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MISSIONS


381


MISSIONS


ecclesiastical authority of the Romish Church, [must] be withdrawn by degrees, and at such times and in such a manner as shall be satisfactory to the Indians and consistent with the public safety, and Protestant missionaries appointed in their places" (Royal In- structions to Sir Cleorge Prevost). The natives re- fused to part with their priests on any consideration, thereby showmg the extent of the influence these had acquired over them. After the suppression of the Society of Jesus the care of the Indians fell entirely on the shoulders of the Sulpicians and of such of the secular clergy as could be spared for that work. Among the former we may mention Father Thavenet, who laboured, mostly at the Oka mission, from 1793 to 1815. Of the latter one of the most prominent was a refugee from the horrors of the French Revolution, Abbe le Courtois, who reached Canada on 26 June, 1794, and died on IS May, 1S2S, after having devoted liimself to the service of the northeastern and St. Lawrence aliorigines.

Meantime an event had taken place in the West which was portentous of the most important results for Catliolic influence among the natives of North America. The Earl of Selkirk having founded, in 1S12, a colony of Scotch Presbj-terians and Irish Catholics at the junction of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers, was violently opposed by the representatives of the Northwest Companv. This opposition re- sulted (19 June, 1816) in the'Battle of Seven Oaks, in which twenty-two whites, including the governor of the colony, lost their lives. As it was evident to the noble founder that no permanent success could be achieved without the aid of religion, he obtained from the Bishop of Quebec two missionaries, Father Joseph- Norbert Provencher and Joseph Nicholas S. Du- moulin, who, on 10 July, 1818, arrived to found the church of St. Boniface, opposite Fort Douglas, the headquarters of the traders in the country. One of the chief objects of the new mission was the conver- sion of the aborigmes of the Middle West of Canada. Father Dumoulin tried to meet the wishes of his bishop in this respect; but, owing to the fact that he could give only half of his time to the Indians, he accom- plished little enough. In fact, such was the rebellious temper of his native charges, that he was twice shot at by one of them. Scarcely anything could be done to better their lot mitil 1831, when Father George A. Belcourt arrived among them from Lower Canada. The newcomer, an able man, immediately commenced to acquire a thorough knowledge of the language of the Saulteux, or Cliippewas, which he reduced to writing and of which he composed a dictionary. In 1833 he established on the Assiniboine an Indian village, known as St. Paul's Mission, where he strove to teach farming as well as tlie elements of the Christian doctrine. Omng perhaps to his insistence on the former, his success was far from complete. In the summer of the same year. Father Jean-Baptiste Thibault reached the Middle West; though less brilliantly endowed than Belcourt, he was to prove more successful as a missionary. The latter was then journeying to Rainy River, where he found the In- dians " little disposed to leave the bottle for the word of God", according to the founder of the Red River Missions, now Bishop Provencher. In the course of 1838 Belcourt established a second post at the confluence of the English and Winnipeg Rivers. This was Wabassiraong. which soon acquired a degree of celebrity, though it had to be abandoned in 1847. In 1842 a new and larger field was opened to the zeal of the missionaries, the Far West, to-day Alberta, where Father Thibault preached the Gospel to the Crees and Blackfeet who repaired to Fort Edmonton. Without becoming at once converts to our holy faith, these aborigines were persuaded by the preaching of the Canadian priest to the extent of definitively re- jecting the advances of the Methodist minister who


had preceded him in that distant region. Then Thibault journeyed even farther west, and founded the mission of St. Ann, whence he and other priests thenceforth attended, with some measure of success, to the spiritual wants of the surroundmg tribes. He next went (1844) as far as Cold Lake, Lac la Biche and even He a la Crosse, where the D6n6 Indians received him with open arms.

A short time before (1842) another Canadian mis- sionary. Father Modeste Demers, began work through- out British Columbia, or New Caledonia, as that coim- try was then called, going as far as Stuart- Lake, where he accomplished wonders. As early as 1838, after having crossed the entire continent from Quebec, Father Demers had reached the Columbia valley, where he was everywhere received as the special en- voy of the Almighty, and produced among the popu- lous tribes of the Pacific an impression which power- fully worked for unity when, later on, the ministers of various sects made their appearance. In the spring of the following year. Father Jean Baptiste Z. Bolduc reintroduced Christianity on Vancouver Is- land, where it had been planted at the time of the occupation of Nootka by the Spaniards (1789-95). In 1845—47 Father John Nobili, a Jesuit, retraced Demers' itinerary, and finally went even so far as Babine Lake in the course of his missionary excursion. Meantime a new worker. Father Jean E. Darveau, was in a fair way towards materially improving the spiritual condition of the hardened Saulteux of what is to-day Northern Manitoba, when he was murdered, 4 Jime, 1844, by Indians who sided with a Protestant catechist stationed at Le Pas, Lower Saskatchewan, where the priest intended to start a permanent mis- sion. East of the Manitoban lakes. Father Domini- que Du Banquet, S.J., inaugurated in April of the same year the missionary station of Walpole Island, on Lake Superior, whence he visited various posts, and in the following July another Jesuit, Father Chon^, took up his residence at Wikwemikong, on Manitoulin Island, where a secular priest had pre- ceded him. No less than twenty-one posts on the island, Georgian Bay from Mississagu<> to Owen Sound, as well as Lake Nipissing and Beausoleil Island, were attended from that mission. Great was the opposi- tion of the Protestant ministers (among whom was James Evans, the inventor of the Cree syllables); but the Jesuits held their own, and managed to or- ganize the flourishing Christian settlements of Garden River and Pigeon River (1848). The latter station was transferred in 1849 to Fort. William by Faihers Chon6 and Fr^miot. Thence these mLssionaries min- istered to the Indians of Port Arthur, Prince's Bay, Royal Island, and Lake Nepigon. Still further east, in the very land of the AbenakLs, less consoling events had taken place some time previously. An Indian known by the name of Masta had been edu- cated in the United States, whence he returned in 1830 to St. Francis Mission with the title and at- tributes of a Protestant minister. After much op- position at the hands of his fellow Abenakis he succeeded, by dint of skilful intrigue and with the con- nivance of the Canadian authorities, in putting up a Protestant chapel in the very midst of the Indian village (1837). Three years later Father J. A. Maurault was sent thither by Bishop Signay to learn the language of the natives, and in 1847 he actually became their missionary. Thenceforth the Abenaki preacher saw whatever influence he had gained wane until he had to leave the scene of his exploits. At the same time a still better known priest was com- mencing his apostolic career at Oka, Father J. A. Cuoeq, an able Sulpician, who was to consecrate his energies for over half a century to the welfare of the Mohawks and Algonquins, whose languages he event- ually mastered.

A new era dawned for the Indian missions of