was to separate the grain from the chaff, etc. We had no machinery for such a purpose, so we had to do it by the help of the wind, and this necessitated our being exposed to a fifteen or twenty miles an hour wind, blowing across the face of a frozen lake, which, to say the least, was not very agreeable. Well, the next thing to be done was to make a sieve, which we did in this way. We took half a. raw hide of a domestic animal which had been killed for the winter supply of meat. An Indian woman removed the hair from the hide and made the skin into thick parchment. We then took some in. by 9 in. boards and nailed them together, thus making a frame 4 ft. by 2 ft.; then, having soaked the parchment, we stretched it tightly across the frame, nailing it securely all round, and, as the parchment dried, it became very tight, and, when quite dry, I ruled lines on it lengthwise and crosswise about i inches apart. I then went to my gun case and took out my wad cutter, and, having placed the sieve on a log with a level top, I proceeded to punch holes through the parchment where the lines I had ruled intersected each other.
A sharp decisive blow made a clean cut in the parchment, and the holes were about five-eighths of an inch in diameter. We then nailed a short piece of wood to each side of the frame for handles, and our sieve was complete. We next made a hole in the ice away from the land to ensure our getting not only the full benefit of all the wind there might be at the time, but also to avoid an eddy in the current of air, as often happens near the shore. Having inserted a long pole in a slanting position, we connected the sieve to the top of this pole with a rope, and the machinery for cleaning the grain was complete. After the wheat was ready for grinding we had one hundred miles to haul it to the nearest grist-mill, the round journey occupying seven or eight days. Farming under these conditions was not very encouraging nor yet very profitable, but it became a work of necessity with us, and had to be done.
The Government surveyor arrived in due course (1878) and the two sites we had chosen for our reserves were officially defined and the permanent home of the Indians was established.
My wife and I having occupied my bachelor's quarters up to this time, I determined now to build a dwelling-house. Not only was our house a small one with no conveniences, but our furniture was equally humble; the only chair we possessed was the one made by David, already referred to--the rest of us sat on empty packing cases; the only table we possessed was also home-made and was minus paint. The log walls of the house were chinked with mud and were very uneven. There was only one window in the house, and in order to lighten up the walls, we papered them with newspapers; but this papering soon added a disreputable appearance to our room from the fact that, the walls being uneven, the paper did not touch all over, and the slightest pressure on the hollow places caused the paper to break.
To ensure getting a well-built house, I engaged a carpenter from Prince Albert. This man was an excellent tradesman but so delicate that he was unable to do a fairly good day's work. But if the flesh was weak the mind was strong, and he refused to work for less than £12 per month and his board. The first business was to erect the frame of the building, which, by the way, was 22 feet by 16 feet, with upper rooms; this part of the work was done by David and the carpenter.
The next thing was to plane and edge the boards; this was very hard work, as the lumber had been badly sawn, and it took the carpenter a whole day to dress twelve boards. I had no building for the man to use as a carpenter's shop in which he could work and keep his material dry, so we constructed a bench on one side of the schoolroom, which it will be remembered also served as a church pro tem., and he worked on one side of the building and I taught day school on the other side, as at that time I was without a teacher, the young Englishman having left Sandy Lake; and it was now that I got an insight into the mysteries of carpentry, for, whilst teaching the children, I kept an eye on my mechanic, and learned many things from him which I found useful in after life when erecting churches and schools in other parts of the diocese. It must be remembered that when I entered upon my missionary career I knew practically nothing about carpentry or carpenter's tools, as the following will show. When David and I had completed our first little house at Big White Fish Lake, we took one of our carts to pieces in order to get boards with which to make the door, but these boards were neither planed nor edged, so in order to dress them I went to my tool chest and took out a set of plane irons, and finding them rather dull, we proceeded to grind them. David turned the stone and I took up one of the irons to grind, but my man, knowing more about such things than I did, said: "That is not the piece to grind, sir; that piece goes on the top and throws out the shavings--the other is the piece that cuts." "All right, David," I said, "but as this piece is rather rusty we will keep it on the stone long enough to polish it up, and then we will grind the other piece;" this I said more to conceal my ignorance than anything else, as I had no idea at that time which was the blade and which was not, though no doubt I should have found out as soon as I began putting them together.
My next mistake was made at Sandy Lake. Having made a board for use in the school, it was necessary to paint it black, but paint I had none; but I discovered that the people who supplied the chest of tools had put a small packet of lampblack inside; how they intended me to use it I cannot say, but it occurred to me, however, that I could make a black paint with this by mixing it with oil.
