ANGLICAN MISSIONS IN
In order to understand
the growth of Anglican missions in Alberta it will be necessary to
consider briefly the whole field of Western Canada prior to the founding
of the first mission or parish in Alberta. The first Anglican church was
established at Red River by the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1820 Rev. John
West was sent out from England as chaplain to the Selkirk settlers by
the Company. Mr. West also offered his services to the Church Missionary
Society founded a few years earlier in England (1799) to promote
"missions in Africa and the East" among the heathen.
The Society accepted the
offer and granted one hundred pounds to support a mission and a school
among the Indians of Red River, and soon afterwards undertook the
establishment of schools and missions throughout the North-West. From
the Red River the work spread to the Saskatchewan, the Athabaska, the
Mackenzie and the Far North.
One of the first things
Rev. John West did was to found a school in connection with St. John's
Church, the progenitor of St. Johns' College of today. West returned to
England in 1823, and was succeeded by Rev. David Jones, who remained
until 1839. He was followed by Rev. William Cochran, who came out to
assist Mr. Jones in 1825. When Mr. Jones left Cochran had four parishes
to look after. He was associated with the formation of St. Peter's
settlement for the Indians. Rev. J. Smithurst was the next missionary to
come from England. He arrived in 1839. Henry Budd, one of the Indian
boys, induced by West to enter St. John's School, was ordained as a
missionary in 1840, and was sent to open a mission among the Crees at
Cumberland House. Here he was visited by Smithhurst in 1842, the first
Anglican white missionary to visit the Saskatchewan. Rev. Abram Cowley
came out in 1841 and began work at Fairford House, and later among the
natives on Lake Manitoba. Next year Rev. James Hunter arrived from
England and took charge of the mission at Cumberland House, or The Pas,
and Henry Budd moved farther up the Saskatchewan to Nepowewin.
Bishop Mountain of
Montreal visited Red River in 1844 and confirmed 846 candidates, white
and native. Owing to the generosity of James Lieth, a Hudson's Bay
factor, an endowment was established in 1849 to support a bishop in
Rupert's Land, and on May 29th, of that year, Rev. David Anderson was
consecrated Bishop of Rupert's Land in Canterbury Cathedral. He arrived
at Red River the same year. A year later Bishop Anderson ordained Henry
Budd, who continued for a quarter of a century among his own people.
With Bishop Anderson came Rev. John Chapman and Rev. Robert Hunt. Mr.
Hunt was sent to superintend the work at Lac la Ronge, where Henry
Settee, a companion of Rev. Henry Budd, and a graduate of St. John's
College, was conducting a mission. When Settee was a very small child
his father carried him in his arms to Rev. John West to train him for
the service of the church. Here we may note that Charles Pratt and John
Hope, natives, also graduated in the early days from St. John's College
and for many years carried on missionary work on behalf of the Anglican
Church among the natives of Red River and the Saskatchewan.
Under Bishop Anderson
missionary work developed rapidly and several new men came out from
England. During the next fifteen years there arrived in rapid succession
John Horden, W. W. Kirkby, A. E. Watkins, W. Stagg, H. T. T. Smith and
H. Phair. Walter Mason, a Wesleyan missionary, who came to the West with
James Evans in 1840, received Anglican orders and joined the diocese in
1852. From St. John's College a number of native missionaries were
ordained, namely: Robert McDonald, whose pathetic appeal brought the
great Bompas to the wilds of the Mackenzie and the Yukon; Thomas
Vincent, Thomas Cook, J. V. McKay, James Settee, H. Cochrane, Henry Budd
Jr., Baptiste Spence and G. Brace.
In the year 1859
Archdeacon Hunter went to Fort Simpson and the following year W. W.
Kirkby went as far as Fort Good Hope, where he was joined by Rev. Robt.
Macdonald, and continued to Fort McPherson, La Pierre's House and to
Fort Yukon. Meanwhile missions had been established at Touchwood hills
in 1857, under Charles Pratt, an Indian catechist, and at Fort Ellice.
Bishop Anderson resigned
in 1864 and returned to England. Next year two men arrived in the West
whose labors and achievements will for all time redound to the glory of
the Anglican Church in Canada. These were Rev. Robert Machray and Rev.
William Carpenter Boinpas. Mach- ray was a great church statesman,
Bompas an incomparable missionary. For forty years Machray led his
people with wisdom and success. He created synodical government in his
diocese and in his ecclestiastical province. He was largely instrumental
in the formation of the General Synod for the Church of England in
Canada, and became the first Primate. He was the faithful shepherd of
his flock, the true "Father in God" to his clergy, the kind, but strict
educator of youth, the trusted adviser of the civil power, the Joshua of
the Church in the Great Lone Land.
For over forty years
Bompas devoted his life to the Indians and Eskimos of the Athabaska,
Mackenzie and the Yukon. As new dioceses were formed, the indefatigable
missionary bishop moved into the new field, ever breaking new ground and
blazing fresh trails in the Far North. Like Faraud and Grollier, his
inveterate antagonists for the spiritual conquest of the natives of the
North, he earned the title Pope Leo gave to the Oblates"The Martyrs of
Rev. Robert Macbray succeeded Bishop Anderson as the second bishop of
Rupert's Land. He was consecrated in Canterbury June 24, 1865, and next
day ordained Rev. William Carpenter Bompas, who had decided to come out
to the Mackenzie District in response to a letter from Robert Macdonald,
missionary to the Locheux Indians. In the letter Macdonald said he was
dying and pleaded for some one to take his place. Bishop Anderson read
the letter at the Church Missionary Society's anniversary service at St.
