Moves from Norway House to Saskatchewan—Settles at Victoria- -Eight years' pioneer work at this place.
HAVING secured the permission of the Hudson Bay Company, he took passage with the Saskatchewan brigade in the summer of 18(13, and after a long and tedious trip, arrived with his family at Victoria, where he at once joined forces with Brother Woolsey, and took charge of the mission At this time there was not a building ready to move his family into, the whole party was living in buffalo leather tents; into one of these father removed his family out of the boat, and then went to work with his accustomed energy to put up a shanty in which they might live. As soon as this was accomplished he started out with his interpreter and one companion, for the western and southern country, and if possible to reach the mountain Indians, the Stonies, to whom Rundle and Woolsey had occasionally gone in the years past. These people had long been without a missionary, and yet with very little light were holding fast to what they knew of the Gospel. Roman Catholicism on one side and paganism on the other, had done their best to change them, but up to this time, they had remained true in their adherence to the teaching of the first missionary.
Father was very anxious that before their patience wearied they should again be reached. He had written to them from Edmonton one year before, encouraging them, and holding out the promise that he might be able to reach them before long. Having put his family under the cover of a roof on the banks of the Saskatchewan, at Victoria, he started for the mountains. The whole country south and west of Edmonton was entirely devoid of settlement, not a solitary settler could you find .n all that region. There was not even a trading post south of the Saskatchewan river.
A great many years before, the Hudson Bay Company had maintained a post on the Bow River at the foot of the mountains, but this had been abandoned, because of the hostility of the Indians some twenty-five or thirty years since. The party struck south and west, and crossing the Battle River, between where the Battle River and Woodville missions are now situate, and continuing on, crossed the Red Deer River, some few miles west of the present line of road between Calgary and Edmonton. Up to this time, though signs of parties of Indians were seen, not a lodge had been reached. Striking south-easterly from Red Deer, the party came across a trail which they followed; but which, owing to the autumn weather, and to the dryness of the season, proved to be older than they thought, and finally brought them out again at Red Deer, near what is commonly known as the Big Canyon. Here father met with an accident from the gun of one of his party, being severely shot in the breast and leg; some of these bits of lead he carried to his death. Owing to the intense pain and swelling of the limb, the party stayed over a day and two nights at this spot. This was truly dangerous ground, being the dividing line of territory between the Blackfeet tribes and the Crees, and the scene of frequent encounters between these two contending parties. The missionary feeling somewhat better, the party concluded to strike back towards Battle River, In the meanwhile, what little provision they had taken with them, was consumed, with the exception of about two pounds of flour. The party was literally depending on their guns for support.
Reaching the Battle River on Saturday evening, every effort was made to secure food, if possible, for the coming Sabbath, and the very first shot that was fired for this purpose received an answering shot from the thickly wooded hills away to the eastward. Quickly another shot was tired from the missionary's party, and immediately there came the answer from the hills. For many days the missionary and his friends had been seeking the Indians. This was the first actual evidence of the vicinity of a human being.
Truly this little party of pioneers were in the great lone land; and now, upon second thought, the question immediately came up, "are these friends or foes?" and the little council in the party came to the conclusion that if foes, they must be numerous, or else they would not give themselves away by tiring a signal shot. However, the party made every disposition for the worst, though only three in number. The best spot was picked, the horses tied up, the ammunition and guns made ready, and then trusting in Providence, they calmly awaited the issue.
Presently two stalwart young Indians, who evidently hail reconnoitred the missionary's party, made their presence known by speaking to us from the brush on the other side of the river. The interpreter answered, and immediately they emerged from the thicket, and plunging into the river, came over. They proved to be Stonies. With eager faces, and with hearty exclamations of joy they greeted the missionary. The missionary in his turn was delighted, the object of his long trip would be consummated; through these men and their camp he would reach the whole tribe of Mountain Stonies.
His words of encouragement and advice, as also assurances of future missionary help for their people, would be carried by these men to the different branches of their tribe in the still farther west, and along the mountains south and north for many a league would be discussed around the camp-fire, would be the text of many a council, and the people would feel comforted and say, We are not forgotten; the praying men of the East still remember us, and by-and-by, as they have often told us, will give us a missionary in our own country. As soon as possible the Indian camp from whence these young men came joined that of the missionary. A delightful Sabbath was spent among these people, and many lessons of faith, hope and charity, never to be forgotten, were inculcated. As the Indians had plenty of dried elk meat, the missionary's party was relieved of immediate anxiety as to a food supply.
Sunday evening the missionary said to the interpreter, "You had better take that little mite of flour and make a cake." Accordingly he shook the bag out on to another. The young Indian lads standing around looked in wonderment at this white stuff, and presently one of them ran off to the camp to tell his people that the missionary had some of the whitest of white earth he had ever seen. Most of this camp had never seen flour, much less tasted bread. The missionary remained several days with these Indians, constantly preaching and teaching. In the meanwhile, with one of them as a guide, they explored the Battle River to its source; his object being to see for himself where would be the best point to establish a mission for this people. Four days of heavy riding were spent on this trip of exploration from the camp.
Then, as the season was far advanced, and the ultimate objects of the trip accomplished, the missionary and his party set their faces homeward, and travelling direct across the country, made all haste for the new mission on the banks of the Saskatchewan. On their way back they passed through herds of buffalo, but turning neither to the right nor left, they found themselves, on a Saturday evening, within about twenty miles of the mission.
Travelling on in the night, they camped short, determining to go on on Sunday morning. Early next day they proceeded on this journey, and had not gone far, when from a clump of willows, the smoke of a lodge was seen; this proved to be old Stephen Ke-che-yees, one of Bundle's converts, whom the missionaries found by later experience to be one of the best of men. The old man and his family were delighted to see the missionary, and without knowing it, he administered a reproof as to Sabbath desecration which the missionary and his party have never forgotten. Said the old patriarch, "You have God's Word, you understand its meaning, you know exactly how far you can go in any matter; all I know is what the missionary told me,—Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. On that day refrain as much as possible from moving camp or doing any manner of work. Now, I understand that, and I don't know any more, and therefore, wherever the sixth day night finds me, I remain until the first day morning also finds me." The missionary .sang and prayed with Stephen and his family, and then pushed on to the mission in time to join in service with the people and friends, who were delighted to see them once more. But neither he nor his party, while memory lasts, will forget old Stephen and that Sabbath morning.
Having spent some twenty-one days on this trip, the missionary now saw the necessity of making arrangements for the winter for himself and party. More accommodation in the way of building must be found, provisions secured; to obtain the latter a buffalo hunt must be organized and a fishery established. No one, unless they have passed through the experience, can possibly conceive of the amount of meat food that will be gone through with by even a small party. No vegetables of any kind whatever; no flour, or at least very little, which is carefully put away in case of extreme sickness. The ordinary ration, under these circumstances, at any of the Hudson Bay Company posts is either three large white fish, or three rabbits, or two pounds of pemmican, or three pounds of dried meat, or eight pounds of fresh buffalo meat per day per man.
A full practical knowledge of this was ever present with the missionary, who felt that upon him, under Providence, rested the responsibility of the success of the enterprise, especially, as in his case, he had no wealthy company or government to back him. At best the means placed at his disposal were small; accordingly, father stirred himself to provide for the now rapidly approaching winter.
The first thing was to go up the river, and cut and raft down timber, as also manufacture lumber, every foot of which had to be sawn by hand, which is one of the most laborious duties within the range of manual labor. The next thing was to organize a party, and go out on to the plains for the purpose of obtaining buffalo meat. This was called the fresh meat hunt. The weather being cold, the plan of action was to procure the meat, next haul it home; and then having built a big stage, spread the meat upon it, and though winter might not really set in for weeks, yet such was the nature of the meat and the climate, that with plenty of air above and beneath it, the meat would keep splendidly for months. Starting for the plains, the missionary and his party, the second day out, met chief Broken Arm, their acquaintance of the year before. The old man was delighted to see his friend back again. Father had intimated to him the previous summer, Providence permitting, he hoped within a year to meet him on his native plains again.
The first exclamation of the old man was, on meeting him, "You are a man of one word. My people and myself are glad to welcome you to our country.'' This fact here illustrated one of the reasons for father's influence with the red men,— he invariably made every effort to reach his appointments, to fulfil his promised word. Storms might come, difficulties pile up one upon another, long distances intervene, he would put forth his whole energy to keep his word with these simple people; and thus, by long years of effort, he gained their confidence.
The chief, Broken Arm, ordered some of his young men, the best hunters in the camp, to accompany father and his party on the hunt. These went for the two-fold purpose of assisting in the hunt and of helping to guard the camp, for the common enemy might be expected to strike a blow at any minute; and constant vigilance must be exercised to keep the stock out of the hands of these, the most expert of horse thieves.
On the fifth day out the buffalo were sighted, and every hunter was soon ready, and presently the charge was made upon the buffalo. When on the run after these animals the hunter must of necessity accept the risk of many dangers; the horse may fall, the hunter break a limb, or worse, both horse and rider may be gored by the infuriated beast; a chance bullet from the gun of a brother hunter may strike either man or horse. Then, in the hunt, each man becomes isolated from his companion, and he knows not from which point the ever-watchful enemy may charge upon him.
Cavalry officers who have experienced war, coming upon the plains, and joining in a buffalo hunt, have told me that there is no more danger in the ordinary cavalry charge upon the enemy. Our hunters this afternoon escaped pretty well; one horse is hurt a little, and several of the party have some pretty severe tumbles, but the hunt is, in a great measure, successful, and the animals are fat.
Away on into the night all hands are engaged, working with might and main, in butchering and hauling the meat to camp, for the big prairie wolves, and the smaller coyote, are in hundreds and thousands all around. Three days of such work, with moving camp, in the meanwhile to reach the buffalo; and every cart and waggon is creaking with its load. The party starts for home, and have not gone far when a restive ox runs his heavily laden cart against the hind wheel of the biggest waggon; the consequence is, the axle of the waggon is broken; but father gallops off with an Indian to a hill of timber some miles away, and presently returns with a good stout piece of birch, and in an hour or two a new axle is put in, and on we go.