The only oil I had with me was castor oil, which I had taken out for medicinal purposes, but as we should not require very much just for one small board, I decided to use it; so the process of mixing began, and, when thoroughly assimilated, I painted the board. The mixture gave the board a very glossy appearance and I put it in a shady place to dry. But for some reason or other my paint did not appear to dry in the least, so I put it outside so that the sun could shine upon it, but even then it would not dry, and so finally I brought it into the house and kept it close to the fire; but the hotter it got, the greasier it became, and so by degrees I found out that there was more in paint oil than its name, and that castor oil would not do. I had then to scrape it all off and try mixing lampblack with paraffin oil, and although this combination lacked substance, it did dry, and we were able to make use of our blackboard.
The school at Big Child's was now taught by a very energetic young man, a first cousin of the present Bishop of Rupert's Land. He did good work there, and the people liked him very well. The Indians at this mission felt the loss of the buffalo like those at Sandy Lake, and for a few years suffered from shortness of food, and I fear often troubled my co-worker with their constant importunities. Unfortunately, most of these Indians went to borrow, not liking the idea of begging, but unfortunately for my friend, they did not keep their promises about returning the equivalent in some shape or form. He would not have minded this in a few extreme cases, but when the business became pretty general, it was more than his exchequer could stand. So on the occasion of my next visit he told me of his difficulties. "Well," I said, "the psalm for next Sunday is the 37th, and the 21st verse speaks about borrowing and not paying back again." So I advised him when reading the psalm to emphasise the 21st verse, and see what effect it would have on his parishioners, and he promised to do so. The next time I visited his mission he told me that he not only emphasised the verse, but had been guilty of repeating it two or three times during the reading of the psalm! "Well," I said, "and what was the result?" He replied, "It was most satisfactory, for by noon on Monday there was only one Indian on the reserve who had not paid me back in full." It was therefore evident that they preferred to be in want, rather than be considered wicked.
This teacher remained with me two years. The first year he taught on Big Child's reserve, and the second at Sandy Lake, and I found him very obliging and willing to do anything at any time to help on the work, and often in the cool of the evening he would go with me and help plough up some new land for a newcomer who had decided to settle at the Mission, and when the new house was in course of erection he helped considerably on the building; in fact in those early days missionary and teachers alike had no stipulated hours for work, but whatever our hands found to do regardless of time, we did it with a good will and with all our might.
During his two years service with me he received the call to give his life to the work of the ministry, and he left me to become a student at Emmanuel College, where he was soon after joined by the young Englishman who also served his first two years in the work with me at Sandy Lake. At the time of writing he is a Canon in the diocese of Saskatchewan, and if it is not presumption to rank myself among the seers, I should say he will in a few years be an Archdeacon. George, my first co-worker, was made an Archdeacon twenty-five years ago. A cousin of my friend, who read Psalm xxxvii. to advantage, followed him as teacher at Snake Plain, where he remained two or three years, and when he left me it was also to become a student at Emmanuel College, and after his ordination, found work in the Western States of U.S.A., where he has a mission at the present time.
The mission house at Sandy Lake being completed, my next work was to build a new Church, and I engaged another carpenter from Prince Albert to help me. But by this time I had become fairly efficient with the hammer and saw, and with David's assistance, which was nearly as good as that of an extra carpenter, we were not long in erecting this building. One thing aided us greatly in the construction of the Church, viz., a saw mill had recently been erected in Prince Albert, which not only made boards but dressed and finished them for whatever work they were required. To get possession of these, however, necessitated a journey of two hundred miles with oxen and wagons, but this was a mere item compared with the trouble of getting them sawn and dressed by hand. The pattern of the seats was my own design, and all were made by David and myself. The Church being ready for use, we occupied it at once, though we had to wait some time before the Bishop could dedicate it. The delight of the Indians at having a new and proper Church in which to worship was evident in all their faces. At a meeting, held a day or two before the opening, to arrange about the sittings, the Indians decided of their own accord that the women folk should occupy the seats on one side of the aisle and the men folk on the other, and this is the practice in the Sandy Lake Church at the present time, that is, it was so two years ago.
Our Bishop's time was much taken up with raising funds for his diocese which took him much from home, so the dedication of the Church had to be postponed for some time, as also the taking of my priest's orders. This latter event took place on March 7th, 1880, and the following summer, if I remember rightly, the Bishop, with Archdeacon McKay, visited Sandy Lake, dedicated the Church and held the first Confirmation. In the absence of records, I cannot say positively how many partook of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, but I think the number of confirmees was considerably over fifty, I think fifty-eight. This took place about four years after the Bishop's first visit, when he found me living in a single-roomed house, and no baptised Indians around me.
