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Stranger than fiction Halcombe, J. J. (John Joseph) 1874

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REV.   J.   J.   HALCOMBE,   M.A.
^ttfilfsf;ctf untrer lijc ©ircctfon of tfic ^rnct CCotnmtttec.
I.—A Venture of Faith i
II.—Difficulties Realized.
III.—Work Commenced
IV.—A Crisis	
■   49
VI.—A Visit to Victoria   .
•   70
VII.—Building up .
IX.—A Time of Trial .
X.—Brighter Days
XI.—The Indian Fishing-Station
XII.—An In-gathering .
XIII.—Paul Legaic ....
XIV.—Three Years' Work   .
XV.—Law and Police  .
XVI.—Gala Days     ....
' 221
XVII.—Social Progress   .
XVIII.—Conclusion    .
Supplementary Chapter    .
ijTRANGE and weird beyond expression
was the scene from which, as from a
starting-point, commences  a series of
events wholly without parallel in the
Missionary annals of the Church1.
Issuing from a populous Indian settlement, built
in close proximity to one of the trading forts of the
Hudson's Bay Company, pours forth a motley
crowd, all apparently worked up to the highest
pitch of excitement. Decked with paint and
feathers, and hideous masks, and headed by two
1 The writer is much indebted to the courtesy of the Secretaries
of the Church Missionary Society for the facilities which they have
kindly afforded him of consulting all the printed and MS. records of
the work described in the following pages; and also to the Rev. R.
Doolan, for some time a fellow-labourer with Mr. Duncan, for his
kindness in correcting the proofs • and supplying information on
various points.
B stranger tfjan dFtctton.
unearthly-looking beings, stark naked, and ^overed
thickly over with paint, they rush from their camp
to the neighbouring beach. There, as if in mockery
of the peaceful sound of the waves of the Pacific
breaking gently on the shore, the horrid too-too of
the) "medicine drum," the most discordant of
musical instruments, bursts forth; the medicine
men work their rattles, and the crowd, dancing
wildly about, raise the while a dismal howl.
Now the two leaders, proceeding in a stooping
posture, and stepping like high-mettled horses,
separate from their followers. Shooting forward
each arm alternately, and holding it out for some
time in a sort of defiant attitude, whilst ever and
anon they fling back the long black hair which
falls loosely over their shoulders, they begin to
sniff about like hounds hunting for a trail. Well
enough they know that only that morning a slave
has been butchered, and the body cast into the sea,
and that it would certainly have been left by the
receding tide at no great distance from the spot
which they had reached.
Now they find it; and, swarming round and
rushing on it like a pack of hungry wolves, they
rend it asunder, and bear away each his portion in
For a brief space
>and of followers , rlMtfill
& Venture of dfattfi.
doses in and hides from view the hideous orgies
which follow; then again it opens, and forth
again come the naked leaders, each bearing—but
how describe the climax of the sickening sight ?
Suffice it to say that each, in presence of sthe
assembled multitude, duly vindicates his claim to
the envied title of cannibal, and, with it, to the
highest rank amongst the various grades of flesh-
Standing on the "gallery'' of one of the bastions
of the neighbouring fort, in full view of the whole
scene, is one whose heart might well have fainted
within him at the sight} he has witnessed. He is
a Missionary schoolmaster and catechist—Mr.
William Duncan, a name now familiar as a household word to philanthropists and travellers throughout the civilized world. He has just landed from
England, and in the painted savages before him he
sees his future pupils and catechumens.
With what feelings does he regard that scene ?
The bright hopes anc1 sanguine anticipations which
lured him from home, and friends, and country—
will they survive the rude shock of this first contact
ivith the actual work to be done ? The visions of
docile scholars, earnest converts, and devout worshippers hastening to the newly-built house of God,
B 2 /■Mb i,.
Stranger tljan dfictt'on.
which had been the subject of his waking thoughts-,
and nightly dreams—will they not now seem to'
him as having been but the fantastic combinations,
of a mere mental mirage, to which distance and a.
too sanguine temperament had alone lent the
enchantment of reality ?
Happily, in Mr. Duncan's case, a sanguine temperament was only a synonym for that unbounded,
faith in> a great cause which must ever be a. main*
characteristic of the successful pioneer in new
fields of enterprise, and which alone can give
to such a temperament the buoyancy and self-
righting power requisite to make it proof alike
against the depressing influences of unlooked-for
difficulties, and the rude shock of adverse circumstances. Thus it happened that the very hateful-
ness of the abominations which, as we have seen,
stood suddenly revealed to his view, seemed only
to make him feel more deeply than ever the urgent
need of some determined effort being made to
"snatch the prey," as he expresses it, "from the
lion's mouth, and to arrest, in the name of God,
poor self-destroying creatures."
The circumstances under which Mr. Duncan had
come out to Fort Simpson may be told in a few
words.   A naval officer, Captain Prevost, strongly i£ftgg|
% Venture of jTaitfi.
impressed with the necessity of making some efforts
to save the Indians of Vancouver's Island, and
British Columbia, from the demoralizing effect of
the constantly increasing tide of emigration, had
presented a formal petition on the subject to the
Church Missionary Society. The publication of
this document had immediately produced an anonymous contribution of 500Z. towards the proposed
object, and Mr. William Duncan, then one of the
Society's students at Highbury Training College,
was selected to fill the newly-created post.
Through the influence of Captain Prevost, who
had just been appointed to the Pacific Station, Mr.
Duncan at once obtained a free passage to his
destination, whilst, by the kindness of Sir James
Douglas, formerly the Director of all the Hudson's
Bay Company's forts, and then Governor of British
Columbia, he was met, on his arrival, with the
promise of accommodatio in the fort, and all the
moral support which local authority could give
Like most of the stations of the Hudson's Bay
Company, Fort Simpson consists merely of a few
dwellings and warehouses, giving sufficient accommodation for some twenty employes, and the usual
trading stores, workshops, &c.    The whole is built .^tranget tfiatt jftttfon.
in a square of about a hundred yards, enclosed
by a palisade of trunks of trees sunk into the
ground, rising some twenty feet above it, and
protected at the corners by a wooden bastion,
mounted with cannon ; whilst along the top of the
palisade, runs a gallery, or platform, on which
the garrison can take exercise, and from which
they can see a considerable distance over the
The Indian Camp consisted of some 250 substantially-built wooden houses, stretching in single
file along the beach on either side of the fort ;
many of them, especially those of the chiefs, being
of considerable size. The population numbered
some • 25000 belonging to the Tsimsheean tribe,
and divided into nine subordinate tribes or
As frequent reference to these crests will have to
be made in the course of our narrative, we may as
well at once give some description of them. Each
crest is ruled over by four or five chiefs, one of
whom takes precedence of all the others on ordinary-
occasions, and represents the crest in any general
gathering. Amongst the representative chiefs one
again is always recognized as " the chief of chiefs."
A chiefs rank is marked by the height of the pole 21 Venture of dfattf)'.
erected in front of his house, on which the crest
which distinguishes his division of the tribe is carved;
No offence leads to more frequent quarrels than
the attempt on the part of a chief to put up a
pole higher than his rank warrants. Even the
least powerful chief who has been insulted by an
inferior in rank out-topping his pole, will find any
number of allies to take up his cause and compel
the offender, either literally or figuratively, to " cut
his stick2." The animals most commonly selected
as a crest are the porpoise, the eagle, the wolf, and
the frog. The social relations of the people are in
many ways regulated by this curious method of
classification. Thus, e. g., members of the same
crest may not intermarry. A whale may marry a
frog, but the union of two whales or two frogs,
would probably be entirely without precedent in
the annals of any tribe.
At the time of Mr. Duncan's arrival in October,
1857, what might be termed, par excellence, the
Indian season, was just setting in. Then it is that
the " medicine mysteries," with all the abomina-
2 Whence the expression which in England defines a man as
cutting his stick ? We have always liked to fancy that, as we once
heard an old antiquarian- assert, it dated back to the time when the
first, if not the only, preparation of the pilgrim about to start on his
•travels was to go into a neighbouring wood, and cut his staff. Stranger tfian dfutton.
tions which they give rise to, are in full force.
Then the chiefs vie with each other which shall
impoverish himself the most by the magnificence
of his liberality to all around him. Then is the
time for feasting, and house-building: then, with
ceremonies as various as they are loathsome, the
young of the several tribes are admitted into the
mysterious craft called by the Indian " allied "—by
the European " medicine work." Then, too, is the
time for theatrical displays, when the medicine men
nightly exhibit their skill, or brutality, or supposed
supernatural powers.
No sooner is the winter session of the medicinemen come to an end—for with them almost every
£hing that goes on is in some way connected—
than the camp is deserted. All then flock off
to the rivers, to lay up a stock of fish for the
coming year. The fishing over, the women and
children return to their homes, whilst a large proportion of the men go off on various trading
expeditions, often taking them to posts several
hundred miles distant.
Under these circumstances, Mr. Duncan could
not probably have chosen a better time of the year
at which to reach his post. Arriving in October, he
would have an opportunity of seeing one season
J ■'■''-" a'v^iiisiB i  & Venture of dfattf).
through, whilst, from the very necessity of the
case, he was still only an outside observer of what
was going oa. He would thus have nearly a year
in which to study the language, the prejudices, and
character of the people before he came into actual
collision with this cherished medicine superstition,
and the various deeply-rooted prejudices and vested
interests connected with it.
To the study of " Tsimsheean," therefore, Mr.
Duncan at once devoted himself. With the assistance of an Indian, named Clah, who had for some
years acted as interpreter at the fort, he first went
through an English Dictionary, and* taking some
1500 of the most essential words, soon obtained
the Tsimsheean equivalents for them. He next, by
various contrivances, succeeded in getting some
1100 short sentences written down. Having thus
a fair vocabulary and a number of examples of the
construction of the language, he was not long be-
fore he began to make good progress. Happily,
his Indian tutor threw himself into his novel task
with the greatest enthusiasm. Even when the
unaccustomed strain told upon him, as it often did,
and though from time to time he would " complain of
his head," he would not be persuaded to relax his
efforts.    The pride which he took in his pupil was
■■■ TO
Stranger tfiatt dfutt'on.
evident. As he went about the " camp," he would
stop again and again and hold forth to the knot of
Indians who would gather round him,»all curious to
know when the chief who had come so far to teach
them would be able to talk to them in their own
lansruaee. At times some of the more curious
would penetrate, on one pretext and another, into
the room where Mr. Duncan was at work. On such
occasions, a little crowd would gradually collect,
all of whom would enter, with the greatest eagerness, into the work of " finding equivalents," exulting, with an almost childish delight, at each' new
At the same time Mr. Duncan lost no opportunity of trying to establish friendly relations with
the natives. As it happened that early in January
the snow and intense cold kept most of the people
indoors, he would often take Clah as his interpreter, and go and pay a round of visits. Now and
then he would be told that he might not enter a particular house, as the medicine work was going on,
but generally he was very well received. The sight
on entering an house, of a crowd of half-naked and
painted savages, was at first a little apt to put him
out of countenance ; but the reception he met with
was such as to make him veiy quickly feel much H SFmture of dfaftfil
more at ease. On entering, he would be saluted
by the leading personages with " Clah, how yah!
Clah, how yah!" the complimentary expression of
welcome, in the trading jargon. When this had
been repeated several times, a general movement
and squatting would ensue; then a breathless
silence, during which the visitor was of course the
observed of all observers. After a while several
would begin nodding and smiling, at the same time
reiterating, in a low tone, " Ahm, ahm ah ket, ahm
shimauyet," " Good, good person, good chief." In
some houses they _would insist on his taking the
chief place by the fire, where they would place a
box with a rhat upon it for a seat.
The intercourse thus carried on was necessarily
very limited. The general impression which it left
upon Mr. Duncan's mind was, that amongst the
great mass of the people, degraded as they were,
there was not only an anxious wish for instruction,
but a "strong feeling that the white people were in
possession - of some. grand secret about eternal
things which, even if it involved the overthrow -of
their most cherished superstitions, they were still
intensely anxious to know.
Such were the few encouraging circumstances, of
which Mr. Duncan did not fail to make the most, n
Stranger tfynn ,-jfirtion.
but which, according to any mere human estimate,
would have made but a poor set-off against the
difficulties and discouragements which beset him
on all sides.
<^£ .^jjjjMHBaMtl  CHAPTER II.
HILST engaged in the study of the
language, Mr. Duncan had ample
opportunity of observing the state of
wild lawlessness and recklessness of
human life which characterized the people with
whom he had cast in his lot. A single incident
will serve to illustrate the kind of scenes which
were continually recurring with more or less frequency.
The occupants of the fort had just finished
dinner when the second officer, who had only gone
out a few minutes before, came running back to say
that an Indian had just been murdered outside the
gates. On going to the gallery, they saw a group
of Indians with muskets in their hands, surrounding a man who was evidently seriously wounded ;
suddenly two others rushed up, and despatched the
wounded man on the spct.   The murderer proved /!
£? trangtt tljan jfirtton.
instrument supposed to be the abode of a spirit^
kept up a hideous noise, alternating between a low
growling and a loud whoop. In a little time the
naked youth would again start up, and assuming a
crouching posture, pushing his arms out behind
him, and continually tossing back his flowing black
hair, would proceed a few yards. Meanwhile he is
intently watched by the group about him, and
whenever he pleases to sit down, they again surround him, and commence singing; after this has
gone on for some time, the youth suddenly dashes
off, and, followed by his train, makes a dart into
every house belonging to his tribe in succession.
This over, he usually takes a ramble on the tops of
the same houses, carefully watched all the time by
his attendants. By-and-by he condescends to
come down, and makes off to his den, which is
distinguished and kept sacred from intrusion by a
rope of red bark hung over the doorway, and into
which none are allowed to enter but the initiated;
those outside being only able to guess at what is
going on by the alternate hammering, singing, and
shouting, which for some time is kept up almost
Of all these parties, the cannibals are by far the
most dreaded.   One morning Mr. Duncan, induced   Stfficultus Sfteali^eo-. 17
by an unusual commotion in the camp to go out
on to the gallery of the stockade, saw hundreds
rushing to the beach and taking to their canoes, as
though flying for their lives. Inquiring the cause
of so strange a proceeding, he was told that the
cannibal's party, having failed to find a dead body
to devour, were expected to seize upon the first
living one they met with; hence the precipitate
flight of the population.
Both before and after this stage of initiation,
other proceedings, to which an almost equal amount
of importance is attached, take place. Before it
the pupils have to pass several days alone in the
woods, where they are supposed to receive supernatural gifts; as, however, on their return they are
supposed to be invisible, the encouragement to
evade the greater part of the ceremony is manifestly great.
As a grand finale to the whole proceedings, the
pupil is expected to give away all his property, and
as no one is admitted amongst the " allied " unless
he or his friends have not only amassed considerable
wealth, but are willing to reduce themselves to
absolute beggary, this forms no unimportant part
of the ceremony. The chiefs being the persons
who benefit most by this distribution of property
/ the practice has an evident tendency to enlist" the
interest of all the most powerful men of the tribe in
favour of the existing state of things.
The first occasion on which Mr. Duncan witnessed this ceremony was one Sunday morning not
long after his arrival. Startled by a peculiar noise
which he had not before heard, he was induced to
go out towards the camp, where he quickly saw
the cause of the excitement. A man who had
finished his education as an " allied " was going to
give away his goods. He was proceeding to a
distant part of the camp, and stepping all the way
like a proud unmanageable horse; behind him were
fifteen or twenty men, all holding on to a. kind of
rope which went round his waist: they were
pretending either to hold him back or to prevent'
him from escaping; all the time they kept up a
deafening noise with the peculiar instrument which
has so much to do with their superstitions. Presently this party was joined by another, and shortly
after by a third, all bent on the same errand. The
competition between them seemed to be to see
which could make the greatest noise and look the
most unearthly.
Whether in connexion with: the initiation of the
"allied," with house-building, or with any other of Sifficultus 3ftealt$rtr. 19.
the numerous occasions on which it commonly
takes place, this giving away of property is one of
the niost characteristic features of the domestic
life of the Tsimsheean Indians. Their sole object
in attaining" wealth is to hoard it up till they can
indulge in a grand display of liberality in giving it
away. The chiefs, when they have thus reduced
themselves to poverty, can rely on being quickly
recQuped by return presents, but the poorer sort
are often involved in great suffering; owing; to their
compliance with the prevailing custom. Mr. Duncan mentions the case of one chief who gave away
at one time as many as 480 blankets, worth to him
as many pounds.
The camp on these occasions presents a very
animated appearance. Hanging from house to
house, or on lines put up for the purpose,
hundreds of yards of cotton flap in the breeze.
Furs are nailed up in front of the houses,
blankets and elk-skins are exhibited on men
perambulating the village in sftlgle file, whilst hundreds of yards of cotton, after hanging out for the
best part of twenty-four hours, are brought down
to the beach, run out at full length, and triumphantly borne away by a number of bearers, walking
about three yards apart, to their new possessor.
C  2 20
dtrangtr than dTiction.
11 is a point of honour with the members of every
tribe to enable their chief to make a good display.
The gifts are thus first given to the chief, and then-
appointed by him to fresh owners.
It should, however, be added that every chief is
looking forward to the time when, by virtue of a
certain number of these free distributions, he shall
have acquired the right to receive only, and not
to give. To the chiefs, therefore, the custom is
nothing more or less than a rude form of life assurance.
These were the scenes which, during the day,
Mr. Duncan was continually witnessing all through
the winter months. The nights, he found, were
given up, to a much greater extent than any one
would have expected, to amusements, especially
singing and dancing, varied by exhibitions of tricks
by the medicine men, who generally appear either
disguised in the skins of different animals or in
huge masks, the different parts of which are
moved by strings. The great feature of the entertainments on these occasions was for the medicine
men to pretend to murder, and then to restore to
life. The cannibals, as a matter of course, were
supplied with human bodies, which they tore to
pieces before their audience. ttl
©tflfculttes afoalt^eo'.
Such was the stronghold of Satan which had to
be assailed. That, the medicine men would not
readily yield their pre-eminence there seemed,
unhappily, no doubt; whilst it was only too probable that self-interested motives, if not superstitious
fear, would enlist on their side the sympathies and
the active support of all the chiefs. Those who
had been long resident at the fort, and knew the
tenacity with which the Indians cling to their
ancient customs, shook their heads, and doubted
much whether any good could possibly be done
against such apparently overwhelming odds. Mr.
Duncan alone was confident throughout. He
alone did not even regard the attempt as a mere
I forlorn hope." True, the " strong man armed"
was I keeping his house," and " his goods were in
peace;" but in the strength of One " stronger than
he" he hoped to be enabled to "take away his
armour in which he trusted, and to spoil his goods."
The word of God, faithfully preached, was the
weapon—sharp and powerful—which he proposed
to wield, and which he trusted to find mighty to the
pulling down of this apparently most impregnable
fortress. CHAPTER III.
OWARDS the middle of June, 1858, by
which time the fishing season was well
over, and those who had been away
trading or hunting were beginning to
return, Mr. Duncan had, by hard study and constant intercourse with the people, made sufficient
progress in the acquisition of Tsimsheean to encourage him to make the long-looked-forward-to
attempt of addressing the Indians publicly in their
own tongue.
Thinking it most prudent at first to read what he
had to say, he had for some time been engaged in
preparing a written address, which, with the assistance of Clah, he had at length completed, not of
course entirely to his own satisfaction, but still, as
well as he could expect.
His next step was to go round to all the chiefs,
and ask permission from each one to use his house to address his people—a request which was readily
When the day arrived, it turned out very wet,
and as the time drew near for the gathering in the
first chief's house it poured in torrents. In spite,
however, of this drawback, upwards of a hundred men
had assembled. For a moment, as he stood up to
speak for the first time under such novel circumstances, Mr. Duncan's heart fainted in him, and
the thought flashed across him, that, after all, he
had better use his Indian tutor, who had accompanied him, as an interpreter. Happily, Clah
refused to entertain such an idea for a moment, so
that he saw at once that no assistance could be expected from him, and that he must brace himself
up for the effort.
Telling the Indians to shut the door, he knelt
down and prayed that God would give him strength
and power of utterance. Then he read his
address to them. All were very attentive, and
showed plainly enough by their looks that they
understood, and to some extent appreciated, what
was being said.
After the address, they at once complied with his
request that they would kneel down whilst he
prayed to God to bless the work thus begun. 24
Jgtranger tfian jfu-tum.
At the house of the next chief all was in readiness, a canoe sail having been spread for Mr..
Duncan to stand upon, and a box, covered with a
mat, placed as a seat. About 150 persons were
present; and again all were most attentive, and
knelt during prayer. In this manner each of the
other seven divisions of the tribe were visited in
succession, the gathering in each case taking place
in the chief's house. The friendly reception, the
care with which the requisite preparations had been
made, and the thoughtful attention with which he
was listened to, were all sources of encouragement.
The smallest congregation was ninety, and the
largest 200. The' compliance with the request
about kneeling was universal. In the house where
there were over 200 present there was some confusion, but the moment the prayer was begun theyx
were perfectly silent.
In all about 900 persons, including some strangers
from surrounding tribes, must thus, for the first
time, have heard the sound of the Gospel.
Thus was granted the earnest prayer with which
Mr. Duncan had commenced his labours, that " He
to Whom belongs all power in earth and heaven
would bid all difficulties vanish before His feeble
servant, and bring another long-estranged tongue _ i •iMiflfrlfii •*»■
SMovft Commmcrt. 25
from the confusion of Babel into His blessed and
soul-raising service."
The conduct of two chiefs about whose friendly
bearing some doubts had been expressed was, as
far as it went, encouraging. The head chief,
Legaic, whose house had been visited second in
order, was notorious for his evil deeds, but in spite
of this, he was not only present but earnestly
admonished his people to behave well.
Another chief had, only a few days before, killed
a slave merely by way of gratifying his pride ; his
house was prepared as neatly as any, but he had
himself gone away some distance, probably being
ashamed to be present.
As Mr. Duncan for the first time unfolded the
gospel plan of salvation, and exhorted them to leave
their sins and seek pardon for them through Christ,
warning them of the consequences if they refused,
and setting forth the happiness of obedience, it was
evident, from the significant looks which passed from
one to another, that his meaning was clearly enough
understood ; on many countenances, indeed, alarm
was the predominant expression, yet, on the whole,
there seemed a general willingness to receive the
message as one which commended itself alike to
their judgment and conscience.    This was probably 26
Stranger than Jfirti'on.
to be accounted for by the extent to which the new
doctrines propounded to them harmonized with
the general principles of their own traditional belief
in the existence and attributes of a Supreme
The Indian name for the Supreme Being, Shi-
mauyet-lakkah (from Shimauyet, chief, and Lak-
kah, above) would seem to indicate a more
limited and material view of'the nature and attributes of the Deity than they really entertain.
Though regarding Him only in the light of a great
chief, they believe that He is immortal, that He
observes all that is going on amongst men, and
that He is frequently angry and punishes offenders.
The idea of two states after death—one above
for the good, and another below for the evil—is
also a familiar one to them. They believe the good
will be greatly honoured, and the bad treated as
slaves. That in both* states life will be supported
by food, they take for granted. As a curious
illustration of this may be mentioned the fact that
when, in the fishing season, the fish escape their
nets, they attribute it to the activity of the wicked
They have no idea^of God having made them or
the universe, but of His' general moral government Wloxk Comnuiurtf.
they have a keen perception: appealing to Him continually for pity or deliverance, especially in times
of sickness.
The extent to which they regard Shimauyet-
lakkah as the direct author of any misfortune which
may befall them, is very remarkable. Not less so
is the way in which, when driven to desperation by
an accumulation of troubles, they will vent their
anger against him. Losing all self-control, raising
their eyes and hands in savage anger to heaven,
stamping their feet furiously upon the ground, and
uttering fearful imprecations, they will again and
again revile him as a "great slave"—the strongest
term of reproach which their vocabulary affords
A few days after this first attempt, Mr. Duncan
went round to call upon all the chiefs, taking each
of them a trifling present, to mark his sense of the
kindness which they had shown him. A few caps,
and one or two articles ^of clothing, all taken from
a box sent out by some English ladies, were received with a gratitude which could not have been
surpassed had the gifts been of considerable value.
They were evidently as much pleased as surprised
by the recognition of their courtesy and assistance. 28
Stranger tfian dftttton.
The immediate result of the kindly feeling which
these events created was the offer by one of the
chiefs of the use of his house for holding school
Some time before this, Mr. Duncan had commenced school with a few very young scholars, and
had only been watching his opportunity for beginning on a more extended scale. He, therefore,
gladly closed with the offer; and as soon as he
had completed a few necessary preparations, again
started to visit all the chiefs and inform them of
his intention to commence school on the following
Monday. Not only was he received as usual with
great courtesy, but, to his great delight, considerable satisfaction at his proposal, and a general
desire for instruction was expressed, not always by
words, but by looks and gestures no less significant.
On the Monday morning, Mr. Duncan duly
arrived at the chiefs house, to commence his new
work. He found that the chief and his wife had
made every possible preparation. Ever}' thing was
as clean an&heatly arranged as possible, and a tent
placed upon a mat was ready for his use.
Mr. Duncan had arranged to have the children
in the morning and the adults vn the afternoon. SS&orh Commence*.
About twenty-six children made their appearance,
all, with one exception, looking unusually neat and
clean. In the case of the only child of whom this
could not be said, it turned out that it was not
disrespect or poverty which prevented his dressing
as his companions, but superstition. The winter
before, his initiation into the medicine mysteries
had commenced ; and to have worn any thing, besides a blanket or a skin during the next twelve
months would have been an offence for which he
would have expected to have been visited by some
terrible* calamity.
The children proved themselves very attentive
and promising scholars.
The afternoon gathering was not, on the whole,
so satisfactory. There seemed a superstitious
dread amongst the people as to the probable effect
of this new movement, and none liked to be the
first to try the experiment; even the few, fifteen
in all, who did muster courage to brave the
dangers, which their medicine men had doubtless
instilled into their minds, were evidently very
nervous about the possible effect of their rashness.
The chief and his wife, in whose house the school
was held, were themselves most anxious to learn.
But after due consideration they had decided to 3°
Stranger than jftrtton.
attend in the morning with the children, sheltering
their dignity under the specious pretext of helping
to keep order.
Just as the school work-was getting fairly under
weigh, the settlement was suddenly thrown into a
state of confusion, which at first seemed likely to-
render it necessary to close the school again for a
time. A party of Indians had arrived from Queen
Charlotte's Island. As they had a large quantity
of food to trade with, and were likely to prove
profitable lodgers, a difficulty arose as to which-
tribe should entertain them. This led to a good
deal of contention, and in the midst of a great deal
of firing and shouting the strangers were hustled
and robbed, one or two wounded, and several taken
prisoners. A second party from Queen Charlotte's
Island coming a day or two after in three canoes-,
were also attacked and driven into the woods
their canoes being plundered, and then broken up.
Some of the tribes now espoused the cause of the
strangers; thus the quarrel spread, and fighting
was soon going on in all directions. This lasted'
for some days,-most of the people keeping, their
houses shut, and retiring to holes sunk for such
occasions (truly a significant fact!), and a few of the
more daring carrying on the contest 32Uorfe CommtnceS.
At one time it seemed almost impossible to continue the school in consequence of the firing and
shouting and general disturbance. But, happily,
before the necessity for suspending work had been
admitted, a truce was concluded, and matters again
settled down into their usual course.
The only serious difficulty which now presented
itself to the rapid development of the school work,
was the jealousy excited amongst the other chiefs
and their people, by the preference given to the
chief in whose house the school was held.
I You will have all the people to teach as soon as
your own house is built," said one chief. Another,
when Mr. Duncan visited him, pointed with evident
pride to the work in which he was engaged. He
had got one of the most promising scholars from
the school, and was learning from him the letters
of the alphabet, which were chalked out on a board
before him, and said that he did not intend that
any one should be able to read before him.
About the desire for instruction, therefore, there
was happily no doubt. Under all the circumstances, Mr. Duncan decided that as the chief who
had lent him the use of his house was going away
for a time, it would be well to give up!the school for
a few weeks, and in the mean time to make arrange- 32
Stranger than* dft'ction.
ments for getting such a room as was required
Towards the middle of July, Mr. Duncan determined to give a second public address to the
people. As the preparation of a sermon in Tsimsheean was still a work of considerable labour,
and he was soon continuously engaged, not only
with his school work, but with evening classes, and
Sunday services for the residents in the fort, it was
not until the middle of July that he was able to
make this second attempt to bring home to the
people the real object of his coming among them.
As on the first occasion, he went to each of the
tribes separately, and, indeed, followed throughout,
precisely the same plan of proceeding.
Of all who were present at these gatherings, one
man only—Quthray, another name of especial note
in our history—one of the chief medicine men, and
head of the cannibal gang, refused to kneel when
asked to do so. The angry scowl with which he
regarded the whole proceeding showed that he saw
in it danger to his " craft."
The exception was more noteworthy than it
seemed at the time. Had he known then half as
much as he learned afterwards by painful experience, Mr. Duncan would have been at no loss
';i;;4- Wiovk Commenced.
to recognize in the muttered imprecation with
which, as the meeting broke up, Outhray went his
Way, the first faint rumbling of the storm which
was so soon to burst upon him.
RITISH COLUMBIA presents a coastline abounding in deep indentations, in
one of the largest and most northern of
which stands Fort Simpson. About
the centre of the bay the sweeping curve of the
coast is broken by a channel which forms a small
peninsula. On this is situated the fort and the
Indian camp. For the convenience of launching
their canoes, the Indian houses are all built along
the beach, and as near as possible to the line of
high-water mark. Behind the settlement the ground
rises for about half a mile towards an impenetrable
forest. The intervening space, having been cleared
by the constant cutting of firewood, presents nothing
but a waste of grey stumps of trees, a few bushes,
and dead grass. Looking northwards, the eye rests
upon a rugged, mountainous coast-line, and numerous lovely islands, one or two of the southernmost 3 Cvisii.
of which help to protect the bay from the heavy
splash of the Pacific, and to make it a safe harbour
for ships seeking refuge in bad weather.
As the Indian settlement extended along the
shore on both sides of the fort, it was necessary, in
order that it should be as central as possible, that
the school-house which Mr. Duncan proposed to
build should be erected close to the fort. The inconvenience of this arrangement, as bringing it into
close proximity with the back of the house of the
head chief, was not at the time foreseen.
The Indians were anxious to render evesy assistance in completing the new building, and, under
Mr. Duncan's direction, the timbers were soon cut
at a spot some distance along the coast, hauled
down to the beach, formed into a raft and floated
down to the settlement. Hardly, however, had
they commenced to carry the wood up the hill than
an event occurred which, but for the confidence with
which Mr. Duncan had inspired all about him,
might have led to serious results. In making a
great effort to raise a heavy log, one of the workmen suddenly fell dead. The news instantly spreading through the camp, a crowd quickly assembled,
all in a state of the greatest alarm.
Mr. Duncan at once suspended the work, leaving
D 2 :ff
it to the people themselves to propose its being recommenced. This, after a few days, they did, and
a day, the 17th of September, was accordingly fixed
for making a fresh start.
By six o'clock in the morning of the day named,
Mr. Duncan went down to the raft, hoping to find
all ready to commence. But for some time it almost
seemed as if the superstitious fear caused by the
recent event would, after all, prevent any progress
being madfe. With the exception of some half-
dozen, the Indians contented themselves with sitting, Indian-like, at their doors, as if wishing only
to be spectators.
ATter waiting for some time, one of the half-dozen
men on the raft suddenly sprang to his feet, and, as
a sign for starting, gave a peculiar whoop, on which,
inadequate as their numbers were, they all sprang
to the work with a will Animated by their
example, about forty more rushed down at full speed
from their houses, and set to with an enthusiasm
which was almost alarming. Those who were too
old to work gathered round and urged on the others
with the most spirit-stirring words and gestures.
The heavy blocks and beams now began to move
up the hill with amazing rapidity, and by three
o'clock in the afternoon all were safely deposited on H CruJfa.
the proposed site. Two or three days later, the
work of building was commenced, and carried on
with the same zeal.
During the building, the only cause of uneasiness
arose from the superstition of the Indians, and their
dread of the slightest accident which could be construed into an omen of future evil; but, happily,
nothing further occurred to interfere with the successful completion of the work.
Mr. Duncan had proposed to buy the bark required for the roof and flooring; but, to his great
gratification, the Indians volunteered to contribute
boards for both purposes, urging that their own
houses were roofed with bark, and that the white
chief's teaching-house ought to have a roof and
flooring of boards. The offeringa were all presented
with a great deal of ceremony and show of good
feeling: many, who could not otherwise have contributed, taking boards from their own houses, or
even planks which formed part of their beds.
By November the 17th the school-house was
finished, and furnished with about fifty forms and
desks, manufactured by the same willing hands.
Hardly was the work thus happily completed,
than an unlooked-for reverse occurred: a great
portion of the roof being blown off in a violent At
Stranger tfjan dft'ction.
storm.    This was, however, quickly rectified, and
in the course of a day or two all was ready for use.
Mr. Duncan now reaped the fruit of his preliminary work in the chief's house during the summer.
No sooner did he make his appearance on the day
appointed for recommencing school, than his former
scholars rushed eagerly to the new building : whilst
one mounted the platform underneath the " steel,"
which served for a bell, and, to summon his more
timid companions to the place, made it" ring again
with his repeated blows.
Nothing could have been more auspicious than
the result so far of this new effort. Not only did
some fifty adults, and the same number of children,
at once enrol themselves as regular attendants, but
the chiefs of four out of the nine tribes actually
signified their intention of discontinuing their usual
heathenish ceremonies, for entering upon which the
time had again come round. Nor were there wanting evidences that the " medicine work" was likely
to be carried on but feebly amongst the other tribes.
A marked improvement too was observable
amongst the scholars. Every day their number
increased, whilst fewer of them appeared with their
faces painted according to their usual custom.