In due time the party reaches home, the meat is ferried over the big Saskatchewan in a small skiff, the best means of transport as yet. The carts and waggons are taken to pieces and crossed in the same way, and thus, after about fifteen days, the meat is on the stage, and the missionary party, with all their possible dependents, have food for some weeks to come. The next thing is to organize a fishery for the food of both man and beast, for as soon as the snow falls and ice makes, dogs will become the means of transport for the most part; at any rate, all long distances and quick journeys must be made by these hardy animals. The ordinary feed for one dog being from one to two white fish per day, the time of feeding at night after the camp is made, and the journey is over.
Father travelled many thousands of miles with dog-trains, both in the Hudson Bay region, as well as in the Saskatchewan country. Two of the little mission party are sent away to a lake about forty miles distant, and these set themselves about catching fish. At the time of which we speak, nearly 2000 white fish were secured; these, later on In the winter, were hauled home by the dog-trains, each train taking from 100 to 150 fish at a load. Having made these arrangements, and having in the meanwhile worked in the camp of Indians, who had stopped for a few weeks in the fall beside the mission, and then pitched away again on to the plains to live among the buffalo, father made several trips, visiting the Hudson Bay posts and adjacent mission and the large Indian camps, these trips occupying from six to fifteen days each. In the meanwhile working with saw and axe, getting out and hauling timber and lumber for mission-house and church and necessary out-buildings, all of which entailed an immense amount of work and planning; for the place is nearly a thousand miles from a sawmill or a hardware store, or any base of supplies; and thus the winter passes.
The blessing of heaven rests upon the enterprise. Each member of the little community is mercifully preserved from the many dangers that surround; for the reader will keep in view the fact that this whole region, for hundreds of miles, is in a lawless condition. Crime of every kind is perpetrated, and, except as overtaken by the avenger, goes unpunished; and yet notwithstanding all this, this little nucleus of Christianity and civilization witnesses the snow melt, and the spring flowers bud, and all is well. Father from the word "go" believed in his missionary career, believed in the broadest interpretation of the word "missionary;" he believed that himself, and everything surrounding his mission, should teach the practical lessons of Gospel life.
Everyone must move, everything that the hand as well as the heart could find to do must be done; the resources of the country experimented upon and developed, and all within his range and capability must be done for the rescuing of these peoples from the barbarism, and shiftlessness, and ignorance, and superstition of centuries, and the removing of the debris that lay thick upon them; and the lifting of these, the aboriginal tribes of our country, up into the scale of being that Jesus Christ lived and died and lived again to make possible unto them in common with all men.
In the face of the greatest difficulties he never whined, he never made a poor mouth; he believed in God, he believed in the missionary enterprise of the Church, he believed in himself; and thus every day, and every hour, found him reaching out and bending every energy to the accomplishment of the grand object he saw before him. During the months of the winter the honorable Hudson Bay Company, owing to the difficulty of transport into the country, and having enough to do to bring in their own material, had intimated to the various missionaries in the country, that they would bring no more material for them, for the time being at least.
This is a new difficulty that must be met. The Hudson Bay Company's boats will come up the waters of the Saskatchewan from their mouth almost to their source; the Hudson Bay Company's carts will roll from St. Paul, on the Mississippi, via Fort Garry, across the two big Sackatchewans, almost to the shadows of the Rocky Mountains, but not a pound of the necessaries of life will be carried in these for the missionary; therefore father must split his little party, and send part of it to Fort Garry in the interests of his own and Brother Steinhauer's mission. To travel across the country, to purchase cattle and carts, to equip these, and load on the scanty outfit for the next eighteen months for two missions; then to retrace the long road, with the now heavily laden vehicles, improvising ferries and mending carts, and travelling as best you can, takes from the first of April until the middle of August. This father arranges, and successfully accomplishes. In the meanwhile the Indians have come in with the spring from the plains. The whole valley is a busy scene. The buffalo leather lodges dot the prairies everywhere, the hundreds of ponies and thousands of dogs mix with the humanity of the encampment.
Father, and those who remained at home with him, are endeavoring to teach agriculture as one of the lessons of Christianity. Some seed has been hauled by dog-train from Lac la Biche, and from White Fish Lake in the north, also from Edmonton in the west. A few garden seeds have been carefully put away by thoughtful mother. A small portion of turnip seed is doled out by thimbles full. All the hoes the mission party can scrape up, and the one plough they possess are constantly worked, and the beginnings of the mission farm and the first garden patches of the Indians are the result.
The reader will understand that, during the winter, earnest effort has been put forth for the erecting of a building which will serve as church and school-house; this has been accomplished. In this, and in the lodges of the people, Gospel meetings and councils for instruction are being held night after night, Sabbath after Sabbath. Thus father and his interpreter and everybody else around the mission are engaged until planting time is over, and the Indians again take down their tents and start for the plains; for by this time the provisions they have brought in with them are consumed, and of necessity they must move. The Indians gone, Bro. Steinhauer comes over from White Fish Lake, joins father and his interpreter, and the trio start for the west to hunt up the mountain Stonies and all intermediate people. Edmonton is taken in on the route. On travelling southward, they strike about three hundred of these people at the crossing of the Battle River.
Some one has seen them coming; who else can it be but the missionary; he told some of our people last fall, God willing, he would hunt us up this summer; here be comes. The whole camp is astir, the chiefs and the braves and hunters all mount their best horses; the old man of the mountain rides at the head of the column, and thus they advance to give the little missionary party a right royal welcome. Almost as quickly as the repeating rifle, in the hands of the skilful hunters the old flintlock is made to sound forth, volley upon volley. "What cares the thoughtless Indian, that perhaps to-morrow, or in the near future he may shake his powder-horn in vain, for no powder is there; enough for him now his heart is glad, his friends have arrived, an epoch in his life has come, and he thinks not of to-morrow. Years afterwards he will awaken to the thought that these humble men now approaching the camp of his people have come to make hit it think, and cause him to make provision for the morrow.
Such shaking of hands. Every man-Jack of the whole party shakes hands with the preacher; then wheeling into a line they escort our heroes to the camp in the valley. Here there is still more of hand-shaking, the women and the children must also touch the hands of the praying men. Days and nights are spent in preaching, singing and praying; souls are converted.
As the missionaries express a wish to see more, of this people and their country, tidings having come into camp since their arrival that another portion of the tribe is now several days' journey nearer the mountains, the missionaries and the Indians all move in this direction.
For three days they travel in company, during which time they have passed the scene of a recent fight, wherein some Stoney boys were attacked by a large war party of Blackfeet. It seems that some of the Stonies were cutting up buffalo which they had killed that morning. Their shots had been heard by the scouts of this war party, and these Blackfeet were now stealthily approaching the unsuspecting Stonies, but fortunately, as was their custom, one of these went out to reconnoitre the country while his friends continued their work, and he in his turn discovered the enemy, and returning to his party, he said to them, "Come, young men, let that alone for a while, here is better game for us." And they charged the Blackfeet and totally discomfited them, killing two of their number and wounding others, and securing their robes, blankets, horse-lines and shoes; for, like all such parties, they were thoroughly equipped for the purpose of stealing horses. Here were the remains of these dead Indians still unburied. Our missionaries took this as a text, and on the ground preached to the Indians the words of our Saviour, "Love your enemies," and practically enforced the teaching by having the Indians reverently take up the bodies of their enemies and bury them.
As the movement of the whole camp was slow, and the time of the missionaries precious, and the distance yet to be travelled long, father and his friends, taking an Indian guide with them, continued their journey and reached the other camp. Here they went through like experiences, but under different surroundings. They were now in the vicinity of the Rockies, and were actually camped in one of the valleys of the foothills. For the first time in their lives the missionaries beheld the grand mountains; the very sight was an inspiration. Ah, said they, no wonder the Mountain Stoney loves his mountain home. Having visited with these people, having preached to them continuously, having encouraged the hearts of these wandering men in the faith of the Gospel, they bade them good-bye and turned their faces homeward. By this time the rivers were high, snows on the mountains were melting, and many a thrilling experience was passed through by our mission party as they crossed and ferried and swam these mountain torrents on their homeward journey. By the way they made a big detour, continuing the exploration father had begun the year before.
Crossing over from the source of Battle River they came out upon the shores of Pigeon Lake, a sheet of water coveting a space of about seventy-five square miles, and abounding in life, on the northern bank of which they located the site of a mission yet to be established, which they hoped would prove a centre for the Mountain and Wood Stonies, as also many Crees. The whole trip had taken about a month. Reaching home, the garden, fields, haying, and many other things occupied their attention. Wandering bands of Indians coming and going, all requiring instruction; applying to the missionary for legislation and medicine. He must be judge, and settle their disputes; he must be doctor, and administer medicine to their sick, morning, noon and night. The work of the pioneer missionary must never cease. The preparations for the winter are as imperative now as last year, and thus the summer and autumn pass and winter has come.
One or two of the Indians have already been seized with an ambition to build a house. The missionary is there to show them how, and though he did expend a great deal of time and hard labor in this style of teaching, yet father felt that he was doing as much good in this way as in any other branch of his work.
During the year two schools had been organized; one at White Fish Lake, and the other at Victoria. Herewith we put on record that father organized the first Protestant mission schools west of Portage la Prairie. The fall and winter of this year were spent very much as last; building, securing food, travelling from post to post and from camp to camp, getting acquainted with the people, acquiring a knowledge of the country, and also preparing for a new mission to be established at Pigeon Lake. During the month of March some of the material was transported from Victoria to Pigeon Lake by dog-train. The woodwork of a plough, made out of birch, was put together at Victoria. This was taken up to Edmonton, and there as a great favor it was ironed by the Hudson Bay Company's blacksmith, then taken on dog-train from Edmonton to Pigeon Lake. In the early spring father sent his son to take up work on this new ground, and here is another instance of his reaching out beyond orders. For two years he kept his son at Woodviile, without any assistance from the missionary funds.