In giving a name to the Church I did not forget my promise made at New Jersey, the first Sunday we spent on the continent of America, and I called it "St. Mark's," after the name of the Church we worshipped in on that occasion. On the Monday following the dedication, etc., the Bishop held what in England would be called a reception.
Before writing a further account of the Bishop's visit, I thought it advisable to make a journey to the C.M.S. House, Salisbury Square, and search the records, to find, if possible, the Bishop's own account of his visit, and I am glad to say that with the aid of the librarian, we found the report we were looking for, and I shall give it here verbatim et literatim. The Bishop's report can be found on page 566 of the CM. Intelligencer, September, 1881, and is as follows:
"The Bishop of Saskatchewan has sent the following interesting journal of a visit lately paid by him to Asisippi:
"May 6th, 1881.--Started from Prince Albert in company with the Rev. Canon Mackay, C.M.S. Secretary. The same day we crossed the Saskatchewan at Carlton, and camped about a mile beyond the river.
"May 7th.--Continued our journey. About 3 p.m. we reached Snake Plain (Big Child's reserve). It is a very fine section of country, well wooded and watered, the soil being good and well adapted for farming. We had service in the chief's house--thirty persons present. I addressed them at some length, explaining the work that the C.M.S. had done among their brethren at Red River, Moose, Athabasca, and throughout Rupert's Land generally, and expressing my regret that in their anxiety to have a separate missionary stationed at Snake Plain, the chief and some of the people should have separated themselves from Mr. Hines' Mission, and invited a Presbyterian minister to come amongst them after all he had done for them. The service was conducted in Cree by Canon Mackay. I was much pleased to notice how heartily they joined in it.
"After service we left for Asisippi (Sandy Lake) which we reached the same night, and where we were hospitably entertained by Mr. and Mrs. Hines. The country through which we passed was very beautiful, and contains a great deal of good fanning land. The reserve at Asisippi is well chosen, and possesses every natural advantage in the way of wood, water, and good soil, to render it a most desirable location for the Indians. The Mission buildings are excellent. The Church is a neat substantial edifice--just what I should call a model Mission Church. It owes much of its neatness to the personal efforts of Mr. Hines, who did a great deal towards it with his own hands. The dwelling house is commodious and comfortable, strongly and neatly built, and likely to last for many years. I cannot help thinking that independently of the comfort of the missionary, it is a great point gained to have a neat and comfortable mission house. It becomes in some sort a model for the Indians. In the neat, tidy appearance of some of their small dwelling houses, I recognised the effect of the excellent example set before them by Mr. Hines.
"Sunday, May 8th.--Morning service in the Church (St. Mark's), at 10.30 a.m. The service was conducted in Cree by the Rev. Canon Mackay, and the Rev. Mr. Hines, I was pleased to notice the ease and clearness with which Mr. Hines read the service. He has mastered the language so well that he can now preach in it and converse with the people readily. My sermon was interpreted by the Rev. Canon Mackay. I then confirmed fifty-two persons, including 'Star Blanket,' the chief of the Asisippi Indians, and two of his councillors. Of these, eight were from the Snake Plain reserve, one being a councillor. The latter, an old man, walked the whole distance of twenty-five miles to be present at the service. In the afternoon there was a second service, when Canon Mackay preached, and Holy Communion was administered to twenty-eight persons. I stated that I would be glad to meet the heads of families in the School House on Monday.
"May 9th.--A meeting was held of the heads of families in the School House. There was a full attendance. I addressed them with special reference to the progress made at Asisippi, and the state of things at Snake Plain reserve. I pointed out that the fact of eight persons having come all the way from that reserve to Asisippi to be confirmed and to partake of Holy Communion, was a sufficient proof that they valued their connection with the Church of England Mission, and that, therefore, both Mr. Hines and myself felt that it would be his duty to visit and exercise a pastoral charge over these members of the Church, and any others who might prefer remaining in connection with the C.M.S. Mission.
"I then invited any of the Indians present to narrate their experiences and give their views. The first who stood up was the councillor from Snake Plain. He said, 'I am much rejoiced at the prospect of the Mission being continued at the Snake Plain, I love the Church of England, her services, her teaching, and her Prayer Book. I never miss an opportunity of attending the Church at Asisippi for Holy Communion, though I travel twenty-five miles to do so.'