Bride's Church May 1st of that year. "Shall no one come forward," cried
the bishop, "to take up the standard of the Lord and occupy the ground
?" After the service Bompas walked into the vestry and offered to go at
once. lie reached Fort Simpson on Christmas Eve, 1864, where he was
welcomed by Mr. W. W. Kirkby, in charge of that mission, and thus began
that career that shall long remain as a shining and inspiring example of
heroic service and true missionary devotion.
Under Bishop Machray the
missions of the Anglican Church grew rapidly, and it became necessary in
1872 to organize three dioceses within the original diocese of Rupert's
LandMoosonee under Bishop Horden, episcopal seat, Moose Factory;
Saskatchewan under Bishop McLean, episcopal seat, Prince Albert;
Athabaska, under Bishop Bompas, episcopal seat, Fort Simpson. The work
in the dioceses of Athabaska and Moosonee, since it was wholly among
Indians and Eskimos, was supported by the Church Missionary Society. In
the diocese of Saskatchewan it was mainly under the protection of the
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and the Society for the
Promotion of Christian Knowledge.
Bishop Bompas held his
first diocesan synod September 4, 1876, at Fort Simpson. His clergy
numbered only threeArchdeacon McDonald, A. Gari'ioch, both natives of
the country, and Rev. W. D. Reeve, his single English comrade, in
addition he had four active schoolmasters. He divided his diocese into
four great divisions, viz.:
(a) Locheux Mission,
(b) McKenzie River Mission, under Reeve.
(c) Athabaska and Peace River, under Garrioch.
(d) Great Slave Lake Mission, under the schoolmasters.
By 1882 there were nine
stations, viz.: Fort Simpson, Fort Vermilion, Dunvegan, Fort Rae, Fort
Resolution, Fort Chipewyan, Fort Norman, Fort McPherson and Rampart
House on the Porcupine River in the Yukon. In 1884 the diocese of
Athabaska River was subdivided; the southern portion traversed by the
Athabaska and Peace rivers became the diocese of Athabaska, under Bishop
Young. The northern portion, extending from the 60th parallel of
latitude to the Arctic Ocean became the diocese of Mackenzie River,
Bishop Bompas electing of his own accord to become Bisho 'f Mackenzie
River. When this diocese was divided into two in 1891, Bompas again
chose the frontier diocese of Selkirk (since named the diocese of
Yukon), leaving the Mackenzie River under Bishop Reeve. He did heroic
service among the miners of the Yukon in the stirring days of the gold
rush to that district. in 1905 the exacting labors of forty years
compelled him to resign and on June 9, 1906, the "apostle of the North,"
as he was familiarly known, died at Carcross. He was succeeded by Bishop
Stringer, who had come to the diocese in 1892, and had served several
years at Herschell Island, the most northerly mission in the British
Bishop Reeve retired from
the See of Mackenzie River in 1907. But it was not until six years later
that Bishop Lucas, a Church Missionary Society missionary of the Far
North, could be elected because there was no Endowment Fund for the
maintenance of the bishopric. The work in this diocese is mostly among
IndiansChipewyan, Slavi, Mountain, Tukudh, Eskimos. A boarding school
has been carried on at Hay River for a number of years. Encouraging work
is being conducted among the Eskimos at Akiavik and along the Arctic
Coast to Coronation Gulf. Services are held more or less regularly at
all the forts along the Mackenzie for the white settlers and the
The whole Bible, Prayer
Book and Hymn Book have been translated into the Tukudh language, while
the Slavi Indians have the New Testament and Prayer Book. Work is in
progress in translating these works in the Eskimo language.
In the Diocese of
Athabaska Bishop Young was succeeded by Bishop Holmes in 1903, who
continued until 1912, when Bishop Robins, formerly Church Missionary
Society Organizing Secretary, was elected. Indian missions (Beaver,
Chipewyan and Slavi tribes) have been conducted at Lesser Slave Lake
since 1886, at Whitefish Lake since 1891, and Wabasca since 1894. For a
number of years a mission was conducted near Peace River, in the
Shaftesbury settlement, under Rev. T. Brick, and afterwards under Rev.
Murdock Johnston and Rev. Robert Holmes. Mr. Johnston began the first
Anglican services at Grand Prairie. In October, 1909, Rev. J. W. Moxhay
became the first rector of Grand Prairie.
