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- Missionary Work Among The Ojebway Indians - 2/34 -
has for the past ten years been carried on among them, that these pages are written. The writer will tell what have been his experiences with the Indians since he first came to settle among them as a Missionary, and will describe how God in His providence gradually opened the way for him, how dangers were met, and difficulties overcome, and how in the end two Institutions for the Christian training and civilization of Indian children were brought into existence; the one called the _Shinywauk Home_, with accommodation for about seventy Indian boys, and the other called the _Wavanosh Home_ with room for about thirty Indian girls,--both of them built, and now in active operation, at Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, at the south-eastern extremity of Lake Superior.
HOW IT CAME ABOUT THAT I WENT TO CANADA.
All things are wonderfully ordered for us by God. Such has been my experience for a long time past. If only we will wait and watch, the way will open for us.
Where shall I begin with my history as a Missionary? When I was a child, it was my mother's hope and wish that I should bear the glad tidings of the Gospel to distant lands. She was a Missionary in heart herself, and it was her earnest desire that one of her boys would grow up to devote himself to that most blessed work.
However there seemed little likelihood of her wishes being fulfilled. I disliked the idea of going to Oxford as my brothers had done. A wild free life away from the restraints of civilization was my idea of happiness, and after studying agriculture for a year or two in England, I bade farewell to my native shores and started for Canada.
Then God took me in hand. I had been only three days in the country when He put it into my heart to become a Missionary. The impulse came suddenly, irresistibly. In a few days it was all settled. Farming was given up, and I entered upon my course as a theological student. That same summer I spent a month or six weeks on an Indian Reserve, and became, as people would say, infatuated with the Indians. For this and other reasons, I preferred remaining in Canada that I might study for the ministry, to returning to England; and whenever opportunity allowed, I paid a visit to some Indian Reserve, or went on an exploring tour up the great lakes.
After rather more than two years' preparation, I returned to England, and in December, 1867, was ordained deacon at the Chapel Royal, by the Bishop of London, Dr. Tait, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury.
Shortly after this, it was arranged that I should go out again to Canada as a Missionary to the Ojebway Indians, under the auspices of the Church Missionary Society, the Rev. Henry Venn being then Hon. Secretary, and on July 1, 1868, accompanied by my wife and an old faithful servant named Jane, we started for Canada.
My wife, accustomed to the refinement and comforts of a beautiful old rectory home in Gloucestershire, knew not whither she was going--she had never been out of England before, and all was new and strange to her. Indeed, I for my part was going out also, "not knowing whither I went." Whether our lot would be cast in one of the older and more civilised dioceses of Canada, or whether we should find a home on the very outskirts of civilization, I knew not. My instructions from the Church Missionary Society Committee, were simply to go first to London, Ont., where the late Bishop of Huron (Dr. Cronyn) then lived, and from thence to travel around and select what might seem to be the best spot to make the centre for a new mission. We had thought of Cape Croker on the Georgian Bay, and we had thought of Michipicoten, on Lake Superior,-- but nothing could be settled until after our arrival in Canada, and as for my wife she was content to go with me wherever I went.
We had a splendid view of icebergs on the eighth day of our voyage. It was a clear, keen morning reminding one of Christmas time, the sailors were washing the decks and all looked merry and bright, and around on all sides were icebergs of every size and shape, some looking like great sea monsters bobbing up and down on the water, others as if a large extent of Dover Cliff were floating past. Twenty-seven we counted at one time, and during the morning fully 150 must have passed us. "Ah," said an old sailor, "if one of them had touched us, this ship wouldn't be here." Then came the excitement of whales, spouting in the deep, and at 10 a.m., on July 10th, the rocky coast of Belle Isle was in sight.
When we landed at Quebec, the heat was intense, the glass standing at 99 deg. in the shade. My wife's first experiences of Canada are described in a letter home, dated from London, Ont., July 22nd, '68. "At 4 p.m. we left Quebec and started by boat for Montreal. The boats for the lakes and river are simply splendid,--such large handsome saloons and everything very nice, except that we had only one small towel between us and very little water. After leaving Montreal we had to go through a succession of locks which was slow work and made us feel the heat very much. On Wednesday it was a little cooler, and we were able to enjoy the most lovely scenery I had ever beheld, 'the thousand isles,'--that alone is quite worth coming out for. From Hamilton we took train to London. No one can remember such a summer before, for the last three weeks the glass has been standing at between 103 deg. and 99 deg. except in the evening, when we think it cold if it goes down to 80 deg. The boarding-house we are in is cool and clean and quite English-like about a mile from the so-called town."
