A History of the Rice Lake Indians by Mary Jane Muskratte Simpson

Perusal of Methodism

Perusal of "Methodism in Canada"

Continuing the perusal of "Methodism in Canada", it is noted that in 1832 Peter Jones had written of the expansion of his church:

"The foundation stone of the Upper Canada Academy was laid by Dr. Gilchrist on the 9th of June. The building is to be a 150' front, with a tower, elegant and appropriate, and to be finished in two years. It stands on a gentle rise, commanding an extensive prospect. When completed Cobourg may fairly boast the finest piece of public architecture in the Province."

Twenty years later Peter Jacobs, an Indian missionary, is writing from the far Red River, June 21st, 1852:

"Left Sault Ste. Marie with the boats from Montreal and reached Red River after 41 days hard traveling; most of the people have lost their all in the floods, houses, and barns going down the current nearly every day. I leave in a few days for Norway House, thence to Oxford House, and York Factory".

Noted at Rossville by the Rev. William Mason:

"Expecting Peter Jacobs, have a school of fifty-eight scholars, the Gospel of St. John printed, repairing the church."


"We have an echo of Mr. Caughey's labour, many witnesses in the love-feast to perfect love, classes are well attended, eighty additions to the school and a new one started; four acres of land bought for £65 and laid out for a cemetery. Quarterly Meeting at Mud Lake Mission, a full house; the Rev. Orrin H. Ellsworth, a preacher of great promise, is in charge of the mission. Brother Thomas Hurlburt has arranged to visit these Indians and attend their Quarterly Meeting. He preaches on the Alderville mission every other Sabbath in addition to his own work on the Rice Lake mission."

This from John Gemley.

Proposals from the Missionary Committee in London for the transfer of the Hudson Bay missions to the Canada Conference having been accepted, three ministers prepared to start for those distant missions. The Rev. Thomas Hurlburt for Norway House; the Rev. Robert Brooking for Oxford House; and the Rev. Alan Salt for Lac La Pluie. All were in charge of the Rev. John Ryerson. A farewell service was held in the Adelaide Street Church in Toronto, May 15th, 1854.

It was computed that 50,000 Indians were open to missionary effort in that vast territory. The Rev. Robert Brooking reports, "We find the Company (unquestionably the H.B.C. as he was assigned Oxford House) very favourable to our Missions, and liberal. The fact that the sale of liquors is prohibited as far as possible is a great boon."

The Rev. Dr. Beecham went to the Canada Conference in London which assembled on the 6th June 1855 and presented his address. The Rev. Wm. Case, who had completed his fiftieth year in the ministry, preached a Jubilee Sermon.

This venerable "Father Case" as he was affectionately known to his people, died on the 19th, October 1855, aged seventy-five years, as the result of a fall from a horse. He was buried at Alnwick, among the people for whom he had lived and toiled so long. The record of his ministerial life begins in 1805 when, as a youthful volunteer, he came into the wilds of Canada. Of the rugged labours and privations of the pioneer itinerant preacher, he had a full share. He lived in the confidence of his brethren, meekly accepting the honours they conferred upon him, and in calm, cheerful resignation withdrew from the field when he had finished the work given him to do.

In 1857 the following ministers who laboured among the Rice Lake Indians were ordained; William Tomblin, James A. Iveson, George Jacques and Edward Cragg. They were joined in ordination in 1859 by Alfred Andrews.

At the Convocation of Victoria College the Rev. W. M. Punshon, M.A. preached the baccalaureate sermon, and delivered his celebrated lecture on "The Huguenots". Robert Carson writes from Cobourg, May 21st, 1869, of the life of a circuit missionary in a time already changing rapidly:

"It is a little more than forty years since I was appointed to the Whitby Circuit. It then embraced seven townships. I added two more. We had eighteen appointments, but no chapels. We found one hundred white and two hundred Indian members. Flour was seven dollars a barrel. We had five children and received $212. This had to meet all our claims, children, table expenses, fuel, horse-keep, and salary. Our friends built us a log parsonage. We were blessed with a good revival, and our net increase in the first year was 100. Changes have taken place. Where we had one circuit; there are now ten, with forty chapels. Instead of hundreds, there are thousands of members. Some seventeen persons who were members there when I commenced my labours are living still, and witnesses for Christ. Many of them are aged and infirm, nine are widows. I am in my 77th year, and in good health; I have traveled two thousand miles and read thirty-three books during the year".

The Rev. Thomas Hurlburt died at Little Current on April 13th, 1873 from concussion of the brain due to a fall on the ice. He was sixty-five years of age, and had spent most of his life among the Indians; probably no other man was so familiar with their languages.

A perusal of the labours of these pioneer Ministers who dwelt among the Indians, nobly defying chilling blasts of winter, in summer paddling treacherous waters in frail craft, eating the scanty fare of the wilderness, learning the Indian languages, serving ever with zeal and true love for the people must leave us in humble, grateful acknowledgement of their faith and works. They answered the age-old question, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us"? with the stark simple grandeur of, "Here am I, send Thou me".

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