Following this summary of
Anglican missions in Northern Alberta and the Far North, let us turn to
the southern part of Alberta and review the development there. The
Diocese of Saskatchewan, with its centre at Prince Albert, stretched
eastward as far as Cumberland House, southward to the International
Boundary, westward to the Rocky Mountains and northward to the watershed
of the Athabaska River; thus it comprised all of what is now Central and
Owing to the rapid influx
of settlers following the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway
into the territory west of Winnipeg, the diocese of Qu'Appelle was
erected in 1884, comprising a part of the diocese of Rupert's Land, and
a part of the diocese of Saskatchewan. The first bishop of the new
diocese was Bishop Anson. Four years later the diocese of Calgary was
formed, comprising the then provisional district of Alberta. Bishop
McLean died in 1886 and was succeeded by Bishop Pinkham, who also became
Bishop of the new diocese of Calgary, continuing to hold the two Sees
until a sufficient sum was raised to provide an adequate endowment fund
for the Bishop of Calgary. By 1902 the sum of $12,000 had been raised
for this purpose, mostly in England through the Society for the
Propagation of the Gospel, the Church Missionary Society, the Colonial
Bishopric's Fund and the Society for the Promotion of Christian
Knowledge. On September 25, 1903, Bishop Pinkham resigned from the
bishopric of Saskatchewan and in October of the same year the Provincial
Synod elected Rev. J. A. Newnham, Bishop of Saskatchewan. Previous to
this appointment, the Bishops of Western Canada had been appointed by
the Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop Pinkham being the last to be so
appointed. But in 1902 the union of the whole of the Church of England
in Canada was consummated and increased autonomy bestowed upon the
The work of uniting the
Church in Canada had been in progress for twelve years. In 1890 a
conference was held in Winnipeg, at which a basis of union was adopted.
A General Synod was formed in 1893. From this date until 1902 time was
spent in securing the consent of the Diocesan and Provincial Synods. In
1902 the union was confirmed by the General Synod of Canada. At the same
time the Missionary Society of the Church of England in Canada was
formed to carry on work in Canada analogous to the work of the great
English Societies referred to above. This Society has given strong
support to the Church of England in Alberta.
From 1902 to 1913 were
years of great prosperity and increase in population in Alberta. The
Diocese of Calgary, comprising an area of 110,000 square miles became
too large, and in August, 1913, it was divided by the Provincial Synod
of Rupert's Land, the northern portion, that North of township 42,
forming the Diocese of Edmonton. The Right Reverend Henry Allan Gray,
elected by the clergy of the diocese, consecrated March 25, 1914, became
the first Bishop of Edmonton.
We are now in a position
to give details of the progress of the Anglican Church in Albertain the
dioceses of Calgary and Edmonton.
In. 1875 Rev. Canon
Newton was sent to Edmonton by the Society for the Propagation of the
Gospel. He established the first Anglican Mission in Edmonton and
labored in the Saskatchewan for twenty years among the white settlers,
going as far south as Red Deer, and including Bear Lake, Sturgeon and
Fort Saskatchewan in his regular missionary visits.
The first parish of the
Anglican Church in Alberta was established at Edmonton in 1876. That
year Bishop McLean visited Edmonton and arranged for the building of a
church. Mr. Malcolm Groat gave nine acres west of the Hudson's Bay
Reserve and in 1877 the church was built. This was All Saints Parish. In
1890 a new building was erected in another part of the parish, and again
in 1895 the site now occupied by All Saints Pro-cathedral was chosen.
The first deacon of the parish was Rev. Charles Cunningham, 1891-1893;
then Rev. Alfred Stunden, 1893-1897. Rev. Henry Allan Gray, now the
beloved Bishop of Edmonton was transferred from Holy Trinity, South
Edmonton, in 1897 and took charge of the parish. In 1909 Rev. G. H.
Webb, who had spent some time as General Missionary for the Missionary
Society for the Church of England in Canada in Alberta, was appointed
associate pastor, and when Archdeacon Gray was raised to episcopal
dignity Rev. Mr. Webb became Archdeacon and rector of the parish, and
All Saints Church, a Pro-Cathedral. Archdeacon Webb resigned in 1918,
and was succeeded by the present rector, Rev. E. Pierce-Goulding.
In 1883 Rev. J. W. Tims
missionary to the Blackfeet at Blackfoot Crossing, began to hold
services in Calgary at the request of the people of that place, until a
regular missionary could be appointed. Next year, through the efforts of
Bishop McLean, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel sent out
Rev. E. P. Smith, from Oxford, who arrived May 24, 1884. He frequently
visited Red Deer and Fish Creek and remained in the diocese until 1887,
and was succeeded by Rev. A. F. W. Cooper. The mission at Lethbridge
began in 1886, Rev. J. F. Pritchard, first incumbent. Shortly afterward
a mission was opened at Macleod under Rev. Ronald Hilton, and at the
time of the first meeting of the diocese of Calgary, February, 1889,
there were established additional missions to settlers at Pincher Creek
and Banff. In 1889 Bishop Pinkham constituted the Rural Deaneries of
Calgary under Rural Dean A. F. W. Cooper, and of Macleod, under Rural
Dean J. F. Pritchard. When the latter left the diocese, Rev. Ronald
Hilton was appointed Rural Dean of Macleod. Through gifts of the
Colonial and Continental Missionary Society in England missions were
opened at High River and Sheep Creek in 1891, and the next year Rev. H.
B. Brashier, of Toronto, started a permanent mission at Red Deer. New
missions sprang up along the Calgary and Edmonton Railway in the
principal townsInnisfail, Olds, Bowden, Lacombe, South Edmontonwith
money supplied largely by the Society for the Promotion of Christian
Knowledge. In the early nineties a mission was opened at Beaver Lake,
east of Edmonton, and soon after at Fort Saskatchewan, Rev. G. C.
d'Easum in charge, where he remained for over twenty years. By the
middle of 1894 the boundaries of twenty parishes had been fixed. The
membership of the parishes and missions of the diocese was about 2,000,
ministered to by 15 clergy. Two years later (1896) the clergy in the
diocese numbered 23. In 1894 the Deanery of Edmonton was formed
comprising all of the diocese north of township 37. Rev. Alfred Stunden
was appointed the first rural dean.