But what, in the meantime, of the "medicine % Crfeuf.
men"? That they would tamely submit to see
their craft thus brought to nought was not to be
expected. Of their opposition to all that was going
on they made no secret; nor was it long before
they induced several of the chiefs who had proposed
to abandon their usual ceremonies to reverse their
decision. Many were the arguments which Mr.
Duncan had with those who seemed most amenable
to reason; and at times it seemed as though he
had gained the day, and that they would still hoLl
to their first resolution.
A crisis was evidently approaching. Again and
again Mr. Duncan would come upon one of the
medicine parties engaged in all the revolting details of initiating new pupils, and though they did
not in any case offer him violence, but seemed rather
ashamed than otherwise of what they were doing,
rumours began to be whispered about pretty freely
that they were " talking bad," in other words, laying plans for some decided movement to vindicate
their position, and once for all free themselves from
an opposition which seemed to threaten serious
Matters were precipitated by the arrival of a
number of strangers from another tribe, to take
part in the "medicine rites" which were being car- 4°
Stranger tftan dfictton.
ried on in the house of Legaic, the head chief, which
it will be remembered was in close proximity to the
Irritated by the interruption caused by the striking of the I steel," and by the scholars constantly
passing and repassing'his door, Legaic appealed to
the gfovernor of the fort to induce Mr. Duncan to
close his school for at least the month during which
the medicine mysteries would be at their height.
After a long' consultation with the officers of the
fort, Mr. Duncan decided to go on as usual. The
result was, that the chief came down in his demands to a fortnight, declaring that if the school
was not closed for that time, he would shoot any of
the pupils who continued 'to attend.
In the meantime parties of medicine men began
to assemble in groups about the school, as though
minded to carry their threats into execution. In
spite of this, however, Mr. Duncan not only went
on with his work as usual, but induced as many as
eighty scholars to continue a pretty regular attendance.
At last the medicine men proposed, as an ultimatum, that four days should be allowed them free
of interruption.
This, again, was refused. & Crt'sfe. 41
All was now excitement. The next day, the
medicine party carrying on their work near the
school broke out with renewed fury, asserting that
the child of the head chief who was being initiated
had just "returned from above." First came a
message from Legaic to know whether Mr. Duncan
intended to persevere in holding school that day—
a question which was answered in the affirmative.
Then, on reaching the school, Mr. Duncan found
Legaic's wife, who had come to beg him to give
way, declaring that it was not so much her husband
as the tribe which insisted on it. Feeling, however,
that the battle must sooner or later be fought, Mr.
Duncan still held firm, and went himself to strike
the steel to call the scholars together.
During the morning all went on as usual, but in
the afternoon, just as the steel was about to be
struck, up came Legaic with a party of medicine
men, all dressed out in their usual charms, and in a
very angry voice ordered the boy who was about to
strike the steel, to cease. With some seven of his
followers, Legaic then came into the school-room,
the rest standing about the door.
His first object was to drive out the few scholars
who had already collected, and shouting at the top
of his voice, he bade them be off. I
Mr. Duncan at once came forward, and seeing
that their object was to intimidate him by their
numbers and frightful appearance, spoke to them
in as calm and conciliatory a tone as he could
assume. Telling them plainly of the evil of their
ways, he explained that threats could not possibly
affect him, as God was his Master, and he was
bound to obey Him rajher than them. The parley
lasted for more than an hour. At times Legaic
seemed to be inclined to give way, but he soon
broke out with more violence than ever. Drawing
his hand across his throat, he declared that he knew
how to kill people. Then looking to two men who
were with him, he said, " I am a murderer, and so
are you, and so are you, and what good is it for us
to come to school ?"
To this sally, Mr. Duncan responded by reminding them how often he had declared to them
that there was pardon through Christ even i for
Towards the close of the scene, two of the vilest-
looking of his followers went up to Legaic, and
whispered something in his ear, upon which he got
up from a seat he had just sat down upon, stamped
his foot on the floor, raised his voice to its utmost
pitch, and exhibited all the rage and defiance of ^gjjBSSI
& Crfefa.
which he was capable. Finding, however, all his
efforts either to persuade or intimidate alike unavailing, he at last withdrew, and, some sixteen
scholars being still left in the room, school was
We are not surprised to find entered in Mr.
Duncan's journal, written on the evening of the
same day, expressions of the,, deepest thankfulness
for his preservation. " I am still alive," he writes.
" I have heartily to thank that all-seeing Father,
Who has covered and supported me to-day."
To those who knew the Indian character, to say
nothing of the personal reputation of Legaic for
bloodthirsty cruelty and uncontrollable violence of
temper, the whole affair seemed well-nigh incomprehensible.
Here was a man—the greatest chief, not only in
that locality, but in the surrounding country, to
whom precedence and the place of honour would
have been at once accorded amongst the chiefs of
any tribe living within a radius of sixty miles—a
man, too, who had scarcely known what it was to
have his will disputed in the smallest matter, and
who had never before hesitated to sacrifice the life
of any who opposed him—thwarted and set at
nought, and that, too, not only in a matter in which 44
Granger tfjan dftctum.
all his strongest feelings were concerned, but
openly, in the presence both of his tribe and of
strangers. And yet the comparative stranger who
had ventured thus to set him at defiance seemed
likely to enjoy a perfect immunity from harm, and
to be destined, powerless as he really was, to carry
out his own plans without further let or hindrance.
Reviewing the whble circumstances of the case,
it is hardly possible to escape the conclusion that
they constitute one of the most striking instances
on record of the manner in which God's servants are
often carried safely through any great danger which,
in the path of duty, they meet calmly and trustfully.
Nor will it lessen, but rather intensify, this feeling,
if we pause for a moment to trace out the human
instrumentality by which, in the Providence of God,
this result was directly brought about.
From information given some time after by the
Indians themselves, it would seem, that whenever
medicine-men had threatened Mr. Duncan's life,
Clah, who had now become his constant attendant,
had declared that he regarded him as under his
protection, and that he should instantly avenge his
Nor was this a mere idle threat likely to be disregarded by those to whom it was made.    Partly 2i Crfete. 45
by virtue of his property, and partly in consequence
of the influence he gained by his intimate relations
with the European traders, Clah was recognized as
holding the rank of a leading chief. He was a man
of about forty. Generally holding a good deal
aloof from his own people, he was at the same
time a man of singularly determined character,
and keenly sensitive of any wrong, real or imaginary, done to any one who had any claim on his
protection. Only just before Mr. Duncan's arrival,
a woman, by some silly expression, had excited the
belief that it was owing to her influence that a piece
of wood, which was being carried by some Indians,
had fallen from their shoulders and seriously injured
one of his relations, a fact quite possible, according
to the superstitious belief of the Indians. Clah, on
hearing it, had instantly gone out, and finding her,
shot her dead on the spot, braving the revenge of
the woman's son, who, in spite of the compensation
of thirty blankets which Clah had at once paid,
would never forego the hope of taking blood for
blood. On the day of the concerted attack on
Mr. Duncan, Clah, who usually wore a European
dress—an ordinary pea-jacket and trousers—appeared in his blanket, loitering about the school.
No sooner did Legaic and his followers force their
— II
Granger than dftction.
way in than he instantly followed, and leaning
against the wall just inside the door, an apparently
unmoved spectator of all that was going on, literally
stood guard over his pupil and prote'ge. His skill
in the use of fire-arms, acquired during his long
intercourse with Europeans, was well-known ; and
Legaic was perfectly conscious throughout the
whole scene that it only needed the blanket to be
dropped aside for a revolver to be brought instantly
to bear upon him, and that in the event of any
injury being done to Mr. Duncan, whoever else
might escape, he certainly would not.
From the first moment, therefore, that he entered
the school, Legaic was aware that he was powerless,
and though excited at the time with drink, his
extreme rage and threatening attitude were probably merely assumed. Never a man of any great
courage, he was by no means prepared to face
instant death in defence of a system in which his
faith was probably already more shaken than he
cared to admit.
Thus, even after making all allowance for the
moral influence which, especially in religious
matters, the strong mind invariably exercises over,
the weaker, we can hardly doubt that, humanly
speaking, Mr. Duncan owed his life, on this occasion iiBliUI
& €x\iv&. 47
to the friendship and determined character of the
one Indian whom he had especially made his
The excitement created by the attack upon Mr.
Duncan, and the indignation amongst the medicinemen against Legaic for allowing himself to be
thwarted, were naturally very great. Threats of
violence to the scholars, if they continued to attend,
were again renewed, and with such an evident probability that they would be put into execution, that
Mr. Duncan at once decided that it would be well
to take the opportunity of the moral victory which
he had gained to make arrangements for holding
school for a short time in another part of the camp.
Happily there was no difficulty in inducing one of
the chiefs, who had throughout held firm to his
intention of abandoning the medicine mysteries, to
lend his house for the purpose; and in it, accordingly, the day after the scene which we have
described, the school was reopened, and upwards of
a hundred scholars attended.
Thus, in the good Providence of God, was the
crisis, for the issue of which all had been looking,
safely passed.
If the stand which Mr. Duncan had made was bold,
as some may think, almost to rashness, the result
— Ill
Stranger tljan dftctuw.
of the victory gained was such as, in his most
sanguine moments, he had hardly ventured to
This was especially the case with regard to the
I medicine " system. The chiefs who had at first
proposed to give it up were still plainly "halting
between two opinions," and needed but very little
to make them adhere to their proposed abandonment of its mysteries. Of course a custom which
for ages had been so universal, and so unhesitatingly
accepted, and round which clustered so many traditions and cherished superstitions, was not likely
to be set on one side at once. It was much that
the blow struck at it had manifestly produced so
great an effect as it had. Not only did many of
the chiefs show plainly enough that their confidence
in the whole system was gone, but they could no
longer conceal the fact, that they were thoroughly
ashamed of it. Like revellers overtaken by the
daylight—as the dawn of divine truth began to
break upon them, and the false glare of superstition
faded before the " true light," they seemed to recoil
instinctively from that in which they had so lately
gloried, but of which they were now ashamed.  •s
:ywMmwiw//Mi"7/ CHAPTER  V.
HE events related in the last chapter took
place only five days before Christmas.
(1858). On Christmas-eve Mr. Duncan
gave his scholars a long address explaining why the season was to be observed, not as they
had previously known it, merely as a special time
of riot and drunkenness amongst white people, but'
as one of " great joy" to " all people." At the same
time, he urged them all to bring their friends with
them on the following day.
Next morning there were some 300 people present. Mr. Duncan had determined to try the
experiment for the first time of dispensing with a
written address. He succeeded better than he had
expected. The Indians seemed to follow his
meaning very fairly; and as he.set before them the
love of God and His hatred of sin, and then enu- ,■ im
Stranger than dftctton.
merated the various sins, especially of drunkenness
amongst the men and profligacy amongst the women,
of which they were guilty, he could see that his
warnings as to their present and future consequences
went home to the consciences of many.
It so happened that whilst he was speaking, a
woman who was suffering under a frightful affliction,
the effect of her own vices, was seized with a sudden
illness, and obliged to be removed. A more striking
illustration of the effects of the sins against which
£hey had just been warned, or one more likely to
give force and point to any exhortation against
them, could not well have been imagined.
Aftes his address, Mr. Duncan questioned the
children on some simple Bible truths, concluding
the service by singing two hymns which he had
previously taught in the school.
Every Sunday much the same plan of proceeding
was adopted. Hymns already known were sung,
new ones were said over by the whole congregation
together, answers to questions in religious truth
were repeated in the same manner, a short address
was given, and the service concluded with singing
and a short prayer.
In addressing the people Mr. Duncan soon found
the necessity of adopting as much as possible the :Progreft$.
figurative style of language so common among the
Indians; for instance, he would adopt such arguments as the following: "If a chief is injured,
recompense must be made; if the offender is too
poor to make it, his relatives pay it. Unless
compensation is made, there is no reconciliation.
We have all made the Great Chief angry; we
could not pay; Jesus Christ undertakes to pay for
Or again. "When we die, we shall have to
appear before the Great Chief; if our hearts are
dirty, if our sins are not washed away, He will be
angry. 'The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from
all sin.' If we do not go to Him to wash away
our sins, what excuse shall we have to offer to the
Great Chief?"
As a rule the Indians were very quick in applying
to their own cases any thing which was said. Thus
we find Mr. Duncan about this time recording in
his journal:—
"During my address this morning I observed
one man (a spirited, bad man he is) to be very uneasy, and after a little time he shouted out something which I did not understand, but from his
looks and tone of voice I knew it v/as something
bad.    I went on as if nothing had happened.    He
E 2 52
Stranger tfjan dFtction.
looked enraged at me, and then hid his face hi
his blanket. Occasionally he would give me another
severe look, and then put down his head again.
When we stood up to pray, he moved towards the
door; I went on, and he kept still. On my finishing, he walked up to a woman, and whispered
something in her ear, and then very quickly disappeared. As I was walking from school, one of the
little boys told me tha^this man had been 'talking
bad;' and afterwards I inquired of a man that was
present what it was; all about, and he told me that
the man thought that I was speaking about him,
and telling the'people his bad ways, and he was
But it must not be supposed that preaching and
Sunday services were exclusively or even, mainly
relied upon as the means of conveying religious
instruction to the people;
Immediately after Christmas Mr. Duncan had
again taken possession of his own school-house,
and was soon hard at work with a large and increasing number of scholars. His first difficulty
had been how to deal with such large numbers- at
once; but by dividing them into classes, and
carefully adjusting the work which each class was
to do, he was able to make fair progress. J ■Jjfflin-1%
His next and chief anxiety was how best to
• make the school work subserve the primary object
of Christianizing the people. As a rule, both on
opening and closing school, he would give a short
address on some passage or narrative of the Bible;
.he would then make the whole school, children and
adults, learn one or two texts in their own language,
and repeat them together. These he would explain
again and again, taking care that a text once
learnt should be repeated sufficiently often, at
various times, to fix it deeply in the mind.
Singing again, which was perhaps, of all others,
the most popular part of the school work, proved
an important vehicle of instruction.   Various simple
• hymns, embodying the leading truths of Christianity,
were soon translated, and were learned with the
-greatest possible interest by young and old.
Early in 1859 a set of illustrated Scripture lessons
was sent up from Victoria. These proved of the
greatest use. One of the first pictures represented
Noah and his family sacrificing after leaving the
ark. The Indians at once recognized in the sacrificial act a custom long in use amongst themselves.
This of course afforded a stepping-stone from their
own system to the sacrifice of the Lamb of God.
Seeing; an evident reason for the custom of sacri- 54
Stranger tfian dftctton.
ficing, they seemed at once to gain a clearer
conception of the object to be gained by the sacrifice of the death of Christ.
The whole subject of the Flood proved to be one
of peculiar interest. The Tsimsheeans, it appears,
Jaave a tradition that many years ago all people,
with few exceptions, " perished by water." Amongst
the few who were saved were no Tsimsheans ; and
how their nation was reproduced is to this day, they
say, a mystery to them.
But the tradition of a widely-extended Flood is by
no means confined to particular tribes. Preaching
at a later period at a spot nearly a hundred miles
from Fort Simpson, and alluding to the Flood, as
described in Scripture, Mr. Duncan saw at once
that he had touched upon a favourite topic; and
on talking afterwards to one of the chiefs on the
subject, the latter at once volunteered the following
"We have a tradition," he said, "about the
swelling of the water a long time ago. As you are
going up the river you will see the high mountain
to the top of which a few of our forefathers escaped
when the waters rose, and thus were saved But
many more were saved in their canoes, and were
drifted about and scattered in every direction.    The Ikogress.
waters went down again ; the canoes rested on the
land;, and the people settled themselves in the
various spots whither they had been driven. Thus
it is the Indians are found spread all over the
country; but they all understand the same songs
and have the same customs, which shows that they
are one people."
But to return to Mr. Duncan and his school.
During the rest of the winter all went on well. Not
only were many of the scholars making considerable
progress in learning to read simple sentences in
their own language, but there were many indications
that some at least were ready to be " doers of the
Word, and not hearers only."
In the school this was shown, both by the increased attention and earnestness, and by the continually-decreasing number of those who persisted
in painting their faces, and wearing the hideous
lip and nose rings.
But it was not only in the school that there was
evidence of some real good having been effected.
In spite of an unusual quantity of spirits having
been brought to the camp by traders, there had
been scarcely any fighting or quarrelling throughout
the winter, and not a single murder had been committed,—an event quite without precedent. 5^
Stranger than ffiictiort.
At the same time the " medicine work" had been
carried on with much less spirit, being entirely
dropped by one or two tribes, and robbed of half its
horrors amongst others.
Another fruitful source of the influence which Mr.
Duncan was now daily gaining with the Indians,
was the constant and friendly intercourse kept up
.with the people by means of house-to-house visiting,
and, as far as possible, by constant ministrations to
the sick.
Here is an extract from Mr. Duncan's journal
which will serve to illustrate the manner in which
these visits were often turned to account.
Writing on December 29th, 1858, not many days
after his contest with Legaic, he says, " After school
to-night I went to take a little medicine to a sick
man, and found in his house a group of Indians of
the tribe which have lately sent a party of medicine
men here to show themselves off. I therefore felt
an increased desire to set the Gospel forth on this
visit, that these poor creatures might go back and
tell their people something of the glad tidings they
had heard. Their village is about eighty to a
hundred miles away from here, I think. For some
time I could not begin; however, I would not
go away, but stood musing and praying, my heart JJrogreSS. 5 7
.burning, but full of misgiving.    At last an oppor-
■ tunity was afforded me, and I began ; and by God's
blessing I was enabled to set the Gospel clearly and
• fully before them, that is, as to the essential and first
great  truths  of it.    While   I was  speaking   one
■ or two would make remarks as to the truth and
•reasonableness  of what   I   said.     Several   times
one man exclaimed, 'Ahm melsh! ahm melsh!'
'Good news \ good news !' And another, when I had
done, said, 'Shimhow,' which means, 'It is true;'
and it is adequate, in their way of speaking, to
' Amen,'' I believe.' They all seemed thankful for
my visit; and I hope the Lord will bless it. I tried
to enforce the duty of love and obedience to God,
by alluding to the attachment and obedience they
expected from their children. To this they agreed,
and expressed their full belief that the Indians
would not be long before they would be altogether
The Indians, being in the habit of attending their
sick with great kindness, seemed thoroughly to appreciate any sympathy and attention shown them;
at the same time, such were their strange notions
on the subject of disease, that the greatest caution
was necessary to avoid coming into collision with
some deep-rooted superstition 58
Stranger than dftctton.
Nearly all bodily afflictions, and most deaths,
are attributed to the secret working of some malevolent person. This being the case, when a person
of importance dies, it is thought essential that his
friends should fix upon some one as the cause of
his death. A slave, a stranger lately arrived, or
any one known to have had a quarrel with the
deceased, is usually fixed upon, and nothing short
of his death will expiate his supposed crime.
Under these circumstances, it has sometimes happened that a white man, giving medicine which has
failed to save the patient's life, has been looked
upon as the cause of his death, and an instance is
on record, amongst the American Missionaries, of
one of their body falling a victim to this absurd
suspicion of his motives.
As a rule, sick persons would of course send for
one of the native doctors, a class differing in some
respects from the ordinary "medicine men." He
would probably try some of the simple remedies
resorted to in ordinary cases, and, in the failure of
these, to incantation. This latter process is thus
described by Mr. Duncan :—
"The instrument used is a rattle, generally in
the shape of a bird or a frog, in the b.ody of which
a few small stones are placed.     This is whirled about the patient while a song is sung. Occasionally the doctor applies his ear, or his mouth, to
the place where the pain or disorder chiefly rests.
It is also very common at this stage to make
incisions where the pain is felt, or to apply fire to
the place, by means of burning tinder made of dried
wild flax. If relief follows these measures, the
doctor asserts that he has extracted the foul substance that has done the mischief: which substance
is supposed by them to be the bad or poisonous
medicine some evil-disposed one had silently
inserted into the invalid's body. At such an announcement, made by the doctor, the patient, and
the patient's friends, overjoyed at his success,
liberally present him with such property as they
have got. If, however, a relapse ensues, and the
invalid dies, the doctor returns every particle of the
property he has received. When no relief follows
the first trial, a more furious attack is made another
time. If still without effect, there is but little hope
of the patient's recovery.
"Another curious matter connected with this
operation is, that when the doctor has got pretty
warm in his work, he boldly asserts that he can see
the soul of his patient if it is present. For this
he shuts his eyes for some time, and  then pro- 6o
Stranger than Jftction.
nounces his sentence. Either the soul is in its
usual place, which is a good sign; or it is out of its
proper place, and seems wanting to take its flight,
which makes the patient's case doubtful; or else it
has flown away, in which case there is no hope for
the invalid's recovery. The bold deceiver does not
even hesitate to tell the people that the soul is like
a fly in shape, with a long curved proboscis."
The first occasion on which Mr. Duncan visited a
sick person, who, with the consent of his friends,
had deliberately refused the aid of the native
doctors, was towards the close of the year 1858.
" Last night," he writes, "was the first time I had
ventured out in the camp during dark. It was to
see a poor dying woman, sister to the late head
chief. I had seen her three or four times before,
but could do her no good ; still, as her friends had
come to the fort desiring aid, I accompanied them
back. On arriving at the house, I found the sick
woman laid before a large wood fire, around which
some twenty Indians were squatted. After administering a little medicine, I began speaking to them
a few words which the solemn scene suggested. I
pointed out to them our condition and only remedy
in Jesus our adorable Saviour, adding, too, upon
what conditions we are saved by Him.   They all '■iftfrliiiTgil
iProgreStf. 61
understood what I said, and two of the women that
sat close at the head of the sick person very
earnestly reiterated to her my words, and questioned her if she understood them. It was, I think,
the most solemn scene I have witnessed since I
have been here. Before I went away, one man said
that she and her people did not know about God,
but they wanted to know and learn to be good."
Contrasting this scene with one described at
about the same date in the following year (1859),
we see clearly enough the progress which had been
made, and the extent to which it was traceable
to the school teaching.
" I was informed, on coming out of the school
this afternoon, that a young man, who has been a
long time suffering in consumption (brought on by
a severe cold), and whom I have visited several
times, was dying ; so, after a little reflection, some
misgiving, and prayer, I started off to see him. I
found him, as his wife had said, dying. Over
twenty people were about him : some were crying,
and two, I am sorry to say, were partly intoxicated.
I looked on for some time in silent sorrow. When
I wished to speak, silence immediately ensued. I
rebuked the noise and tumult, directing the dying
man to fix his heart on the Saviour Jesus ; to forget 62
Stranger tfian dftctton.
the things about him; and to spend his little remaining time in praying in his heart to God to save
" His reply was, ' Oyes, sir! O yes, sir !' and for
some moments he would close his eyes, and seem
absorbed in prayer. On one occasion he* spoke of
his heart being happy or resigned ; I could not make
out the exact expression, as there was some talking
at the time, and the remark was in Tsimsheean.
"He begged me with much earnestness to continue to teach his little girl. He wanted her to be
good. This little girl is about seven years old : her
name is Cathl. She has been very regular at school
since I commenced, and has made nice progress.
Much to my comfort, a young woman sat by his
side who has been one of my most regular pupils.
She is in the first class, and can read portions of"
the Bible. Her intelligence is remarkable; and I
have observed her to be always listening to religious
instruction. Thus here was one sitting close to the
dying man who could tell him, much more accurately than I, the few directions I desired to utter.
What remarkable providence it seemed to me! With
tears in her eyes, she begged him to give his heart to
God, and to pray to Him. I longed to pray with
him,' and watched anxiously a long time for the opportunity. The opportunity came, and the
strength came with it. I knelt down by his side.
All was hushed, and I prayed from a full heart to
the Lord our God to have mercy upon the poor
soul about to come into His presence, for the sake
of His dear Son Jesus."
To one who was so anxiously watching for every
sign which could indicate how far the good seed,
which he was so continually sowing, was taking
root, there was much cause for encouragement in
such a case as this. From the first this man had
refused to allow the native doctor to operate upon
him. He showed that he understood and appreciated the leading truths of the Gospel, and was
constant and earnest in prayer. At his death,
which took place the next day, he had again assured
all about him of the certain hope of a joyful resurrection in which he died; and in parting with his
child had, with much feeling, repeated his wish that
she should not be allowed to fall back into the old
ways of his people.
In the spring of 1859, when the season for the
annual migration to the fishing-grounds came round,
many of the Indians were anxious to know whether
they ought to leave their children to attend the
school, or take them with them.    Knowing how 64
Stranger than jftctton.
important their help was to their parents, and feeling sure that if any failure of the year's provision
occurred, they would, whether rightly or wrongly,
attribute it to him and the school, Mr. Duncan in
every case urged their taking them with them.
Accordingly, about the middle of March, the
first grand detachment, consisting of about 200
canoes, started for the fishing-station, situated some
distance up a river which falls into the sea some
distance to the north of the fort.
After this the school was still kept on, though
the number of scholars was reduced to about forty.
Duringthe period of comparative leisure which the
absence of so large a proportion of the population
afforded him, Mr. Duncan devoted all the time which
he could possibly afford to the preparation of several
hymns and prayers, a short catechism, and a number of texts divided into classes, the first marking
the difference between the good and bad, the
second setting forth simple doctrinal truths, and
the rest referring to various practical duties. He
also prepared a series of reading lessons and a
number of books to be used by the scholars at
The day on which the main body of the people
had started for their fishing-grounds was destined iProgrc-Sg.
from that time forward to be a red-letter day in
Mr. Duncan's calendar. The constant stress which
he had laid upon the evils resulting from rum
drinking, and from the frightful immorality which
prevailed on all sides, and the contrast which the
scenes of riot and drunkenness afforded to the order
and general decorum which had now become the
rule of some few parts of the camp, had at last
decided the chiefs to take some steps in the matter.
Accordingly, a meeting was held at the house of
the head chief Legaic, at which all Mr. Duncan's
arguments were freely discussed and entirely
approved. In the end, the chiefs agreed to send a
message that they hoped Mr. Duncan would con-.
tinue to " speak strong" against the bad ways of
their people, and that they would themselves second
what he said with "strong speeches." But the
grand climax of all was, that Legaic himself sent
word that he intended to come to school—an intention which he happily soon carried into effect.
"April 6th, 1859.—The head chief," writes Mr.
Duncan, " was at school to-day. His looks show
that he well remembers his past base conduct; but
•I try to disregard the past, and show him equal
kindness with the rest."
Legaic's example ^as quickly followed by others, 66
Stranger than dftctum.
so that in the course of the summer as many as
four or five of the chiefs were often at school at the
same time.
One old chief (Neeslakkahmoosh), though he
held back himself for a long time, either from coming to the school or Sunday services, went so far as
to urge Mr. Duncan strongly to try and;get another
teacher to come out and help him. " We are willing," he said, " to give you our children to teach ;
but as for the grown people, we think it is well for
us to die as we are."
The daughter of this old chief was one of the
most intelligent and regular attendants at the
school, and never failed to repeat to her father all
that she heard and learnt. Gradually softening
under this influence, he at last consented to come
himself to school. The first day he made his appearance he formally presented Mr. Duncan with a
token of his good-will, in the shape of a carved
spoon of his own workmanship—an offering which,
though of no great intrinsic value, must, from his
age and dimness of sight, have cost him no little
time and labour.
On the whole, the general state of feeling; through-
out the settlement towards Mr. Duncan underwent,
in the course of the summer of 1859, a very marked
KlIAr sProgne&J,
change for the better. This was particularly manifested on one occasion. A notoriously bad character, named Cushwaht, on. being refused some
medicine at the fort, on account of his recent bad
conduct, had, Indian-like, sought to revenge himself on the first property belonging to a white man
which he could • get at. Taking a hatchet, he had
broken into the school and smashed all the windows.
On Mr. Duncan going on to: the beach with the
chief who had come to tell him what had happened,
he found the people in a state of great excitement,
one old man calling out to him " that the whole
camp was crying, and that many guns were waiting
for the villain, if he dared to appear."
It is hardly necessary to say that all Mr. Duncan's efforts were directed to allay the excitement,
and to make every one understand that he bore no
ill-will to the offender, and that nothing would
grieve him more than that any thing should occur
which might be construed into an act of retaliation.
Had the school been assembled at the time of
Cushwaht's attack, the affair might have proved
much more serious, as he was under the influence
of drink at the time, and always had fire-arms in
F 3
m 68
Stranger tfjan ^Fiction.
his possession. Indeed, it was only a few weeks
later, that on a quarrel, of which he was the cause,
taking place in his house, pistols were freely
used," and two women were shot, and he himself
Happily, so far from acting injuriously on Mr.
Duncan's work, these and such-like scenes only
tended the more powerfully to awaken the minds
of those who had been regularly under instruction,
and to deepen the impression of the teaching they
had received ; whilst to all they served as a practical illustration of the truth which he was so constantly pointing out to them, viz. that even on the
lowest grounds of expediency a thorough reform
was desirable.
Such, so far at least as it can be estimated from
the outward indications we have enumerated, was
the general result of the first two years of Mr.
Duncan's work.
His own views as to the nature of the foundation
which up to this time he had laid, we shall perhaps
best understand by glancing at the superstructure
which he hoped to rear upon it.
What, then, at this time were his hopes and plans
for the future ? progress.
Nothing more or less than to propose a general
exodus of the'whole body of those who had been
brought more immediately under his teaching, to
bid them come out from among their heathen
brethren, and form a separate Christian settlement,
where their young children could be brought up in
a purer atmosphere, and their .young men and
women could be freed from the contaminating;
influences which then surrounded them.
Such, in its briefest outline, was the plan, then
first put forward, which during the next two years
and a half we shall see gradually assuming shape
and consistency, until it finally issued in the establishment of the native settlement, the singular and
successful development of which has already constituted it one of the marvels of the day, and
promises ere long to revolutionize the whole policy
of American statesmen towards the Indian races,
and to lead them to commit to the messengers of
the Gospel of Peace a task for which in turn every
other agency has proved wholly inadequate. mpism
ICTORIA must be, I think, the most
lovely and beautifully situated place in
the world.   In the summer it must be
exquisite.      There   is   every   sort   of
scenery.     Sublime  mountains,   placid   sea,   noble-
forest   trees,  undulating   park-like   glades   interspersed with venerable oaks, inland lakes and rivers-,
abounding with fish.    The climate is thoroughly
English—a little milder.    It is astonishing to see
the rapidity with  which  the place  grows.     The
houses at present are chiefly of wood, but can be
made very comfortable and picturesque.    They run :
up with great speed, and sometimes run along, for
it is not uncommon to meet a house proceeding
down the street to some other location.    The shops
are  excellent; there is  nothing—no   luxury,   no
comfort—which you cannot procure V
1 Letter of the Bishop of Columbia. % Wisit to ^fctorta.
Such were the first impressions produced upon
the traveller on entering the capital of British
Columbia some ten years back. Describing the
population of the city, another writer says, " One
cannot pass along the principal thoroughfares without meeting representatives of almost every tribe
or nationality under heaven. Within a limited
space may be seen : of Europeans—Russians, Ays-
trians, Poles, Hungarians, Italians, Danes, Swedes,
French, Germans, Spaniards, Swiss, Scotch, English, and Irish; of Africans—negroes from the
United States and West Indies; of Asiatics—
Lascars and Chinamen; of Americans—Indians,
Mexicans, Chilians, and citizens of the North
American Republic ; and of Polynesians—Malays
from the Sandwich Islands. Thus Victoria has
become a nucleus for the waifs and strays of
humanity, drifting thither from the east and west.
What could be expected of a population so constituted, the unfavourable elements of which are continually stirred by an influx of miners migrating
to and fro ?"
Into this vortex of vice and dissipation—for such
it was—the Indians, both from the coast and the
interior of British Columbia, were continually
drawn, only to return to their homes tainted with I Ji!
Stranger tfjan dFtctton.
evil the most degrading and destructive, and possessed with a craving for ardent spirits, which
the traders who first encouraged it took every
opportunity afterwards of gratifying.
In the first instance the visits of the natives to
Victoria had been solely for the legitimate purposes
of traffic. Now they came with their wives and
daughters for the express purpose of keeping, with
the white settlers, a carnival of debauchery, and to
obtain money, often in large sums, from the most
profligate of the settlers, which they would generally spend as soon as it was obtained in the com-
. pound of the whisky-seller, or accumulate to take
back to their native villages.
Shortly before the time of which we are writing,
the Bishopric of Columbia was founded by the
noble offering from Baroness—then Miss—Burdett
Coutts of the sum of 25,000/. by way of endowment. On Dr. Hills, the first Bishop, going out in
i860, one of the first objects to which he directed
his attention was the state of the Indians in and
near Victoria. His first impressions are thus
given : " The tribes have much decreased since
1846. More than half of the Sonsrish are gone—
these live here; their destruction is occasioned
principally by drink and dissolute habits.    Those nearest the whites are the worst. Slavery has increased ; female slaves an* in demand; distant
tribes make war upon each other, and bring their
female slaves to the market. You will hardly
credit it, but it is strictly true,%-women are purchased as slaves to let them out for immoral
purposes. A female slave has been known recently
to be purchased for 200 dollars (40/.). The Indians
buy their wives, but slaves are more costly. Upon
an Indian woman recently killed in a brawl was
found 300 dollars (60/.), the wages of iniquity.
There is a white man, we trust not an Englishman,
near Langley, who owns such slaves, and hangs
out a sign over his door to signify the horrible
iniquity there pursued. An Indian named Bears'-
skin makes large profits by the traffic in female
slaves. The language uttered by Indians is sometimes very bad. They will exclaim in violent oaths
when put out, but, to our shame, the oaths are in
the English language, which the}' have learned
from Englishmen and Americans. They have no
oaths in their own language ! Even the children
catch quickly and use readily these horrid sounds.
Two Indian children who come to the Sunday-
school were striving together the other day, when
the older said to the other, ' What the h—11 are II
>trangcr tfjau dftctton.
you about ?' Alas ! that their first English words
should be such as these."
