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Experiences in Langley and memoirs of prominent pioneers Dunn, Alexander 1913

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  i/ne' 6m€^e*tit^y^^Mrä&A/'tS€>uewi^ea' t.   /åts, g&f   Experiences in Langley
Memoirs of Prominent
Rev. A. Dunn, D. D.
Printed by Jackson Printing i
New Westminster /i>K Experiences in Langley
After the formation of the Presbytery of British Columbia in
Victoria on 1st September, 1875, a few days were spent by us in
taking in the sights of Victoria and immediate neighborhood. The
weather, very warm, yet tempered by gentle sea breezes, favoured
out-door life and sight-seeing, so that nearly a whole week was
spent in the most pleasing manner in the company of friendly, hospitable fellow countrymen. But the time was passing, and we began
to feel that it was time for us to make arrangements for going
to our respective posts of duty. First, Rev. Mr. Clyde was introduced to the Presbyterians of Nanaimo. The doors of their church
had been closed for six years and the customary services suspended.
To them, therefore, the very sight of a Scotch minister and the
prospect of stated Sunday services were most welcome. They vied
with each other In showing him kindness and in arranging for his
accommodation and entertainment. The first Sunday, when Mr.
Clyde rose and gave out the 122nd Psalm to be sung, "I joyed when
to the house of God" some shed tears.
The Nanaimo introduction over, the members of Presbytery
went to Langley to arrange for my settlement there. On the way
thither a day was spent in the company of Rev. Robert Jamieson,
New Westminster. We found him In a poor state of health.
Indeed he was and continued to be more or less an invalid till his
f 2 death in lé§8, though he remained in harness till the last, and continued to do more efficient work than many do who enjoy robust
health. Mr. Jamieson was able to accompany us in a walk through
the city, pointing out public buildings and the private residences of
prominent citizens.
Among others he introduced us to a somewhat eccentric character, who lived alone in a small house near the manse. This man
laid claim to superior knowledge and penetration in regard to ministers and all matters ecclesiastical. When the various members
of Presbytery had passed in review before this ministerial critic,
and had answered satisfactorily the questions which he put to them,
he expressed, with old-fashioned dignity, his pleasure in meeting
them, and wished them God-speed in their different fields of labour.
Afterwards he privately stated to Mr. Jamieson that he considered
the new ministers all well fitted for the places which they were to
fill except one. "That minister, Dunn," he said, "is too tender and
too gentle for this rough new country. Mark my words, Mr.
Jamieson, that fighting, brawling Langley crowd will have him out
of there and out of the country in three months. I just give him
three months."   Now, however wise and far-seeing that man may Experiences in Langley
have been generally, in that particular prediction he was quite
astray. It is more than thirty-seven years since it was uttered and I
am still here at work.
In those days it must be admitted that Langley had a bad
name, but of that matter I will have something to say further on.
On our way to Langley from New Westminster by steamer, Rev.
Mr. McGregor introduced me to several Langleyites who were on
board. With two of them I at once felt at ease, and from them I
obtained my first authentic information about Langley and its
The first matter which engaged the attention of Presbytery at
Langley was the very mundane one of obtaining board and lodging
for the Missionary. The houses of the settlers appeared to be not
merely scantily furnished, but also barely sufficient for the necessities of their own families. At first it was thought that the Missionary would be obliged to live in New Westminster, and from it, as a
centre, supply the various settlements on the south side of the
Fraser. To that proposal I was decidedly opposed. When I came
to know approximately the distances between the settlements which
were to be served by me, I felt it to be a matter of surpreme importance for the successful carrying on of the work, that the Missionary should reside as near the centre of the work as possible.
If he were to live in New Westminster he would be at one side of
the field, with the Fraser River rolling its muddy current between
him and his work—the Fraser so flooded at times in summer as to
be unapproachable at certain points, and again, at times in winter,
so filled with ice as to be unsafe to cross. While we were wandering around Fort Langley discussing the subject, we came upon a
man engaged in building a dwelling house—a house larger than
those of his neighbors. That man was James Mackie. When the
matter under consideration was referred to him he readily offered
two rooms and board at $30 a month, the Missionary agreeing to -
supply the rooms with furniture. Thus that business was at once
satisfactorily settled.
On coming to live in the Mackie house, what struck me very
forcibly was the overwhelming stillness and solitude of the situation. Immense fir trees stood within a short distance of the dwelling. The underbrush was densely thick. Pestilential mosquitoes
were there in myriads. Seldom was a breath of wind felt. A whole
week might come and go without seeing a traveller pass. When
the short dark days of November came, with long continued rains,
the picture of desolation and isolation was complete.
I had just come from Glasgow, the second city of the Empire,
as it was called, or rather as it proudly called itself—from Glasgow,
where the hum of industry and the roar of commerce, in some quarters, were deafening, to Langley, where all was still as the grave-^-
from Glasgow with its 600,000 inhabitants to Langley with a popu- Experiences in Langley 5
lation of less than one hundred—from Glasgow with its magnificent public buildings, its ancient Cathedral and new University
buildings on Gilmore Hill, and the palatial residences of its merchant princes, to Langley with its log cabins and shacks of split
cedar—from Glasgow where crowds jostled each other in the
public thoroughfares, where even in the most out-of-the-way street
pedestrians could be seen here and there, to the Lower Fraser where
in my longest journeys of 40 to 50 miles it was a rare thing to meet
a traveller.
Every third Saturday, for several years, I went on horseback
from Langley to Upper Sumas—a distance of 33 miles—to be ready
for service on Sunday morning, and only twice during these years
did I meet a traveller! The contrast, therefore, between my surroundings for three years before leaving the old land, and my surroundings in Langley and vicinity in 1875, was as great as could
well be imagined. Yet, singularly enough, I never felt homesick;
and though many of the settlers around me would have given much
to be in a position to leave the country, I was quite contented to
remain and to do the work which fell to my hand. Having once
seen Langley Prairie with its three thousand acres of rich, black
soil; having seen Pitt Meadows, Lulu and Sea Islands, Sumas and
Matsqui Prairies, together with the great stretches of splendid bush
land, extending from Chilliwack westwards to the upper end of
Delta, I felt and often said that the Lower Fraser was destined to
become, sooner or later, great and populous, and that those who
possessed houses or lands there would one day deem themselves
About three years previous to my settlement at Langley, mainly
through the efforts of Rev. Mr. Jamieson, who from time to time
gave supply at Langley, a small church building had been erected,
and in that building the Fort Langley people under my ministry
worshipped for about 10 years, or until the new church was built
in 1885. The old church was situated on the Mackie property, a
few hundred yards south of the old Fort of the Hudson's Bay Company, and right in the midst of tall second-growth fifs, which cast
their deep black shadows upon the building. It was plain to a
degree, though in keeping, it must be admitted, with the architecture
of the district at the date of its erection. Though slowly sinking,
and parts of it falling to pieces, it still stands on the old site affording a domicile for cattle.
I recollect, as it were yesterday, my first meeting there—the
men and women—their appearance and even the apparel of some, as
they gathered round the church door—all talking loud. At the
desk inside I could hear almost all that was being said outside.
Their conversation, I need hardly say, had little or no reference to
the service about to begin.
When all were seated  (nobody came late)  they presented a 6 Experiences in Langley
very respectable appearance, though the garments of some were
hardly fashionable or up to date. As I looked around, the upturned
countenances bore an expression of seriousness and intelligence.
Subsequent acquaintance with these men, through many years,
abundantly confirmed my first impressions. Lacking it may be in
outward polish, blunt and outspoken, as most old-timers were, they
were warm-hearted, sterling characters. They most regularly
attended Sunday services, were loyal to their church and to their
minister, and, in the eye of Him who searcheth the heart, may have
stood higher than many of greater refinement and louder professions. To me, they, together with leading Presbyterians on the
Prairie, remained true and steadfast through times of strain and
perplexity in Langley. They never changed. And wherever, at
any time in after years, while I was labouring in other settlements,
they might come to hear that my motives were being misunderstood
by newcomers or my actions misrepresented by the unprincipled,
they, who had known me intimately from the beginning, came loyally and fearlessly to my defence. To the unchanging fidelity of
these men, and many like them in other districts, I owe not a little
of any success which may have attended my labours in the Lower
But to return to my first Sunday service at Fort Langley. To
me at first everything seemed strange, and early impressions remain
while impressions of more recent date may soon be effaced. The
assembling of the people, for example, at the church door, was unlike the gathering of a country congregation in the land which I
had just left. In Scotland, in country places, the people gathered
round the church in a quiet and solemn manner. If they spoke it
was in subdued tones. When the services were over, they retired in
like manner. Not till they had gone a considerable distance from
the church was conversation upon ordinary topics resumed in customary tones. How it may be in Scotland at the present day I
cannot tell. But in my youth, specially among the older generation,
a certain grave tone in conversation around the church or at
funerals, or in reading the Bible or offering up prayer, was generally observed. Who has not heard of that Scotch mother, who when
her son was reading aloud from a newspaper, sternly interrupted
him saying: "How daur you read the newspaper with the Bible
The loud talking spoken of as taking place at Fort Langley
church door came out at other times and occasions when it appeared
to be equally incongruous, if not unseemly. Waiting on the road
one day for a funeral, I could not believe that the small company
approaching me could be the funeral party till I saw the coffin borne
by a number of men—all talking as loudly as if they had been on the
way to market. In church I drew attention to the practice, and,
while not commending affectation either in speech or behaviour, I
urged a quiet and serious manner on solemn occasions. The practice soon disappeared. Experiences in Langley 7
During my first service at Fort Langley the singing struck me
very forcibly—appeared almost ludicrous. 1 gave out a Psalm, and
then asked if there was anyone present who could lead the singing.
An elderly man arose and started a tune. At first no one joined,
but after singing a line or two, another struck in, then another and
another joined, until there were five singing out of a congregation
of about 30 men and women. There were no chidren. No attempt
was made to keep time with the leader. They just followed
according to their respective ideas of keeping time. One sang fast,
another slow, but neither yielded to the other. One with a very
strong, rough voice merely spoke the words in a loud tone with
occasional variations. Another drawled along at a slow pace, and
kept on singing after the others had quit. I do not know that these
people, with one or two exceptions, regarded their singing as
remarkable in any way. The man with the rough, strong voice,
who had no ear at all for music, was wont to complain that the
individual who was the greatest drawler put him out of the tune,
implying that he had considered himself in tune till he was shunted
off the line by the other. The first natural impulse was to laugh;
it was hard to restrain laughter. It sounded so droll. But as
Sunday after Sunday passed one got used to it, though the harsh,
inharmonious sounds always grated painfully on the nerves.
There were other stations where there was great dearth of
musical talent. At one place, for example, where the congregation
usually numbered about 50, I myself was occasionally the only one
that sang. A man of reputed ability in psalmody, and who, it was
said, led the singing in Mr. Jamieson's time, was by no means an
expert in music. He came in late one Sunday as I was singing
French. Somehow I got out of that tune into another, and wandered back and forth among two or three different tunes. The
person alluded to followed me through all my wanderings quite
composedly, evidently regarding the tune as one throughout.
At another place, where a good many of the people could sing,
the leader was regarded as a really good singer both of sacred and
secular music. And yet even this man knew only two tunes, a
long metre and a common metre. One Sunday I gave out a few
verses of the 25th Psalm (first version) to be sung—being at the
time unaware of the precentor's limited knowledge of Psalm tunes.
He declined, however, to tackle it, saying that "those words winna
suit ony of my tunes." Even in regard to the common metre tune
which he knew, he was obliged to have recourse to the humilating
expedient of starting always with the same words, "I'm not ashamed
to own my Lord" and then cautiously gliding into the words of the
Psalm given out to be sung.
Mere justice, at this point, however, demands that the fact be
recorded that there were meeting places where the quality of the
singing was excellent,  and up to date—fitted to attract and to 8 Experiences in Langley
inspire. There were at least two stations where a number of the
people, during the week, met and practised tunes set to the Psalms
and hymns to be sung at the next service. Apart from the benefit
to the people themselves it was to me, sometimes almost staggering
from the violent exertion of riding 17 or 18 miles on horseback at
full speed over a rough road, an immense relief to have all responsibility of the musical part of the service assumed by others. Besides,
though myself deficient in musical training, I knew enough and
could appreciate enough to feel uplifted when "Kilmarnock" or
"French" or "Rock of Ages" or "My Faith Looks Up to Thee"
were sung in unison, in good taste, and with understanding.
Just think of the changes and improvements which characterize the music in churches and meeting houses in 1913 as compared
with that of the period between 1875 and 1880. In those years, so
far as I remember, there were only two organs (and those in
private houses) and three organists in my whole circuit. To-day
in every church within the Presbytery of Westminster,, in every
school house where religious services are held, there is an organ.
Nay, more, in almost every private house, even in houses where one
would think the luxury could ill be afforded, there is either an
organ or a piano. The music teacher has been abroad, as well as
the schoolmaster, and now-a-days there is no lack of persons competent to play. The singing at church services is more general and
confident, gives evidence of improved methods and efficient
It cannot be denied that good music has wondrous power in it,
moves and melts, when sound, logical reasoning, or eloquent discourse may produce but little impression. A Scotchman of the
early days was wont to tell how, when destitute of a decent suit of
clothes in which to appear at public worship with others, he was in
the way of wandering towards New Westminster Presbyterian
Church, when evening service was in progress, and there, leaning on
the fence which surrounded the church, he listened to the old tunes
sung by his parents at home, and there and then led by Mrs. Jamieson, whose expressive, whole-souled rendering of sacred pieces few
could hear unmoved. And as he listened he wept, and as he wept
he repented, and repenting he reformed, and reforming he at last
died the death of the righteous.
I have said that Langley had the reputation of being a place
where unseemly brawls and lawsuits were ever occurring. It must
be granted that it deserved to a great extent, the name it got. Most
of the people were inclined to be peaceable and law-abiding, but
some were of the opposite mind, and it was the some that gave the
bad name to the district.
Once, in crossing from New Westminster to Granville, the
stage driver asked me where I lived. He said: "I know most of
the preachers in the Province, but I don't think I ever met you." Experiences in Langley 9
I told him that I had lately come from Scotland, was living in
Langley, and was on my way to Granville to visit a sick man.
"Langley," he said, "why that is a bad place to live in. When the
boys at Maxie's saloon get to wrangling with each other over their
drinks, instead of saying 'Go to the bad place,' they say 'go to
Langley, they will fix you there!'"
The much to be deplored state of things which gave to Langley
its unenviable notoriety was mainly due, by universal consent, to
one individual. This individual was pre-eminently a disturber of
the peace in the small community—never seemed happier than when
he was in the midst of strife, or when he had some unsavoury lawsuit on hand, though to me personally he was at all times polite, and,
so far as I know, did not attempt to break up the small congregationf*
then existing. His friends could not deny or explain away his>
misdeeds when he himself unblushingly and in detail confessed and
rehearsed them; but, while admitting his faults they at the same
time maintained that he was a "smart little man," and more than a
match for the united intellectual strength of his opponents.
In large communities such men find their level, and as a rule,
are kept in their proper place. But in Langley that same person
was a sort of prodigy, at least in the estimation of his supporters.
I do not state the case any too strongly when I assert that for at
least three years he kept the Municipality in a state of turmoil and
strife; and if he did not actually block, he seriously retarded the
social and religious progress of the district during that period.
Physically he was of small stature; intellectually he was weak but
cunning; morally he was avowedly bad. How men of such principles and conduct can beget and retain the support of people who lay
claim to respectability is a mystery. That they sometimes do, at
least for a season, is matter of fact, matter of history.
The whole population of the Municipality was divided into
two parties. On the one side were the followers of the person just
spoken of, and on the other the advocates of fair, clean, municipal
government. Party feeling ran high, the leaders on both sides
passing and repassing on the public road without a word or sign
of recognition.
But notwithstanding this there were times when these settlers
depended upon each other for assistance, as in spring time, when
cattle, not housed but fed outside, were thin and weak, and mired
in the sloughs on St. Andrew's flats. A man with an animal in a
mudhole was compelled to call to his aid neighbors belonging to
both parties. No one dared to refuse, not knowing how soon he
himself might have one in a like predicament.
It would have been amusing, had it not been wrong, to watch
these men as they struggled together to rescue an animal, without
speaking a word, and parting as they had met, in silence.    The 10 Experiences in Langley
story is told that one day when two men belonging to the respective parties, one an Englishman and the other a Scotchman, were
both pulling on the same rope, and so intent unon their work that
the Englishman, in an unthinking moment, made some remark to
the Scotchman. But no sooner had the words passed his lips than
he hastened to correct himself, saying, "I beg your pardon, sir."
Scotchmen are said to be slow in perceiving the humorous point in
a situation. On this occasion at all events he saw the point at once,
and even smiled, no doubt reluctantly.
In the Old Country I had observed that promotion, as a rule,
went by merit, that the men who occupied prominent positions were
men of ability and good standing in the community. One can
'therefore understand the surprise I got, the indignation and heart
sorrow which I felt, when the person repeatedly referred to above,
a man who openly gloried in his shame, was elected Warden of
Langley by a small majority, and a respectable, God-fearing man,
and practical farmer, defeated. At the same election a majority of
councillors, favouring the policy of the new Warden (as the Reeve
was then called) were found elected.
Farmer councils claimed they had done their best to deal fairly
and honourably in the matter of appropriations with all parts of the
municipality. Those who voted the new Warden to the chair did
so, it was alleged, in the hope of receiving favours, in the hope of
receiving more than they were entitled to.
Upon the Warden attaining the height of his ambition his
vanity became very conspicuous. Dressed in a black suit and white
shirt (the latter a rare article of dress in those days) he might be
seen with cane in hand parading Langley spit on steamer mornings.
One of the memories of those days is a certain morning, just as the
steamer was landing, a litrie-vnnnp- half-breed, whose sister he had
insulted and terrified a tew evenings before, approached the newly
elected Reeve, and hit him repeatedly on the face, and knocked him
down. On regaining his feet the Reeve made a boastful threat.
Whereupon his assailant gave him a second pounding, knocked him
down again, leaving him sprawling on the ground, to the evident
amusement and satisfaction of many on board the steamer, as well
as of some Langley people who were witnesses of the scene. The
half-breed was summoned before James Cunningham, J. P., New
Westminster, for assault, but the Magistrate, taking into consideration the great provocation, imposed a merely nominal fine.
The inglorious and unprincipled Reeveship of the new Warden
was of short duration. Before many months had passed he and
his followers began to quarrel over finances. On a certain forenoon
a large number of both parties gathered round his cabin, and demanded that the minute books of the Municipality should be produced for their inspection. He saw they were enraged and determined, and he dared not refuse.   On examination it was found that Experiences in Langley 11
whole leaves here and there had been cut out, and a system of fraud
and embezzlement carried on. Pale and trembling he pleaded for
leniency. They let him alone, but from that day his quondam
friends forsook him with two exceptions. Soon afterwards he left
Passing over the next few years we find Langley's Reeve of
1877 again on Langley spit. He had been leading a dissolute life
in the upper country, had become sick, and was then making for the
New Westminster Hospital. The odour from his person was such
that the steamboat crew determined to land him at Chilliwack, but,
at his own earnest entreaty, they took him on to Langley, where, he
said, he had friends. Alas! his supposed friends failed him in the
day of his bitter distress, refused to receive him into their houses,
or take him to the Hospital to die. By a strange irony of fate his
most uncompromising opponent of former years was Reeve of
Langley, when he, poor and diseased, helpless and hungry, was
placed on a pile of cordwood at Langley Landing. Some humane
person, seeing his wretched condition, had pity upon him, took him
to the hotel in a wheelbarrow, and paid his supper, which he
ravenously devoured.
His former friends refusing, the Reeve hired two Indians to
take him to the Hospital where he died soon afterwards.
Here ends a sad tale, a tale which it is painful even to relate,
a tale suggesting many lessons which young and old would do well
to lay to heart. We have seen how this poor fellow-mortal sinned,
and how, for a short time, he succeeded; how he sinned, and how
at length he suffered; how he boasted and triumphed over the
defeat of his opponents, and how, years afterwards he was humbled
to the dust in their presence, and indebted to them, and not the
friends of his prosperous days, for the last offices of mercy. That
man was born and bred in a land of churches and Bibles. Yielding
to temptation he fell into disgrace. Instead of repenting, and setting out upon the straight and narrow way, he continued upon the
evil course on which he had entered, going from bad to worse, till
in middle life he reached the end of it.
During these fierce contentions in the Langley Municipality in
the early years of its history, (contentions, by the way which existed in other municipalities, though in a less aggravated and acute
form, while roads and bridges and schools were being located and
constructed), I pursued a course of non-intervention or non-interference, declined not merely to take a side but sometimes declined
even to listen to a narration of the subjects of dispute. By the
aggressors, who in my opinion, taking a common sense view of
things, were almost always in the wrong, to whom, in some
instances at least, the success or failure of the cause of the church
was evidently a matter of secondary importance, attempts were
made to draw me into the conflict, thinking thereby to strengthen 12 Experiences in Langley
their party, at least temporarily, and cause vexation to their opponents. But all efforts in that direction were unavailing. I had
come to preach the Gospel of Christ publicly and from house to
house, not to act as a judge or legal adviser in things temporal,
even had I possessed the necessary qualifications, which I did not.
I well knew that once in the conflict I would endeavour to stand
my ground, and take my share in the warfare, though the result to
me might have been exclusion from Langley. But as I viewed the
situation I did not consider myself called upon to enter the battlefield at all. I was persuaded I could do more good, in an indirect
manner, by keeping out of it.
There were times—so strained were the relations between the
two parties and so bitter the hostility—when the utterance of a
word or criticism by me would have left me without a congregation.
The congregations were in course of formation, lacked cohesion
and the dominating spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. I repeat,
therefore, there were times when an expression of opinion by me,
however sound or sensible, would have scattered the small congregations to the winds.
To prosecute Christian work with enthusiasm under such conditions, to retain a healthy Christian spirit in such an atmosphere,
was difficult indeed. Still there were those who offered up prayers
to God continually for the dawn of a better and brighter day.
And yet when days passed into weeks and weeks into months and
months into years and no relief came, no relief was in sight, it is
to be feared that faith at times wavered and hopes grew dim.
At length the long looked for change came. That whole fabric
of iniquity began to totter to its foundations and soon it utterly
collapsed. Indeed so complete and thorough was the revolution,
in an incredibly short space of time, that one could hardly believe
that it had actually taken place. It seemed too good to be true.
When the noise of battle had died away, and victory unmistakably
declared in favour of righteousness, the combatants on both sides
seemed pleased to see the end of it, to have peace and order and
right in the ascendency.
Then things were done which could not have been attempted
before. Why! in the following winter a social was proposed and
carried to a successful issue. There had never been a social in the'
place before. The people at the Fort and on the Prairie united.
Contingents came from Mud Bay, Matsqui, and New Westminster.
The people were in their happiest mood, laughed when, to a
stranger, the cause of their merriment might not be very apparent.
At the close of the social, when one of the settlers, the father
of a family, rose to propose a vote of thanks to the chairman, looking round upon the sea of happy faces, his own family included, he
was so overcome by emotion, that for a time he could not speak. Experiences in Langley
When he was able to control his feelings, he said he could not tell
how pleased he was to see such a gathering in Langley under such
happy auspices. Onwards for several years the cause of true
religion flourished.
Men and women took a fresh interest in divine things, and
many were added to the Church. During no period in my ministry
of 30 years in the Province did so many persons profess to have
received spiritual benefit.
For a few weeks after my settlement at Langley in September,
the work was highly pleasurable and interesting. The rides on
horseback to Langley Prairie or further, when the roads were
good, was no task to a young man, but an agreeable recreation.
When the fall rains came and the roads began to get worked up,
so that the horse, instead of cantering along easily, had to wade
and tug and pull, the charm of the thing had departed. Travelling .
then became a matter of duty.
Where there are bridges now there were fords then; and when
the streams were swollen by heavy rains, to a rider who had not
been accustomed to fording them, there was difficulty and even *
danger. It was necessary to draw up one's legs on^the ^jjfcsaddle, %Jt\
so as to prevent even long boots from getting filled. The first
time I crossed the ford at the Hudson's Bay Company's farm, when
the Salmon River was in flood, I was afraid to do that—afraid
that I might fall off—the result being that my legs below the knees
were in the water. When I got to the further side I dismounted,
poured out the water, wrung my socks, and replacing both I proceeded on my journey to Sumas, 30 miles from that point.
At first many things seemed strange, some undertakings
formidable, which now appear mere trifles. Rev. Mr. Jamieson
had heard me express a determination not to travel by canoe. A
canoe appeared to me to be an unsteady, unsafe thing to travel in.
I had said "I am ready to walk or ride any reasonable distance, but
into one of those canoes I do not mean to enter." Mr. Jamieson
knew that it was of little use trying to drive or force a Scotchman.
He therefore had recourse to strategem for the purpose of introducing me to canoe riding—a mode of travel which he knew I would
have to adopt occasionally sooner or later. One day when I was
in town he asked me to go for a walk with him, Mrs. Jamieson and
one of their little girls. Of course I consented, not thinking that
he had any ulterior object in view. After wandering around town
for a while we arrived at the river side where Indians and canoes
were. Mrs. Jamieson, I now believe, was privy to the plot. At all
events, before I was aware, she and her daughter were seated in
a big canoe—said they were going to have a canoe ride—and asked Experiences in Langley
Mr. Jamieson and me to accompany them. Mr. Jamieson at once
stepped in. Under the circumstances I felt ashamed to refuse. If
this lady and little girl, I thought, were brave enough to ride in a
canoe, I, a man, ought not to be less so. So I stepped in also, somewhat awkwardly. I was told to sit right in the bottom, and not
lean on the sides of the canoe. The afternoon was perfectly calm,
but for all that, I did not by any means feel at ease, though I tried
to conceal it, feeling that the girl was watching, and ready on small
provocation to burst into laughter. But so well did we get along
that I insisted on Mr. Jamieson hiring the Indian to take me to
Langley (17 miles) that same afternoon. This was arranged, and
soon the Indian and I were on our way thither. Before we reached
Sapperton it began to rain and continued to do so without intermission till Langley was reached about midnight. In case of rain I
had received no instructions. I was merely told to sit right in the
bottom of the canoe and not lean on the sides. This I tried to do,
I soon found myself sitting in a pool. It was dark, and, not
yet knowing a word of Chinook, I could not make the Indian understand me. At length I gave up all hope of betterment, thought
this was one of the hardships which a Missionary in a new country
must endure. Of course, a board to sit on, placed in the bottom of
the canoe, would have prevented the discomfort complained of.
Dedication of New Churches at Langley and Mud Bay.
27th September, 1885.—The new Presbyterian Church at Fort
Langley was opened for divine worship yesterday forenoon. The
weather was favorable. The early morning was cloudy and threatening, but as the day advanced it became clear, and at 11, the hour
the services commenced, the sun shone forth with brilliancy and
gave a pleasant and cheering aspect to the surroundings. As the
hour of opening approached, the people came pouring in from the
surrounding districts, and by 11 the house was filled. The church,
which occupies a beautiful situation about three-quarters of a mile
from the landing and alongside the public cemetery is built on ground
donated by J. Mackie, Esq., for that purpose. The design of the
building was executed by Mr. H. Hoy, New Westminster, and was
much admired. The builder is Mr. Thomas Turnbull, lately come
to this country from Scotland. By parties competent to judge, the
workmanship is pronounced superior in all its details, and reflects
credit upon the young builder. The church is 22x40 feet, is hard
finished, will comfortably accommodate 150 people, and will thus
in all probability meet the requirements of the district for many
years to come. A tower and turret, not in the original plan, have
been added, which greatly increase the beauty of the building, and
give it a finished, church-like appearance. The expense of these
additions, together with a bell, has been defrayed by Henry Wark, Experiences in Langley 15
Esq., who took a great interest in the work as it advanced, and
was always ready to help it forward in every way in his power.