"The next speaker was 'Star Blanket,' the chief of the Asisippi Indians. He is a fine intelligent-looking old man, and has used his influence among the Indians in forwarding the work of the Mission. He said, 'I am glad to see you. My heart has been full of thankfulness these two days. I was once a poor heathen--ignorant of God. I heard the truth of the Gospel through Mr. Hines. For a time I was unsettled, but now I believe in the Saviour, and never have any desire to return to my old ways. In the old times I have camped on the very spot where the Church is now standing. I was then engaged in hunting or making war. I thank God for what I see to-day. I regard the building of the Mission as God's work, and the coming of the Bishop seems to be the completion of the work. The Indians of my band have the same thankful feelings as myself. With God's help I will give all the aid I can to the Mission as long as I have strength to sit up. I do not claim credit for turning my people to the Christian religion, it was their own work.'
"'Star Blanket' was followed by his brother, Jacob Susukwumos, a councillor. He said, 'I, too, am thankful for what I see to-day. I almost cried yesterday when I saw the Bishop and two clergymen in our Church. I have been not only a heathen, but a conjuror or medicine man. I knew every heathen superstition; I paid to be taught all the mysteries. God has seen fit to change my mind, and I am now a Christian. The change must have come from God--it could not have come from myself. God showed me that I was in the power of the evil one, and that I could only escape by coming to Jesus. Both I, and the others here, were brought to the Saviour by God's blessing on the teaching of Mr. Hines. I heard in Church yesterday that heathen superstitions were crumbling away, and that Christianity is growing and spreading. I believe this is true. I am thankful to see the Church completed and the mission growing so strong. I remember that in my heathen days I once camped with my wife and child on the very spot where the Church door now is. I felt very lonely--just like a beast, for I knew not God. I little thought then, though no doubt God had ordained it, that in the very place where I sat, the Church would be built, and that my wife would be the first buried there. She was then, like myself, a poor heathen, but before she died she was brought to Jesus, and was a baptised member of His Church. Her favourite hymn during her last illness was:
"'Alas! and did my Saviour bleed,
And did my Sovereign die?'
"When he had finished Peter Kakasoo (the hider) rose and said, 'From the first time I heard the Gospel I believed it and tried to follow it. My constant effort has been to help the progress of the work. I hope we shall receive a supply of Cree prayer books in the syllabic character. They are much wanted in the mission.'
"On inquiry I found that this Indian was the first man baptised at Asisippi by Mr. Hines; that he then became a Scripture reader to the Indians in the plains, and that he has been a great help to Mr. Hines.
"The chief 'Star Blanket' now spoke again. He said, 'While I was still a heathen some of my children were baptised by a Roman Catholic priest. I was away on the warpath when the priest came to my tent and baptised my two children. My wife told me of it on my return. From time to time the priest came to my camp, and baptised one after another of my children. I, myself, was never at home when he came, and both my wife and myself remained heathen. My children as they grew older were never taught anything by the priest. They grew up quite ignorant of Christianity. Once I happened to be at Carlton when the Roman Catholic Bishop came there and hired me for a journey. When we camped at night the Bishop asked me to come to prayers. I said I knew nothing about it--that I did not know what prayer meant. The Bishop asked me. if I hated religion, and I said I knew nothing about it. I asked the Bishop what was the use of the priest baptising my children and then teaching them nothing. I also said that if the Bishop would send some one to teach them I would allow it to be done. The Bishop promised to send a priest as teacher in about a year from that time, but I waited eleven years and no teacher came. At last Mr. Hines arrived and began to teach from the Bible. I invited him to be our minister. In a short time he established his mission here. Some time after this I again saw the Roman Catholic Bishop. He told me I had done wrong in going to a Protestant minister. I replied that the Roman Catholic priests had done nothing but baptise my children--that they had let them grow up without giving them any instruction, and that he, the Bishop, had not kept his promise to send a priest as teacher. After I invited Mr. Hines to stay with my band, I spoke to the Snake Plain Indians, and they all agreed to join in receiving instruction from him. I, myself, and wife and one of my children have been baptised by Mr. Hines. Four of my children, who were baptised by the Roman Catholic priest, were instructed by Mr. Hines and confirmed yesterday.' "
"Before the meeting closed the chief's brother stated in conversation that not one of the children baptised by the Roman Catholic priest had ever received any instruction from him. All that they know has been taught them by Mr. Hines and his native helper, David Stranger. The councillor from Snake Plain added that his children, six in number, as well as himself and wife, had also been baptised by Mr. Hines.
"At the close of the school house meeting, service was held in the Church with second confirmation, when six persons were confirmed, who did not arrive in time for the confirmation yesterday. This makes fifty-eight persons on this occasion at Asisippi.
(Signed) "J. SASKATCHEWAN."