The evil thas  described had  grown to such a
'pitch, and had become such a crying disgrace, that
the Governor and other leading men in the colony
readily agreed to the Bishop's proposal that some
vigorous effort should be made to put a stop to it.
The influence which Mr. Duncan had gained
with the Indians at Fort Simpson, the fact that he
^was the only person in the country who could speak
the native language with any fluency, and, above
all, the marked improvement in the manners, and
bearing, and religious feeling which had been observed in the Fort Simpson Indians, all seemed to
point to him as the person of all others best able to
advise or help in the matter.
Bishop Hills' own impression of the value of Mr.
Duncan's work is thus given in one of his early
" Jan. 18, i860.—An Indian came to call. He
looked like a respectable English young man, of
pleasing countenance ; he could speak English a
little. He was a Tsimsheean, from Fort Simpson.
I visited his lodge yesterday. It was neat and
clean, and had comforts: a nice stove, bedstead ;
there was also a desk.     The wife, named Tarx &  Wisit to ©ictorta.
neat and pleasing. He is called John Clark—a
pure Indian. He has come to trade, and keeps a
stall. He complained of the Hyder-- Indians near
his lodge—another tribe, more fierce: ' Fight all-
day, all night—drink bad—I get no sleep—my
wife frightened—my little boy cry.' He told me
he prayed. He knew some of the leading points
of the Christian faith. He asked for a Prayer
Book.    I promised I would bring one.
" Janjii.—I went with Mr. Duncan to the Tsimsheean village. The Indians there come from Fort
Simpson vto trade. Found the lodge of Clark, to
whom I gave the Prayer Book. It was Saturday.
There were beautiful white loaves of bread, which
he had brought home. The whole interior resembled
that of a cotter in England on Saturday night. He
placed seats. He was pleased with his book. He
brought out a box with writing books and account
books. He writes a good hand, and spells fairly in
English. He repeated the Lord's Prayer in a most
reverent and touching way. He could tell of the
dying of Christ for us, and said he loved Christ.
We had interesting conversation, in which he evidently took pleasure. We all knelt down : he put
his hands together, made his wife and child do the
same, and I prayed our heavenly Father's blessing upon our plans, and upon these poor Indians ; that
He would cause His truth to be known by them,
that all might be brought to have the same hope,
and be meet partakers of heaven through Jrlis dear
Son. I see John Clark occasionally at church.
This pleasing result is owing a good deal to the
zealous and successful exertions of our Church
Missionary Catechist, Mr. Duncan."
Under these circumstances, the Governor had
urged strongly upon Mr. Duncan the service which
he would render by coming down to Victoria, and
advising on the best measures to be taken to rescue
the Indians from the state of degradation into
which they had fallen. Accordingly, as soon as
the great body of his people left Fort Simpson for
their fishing-grounds, Mr. Duncan, after making
two expeditio/is, to which we shall have to refer
hereafter, started for Victoria.
On his arrival there, he at once entered, with the
Bishop and the Governor, upon the object of his
visit, and, in deference to their strongly expressed
wish, consented to remain a sufficient time to organize a Missionary settlement near Victoria. A
public meeting upon the subject was then called,
and a sufficient sum of money having been subscribed to build a school-house,  Mr. Duncan  at 21 Wisit to Victoria.
once entered upon the work of organizing the new
Mission, preaching, teaching, and visiting the people,
just as at Fort Simpson.
Amongst the Indians congregated at the new settlement were a considerable number belonging to the
Tsimsheean and Niskah tribes, who at the close of the
fishing-season had come down for trading purposes.
Just before starting for Victoria, Mr. Duncan had
visited the Niskahs at their main camp on the Naas
river, and as he had been very hospitably and courteously received, Captain Prevost, whose ship was
now in harbour, determined, by way of returning
their hospitality, to ask some twenty-eight of the
chief men of the two tribes to an entertainment
on board the " Satellite." After being regaled
with rice and molasses, strong tea and biscuit, they
were shown over the ship. ' The size and weight of
the guns, the quantity of powder in a cartridge, and
especially a portrait of the Queen, are enumerated
by the Victoria Gazette as the objects which most
excited their wonder and admiration. The fact of
their being invited on board a man-of-war was a
compliment which they evidently much appreciated, and all the more from the sort of mysterious dread with which they had before regarded
such vessels.     As  an  acknowledgment   of  their 78
Stranger tfjan dfictton.
sense of the kindness shown to them, they insisted
on presenting to Captain Prevost several handsome
bear, ermine, and other skins.
It may not be amiss here to draw attention to
the importance of such a simple effort as the above
to strengthen the hands of those engaged in Mission
work. Who cannot imagine the tales which the
favoured few who had been the guests of the great
chief of the English nation on board one of her
own ships would have to tell round their camp-
fires, and how much of the prestige of the whole
affair would belong to him to whose influence they
would naturally attribute the fact of their being so
courteously treated ?
English governors and officials are happily now-
a-days seldom backward in doing all in their power
to aid the. Missionary clergy; but it may well be
doubted whether many realize as fully as those
staunch friends of all Columbia Mission work, Sir
James Douglas and Captain Prevost, the extreme
value of the indirect support which in such ways as
the above may so often be accorded them.
Early in August, a long-looked-for coadjutor in the
work at Fort Simpson—the Rev. L. S. Tugwell—■
arrived at Victoria from England, and it was decided
that Mr. Duncan should go up there with him and & Btek to Victoria.
settle him in his work, and then return himself, and
give up the winter to carrying on the new Mission
at Victoria. Accordingly, on the 13th of August,
Mr. Duncan started with Mr. and Mrs. Tugwell in
a steamer for Fort Simpson. On their way they
touched at Fort Rupert, where the Indians were
loud in their complaints of a white teacher having
been sent over their heads, as it were, to the Tsimsheean tribes beyond them, and were most urgent
in their request ■ to have a, Missionary settled
amongst them as soon as possible.
On arriving at Fort Simpson, Mr. Duncan decided not to return to Victoria by the same steamer,
.as he had purposed, but to remain for a short time
with Mr. and Mrs. Tugwell, and to go down again
in a canoe, a plan which would enable him to visit
the various Indian settlements along the coast, at
which it would otherwise have been impossible for
him to stop. Happily, however, before he was
ready to start, he received a letter from the Bishop,
informing him, to his great relief, that a clergyman,
the Rev. A. C. Garrett, had been found ready
to devote himself to the Indian work at Victoria.
The first impressions made upon a new-comer as
to the progress up to this time of the work at Fort
—■*■ 8o
Stranger tljan diction.
Simpson are thus conveyed in a letter from Mr.
" How I wish," he writes," the friends of Missions
in England could see Mr. Duncan's congregation
on the Sunday. They would indeed ' thank God,
and take courage.' I have never seen an English
congregation more orderly and attentive. With
but few exceptions, both the children and adults
come clean and neatly dressed. The children sing
several hymns very sweetly—a morning and even-
ing hymn, composed by Mr. Duncan ; a hymn to
our Saviour ; and another, beginning, 'Jesus is my
Saviour,' ' Here we suffer grief and pain,' &c, and
some others in English ; also one in Tsimsheean.
The Indians all up the coast are crying out for
teachers : ' Come over and help us.''
Writing about the same time, Mr. Duncan urgently presses the necessity for more men being
sent out, especially urging that with each Missionary clergyman should be sent a Missionary schoolmaster, able to teach some industrial occupation,
with a view to finding employment for the Indians,
and thus keeping them from that " sink of corruption," Victoria.
" There should be," he writes, " six stations north
of Fort Rupert: one for the Tsimsheean, one for
l&fP & ffliifit to Victoria.
the Niskah Indians, two for Queen Charlotte's
Island, one for Fort Rupert, and one on the
adjacent mainland."
Hitherto, owing to the want of funds, the work'
thus indicated has been left in a great measure
unattempted. Is it unreasonable to hope that the
record of the result of Mr. Duncan's own labours
may yet stir the hearts of some of those whom God
has blessed with this world's goods, to dedicate
some portion of them to an effort so manifestly
tending to His glory, and the welfare of His
creatures ?
N Mr. and Mrs. Tugwell joining Mr.
Duncan at Fort Simpson—the Hudson's Bay Company being no longer
able to offer the requisite accommodation—it became necessary to commence at once
to build a dwelling-house.
For a payment of a shilling a-day a sufficient
number of native workmen were obtained, and by
the end of February, 1861, the foundation of the
house was laid, the planks adzed, and the frame
ready for putting up. Towards the end of February Mr. Duncan was absent for some weeks on a'
visit to Victoria, and on his return found the house'
finished, and Mr. and Mrs. Tugwell already located
in it. As it had been built on a plan " to accommodate Indians," it was decided that, during the
summer months, when the school would be small
and the congregation on Sunday would  seldom JJutllmtg up.
exceed a hundred persons, school and Divine Service should be held in it, instead of in the old
The old school-house having been found to be
too small, for the various purposes for which it was
required in the winter, preparations were next
made for erecting a new one. Taking sixteen men
and several boys with him, Mr. Duncan himself
superintended the cutting and squaring the requisite timber, camping out for that purpose for
about a fortnight at a spot some distance along the
coast. At the end of that time the wood was
made into a raft, and drifted down to the settlement. The old building was then pulled down,
and a fresh site chosen farther from the " camp."
The new building was seventy-six feet long by
thirty-six feet broad, and was estimated to cost
50/., a considerable portion of which was subscribed by the Indians themselves in the form of
native work—baskets, spoons, dishes, &c, which
were always saleable at Victoria. Owing to the
incessant rains during the summer the completion
of the building was delayed till quite the end of
the year (1861), by which time Mr. Duncan was
again left, as will be explained in the next chapter,
to labour single-handed.
G 2 On the first day of opening the new school-
house, upwards of 400 Indians were present, the
largest number which, up to this time, had ever
attended one service.
One object of the present narrative is, as far as
possible, to enable those who may be engaged in
any work of a kindred character to form an opinion
as to the advantages and disadvantages of the particular methods adopted, and to contrast the results
attained with those which they have themselves
known to follow efforts made under conditions more
or less similar.
With this view, and especially in order to register
as accurately as possible the extent of the progress
made at particular periods, we must again, at the
risk of seeming tedious, dwell separately on the
different influences brought to bear upon the people,
especially preaching, school-work, visiting the sick,
and constant personal intercourse with individual
members of the community.
During th2 whole of the winter 1860-61 the
attendance at the Sunday services was most encouraging—the congregation always numbering
from 200 to 300. The strings of well-dressed
Indians going to and from their homes had a very
home-like, English look,  and, as was constantly
mw JJutltfUTg tip.
remarked by the officers at the fort, served more
almost than any thing else to mark the change from
savage to civilized life which had already fairly
set in. There were always three services on the
Sunday—two for adults and one for children.
Prayers and a hymn, and a portion of Scripture
read and explained, all in Tsimsheean, made up
the service, which generally lasted about three-
quarters of an hour.
But Mr. Duncan by no means confined his
preaching to Sundays. True, he could here speak
to those who would come to him, but he wanted to
get at all, especially at those most committed to
the observance of heathen rites, and who would be
least likely to come to any regular services.
Here .are some notes made from his journal,
which will show the plan he from time to time
adopted to secure the Gospel message being proclaimed to all :— V -
" Jan. "jth, 1861.—Decided to call each tribe
together again separately, as some would not come
to school or church. First went to tribe of head
chief, called Heeshpokahlots. Got there at five
o'clock. Found a large fire, and many round it.
House neatly arranged, and a seat placed for me.
Spoke to 2co for two hours.    Many answered. 86
tranger than dft'ctton.
" Jan. Mi.—Addressed Kitlahn tribe. 200 present. Spoke at length. Many replies. Children
sang Tsimsheean hymn.
" Jan. gth.—Visited Keetseesh tribe. 150 present. Several spoke. One chief said, ' Our forefathers did not have the book sent to them ; it has
come, to us, and our children will understand it.'
Children sang hymns.
" Jan. 10th.—Visited smallest tribe, Keetsah-
clahs. Eighty present. No replies. Chief young,
and no old men, or leading minds.
" Jan. nth.—Visited Keetandol tribe. 200 present.
"Jan. 11th.—Visited Keenahtawik tribe. 150
present.    Several responded.
" Jan. 14th.—Visited Keenakangeak tribe. Answered their speeches.    A prolonged meeting.
" Jan. 17th.—Visited Killotsah tribe. 150 present.
" Jan. 2.0th (Sunday).—In evening visited Keet-
willgeeant's tribe.    150 present.
" Thus 1400 Indians have had the GospeFpro-
claimed to them."
Visiting the sick afforded another constantly
recurring opportunity of preaching. Here, again,
a few notes of Mr. Duncan's journal will serve best
to illustrate the course adopted :— JButtBtng up.
"Dec. $th, i860.—Visited and prayed with three
sick persons. As I knelt, an Indian of another
tribe came in. When I left, he followed me, and
said that the man I had been praying with had
spoken much against me and the Mission. Told
him of the Christian law, to return good for evil.
"Dec. nth, i860.—Last night, as I was leaving
school, a young man, a scholar, asked me to visit
and give the news to his friends. They were
ashamed to come. Went. Ten persons present.
Gospel preached.
"Dec. 12th.—Went at night to visit sick woman.
Thirty persons round the fire. Waited opportunity, and preached to them. All impressed. One
man, holding both hands out before himA gave a
sudden turn over, saying, ' Thus it will be with the
hearts of the Tsimsheeans.' Old chief sat with
eyes on the ground; listened to what was said
about the rum-drinking, immorality, &c, and then
repeated what I said to the rest. Visited a sick
woman. She had heard and understood about
God and Christ. Gave her and her friends simple
prayers. On leaving, came on a large medicine
party making a furious noise. They saw my lantern approaching, and began to restrain their
hubbub, then sneaked away between two houses,
■**i 88
Stranger tfiau Jftctton.
annoyed at my not being afraid of them. An
Indian would as soon face death as go near these
creatures when they are 'exhibiting.'"
As he gained the confidence of the people, Mr.
Duncan found the knowledge of medicine which
he possessed of material service in securing him a
cordial welcome to many houses to which he could
not otherwise have gained such ready access. " I
have," he writes in i860, "constant and numerous
calls from the Indians for medicine, which is a sure
mark of their growing confidence. Many times,
when leaving school, I have found strings of people
on the way to see me for advice and medicine for the
sick. After dismissing these, my plan has been to
take my pockets full of medicine and proceed to>
the camp. It would be difficult, indeed, to give
you any thing like a correct idea of this very interesting part of my duty. I can only say, that
many times, when I have gone out wearied in body
and dejected in mind, I have been so refreshed
with what God has permitted me to do and witness,
that I have returned with a heart leaping for joy."
The preparation of his discourses seems to have
been, in spite of the perfect mastery of the language
which he had now gained, a source of constant
and anxious labour,  though,  at the same time;,'
1 JSutlfcwg up.
one which,  more than any thing else, helped to
strengthen his own spiritual life.
" My plan has been to take the prominent portions of Old Testament history and the most striking passages of the New Testament, in every case
pointing to ' The Lamb of God, which taketh away
the sins of the world.'    My great difficulty hitherto
has been the language.    Many times have I gone
to an assembly of Indians with my heart, as it were,
on fire, and stood before them with a stammering
tongue, and dropped my words with fear and uncertainty.    But  now,  thank  God,   my  tongue  is
loosed ; I can stand now and speak the Tsimsheean
tongue    with   plainness,   fervency,   and    fluency.
Though I have not been able to devote much time
specially to the study of the language, yet I have
felt myself progressing daily.    The little time I
have afforded to it has served me to hunt out some
very important words to add to  my vocabulary,
also to translate hymns for school work ; but most
of the little time I could. spare I have spent in
studying the grammatical construction of the Tsimsheean.    The language is copious and expressive,
and, with few exceptions, the sounds are soft and
flowing.    There are five languages spoken along
this coast, and I have learnt a little of each, but
mSm 9°
Granger tfian dftctton.
find the Tsimsheean  much the   easiest to  pronounce."
But of all other work, that of direct instruction in
the school continued to occupy the largest share of
attention. The following extracts from a journal,
kept by a boy named Shooquanahts, of between
fourteen and fifteen years of age, given to Mr.
Duncan on his return from Victoria, will serve to
illustrate the progress already made with the
younger pupils:—
"No good lazy—very bad. We must learn to
make all things. When we understand reading and
writing, then it will be very easy. Perhaps two
grass, then we understand. *If we no understand
to read and write, then he will very angry, Mr.
Duncan. If we understand about good people,
then he will very happy.
"April j'jth. School, Fort Simpson. — Shooquanahts not two hearts—not always one my heart,
Some boys always two hearts. Only one Shooquanahts—not two hearts—no. If I steal any thing
then God will see. Bad people no care about Son of
God. When will come troubled hearts, foolish people. Then he will very much cry. -What good cry ?
Nothing. No care about our Saviour; always forget.
By-and-by will understand about the Son of God. ^Butlimtg up.
"May ijth.—I do not understand some prayers
—only few prayers I understand. Not all I understand—nor I wish to understand all prayers. When
I understand all prayers, then I always prayer our
Saviour Jesus Christ. I want to learn to prayer to
Jesus Christ our Saviour. By-and-by I understand all about our Saviour Christ. When I understand all what about our Saviour, then I will happy
when I
If I do not learn about our Saviour
Jesus, then I will very troubled my heart when I
die. It is good for us when we learn about our
Saviour Jesus. When I understand about our
Saviour Jesus, then I will very happy when I die."
Another of the boys writes in his journal:—" If I.
steal, the great God sees me. Bad people no care"
about the Son of God. By-and-by they will cry, but
no good. Foolish people. By-and-by they will
understand about the Saviour; they always forget
The general attendance at school averaged from
100 to 150, of whom from 40 to- 50 were adults.
The latter Mr. Duncan continually kept back, after
the rest of the school was dismissed, and addressed
them separately.
On the first of January, 1861, a grand school
ft ast was held, when some 250 were present—soup, 92
Stranger tfjan dftctfon.
rice, and molasses forming the chief of the provisions ; and speeches and games forming a prominent part of the proceedings.
It is perhaps hardly necessary to say that whilst
teaching the people, young and old, to be devout
and earnest, Mr. Duncan seems at all times to have
been keenly alive to the- advantage of encouraging
every rational and cheerful amusement, especially
'amongst the young. Gymnastic bars, swings, &c,
to say nothing of marbles and ball, are reported
as being in as much request as they could be in any
English school.
Personal intercourse with individuals was another
source of influence which Mr/Duncan seems never
to have lost any opportunity of bringing to bear.
On several occasions, when making an expedition
to some native settlement on the coast, or' to the
fishing-station on the Naas river, he would select
for the crew of his canoe those whom for any
particular cause he was anxious to see more of.
Every, evening he would choose some special
subject from the Bible for instruction and conversation, always concluding with singing and prayer.
On such occasions all the surrounding scenes would
help materially to lend effect to his teaching.
" The mighty works of God, spread out and piled Untitling up.
up on every hand—the brilliant stars just diluting
the darkness sufficiently to showthe forms of the lofty
mountains around them—the glare of their fire contrasting with the dark shadows of the dense forests
which ran almost down to the water's edge—the
murmuring of the waves, serving to break the
profound quiet—all helped to act upon the mind
and to inspire feelings of reverence."
. " Wherever they go they carry their religion with
them,'.' is the testimony which a few years later we
shall find borne again and again to the more
earnest of the Indian converts. Who shall say to
how great an extent this fact, may be traced to the
example which has "been thus consistently set
before them ?
The greatest difficulty was experienced in dealing
with the elder girls. The evil influence of a heathen
home and parents, and the association with depraved
Europeans, seemed, in most cases, to counteract
every influence for good which could be brought to
bear upon them. Many upon whom much pains
had been bestowed, and some of whom had been
living at the Mission-house under Mrs. Tugwell's
care for some time, were eventually drawn into the
vortex of vice, and lost. "Others," Mr. Duncan
writes, " I am happy to say, give me great hopes H
Stranger tftan dTictton.
that they will maintain a consistent walk : as their
case needs special watchfulness, I deem it my duty
to take them under my special care. I see no better
plan than taking a number into my house, feeding,
clothing, and instructing them, until they find husbands from among the young men of our own party.
I calculate the cost of one child per year to be 7/.
or 8/., viz. 5/. or 61. for food, and 2/. for clothing.
I shall do my utmost out of my own income, and
try to get help from other quarters." We shall have
to note hereafter the high testimony borne by the
Bishop of Columbia to the complete success of the
plan thus adopted.
The next source of influence to be noticed is one
of special interest, and carries us at once from
•merely preliminary efforts to the actual work of
"building up in the faith" individual converts.
"What I regard," says Mr. Duncan, "as the most
interesting part of my duty is the two weekday
evening meetings for the Christians and candidates,
or inquirers, whom I press more especially to
attend; but occasionally in my Sunday addresses I
allude to our meeting, and invite those to attend
who desire to practise what they hear. At our last
meeting we numbered over forty. These meetings
have encouraged me much, and have  given me 5$ttilUing up.
opportunities of pressing home the Word of God
in a way I could not do on any other occasion."
The first real gathering out from amongst the
heathen of those who were ready to make open
profession of their faith took place on July 26th,
1861, on which day 23 persons (19 adults—14 men,
5 women—and 4 children) were baptized by Mr.
Tugwell. Several others came forward, but it was
decided that it would be best for them to wait
awhile. Others were deterred by the fear of their
Writing of the newly-baptized, Mr. Duncan
says, "Since these have come fairly out, there has
been more of a persecuting spirit abroad from the
Lord's enemies. This we may expect to increase.
The converts are severely tried and tempted at
present, but we pray they may be preserved faithful. While some have decided, and many—increasingly many—are anxious; others—the wicked
S—wax worse and worse. Drunkenness seems to
gather strength as the facilities for it increase. . .
Mr. Tugwell was quite satisfied with those he
baptized.    Bless the Lord for this  small begin
Thus we have seen the foundation laid, and the
superstructure begin to rise upon it. 9°
Stranger tfian dfictton.
What the nature of the foundation has been
we have sufficiently indicated. " Other foundation
can no man lay than that is laid, even Jesus Christ,"
seems to have been pre-eminently the principle
upon which, as a true Missionary—" a wise master
builder"—Mr. Duncan from the first proceeded in
his work. "Jesus Christ and Him crucified;" all
the historical facts of our Lord's life and death,
the causes which led to, and the results which
followed from, the " one all-sufficient sacrifice,
oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole
world," offered by Christ upon the cross ; these had
been, so to speak, the materials ceaselessly thrown
in amongst the quicksands of ignorance and
superstition, which would otherwise have baffled all
hope of erecting any solid superstructure upon
It is difficult, in a narrative like the present, to
convey any sufficiently adequate idea of the untiring perseverance with which Mr. Duncan seems
thus to have made his preaching and teaching rest
upon and centre round the great facts of the history
of man's redemption. Line upon line, precept upon
precept, in season, and, as some would have thought
out of season, the same theme was evidently regarded as the one only motive-power which could be JJutlo'tng' up.
brought to bear with any reasonable hope of a successful result attending it. This alone—the inherent
magnetism of the Cross, as set forth in the words,
"And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto
Me"—the constraining power, which the Holy
Spirit ever brings to bear upon those before whose
eyes Christ has been evidently set forth crucified
amongst them—was the influence brought to
If our narrative accurately reflects the impression
which a study of the original documents upon
which it is based would certainly leave upon the
mind, it may well suggest some such inquiry as
this—May not the failure of many preachers oT the
Gospel in foreign parts be due mainly to the fact
that, whilst they have not consciously held back
any of the great central truths of the Gospel
history, they have very often failed to realize
sufficiently the exceeding difficulty of bringing
those truths home to the minds of the heathen ; and
thus, instead of feeling that the hardness of the soil
to be worked upon, and its preoccupation by every
form of error, must necessarily involve great and
persevering efforts to clear the "ground, and get
below the surface to lay the only foundation
which can be laid, they have been content to impart
H 98
Stranger than diction.
a mere superficial and often very partial and imperfect knowledge of fundamental truths, and so
have begun to build the superstructure—the gold
and silver and precious stones of sound doctrine
and holiness of life—without really having laid any
solid foundation at all ?  B:l
I ''iTt l«f
j j|;
Hi )k
N Mr. Tugwell's first arrival (in August,
i860), Mr. Duncam had proposed that
he should, as soon as possible, move
to a place called Metlahkatlah, some
twenty miles down the coast, and there gather
round him, as the nucleus of a new Christian settlement, such of the* converts at Fort Simpson as
could be induced to join him.
The formation of this new settlement had been
contemplated by Mr. Duncan as early as 1859,
when he wrote :—    -
"What is to become of the children and young
people under instruction, when temporal necessity compels them to leave school ? If they are
permitted to slip away from me into the gulf of
vice and misery which every where surrounds them,
then the fate of these tribes is sealed, and the
labour and money that has already been spent for
II 2
—'-^Vi. IOO
Stranger than ^fiction.
their welfare might as' well have been thrown
away. The well-thinking part of the Indian
people themselves see this, and are asking, nay,
craving a remedy., The head chief of one tribe
(a very well-disposed old man) is constantly urging
this question upon me, and begs that steps may be
taken which shall give the Indians that are inclined, and especially the children now being
taught, a chance and a help to become what good
people desire them to be. In the present state of
affairs, no real or permanent good, in my humble
opinion, can be effected. Victoria, although it is
500 miles away, will always prove the place of
attraction to these tribes, and to many even much
farther away. There they become demoralized and
filled with disease, and from thence they return,
laden with rum, to spread scenes of horror too
awful to describe. It is easy to see that if this
state of things receive no check, then ruin,, utter
ruin, to them all is not far distant. Numbers, even
now, are beyond the reach of hope, being impregnated with disease, and enslaved to their vicious
courses. But hope looks up, and says there is a
generation of them left as yet uncontaminated by
these self-destroying vices, and to the rescue of
these, at least, we would beckon the efforts of the
Christian. ^fctlafifcatlah
" And now, permit me humbly to suggest how I
think Christian effort ought to be directed. At
once, I say, a colony ought to be established on
some spot where industiy would be taught and
rewarded, and where intoxicating drinks should be
excluded: such a spot exists (the Indians are
frequently talking about it to me) about thirty
miles from here; and a goodly band of well-disposed Indians, I feel sure, are ready to engage
hand and heart in the work; and several adults,
who look upon their own case as hopeless, are exceedingly anxious about their children. They
desire to hand (them over to me (or, to use their
own words, to give them to me), to teach and bring
up in my way, which, they see, is good. Now, if
such a place as I have spoken of were established,
then we might reasonably expect the Gospel tree
to take root, and, when once rooted, it would
spread forth its branches of peace on. every side,
until all the land basked under its shadow. If no
such place is established, then, I fear, I must live
and see the dear children I have taught destroyed
before my eyes."
After-events had only tended to strengthen the
opinion here expressed, and to develope additional
reasons for acting upon it. These latter may be
thus stated :—
/ wl
Granger tfjan dHctton.
1. The discovery of gold in the northern districts
of British Columbia promised to attract a large
mining population to the neighbourhood, many of
whom would make their head-quarters at Fort
2. The sea frontage at Fort Simpson was so
crowded that no new houses could be built.
3. There was no available land for garden purposes and industrial training for the young.
4. The proposed settlement would be central for
six tribes of Indians speaking the Tsimsheean
tongue, while it would be near enough to Fort
Simpson to enable a constant intercourse to be
kept up between the two places.
5. The Christian Indians were most anxious to
escape from the sights and thraldom of heathenism, and from the persecution consequent
upon their having to live in the same houses
with heathen and drunkards.
6. School operations would be put on a more
satisfactory footing, as the imparting of secular
knowledge would thus be limited to those who had
embraced the Gospel, whereas the sowing it broadcast among heathen who, having heard, had rejected the Gospel, seemed to Mr. Duncan likely to
result in much evil. JKetlapatlalj.
"All we want," says Mr. Duncan, in summing up,
the arguments for the proposed effort, "is God's
favour and blessing, and then we may hope to
build up, in His good time, a model Christian village, reflecting light and radiating heat to all the
spiritually dark and dead masses of humanity
around us."
With a view to carrying this plan into effect, Mr.
Duncan had already made his first visit of inspection to the proposed site of the new station, in
May, i860, just before going down to Victoria.
Going back to this point in our narrative, we must
now describe this visit.
Leaving the school at Fort Simpson in charge
of two of the elder boys, Mr. Duncan started in
a canoe, with a crew of three boys and ten young
men. He found the distance to be about twenty
miles. About noon on the second day they arrived
in the beautiful channel of Metlahkatlah, three or
four miles long, in which were situated the sites of
the villages originally occupied by the Tsimsheeans,
before they had been induced to move for trading
purposes to Fort Simpson, which, as affording
the most convenient place of call for the sailing
vessels, had been selected by the Hudson's Bay
Company as the;r chief trading-dep6t on the coast
I 104
Stranger tfian tfiction.
But we must let Mr. Duncan here tell his own
"May 2nd, i860.—These villages have been
deserted about twenty-five years, and the few remains still standing consist of massive uprights and
horizontal beams of the chief houses, which are
now so rotten that I could easily push my walking-
stick through many of them. I could see that the
houses have been large, and, in some cases, ornamented by an ugly wooden figure set up on each
of the front corners. I saw, too, that several of the-
houses have been sunk ten or twelve feet, to afford
protection during war.
" I landed, and viewed the scenery from several
points, and 'oh, how lovely did it appear! A'narrow placid channel, studded with little promontories and pretty islands ; a rich verdure, a waving
forest, backed by lofty but densely-wooded mountains ; a solemn stillness, broken only by the cries
of flocks of happy birds flying over, or the more
musical notes of some little warbler near at hand.
But how strangely did all this contrast with the
sad reflections which the history of savage heathenism suggests ! The thought that every foot of
ground that I trod upon had been stained with
horrid crime, that every little creek was associated »lapatlafi.
with some dark tragedy, and those peaceful waters
had oft been stained with human blood, made my
feelings soon change from delight to gloom. What
would, indeed, those rocks unfold if all the horrid
yells and cries of anguish they have echoed were
but written ? or who can even faintly paint the
scenes of savage riot committed on these beaches
when bloodthirsty marauders have returned with
human heads for booty ?
" The number of souls left is about a hundred.
/Their proper village, which I can see from here, is
quite deserted, and will be for a few months. The
chief at the head of this party invited me into his
house, and also all his principal men, to feast with
me. He complained of havingbad health, and no
wonder, for I found out that he is a cannibal by
profession, one of the horrid gang who, in the winter months, awe and astonish the tribe by hunting
for, exhuming, and eating corpses."
Mr. Duncan's address concluded, supper was
served. It consisted of three courses—boiled dried
halibut, herring spawn, and broiled sea-weed with
fish grease (the latter delicacy is a staple article of
food amongst the Indians, and one main result of
the annual fishing expedition, boxes of it being
ranged round the walls of every Indian house).   At seven p.m. Mr. Duncan asked the chief to invite
some more of the people into his house, and again
addressed them. This time the women also attended.
The next morning, the wind being favourable,
the Indians were all hard at work pulling down
their houses, and lading their canoes, ready to start
to their fishing-station. They had been waiting
some days for a fair wind, and if Mr. Duncan had
been a few days later in visiting them, not a soul
would have been left.
The next visit to Metlahketlah was made in the
autumn of the same year, shortly after his return
from Victoria, when he spent a fortnight, helping
and directing a number of Indians, whom he took
with him, in clearing and draining the proposed
site for the new village.
The latter step was taken under the impression
—to which we have already alluded—that in the
course of the summer of 1861 Mr. Tugwell would
be able to move to the new station ; but this was
not to be; the moisture and constant rains, which
were the chief feature of the climate at Fort Simpson, having before that time told so prejudicially
upon his health, that he was obliged to make im- iJHetlafifcatlaf).
mediate   arrangements   for   returning   to    England \
Mr. Tugwell's departure not only involved the
postponement of the proposed removal until the
spring of the following year (1862), but left Mr.
Duncan no alternative but to revert to his original
idea of going himself to the new settlement.
1 The climate of this part of British Columbia is thus described by
Mr. Duncan in one of his earliest letters :—•
" Rain is the chief feature of the weather here. Out of 125 days
which I "have spent here, only forty-nine have been fair, or entirely
free from rain ; and I may add, that by far the greatest number of
those days on which it rains at all it rains nearly the whole day. We
had no snow here till the beginning of January, and since then about
fifty inches have fallen. The weather has been, on the whole,
remarkably mild. It is now the last week in February, and we have
not had over twenty cold days during the j winter. All this is
accounted for by the fact that the prevailing wind here is from the
south-east, which is the return current of the north-east trade wind,
falling in this latitude, and coming, loaded with moisture and warmth,
from the tropics. Our being also just to the west of a high range of
mountains has naturally to do with our having so much rain during
the year."
The climate at Fort Simpson is the more remarkable, from the
contrast which it affords to that of the districts lying a few miles inland. On the Naas river, for instance, thirty or forty miles inland,
the snow lies for months, and the only travelling is on the frozen
rivers, along which a winter track is generally formed in the snow. il
!' ff j
11 ■.
ATER on in the winter which succeeded
mm Tugwell's departure (1861-62), Mr.
Duncan commenced constant .meetings
of those who were inclined to move
with him to Metlahkatlah, and strongly impressed
upon them the necessity of framing some regulations of a social nature to be adopted in the new
village. The following were the rules eventually
laid down, indicating the least required of all who
wished to join the new settlement:—
1. To give up thejr " Ahlied," or Indian devilry;
2. To cease calling in conjurors when sick; 3. To
cease gambling; 4. To cease giving away their
property for display ; 5. To cease painting their
faces ; 6. To cease drinking intoxicating drink;
7. To rest on the Sabbath; 8. To attend religious
instruction ; 9. To send their children to school;
10. To be cleanly; 11. To be industrious; 12. To % Cfme of Crtal.
be peaceful; 13. To be liberal and honest in trade;
14. To build neat houses ; 15. To pay the village
By the 12th of May, 1862, every thingwas in readiness for the move. Mr. Duncan then commenced
pulling down the large school-house and forming the materials into a raft, which, two days later,
he sent off to the new site. Before any further
preparations were completed, a canoe arrived from
Victoria announcing that small-pox had broken out
there, and that many Tsimsheeans had died. Next
day several other canoes followed, bringing mournful intelligence of the virulence of the disease,
which prevailed even amongst those who had thus
fled from it, having carried off many of their number during the voyage.