In 1895 Bishop Pinkham
divided the diocese into two Arch deaconries, appointing Dean Cooper and
Rev. J. W. Tims Archdeacons of the White and Indian work respectively.
These were years of great
difficulty in the matter of financing the schemes of the diocese. Only
three of the parishes were self-supporting------ Edmonton, Calgary and
Lethbridge. The English societies which were contributing the greater
part of the burden of maintaining missions in the dioceses of the
North-West began to retrench gradually after the consolidation of the
Church of England in Canada. The Society for the propagation of the
Gospel was paying annually at this time nearly 845,000 to the Canadian
dioceses. In the diocese of Calgary this Society was contributing more
than half of the total of the diocesan funds. In 1896 the Society gave
notice of a reduction of 10 per cent and that after the year 1900 it
desired to be relieved of all pecuniary responsibility in Canada, and
pointed out that it was the duty of the older dioceses of Canada to
support the younger dioceses of the Dominion. Finally, however, the
bishops of the Western dioceses prevailed upon the Society for the
Propagation of the Gospel in 1902 to suspend its policy of reduction in
view of the unprecedented increase in immigration from the Old Country
to the West that followed the turn of the century, and in view of the
danger of straining the loyalty of the adherents of the Anglican Church.
Accordingly a grant of nearly $40,000 was made that year to be spent in
the ecclesiastical province of Rupert's Land. To celebrate the 200th
anniversary of the founding of the Society, a bi-century fund was
raised, 1,800 pounds sterling of which was paid to the Diocese of
Calgary, spread over a period of five years.
The conditions in Western
Canada at this time prompted energetic action on the part of the
Colonial and Continental Society. This Society has done for the white
settlers what the Church Missionary Society has done for the Indians. It
has supported lonely missionaries in remote settlements, camps, mines
and fisheries. But its greatest work in Canada has been its success in
sustaining the Barr Colony, established in 1903. This Colony lies within
the civil Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, but within the diocese
of Saskatchewan. Rev. George E. Lloyd, now Bishop Lloyd of the Diocese
of Saskatchewan since 1922, and principal of Emmanuel College,
Saskatoon, under the aegis of this Society, led the colonists through
many trials and misfortunes. The work of the Society in field will rank
in days to come as one of the most striking ventures of faith and
achievement in the history of any church in Canada. In one summer it
sent out sixty missionaries in one ship, built sixty churches, popularly
called "Canterbury Cathedrals," and sixty parsonages, similarly
described as "Lambeth Palaces."
The threat of the Society
for the Propagation of the Gospel was not without value to the dioceses
of the West, for in 1902 the people of the diocese of Calgary raised
$14,000 of the $19,500 spent that year in the diocese. The consummation
of the consolidation of the Church of England in Canada this year
aroused the interest of the dioceses of Eastern Canada and especially of
the Women's Auxiliaries, which was reflected in increased beneficence
toward the poorer missions of the West.
The Deanery of Red Deer
was formed in 1902, comprising that portion of Central Alberta between
townships 30 and 44, with Rev. J. Hinchcliffe, rural dean.
In November, 1905, a
general missionary, Rev. G. H. Webb, was appointed for the Missionary
Society of the Church of England in Canada in the diocese. The demands
taxed the financial resources of growing parishes. The growth of the
church is clearly indicated by comparing the statistics of 1906 and
1907, the latter year being the one of the largest immigration previous
to this time. The number of parishes and missions increased from
twenty-three in 1906 to forty-one in 1907, and the number of
congregations from seventy-nine to one hundred and fifty-nine in the
St. Hilda's Ladies
College, a girls' boarding school, was erected in Calgary in 1905, and
opened in September of that year, and is still in operation.
In 1.908 Bishop Pinkham
College was founded to provide a Boys' School on the model of the
English schools, or those of Eastern Canada, and in time to provide a
divinity school for the training of the young men of the diocese for the
clergy of the Anglican Church.
The year 1910 was a
memorable one in the history of the Church of England in Western Canada,
because of the appeal of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the
Church and people of England to send fifty of the best clergy, annually
for ten years, for the expansion of the Church of England in Western
Canada. At the same time the Archbishops' Western Canada Fund was
organized to maintain them. In May of that year the advance guard of
this Army of the Cross arrived under Rev. W. G. Boyd, Chaplain to the
Archbishop of Canterbury, and established head-quarters at Edmonton, and
founded the Edmonton Mission of the Archbishops' Fund (St. Faith's).
Another group of these workers established in Southern Alberta, under
Rev. Canon Mowat, with a central mission house in Lethbridge.
Under the Archbishops'
Alberta Mission four parishes were established in the City of Edmonton
and six sites purchased and handed over to the Synod of the Diocese of
Edmonton. Stations were opened at Wabamun, Stony Plain, Entwistle, Edson,
Lac la Nonne, Paddle River, Clyde, and at several other points west and
north of Edmonton. In the southern part of the Province, stations were
opened at Cardston, Boundary Creek, Warner, Coutts, Hazelmere, Stand
Off. In 1913 Archbishops' Western Canada Fund missions were started in
the Diocese of Athabaska, under Rev. Hugh Speke. During ten years
(1910-1920) over $900,000 was raised in England for the Archbishops'
Western Canada Fund. Out of the total sum raised, it was the intention
to give $50,000 to each of the three dioceses Calgary, Edmonton and
Qu'Appelle. But when the fund was closed, only 37,095 pounds sterling
were available. At the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the
founding of the first Anglican mission in the West, held in Winnipeg in
1920, this sum was delivered in trust for the three dioceses.