There are two or three things mentioned in the above report that seem to require a few words of explanation from myself. The word Asisippi, for instance, appears in the Bishop's report for the first time in this book. Asisippi was the original name of the Sandy Lake Mission. I gave it that name, not only because it is an Indian word which looked nice in print, and was not so difficult to pronounce, but because it is the name of the river that flows through the reserve and means in English "Shell River." (Asis, a shell, and sepee, a river.) But we had no post office here and the name was not officially known. In the meantime a settlement sprang up in the outskirts of Manitoba, 400 miles from us, but near to a river of the same name as our own. This latter place, being favoured with a post office, its name was registered in the annals of the Post Office, and the result was that all letters, etc., addressed to me at Asisippi, notwithstanding Saskatchewan was included in the address, were always sent to Asisippi, Manitoba, as that was the only Asisippi on the Post Office list. The result was our mail used to be sent there and accumulate, and no doubt much of it never reached us, so we had to change the name, and instead of calling it after the river that flowed through the reserve, we named it after the lake inside the reserve, and on the shore of which the mission stands, and the mission has been known as Sandy Lake Mission for the past twenty-five years.
The Bishop in his report has referred to the trouble at Snake Plain; it arose in this way. I have already said that these Indians knew they were less favourably situated than the Sandy Lake Indians, owing to the fact that in case of sickness or any other need, they had no missionary at hand to run to for medicines, etc., and as the two chiefs, Big Child and Star Blanket, were, and always had been, considered co-equal by the H.B. Company, the former felt now that he held a less favourable position than Star Blanket as regards the Church. He therefore wished to have a minister of his own, and wrote the Bishop to that effect. The Bishop replied saying it would not be fair to the rest of the Indians, to place two ordained men so close together, when so many bands had not even a school teacher living among them. He said the object of the Church was to spread out her few agents so as to give all the Indians a chance of hearing the "good news," and then, when this had been done, if men and means were at our disposal, to fill up the vacant spaces with ordained men.
The Bishop also pointed out to the Chief that he and his band knew where we had established our mission as they had lived there for a time and farmed the mission land, but afterwards, for reasons over which the mission had no control, he decided with his followers to locate at Snake Plain. But even then the Church did not forsake them, a teacher was at once found to teach their children and conduct services, etc., and the missionary and David Stranger visited them as often as they could. And not only so, but David and the mission oxen had helped them to cultivate their first fields at their new location.
The Bishop's reply, however, did not satisfy Big Child and some of his followers, and being incited to persevere in their demands by the Chief's Scotch son-in-law, and others, they wrote again, threatening the Bishop to leave the Church and invite a Presbyterian minister to live among them, if he did not comply with their request. The Bishop replied to that letter saying that under no circumstances would he consider the idea of sending them an ordained man, even if he had one to spare, which he had not, because if he yielded under pressure of that kind he would have other Indians adopting the same method for getting their demands met; therefore if they were so inconsiderate and ungrateful for what the Church had done for them, they must do as they had suggested; but he did not hesitate to tell them, that if he rightly understood the spirit of the leaders of the Presbyterian Church, he felt sure they would not for one moment entertain the idea of complying with such a request.
The Bishop was right, so far as the heads of the Presbyterian Church in Winnipeg were concerned, but he did not know their local man who was intriguing to get possession of the Snake Plain Mission. If the Bishop had stated our case to the Presbyterian Mission Board in Winnipeg, the matter in question would have been checked in the bud, but he did not, and the authorities there only knew what their local man told them, and the result was, they supplied him with funds at once to build a mission house and Church on the reserve.
From May, 1881--the date of the Bishop's visit--to July, 1882, I continued my visits to Snake Plain as requested, and whenever I spent a Sunday with them, the majority of the Indians attended my services and the Presbyterian minister had very few at his, and not liking this, he came to see me and asked me to conduct my services in his Church in the morning, and he would occupy the pulpit in the afternoon, as the people, he said, were too few to be broken up into two congregations. I told him he should have thought of that before he came and settled at that mission, "besides, it would be a waste of Christian time and Christian usefulness to keep you here just for one service a week. However," I said, "I am leaving shortly for England, and when I return perhaps some other arrangement can be made."
On my way to England, August, 1882, I called at the Presbyterian College in the city of Winnipeg, and saw one of the leading representatives of the Church there, and he was both surprised and grieved at their own actions, when he heard the true account of what had taken place, and he gave me his word of honour that if the C.M.S. would make them a reasonable allowance for the buildings they erected, he would see that their man was sent to work among other Indians who were without a Christian teacher.
On reaching England, I spoke to the C.M.S. secretary for North-Western Canada, and explained matters to him, and I told him what the Presbyterian professor had commissioned me to say.
