THE OJEBWAY INDIANS.
REV. EDWARD F. WILSON.
I. HOW IT CAME ABOUT THAT I WENT TO CANADA.
II. FIRST MISSIONARY EXPERIENCES.
III. OUR ARRIVAL AT SARNIA.
IV. KETTLE POINT.
V. INDIAN NAMES GIVEN.
VI. CHRISTMAS ON THE RESERVE.
VII. MISSION WORK AT SARNIA.
VIII. THE BISHOP'S VISIT.
IX. FIRST VISIT TO GARDEN RIVER.
X. BAPTISM OF PAGAN INDIANS.
XI. THE RED RIVER EXPEDITION.
XII. CHANGES IN PROSPECT.
XIII. ROUGHING IT.
XIV. CHIEF LITTLE PINE.
XV. OUR FIRST WINTER IN ALGOMA.
XVI. CHIEF BUHKWUJJENENE'S MISSION.
XVII. AN INDIAN CHIEF IN ENGLAND.
XVIII. A TRIAL OF FAITH.
XIX. LEARNING TO KNOW MY PEOPLE.
XX. A WEDDING AND A DEATH.
XXI. THE OPENING OF THE FIRST SHINGWAUK HOME.
XXII. FIRE! FIRE!
XXIII. AFTER THE FIRE.
XXIV. PROSPECTS OF RE-BUILDING.
XXV. LAYING THE FOUNDATION STONE.
XXVI. A TRIP TO BATCHENWAUNING.
XXVII. THE WINTER OF 1874-5.
XXVIII. THE NEW SHINGWAUK HOME.
XXIX. RUNAWAY BOYS.
XXX. CHARLIE AND BEN.
XXXI. A TRIP UP LAKE SUPERIOR.
XXXII. COASTING AND CAMPING.
XXXIII. UP THE NEEPIGON RIVER.
XXXIV. THIRTY YEARS WAITING FOR A MISSIONARY.
XXXV. THE PAGAN BOY—NINGWINNENA.
XXXVII. THE WAWANOSH HOME.
XXXVIII. A SAD WINTER.
XXXIX. WILLIAM SAHGUCHEWAY.
XL. OUR INDIAN HOMES.
XLI. A POW-WOW AT GARDEN RIVER.
XLII. GLAD TIDINGS FROM NEEPIGON.
A few words addressed by the Bishop of Algoma to the Provincial Synod may form a suitable preface to this little book, which aspires to no literary pretensions, but is just a simple and unvarnished narrative of Missionary experience among the Red Indians of Lake Superior, in the Algoma Diocese.
"The invaluable Institutions at Sault Ste. Marie still continue their blessed work of educating and Christianizing the rising generation of Ojebways. Founded in a spirit of faith, hope, and charity,—carrying out a sound system of education, and in the past 'approved of God' by many signs and tokens, the friends of these two 'Homes' may still rally round them with unshaken confidence. Their history, like that of the Christian Church itself, has been marked by not a few fluctuations, but their record has been one of permanent and undoubted usefulness.
"Only a person deeply interested and directly engaged in the work, as the Rev. E. F. Wilson is, can understand the force of the difficulties to be encountered from the ineradicable scepticism of Indian parents as to the disinterestedness of our intentions with regard to their children; the tendency of the children to rebel against the necessary restraints imposed on their liberty; the reluctance of parents to leave their children in the 'Home' for a period sufficiently long for the formation of permanent habits of industry, and fixed principles of right; the constitutional unhealthiness of Indian children, terminating, as it has here in a few cases, in death; the all but impossibility of obtaining helpers for subordinate positions, such as teacher or servant, who regard the question of the evangelization of the Indian from any higher stand-point than the financial.
"Against this formidable array of obstacles Mr. Wilson has not only struggled, but struggled successfully, till now these two Institutions, over which he has watched with all the jealous vigilance of a mother watching her first-born child, stand on a basis of acknowledged success, as two centres for the diffusion of Gospel light and blessing among the children of a people who have been long 'sitting in darkness, and the shadow of death.' During the past year sundry improvements have been made in the Shingwauk Home, which will largely increase the comfort of the occupants. The most notable event, however, to be recorded in this connection is the completion and consecration of the 'Bishop Fauquier Memorial Chapel,' a beautiful and truly ecclesiastical structure, designed, in even its minutest details, by Mr. Wilson, and erected by means of funds sent mainly from England, in response to his earnest appeals for some enduring and useful memorial of the life and labours of the late revered Bishop of this diocese. Long may it stand, as a hallowed centre for the diffusion of Gospel light among hundreds yet unborn, of the Indian tribes he loved so well."
MISSIONARY WORK AMONG THE
The largest freshwater lake in the world is Lake Superior, through the centre of which runs the boundary line between the United States of America and the Dominion of Canada. The Indians call it the "Ojebway Kecheguramee," that is—literally translated—the Great water of the Ojebways, or as they are often called the Chippeways.
The Ojebways are an extensive Indian tribe spreading over a large part of Canada, the Northern States, and the North West; specimens of their language and customs appear in Longfellow's song of Hiawatha. Lake Superior may be regarded as the centre of their ancient possessions. Along its northern shores, and back into the interior they still roam in wild freedom, hunting, and fishing, and paddling their birch-bark canoes;—but in more civilized places, they are confined to reserved lands set apart for them by the Dominion Government, and many of them now gain their living by farming or by working for the neighbouring white people.
The Ojebway Indians are now just in that transition stage in which they particularly require a helping hand to lift them up to a respectable position in life, and to afford them the means of gaining their livelihood as a civilised Christian people. As one of their own Chiefs has said, "the time is passed for my people to live by hunting and fishing as our forefathers used to do; if we are to continue to exist at all we must learn to gain our living in the same way as the white people."
It is with the view of making the wants of these poor people known, and of increasing the interest in a work which amid many difficulties, 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.
My next trip was to Brantford, and my wife accompanied me. We started on the 5th of August, and on our arrival there, were hospitably entertained at the Rev. Mr. Nelles' house. From there I went to visit the Indians on the New Credit Reserve, a considerable distance off. I called on Chief Sawyer, a tall, fine man, with a sensible-looking face. He said there were about 300 Ojebway Indians on the Reserve, and that many of them were most desirous of having a Church of England teacher.
The result of all these visits was, that after much earnest prayer for Divine guidance, we finally decided upon making Sarnia our headquarters, and on the 8th of August I paid a second visit to the Indians there, and told them that I had decided to come and live amongst them. We expected there would be a little difficulty at first, as the Methodists were already in the field, and might oppose our coming; but as the Chief and quite a large number of the people were already professed members of the Church, having been frequently visited by the Rev. Mr. Chase, the native minister at Muncy Town, it seemed only fair that their oft-repeated petition to the Bishop of Huron should be attended to, and that a Church of England Mission should be established among them. On the 11th of August a Council was held, at which some fifty Indians attended. They sat about indiscriminately on benches, some smoking their pipes, others chewing tobacco. In a few plain words I told them, how it was my own earnest desire to devote myself as a Missionary to the Indians, and how I had been sent by a great Society in England to search out and teach the Ojebway Indians of the western part of Canada. I had already, I said, visited the Indians of Cape Croker, Saugeen, Sauble, and the Grand River, and had now made up my mind to make Sarnia my head-quarters, and to build a church in their midst. We would not, I said, put up a large expensive one,—we would begin with a small rough one, and see how we got on,—an Indian had already promised us land, and now I wanted all Indians whose hearts were in the work to lend us a helping hand and aid in erecting the church; it should be a small log building, and cost not more than 200 dollars. Mr. Chase was also present, and spoke very nicely after I had finished. After the council was over I proposed to Mr. Chase and a few other Indians that we should kneel down and ask God's blessing, and so we knelt down and laid our case before God and asked Him to guide and direct us, and to incline the hearts of the Indians to favour our undertaking. Next morning I returned to London, and on the 15th we moved down to Sarnia, and took up our abode temporarily at Mrs. Walker's boarding-house.
OUR ARRIVAL AT SARNIA.