The Rev. A. Dunn offered up the dedicatory prayer, and the rest
of the services were conducted by the Rev. Mr. Jamieson, who in
the early years of its history gave occasional supply at Langley.
Mr. Jamieson opened the old church at Fort Langley some thirteen
and a half years ago, and upon him, therefore, naturally and appropriately devolved the duty of opening the new one. His services,
both forenoon and afternoon, were impressive and appropriate, and
were attentively listened to by the large congregations. The collections amounted to $57.00. When all outstanding subscriptions have
been paid it is believed there will be money enough to meet all
liabilities.   The total cost is about $1,000.
Mud Bay, October 6th, 1886.—The new Mud Bay Presbyterian
Church (the other of the two for which the Rev. A. Dunn was
soliciting subscriptions in Victoria and New Westminster some
time since, and which is within the field in which he has been
labouring during the past ten years) was dedicated to the worhhip
of God on the 4th inst. Mr. Dunn conducted the opening devotional exercises, and afterwards made a few remarks of an introductory character relative to the successful completion of their
church building, the indebtedness of the congregation to their
brethren in Victoria and New Westminster for cordial and liberal
aid, and to the changes which had taken place in the neighborhood since the day he first conducted service there in the house of
Mr. Alexander McDougall.
With the view of better accommodating all parties desirous of
attending, the congregation afterwards met for several years in the
house of Mr. Wm. Woodward, whose courteous and obliging manner made all that came feel as comfortable as it is possible to feel in
a private house. When a church building scheme was proposed by
Mr. Dunn, in the beginning of the present year, it was heartily
taken up, and some $475 was at once subscribed in the immediate
vicinity. A church building committee consisting of Messrs. John
Armstrong, John Stewart and D. Brown were appointed. They
threw themselves into the work with great enthusiasm, and have
spared no pains and begrudged no labor in the discharge of the
numerous duties which have devolved upon them. It was therefore
very gratifying to such a people to see their new church completed,
and its doors, like the heaven to which it leads, thrown open to all
that seek or value its blessings.
Here, as at Langley. the weather favoured us, and not a few
travelled many miles to be present at the opening services. The
Rev. J. S. Mackay, New Westminster, preached at both diets of
worship. His discourses were much appreciated and earnestly listened to throughout. To him the congregation feel much indebted
for assistance in more ways than one. The Sunday collections
amounted to $64.00. 16
Experiences in Langley
The Mud Bay Church is of the same dimensions as the Langley
one, and similar to it also in all its leading features. The builders
were Messrs. Nelson & Son, Langley, and their thorough and substantial workmanship has, I understand, given entire satisfaction
to all parties concerned. The site was kindly offered by the Rev.
J. Chantrell, who owns property in this locality.
Rev. A. Dunn Takes Leave of His Flock.
15th March, 1886.—For some time it has been known that the
Rev. Alex. Dunn, the respected Pastor of the Presbyterian Church,
in connection with the Church of Scotland, Langley, intended to
resign his charge. The reverend gentleman having put his resolve
into execution, and his many friends learning that he was about to
leave the Province in a few days, gathered at the house on the evening of Monday, 15th instant, and presented Mr. and Mrs. Dunn
with a number of handsome gifts, amongst the number a handsome
gold-headed walking cane to the Pastor and a beautiful album to
Mrs. Dunn, accompanied by the following address:
To Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Dunn:—It is with feelings of sincere
regret that we realize the loss we are about to sustain in losing you
from amongst us, and that soon our relations as pastor and flock will
be severed. But, however strong that regret may be, it must ever
be mingled with the deepest gratitude for the untiring patience and
Christian zeal with which you have borne up under the sorest difficulties, braving without a murmur the storms and hardships of
pioneer mission work during the past ten years; and though our
outward relations may be changed, yet we earnestly hope that you
will continue to be in thought and feeling, in the future, as in the
past, our Pastor still; that we may still be, in the future as in the
past, objects of your kind solicitude and prayerful supplications. As
a faint expression of the regard in which we shall ever hold you,
will you accept these small mementoes of our affection and esteem,
and when you look on them please think of the loyal and true hearts
in Langley. Trusting that wherever the Master in His Providence
may call you His smile will ever brighten your path and His arm
uphold and strengthen you, and that deep as our loss is it may be
your gain, we bid you a sad and sorrowing good-bye.
Mr. Dunn, in briefly returning thanks to the friends for their
kind wishes and valued gifts, said: "Always a man of few words, I
feel that on an occasion like this, and in circumstances like these,
all words and thoughts have forsaken me. But although my feelings will not allow me to utter many words I know you will not on
that account think that your great kindness is not appreciated. We
never can forget you or cease to take an interest in your welfare.
While I have at times felt obliged to oppose certain schemes, and Experiences in Langley 17
to condemn certain actions, which I considered hurtful to the best
interests of the community, I have always done so from a sense of
duty, and not from the mere love of opposition. The desire for
peace in me is very strong, but the desire to see justice and sobriety
prevail is stronger still. I am glad to think that in every district
where I have ministered, there are men in whose loyalty to the
Church of Christ, and sterling honesty, I have the most entire confidence. Into your hands I now commit the affairs of the Church,
and I have no doubt that by the grace of God you will prove
worthy of the confidence I repose in you. In my own name, and
in that of my wife, I again thank you for your very great kindness
and for your well being will ever pray."
16th March, 1886.—On the evening of the 16th representatives
from Mud Bay, Langley Prairie, Fort Langley, and Maple Ridge,
again met at the manse of Langley and presented Mr. Dunn with
a well-filled purse ($104.00) and the following address:
Rev. and Dear Sir:—Now that the time is drawing near when
you are to sever your connection with us as our Pastor, after a
sojourn amongst us of ten and a half years, planting the Church of
our fathers in this far-off land, we beg to assure you that it is with
feelings of sorrow and regret that we contemplate the prospect of
parting with you. As a friend you have rejoiced with us when our
hearts were glad, and mingled your tears with ours as you performed the last sad rites at the graves of those dear to us. You
have taught our children in the Sabbath School, pointed them and
tts heavenward, and have yourself always led the way. To you,
and to you alone, we are indebted for the churches that we worship
in, never flagging nor wearying in any department of that cause
so manifestly dear to you. In parting with you and Mrs. Dunn,
who has so nobly helped you in your arduous work, although we
may never see your face, or hear your voice, our prayer for you
both is that Heaven's richest blessings may be yours; and although
it grieves us to part from you. yet we can look forward to the time
when we shall be re-united in our Father's House, where partings
are unknown and where sorrow never enters. And now, Reverend
Sir, accept this purse as a token of the esteem in which you are held
by us.    The hardest task  of  all   is   for us to bid you farewell.
Thomas Black
Hector Ferguson
Henry Wark
John Boyce
John Stevenson
John Armstrong
Mr. Dunn replied in the following terms:
"My friends:—I feel very much moved by the touching words
you have addressed to me, as also by this substantial expression 18
Experiences in Langley
of your good-will and kindly feeling. I can assure you that the
prospect of parting cannot be more painful to you than it is to us.
Still the field is widening and extending on all sides, and I feel, and
have felt for some time, that I cannot do justice to it. These long
walks and long fatiguing journeys must be undertaken by a stronger
man. I am very thankful that after 'roughing it' for ten and a half
years, I leave you so strong as I am. On coming amongst you at
first my chief desire was your salvation, and now, on leaving you,
my whole being seems to gather itself up into this one wish, namely,
that you may be saved; saved from sin and sorrow here, and from
eternal banishment from God afterwards." MEMOIRS
PIONEERS Memoirs op Pioneers
Note—The following brief accounts of men and women, resi-
den^f the Lower Fraser Valley, with whom, for many years, I had
been intimately acquainted, were almost always hurriedly written,
either on the funeral days or on the previous evenings. In revising the same, while subtractions here and there have been made,
they are nevertheless the ipsissima varba used at the time of their
delivery. To make a full analysis of the character and work of
the individuals dealt with was not my purpose, and was not therefore attempted. At same time these sketches will, I humbly think,
possess an interest for those who come after us, and will go to
prove that old-timers were not all of them the immoral, godless
persons whom some have insinuated, if not broadly asserted, they
were. In every settlement there were those "who feared the
Lord and called upon His name." Memoirs op Pioneers
Of the following persons at whose funerals I conducted
services, brief sketches of which are given here, only
three belonged to my congregation at the time of their
death. With reference to the others I was asked either by the individuals themselves, when on their death-beds, or by surviving relatives, to officiate. In regard to two, the Hon. John Robson and the
Rev. T. Scouler, prominent men in their respective spheres, with
whom I had long been intimately acquainted, I alluded of my own
accord to the former in the Haney Presbyterian Church, 7th July,
1892, and to the latter in the East Haney School House, May 22nd,
1904. Whenever at any time I was asked to officiate at the funerals
of persons not connected with my congregation at the date of their
death, I almost always consented, on the understanding that the
minister or missionary in charge should be present and take part;
and this consent I gave for the following reasons: First, it gave
me an opportunity, while smarting under a sense of sorrow and of
loss myself, to direct the bereaved to the true sources of comfort
and consolation unfolded in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Second, it
afforded me an occasion of bringing into prominence good features
in the lives of the departed which, in some instances, seemed to be
overlooked, in great measure, by those living alongside of them.
Perhaps most men during their fives are apt to be unfairly criticised
by their fellow men. It is the bad things which they cftias do, the
weaknesses which they betray in life, which are spoken of. Often
not till death removes them from the stage of time are the living
disposed to speak of the dead with candor and impartiality. Third,
it was easier for me, on such occasions, when relatives and old
acquaintances were assembled, to ascertain facts and particulars
relating to the deceased than it would have been at any other time—
data by the way, of which for many years past, it was my intention
to make use at some future time. Moreover, in giving these accounts,
I give, oftentimes, not so much an account of the persons as an
account of their times and environments. In other words, in outlining the lives of well-known residents of the Fraser Valley, I, at the
same time, give a glimpse of the state of things in different settlements during certain periods.  Memoirs op Pioneers
Tributes to Prominent Persons
7th July, 1892.—In the Port Haney Presbyterian Church on
Sunday last, Rev. A. Dunn, in concluding a sermon from the text,
"There remaineth a rest for the people of God," spoke as follows:
"I cannot conclude without making special reference to the
death of the Premier of this Province, the Hon. John Robson. The
melancholy event took place in London, England, on the 29th of last
month (June, 1892). On the 27th of May he passed your station
here on his way East in apparently good health. In little more than
a month tidings reached us of his death. The sad news came as a
shock to the Province. He had reached, as it would appear, the end
of his journey, and alas! also the end of his life. His business in
England concerned the affairs of this Province. Had he been permitted to complete his business and to return, he would in all
probability have come back as the Lieutenant-Governor of British
Columbia. He was thus, at the time of his death, within a single
step of reaching the highest position in the Province, in which on
his first arrival over 30 years ago, he earned his bread as an ordinary working man.
"How often it happens in teal life that the sailor, after weathering many storms on the high seas, is wrecked at last at the harbor
mouth; that the traveller, after performing many perilous journeys,
at last breathes out his spirit almost in sight of home and friends;
that the commercial adventurer, after amassing a fortune and building a magnificent mansion in which he expects to enjoy himself,
dies and never enters it; that the politician, after a brilliant and successful career in the service of his fellow men, and when within a
step of attaining the highest pinnacle, is called upon to put off his
armour and render to God an account of his stewardship. Death,
when it comes, does not consult our wishes or wait till we think we
have brought our life-work to a satisfactory conclusion. Just in
such an hour and often in such a place as men had not expected the
last summons comes.
"If the Hon. John Robson had merely attained to earthly distinction ; if in his service self had been the mainspring; if God, the
living God, had not been in all his thoughts and plans ; then indeed
his life in the highest sense would have been a failure. For what
does it profit a man suppose he gains wealth and power and renown, 24 Memoirs of Pioneers
if with sins unrepented of he goes down to the grave and is lost
eternally ? But we hope better things of him and things that accompany salvation though we thus speak.
Amidst the manifold labors and cares of his position he rested
on the Sabbath Day according to the Commandment. The Sabbath
Day always found him in his pew in church, whether the preacher
was popular or unpopular, whether he was eloquent or the reverse.
He was an able and fearless advocate of Sabbath observance, of
temperance and social purity, though in his advocacy of these measures some of his followers did not support him. Whatever faults
may have detracted from the excellence of his character, I believe
that John Robson, rather than appear to turn his back upon the due
observance of the Holy Sabbath, rather than appear to favour by
word or act of his intemperance and impurity—evils which undermine the very foundations of social life—would have come down
from his high position, and gone out of office without a pang of
regret, and faced the jeers of his opponents with composure. Let
us ever seek to be imitators of good men in so far as they were
imitators of Christ."
No. II.
The Pioneer Minister of the Canada Presbyterian Church Passes
Away After a Short Illness.
1893.—The Rev. R. Jamieson, who has been seriously ill for
about ten days, died this morning, at half-past eight, at the residence of his  son-in-law,  Mr. J. D.  Rae,  Fourth Avenue,  New
Mr. Jamieson, who was in his 64th year, was licensed to preach
in 1853, and shortly afterward entered upon his first charge at
Belturbet, Ireland, of which country he was a native. In 1856, he
came to Canada, and was inducted into the pastoral charge of the
Presbyterian congregation at Dunville, where he suffered a good
deal from illness, so much so that he removed to another field in
Ontario, and in 1861 decided to come to British Columbia, thus
becoming the pioneer of the Canada Presbyterian Church here. He
arrived in New Westminster on the 12th of March, 1862, and
speedily organized the congregation of St. Andrew's, to which he
ministered until 1865, when he left it in charge of Rev. D. Duff, and
removed to Nanaimo, establishing the Presbyterian congregation
there. Mr. Duff's resignation having left the congregation here
without a pastor, another minister was sent out from Ontario, who
elected to take charge of Nanaimo, and Mr. Jamieson returned to
New Westminster early   in   1869,   and   continued   pastor of St. Memoirs of Pioneers 25
Andrews until the breaking down of his health in 1884 compelled
him to resign. He continued to hold the position of Chaplain to
the penitentiary, to which he had been appointed some time before
the failure of his health, and that office becomes vacant by his death.
Coming in the early days, a great deal of pioneer work fell to
Mr. Jamieson's share. At North Arm, Langley and Maple Ridge
he established Presbyterian congregations, and for a number of
years had to keep up the services of these places, in addition to his
work in this city. Travelling up and down the river by canoe in all
weathers, he endured an amount of hard work and exposure which
broke bis health and shortened his life.
Taking a wide view of the obligations of a minister of the
gospel, and possessed of a keen and active intelligence, Mr. Jamieson
was for many years prominent amongst those who were noted for
their interest in the advancement of the Province. In educational
work, especially, he was deeply interested, never losing an opportunity to show his interest in schools, scholars and teachers. Since
1884, he has been too much of an invalid to undertake anything
beyond his official duties at the penitentiary, except when called
upon to render occasional help to some of his ministerial brethren,
or some vacant congregation; but for twenty years previous to that
date, he had been an active and powerful helper in all work for the
moral elevation of the community. Almost his last word in public
was an expression of his thanks for a gift of a Bible and Hymn Book
made to him by the ladies of West Side Presbyterian Church, in
which he had occupied the position of pastor during the interval
between the resignation of Rev. W. G. Mills and the happy settlement of Rev. G. B. Greig.
Mr. Jamieson leaves two sons and five daughters: Robert
Jamieson, Victoria; William S. Jamieson, this city; Mrs. J. D. Rae,
this city; Mrs. A. Posthill, Mission Valley, Yale District; Mrs. T. H.
Prossor, Victoria, and Misses A. and S. Jamieson, this city.
The funeral will take place on Friday, from Mr. Rae's residence, Fourth Avenue, to the Masonic Cemetery, at Sapperton.
The remains of the late Rev. R. Jamieson were laid to rest in
the Masonic Cemetery at Sapperton, this afternoon. Despite the
wet weather, the attendance was exceedingly large, among those
present being many Presbyterian clergymen from Vancouver, and
various parts of Westminster District. Rev. A. Dunn, of Whonnock,
the oldest ministerial friend of the deceased in the country, conducted the funeral services, assisted by Rev. E. D. McLaren, of
Vancouver, Moderator of the Westminster Presbytery, and Rev.
Mr. Greig, of the West Presbyterian Church. The funeral took
place from the residence of Mr. J. D. Rae, Fourth Avenue,   leaving 26 Memoirs of Pioneers
the house at 2 o'clock. The following gentlemen acted as pallbearers: Aid. McKenzie, F. Stewart, J. S. Clute, C. G. Major,
J. C. Brown and F. McClerry.
No. III.
Nov. 3rd, 1896.—The funeral of John Boyes of Langley, took
place on Friday last at Murray's Corners, Langley Prairie, and,
though the day was tempestuous, it was largely attended. Mr.
Boyes died in the house of Mr. D. McKenzie, Cloverdale, after a
lingering illness. Rev. Mr. Jamieson, Missionary, Cloverdale, conducted the service at the house, assisted by Rev. A. Dunn, of Whon-
nock, who conducted services at the grave, and preached a funeral
sermon in the Presbyterian Church, Langley Prairie, in the course
of which he referred, in feeling terms, to the lovable disposition and
excellent character of the deceased.
Dec. 31st, 1897.—The remains of the late Samuel Robertson
were interred in Fort Langley. He was a native of
Orkney, Scotland. Rev. A. Dunn, a pioneer Presbyterian clergyman of the Province officiated. Mr. Dunn, in the course of his
remarks, paid a graceful tribute to Mr. Robertson as follows: "The
venerable and beloved Samuel Robertson, whose somewhat unexpected death we all this day mourn, and whose remains we are about
to consign to their kindred dust, was at the time of his death the
oldest white settler of the Province. Of all the white men from
Victoria to the Rocky Mountains, living in the country at the time
of his arrival, not one survives. In other words, the whole population of the Province at the present date has come in since 1843.
Some years after Mr. Robertson came to Langley in the
employment of the Hudson's Bay Company, he took up land on the
north side of the Fraser River, and there, with uncommon industry
and intelligence, he proceeded to clear that farm and to plant that
orchard which to-day are the pride and admiration of the neighborhood. The stranger might not think that a man so humble in his
manner, so plain in his apparel, so diffident in the expression of his
opinions as Mr. Robertson was, would be likely to accomplish much.
Great deeds speak louder than great words, or mere outward appearances. The fields, the fences, the barns, the orchard, the reside'nces
of the Robertson estate furnish unmistakable proof not merely of the
practical ability of the late owner but also of his rare prudence and
foresight.     Even at this day some people keep wondering whether Memoirs of Pioneers 27
it be wise on their part to take up land in British Columbia, clear it,
and raise crops upon it. They still wonder, in the face of what
most of us regard as overwhelming evidence, whether it would pay,
and whether this country will ever come to much. Well, away back
in 1860, when Mr. Robertson erected his cabin and began to clear
his land, on-lookers of that time, I have no doubt, would consider
him beside himself. At that time the cultivation of land was the
last thing most men would have thought of. But such men as Mr.
Robertson, men of courage and foresight, are raised up by God
from amongst the hesitating and faint-hearted to set the machinery
in the reclamation of the new country in motion, and to keep it going.
He was enabled, when it was much more difficult to do so than now,
to take a comprehensive view of the manifold excellencies of the
country, and to forsee its sure and certain prosperity in years to
come. In 1860 he made his home on the north side of the Fraser,
and there he toiled, with great diligence and success, during 37
years; and there he died in peace on Sabbath morning last at the
age of 78, loved and esteemed in an uncommon degree.
He was a diligent reader, had a deal of useful information upon
general subjects, as well as much sound common sense. Still his
modesty prevented him from taking that part in public affairs for
which he was well qualified. But for this defect, his merits would
undoubtedly have raised him again and again to the highest position
in the Municipality by the unanimous vote of his fellow-citizens.
As it happened, Mr. Robertson was the first man to whom Rev.
Mr. McGregor introduced me when I landed at Langley, over 22
years ago. His kindly, honest, Scotch face at once made a favourable impression—an impression which subsequent acquaintance
served to deepen. During the last six years, in my journeys on
foot between Whonnock and Haney, I have seen more of Mr.
Robertson in private life than I did during the sixteen years which
preceded. I saw how good and kind and Christ-like his life was.
His house was situated about half-way between these two places.
There I often rested, and there I was always hospitably entertained.
In that house was no backbiting, no slandering of others. Refreshed
in body and mind I took the road again with a more vigorous step.
If Mr. Robertson could not do the bright and conspicuous things
which others do to advance the social and religious welfare of those
around him, he did what he could. It seemed to be one of the chief
pleasures of his life to dispense hospitality and diffuse gladness.
Who here has not shared his hospitality, or been cheered by his
hopeful, happy manner? Possessed of firmness he allowed no man
to impose upon him. At the same time those who had little as well
as those who had much, the uninteresting as well as the interesting,
were all alike invited to a seat at his table. Men of such kindly,
friendly disposition, men who are ready to do good to all men as they
have opportunity, are not too numerous, and are apt to be over- Memoirs of Pioneers
looked. Oftentimes, not till they are gone, do we realise what a
comfort and a blessing to us they were in this world of selfishness
and strife. He has left behind him a son and daughter, grandsons
and granddaughters, who appear to inherit many of his sterling
and estimable qualities. To the God of all comfort we commend
them, as also his sorrowing widow, whose tender ministrations and
ever watchful care tended to prolong his days.
17th Jan., 1899.—All that was mortal of the late James McAdam
of Langley was consigned to its last resting place in the Langley
Cemetery on Wednesday the 11th inst., the Rev. A. Dunn of Whonnock, and Mr. Gold, Missionary at Langley, officiating. Owing to
the broken state of the ice in the river, the numerous friends of the
deceased in Maple Ridge were prevented from attending the funeral.
Still, the day being fair and mild; and the river road being in good
condition, the funeral cortege was large, many having come from
distant parts of the Municipality. In the Fort Langley Church, Mr.
Dunn spoke of the deceased as an advanced and successful agricul-
truist, a respected and trusted Reeve and Councillor of the Municipality, during his terms of office, a fearless and straightforward man,
a wise and faithful elder of the Presbyterian Church, and a sincere
and humble Christian. The bereaved family have the sincere sympathy, in their great loss, of a wide circle of friends.
14th March, 1900.—Rev. A. Dunn, of Whonnock, preached in
the Presbyterian Church, Ladner, on Sunday, the 4th inst., from the
text, "Your joy no man taketh from you," John 16-24. At the end
of his sermon, Mr. Dunn referred to the work done in South Arm
by the late John McKee, and this portion of his discourse, which
was as follows, he was asked to send to "The Columbian" and
"World" for publication. In the early days I have heard people
declare, who knew about Mr. McKee and his big undertaking, and
who considered themselves authorities upon such matters, that he
might work his fingers to the bone, and spend a fortune in that
swamp, but eventually he would be a ruined man. It was therefore a source of great satisfaction to those who had watched with
friendly interest the slow but steady progress of South Arm enterprises—the hard fought battles with opposing forces—to witness at
length the watery element confined within the desired limits; large Memoirs of Pioneers 29
tracts of land brought under cultivation,* roads built; churches and
schools erected, in a district which, when John McKee first beheld
it in 1874, was a dismal, dreary waste. In this connection I am not
forgetting that the deceased and his family were aided, in the course
of time, by similarly brave and active men, whose enterprise and
industry have brought this municipality to the high state of prosperity in which it is found at the present time.
I am not here, on this occasion, to speak of the faults of the
deceased, even if I had the heart to do so; nor to enlarge upon what
might be claimed to be the outstanding, good features of his private
life. My object is rather to give prominence to the fact that, while
striving to advance the interests of his family, he, at the same time,
rendered an important and valuable service to this municipality—I
might say to this Province. Many who have come and settled in the
Province during these years, have done little for themselves or for
the country. Some, instead of boldly contending with high tides
and high water, have stood shivering upon the bank, doing nothing.
Many more, instead of reclaiming their land, removing stumps and
stones, have wasted time in unreasonable, unavailing lamentations.
In the case of Mr. McKee, we have the example of a man, who,
when in the neighborhood of 60 years of age, and while located in
what was called a swamp, threw himself with ardor into the work
God gave him to do, and who persevered therein until, by the help
and blessing of God, he attained success—thereby benefitting himself, his family, and his adopted country. Let no man, with the Bible
in his hand, say that it is wrong to dp with our might what our hand
findeth to do; say that it is unchristian to be diligent in business. If,
in whatever we do, we strive to glorify God, may we not, with
hearts rightly attuned, glorify Him as truly in cultivating land, in
■ providing for a family, as in preaching the Word? There is an
eloquence in the busy fingers of the one which is not always found
in the grandest outbursts of oratory of the other. Of course if the
spirit of the farmer be worldly, out and out, it will be ill with him
at last. But, if the spirit of the preacher be earthly, and not
heavenly, it will be ten times worse with him. My friends, the
Christian religion demands, in the first place, loyalty of heart to the
Lord Jesus Christ; but it also demands a vigorous and faithful discharge of the various duties devolving upon us as members of families, as members of the community, and as citizens of the Empire.
The deceased realised his dependence upon the God of sea and
land, of heaven and earth; and, in the midst of his toils, he did not
overlook the claims of God. In 1881, mainly through his exertions,
the first church of any denomination in the South Arm, costing over
$900, was raised free of debt This first Presbyterian Church in the
South Arm was the third Presbyterian Church erected on the mainland of British Columbia. Memoirs of Pioneers
June 5th, 1900.—Rev. A. Dunn was unable, owing to sickness,
to be present at Mr. McDougal's funeral on Friday afternoon; and
for the same reason, was unable to be in the church at Haney on
Sunday the 3rd inst., when he intended to have made the following
remarks respecting the late Mr. McDougal:
"Of the three men who were ordained elders in Langley nearly
a quarter of a century ago, only one is left, namely, Paul Murray,
who is now nearing 90 years of age. James McAdam died in 1899,
aged 76 years. Alexander McDougal died on the 30th ult., aged
80 years. These three—all good men and true—differed greatly in
manner, in temperament, and intellectual complexion. One was
brusque and outspoken, generally the first to express an opinion
upon any subject. Another, while tenacious of his opinion, was at
the same time cautious and sensitive, and careful to say nothing
which might unnecessarily hurt. The third was calm, cool, and
reticent, whose opinion, sometimes, could be learned better by his
looks and the movements of his body than by his words. They all
came from Scotland when young unmarried men. One came from
Sutherlandshire, another from Perthshire, and the third from
Dumfriesshire. All were mighty in the Scriptures, and strong,
intelligent Calvinists. All belong to the Free Church party, and
knew the history of the Scottish Kirk with its principal leaders
and divines from the Reformation till the Disruption in 1843.
Meetings of Session were held at Langley twice a year, generally at
the Minister's house, to which all came on foot early in the forenoon. For nearly 11 years, at these meetings of Session, all matters relating to church work were frankly and fully discussed, yet
unbroken harmony and good feeling always prevailed. Opposite
views were sometimes stoutly maintained, but nothing in the form
of bitterness or passion ever manifested itself. All these three men
had spent from 20 to 30 years in Ontario before coming to British
Columbia. There they had gained much useful experience, so that
when they came here they were prepared to renounce things (good
and even necessary in Scotland) which were found to be impracticable in this country. To have uniformly followed Scotch modes
of procedure, to have adhered resolutely to Kirk of Scotland books
of discipline, would have broken in fragments the small congregations in Langley and surrounding settlements. No essential point
was given up; no form of immorality was countenanced. Still we
all felt the propriety, indeed necessity, of prosecuting the work in
British Columbia in a manner suited to the conditions of the new
country, so as not to antagonise such as were but imperfectly
acquainted with Presbyterian modes of procedure. From September, 1875, to September, 1876, the amount of money raised in the
districts over, which these three men presided, for support of ordi- Memoirs of Pioneers 31
nances, was under $100. From September, 1883, to September,
1884, the amount reached was $553; and the additions to the population during the 10 previous years were few and far between. In
1885 the two churches at Fort Langley and Mud Bay were built,
costing $2,000, about one-half of which was raised in the field. I
do not think that any of these men was ever absent from a diet of
public worship, rain or shine. Their homes and their farms were
conducted in an orderly, methodical manner. They knew the day
and the hour of service (others might forget, specially when the
service was not held every Sunday) and governed themselves
accordingly. Nothing (no visitor) was allowed to come in the way
of church attendance. In the course of my missionary journeys I
often spent days and nights in the home of Mr. McDougal, Mud
Bay. It was a happy home, the abode of peace and piety, a house
in which, in the early days, many a iired traveller and many a lonely
settler found refreshment and encouragement. The late Mr.