It goes without saying that our secretary, who had been following our work among these Indians with much interest from the first, was much upset when he heard what had taken place. After a little discussion he asked me if there were any heathen Indians in the neighbourhood of Sandy Lake that I could give my spare time to, if I gave up the work at Snake Plain to the Presbyterians. I told him of the Stony Lake Indians and others north of Sandy Lake, and hearing this, he advised me, seeing the Presbyterians had established themselves at Snake Plain, to give up that mission entirely to them, and extend my efforts among the unevangelised. So it came about that the Snake Plain reserve became a Presbyterian mission. As soon as it was known that my visits to Snake Plain were to cease, several families left Big Child's band and came to live at Sandy Lake.
With reference to the confessions made by the Indians and tabulated in the Bishop's report, perhaps I may be permitted to say that I have listened to scores of such statements during the years I have served in the mission field, and my earnest prayer is, that their names may be found recorded in the "Book of Life," when the "Books are opened."
It will hardly be necessary for me to refer again to the Snake Plain band, further than to inform my readers that apart from helping the Indians to establish themselves on their new reserve, and providing for their Christian and secular instruction, I baptised the Chief and his two wives (after they had separated) and about three-fourths of his whole band of followers before the mission was handed over to the Presbyterians.
It is only right to say that my wife rendered very efficient help in making the work at Sandy Lake and elsewhere so successful--for in addition to dispensing medicines she held classes for women, at which prayer and the reading of portions of Scripture occupied their right proportion of time. The subjects taught were cleanliness, sewing and knitting; this latter item was entirely novel to the Indians, and what added so much the more to its interest was that they were taught to make garments from the wool that had grown on their own sheep's backs--for be it understood that in addition to keeping cows, poultry and pigs, I also introduced sheep among them and taught the men how to shear them, and some of them became quite efficient in the work.
Some of our Indian women became experts at knitting and won prizes at different competitions. We sent one Indian woman's work, which consisted of gloves, stockings, cross-overs and comforters to an exhibition held at Ottawa, two thousand miles from our mission, and her work gained for her about three pounds in prizes, which included knitting needles of all sizes, crochet hooks and tatting shuttles, with several pounds of the finest coloured fingering wool that could be obtained.
Having demonstrated that sheep could be raised with profit in that out-of-the-way place, the Government soon afterwards presented each of the bands under Big Child and Star Blanket with a flock of Merino sheep, but as this class of sheep was not encumbered with very long wool, they took to wandering and sometimes were found miles from home, and many of them fell a prey to the wolves, etc., whereas the sheep imported by me being of the Leicestershire breed, they were contented to remain near home with the satisfactory result that neither I nor the Indians who shared them with me, lost one, either from wolves or drowning.
During my peregrinations among the Indians, Mrs. Hines was left very much alone, and until she had learned the language sufficiently to understand what the Indians said to her, and to make them understand what she wanted to say to them, she was often placed in a ridiculous and difficult position. On one occasion, a heathen Chief called for something he had left in David's keeping, but when he called, David was not at home and my wife knew nothing of the affair; all the Indian could say that was intelligible to her was "Tapit," which she rightly interpreted to mean David (the Indians have no "d" sound in their language, and so use the "t"), but the rest of his discourse was simply wasted upon her; this was also the case when she spoke English to the Chief; then, as a substitute for words, the Chief resorted to signs to help explain what it was he wanted, and she rightly concluded that he had called for something he had left with David, but what that something was is what puzzled her, and so she took him all over the premises and showed him everything she could think of, to see if he could recognise what he wanted. But it was all in vain. The Chief then knelt down and, as she thought, imitated a woman in the attitude of washing, and so she came to the conclusion that he wanted a washtub or to beg a piece of soap, and she placed both before him. After looking seriously at these for a time the old man burst out laughing, and patting his mouth and ears with his hand, exclaimed "Tapwa-eye-mun" (Truly it is difficult), meaning when one could neither understand nor make himself understood. So the Chief had to remain until David returned home in the evening, and then matters were simplified. When Indians are travelling any distance from home, they invariably take with them a fishing net, as well as a gun, especially if they are passing through a lake district, and the Chief, having no further use for his net after reaching the mission, he left it in David's care until he returned from Carlton. By his kneeling attitude and the motion of his hands and arms, he intended to illustrate the overhauling of a net, and washing and hanging it out to dry, so after all my wife was not far out in her judgment as to what was intended to be conveyed by his actions; the difficulty was in knowing just what had been or was wanted to be washed. Whenever the Chief passed our way, he never failed to call and see Mrs. Hines, and to talk jokingly over their past difficulties. This old man was Chief of the Pelican Lake band of Indians, the place I visited when I had to cross the great Muskeg the first autumn I spent in the country. The Chief had a rather undignified name, viz., "Mu-che-kun-nas" (Rubbish, of any kind). This same old Indian happened to be at Green Lake when Bishop Young arrived there on his return home to Winnipeg after having paid his first visit to his new diocese Athabasca, and the H.B. Company engaged the old Chief to bring the Bishop cm to my mission with his pony and cart, and all the English he had learned since his experience with Mrs. Hines was the word "Eat," and as the Bishop at that time did not understand any Cree, their conversation was limited during the four days they travelled together; whichever got up first in the morning would arouse the other by shouting out "Eat," and when on the trail whichever thought it was time to boil the kettle, instead of calling for a halt, he would shout out the word "Eat."