Mrs. Walker's boarding-house was a frame, white-painted house situate in the town of Sarnia, a little way back from the main street. The Indian Reserve almost adjoined the town, so that a quarter of an hour's walk would take us on to their land. In front of the town and flowing down past the Indian Reserve is the broad river St. Clair, connecting Lake Huron with Lake Erie, its banks on the Canadian side dotted over with the boats and fishing nets of the Indians.
I at once invested in a horse and buggy, and also engaged Wagimah as my interpreter. I could already read the service in Indian, but required an interpreter's aid for conversing with the people and preaching. Our Sunday services were held in a vacant log hut, in which we had a little desk rigged up and some forms arranged as seats. On my first Sunday among them I baptized two children, an infant in arms named Jacob Gray, and a child of four or five named Thomas Winter. Both of these boys some nine or ten years afterwards became pupils at the Shingwauk Home.
Our great object now was to build a log church and also a Mission house for our own use with as little delay as possible. There was a quaint old Indian, or rather half-breed, for he was partly French, with whom I had some conversation in regard to our proposed operations. "Well, Mr. Leviere," I said to him one day, "what do you think the Indians will be willing to do? Will they cut down the trees,—square and haul the logs?" "I have been thinking about it a good deal," he replied. "You want a church forty feet long; this will take a great many logs, not much black ash now in the bush. I don't think, Sir, you will find enough trees. Why not build a frame church? If you build frame, Indians get out logs, fit the frame one day, raise building next day, board it next day, get done quick; not cost much money, cost perhaps $100, not much money." "Now, supposing we were to do this, what would the Indians be willing to give? Would they work without pay? I want the white people to see that the Indians are really in earnest; I should like to point to our church and say, 'The Indians built this church without pay, because it was their wish to build a house to God.' Do you think the Indians are ready to do this? Are you ready to give a helping hand yourself?" "Oh, indeed, Sir, yes! I mean to work, and keep on working till it is finished; I think there are many who will do so too, perhaps ten or fifteen altogether; we shall want no pay, only provisions."
Our chief source of discouragement at this time was the opposition of the Methodist party, who were considerably in the majority on the Reserve. As Indian land is held in common by all the members of the band, we were at one time in fear that we might be prevented from building. A petition was sent to Government, and correspondence entered into with the Indian Department, and in the end we were permitted to take possession of one acre of land on the lot of a Church Indian named Antoine Rodd. The opposition, however, was very bitter and rather depressing, and our opponents went so far as to threaten to deprive the old Chief, Wawanosh, of his chieftainship.
On the other hand, we had every encouragement from the conduct of our own Indians. The opposition that they met with only seemed to make them more determined to stand by us and assist in the establishment of the Mission. Directly the land question was settled, three or four of them started back in the bush with their axes, to fell the trees and hew and square the timbers for the frame-work of the church, and I heard that the old Chief had been to the Indian Agent's office and borrowed ten dollars of the Annuity-money to pay a professed hewer, as none of themselves were good hands at such work. This, I told them, was more than I expected of them; if they would give their labour, that was all that I asked; but no, they would not be dissuaded; they were quite determined, they said, to raise the frame-work unaided, and they would much rather themselves pay for any labour they might have to employ.
The "Raising" took place on the 22nd of September. About fifty Indians were present, and all took part more or less in the work. In the afternoon two teams arrived from the town with a large party of ladies and gentlemen, well supplied with baskets of provisions for a feast, which they had kindly arranged to give the Indians at the conclusion of their work. The roughly extemporised tables looked most inviting when all was spread out, and two or three of the Indian women were most active and clever in getting everything ready. When the feast was over the Indians gathered in a circle, and I expressed to them my pleasure that we had got thus far with our work, and told them that I hoped we should soon now, with God's blessing, have our little church open and ready for service. Joseph Wawanosh on behalf of his father, the old Chief, then expressed his gratitude that a Missionary had at length come among them, and that a church was in course of erection. After this we concluded with a short service in the Ojebway language.
It was very encouraging to me to find that our cause was being taken up in England; a little circular had been printed and distributed, and by the middle of October L64 had been contributed towards the erection of our Mission buildings.
In the meantime I was holding service regularly every Sunday in the vacant log cottage with an average attendance of from twenty to thirty Indians, and during the week I visited a good deal among the people, my interpreter usually accompanying me. I had prepared a little pocket companion containing passages of Scripture, copied from the Ojebway Testament, sentences of familiar conversation, and Indian prayers and collects. With the help of this little book I was able to make myself understood by the Indians, and soon became almost independent of an interpreter. I had a plan of the Indian Reserve, and usually steered my way through the bush with my compass, taking little notice of the rough corduroy tracks and Indian trails which never seemed to lead to the right place.
One of these expeditions I will briefly describe:
I wanted to find old Widow Kwakegwah's house, which lay about two miles back through the bush in a south-easterly direction. Wagimah was with me and, leaving the river road, we plunged back at once into the bush without either path or track, and steered our way by my compass. Sometimes it lay through a thick growth of young saplings, which bent aside as we pushed our way through; sometimes over a mass of decaying logs and upheaved roots; sometimes through long grass and swamp up to our knees; occasionally we came to a fallen tree, which we had to clamber over or under. Once or twice we came upon a little log hut standing in the midst of a small clearing, sometimes empty with door bolted, at other times showing signs of occupation. Into one of these we entered; it was a tiny log shanty, with a patch of Indian corn and potatoes enclosed by a snake fence. We pushed open the door, a fire was burning on the hearth, and in a corner was a blanket enveloping something that might be human. I told Wagimah to touch it, he did so, and the bundle moved, part of the blanket wriggled back and a woman's face appeared. She said she was sick, and that no one had been to visit her. We staid and had a little conversation, and then as it was getting late, hurried on to Widow Kwakegwah's. The old woman, who had a very pleasant, honest-looking face, gave us quite a hearty reception. I got her to tell me the number of her children and grandchildren, and then taking up her Ojebway Testament read a few verses from St. John iii, and spoke a few words which Wagimah interpreted, after which we knelt for prayer. After this we visited Peter Gray, with his wife and family of eight children, they lived in a small log hut, and there was no glass in the windows. It was now five p.m. and we started on our two miles' trudge back to Antoine Rodds' house, where I had left my buggy, and then drove back to the town.
Besides the four hundred Indians on the Sarnia Reserve, there were about one hundred more living at Kettle Point, thirty miles distant, on the eastern shore of Lake Huron. I had not been long settled at Sarnia, when, in company with my interpreter. I started on a first visit to these people. I will describe the journey.
Taking the railway as far as Forest, we had to walk on a distance of eight or nine miles. Neither of us knew the country, but a couple of Indians, whom we happened to fall in with, showed us the way.
It was nearly two o'clock when we reached David Sahpah's house. We found the Indians most hospitable; some of them were Methodists, some still pagans, and others members of the Church. They were most desirous of having a Church Mission established among them, as there was no school for their children and no regular services held. Not a single individual, man, woman, or child, could read or write. They were very anxious to have a school-house built and a schoolmaster sent to teach them, indeed some of them had already got out logs with the view of building a school. The Chief's name was Ahbettuhwahnuhgund (Half a Cloud), a fine, broad-shouldered, intelligent-looking man, but still a pagan, although he had had several of his children baptized in the Church. There was also a large family named Shaukeens, all of whom were pagans, and several others. They seemed, however, to have advanced more in their farming operations than the Sarnia Indians. The Chief had a capital house with several rooms in it, an orchard full of apples and cherries, and well-cultivated fields. In the evening we had service at David Sahpah's house, and then I spoke to the Indians and proposed that we should at once commence a fortnightly school among them, myself and my interpreter taking it alternately. There was an empty log-house which they said we could use, and they all seemed pleased at the proposal, and said that they would send their children to be taught.
We had to start at 3.30 a.m. next morning to catch the early train for Sarnia. It was a clear starlight night when we emerged from the hospitable shelter of an Indian's log-house and started on our pilgrimage through the bush. There was no moon, and we had some difficulty in groping our way. Wagimah went first, and slowly and cautiously we proceeded, carrying our wraps and satchels with us. However, with all our care, we had soon lost our way, and found ourselves stumbling along over a potato patch, without having the least idea where we were. For nearly an hour we were wandering about, when at length we came once more upon a beaten track; but whether it was the right one or not we could not tell. However we followed it, and almost before we were aware we found ourselves out of the bush and standing on a broad clay road, and at length we arrived at Forest Station in good time for the cars to Sarnia.