In 1910 the four deaneries of the diocese were cancelled, and the
territory divided into seven deaneries, viz.: Calgary, under Rev. Canon
Stocken ; Edmonton, Rural Dean Boyd; Lethbridge, Rural Dean Murrell
Wright; Macleod, Rural Dean G. B. Hall; Red Deer, Rural Dean W.
Whitehead; High River, Rural Dean R. D. Stamer. The rural dean of
Wetaskiwin was not appointed until 1912, when Rev. W. W. Alexander was
appointed to the office. in the meantime Wetaskiwin was under the rural
deanery of Edmonton. In 1913, the Archdeaconry of Calgary was divided,
one portion forming the Archdeaconry of Red Deer, under Archdeacon A. J.
The last meeting of the
Diocese of Calgary before its division in 1913 was held in July of that
year. This was the thirteenth meeting of the synod, and is a convenient
date to measure the growth of the Church of England in Alberta. When the
first synod of this diocese convened on February 21, 1889, there were
ten priests and one deacon in the whole diocese. At the last meeting of
the synod of the old diocese in July, 1913, there were one hundred and
forty-nine parishes, thirty-two of which were self-supporting, and
although some of the parishes were vacant at the time there were
ninety-four priests, eight deacons and thirty lay readers.
The Diocese of Edmonton
was incorporated by an Act of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in
1914. Under Bishop Gray the diocese, notwithstanding the crippling
effects of the war, has made steady progress. With Edmonton, the capital
and the University City of the Province, as the episcopal centre of the
diocese, an opportunity has been presented of recruiting the young men
of the University for the clergy and thus solving one of the most
difficult problems of the church. In 1920 steps were taken by the synod
to establish a divinity school, St. Aidan's College, in Edmonton, in
affiliation with the University of Alberta, and a Divinity Students'
Fund is being raised for this purpose.
INDIAN MISSIONS OF THE
Indian missions appealed
strongly to the leaders of the Church of England in the West. As soon as
the tribes were settled on their respective reserves in the Province,
missions and schools were established among them. In the early
seventies, James Settee, and Wm. Stagg, native missionaries, worked
intermittently among the Blackfeet of Southern Alberta, and since that
time the Anglican Church has been particularly active among the Black
feet-speaking people of Southern Alberta, leaving the Crees, in the
North, to the Methodist and Roman Catholic Churches.
In 1879 Rev. Geo. McKay,
of Prince Albert, opened a mission at Fort Macleod among the Peigans.
The next year (1880) Rev. Samuel Trivett opened a mission among the
Bloods, and in 1882 he was joined by Rev. H. T. Bourne, who opened a
mission at Red Crow's Camp. In 1883 Rev. J. W. Tims was sent from
England to Blackfoot Crossing by the Church Missionary Society. He was
joined in 1885 by Rev. H. W. G. Stocken, who came out on the invitation
of Mr. Tims. A mission among the Sarcecs was established in 1886 by Rev.
R. Inkster, of Prince Albert. In the following year he was succeeded by
Rev. H. W. G. Stocken. Other clergy who have been engaged in mission
work on these Reserves have been: Rev. J. Hinch cliff e, Rev. F.
Swainson, Rev. A de B. Owen, Rev. C. P. Owen, Rev. S. J. Stocken, Rev.
C. P. H. Owen, Rev. G. E. Gale, Rev. W. R. Haynes and Rev. S. Middleton.
After mastering their
language these devoted servants gave the Blackfeet-speaking people the
Lord's Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments, prayers for morning and
evening, a dictionary, a grammar, the Gospel of St. Matthew, parts of
St. John and other Gospels, and a number of hymns, printed in the
Blackfoot language. This work was done mostly by Messrs. Tirns and
Stocken, assisted by Rev. J. Hinchcliffe and others. At first Roman
characters were used, but Mr. Tims adapted the syllabic system, and
provided a system that is now in general use among all the tribes of the
Blackfoot nation. The first sermon without the aid of an interpreter was
preached in 1885 at the time of the Rebellion.
The Anglican Blackfeet
missions have been supported mainly by the Church Missionary Society and
the Missionary Society of the Church of England in Canada. The Women's
Auxiliary Societies of Ontario took a great interest in this work. The
Women's Auxiliary of the Diocese of Toronto supported a woman missionary
(Miss Perkes) at the Blackfoot Reserve; the Woman's Auxiliary of Huron,
a lady missionary (Miss Busby) at the Blood Reserve; the Women's
Auxiliary of Ontario a lady missionary (Miss Brown) at the Peigan
Reserve. The Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge assisted
these missions by printing the books in the Blackfoot languages
necessary for the intelligent and effective conduct of the work. In 1892
the Methodist Church abandoned its mission among the Bloods and the
Anglican Church purchased the establishment for $1,000.
Missionary work was
supplemented by schools In 1892 the Anglican Church maintained three day
schools on the Blackfoot Reserve, three on the Blood Reserve, one on the
Peigan Reserve and two on the Sarcee Reserve.