McDougall was a tender and considerate husband and father ; and
as might be expected in such a home as his was, his authority was
honoured and his wishes respected. While his son and daughters
this day mourn the death of a beloved father, they have cause for
thankfulness in the fact that they are the children of parents who
have passed into the skies. Mrs. McDougal died in 1894. Alexander
McDougal was an "Israelite indeed in whom was no guile." "In
simplicity and in godly sincerity he had his conversation in the
No.   VIII.
19th October, 1900.—There died of apoplexy at Port Hammond
on the 8th inst., at the advanced age of 81 years, a much respected
pioneer of the Lower Fraser, namely, Mrs. J. Matthews, mother of
Mrs. W. J. Harris. Born at Brigstock, England, in 1819, Martha
Rasson came with her parents in 1839 to Ingersoll, Ont., where she
was married to the late John Matthews of that place. Her husband
being dead, Mrs. Matthews accompanied her daughter and son-in-
law with their family to British Columbia in 1873, and settled at
Ketsy, where she died. During her 27 years' residence at Ketsy, in
the house of Mr. and Mrs. Harris, she seldom went abroad except
to Church, and, in later years, only to summer communion services.
But as Mr. Harris has all along been a prominent public man, Mrs.
Matthews frequently came into, contact with people from all parts
of the Municipality and beyond it. In this way she was well known
to a large circle, and beloved and esteemed to a degree to which few
attain. From Pitt Meadows to Haney almost every house was
represented at her funeral on Wednesday last. Appropriate and
impressive services were conducted at the residence of Mr. Harris 32 Memoirs of Pioneers
by Rev. L. Hall, and in the Methodist Church and at the grave by
Rev. Alex. Dunn of Whonnock. In the course of his sermon in the
church Mr. Dunn said: "In the station in which she was, there she
abode with God. She was ever so industrious, so unrepining, so
courteous to man, and so devout towards God, that one could not
but feel that she was living that life of which alas! too many merely
talk.   She was indeed a living epistle of Christ."
1907.—The Rev. Alex. Dunn, who since his retirement from the
active work of the ministry has been living at Sapperton, was called
to the death-bed of his old friend, and made a eulogistic address at
the funeral.   This is Mr. Dunn's eloquent tribute:
"It is thirty-two years in December next since I paid my first
visit, on a fair winter afternoon, to the home of the Maclures of
Matsqui. I well remember the hearty welcome I received from the
different members of the family that day, and their evident concern
regarding my comfort and entertainment. Indeed, so frank and
cordial was the welcome, that I at once felt at home, or, at least,
as much as it was possible for a man of my temperament to feel. To
a traveller exposed all day to drenching rains, contending with the
obstructions and difficulties of pioneer travel on horseback, the
delight in beholding a friendly light in the distance, and in reaching
a comfortable, well-appointed home, was very real. And when to
this were added congenial company, entertaining conversation,
mingled with mirth and harmless repartee, the delight was greatly
intensified, and this delight I always experienced in this happy home
now, alas! bereft of its head.
"The late John Maclure was a man of striking individuality,
adapting himself with rare ease to the changed conditions and
customs of new country life; yet true to the best instincts of the race
and country to which he belonged, he retained his marked individuality to the end. His stalwart, manly bearing, his intelligence, the
width and accuracy of his information, his genial, peace-loving disposition, combined to assign to him a conspicuous place among men.
"Whatever troubles he had (and what public or professional
man is without them, what father of a family, however promising
or successful the members of his family may be, is free from all
forms of anxiety?) were kept in the background or suppressed in
his intercourse with others, and even in his own home. Nowadays
we often hear the terms 'optimist' and 'pessimist' made use of. If
I were to classify the late John Maclure, I would place him in the
optimist class.    He had the happy faculty, more frequently com- Memoirs of Pioneers
mended than practiced, of looking at the bright side of the picture,
of seeing the good rather than the evil, or at all events of seeing
things as they really were, and not as the pessimist is in the way of
representing them. Knowing that many false prophets have come
into the world, who occupy precious time in speculating upon uncer- i
tainties, time which would be much more profitable employed in|
dealing with the facts and verities of life, he did not lend himself to
prophesying good or evil. He took the world as it came with its
pleasures and its woes, and tried to make his own life and the lives
of others brighter and better by cherishing a hopeful, contented
outlook. If there was a humorous side to any subject, he was sure
to see it and emphasize it. By relating an amusing anecdote, or
even by a witty turn in the conversation, he would scatter gloom and
restraint, and make a company at once feel merry and at ease.
Moreover, his humorous sayings always appeared to be seasonable,
and could never hurt the feelings of the sensitive. Being a man of
cheerful, sanguine temperament, a constant reader of much of the
best literature of the day, he was, as might be inferred, a welcome
guest in the homes of those who required his professional services,
whether they were gentle or simple. The Indians looked up to him,
trusted him, loved him.
"Everything that bore the mark of sham and hypocrisy he
sincerely detested. All things sacred, or what others might deem
sacred, he never sneered at. To Christian men and women, doing
what they could for the good of others, whether Protestant or
Catholic, Presbyterian or Episcopalian, or Methodist, he readily extended his hand and his hospitality. In frequent conversations with
him upon secred topics, during these many years, I was sometimes
surprised at the depth of his religious knowledge and convictions.
The last time we met, while he was in health, he recalled an expres-
»sion i» a discourse delivered by me more than thirty years ago. I
remarked, 'And you still remember that.' 'Yes,' he replied, 'and
many things besides that,' indicating that he had always been an
interested and attentive hearer. Whatever weaknesses he possessed
he never justified but deplored. On his deathbed, while imploring
the blessing of Him with whom we all have to do, he expressed his
deep sense of shortcoming and demerit.
"Few knew my imperfections better than he, but when my
motives might be misunderstood by the newcomer, or my actions
misrepresented by the unprincipled, none came more readily or fearlessly to my defence—and to him and men like him in other settlements I owe much of any good I may have been able to do on the
Lower Fraser. You, the members of this family, can therefore
understand that the grief, which this day burdens your spirits, is
shared by me and many besides, who feel that by his death we have
lost a true, a tried, and unselfish friend. I could not trust myself to
speak of his home life, even if I desired, further than to say that he
7 34
Memoirs of Pioneers
was a most devoted husband and a tenderly affactionate father.
And now it is my duty and privilege to exhort you to draw closer
to the Compassionate Redeemer in your sorrow, who, as we have
read, wept by the grave of Lazarus. Ask His strength and His
consolations. He will not fail you. He is a present help in every
I time of trouble.
No. X. .
Fort Langley, B. C, Jan. 28, 1908.—The funeral of the late
Mrs. Eliza Towle, widow of Wilson Towle, Langley, took place
yesterday afternoon from the Towle residence to the Fort Langley
cemetery. Weather and roads were good, and there was a large
attendance, noticeably of old-timers, including also all the members
of the family of the deceased. The pall-bearers were: William
Murray, P. Spence, James Hossack, Harry Coghlan, M. Mclvor
and J. McDonald. She leaves four sons, George, Stanley and Reid,
who reside at Langley; David, of Mount Pleasant, Vancouver, and
one daughter, Mrs. James M. Drummond, Robson Street, Vancouver. In the house and in the Presbyterian Church, Fort Langley,
services were conducted by Revs. T. Oswald and A. Dunn. After
reading the 90th Psalm, Mr. Dunn spoke in part as follows: "I
stand before you to-day in a somewhat peculiar position, as a comparative stranger where for nearly 11 years I was at home. Within
a few weeks of my arrival in Langley, over 33 years ago, I had
visited all the families living in the Municipality at that time. Of
those who were here then (I mean of families) only 3 or 4 are left.^ .
So gradually, one by one, did they drop off -that we in trig busy.^^
hurrying world, scarcely missed them. Not until an occasion like
the present arises, when we look back 33 years, de we truly realize
how many have gone, or rather how few are left. We are here today to attend the funeral of one of the last of Langley's earliest
During the first five years of my residence in Langley I was
never called upon, in my official capacity, to visit a sick person in
any of the settlements. The people in those days fortunately
enjoyed a remarkable immunity from sickness—I say fortunately,
for the services of a physician could hardly be obtained. When
anyone met with an accident, or when mothers required nursing,
Mrs. Towle was sent for. By day and night, summer or winter,
over all kinds of roads, she cheerfully responded to the call. Her
firmness, decision, and self-command stood her in good stead. Her
knowledge of common ailments and suitable remedies, was generally
successful in bringing relief and in effecting a cure. Memoirs of Pioneers
Perhaps the outstanding features of her character were shrewdness, common sense, and a cheery, hopeful manner. Her very
manner and voice, her happy sayings, were calculated to dispel fret-
fulness, and induce confidence in the country, contentment and perseverance. And who will deny that individuals of such traits of
character are a valuable acquisition, apart from other considerations,
to any community? Others might be complaining of bad roads, bad
neightbors, bad everything, and wondering how they could sell out
and get away. She with her husband and family came to Langley
to make a home, and succeeded, and never thought or spoke of
leaving it. In Langley she lived 38 years; here she died on the
25th inst., and here to-day she is buried, missed and mourned by a
wide circle. Though her long life was one of unintermitting toil
she had reached and passed man's allotted span—three score years
and ten. Looking forward, 70 years seems a long, long period.
Looking back, it appears a span, as a tale that is told. Long though i
70 years may appear to those setting out in the journey o Life, theL-
last year, the last day, the last hour, comes at last; and as men live
they generally die.
mrs. john Mcdonald.
12th February, 1908.—There passed away at her residence,
837 Richard Street, Vancouver, at the advanced age of 90 years,
Mrs. John McDonald, formerly of Agassiz. Mr. and Mrs. McDonald
with their sons, James and Royal, with their families, came from
Prince Albert, Hastings Co., Ontario, 23 years ago, when Mr.
McDonald bought a considerable tract of land at Agassiz. On his
death, 15 years ago, Mrs. McDonald moved to Vancouver, where
she has since been living. The late Mrs. McDonald possessed a
wonderfully vigorous and healthy constitution. With the exception
of slightly impaired hearing she had none of the usual infirmities
incident to extreme old age. She took pleasure in assisting in household duties, received and entertained numerous visitors, was able
to attend to her own business affairs to the last, and never seemed
happier than in the company of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. No less remarkadle was her mental vigour, her cheerful,
contented disposition, her self-control and evenness of temper.
Above all, from early life down to its close, she led a humble, cc
sistent Christian life. She leaves to mourn her death two soi
numerous grandsons and granddaughters, amongst whom are, M
McKenzie and Mrs. Whelpton, and five great-grandchildren.
Rev. A. Dunn, Sapperton, and Rev. R. J. Wilson, Minister of
St. Andrew's, conducted the funeral services at her house and at the
grave in the I. O. O. F. Cemetery, Sapperton. Memoirs of Pioneers
Touching Tribute Is Paid Late Mr. T. Shannon, J. P., First Reeve
of Surrey, by Clergyman, Who Long Knew Him.
Rev. A. Dunn, who has been a friend of the late Thomas
Shannon, Cloverdale, for many years, delivered a beautiful and
touching funeral oration.   His words were:
"The late Mr. Shannon, some two weeks previous to his death,
requested that I should take part in the religious services in connection with his burial. With that request I at once resolved to comply,
if health permitted. I specially respect the request of one on his
death-bed, when that one, for many long years, had treated me with
uniform civility and kindness.
"It was in the summer of '76 that I first met the deceased,
Thomas Shannon and his brother William. At that time they were
ranchers in Upper Sumas. Owing to the unusually high water of
'76, on two consecutive occasions, three weeks apart, I could not, on
horseback, get to the school house, where our meetings were held.
The greater part of Sumas Prairie was flooded ; only cVp the high
ridges, where dwellings and barns were built, stood out of water. On
Saturday I went up by steamer to Miller's Landing, and thence proceeded by canoe with an Indian, who carried the mail, to Upper
Sumas, a distance of some 13 or 14 miles. The canoe passed almost
by the door of the Shannon dwelling, and as we were passing we
halted, and I remember entering into conversation with the two
brothers regarding points of difference in the creeds of the Presby-
trian and Methodist Churches. On the day following, after service,
I had dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Shannon, and baptized their first
born, Samuel. In 1877, the Shannon brothers removed from Upper
Sumas to this locality where they have since resided, and been known
as prominent, progressive farmers.
"The feeling which exists amongst old-timers is similar, it seems
to me, to that existing between old soldiers, who have stood side by
side on the battlefield, exposed to shot and shell, and who, though
they may have come off victors, nevertheless retain to the day of
their death, the prints of wounds which they received in battle.
They have a pleasure all their own, in meeting and in fighting their
battles over again. Old-timers in British Columbia have passed
through in common, many and varied trying ordeals, and bear in
their bodies marks of exposure and rough usage. The memory of
their struggles and trials binds them to each other by strong and
tender ties. When one of their number passes off the stage of time,
the other old-timers, for miles around, turn out to his funeral, and
this, not because he had been distinguished in any way, but just
because he was an old-timer, and had passed through experiences
i to all of them. Memoirs of Pioneers 37
"Who that lived in the Province previous to the construction of
the C. P. R. can ever forget the gloom which hung like a pall over
the country? The great majority of the people were in a state
bordering on despair. Only a few maintained a brave and hopeful
spirit. (I am speaking of those with whom my official duties
brought-me into contact.) I remember asking a New Westminster
merchant if he had heard that a beginning in railway construction
had been made at Emory, near Yale. 'Yes,' he said, 'I have heard,
but there is nothing in that. It is a mere ruse to serve political purposes. That railway will never, and can never be built. The engineering difficulties are too great.' When railway construction
was found to be, not a political ruse but a deliberately planned undertaking to be carried to completion, when the first passenger train in
1886 actually came through the Rocky Mountains, and down the
Fraser River Valley without mishap or misadventure, predictions
similar to the one alluded to were undeniably refuted.
"The following five or six years were years of prosperity and
plenty. New settlers came pouring in; and in 1891 there was not a
single claim of 160 acres in the Fraser Valley to be taken up. By
that time the most despondent were obliged to admit that British
Columbia might yet become a great country and a populous one.
"With a notable revival in all branches of trade and commerce,
when bush land and city lots, previously regarded as all but valueless, were in demand, when extravagant prices were asked and
obtained for them, many became intoxicated with success, madly
plunged into speculations in town and country, and were tempted to
exclaim, 'My mountain shall never be moved.'
"But in the early nineties came the second great depression, a
depression, by the way, of world-wide extent, and struck with special
severity our young Province, which had hardly got on its feet.
Men were met everywhere in financial difficulties, wanting to borrow
money, and few could be found willing or able to lend. The result
to many was disappointed hopes, ruined fortunes, and broken hearts.
"Forty years ago little was known, or could be known, in the
Old Country, or even in the Eastern Provinces, regarding British
Columbia, beyond the fact that it possessed a healthy and temperate
climate. Consequently the first comers did not really know what
they were coming to; and first impressions were almost invariably
disappointing. There was the forest on every hand, there were long
continued rains, the want of roads, the want of almost everything
to which they had been accustomed in the homes which they had
left. All these things, no doubt, presented a dark and dismal outlook. Whatever trials or difficulties they had left behind them, they
were now, at all events, face to face with real hardships and privations—with a state of existence which to many seemed next door to
banishment.    Well, through these trying experiences of the early 38
Memoirs of Pioneers
days, during all the vicissitudes through which the country has
passed during the last 35 years, there were here and there some who
never fainted or faltered, who kept plodding along, clearing and cultivating land. These men were the salt of the earth, so to speak, and
exerted a powerful and beneficial influence on the fearful and the
pessimistic. Possessing patience and perseverence, taking deep and
intelligent views, they were firmly persuaded that the day would
come, sooner or later, when the enormous and varied wealth of the
Province, apart from its gold mines, would attract thousands upon
thousands to it; and that the more diligent they were the better
would they be prepared to take advantage of and profit by the ever
increasing demands for the products of their farms. Among the
sanguine and courageous, our departed brother was a conspicuous
example. He was too energetic and too active minded a man to
waste time in unavailing and unreasonable lamentations. He cheerfully addressed himself to the work which fell to his hand, and inspired his family, as it appears, with a similar spirit. His sons have
already won for themselves an honorable name throughout the
Province as advanced and successful agriculturists.
"I am not here to-day to defend the character or conduct of old-
timers. God forbid that I should attempt to justify or make light
of what was amiss or wrong in their lives. Their faults were,
oftimes, strongly in evidence. But they were naked and open. There
was seldom any attempt at concealment. They were what they
appeared to be. In outward polish they were often deficient, but
in intelligence, in responsiveness to what was good and noble, in
neighborliness and in hospitality, in readiness to help those overtaken by misfortune, they, generally speaking, excelled. If they did
not possess the graces of what is considered good society, they were
innocent of many of its vices. Low cunning and scheming, malice
and bitterness, back-biting and duplicity could not be said to be
characteristic of them. My friends, things are done in what is called
good society, and even in the church to-day, which old-timers would
have scorned to do or countenance.
"It is our duty to condemn and shun whatever is vile and
ignoble. It is also our duty to express approval of whatever is just
and pure and of good report. But let us never forget that while
man looketh on the outward appearance, God looketh on the heart.
And if we, in God's great mercy, shall find an entrance to mansions
not made with hands, we shall miss some whom we expected to see
there, and shall find many whom we had not thought would be there.
Therefore, 'let us judge nothing before the time until the Lord
come, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness,
and will make manifest the counsels of the heart, and then shall
every man have praise of God.'" Memoirs of Pioneers
February 6th, 1903.—A correspondent at Langley writes: The
funeral of James Mackie, J. P., of Langley, took place on Saturday
last A large concourse of people, many of them old-timers from the
surrounding country, together with a few from New Westminster and
Vancouver, assembled at his late residence, and from thence proceeded to the Presbyterian Church where impressive services were
conducted by the pastor, Rev. Wm. Burton and Rev. A. Dunn, an
old and intimate friend of the deceased. Mr. Burton made brief
reference to the late Mr. Mackie's genial manner, his kind and obliging disposition, and to the loss the death of a man of such characteristics always causes. Mr. Dunn, in the course of a well considered
and appropriate address, referred to the early history of Langley,
its formation into a municipality in 1874, to the fact that Mr. Mackie
was elected Warden for 1874, as also for 1875, to the difficulty
experienced by Warden and Councillors, during these years, in laying the foundations of municipal government—the revenue being
small and the needs of the scattered settlers being varied and urgent
—and to the wise, just and impartial manner in which Warden and
Councillors discharged the duties of their office. In speaking of
old-timers in general, and of Mr. Mackie in particular, the reverend
gentleman affirmed that both on the mainland and island he had
found old-timers, with few exceptions, men of superior intelligence, and honourable in their dealings, fearless and unbending in
opposing dishonesty in the management of public and private affairs,
yet liberal minded and charitable in all matters in regard to which
intelligent men may honestly differ. He further stated that towards
ministers of religion old-timers were, as a rule, considerate and
respectful, welcoming them to their homes, and scorning to persecute or misrepresent men the weapons of whose warfare were not
carnal but spiritual. Mr. Dunn spoke of Mr. Mackie as a man above
the average in point of intelligence and information, of transparent
character, friendly and obliging beyond most men, not without
faults, but singularly free from the bitterness and ill will which
sometimes disfigure and disgrace the lives of men who make themselves prominent in Christian profession. Robert Mackie, the
father, died in 1882 at the age of 75, and was the first to be buried
in the Fort Langley cemetery; and now, 20 years later, James
Mackie, the son, died at the age of 73, and was buried in the same
spot. Mrs. Mackie has the sympathy of a wide circle of friends
in her bereavement.
No. XIV.
May 13th, 1904.    At East Haney on Sunday last, May 22nd,
Rev. A. Dunn alluded to the death of the late Rev. Thomas Scouler.
He said: Memoirs of Pioneers
"Since we met here two weeks ago, a much respected member
of the Presbytery of Westminster has died and been buried; I refer,
of course, to the Rev. T. Scoular, New Westminster. Some of you
were acquainted with him as minister of St. Andrew's Church.
Others have had the pleasure of being present when he, on different
occasions, conducted worship in the Haney Church. His brethren
in the ministry, and his friends throughout the country, were warmly
attached to him, and keenly felt his premature departure.
"Though Mr. Scoular lived to be 61 years of age he did not
remember ever being sick, much less being confined to bed with sickness, until his last illness, which began in February last, and ended
on the 9th inst.
"Mr. Scouler exerted a great and beneficial influence, and was
greatly esteemed, not only in New Westminster and throughout
the Presbytery, but also throughout the country and throughout the
Church. He laid no claim to eminent scholarship nor to superior
ability. He was never spoken of as an eloquent or popular preacher.
The question therefore naturally arises at this time, the question
which I intend to try briefly to answer to-day, what was the secret
of his influence and of the high regard in which he was generally
held ? In the first place, I answer, in a general way, he was a good
man and a just, true and honourable in all the relations of life, as
the head of a Christian home, as a friend, as a citizen, and as a
minister of Jesus Christ. About him there were unaffected goodness
and realty. He carried out into every day life the faith which he
professed and proclaimed. And "it is a good divine which follows his
own instructions." But more particularly, while Mr. Scouler in his
intercourse with people, and specially as a minister of Christ, was
ever ready to give reverence to whom reverence was due, honor to
whom honor, and to claim very little for himself, he at the same time .
treated all men as men, not as wealthy men, prominent men, gifted
men, or poor and obscure men. He met and treated all men in the
same gracious, frank, and manly way. Now, notwithstanding the
pointed and forcible manner in which the Apostle James discusses
the tendency to partiality and favoritism in the Church, it is to be
feared that many Christian Churches, including ministers, are
grievous transgressors in this very matter. "They are partial in
themselves and are become judges of evil thoughts. They have
respect to persons and despise the poor." The man with the gold
ring in goodly apparel may be treated with marked attention, a
chief seat given to him, just on account of his rings and his attire,
and quite irrespective of his character, while the man in "vile raiment" may be ignored or a back seat assigned to him, though known
to be rich in faith and good works. In small religious meetings in
school houses, in country places, I have observed rising symptoms
of this very evil. While the more prominent members of the community, at the close of the service, were standing in groups, enjoy- Memoirs of Pioneers 41
ing friendly conversation, poor, diffident individuals came and went
unnoticed, no one having a word or smile for them. My friends, I
believe most strongly that if the meek and lowly spirit of the Lord
Jesus Christ more generally pervaded our sacred assemblies, if the .
atmosphere of the church were warmer, if men in humble stations
were made to feel that in the House of God at least, the rich and
poor, the high and the low stood upon a footing of equality ; if this
were so, I believe that many of the noblest and best characters, now
outside the pale af the Church, would come in, and become loyal
adherents. It may here be said, of course, that such retiring individuals should be bold and assert themselves. Perhaps they should,
but it is certainly true that those who are strong ought to bear the
infirmities of the weak, and not to please themselves. Now, it was
contrary to the nature and principles of the late Mr. Scouler to make
much of any man because he occupied a high position, or to belittle
another merely because he was a working man; to be deferential to
a leading man in the Church, and haughty and distant towards a
student missionary. No, I believe he would have gone out of his
way to manifest a kindly interest in the humblest labourer in the
vineyard of Christ, remembering Christ's own word, "Inasmuch as
ye have done it to one of the least of my brethren, ye have done it
unto me." Again, the Rev. Mr. Scouler was most faithful in the
performance of any work assigned to him, and most conscientious
in paying every debt he owed; generous, also, according to his
means, in giving where it was not craved, where he saw it was
needed, and would do good. Here again the Church of Christ often
suffers injury at the hands of its professing friends. It is said with
truth that in these days some church people are not more to be
depended upon in paying their debts than others. They may have
to be urged again and again before they will pay, even when it may
be within their power to do so, thereby inflicting a wrong upon, and
causing inconvenience to not only their immediate creditors, but
indirectly many besides. Further, church members may live in
luxuriously furnished houses, may wear costly apparel, and yet be
most niggardly in their contributions to the Chuch of Christ.
Extravagant in their expenditures upon themselves, they seem to
think that the hard working and thrifty, whose prudence has enabled
them to lay by in store something for a day of sickness or infirmity,
should meet the payment of Church accounts, allowing them to continue in their extravagant habits! Some give a set sum to the
Church from year to year, say $10. If the merchant has had a prosperous business year, if the fields of the farmer have yielded sixty or
a hundredfold, they may add to their personal comforts in many
ways, but the amount of their subscription to the Church remains
the same—$10. It is asserted, and I believe with truth, that the
most reliable supporters, the most liberal givers, according to their
means, to the cause of Christ, are the men with small incomes and
low wages. Now, any man who is not only just but generous, who
is kind and considerate, fair and honourable at home and a' 42
Memoirs of Pioneers
the church and out of it, must ever stand high in the estimation of
right thinking people, and be a power for good in any community.
And such, I claim, was the late Rev. Mr. Scouler, a man of good
deeds as well as a man of good words.
No. XV.
Langley, 25th August, 1903.—The funeral of the late Paul
Murray, of Langley Prairie, took place yesterday. The immense
concourse of people from the surrounding country met in the Presbyterian Church and outside of it, while services appropriate to the
occasion were conducted by Rev. A. Dunn and Rev. A. Calder,
minister of Langley. Referring in his sermon to the deceased Mr.
Dunn said: "We have met to-day to consign to their last resting
place the remains of the oldest man in this Municipality, and one of
the oldest men in the Province. It is given to few to reach the great
age of 92. Mr. Murray was a remarkable man in more ways than
one—remarkable on account of his great age and singular immunity
from sickness during his long life—remarkable for his happy, thankful, uncomplaining disposition—remarkable also for the great
amount of work which he undertook in his time and carried to a
successful and praiseworthy issue. He was born in 1811 in the
north of Scotland, where he remembered to have herded cows on
his native hills. When his parents leaving the bleak and barren
part of the country in which they were born, came to Ontario and
settled in Oxford County, he accompanied them; and, being the
eldest son, he took a chief part in making a comfortable home for
his parents there. At the age of 28 he married Lucy Bruce, who
survives him, and who has the sympathy of all to-day in her bereavement. When they started out in fife together they possessed merely
the barest necessities of life. Still he bought one hundred acres of
bush land, to be paid by instalments, and by means of hard work,
plain living, and numerous profitable contracts in barn-building, he
was able to pay the last dollar of the price of his land on the
appointed day. With the view of advancing the interests of his
family he disposed of the valuable and attractive home which he
had built up in Ontario, and came with three sons and two daughters
to Langley in 1874. At the date of his arrival he was over 60 years
of age—an age at which most men desire to rest and take life easy
—an age at which most men by reason of failing strength are
obliged to rest. But his eye was not dim nor his natural force
abated. With the spirit and enthusiasm of youth he tackled the
heavy timber in his vicinity, built his log house, cleared land, planted
an orchard, and went on clearing and cultivating land with a vigor
and a skill as remarkable as they are rare. Memoirs of Pioneers
"During the 30 years of his residence here he witnessed many
changes and many gratifying improvements. In 1874 the nearest
settler to the east of him was 22 miles distant, and between his home
and New Westminster, along the Yale-Westminster road, a distance
of 16 miles, there was only one settler. Langley Prairie was lying
untilled, and unsettled. There was no church building and no school
house. During recent years Mr. Murray could see from his cottage
on the hill three church buildings, almost the whole of Langley
Prairie brought under cultivation, and on every farm a fine residence
of modern design. For many years there have been settlers to the
east of him, settlers to the west of him, settlers all around him, industrious and prosperous.