After this we visited Kettle Point every fortnight, and many were the amusing incidents connected with those trips. Sometimes I drove the whole distance in my own trap, at other times took train to Forest or Widder, and some of the Indians would meet me with a waggon or sleigh, as the case might be, at the Station. It was on the 9th of September that we commenced our school in the vacant log-house. We began with A, B, C, as no one yet knew anything. There were eleven children and five adults present. I was amused in the evening to see a game of draughts going on, on a log outside the Chief's house; the draught-board was a flat part of the log with squares carved out on its surface, the black men were squares of pumpkin rind with green side up, the white men the same with the green side down. That night we slept at Adam Sahpah's house.
Our sleeping places on these Kettle Point expeditions were various. One bitterly cold night in the late autumn, I remember, passing in a little boarded shanty used as a workshop. We were nearly perished in the morning, and were glad to get inside David Sahpah's comfortable log-house; a huge fire was blazing on the hearth, and the Indian women all busy, some with their pots and frying-pans, boiling potatoes and baking cakes, others dressing and cleaning the children. Mrs. Ahbettuhwahnuhgund gave me a chair, and down I sat by the blazing fire and gazed with a feeling of happy contentment into the yellow flames. The scene was certainly a novel one. In a dark corner by the chimney sat a dirty old couple on the couch where they had been passing the night; they were visitors from Muncey Town, and were staying a few nights only at Kettle Point. The old woman lighted up her pipe, and whiffed away with her eyes half shut; after enjoying it for about twenty minutes or so, her old husband thought she had had enough, and taking it from her put it in his own mouth and had his whiff. When he had done, he restored it again to his wife. Underneath another old bedstead were a couple of large dogs, which occasionally let their voices be heard in a dispute; some of the stones on one side of the fire-place had broken away, making a little window through which the dogs could reach the fire, and it was amusing to see how they put their noses and paws through the opening and warmed themselves just like human beings. Down in another corner sat an antiquated old woman enveloped in a blanket, and in vain endeavouring to comfort a little fat boy of about ten months who was crying, as only children know how to cry, for his mother. Finding that she could not content the baby, she at length got up, and taking off her blanket, put one end of it round the baby's shoulders, tucked the ends under its arms, and then with one sweep placed baby and blanket together on her back, and with one or two pulls once more got the blanket wrapped completely round her, and the little fat boy snugly ensconced between her shoulders; then she marched off to give him an airing. The bigger children were set to clean themselves, a tin bowl of water and a towel being given them in turns. I was wondering whether my turn would come, when Mrs. Ahbettuhwahnuhgund, having once more filled the bowl, addressed me with the words, "Maund'uhpe," which in polite English would mean, "Here you are!" "Ah, meegwach, ahpecte"—"thank you kindly"—said I, and forthwith began my ablutions, while the children stood around me in wonderment.
One night I slept with a pig. It was a vacant room in the Chief's new house. After our services were over and we had had supper, Mrs. Ahbettuhwahnuhgund took a clean blanket on her shoulder and a lantern in her hand, and calling me to follow led me to the apartment. There was a bedstead with a mattress on it in a corner, and on two chairs in the middle of the room lay a pig which had been killed the day before. Early next morning, before I was fully awake, the door opened, and Mrs. Ahbettuhwahnuhgund appeared with a knife in her hand. What could she want at this hour in the morning? I opened one eye to see. Her back was turned to me, and I could not distinguish what she was doing, but I heard a slicing and cutting and wheezing. Then the good lady turned round, and closing the eye I had opened I did not venture to look out again till the door was shut, and Mrs. Ahbettuhwahnuhgund departed; then I peeped out from my rug—poor piggy was minus one leg! Next time I saw the missing limb it was steaming on the breakfast table!
I must not make this chapter longer. By-and-bye I shall tell of the baptism of the Chief and several other of the pagan Indians of this place. Suffice it to say now that our little school kept nicely together, and services were held either by myself or my interpreter every fortnight. In a little more than a year's time we had the satisfaction of seeing both a school-church and a master's residence erected, and a catechist placed in charge of the station.
INDIAN NAMES GIVEN.
It is a custom with the Indians to bestow Indian names upon missionaries and others who come to work among them, in order to make them, as it were, one with themselves. We had not been many months resident in Sarnia before we received an invitation from the pagan Chief at Kettle Point, to come to a grand feast which the Indians were preparing in our honour at that place, and to receive Indian names by which we should be incorporated into the Ojebway tribe.
It was one of the coldest of winter days when we started, the glass very low, a high wind, and the snow whirling through the air in blinding clouds. We went by train to Forest, and there Ahbettuhwahnuhgund met us with his sleigh. It was just a common box sleigh with two seats, and the bottom filled with straw, and two horses to pull us. We were all bundled up in rugs and blankets and wraps; the Chief, who was driving, had his head completely smothered up in a bright blue shawl belonging to his wife, and wrapped so many times round that he was as wide at the top of his eyes as at his shoulders. The only one of the party who appeared careless about the cold was an Indian named Garehees, who had come with us from Sarnia, and he sat with his feet hanging over the side of the sleigh; however, when we asked him how it was that he did not feel the cold, he replied with a grin, "Moccasins no cold,—white man boot cold,—ice!—two pair socks under moccasins me—big blanket too!" In about an hour and a half we arrived at the Chief's house; it was the first time my wife had been to Kettle Point, and she was very much pleased to make acquaintance with the Indians of whom she had often heard, and who had sent her presents of apples and cherries from their orchards. She had brought with her a few small gifts for the children, with which they were much delighted. A little boy named Isaac had a sugar-dog given to him; he soon had its nose in close quarters with his mouth, and the people laughed to see it disappearing. Indians are nearly always very much behind time in their arrangements; they do not appear yet to understand the value of time— whether in their councils, their daily work, their feasts, or their attendance at church, they are generally behind the appointed hour. If a council is called to commence at noon, three or four Indians will have perhaps assembled at that hour; others straggle in as the day wears on; they sit or lie about, smoking their pipes, chewing tobacco, and talking; and it will probably be three o'clock before the council actually commences.
The Indian feast of to-day was no exception to the rule. It was appointed to take place at noon, but hour after hour sped by, and it was nearly four p.m. when they at length commenced. On entering the room where the feast was laid out, we found two seats arranged for us at the end of the apartment beneath an ornamented canopy decked with cedar boughs, and we were requested to sit down. Then the Chief and Shaukeens (both pagans) stood up, and the Chief made a brief oration to the people, which John Jacobs, a young native, then studying for the ministry at Huron College, interpreted for us. The Chief expressed his pleasure in receiving us among them, and his desire that we should become as one of them by receiving Ojebway names; and then, taking me by the hand, he continued: "The name that I have selected for you is one which we greatly respect and hold in fond remembrance; for it was the name of an old and respected Chief of our tribe who lived many years ago and whose name we wish to have retained; and seeing you are a missionary to the Ojebway Indians, it is the wish of my tribe as well as myself that you should be called after our late respected Chief; so your name hereafter is 'Puhgukahbun' (Clear Day-light)."
The moment my name was given, "Heugh! Heugh!" sounded from all sides, that being the Indian mode of expressing approval when anything is said or done.
Mrs. Wilson then rose and received her name in the same manner. The Chief, addressing her, said: "It is with great pleasure that I bestow also on you, the wife of the missionary, an Ojebway name. The name I am about to give you was the name of one of our sisters who has long since passed away from our midst, and it is our wish that her name should be retained among us. Your name therefore is 'Nahwegeezhegooqua' (Lady of the Sky).
"Heugh! Heugh! Heugh!" again sounded through the room, and then the Indians one and all pressed forward to have a shake of the hand with their new brother and sister. We almost had our hands shaken off, and from all sides came the cry, "Boozhoo, Boozhoo, Puhgukahbun; Boozhoo, Nahwegeezhegooqua, Boozhoo, Boozhoo!"
As soon as order was restored, the feast began. I had the seat of honour next to the Chief, and Mrs. Wilson sat next to me. The table was well covered with eatables—venison, cakes, pork, Indian bread, preserves, all in the greatest abundance. About thirty persons sat down to the first table the others waiting with true Indian patience for their turn to come; and a long time it was coming, for as soon as the first set had finished, an intermission was made for music and speechifying. Several very pretty songs were sung by the Indian choir, some in English and some in Indian.