Day schools finally were
proved to be impracticable for Indian children, and so boarding schools
were established at each mission. Assistance was received from the
Department of Indian Affairs for the maintenance of those schools,
first, to the extent of rations of flour and beef for the children, and
later changing this to a grant of $72 annually per child. Assistance was
also given by the Government towards the cost of buildings erected from
time to time for this purpose.
The operation of these
Indian schools became increasingly difficult. The Church Missionary
Society, and the Missionary Society of the Church of England in Canada,
gradually withdrew their financial support. Toward the cost of the
schools the Indian Department contributed about 60 per cent, the
Anglican Church about 15 per cent, leaving the balance to be carried as
a deficit until in 1909 it totalled over $7,000. But the Department of
Indian Affairs recognizing the character of the work done for the
welfare of the Indians came to the rescue and paid $5,000 of the debt.
This, with an increase in the per capita grant, and the increasing
earning rower of the Indian people saved the schools from extinction.
But the difficulty of financing the whole scheme of the Blackfeet
missions still constitutes a difficult Problem for the Church of England
in this field.
In 1895 Mr. Tims and Mr.
Stocken exchanged missions. A hospital was established on the Blackfoot
Reserve in 1897. The Indian Department of the Government erected the
building. The salary of the resident missionary (for many years Dr.
Rose) was paid by the Church Missionary Society and the Society for the
Promotion of Christian Knowledge, while the salaries of the nurses were
paid by the Women's Auxiliaries of Ontario. An Indian Industrial School,
similar to one founded and carried on at High River by the Roman
Catholic Church, was established at Calgary in 1895 and placed under
Rev. H. G. Hogbin, but after several years it was abandoned (1907).
The work of combining
evangelical and school work has continued from the first on all the
reserves, and the results justify the faith of those who founded them.
Archdeacon Tims and Canon Stocken are still (1923) in the services of
the Church in connection with these missions. Their names will be always
identified with the good work of leading the Blackfeet savages up the
path of civilization.
The sacrifices of the
churches, Anglican, Roman Catholic and Methodist among the Blackfeet
have transformed them from savages to citizens, in almost every respect,
except that they have not the franchise. Their savage, sickly rites of
torturing the body to propitiate the sun are unknown to the generation
of today. Polygamy has been abandoned. They are no longer shiftless
nomads wandering away from their reserves with guns and tomahawks. They
earn their living and are making progress in the arts of field and
animal husbandry. Without the help of the missionaries the civil
authorities would have merely fed and clothed the savages. The churches,
through the potent factor of religion, have elevated them to at least
the fundamentals of Christian civilization.
The Church Missionary
Society, which had spent vast sums in carrying the Gospel to the Indians
and the Eskimos from Hudson's Bay to the Yukon, and which had sent so
many able and devoted menWest, Anderson, Kirkby, Hunter, Bompas,
Holmes, McKay, Tims, Young, Lucas, Stringerdecided in 1920 to retire
from the Canadian Field and to hand over its task to the Missionary
Society of the Church of England in Canada. This body has now the
control of pastoral and evangelistic work of Anglican missions among the
Indians and Eskimos.
The year 1920 is an
appropriate date to close this summary of the growth of the Anglican
Church in Western Canada. It marks the lapse of a century from the time
that Rev. John West arrived at Red River and founded the first Anglican
mission among the Indians of Rupert's Land. The event was celebrated in
October, 1920, at Winnipeg, with becoming ceremony and thanksgiving. The
parish that John West founded among the heartsick pioneers at Red River
one hundred years ago has grown to be one of the most opulent cities of
the Dominion of Canada and the centre of a great ecclesiastical province
comprising ten dioceses.
THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
We have noticed that in
dealing with Anglican and Methodist missions in Western Canada, the
initiative in establishing the missions was taken by the ruling bodies
of these denominations in the Old Country. Roman Catholic and
Presbyterian missions were first established in the West by the ruling
bodies of these denominations in Canada, though we have seen that many
of the Oblate Fathers were sons of Old France.
Many of the Selkirk
settlers were Presbyterians, and it was the intention of Lord Selkirk
that a Presbyterian minister should accompany them to the Red River. But
for over a generation after their arrival in their new home, they were
without a minister of their own religion and worshipped with the
Anglicans of the colony. After applying in vain to the Hudson's Bay
Company and to the Church of Scotland, they appealed to the Presbyterian
Church of Canada for a minister. Accordingly Rev. John Black was sent
out in 1857 to Red River, and founded the first Presbyterian Church in
Western Canada in the Parish of Kildonan, so named because many of the
original colonists came from the parish of Kildonan in the north of
Scotland. Eleven years later Rev. James Nisbet arrived from upper Canada
to assist Mr. Black. In 1866 Mr. Nisbet was sent by the congregation of
Kildonan to establish a mission in what is now the Province of
Saskatchewan. He was accompanied by Mr. John McKay, a famous buffalo
hunter, who acted as his interpreter, and Mr. Adam McBeth, a teacher.
After a trip of fifty days from Fort Carry, the party reached the site
of the present city of Prince Albert, and established a mission there.