"Mr. Murray was preeminently a God-fearing, hard-working,
peace-loving man. While others might be wrangling and disputing
about this or that (often about nothing) he quietly, humbly, and
piously pursued his course, attending to his own business, and not
curiously intermeddling with the affairs of other people. Mr.
Murray is the last of the three elders ordained in the old school-
house at Innes' Corners in December, 1876,—the first elders ordained on the mainland of British Columbia. James McAdam died
in 1899, aged 76 years; Alexander McDougal died in 1900, aged 80
years; and, last of the three, Paul Murray died in 1903, aged 92
11th Sept., 1903.—On Sunday, the 6th inst., in the Haney
Church, Rev. A. Dunn in a memorial sermon referred to the late
Mrs. A. Irving in the following terms: "I am not here in this house
of God to speak the praises of the departed, but as the late Mrs.
Irving was one of the oldest members of this congregation, it is right
and becoming, and I trust it may be profitable, that reference be
made to some of the leading points in her life since she came to this
neighborhood in 1874. She was one of the congregation present
at my first meeting in the house of John Mclvor in the fall of 1875.
So gradually, one by one, have the old people dropped off that we
can hardly realize how many have gone until, nearly 30 years afterwards, we begin to count who have left and who are still with us.
Among the dead are William Edge, Alfred Freeman, Edward
Meunch, James McAdam and wife, William Jenkins and wife, R.
W. Burton, Capt. McLean and wife, John Brough, John Bell,
William Hammond, William McKinney, Mrs. Matthews, Mrs. A.
Irving, Harry Dawson and wife, William Nelson, William Howie-
son, Eustice Howieson, George Apnet, Samuel Robertson, Peter
Baker and James Thorne.   These were all settlers in this district 44
Memoirs of Pioneers
in 1875. The few still remaining are Wellington Harris and wife, .
John Mclvor, Adam Irving, and John Hammond. Thus one generation passeth away and another cometh. It is hardly to be wondered at if, on us who are left, on an occasion like the present, there
should come a strange sad feeling when we recall the old familiar
faces of the departed, and think of our diminished and ever diminishing numbers.
"For nearly 11 years I conducted Presbyterian services in the
Methodist Church, which then stood on the brow of the hill overlooking the river, and which had been built several years before my
arrival in the Province. The trustees of the Methodist Church of
that time not only readly placed their church building at our disposal, but they themselves were regular in attending our services,
the most prominent among them, William Howieson, always ringing
the bell with his own hand. The late Mrs. Irving, with her husband and children around her, was always present. Brought up to
attend public worship they would have felt that they were neglecting
a Christian duty if they had absented themselves. Whether the
preacher was eloquent or not, they were always there. And now
their children, trained up to reverence God's house, God's day, and
God's word, follow in this respect, so far as known to me, the footsteps of their parents. We have heard men boastingly say 'We are
just as good as your Church goers.' But to assert this proves
nothing. Taking the words as they stand we should certainly be
entitled to infer, that the non-church goer would be a better man if
he attended, and the church goer a worse man if he did not attend.
Most men allow that the frequenting of theatres, dancing halls and
drinking saloons has a downward, degrading tendency. But few,
even in these days, are so bold as to maintain that church going of
itself tends to lower the moral and spiritual tone of any man. At
all events this much must be admitted that the non-church going
are guilty of a manifest disregard of the Apostolic injunction 'forsaking not the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of
some is.' Coming in 1874 with a young family to Mople Ridge,
with its huge, towering forest trees growing right down to the
river's edge, with only here and there a small patch cleared, was
enough to daunt a brave mother. But looking into the faces of the
children whom God had given her, she with her husband, equally
prepared to toil and to endure, addressed themselves to the heavy
task of carving out a home in the forest, and of providing for their
family. Impelled by maternal affection, Mrs. Irving, I suspect,
undertook tasks beyond a woman's strength, tasks which probably
undermined her constitution and shortened her days. Long before
the battle had been won, her eidest son, Robert, dutiful and pious,
left home in 1880 to earn money to help his parents in their struggle.
But alas! one sad and memorable day he unexpectedly returned,
stricken with fever, and death written on his young countenance.
Coming up the hill he met his mother, who knew nothing of his Memoirs of Pioneers
condition till she saw him. The death of this son proved to be the
great affliction of her life. From that day she was never the same.
But God blessed her labours and blessed her family. On Saturday
week she died in peace, amidst comfortable surroundings, cheered
by the consolations of religion, surrounded by her faithful husband
and devoted family, who allowed her to want nothing which they
could give her.
May 9th, 1905.—The funeral of the late Mrs. Murray, wife of
Mr. Paul Murray, teacher, Maple Ridge, took place on Wednesday
last, and was very largely attended. An old settler remarked that
the funeral cortege was the largest he had ever seen approaching
the Maple Ridge cemetery, an indication of the high esteem in which
the deceased lady was held. Impressive services were conducted at
Mr. Murray's residence and also at the grave by Rev. A. Dunn
and Rev. E. Watson. On Sunday afternoon a memorial service
was held in the Hammond Hall, which was crowded in every part,
the Methodist Minister and his congregation attending in a body.
Rev. Mr. Tanner, Methodist, and Rev. Mr. Watson, Presbyterian,
led the devotional exercises. Rev. A. Dunn of Whonnock preached
an appropriate sermon from the text "To die is gain." In concluding his discourse Mr. Dunn spoke of the late Mrs. Murray as
an intelligent and enthusiastic Christian worker; as organist of the
Haney Church for several years; as president of the Ladies' Aid
for over ten years; as being faithful and exact in small as well as
in great matters; as fearless and outspoken, ever ready to stand up
for what she believed to be right even though she might stand alone;
as a devoted wife and an affectionate mother. Mr. Murray, who
for some 25 years has been the eminently successful and popular
teacher of the Maple Ridge School, has the sincere sympathy of
the people throughout the district in his irreparable loss.
21st July, 1905.
Port Hammond, 17th July.—The settlements around have been
greatly shocked by the sudden death at New Westminster on the
14th inst. of Mrs. Blaney, wife of John Blaney, Reeve of the Municipality. Mrs. Blaney had experienced several severe attacks of
sickness during the last three years—so severe, indeed, that once or
twice her life was despaired of. But, for some months past, her
former good health, judging by her improved appearance, seemed to
have returned. On Sunday, the 9th inst., she was present at the
church service at Lillooet.    Early last week she went to town to 46
Memoirs of Pioneers
consult her doctor, feeling somewhat indisposed, though nothing
serious was apprehended. On Friday, while in the hospital, after
a cheerful conversation with her attendant, death came suddenly
and unexpectedly. Her funeral, largely attended, took place yesterday when services were conducted in Hammond Hall and at the
grave by Rev. A. Dunn. Much sympathy with the afflicted family
was manifested by the large assembly. Mrs. Blaney will be much
missed not only by her own family but in the district in which she
had lived for 14 years, and in which she was esteemed and loved.
No. XIX.
Abbotsford, B.C., 18th Oct., 1905.—The funeral of Finlay
Shortreed, who was accidentally killed at Rock Bay, on the 13th
inst., took place at Aldergrove yesterday afternoon. The body was
brought by the morning train to Abbotsford, whence it was taken
to the Shortreed residence about 10 miles westward. Although
tidings of the sad event had reached Aldergrove only 20 hours prior
to the arrival of the body, and though the day was unseasonably
cold and stormy, a very large number of people of all ages had
gathered round the house of mourning by 3 o'clock. Suitable services were conducted at the house by Rev. A. Dunn of Whonnock,
and at the grave by Rev. Wm. Mackey. For the Shortreed family
in their painful bereavement, especially for the venerable parents,
who are greatly esteemed and revered, the keenest sympathy was
manifested. The late Finlay Shortreed was a young man of bright
and noble character, most agreeable and obliging, yet firm and
resolute in the performance of every duty both sacred and secular.
In the neighbourhood with old and young he was deservedly a
favourite, and his untimely death is universally regretted.
No. XX.
Fort Langley, 9th Sept., 1906.—The cause of our meeting here
to-day is a painful one. It is always painful to part with a friend—
doubly so if that friend was an old and loyal one. The deceased
Mrs. Maxwell was a singularly modest and unassuming woman;
only those who had known her long and well could tell how wise
and true and good she was. In these days the complaint is often
made that wives and mothers devote too much of their time to
duties outside their homes—to social functions, and even to works
of Christian benevolence. So much is this the case, in some instances, that children of tender age, who ought to be their first care,
are left to take care of themselves,  or given over to the care of Memoirs of Pioneers
heedless and incompetent persons. It may at once be admitted that
some neglect their homes—are busybodies, wandering around from
house to house, speaking things which they ought not to speak, even
under pretext of doing good. That could never be said of our departed sister. If one wished to find her she could be found at home
—superintending her household, directing and counselling her
children, while, at the. same time, indirectly, almost imperceptibly
wielding a powerful influence for good throughout the Municipality. She had a tender and true heart, a wise and prudent mind,
and a well-controlled disposition. As yet her husband and children
cannot realize the greatness of the loss they have sustained. But as
days and weeks pass, as mornings and evenings come and go, as
they behold the vacant chair, and hear no more the well remembered,
happy voice, their bereavement will come home to them with sad
and painful vividness. My dear afflicted friends, you this day have
our heartfelt sympathy and fervent prayers. May God give you
grace to say from the heart "It is the Lord, let Him do what seemeth
good in His sight." As is your case so will ours be soon. Soon we
must all part, husband from wife, wife from husband, parent from
child, friend from friend. If there were no hereafter, no heaven,
no hope of a blessed re-union after death, how could we bear the
parting? But hear this day the words of the biassed Saviour (from
His lips we can believe anything), "Let not your hearts be troubled;
ye believe in God, believe also in Me," etc., "I go to prepare a place
for you," etc.
An Appreciation of the Late Mr. Jolly, J. P.—Was One of Langley's
Early Settlers.
In the death of John Jolly, at the age of 73, one of the earliest
of Langley's pioneers and an ex-reeve of the municipality, has
passed away. Until a few weeks ago, Mr. Jolly had enjoyed uninterrupted good health. Indeed so vigorous and active was he, both
physically and mentally, that one could hardly think of him as an
old man, so that his death, except to his immediate relatives, same
as a painful surprise.
At the funeral services held on the 6th March, 1912, at his
former residence, 10th Avenue, Vancouver, Rev. Alex. Dunn referred to the life and work of the late pioneer and at the request of
certain friends of the deceased, Mr. Dunn has handed in his address
on this occasion to the British Columbian for publication. Mr. Dunn
spoke as follows:
"Mr. and Mrs. Jolly, with Mrs. Jolly's parents, came   from 48 Memoirs of Pioneers
Australia to Langley in 1869, Mrs. Jolly being the first white
woman in that municipality. Mr. Jolly and Mr. James took up land
on the south side of the Salmon River, some two or three miles
from the Fraser. At first they resided in the old parsonage at
Derby. By the date of my arrival in 1875 they had by persistent
industry, succeeded in erecting comfortable frame dwellings, suitable barns, and cleared and fenced some ten acres, had orchards
planted, beginning to bear fruit, and were thus in the enjoyment of
modest comfort. In point of fact, few, if any, at that date were so
well off as they were. In 1883 Mr. Jolly sold his farm to Chip-
man Carter, and in the same year bought a section of the estate of
the Hudson's Bay Company at Langley, which he farmed successfully and profitably until two years ago, when he disposed of it and
removed to Vancouver where, after a brief illness, he died on the
6th inst.
By the year 1875 considerable additions had been made to the
Langley population. The additions were of different nationalities
and of widely different principles and experiences. They did not
by any means readily unite. So far from it they were divided in at
least two hostile parties. One party appeared to be more concerned
about advancing their own personal interests than about laying deep
and broad and enduring the foundations of the newly created municipality. Well, it was during the formative period of Langley's
history that I became well acquainted with the late Mr. Jolly and
those associated with him in municipal affairs. No doubt flaws and
imperfections adhere to the most disinterested citizens, but I feel
safe to say that I never knew a band of men labor more zealously
and unselfishly than they did for the best interests of the district to
which they had come to reside. And in pondering over the past
and present, the early days and the present times, I feel persuaded
that the strenuous labors and self-denial of these worthy public-
spirited men, are, if not over-looked, certainly not appreciated as
they ought to be. But for them, their opposition to and their detestation of the misapplication of public money, the municipality of
Langley might well have been in a much less satisfactory condition
than it is to-day. With respect to our departed friend, I can say in
strictest truth that I never knew him, during those early years of
strife and contest, to do a dishonourable deed, or to give expression
to sentiments unbecoming a gentleman. He remembered the Sabbath
Day and kept it. He countenanced and encouraged the services of
religion, and presented a steady uncompromising front to immorality in every shape and form. His home was the abode of peace.
There husband and wife lived together as husband and wife should.
They were careful to entertain strangers. Many lonely ones in the
new land met with a hearty welcome and a generous hospitality at
the hand of Mr. and Mrs. Jolly. All this is at an end now. And
while it is a source of comfort to the widow to remember these
things, it makes, in one respect, the parting all the more trying. Memoirs of Pioneers
An Appreciation of a Sapperton Resident Who Stood High in the
Esteem of All.
The funeral of the late Quinton McGill, sr., took place on the
25th of March, 1912, from his residence, 471 Columbia Street,
Sapperton, to the Oddfellows Cemetery. Both at the McGill residence and at the grave, appropriate religious services were
The late Mr. McGill was a native of the town of Ayr, Scotland,
and at his death had reached the advanced age of 90 years. He left
Scotland in early manhood and spent the active period of his life
in the Province of Quebec. In 1904 he, with his family, came westward to New Westminster, and purchased the valuable property
known as the McGill property at the terminus of the Sapperton
car line. His age, together with a rheumatic affection, which interfered with his power of walking, prevented him from appearing in
public, or indeed from going much beyond the limits of the McGill
premises. Consequently he was all but unknown in the life of the
city and but little known beyond the circle of the friends and
acquaintances of the family. How high he stood, however, in the
affectionate regard of those who were privileged with his acquaintance it were hard to express. In point of fact, wherever he was
known, he was revered and beloved beyond most men. And the
secret of the high respect in which he was held was his simple goodness—habitual, unaffected goodness. He was a beautiful type of the
best and noblest features of Scottish character, and, though a resident of the Dominion for over 60 years, and meeting in business and
social life, people, good and bad, of many nationalities, he retained
in wonderful perfection those characteristics to the end of his life.
He was a man of keen intellect and of much general information,
yet withal modest and unassuming to a degree, one of the last men
to lay claim to greatness or excellence or superior intelligence. His
mind remained clear and vigorous till within a few hours of the
end, when he lapsed into unconsciousness and passed without a
groan or sigh into the Presence of Him whom he had long loved and
He had no sympathy with those modern unscriptural theories
which favor laxity or remissness in the performance of daily duty—
theories which make excuses for the neglect of what is called worldly
duties in order to attend to philanthropic and so-called religious
duties. He knew well that religion, when genuine, dominated the
whole life, and that every common duty faithfully performed as
unto God, was as much a part of true religion as attending a religious meeting or singing a psalm. 50 Memoirs of Pioneers
In early manhood he had been brought under the power of true
religion, but, at the same time, during his long life, he had been an
industrious, laborious and careful man. Whether on the farm, or in
the home, in the market or in the meeting, he was pre-eminently a
man of God, and a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. His
kind heart led him to befriend and assist many poor persons whose
condition might escape the notice of others, but of which he was
aware. His attachment to his own, specially to those of his own
house, was very real and very touching, though few words were
spoken. And, as might be expected in such a home, everything that
willing hands and kind hearts could do for a beloved parent was
done for him. That he saw, and fully appreciated. To minister to
one so good, so loving and so grateful was a great privilege.
The Life and Work of the Late David W. Brown, Resident of
Hall's Prairie.
Hall's Prairie, B. G, March 26th, 1912.—This was a day of
mourning in Hall's Prairie, being the funeral day of the late David
W. Brown, J. P., one of the earliest and one of the most valued and
esteemed of its residents. The attendance at the funeral was very
large—men and women, young and old.
Mr. Brown, who was in his eightieth year, had begun to fail
some two months ago, but a fatal termination was not looked for till
last Sunday, when his illness assumed a decidely serious aspect,
resulting in death that same afternoon. The married daughters:
Mrs. Shields, Washington; Mrs. Hyde, wife of Rev. Hyde, Kam-
loops; Mrs. Steward of Central Park, with their husbands, as well
as all the other members of the family, were present at the funeral.
Impressive services were conducted at the residence of the late Mr.
Brown, by Rev. A. Dunn, assisted by Rev. Mr. McRae, Cloverdale,
and Rev. Mr. Carpenter, Methodist, Langley Prairie, all or whom
paid eloquent and touching testimony to the noble life of the
The address of Mr. Dunn, who held the first religious service
in Hall's Prairie, in the year 1879, and was intimately acquainted
with the deceased, is in part as follows:
"The numerous calls which I have lately been receiving to
conduct services on the occasion of the funerals of old friends are,
I must confess, very trying, especially to one of my temperament.
This is the third time in less than three weeks, on which I have been
called upon to conduct such services.    Looking up and down the Memoirs of Pioneers 51
Fraser Valley, as friend after friend departs, I am feeling more and
more like one who has been left alone. In some settlements only one
or two are left of those who were heads of families between 1875
and 1885. Very many new settlers have come in; the sons in many
instances have taken the places of their fathers; great stretches of
land here and there have been cleared and settlements planted where
the forest once stood. So that in these days, when I return to what
was once familiar ground, I not only miss the well-remembered
faces of the pioneers, but also old land-marks; and the very physical
features of some districts have been so changed and improved that
I am in a manner bewildered and brought to a standstill where at
one time I could have threaded my way in the dark. These changes
and improvements are very gratifying. It is pleasing to see the
country progressing and prospering, but the absence of loved faces
is not joyous, but grievous, though we all know well that these losses
must come, and that we ourselves, having served our day and generation according to the will of God, must also pass off the stage of
time and make room for others.
"My first visit to Hall's Prairie was made in the summer of
1879. The Prairie was then very much in the condition in which
nature had left it There were few indications of settlement. It was
too much to one side of my extensive field to receive regular Sunday
services, though I visited now and again on week-days the Presbyterian settlers. In the end of the summer of 1882, I remember to
have experienced no little difficulty in making my way to the settlement, through numerous bush fires, which raged on either side of
the road, sometimes crossing it. On coming up to the house (log
house) of Mr. Brown, situated in a small field, I felt safer and free
to breathe. Mr. Brown himself was not at home, but was hourly
expected from Blaine, whither he had gone with his ox-team to procure provisions for his family. On his arrival, he, his family and I
were excited spectators of an immense forest fire, fanned by a
strong southerly wind, and coming at a terriffic speed nearer and
nearer to us, standing a short distance from the house. I do not
know that we were in actual danger, even if the fire had continued
in its course, till it had reached the outside timber, but suddenly, as
1 we stood gazing, the wind veered round, and blew strongly from
£/L£ the south, turning the wind in a different direction, when, of course,
all danger to us was past
"A subsequent visit, on a Sunday, to the Prairie, I also remember well. I remember the text from which I preached that day,
namely: 'Whom having not seen we love,' etc. The number of
Presbyterian families on Hall's Prairie in those days was small, only
two or three, and the attendance on that occasion was small, but
singularly attentive and sympathetic. In addressing them, I felt
that good impressions were being made; that the impressions were
enduring, the result proved. 52 Memoirs of Pioneers
"The nearest place of meeting to the Browns was the school
house at Innis' Corners, Langley Prairie. Incredible as it may seem,
in these days when many decline to walk two miles to a service, or
even to attend one at their own door, Mr. and Mrs. Brown, when
the weather and state of the roads were favorable, walked all the
way to service to Langley Prairie (taking their lunch with them),
a distance, going and coming, of 20 miles. So high an opinion had
I formed of Mr. Brown's moral character and Christian principles,
that I urged him to become, along with Thomas Black, of Fort
Langley, an elder of the Church. Both were ordained accordingly.
Both these men were regarded as men of outstanding excellence of
character. Whether their Christian character has always been
acknowledged and appreciated as it should, I am not sure. That
they have been eminent examples of upright, straightforward,
Christian men, I am certain.
"The home life of the Browns was exceptionally attractive and
beautiful. No jarring notes were heard there. No disputes or
bitter arguments took place. Peace, forbearance, and Christian
kindness bore sway, not only between father and mother, but also
between parents and children.
"The late Mr. Brown was a native of Kilmarnock, Ayrshire,
Scotland, and came to British Columbia in 1878. He is survived by
Mrs. Brown and eight sons and daughters, also his brother Archie,
who came to British Columbia at the same time. They have the
good will and sympathy of the whole municipality in their bereavement."
An Appreciation of Late Robert Robertson, Former Hudson's Bay
Company's Employee.
The funeral of the late Robert Robertson, a well known and
trusted boatman of the Fraser River took place at Whonnock on
Friday, the 3rd of May, 1912. There was a large attendance both
of old-timers and new-comers, from sogj^of whom he received,
during his prolonged illness, many kindnesses.
The following appreciation of the late Mr. Robertson has, on
the request of the "British Columbian," been contributed by Rev.
Alexander Dunn, the pioneer Presbyterian minister of the Fraser
"The late Mr. Robertson, a native of the North of Scotland,
came to British Columbia in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1860 he took up land at Whonnock, and from the date of Memoirs of Pioneers 53
his arrival to the day of his death Whonnock has been his only
home. It is 87 years since I became acquainted with him, that is,
since he began to take me, in the discharge of ministerial duty, up
and down the river in his row-boat, down in the early days as far
as North Arm (Eburne) and later up as far as Matsqui and
Nicomen Island. For at least 25 years I depended upon him to
do work of that kind. I did not then know of, nor do I now believe
that I could have found another who would have been able to do the
work, the hard, heavy work of pulling a boat (as he sometimes did)
for as many as 33 miles in one day, often against the tide, and, at
times, against both wind and tide. I never knew one who could pull
a boat so long as he without apparent fatigue. I always carried
some food, but he could never be persuaded to rest a while or eat
till our objective point was reached. And when our destination was
reached he was just as bright and jocular as at the commencement.
"He not only had great powers of endurance—strength to pull
a long distance without being exhausted—but also self-control to
wait a long time without becoming impatient. When out with a
school inspector, for example, or with myself, he sometimes had to
wait on the banks of the river for hours while we made excursions
inland. Once, I remember, he waited for me at the river while I
crossed to the inlet, by what is now known as the Cemetery Road,
baptised a child there, and returned, having meantime covered a distance of some 10 or 12 miles.
In making an appointment with Robbie one could depend upon
him absolutely. He was never sick. On the first appearance of la
grippe in the country in the winter of 1890, when almost every one
suffered from it more or less, Robbie told me one day, with much
merriment, that he had a headache and wondered whether that was
the grippe. Towards the end of my residence at Whonnock he
began to show signs of failing strength, and though he never refused
to accompany me I could see that the long trips were too much for
him and ceased to ask him. So that at the time of my life when I
most needed him with his boat, Robbie, by reason of advancing
years, was not in a fit condition physically, to help me. Hence, in
late years, came my long Sunday walks of 12 or 15 or 20 miles, as
the case might be, when neither steamboat nor train could be found
to suit.
"In appearance and manner Robbie was rather rough, awkward,
and brusque, but appearances notwithstanding, he was kindness
personified. There were few that he disliked, and one or two of these
I knew he disliked without a cause. But once an idea got possession
of him it were next to impossible to dislodge it. On a journey he
was always in the mood to talk. He loved to talk upon religious
subjects, in a reverent, manly way, upon early-day persons and
events, and also of the scenes of his youth in the North of Scotland.
He had his own ideas of respectability to which he firmly clung. 54
Memoirs of Pioneers
Whiskey was no treat to him and he almost invariably refused it. If
at any time he did consent to take a mouthful it was at the hand of
some one of known respectability. Well, everything comes to an
end. The longest life ends at last. Robbie has passed from the
Fraser River forever, and landed, we trust, on a happier shore."
Rev. A. Dunn Speaks of the Life and Work of Some of the First
Settlers of Fraser Valley.
On the occasion of the funeral of the late Henry Frederick
Harris, of East Langley, which was held at Sperling Methodist
Church on Saturday, October 12th, 1912, Rev. A. Dunn, who had
been acquainted with the deceased for thirty years, in referring to
Mr. Harris, gave a brief account of the early pioneering conditions
in the valley, which, by request, he has handed to the "British
Columbian" for publication, and which reads as follows:
"My acquaintance with the deceased, Henry Frederick Harris,
is of about 30 years' standing. I had been in Langley some seven
or eight years previous to his arrival. On the 29th day of last month
I met him for the last time in New Westminster, but only for a short
time. He then looked as bright and well as ever. During the last
twenty-six years our paths have led in different directions, crossing
each other at long distances apart. But when we met, the same
friendly feeling which had originated thirty years ago was found to
be still in existence.
It could hardly be expected that I could perform the journey in
an electric car from New Westminster to this part of Langley
Municipality with the greatest ease, comfort and dispatch, without
contrasting it with the drawn-out, laborious journeys of the early
days, through mud and water, around stumps and fallen timber.
"Of course parts of the roads are still bad enough, owing
chiefly, however, to heavy traffic; but then during seven or eight
months in the year the whole way was bad, seldom relieved by a
few yards of good road. Then the solitude of the situation, compared with the increased and ever increasing population, the multitudinous and varying sounds which now fall upon our ears from all
sides—even in places most remote—the contrast, I say, between then
and now is very striking. The late Mr. Titmouse, living a short
distance from here, was wont to tell that he looked forward with
pleasure to the steamboat days—Wednesdays and Saturdays—when
he could hear, right at his own door, in the heart of the forest, the
tooting of the Irving steamers on the river all the way from Ketsy Memoirs of Pioneers
to St. Mary's Mission.   On those days at least, he felt he was within
sound, if not within sight, of civilization of some kind.
Then, singularly enough, it was a rare thing to meet a person,
though living in the bush, and out of sight of any neighbor's house,
who complained of homesickness. (There were complaints enough
about the rain and the roads, etc.) And if anyone, who had the
means, went back to the home he had left, the result was that he
soon returned a wiser, if poorer, man, and contentedly settled down
on the spot which he had formerly spoken disparagingly of. So that
there must have been, even then, when nature appeared in its roughest and most primitive state, a certain charm or fascination which
few, having once felt, could resist.
"For eight or ten years the state of the country remained, in
certain respects, almost at a standstill. Few new settlers came in,
and the stay of others who had come in to view the land, expecting
to find it a veritable paradise, was so fleeting that their very names
and complaints, at this distant date, are all but forgotten. Old-
timers, of whom, alas, few remain, may be heard saying that the
new-comers of the present day can never know the meaning of
"roughing it" in all its depth and comprehensiveness. Just think,
for example, of this Harris family, building their log house, slowly,
laboriously, clearing a small patch in which to grow potatoes, the
absence of a reliable market, the state of the road to Fort Langley,
Langley Prairie and New Westminster; the lack of many conveniences and small luxuries to which they had been accustomed in their
former home; and the experience of this family was that of other
families. Of course, the earliest years were the most disheartening.
And no brighter or more cheering day in the history of the Province
ever dawned than the day on which it became known that the
C. P. R. had actually commenced railway construction at Emory's
Bar near Yale. When the people of Langley could see the right-of-
way being cleared on the north side of the Fraser River, the last
vestige of doubt in the minds of reasoning men as to the future greatness and prosperity of the country utterly vanished.
