Anglican missions to
bring the Gospel to the indigenous peoples of North America began
soon after the first English-speaking people arrived on the continent.
The Reverend Robert Hunt arrived in the area which is now northern
Saskatchewan in 1850 under the auspices of the Church Missionary
Society. He immediately began the construction of a rectory and
schoolhouse, which were followed by the building from 1854-1860
of the current Holy Trinity Church on the north bank of the Churchill
River. Hunt designed the church building, which he and his converts
constructed; fine stained glass was imported from England, as
were door hinges, window frames and metal implements.
"My Parish is
certainly a large one, about 600 miles by 400 miles, with authority
from the Bishop over and above what my license contains, to preach
the Gospel in "the regions beyond," but what I have
seen of the country while coming hither forces the conviction
upon me that there are few spots in this district that I can
visit for this purpose. All is either forest through which none
but an Indian can find his way, or naked rock, or swamp, or lake
or river, without a solitary pathway through any part of it,
except those ones made by the voyageurs at the portages, while
passing, once or twice a year, from one lake or river to another.
"Over the 200,000
square miles of my district, all the aboriginal inhabitants who
do not remain at the Station, or even near the forts of the Hudson's
Bay Company are hunting for the greater part of the year, and
in general each party consists of only one man and his family
averaging not more than one adult to 100 square miles of surface."
were the Cree and Chipewyan people of the district, the vast
majority of whom became Anglican Christians.
From 1864-1867, Archdeacon
J.A. MacKay, a priest of mixed Cree and Caucasian background,
was in charge of the mission. His tenure saw the arrival of a
printing press, and the further development of a thriving mission
station with a school and several homes near the church on the
north bank. He revised the Cree translation of the Book of Common
Prayer still in wide use in this area.
The people of Stanley
Mission are practicing Anglicans today, and members of the Anglican Diocese of
Saskatchewan. From 1905, however, the community on the north
bank began to decline, and Holy Trinity Anglican Church is the
only remaining structure from the original settlement. The creation
of a reserve on the south bank of the Churchill in 1920 marked
the end of Stanley Mission's status as the center of the CMS
district here, as the mission at Lac La Ronge rose to importance
during this period.