Early in the spring he started for the Red River settlement, the one object being to bring in the supplies for the following year, as the Hudson Bay Company's ruling in this matter still prevailed; the other was to meet two of his children, a son and a daughter whom he had left in a school in Ontario, and who were to come to Fort Garry this season. This trip occupied some three months of the spring and summer.
In the meanwhile the mission at Victoria was growing. The Hudson Buy Company had established a post, and were carrying on a large business. A colony of English-speaking half breeds moved from the Red River settlement and settled there. All this increasing responsibility resting upon the missionary. The following season the Hudson Bay Company compromised the transport business by bringing the necessaries for the three missions as far as Carleton, thereby saving to the several missionaries more than fifty per cent, of time and trouble.
Let us look into the missionary's house; let us visit himself and wife and growing family. We will be very welcome. Few and far between are the visits of those speaking the same tongue and hailing from the same country as this missionary family. While everything about and in the house is made as neat and clean as possible, rude benches and rough home-made chairs, and very few of these, comprise the furniture. We are invited to take a meal with the family. We see the meat upon the table; grace is said, the meat is served, the tea is poured, but there is no milk or sugar. There is a little salt on the table. We look for the coming of the bread, but it comes not; we would enjoy a potato, or a turnip even, with this meat, but the meal is ended and they are not forthcoming. We are surprised, yet so common is such fare with these our hosts, they don't notice what is a surprise to us. Let us go in another day, and this time we see something upon the table that we never saw before. Will you take some pemmican? we are asked. We look in vain for anything else, and perforce, because of necessity, we take some of this queer-looking stuff, which we are told is called pemmican. We cannot say we relished it very much at first, but we will, no doubt, if we stay long enough, for our friends and their children seem to eat it with a hearty good-will. We go in another day, and we gather with the family around the board, and, to our great astonishment, a great big dish filled with boiled eggs is put upon the table. "I am sorry we have not anything else," is the humble apology of our hostess. We eat eggs and eggs until we have enough. We come along another time, and, having travelled far, are hungry. As before, we are welcome to this hospitable table. A big plate of potatoes is put before us, and some milk is poured out and placed beside us. Again we are told, "We are sorry there is nothing else in the house." Yet another time we reach this pioneer home, and a big dish of boiled fish is put upon the table, and we are asked to make our meal of fish, sometimes with salt, sometimes without it. Such were the constant and ever recurring experiences of the people who lived in this land in those days.
Did the patient mother ever utter a word of complaint? No! We have already said the father was never known to whine, and as like begets like, there is very little complaint among the children. Sometimes there is very little of anything, and sometimes dire hunger makes the little ones cry out. Gradually the missionary is working his way to a better state of things, but this takes time and long years of patient endeavor. Many are those depending upon him. The weary traveller, who never is turned away; the starving families and camps of Indians, who fall back upon the mission as their house of refuge; all these handicap him in his struggling upward—we mean material climbing, for spiritually such experiences are as wings lent wherewith heavenward to fly.
During the next winter father works hard among this people, visits the Indian camps far and near, takes a trip with old Broken Arm and a large following of Crees out into the Blackfoot country, and is instrumental in effecting a peace with the enemy, which gives the whole country for some months a respite from the terrors of war. Some three weeks were spent on this trip, and a great many Indian camps visited in the meanwhile. With spring comes the stirring up of the people by the missionary to agriculture. In doing this he must take the lead, he must furnish the seed, he must set the example in his own field.
Anyone visiting the chairman of this immense district, reaching from the Hudson Bay to the Rocky Mountains, and from the boundary line as far north as you can go, would have hardly recognized him, except that they saw the one white man among a crowd of Indians. Coat and waistcoat off, up to his eyes in work, from morning until night; this was the daily experience of father at these times.
Farming, doctoring, law making, teaching, preaching; truly his duties were legion. The following summer the monotony of this life was varied. The report comes to the mission that his son, the one that is breaking in for mission work at Pigeon Lake, and who has gone out with a small camp of Indians into the Blackfoot country, is lost. Again the report is different, "he is killed," and father organized a little party, and starts out to make sure. To his great joy, he meets his boy when he is about 120 miles from home, coming in with the party loaded with provisions for the coming winter.
In a country where there are but few men to spare, the reader will readily imagine the experiences of those few weeks to these fond parents and friends. Other matters now demand father's attention. His family has grown. Three daughters are ready for school, and there is none in the country. The work is growing.
Some parts of this district want re-manning, and other points should he taken up. Often has he written; but we are so far off. that the written cry for help loses its emphasis before it reaches its destination. Accordingly he makes up his mind to start for Eastern Canada.
Making his arrangements, and bidding a portion of his family good-bye, he takes three girls with him, and another, whose father also is anxious she should be educated. 'With two Indian boys as his help, father started as the summer was waning, and drove the 1,800 miles across the big plains of the North-West and Minnesota to St. Paul, on the Mississippi. Here he placed his two Indian boys with farmers to learn some of the arts of civilization during the winter months. Continuing his journey, he reached Ontario. Putting his children to school in the Wesleyan Female College at Hamilton, he became subject to the Missionary Secretary, and travelled the country in the interests of missions; and, as very many Canadians will remember, awakening them for the first time to a knowledge of this immense country.
On previous visits to the Red River settlement, as also on his way down this time, father had noted with sorrow the fact that the Methodist Church was not represented in the whole Red River country. Our missions were north and west, but in this, which he very well knew was, geographically, placed by Him who created it to become a radiating centre, there was not even a solitary Methodist preacher. He had written about it, and now he was going to speak about it. His importunity produced results, and we see him the next summer leaving Ontario at the head of a party of missionaries and teachers for Red River and the country to the north-west of it.
He brought with him the Rev. G. Young, whose history in connection with Manitoba, Canadians are proud of. If Methodism has done anything for Manitoba and the North-West; if Methodism is an established fact in the growth and make-up of this developing country; we claim that to father falls the honor of inaugurating this work.
He had with him Egerton R. Young, who spent eight years of zealous missionary toil at Norway House and Beren's River; also Peter Campbell, who labored for five years on the Saskatchewan, and whom the Indians remember and speak of with respect and friendship as "Blackhead," because of his coal-black hair. He had with him the two Snyder brothers, who for some years taught schools on the Saskatchewan, one of whom is to-day an honored minister in the London Conference. It took a long time to travel from the Mississippi by waggon and cart, and these heavily laden, to Fort Garry, and the 1,000 miles beyond it, on to the Upper Saskatchewan, but early autumn saw each and all at work in their respective fields. A winter in Canada had but stirred to greater heat the missionary heart of our father. The same fall, after his return, he visited his son at Pigeon Lake. Many of the Indians before his arrival pitched away into the timber countries of the North-West. In these camps that had gone away there were some people who wished for Christian marriage.
There were also a number of children, whose parents desired for them Christian baptism. The night of father's arrival at Pigeon Lake, the people there were gathered for service. Father addressed them, and a blessing rested upon the meeting. After the meeting the young missionary spoke of the camp that had already gone into the thickets and muskegs, which lie away to the North-West. "Let us follow them up," said father, and the next morning away went the party on the trail of the hunting camp. The third day the missionary party came up with the Indians. No one could imagine how delighted these people were to see the old missionary. Glorious meetings were held in that camp, and the writer can think of quite a number whom he believes are in heaven to-day as the result of that visit.
Through with this work, we started on the homeward journey. The first night out from the Indian camp father had a dream. He had been talking about a mutual friend, a man who was once a minister in the Methodist Church. This man had gone up that fall into the Lac la Biche country, and father had said to me, "I am anxious about Mr. Connor; he is very energetic, but at times very rash also."
Well, this night father dreamed that Mr. Connor had been drowned. He told me of it the following morning as we were eating our breakfast in the camp, and to my surprise, and to his also, on his way home, at Edmonton he met with the news, and writing to me from this point, said: "How strange that I should have dreamed about Connor as I did. To-day I have heard that he is actually drowned." The place where he dreamed was 280 miles from the locality where our friend had lost his life. I will say here, that I never in all my recollection knew a man further removed from superstition of any nature than father was.
The following winter was one of hard experiences all over the Saskatchewan country. The buffalo left the region and went south. The mission family at Victoria fared hard in common with the rest. Our missionaries, with their people, organized a general hunt the following spring.
This was to be turned, as much as possible, into the shape of a camp-meeting. In those days the only place where large companies could congregate for any length of time was in the vicinity of the big herds of buffalo, as no other food supply in the country would be adequate. While this was being organized, and as the spring opened up, the sad tidings came in from the plains that Broken Arm had been killed. The old chief, the white man's friend, the man who worked harder in the interests of peace than any other Indian in the whole country, and who now, with a flag of truce in his hand, was negotiating peace with the Blackfeet, had been treacherously shot by them The savages had cut the old man to pieces, and had dragged his remains at the tails of their horses into their camp.
Our hearts were sad because of the loss of Broken Arm, and, moreover, we knew that the coming season would be one of intense hostility between the tribes. Vengeance would demand it. However, from each mission both missionary and people, immediately the spring work of seeding had been done, started for the rendezvous on the plains. This point was about 200 miles southeast of Victoria. The objects, for the most part, were accomplished. Provisions were made, the people from the different localities of the country became acquainted with each other. This tended to break up old feuds, and to enlighten the people as to the population of their own country. Gospel meetings were held, the word was faithfully preached by the various missionaries, and this famous gathering on the plains is often referred to by the Indians and half-breeds all over the country.
Here we will insert a letter written by father within a few months of this gathering, which will also continue the narrative in the subsequent experiences of the season, and will explain the state of the country at that time.
It was during this summer that quite a number of horses were stolen from the mission and its vicinity by the Blackfeet.
To Rev. Dr. Wood, Methodist Mission Rooms, Toronto.