Mr. McKay afterwards became an ordained missionary and ministered for
many years on the reserve of Chief Mistawasis near Prince Albert,
rendering loyal and valuable service during the half-breed rebellion of
1885. Mr. Nisbet remained at Prince Albert until 1874. Worn out by his
exacting labors he was compelled to retire to Winnipeg and died shortly
The Presbyterian Church
grew rapidly with the development of the country following the transfer
of Rupert's Land to the Dominion of Canada in 1870. A large Proportion
of the new settlers in Manitoba and the North West Territories were
Scotch-Canadians from Ontario and the Maritime Provinces. In 1870 there
were only five Presbyterian ministers in the whole of Western
CanadaBlack, Nisbet, Matheson, Fletcher and McNab. But in that year the
Presbytery of Manitoba was organized, and in the following year Manitoba
College, an institution of higher learning under the Presbyterian Church
was founded, Rev. Geo. Bryce, Principal. A few months later the Church
of Scotland sent out Rev. John Hart, as professor in Manitoba College.
Soon the work of the College claimed the whole time of Principal Bryce,
who was also Pastor of Knox Church, Winnipeg. In this pastorate he was
succeeded in 1874 by Rev. James Robertsonthe statesman of
Presbyterianism in the West, and who with Taché, Bompas and McDougall
completes the most illustrious quartet of missionaries in Western
In 1874 Rev. Hugh
McKellar was ordained for the work at Prince Albert. The first call for
a missionary for Alberta came from Edmonton in 1880. One year later Rev.
A. B. Baird established a mission there, preaching his first sermon
November 6, 1881. He remained until 1887, being assisted at times in his
wide field by students J. L. Campbell and A. S. Grant.
Dr. James Robertson was
appointed Superintendent of Presbyterian Missions in Western Canada in
1881. This was a new position in the Church, and the powers of the new
official gave some concern to the conservatively orthodox of the church.
These men carried that hatred of prelacy that roused the wrath of John
Knox. They feared the powers of the new Superintendent would derogate
from the autonomy of the Presbytery. But Robertson's great abilities,
energy and fiery zeal and above all his prophet's vision of the
marvelous developments that were coming in Western Canada gradually bore
down all opposition. This great prairie prophet, missionary and
statesmen probably saw more clearly than any man of his day in Canada
that the task of the church in the West was to march abreast of the
settler, the navvy, the homesteader and the prospector to the uttermost
parts of the Great Lone Land. To this task he gave his life. "Dr.
Robertson staked out the country," says Rev. Canon Tucker of the Church
of England in Canada, "occupied its strategic points, early aroused the
church to its needs and opportunities and dotted the whole land with
Presbyterian Churches and manses, and thus enabled the Presbyterian
Church to work its noble and manly spirit into every fibre of our
Soon after his
appointment he organized, and as years went by, he financed the Church
and Manse Building Fund and so gave visibility to his work. Through this
fund he caused to be erected 419 churches and 90 manses before he died
In 1883 the Presbytery of
Manitoba was divided into the Presbyteries of Winnipeg, Rock Lake and
Brandon, the latter including what is now Alberta and British Columbia.
These three Presbyteries were erected into the first Presbyterian Synod
of Western Canada at the same time, namely: the Synod of Manitoba and
the North West Territories. In the same year a Faculty of Theology was
instituted in Manitoba College, with Rev. J. Al. King, Minister of St.
James Square Presbyterian Church, Toronto, principal. At that time there
were four Presbyterian missions in AlbertaEdmonton, Rev. A. B. Baird;
Calgary, Rev. Angus Robertson; Fort Macleod and Medicine Hat.
A new Presbytery was
formed in 1885, the Presbytery of Regina, Rev. P. S. Livingstone, of
Regina, Moderator. In that year, Dr. Robertson visited Fort Macleod and
decided to re-establish the mission there. Mr. W. P. Mackenzie, a
student, had carried on services there and at Pincher Creek until the
outbreak of the rebellion. In 1887 there were ten Presbyterian mission
centres in Alberta, as follows: Edmonton, Rev. A. B. Baird; Calgary,
Rev. J. C. Herdman; Lethbridge, Rev. C. W. McKillop; Medicine Hat,
Pincher Creek, Banff, Anthracite, Cochrane, High River, Macleod.
The Edmonton Church is
known as First Presbyterian Church and is the oldest Presbyterian Church
in the Province. Rev. D. G. McQueen, who succeeded Mr. Baird in 1887, is
still the pastor of this congregation and the Grand Old Mail
Presbyterianism in Albertaan ornament to his sacred profession in any
age or place in the history of the church. The Presbyterian Church in
Calgary was founded in 1883, the first services being held iii I. G.
Baker's store, Rev. Angus Robertson being the first minister.
The General Assembly
formed the Presbytery of Calgary in 1887, bounded on the West by the
Columbia River in British Columbia, Rev. Angus Robertson, first
Moderator. The Presbytery of Edmonton was next formed in 1896, extending
from the Red Deer River to the Arctic Ocean, possibly the largest
presbytery in the world.
Work was resumed in
Macleod and Pincher Creek under Rev. R. C. Tibb in 1888. Three years
later (1891) these stations were separated, Rev. J. P. Grant going to
Pincher Creek and Rev. Gavin Hamilton assuming charge of Macleod,
1891-1897, and succeeded by Rev. J. A. Jaifray, 1897-1906. Three elders,
Messrs. R. Patterson, T. A. Struthers and T. S. McLean, of the first
session, still preside at Macleod. Rev. James Buchanan was sent by Dr.