Almost immediately after settling in at our London boarding-house I started on my first Missionary tour, the object being to choose a spot suitable for the centre of our Mission.
FIRST MISSIONARY EXPERIENCES.
My first service among the Indians was held in a little log-house on the Indian Reserve, at Sarnia (south of Lake Huron), on Sunday, July 26th. Twenty-two Indians of the Ojebway tribe were present. They all seemed most anxious to have a Church of England Mission established in their midst, as many of them, inclusive of their venerable old chief, Wawanosh, were already members of the Church, and had been from time to time visited by a Missionary. I promised to visit them again on my return from other Indian settlements and see what could be done.
The following day, Monday, I took train to Toronto, and thence to Collingwood, from which place I intended to branch off to Owen Sound and visit the Cape Croker and Saugeen Indians. I had with me as interpreter a young Indian named Andrew Jacobs, his Indian name being Wagimah-wishkung, and for short I called him Wagimah. At Owen Sound we met with some Cape Croker Indians, and engaged their boat and two men to take us the following day to their settlement, about forty miles up the Lake Shore.
Soon after four the next morning we were up and dressed, and an hour later were on our way. It was fine, but rather foggy, and the sun scarcely visible through the mist. Not a breath of wind was stirring, so we had to keep to our oars, sometimes one and sometimes another rowing. At noon we reached Commodore Point, and put in for about an hour, spending our time in eating raspberries, which were growing in the greatest profusion, and bathing in the bay. Then on we pushed again, past Griffith's Island, White Cloud Island, and King's Point, and arrived at length, after a voyage of eight hours, at Cape Croker. We found that there were about 350 Ojebway Indians in the place, the majority of whom were Roman Catholics or Methodists: they had good houses, some log, but mostly neat little frame weather-boarded buildings; the land, however, was much neglected, very little attempt being made at farming. A Church of England service was conducted on Sundays by an Indian Catechist named Angus. The Chief's name was Tabegwun. On the day after our arrival I held a meeting with the Indians, and explained to them my object in coming to visit them, and began by reading the Scriptures, and preaching to them, and baptizing one or two children. They gave me the names of twenty-six persons who professed to belong to the Church of England, and were desirous of having a Mission established among them. During our stay we were guests at Mr. Angus's house, a clean, respectable dwelling, and were regaled with venison and huckleberry pie.
The next Indian Reserve that we visited was Saugeen. To reach this place we had to return by boat to Owen Sound, and then go across country in a westerly direction to the shores of Lake Huron. The journey was accomplished by "buggy." We started at 4 a.m. on the morning of July 31st, and stopped to have our breakfast on the roadside about 7 o'clock, sitting one at each end of a log facing each other, our plates and cups in front of us. We reached the Indian village at 8.30 a.m., and went to the house of the chief whose name was Madwayosh. Only his wife was at home, but we learnt all that we wanted from her. There were about 250 Ojebway Indians on this Reserve, and nearly all Methodists. They had a resident Methodist Missionary and a place of worship in course of erection. I at once came to the conclusion that it would be unsuitable for us to attempt any Mission work in this place; and when we bade adieu to Mrs. Madwayosh we drove on to the Sauble Reserve, five miles further. A most dreadful road it was the whole way. We had both to get down and lead the horse more than half the distance, and then our traps were in the most imminent danger of jumping out as the buggy went jolting and rolling on over huge boulders and logs and stumps. It took us over two hours to reach the place, and when we got there, rain was coming down in torrents. We inquired for Waubesee's house, he being a member of the Church, and after some trouble we at length found it, but it lay back at a distance from the road, with only a trail leading to it, so we had to take the horse out of the buggy and lead him after us. The little house, made entirely of bark, stood in the most picturesque spot, surrounded by lofty pines. Near the house was a calf shed, into which we tried to squeeze our horse, but he would not go, so we had to take him to a stable about a mile off.
Waubesee and his family received us very warmly. They said there used to be a great many Church people among them, but no missionary had been to see them for many years, and now all who had belonged to the Church were either gone away into the States, or had joined the Methodists. Waubesee, his wife, children, and grandchildren, numbered eighteen in all, and he said that the whole number of Indians on the Reserve was about 250. He seemed to be an intelligent man, and got out his Ojebway prayer-book and Testament to show us. Before we left, the family and a few others were called together, and we had reading and prayer, and I gave them a short address, Wagimah acting as my interpreter.
We now had to drive to Southampton, a distance of eight miles, and it was 6.30 p.m. when we reached it. My interpreter left me here to return to his home by the way we had come, and I took steamboat to Goderich, and from thence by train to London, where I rejoined my wife.
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