I -wrote you in August, giving a brief account of a nine weeks' journey in the plains. Since that date we have had no communication with the frontier world, and now expect none until January. Our spring hunt was a success. In a camp of one thousand people, five thousand buffalo were slaughtered; and one hundred and twenty thousand pounds of dried meat secured. All felt that if our crops should be as abundant as in years past, there would be no starvation for some years to come; but there was room for anxiety. Two hundred miles from the Saskatchewan, scarcely any rain had fallen. The oldest in the camp had never witnessed the like before.
The rich valleys hitherto encumbered with vegetation are now parched and burnt. Fifty miles south of Victoria we met parties who informed us that our fields were a failure. The. seed had dried up in the earth. This was sad news. The season was too far advanced to send to Red River. Benton is much nearer, but between us and that place the merciless Blackfeet ranges the plains. There was but one course open, and that was to strike for the buffalo country. For months we had lived on flesh and fowl, and for eighteen months to come we have no prospect of a change. A council was held, and it was determined that as soon as our animals were rested we should return to the hunt. In the meantime, the Blackfeet made a raid upon Victoria, and some of our people suffered severely. Since the murder of our lamented chief, the Crees have killed nearly one hundred Blackfeet, and in retaliation the enemy has resolved to carry the war into the Cree country. They have sent us word that they have spotted the Company's posts on the Saskatchewan, and in particular Victoria. Pray for us Our dangers and difficulties at times are almost insurmountable. We deeply feel that nothing but an ardent love for souls, and a strong trust in God's mighty power, not only to save, but to restrain, will carry us through these times.
August 11th.—Starting for the plains.
In old times crossing the river with a large camp was a tedious affair, and to the uninitiated trying to the nerves. A leather tent, or, as in my own case, an oi! cloth, was spread on the. beach, the travelling kit was placed in the centre, then the cloth gathered up and tied at the top, giving the appearance of a huge pudding bag. The raft is then shoved into the water, and attached by a line to a horse's tail; the traveller then mounts the boat and guides the swimming steed to the opposite shore. In this way and in a very short time, I have crossed large rivers. We have now a good scow, and the novel scenes of yore have passed away.
August 18th.—For years pemmican has been the staple dish on our table yet I must confess, I have very little relish for tallow and pounded meat. My wife says that it is better not to think of bread, while we cannot have it, as the thought might cause impatience. I shall not controvert her opinion, but judging from my feelings this morning, the sight of a four pound loaf would produce in my poor heart the liveliest gratitude.
With my horse and gun, I shall leave the brigade to move on, hoping to join them in the evening with something fresh for supper. A little while before sundown I reached a round hill that rises about three hundred feet above the level of the plain. From the top of this little mountain the magnificence and profusion of the prairie met the eye. The silence and solitude is over whelming, and this feeling in creases with the conviction that we have only entered into the vestibule of Nature's great temple; for this is but the margin of the plains, and now, the mirage adds to the beauty of the bewildering panorama. In a moment the little lakes appear above the plains, and the distant bluffs of aspen dance in mid air. From these majestic scenes the untutored Indian paints his future paradise. Alas for him, his religion makes his heart no better; yet, however steeped in sensuality or stained with blood, the native loves nature. He will sit for hours on the hill top, and gaze with placid satisfaction on the wild and beautiful. Thank the Lord, we have now both Crees and Stonies who look from nature to nature's God, and with joyful hearts they worship the Creator who is blessed forever.
August '20th, Sabbath.—Our services are still well attended, and the holy day sacredly kept. This is our sowing time. We shall reap if we faint not. On the plains there is much to divide the attention; the stock must be guarded, and there is a constant dread of an attack from the enemy.
After the morning service we were informed that a stranger had entered the camp under suspicious circumstances. The rider had no saddle. A cold rain was falling, but the fugitive was naked. When questioned, his answers were evasive, until a Christian woman took him into her tent, gave him her son's coat, and placed food before him. Kindness prevailed, and he stated that yesterday before dawn he started with his companions, hoping to find game, and while crawling through the brush he saw something black, and thinking it was a bear, fired, when a woman threw up her arms and cried out, "I am killed! I am killed!! She was one of the party ahead of us, who, in company with her sister, had gone into the woods in search of berries. This statement was perfectly true, and the wretched man was fleeing from the avenger.
August 23rd, Iron Creek.—This beautiful stream derives its name from a strange formation, said to be pure iron. The piece weighs 300 lbs. It is so soft you can cut it with a knife. It rings like steel when struck with a piece of iron. Tradition says that it has lain out on the hill ever since the place was first visited by Xa ne-boo sho after the flood had retired. For ages the tribes of Blackfeet and Crees have gathered their clans to pay homage to this wonderful manitoo. Three years ago, one of our people put the idol in his cart and brought it to Victoria. This roused the ire of the conjurors. They declared that sickness, war, and decrease of buffalo would follow the sacrilege. Thanks to a kind Providence, these soothsayers have been confounded, for last summer thousands of wild cattle grazed upon the sacred plain.
Battle River, August 23rd.
The future inhabitants of these rich lands will find no lack of water power. This river, which rises in the pine forest near the foot of the mountains, and runs parallel with the Saskatchewan for more than 400 miles, is from its source to its confluence one continuous water power. The same may be said of the numerous tributaries of the larger rivers. All supply water at an elevation that will meet any demands for milling purposes.
26th.—Hard times. All order has lied. Men, women, and children are seen running in every direction in search of berries, roots,—anything that will satisfy the craving of hunger. For days they have had scarcely any food, and the great camp which so recently passed over this trail lelt nothing for us; but how true, "Man's extremity is God's opportunity." Earnestly have we prayed for help, and now it comes. One of our hunters signals from a hill that buffalo are in sight. Hurrah! Hurrah! In a moment all the sufferings of the past are forgotten. The runner mounts his horse and dashes off in the direction indicated. From a rising ground we witness the charge. In less than ten minutes ten fat beeves are on the ground. Exclamations of joy are shouted by the women. These buffalo will be baked, boiled, and roasted for supper.
September 11th —The great camps, the Edmonton, the Victoria, and the Blackfeet, numbering more than 10,000 souls, are all within a short ride of each other. The plain Crees, driven in by the Blackfeet, have fled to us for protection. The Edmonton people have had a skirmish with the enemy, and blood was shed. Last evening the Blackfeet sent us word that they would fight us to-day at noon, and 300 men are anxiously waiting for them. I have ventured to say they will not come. A long experience amongst red men has satisfied me that when they threaten they seldom strike.
The Blackfeet are also aware that there are two missionaries in the camp, and their superstition will prevent them from coming. With feelings not easily expressed, I sat upon a knoll and reflected upon surrounding circumstances. Our tents are pitched upon one of the most magnificent plains in America. Unnumbered herds of cattle are fattened on free pasturage.
Hundreds of lakes offer drink to man and beast. Here we have a perfect realization of a hunter's dream, and what are the facts? Sin has poisoned all. In these camps we see the untrained development of the vilest passions, hating and being hated. There is no peace for the wretched people. Their degradation cannot be written. One hardly knows how to apologise for the mis-statements of intelligent tourists, who have travelled these plains. They must have written as they ran. Their descriptions of the noble, honest native, are all from the pure ideal point of view.
Let them come down to real work, and study the language and life of the people, and live amongst them, as your missionaries have to do, and they will be able to appreciate the wonderful change wroughton many of them by the teaching of the Gospel. Delivered from the slavery of demon worship, the Indian is the happiest of men. Once truly converted to God, he presents a noble specimen of what the Gospel can effect. While under the influence of heathenism, his mind is tilled with a strange mysterious dread. His religion teaches that an evil "Genius," that never slumbers, follows him from the cradle to the grave. Omens, presaging sorrow, are daily presented to his dark imagination. A significant word from a conjurer, the flight of a bird, or a dream, are all interpreted to foretoken death or sickness.
The pagan believes that his "Genius" instructs him in the hours of sleep, and the consequence is frequently awful. A Plain Cree, with whom I am acquainted, dreamed that his Puh wali gun, demanded three human victims, and he actually murdered three of his own tribe. A young heathen, whose father lives at our mission, fancied that his demon demanded three human sacrifices, and last summer he shot a young half breed, with whom he was on the most friendly terms. A short time ago I conversed with this young man. He frankly acknowledged his determination to complete the number, alleging as a reason, that if he was not faithful to the instructions given, a fearful retribution would follow.
But I must stop, for were it necessary I could unveil some of the mysteries of paganism, and tell of deeds of darkness that would make the heart sick. War, murder, gambling, polygamy, and demon worship are all producing their natural effects; and if civil law and Gospel light are not speedily brought to the rescue of these tribes, they will perish from the earth.
Making plain provisions in the hunters' camp, with all its wild surroundings, the man of leisure may pass his time very pleasantly; but there is another class, who find more of fact than fiction in killing wild cattle—to this party belongs the missionary.
A long winter stares him in the face. There is no market where he can go to for supplies. Offer a man gold for flour in the Saskatchewan and he would laugh at you. $60 per barrel has been tendered to the Hudson Bay Company, and the money has been refused; and no wonder, for every pound of the precious luxury has been dragged over the 1,800 miles from St. Paul, and that in Red River carts. But the good time is coming. The royal standard is now supplanting the bunting of the Hudson Bay Company. Brother Dominionites our majestic rivers invite our steamboats; our natural road extending from the Winnipeg to the Rocky Mountains, wide as the limitless prairie, is waiting for your land transport. This wild, uncouth younger brother of the confederation family only waits the chance for development, and the youth will become, what geographically and naturally he really is, the heart and soul of the country. But I must go back to the camp, and the first thing is to kill the animal, cut it up, and bring the meat to your tent. Then the process of curing and drying takes place. Then follows pounding and making up pemmican. True, you can have help, but my experience of buffalo eaters goes to prove that however numerous the servants, the master is the greater vassal. Then you must shoe your own horse, mend carts, and what is more trying, keep a day and night guard upon your animals, for horses are constantly disappearing very mysteriously. These are some of the toils of the hunter. The missionary has additional ones. Night and morning he collects the people for prayer; he must visit the sick; his tent must be a refuge for the aged and for the afflicted. The avenger of blood is awaiting his time; the missionary must be the mediator.