Mr. Duncan had previously determined to pay a
farewell visit to each tribe separately, and he there-,
fore spent the next few days in visiting from house
to house, and addressing the tribes assembled in
their chiefs' houses.
In spite of the great improvement which had
taken place, a large proportion of the Indians still
continued steeped in drunkenness and heathenism.
But the struggle involved by the abandonment
of heathenism was by no means wholly an outward
§ no
stranger than dTtctt'ou.
one, if indeed mainly so. To many the surrendering their national customs, ceasing to give away,
tear up, and receive blankets, &c, for display,
dropping their demoniacal rites, which had hitherto
and for ages filled up their time and engrossed all
their care during so many months of the year,
giving up the ceremonies performed over the sick,
laying aside gambling,, and ceasing to paint their
faces, was like cutting off the right hand or plucking out the right eye. Still, so many had already
made these sacrifices, and had borne so well the
persecutions in which they had involved them, that
many others were now more than half inclined to
follow their example. The presence of so terrible
a disease, and the dread of its spreading amongst
them, naturally gave additional weight to the
earnest warnings addressed to them, and it was
evident that many who had hitherto either vehemently opposed, or at least held aloof from the
proposed movement, began now to look upon it
with very different feelings.
By the 27th of May the final preparati
ons tor
the flitting were completed. Those who had prepared to go embarked in six canoes, and numbered
in all about fifty souls, men, women, and children.
Many others gathered in groups on the beach, sit- & Ct'nte of Crtal.
ting down and watching the departure with solemn
and anxious faces, whilst not a few were earnest in
their protestations of their intention to follow very
shortly. " As we pushed off," writes Mr. Duncan,
" the party with me seemed filled with solemn joy,
feeling that their long-lboked-for flitting had actually commenced. I felt that we were beginning
an eventful page in the history of this poor people,
and earnestly sighed to God for His help and
By two p.m. the next day, the little fleet of canoes
arrived safely at its destination. They found the
Indians who had come on before with the raft hard
at work clearing ground and sawing planks. With
the exception of a few heavy beams they had.
already carried all the raft from the beach, erected
two temporary houses, and planted a quantity of
For the next few days all were actively engaged
in selecting and marking out sites for the gardens
and houses, and making the requisite preparations
for building and planting, whilst every night they
"assembled—a happy family—for singing and
prayer," Mr. Duncan addressing them " on each
occasion from some portion of scriptural truth
suggested by the events of the day." s \m
Stranger than dftctton.
But the effect of Mr. Duncan's parting exhortations, and the fruits of all his previous work at
Fort Simpson, had yet, it seemed, to appear. On
the 6th of June, to the great joy of all, a fleet of
about thirty canoes, which were at once recognized
as coming from Fort Simpson, made their appearance. They proved to contain some 300 souls,
forming nearly the whole of the tribe Keetlahn,
with two of their chiefs.
Hitherto, it seemed, the small-pox had not
spread, as was expected.- A few days later, however, another canoe arrived, bringing tidings which
cast a heavy cloud over ajl. The disease was
spreading rapidly, and had already taken a fearful
hold of the camp.
Further tidings only served to confirm the
anxious forebodings which this intelligence created.
For a time the Indians had " sought refuge in their
charms and lying vanities." They dressed up their
houses with feathers and rind of bark stained red ;
they sang their heathen songs, and kept the rattles
of their conjurors perpetually going. But all these
deceits proved of no avail; several of the charmers
fell a prey to the disease, and death and desolation
spread far and wide.
Amongst those which were foremost in resorting: U Ctme of Ertal.
to every superstitious observance was the tribe of
the head chief Legaic. For a time its members
had gone almost unscathed, a fact which filled their
conjurors with pride and boasting words, and caused
no little perplexity to those who had partly shaken
off their heathen superstitions. When, however,
the disease did seize upon them, the very practices
to which they had resorted, by increasing the un-
healthiness of their dwellings, seemed to give it
double power, and in the end the tribe suffered far
more than any other.
In the whole camp, the total number of deaths
was no fewer than 500, or more than one-fifth of
the entire population. Many now began to flee;
but it was too late, as the scourge accompanied
them. Those who had been more or less impressed
by Mr. Duncan's teaching, and many even of the
declared heathen, now came crying in great fear to
the new colony. Amongst the latter was the head
chief Legaic. Thoroughly humbled by the misfortunes which had fallen upon him, and the loss
of so large a part of his tribe, he resisted 'every
effort which was made to detain him at Fort
Simpson, and virtually retiring from the chieftainship of the Tsimsheeans, he settled down with his
wife and daughter at Metlahkatlah, and became
I 114
Stranger tfian dftction.
from this time forward one of Mr. Duncan's most
earnest and active supporters.
The painful anxiety consequent upon the uncertainty how far the infection was still likely to spread
was greatly increased, in Mr. Duncan's case, by the
difficulty which he felt in dealing with those who
thus fled to him from Fort Simpson.
"For the safety of those with me," he writes," I
was obliged to be very cautious in receiving any
fresh comers ; and some I could not receive at all.
For the temporal and spiritual welfare of my own
people, who were clinging to me like timid children,
I was kept in constant labour and pressing anxiety.
The heaviness which I felt I cannot describe.
Death stared us in the face on every hand. But
God remembered us in the day of our calamity."
During the whole summer the effect of the death
and desolation which prevailed on all sides exercised a most depressing influence upon the new
settlement, and prevented the Indians from throwing themselves with spirit into the work of building,
or even of laying up the requisite stores of provisions for the winter; and it was only as the autumn
came on, and all fear of the disease continuing- to
spread subsided, that -any real progress was made % Ctme of Crial.
in the various works which were so absolutely
essential to their very existence.
Reviewing this period of trial, Mr. Duncan says:—
" I have gratefully to acknowledge God's sparing
mercy to us as a village. We had only five fatal
■cases amongst those who originally left Fort Simpson with me, and three of these deaths were caused
by attending to sick relatives who came to us after
taking the disease."
Nor were there wanting reasons for encouragement and thankfulness arising from the conduct of
those amongst the earlier converts who fell under
-the power of the disease. Here, e. g., is the record of
the death of " Stephen Ryan," one of those who
were first baptized at Fort Simpson by Mr. Tug-
"He died in a most distressing condition as far
as the body is concerned. Away from every one
whom he loved, in a little back hut on a rocky
beach, just beyond the reach of the tide, which no
one of his relatives or friends dared to approach,
except the one who nursed him: in this damp,
lowly, distressing state, suffering from the malignant
disease of small-pox, how cheering to receive such
words as the following from him:—'I am quite
happy.    I find my Saviour very near to me.    I am
I 2 n6
Stranger tfjan dftctton.
not afraid to die: heaven is open to receive me.
Give my thanks to Mr. Duncan; he told me of
Jesus. I have hold of the ladder that reaches to
heaven. All Mr. Duncan taught me I now feel to
be true.' Then, saying that he wished to be carried
to his relatives, his words were :—' Do not weep for
me. «You are poor, being left; I am not poor; I am
going to heaven. My Saviour is very near to me.
Do all of you follow me to heaven. Let not one of
you be wanting. Tell my mother more clearly the
way of life. I am afraid she does not yet understand the way. Tell her not to weep for me, but
to get ready to die. Be all of one heart, and live
in peace.'"
But we must pass on to the brighter days of
success and prosperity by which, in the Providence
of God, this time of heavy trial to the infant colony
was to be succeeded. djjjj?
VERY thing at the new settlement began now to settle down into a regular
routine. The population numbered
between 600 and 700 souls, consisting
of about one-fourth of the former native population
of Fort Simpson, and a few representatives from
several tribes—the Zangass, Nishkah, Ke-Keeth-
rahtla, and Keetsahlass—living within seventy
miles of that place. All of these, in taking the
step they had done, had made great sacrifices, and
gone through much labour, trial, and persecution.
The most notable of these new settlers were
three chiefs of different tribes—Legaic, Neeahsh-
lakah-noosh, and Leeguneesh, and the leading
man amongst the cannibals, by name Quthray ; the
latter was one of those who had taken a prominent
part in the revolting scene which Mr. Duncan had
witnessed on his first arrival, and had for a long n8
Stranger tfian dftctton.
time been one of the most bitter opponents of the
new teaching.
The first undertaking was necessarily that of
building the new village. Great assistance in this
work was rendered by a liberal contribution from
the Governor of British Columbia of 150 window-
sashes, and 600 lbs. of nails, which arrived in September (1862).
A further contribution in money was received
from the officers and crew of one of H.M.'s ships
stationed on the coast, as a mark of the high
opinion which, during a stay of some days at Met-
lahkatlah, they had formed of the importance of the
work being carried on there.
All the dwelling-houses were built, outwardly
after the European model, but in the internal
arrangements few improvements could as yet be
effected. . Several families still lived under the same
roof, nor could they as yet be persuaded to partition their houses into separate compartments,
economy of fuel and the love of company being
the chief inducements to their adhering in this
respect to their former habits.
Thirty-five houses, averaging thirty-four feet by
eighteen, and each having four windows, were soon
erected. brighter iiagg.
One hundred plots of garden ground, situated on
the islands in various parts of the channel in front
of the settlement, were also duly measured out and
registered, and prepared for cultivation.
The next work taken in hand was a large and
strong octagon building, intended to serve, for a
time, the purposes both of a church and school,
and capable of holding nearly 700 people. This
was finished, and the first service held in it on the-
20th of December.
Up to this time Mr. Duncan had had service
three times every Sunday, either in the open air or
in his own log-house, and a class for religious instruction and worship every weekday evening.
Shortly after the opening of the new building,
Mr. Duncan writes :—
" About 400 to 600 souls attend Divine Service
on Sundays, and are being governed by Christian
and civilized laws. About seventy adults and
twenty children are already baptized, or are only
waiting for a minister to come and baptize them.
About 100 children are attending the day school,
and 100 adults the evening school. About forty of
the young men have formed themselves into two
classes, and meet for prayer and exhorting each
other.  The instruments of the medicine men; which 120
Stranger than dftction.
have spellrbound this nation for ages, have found
their way into my house, and are most willingly
and cheerfully given up. Customs which form the
very foundation of Indian government, and lie
nearest the Indian heart, have been given up because they have an evil tendency. Feasts are now
characterized by order and good-will, and begin
and end wfth the offering of thanks to the Giver of
all good. . . . Scarcely a soul remains away from
Divine Service, excepting the sick and their nurses.;,
Evening family devotions are common to almost
every house; and, better than all, I have a hope
that many have experienced a real change of heart.
.... Thus the surrounding tribes have now a
model village before them, acting as a powerful
witness for the truth of the Gospel, shaming and
correcting, yet still captivating them. For in it
they see those good things which they and their-
forefathers have sought and laboured for in vain,^
viz. peace, security, order, honesty, and progress.
To God be all the praise and glory !"
Mr. Duncan had now, besides about ioo children
who attended morning and afternoon, a class of
about ioo adults, to whom he gave " simple lectures I
on  geography,  astronomy,   natural  history,  and
morals," a plan which he found that the Indians ;.■
Srig^ter Mag$.
greatly appreciated, the attendance being often
much larger than that given as the average.
In the meantime, the weekday meetings for candidates for baptism, commenced in the previous
winter, were continued with very satisfactory results. Indeed, so large a number were now prepared
and anxious to be baptized, that as there was no
immediate prospect of another clergyman being
sent out from England to take Mr. Tugwell's place,
Mr. Duncan wrote to the Bishop of Columbia, asking him to make arrangements at as early a date as
possible for a clergyman to visit the settlement.
Before, however, this request could be granted,
Mr. Duncan was called upon, under circumstances
which did not admit of delay, to administer the rite
of baptism himself.
Quthray, the cannibal chief to whom allusion has
more than once been made, had now for some time
been one of the most earnest and regular attendants at the instruction class for candidates for
baptism. Towards the end of the summer of 1862
-he had been seized with a dangerous illness, from
which there was evidently little hope of his recovery. Mr. Duncan had visited him constantly;
and as " he had long and earnestly desired baptism,  and   expressed  in   the   clearest  terms his 122
Stranger tfjan dftftton.
repentance for his sins, and his faith in the Saviour
of sinners," had promised that he would himself
baptize him, unless a clergyman should in the
meantime arrive from Victoria—a promise for
which he had expressed his gratitude " with the
greatest force he could command."
"Though I was not sent here to .baptize,"
Mr. Duncan writes, "I had no fear that I was
doing what was pleasing to God in administering:
that sacred rite to the poor dying man, as an
officially appointed person was not within several
hundred miles of him."
Towards the end of October, Mr. Duncan felt
that he could no longer delay in redeeming his
promise, intelligence beings brought to him one
morning that the sick man was much worse, and
apparently dying.    He thus describes his visit:—
" I found the sufferer apparently on the very
verge of eternity, but quite sensible, supported by
his wife on one side,, and another woman on the
other, in a sitting posture on his lowly couch,
spread upon the ground. I addressed him at once,
reminding him of the promise I had made to him,
and why. I also spoke some words of advice to
him, to which he paid most earnest attentiony;
though his cough would scarcely permit him to 3Srtgfiter £3a»0.
have a moment's rest. A person near expressed a
fear that he did not understand what I said, being
so weak, and near death ; but he quickly, and with
great emphasis, exclaimed, ' I hear—^1 understand.'
While I was praying, his countenance was most
lovely. With his face turned upward, he seemed
to be deeply engaged in prayer. I baptized him,
and gave him the name of Philip Atkinson. I
earnestly besought the Lord to ratify in heaven
what He had permitted me to do in His name, and
to receive the soul of the poor dying penitent
before Him. He had the same resignation and
peace which he had evinced throughout his sickness, weeping for his sins, depending all upon the
Saviour, confident of pardon and rejoicing in hope.
" This is the man of whom I have had to
write more than once. Oh, the dreadful and
revolting; things which I have witnessed him do !
He was one of the two principal actors in the
first horrid* scene I saw at Fort Simpson, about
four years and a half ago, an account of which I
sent home, namely, that of a poor slave woman
being- murdered in cold blood, thrown on the beach,,
and then torn to pieces and eaten by two naked
savages, who were supported by a crew of singers
and the noise of drums.    This man was  one of 1^^~
1   II
I If
■     ;■
Granger than dFt'ctum.
those naked cannibals. Glorious change ! See
him, clothed, in his right mind, weeping—weeping
sore for his sins—expressing to all around him firm
belief in the Saviour, and dying in peace. Bless
the Lord for all His goodness !"
We must now turn for a while to the secular
affairs of the settlement. To assist him in these,
Mr. Duncan selected ten men, whom he constituted
constables, and who, with the three chiefs, formed a
sort of village council. No intoxicating drinks were
admitted, and drunkenness was therefore a vice
entirely unknown. Some few, on their visits to
Fort Simpson, transgressed, and "two, whose cases
were clearly proved, and admitted of no extenuation, were banished " from the settlement.
After due consultation, an important decision was
arrived at by the village council, viz. that a yearly
tax of one blanket, or two dollars and a half for
every adult male, and one shirt or one* dollar for
such as were approaching manhood, should be
levied for helping to carry on the various public
works which it was proposed shortly to commence.
This tax was first levied on New Year's Day, 1863.
Out of 130 amenable, there were but 10 defaulters,
who were excused on the ground of poverty. brighter Qanjf.
The revenue thus gathered amounted to "one
green, one blue, and ninety-four white blankets;
one pair of white trousers, one dressed elk-skin,
seventeen shirts, and seven dollars."
In order to give the chiefs as much support as
possible, and to increase their influence with their
Christian brethren, it was at first proposed that
they should act as village magistrates, deciding all
civil cases which might arise, and that in return for
these services they should receive one half of the
annual tax. Experience, however, soon showed
that their many inconsistencies made their sitting
as judges very anomalous ; and as their views of
justice were often very oblique, it was soon found
necessary to dispense with their assistance in such
Hence the community, seeing no benefit likely
to accrue from their services, objected to the plan
of dividing the tax. " Rather let the public works
take it all," they said. So accordingly it was
The chief public works which it was proposed
to undertake were:—
i. To make a road round the village. As the
ground was uneven and thickly wooded, this was
expected to be a work of considerable labour. 11
Stranger than dftctton.
2. To build two good-sized houses for the
accommodation of strange Indians^ coming for the
purposes of trade—the object being to prevent the
interference with domestic comfort and improvement arising from such visitors being lodged under
the old system.
3. To fix rests on the shore for canoes when
unemployed, and to lay slides for moving the
canoes along the beach and into the water at low
4. To sink wells, to form a public playground, &c.
Over and above the evident advantage to the
community at large of such works as the above, one
main object with which they were undertaken was
to provide profitable employment for the adult
population, and so to keep them away from those
labour-markets which presented temptations too
strong and vices too fascinating for the Indian in
his then morally infantile condition to withstand.
With the same view the preparation of articles
for exportation to Victoria, such as salt, smoked
.fish, fish grease, dried berries, furs, &c, was encouraged. At the same time, as the only means
for the successful prosecution of this branch of
labour, Mr. Duncan commenced to lay his plans for
securing facilities for trading operations which would 33rtgf)ter M&M.
render the settlement independent of the visits of
the barbarous class of men employed in running
small vessels up the coast, and whose chief trade
was in intoxicating drinks. The evils resulting
from the visits of these coasting vessels, and the
consequent necessity for providing for the Indians
some other method of disposing of their own goods,
and obtaining what they required in return, are
thus explained;—
" The visits of these traders to the Indian camps
are invariably marked by murder and the very
maddest riots. Family ties are broken. A young-
man, under the influence of fire-water, will shoot
his wife or his mother, his sister or his brother;
and, if he be spared through the revel, he awakens
to bitter remorse, and becomes desperate. The
peace of tribes is broken, war begins, blood is shed,
and wounds made which will take generations of
time to heal, and for which many innocent lives
may have to compensate."
The plan proposed was to obtain a small vessel,
to be subscribed for by the Indians themselves in
sums of 1/. or 1/. ios., or the equivalent in furs.
An indirect advantage which seemed likely to
arise from the adoption of this plan was that, having
the vessel in their own hands, the Indians would be lilf d
Stranger tfian dftctton.
sure to take more interest in it, and be more ready
to exert themselves to keep it well and profitably
The reader will probably feel just as Mr. Duncan
did, that, however great the apparent necessity for
some such step as the above, nothing but success
would really justify a Missionary in the eyes of the
public in undertaking such an experiment. We
may as well, therefore, so far anticipate the actual
chronological order of events as to show how entirely the result bore out his strong conviction of
the feasibility and advantage of the plan suggested.
In the course of the summer of 1863, Mr. Duncan,
having explained his views to the colonial government, received a grant of 100/. towards the required
vessel. The Indians subscribed a further sum of
80/. Making up the deficiency himself, he purchased a schooner at a cost of 300/., and commenced,
at his own risk, to supply the villagers with goods,
and to convey their produce for sale to Victoria.
The first few trips of the "Carolina" proved
entirely satisfactory. Carrying down a cargo of
"fish-oil, furs, Indian food, cypress plants," &c, it
returned with all the various requisites for a village
store, and for traffic with the Indians of the surrounding tribes.    At the end of a few months a 33rigfiter JDagg.
meeting of all those interested in the vessel was
called, when, after provision had been made for the
various expenses, new sails, anchors, &c, a dividend
was declared of 5/. upon each share. This part of
the proceedings somewhat puzzled the Indians, who,
•when the money was given them, imagined that
they must necessarily be parting with their interest
in the vessel. As soon, however, as the matter was
satisfactorily explained to them, they evinced their
appreciation by proposing to give the schooner
the name of the " Ahah," or " Slave," signifying
that she did all the work and they reaped all the
His own share of the profits Mr. Duncan devoted
entirely to the objects of the Mission. That they
were not inconsiderable, may be judged from the
fact that two years later he was able to write,
I You will be happy to hear our village trade
prospers. I had hoped to have transferred this
department to other hands, but have been disappointed. Had I done so, I think I should now
have had upwards of 1000/. surplus, which I had
intended laying out in the village, and in building
a new church, and thus raising a substantial monument of the industry of the village during the past
four years of it3 existence."
Stranger than dftctton.
Before this time the actual management of the
vessel had been entrusted to the Indians themselves, and on every voyage the conduct of the
crew whilst at Victoria had been every thing which
could be desired. An Indian was also registered
as master, and another as supercargo.
The whole question is thus reviewed in a letter
by the Dean of Victoria:—
" No step of a temporal nature was, perhaps, so
loudly demanded, or has conferred such important
benefits on the people of Metlahkatlah, in conducing
to their comfort and contentment in their new
home. Instead of having to go seventeen miles
for supplies to a heathen camp, they can procure
them at their own doors at a cheaper rate. Persons
who come hither to trade carry away some word or
impression to affect their countrymen at home.
During my sojourn at Metlahkatlah, there has not
been a single Sunday in which there have not been
hearers of this description attendant on the word of
life. This is one of those branches of the work
taken up by Mr. Duncan, simply because it was
pressed upon him by the force of circumstances
as necessary to his entire success. The "time has
passed away when he felt himself humiliated at
being offered the sale of a fur.
IIU brighter fJa»j».
" A striking benefit of the trade is the disposition
of the profits, for with a view to transferring it, when
possible, to other parties, he has always conducted
it on business principles, in order that the parties
so assuming it might be able to live by it. Hitherto
"the profits realized on this principle, absorbed by
no personal benefits, have been expended on objects
conducive to the public benefit, in the erection of
public buildings, in subsidies to the people, in aid
of improving their roads, and wharves for canoes,
in charity to the poor, and even in the redemption
of slaves. The sum of 600/. has been already
expended on such objects, and 400/. are in hand
ready to be applied to similar uses. In fact, the
only person who suffers is Mr. Duncan himself, who
has sacrificed his comfort, his repose, and almost
his health, for the sole benefit of the people, but
has been more than compensated by the rich reward
of feeling that God has owned and blessed the
sacrifice. Besides this, the trade affords industrial
occupation for the people, and thus aids them in
a more steady advancement in the comforts of
civilized life. It is quite a lively scene to witness
the various parties of labourers engaged, some in
bringing the rough timber in rafts from the forest,
others in sawing it into planks, others planing, others
11 TM
f '
I I '
Stranger than fiction.
cutting the shingles, others with nail and hammer
erecting the building—all devoting themselves to
their daily task rather with the constancy of the
English labourer than with, the fitful disposition of
the savage."
As we shall not have occasion in the next few
chapters to refer again to the secular affairs of the
Mission, we may conclude the present notice of
them by the following account of the second New
Year's Day meeting given in the Victoria Colonist,
Feb. 24, 1864, by a correspondent who had recently
visited the settlement:—
" On New Year's Day, after a devotional meeting,
there was a business meeting, attended by the
whole settlement, when Mr. Duncan announced the
expenditure of th.e last year's taxes, and read the
village rules and regulations. An outline was also
furnished of the proposed expenditure for the
current year, which met with general approval.
Immediately after the meeting, the tax of $2.50
(or a blanket) for adults, and $1.50 (or one shirt)
for boys, was paid. Some feeble old men, who
could hardly walk, came tottering along with their
blankets, anxious to become good citizens, but were
exempted from the levy."
The same writer  adds the   following   descrip- brighter ©ags.
tion   of  the  general  progress   made  up  to  this
" Mr. Duncan has been working hard to ascertain
what his people's inclinations and abilities are, so
as to class their occupation, and has in a great
measure succeeded. He has now a number at work,
making shingles, building a new Mission-house,
.road-making, hunters, sawyers, &c. He has also
taught them to make clogs for themselves, which
are much prized. Those who break the laws are
tried for the offence, and, if found guilty, are
sentenced to labour on public works. The 'settlement is assuming quite an imposing aspect. There
are at present eight substantial houses in the course
of construction, and many are inquiring for sites.
The constables, eighteen in number (who are volunteers, and desire no pay), do their duty admirably,
without fear, favour, or prejudice, and are held in
awe by transgressors. It was truly encouraging to
witness the many earnest entreaties made by the
people of the village that their friends in Victoria
might be urged to flee from the snares and vices
which lead them astray here, and to return to their
homes. Several letters were written by themselves
in English, and couched in fervent language, beseeching relatives to return there, and thus save Ill
Stranger than dftction.
both body and soul, which they say must be inevitably and irretrievably lost by their residing
there. No sooner was it announced that the vessel
was about to proceed to Victoria and was prepared
to receive orders to execute, than the people flocked
to it with commissions for every conceivable variety
of goods, including even wall-paper and household
furniture, to adorn their own residences."
But it is time we turned again to trace the
directly religious influences which had been at work
during this time, and had rendered possible the
building up of so substantial a fabric of industry,
prosperity, and social order, from materials originally so unpromising CHAPTER XL
ARLY in 1863, Mr. Duncan received
tidings that the Bishop of Columbia had
arranged to come himself to visit Met-
lahkatlah. The Bishop arrived on
Tuesday, April 14, 1863, and thus describes his
meeting with Mr. Duncan :—
"The Christian Indian settlement of Metlahkat-
lah lies retired upon a recess of the bay, and is
marked by a row of substantial wooden houses.
An octagon building is the school, and a flag-staff
stands near, upon which ascended the national
, flag when we hove in sight and fired the gun to
announce our approach. We could soon distinguish
a canoe putting off to us, and presently it approached, flying a flag. It was a large canoe,
which had a warlike appearance, manned by ten
Indians, and in it was seated Mr. Duncan, the
Missionary of Metlahkatlah.    There was placed,
4h I
too, by his side a murderer, who had last year
committed a cold-blooded murder upon an Englishman, and who had given himself up against the
coming of the man-of-war. Among the crew was
one man who had been a noted drunkard and a
violent chief, a slaughterer of many human victims
in his day—indeed, the head man of the Tsimsheean
tribe—who had given up 'all evil ways, and was
now as a little child, a candidate for baptism."
As the* Bishop had been unable to fix the exact
time of his arrival, and it was now the height of the
Indian fishing-season, most of the Metlahkatlah
people were away fishing on the Naas river. It
was, therefore, decided that Mr. Duncan should go
with the Bishop to visit the fishing-stations, and
invite the candidates for baptism to return at once
to Metlahkatlah. .
Passing Fort Simpson, they arrived at the mouth
of the Naas river on the afternoon of Wednesday,,
the 15th. It was at first proposed that they should
go up in a man-of-war's boat, which Captain Pike, of
the "Devastation," the ship which had brought the
Bishop from Victoria, offered to place at their disposal ; but as there had recently been some trouble
with the Indians about seizing a trading schooner, Mr.,
Duncan suggested that the sight of a man-of-war's Cf)e UnBtau dFuihtng^Statton.
boat might excite alarm, and lead to the object of
their coming being misunderstood. They therefore started the next morning, Thursday, at seven
o'clock, in the canoe, with the crew which had come
on with them -from Metlahkatlah.
" The day was bright and cheerful: the scenery
of the lofty snow-capped mountains rising up on
either side was grand and striking. We glided over
the sparkling waves, the expanse of waters varying
in, width from a mile to two miles, and after three
hours and a half paddling, came to the fishing-
village of the Metlahkatlahs."
At this village they found some 5000 Indians,
collected from all parts—from the islands of the
sea, from the Russian territory, from the coast, and
from the interior. They were decked out in all
their finery. "Their costumes were strange and
fantastic, their faces were painted red and black;
they wore feathers on their heads, and imitations of
wild beasts on their dresses. The scene was altogether a singular and animated one."
It was the '"'small-fish" fishing-season. These
fish, called eulachan, are about the size of a smelt,
and very rich, and had come up, as usual, in vast
quantities. The Indian custom is to meet the fish
as thev come, and speak to them: " You fish, you I
Stranger tfian dftetton.
fish ! you are all chiefs ; you are, you are all chiefs."
After the small fish, had come up larger fish from the
ocean. There was the halibut, the cod, the porpoise,
and the finned-back whale. " Such a scene of life,"
writes the Bishop, "man-life, bird-life, fish-life, I
had never before conceived. Over the fish was' an
immense cloud of innumerable gulls—so many and
so thick were they, as they hovered about looking
for the fish, that as they moved to and fro, up and
down, the sight resembled a heavy fall of snow.
Over the gulls were eagles soaring about in noble
flight, looking for their prey."
" The fish are caught in vast quantities. I saw
hundreds of tons collected together, and the nets
hauled in bushels at a time. The Indians dry some
in the sun, and press a much larger quantity for the
sake of the oil or grease, which has a considerable
market value as being superior to cod-liver oil,
and which they use as butter with their dried
salmon. The season is most important to the
Indians; the supply lasts them till the season for
salmon, which is later, and which supplies their
staple food—their bread."
His first meeting with the Metlahkatlah Indians
and his general impression of them is thus described
by the Bishop:— Cfte fintttan dPfafn'ng*Statton.
" The Metlahkatlah Indians were expecting us—a
number of well-dressed and intelligent Indians were
on the shore waiting to receive us. I went through
.their temporary village and witnessed the operation
" of curing the fish, after which an assembly of 200
gathered to us. The greater part sat on the ground,
but most of the men stood up. It was a place where
potatoes had been cultivated, but some snow was
now upon the ground. Fortunately the day was
.fine, and the sun shone brightly; several hymns
were sung in Tsimsheean: a Tsimsheean prayer
was offered by Mr. Duncan.
" I addressed the assembly, and was interpreted
by Mr. Duncan, who made himself also an earnest
and telling discourse. This change is the result of
four and a half years of his faithful and earnest
work as a Catechist. Beyond the expectation of
all persons acquainted with Indians, success and
blessing have attended his labours. All who have
come to him have professed their readiness to be
♦instructed; they have jput away all tokens of
"I addressed them as three classes—the hearers,
catechumens, and baptized ; and encouraged them,
urged them to the knowledge and grace of God.
Marked, indeed, .was the difference between these 14°
Stranger tfian dftctton.
Indians and the heathen. They were clean, bright,
cheerful, intelligent, well-mannered ; they had evidently risen in the scale of human creatures.
Christianity, looking to God and their Saviour,
had elevated them intellectually, morally, and even
physically. Here, too, they .were under the disadvantage of being away from their village, and in
a temporary abode. There were a few heathen
with them, relatives who had been used in former
days to fish with them. These were painted red,
or blackened, and were dirty and forbidding, and
served to make the contrast more striking."
Writing at a later date, the Bishop, after dwelling
upon the great excitement which always prevailed
at this season, and the importance of every hour's
work, adds, " But what did the Christian Indians
•do when the Sunday came? The first Sunday
of their first fishing-season as Christians, although
the fish had come up in greater abundance than
ever, and the season was so short, the Christians
said, | We cannot go and fish.' The heathen were
full of excitement, gathering in the spoil; but the
Christians said, 'No, we are God's people; God
will provide for us, and we will spend His day as
He tells us to do.' And they kept holy each
Lord's Day in the midst of the fishing-season." Cfie tofian dftefitng*Statton.
As Mr. Duncan had anticipated, although it was
now the most critical part of the season, none of
the candidates made the least difficulty. about
arranging to leave their nets, and travel the eighty
miles back to Metlahkatlah to meet the Bishop.
Before returning to the " Devastation," the Bishop
and Mr. Duncan determined to push on and visit
the Niskah, or Naas Indians, living some miles
farther up the river, and amongst whom were
many who, during their occasional visits to Fort
Simpson, had been brought under the influence of
Mr. Duncan's teaching.
The first village of the Niskahs was reached in
about two hours. It consisted of three clusters of
houses, situated in a considerable bay of the river.
Opposite to it was an island covered with the
cotton-wood in lofty trees. On the banks were
low willow flats, whilst the background towered up
into lofty and grand snow-capped mountains. In
front of many of the houses were elaborately
carved poles. Some of the houses had their fronts
built in the form of an animal's head. The whole
of the front of one house was shaped like a wolf's
head (the crest of its owner), the nose being the
porch, and the mouth the door.
As a serious quarrel had lately been ragingbetween 142
Stranger than Jfictton.
two of the Nishkah tribes, and several of those who
had been killed, including two chiefs, were then
Iving" .dead, Mr. Duncan expressed some little
doubt as to the opportuneness of the visit. Every
preparation, 'however, was found to have been
made to receive them. This was due to the influence of the sister of one of the leading, chiefs.
Having resided for some time at Fort Simpson, she
had there come under the influence of the truth,
and was now an earnest and thoroughly well-instructed candidate for baptism. Being herself the
owner of the house in which her brother lived, she
received the Bishop and Mr. Duncan with every
mark of respect
"All was in order. There were three seats, with
the middle one elevated at the end of the room.
It reminded me of an Eastern custom, which places
the two honoured friends on the right-hand and on
the left of a chief personage. The chief man, the
brother of Niskah-kigh, had a seat also in a prominent place. 160 assembled. There were chiefs;
there were medicine-men, with their red rings of
bark on the head ; there were cannibals and dog-
eaters, some with faces painted fierce red, others
black, some black and red. Two men came in
bound in wounds; these had been shot in the recent Cfie Infiian dffefjtng*Statton.
fight. There came in, also, the man who had
wounded one of the two. The meeting had drawn
together the hostile parties; it was for peace.
There was order and respect; but it was in marked
contrast with the scene I had witnessed at the
Metlahkatlah. It was the heathen, and heathen,
too, who knew something of what we had to say.
There were those who had shown tokens of a wish
to give up heathenism. Some had asked to be
admitted to be learners of the new way. They
had said to Mr. Duncan, ' We will come out from
this our old home, and go and live in a new spot
whenever you will go before us and be with us.'