After the feast was over and the tables cleared, I was asked to address the people, and Wagimah interpreted for me. I told them briefly hew much pleased I was to receive an Ojebway name, and thus become one of their number, and how Mrs. Wilson and myself would now feel that we could shake hands with them and regard them as our brothers and sisters. God, I said, had greatly prospered our work since I came among them. We had already our church completed and our Mission-house nearly so at Sarnia; the great Society in England had contributed five hundred dollars towards the erection of these buildings, and our friends in England about five hundred dollars more; so that there would be no debt. As soon as we had money enough I hoped that with their help we should be able also to build a little church and teacher's house for them here at Kettle Point, and send a catechist to reside among them and teach their children. It was late in the evening when we bade good-bye and drove back to Forest, where we remained for the night and the next morning returned to Sarnia. On our arrival I found a letter awaiting me from the Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, authorizing me to place a catechist in charge of the Kettle Point Mission.
CHRISTMAS ON THE RESERVE.
We were anxious as soon as possible to have both church and Mission- house built on the Sarnia Reserve, so that we might move down among the Indians and dwell in their midst. When therefore the matter of the land was settled, and one acre of Antoine Rodd's farm had been given over for the use of our Mission, we began preparations for the erection of the two buildings. For the building of the church, I wished the Indians to give as much in the way of labour and help as possible, so as to show their earnestness in the cause; but for the erection of the Mission-house, we had to depend largely on contributions from our friends in England. However, the Church Missionary Society made us a grant of L100, and friends helped liberally, so that we had no lack of funds, and by the time the two buildings were completed and fenced round with a board fence, all was paid for.
We moved into our new house on the 29th of January, 1869, just six months after our arrival in Canada. It was a nice little frame cottage, with a large room or hall in the centre, study and bed-room on one side, and sitting-room and bed-room on the other; and at the back, connected by a covered passage, were the kitchen and pantry, with servants' bed-room over. We were close to the river, and from our front windows could see in summer-time all the shipping passing to and fro, which made it quite lively.
We were sorry not to get into our Mission-house before Christmas, but this was impossible. Our little church, however, was opened for service two days after Christmas Day, and was beautifully decorated for the occasion.
I must go back a little, and tell how it all happened. I had bought some pews from an old Scotch church in the town which was going to be pulled down, and one day early in December we got them carried down to our little church building, and the Indians assisted me in putting them up; there were ten on each side, and as they would seat five each we had room for a congregation of just a hundred persons. On Christmas Day, thirty-four people assembled in the log-house, which had been beautifully decorated by the Indian women with cedar branches for the occasion. After service I took the opportunity to say something to them about the arrangements in the new church. Among other things I suggested that they should sit together in families instead of the men on one side and the women on the other, as had been their custom. The proposal was well received and caused some amusement Shesheet said humorously that he would consider it a great privilege to be allowed to sit by his wife. Just as we were coming away the old Chief's wife, Mrs. Chief as we used to call her, came running after Mrs. Wilson with a parcel, and pushed it into her hand, saying, in her broken English, "Christmas, Christmas!" It proved to be a prettily worked sweet-grass basket, and the old lady giggled and laughed joyfully as Mrs. Wilson expressed her surprise and pleasure at the present.
Two clergymen besides myself assisted in the services at the opening of the church, which on that occasion was crammed with about a hundred and fifty people. One of the most interesting features was just at the close of the service, when an Indian named Buckwheat, from the neighbouring mission of Walpole Island, came forward, and, after giving a short address expressing the sympathy that was felt by the Walpole Islanders for the Indians of this newly-formed Church mission, proceeded to loosen a belt from his waist, and to take from it a little carefully wrapped up packet, which he brought forward and presented as the offering of his brethren towards the erection of our church and Mission-house. It contained nine dollars.
The next day was the children's treat and Christmas tree. It was held in the hall of the new house, although we had not yet moved in. It was amusing to watch the faces of the children as they gazed upon the unusual sight of a Christmas tree lighted up with tapers. Not even the older people had ever seen one before. There were thirty-one children present, and there was some little gift for each of them. During the evening we taught them to scramble for nuts and candies. It was absurd to see them, at first all standing in mute astonishment and wondering at my ruthless waste in throwing away such excellent sweatmeats all over the floor; however, they soon learned how to perform their part of the game, and began scrambling for the good things as eagerly as any English children.
The Indians, although to all appearance so grave and stoical, have a fund of quiet wit and humour about them, and are even sometimes quite boisterous in their merriment. Joseph Wawanosh, the Chief's eldest son, was a particularly quiet grave-looking man, and yet there was often a merry twinkle in his eye, and sometimes he would come out with some funny remark in his quaint broken English. He was our churchwarden, and had a great weakness for making up large fires in the church, to which my wife strongly objected, and they waged a chronic war on the subject. Joseph, when spoken to used to pretend to shiver, and say he felt particularly cold. One day Mrs. Wilson said to him, "How soon is your wife coming home?" "Oh, about two weeks," he replied. "Why, you will be starved before then; you have no one to cook for you." "Ah, no, I guess not," replied Joe; "Indian never starve in bush." "Why not?" asked Mrs. Wilson. "Oh," said Joe, shaking his head humorously; "lots of squirrels." Old Antoine Rodd, or Shesheet, as he was more generally called, was a huge portly man, and was often very comical in his remarks, his good-natured face beaming with fun. One day Mrs. Wilson nearly slipped into a large puddle while threading her way along the ill-kept road, "What would you have done if I had been drowned?" she asked jokingly, as the old man helped her out of her difficulty. "Oh, I would, have dragged it!" he said.
We, were very glad when at length we moved into our new house, and we soon had plenty of our Indian friends to visit us. Widow Kwakegwah brought a black and white cat as a present for my wife. She threw the cat into the kitchen in front of her, and then followed laughing. It was amusing to watch the cat making a survey of the whole house with true Indian curiosity. The Indians did not generally venture beyond the kitchen part without invitation; in that part, however, they made themselves quite at home, and Jane was somewhat taken aback when Joe Wawanosh told her he was going up to see her room. Mrs. Chief also went up, and was delighted with Jane's trunks. She said she would come again another day to see what was in them!
MISSION WORK AT SARNIA.
After settling in at our new home on the Sarnia Reserve, a great part of my time was taken up in exploring through the Bush and visiting the Indians in their houses.
We found one very piteous case of a poor woman in the last stage of consumption. The poor creature was worn to a skeleton lying on a most miserable looking bed with nothing to cover her but a ragged strip of black funereal-looking cloth. Although so very ill, she was able to answer the questions that Wagimah put to her, and when I offered to read the Bible to her she seemed very glad. She listened most attentively while I read in Ojebway the eighteenth chapter of St. Luke, and told her of the love of Christ in coming to save sinners. Then we knelt, and I offered two prayers for the sick copied into my pocket-companion from the Indian prayer-book. We visited the poor creature several times again, and once Mrs. Wilson accompanied me and brought with her some blanc-mange or jelly which she had made. She was much touched at the sight of the poor creature's utter destitution. We were amused as we went along to see a pair of babies' boots hanging on the branch of a tree, evidently placed there by some honest Indian who had chanced to find them on the road. This is what the Indians generally do if they find anything that has been lost,—they hang it up in a conspicuous place, so that the owner may find it again if he comes by the same way.