Not long since one of our young men, influenced by jealousy, shot at his companion, but providentially missed him. The next morning I saw the offended man cleaning up his six-shooter, and he confessed to me, that he was watching his chance. In the evening, by the help of some friends, we brought the two together, and effected a lasting peace. Then there are the Sabbath services; these are highly appreciated by our people.
In some suitable place the Union Jack is hoisted on a pole; a crier goes round the camp, and invites all to unite in the worship of the one true Cod, and often have we felt while addressing the Stonies, the Crees, and the half-breeds,
labor is rest, and pain is sweet,
If Thou, my God, art here."
Immediately after we find in the same manuscript the following, which in the light of events subsequently happening, is significant. Father had been brought into contact with Roman Catholicism and Roman Catholic priests; and, indeed, with many of the latter he had been on very friendly and neighborly terms, and yet, here is what he says. This would be the latter part of the year 1809:
The Papacy, the man of sin, is powerfully represented in this country. There are five priests to one Protestant missionary. They are anti-British in their national sympathies, and if we may judge the tree by its fruit, anti-Christ in their teachings.
Their converts have a zeal, but their fervor prompts them to propagate a system and not a Saviour. By them the Sabbath is desecrated, polygamy tolerated and the Bible ignored. Their churches are the toy shops where the poor heathen get their playthings, such as idols, beads and charms, and where the Anglo is denounced as no better than a brute beast; or to quote from one of their sermons, "No better than the buffalo that herd upon the plain."
They carry with them large pictures, representing two roads—one terminating in Paradise, the other in the bottomless pit. On the downward track all Protestants are travelling surrounded by demon spirits; while on the other road, throng all Roman Catholics, priests, nuns, etc.
By these baptismal regenerationists the sacred ordinance has been so desecrated that many of the heathen receive it as they would a charm from one of their sorcerers. One of the tricks played by these gentlemen is, when a child is born in a Protestant family, a female, agent enters the tent, fondles the infant and then professing to show it to their friends, carries it to the priest, who baptizes the babe; but the policy of the missionary has been to avoid all controversy, and simply preach Christ. The very opposite has been the practice of the priest, and if trouble should arise, between the tribes of this country and the whites, the cause in a large, degree, will be at the door of the Papacy. These priests are hard workers, summer and winter they follow the camps, suffering great privations. They are indefatigable in their efforts to make converts, and these converts when made, if stripped of the external badges of Papacy, are still heathen; for of them it may be truly said, they have not so much as heard of a Holy Ghost. These poor baptized pagans have never been pointed to the Lamb of God.
Another letter to Dr. Wood about this time reads thus:
Many thanks for your timely advice in the Missionary Notices. Only let the Government act up to those suggestions, and untold trouble will be averted. We are doing all in our power to save the country from bloodshed. A large number of Crees and mixed bloods have signed an address to the new Governor, asking for a peaceable settlement.
Our position at the present time is one of the most perplexing possible. The Blackfeet are the trouble. They profess to be friendly with your missionaries, and yet kill our people and rob your missionaries. When good old Mas-kee-pe-ton was murdered, I felt it was time to take a stand. Since then they have made a raid upon Victoria, and some fighting has taken place. I then sent the Blackfeet a message, stating that I had often saved their lives and buried their dead, and that now they must send back the stolen property, and give me a promise never again to attack our mission. There reply was, "You harbor our enemies, and we must light them.'' Since that time my son has ventured amongst them, and he intends going again in February. But I feel there is danger. These men have shed so much American blood, that there is no trusting them until they get a humbling.
Until a treaty is made with the Crees, it is highly important that my son John should be among the Plain Crees. His thorough knowledge of the Cree language has been of great service to us during the past summer.
If our poor Indians are to be saved from the terrible fate of the American tribes, the earnest missionary must be the agency. Impressed with these feelings, I shall keep my son amongst the Plain Crees until I hear from you. He is there now, and I assure you our anxieties are not lessened by knowing that two murders have been committed on the track he was to travel, and these within the last two months. No change can be for the worse in this blood stained land.
Next spring I expect to have to move my family into the woods until the men return from Red River and the plains, as there will be no safety along the banks of the river. Our plan is, what few men will remain in the country will reside at the mission, but the women and children we shall have to hide.
Fortunate for us the Blackfeet are greatly afraid of the Wood Indians. Pray for us. We are resolved, come what may, to remain at our posts. Woodville Mission is out of the way, and the Blackfeet dread the Stoneys. Brother Steinliauer is comparatively safe, being twenty miles from the plains. Last summer we had no crops, and flesh must be our food for many months to come. Since early fall I have suffered from inflammation of the eyes; this, with other trials, has often made my proud heart groan; but I trust my God will, according to the riches in Christ Jesus, uphold his unworthy servant. Knowing the deep interest you have felt in the poor Blackfeet, I will offer my opinion.
These men will yet be humbled by the Americans, and that very soon; things cannot rest as they are now so let us be ready to improve the first opportunity
Their country is the finest part of the North-West, and must be occupied; and it is worthy of note that twice in the last two years the buffalo have left the country. This will bring them to terms faster than military power.
On the plains the buffalo are the sole dependence of the Indian. In the meantime we must watch and pray. As regards the Cree, national interest, humanity, and love for perishing souls combine to make their case a pressing one. Had we ten faithful laborers they could all be well employed. At present there is a chance of a peaceful settlement with them. But I must close. I can, with difficulty, see the letters.
The following, which we have also discovered among his old papers, and evidently written about the same time as the preceding, will show his foresight, as also evidence his philanthropy and patriotism. The article begins thus:
"The importance of an immediate settlement with the plain tribes."—Every resident in this country knows that a feeling of dissatisfaction prevails to an alarming extent among these Indians. Six years ago the sight of a pale face in a Cree camp was a cause of rejoicing; now the very opposite is the fact. One of the principal reasons is the rapid decrease of the buffalo. In the winter of 1867-8 these Indians suffered great destitution, and the whole cause is attributed to the whites. Recent events have added much to their previous dissatisfaction. In all past time they have regarded the honorable Company as the highest representatives of the Queen. Now a rumor reaches them that a power greater than that Company will soon he here to treat with thorn for their lands. Injudicious parties have informed them that their old neighbors have received a large sum for these lands, and the Indian is not so ignorant but to enquire to whom has he ever ceded his hunting grounds. They have no idea of civil government. We have-spent days in trying to explain to them that they would be justly dealt with, and the answer invariably has been: "The Hudson Bay Company told our grandfathers that always, and you missionaries have been repeating the same story for twenty years, and yet nothing has been done." These men are exceedingly jealous of the miner and the settler, and a collision with either party will bring upon this noble country all the horrors of not simply war, but massacre.
We have observed in the papers that much is expected from the Hudson Bay Company's influence in settling with the natives, and as regards the Wood Indians there is no doubt but their assistance would be considerable; but from these we have nothing to fear, and as for the Plain tribes, they have neither the power nor the influence to control them. For years their traders have not ventured into the. Blackfeet camp.
The last time they attempted a. trade with these nobles, their carts were robbed. Some of the Plain Crees are very little better. Twice last summer they pillaged the. Company's agents. Of these Indians I speak from personal observation. For years I have visited them in their camps.
Last summer, in company with my son, who has a perfect knowledge of their language, we spent eighteen weeks amongst them, attended their councils and listened to their speeches, and the impression received was, if Canada is going to extend her humane policy to these Indians, there is no time to be lost. At present there are agents that might be powerfully employed to effect a permanent settlement. West of Carlton there cannot be less than 700 mixed bloods. These are all anxious for civil protection, and a treaty with the Indians. The Hudson Bay Company's servants, who at present live by the sufferance of the natives, would gladly lend their influence.
Another party from whom we would expect much, is the natives that have been trained at the Protestant missions. Many of these are sufficiently enlightened to know the power of the white man, and on the whole are for peace.
Then there is still a lingering love for the Union Jack. Many of the Crees call themselves "King George's men," and they all dread American encroachment. With ail the ardor of a Canadian who loves his country, and who desires for its honor that justice may be done this remnant of a once numerous people, I would advise that no time be lost in meeting them at their councils, treating with them for their lands, and by potent explanation, allaying the present excitement.
Let it not be forgotten that in the upper Saskatchewan there are at least 20,000 natives who by a wise and just policy can be made the friends of the Government. Let this once be accomplished and the country will speedily be settled. Between the Bow River and the North Saskatchewan there are gold fields of sufficient extent to fill this country with an enterprising population. There are now scores of families who would gladly settle in the neighborhood of Victoria, but the best friends of the country must discourage immigration until the Indians are treated with.
G. M. McDougall.
The foregoing extracts from father's journal will fully show his views on these matters, hut if there were mutterings of discontent on the Saskatchewan, when the packet arrived it brought tidings to the isolated settlements in the west of an outbreak in the eastern portion of the North-West.
The half-breeds and natives of Red River were said to be in rebellion. The months that intervened between this news, and the final suppression of the rebellion by the advent of General Wolseley and his command, were times of serious anxiety to us on the Saskatchewan. Father felt the responsibility keenly. There was a consciousness that the same influences which created disorder in Red River were working for the same purpose in the Saskatchewan. From Victoria constant communication was kept up with the Sweet Grass, the Big Bear, and the Wood Cree camps, the object being to counteract, if possible, any disturbing or disloyal influence. In the spring father became so anxious, not only in regard to the possibility of trouble, but also in regard to supplies for these missions during the coming year, that he determined to go to Red River himself, and was there during a short period of the reign of the rebels. He reconnoitred Fort Garry himself, and offered to be one of twenty men to surprise and recapture it from the rebels; but if there were nineteen such men as himself in that country at that time, they were not to be found. Previous to his starting for Red River there had come up from the plains south of us rumors to the effect that the small-pox was among the Blackfeet and Bloods. Father had told us that if the disease reached this country before his return, to do ail we could to scatter the Indians. His last words were, as he started for Red River: "Now, John, if the small-pox reaches the Saskatchewan, isolate the people as much as you can.' Sure enough, the season had not far advanced, when we heard that the small-pox was among the Plain Crees. All felt then that it must inevitably reach us. Such was the lawless state of the country, such was the migratory habit of the Indians, that soon from camp to camp, and from post to post, the fearful epidemic was carried.