But others were the more hardened; there were
those who derided and scoffed: their faces showed
contempt and pride, and nowhere is pride so erect
as in heathenism.
" I addressed them; Mr. Duncan interpreted.
'Our fathers had been once in darkness; they trusted
in fables; they knew not of the true God. But the
light of Christ came and the darkness fled, and
peace and rest were found, and the future was
bright and joyful to the good, and God prospered
them, and instead of many tribes contending, all
became one great nation; and you can see how
superior we are, how powerful,  how prosperous. 144
tranger tftan dTiction.
This religion taught us to spread the glad tidings,
and now we have come to you. You are like our
fathers. You know not God; you believe fables,
the future is all uncertain, you see all things die.
Man dies into darkness, and you have many sorrows,
and nothing to cheer you in those sorrows and in
death. Now, we can tell you this Book is God's
Word. This tells us of a Saviour from sin, and of
light and guidance, and strength to love good and
to do right. We bring this Gospel of Light to you,
and if you receive it, God will bless and prosper
you. Desire, then, this Word; ask us to come
amongst you. Seek to know the only true God
and Jesus Christ.'
"Mr. Duncan, besides interpreting my address
in a forcible manner, addressed them also himself,
and spoke strongly upon some of the glaring evils
that prevail, and which now some of them see and
acknowledge with fear. There was a manifest impression made upon the strange assembly, and
there was much talk amongst them afterwards."
On the assembly breaking up, the Bishop had a
long conversation with the chieftainess Niskah-kigh,
and being satisfied with her fitness, promised to
admit her to baptism on her presenting herself at
Metlahkatlah with the other candidates. Cfie jtoian dfunjtng^Statton.
At the next village about 130 Indians assembled on
the beach, and Mr. Duncan addressed them from the
canoe. They then went on to the village where
the two. chiefs, lately killed, were lying dead, their
bodies being kept in their houses that the feeling
of revenge might be encouraged. 120 Indians
quickly assembled on the beach.
An old man, standing forward, spoke with much
force and feeling : " We are in a sad way," he said;
" who will now stand up and speak for us ? Our
chiefs are killed, and we have no one to speak to
these chiefs who stop to visit us."
Mr. Duncan replied, " Truly their case was sad; it
was sad their chiefs were killed, but the fault was
their chiefs'. Why did they allow the fire-water to
come? They had been the first to bring in the
fire-water, instead of taking' care of their people,
like good fathers. They caused murder and
sorrow to come, and now themselves were both
It was now five o'clock, and fifteen miles against
a strong wind had to be accomplished before the
ship, lying at the mouth of the river, was again
reached. The canoe-men did their utmost, and " as
they glided along, and the twilight passed away,
they sang, in Tsimsheean, Christian hymns.    The i\6
Stranger than dftctton.
stars shone bright, and the deep dark mountain
gorges contrasted with the snow."
It was just ten o'clock as the whole party, fairly
tired out, again climbed on board the "Devastation."
Leaving the Naas river the next morning at 9.30,
the ship reached Fort Simpson at four. Here a
meeting of Indians was again held, and the child of
a Christian Indian baptized. A visit was also paid
to the fort, where, besides the usual occupants, the
Bishop found "two Iroquois Indians from Canada,
an African, a half-cast Tongas, a Scotchman, an
American, and several Englishmen." On the afternoon of the next day, Saturday, the " Devastation "
again dropped anchor off Metlahkatlah.
HE next day, Sunday, April 19th, 1863,
the Bishop, after holding service on
board the "Devastation," went on shore
accompanied by Captain Pike. " We
were met," he writes, "by the whole village, who
stood on the bank, in a long line—as fine a set of
men and as well-dressed as could any where be seen
where men live by their daily toil—certainly no
country village in England would turn out so well-
clad an assemblage.
" At three the bell was rung, and almost instantly
the whole population were wending their way to
church. Most of the people are away at Naas, but'
130 assembled. There were hymns and prayers in
Tsimsheean. They repeated the answers to a
catechism in Tsimsheean. I addressed them, and
offered prayers in English, which were interpreted
by Mr. Duncan.    There was much earnest response
L 2
——**-	 §fi!
Stranger tijan iFictton.
The service lasted one hour and three quarters.
There was an evidence of devotion. Mr. Duncan
plays the accordion."
The examination of the catechumens, commenced
on the Sunday, was continued without intermission
throughout the next two days, lasting on the
Monday till one o'clock at night.
"Monday, April 20th.—Day fine. Got to the
Mission-house at eight to breakfast. Afterwards
engaged the whole day seeing catechumens till one
o'clock next morning. One after another the poor
Indians pressed on to be examined. They had
been under training for periods varying from eight
months to three years. They had been long looking for a minister to admit them to "baptism. It
was a strange yet intensely interesting sight in that
log cabin, by the dim glimmer of a small lamp, to
see just the countenance of the Indian, sometimes
with uplifted eyes, as he spoke of the blessedness of
prayer—at other times, with downcast melancholy,
as he smote upon his breast in the recital of his
penitence. The tawny face, the high cheek-bone,
the glossy jet-black flowing hair, the dark, glassy
eye, the manly brow, were a picture worthy the
pencil of the artist. The night was cold—I had
occasionally to rise and walk about for warmth—■ %a. forgathering.
yet there were more. The Indian usually retires as
he rises, with the sun, but now he would turn
night into day if he might only be allowed to
'have the sign,' and be fixed in the good ways of
" Tziesday, April 21st.—The day dawned bright,
"and so continued. Immediately after breakfast,
having had prayer, the work again began. Catechumens came in and, one by one, were sifted;
some, to their grief, were deferred. One man came
and begged he might be passed, for he might not
live till the next visit of a clergyman. Another
brought a friend, and said, if I would only admit
his wife to baptism, they would promise for her she
should persevere and live to God. Another, a fine
child of fourteen, I had thought too young to answer
for herself—one who had always shown remarkable
love for instruction and had stood by the school
when the many were its foes. She came with tears
of entreaty which were irresistible and beautiful,
and lovely was the sensitive intelligence which
beamed upon her devotional features when afterwards she received the waters of baptism. Till four
o'clock was I thus engaged, an hour after the time
appointed for the baptisms. The peculiar suitableness of the questions in the Baptismal Service to
Granger than dftctton.
the case of converts from heathenism was very
remarkably illustrated throughout the examination.
" Converts from heathenism can fully realize
renunciation of the world, the flesh, and the devil;
Amongst these Indians pomp of display, the lying
craft of malicious magic, as well as all sins of the
flesh, are particularly glaring, and closely connected
with heathenism : to them these things are part and
parcel of heathenism. So are the truths of the
Creed in strongest contrast to the dark and miserable fables of their forefathers, and heartily can
they pledge themselves to keep the holy will of God
all the days of their life, seeing Him a loving and
true Father, of whom now so lately, but so gladly,
they have learnt to know."
The questions asked by the Bishop were generally
somewhat as follows :—
"Do you wish to be a Christian?
" Do you feel your sins, and want a new heart ?
" How came you first to turn to God ?
" How do you expect remission of sins ?
" Are you afraid to die ?
" Do you pray to God ?
"To whom do you look to save you ?
" What hope have you when you die ?
" How do you know God will pity you ? Sin irngatherthg.
" When weak what must we do ?
" What will happen to us when we die ?
" What makes it difficult to pray ?
" Is there any special hindrance to your turning
to God ?
" How do you hope to have your sins pardoned ?"
"I first," the Bishop writes, "drew forth their
views of the necessity of repentance, its details, and
their own personal acquaintance with it. I then questioned them as to the Three Persons of the Trinity,
and the special work of each with allusion to the
Judgment, and the state of the soul hereafter, inquiring into their private devotion, to learn their personal
application of repentance and faith. I questioned
their anxiety for baptism, and demanded proof of
their resolution to keep the will of God for their
guide, to speak for God, and to labour for God's way
all their life long. I sought to find out the circumstances under which they first became seriously
inclined, and to trace their steps of trial and grace.
Admitting them to the promise of baptism, I
exhorted them to earnest prayer and devotion, as a
special preparation, until the time came."
The following extracts from the Bishop's notes
on the various candidates bear testimony to the
very thorough character of the examination.    We *52
Stranger tfian dftctton.
should, perhaps, say that the names of those who
have been previously mentioned in the narrative
are placed first, though not occurring in this order
in the Bishop's journal:—
Klah, aged 35.—Answers:—I have made up my mind to live a
Christian. Must try to put away all our sins. I believe in Jesus
Christ, the Son of God, who died for our sins. God is good to us,
and made us. God gives us His Spirit to make us clean and happy.
I pray to God to clean my heart, and wipe out my sin from God's
book. It will be worse for us if we, fall away after we have begun.
I repent I was not baptized a year and a half ago.
Legaic (principal chief), aged 40.—Answers:—We must put
away all our evil ways. I want to take hold of God. I believe in
God the Father, who made all things, and in Jesus Christ. I constantly cry for my sins when I remember them. I believe the good
will sit near to God after death. Am anxious to walk in God's ways
all my life. If I turn back it will be more bitter for me than before.
I pray God to wipe out my sins; strengthen me to do right; pity me.
My prayers are from my heart. I think sometimes God does not hear
me, because I do not give up all my sins. My sins are too heavy.
I think we have not strength of ourselves.
Remarks.—Under instruction about nine months. On two occasions before attended for a short time, but fell away. Mr. Duncan
says this man has made greater sacrifices than any other in the
village. Is the principal chief, and has left his tribe and all greatness. Has been a most savage and desperate man; committed all
crimes. Had the offer of forty blankets to return to his tribe. He
now bears the ridicule of his former friends. Yet his temper,
formerly ferocious, bears it patiently, and he returns kindness, so that
some have melted and are ready to come with him.
Lee-qu-neesh (a chief), aged 39.—Answers:—When young was
brought up in sin.    No one ever told me the good news.    Cannot
tell how great a sinner I am.    I believe in God, and cannot turn,
back to any of my old ways.   The great Father Almighty, Maker of &n Jngatfjertng.
the earth. Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, died for our sins that
God might pity us on that account. God is a spirit, full of love and
goodness; but we must pray for God's Holy Spirit. We must all
. stand before God. God will know who are good and bad. By-and-
by I shall know if God hears ine. My heart is dark; I cannot
clearly tell now. A long time I felt it was contrary to God, and
when I heard the good news I gave up evil ways.
Neeash-lakah-nooshT (called "the Lame Chief" ; he is blind
also of an eye; fine old man); aged 70.—Answers:—When asked if
he wished to become a Christian, said—For that object I came here
with my people. I have put away all lying ways, which I had long
followed. I have trusted in God. We want the Spirit of God.
Jesus came to save us. He compensated for our sins. Our Father
made us, and loved us because we are His work. He wishes to see
us with Him because He loves us. When asked about the judgment,
said, The blood of Jesus will free those who believe from condemnation.
Remarks.—Under regular instruction for a year, and before that
for some time by his daughter. Is most consistent, trying to do
simply what is, right. The other day was benighted on Saturday, on
his way to spend the Sunday at Metla-katla, seven miles off. Would
not come on, nor let his people gather herring-spawn, close under
their feet; he rested the Lord's Day, according to the commandment.
Y-ilmauksh, aged 22.—Answers:—I believe in Jesus as my
Saviour, who died to compensate for my. sins to God. -
Remarks.—Appears very earnest; speaks devoutly and freely.
Long time under serious impressions. Brought out from heathenism
three of his relations.    Eight months under special instruction.
Leht, aged 25.—Answers:—I feel my unworthiness, but trust to
God's pity. We must pray constantly to God. I have not two
hearts; have given myself to God.
Remarks.*—Was in the "Cariboo'' steam-ship when blown up :
turned to God then. Three years under instruction. Son of a chief.
Much tempted to go to heathen feasts, but has steadily refused.
Kangisi^ aged 22.—Answers:—I am striving against my sins,
determined to follow God's way. God's way good and right, without
doubt.    Our way full of mistakes.    Christ searched out (exposed) i54
Stranger than dftctiou.
man's way and showed God's way, and then was punished to make
satisfaction for our sins. I pray for a good heart and for pardon
from my sins.
■ Remarks. —Four or five years ago under instruction; fell away.    A
year preparing for magic; a year and a half earnest.
Shkah-clah, aged 35.—Answers:—1 have not long come forward
for baptism, but have long been wishing to be fixed in God's way,
and have been struggling against my sins. God punishes the wicked
who persevere in their sins. I must pray"for God's Spirit. God
teaches us humility, and to love one another. I pray for God to
pardon my sins, and to dress me in His righteousness.
Remarks.—Confesses he has been very wicked.   Lately his child
died.    As it lay dying, with tears he touched it, and said,  " This is
for my sins."    Was moved strongly to turn to God by the death of
his child.    Belongs to'a leading family.    His brother, a heathen,
chief, tells him he will be nobody if he becomes a Christian.
Lappigh Kuhlee, aged 30.—Answers:—I have given up the
lucrative position of sorcerer. Been offered bribes to practise my
art secretly. I have left all my mistaken ways. My eyes have been
bored (enlightened). I cry every night when I remember my sins.
The great Father Almighty sees every thing. If I go up to the mountains He sees me. Jesus died for our sins upon the cross to carry.
our sins away.
Remarks.—Dates his change from seeing a convert reading a book,
and he felt ashamed that he knew nothing, and he determined to
learn, and soon he found his own system false. One case, when his
spirit said there would be recovery, death came; and another, when
he foretold death, life remained.
Cow-AL-LAH, aged 30.—Answers:—A Christian must put away
sin, lies, drunkenness. I had wished to come forward at the last
baptism, but was held back by those around. I have now broken
away, and am ready to give myself to God. God is the maker of
heaven and earth. God pitied our sins, and sent Jesus to save us.
The Spirit helps our weakness. If we follow God here we shall find
God after death. All must stand before God and receive according 1
to their works. Was struck at the dark death of many of his relations.    He and they knew nothing about the-future.    So when Mr.
^sa Duncan came and spoke about those things, he gladly heard, and
determined to follow him.
Quil-AH-shkahks, aged 25.—Answers:—I have put away my
sins. I have long sinned against God. I am afraid of my sins.
God sees me. Jesus has opened the door of heaven to us. God
sends His good Spirit to help us. God will measure our ways when
we die. So long as I live I will try to give the news of God to
others. The word of God has taught us to hope. In the summer
saw the people die from small-pox. Saw the hand of God, and
trembled and resolved to turn to God. We are not strong to resist
the hand of God.
• Neeash-AH-POOTK, aged 35.—Answers .-—I have long followed
sins which make God angry. I have put away sin, but if I am ever
so ignorant in my endeavours I will persevere. Used to be a great
drunkard. Have given up magic and display of property. Felt
God last summer. We have turned back to our great Father. He
sees all; His Spirit is with us. The blood of Jesus cleanseth us
from all sin. How happy the angels will be to see us good, and
how they will cry if we are sinful! At the last God will divide us.
Lost ten relatives by the small-pox last year, and it opened my eyes
to my sins.    God's hand was strong to cut down sinners.
Kshin-KEE-AIKS, aged 36.—Answ
T will fight against my
sins, and continually cry to find God. I will endeavour not to retaliate when ridiculed. I believe in the Lord in heaven, who made
the earth and heaven, and us, and the food we eat. Jesus the only
Son of God died to save us from our sins. God gives us the Holy
Spirit to help us to contend against the evil spirits who come against"
us. If we are sinful when we die, God's face will be against us.
Wherever \ go my mind is fixed to serve God. At the last God will
divide the good from the bad. Used to hear God's Word, and
always went back to my sin. But at last came away with the others,
and was fixed then.
Kow-KAYTH, aged 18.—Answers :—We must leave all sinful
ways, and take hold of God's ways. I have long carried sin, but
must not carry sin to God. God is a great Spirit. Made earth and
heaven. Jesus died in our stead. The Spirit of God ever with us ;
the hand of God ever near.    If we carry our sin till we die, God will
—^ 156
stranger tfian dftction.
punish us. We must all meet God when we die. God will show us
our ways. My father was cut down in his sins. I purpose to do
Kahlp, aged ^.—Answers;—I shall fight against my sins. My
heart truly says I will turn from sin to God. God is perfectly right
in His ways. Sees all, good and evil. God made all things—
heaven and earth and us. The Son of God our Saviour, Jesus. The
blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from sin. God does not withhold
His Spirit when we cry for it. Whosoever believes in God, the
Spirit of God lives in his heart. Those who die in their sin go to
darkness and to fire. I will fear God as long as I live. I pray for
God's Spirit and light to lead my own spirit along the path to Himself when I die. Was a slave; was poor in spirit, and was drawn to
cry to God to take my heart.
Remarks.—Answers freely. He was taken slave by the Hydahs;
brought back and sold to his own chief, and was some years a slave.
The chiefs son sold him to his own friends, who set him free.
Skulloh, aged 30.—Answers:—From my birth I have been a
sinner. I cannot understand the size of my sinfulness. Cannot of
myself give up my sins, but God will help me. Jesus our Saviour
came from heaven; that is the reason why we can be saved. I feel
God sees and understands all we do, and think, and speak. Am not
afraid of the judgment, for God is full of love and mercy, and the
Son of God has made our peace. I pray God to prepare my heart
to see Him.
Remarks.—Was in a canoe with a child, who fired a gun by carelessness. A portion of the boat turned the shot from going into his
back. He was led to think why a little piece of wood should thus
save his life; he became thoughtful; heard Mr. Duncan was come to
speak about God, and at once joined.
Ooshi-neeyam-nay, aged 24.— Answers:—I will try to take hold
of God's ways, and leave sin. When I remember my sin my heart
cries. I believe in God, who made heaven and earth, and who is
almighty. Our sins were the death of Jesus. The blood of Jesus
cleanseth us from sin. We must pray to God to put our hearts to
Him. Jesus will dress us in His goodness. God sends His Spirit
• to make us good.   I am not afraid of the judgment, for I hope my tSLn Jngathertng.
heart will be right to see God before I die.   If our hearts are not
right to see God, He will cast us into darkness.
Kisheeso, aged 16.—Answers :— A duty to give up the ways of
the Chymseans.. Was very wicked when quite young. Will try to
put away my sin. I cannot eat again what I have vomited. God is
almighty. Jesus the Son of God, our Saviour. God will hear me
if I cry to Him. We must seek God first before any other thing.
My father and mother still in heathenism, but I cannot go back to
them.    I rather cry when I think of them.    I pray night and mom-
• ing for God to pity and to pardon me.
Remarks.—Came by himself in a tiny canoe, across the sea, away
from home, to join the Christian people.
Thrak-sha-KAWN (sorcerer), aged 50.—Answers :—I wish to
give up all wicked ways.    Have been a medicine-man, and know
• the lies of heathenism. I believe in the great Father who made us,
in Jesus who died on the cross that God would pity us. I want the
Spirit of God to touch my heart. We must all stand before God.
God will measure our ways. No one to be his master but God. I
will not keep my eyes on the ground any more, but will look up to
heaven all my life.
Remarks.—He has had to bear much scorn, and to go through
much struggle.
Qu-tl-noh, aged 19.—Answers :—I wish to put away all sin,
lies, drunkenness. Have erred in following man. Must now try to
follow God. I believe in Jesus Christ, who died for our sin. God's
Spirit prepares us for baptism. We shall rise from the dead and see
God's face, if we are God's children. I am wishful to serve God as
long as I live.
Wahthl (wife of Legaic), aged 40. —Answers:—I wish to put
away evil and have a clean heart. Feel the pain of the. remembrance of sin so bad I would sometimes like to die. I want to seek
God's face, but feel little hope; still I determine to persevere,
though miserable. Loss of relatives, and finding no peace and rest,
and feeling in darkness, led me to look to God. I know that God
sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins. i58
Stranger than dftctton
Remarks.—About nine months under regular Instruction. She
is evidently anxious for her soul; knows the truth, but her sins are
a burden that she has not found peace. She has been anxious her
husband should go forwards in good.
Loosl (widow of the cannibal chief who died penitent), aged 25.
—Answers:—I know how blind I have been. Was first turned to
God by the news of the Saviour. Was struck that He came down
amongst us. God is a Spirit full of love. Christ came to carry-
away our sins. We must pray for the Spirit to help us. I confess
my sins to God and cry for pity. I pray for my friends. After
death the judgment. We must stand before God. Jesus will answer
for those who trust in Him.
Remarks.—Upheld her husband in his wickedness. Was turned
by his turning at his death.
Shoodahsl (wife of Clah), aged 30.—Answers:—We must give
up all sin. God sees and knows us all through. Jesus died in our
stead because we were bad. By the Spirit of Jesus we must learn .to
walk in the good way. I feel struggle in my mind, but persevere.
I pray for pardon. Will do all I can to keep God's way. God's
own Word promises that He will hear.
Nis'iiAtt-KiGH (chieftainess of the Nishkahs), aged 45.—Answers r
—I must leave all evil ways. I feel myself a sinner in God's sight.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, and in Jesus Christ, who died
for our sins. God sends down His Spirit to make us good. Jesus
■is in heaven, and is writing our names in God's book. We must
stand before God and be judged by Him. I feel God's Word is
truth.    Have been for some time accustomed regularly to pray.
Remarks. —Two years ago she was found giving Christian instruction to a sick and dying person. Her husband tells me she passed
much time in devotion. When she first heard the Word of God her
sorrow was great, and her penitence more than she could bear. Some
five years she has been earnestly seeking God.
Nayahk, aged 30.—Answers:—I have been a great sinner, but
God has opened my heart to see good, and I am resolved by His
help to put away all evil and live to God. I pray for pardon and
God's Holy Spirit. I feel unhappiness now amongst my heathen
friends, and have pleasure only with God's people.
Remarks.—-Her husband has been sent away.    She remained %Ln ihtgathertng.
although at the cost of much privation to herself; but she would not
go back to heathenism. Replied well as to the special work of each
Person of the Trinity.
Nayahk (wife of Lapplighcumlee, a sorcerer), aged 25.—Answers:—Answers well and clearly upon the separate work of each
•Person of the Trinity.    Prays for pardon—for the Holy Spirit.
Remarks.—Suffered much from the mockery of her husband. At
her earnest demand he gave up devilry. Under eighteen months'
regular instruction. Been consistent in the midst of opposition;
adhered to the Mission when many were against. Has been a
blessing to her family, all of whom have renounced heathenism.
Her husband, the sorcerer, laments his past life, and would be the
first to put his foot upon the evil system.
Ad-DAH-KIPPI (wife of a Christian Indian), aged 25.—Answers:—
I must put away sin. I know I have been making God angry, but
must put away all my old ways, lies, and the evil of my fathers.
God gave us commandments. God would not hear us till we put
away our sins, Jesus would make peace for. us and add His Spirit.
Am resolved to endeavour to live to God all my life. Was much
moved last fishing at my sinfulness, and then repented strongly, and
resolved to walk with God. I pray morning, noon, and night for
pardon and God's Spirit.
Remarks. —Had opposed her husband, who is a Christian.
Wah-TEE-boo, aged 16.—Answers :—Have been sorely tempted.
Jesus came down from.heaven to save sinners, and to make our peace
with God. Jesus shed His blood for our sins. Jesus will be as a
ladder for us to heaven when we die. We must stand before God.
We must cry to God before we die, and not put off. I pray for a
clean heart to God.
Remarks.—Made a touching confession of her sins, when applying
for baptism.
Paiek(wife of Slulloh), aged25.—Answers:—Want to find God.
I repent of my sins. First led to think by the shock of my father
being shot in the house by another Indian. Sought peace and came
to Mefla-katla. God is almighty, full of goodness, and truth, and
love. Jesus, the Son of God, died for our sins. Asked what we
should ask God for. She said, light. The good will dwell with»
God for ever, the bad be cast away. 100
Stranger than •dftctton.
Lahsl, aged 22.—Answers:—I wish to be a Christian. Must
put away all sin. I believe in. our Lord Jesus Christ, who takes
away my sin. The Spirit is almighty ; strengthens my breath. We
must all stand before God. We must try to be good. Knowing
this, I pray to God morning and evening. Death in the family first
. led me to think. I have been made bad by my people, but have now
turned to God.
Remarks:—Eighteen months under instruction. Been afflicted,
and shown great constancy.
Ahk-YAIK, aged 22.—Answers:—My sins I must leave. I pray
to God for pardon. Believe in God who made us, and heaven and
earth. Jesus Christ the Son of God, our Lord. He came down
from heaven to our world to save sinners. God is a great Spirit.
God will measure our ways. I have struggled against my friends
who wish to get me away from here.
Remarks. —About ten months under instruction.
Shyit-lebben (wife of Kow-al-ah), aged23.—Answers:—I have
a miserable heart when I think of my sins. Jesus had compassion,
and died on the cross for our sins, that we might live after His
death. God sends down His Spirit to make us good. After death
God will show us our sins and divide us. I pray when I wake in
the night. If only my tongue speaks, my prayers do not go to God ;
but if my heart speaks, God hears my prayers.
Tah-tiks, aged 24.—Answers:—I must give up all my old ways.
I believe Jesus Christ died for my sins. We shall be happy with
the angels if we are good here. The people of heaven and earth
will be brethren. God will be to us as a brother. Long time
ago I knew good, but it died in my heart, and I followed sin ;
but I had an illness, and determined to do differently, and when
the move here was made, I followed. Did follow evil, but am
Oo-AH (wife of Thrak-sha-kaun), aged 38.—Answers:—I wish to
be a Christian. Was long time in sin, but now hope to give up
every sin. Jesus died for our sins. Our Father made us and all
things. The Spirit helps us. We shall find God when we die,
having lost our sins. Those who remain in their sins will be carried
away.   I prayed to God for salvation. fin ingathering.
The examination concluded, the requisite preparations were made for administering the rite of
baptism. The candidates, to the number of fifty-
six, were assembled in the church, and ranged in a
large circle, in the midst of which the ceremony
was to take place.
"The impressiveness of the occasion was manifest
in the devout and reverent manner of all present.
There were no external aids, sometimes thought
necessary for the savage mind, to produce or
increase the solemnity of the scene. The building
is a bare and unfinished octagon of logs and spars
—a mere barn—sixty feet by sixty, capable of
containing 700 persons. The roof was partly open
at the top ; and, though the weather was still cold,
there was no fire. A simple table, covered with a
white cloth, upon which stood three hand-basins of
water, served for the font, and I officiated in a
surplice. Thus there was nothing to impress the
senses, no colour, or ornament, or church decoration,
or music. The solemnity of the scene was produced
by the earnest sincerity and serious purpose with
which these children of the Far West were prepared to offer themselves to God, and to renounce
for ever the hateful sins and cruel deeds of their
heathenism ; and the solemn stillness was broken
M l62
Strange© tijan tfiction.
only by the breath of prayer. The responses were
made with earnestness and decision. Not an individual was there whose lips did not utter in their
own expressive tongue their hearty readiness to
believe and to serve God."
It will, of course, be understood that so entire an
absence of all " external aids " to devotion was the
result of circumstances rather than of choice, just'
as was; the nature of the. building in which the
ceremony was performed. On the following day,-
the services of the Bishop were put in requisition,
to unite in marriage three native couples,,,
"Nothing could be more pleasing than the
manner in which the young people conducted
themselves. The services evidently impressed
both them and their friends who came to witness
the ceremony. The custom of the ring was quite
novel to them in connexion with marriage. Rings-
they have in abundance* generally. I have counted
thirty on a single pair of hands. All rings were,
however, absent on this occasion, excepting the.,
one to be used : two had silver, the third had a
gold ring. There was no confusion : all evidently-
were properly impressed. Two of the young ladies
had white dresses. I presented each of the couples
with a fifty-pound bag of flour and five pounds of
1   - Sin forgathering.
sugar.    It is customary amongst Indians for the
newly married pair to give presents to their friends,
sometimes to th£ir owrFSripoverishment.   We desire to establish rather the more healthful practice**
6F encouraging the new home by substantial help."
On the ■ same  day fourteen children were also
" It was pleasing to see the strong desire of the
Christians for the admission of their children to
the same privilege of union with Christ's Church
as themselves. Thtey all took places — parents,
sponsors, and children—in the same ring as the
adults of yesterday, and came up, leading the little
ones between t#o, and, on returning, reverently
knelt down, remaining in private devotion for a
while, as was the case with the adults. Several
questions were necessary to be decided which are
not incidental to old-established countries. Parents,
St31 unbaptized, sought baptism for their children ;
prudence prevented this. Children, of one parent
Christian, the other heathen, were admitted. Two
.parents, still unbaptized, came to say they had
'given their child to a sister who was a Christian,
and who had adopted it for her own, that it might
be baptized and trained as a Christian. This I
allowed.     Children  over seven I did not admit,
M 2
/ 11
stranger than fiction.
considering they might be imbued with heathen
ideas, and should undergo training in Christianity
as a preparation for baptism, though to be baptized
as infants. It was interesting to see, afterwards,
children brought by their parents, and coming of
their own accord to have their names set down for
Before his departure, the Bishop gave a feast of
rice and molasses to all the village.
" They assembled in the octagon. Cloths were
laid; all brought their own dishes and spoons.
There were three tables, at each of which one of
the chiefs presided. Their custom is to eat little
at the time, but take away the principal part of the
allotted portion : all rise before and after the meal
for g^ace. Singing was then introduced, and excellent, certainly, were the strains of harmony
poured forth in the English tongue. Several well-
known rounds were capitally sung. First, a boat-
song ; then—
' When a weary task you find it,
Persevere, and never mind it.'
' Come tell me now, sweet little bird,
Who deck'd thy wings with gold ?'
' See our oars, with feather'd spray";"
and last, ' God save the Queen.' In this they
were as quick and lively as any children in the 2Jn Jngatfjertug.
world, the men joining, too, in good time—voices
sweet and soft. Mr. Duncan afterwards addressed
them in an earnest speech."
We have thus traced Mr. Duncan's work through
its initial stages, extending over a period of five
years (1857-63). We cannot better conclude this
part of our narrative than by quoting once more
the words in which the Bishop of Columbia expresses the opinion which his own personal experience, and the unanimous testimony of those who
had been able to watch the work in its gradual
development, had led him to form. " All former
work, varied, and interesting, and impressive as
ministerial life is, seems insignificant before this
manifest power of the Spirit of God, touching the
heart and enlightening the understanding, of so
many recently buried in the darkness and misery
of ignorant and cruel superstition.
" To a worthy, zealous, and gifted lay brother, is
this the reward of his loving and patient labours.
Few would believe what Mr. Duncan has gone
through during the past four years and a half,
labouring alone amongst the heathen. Truly is
the result an encouragement to us all. It will
probably be the commencement of an important
movement   amongst   other   tribes,  of  which   we Hi i
i  \
Stranger tfian dftctton.
already have signs, and should call forth a very
earnest effort on the part of the Church to send
forth a faithful and efficient band of additional
labourers for this harvest of immortal souls.'
•&$6f I I  -■- *r - ffilll
To fact p. 167.
HE name—Paul—chosen at his baptism
by Legaic, was a singularly appropriate
one. Possessed of great power and
influence, for a long season he had used
them only for the purpose of hindering the progress
of the Gospel, and had made himself notorious as a
"persecutor and injurious." From henceforward,
however, we shall see him showing as much zeal in
•promoting as he had before done in hindering the
But before this change was brought about a
period of severe trial had to be passed through.
Read in the light of his after-history, Legaic's
answers at the time of baptism acquire an especial
interest, as showing how real was the struggle with.
the peculiar temptations which beset him. " If I
turn back it will be more bitter for me than before.
I pray God to strengthen me to do right    My Ill
?tranger tfiau dftcttou.
prayers are from my heart. We have not strength
of ourselves." The temptation to return to Fort
Simpson and assume his former rank as Head
Chief of the Tsimsheean tribes, at all times very
strong, seemed on particular occasions well-nigh
irresistible; every kind of inducement was held
out to him by his former friends and subordinate
Some time after his baptism it seemed as if
these inducements were likely to prevail. On.
one occasion he actually gathered his friends at
Metlahkatlah together, and told them that he felt
he must go away and return to his former life.
The canoe waited on the beach, and many came
down to see him off. Taught from infancy to
regard him as their leader, all were sorrowful, and
some seemed to waver. Making his farewell
address before stepping into his canoe, he told
them that he could not help what he was doing,
that he was pulled away; he knew that he was
doing wrong, perhaps he should perish for ever,
but still he must go. Tears came into his eyes as
he shook them all by the hand. Then, amidst a
general mourning and dismay, his canoe disappeared from sight.
Such was the description of the scene given to
1 the Bishop of Columbia by one of the Metlahkatlah
Indians who had left for Victoria the same day.
"After describing the scene," the Bishop writes,
"he said the Christian Indians held a great talk
amongst themselves about it, and the general
impression was that Legaic would return. He
himself thought so strongly. I was therefore most
anxious to know the result, and to my joy I found
that such had been the case. Legaic had not proceeded beyond a few miles when he turned his
canoe in-shore and landed, and there underwent
a night of misery, such, he said, as no words can
describe ; he would die a hundred deaths, and not
all would reach the amount of suffering he experienced in that night of remorse. He wept
before his God, and prayed earnestly for pardon.
On his return he came to the mission-house.
Mr. Duncan received him purposely at first with
coldness, but soon found him in the deepest distress and misery, entreating his pity and forgiveness. He has since been most earnest, and it is
hoped, through God's help, he will now go forward
without halting in his Christian course."