I had been told of a poor widow who was very ill and living with her three children in a destitute condition. Jane went with me to find her out, and we took, a supply of medicine and food with us. After wending our way along a narrow foot-track in the snow, which twisted about among the tall black trees, we came in sight of what looked like a heap of dirty boards and branches of trees piled together, but the blue smoke curling from the top told that it was a human habitation. It was the first time Jane had seen an Indian wigwam, and she was horrified to think that people could live in such a hovel. We drew aside the dirty cloth which covered the entrance and crept in. Two dogs saluted us with snarls, but were soon quieted, and crouching along by the smoky sides of the cabin we shook hands with the poor woman and her daughter (a girl of about fifteen), and then gazed round for something to sit upon;— however, there was nothing but the earthen floor, so down we sat. The little wigwam was just wide enough for a person of ordinary height to lie down in, and in the centre was the fire, so that it may well be imagined that there was not much room to turn round. On one side of the fire lay the poor woman, doubled up in a dirty blanket, for she had not been able to straighten herself for nearly two years, and was quite unable to sit up; another blanket was fastened up against the side of the place to shelter her from the wind. On the other side of the fire crouched the daughter, listening to what I said about administering the medicines. A little boy with bright eyes and a stock of uncombed black hair was also crouching over the fire. This was Willie, the youngest of the family, now about five years old, and little did I think then how much I should have to do with that boy in his after life. Sitting down by the poor woman, I uncovered my basket and displayed my medicines, and explained to the daughter how the mixture was to be taken twice a day, and the liniment to be rubbed on the affected parts. Jane then changed places with me and applied some of the liniment, and the poor creature immediately felt some relief and began talking about it to her daughter. These poor people seemed to be entirely dependent on the kindness of their neighbours; it was old Shesheet who first told me about them, and I understood that he used often to send them food or firewood. When I visited her on another cold day in October, accompanied by my wife, we found her coiled up in her rags moaning with pain, and only a few dying embers to keep her warm. Little Willie was coiled up asleep in a sheepskin. While we stood, Willie roused up out of his nest, and came to see what was going on; his sister, however, motioned him to go back, and, like a discontented little puppy, he made a low sort of whine, and buried himself again, head and all, in his sheepskin. We went back to the Mission-house and brought some tea for the poor woman, which she drank eagerly, and we provided her also with a candle stuck in a bottle and some firewood, but she never smiled, or said thank you. Her feelings as well as her features seemed to have become hardened with constant pain and suffering. However, we were agreeably surprised one day when she presented my wife with four tiny baskets, tastefully made, and a smile for once actually played on her lips. Some time after she was taken into a house by some friendly Indians, and kindly cared for, the result of which was that she became gradually better.
Very soon after our arrival at Sarnia we had proposed to the Indian women that they should meet together once a week for needlework and reading, but the scheme was not carried into effect until we had settled in our new house on the Reserve. The first meeting was held in our hall in the summer of 1869. On the hall-table were spread out all the articles of clothing sent to us from England, and we had on view patterns of prints, flannels, &c., from one of the dry goods stores in the town, the prices being affixed, and discount allowed at ten per cent.
As soon as all were assembled I explained to them that the object in meeting together was that they might provide clothing for themselves and their children at as cheap a rate as possible, and at the same time might have an opportunity for friendly talk and instruction. The plan would be for them to engage in needlework for an hour and a half, during part of which time I would read to them a story, which, my interpreter had translated into Indian, and after that we would have scripture reading, singing, and prayer to close the meeting. After all who wished to become members of the meeting had given me their names, they were invited to inspect the patterns and select the material with which they wished to make a beginning. We found the plan answer very well, and soon our "Mothers' Meeting" was thoroughly established.
But it was not always that everything went on so harmoniously and peacefully. Unhappily there was a considerable amount of whiskey- drinking among the men, and sometimes drunken fights would occur in close proximity to the house. A son of Antoine Rodd's was particularly vicious when under the influence of liquor; once he frightened us all by making a murderous attack on his father with his tomahawk and gun, and the old man had to escape back into the Bush for his life. Another time the wife of this same man came rushing into our house with her infant on her breast and another daughter following,—her drunken husband running after and threatening to kill them. We dragged them in and shut and locked all the doors, and soon the man was pounding away and trying to get in. The two women in great alarm locked themselves up in the pantry and remained all night under our protection. The saddest occurrence of all was when a man named Winter was actually killed by his own son while in a state of intoxication. We did what we could to try and stem the tide of drunkenness by forming a Temperance Society, which a large number of the Indians joined; but a more effectual check has of late years been put upon the terrible practice by the action of the Dominion Government; it is now against law for a white man either to give or sell liquor to an Indian on any pretence, and the penalty is very heavy.
I must finish this chapter with an account of an Indian funeral. The daughter of one of our Indians, named Kwakejewun, had fallen sick and died—died, as we hoped, trusting in her Saviour. As is usual among the Indians, a large number of people gathered together to show their sympathy with the bereaved parents, and to follow the body to the grave. The coffin was first brought into the church. I read the usual service, and a hymn was sung very sweetly and plaintively. Then we proceeded to the cemetery, nearly a mile distant. The snow was deep on the ground and sparkling in the sunlight. I drove in my cutter and headed the long funeral procession. A sad and picturesque sight it was; from eighty to a hundred people in all, some in sleighs, some ploding through the snow on foot,—aged women in their white blankets, mothers with their children, some of them in bright scarlet shawls, boys and girls, all in their Sunday attire. Through the silent forest we wended our way till we came at length to the wild little cemetery with its rude snake fence encircling it. The coffin was taken from the sleigh and carefully lowered into the grave; then the men took off their hats and we sang another hymn. It sounded very sweet in that wild desolate spot, and the poor mother stood enveloped in a blanket at the head of the open grave, and, with her eyes fixed on her daughter's coffin, joined in the singing. Then I read the remainder of the service, and, having shaken hands with the poor father and mother, returned home. The mother grasped my hand warmly, and met me with a happy smile. She believed, I think, that her child was safe with the Saviour.
THE BISHOP'S VISIT.
We were now well settled into our Indian home at Sarnia and my work was clearly defined. The Sarnia Reserve was our head-quarters. Here there were some 400 Indians, and at Kettle Point, thirty miles away, were about 100 more. The out-stations were to be New Credit, Saugeen, and Cape Croker, which places together contained about 1150 Indians. The idea was to place a catechist at each of these distant settlements, and for me to visit them twice or three times in the year. With the view of providing catechists suitable for the work I was authorized by the Church Missionary Society to receive and educate some young men; and within a few months after we had taken up our residence on the Reserve I commenced to teach two young Indians, named Wilson Jacobs and William Henry, with the view of their becoming catechists.
The great event of the summer was a visit we received from the Bishop of Huron and Mrs. Cronyn. The fact that twenty-five persons were confirmed, and that forty-five came forward afterwards to receive the Holy Communion, will show that our work among these poor Indians had already made some progress. Among the candidates for confirmation was poor old Quasind, who came up bare-footed, a great-grandfather, and, I suppose, about ninety years of age. In the evening our own child, Archibald Edward, was christened during the time of Divine service by the Bishop.
The following day we had appointed to have a gathering of Indians, a sort of social party, to meet the Bishop. When morning broke, however, rain was pouring in torrents, and a picnic on the grass became altogether out of the question. So, after early dinner, our hall was cleared, and the business of cutting up bread-and-butter and cake and preparing the tea began. Two or three Indian women had made their appearance, and were soon hard at work with merry faces and busy hands. About 6 p.m. the Indians began to arrive, and by half-past seven sixty had collected. Tea being ready, we called in as many as we could pack into our hall; others sat in the passage or on cordwood piles outside; then each had a cup and saucer given him, and baskets full of bread-and- butter, buns, and cake, and tea were carried round, and all ate their fill.
The hall table was covered with books, illustrated magazines, maps, &c., and as soon as the Indians had finished tea they took up these and amused themselves with the pictures. There was a draught-board also, which engrossed the attention of some of the young men, many of them being very clever in playing the game. An old Indian, generally known as "the Doctor," caused great merriment by singing one or two old Indian songs in that peculiar tone of voice which only an Indian can command. The great event of the evening was the conferring of an Indian name on our little boy, only a few months old. The task was delegated to old Shesheet. The old man came forward with his usual radiant face, and after a few prefatory remarks, expressing his great pleasure in meeting the Bishop and Mrs. Cronyn, he took "the pale-faced babe" into his arms and conferred upon it the name of "Tecumseh," a great warrior who many years ago fell in battle fighting under the British flag. After I had thanked the Indians for making my little boy one of themselves, the Bishop rose and gave a very nice address, which Wagimah interpreted. He told them how anxious he had been to see these, his Indian brothers and sisters, ever since he had heard of their becoming members of the Church of their great mother the Queen. He was very pleased indeed to see them, and so was his "squaw," who had come with him, and he wished them every prosperity and happiness and the blessing of God on the Mission. Before parting we sang a hymn, and then closed with prayer and the blessing. The Bishop and Mrs. Cronyn stood up at the end of the hall and shook hands with the Indians one by one as they passed out.