Having discontinued my visits to Snake Plain, I took charge of the day school at Sandy Lake, and when I paid my periodical visits to Stony Lake, and the Indians north of Sandy Lake, I left the school in the care of one of my most advanced pupils. I continued teaching the day school for four years, and only gave it up when one of my former scholars had qualified himself for the work of a schoolmaster. It was during the years that I had charge of the school that the efficiency of the school became known, and received many visits, not only from Government officials, but also from men of note. The Indian Commissioner, after paying an official visit, put a paragraph in the Battleford Herald, to this effect: "That it would be worth anyone's while who happened to be passing within sixty miles of the Sandy Lake mission, to pay a visit to the Indian school and make a personal inspection." One gentleman of note who paid our school such a visit was Captain Butler (afterwards General Butler), the author of "The Great Lone Land." He was passing through the Territories some years after his first visit, when he wrote his book, and having met Star Blanket and his band before they came under Christian influence, he expressed a desire to see them under their changed conditions, and my friend the Hon. L. Clarke, Chief Factor, H.B. Company, drove him over fifty miles to see our work. I had no idea of their coming, so our surprise was great, and their sudden appearance was all the more appreciated as they found me with my children in the school going through our ordinary routine work, and their surprise at the intelligence of the children was very great. In those days the Dominion Government (Conservative), through the Indian Department, offered prizes for the best-conducted Indian school in Manitoba. The prizes were as follows: First, £20; second, £16; third, £12; fourth, £8; and these prizes were awarded on general merit and progress made since the previous year's examination. For instance, if a school that took second prize last year was found, upon examination, to have made more progress during the year than the one that took the first prize at the last examination, the former would be awarded first prize this year, notwithstanding the children might not be so far advanced as those in the other school. On the recommendation of the Indian Commissioner, the Government decided to include the North-West Territories in the competition, and I suggested (and I think it was in response to my suggestion) the same Inspector should examine the Indian schools in the North-West Territories as examined the schools in Manitoba. The result was that the Sandy Lake school was awarded the premier prize three years in succession, and when I gave up the school to one of my former scholars, he maintained the efficiency of the school so well that he obtained the second prize for his efforts.
The Government by this time had begun to take a greater interest in the Indians, and more assistance was given them to help cultivate the land on a larger scale. More draft oxen, ploughs, harrows and other agricultural implements, such as reaping and mowing machines, and a ten horse-power thrashing machine were sent out, and ultimately a steam grist mill was erected and operated for the accommodation of the Indians. Further a portable saw mill was given to them, this was taken round to all the reserves in that district, and boards of all sizes were made from logs previously taken out of the bush by the Indians, and practically all these things are operated now by the Indians themselves; so there was really no necessity for me to pay so much attention to secular work as I had to do at the beginning, though frequently when the Government horses fell sick or any of the Indian cattle lost their cud, I was called upon to do the work of a "Vet."
At the time of writing, some of these Indians raise two thousand bushels of grain each year, and some I know personally have as many as twenty-five head of horned cattle, besides horses, pigs, sheep and poultry, and they attend the markets regularly with eggs and butter, and every autumn each band will sell from twenty to forty head of fat cattle to the butchers in the neighbouring towns, so that socially their condition has greatly improved since the day when I first taught them the rudiments of agriculture.
At the time of which I am writing, the Church work was also thoroughly organised with our churchwardens, vestrymen, and a regular system of offertories, though cash at that time was not in circulation at the Mission.