From this time forward Legaic's conduct seems
to have been every thing that could have been
wished.    Not only did he set an example of steady
—W*>* '— I/O
Stranger tfoan dFwtion.
industry in the calling which he had chosen—that
of a carpenter and cabinet-maker—but he was
always on the watch for every opportunity of
seconding Mr. Duncan's efforts. Here, for instance,
is an account given by the Bishop on the occasion
of his second visit to Metlahkatlah, in 1865, of the
way in which he used his influence :—
"To-day Mr. Duncan brought before me a
young man, Edward, whom I had baptized in 1863,
who, to the great grief of his Christian relatives at
Metlahkatlah, had fallen into bad habits at Victoria
and Fort Simpson. Mr. Duncan spoke to him
very earnestly, and brought him to tears; but the
young man still excused himself, and, admitting
how bad he was, professed he had not strength to
amend, but must go on, even though to his destruction. Paul Legaic, too, gave him some very earnest
advice. It was pleasing to see and to hear that
once ferocious savage, now not only gentle and in
his right mind, loving to be on the side of God,
but forward in using his influence and speaking
his words to promote God's work. At length an
impression did seem to be made, and Edward said
he would speak to us alone. Overwhelmed with
emotion, he asked me to pity him and to pray for
him, and made me a solemn promise he would 33aul legate.
from this time amend. I do trust, through God's
mercy, he may yet be recovered."
Speaking of Legaic's general conduct, the Bishop
says, " He is industrious, and gains a good livelihood, and lives in a comfortable house of his own
building, with good glass windows and a verandah.
Chairs were set for visitors, and we had much talk
about the Mission, and the work, and the tribe.
His only child Sarah is one of the most promising
girls of the Mission-house."
Another clergyman, the Rev. R. Dundas, alluding
to a visit which he paid Legaic, says, " He and
his wife have one child only, a young girl of
fourteen. She was a modest-looking, pleasing child,
vejry intelligent; one of the first class in the school.
She did not look like one who had ever been
' possessed with a devil;' and yet this is the child
whom three years ago her teacher saw naked in the
midst of a howling band, tearing and devouring a
bleedine dogf. How changed ! She who 'had the
unclean spirit sits now at the feet of Jesus, clothed
and in her right mind.'"
About the same time, Mr. Duncan incidentally
notices the assistance constantly rendered him by
Legaic on the occasion of his going to preach at
Fort Simpson.    Describing one of these visits, he Stranger than dftctt'on.
says, " Paul Legaic and Clah sat by me, one on
either side. After I had finished my address on
each occasion, they got up and spoke, and spoke
well. Legaic completely shamed and confounded
an old man, who in replying to my address had
said that I had come too late to do him and other
old people good; that had I come when the first
white traders came, the Tsimsheeans had long since
been good. But they had been allowed to grow up
in sin, they had seen nothing among the first whites
who came amongst them to unsettle them in their
old habits, but these had rather added to them
fresh sins, and now their sins were deep laid, they
(Tie and the other old people) could not change.
Legaic interrupted him, and said, ' I am a chief, a
Tsimsheean chief. You know I have been bad, very
bad, as bad as any one here. I have grown up and
grown old in sin, but God has changed my heart,
and He can change yours. Think not to excuse
yourselves in your sins by saying you are too old
and too bad to mend. Nothing is impossible with
God. Come to God; try His way. He can save
you.' He then exhorted all to taste God's way, to
give their hearts to Him, to leave all their sins; and
then endeavoured to show them what they had to
expect if they did so, not temporal good, not health, 3.3 aul Hegatc.
long life, or ease, or wealth, but God's favour here
and happiness with God after death."
Other records show that at every public meeting,
whether at Fort Simpson or Metlahkatlah, Legaic
always took an active part in the proceedings. Of
the various speeches made by him of which any
account has been preserved, the following one,
made on the occasion of the Dean of Victoria's
visit to the settlement in 1867, may be taken as a
fair specimen:—
" We have heard your speech, sir; we will obey.
Mr. Duncan has showed us God's Word: he has
taken our hands, and led us to God. We come
dripping away from sin, but our hearts are not yet
clean. We are still craving the blood of Jesus to
-cleanse us from sin. How can we return to evil ?
To God we will go. The ladder has been set up.
Jesus is that ladder. Here let us die, put our
bodies in the ground when God calls, us. In conclusion let me say, God has given you to work
for us, because we are sinners. May you be
Nor is it only in the distinctly Missionary records
that we find this constant allusion to the changed
character of Legaic. In the various articles or
letters contributed from time to time by travellers
«■ J74
Stranger than fiction.
to the Victoria newspapers, " Paul Legaic, Mr.
Duncan's Grand Vizier at Metlahkatlah," always
comes in for a kindly notice. " Take a walk
near the church," writes one, " and you may see
the mighty chief of Fort Simpson (Legaic)1;:
standing under the porch of kis well-built house,-
ornamented with fancy casing around where the
gutters should be, but are not, and also around- the
windows. Legaic I why, I remember him myself/
some ten years ago, the terrifying murderer of
women as-well as men, • now lamb-ded by the
temperate hand of Christianity—a Church-going
example-r^-anable ally of the Temperance Society/
though not having signed the pledge."
Another writer, speaking of the care with which)
Mr. Duncan had studied the tastes and capabilittes»
of those whom he set up in various trades, says,
" Accordingly, as you pass into Metlahkatlah, you
may see old Legaic, the former chief, busily working under a sign-board which informs passers-by
that he is a carpenter and cabinet-maker."
Legaic's end was such as might have b
een ex
pected from the consistent life which he had now
for some years.led. In the course of the year j869,
he had gone on a visit to the Naas river, and on his.
return was taken seriously ill at Fort Simpson. !|9auX £egatc.
He immediately wrote the following short note to
Mr. Duncan:—
"Dear Sir,—I want to see you. I always remember you in my mind. I shall be very sorry if
I shall not see you before I go away, because you
showed me the ladder that reaches to heaven, and
I am on that ladder now. I have nothing to
trouble me, I only want to see you."
To his great sorrow, Mr. Duncan was quite
unable to obey the summons thus sent to him. The
entire management of the settlement in all its
departments of workj-and the care of several other
cases of serious sickness, made it impossible for
him to leave just at that time. He was obliged,
therefore, in answer to this, and a second and third
summons which followed in quick succession by
separate messengers, to content himself with sending messages of love and counsel to the sick chief.
| When, a.few days later, the tidings of his death
were brought to Metlahkatlah, there came with
them the following unfinished letter:—
" My dear Sir,—This is my last letter to say I
am.very happy.    I am going to rest from trouble,
' trial, and temptation.    I do not feel afraid to meet
my God.    In my painful body I always remember
the words of our Lord Jesus Christ." 176
stranger than dTtctton.
Those who had been with him during his illness
said that the one special subject of thankfulness
to which he was continually referring was, that God
had held back his hand from hurting Mr. Duncan
at a time when he had determined to take his life. .
Such was the end of this once " haughty, fierce,
savage murderer and sorcerer." In no age or
country probably has Mission work had any more
striking instance to point to of the power of redeeming love and grace.
Contrasting the closing scenes of his life with
those in which he first appears in our narrative—
now as a reckless murderer, and again as the leader
of the savage band of medicine-men who threatened
Mr. Duncan's life—remembering him as one who
boasted of the number of lives which had been
sacrificed to gratify his fierce passions—the very
posts of whose house had been planted each upon
the bleeding body of a slave slaughtered for the
occasion; and then calling to mind the circumstances of his after-history—the entire surrender
of all that an Indian holds most dear; his resolute
battling with the powers of evil; his steady perseverance for several years, and the earnestness
with which, during all that time, he sought to bring
home to others the saving knowledge of the truth $3aul ^Legate.
by which he had himself been made free, we cannot
resist the conviction, that such a history as this
affords not only the most unanswerable argument
in favour of Mission work in general, but the most
distinct refutation of the idea which now-a-days we
too often hear put forward, that in the case of those
who have already grown old in the ways of sin, the
Gospel is not "powerful to the pulling down of
strongholds," and that it is with the young only that
it can be expected to have its full power.
The case of Paul Legaic was, be it remembered,
no exceptional one, though rendered somewhat
more remarkable by his former rank. His history
is only one out of a very large number of a similar
kind which the experience of this Mission would
It is to this fact, indeed, that Legaic's history
owes its importance. From any point of view it
would be one of considerable interest, but regarded
as an illustration of the effects actually produced
under particular circumstances by Missionary
labour, it affords a singularly valuable lesson—a
lesson at once of warning and encouragement: of
warning, not for a moment to allow the idea that
the case of any is hopeless ; and of encouragement
in the persistent  reiteration of the Story of the
*h i78
Stranger than dfuttoit.
Cross in the hearing even of the most apparently
hardened. That, humanly speaking, a great part
of Mr. Duncan's success, especially at first, was due
to the persistency with which he went to those who
would not come to him, and to his resolute determination to declare to alL " whether they would
hear or whether they would forbear," the counsel
and will of God regarding them, there can be no
When the Word of God is not" glorified " in the
manifestation of its power, may it not sometimes
be because it has not thus " free course " ?
]E now must return and take up our
narrative at the point at which the
name of Paul Legaic tempted us to
anticipate it. At the close of the year
1863, arrangements were again made for the bap-
*tism of a considerable number of converts. The
officiating clergyman this time was the Rev. R.
Dundas, one of the clergy of the " British Columbia
Mission." His own account of his- visit will best
indicate the state of the mission at this time :—
" Sunday, Oct. 2$th, 1863.—It was a pretty sight
to see the whole population, old and young, at the
sound of the bell, thronging to worship God. No
need to lock doors, for there is no one to enter the
empty houses. Every soul is assembled in the one
place, and for one purpose. As they entered, the
men took the right and the women the left hand of
the great circular hall.    I was surprised to learn
N   2 l8o
Stranger than dfictfon.
from Mr. Duncan afterwards that he had never
bidden them to do this; they seemed to have
adopted the arrangement instinctively. Service
began with a hymn in Tsimsheean. He led with
his concdrtina. The air was very plaintive and
beautiful—sung by some aoo voices, men, women,
and children—it thrilled through me. Then followed Prayers in Tsimsheean, at the close of which
all joined in the Lord's Prayer in English. Then
followed a chant; one of the Psalms he had translated and taught them, to a fine old Gregorian.
His address, or sermon, of nearly an hour, was upon
the story of Martha ^nd Mary. "His manner and
gesticulation were animated and striking, very
much after their own style. Their attention never
seemed to flag throughout. He asked me to
address them, which I did, shortly, upon their
present light as compared with their past darkness,
and the difficulties they must expect in their new
cause of Christian discipleship. Mr. Duncan interpreted for me. Before separating, they sang again
in Tsimsheean a sort of sacred air, which seemed
familiar to me, and was exquisitely beautiful. I
found afterwards it was the anthem, ' I will arise,
and go to my Father,' somewhat altered, and made
more Indian in its character.    It suited their voices Chree f9ear$' SKSorfc.
admirably. I closed with a short prayer in English, and pronounced the Benediction.
" The service was most striking. It was hard to
realize that three years ago these had all been sunk
in the deepest heathenism, with all its horrible
practices. What hours, what whole nights of
wrestling in prayer, have been spent by this single-
minded faithful servant of God, in humble supplication that he might ' see of the travail of his soul,'
and how has he been answered ! There is nothing
too hard for the Lord. Service oyer, Messrs. Duncan and Verney joined me in partaking of the Holy
Communion. After the Bishop's next visit there
"'will be, I hope, Indians ready to communicate
whenever opportunity is offered.
" Tuesday, Oct. 2jth.—I went on shore in the
afternoon, to take up my quarters with Mr. Duncan.
About four o'clock the bell was rung, and the
whole village assembled at the schoolhouse, when
Mr. Duncan told them that on the following Sunday, those who desired it, and also on examination
approved themselves, would be admitted to Holy
Baptism. Candidates were to assemble that
evening at seven, to give in their names. In his
address to them he was very pointed and stringent
—fencing in, as he afterwards told me, the door of m\
Stranger than dftctton.
admission. He told them the strict, uncompromising requirements in those who thus sought to
join themselves to Christ and His service. Better
that they should postpone so solemn and awful a
step than come to it unprepared. At the. hour
appointed the candidates were assembled. Fifty-
five gave in their names. Several were absent who
would have come forward had they been there ;
but, as my coming was not anticipated, at least 150
to 200 were away for their last hunting and fishing;
excursions before the winter, and would not be back:
for some weeks.
"Saturday, Oct. 31st.—I was hard at work with
candidates the whole day, from 9 a.m. till 11 p.m.
Out of fifty-five who offered I accepted thirty-
eight ; twenty-one males and seventeen females.
I was strongly impressed with the real earnestness
and devotion of those who came forward, and with
their acquaintance with the simple, saving truths-of
the Gospel message.
" A few answers may interest you.
" Comkahgwum, aged about twenty-five, a fine
young man—to the inquiry, what led him first to
think of Christ—said, ' It was the winter before last. <
The new school r\vas built at Fort Simpson.    Mr.
Duncan asked all the Indians one Sunday to come Chree- Heat*' Moth.
to church. I had never been. I went then. He
told us of our evil ways, and of God who loved
us. It was good to my heart; I was deep in the
ground then ; but now, when I heard this, I wanted
to be free, and to love God : that was the first time
I thought of Him.'
" In answer to the inquiry about God's view of
sin, and His feeling towards sinners, he said, ' God's
heart is against sin, He is angry with it. But He
pitied us. It was all for Jesus' sake.' (What did
Jesus Christ do for us ?) ' Jesus came down from
His Father to die for our sins on the Cross.' (Is He
dead still ?) ' Oh, no ! He rose up from death. He
is in heaven now. He is working for us there. He
is sprinkling us with His blood to make us clean.'
(What must we leave and do to be Christians ?) ' We
must leave our sinful ways ; we must have new
hearts; our old hearts are bad. We must believe
in our Lord.' (Who will help you ?) 'Jesus sends
down His Holy Spirit to strengthen our hearts : we
must keep praying for His good Spirit.' (Do you
pray for it ?) ' I am always working in prayer for
God to pity me.' (If you are tempted, what will
you do?) ' I will fight my sins. God will help me
to fight.' This poor man has been a murderer in
his heathen state.    Three years ago he was pro- voked by another of the tribe, and wronged in the
same way. He watched him out of the village at
Fort Simpson, and then shot him dead. It weighs
much upon his mind now.
" Here are some answers of an elderly woman:
' I want to take hold of the hand of God. He is
willing to pity me; our sins killed Jesus ; but His
blood saves us. I must leave all my sins, for Jesus
suffered for them. We shall stand before God ; we
must see God's righteousness. He will give His
hand to the good, but He will put the wicked away
from Him.' This woman, who cannot be less than
fifty, has had- no instruction from Mr. Duncan, save
what she has heard in church. It has come chiefly
from her own daughter of fifteen, who is one of the
Mission-house inmates, and has been with Mr.
Duncan for four years, his best and most promising
young convert. She has been baptized by the
Bishop, and has now been the instructress of her
parents, both of whom will be baptized by me
" From two or three elderly men I got of course,
answers less full. It is hard for them to remember
truths so as to give definite answers in words.
They feel and know more than they can explain.
In a few cases Mr. Duncan said, if I would allow Chree gears' SUorfc.
him,he would not put any questions to them formally,
but would leave them to tell in their own way why
they sought for baptism. And very touching it was
even to listen to them, though I could not understand them. One, with tears streaming down, said
he was very old, and must soon die ; but he wanted
to be at peace with God. He knew his ways had
been bad all his life ; but he had had no light; and
now he wanted to belong to Jesus, for he knew Jesus
loved him and died for him. Of course I could not
hesitate in such a case, and gladly accepted him.
Some I rejected, because, being capable of instruction, they hardly came up to the standard required,
and it was better that they should be more fully
taught as catechumens before admission. A few
who satisfied me in their knowledge I rejected,
because their character for steadiness and goodness
was not satisfactory; ^.nd one young woman, of
about eighteen, I refused to examine at all. She
was guilty of a gross act of dishonesty last summer,
and then left the settlement and returned to the
heathen at Fort Simpson. A few weeks ago she
came back ; but Mr. Duncan was hardly aware of
her return till last week. She received a severe
reprimand for coming forward at all (her name was
not in our first list), and an intimation from him "ft
Stranger than dftction.
that her offence had yet to be taken notice of. The
choosing of names and other preliminaries of the
arrangements for to-morrow occupied us for nearly
two hours. In the case of those who had' relatives
already baptized—mothers, or sisters, or parents,
or children—the same family name was kept. One
young lad of sixteen, whose answering had much
pleased me, was called Robert I Dundas. Lieut.
Verney was allowed to name two candidates after
himself and his brother. Two very pleasing young
women, of not more than sixteen, I was anxious to
name after my sisters, but I found that they had
already borne English names, being in Mr. Duncan's
class (first) in the school, and as they were known
by these he did not wish them altered.
" Sunday, Nov. ist.—All Saints' Day. To-day I
was privileged to perform the most interesting scene
I have ever taken part in since I left England.'
Fifty-two souls have been baptized with water and
the Spirit, and added to the Church of Christ, most
of whom were walking a few years ago in the darkness that might be felt of degraded heathenism.
" After service on board, Lieut. Verney accompanied me on shore. The Baptismal Service was
arranged to take place at two, for adults, of whom
there were thirty-nine. A second service was fixed
for the infants of some of the Christians,'thirteen in Chree gears' Moth.
number, at five o'clock. A large number of the
sailors from the gunboat were present, and seemed
greatly interested in the solemn rite. A small table
was arranged on a low platform at one side of the
great circular Mission-house. On it were placed
four silver dishes containing water, which Lieut.
Verney lent for the occasion; they were the best
substitute we could obtain for a font. I wore my
surplice, stole, and hood. The service of course had
to be gone through twice: after each prayer and
exhortation, in the adult form, had been offered or
spoken by me in English, Mr. Duncan repeated it in
Tsimsheean. The candidates were arranged in rows
—the men behind, the women in front. On either
side of them, all round the hall, were the rest of the
congregation, Indians and sailors. At the proper
point in the service, one by one, the candidates
stepped forward in front of the assembled congregation. Mr. Duncan called up each by his heathen
name. In answer to my request, ' Name this person,' he gave the new Christian name, and by it I
baptized him. As I held the hand of each, while
receiving him or her into the Church of Christ, and
signing him with the sign of the Cross, I could often
feel that they trembled with deep emotion. On
returning one by one to their places, each knelt
down in silent prayer.    The Baptism being ended, If
[if  i
II p
stranger thaif dftctton.
I offered up the two concluding prayers, all joining
in the Lord's Prayer in English. I then addressed
the newly-baptized.
"Friday, Nov. 6th.—Up anchor, and started at
seven. Mr. Duncan came off in his canoe to say
good-bye. The Indians ran the British ensign upas we passed the flag-staff, which Lieut. Verney
acknowledged by hoisting all his colours—red,
white, and blue—at main, fore, and mizen. And so
I bid good-bye to this most interesting place. It
takes its position now as one of the civilized towns
or villages of British Columbia. But it is more than
that: it is the enduring witness of the faith and'
patience and love of one unaided Christian teacher, -
whose sole reward (the only one he has ever
coveted) is the souls he has been the honoured instrument of bringing from darkness to light. ' I
have seen Missions in various parts of the world
before now' (said Lieut. Verney to me), ' but nowhere one that has so impressed me with the reality
of what has been accomplished.'"
The history of the next two years (1864-66) is
one of uninterrupted progress, both in spiritual and
secular matters. Six months after Mr. Dundas's
visit, Mr. Duncan writes :— Ehrcc gears' Wiovk.
" A great number are now preparing for' baptism,
and I hope that very soon the whole settlement will
be Christian. All the baptized have been and are
greatly tried. Many we can rejoice over exceedingly,
but some few have fallen, and have been excommunicated ; but, with one exception, all such have
bitterly repented, and are struggling to regain their
The Sunday services continued to be attended by
congregations varying from 300 to 400. On Sunday
evenings a meeting was also held, at which, after
singing and prayer, one or two of the young men
exhorted the others, making the addresses given by
Mr. Duncan in the earlier part of the day the
basis of their remarks. About 100 usually attended
on these occasions.
But perhaps one of the most encouraging signs of
the reality of the work which was going on was the
conduct of many of the converts when absent from
the settlement.    Mr. Duncan writes :—
" Nor is it only in our own settlement that good
is being done. Wherever these Indians go they
carry their religion with them, always assembling
themselves together for worship on the Sunday, and
getting as many of the heathen to join them as possible.   An Indian of Fort Simpson, who has received
^— 190
Stranger than dftrtfon.
a good deal of instruction from me (though he is
not a resident at our new village), came here a few
days ago, bringing seven young men with him from
one of the highest villages up the Naas river, over
100 miles from here.    He brought them that they
might witness for themselves the things of which
they had heard him speak.   He has been residing
at this village as a fur-trader, but he has also diligently employed his talents for God, setting forth
the Gospel where it had never been preached before,
and has met with great encouragement and apparent
■success.    I had the whole party at my house last
Wednesday evening,  when  I   endeavoured very
solemnly to impress upon their minds and hearts
the first principles of the Gospel of Christ   Though
intending to return home on the following day, they
. decided to remain over the Sunday, that they might
receive further instruction to carry back with them
to their waiting and thirsty tribe.
" They were anxious to carry in their hands a
portion of God's Word, so I wrote out for each, t>a
a piece of paper,—r' This is a faithful saying, and
worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came
into the world to save sinners.' I also gave the
Indian trader and teacher some further instructions, and pointed him out portions of Scripture suited to him and his flock. Before he arrived here
he wrote me a very encouraging letter, for I have
taught him to read and write."
Amongst the natives who still remained at Fort
Simpson the influence of the Metlahkatlah Indians
was also constantly exerted for good. From time
to time a "deputation" of Christian Indians made
special visits to the Fort "for the purpose of
arousing their slumbering brethren there." The
• result was, as far as it went, entirely satisfactory.
"The heathen there put away their own absorbing
and heathenish work, and attended the meetings
the Christians held, and listened with great reverence and attention."
Early in 1864 Mr. Duncan was again cheered by
the arrival of a fellow-labourer—sent out by the
Church Missionary Society—the Rev. R. A. Doolan,
of Caius College, Cambridge.
It was at once arranged that Mr. Doolan should
take up a distinct work amongst the Indians of the
Naas river, to which district, accompanied by a
native catechist, Samuel Marsden, he accordingly
Thus was the first distinct offshoot from Mr.
Duncan's work happily planted. Of the results of
this venture we cannot here speak at length ; and it BSSts
Stranger tljan dfictton.
rrfust suffice to say that, aided by several Christian
Indians from Metlahkatlah, Mr. Doolan was soon
able to establish a flourishing Mission-station, which
is still (1871) doing a most important work.
Of the progress made at Metlahkatlah in special
departments of work, such as training native cate-
chists, educating the elder girls, and the organization
of the various secular affairs of the settlement, we
shall hope to give a detailed account in future
chapters. By dealing with these subjects separately, we shall be able to give our readers a
clearer view of the methods adopted in each case,
and of the measure of success which attended
With regard to the outward appearance of the
settlement at the period at which our narrative has
arrived (1866) we may make one or two quotations
from the letters of those who visited it about this
time.   The Bishop of Columbia writes:—
"Great improvements have taken place since my
visit in 1863. A neat row of houses faces the
beach. At one end is the bastion with flagstaff", the
Mission-house, and a large school chapel. From
that end another street of houses extends at right
angles to the former, facing another very pretty
bay.   Groups of well-dressed Indians were waiting Chree gears' Morfe.
to receive us. With many of the men I shook
hands, having baptized most of them. The great
octagon was well filled. It was a thankful sight to
behold the clean, neat, and orderly flock gathered
with a devotional object to the Christian house of
prayer. In a front row were ten young girls, all
with English Bibles in their hands, as modest and
devout as could be seen in any village church of Old
England. I was glad to see many children, and
never have I seen better behaved ones any where.
The first hymn was in English, 'How sweet the
name of Jesus sounds!' I then said some prayers,
and Mr. Duncan said the Litany in Tsimsheean,
after which a hymn in that language was sung; I
then gave an address. It was pleasing to hear the
fervent Amens, both in English and Tsimsheean
prayers, and also the responses to the Litany
universally made. We afterwards walked round
the village, and admired the gardens which are
attached to each house."
During the same year (1866) a Roman Catholic
gentleman, who had spent some months in visiting
the northern parts of British Columbia, wrote to
the Nanaimo Tribune an interesting account of
the impression made upon him by a visit to Metlahkatlah :—
O Stranger 'than ^Fiction.
" Though not," he says, " of the same denomination as Mr. Duncan, and having no interest to
subserve by my advocacy of his great claims to the
respect and gratitude of all true Christians for his
meritorious services in the good cause, it is with feelings of the utmost pleasure that I bear testimony to
the great good effected by this worthy man during
his period of self-exile at Metlahkatlah. Some time
ago reports were industriously circulated that his,
influence over the aborigines was rapidly on the
wane, and that he used every means to prevent his
people from trading with the vessels calling at the
Mission. With regard to the first assertion, it is
simply ridiculous. The confidence reposed in Mr.
Duncan by his dusky flock has never for a moment
been shaken, in fact is daily on the increase, as the
many additions to the population from outside
sources will attest, as well as the alacrity with
which he is obeyed in every command having for
its object the good of the community. A notable
instance of the latter I witnessed in the ready
manner in which they turned out to do their quota
of statute labour on the streets, or paid its equivalent
in blankets, &c.: no coercion, all was voluntary,
for they see .the benefit in front of their own doors.
Their hearts seem to  be centred in  their little Chree gears' Morh.
town, and you can inflict no greater punishment
on them than to exile them from it and its
"In regard to the allegation about the prohibition
to trading, I have only to remark that it is as
groundless as the other. I myself was on a trading
voyage, and stopped ten days at.Metlahkatlah, and
had every facility afforded me by Mr. Duncan in
trafficking with the natives. The reason is obvious
enough: our trade was not in whiskey. That
branch of trade is certainly discouraged at the
Mission, hence the outcry about 'interfering with
commerce/ ....
"A word or two'now about Metlahkatlah and its
beautiful environs, all blooming with the blossoms
of that useful esculent the potato, some twenty
acres of which were under cultivation and looking
splendid. The town is triangular in shape; the
Mission-buildings being located on a bold promontory forming the apex. The view from the
southern entrance' of the harbour, looking town-
ward, is extremely pretty. The church, of octagonal form, having a handsome portico and belfry,
and surmounted with the emblem- of Christianity
and peace, occupies a prominent position in the
foreground;  adjacent to this are the parsonage,
o % ill
stranger than dFtctton.
store, and saw-pits, the latter supplying lumber of
good quality, the product of native labour, at the
rate of fifteen dollars per 1000. The houses,
numbering about fifty, are nearly all of a uniform
size—16 by 24 feet—good frame, weatherboarded
and shingled, glazed windows, and having neat
little gardens in front; the whole forming two
handsome esplanades, one fronting the outer and
the other the inner harbour.
"The interior of the houses did not belie the
promise held out by the exterior. Every thing was
neat and scrupulously clean. The inmates were as
well supplied with the requisites to make life comfortable^ as any of our labouring class here.
Cooking-stoves and clocks were common to every
dwelling, and, in a few instances, pictures adorn the
walls of the more luxuriously inclined.
" The sight at church on Sabbath morning was
pleasant to behold. The congregation numbered
about 300, the females preponderating, the major
portion of the males being at that time out fishino-.
They were all well clad—the women in their cloth
mantles and merino dresses, and their heads gaily
decked with the graceful bandanna; the men in
substantial tweeds and broadcloth suits, and having
the impress of good health and contentment  on Chree gears' Work.
their intelligent features. Their conduct during
divine service was strictly exemplary, and would
have done credit to many a more pretentious edifice
than that at Metlahkatlah.
" As a whole, Mr. Duncan's people are industrious
and sober; they are courteous and hospitable to
strangers, and, if properly protected by the Government against the poison-venders of this land, will
in time become a numerous and wealthy people."
At the risk of its involving some little repetition,
we must make one more quotation. It is from an
account, published in the Columbia newspapers, of
a "Prospecting Tour on the North-west Coast of
British Columbia," conducted by a Scotch gentleman, Mr. McKenzie:—
" On reaching the Metlahkatlah settlement, on the
coast, about seventeen miles from Fort Simpson,
the party were astonished to witness all the
external and internal evidences of civilization.
There are about 600 *natives residing in the settlement, and they live in comfortable wooden houses,
built in modern style, and with glass windows.
The interior of each dwelling is divided into separate apartments, and what little furniture they
contain is kept in good order, and clean.    There is
rden attached to each house, which the owner I II
Strauger'ihau dficttSit.
cultivates, and in them all Mr. McKenzie saw excellent growing crops of potatoes and turnips.
"The people, both male and female, are all
comfortably clad, the result of their own industry
and provident habits.
" The village contains a church, part of which is
used as a school during the week. Mr. McKenzie
attended divine service on Sunday, and was amazed-
at the sight of the large congregation of native
converts assembled. Their deportment and solemnity during the service he declares could not be
excelled by any Christian congregation which he
had ever previously united with in worship. Mr.
Duncan read the Church Service, and afterwards
preached in the Indian language. It was evident
to Mr. McKenzie and his companions that the
natives took a deep and intelligent interest in the
services from beginning to end. The apathy and
listlessness which is observable in the countenance
of an untutored Indian has entirely departed from
the Metlahkatlahs. Most of their faces are remarkable for an animated appearance and intelligent
"Mr. Duncan teaches school during the week,
and instructs the natives how to use the appliances
of modern civilization in cultivating their gardens, Chree gears' Wiork.
building their houses, and sawing timber, as well as
many other useful arts. He also superintends the
village'istore, acts as magistrate, settles all disputes
that may arise, and, in fact, has his hands full in
performing the arduous labours which devolve
upon him, and which have resulted in such complete
success as scarcely to be believed, unless, as Mr.
McKenzie' states, it has been witnessed.
" The contrast between the Fort Simpson Indians,
among whom Mr. McKenzie resided 'last winter,
and the inhabitants of Metlahkatlah, is like that
between darkness and light: at Fort Simpson all is
gross ignorance, barbarism, degradation, filth, and
evil: whilst at Metlahkatlah civilization, progress,
enlightenment, cleanliness, and Christianity are
every where observable.
" The Indians belonging to the settlement live by
fishing, hunting, and trading. The Mission store,
which Mr. Duncan superintends, supplies all their
wants, and at rates much cheaper than similar
goods can be procured from the traders who infest
the coast. The profits arising out of the store, Mr.
McKenzie is satisfied, goes to the benefit of the
Mission fund, Mr. Duncan having no personal
interest in it whatever. Natives have now the exclusive  management of the  missionary schooner
m 200
Stranger than dfictton.
Carolena,' and the other small vessels built at the
settlement. Several of the Indians act as constables,
and have performed their duty with much intelligence and strict integrity. So much confidence
has Mr. Duncan in them, that he would have no
hesitation in sending them to arrest their own near
relatives. Mr. Duncan has lately built a house for
himself, or whoever may take his place hereafter
as resident Missionary. He intends erecting ere
long a saw-mill, soap-factory, bakery, smithy, and
having the Indians trained to perform all the work
connected with those branches of manufacturing
industry. Mr. McKenzie bears willing testimony
to the amazing amount of substantial good done
by Mr. Duncan. The beneficial influence which he
exerts over the natives is not confined to those
under his charge alone. The improvement, which
he has been the zealous instrument of bringing
about, has become extensively known among the
wandering Arabs who inhabit the British possessions of the Pacific, and the tribes are now desirous
of being instructed by Missionaries. Mr. McKenzie,
in his travels up Naas and Skeena rivers, has heard
the Indians express the most fervent wishes to have
'good men' labouring among them. Mr. McKenzie in his narrative has only spoken of what he wit- Chrce gears' Morfc.
nessed himself, and he is not a bad witness to facts
coming under his own observation. He is an intelligent Scotchman, who has travelled a good deal, and,
like most of his countrymen, is not easily deceived,
being of 'an inquiring turn of mind.'"
In making such quotations as the above, our
main object has been to enable our readers to
realize the nature and extent of the visible results
which, up to the date at which our narrative has
i arrived, had followed from Mr. Duncan's labours.
But an indirect object we have had in view has
been to give an illustration of the fallacy of the
popular idea that few, if any, branches of mission
work would stand the test of a close inspection by
unprejudiced observers. To use the words of
another writer who was brought into close personal
contact with Mr. Duncan and his work, Commander R. C. Mayne, " The labours of men of his
[Mr. Duncan's] class among the distant heathen
are undervalued by the world, which refuses to
credit the fact that savages, such as these coast
Indians undoubtedly are, can receive and retain
impressions so utterly at variance with their nature
and habits1."    There   are few of us who do not
1 "Four Years in British Columbia," p. 337. 202
Granger 'ihan dfictton.
» !J6l-
number amongst our friends or acquaintances some
who have taken this sceptical view of mission-work.
Only a few weeks since the writer heard a clergyman at a largely-attended ruri-<lecanal meeting
say, " I confess I have for some years given up
doing any thing for missions, for I have so often
heard of their failure that I have lost all confidence
in them." If such opinions are held'evCn by the
clergy—and that they are held by at least a large
minority of them there is unhappily no room to
doubt—how can we expect any hearty co-operation
from the laity?
Every one knows how. extremely difficult it is to
answer these general assertions, or to remove such
vague and undefined impressions. The present
narrative of facts will, it is hoped, afford at least
one clear and distinct illustration of the injustice of
so sweeping a verdict. Would that 'any one could
answer the question, Why is it that more illustrations to the same effect are not forthcoming? The
sceptical will assuredly say, Because any thing like
real results attending missionary labour are not the
rule, but the rare exception of the work. Those
who know that this is not the case can only admit
that, in not producing their witnesses, and thus
allowing judgment to go by default, our missionary JE&m gears' 223orfc.
societies do, as a matter of fact, justify the sceptic,
and give apparent ground for his unbelief. That in
a country ruled by the press, missionary societies,
expending nearly 300,000/. a-year, should not from
year's end to year's end be able to find material for
any thing approaching a distinct history of their
work in any particular field of labour, may be—■
and, strange as it may seem, we know is—consistent with those materials being in existence; but
rhat the public at large will suppose such to be the
case is perhaps more than we ,can reasonably expect. If only our societies would spend in leavening
public opinion through the press a tithe of what
they now spend in " Deputations," whose voices,
save from the pulpit—when few facts can be given
—rarely, if ever, reach those whom it should be
their especial object to influence, a new era in the
history of missionary effort would, we believe, be
very speedily inaugurated. But so long as those
who "alone have the power to produce the requisite
testimony to the results of the national expenditure
on Missions refrain from doing so, so long will the
great body of the English laity remain more or less
sceptical as to the real value and importance of
what is being done.