When it reached Victoria how we longed for father to return. There was no one in the country in whose medical knowledge we had so much confidence. As the Indians began to arrive, we did as father had instructed us, and urged them to separate and isolate themselves. Our words to them were, "If you continue in large camps, and congregate together, this disease will grow in power, will assume a virulent form, and will be almost sure death to any who may take it; but if you scatter as you have been advised, very many of you will escape the infection, and even those who may have already become infected, may reasonably expect the milder forms of the disease, if they do as we say." This advice very many took, and there was a scattering through the wood lands and prairies of the north. But in this we were thwarted by the directly contrary advice of the priests. They gathered the people together, they assembled them in meetings, and they used our action in the matter as an argument against us. They said, "You now see who are your friends; as soon as calamity comes, the Protestant missionary drives you from him, while we say come to us;" the consequences were that many of the Indians and half-breeds gathered together, and died like rotten sheep.
At Victoria we closed the church, and dismissed the schools, held no meetings, told the people as much as possible to refrain from visiting each other. "By all means, as you love your families and your people, keep away from the infection." It was impossible for us to do this with the poor ignorant Indians from the plains, as they came around us in all stages of the disease. The writer was one of the first in the mission party to catch it. But in the meantime many had died. In almost every fence corner around the mission, all along the banks of the river, were the dead and the dying. In the midst of it, to our great delight, father arrived. The rebellion was over, but a worse thing had come upon us. No one can describe the misery and wretchedness of such a time as this. Night and day the missionaries and their families were busy with the dying and the dead.
Letter from father at this time to Rev. Dr Wood :
Victoria, August 10th, 1870.
Surrounded by circumstances that cannot be described, I sit down to pen you a few lines. The evening we left Red River I learned that the small pox had reached the Saskatchewan. Anxious to be with our people we crossed the plains in nineteen days, and at Carlton we met the destroyer of the poor red man. One hundred had died at Fort Pitt, and along the road we encountered bands flying from the plague, yet carrying death with them.
On reaching Victoria I found my worst fears more than realized. My son had induced the Crees to scatter, but many, already struck down with the small-pox, were incapable of helping themselves. Two days after my arrival John was taken very ill, and is now in a critical state. For weeks my dear boy has had very little rest. Day and night he has waited on the sick and the dying. Many of our best members have passed away. On Saturday, our most beloved local preacher, Thomas Woolsey, died in great peace. His death has made a great impression. Some of his last utterances showed a depth of spiritual knowledge truly astonishing. Forgetful of his great sufferings, he spent his last night on earth in exhortation, prayer and praise.
Glory to God, who, in the midst of Popery and paganism, proclaims His sovereign power to save to the uttermost.
At this mission, the past summer has been a time of danger and great anxiety. The Blackfeet, driven to desperation by the awful scourge which has cut off more then one-half of their tribe, have sought to propitiate their deities by murder and robbery. They have stolen our horses and killed our cattle, articles of clothing and human hair, infected with the small-pox, have been left in our village; and so reckless of life were these wretched men, that of a war-party numbering eleven, who made a raid on Victoria, ten died. Some of their bodies were found by our people. Sad news has reached us from the Mountain Stonies. The Blackfeet left clothing in their neighborhood; the thoughtless Stonies took the blankets, little thinking that one-half of their nation would be the price.
From Bro. Campbell I have not heard since my return. With White Fish Lake we have no intercourse. The last report was that the disease had not reached that neighborhood. What gives the greatest trouble in this land of robes and leather, is to find clothes for those who have recovered. We cannot allow them to return to their families with their infected clothing to spread the disease. Very little meets the wants of the poor Indian. Friends of suffering humanity, pray for us. Verily the judgments of a just God are now upon this land of blood and idolatry; and yet, of how many of these suffering creatures, it may be truly said "they know not their right hand from their left."
G. M. McDougall.
Towards autumn there came a deceitful lull in the disease, and it became imperative to prepare for winter. Father's instructions to his son were, gather the people together who are as yet disinfected and go with them on to the plains. In the first place, do all you can to keep your camp from infection; in the second place, do all you can to obtain provisions for the coming whiter. Accordingly we got ready. As carefully as possible we avoided the infection. Sad was the party under these circumstances. There seemed to be a consciousness that in this life we should not all meet again, and so it was. Our party had not been more than two weeks away when the disease broke out in the mission. All were taken down with it except mother, Three of the household died in terrible agony, and father recovering from the disease, and slowly regaining his strength, with the assistance of my brother David, themselves buried their dead. Here are some more of father's letters:
Victoria, Oct, 21sf, 1870.
As there will be no other chance for writing until winter expires, I send this on to Carlton, hoping it may reach you.
Since I last wrote, the harrowing scenes we have passed through cannot be detailed. Small-pox has swept away hundreds. To relieve the sufferers, and to seek to lighten the sorrows of the bereaved, has been our work. Of all men, the ignorant, destitute red-man is the most wretched when a strange disease appears amongst them; many have died alone and unattended.
'Not a few have sought relief by plunging into the river, and multitudes who recovered from the disease have perished from destitution.
We have sought by every means in our power to stop the spread of this great destroyer, and with deep gratitude I record the fact, that, up to the present date, not one of the old settlers of White Fish Lake or Victoria have died of small pox. Our trouble has been with the poor Plain Crees who fled to the mission in their distress. Many of these have died within sight of our door, and yet my own family, which, including adopted children numbers nineteen souls, have hitherto escaped. To God alone be all the praise.
Never was the arrogance and bigotry of Popery more manifest. Having taught their deluded followers to look to them as to a god, when the scourge first appeared they collected their people into large camps : the bodies of the dead, the infected, and the well, were all collected in the church. The spiritual power of the priest proclaimed the grand specific, but all has failed. At their mission, ten miles from Edmonton, upwards of one hundred have died, mostly French half breeds, while numbers of the same people, have died on the plains.
My son has gone with the Victoria camp to the plains. Our people must have provisions. Brother Steinhauer is out with his people. I enclose you a note written the day he started. Brother Campbell was here last week; my son and he have arranged (D.V.) to start on a visit to the Mountain Stonies the first snow . Our poor Stonies! I fear most of them are gone. So great has been the mortality amongst these western tribes in the last eight years, that, but for the assurance that numbers have died in the triumph of our faith, our work would be most discouraging.
I have just received a letter from Mr. Hardisty, of Fort Edmonton. Two hundred of the St. Albert people are reported dead. There will be great distress this winter, the fall hunt being a failure. When I left for Red River I had three good horses, I took two with me, leaving one with Mrs. McDougall. The Blackfeet, during a thunder-storm, stole the horse from the door yard, and also killed one of our cows; but these are small matters compared to the loss some have sustained. My most intelligent neighbors believe that Jesuitism is at the bottom of all our Blackfeet troubles. One thing we do know, that we have been represented to them as harboring their enemies, killing their people, etc. If ever the rights and liberties of British subjects are enjoyed by Saskatchewanites, the world shall know some of the dark deeds of the past two years.
Victoria Mission, December 2nd, 1870.
When I wrote you last our people, accompanied by my son, were starting for the plains. We used every precaution to prevent all that were infected with small-pox from going with the party. I followed them to their first encampment, and there we detected small pox, and had the family removed. Thanks to the Great Preserver of life, no other case occurred among them during their long sojourn. This was the more remarkable, as they passed over a part of the country where the Blackfeet had left scores of their dead in an unburied state. At one place they passed the tent of the celebrated chief Nah-doos, the principal murderer of our Mas ke-pe-toon.
An enemy more to be dreaded than the Cree had overtaken him; and now, surrounded by numbers of his dead warriors, his body was left to be devoured by wolves. From a pole projecting at the top of the tent floated a Union Jack, and the warrior's coat mounted with ermine. We have not yet ascertained the number of Blackfeet who have died with small-pox ; but judging by the number of un-buried bodies left at each encampment, the mortality must have been very great. In the Upper Saskatchewan, not including the Blackfeet, there cannot have been less than one thousand deaths at the French half breed settlement; near Edmonton, three hundred have died, and many are still afflicted. Our position at Victoria has been a trying one. The more intelligent of our people, who acted upon our advice given them in the early part of the season, have escaped the disease. There has been but one case here among the English half-breeds; and our old chief, who, with a part of his band fled to the woods on the breaking out of the disease, has, up to this date escaped the sickness. Yet great have been the sufferings we have witnessed. Our mission has been a centre to which the diseased from all parts came destitute of food; and, in dread of the Blackfeet, they crowded around the mission house.
We have had to bury the dead and wait upon the dying. In these labors we have been assisted by the Hudson Bay Company's officers, who at the risk of their lives, have never failed at the post of duty.
Extracts from journal.
September 25th, 1870. The disease first appeared in my own family, and on the 13th of October our youngest daughter, aged eleven years, died. How precious to our bleeding hearts her dying words! Flora loved the Saviour.
October 23rd, 1870.
We are now passing through deep waters, all prostrate with the fearful disease, except Mrs. McDougall, and she exhausted with watching. Yesterday I felt it was high time to set my house in order. For two nights my mind has been wandering, and what course the disease may take I cannot tell, but I bless God, come what will, I feel all is right. I feel I am an unworthy sinner, but a sinner saved by grace. I had a long conversation with my much-beloved daughter, Georgiana, and gave her directions as regards the future. Little did I think, as she stood beside me the picture of health and youthful energy, that before I fully recovered myself, I should lay her in the grave.
Last night she was taken very ill, and to-day it was distressing to witness the change that has taken place in her appearance.
24th.—Last night I resolved to sit up, and not allow myself to sleep. Most earnestly I prayed that I might retain my senses, and, blessed be God, He has heard my prayer; and to-day, though the disease has developed, I am enabled to wait upon others.