Our departed friend patiently pursued his calling in the place
where God in His providence had planted him. He was ever cheerful and hoped to see better days, and he lived to see them and enjoy
them with a thankful heart. He was a true and faithful husband,
an affectionate parent, a diligent provider, while at the same time
he was a public spirited man, always ready to take his share of
public duty, and was for several years councillor of the ward in
which he lived. He was President of the Farmers' Institute for
many years. By his cheerful, hopeful manner, by his industry and
unblemished moral character he contributed his share to the orderliness and prosperity of the municipality in which for almost 30 years
he had been a respected and useful citizen. Memoirs of Pioneers
Rev. Alex. Dunn Delivered Eloquent Sermon at Funeral of
Thursday, February 27th, 1913.—The old-timers who were at
the funeral of Mr. Ferguson on Wednesday, in St. Stephen's
Church, requested the pastor, Rev. Mr. Gordon Melvin, to have the
address of Rev. Alex. Dunn on this occasion published in the
"British Columbian," and Mr. Dunn kindly consented to furnish a
copy of his remarks, as follows:
The death of our dear friend, John Ferguson, a native of
Kircudbrightshire, Scotland, and formerly a farmer on Sea Island,
Richmond, suggests to some here to-day old and happy memories.
These memories date from 1875 and even earlier, when the Richmond and Delta of to-day had not received their new names, given
upon their formation into municipalities, but were known and
spoken of as the North Arm and South Arm respectively.
It was in the year 1878 that I first met the late Mr. Ferguson.
At that date I began to give services, every third Sunday, in the
North Arm settlement. For three years the minister stationed at
Langley journeyed in a rowboat, occasionally in a canoe, a distance
of thirty-three miles, more or less, preaching in the Methodist
Church there. It stood on the mainland bank of the Fraser River,
a short distance (about a hundred yards) to the east of the bridge
which now connects the mainland with the island. There were no
roads leading to the church. The whole congregation, between
fifty and sixty persons, came in rowboats and canoes.
Many of the North Arm settlers of that time were located in
pairs, as Miller and Ferguson, Mole and Betts, the McCleary
brothers (Fitzgerald and Samuel), Boyd and Kilgour, Smith and
Robson. There were other prominent settlers, as Errington, Ferris
and Cochrane, but these first named I remember better, they being
the ones with whom my boatman and I stayed over night and to
whom we went, as a rule, in rotation.
It must be admitted, I suppose, that we are all more or less
inclined to speak of people as we favor (not as we find or know
them), but after making allowance for that tendency in our weak
human nature, I think it can be most truthfully affirmed regarding
the individuals whom I have mentioned that they were, without
exception, a body of superior men, sober, honest, industrious and
God-fearing—men of sterling worth and of nobility of character.
Twenty-seven years ago, at a public entertainment at Surrey
Centre, I remember having heard Rev. Ebeneser Robson speak of Memoirs of Pioneers 57
the North Arm settlement as a model one—a settlement which other
settlements might look to as a pattern of diligence, enterprise,
sobriety and respectability.
After the long journeys from Langley to North Arm we sometimes arrived at the homes of these men wet and cold and tired. The
genuine kindness and consideration displayed by them, their cheerful readiness to minister to our needs, must ever remain indelibly
imprinted upon the tablets of my memory, and will flash up and burn
with an intense glow whenever an occasion arises to call it forth.
When all of these men possessed so many noble characteristics
and so few defects, it were as invidious as unnecessary to make com-
parisons. Suffice it to say that he whose remains we are about to
consign to their last resting place, was a fit specimen of the whole.
Free from any semblance of arrogance or ostentation, shy and
retiring, a man of clean and honorable life rather than a man of
words and professions, he had to be known to be appreciated.
During the last two years I have had more frequent opportunities of
meeting him than I had during the whole preceding period of our
acquaintance. And sometimes I have wondered whether I had
forgot, or whether indeed I had ever known, until recently, how
good and lovable and Christianlike John Ferguson was. To his
sister and kindred generally he was devotedly attached, and they
specially will miss his wise counsels and his calm, kindly face. We
all wished we could have retained him longer, for few in this cold
and self-seeking world are so true, so reliable, so steadfast as he.
But it could not be; we must go to him but he can no more return
to us. His race was run. His warfare was accomplished at the end
of the allotted span, three score years and ten. Patiently he endured
his dying sufferings. Calmly, bravely yet humbly by God's grace
he met and overcame the last enemy. "He rests from his labors and
his works do follow him."
Pioneer Pastor Spoke Feelingly of the Late Mr. John Mclvor, of
Port Hammond.
May, 1913.—A memorial service was conducted in the Port
Hammond Presbyterian Church by Rev. A. Dunn on Sunday last,
who referred to the late John Mclvor in the following terms:
Tidings of the death of my old friend, John Mclvor, came upon
me in New Westminster, with startling suddenness. I was not even
aware that he had been sick. A few months ago I met him at the
funeral of his sister, Mrs. Gilbert McKay, of Glen Valley, and at
that time, while there were the usual indications of advancing years, 58 Memoirs of Pioneers
there was nothing else, mental or physical, to indicate the near
approach of death. How true it is that while we may feel well and
to others look well, death, quite unperceived by us, may be near at
hand, even at the door.
The circumstances under which we have met here to-day very
naturally recall the past, my first meeting with the late Mr. Mclvor,
as also a long series of events connected with his history and that
of his family from 1875 until the present time. My first service in
this municipality was conducted in his house, near the spot where we
are now assembled. And now, with Mr. Mclvor's death, only one
couple (Mr. and Mrs. Wellington Harris) of those who were heads
of families, are living now who were living then in this municipality.
At that date Mr. Mclvor was unmarried and appeared to be a very
powerful, vigorous man with heavy dark hair. In the end of the
year 1875 he went back to Lewis, Scotland, the place of his nativity,
and married Catherine Morrison, who survives him, together with
four daughters and four sons, the youngest of whom is eighteen
years of age. And thus the worn and wasted body of the strong
man of 1875, the man of unremitting labors, the man of untiring
industry and perseverance, was consigned to its kindred dust in the
Fort Langley Cemetery on Monday last.
"Thou prevailest for ever against man and he passeth. Thou
changejh his countenance and sendest him away. His sons came
to honor him and he knoweth it not. They are brought low but he
perceiveth it not of them."
The late John Mclvor was a man of strong and striking
individuality. He made no attempt to imitate or conform to the
fashions and frivolities of the age, either in his apparel or in his
manners and modes of thought. He had ways of his own which
he resolutely followed, opinions of his own to which he tenaciously
adhered. In conversation with him, and apart from moral and
religious subjects, one could hardly foretell what opinion he might
entertain upon any subject of public interest. He thought for himself and drew his own conclusions. But while firmly standing his
own ground, and maintaining his own views, he was pre-eminently
a man of peace, a man of tender and gentle heart. In his youth he
had not enjoyed the advantages of a liberal education, a loss he
often deplored. He was nevertheless possessed of considerable
intellectual power and of many natural gifts. Of the sacrifices he
made, the self denial he exercised, that his sons and daughters might
obtain a better education than he had, and lead a less hard and
laborious life than he had led; of this, I say, you are all aware. And
their good conduct and success were a source of comfort and legitimate pleasure to him in his declining years.
In 1875 there was only a small clearing or opening in the forest
around his dwelling, but he kept at it, calmly, continuously, year in Memoirs of Pioneers 59
and year out, until now there are some seventy acres of land cleared,
fenced and under cultivation. And the greater part of this work
he accomplished single-handed. In his work there was no feverish
haste or rush, and no Sunday labor. His moderation and temperance were known to you all.
In 1875 Rev. Mr. Jamieson advised me to take an early opportunity of meeting Mr. Mclvor of Maple Ridge. He had found him,
he said, to be a true Presbyterian, and what was better, a man who
read his Bible and reduced its teachings to practice.
Young men and young women, I do not speak of your honored
father as a perfect man or a sinless being. He was not; there are
none such. They are lifeless that are faultless. This I say, however, that no one can ever cast up to you a blot or blemish in his
character calculated to bring a blush to your face. Be ye therefore
followers of him, in so far as he was a follower of Christ. Stand
together as one, kindly affectioned one toward another, bearing one
another's burdens, and so fulfilling the law of Christ. Endeavor to
make the path of your aged mother smooth and pleasant. Make
allowance for the infirmities of age. The things which are trifles
to the young are burdens to the old. May the peace of God which
passeth all understanding keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
Whonnock, May 28th.—The burial of the late James Rolley, of
Whonnock, took place at the Maple Ridge Cemetery at noon,
Tuesday, May 27th, 1913. The morning was showery and threatening, but as the day advanced it cleared and became pleasant. In
and around the Rolley residence there was a large attendance, almost
every family in the community being represented. The great
majority—some in boats and some in wagons—accompanied the
remains to the cemetery, eleven miles distant. Appropriate services
were held at the home and also at the grave by Rev. A. Dunn.
The late Mr. Rolley was born in Manchester, England, sixty-
five years ago. By trade he was a machinist, and for a number of
years was in the employ of the G P. R. on the Pacific Coast division.
With advancing years he gave up his trade, and lived on his property near Whonnock Station.
When Mr. Rolley first came to the district, twenty-three years
ago, he took up land away back in the forest, beside a beautiful lake
(now known as Rolley's lake), eight miles north of the Fraser
River; and while living there he experienced the trials and hardships
common to early settlers.   He had to pack provisions, etc., over a 60 Memoirs of Pioneers
trail merely blazed, to his home, which was out of sight and out of
sound of any neighbor. When, however, he left the employment of
the C. P. R., he lived on a property which he had previously purchased near Whonnock Station. The late Mr. Rolley was a genial,
friendly, obliging man, took an active interest in all matters which
had for their object the advancement of the settlement. He was for
several years councillor of his ward in the Maple Ridge Municipality. Mrs. Rolley, her daughter Mrs. H. Ferguson, and her son
Fred, have the sympathy of all in their bereavement.
Old Time Missionary Refers to Its Advance and Some of Those
Back of It.
August 20th, 1913.—An appreciation of the progress of Langley
Prairie during recent years and of the work of the pioneers of the
district in laying the foundations for that advancement, and especially of a resident, whose death and funeral recently took place
there, is presented to the readers of the "British Columbian" in a
report of the address of Rev. Alexander Dunn, the pioneer missionary of the Fraser Valley, at the funeral services of the late Mrs.
Murcheson, of Langley Prairie, on August 20th. Mr. Dunn prefaces his remarks with this letter to the editor which speaks for
To the Editor:—I am always willing, when desired to do so on
appropriate occasions, to give some account of prominent pioneers
of the Fraser Valley. It affords me an opportunity of bringing into
prominence sterling qualities which, while the pioneers lived, were
apt to be overlooked or misunderstood by partial observers. Moreover, I am thus able to briefly describe existing conditions in their
respective localities, the trials settlers endured and the difficulties
they encountered in making homes for themselves and families in
the primeval forest.
Mr. Dunn's words at the funeral read as follows:
"The changes which the construction of new roads, tram lines
and railroads makes upon the face of a country are really wonderful.
I refer, of course, not merely to the change which the actual construction makes, but also to the alterations, improvements, and additions which come in its wake. In a special manner has this been the
case with reference to the Langley Prairie district.
"When I first knew Langley the traveller going eastward from
Fort Langley towards Sumas and Matsqui, must of necessity go by Memoirs of Pioneers 61
Innis' Corner, at the junction of the Langley and the Yale-New
Westminster roads. The townline road had not then been opened.
Anyone going westwards toward Mud Bay and South Arm must
go by New Westminster, the Mud Bay or McLellan road, though
begun, had not been completed. During the first few months of
my residence in the place, that part of the Langley road between
Mr. S. Towle's house to a point opposite Mr. Wark's house, had not
then been made. Two gentlemen, also strangers in the place,
accompanied me on my first journey to the Prairie. We had received
lengthy directions from Mr. H. Wark before leaving Fort Langley,
bnt notwithstanding these, amidst hardback, tall ferns and numerous
cattle trails, we got quite bewildered; and after wandering back and
forth for an hour or more, we found ourselves in the neighborhood
of the dairy barn of the Hudson's Bay Company, instead of at the
Innis farm house, the point for which we were making.
"Now-a-days when I pass through Langley Prairie, and see the
fine, modern residences, in the place of the old log houses, standing
in the midst of healthy-looking orchards, large barns filled, or about
to be filled, with hundreds of tons of hay and grain gathered from
extensive fields, fenced, not with the old fashioned snake fence of
the early days, but in modern, up-to-date style, I am filled with
"A few weeks ago on coming down Pickard's hill, on my way
to Aldergrove, riding in an automobile, and viewing Langley Prairie
from that vantage point, I felt like one in a dream. 'Can the Prairie
which I now behold be the Prairie of long ago?' In '75 I could not
have believed that I should live to see such a marvellous transformation of the familiar scene of that time.
"From ancient times, it has been said with truth, that old
people, of which number I must now confess to be one, are prone
in their conversation, to dwell at undue length upon the past, the
things which they have seen and done in their day generally con-
cluding by disparaging the present times, even with all their conveniences and advantages, affirming that people were better, happier,
and more contented long ago that they are now. Granting that old
men and old women have this weakness, incident in great measure
to age, it is nevertheless true that there are times and occasions
when the past will force itself upon our consideration, and demand
to be heard. The present occasion is one of these. There has passed
from amongst us at a good old age (76) one of the earliest settlers
erf this municipality, less known, perhaps, to those who have more
recently come in, but well known and much loved by the early
"When Mr. and Mrs. Murcheson came here (in 1873) with
their family, there were no roads in Langley Prairie, and only one
or two settlers.   In '75 only one settler possessed a wagon and a 62 Memoirs of Pioneers
team; others had to fall back upon sleighs drawn by oxen, as their
means of transportation, certainly superior in a roadless district to
horses and wagons.
My first meeting with the late Mrs. Murcheson took place in the
school house at Innis' Corner, on a Sunday afternoon, in the early
part of September, 1875. I had reached the school house ahead of
time, and so also had she. We at once entered into conversation.
Her open countenance, her affable, friendly manner, favorably impressed me and begot in me confidence and good-will towards her.
That first impression has been strengthened, not weakened, by the
lapse of years. During long rides on horseback, over heavy roads
in winter, from South Arm to Fort Langley by New Westminster,
I sometimes felt quite fatigued by the time I reached the Murcheson
home. There I always felt welcome. After some light
refreshment, and a short conversation into which gossip or slander
never entered, I resumed my journey to Fort Langley, brightened
and cheered. My friends, those who have injured me I forgive, and
the injuries I try to forget, but the kindness shown to me and mine,
the sympathy and encouragement extended to me in my labors by
many, I have laid up in my heart, and there they will remain till
that heart ceases to beat.
When in Langley attending the funeral of Mrs. Paul Murray,
over a year ago, I spent an hour with Mr. and Mrs. Murcheson. In
the course of our conversation, that afternoon, the deceased expressed
the hope that I might be able to attend her funeral. It gives me a
melancholy satisfaction to be here to-day, to fulfil that hope, and to
speak a word or two to the few remaining friends of early days.
Much longer we cannot expect to meet. To us it ought to be a
ground of deep thankfulness that we have been spared to do some
good here and there so long. Unprofitable servants we must
acknowledge ourselves to have been, and to be, yet united to the
Lord Jesus Christ by a living faith, upheld by His gracious arm,
and cheered by His Presence, we will continue our march onward
until He comes to call us hence.
"The wise words, the warm sympathy and the tender offices of
our departed sister were a benediction to many in this district who
have passed on before her. Her reward will not be withheld.
'Inasmuch as she did it to one of the least of His disciples she did
unto Him.' To her faithful, devoted husband of sixty years, to her
beloved sons and daughters, her death brings a painful pang. Parting with loved ones, even for a short season, is always painful.
Seek, I beseeach you, comfort and consolation where true comfort
can alone be found. None can enter into your sorrow as Christ can.
None can help and soothe as He can. PRESBYTERIANISM
For a number of years I had intended to write some account of
the work of laying the foundations of Presbyterianism in British
Columbia, and had been collecting and preserving material for that
purpose. Before I could carry my purpose into effect, however,
circumstances occurred which somewhat disarranged my plan, and
altered the form, and to some extent the substance, of the account
which I had intended to write.
The first of the three following articles was prepared for the
jubilee of Rev. J. M. McLeod, 9th November, 1903, I having been
asked to speak on that occasion upon the work of the Church of
Scotland previous to the formation of the Presbytery of Columbia
in August, 1886. It appeared, somewhat enlarged, in the Presbyterian Record of March, 1904.
The second article was written soon afterwards, at the suggestion of a friend, who advised that, in consideration of the loss
of the records of the Presbytery of British Columbia, I should give
a fuller account of the different fields and congregations than that
given in my first article, and also a few salient characteristics of the
early Missionaries.
The third article was written at the instigation of Rev. Dr.
Herdman, Superintendent of Missions for the Synod of British
Whether well written or not, from a literary point of view, I
believe I am the only person living -»i^-^in a position to give all
the different items of information herein related, having been a
considerable actor in many and a deeply interested spectator of most
of the scenes described.
Dr. Procter, Kamloops, and Mr. John G Mollet, Salt Spring
Island, who were residents of Alberni while I was there, attest the
accuracy of my account of the Alberni Mission field, so far as facts
and dates are concerned.
Messrs. Alexander Munro, Victoria, and John G Brown, New
Westminster, both living, were well acquainted with the early missionaries and their respective spheres of labour. The former commends the first article as being clear and correct, brief yet complete
so far as it goes. The latter speaks approvingly of the second
article, which had been submitted to him for revision and correction.
Mr. Brown inserted one word which had been omitted but made no
corrections. To Mr. John Maxwell, for many years a councillor,
and for several years Reeve, of the municipality of Langley, I am indebted for confirmation of certain particulars connected \
I am not so vain as to suppose that these sketches will possess
much interest for those of the present day and generation, but I am
certainly of the opinion that they will be of some value and interest
to those living thirty years hence, when the changes of that distant
shall have obliterated many of the old landmarks, rendering an
account of the early order of things difficult of belief or realization.
ALEX. DUNN. Presbyterianism in British
The Rev. Simon McGregor, St. Andrew's Church, Victoria,
was mainly instrumental in bringing into existence the Presbytery
of British Columbia in connection with the Church of Scotland.
To his suggestion to visit Scotland for the purpose of inducing
other ministers to come to British Columbia the office-bearers and
members of St. Andrew's Church generously responded. And, upon
his able presentation of the case at Edinburgh, in the Spring of
1875, the Old Kirk, with extraordinary liberality, agreed to send
four additional laborers into the field. By the 31st day of August
all the ministers from Scotland had reached Victoria.
On the following day, 1st September, 1875, and within St.
Andrew's Church, Victoria, B. G, the Presbytery of British
Columbia in connection with the Church of Scotland, was formed,
consisting of Rev. Simon McGregor (Moderator) ; William Clyde
(Clerk); George Murray, Alexander Dunn and Alexander B.
Nicholson, the last two being ordained at said meeting and their
names added to the roll.
Mr. McGregor was minister of St. Andrew's Chuch, Victoria;.
Mr. Nicholson had charge of the rural districts in the vicinity of
Victoria; Mr. Clyde ministered in St. Andrew's Church, Nanaimo,
to the coal-mining population there, where a manse was soon added
to the church property; Mr. Murray, locating in Nicola Valley in
which a church was built in 1875, had the spiritual oversight of the
whole country east of the Cascades; and to me was assigned the
district along the Fraser River now covered by the Presbytery of
A short time after his ordination Mr. Nicholson was offered
and accepted a teaching situation in Victoria, thus leaving his field
vacant. But Mr. McGregor, until he left Victoria in 1881, gave
afternoon service to at least two of the principal points in the field,
and also, assisted by the members of his own congregation, built a
neat church at Craigflower.
Early in the history of the new Presbytery: (1) Rev. B. K.
McElmon, encouraged by a number of families in Comox who had
been acquainted with him in Nova Scotia, came to the province, was
ordained by our Presbytery and settled in Comox, where, for several
years, he did much self-denying work, and was the chief instrument Presbyterianism in
in the erection of a substantial church and manse. Also (2) Rev.
Robert Jamieson, and his congregation of St. Andrew's, New Westminster, in connection with the Presbyterian Church in Canada,
applied for admission and were cordially received, the H. M. Committee, Toronto, however, continuing the pay the necessary supplement to Mr. Jamieson's salary.
Mr. Jamieson came from Ontario to New Westminster in the
Spring of 1862, and there and then proceeded to organize a congregation and built a church. In 1884 he resigned, handing over
a full church to his successor, the Rev. John Sutherland MacKay.
While Mr. Jamieson was in Nanaimo, Rev. D. Duff had charge
of St. Andrew's, New Westminster. Mr. Jamieson returned to
New Westminster in 1869, and was succeeded at Nanaimo by the
Rev. W. Aitken, who labored there and at other points with much
ability for a short period and then returned to Scotland. Mr. Duff
went back to Ontario.
In addition to the duties of his charge at New Westminster,
Mr. Jamieson did a good deal of pioneer work along the Fraser
River, travelling by canoe, and enduring much hardship and
exposure in the discharge of his duties.
As years passed on and as changes in the personnel of the
Presbytery of British Columbia took place, Mr. Jamieson did not
find his connection with it congenial, and at length both he and his
congregation dissolved their relation with the Presbytery, and
were received into the Presbyterian Church in Canada in 1884.
Until his death in 1893, at the age of sixty-four, Mr. Jamieson
continued to hold the position of Chaplain in the Penitentiary near
New Westminster.
Within six years of its formation all the first members of the
Presbytery of British Columbia had left the province except myself.
For nearly eleven years I remained at Langley. During those years
three church buildings were erected, one at Fort Langley, another
at Mud Bay and a third at South Arm or Delta by the contributions of the Presbyterian population in the respective districts, liberally assisted by Presbyterians in Victoria and New Westminster.
The late John McKee was the moving spirit in the erection of
the South Arrn or Delta Church. The people to whom I ministered
at Langley and adjoining districts, almost to a man, treated me
from first to last with much kindness and consideration, and, at our
departure in 1886, they presented us with handsome gifts, together
with a purse containing $104.
I hope I may now be excused when in all humility I try to
rescue from oblivion and to give prominence to a few facts, which,
in justice to the Church of Scotland and its early representatives
in the ministery in British Columbia, ought to be known and
For nine years previous to 1875 the Church of Scotland had a
minister stationed at Victoria; first, Rev. T. Somerville, M. A., now
of Blackfriars Church, Glasgow; second, Rev. Simon McGregor, British Columbia 69
M. A., lately of Appin, Scotland. For ten years subsequent to 1875
the Presbytery of British Columbia, in connection with the Church
of Scotland, occupied almost all the chief centres of population
throughout the province.
During these years seven church edifices and two manses were
erected, all free of debt except one. These main positions were
held, and these churches and manses were built during the darkest
and most depressing period known in the history of the country.
Speaking for myself I can testify that during these years the
people generally were greatly discouraged, many doubting whether
the country would ever come to anything and whether it were
possible to build a railway across the Rocky Mountains. Many
were ready to leave if only they could sell out for as much as would
take them back to the homes which they had left. But buyers did
not appear, and thus many against their will were from necessity
obliged to remain. When better times arrived, of course, they did
not wish to leave.
The transition from Scotland to British Columbia in 1875 was
very great, much greater than from Ontario or Nova Scotia at the
same time. Granted, therefore, that the ministers of the Church
of Scotland did not adapt themselves so readily and so easily to new
country life as colonial men would have done, granted that they
learned some things slowly and painfully, still they did as well, to
say the least, as could have been expected under conditions so discouraging. And every one of them, on leaving, left with the esteem
of all fair-minded, right-thinking people.
I have been led into this line of remark from the knowledge that
in some quarters there exists an opinion that the Church of Scotland
was in a manner a failure in British Columbia, that Presbyterian
Church work was at a standstill for a whole decade, and that not
till the Canadian Church assumed the reins was any real progress
effected. So dissimilar, however, were the conditions before and
after the advent of the Canadian Pacific Railroad that, apart from
explanations, no fair or reasonable comparison can be made.
From 1875 to 1885 the population of the province remained
all but stationary. The Cariboo gold-fever had almost spent itself.
Money was so scarce in some quarters that difficulty was experienced in obtaining the necessaries of life.
But the building of the Canadian Pacific Railroad revolutionized matters generally. Men then could readily find remunerative
employment. Money began to circulate more freely. Farmers
could dispose of their produce at fair prices. From 1885 the tide
of immigration began to rise, and it continued to increase in volume,
until in 1891 the population was double, and treble in some districts,
what it was five years before. The Canadian Church came in with
the tide, and reaped the many advantages accruing from that favoring circumstance.
But, if ministers and congregations under the regime of the
Church of Scotland did as well as could have been expected under 70
Presbyterianism in
conditions so depressing as those narrated above, why, it may be
asked, did it come to pass that, within a few years, the Church of
Scotland was superseded in British Columbia and its various congregations absorbed by the Presbyterian Church in Canada?
In this way: Soon after the stream of immigration began to
flow toward the Pacific Coast, it was seen that the majority of
new-comers were from the different provinces of the Dominion and
not from the old country. The presumption, therefore, was that,
in the event of a vote being taken in any congregation with reference to Church connection, a majority of votes would be cast in
favor of connection with the Presbyterian Church in Canada. And,
in any case in which a vote was taken, the result was just what
might have been anticipated.
Again, while here and there, at first, a murmur might be heard
at the manner in which certain advances with a view to union were
made by indiscreet supporters of the Canadian Church, old-timers,
most of whom came direct from the old country, were not averse
to union in itself. They were unwilling even to appear ungrateful
to the Church of Scotland for generous aid in the day of sore need.
They remained unchanged in their attachment to the Church of
their fathers with all its tender and sacred associations. At the
same time they realized that, so far as mere Presbyterianism was
concerned, and apart from feeling and sentiment, it was quite immaterial, there being no State Church in British Columbia, to which
connection they belonged. Moreover, it was considered that, as
Edinburgh, the seat of Government of the Old Kirk, was far away,
in the event of a resignation by a minister of his charge, the result
might be in the future, as it had been sometimes in the past, a long
vacancy and perhaps an unhappy settlement. Toronto, on the other,
hand, was near by, relatively speaking. The Home Mission Committee were naturally more in touch with the sister province, and,
from their position, they were better acquainted with its special
needs than the Colonial Committee.
Again, the Church of Scotland, while it did nothing to induce
union did nothing to discourage it. It left the matter of union
entirely in the hands of the congregations and ministers concerned.
They were on the ground, and supposedly were better qualified to
decide what was right and expedient in the circumstances.
The Canadian Church, on its part, was ready to welcome, and,
when necessary, to help any congregation or mission field seeking
Taking then a conjunct view of these facts and considerations,
it ought not to be matter of surprise that one congregation after
another noiselessly dropped into the Canadian Church until all had
come in, beginning with Langley in 1886 and ending with Wellington in 1889.
The Presbytery of British Columbia met once a year, generally
in St. Andrew's Church, Victoria, on the first Wednesday in May.
When the brethren met in May, 1876, after nine months' labor in British Columbia
their respective localities, t
hey had n
auch to tell regarding theii
experiences, the strange j
ights whi
ch they had witnessed an
rl the
strange characters they h
id met.
Each one had a somewha
t dif-
ferent tale to give, but ea
:h in his
awn way told of the low
and spiritual tone which
re prevailed as compared
Scotland, and the great ne
ed of "th
: preaching of the Cross,
is the power of God."
On looking back to these early years of ministerial life in
British Columbia, while I remember some things fraught with pain,
I also recall many times and occasions of happiness of the purest
kind. The preaching of the Gospel at the places of meeting, and
from house to house was one of these pleasures. I was always glad
when the Sabbath came, was always able to keep appointments, and
rain or shine, good road or bad, I always found the people waiting.
Almost all attended. Many felt lonesome. Some felt homesick,
especially when Sunday came. Most appeared eager to hear the
Gospel preached, to gain something to cheer and strengthen them
in their struggles. To preach to people in such frames of mind was
a great pleasure, involving at the same time deep responsibilities.