We do not by any means undervalue the useful- 204
Stranger than dftction.
ness of such publications as our societies already
produce. They doubtless have at least a conservative influence ; but their aggressive power upon the
general scepticism of the day is absolutely nil, and
that from the simple fact that they are not, and
perhaps from their nature cannot be, adapted to
the reading of any one but those possessed of a
considerable amount of previous information on the
subject of which they treat. What we want are
books prepared by those whose names will carry
weight, and of sufficient pretensions to secure the
attention of educated men, and of the secular press.
If our societies persist in hiding their light under a
bushel, they have no reason to complain if the
public do not recognize the good work which they
are doing. Let them once place it on a candlestick, and we have no doubt that the public will
quickly recognize and take a more active interest
in the efforts which they are so perseveringly
making. CHAPTER XV
NE of the first things which generally
attracted the notice of a visitor to Met-
• lahkatlah was the regularly organized
body of constables. They were twenty
in number, and " as fine a set of young men as you
would wish to see—the very pick of the Christians."
Their uniform was a dark blue surtout with brass
buttons and gold-twist epaulettes, a scarlet stripe
on each leg, a white belt, and band round the
These men, with the council of twelve and the
chief, Legaic, constituted the executive, over which
Mr. Duncan presided.
Greaf care being taken in the selection of the
constables, admission into the force was regarded
as the greatest distinction which could be conferred
upon the younger members of the community.
The kind of discipline which was kept up, and 1
Stranger than dftctiou.
the influence of public opinion amongst them, is
well illustrated by the following incident, mentioned
in a letter written in 1865 :—
"The constables, as a body, are very true and
faithful. Last winter they were severely tested.
One of their own body, and a very influential one
too, having gone wrong, was brought before us, and
that by his very bosom friend ; and we had to sit
over his case till after midnight to reclaim him. I
punished him by fining him five blankets, and
should have kept him in custody unless he had
confessed his error and begged pardon. If you had
heard the kind and powerfully melting language
which, one after another, his brother constables
poured upon him to convince and subdue him, you
would have rejoiced, I am sure. It was really
wonderful. They triumphed, and with tears the
prodigal returned. But part of the sentence was,
that he was to leave the settlement for a short time,
as I could not allow him to be seen in our midst.
The day after a deputation of constables waited
upon me, to beg for this part of the sentence to be
cancelled. They came direct from a meeting to
which he had been called, and after hearing his
sorrowful words and good resolutions, they promised to use their influence to obtain permission to
remain at the settlement, but not to go from his ®ab ^ano" police.
own house for some time, or until I gave him leave!
Having pleaded so well and so earnestly for him, I
consented to their proposal.
" About three weeks after this he came to me, in
company with his accuser—his bosom friend—saying that he wished to see my face and speak before
all the Christians that night. So after the adult
school was over I ordered all to leave the room who'
were not Christians. This was done, and the penitent then came in and made a very affecting speech
indeed. It was very wonderful to see and hear him,
a naturally proud and a very influential man, from
his eloquence and general character. He bitterly
deplored his sin, praised God for His mercy, thanked
me and all his friends for the trouble we had taken
with him, expressed his sorrow and shame that he
had given us pain, and disgraced the name of
Christian, and resolved, in God's strength, to lead'a
new life, and be more watchful. He then warned
all present against sin, begged them to watch and
pray, confessed he had found the hiding of God's
face more bitter than death; and again and again
besought them to avoid all manner of sin, and the
first approach of it.
"The Christians-then shook hands with him, and
some, I have no doubt, were in tears. Thus the
wanderer was restored." tl»
It might at first sight seem that in a peaceable
and well-ordered village there would scarcely be
found occupation for so large a " police force ;" but
it must be borne in mind that not only all disturbances, and even quarrels and disputes which
arose in the village itself, hafl to be settled at the
Mission-house, but that the Indians living in the
neighbourhood soon learnt to resort to it in every
case of any thing like a serious nature. The
amount of labour, patience, energy, and explanation which these duties involved, necessarily proved
a serious tax upon Mr. Duncan's time and strength.
At the same time he felt that the satisfaction of
seeing peace and quietness prevail not only in his
own village, but amongst the surrounding tribes,
was quite a sufficient compensation.
From an early period of his residence at Metlahkatlah, Mr. Duncan had, at the request of the
Colonial Government, consented to act as a magistrate : an office which, especially as he was the
only person acting in that capacity along several
hundred miles of coast, involved duties often of a
serious, and always of a very anxious character.
One or two illustrations will best serve to indicate the character of this part,of his work.
Here, for instance, is an extract from a letter Eato ana" police.
written in October, 1865, to one of the officers of
the Colonial Government:—
" For the last few months clouds of trouble have
been setting in thickly around us, and I am fully
expecting the coming winter will be one of unprecedented horrors. The Indian camps about us are
deluged with fire-water, and, of course, every kind
of madness is rife.
"It is just because our village makes a stand
against the universal tide of disorder that we are
being threatened on every side.
"In July last I apprised his Excellency the
Governor that we had in the spring seized a
quantity of liquor, which a party of Kitahmaht
Indians brought here for sale.
" In revenge for the loss of their liquor (I am
sorfy to inform you) these Indians, in the summer,
stole a little boy belonging to this place, while he
was away with his parents at a fishery on the
Skeena river. And, horrible to write, the poor
little fellow was literally worried to death, being
torn to pieces by the mouths of a set of cannibals
at a great feast.
"This atrocious deed would have met with
summary vengeance from the relatives of the boy
had it happened  a few years ago.    In this case,
J "I
Stranger than dftctton.
however, though highly exasperated, they would
not allow themselves to do any thing till they had
seen me. In order to prevent blood being shed at
random, I ordered them to wait till the arrival of
a ship of war, when I promised to refer the matter
to the captain, and hoped they would have justice
done them in a civilized way.
"Last week, however, an Indian (uncle to the
unfortunate boy, but not a Metlahkatlah man),
arrived here from Victoria, where he had been
living for the last two years and a half. On his
learning of the Kitahmaht atrocity, it seems he
secretly resolved to take the law in his own hands,
and, for that purpose, proceeded two or three, days
ago to Fort Simpson, to where a party of Kitahmaht Indians had recently arrived.
"This morning, at two o'clock, I was awoke'and
informed that a -Kitahmaht Indian had fallen a
victim to this man's revenge, and that great excitement was occasioned at Fort Simpson. Nor is it
known who will be the next to fall, to feed the
stream of blood which has commenced to flow, but
every Indian around me is in fear for his life.
" I might enumerate several very serious matters
which have lately occurred around us, which are
loudly calling for justice. Hafo ano $ort«v
" I can only mention one more. The Rev. A.
Doolan, Missionary, stationed at Naas, on landing
at Fort Simpson, a few days ago, was set upon
by an infuriated and drunken Indian, who twice,
attempted to fire at him. Both times his gun
missed fire, and before he could make a third
attempt the gun was secured and fired off in the
" Mr. Moffatt, chief officer at Fort Simpson, writes
to me in great alarm.
" I do earnestly beg that a ship of war may visit
us this winter. If such is not the case, much blood
will be spilt, and no life or property will be safe."
On. another occasion, two miners having been
murdered at Fort Simpson, the chief officer of the
Fort despatched a canoe for Mr. Duncan in the
middle of the night, asking him to go up and assist
in securing the murderers. When he arrived there,
two ships of war were already on the spot. After
a time the Indians gave up two out of the three
who were implicated. Their idea of justice was a
life for a life, and so nothing would induce them to
give up the third. The sequel of the story we
gather from two passages in the journal of the
Bishop of Columbia; in the first he is describing
his approach to Metlahkatlah in 1863 in the same
P 2. 1
Stranger than dfictton.
ship which had a few months before vainly endeavoured to secure the surrender of the third
" When the gun of the ship I was in sounded her
approach, we saw a canoe coming from the shore.
She was manned by ten Indians ; and as she came
nearer us we perceived that in the midst, as is the
custom in canoes, sat a white man, our earnest
catechist, Mr. Duncan. As the boat came nearer,
an Indian was observed sitting side by side with
him, not engaged in paddling the canoe. Who was
that ? He was a murderer. Six months before
the 'Devastation' ship of war, in which I was, had
been in those waters, seeking the three Indian
murderers of two white men. The Indians gave
up two, but they would not give up the third. The
ship of war planted her guns against the village,
threatening it with annihilation ; but still they
would not give up the third murderer. As soon as
the ship of war was gone, the murderer came and
gave himself up to Mr. Duncan, saying, 'Whatever
you tell me to do I will do. If you say I am to
go on board the gun-ship when she comes again, I
will go.' For six months he had been there at
large, and when our gun sounded he might have
escaped, but he said, 'What am I to do ?' and the answer was, ' You must come with me a prisoner.'
He was accordingly handtd over to us a prisoner,
to be taken to New Westminster to be tried for his
life. The scene was touching when his wife and
children came to bid him farewell, and she earnestly
besought Mr. Duncan, the captain, and myself, to say
some one word which might give her a ray of hope.
Thus we see that what the ship of war with its guns
and threats could not do for civilization, for protection of life, for justice, the simple character and
influence of one Missionary could accomplish for
all those* important objects."
The second extract is from the Bishop's journal
in t866, when this same man was found amongst
the candidates presenting themselves at Metlahkatlah for baptism. After alluding to the above
circumstances, he says,—
"He was taken to New Westminster, and it was
found that he had been drawn into the murder
through fear; he had protested against it, but when
one of the others had fired and killed one white
man, he was impelled by fear lest the others might
now turn upon him, and joined in killing the second,
but succeeded in preventing his companions pursuing the third white man, who was in their power.
All these  circumstances  came out, and he was 214
Stranger than tfictioxx.
pardoned. After his release he came to dwell at
Metlahkatlah, and now I have admitted him, a
sincere and humble believer in Christ, into the
Christian Church. When he entered the room to
be examined, he knelt down and offered a silent
"While speaking of his sins he showed emotion,
and covered his face. Amongst other answers,
these are some of his words : ' I repent very much
of my past sins ; I remember my sins before Jesus.'
I asked why Christians were not afraid to die; he
said, ' Faith in God will make us not afraid to die.'
I baptized him Jeremiah; he is about forty years
of age. His wife was not less satisfactory in the
testimony she gave of a true conversion to God,
and was added by baptism at the same time with
her husband to the fold of Christ."
A single illustration of the less important cases
continually brought before Mr. Duncan must suffice
to indicate the general character of this part of his
work. It is taken from an account by Dean Cridge,
given in the British Columbia reports of his examination for baptism of a large number of Indians
at Metlahkatlah:—
" CLAHS, aged 21. Her history is rather singular.
Her parents are natives of Nass, at which place she ■Halo-aria police.
was herself brought up. Her little sister was shot
when she herself was a child, in revenge for an
insult received at a feast. Her father instantly shot
the .murderer, and, as the latter was a chief, a feud
sprang up, till the balance of revenge should be
restored, which was arranged by the payment of
forty blankets, and the promising this daughter to
the chief's son when he should grow up. When
the time arrived, Clahs refused, but to save her
father's life, which was thereupon threatened, she
went to live with a man she hated. When on her
way to the Skeena river, in company with this man
and her father, she found a pretext for being left at
Metlahkatlah, and laid the case before Mr. Duncan,
who, on the return of the man, had him brought
up, and bound him over in seventy blankets to keep
the peace (he having threatened the father's life);
she, by Mr. Duncan's advice, remained, at Metlahkatlah.
" She showed a clear knowledge of the elementary truths of the Gospel." [She had been for some
time under instruction by Mr. Doolan at the Nass
River Station.]
But perhaps the most serious source of anxiety
in connexion with this department of work arose
from the constant attempts of smuggling sloops to 2l6
stranger than dFtctt'ou.
sell spirits to the Indians. On one occasion Mr.
Duncan, hearing of the presence of one of these
vessels in the neighbourhood, at once despatched a
.warrant for the apprehension of the captain. In
this case, "the sad result," he writes, "was, that
the five Indians serving the warrant were fired upon
by the three white men on board the sloop, one
being killed on the spot, and other three severely
wounded. The sloop got away, and it was not till
the following day that the Indian unhurt returned
to the settlement, bringing his three wounded
companions in a canoe.
I Unfortunately at the time I had very few
people left in the village, so that we were unable to
follow the murderers while within a reasonable
distance of us.
" After I had done all, and the best, I could for
the wounded men, I determined to run down to
Victoria, it being unsafe, from the unsettled state
of the coast, to send the Indians alone.
" On the 35th August I started for Victoria in a
small boat, and on the 5th September, by seven a.m.,
I was in Nanaimi, the nearest white settlement,
having been brought by a gracious God safely
through many perils on the sea, and perils by the
heathen. Halo aria police.
" I need scarcely say that, as soon as possible, I
communicated the shocking tidings to the Governor
of each colony, to Admiral Denman, and to all our
friends. All deeply sympathized with us ; and
Governor Seymour, of British Columbia, lost not a
moment of time till all the needful despatches
were written, and forwarded to the two neighbouring Governments, Russian and American, and to
the Admiral of the station, calling upon all to
do their utmost to seize the murderers, and hand
them over to justice. The Governor also engaged
a doctor to visit the wounded men, and Admiral
Denman sent up H.M.S. ' Grappler,' with the
doctor and myself on board, to the settlement.
" I cannot express to you the anxiety I felt while
away, and how restless I was to return to the sick
men. But God was better to me than my fears.
We arrived on the 4th instant at Metlahkatlah, and,
to my great relief, I found the wounded men doing
well, and all the settlement gojng on prosperously.
I called a meeting of the village on the evening of
our arrival, to return thanks to Almighty God, that
He had remembered us in our affliction."
At the same time, even such events as these were
made to subserve the one object which Mr. Duncan
ever held so steadily in view, viz. the setting forth
—• 2IO
Stranger 4han dftction.
the manner in which the reception of Gospel
truth should influence men's conduct in every position and under the most varying circumstances in
" In my addresses, both before going to Victoria
and since my return, I have been greatly helped in
opening to the Indians the passages and truths from
the Scripture which this late dispensation of Providence illustrated ; £nd I have been shown by
unmistakable signs that this severe chastisement,
with which it has pleased God to visit us, will be
productive of great good to us.
" It would take me too long to detail to you the
series of Indian laws of revenge and compensation
which this sad occurrence and its sequences have
revived, met, defeated, and dispersed for ever; and
how the Christian laws on these matters have been
put forward in strong contrast—approved, magnified, and made to triumph; and how, for the ■first
time, a calamity, which would have called forth
only savage fire and relentless fury in the Indian as
heathen, has only called forth patient endurance
and lawful retaliation in the Indian as Christian."
It will be easily understood that the determined
and persistent opposition thus offered by Mr. Duncan to the illicit traffic in spirits with the natives Hato antf; police.
gained for him for a time no little ill-will amongst
a large class of the trading community at Victoria.
But it is satisfactory to find that the wisdom and
justice of the course he adopted, and the good results of his work amongst the natives, came at last
to be so generally admitted as to disarm opposition, and in some cases even to secure for him the
support of those who had most bitterly opposed
him. One instance is mentioned by Dean Cridge,
of the captain of a trading-sloop, whom Mr. Duncan had fined 400 dollars for unlawful trading, but
who afterwards became one of his most active
friends—a result partly due to the impression
created by what he saw at Metlahkatlah, and partly
the fact of Mr. Duncan having afterwards obtained
restitution for him from the Indians at Fort Simpson for injuries done to his vessel.
Thus acting in turns " as minister, schoolmaster,
physician, builder, arbitrator, magistrate, trader,"
yielding- to " no consideration of comfort, taste,
interest, reputation, or safety (in all which respects
he has been severely tried)," did Mr. Duncan labour
on year after year resolutely, sacrificing himself
and his own interests to the work which he had
undertaken, and refusing to decline or abandon any-
undertaking which he believed to be,  under the providence of God, essential to its success. Who
that reads the story of what the strong will and
entire self-devotion of one man has effected will
deny that it is indeed " stranger than fiction " f CHAPTER XVI.
NTIL we have seen a community in
their holiday dress, and marked the
general character of their festivities, we
are hardly in a position to form a fair
opinion of the standard to which, in social and
religious matters, it has attained. Let us, then,
glance for a moment at the various festivities and
observances by which, from time to time, particular
days and occasions were observed at Metlahkatlah.
Of ordinary holidays the one most observed is
the Queen's birthday. We will choose for our description an occasion on which one of H.M. ships,
the | Sparrowhawk," was anchored off the village,
as it doubtless served to give an additional tclal to
the proceedings.
At an early hour a party from the ship landed,
to help in decorating the Mission-house and bastion
with a festoon of flags  of various nations.   The 222
Stranger than dfrctton.
day was delightful; the sun shone bright, and all
the beautiful scenery of the islands, placid sea, and
distant mountains, contributed to the charm.
The proceedings of the day commenced in the
house of God, where seventeen children were baptized. " It was pleasing," writes the Bishop of
Columbia, who officiated, " to witness the devout
manner of the sponsors, and to hear their audible
responses. None any where could behave better,
or show more appreciation of this sacrament of the
A distribution of gifts then took place. First
came 140 children, as orderly and nicely dressed as
the children of the best village school in England.
After singing " God save the Queen," in English,
they were each presented with a biscuit. Next
came 120 elderly men and women, to whom a few
leaves of tobacco were an acceptable token of
friendly feeling ; the sick, too, were remembered;
and last, not least, the councilmen and constables.
Precisely at twelve o'clock . a royal salute of
twenty-one guns boomed forth from the ship, to the
great satisfaction, and some astonishment of the
groups of Indians who, in their Sunday best, had
gathered to the village square, to join in the festivities, which now commenced in earnest.    Chil- *  ^w
<&ala Sans.
dren playing at ball, and taking turns at a merry-
go-round ; young men competing at gymnastic
bars ; the eighteen policemen of the village, in regimentals, ready for review; and the elders walking
about, comparing the old time and the new, made
up a scene which, for interest and enjoyment, could
not well be surpassed.
But .the most exciting part of the programme
for the day was the regatta. The course was about
two miles, round an island. In the first race five
canoes, manned by forty-one - young men in their
prime, were engaged. The canoes flew through
the waves, throwing the white foam on every side ;
and right gallantly were the efforts sustained until
the goal was reached. Three canoes, rowed by
women, also contended for a prize.
Next came foot-races, running in sacks, blind-
man's buff, and such like amusements. It so happened that on this day,a large body of Quoquolt
Indians came to Metlahkatlah. As they landed
from their fleet of Bella Pella canoes, the contrast
which they presented to the well-dressed and respectable Metlahkatlahs was very striking. They
were clothed in tattered blankets which scarcely
covered their nakedness. Their faces were painted
black and   red, and their hair was matted   and
ija Stranger than dftctiori.
dishevelled. Not a little astonished at all they
saw around them, they eventually retired, as though
wishing to hide themselves from observation. Their
chief, a stately personage, •• alone remained as the
guest of Legaic. The evening was devoted to a
public meeting/ and a magic-lantern entertainment.
At the meeting several of the officers from the
" Sparrowhawk " addressed the Indians. Some of
the chief men replied, Mr. Duncan acting as interpreter on both sides. The time being short, the-
speakers were limited to a few minutes each. Two
or three quotations will serve to give some idea of
the general line of the addresses and the highly
figurative language peculiar to Indian oratory:—
Abraham Kemskah.—" Chiefs, I will say a
little. How^were we to hear, when we were young,
what we now hear ? And being old, and long fixed
in sin, how are we to obey ? We are like the canoe
going against the tide which is too strong for it:
we struggle, but, in spite of our efforts, we are carried out to sea. Again, we are like a youth watching a skilled artisan at work : he strives to imitate
his work, but fails : so we; we try to follow God's
way, but how far we fall short! Still we are encouraged to persevere.   We feel we are nearing the ©ala Sans.
shore ; we are coming nearer the hand of God, near
peace. We must look neither to the right nor left,
but look straight on and persevere."
Peter Simpson (Thrak-shah-kawn—once a sorcerer).—"Chiefs, I will speak. As my brothers
before have entreated, so do ye. Why have you
left your country and come to us ? One thing has
brought you here: one thing was the cause. To
teach us the way of God, and help us to walk in it.
Our forefathers were wicked and dark; they taught
us evil, they taught us ahlied (sorcery). My eyes
have swollen. Three nights I have not slept; I
have crept to the corner of my house to cry, reflecting on God's pity to us in sending you at this
time. You are not acting from your own hearts :
God has sent you. I am happy to see so many of
my brothers and sisters newly born to God. God
has spoken to us : ' let us hear.' "
Richard Wilson.—" Chiefs, as we have now
heard, so do ye. Indeed, father" (addressing Mr.
Duncan), " we are sinners before you; we often
make your voice bad in calling us ; we must persevere, we must try, though we are bvad ; we are like
the wedge used in splitting the trees; we are
making the way for our children: they will be
better than we are.    The sun does not come out in
--—^- wmm
full strength in early morn; the grey light at first
spreads itself over the earth ; as it rises the light
increases, and, by-and-by, is the mid-day sun. We
shall die before we have reached much; but we shall
die expecting our children to pass on beyond us,
and reach the wished-for goal."
Daniel Baxter (Neeash-ah-pootk).—" Chiefs, I
am foolish, I am bad, bad in your sight. What can
our hearts say ? What shall we do ? We can only
pray and persevere. We will not listen to voices
on this side or that, but follow on till we reach our
Father in heaven."
CHEEVOST {Jacob).—" Chiefs, we-have heard you.
Why should we try to mistake the way you teach
us ? rather we must try to follow on; though our
feet often slip, we must still try ; we have rocks all
round "us; our sins are like the rocks, but the rudder
of our canoe is being held. She will not drift
away. We are all assisting to hold the rudder and
keep her in her course. What would she be without
the rudder?—Soon a wreck upon the rocks. So we
must cry to God for help to follow on. We must
beg God's Holy Spirit to strengthen us and to
guide us. Chiefs, do you but speak, and we will
WOODEEMEESH {Simeon).—" I will speak to my <©.ala ©a»Si?
brethren. What has God done to us ? What does
He see in us that He should be working for us ?
We are like the fallen tree buried in the undergrowth. What do these chiefs gain by coming to
us ? Did we call them ? Do we know from whence
they are, or did we see the way they had come?
Yet they have arrived to us. They have torn away
the undergrowth; they have found us ; and they
have lifted up our" hands and eyes to God, and
showed us the way to heaven."
The day concluded with an exhibition of the
magic lantern, which, it is needless to say, caused
•the greatest excitement and amusement, which was
not lessened by a remark of the chief of the
Quoquolt Indians, to the effect that he found the
"King George men" could conjure as well as the
New Year's Day was another annual holiday,
which was kept with somewhat similar festivities,
•'save that they were varied by a business meeting,
in which the financial affairs of the settlement were
discussed, taxes paid, arranged, &c
The completion of a new house, a marriage, or
baptism, presented frequent occasions for minor
festivities. Here is the description of such an
entertainment, which Mr. Doolan attended-- during
Q 2 228
Stranger than dftction.
the   temporary   absence   of    Mr.    Duncan   in
1867 :—
" Feb. 4th.—Attended a feast of biscuit and tea,
given in honour of the completion of a new house:
the roof any thing but watertight, and as it was
raining very hard, I had to put up with occasionally
large drops falling down my neck. Such a noise !
the master of the feast bawling out the number of
biscuits given to each person; others busy at the
fire, stirring the molasses—a substitute for sugar—
in the tea; men and women talking, children crying; while, to crown all, a kettle full of tea was upset
on the fire, filling the house with steam. However,
perfect good humour prevailed, ethd every one
seemed happy. One of the Indians, at the conclusion of the feast, spoke very well, and was clapped;
the'first time I have heard the Indians at feasts use
this means of expressing their approbation. The
purport of his speech was that God had pitied him,
haying given him strength to finish his house:
though he was very ill, God had not called him
away. Before his house was finished he felt like a
bird without a nest. He hoped God would ever be
mth him, and concluded by thanking us all for our
Bread and tea, and tarts made from the juice of ©ala 23ans.
the native berries, formed the usual provision at such
gatherings, and speech-making the chief amusement.
The observance of Christmas, again, is thus described :—
"Dec. 2$th, Christmas Day.—This morning, between twelve and one o'clock, a band of young
men, attended by Mr. Duncan, paraded the village,
singing hymns suitable for Christmas. The night
was very fine, and the voices sounded very pleasantly in the still frosty air.
" After Morning Service all the people, with the
exception of a few who had misbehaved, came to
the Mission-house to shake hands with us and wish
us a happy Christmas. It was very pleasant to
see the people looking so happy. They were all
dressed in their best: the women wearing good
gowns and different coloured shawls, and the men
with strong pilot cloth coats.
" We invited to dine with us the chiefs and their
wives, in all six. After entertaining our guests with
a microscope and some stereoscopic views, we
closed with singing and prayers.
"Dec. 26th.—To-day being fine, the young men
had a good game of football on the sand. After
they had finished, the old men made sides, and
seemed to enjoy the fun highly. Stranger than Ifittion.
" A great many feasts of tea and bread are being
given: by these feasts a friendly feeling amongst
them is fostered."
At rare and uncertain intervals the visits of a
man-of-war, bringing some special visitor, caused a
variation in the ordinary routine of the daily life.
For instance, in 1867 the settlement was visited by
the Governor of Victoria, an honour which was
highly appreciated by the Indians. One or two
extracts from the speeches made on the occasion
of his reception will speak for themselves. Addressing the assembly' as " Councillors, Constables,
and Friends," Governor Seymour said,—
" It-gives me great pleasure to meet you for the
first time in your own' home, and to see the great
progress in civilization which you have made.
Depend upon it, the arts and habits of the white
men are good for the Indians also. As long as
you continue doing well, you shall have the support
and assistance of the Government.
" Continue to fear God, to obey the authorities,
to abstain from liquor, to make roads and houses, to
cultivate your gardens, and you will do well."
The following is an epitome of the speeches made
by the Indians in reply.to-the Governor :—
Paul Legaic.—" We have heard the good words &ala Sans.
of the great chief now sitting here with us. We are
children, not yet strong or wise enough to guide
ourselves. Let the chief speak, to us, and tell us
what we ought to do, and what we ought to avoid
doing, and we will obey. We beg, we all beg one
thing from the chief, that he will use his power to
stop the Indian custom of giving.away property, as
that custom is the great barrier to all improvement
among the Indian tribes. It is to support and carry
on that custom that the Indians rush into every
kind of vice. We therefore wish the Governor to
stop it. If he says it is to stop, it will stop ; if he
will not forbid it, it will still go on." .
PETER SIMPSON.—"The chief has heard, from
Paul what we all strongly beg for. We are anxious
to see peace established around us. The chief has
kindly promised to take care of us. As the bird
watches over its eggs, so do you watch us. You
are strong; we are weak ; you exhort us to persevere in the. way we are going. So long as God shall
spare us, we are resolved to follow in the track we
are going. We long expected to see the great chief
here.    We see him now: we rejoice."
Daniel Baxter.—" We are happy to-day. We
ask what we can part with from our bodies to give
the chief who has visited us ?    He has made us 232
Stranger than dfictton.
glad with his words. Yes ; we are weak; we are
yet shallow; but we are feeding on God's Word, but
not yet satisfied. We have not eaten enough. The
chief has done well to come to see us, though he
makes but a short stay. It is good that his feet
have walked our village road and touched our soil.
He has heard from Paul Legaic about the great
barrier that stops the way of the surrounding
Indians from following with us. We hope the chief
will move it away."
Some other speeches followed-; and the Governor
replied, " I am going away. What you have said
I shall bear in mind. Though, as you say, you are
poor and young as a people, yet you have made
great progress towards equality with white men.
You worship the same God; you are acquiring the
same habits and customs; you have houses like
them; you will have good roads; you own a vessel;
you have a shop; will possess a saw-mill. If ybu
continue in this way you will do well. I must now
leave you, with the assurance that my heart is good
towards you." CHAPTER    XVII.
E have before spoken of the schooner
which Mr. Duncan assisted the Indians
i to purchase, and of the trade carried
on by its means. By the year 1867,
besides large sums paid over from time to time to
the Indian shareholders, the profits accruing to the
Mission had sufficed to build a large market-house,
a soap-house, a blacksmith's shop, and a- saw-mill,
representing together, with some improvements in
the Octagon School Church, an expenditure of
nearly 800/.
The most important of these buildings was one
about 90 feet by 30, erected on the shore near the
upper end of a large jetty, and divided into two
portions, the smaller designed for a court-house,
the larger for village assemblies, a market-house,
and for the accommodation of strangers. By this
means strange Indians, who often came in large 234
stranger than drutton.
numbers to trade, instead of being scattered over
the village, to the great discomfort and detriment
of their more civilized brethren, were comfortably
housed and properly cared for, whilst frequent
opportunities were thus given of addressing large
bodies of the heathen from the surrounding country. " The good," Mr. Duncan writes, " which the
market-house is doing in facilitating the preaching,
of the Gospel to our heathen neighbours is very great,
more than would, I think, arise from an itinerating
Missionary. It used to be almost impossiblet^-get
.strange Indians to assemble for any special effort in
instruction. Now all is changed. The men who
come for trade to us occupy this house, and are, in
a sense, my guests, and I can find them ready and,
happy to hear me or the young men of our. village
address them after the hum of trade has ceased."
Many, too, of those who came to trade would
remain over the Sunday, and attend the services in
the church.
The advantages of the " store," or " trade-shop,"
were very great. In the very first place, it demanded and obtained quietness and courtesy in
place of the savage altercations common to Indian
trading. All goods answering the conveniences of
civilized life, and tending to elevate the tastes and Social -^foatess.
improve the appearance of the people, were obtainable at a price to which they had before been quite
unaccustomed.    For instance,—
" My soap manufacture," Mr. Duncan writes, " is
quite a success. I now let the Indians have a bar
of soap for 6d. They are astonished at the-price;
■such a bar cost them a few years ago 40J. in furs.
Now that their habits require more soap, here it is
ready at hand and cheap."
J J.
Apart from these advantages, the continued employment which the various branches of trade gave
was of the greatest service ; the Indians gradually
acquiring the habit of following their daily avocations—some of them very-laborious—more in the
steady manner of the English labourer than with
the fitful disposition of the Indian.
Next in importance amongst the new buildings
was the Mission-house, a frame building of cedar,
64 feet by 32, containing seven apartments on the
ground floor, besides outbuildings ; also a spacious
dormitory up-stairs, looking pleasantly out on the
islet gardens.
" The rooms on the ground floor," writes Dean
Crido-e " are lofty and commodious ; that in -.which
I am writing, and which forms one of the suite of
apartments  prepared for the exclusive use of a 236
Stranger than dftctton.
married Missionary [whom Mr. Duncan hoped to
associate with himself in the work], is as comfortable as any room in my own residence. If we add
a plentiful supply of game, fish, &c, in the season,
imported goods in the store, quite a large flock
of goats, yielding a profusion of excellent milk,
poultry and eggs, a garden with a plentiful stock
of vegetables, it is evident that, with any reasonable degree of forethought on the part of the Missionary, the days when any thing like hardship and
privation could with propriety be entertained of
Metlahkatlah have entirely passed away."
The island gardens form another characteristic
evidence of social progress. The Victoria Daily
Chronicle, alluding to the Bishop's visit in 1866, says,
"The Bishop visited, in a canoe, the island gardens
of the Mission. They number about 150. He found
many of the owners—men, women, and children—
planting potatoes in the deep rich mould. They
use lines for the trenches, and deposit sea-weed and
excellent manure upon the potatoe, which is cut
in pieces and placed about six inches apart. Abundant crops are thus obtained."
Thus much for the external signs of progress.
Let us now glance for a moment at a branch of
the quasi-secular work, of which we have not yet Social progress.
■ the    Industrial
School    for
A number of the elder girls educated in the
school were first taken to reside in the Mission-
house during the time that Mr. and Mrs. Tugwell
were assisting Mr. Duncan.
The plan proved of such material service that
on Mrs. Tugwell's leaving, Mr. Duncan still persevered in it, receiving great assistance from the older
The general method adopted in dealing with the
scholars, and the result obtained, will be best
gathered from the accounts given by various visitors
to the Stations.    The Bishop of Columbia says,—
" I had observed on Sunday a row of well-
behaved and devout young girls with Bibles in
their hands. As I gave out my text they found
the passage. On Sunday evening I heard them
read the Bible, and they sang chants and hymns,
some in English, and some in Tsimsheean. Today I examined several of them in reading, and
was much pleased by the accurate and devout
manner in which they read the Word of God.
"These were to be the future mothers of a new
generation. Already has he seen one set go forth
from the Institution well and respectably married
IS 238
Stranger than tfictian.
to  young. men  who  had  proved  worthy of the
Christian profession.
" Those now in the Institution are the second
set, several of' whom are about to be married, and
there are others waiting to come and supply their
place. So great is Mr. Duncan's influence, that
none are married without his consent, and he is
entirely trusted by the parents. Constantly is he
applied to by the many young men who desire this
or that one for a partner; and not a little interesting, if not amusing, are the accounts he can relate
of the care and watchfulness with which he guards
the tender plants from too early or ill-advised exposure to the blasts and storms of the voyage of
Here, again, is an account by Dean Cridge of his
inspection of the school, and of an evening spent
with the scholars :—
"Examined the writing exfereises of the first
class of girls. The words 'whale,' 'shark,' 'salmon,'
' seal,' were written on the black-board, and each
girl wrote a short theme in connexion with each
word. Some of the-exercises were as-good as in
an English school in respect of composition, spelling, and penmanship.