25th.—This morning a Cree woman came to me and begged that I would baptize her infant grandchild, who had been taken ill with the small pox. I walked to the tent and attended the duty, and though the day was stormy, I have felt no evil consequences.
26th.—This morning I heard a person crying at the garden gate, and on going out found a worthy Cree, whose family were all suffering from the sickness. The poor fellow said that, his only son had just died in his arms, and he wanted me to help to bury him. I went and dug the grave, and assisted the afflicted father in burying his child. In less than a week he himself was in his grave.
28th.—This morning I buried our Anna. My son in law, Mr. Hardisty, dug her grave at the foot of Flora's. They were warm friends in life, and in death they have been but a few days parted. Anna was fourteen years old. She was the daughter of the late O-ga-mah-wah shis. He gave her to us a few hours before his happy death. She was the best looking native girl in this part of the country; of a docile, tractable disposition. We were all much attached to Anna.
November 1sl, 1870.
At five o'clock this afternoon our Georgiana breathed her last. The last intelligible words she uttered were prayer. A few days before she was taken ill she told her sister that during one of the services in the church her soul was greatly blessed, and we all observed a marked change in her conduct. The great Master was evidently preparing her for a better life. Georgiana died at her post. For months she has labored incessantly for the good of this suffering people. Conversant with their language and modes of thought, she proved herself a judicious counsellor. My kind neighbors, Messrs. Hardisty and Tait, brought the coffin and placed it at the gate, and my son and self carried her mortal remains to the grave. When we were, tilling in the earth, he uttered an expression which found ail echo in my poor heart, "Father, I find it hard to bury our own dead;" but just then the words of the apostle were applied with such force to my mind that I could not restrain myself from shouting them aloud: "O, death, where is thy sting? O. grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
November 13th.—This morning I returned from my sixth visit to a miner who lives about ten miles north of Victoria. The poor fellow has been very ill with inflammation of the lungs, and I trust the Lord is sanctifying his affliction. About twelve o'clock last night I noticed that he was very much excited, and, throwing up his hands, he exclaimed, "O, wretched man that I am! The son of a pious mother, often have I laid these hands upon her knee and repeated prayer, and many a time she has led me by the hand to the class-meeting—and yet, for twenty years, I have forsaken my mother's counsel. Oh, my God, I will return!" And my afflicted neighbor has returned, and found peace in believing. And here let me say, take courage, ye braying mothers. This is the third case I have met with among these wild adventurers who, in the time of extremity, have turned their thoughts to their pious mothers. The mother may never know it, but a covenant-keeping God has answered her prayers.
November 18th, Quarterly Meeting.—After an intermission of two months, we have again ventured to hold a public service. Our meeting was deeply affecting: there were vacant seats to remind us of the past. There could be little done in the way of preaching. Both missionaries and people wept before the Lord. I could not refrain from reviewing the past. Since my connection with the mission more than one hundred adults, natives, have passed away. Some of these were marked men and women, earnest Christians, who were a credit to the Church of Christ. Then the multitude of dear children, my own among the number, who delighted in singing the sweet songs of Zion.
These have all disappeared from among the living. At first sight there was something very discouraging, and we felt that if in this life only we had hope, we should be most miserable, but ours is a word for eternity, and these are not lost to us. Our love-feast was a season of power; the Comforter was present.
November1 22nd.—Started for Edmonton in company with Captain Butler and Messrs. Hardisty and Clarke. The Captain is out on a tour of inspection, and takes a deep interest in the great North-West. He declares the fact is humiliating to an Englishman that so fine a country should have been totally neglected. The weather is very fine, the plains free from snows, stock of all kinds taking care of themselves. When I told the Captain that the average of such was two out of three, he appeared surprised, and declared the country superior to parts of the United States immediately south of us. At Fort Edmonton we were cordially received by Mr. Christie, whose long residence in this country enabled him to give much valuable information to the Commissioner.
On Monday I was present at a novel ceremony (at least in the Saskatchewan), the swearing in of Mr. Christie and Mr. Hardisty as magistrates for the western territory. Their power will be nominal until troops are sent in and yet it will enable us to protect ourselves against the whiskey traders, for if we cannot enforce the law here, we shall assuredly follow them to Manitoba. We have also the prospect of a monthly mail next summer, and this will be a grand advance when compared with one express in the year. While at Fort Edmonton, through the kind co-operation of Mr. Christie, we raised $100 towards finishing the Stoney church. I would add that I have recently heard from all the brethren in the District. They and their families have, up to this date, escaped the pestilence.
The writer will never forget the experiences of a day in the beginning of the winter of 1871 and 1872. With the blessings of heaven, we had loaded our carts, succeeded in keeping the infection out of our camp, though several times we had to stand with our guns in our hands to do so. We were on our way home, and about forty miles from the mission, when we met an Indian, who told us the sad news: "Three have died in your house before I left, and it was said your father was not expected to live." Mounting a horse, the writer started for the mission. Some time after dark, he walked up to the gate of the yard. Hearing a step on the plank walk, from the gate to the house, he presently heard a voice say, "Is that you, my son?" "Yes, father," was the answer. "Don't come in," was the response; "all are doing as well as can be expected in the house. Your sisters lie yonder; they died happy. Go out to your camp; keep those who are free from the infection from it, as much as you can. Good-bye, my son." And the heroic, unselfish missionary turned, though he himself tottered, to another night's vigil. Cold weather set in and helped to break the disease; but weeks elapsed before it was possible to raise the quarantine, and meet once more.
After all, our settlement, and the Indians who really belonged to us, and who listened in spite of other influences, suffered very, very much less than any others throughout the whole country. East and west and south, all over the land, the death roll was fearful; fully fifty per cent, of the people being carried away. A large portion of these lay unburied. During all this time there was not a single medical man nearer than Fort Garry. A story got abroad among the Plain Crees that it was the missionary at Victoria that brought in the small-pox. The more intelligent Indians knew that it was the Plain Crees themselves who had brought the epidemic up from the south, where they had gone on one of their horse-stealing expeditions; but with the dissatisfied and now desperate and ignorant class, any story, laying the blame on some one upon whom they could vent their vengeance, would he received gladly. The winter of 1871 and 1872 was, in consequence of this, a time of serious anxiety. Here we will insert the following, written to Dr. Wood:
Victoria, March 1st, 1871
The medical gentleman sent up by the Board of Health is now returning to Red River, giving us an extra opportunity for communicating with the frontier world. There have been very few cases of small pox since the doctor's arrival. Whether the disease has exhausted itself, or whether it will break out afresh in the spring, are questions anxiously asked by many. That the whole country is infected there is no doubt, and it is beyond the powers of man to disinfect an Indian community. Our hope is, that the disease being so violent last summer, and in most communities very few escaped the contagion, we may now be relieved from its further ravages.
Our consolation is, we are in the hands of a God who will order all things right. As regards the business of the country, we are placed in a difficult position; according to the Governor's proclamation, nothing in the shape of trade can be exported. The Hudson Bay Company, in order to meet the wants of the poor Indians, have, at much sacrifice, continued their business. To withhold from the natives ammunition and clothing would have been death to them. What the merchant will do with the pelts taken in return for these things is now a question. Notwithstanding all adverse circumstances, our work is progressing encouragingly.
February 11th.—Chief Factor William J. Christie spent the Sabbath at Victoria, visited our Sabbath-school, and in a very feeling manner, addressed the scholars. Next morning, as Mr. Christie and Mr. Hardisty were about to start for Lac la Biche, a letter was handed me from the former, which, upon opening, I found to be one of condolence, and also expressions of deep interest in, and kind sympathy for, the cause of missions. Enclosed were two fifty dollar cheques, one for the White Fish Lake School, and one for Victoria. This liberal donation was most gratefully received, for the appropriation made by the Board, though ample for other lands, will scarcely cover the board bill of a teacher in the Saskatchewan.
Thursday, 9th —Accompanied by my son, I met Mr. Christie and the Company's officers at White Fish Lake. The school examination, which occupied the whole day, was most satisfactory; the exercises were commenced by Brother Steinhauer presenting a very appropriate address to the Chief Factor; then the young Crees were called upon to perform their part. Their attainments in reading, writing and spelling, geography, arithmetic and Bible history, were very creditable, so much so, that the gentlemen present expressed themselves as agreeably surprised at the proficiency manifested by these native children.
Great credit is due to Mr. Ira Snyder, their teacher. Our pious young brother labors hard for the spiritual good, as well as the mental improvement, of his large school. Our young brother Is also a useful local preacher, rapidly acquiring a knowledge of the native tongue; and, if faithful to the grace bestowed, will at some future day, occupy a still more important position. At the conclusion of the exercises, Mr. Christie addressed the parents and the scholars. He commenced by referring to a circumstance connected with his own family. Nine years ago his youngest daughter passed the winter at Norway House; there she had for a companion the youngest daughter of the missionary; from her she learned to sing many of the sweet pieces which he had listened to that day. When the first epidemic passed over the Saskatchewan, his dear little daughter was one of the sufferers. Among her last utterances were portions of those hymns. This fall his mind was deeply affected when he heard that the little maid, from whom she had learned to sing, had fallen a victim to the small-pox. He could only say to the afflicted parents, "Let us console ourselves with the happy assurance that our dear children are now where no sorrow will mingle with their songs."
My son was requested to take note of the address; and in the evening, to the great satisfaction of all present, he repeated it, almost verbatim, in the native language.
Brother Steinhauer deserves the sympathy of the Christian Church. His people are decidedly in advance of all other natives in the Saskatchewan. Principally by his own labor, he has built a good parsonage. On the ground floor there are five commodious rooms; the partitions, the panel doors, the neatly ceiled walls, all display taste and workmanship. Assisted by his people, he is now collecting material for the building of a larger church. If some of our liberal friends would lend him a hand by assisting to procure nails, glass, etc., they would be investing in what is a paying enterprise. A church in which the blessed Gospel is preached will be a greater power for subduing and con trolling these Plain tribes than stone forts, rifle or cannon.