Previous to the union of the congregations with the Presbyterian Church in Canada the ministers of the Church of Scotland in
British Columbia were as follows:
On Vancouver Island—
St. Andrew's Church,  Victoria—
Rev. T. Somerville, Rev. S. McGregor, Rev. R. Stephen.
St. Andrew's, Nanaimo—
Rev. Wm. Clyde, Rev. A. H. Anderson, Rev. J. Miller.
Rev. B. K. McElmon.
Rev. James Christie.
On the Mainland, Langley, Maple Ridge, etc.—
Rev. Alex. Dunn.
Nicola Valley, Cache Creek, Clinton, etc.—
Rev. George Murray.
Neither Mr. Somerville nor Mr. M
to the Presbytery of British Columbia.
Province several years before the Presbytery
i at any tune
had left the
istituted, and
the latter came to it after the Presbytery had become defunct.
I.—Nicola Valley Mission Field.
le different charges or Mission fields differed greatly in size,
ical features, as well as in the general character of the popu-
The Mission field east of the Cascades, where Rev. George 72
Presbyterianism in
Murray labored for five years, was an immense bunch-grass district.
The Missionary travelled on horseback hundreds of miles in order
to overtake the visitation of the widely scattered stock of ranchers
and to give occasional Sunday services at all the chief points between
Clinton and Nicola Valley. These ranchers had long been accustomed to live without services. Some of them had lapsed into a
state of indifference, and cared little whether services were supplied
or not. It could hardly be expected, then, that these men would
attend public worship unless they were regularly visited. To do
this, the Missionary was obliged to be in the saddle almost every
day; and as the dwellings of the ranchers, in those non-railroad
times (when rough lumber cost $22 per thousand and dressed
lumber $40 per thousand) were limited to the bare necessities of
the family, there was neither time nor space for anything like sustained, systematic study. To a young man who had just left the
Divinity Hall, the lack of opportunities for continuing his studies,
and for making satisfactory preparation for the pulpit, was a great
loss and misfortune. Still, notwithstanding these disadvantages
and hardships, Mr. Murray, on his part, prosecuted the work
assigned to him by the Church with the utmost energy, and, on the
part of the people, with much appreciation. The influence he
exerted throughout the Interior was very beneficial.
In the summer of 1877 Mr. Murray changed pastoral duties
with the Rev. R. Jamieson, New Westminster, for six weeks. Mr.
Jamieson afterwards, in giving some account to Presbytery of his
trip to the Interior, said that people, when speaking of their minister, were wont to say, "he is a very good man," or, "he is a very
good preacher, if," but that amongst Mr. Murray's parishioners
there were no "ifs" and no "buts." An old timer, in Nicola Valley,
writing to Presbytery, commending Mr. Murray and his work, said:
"We had almost forgotten what Christianity was or what a true
Christian was like till Mr. Murray came and dwelt among us." Mr.
Murray's laborious, unselfish life and his high Christian character
won the respect of old and young, good and bad, and most truly
paved the way for those who succeeded him. But so unremitting
and exhausting was the physical labor entailed by the extent of the
field, that Mr. Murray at the end of five years accepted a call from
a congregation in New Glasgow.
II.—The Langley Mis
The Langley Mission field, or New Westminster district, whose
boundaries are co-extensive with the bounds of Westminster Presbytery, except the Yukon Territory, which was added subsequently,
some 100 miles long and from 10 to 30 miles wide, was heavily
timbered almost throughout its entire extent. The settlers fought
for every inch of their ground as they hewed out homes for themselves in the primeval forest. The prairie lands along the banks of
the Fraser, being subject to overflow in summer, when the snows
on the Cascade and Rocky Mountains melted, were not at first, nor British Columbia 73
for many years afterwards, when dykes began to be built, settled
upon and cultivated. What the roads in the Langley Mission field
lacked in length (as compared with Nicola Valley, etc.), though
they also were long enough, they made up in depth—depth of mud,
floating corduroy, fallen trees, and, in summer, bush fires, occasionally of alarming proportions. It were difficult—if not impossible—
to give in words an adequate idea to the inexperienced of the drawback and even hardship to the Missionary, arising from the condition of the roads alone; and this inconvenience lasted, not for a
month or two, but for seven or eight months every year, and not
for a year or two, but for a whole decade. The country actually
stood still for ten or twelve years. Few or none came in, and none
seemed to have the means to go out. The first gravel put on the
Langley road by the limes brothers was in the winter of 1884-85,
when the raised-up portion across St. Andrew's flats, about half a
mile, was gravelled. Years elapsed before the Municipality was in
a position, financially, to complete the work which the Provincial
Government began in the years above named. The Westminster-
Yale road was not gravelled and put into good passable condition
until 1897-98. No one travelled these roads unless urgent business
or duty called him. Few and far between were the occasions on
which any one, during winter, accompanied the Missionary on his
Once, about Christmas, a young man of exceedingly polite
manners, went with him from Langley to Upper Sumas, a distance
of upwards of 30 miles, where he intended to spend a few days in
duck-shooting. At the outset he talked incessantly, and was greatly
amused at the splashing and plunging of the horses as they crossed
fords or struggled through specially bad portions of the road, and
was most profuse in his thanks for any suggestions given in regard
to the management of his horse. As they proceeded on the journey
he talked less, became sober-looking, and merely muttered thanks
for any hints. During the last stages of the journey he followed in
gloomy silence. On their arrival at their destination he went sup-
perless to bed. When at other times he had seen the Missionary
starting out from Fort Langley, all brushed and bright and clean,
he had thought and had said that the life of the Missionary in
British Columbia was the easy life of a gentleman. But after his
one experience on the road from Fort Langley to Sumas, he
changed his opinion, and expressed it, too, in language which will
not bear repetition here.
In each of the settlements visited by the Missionary there was
a nucleus of Presbyterians, and a few of the best and noblest characters. So genuinely kind and hospitable were they, so gratifying
was the attendance at the different preaching stations, that even
after the hardest and most trying journey, he does not remember a
day on which he was unwilling to renew it. Work among such
people in their isolated homes, even with its many drawbacks, had
a fascination peculiarly its own. 74
The reference made above to the small dwellings of the Interior
applies with equal cogency to the dwellings of the settlers throughout the Langley Mission field. The material for building, it is
true, was there in abundance on all sides, but the labor in getting it
made ready was so great, and the time generally so limited, that
houses of very modest dimensions, and furnished in the plainest,
rudest style, had to serve the purpose at the outset. Outside of New
Westminster (1875), there was only one house within 20 miles of
Fort Langley, where an unfurnished room could be rented by the
Missionary. In that house, which belonged to James Mackie, J. P.,
he secured two rooms, which he himself was glad to supply with
the necessary furniture.
Revs. A. Dunn and George Murray were the only Ministers of
"the Church of Scotland, who labored at Langley and Nicola Valley
Compared with Nicola and Langley, the Comox Mission field,
some 140 miles north of Victoria, and on the east coast of Vancouver Island, was an ideal one. It was campact and of manageable
dimensions. In one large block there were many hundred acres of
land almost free from heavy timber; and, on the outskirts of that
stretch of land, there was a considerable amount of alder bottom.
The Church and Manse, about five miles from public landing at Mr.
Robb's, were beautifully and centrally situated on an eminence on
the north side, commanding a good view of the wide fertile plain
lying to the south. The main roads were surprisingly good, so good
in 1880 that most of the people could with comfort ride to church in
buggies, both winter and summer. The farmers, for the most
part, had come direct to Comox from Christian surroundings, and
had been either members or strong adherents of the Church in
Scotland, Ireland, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. To them and
to their families the stated services of the sanctuary were a necessity; and for the support of ordinances they were ready to contribute, as they had been accustomed to do elsewhere.
In the young community there were few, if any, of the low
disreputable class. If any such there were they were overborne
and silenced by the great majority, and were made to realize that,
having come to live among decent folk, they must behave themselves.
Between Comox and the coal mining town of Nanaimo, which
is some 70 miles southwards, there was no road or trail fit for travel,
the old one being blocked by fallen timber, and therefore impassable. But a steamer came in with mail and supplies from Victoria
and Nanaimo every alternate Wednesday, and returning the following day took away the surplus produce of the- settlement. Around
Nanaimo there was no farming carried on.    Indeed the land was British Columbia 75
not considered suitable for agriculture. Hence the large non-producing population of Nanaimo was indebted mainly to Comox for
hay, fruits and vegetables, butter and eggs. Both at Nanaimo and
Victoria, cash, when desired, was paid for every article the farmer
offered for sale. In that respect they held a great advantage over
the Fraser Valley settlers, who, as a rule, were obliged to barter
the products of the farm and dairy for staple commodities in New
Westminster, and not infrequently were they compelled to accept
whatever prices the storekeepers there were disposed to give. Such
being the case, the Comox people had advanced a considerable distance on the road to prosperity and independence 25 years ago.
To-day the more energetic and prudent are in easy affluent circumstances.
The Comox field, however, had one outstanding disagreeable
feature. Once a month the Missionary journeyed in a canoe with
an Indian from Comox to Denman Island, a distance of 12 miles,
to conduct service in the school-house there. On the island were
13 families, some of them related to families in Comox by marriage.
The Denman Island preaching day came only once in four or five
weeks (always the last Sunday in the month) and was eagerly
looked forward to by the people. To ensure attendance on the
appointed day, the Missionary thought it prudent, during winter,
to leave Comox on Friday morning, and even then he could not be
sure of being at the appointed place at the appointed hour. Violent
windstorms (south-easters), lasting for two or three days sometimes
occurred. Even during a profound calm a fierce squall might
suddenly arise, endangering a small craft with its occupants. One
Friday morning, in November, 1880, the writer, who had exchanged
work with Rev. Mr. McElmon for three months, set out from
Comox in a canoe with an Indian while a stiff breeze prevailed.
The wind did not abate but increased in force as we proceeded
southwards. Hugging the mainland shore, we moved along cautiously from one sheltered bay to another till we reached a point
nearly opposite to Denman Island landing. There we remained,
prepared to cross the moment a lull came. Leaving myself in the
hands of the Indian, I told him I was ready to cross whenever he
thought it safe. But the storm raged with unabated fury till it was
too late, and thus the service, on that occasion, had to be given up.
While waiting there we found a deserted building, without door or
window, where we passed the two days and two nights in considerable discomfort. In retracing our course we appeared to be in
danger twice or thrice; and when, at last, we arrived at a point
opposite to the Comox rancherie, another disappointment awaited
me. The tide was out, so that the Indian was obliged, against his
will, to pack me for a considerable distance over the slimy, muddy
beach to dry land. He did it successfully, but not good-humoredly.
On another occasion I had an exciting experience in the same quarter. On a Sunday afternoon, after service in the Denman Island
school-house, three men of the congregation accompanied me to the 76
Presbyterianism in
landing, near Mr. Swan's, and saw me off in the canoe with the
Indian, with sail spread and a favoring breeze. The wind in our
sail we made good speed, and had got along about half-way to
Comox, and were about equi-distant from Mainland and Island,
when the Indian, staring at me, said, "Hyu wind chako." In a very
brief space of time the wind changed and blew furiously from the
opposite quarter. Before I could quite take in the situation, the
canoe had veered round, and was scudding before the gale, over the
rolling, hissing waves, back in the direction whence we had come.
Our situation was observed by the three men whom we had lately
parted with at the landing. They thought we were in danger, and
feared we might not reach the Mainland shore for which the Indian
was steering. But the Indian, with characteristic skill and self-
possession, guided his canoe into a sheltering creek, avoiding, as he
approached the shore, large boulders over which the waves were
breaking. In a few minutes the storm was over and we reached
Comox without further adventure. In the meantime, however, we
had gone back more than six miles from the point where the
squall first struck us.
If the Comox Mission field was an ideal one, the Rev. B. K.
McElmon, in certain respects, was an ideal pioneer missionary. He
came to Comox from Nova Scotia prepared to "rough it." He
accepted the situation as he found it, and addressed himself with
zeal and determination to the discharge of duty. On his arrival
the leading Presbyterians of the district rallied round him. A site
was secured and a commodious church building was at once erected
free of debt. Mr. McElmon with his own hands did no inconsiderable portion of the work of building. His life was pure and his
preaching Evangelical. Not always considerate or discreet (who
is?), he sometimes gave offence to his people when, in all probability, no offence was intended. In 1882 Mr. McElmon left C
for Washington Territory.
The Nanaimo and Victoria Ministers, whose spheres of labor
lacked perhaps something of the romance of the rural Mission
fields, nevertheless occupied positions more or less advantageous in
certain respects than their fellow-Presbyters. They were the ministers of city congregations. The adherents of their churches were
within easy reach of Church and Manse. Of them no more physical
labor was required than was conducive to health. From the beginning they lived in comfortable, well-furnished houses, and enjoyed
leisure and convenience for the pursuit of congenial studies. The
roads which they travelled, when they went beyond the city limits,
were comparatively short, and good as they were short. Indeed,
everywhere on Vancouver Island, where there was settlement, and British Columbia 77
even, it was alleged by Mainland opponents of the Government,
where there was no settlement, roads were found in good repair.
The nearer Victoria the better the road, and vice versa, the further
from Victoria the worse the road. The explanation was obvious, if
not creditable to those who were responsible for the condition of
things referred to, namely, on the Island were the capital of the
Province and the seat of Government; and for many a long year
the Island held the balance of political power. The Island members
of Parliament could foresee that the balance of power could not be
retained by them indefinitely, and, as was natural, therefore, if not
commendable, they made the best use of their opportunities while
they lasted.
The congregation of St. Andrew's, Nanaimo, was composed
of families either directly or indirectly connected with the coal mines
located in the immediate neighborhood. Of the Presbyterian
families, ten or twelve were solid and reliable, disposed by early
training and by the Spirit of God to embrace every opportunity
presented to them of attending public worship. Moreover, these
families could be depended on to take the right and honorable course
and to stand up for the right in any movement or agitation going
on in the place. They were a leavening power in the community,
a source of strength and encouragement to the Minister. By their
example and influence they did much to confirm the wavering, and
to draw the wanderer in the right direction.
The mining industry of Nanaimo, as might have been expected,
was subject to fluctuations, in obedience to the well known law of
supply and demand, with recurring good times and hard times,
affecting by their reflex action the general trade, the general tone
and temper of the community. In Nanaimo, as in other mining
towns, there was a considerable migratory population; here to-day
in receipt of good wages, hard-working and cheerful, and off tomorrow in a body to some other mining centre, upon some apparently frivolous pretext, or upon receiving some provocation, real
or imaginary, from an overseer or inspector. For a Minister to influence for good men whose stay in the place was very brief, or even
to get well acquainted with them, was difficult. Many of these
miners, though born and bred in Scotland, had resided for longer or
shorter periods, following their occupation, in different parts of the
United States. From the States they brought with them certain
advanced impractical theories, as also some of the undesirable traits
of American character.
Men were often met with who were indisposed to consider the
claims of Christianity or to treat with respect and civility the Ministers of religion. But the pure, simple life, and godly conversation
of the Rev. Mr. Clyde did much to disarm opposition and to commend the Gospel. By patient continuance in welldoing, by visiting
the miners in their homes, by reasoning with them and advising
them, Mr. Clyde no doubt accomplished an amount of good amongst
the miners generally which only the great day will declare.   At all Presbyterianism in
events through his earnest and eloquent preaching on Sundays, and
by means of the assiduous labors of himself and wife throughout
the week, the Church, which in 1875 contained merely a handful,
was in the course of eighteen months full to overflowing. Sad to
say, however, as time passed an element of weakness was introduced into the church by the injudicious election of men to offices
for which, as it turned out, they were not qualified either by
religious principle or by a knowledge of the rules and usages of the
Presbyterian Church. Into their hands, to a dangerous extent, the
reins of church management were committed. The best supporters
of the church—those who had its best and highest interests at heart
—were sometimes found in a minority, when a vote was taken,
and were quite powerless to prevent irregularities which sought an
entrance. To some things a prominence was given out of all proportion to their importance, while the weightier matters of Law
and Gospel were driven into the background. The action of the
Minister was hampered; his good work hindered, or even
opposed, and his life rendered uncomfortable by the unreasoning
tactics of misguided men.
Such was pioneer work at Nanaimo—the discouraging foundation work begun at Nanaimo by Rev. R. Jamieson, and continued
for about six years by Rev. Mr. Clyde. They often sowed in tears,
while to those who followed the honor and privilege were given of
bringing in the sheaves rejoicing. Happy thought! The day is at
hand when sower and reaper shall rejoice together. Mr. Clyde was
succeeded by the Rev. A. Anderson, a talented and popular minister,
who in turn was succeeded by the Rev. James Millar, who for the
space of two years threw himself into the work with intense earnestness and zeal, and did much to revive the spiritual life and
promote the welfare of the congregation in every way. Mr. Millar
was the last minister of the Church of Scotland stationed at
At Comox Mr. McElmon was succeeded by the Rev. James
Christie, a scholarly man and an able preacher, but a man who, on
account of age and habit of body, was unfitted for the active life
demanded of the Missionary of Comox and Denman Island. When,
at Comox, Mr. Christie gave place to a missionary of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, he found a field suited to his age and
strength at Wellington, near Nanaimo, where for a number of years
he ministered to the miners. There he met with much encouragement at the hands of Robert Dunsmuir and John Bryden, who, in
addition to generous subscriptions, placed a free house and coal at
together with other favors. When Wellington cast in
its lot with the Canadian Church in 1889, Mr. Christie retained his
connection with the Church of Scotland. From 1889 till his death
in Victoria in 1902 he was the sole representative of the Ministry
of the Church of Scotland in the Province. British Columbia
At first sight, at least, Victoria appeared to be an ideal spot in
which to live and labor. It clearly possessed many advantages and
many attractions. Its striking beauty and situation appealed to us
very strongly as we entered the harbor on board the City of Panama
on the 31st day of August, 1875. It had, we considered, a British,
home-like appearance, comparing favorably, in our judgment, with
American towns and cities which we had seen on our way across
the Continent from New York to San Francisco. To us Victoria
had peculiar attractions. The charm grew upon us when we came
into closer quarters with it, when we walked its main streets, or
made short excursions to its suburbs. Its residences were not showy
or flimsy, such as we had often seen since we landed at New York,
but graceful, substantial structures, with an unmistakable air of
solid comfort and genuine refinement. The beautiful gardens, and
grounds surrounding the villas, studded with shrubbery and ornamental trees, partook of the same characteristics, were, indeed,
models of good taste and good sense. On different days, and in
different directions, we were conducted to many enchanting,
romantic suburban scenes, two of which, at the distance of thirty
years, still remain vividly imprinted upon the tablet of memory, the
one along Victoria Arm and the Gorge, and the other Beacon Hill,
from which we gazed with delight upon the Olympian snow-clad
mountains, with the Straits of Juan de Fuca in the foreground.
Victoria, at first a trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company,
and known by a different name, came prominently into notice upon
the discovery of gold at Cariboo in 1858 and 1859 on the Fraser
River, and large wholesale houses were established. From that time
Victoria became the centre of commerce on the British Pacific
coast, and also the headquarters of supply for the whole country.
Its merchants became rapidly wealthy, and spent a considerable portion of their wealth in erecting comfortable dwellings, and in embellishing and beautifying their environments.
Some might have said that it would have been better for us
Missionaries who had just arrived, if we had seen Victoria later on,
for having seen it, had we not seen the gem of the Province and
were we not likely to be dissatisfied and discontented, as we proceeded inland, northwards to Nanaimo and Comox and eastwards
to New Westminster, Langley and Nicola Valley ? Nanaimo, though
enjoying a high, healthy situation on the seabord, looked bleak and
barren, possessed few attractive residences or interesting sights. It
had the appearance of being what it really was, a coal mining town,
the home nevertheless, of many true, kind-hearted Christian people.
The situation of New Westminster, also, was exceedingly good,
on the declivity of a hill, overlooking the Fraser River. It enjoyed
a purer, clearer atmosphere than its coal mining sister, Nanaimo.
Still in 1875, and for years afterwards, it was called, with manifest Presbyterianism in
appropriateness, the Stump City, black, ungainly stumps of trees
being conspicuous objects all over the townsite to those approaching
the city from the south by the road, or from the east or west by
the river. Outside the city, moreover, the forest held possession in
all directions. As for the journey along the Fraser River towards
Langley, it was enough to take one's breath away, so wild, so forbidding, and so forsaken-looking was the scene. Twice or thrice
on the voyage the steamer landed, and a settler (to a stranger) of
rather unprepossessing appearance, and singularly clad, emerged
from the bush, and carried away a parcel or sack of flour which the
steamer left for him. With this exception there was no sign of
settlement anywhere, but trees innumerable of gigantic size and
height. Where are we? To what have we come? kere questions
which rose unbidden to our lips. Even when Langley was reached
the scene was only slightly varied. At Langley there was rather
more open space than anywhere else along the river. Two or three
buildings were in sight and some six or eight men awaiting the
arrival of the steamer. But there was no one to receive us or bid us
welcome. The day of Church receptions, and the presentation of
addresses of welcome had not yet come.
Here I must digress a little and interpose an explanatory paragraph. We, in common with old country people in 1875, possessed
but a hazy, indistinct knowledge of the character and resources of
the country to which we were going to labor. The only item of
definite information which we had was that the country enjoyed a
mild and equable climate. In fact, full accurate accounts did not
and could not then exist. But out of the meagre amount of information obtainable we very naturally, on our way thither, spun
theories, drew pictures, and dreamed dreams of the appearance
which Nanaimo, New Westminster, Langley and Nicola Valley"
would present when we, in propria persona, came to look upon them.
It is unnecessary to state that the pictures which we drew bore only
a faint resemblance to the reality and the dreams to the facts and
conditions of the country. In other words, and in plain terms, our
first actual views of the places named were disappointing. But we
had not set out to discover a pleasant land in which to reside, nor
a rich, fertile land in which to build up a fortune. We had come in
quest neither of ease nor enjoyment. We had come in the Providence of God to do the Lord's work in the places assigned to us.
And, perhaps, when the first rude awakening from our dreams was
past, the new country life, with its new experiences and discomforts
rather attracted than repelled us. Believing that we had been led
by a Divine Hand we neither regretted that we had come, nor
desired for a moment to return, until we had "accomplished, as a
hireling, our day." In the discharge of our duties we came upon
unexpected pleasures which far more than compensated for any
small losses or sacrifices we had made.
But to return.    When the first ride was taken, on the back of a
gray, nimble cayuse, from Fort Langley to A, Murcheson's farm, British Columbia 81
about seven miles to the south-west, a very different impression was
produced. On either side of the road the scene was most interesting—though the road itself, in September, gave no warning or indication of the terrible condition in which it would be when the rainy
season came. For four miles of its distance it passed through a
magnificent prairie, one thousand or more acres of which had been
cultivated by the Hudson's Bay Company. The scenery was
grand. Than at different points on Langley Prairie, nowhere can
the contour of Mount Baker and the the Golden Ears be seen to
greater advantage. To me at least whose destination was Langley,
comparisons were in order. That Victoria and vicinity were fair
and lovely, and that its air, if somewhat chilly, was pure and bracing,
could not be denied. But that its soil was light and stony, with
immense ledges of rock protruding here and there, marring the
beauty of the landscape, and diminishing the value of the land itself,
could not be gainsaid; whereas along the Langley road not a stone
could anywhere be seen, much less a ledge of solid rock. The soilr
there was obviously of the richest quality—deep and black—and the
vegetation luxuriant to a degree. When time was given to inspect
the district fully, and to form an intelligent comprehensive opinion
of its soil, its mild climate, its splendid timber and its scenic grandeur
the judgment of the impartial observer, comparing Victoria and
vicinity with Langley district, could only be that while Victoria and
vicinity were beautiful and attractive, Langley Municipality was
rich, rich by nature, and beautiful and grand as well. In short,
comparing the Island as a whole with the Lower Mainland as a
whole, it might truly be said that a mile of the Lower Mainland was
worth ten of the Island, so far as quality and productiveness of soil
was concerned.
The congregation of St. Andrew's, Victoria, was a truly
Scotch one. It might have been transported, Minister and all, from
a city in Scotland, were such a thing possible. Moreover, any
Minister, facing the congregation, could see at once the unmistakable indications of persons of high respectability. In appearance, in
manners, in general intelligence and true piety they constituted a
body of superior men and women. Not demonstrative or talkative,
they were loyal and patriotic, courteous and kind. They were
"doers of the Word and not hearers only." By different avenues,
and in the pursuit of different avocations, at earlier and later dates,
they had found their way to the Pacific Coast. They appeared, as
one got acquainted with them, to have come pure and uncontami-
nated to their destination. Or, perhaps, it would be more correct
to say that they remained pure and uncontaminated, amidst the
temptations and dissipations of Victoria during the prevalence of
the gold fever, when fortunes were made at Cariboo in a day, and
squandered in Victoria in a winter.
The congregation of St. Andrew's, established in 1866 under
the ministry of the Rev. T. Somerville, was found fully equipped
in 1875 under the ministry of the Rev. S. McGregor.     The elders Presbyterianism in
then were Alexander Munro, John Robson, R. Wallace, John
Finlayson and J. Sinclair. Among these people originated the
desire to see other ministers stationed in the chief centres of population in the country. Themselves in the enjoyment of the means
of grace, they desired to see their fellow-countrymen in possession
of the same privileges. Their Christian efforts in that direction
resulted in the arrival of four additional laborers in the field, and
in the formation of the Presbytery of British Columbia.
Here, then, the fire of Christian Endeavor was kindled,
which, though at times checked, and even to the eye of flesh,
threatened once or twice with extinction, gathering strength slowly
as it advanced, and uniting with other fires originating in the same
vicinity, has practically over-spread the country, bringing warmth
to many cold, lonely hearts, and cleansing, sanctifying influences
to thousands of struggling lives. Oh! may that fire burn evermore
brightly, evermore vehemently, giving light and good cheer and
blessing to those who shall come after us. The Minister of St.
Andrew's adorned in every way the position which he occupied.
He was a man of uncommon gifts and attainments, of friendly disposition, genial spirit, gentlemanly bearing, and of considerate,
unselfish nature. He took a kindly interest in the welfare and success of all with whom he was acquainted, and could adapt himself
with rare ease and versatility to all sorts and conditions of men.
Throughout the Province, during his eleven years' residence, he was
known, esteemed and trusted, as few men are, and consulted upon
matters of widely different character, both sacred and secular.
When in 1881 he tendered his resignation to Presbytery, on the
score of health, it was accepted with deep regret by Presbytery and
congregation alike. His departure appeared to be an irreparable
loss. We all wondered how we could get along without him. His
successor, the Rev. Robert Stephen, received a very cordial welcome
on his arrival in the summer of 1881. Mr. Stephen was staunch
and loyal to his principles and to his church, most faithful and
painstaking in the discharge of duty, and beneath a somewhat cold
exterior there beat a kindly and sympathetic heart. His ability was
recognized, his faithfulness appreciated, but towards the end of his
five years' ministry the Canadian element was becoming stronger,
more aggressive and self-assertive. Rather than divide the congregation Mr. Stephen resigned, and returned to Scotland in the fall
of 1886.
First Elders at Comox—Matthew Piercy and F. S. Crawford.
First Elders at Nanaimo—Robert Dunsmuir, John Bryden,
Richard Gibson, William Gibson, William Earl and John Christie,
Departure Bay.
First Elders at Langley—Alexander McDougall (Mud Bay),
Paul Murray (Langley Prairie), and James McAdam (Lower
Through courtesy of the Rev. Dr. Campbell, Victoria, the   following particulars are supplied in reference to First Presbyterian British Columbia 83
Church there: Rev. John Reid came to Victoria in March, 1876.
The object of a congregational meeting, held 13th March, 1876,
was to fix some night to meet Rev. John Reid, who was hourly
expected. There is spread on the minutes of a meeting held 15th
March, 1876, an address of welcome to Rev. John Reid and also
his reply. Thus under the ministry of Rev. Mr. Reid, First Presbyterian Church was re-opened in March, 1876, the year after the
formation of Presbytery of British Columbia in connection with
the Church of Scotland.