A list of the articles given on a Communion Sunday, though by no means complete, may be read with interest. In the first place we could not take up the offertory in the usual way, so we used to place a large table near the door, and when the people entered the Church they used to place their offerings upon it. These gifts consisted of packets of tea, sugar, soap, varying in weight, but never under a half-pound, and sometimes they would weigh as much as 2 Ibs. each packet, and sugar and soap at that time were is. a Ib. Others would give reels of sewing cotton, packets of needles, knives, forks, plates, cups and saucers, tobacco, pieces of print varying in length from 1 to 10 yards in the piece (print at that time was sold in the Saskatchewan from 1s. to 1s. 6d. per yard); others would give a piece of deerskin made into leather, and sometimes several pairs of moccasins ready made would be placed on the table; some, if they had recently returned with flour from the grist mill, would give from 8 to 20 lbs. of flour; others would bring from five to fifteen boards 10 feet long, 6 inches broad and 1 inch thick. These latter would be left outside the Church door and a note in Cree syllables would be placed on the table stating the number of boards, and who from; others would give the skins of the fur-bearing animals, such as red fox, mink and musquash, and I have often known on a Communion Sunday, when Indians have been leaving the Church and feeling thankful for fresh grace received, deposit on the table a second offertory of such things as they possessed. I have known an Indian to leave behind him that which he prized more than anything else, namely, his fire bag. This is a bag made by his wife from deerskin, and is often elaborately ornamented with bead work, and in which is carried a pipe, tobacco, steel, flint, touchwood, and sundry small articles, including a pocket-knife; this bag is a constant companion of every man, and is worn attached to his belt. The reason why it is called a fire bag is, because it contains the means for making fire, namely, flint, steel and touchwood. Well, I have known this precious treasure to be left on the table by Indians as a kind of extra thank-offering for a fresh glimpse of God's revealed love for him in the gift of His Son! Another feature of their giving was that every member of the family should have something to place on the offertory table on Communion Sunday at least, and I have often seen the father leading a child in each hand on his way to Church and the little ones toddling along beside him, with one hand in their father's and in the other its offering which had been given to it by the father, and then, when they entered the Church, the father had to lift up the smaller child to enable it to put its very own gift on the table. And I have seen a mother carrying her infant in her arms with something folded up and placed in the arm of the child, and held there by the mother to prevent it dropping, and then when she had deposited her own gift, she would take the child's offering and putting it in its little hand, would take hold of its wrist and guide the hand over the table and shake it, so that the infant might drop its own offering. A prettier and more touching sight than this is difficult to imagine.
On the Monday following, the churchwardens used to bring all the offerings over to my house and value them, and the total value was entered into a book kept for the purpose; sometimes the offertory would amount to £10 or £12! After the amount had been duly entered in the book the articles became my own property, and I was responsible for their value in cash. Then, when diocesan appeals reached us, the churchwardens decided what amount should be sent, and I forwarded my own cheque to the Secretary of the Synod, and the amount was entered in the book, showing how much and for what purpose it had been paid out. As to the articles themselves, I used them in bartering for fuel or certain kinds of food from the Indians, and for paying labour in my field, etc., etc.
At one of my stations we used to send regularly to the C.M.S., Salisbury Square, £20 per annum as a token of the people's gratitude for what the Society had done for them in the past. I often wonder if these thankofferings to the C.M.S. were continued after I left the district.
The priests of the Church of Rome from time to time, when passing, would camp for the night on the outskirts of the Mission, and would invite the Chief and other leading Indians to drink tea with them; the object was that they might have another opportunity of repeating their request to be allowed to build a small Church just inside the reserve at the north end of the lake, as this, they said, would be convenient for the French half-breeds living at Big River, as well as any of the Indians living on the reserve who might care to attend their services; the Chief, however, was steadfast in his refusal, saying, "The field was once before them, but at that time they took no interest in him and his people, but now the door for their admission was closed." In order to illustrate and emphasise the strength our Mission had upon them, the Chief asked the head priest if he had ever been inside a blacksmith's shop, and had watched the process of welding pieces of iron together. The priest replied in the affirmative. "Well," the chief said, "you will have noticed the pieces of iron to be welded were not brought together until they were in a state of white heat, and it appears, the hotter the iron the stronger the weld." "That is so," said the priest. "Well," continued the Chief, "you kept me waiting so long for the realisation of your promises that I became at white heat with anxiety to have my people taught, and after eleven years of waiting our present minister arrived in the country, and when I met him, I found him at a white heat with anxiety for some one to teach, and as I have said, we met and we have become welded together and no pressure that your Church can bring to bear upon us can sever us, so you may as well cease your efforts to Induce us to change our religion." This statement, I believe, the priest accepted as final, for I never again heard of any attempt to disturb the minds of my people at Sandy Lake, though I shall have to refer later on to their actions at Stony Lake.