Robertson in 1891 to open Presbyterian missions between Calgary and
Lacombe, in 1891. He opened missions at Innisfail, Red Deer, Lacombe,
Blackfalds, Bowden, Olds and Scorlett's. Rev. John Fernie was the first
regular Pastor at Lacombe, coming there in 1892, remaining until 1897
and succeeded by Rev. Dr. M. White.
During the interval from
1887 to 1896 the railway had been built from Macleod to Edmonton, and
also from Medicine Hat to Lethbridge. As towns grew up along these
lines, Presbyterian Churches and others sprang up with them and rapidly
grew from mission stations to augmented charges, and finally into
The early nineties were
years of depression in Western Canada. The world was approaching the
lowest level of prices experienced since the Napoleonic Wars. Financial
depression in the West was reflected in the Home Mission and
Augmentation Funds of the Church. To sustain the work in the Western
mission fields, Rev. C. W. Gordon (Ralph Connor) visited Scotland in
1894 and secured support for fifty missions for a period of five years.
Two years later Dr. Robertson visited the Old Country and secured
support for forty missions. But other than these appeals to the Old
Country the Presbyterian Church in Canada has relied solely on its own
resources to carry on its splendid program of Home Missions in Western
Canada. Its sturdy independence in this respect may be the reason for
its great success in the West, where its adherents lead in numbers those
of any other church or religious denomination.
Dr. Robertson died in
1902 and was succeeded by Rev. Dr. E. D. McLaren. By this time the work
had grown so extensively that a. change in organization was necessary.
Dr. McLaren was appointed General Secretary of Missions and with him
were associated two Superintendents, Rev. J. A. Carmichael, of Regina,
for the Home Mission District of Saskatchewan and Rev. J. C. Herdman of
Calgary for the Home Mission District of Alberta.
By 1904 two new
presbyteries were formed in Alberta, Red Deer and Macleod, being formed
out of the Presbyteries of Edmonton and Calgary respectively. There were
at that time nine self-sustaining congregations, five augmented charges,
and twenty-seven mission stations. Two years later (1906) there were one
hundred and six congregations and mission fields. The growth of the
country was reflected in the formation of new presbyteries.
In 1907 the Presbyteries
of Vermilion, Lacombe and High River were formed. At the same time the
Synod of Alberta was formed, Rev. Dr. McQueen being the first Moderator.
The Presbytery of Castor was formed in 1913, Rev. William Miller,
Moderator; Medicine Hat in 1914, Rev. J. W. Morrow, Moderator; Peace
River, 1920, Rev. A. Forbes, Moderator. Expansion in Alberta is
indicated further by the foundation of Robertson Theological College in
1910 at Edmonton, named after the great Superintendent Robertson. Rev.
Dr. S. W. Dyde was the first principal. Dr. Dyde returned to Queen's
University in 1919 and was succeeded by Rev. Dr. James Millar, the
The flow of immigration
to Northern Alberta and into the valley of the Peace River directed the
attention of the Synod of Alberta to the need of missions at important
centres in this wide territory. Rev. A. Simpson had visited this
district in 1904. In 1910 Rev. A. Forbes and Mrs. Forbes, after many
years of faithful service (since 1885) at Fort Saskatchewan, undertook
to establish the pioneer Presbyterian Mission in the Peace River Valley.
This mission was established at Grande Prairie and through the support
of the Women's Home Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church in
Canada, an auxiliary body of the Home Mission Board, a hospital in
charge of Mrs. Forbes, was established at this point in connection with
the mission. Several such hospitals were established by this Society in
Western Canada, mostly in connection with Presbyterian missions in
foreign settlements. This was the second in Alberta, the other being the
one at Vegreville, established in 1907 for the Ruthenians of that
Rev. J. C. Herdman,
Superintendent of Missions in Alberta since 1902, retired in 1910 on
account of illness. Rev. Dr. McLaren, General Secretary of Missions,
resigned in the following year. Rev. A. S. Grant, a man of experience in
Western missions, and with a record of heroic service among the gold
diggers of the Yukon, was appointed to Dr. MeLaren's place, and Rev. W.
D. Reed, of Montreal, succeeded Dr. Herdman.
The General Assembly of
the Presbyterian Church met at Edmonton in 1912. Naturally the Western
problems of the Church took a prominent place in the proceedings.
Authority was given at this Assembly for the reorganization of the Home
Mission Committee. A new body, the Home Mission Board (Western Section),
was formed with Rev. A. S. Grant, Convener and General Superintendent
and Rev. J. H. Edmison, General Secretary. The Western field was divided
into ten districts with a Superintendent for each district. Alberta was
divided into the Northern District, under Rev. Wmn. Simons; Central
District under Rev. Wm. Shearer; Southern District under Rev. J. T.
In 1913 Rev. R. F.
Thompson opened a new mission at Spirit River. Rev. W. McKay was put in
charge, Mr. Thompson moving westward to Pouce Coupé and among
settlements growing up in the Peace River Block. The hospital at Grande
Prairie was taken over by the Women's Missionary Society. By 1914 the
work of the Home Mission Board was extended to include social service
and Evangelism. The church suffered a severe loss through the
resignation of the General Superintendent, Rev. A. S. Grant in 1916. The
following year Rev. Dr. G. C. Pidgeon accepted direction of this work
until Rev. W. H. Sedgewick was appointed in 1917.