Passing from the Mainland to the Island, from the Church of
Scotland to the Presbyterian Church in Canada, it will be necessary
to describe in detail certain connecting links.
When Rev. Dr. Cochrane in 1882 and the Rev. D. M. Gordon
in 1886 visited the Province in the interests of their Church, they at
the same time interviewed ministers and, to some extent, congregations, connected with the Church of Scotland, with reference to the
subject of union. In various Scotch congregations there were those
who favored union, and those also who preferred that things should
remain as they were. Myself excepted, the ministers were opposed
to union upon any terms. To none did I yield in attachment to the
Church of Scotland. In her service I would gladly have continued.
Under her shadow I would gladly have preferred to die. But, as it
appeared to me, it was not a matter of feeling. Principle
and consideration for the best interests of Presbyterianism
and religion, were involved. Much penetration was not required to foresee that union was inevitable at no distant date. And
if union must come and come soon, it were better in every way to
enter the Canadian Church at a time when no pressure was being
brought to bear from any quarter, and when the step could be taken
with honor and dignity. My counsel was that ministers and congregations, as a body, should enter the Canadian Church voluntarily
—ministers leading the way—instead of being drawn into it, one by
one, through the force of circumstances.
Towards the end of the period of my service at Langley, in
connection with the Church of Scotland, the work of the field became intolerably heavy. I felt that in justice to myself and to the
people I ought to give place to a stronger man. Having given due
intimation of my determination in the proper quarter, I proposed to
leave the field in the end of April, 1886. But on the eve of our departure, when certain gifts and farewell addresses were presented
to us, the question was put to me by two men present whether I
would be willing to return to that part of the district along the
Fraser River, if the Church of Scotland would send out a minister 84 Presbyterianism in
to the southern and heavier portion of the field, along the Yale road. I
I replied in the affirmative. At once a communication to that effect
was sent to Edinburgh. The result, in due course of time, was that
the Rev. T. Somerville, Glasgow, was appointed by the Colonial
Committee to visit the Province and look into the affairs of the
Church of Scotland congregations generally, Langley included. He
came, examined and reported. Before leaving Glasgow on his
mission, Mr. Somerville wrote to me, arranging a meeting between
us in Montreal on a certain date. The letter miscarried, and before
it overtook me, I had made application to and had been received
into the Presbyterian Church in Canada at their General Assembly
at Hamilton (June, 1886).
About the same time the Langley group of congregations also
had expressed their willingness to join the Canadian Church.
The Colonial Committee, so far from disapproving of my
action, of their own accord wrote, through the convener, the Rev.
A. Williamson, to Rev. Dr. Cochrane, recommending that, agreeably
to my expressed wishes, I should be returned, if possible, to a portion of my former field along the Fraser River. To that request the
H. M. C. readily acceded. After several months' rest and change in
Ontario, I returned in improved health to British Columbia in November, expecting to take up the new settlements situated on the
Fraser River.
In April I left British Columbia a Minister of the Church of
Scotland. In November I returned a Minister of the Presbyterian
Church in Canada.
During my brief absence, notable ecclesiastical changes had
taken place. The Presbytery of British Columbia in connection with
the Church of Scotland was expiring, if not already dead, and the
Presbytery of Columbia had come into being on the 3rd day of
August. Within the new Presbytery, which embraced the Province,
there were four vacant fields, calling for ordained missionaries,
namely, Langley, Chilliwack, Clinton and Alberni, the last named
being on Vancouver Island.
I delivered to Rev. Mr. Fraser, convener, Dr. Cochrane's letter
in regard to my location. Mr. Fraser stated that at the meeting of
Presbytery it had been decided, in view of the large number of
vacant fields, not to divide Langley field until the main portion of it
should become self-sustaining. (The main portion is not self-supporting yet, 1905—was placed on the Augmented list only eighteen
months ago). Mr. Fraser further stated that it rested with me
whether I would go back to Langley, or take up Clinton, or Chilliwack, or Alberni.
With regard to Langley my mind was soon made up. In addition to the original settlements of the old Langley field, which were
Upper Sumas (York Settlement), Matsqui (Maclure Settlement),
Mud Bay (McDougall Settlement), South Arm (Ladner), North
Arm (Richmond), Maple Ridge, Fort Langley and Langley Prairie, British Columbia 85
there were new settlements in course of formation at Aldergrove,
seven miles east of Langley Prairie on the Yale Road; also on the
Fraser River, at Jones' Landing, Mount Lehman, St. Mary's Mission, and Johnson's Landing, all eastwards from Fort Langley, 9,
12, 15 and 20 miles respectively. To most of the new arrivals at
these points, I had paid visits during the summer and fall of 1885.
For me, bruised and broken by the hard usage of the past 11 years,
to return to the large and growing Langley field was out of the
question.   "To Langley undivided," I said, "I will never return."
For Presbytery to instruct the Missionary to do no more work
than he is well able may be all very well in theory, but in practice
the Missionary will discover that he cannot carry it out. When
called, for example, to visit a sick person, the sick one being far
away, he will feel, so long as he can sit in the saddle, that he must
Comparing the remaining three, Chilliwack, Clinton and Alberni, I concluded that, as Alberni would probably involve less
physical toil than either of the other two I should go to it. There
the work required of me would be more nearly equal to my reduced
strength and powers of endurance.
I have been at pains to give those numerous particulars, which,
it may be thought, might as well have been omitted, for the purpose
of indirectly correcting misapprehensions, and misstatements made
in ignorance, which are to met with here and there to this day.
My first journey from Victoria to Alberni by steam-tug Hope
I shall always have good cause to remember. Every stage of it was
quite different from any of my former experiences.
On the afternoon of the date of the journey, as I stood at the
door of the house of Mr. John G McLagan, Blanchard Street, my
attention was directed to the threatening aspect of the sky. That a
tempest was brewing was indicated by that strange calm and darkness which usually presage a hurricane. But I don't think that fear
ever crossed my mind. The absence of fear was due, in great
measure, to ignorance. I did not know that the Hope was considered unsafe in a storm, unsafe, in fact, to perform the journey at
that season of the year along the west coast opposite to Cape Flattery and around Cape Beale into Barclay Sound. Besides, my
thoughts were ever getting away ahead of my body, traversing Alberni from north to south and from east to west. It is true a favorable account of the district and its population had been given me by
Rev. D. Fraser, who had been holidaying there for a week or two
during the previous summer. Still, I no longer young, was about
to enter upon an entirely new field of considerable size, to begin
work among an entirely new people, to whom, so far as I was aware,
I was unknown even by name. All this was supplying me with
material for many absorbing thoughts.
Those who have travelled by the Hope know that she had not
suitable accommodation for passengers.    For passenger travel she 86 Presbyterianism in
was never intended. She was used by Mr. Sayward to haul booms
of logs to his sawmill, or to take merchandise to his store at Alberni,
and a passenger or two if they offered, they taking all risk.
In the evening the Hope left Victoria with six male passengers
on board, five of whom had not been in Alberni before. One, a
resident of the place, was returning from the city where he had been
doing business. I was on my way thither to labor among the
settlers as a Missionary of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The
remaining four were going to "look for land," and had evidently
made preparations to have a good time, as they would have expressed it, on the journey.
There being only one small apartment which passengers could
occupy, into it those who were drinking and those who were not,
must enter, and sit side by side. No article of my dress revealed my
profession, and I thought it better, under existing circumstances,
not to proclaim it.
Against the door lumber had been piled up so high that entrance and egress could be obtained only by climbing over the lumber on hands and knees. When sea-sickness attacked the passengers the small outlet soon became unpleasant for travel on hands
J and knees. To be shut up in that confined room with four men who
were all more or less under the influence of liquor at the start, and
who kept on adding fuel to the flame, was a grim outlook. To frown
sternly upon them, or to check them only made matters worse. Refusing to partake of their liquor, or to smile at their ribald jests, the
abstainers became the butt of their sneers, and ardently wished that
their journey was at an end. Relief came by and by from an undesirable if not altogether unlooked for quarter. The storm which had
been threatening in the afternoon swept down upon us early in the
evening, throwing the sea into violent commotion, making the Hope
rock and roll and stagger as cross waves struck her. Soon the
liquor men became sea-sick, which ended their merriment, and
served also to divert their attention from us to themselves. But our
troubles, though turned into a different channel, were not ended.
The fumes of tobacco and whiskey, and the usual effects of seasickness caused us no little discomfort. Fearing lest, in the impure
air of the small room, with its increasing nastiness, we also might
become sick we crawled outside, and remained out in the shelter of
the pilot house until the captain ordered us, for safety, down below
again. Curiously enough we did not become sick, though our condition from a physical point of view was far from being an enviable
one, and it was aggravated by mental uneasiness. Where we sat we
could see the engineer's face, which paled and expressed intense
anxiety from time to time, as the boat went down shivering into the
trough of the sea. He knew, as we supposed, his ship and its unseaworthiness, and he was evidently afraid. His fear affected us. Still
amidst the howling of the gale and the rolling of the boat we remembered and were strengthened by, the words of Him Who spoke to British Columbia
His disciples in a storm on the Sea of Galilee, saying, "Be of good
cheer, it is I, be not afraid." The long anxious night ended at last.
When nearing Barclay Sound, we overheard the engineer remark,
"Thank God in ten minutes we shall be out of danger." His words
were soothing, but the ten minutes seemed long in passing.
We had paid our full fare to Alberni and expected to be taken
straight there. On reaching Ekool, however, the captain told us
that he was going further north with freight, as soon as the wind
fell, but that he would be back next day; that we could either go
along with him or remain where we were till he returned. We preferred the latter alternative, having had enough Hope, even to
But before the day had far advanced it became calm and pleasant. Someone suggested that we should hire two Indians to take
us up the "Canal" to Alberni in a canoe. It was so arranged. In
a short time the same six passengers of the Hope, all grave and
sober men now, were seated in a canoe on our way to our final
Notwithstanding our auspicious start from Ekool we were still
destined to disappointments. In the afternoon rain began to fall,
the wind rose, and the Indians began to fag. We offered them a
share of such provisions as we had, biscuits and cheese, but when
they saw others take whiskey they wanted whiskey too. The liquor
men had somewhere replenished their flasks, had been again imbibing, and were just in the mood and at the point of sharing with the
Indians, when a decided and vigorous protest was entered by the
abstainers, who felt themselves none too safe as it was, exposed to
surly, jerky gusts, with four men on board whose restless movements were a constant menace. If the Indians also should take
liquor the canoe might be upset at any moment, and, if upset, death
by drowning was inevitable. The waters of the Canal are deep—so
deep as to permit the largest battleship to go right up to Alberni
townsite. The sides of the Canal are precipitous cliffs; all hope,
therefore, of effecting å landing was cut off. We told these men
that if they should give the Indians a single drop of liquor we should
lodge information against them as soon as we reached Alberni. The
threat had the desired effect; they abstained from giving liquor, but
not from taking it, and otherwise they behaved in an offensive
Latterly, the Indians often rested, paddle in hand, became sulky,
and consumed more time in covering the last ten miles than they had
taken to come the previous twenty.
At length, in a pouring rain and dense darkness, the first dwelling in Alberni was reached. We knew nothing, but the Indians knew
all, got out, and led the way to the house. As might be conjectured,
there was much stumbling and tumbling over logs and other
obstacles, also much emphatic grumbling, before all in the darkness
reached the door. The owner and his family were awakened from
their sleep by the noise, the sound of men's voices, and unceremon- 88 PresbyterianismTin
ious knocking. From within a man demanded with an oath, who
were there. Singular to say, the person who spoke, the owner of
the house, had been at one time an engineer on one of the Irving
steamers on the Fraser River. He knew me by name and by appearance. When he recognied me and had time to take in the whole
situation, the grim, stern Scotch face and gruff voice underwent
an instantaneous transformation. He almost embraced me, and in
the kindest and most respectful manner enquired after my welfare
and that of my family. He said it would be necessary for me to
go to the next house, a farm house, where decent accommodation
could be got.
After the unpleasant experiences of the day and the night
previous, his kindly words and Scotch accent brought a lump to my
throat. I regarded the reception as a good omen, hoped the worst
was past, and that the second and subsequent acts of the drama
might be brighter and more cheering.
Supplied by my friend with a lantern, I set out along the trail
for the farm house. Here also the farmer and his family had gone
to bed. After much knocking at a wrong door, and, when at last
heard, many explanations, the old man, an old settler, and a Roman
Catholic, got dressed, opened his door, and received me courteously.
He said: "I have no right place for such as you are, but I will take
you to the Ferry. The store keepers, Mr. Saunders, across the
river, has accommodation for travellers." The store keeper, we
found, had also gone to bed, but after blowing the horn loud and
long he heard and came and ferried me over. At the storehouse
there was a good fire, and while the young cook was getting coffee
ready and frying venison, I was getting thawed out. Perhaps I
never slept more soundly than I did during this, my first night in
Alberni, lying on a primitive bedstead, very plainly furnished.
On the day following I went to Mr. Mollet's house, River
Bend, where for over six months I boarded, my wife having
remained in Ontario with her parents for the winter. At Mr.
Mollet's, as I had been led to anticipate, I met with a warm reception; and, while I remained in his house, I was treated with unaffected kindness by him and by every member of his family. During the following winter months I traversed on foot the whole
district, visiting someone every day, the more distant when the
weather was favorable, and those nearby when the weather was less
so. Every day, at every house and cabin, the same cordial welcome
was extended to me, for my work's sake, for personally I was
unknown to all except two. From the cordial manner in which I
had been welcomed to the settlement, it was very natural for me
to form from the beginning a good opinion of the people as a whole
—an opinion which I have never had cause to change, and also to
cherish for almost every individual an affectionate regard which
the lapse of sixteen years has not cooled. By comparison a large
proportion of the people were persons who had received a superior
education—persons who had read much and seen much of the world, British„Columbia 89
and who entered into conversation intelligently upon many widely
different subjects.
There was no church building or school house in the settlement,
and no missionary of any other denomination, at the date of my
arrival. But Catholics and Episcopalians, Methodists, Quakers and
Baptists appeared to find no insuperable difficulty in attending along
with Presbyterians, Sunday services, conducted by a Presbyterian
minister. The settlers in general, the Presbyterians in particular,
attended public worship with commendable regularity.
The number that did not attend at all was very small, and
became gradually smaller as the months passed. In 1887 a priest
was sent in, ostensibly to attend to the Indian population, but also,
no doubt, to win back those of his flock who had begun to stray
in the direction of the Presbyterian fold. When the priest came,
the Catholics attended chapel, but continued to the last to attend
Presbyterian service also. The priest, it was said, granted liberty
to the young men of his flock to go out shooting and fishing after
Sunday service, instead of attending Presbyterian worship, but the
liberty was not appreciated or taken advantage of. Upon that point
the priest and the parents came into sharp collision, fought it out,
and the parents prevailed.
What became of the four men who came in to look for land?
I don't know. The probability is that when they came to themselves
next morning and realized that a preacher had been one of their
number all the way from Victoria, and that said preacher had come
to Alberni to stay, they "cleared out" over the trail to Nanaimo,
without waiting to look for land. At all events, they were never
afterwards seen or heard of in the place.
The labor of the Alberni Mission field, though much lighter
than that of the old Langley field, was by no means light—all things
considered. The settled portion of the district was about fifteen
miles long and from ten to twelve miles wide. It was divided into
two parts by the Somas River, which had not then, as now, been
spanned by the Government bridge at River Bend. Horses were
not in use in the district. Ox-teams in every instance were the sole
means of transportation. The roads, though better from the
nature of the ground than the Lower Mainland roads, were heavy—
especially the Beaver Creek road, over which there was the largest
amount of traffic. The Somas being unbridged, the Missionary
could not use a horse to advantage, and therefore performed his
journeys on foot.
The Alberni valley, at the head of Alberni Canal, lies in the very
heart of Vancouver Island, and is 140 miles from Victoria by
steamer and 53 miles from Nanaimo by the Cameron lake trail,
which is now the Alberni-Nanaimo stage road. The Canal, from
Alberni to Barclay Sound, on the West Coast, is 30 miles Jong and
navigable throughout its entire length for deep sea steamers. In a
direct line Alberni is about 18 miles from the West Coast and a
like distance from the East Coast at Qualicum.   Viewed from the 90 Presbyterianism in
townsite, where its contour and extent can be seen to best advantage, the valley presents a most attractive and picturesque appearance. From that vantage ground, looking northwards, there are
few more pleasing or inspiring views in British Columbia. There
is a series of mountain summils, rising one above the other in gradual progression, the most distant appearing to reach the sky. Nestling in the shadow of encircling hills, the valley enjoys a mild,
equable and healthy climate. I "rom the surrounding hills numerous
creeks, at desirable distances apart, find their way to the main
stream, some warbling softly a.s they go, others rushing frettingly
and turbulently over their rocky channels. In 1888 there were 115
actual settlers in Alberni.
Regarding the unsettled parts of the valley, I may say that in
a large block between Sproat Lake and Great Central Lake, there is
supposed to be accommodation for 60 or 70 more settlers. To the
south of the Scotch settlement and east of the Alberni Canal, there
is a wide valley suitable for settlement. Also between the northern
limit of Alberni settlement, and the southern limit of Comox settlement, judging from the reports of Alberni men, who had made
tours of inspection northwards, there is an extensive tract of country
of great beauty and fertility, and highly desirable for settlement.
There can be no doubt that the unoccupied land in these valleys is
just as good for agricultural purposes as the land already taken up
and settled upon, except that it is further removed from the present
Alberni possesses, as above indicated, many and varied natural
advantages. It is well situated at the head of a splendid waterway,
a natural canal, or arm of the sea, running up into the interior of
the Island. The valley is well-watered by pure perennial streams.
Its soil is kindly and productive, and well adapted for agriculture
and all kinds of fruit. It enjoys also a delightful and healthy
climate. To turn to good account these natural advantages, nearly
all the first settlers were eminently qualified. Some, it is true, knew
nothing about land or farming, and did nothing with their land.
But these were few. The great majority were intelligent, enterprising men, who were not afraid to work, and who from previous
knowledge and experience of clearing land, could work to good
advantage. Besides most of them, when they came, possessed sufficient capital to make a good start. I, who had seen the beginnings
of new settlements elsewhere, marvelled at the large extent of clearing and reclaiming which those men accomplished—many of them
single handed—during the early years. Visitors who came into
the valley from time to time, who could appreciate its excellence,
and who could judge also of the adaptation of the settlers to their
environment, unhesitatingly predicted a bright and prosperous
future for Alberni. The raw material, so to speak, was there. And
the men were there who could (a fair field being given and no
insurmountable obstacle presenting itself) make the valley hum and British Columbia 91
bustle—men who were well fitted to subdue its primitive wildness
and make it bloom like a garden.
Anyone would have felt safe to predict, judging from the
paternal interest taken in the valley, during its formative period, by
the Government, that settlement would proceed apace until not an
acre, even in the more remote valleys, would remain unclaimed.
But the advancement of the district was checked, the fond hopes
of the settlers dashed, and all their hard labor stultified through lack
of transportation facilities. In the absence of a town or village
or any industry besides farming, there was no home market. And
between Alberni and Victoria there was no steamboat communication that could be relied upon. How, it may be asked, could so
many sensible men be so heedless as to settle in a remote locality,
clear land, and raise crops without any reasonable prospect of being
able to dispose of them? The settlers were not altoegther, or even
mainly, to blame for the plight in which they found themselves.
The Government of the day strongly encouraged the settlement of
the district. In fact, many, if not most of the settlers, were conducted to the claims upon which they eventually settled by a Government guide-^-a man paid by the Government for that purpose.
At the same time they were assured that when circumstances created
the necessity, a steamer would come in, at stated times, to take out
their surplus produce. Now why the Government failed to fulfil
that promise is a matter which I cannot explain. Only those in the
inner circle—those versed in the political secrets of that day—can
explain. Certain facts I know, and can testify to. When the real
state of affairs at Alberni got noised abroad, settlement ceased forthwith. During the years 1887, 1888 and 1889 only two—so far as I
can remember—came in and settled, while more than double that
number went out and never returned. Those who stayed, however,
did not remain torpid or silent. Pressed by stern necessity, they, by
means of petitions and letters, expressed in the most clear and unmistakable terms, plied the Government. They reminded them of
the assurances given on their arrival, upon which they had implicitly
relied, as the assurances of honorable men, and prayed that those
promises be made good. But the Government, beyond acknowledging receipt of same, and promising to take their case into consideration, did nothing or next to nothing. They remained immovable
and obdurate until the day came when it suited them to take action.
The agricultural industry lies at the foundation of the prosperity of any province or country. If it languishes, other industries
will languish, and, vice versa, if it flourishes other industries will,
pari passu, flourish. Now competent and impartial observers have
repeatedly declared that in British Columbii the agricultural industry, until within more recent years, did not receive at the hands of
the Government that attention and fostering care which it rightly
merited; that the Government policy, in respect to agriculture, was
a policy of inaction. When it did move, its movements or measures
were neither enlightened nor statesmanlike, and were but ill-adapted Presbyterianism in
to the conditions and requirements of a new country. Lavishly liberal to some favored spots, they were often found niggardly in their
appropriations to districts in special need, when "the stitch in time
would have seved nine," when timely assistance would have set a
large number of settlers on their feet, and kept them in the country,
thereby, in course of time, swelling the public revenue; while the
needed assistance being withheld led to stagnation and death. The
treatment accorded to Alberni was sufficient to kill any community.
The people there were in the position of mariners stranded upon a
desert shore. Unaided they were powerless. Apart from Government aid there was no way out. They themselves could not, at the
beginning, subsidize a steamer nor build a road to Nanaimo.
It would seem, then, that for once the Government of British
Columbia roused itself from the sleep of many years, and determined to actually do something to encourage immigration to the
vacant lands of the Province. Those immigrants from Ontario who
settled in Alberni they received with open arms, hired a competent
person to accompany them to the place to assist them in locating
claims, and, at the same time, gave them clearly to understand that
when the necessity arose, ways and means would be devised whereby the produce of the district would be taken to market. But the
effort was merely spasmodic. They soon relapsed into their former
lethargic state. They extended a helping hand only until the initial
difficulties were overcome, and then dropped them—dropped them
before they had reached the state when they could stand or walk
As serving to corroborate the above statement regarding Government neglect of and indifference for the struggling settlers of
Alberni during the early years of its history, the following quotations from newspaper editorials, and also from petitions and letters
of settlers to Government officials of those days will be in place:
Columbian, New Westminster: "It has seemed to us questionable whether it is good policy to encourage the opening of settlements in places so remote from the market as Alberni. Mr. Hal-
penny, the Government guide, must have spent a good deal of
public money making numerous trips to Alberni with prospectors
and settlers."
The Times, Victoria: "The people ask and with truth what is
the use of toiling on year after year if this state of things is going to
continue ? The Government does not care what becomes of us. Our
representatives in the Legislature ignore our petitions, and decline
to visit us for the purpose of becoming acquainted with our real
situation. The situation of the Albernians is truly a public misfortune, for the treatment accorded to them will restrain others from
coming in, and the settlement of the province will thus be retarded."
Petition to Hon. R. Dunsmuir and G. F. Vernon. Meeting took
place at Alberni Landing on the 17th of March, 1888, R. Pinkerton,
chairman, and G. A. Huff, secretary.   .   .   . "On different occasions British Columbia 93
we have drawn the attention of the Government to our remote and
isolated situation, and to the fact that the products of the place are
practically land-locked from want of reliable communication with
existing markets. So far we have appealed in vain for the establishment of stated steam-boat service. ... As we came and
settled here, encouraged by the representations of Government
officials, and as we were led to believe that a way to market for our
produce would be provided when the occasion demanded, to the
Government, therefore, we naturally and properly look to provide
an outlet for the products of the district. . . . The 115 settlers
already here are in the meantime without a market." Then follow
the signatures of over 80 settlers.
Copy of letter which appeared in a Victoria newspaper on 17th
March, 1888:
"Tidings of the wreck of the 'Woodside" have fallen upon the
inhabitants of Alberni with crushing weight, for there is scarcely
an individual, intending to remain in his place during the summer
months, but has sustained loss to a greater or less extent. You are
well aware that repeated attempts have been made to induce the
.Government to grant a subsidy to some safe, seaworthy boat, so as
to secure regularity in its arrival and departure. Without regularity
any steamboat service would be quite unsatisfactory, and in many
cases which might arise it would be worse than useless. Petitions
have been got up ... . letters have been written to the members of the district, imploring them to use their best endeavors to
obtain a subsidy. . . . Still up to date the utmost these strong
and repeated appeals have effected is expressions of sympathy
and promises to keep our case in mind. But promises and good
wishes, however strongly and frequently tendered, are a very unsatisfactory substitute for regular steamboat communication, without which this settlement, which originated under happy auspices
and with glowing prospects, must surely, although slowly fall to
pieces." After enumerating a number of cases of serious loss by
the foundering of the Woodside, the writer of the letter concludes
thus: "The most painful case is that of the Waring family. The
mother, with a babe and boy of seven years, left here in December,
and expected to be able to return in January with provisions for the
family. She had been waiting in Victoria for a steamer ever since.
Having become very impatient, remembering how her husband and
four boys at home must be suffering, this woman actually thought
of hiring a canoe and trying to reach home in that way. When,
however, Mrs. Waring heard that the Woodside was advertised to
sail for Alberni on the 10th, although she knew that the Woodside
was unsafe, and though she was dissuaded by her friends in Victoria, and even by the captain of the steamer, from going aboard,
yet in a state of desperation she ordered her goods, to the value of
upwards of $100, to be put on board, and she herself resolved to
run all risks rather than remain longer in anxiety in Victoria. 94
Presbyterianism in
Now, think of this woman, with her babe and little boy, being
obliged, along with the crew, to leave the sinking steamer, and get
into a small boat in a wild and angry sea; of their boat being capsized, and their marvellous escape; all her provisions and articles
of clothing for her family lost; of her return to Victoria in a canoe;
and of her arrival here last evening in the "Maude" (which came
as usual without previous notice) to find that her husband, almost
distracted, had left the day lief ore for Victoria to enquire into their
condition. Think of this case, think of these other cases, think of
the different particulars ah we enumerated, and say whether you
do not consider that such a state of affairs is not sufficient to overthrow any settlement? What community could be expected to exist
—not to say prosper—thus disowned, or at all events neglected, by
those who, without injury to themselves or injustice to others, have
it in their power to apply th: desired remedy."
And now after the full account given of the financial conditions
of Alberni during the years 1886, 1887, 1888 and 1889 (I might say
the almost bankrupt condition of the settlement) it will cause no
surprise when I state that those settlers, though ragarding the establishment of religious sei vices as essential to their spiritual well-
being, and though ready to give for the support of the same to the
utmost limit of their power they were nevertheless able to pay only
a small part of the salary jf a missionary. When I wrote to Dr.
Cochrane in the beginning of 1887, giving him some account of the
field, as also my opinion ss to the amount that might be raised,
namely, $200 (the amount named to Mr. Fraser by a few Alberni
Presbyterians in the summer of 1886), Dr. Cochrane replied at once,
as he was wont to do, to tl e effect that the Presbytery of Columbia
must find some other field for me; that the H. M. C. could never
undertake to make up the amount of an ordained missionary's salary, if the people of the field could only raise $200. I could see that
there was a grave misunderstanding between Dr. Cochrane and Mr.
Fraser in the matter. Axordingly, at the March meeting, 1887,
Presbytery appointed me to Nicola Valley, the old field of Rev.
George Murray, in the ho] e that as there was friction there between
the Old Kirk party and th; Canadian Church party, I might be able
to remove the trouble and induce harmony. But as soon as the Albernians knew what actioi the Presbytery had taken regarding my
removal from them, a petil ion was at once prepared—and, within six
or eight hours, signed by ; 11 the people—opposing my translation to
Nicola. The petition, sen. out by steamer, to Mr. Fraser, emphasized the fact that the settk rs would raise somehow or other the $200
which had been promised 1 o Mr. Fraser the previous summer. While
correspondence was being carried on between Mr. Fraser and Dr.