In accordance with the instructions I had received from the C.M.S., I made arrangements as soon as practicable for placing a catechist in charge of the Kettle Point Mission, and about this time gave up employing an interpreter, as his services would be no longer needed, and I had now a good stock of sermons written in Indian which I could use at my Sunday services. Before long, John Jacobs, the young native student already mentioned, and who, after satisfactorily passing his course at the Theological College, was ordained in July 1869, took up his abode at Kettle Point as my assistant Missionary. Besides preaching on the Sunday, he taught school during the week, so that his time was well occupied.
It was just about this time that I had a severe attack of fever, which for the time quite prostrated me, and my medical adviser ordered me to go away for a few weeks' rest and change of air. So Mr. Jacobs came to take my place at Sarnia and with two of his sisters occupied the Mission-house during our absence. After spending a week with friends in Toronto, we thought we would explore a more northern region, and visit Mr. Chance's Mission at Garden River, which we had often beard of, so we took train to Collingwood, and were soon on our way up the lakes in the beautiful steamboat Chicora.
Thus was God gradually opening the way for us, and preparing for us a larger and more important sphere of work.
It was on this visit to Garden River that I first felt drawn in spirit towards the Indians of the Lake Superior region, that there first entered into my mind the idea of an institution for training the young Indians, and that I first made the acquaintance of the old Indian chief, Augustin Shingwauk.
FIRST VISIT TO GARDEN RIVER.
We met with a hearty welcome from Mr. and Mrs. Chance, though we had never seen them before. Their church and Mission-house and little log school-house were picturesquely situated on rising ground quite close to the river. The Mission-house, which occupied the centre of the three buildings, was constructed of logs clapboarded over and whitewashed. It had a verandah in front, over the trellis work of which hops grew in profusion, and clambered upwards to the roof. In front of the house was a neat little garden, with two or three fir-trees, some lilac bushes, and well-filled flower-beds. There was quite a profusion of roses, which, even at this late season of the year, scented the air deliciously. Outside the garden fence with its green gate, was a field of Indian corn which sloped down almost to the water's edge. The view from the steps of the verandah was very pretty; one could see the broad deep St Maria River, nearly a mile wide, and long lines of sailing vessels towed by small tugs, occasionally passing and repassing on their way from the upper to the lower lakes. Across the river were the well-wooded hills of Sugar Island, with here and there a settler's shanty and clearing. To the left hand could still be seen the broad river winding its course down toward Lake George, the smaller stream, called Garden River, joining it a short distance below. Then behind, the scene was equally, if not more grand—high rocky hills scantily clad with fir and birch-trees. We felt that we were now indeed in the land of the Indian, far away from civilization; no railways, no telegraphs, no omnibuses or street cars, no hotels or shops for many hundred miles.
There was something very attractive and fascinating about this first visit to the wilds of Algoma. We were entertained royally. Peaches, cream, and preserved fruits were among the dainties which covered the table. Where all the good things came from was a matter of wonder to us. The meat, however, consisting of a hind quarter of mutton, had, we found, come with us on the boat, and it just lasted out our four days' visit. We were told extraordinary stories about the difficulty of procuring the necessaries of life, and the manner of overcoming difficulties. Until quite lately the steamboats in their passage up the lakes had never deigned to stop at Garden River; now, however, through Mr. Chance's exertions, a dock had been made and a Post-office erected; and about once in ten days a steam vessel would stop to leave or receive the mails. Mr. and Mrs. Chance were Postmaster and Post-mistress, and we had many a joke with them on the subject. Their fresh meat was always procured from the steamboats. Before this new arrangement was made, the steward on the boat used to tie the meat to a log of wood, and haul it overboard opposite the Mission-house, and Mr. Chance had to go out in his boat to pick it up. They had a capital large sail boat, with two sails, called The Missionary. It had lately been presented to the Mission by the Cathedral Sunday School, Toronto. It was very interesting to meet with the Indians of this locality. Many of them were tall, fine- looking men; notably so Augustin Shingwauk and Buhkwujjenene, both of them Chiefs, and very intelligent-looking men. Augustin was at this time about 60 years of age, and his brother Buhkwujjenene eight or ten years his junior. They could trace their ancestry back for four generations. Their father's name was Shingwaukoons (Little Pine), and he appears, from all accounts, to have been a very intelligent Chief. The father of Shingwaukoons was partly French, but his mother, Ogemahqua (Queen), was pure Indian, and daughter of a Chief named Shingahbawuhsin, and this Chief again was son of a Chief named Tuhgwahna, all of them residents of the Sault Ste. Marie district.
The Indians of Garden River were not nearly so far advanced in civilization as those of Sarnia; very little was done in the way of cultivating the soil, and very few of them could speak any English. They, however, seemed to evince great interest in religion, the services were well attended, the responses in the Indian tongue well made, and the singing hearty.
I must relate one sad incident that occurred during our short visit. It was a beautiful Sunday towards the end of September; we had had service in the white frame church, and very attentive and orderly had the congregation been while Mr. Chance read the service and interpreted my preaching. I had been speaking on the subject of "Eternal Life"— "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only True God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." Very wrapt was the attention as I endeavoured to unfold before my simple hearers the great and wondrous subject of eternal life. Had they—sitting there before me—anything to do with this eternal life? Perhaps their thoughts day by day were on the things of this world—their fishing, their hunting, their basket- making, or planting or digging potatoes. Did they ever think that they had souls to be saved; that before another Sunday came round these things which now took up their time and thoughts might have passed away for ever, and they themselves have entered upon the eternal state? If they were true Christians, they would then be meeting with God, beholding Him face to face; they would be with the holy angels, with Jesus. But if not prepared, where would they be? A great gulf would be between them and heaven—a great impassable gulf; they would be with the lost! Before another Sunday came round this great and wonderful change might take place. Were they prepared?
Among my hearers were two women; one on the left hand side of the church was a newly-married young woman wearing a scarlet shawl and a hat with flowers. She could not have been more than twenty. The other, who was her mother, sat on the opposite side; an old woman—a widow— wrapped in a black shawl. The husband of the young woman was in the gallery overhead.
Service was over, and we had wended our way back to the parsonage, followed by several Indians, men and women with their babes, who had come to shake hands or to ask for "muskeke" (medicine). All at once we heard a shout from the garden, and a girl came rushing up, crying: "Quick! help! there are people drowning." We all ran off with great haste to the shore, the Indian women wailing in their own peculiar way, some burying their heads in their shawls and sobbing with grief. Quite a little fleet of boats and canoes were already off to the rescue; six or seven in all. We could not at first make out where was the scene of the disaster, but soon it became only too apparent. There, far out in the very centre of the broad river, being carried away by the current, were four or five specks, the heads of people struggling to save themselves. The boats were still a long distance from them, and breathlessly we watched as they made their way onward. Two, three of the specks had disappeared; only two were now visible. "How many were in the boat?" was anxiously asked. "Oh, there must have been eight or nine;" and only two now above water. It was sickening to think of. The wailing cries of the women on the shore increased each moment, and great was the suspense as the foremost boat drew with all speed towards the poor drowning creatures. I waited to see the two who were afloat pulled into the boats, and then hurried up to the house to see if all needful preparations had been made. Mrs. Chance had got everything ready; a good bright fire, blankets, and brandy. When I went back to the shore, the poor half-drowned creatures had just landed. Shaking and shivering they were lifted out of the boat and supported up to the house. Four had been saved: two men—and two women. One was still missing, the young wife who had worn the hat and flowers! The children who were supposed to have gone, it was found on inquiry had been providentially left behind. As soon as we could get the poor creatures up to the house, we set to work to revive them.