" In the evening, the girls sang some of their -'39
native nursery rhymes. Some were very pretty,
some ludicrous, some pathetic. Among the latter
is that of the little slave-child, who is told by her
captors that her mother is gone getting clams ;
and the little thing lisps, 'Raven, have you seen my
mother ? Sea-gull, have you seen my mother ?'
After this, one of the party commenced the legend
of ' The Chief's Proud Daughter;' but the night
advancing, we were obliged to defer the conclusion.
" On Tuesday Mr. Duncan gave the girls a merry
evening with the galvanic battery, introducing the
bucket of water and the silver coin, which none
succeeded in getting. Mr. Duncan has great art
in keeping them cheerful, telling them humorous
stories, the point of which they always remember ;
e. g., 'A man with a wry neck fell and hurt himself; a friendly bystander picked him up, and
began to set him generally to rights; and among
therest to straighten his neck. The man, terrified,
cried out, " Hold hard there ! Born so, born so ! " '
One evening- some one made a remark on their
Indian' gait, which- Mr. Duncan interpreted to the
girls, to their great amusement; and one of them
exclaimed, in English, ' Born so!' which was immediately .taken  up by the rest, some of them 240
Stranger than dfictton.
jumping up and caricaturing their own peculiarities;
upon which Mr. Duncan explained to us the allusion.
" This evening Mr. Duncan showed me a letter
just received from one of the girls whom he had
occasion to reprove in the morning. In broken
English she bewailed her ingratitude and hard
heart, asked his forgiveness, and entreated his
prayers that she might be a better girl."
A single letter written by one of the first set of
scholars will serve to show the amount of intelligence and good feeling which prevailed amongst
them. It was given to Mr. Duncan by a young
woman to send down in the schooner to her sister,
who was leading an evil life in Victoria. She had
before succeeded in reclaiming one of her sisters,
and hence her letter to this one:—
" My dear Sister,—I send this little news to
you. I very much wish to see you, my sister. I
tell you sometimes I very much cry because I
remember your way not right. I want you to hear
what I speak to you. Come now, my sister, I hope
you will return and live in your own place. Do not
you persevere to follow bad ways. You must try
to forsake your way;   repent  from  your heart. Social progress.
You hear our Saviour Jesus Christ. Cast all your
bad ways on Jesus. He know to save us when we
die. I very happy because I see my brother and
sister come again. I thank God because He hear
always cry about you.
" I am, your crying Sister
"Eliza Paley."
Letter-writing seems to have been an institution
of civilized life which-greatly recommended itself
to the Indians. The schooner commonly carried a
"post" of some 200 letters, all written by Indians
to their several friends in Victoria.
But of all tests of progress in such a settlement
as Metlahkatlah the development of a Missionary
spirit is the most trustworthy. Nor was this sign
wanting. Amongst all classes of the community
there seems to have been a constant desire leading
to continued and earnest efforts to bring home the
truths of the Gospel to their heathen brethren.
Men going on their hunting and fishing expeditions
would, as a matter of course, gather together for
religious worship all whom they could induce to
listen to them, whilst several of the younger men
gave themselves either entirely or to a great extent
to the work of Catechists
The following inciden- 242
Stranger than dfictton.
tal mention of the conduct of an Indian who had
gone as an interpreter to a surveying expedition is
taken from a Colonial newspaper :—•
"The  Portland  Inlet  was  found to  be about
seventy miles  in length, and  to  bear the same
general characteristics as the other numerous inlets,
which are all closed in by snow-clad  mountains
from 3000 to 4000 feet high.    The head  of the
inlet  was found  to  terminate  in  a  low marshy
swamp,  with a high peak  of   6000  feet  in   the
background ; reports as of distant thunder were
heard  at intervals, caused by the avalanches   as
they rolled into the valley beneath, with a  dull
sound which reverberated from peak to peak. Here
we found camped the most powerful chief of the
Naas Indians, Tchatcoquas, and a very large party
catching arid drying salmon.  They were extremely
civil, and when we landed insisted on carrying up
to our tent all our gear.    We pitched our tent near
the camp on the Saturday, and on Sunday Thomas,
our interpreter, a Christian Indian from Metlahkatlah, held Divine Service, morning, afternoon, and
evening,  in  the  Indian  ranch.     Thomas  had   a
fluency of language that must have astonished the
natives.    The singing was good, the female voices
especially; but the smoke of an Indian house in which salmon is being dried being any thing but
conducive to comfort, and our knowledge of Tsimsheean being very limited, detracted somewhat
from our pleasant participation in the interesting
ceremony. We suppose that Thomas must take
to himself the credit of being the first who taught
Christianity at the end of British dominion. We
were then encamped on the boundary-line between
Alaska and British Columbia."
Such notices, again, as the following might be
multiplied almost indefinitely :—
" One of our Christian young men joined a tribe
from Fort Simpson last summer at their salmon-
fishing, and preached every Sunday for over two
months to them. Nearly the whole tribe stopped
work, and regularly attended service."
One more " mark of progress" is too characteristic to be passed over, or to be given otherwise
than in Mr. Duncan's own words:—
I Lately two cannibal chiefs (once the terror of
the coast), from a tribe over a hundred miles from
Metlahkatlah, visited us for trade, and heard, to
their horror, our children playing at medicine work
on the beach. Their-shame and mortification they
could not hide, but, not daring to use threats or
vent their rage, they came to me to beg that I
R 2    ■
\m 1! I-
Stranger than iftctton.
would forbid the children to go on. I called them
into my house, and, at their request, shut the room-
door, that others might not hear. We had a long
and serious talk over the whole matter. . . . They
left me in a friendly way, and, I feel sure, a good
deal out of love with their false position."
HE history of the settlement at Metlahkatlah during the last five years may
be summed up in two words, " steady
progress." Of difficulties, drawbacks,
and occasional discouragements there has been no
lack. The spirit in which they were met as they
arose is well indicated in Mr. Duncan's own despatch of November, 1868: "The enemy is only
permitted to annoy, but not to destroy us, only to
make us stand more to our arms and look more
imploringly and constantly to heaven ; nor is he
permitted to triumph over us. To God, to our
Triune God, is all the praise and glory."
One of the latest signs of increased religious
earnestness was a spontaneous movement amongst
the young and middle-aged Indians to form adult
Sunday-classes for Bible-reading. "The adult
males, numbering about one hundred, are super- 246
Stranger than Jftctton.
intended by four native teachers, and the females,
who assemble in separate houses, are taught by the
young women who have passed through a course
of training in the Mission-Home. All the teachers
come to me at the close of each service for special
instruction for a few minutes, and then proceed
to the several classes. All read over carefully the
text, translate it word by word ; simple comments
and addresses are offered by the teachers, concluding with singing and prayer."
The next important step in advance which Mr.
Duncan contemplates is the sending out native
teachers to the heathen ti ibes around. " Many
of the tribes," he says, "are stretching out their
hands for help, and God seems preparing His servants at Metlahkatlah to carry it to them. Whole
tribes talk of soon joining us; but this I do not
anticipate will be the case yet—the way is very
difficult and the door narrow for them." Still, the
constant communication with Metlahkatlah, and
the unmistakable evidence there presented to them,
that godliness has the promise of this world as
well as of that which is to come, added greatly to
the effect of the occasional preaching of the Gospel
amongst them, and it was evident that it only
needed some suitable opportunity to present itself Conclusion.
to bring about a great national movement in favour
of Christianity.
In the meantime Mr. Duncan has formed the
plan of developing very considerably the material
resources of the settlers . at Metlahkatlah, and
making it a nursery, not of Christianity only, but
of the arts and employments of civilized life. He
thus expresses his views on the subject: " The
spirit of improvement which Christianity has engendered within this people needs fresh material
and knowledge in order to develope itself. The
sources of industry at present in the hands of the
Indians are too limited and inadequate to enable
them to meet their increased expenditure as a
Christian and civilized community, who are no
longer able to endure the rude huts and half-nakedness of the savage. Again, numbers of young
men are growing up in the Mission who want work,
and work must be found for them, or mischief will
follow; the mischief being; that these now promising youths will be attracted to the settlement of
the whites in the colony, where numbers of them
will be sure to become the victims of the white
men's vices and diseases."
As the first step in carrying out this view, Mr.
Duncan determined himself to come to England and acquire a knowledge of several simple trades,
and purchase such machinery as he required, and
then going back to his people erect workshops, and
inaugurate those new modes of industry upon
which he hoped to build up a material prosperity,
and to develope that self-respect and self-reliance
which can hardly be found in any great degree
amongst a wholly uncivilized people.
With this view he sailed for England at the end
of January, 1870. The scene on his departure
showed how great a hold his thirteen years' labour
amongst them had gained for him upon the people.
Though he had previously gone round to every
house to take leave of them, they collected in
crowds as the time for his leaving drew near,
and even after he had said his "last farewell and
last prayer upon the beach," they still followed
him in their canoes to the ship.
Arriving in London on the 13th of March, 1870,
Mr. Duncan at once set to work on his self-imposed
task, going about to different parts of the country,
and, as far as it was possible in a limited time,
making himself master of the branch of industry
there prevailing. Thus, when visiting Yarmouth,
he learnt rope-making- and tvoine-spinning, and at
another place at which he  stayed, weaving,   at Conclusion.
another brushmaking, at another "the gamut of
each instrument in a band of twenty-one instruments." At the same time he set on foot, amongst
those whom he succeeded in interesting in his work,
a subscription for defraying the expenses of some of
the more important works which he contemplated.
Chief amongst these were a new church and
school. He also proposed to give the Indians such
assistance in the matter of window-frames, nails,
&c, as would induce them to rebuild their houses
after a more substantial and permanent model than
was possible on the first formation of the village.
To carry out these plans he estimated that not
less than 6000I. would be required, and he fairly
enough challenges the Christian philanthropist to
assist him with this amount of capital. Before he
left England, which he did at the end of six months
(i.e. in September, 1870), he had received about
400/. towards the amount he required. For the
credit of English philanthropy, it may well be
hoped that the whole amount required will eventually be forthcoming. There must be many English capitalists who, if they really knew all the
circumstances of the case, would consider it a
privilege to be associated with such an undertaking.
On  the  14th of  October,   1870,   Mr.   Duncan 25°
Granger than iftcttou.
arrived at San Francisco on his return journey,
" very weary and dusty, having been a second-class
passenger, and therefore without sleeping accommodation for over two thousand miles." Here he
was delayed for three weeks. "The time," he
writes, " proved very useful. I made several new
and very warm friends, who promised to help me,
and who, indeed, have helped me exceedingly.
At the woollen mills the manager supplied me
with shuttle, reeds, treddles, and spindles, and
carding materials, and promised me another supply,
free of cost, whenever I may apply for it."
Arriving at Victoria on the nth November, he
found it necessary to remain there for some weeks
in order to carry out arrangements with the
Government about the Indian reserves and other
matters connected with the settlement.
As one of the vessels of the Hudson's Bay Company was just starting up the coast, he was able to
send letters to Metlahkatlah, and in about three
weeks received a batch in return. " Yesterday," he
writes, "I got a batch of thirteen loving letters
from my people. All going on well; all anxiously
looking for my return. One says, ' How we shall
thank God when He brings you back to us! The
people were together in the market-house to hear II
the news from you [they had assembled to hear my
letter read], and when they heard that you are
coming back they made such a- great noise by
jumping on the floor.'
"One of the letters from Metlahkatlah to me was
from (and signed by) the Council, expressing their
joy at the prospect of soon seeing me.
"Another was from the notorious chief Lee-
guneesh, who has given me so much trouble of late
years, and was expected to make use of my absence
to injure the Christians all he could.
" In this letter (signed by his own hand) he says
he owes it to God's mercy that he has the hope of
seeing me again. He thanks God for bearing with
him, showing him his sins, and making him to hate
the ways he once so much loved. He says, too, he
has resolved to join God's people at Metlahkatlah,
and remain faithful till death, looking up to heaven
as his home.
"All the other letters express to me the great
joy that spread over the village when the steamer
arrived, and the sore disappointment when they
learnt I was not on board.
" They thank God for my safe arrival at Victoria
in answer to their prayers, and pray constantly for
my return amongst them. 252
Stranger than dfiction.
"With their furs I have had a good deal of
trouble, as the fur-market has fallen lately; but I
am happy to say that, by inaugurating a new mode
of disposing of them, I have realized (and thus
saved to the village) nearly one thousand dollars
above the offer made to the agent in the usual way.
Their requisition for goods I am yet busy procuring."
Mr. Duncan's chief object in delaying at Victoria
was to procure from the Government power to allot
to individual Indians of the settlement a portion
not exceeding ten acres of the native reserves round
Metlahkatlah, with the right to clear, enclose, cultivate, and personally own each portion.
Not only did the Governor readily grant this
request, but gave himself personally a donation of
$500, to be spent upon the constables and council of the village. Whilst the negotiations with the
Government v/ere pending, Mr. Duncan occupied
himself in taking lessons and practising on a band
of brass instruments given him in England, and also
in compiling new Indian services in Tsimsheean.
Before he left he also " purchased a steam boiler
and pipes, &c, to carry out a new system of making
the celebrated Oolachan oil so much used by the
Indians,  and the process of manufacturing which Conclusion.
(mainly owing to their superstitions) is so destructive to health and degrading to the females1."
Whilst still at Victoria, Mr. Duncan had the
pleasure of hearing that a suggestion which he had
some time before made to the President of the
United States was likely to be carried into effect.
"Great changes," he writes, "have lately taken
place in the Indian Agency of the United States.
Fancy my joy on hearing at San Francisco of the
two forts, Tongas and Wranzel, both being abandoned now, and that the President had determined
to remit the Indian Agencies into the hands of the
various Missionary Societies."
Since his return to Metlahkatlah no letters have
been received in England direct from Mr. Duncan.
From intelligence coming indirectly, it appears that
he found that every thing had gone on in his
absence most satisfactorily. With the conduct of
the Indian Council and constables he was especially
gratified. Not only had they proved themselves
very zealous in preserving law and order during
1 With regard to the Indians of Victoria, Mr. Duncan writes,
" Nothing at all at present is being done for them. They have
thoroughly relapsed into their old heathenism and savage customs-
eating dogs, &c, on the beach right in front of Victoria—a proof
how perfectly helpless civilization is to elevate the poor savage with-
out the Gospel." 254
Stranger tfjan dftctton.
the twelve months of his absence, but during that
time some of them had scarcely ever left the village
even to gather supplies of food for the winter, lest
in their absence any thing should go wrong.
Of the real value of the work which Mr. Duncan
has been permitted to do a more crucial test than
this year's absence could not well be imagined.
We shall look with interest for some particulars of
the domestic history of the settlement during this
time. We know, however, enough to assure us that
there must be a far greater amount of stability of
purpose and character amongst those new converts
to Christianity than most persons would have been
inclined to give them credit for.
How far the moral and social elevation of the
whole Indian race may be affected by what is being
done at Metlahkatlah, and what may be the result
of the formation of a sort of native capital and
model settlement, it is impossible to predict. That
with God's blessing it may result in the saving
of a goodly remnant of a noble race we would fain
What Mr. Duncan's own plans are, and how far
he will hereafter devote himself to the extension of
the great work which he has so successfully inaugurated, we have no means of judging.    Being Conclusion.
himself a layman, he naturally wishes to see a
clergyman permanently established in charge of
the settlement, and speaks continually of the time
of his own retirement from the work as being near
at hand.
That a man possessed of such singular administrative ability, such great earnestness, and such unusual
power of influencing others, and who has gained so
thorough a mastery in the language as "to think
and dream" in it, should entirely withdraw himself
from the work to which he has hitherto devoted
himself would be a cause of general and deep
regret, and we may well express the hope that the
day for his so doing may yet be very far distant.
Great as has been the work which has been already
done, a greater still remains to be accomplished.
If Metlahkatlah is really to become the centre of
any widely-extended efforts to evangelize the native
tribes of North-West America, it must be under
the guiding and controlling influence of such a
mind as that of Mr. Diincan. Most sincerely do we
trust that he will meet with such encouragement
and assistance as will enable him to complete that
which he has begun so well, and that the Christian
community which we have seen so successfully
organized may only be the  fipst of many other 256
Stranger than ^Fiction.
settlements modelled on the same plan and showing
the same signs of material prosperity, combined
with a thorough appreciation and practical application of the saving truths of Christianity.
HE last chapter reported the arrival of
Mr. Duncan at Victoria, on his way
back to Metlahkatlah, after an absence
of thirteen months in England. Our
readers will naturally feel some anxiety to know
how the work which had been done had stood the
test of the absence of the presiding and animating
spirit. A few extracts from Mr. Duncan's report
to the Church Missionary Society will best enable
us to form an opinion on the point. Here, for instance, is an account of the way in which he was
welcomed back by his Indian converts—the news
of his arrival by steamer at a point within ten miles
of the settlement having preceded him :—
" On the following morning," he says, " a large
canoe arrived from thence to fetch me home. The
happy crew, whose hearts seemed brim full of joy
at seeing me back, gave me a very warm welcome.
I at once decided to leave my luggage and the
S 258 Stranger than dftction.
steamer, and proceed at once to Metlahkatlah with
my Indian friends, who assured me that the village
was in a great state of excitement at the prospect
of my return. We were favoured with a strong,
fair wind, and with two sails up we dashed along
merrily through a boiling sea. I now felt I was
indeed homeward bound. My happy friends,
having nothing to do but watch the sails and sit
still, could. give free vent to their long pent-up
feelings, and so they poured out one piece of news
after another in rapid succession, and without any
regard to order, or the changes their reports produced upon my feelings; thus we had good and
bad, solemn and frivolous news, all mixed indiscriminately.
" On sighting the village, in accordance with a
preconcerted arrangement, a flag was hoisted over
our canoe, as a signal to the villagers that I was on
board. Very soon we could discern quite a number
of flags flying over the village, and the Indians hurrying towards the place of landing. Before we
reached the beach large crowds had assembled to
greet me. On my stepping out of the canoe, bang
went a cannon, and when fairly on my feet, bang
(rent another. Then some of the principal people
stepped away from the groups, and came forward, SunnlemerftaVr)1 Chapter.
2 59
hats off, and saluted me very warmly. On my advancing, the corps of constables discharged their
muskets, then all hats Were doffed, and a general
rush to seize my hand ensued. I was now hemmed
in with with crowds of solemn faces, many exhibiting intense emotion, and eyes glistening with tears
of joy. In struggling my way to the Mission-
'house, I had nearly overlooked the school-children.
The dear little ones had been posted in order on
one side, and were all standing in mute expectation of a recognition. I patted a few on the head,
and then, with feelings almost overcome, I pressed
my way to my house. How sweet it was to find
myself again in my own little room, and sweeter
still to thank God for all His preserving care over
me. As numbers of people were pressing into and
crowding: my house, I ordered the church bell to
be rung. At once they hurried to the church, and
when I entered it was full. Such a sight! After
a few minutes' silence, we joined in thanksgiving
to God; after which I addressed the assembly for
about twenty minutes. This concluded, I set off,
accompanied by several leading Christian men, to
visit the sick and the very aged, whom I was told
were anxiously begging to see me. The scenes
that followed were very affecting.    Many assured
S2 260
Stranger than .-{fiction.
me that they had constantly prayed to God to be
spared to see me once again, and God had answered
their prayers, and revived their hearts, after much
weeping. On finishing my visit, I made up doses
of medicine for several of the sick, and then sat
down for a little refreshment. Again my house
becoming crowded, I sat down with about fifty for
a general talk.
I gave them the special messages
from Christian friends which I had down in my
note-book, told them how much we were prayed
for by many Christians in England, and scanned
over the principal events of my voyage and doings
in England. We sat till midnight, but even then
the village was lighted up, and the people all
waiting to hear from the favoured fifty what I had
communicated. Many did not go to bed at all,
but sat up all night talking over what they had
Writing at a somewhat later date (December,
1871), Mr. Duncan gives the following .summary of
the works which first occupied his attention after
his return:—
" The spiritual part of my work I of course took
up and carried on as usual; but the temporal or
secular part being so multifarious, was very perplexing at first   The constable corps, who had
L Supplementary Chapter.
kept vigilant watch over the morals of the settlement during my' absence, pressed me early to
examine their doings, and readjudicate the cases
which the Council had settled pro tern.; but I
thought it prudent to postpone this kind of work,
and take up what was more in harmony with the
joyfulness of the season; hence we had a series of
marriages (thirteen in all), and several meetings, at
which I unfolded my new plans, and urged all to
renewed energy and diligence in our new start. I
then began arranging work for a number of men,
and set about sixty on."
During Mr. Duncan's absence in England an
event had taken place likely to exercise a con-,
siderable influence on his new settlement, and to
put the steadfastness, especially of the younger
converts, to a severe test. This was the discovery
of extensive gold-fields some distance up the river
Skeena, the mouth of which is about ten miles
south of Metlahkatlah.
" Thef miners and traders reach Skeena mouth
by steamer from Victoria, but thence to the mines
the transit is made for a considerable distance up
river by canoe.    Consequently in the spring and
1 From Archdeacon Woods' report of a visit to Metlahkatlah,
published in the British Columbia Report for 1871. 262
Granger than dFtctton.
autumn (the seasons for going to and • returning
from the mines) there is considerable traffic up
and down the river, and those Indians who choose
to put their canoes on the river command good
wages and constant employment. The Metlahkatlah Indians freely avail themselves of this means*
of earning money, and in connexion with this a
most valuable testimony of the sincerity of their
profession came under my notice from the miners
who took passage down to Victoria on the return*
trip of the Otter. All agreed in witnessing to the
honesty, the self-denial, and the determination to
resist temptation of the Metlahkatlah Indians.
' TJtey won't work on Sunday, they won't drinkr
they won't lend tJiemseises in-any, to any, kind of
immorality! The truth of the first part of this
statement I observed for myself during the time
of mtvtvstay at Metlahkatlah. I noticed how the
Indians flocked home on Saturday nights, some of
them from long distances, many of them from
Skeena mouth, to enjoy the Sunday peace and
quiet of their own village, and to avail themselves
of those 'means of grace' which the Sundav
Church services and the Sunday-schools afforded."
The first interruption of the regular work of
the Mission which occurred  after Mr. Duncan's Supplementary Chapter.
return arose from the lawlessness Of these gold-
seekers :—
" I was interrupted by having to deal out law
to three ruffians among the white men, who were
waiting at the mouth of the Skeena river for the
ice to break up and permit their proceeding to
the newly-discovered gold-fields of Omineca. j The
capture of these men, their trial and their punishment, cost me much anxiety and labour; but I am
thankful to say that, without bloodshed, we caught
and tamed the lions, vindicated the law, and subsequently received the approbation of the Governor."
Nor was this the only case in which Mr. Duncan
had to exercise his magisterial functions :—
" No sooner was this law case over, than I had
to issue a warrant of arrest against a captain of a
vessel trading on the coast for breaking the Indian
liquor law. He was seized about sixty miles off,
brought here, and fined 100/. His vessel was
afterwards fetched, forfeited, and destroyed. After
this I had three law cases in succession arising
from charges brought to me by the Indians of
surrounding tribes against other Indians. Two out
of these three cases would have resulted in blood-
\ shed had I refused to interpose. On each occasion,
I however, I am happy to say the offenders gave
A 264
Stranger than dftctton.
themselves up at my call, and submitted to the
penalty I inflicted ; but their trial took up a good
deal of time, as the Indians are fond of speech-
making on such occasions.
" In addition to the above I had all the offenders
of 1870 belonging to our own settlement brought
before me in due time, and their cases settled.
Though this kind of work consumes much time,
and causes me much anxiety, yet I trust it is not
unproductive of spiritual good to some, while at
least it tends to prevent bloodshed and preserve
peace, both in our midst and in the surrounding
The especial danger to the younger of the Indian
converts which the influx of a rough mining population involves is evidently very great:—
I It is the nature of the young Indians who are
advancing into civilized life to ape the white man,
and despise the labour and pursuits of their forefathers. More especially is this the case of those
brought into contact with godless and worldly
white men ; and perhaps the most dangerous class
of white men they can meet with are gold miners.
The danger to the young men of our settlement is
imminent, for they are now being jostled by rolling
stones and reckless gamblers ; hence, unless we can Supplementary Chapter.
catch up and utilize their energies, and bend their
necks to the yoke of steady and profitable industry,
they will become at best mere hangers-on among
the whites; but more than likely hurried down
into the whirlpool of recklessness, which invariably
accompanies the gold-seeker As it is, some
few of our young men have been led astray, and one
fatally lost."
To those who doubt whether the Indian can be
trained to habits of industry, the report of the
various additional works being set on foot and successfully carried on at Metlahkatlah must be of
especial interest:—
" Soon after my return I set up a steam boiler to
teach the Indians to extract oil from the oolachan
fish by steam, and thus supersede their own slow
and laborious process by heated stoves. I put it
up only temporarily in my garden to prove its
utility. The Indians were delighted with its success, and next season we hope to put it up at the
"Another branch of industry which I subsequently started was the dressing of deer skins.
This has proved also a success, and we are able
now to more than double our returns for the article.
" Early in the spring I commenced work for the 266
StraNger'than dictum.
building of a new church. We have got the site
partly prepared (this was a very heavy job owing
to the nature of the ground), timber for the framework hewed and on the spot, also six rafts of logs
(some 500 in all) for the saw-mills to turn into
boards and scantling. In addition, I set on building large workshops, and rooms for particular work.
These, I am happy to say, are complete, and are
very commodious, covering over 6coo square- feet,
and affording us a rope walk. These shops are
lighted by thirty windows, and are very much
admired by the Indians. We should have been
able to have done more, but the weather has been,
and is, very unfavourable for outdoor labour. At
present we are busy making church windows, and,
as soon as possible, shall commence erecting the
church and new village.
" We have not yet commenced building our new
village, as we have not yet settled upon all the
plans and laws necessary to ensure success. We
are going to have a series of meetings on the subject very soon."
Alluding to the same topics, Archdeacon Woods
" A marked and important feature of the Metlahkatlah Mission is the aspect imparted to it by the Supplementary Chapter.
fostering and utilizing of native industry ; at present
there are carried on a lumber mill, the manufacture
of soap, the dressing of skins, and blacksmithing,
while preparations are being actively urged forward
for weaving, rope-making, and shoe-making, the-
materials for weaving and rope-making being found
in abundance in the immediate neighbourhood.
These, in combination with the trading store in
the village, have a very practicable bearing on the-
well-being of the Mission, quite apart from the
mere money gain, though this too is a matter of
considerable importance to the success and prosperity of the Mission.
"The trade store in the village brings to the
Indians all the necessaries of life beyond what
their own labour can provide, and takes from them
in exchange the skins and oil which are the chief
results of their hunting and fishing, so that they
have within the limits of their own village the
means of exchanging the produce of their labour
for necessaries and luxuries beyond their own
ability to procure, and this without bringing them
in contact with the temptations which must necessarily beset them if compelled to carry their skins,
oil, &c, to the trading-posts outside their own
reserve." 268 Stranger than tfittion.
From Mr. Duncan's own account of "the spiritual
and most important work of the Mission," we will
make but a single extract before turning to the
narrative given in the Columbia Report of a visit
paid to the settlement by Archdeacon Woods :—
"While I was away in England, as might be
expected in this sinful world, some few of the
Christians fell into sin, but, I am happy to
say, nearly all of them have been restored, after
showing deep contrition of heart. I cannot refrain
from quoting part of a letter I received from one
of the fallen ones immediately after my return.
He is now restored, and takes a place amongst our
most earnest Christian men. He says, ' I have
done evil again before God, and among the people,
and I know God is angry with me. I feel sin is
very heavy upon me. But now I not wish to
follow this my sin and lose my soul; but one thing
I do, I am always crying to God very much for my
sin. It is greater than all other sins. Now, dear
sir, I have taste how bitter is my sin, and bitter my
life. . . . This is a word I keep to make my heart
strong, " The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a
broken heart.'""
In November, 1871, Archdeacon Woods (rector
of Holy Trinity, New Westminster) visited Metlah- =«r
Supplementary Chapter.
katlah for the purpose of baptizing a large number
of children and adults. He thus describes his first
approach to the village :—
" I left Will-a-claw (at the mouth of the Skeena
river) about 9 A.M. by canoe, being paddled by an
Indian and his wife. Here for the first time since
leaving home, I was thrown on my own resources
to hold communication with the Indians. By
means of a slight knowledge of Chinook and some
illustrated newspapers, I was enabled to interest
them, and even to draw from them some ideas as
to things outside their own world. Some pictures
of home scenes in the Illustrated News interested
them very much, especially those which represented
large buildings or soldiers. The buildings excited
their wonder—that there could be such substantial
and lofty structures raised seemed to excite the
astonishment of the man. I was, however, surprised to observe how little of wonder the woman
manifested, till I produced a small steel engraving
of 'The Crucifixion,'which I had in my note-book :
this at once touched her heart, and she told me
that she ' knew all about Jesus Christ,' that she had
lived at Metlahkatlah, that she had been taught by
Mr. Duncan; and it was pleasing to see how she
brightened up as she and I talked—as well as I 270
Stranger than tfiction.
could manage to do—on holy subjects. I then
understood how she must often have seen at Metlahkatlah pictures such as I had to sh6w, and
heard, probably from Mr. Duncan himself, or from
some of his well-informed pupils, descriptions of
scenes and incidents which thus had become in
a sense familiar. Even in this trifling incident
one could see a marked difference between the
heathen husband who had received no instruction,
and the wife, who, if not a Christian, had yet
been taught to know what ' The Crucifixion' represented.    .    .    .
" As we drew near to Metlahkatlah the'sound of
the church-bell over the still waters of the bay
could be heard for a considerable time before we
reached the village. The man called my attention
to it, and said it meant school; the woman, however, promptly corrected him, saying it meant
death : of course my own ear had told me that this
was its meaning, and now we could see the funeral
procession passing in canoes from the village to a
small island, which has been set apart as the graveyard ; so that when I actually reached the landing-
place I learned, as I expected, that Mr. Duncan
was away at the funeral. A heafrty welcome, however, awaited me, and many ready hands to carry my few articles of luggage from the canoe to the
Before commencing the examination of the
candidates for baptism at Metlahkatlah, Archdeacon Woods paid a visit to the Niskah Mission,
about 70 miles distant, on the Naas river. During
his journey an incident occurred which incidentally served to illustrate very forcibly the extent
to which Christianity had gained a footing amongst
the Indians:—
" Having paddled from daylight till dark with
a brief rest of about half an hour, we reached the
only available camping-ground on the coast, where
we rested for the night under such shelter as the
canoe sail stretched across the mast could afford ;
and having lighted a fire, prepared supper. Mr.
Duncan having provided me with food already
cooked, my supper was soon made, and I laid down
to rest, wearied with sitting all day in the canoe.
The Indians cooked their venison and salmon
Indian fashion, and then, all reverently taking off
their caps, one said grace with every appearance of
devotion. After supper I was amused at the
evident fun that was going on amongst them ; for
though I could not understand their language, a
laugh   is   understood   all   over   the world;  and Stranger than ^fiction.
certainly, if laughter be an evidence of jokes and
fun, they were rich in merriment, notwithstanding
the discomfort of camping out on wet ground and
under heavy rain. By-and-by, as I was dropping
asleep, I was roused by their sudden stillness.
My first impression was that they were getting
wearied ; but it was not so, they were only calming
I down before retiring to rest, and soon I observed
them all, with heads uncovered and reverently
bowed, kneel round the camp fire while one said
prayers for all. And as the Lord's Prayer (for I
could recognize it in the strange language in which
it was clothed) ascended from beneath the shades
of the forest from lips which only lately had
acquired the right to say ' Our Father,' and as I
doubt not from hearts which truly felt the mighty
privilege which holy baptism had conferred, I
could not fail to realize how grandly catholic is
.that prayer which He Himself gave to those to
whom alone He gives the right to use it."
On his return to Metlahkatlah, Archdeacon Woods
at once commenced an examination of the candidates for holy baptism, which lasted uninterruptedly
for a whole week :—
"Sunday, the 12th of November," he writes, "is
a day to be remembered by me.    I have had in £>
upplementarn Chanter.
the course of a ministry of over twenty years many
solemn experiences, and witnessed many touching"
scenes, but never since the day of my own ordination as a priest in the Church of Christ have I felt
anything like the solemnity of that day when I
saw before me a crowded congregation of Chris-
tians—of heathen seeking after Christ, and of the
little band of fifty-nine about to be received
through holy baptism into the ark of Christ's
" Holy baptism, at all times a most solemn rite,
seemed to me specially so at this time, when I
was called upon to administer that Holy Sacrament to men and women who, of their own choice,
yet influenced, as I fully believe, by the power of
the Holy Ghost, came forward to renounce heathenism—to give up in more than one instance all
that was dear to them in this world, and to enlist
in the army of Christ. Oh, may the merciful God
' grant that they may have power and strength to
have victory and to triumph against the devil, the
world, and the flesh'!
" After morning prayer, the infants of the village
(of course those only one or both of whose parents
were already Christians) were assembled in the
Mission-house, where with their parents and spon-
T 274
Stranger than dPietfon.
sors, a congregation was formed nnmbering eighty-
four, and then eighteen infants, varying in age
from "one week to five years, were baptized.
" In the evening, accompanied by Mr. Duncan,
I visited* several houses in the village and baptized
five adults, who, through sickness or the infirmities of age, were prevented attending the service
in church, making a total of eighty-four persons
baptized at Metlahkatlah, which, with the twenty-
two baptized at Kincoulith, gives a grand total of
106 persons added to the Church on this occasion.
" It must not be supposed that all who came
forward seeking holy baptism were accepted and
baptized merely because they desired to receive
that Sacrament. Some I deferred, not finding
them possessed of sufficient knowledge as to the
nature and solemnity of holy baptism, as to the
requirements of repentance and faith on their
parts, or of the promises of God made to them in
that Sacrament; others I rejected on account of
some recent inconsistency of life, or some open sin.
The total number deferred at the two Missions
exceeded thirty."
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