Saturday, 11th.—We returned to Victoria. The interruption which our school suffered during the time of pestilence retarded its progress, but now we are doing well, and, notwithstanding the great scarcity of provisions, the average attendance is from forty to fifty. Over twenty of these can read the Word of God, and almost the entire school understand English. We have also a week night reading class. Our plan is a very simple one, but it has proved a great success. Some six or eight are called upon to read pieces each evening. They are allowed to select their own reading, with the understanding that nothing immoral or fictitious will be introduced. So far we have had to admire the good taste displayed. Great effort has been made to acquire a thorough knowledge of the reading, and the different tastes have given us quite a variety. Christian biography, temperance, history, and dialogues all pass before us. In fact, so profitable have been the exercises, that we intend to introduce them among the natives, training those who understand the syllabic characters to interest their people with portions of the Bible. Notwithstanding that famine and pestilence hav6 swept over us, our poor people have not been unmindful of their obligation to do something for the support of the cause of God. Last fall we intended to hold missionary meetings at each appointment, but were- prevented by the epidemic. For local purposes we have received the following sums : For White Fish Lake School, $250; for Victoria School, $100; from Chief Factor Christie, Esq., $100 for general school purposes; and from our friends at Edmonton, to assist in finishing the church at Woodville, $100. In addition to this they, last summer, presented Brother Campbell with two horses, our good missionary being so unfortunate as to have lost all his horses the winter previous. I regret that my son, who left here fifteen days ago for the great camp at Elk River, has not returned, for important Information relative to the work among the Plain Crees might have been given. John had a three-fold commission: he carried out with him the Government proclamations, which we are all anxious should be explained to that people; he was also commissioned to convey to the chiefs tokens of good will from the company, and presents in tobacco and ammunition. His journey will be a hard one, for the camp is more than half way to the boundary line. The buffalo having left the Saskatchewan, the Indians have had to follow them on to the bare plains, and we fully expect to hear of great suffering, if not death, from starvation.
To aid to the general misfortune, the buffalo kept far out on the plains. The Indians stuck to the last points of woods and were barely existing. In the month of February they began to break across a seventy-mile stretch of bare plain to the Hard Hills. Here they obtained wood and were so much nearer to the buffalo. In the meanwhile they kept away from the Hudson Bay posts. They began to counsel among themselves, and presently word was brought in to Edmonton that the Indians were gathering for a war of extermination among the whites. They laid the blame of all their calamity upon these. The Chief Factor of the Hudson Bay Company, then in charge of the whole district, felt anxious. He travelled down to Victoria and conferred with father, and the result was that father sent his son, equipped by the Hudson Bay Company, to visit these Indians, and to ascertain the true state of affairs and, if possible, to clear away the misapprehensions that were on their minds, and to negotiate with them in the interests of peace.
No one will imagine for a moment that the father's heart was not full of the strongest earthly affection for his boy, but such was the character of the man, he would not hesitate for a moment in such a case. As parent and as superior in authority, his words were, "Go and do your duty." The three weeks it took to accomplish this work, in a country where there were no means of communication, were weeks of anxiety not only in the mission house at Victoria, but ail along the river. The mission was a success. The clouds were dispelled, and the heart of many a native was made to feel that the good Great Spirit was yet his friend, and that He was mightier than all the powers of evil.
As spring came on. the buffalo took a northerly turn as they moved eastward, and helped to smooth matters, by furnishing meat for these travelling camps.
April 1st, 1871.
Now that the dark cloud, which for more than a year has enveloped this land, beams to disperse, we naturally enquire, For what reason has God, in His mysterious providence, suffered these terrible things to come upon us?
More than one-third of the inhabitants have been swept away by that fearful disorder, the small-pox, and yet, however paradoxical the statement, the language of Joseph is applicable: "But God meant it for good to bring to pass as it is at this day, to save much people."
In the last three or four years, the Plain tribes have manifested a ferocity among themselves, and a contempt for the white-faced stranger, very striking when compared with last summer the Master of Life permitted a visitation which has deeply humbled these vain men; and while we witnessed with anguish of soul their indescribable sufferings, we also felt it was better to fall into the hands of God than into the hands of man; better far to perish by pestilence than by sword—the inevitable end if no change had come. We have good reason to believe that their afflictions have been sanctified.
My son, who has lately returned from visiting the Plain Crees, reports them as very quiet, and anxious to listen to the missionary. Quite a number have resolved to give up the chase and settle at our missions.
The poor Blackfeet, who for months, and that on Dominion soil, have been pillaged and depopulated by American alcohol traders, are now sending us messages of peace. Their case on the part of our Government demands immediate attention, not only for the sake of the unfortunate natives, but also as regards the peace and prosperity of this great country, if multitudes of unprincipled men, to avoid the laws of their own country, can at pleasure cross our lines and establish scores of low grog-shops, then from the Missouri will roll back on us such a flood of intemperance and demoralization as shall make the fairest part of this North-West one; vast field of blood and contention.
In the upper Saskatchewan we are face to face with a powerful and enterprising neighbor, who, with astonishing energy, is erecting military and trading posts; and this would give us no anxiety if similar improvements were made on our side. The American punishes with severity the infringement of the law prohibiting the sale of intoxicating drinks to Indians, but Benton and Montana traders cross the 49th parallel, and, in defiance of the law, carry on their loathsome traffic. To quote from a letter of a close observer, who spent December and January among the whiskey vendors of Belly River: "No language can describe these drunken orgies; more than sixty Blackfeet have been-murdered; and if there can be a transcript of hell upon earth, it is here exhibited."
I know there are those who will say, "All right, the sooner the red-skin is swept from the plains the better." Thank God this is not the voice of Canada; her sons and daughters have been trained to sympathize with the poor Indian, and view with commiseration his struggle for existence before the ever-increasing flood of civilization.
In the Saskatchewan they must be protected, and the only way by which this can be done is to establish a military post at Bow River, where the revenue laws would be enforced, and impartial justice to red and white administered. The present time is favorable for a settlement with these tribes. An enemy more terrible than war has, to some extent, subdued their fighting spirit. Their country is the finest part of the North-West. I have travelled in every part of the western prairies from Lake Winnipeg to the mountains, and I have seen nothing to compare to Bow River section. Gold, coal, and timber abundant; numberless small rivers and rivulets flowing from the mountains, with their snow-capped peaks, add to the prospect a sublimity and beauty that cannot be described. Statesmen of Canada, here is a field worthy of your noblest efforts; Christian philanthropists, to you we appeal on behalf of a trodden down and rapidly perishing people; the precious gift they need, you can bestow. The Gospel is not an experiment. Scores of Stonies and Crees have proved its power to save to the uttermost, and they are now in heaven.
Last fall, when the terrible pestilence was upon us, I saw the poor Cree lying upon the cold earth, in the last stage of the loathsome disease; the long night passed without drink, fire, or clothing, yet within that heaving bosom lived a power no human misery could crush—the deathless love of Christ.
Our ardent desire is to proclaim this matchless love to every man, woman and child in the Saskatchewan. Alas! we have not the power. Our numbers are too few. I am now entreating the Mission Board for one additional man— ten could be well employed. Citizens of favored Canada! to you and to your children are given the hunting grounds of the poor Indian. Their natural day will be short; hasten to their rescue, remember them in your prayers, forget them not in your alms giving, and He who has purchased them with His own blood will reward you.
I shall not attempt to narrate the wonderful events of the past year. Notwithstanding the consolations of religion, our hearts are sad; many of those for whom we have labored for years are gone. Not less than 140 Stonies are cut off, our poor Crees broken, scattered, and strewn like the leaves of autumn. Aged native Christians and sweet little Sabbath-school songsters all gone! All that is mortal of two of our own dear daughters lie in the mission garden; we mourn, but not as those "who have no hope, for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that sleep in .Jesus will God bring with Him." We will try and be grateful for mercies. In the midst of death all our missionaries have been spared. Twice the restraining power of God was very manifest in the preservation of my own family. Once Mrs. McDougall, my eldest son, and two daughters were in the field, weeding turnips, and, not a hundred yards from them, secreted in the long grass, lay eleven Blackfeet. They came to pillage and murder; but, as they afterwards acknowledged, were restrained from firing. At another time they crawled through the barley, so as to witness all that was doing in the house, but did no harm. My son and a Christian Cree were crossing the river in a skiff, and as they were in the act of hauling the boat up the bank, a ball passed between them, tearing up the earth close to their feet.
Many are the hair-breadth escapes experienced by members of this mission, but no blood has been shed. Surely the good Lord has prevented it! In the past winter we have been trying to redeem the time; our services both on Sabbath and week days are well attended, and some of the heathen are receiving the truth.
The day-school is faithfully taught, and a more orderly class of children could not be found. The Sabbath-school averages between fifty and sixty. Twenty of these are committing the Wesleyan catechism to memory, and some of them have completed the task, and have also correctly recited the fifty-two lessons in Scriptural doctrine. With a thorough knowledge of this admirable system of theology, we have no fear that any of our young people will ever become Papists. Monday evening is spent in public reading and singing.
A course of lectures has been delivered on "History," by Hudson Bay officers and others, calculated to prepare our people for the change now taking place in their country.
Temperance has been prominently kept before their minds, and, with few exceptions, both young and old have pledged abstinence from all that can intoxicate.
On Sabbath afternoon we preach at a small settlement ten miles distant, and there a promising Sabbath-school has been established, where both European and native, who once blasphemed, now spend a part of the holy day in teaching others to read the Word of God. Next to the spiritual interests of our people, we have felt it our duty to labor for temporal improvement. In this we are greatly encouraged. More seed will be sown, and more land cultivated this spring than in any previous year. With the powerful aid of the Hudson Bay Company, material has been collected for a flour mill.
Thankful for past mercies, hopeful for the future, with sincere hearts, we would give to God the glory for all the good that has been accomplished.
Geo. M. McDougall.