One of the men, the husband of her who had not yet been found, was on the point of giving in when the boat reached him, and in a moment more would probably have sunk. He was perfectly cold when we brought him in, and being in a consumptive state at the time of his immersion, we much feared that he would not survive the shock. The poor old woman's heart seemed almost broken at the loss of her daughter, and she sat wailing in the kitchen the whole afternoon. The house was of course crowded with Indians who came in to help or sympathize. From those who went to the rescue we learned that the poor woman who was drowned had her hand above the water when the boat came up, but she sank before the people could seize it. Her hat was afterwards found about two miles below the place where she sank. In the evening the poor old woman described how the accident had happened. She said the boat was small and rather too heavily-laden. Just as they got to the middle of the river, a breeze sprang up, and the waves began coming over the side. One of the men jumped into the water to lighten it, but it was of no use. The boat filled, and in a few moments they were all struggling in the water. The poor old creature described how she sank to a great depth, and then rose again; how she prayed to Kezha-Musnedoo (the Good Spirit) to save her; how she sank again; and then, while under the water, saw the dark shadow of the boat coming over her; how again she rose to the surface and was saved.
We met again for service in the evening, and Mr. Chance preached very solemnly to a large congregation from the words, "Prepare to meet thy God."
A day or two after this we left the Garden River Mission and returned to Sarnia.
BAPTISM OF PAGANS.
There were not many genuine Pagans either at Sarnia or at Kettle Point. Pagan practices had fallen altogether into disuse. There were some Indians living who had been "medicine men," but we never heard that they practised their charms. Still there were several families who held aloof from Christianity. When spoken to about being baptized, their reply was that they thought the Christian Indians behaved worse than the Pagan Indians, and they were afraid that if they were baptized they would become as bad. It was sad that such a thing could be said, and sadder still that there should be any truth about it. Of course the mere fact of the Indians being brought into contact with white people would lead them into temptations from which, in their wild wandering state, they had been comparatively free. It has been said even by white travellers that they have found the pagan Indiana of the North more honest and trustworthy than those in a semi-civilized and nominally Christian state. The Indian when he mixes with the Whites soon learns their bad habits, but is more slow to learn what is holy and good.
There were several families at Kettle Point who at the time when we established our Mission were still nominally Pagan. Chief among them were Ahbettuhwahnuhgund and his sister, and Shaukeens, with his wife and family. Ahbettuhwahnuhgund's wife had been baptized, and so also had his two eldest children. One of the first religious rites that I was asked to perform when I began to visit Kettle Point was to receive into the Christian fold the Chief's little boy and aged sister; and at the same time the wife of Shaukeens, who had had several rather dangerous attacks of illness, was baptized. We called the little boy Cornelius, and Mrs. Shaukeens received the name of Tabitha.
It was strange how superstitious the Indians continued to be even after their acceptance of Christianity. They seemed never to lose altogether their faith in witchcraft, especially in that form by which it was believed that certain persons had power to cause sickness or misfortune to others. They seemed also to have a firm belief in dreams. Once I was visiting at a poor miserable little shanty on the Sarnia Reserve, and found an old man and his son both lying very sick. The poor creatures were in a wretched condition, the hovel they were in consisting merely of strips of bark and old boards outside and inside hung with rags and tatters and old cloths of every description. The only person to tend them was an old woman—wife, I suppose, of the elder man—who was crouching over the fire smoking her pipe. When we came in, the sick man was gnawing a duck bone, some one having shot him a wild duck. He said it was the first time he had eaten anything for several days; his son was too ill to eat anything. The old man told Wagimah that he had seen me before, a night or two ago in a dream. I had made a garden, and divided it into four parts, and one of these parts was very miserable and wretched. I was walking through this miserable part one day, when I found this poor man. He was very sick indeed, and I took him up and brought him into another part of the garden which was very beautiful, and told him that he might stay there and work, and be happy for ever. Such was his dream. I repeated some verses of Scripture to the poor creature, and then we knelt and prayed. I heard afterwards that the people around believed the old man to be bewitched; some evilly-disposed "medicine man," they said, had brought this sickness upon him by his enchantments.
It was a very interesting occasion, when the whole of Shaukeens' family, consisting of seven children, were brought to me for baptism.
At 2 p.m. the horn was blown, and the people began to come together to our little temporary school-house. About twenty-eight assembled, and we began service with a hymn; then I read the evening prayers from my Ojebway prayer-book, and at the close of the lesson began the baptismal service. David Sahpah, his wife, and Adam stood sponsors for the children. The names given to them were Stephen, Emma, Sutton, Esther, Alice, Talfourd, and Wesley. Before their baptism, they had no names, and I had to register them in my book as No. 1 boy, No. 2 girl, and so on. It was curious to notice how Pagans attending our services never made any change in their position as the service proceeded. This time the mother, who had been baptized about two months before, kneeled, or stood, or sat with the other people; but the father and children sat quietly on their seats. After the service the children joined in the devotions, and the father only remained sitting.
The Chief Ahbettuhwahnuhgund for a long time refused to be baptized, although I very often had conversations with him on the subject, and I felt that in his heart he fully believed the great truths of Christianity. It was partly, perhaps, pride that kept him back, and partly that he was waiting, as he said, to see the Church of England Mission firmly established at Kettle Point.
In the first week of January, 1870, our new school-church and master's house at Kettle Point were opened for use. Very pretty they looked as we approached; three flags were flying, and there were crowds of Indians around. Mr. Jacobs, who was now settled in charge of the Mission, met us on the steps of the little church, and accompanied us in. It was most tastefully decorated, and fitted up with a reading-desk on each side, dark-stained communion rails, and crimson coverings. Forty-five persons assembled at the opening service, and just filled the seats. It was a cause of much satisfaction to the Indians to have their little church, which they had worked so hard to build; at length completed. They had themselves supplied all the saw-logs out of which the lumber was made, and had put up the framework, so that it had been but a very small expense to the Mission.
Shortly after this I received word from the Chief that he was anxious to be baptized. His answer to my questions were very simple and childlike, and I had every reason to hope that he was sincere in his desire to be a Christian. "Many of these things that you tell me," he said, "are new to me. I hear them now for the first time; nevertheless, I believe them. I believe all that the Christian's book teaches; I cannot but believe it. No man could have written that book. I receive it all as true, and I trust that I may gradually learn all that there is to be learnt about the Christian religion."
I gave him the name of Isaac, that being a name by which he had been commonly known among the white people for some time past. It was very interesting to kneel with that newly-baptized Indian Chief, and hear him for the first time pronounce those sacred words, "Wayoosemegooyun Kezhegoong ayahyun"—"Thou who art our Father, in heaven who art." The Chief, his wife, his sister, and his children were all now Christians, and could unite together in prayer and praise and Christian worship.
THE RED RIVER EXPEDITION.
The year 1870 was memorable in Europe for the great war between France and Germany, followed by the loss of the Pope's temporal power, and the establishment of secular government in Rome. Here in Canada the excitement of the day was the Red River rebellion, to quell which a military expedition was despatched under the command of General (then Colonel) Wolseley. I had arranged to make a Missionary tour to Lake Superior during the summer, and it so happened that I fell in with the troops on their way up the lake and did service for them as chaplain while they were encamped at Thunder Bay.
It was a busy scene in the dock at Collingwood just prior to starting. There were about a hundred Iroquois Indians who had been engaged as guides and boatmen, and these were to precede the expedition and arrange for the portaging and crossing the rivers before the arrival of the troops. The steamship Chicora was moored to the dock, the whole vessel from stem to stern being heavily laded down, and there was considerable delay before we started, but at length the ropes were let go, the planks drawn in, and we were off. This was the Chicora's first trip of the season, and large crowds gathered about the docks at the various places where we stopped on our way up the lakes, the general expectation evidently being that the troops would be on board. The disappointment was great when it was found that we had only an advanced guard of Indian Voyageurs with us. One old lady, accosting one of the passengers, in her enthusiasm exclaimed, "Have ye got the army on board?" Above Manitoulin Island the channel becomes very narrow and is sprinkled with little rocky islets clad scantily with fir and birch trees. On one was living an old grey haired man in charge of a lighthouse; he had been there the whole winter shut in by ice and snow, and was so full of delight at witnessing "the first boat of the season" that he saluted us by firing his gun, to which we responded by a grunting whistle. At last we reached Garden River, and stepping on shore, I was soon exchanging hearty greetings with Mr. and Mrs. Chance. The Chicora was detained four hours at this place, as all the boats for the expedition were to be taken off before they proceeded further and to be rowed by the Indians to Sault Ste. Marie, a distance of twelve miles. It was necessary to do this because the only way for the Chicora to get into Lake Superior was through a canal on the American side of the river, and if the boats were left on board they might be regarded by the American Government as munitions of war and so be refused passage. So the Indians were to take charge of the boats and pole them up the rapids, while the Chicora expected to go innocently through the locks as a boat of peace. However the plan did not answer; the Chicora even though divested of her boats, was refused passage, and having unloaded everything on the Canadian side was obliged to return whence she came. Then a road had to be cut along the Canadian shore, the red-wheeled waggons brought into use, and everything conveyed a distance of some three miles to a point above the rapids, where a dock was constructed and another Canadian vessel, the Algoma employed to carry the things on to Thunder Bay on the shore of Lake Superior.
As there was likely under these circumstances to be considerable delay before I could continue my journey, I passed my leisure time under the hospitable roof of Mr. and Mrs. Chance, and was glad of the opportunity to renew my acquaintance with the Indians whom we had met last fall. I had hoped that Mr. Chance would have been able to accompany me on my expedition up the Lake; indeed it had been his own wish to do so, and in that case we should have taken his own boat The Missionary and a crew of Indians, and so have been independent of the steamboats. Circumstances however occurred to prevent the carrying out of this plan, and in the end I started alone by steamboat, with my tent, camp- bed, a good stock of books, provisions, &c., and a Garden River Indian named James as my attendant. Col. Wolseley and his staff and a large detachment of troops were on board the steamboat, and on arrival at Thunder Bay, about 300 miles distant from Sault Ste. Marie, we found a scene of the greatest activity and excitement. The troops, about 1200 in number, were encamped on a wild bare spot with only a few rough shanties and houses, about three miles from the Hudson Bay Company Post, Fort William. The Bush had been burnt over, and it was a most desolate, uninviting looking place, although the distant scenery around was grand. There was considerable difficulty in disembarking, as the water near the shore was shallow and there was no dock, so everything had to be taken from the steamboat to the land in a flat scow hauled to and fro by a rope. We pitched our tent on the shore, close to the soldiers' camp, other tents of explorers and travellers being close around us. From this point the troops were to start on their journey to Winnipeg. First, forty miles of road had to be constructed, and boats and everything had to be carried on waggons till the first water in the chain of lakes and rivers was reached. This had to be done for the whole of the 700 miles to Winnipeg; wherever possible the troops went by boat, and where there was no water on the route, a road had to be constructed and the waggons used. It was no easy task that Colonel Wolseley had before him in this wild, uninhabited and rocky country.
Very soon after my arrival at Thunder Bay I began to look about for Indians, that being the primary object of my visit. I found quite a large settlement of them at Fort William, but was disappointed to discover that they were all Roman Catholics. The Jesuits, it appeared, had been among them for more than a century. They had a priest resident among them, an old man, I was told, gentlemanly, courteous, and generally beloved and respected both by Indians and Whites; they had also a little church decorated with flowers and images. However, I managed to draw a few people around me, and scarcely a day passed but I had Indian visitors to my tent. The Indian Chief, whose name was Mungedenah, did not seem to be at all bigoted in his religion. Pointing to the sky, he said, "I know there is only one God, and I do not think Christians ought to be divided." He seemed most anxious to have an Ojebway Testament. I told him that the Garden River Indians could nearly all read the Testament for themselves. Tears came into his eyes and he said he wished indeed it could be the same with them. When he rose to leave, he thanked me, and pointing up to heaven said God would bless me.
After the visit of their Chief the Indians got quite friendly, and used often to come and see me in my tent. One of them remarked once that he thought there must be a great many white people in the world, to judge by the large number that had come together that summer in such a short space of time. Some of the poor creatures were evidently afraid of being reported to their priest when they came to visit me; they generally squatted at the entrance of the tent, and appeared to be keeping a watch all the time, so that it was very seldom that I had an opportunity of reading to them. Perhaps the most interesting incident that occurred was an interview that I had with some wild pagan Indians from the Interior. Some one put his head in at my tent door, and said, "Have you seen the Indian Chief from Rainy Lake?" "No," I replied, "where is he to be found? I should like very much to see him." Indeed I was most anxious to meet some Indian from that quarter, as I had heard that there was a large settlement there of some thousand Ojebway Indians all in the darkness of paganism. I was directed to a store where the Chief had gone in, and immediately went in search of him. There he stood, a fine, upright, muscular man, with sharp set features, and a fierce forbidding eye; long shaggy black hair straggled down his back, a mink-skin turban graced his forehead, into which were stuck four white eagle feathers, and behind it hung an otter skin appendage like a great bag, and covered with little pieces of bone or metal, which rattled as he walked. I addressed the Chief in Indian, and he turned and shook hands with me, and after a little conversation he agreed to accompany me to my tent, where I prepared a meal for him. He was very ready to converse, and told me that his name was "Makuhda-uhsin" (Black Stone), that he had arrived at Midday, that he was accompanied by four other men, two boys, and a woman, that they had come by canoe, and had camped six nights on the way. Koojeching, he said, was the place where they had come from, and there he had left a thousand warriors.
While he was talking, the rest of the party arrived, seeking their Chief. They all squatted down, and I had to feed them all, and then give them tobacco for a smoke. They were all wild-looking creatures, their countenances as thoroughly unchristianlike as could be conceived. As soon as their hunger was satiated, and they had filled their pipes, they were rising to go, but I asked them to remain as I had a few words still to say to them. I then told them briefly who I was, where I had come from, and my object in coming to Thunder Bay. I had heard, I said, that they were all pagans at Koojeching. I was very sorry for it, and very anxious that they should embrace Christianity. A change came upon their faces as I spoke; they shuffled uneasily, eyed me suspiciously, and were evidently impatient to get away. They probably thought that I had got them into my tent with the idea of using some enchantments or exercising some witchcraft upon them. I did not understand all they said, but James told me afterward that they were all very angry. They said they were all pagans, and intended to remain so. When I asked whether, if I were to visit them some day, they would listen to me, and if they would like me to come to see them and tell them about God, Black Stone replied, "Come if you will, but as for my people they will never become Christians" I heard afterwards that a Jesuit priest once visited their settlement, and after he had left the small-pox broke out. In then superstitious ignorance, they attributed the disease to the priest's visit, and so determined never to accept Christianity.
I had arranged to visit the Lake Neepigon Indians on my way back down the Lake, and took my passage on board a steamboat which was to call at Red Rock at the mouth of the Neepigon River. But my purposes were frustrated; the steamboats were under the direction of the military authorities orders were changed at the last moment, and instead of Red Rock I found myself at Michipicotun. At this place there is a Hudson Bay Company Post and a small settlement of Indians. The approach to the Post is very picturesque, the river being bordered by high-wooded banks, and the clean-looking white-washed buildings of the Company presented a striking contrast to the wild scenery around as we approached, rowing up the river in one of the ship's boats. We pitched our tent in a cleared spot just across the river, opposite to the Post and near to some Indian wigwams. During our stay, which lasted about ten days, I visited every day among the people, and at nightfall we would meet together in one of their wigwams for reading the Scripture and prayer. The name of the Chief was Tootoomenaun; he lived like the rest of his people in a simple wigwam made of a circle of sticks sloping to a point, and covered with birch-bark; and there, with his family and his dogs, he lay by the fire and smoked his pipe, while I read or talked to them, the smoke circulating about our heads and then finding its escape among the blackened pole-ends at the apex of the little domicile. Another Chief from the neighbouring settlement of Batcheewanig, about 90 miles distant, was on a visit, and I had many a long talk with these two red- skinned brethren. They said they had had no minister to visit them, either Jesuit or Protestant, since the previous summer, and they seemed very anxious to be taught, and listened very attentively when I read or expounded the Scriptures. Finding the people all so anxious to learn, I opened a little day-school in the Chief's wigwam. I had a box for my seat, and the young people squatted round on mats. There was an attendance of eleven scholars. Two of the young men I found already knew the alphabet, so I set them on to commence the first book while the others were kept busy with the A, B, C. They were sharp at learning, and nearly all of them, with the exception of one or two of the youngest children, knew the capital letters and figures from 1 to 10 by the time the two hours of study were over. This school teaching was continued every day until the steamboat arrived which was to take us the remainder of our homeward voyage to the Sault.