Cochrane, I agreed, if Presbytery should approve, to remain for a
year rather than leave the field without a missionary.
A year afterwards, however, the financial ability of the Albernians had not improved.    No market for their produce was yet in British Columbia 95
sight. Still they had pail the missionary $30 more than they had
undertaken—that was $230 within 12 months. In 1888 at the March
meeting, Presbytery appointed me to Mt. Lehman, etc., on the
Lower Fraser. Again tie Albernians petitioned the Presbytery so
strongly against my remc val that, having no other plea to urge than
that in the other field I would obtain a larger salary, I consented,
with approval of Presbyiery, to remain for another year. The inevitable, however, had to come at last. In 1889, at March meeting,
Presbytery appointed m: for the second time, to Mt. Lehman,
Whonnock, etc. And a: at that time there was sickness in my
family, rendering it necessary to be accessible to a doctor, I felt it
my duty to remove to ttu Whonnock-Mt. Lehman field.
"Alberni Corresponde ice.—Presentation to Rev. Mr. Dunn, Address and reply:
"To Rev. Mr. Dunn: Dear Sir,—Being about to leave us we
take this opportunity of ] >resenting you with a small token of our respect, as a means of sh wing our appreciation of your incessant
labors both for our spirilual and temporal welfare. During the two
years and four months tl at you have been laboring among us, your
counsel and assistance hive been invaluable in the management of
the school and the church, as well as in other affairs concerning the
prosperity of the settler, lent, and will be sadly missed when you
leave us. We deeply regret that arrangement cannot be made to
settle you permanently .imong us. But since all efforts in that
direction have failed to liring about a satisfactory result, we join in
wishing you and your estimable wife health and prosperity, and the
rich blessings of God's wisdom and favor in the field to which you
are going. The above vas signed by the following committee on
behalf of the people: Ed ward Grandy, William Thompson and John
S. Jolly.   Beaver Creek Schoolhouse, 22nd February, 1889."
Mr. Dunn in reply ng said: "You have taken me so much by
surprise that I scarcely know what to say, except to thank you,
which I now do most heartily." He then briefly sketched the two
. and a half years which had passed, recalling his first visits to the
homes of families as well as those of young men, and the warm welcome he received from all, of whom he said "I felt indeed that I
had come to my own and they received me."
Albemian, Alberni, B. G—"Soiree at Alberni. Presentation
to Rev. and Mrs. Dunn. A largely attended evening party was held
at the lower schoolhouse, Alberni, on Friday evening, March 1st,
by the members of the Presbyterian Church, assisted by the residents in general, for the purpose of presenting an address to the
Rev. A. Dunn, and a purse to Mrs. Dunn, containing $50. Refreshments having been partaken of which reflected great credit on the 96
Presbyterianism in
ladies, who were given very short notice to prepare for the party, a
hymn was sung and prayer offered. G. A. Huff, J. P., was called
to the chair, who, having made a few appropriate remarks, called
upon J. C. Mollett, J. P., Government Agent, to read and present
the following address: "Reverend and Dear Sir,—We, the undersigned members of the Presbyterian Church, and other settlers of
Alberni, understanding that the Presbytery at its last meeting had
decided to remove you from this settlement to another field of
labor, deem it our duty, as it is also a privilege, to express our high
appreciation of your services amongst us as our Minister since your
arrival in November, 1886. Since that date (November, 1886), the
Presbytery appointed you first to Nicola Valley in March, 1887, and
again to Mount Lehman in March, 1888. On both occasions, at the
unanimous and earnest request of the settlers of all denominations,
you consented, with approval of Presbytery, to remain, though in
doing so you have been a loser financially. Since you began your
work in our midst, you have always been most zealous and untiring
in your efforts to promote our spiritual welfare, and you were ever
ready as well to do all in your power to further the temporal interests of the community as a whole. It is, therefore, with feelings of
the deepest sorrow and regret that we look forward to the time of
your departure from our midst, believing that as a community the
loss we are about to sustain is irreparable. We can assure you and
Mrs. Dunn that you can carry away with you our best wishes for
your health and happiness, and we hope that in your next sphere of
action a kind Providence shall bestow His choicest blessings upon
you, and shall attend your future labors with abundant success."
Mrs. G. A. Huff having presented the purse to Mrs. Dunn, the Rev.
A. Dunn made the following able and touching reply:
"Mr. Mollet, Mrs. Huff, ladies and gentlemen,—Allow me in my
own name and in that of my wife to thank you very heartily for the
most kind but too flattering addresss just read, and for the purse
which Mrs. Huff has just handed to Mrs. Dunn. Your great kindness, the kindness of the people of Alberni generally, towards my
wife and myself from first to last, manifested in many different
ways, according to individual character, we have not failed to see
and appreciate. And now when about to leave you, your increasing
kindness is actually becoming burdensome. The day of our departure, I am sorry to say, has been kept before us almost from the day
of our arrival. More particularly has this been the case during the
past six or eight months. Owing to the happy relations which have
existed between us, I have been feeling for some time that the day of
our departure from this lovely valley, and from the kind and hospitable people here, would be a trying one to us, but I had not realized
till now that the ordeal of parting would be so painful as it is. Here
we have met and taken sweet counsel with some of the kindest and
truest hearts that even cheered and strengthened their fellow mortals
in the journey of life.   .   .   .   The privilege of preaching to you the British Columbia
^Gospel of the grace of God without let or hindrance, without even
the shadow of trouble in the three congregations for the past two
and one-half years, the privilege of setting before you, according to
the measure of the ability which God has given me, Jesus Christ
and Him crucified, I look back upon with the most profound thankfulness. I have preached because I believed, and not because I was
paid for doing so, not as a means of earning a livelihood. Perhaps
I have read in my day as much infidel literature, both ancient and
modern, as most ministers have; and yet, with a knowledge of much
that has been said and written against the Christian religion, I give
it as the testimony of my inmost soul concerning God's Son, the
Lord Jesus Christ. . . . My friends, it can never be that we can
forget Alberni, and the faithful, warm-hearted friends we have met
here. It can never be that we can cease to take an interest in the
place and in the people. My last, my most fervent wish for you all
is that you may be saved, and that we may all meet in our Father's
House above, when our work is done, where sorrow and partings
are excluded. May God bless you, my dear, dear friends, and may
God bless your children.' When Mr. Dunn had concluded his remarks, Mr. F. P. Saunders, storekeeper, asked the chairman if he
might be allowed to say a few words. Leave was readily granted,
when Mr. Saunders spoke as follows: "I cannot claim to be a member of any church, nor have I attended Mr. Dunn's services here as
often as I should—but as Mr. Dunn and his lady are about to leave
us I would like to ask this large company whether any couple could
have behaved themselves better than they have done, or been more
abundant in good works than they have been. And actions speak
louder than words. Mr. and Mrs. Dunn, you have my very best
wishes for your future happiness." A concluding hymn and prayer
brought the proceedings to a close."
Leaving Alberni about the middle of March, Mr. Dunn arrived
at Whonnock at the end of that month to take up, by appointment
of Presbytery, the settlements of Aldergrove, Mt. Lehman, Yale,
Agassiz, Harrison River, Nicomen Island, Johnson's Landing
(Dewdney), St. Mary's Mission and Whonnock. Mr. Dunn was
succeeded at Alberni by Mr. Lockhart, student, who again was succeeded by Mr. Pillar, Catechist. Then came Mr. R. Frew, student,
and after him came Rev. Wm. Stables Smith. With none of these
gentlemen was I personally acquainted. Two of them I never saw.
Between Alberni and Whonnock there was no inter-communication except by letter. The distance is less than 150 miles, but the
trip by train, steamer and stage required time and money for its
performance. Not everyone could afford to take it. The separation,
therefore, was complete. We might as well have been living in
Toronto as in Whonnock, so far as meeting with Alberni people
was concerned. In letters, however, which I received from residents from time to time, there was generally some favourable reference made to the missionary in charge at the time of writing; and 98 Presbyterianism in
from these references I received and still hold a clear and distinct
impression of each of the four men just named. Still as these letters
have long been destroyed, I would not venture at this late date to
say more than that all of them, according to their respective gifts
and aptitudes, worked zealously and faithfully. All had their friends
and admirers—some more and some fewer.
"May 15th, 1892, Alberni Church.   Opening
mon by the Pioneer Missionary of Presbyterianism.
"On Sunday, 1st May, the Presbyterian Church on Alberni
Townsite, was formally opened and dedicated to the public worship
of God. The services were conducted by the Rev. A. Dunn, of
Whonnock, who was the pioneer missionary to Alberni, having
come from the Mainland in 1886, and leaving the district in 1889.
The weather was all that could be desired, as being the brightest and
warmest of the current year. The seating accommodation, consisting of chairs and benches, was fully occupied. The old residents
were well represented, many of whom had come from distant parts
of the valley. There were also present numerous strangers who
have come in during this year, and who are engaged in work in connection with the paper and saw mills. A few Indians, and some of
the members of the Roman Catholic Church were also present.
Three or four infants formed a part of the congregation, one of
whom was baptised by Mr. Dunn at the conclusion of the service.
The musical part of the service was ably led by the eight members
of the choir, under the direction of Mr. Howitt, the organist. The
two readings from the Old and New Testament were performed by
the resident minister, the Rev. Stables Smith.
Mr. Dunn preached a very instructive and suggestive sermon
from the text, "Thou believest there is one God; thou doest well;
the devils also believe and tremble; but well thou know, O, vain
man, that faith without works is dead?" (James, Ch. II., verses 19
and 20). Mr. Dunn spoke for forty-five minutes, and kept up the
attention of the audience to the close. The last few minutes were
confined to remarks having special reference to the past, the present
and the future of the Presbyterian Church Mission at Alberni. He
spoke, as might be expected from the occasion and circumstances,
with considerable display of feeling, and was listened to with uncommon attention.
"He said: 'It is always pleasing to note signs of progress and
prosperity in any community or in any Christian congregation, and
I think ail must admit that progress has been made here—I mean all
who are in a position to compare and contrast our first meeting in
Alberni for public worship on the 13th of November, 1886, with our
meeting on this, the 1st day of May, 1892.   Then the service was British Columbia
conducted in the building used as a school room during the day
and as a bedroom during the night, near Mr. Saunders' store, on the
other side of the river. The building referred to was one of the
most humble in which I ever preached, and I have preached in some
very modest places. But, comfortless and cheerless as the building
itself was, there was a warm-hearted, happy company of worshipers gathered there that day. I cannot forget the gladness manifested
in each countenance as I stood up to give out the psalm; as also,
when the service was over, the cordial manner in which I was received as one after another was introduced to me. Well, within six
months we were able to move to better quarters when the new log
schoolhouses were completed by Mr. Huff. We then felt that the
days of roughing it were past, and that days of comfort had come.
To-day it is my pleasing duty to rejoice with you and to congratulate you on entering upon what may be called the third stage of your
history as a church, seated as you now are in this comfortable, commodious church building. Before a building of these proportions
and such finish could have been planted here sacrifices must have
been made by many if not by all present. In a community struggling
with many adverse circumstances the very purpose to build a house
for the worship of God was a bold one. By men of less zeal and
determination the undertaking would have been deemed impossible.
But to men of strong faith, the difficulties which to ordinary mortals
seem insurmountable vanish. To-day this house of God stands complete, in all its parts, comfortable and substantial, a monument to
your Christian zeal and liberality. Yet I feel sure you are ready to
acknowledge that you have been able to accomplish little for Christ's
sake. How feebly does this church building, reared through your
exertions, express your gratitude to that Being who gives us all
things—the very air we breathe—the very food that sustains us.
When we give our best, and do our utmost, what a poor return we
make for the countless faVors our gracious Father is daily showering around our path. The blessed Redeemer gave His life for us.
His precious blood He shed that we might be ransomed and quickened from the dead. His atoning death deprives disappointments
of their sting, gives gladness to lives which would otherwise
be unendurable, and enables us all to meet death, the King of
Terrors, with calmness and courage. My Christian friends, may it
please Almighty God to remember your gifts, and to accept your
sacrifices for Jesus' sake—to make this house His home—that this
may be in years to come a precious spot which you and your children
may call blessed. May it be as a resting place to the wayworn—a
place of refreshment to those hungering and thirsting after righteousness^—a place of which it may be said of many that they were
born here.
My dear friends, your invitation, expressed in touching terms,
to be present at the opening of your new church, moved me deeply.
You had rightly interpreted my feelings towards you, and my con- 100 Presbyterianism in
tinued interest in your welfare. It has been my privilege, as a
pioneer missionary, here and in other places in the western portions
of this Province, to gather together the scattered portions of Christ's
Church, but in no district have I met with more kindness and true
friendliness. And though it is now more than three years since we
parted, I am safe to say that no day has passed in which I have not
remembered the people of Alberni. Yet I hesitated for two weeks
to comply with your invitation to be here to-day. True, I had pleasure in the prospect of meeting with you all, but I recoiled from the
ordeal of a second parting, remembering the anguish of the first.
However, you were then in a very different position, as a church,-
from what you are now. Then there was no certain prospect of your
obtaining a missionary. Now you have stationed amongst you an
able and zealous minister, who will carry on the work of Christ begun by his predecessors; and also an excellent church which will be
as a centre from which, we trust, good and holy influences will flow
over the whole community. My friends, many changes—some sad
ones—have taken place since we last met. Some who no doubt would
have been here to-day have gone to their last resting place. Soon
we must follow them. May death find each of us ready, trusting,
simply trusting in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world."
The building of the church in Alberni was begun six months
ago, but owing to the prevailing wetness of the weather, it could
not be completed and made fit for services. Viewed from the public
road the newly finished church presents a bold and substantial appearance, and is a standing monument to the energy, zeal and Christian liberality of the inhabitants of Alberni. Members of all denominations contributed, either in money or labor, towards its erection;
and members and adherents of the church are much indebted to the
kindness of friends in Victoria and elsewhere, who have given or
promised handsome contributions towards defraying the expenses
connected with the building. A general financial statement of the
expenses, prepared by Mr. Huff, the secretary of the Building Committee, shows that the whole cost of the building, including voluntary labor, amounts to a little over $1,000, leaving a deficit not yet
paid or promised of not less than $150. The collection at the Sunday service amounted to the handsome sum of $47.50."     SERMON   and
% .
"God forbid that 1 should glon
Jesus Christ."
The birth-days of persons who have been distinguished in the
peaceful walks of literature and science, poetry and art, or the days
on which memorable and decisive battles have been fought and
won, or important unions consummated are, and have been commemorated with rejoicings in all ages of the world. But the
commemoration of dying days is contrary to human usage. The
death of a friend, more especially the ignominious death of a
I friend, We remember with sorrow and not rejoicing. On the
supposition, therefore, that the crucifixion of Christ was merely
martyrdom, the glorying of the Apostle would be strangely misplaced. In point of fact it would be unaccountable upon those
principles by which human beings are actuated.
If Christ as an impotent and reluctant martyr was dragged
to his doom by an ignorant and infuriated mob, the glorying of
the Apostle would reveal a spirit both barbarous and inhuman—
the very opposite of that by which he was actuated. But if the
death of Jesus upon the cross procured for him deliverance from
wrath and secured for him eternal life in glory, blessings not-
otherwise obtainable, then his glorying is apparent, is rational
and highly commendable. The death of Jesus, the procuring
cause of all spiritual blessings to mankind, has been the theme of
thanksgiving from Paul's day to this, and has been piously and
reverently commemorated in the holy sacrament of the supper
when opportunities presented themselves.
"God forbid," etc. I. Let us consider the things in which
Paul and others boasted previous to conversion. Once he
gloried in a variety of things, now in only one thing. At one
time, we may be sure, he gloried in his learning when he sat at
the feet of Gamaliel. Gamaliel was a celebrated Jewish Doctor
and was known by the title "the glory of the law." He was the
first to whom the title "Rabban," "our Master," was given. In the
Epistles of Paul there is abundant evidence of a clear and logical
mind, of great intellectual power and culture. His letters to the
churches disclose numerous proofs of an extensive acquaintance
with the sacred and secular literature of his day. An old writer informs us that it was an object worthy of the greatest efforts to A    SERMON
gain such eminence in learning as to be pointed at by the finger
by people on the street.
I. Cor. 8:1. Paul mentions that "Knowledge puffeth up."
Knowledge not sanctified fills the mind with pride and vanity. No
doubt he spoke from experience. The learning he had acquired
which enabled him to quote the sentiments of the ancient poets
and historians with ease and accuracy, would raise him in his own
estimation far above the uneducated multitude who knew nothing
save the mere routine of daily toil. Perhaps he looked down upon
them with pity mingled with contempt.
(2) Again, previous to his conversion, I doubt not, he gloried
in his blameless life. The Pharisees, the sect to which he belonged, was remarkable for their scrupulous observance of the
letter of the law, however indifferent to its spirit, but no one,
from among the Pharisees, if strictly scrutinized, but had some
defect calculated to mar the imagined excellence of the whole. But
Paul tells us that in regard to the outward observance of the law
(and he tells us this after his conversion) he was blameless.
"As touching the righteousness of the law blameless."
(3) Again, he formerly gloried, no doubt, in his Jewish origin,
in being a descendant of Abraham, the father of the faithful. "Of
the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews." Yes, of his
theocratic full blood, in belonging to that people so highly honoured, so remarkably favoured, favoured above any nation under
heaven, he gloried, and thought that because he was a Jew and
not a Gentile his salvation was secure. In his scholarly attainments, in his blameless life, in his theocratic full blood, Paul -
undoubtedly gloried.      And in such things others have gloried.
In the 3rd Chapter of Daniel we find Nebuchadnezzor glorying
in the magnificence and architectural beauty of Babylon, which he
had built. The names of Nimrod, Solomon, Alexander, and Nebuchadnezzor are famous in oriental tradition — Nimrod for his
personal prowess and gigantic stature; Solomon for his great
wisdom; Alexander for his brilliant and unbroken career of victory
and conquest; Nebucadnezzor as the builder and restorer of the
cities and temples of his native land. Perhaps no man ever left
behind him one half of the amount of building which was executed
by this king. To Babylon he devoted special attention. He
repaired its walls, artificial mountains as they were called, restored
the temples, and constructed that palace which with its rich ornamentation and hanging gardens was regarded in ancient times as
of the wonders of the world.
In his engineering architectural skill Nebuchadnezzor boasted.
"Is not this great Babylon which I have built ?"
In the 5th Chapter of Esther we find Haman boasting of his
social position.      The honors he possessed were next to royal. lth, power and pleasure. He told
king had advanced him above his
: Queen Esther allowed no man to
e banquet which she had prepared
He was surrounded w
his wife and friends t
princes and servants a
come in with the Kin
but himself.
Those who seek honors of that kind are not satisfied with
being merely on friendly terms with those whose favour they
court. They aim at being higher in their goodwill than others.
Hence Haman is careful to mention that Queen Esther allowed no
man to come in with the King to the banquet but himself.
II. In the 17th Chapter of 1st Samuel we find Goliath boasting
of his strength. His lion-like voice and gigantic stature made the
hearts of the Israelites to quake. He challenged the enemy to
a duel. He cried with a threatening voice, "Choose you a man
for you (any man) and let him come down to me. I defy the
armies of Israel." When he saw David, the shepherd youth,
coming to meet him he assailed him with words of bitterest scorn
and deepest contempt, saying, "Is thy servant a dog that you
come to me with stones." Yes, in the beauty of their persons,
in the accomplishments of their minds, in their possessions, lands,
gold, silver—in their social position, their pedigree, their fame,
their strength men have boasted and do boast. And in such
things Paul once boasted. He tells us that he walked according
to the course of the world and was by nature a child of wrath
even as others. But from the day on which God revealed His
Son in him, on the road to Damascus, his opinions and views underwent an entire change. He was, to use a familiar expression, no
more like the same man.
The folly of this boasting,
we are, what we have done, or of \
have were our own. How
How uncertain the possession of earthly things. David with a
stone from a sling, directed by the hand of God, smites Goliath on
the forehead. The son of Anak staggers, falls and dies, and all
his boasting and bravado are suddenly and for ever silenced. Haman, I presume, had reached the zenith of his ambition. He had
all he wished except of course the homage of Mordecai, the Jew.
When in this position he is hurled from his lofty height and hanged
on the gallows erected for Mordecai. Just while Nebuchadnezzor
was congratulating himself upon his power and glory, the splendour and magnificence of Babylon which he had built, intoxicated
with the success which had crowned his vast undertakings, his reason began to totter, and his glory for a season was eclipsed. As a
punishment for his pride and vanity that strange form of madness
was sent upon him wherein the sufferer imagines himself a beast
and, quitting the haunts of men, insists upon leading the life of a
What folly to boast of what
hat we possess, as if aught we
f   our   life? A  sermon
Let not the strong man glory in his strength. My friends,
the proudest moments of human' power and genius yield to the
destroying influence of time, and quickly pass like their frail projectors from the sight and from the memory of man. The stat-
liest palaces crumble into dust. The ingenious speculations of
the philosopher and the melodious strains of the poet must all be
forgotten and the ingenuity of the one and the melody of the other
alike be as if they had never been. The brave, the daring, the
heroic have fallen, and their perilous exploits and brilliant achievements no longer remembered.
The high and the wealthy who were wont to boast of their
noble blood, who looked down upon the man of humble birth with
disdain, have long renounced their lofty pretentions. The dust
of the peer cannot be distinguished from that of the peasant. Rank
and ancestry are not recognized in the land of the dead. Let not
the wise man. etc.
III. The Change. That memorable day on which Paul was
arrested by Jesus on the way to Damascus was the beginning of a
new era in his history. The light which streamed from the cross,
while it revealed objects before unperceived and called forth
emotions hitherto unfelt, at the same time gave a new and different
appearance to objects formerly familiar. The world once so fair
and lovely in his estimation as to make his heart sink when the
thought of leaving it crossed his mind, now became in his eye,
viewed side by side with the heavenly Canaan, a dark and dreary
wilderness, a barren and inhospitable land. The honors and
pleasures of life which had once stirred his ambition and captivated
his affections now sank into their due proportions, dwindled into
lall and insignificant things. The inheritance which Christ
died to procure and which the dark shadows of the world had long
concealed now came prominently into view and shone with a brilliance and lustre which filled his eye and absorbed his whole being.
He obtained such a view of the grand yet simple way of salvation by Jesus Christ that it filled his whole heart. Once the
name of Jesus he hated. Once Christ's atoning death on Calvary
formed the subject of his derision. Once the inoffensive'followers of Jesus were the objects of his bitterest hatred and unrelenting
persecution. Ah! What a change! Now the very name of
Jesus was dear. He was now his all in all. To serve His follow-
now ready to lay down his life.
Formerly he gloried in his blameless life (when he compared
himself with publicans and sinners) now he gloried that though
the chief of sinners Christ died to save him. Formerly he gloried
in his learning, now he gloried in being accounted a fool for
Christ's sake.      Henceforward (he says in effect) whether I am in the company of believers, or amongst the blaspheming enemies
of Jesus, whether I am amongst those who regard themselves as
profound philosophers and subtle disputers, or amongst the ignorant and unthinking, whether at Rome or at Athens, wherever I
am, or in whatever circumstances I may be placed, God forbid
that I should glory in anything save in the cross of Christ and all
that it implies.
IV. The Effects. "By which the world is crucified." Now
that he gloried in the cross of Christ the world no longer appeared
to him in the same light—no longer presented the same attractions.
"Old things had passed away, all things had become new." Once
the world was his all. Its praises were as sweet as music to his
ears—its pleasures and vanities all his delight. But when his
eye caught a glimpse of Him whose image was marred more than
man, when he got a view of the crucified One his love of the world
received its death blow. The blessedness of pardon, fellowship
with Jesus, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, gave him less and
less relish for earthly things. The world every day became a
more tasteless world for him. Another effect; "To the world."
The change which had come over him was subject of remark. His
former companions could not believe it possible. Is not this he,
they said, who blasphemed the name of Jesus, and persecuted all
that called on His name? Now he is preaching in the synagogue that Jesus is the Son of God. His preaching and praying,
his complete change of front, his conscientious scruples, and all
that sort of thing, they coudn't bear.
They disowned him. They turned their backs upon him.
They cast him overboard as a pest and a nuisance. Brethren
have you been brought thus far? Is there any one here boasting
of a blameless life. "No, I do not boast of it, but I am glad I have
not disfigured my life as many have done." There are some who
boast of their correct manner of life, running down others; running themselves up by running others down. Paul thought himself all right up to a certain ever-to-be-remembered day. Then
he thought himself all wrong—the chief of sinners. If a man
in any way begins to boast of his good life and correct living, it
is because he does not see himself as God sees him or even as his
Anyone boasting of his religious life?    "I am always at meeting, many never go ; that day never dawned on which I did not offer
up prayers and read the bible."    Up to a certain day Paul thought
lught so too, a very good and religious man.
•ejoice in Christ Jesus and have no
things were gain to me, etc.
himself and
But after tl
confidence i
the flesh.
, B. G
One of the first letters I received on my arrival in the province
was a letter from an Edinburgh solicitor, who had a case in hand
relating to the heirship of a landed estate in Scotland. The former
proprietor had died without issue. The nearest blood relation had
been drowned while crossing the Fraser River in a canoe about two
previously. Of the drowning fatality satisfactory evidence
had been obtained. But, singularly enough, only a short time before my settlement in Langley, this lawyer had come to hear that
a certain William McDonald, residing in Chilliwack, had been a
witness of the drowning, and had also been present at the burial
of the unfortunate victim. His testimony therefore, if obtained
would have further strengthened the evidence already in hand.
At the date of the receipt of said letter Chilliwack was unknown
to me even by name. However, I had been in Langley only a
short time when another letter from a family on Harrison River
reached me, asking me to go there to baptise a child; and in the
letter from Harrison I was directed to hire an Indian at Chilliwack
to take me to Harrison Saw Mills. Having informed myself as to
the geographical position of the two places—Harrison and Chilliwack—also as to the best way of reaching both so as to be able
to meet my Sunday appointment at Upper Sumas on my return
journey, I started from Fort Langley on horseback early on a Wednesday "morning, and reached Mr. Musselwhite's (28 miles) at
In passing Mr. T. York's house on Upper Sumas Prairie
I was delayed for some time hearing a long account of an unhappy
dispute between several settlers there concernng the ownership
of a number of cattle. Thus the afternoon was considerably advanced before I got away from Mr. York's. By Mr. York as well
as by Mr. Musselwhite directions were given me as to the road
to be followed. Both assured me that I should reach Mr. D. Mc-
Gillivary's, Lower Sumas, before dark. They also informed me
that the first place I would come to was Mr. Vedder's (13 miles)
and that on reaching the south east end of the lake, the road necessarily left the Prairie and was built along the face of the mountain. The afternoon was bright, and the ride across the Prairie
was really delightful. Tastes differ, no doubt; different persons
may be differently impressed by the same scene. But Upper Sumas,
flanked by mountains, separated from Lower Sumas by the Lake, missionary   journeys
dotted with clumps of graceful cotton wood and fir trees, under
the shadow of which stood numerous comfortable dwellings and
commodious barns—with its rich greet.grass on which large herds
of cattle, spotted and speckled, in good condition, and large bands
of handsome horses of varying colour were pasturing—presented
to me, that lovely afternoon, a picture of surpassing grandeur and
beauty. I had never looked upon anything so grand, so rich, so
beautifully varied and so complete. I must have lingered by the
way admiring the scene. At all events it was almost gloaming by
the time I got to the Lake. The ride along the mountain side, in
view of the Lake, was also very pleasing and interesting.
Now whether my guides had omitted to mention that on reaching the lower end of the Lake I should have to leave the mountain
road and return to the Prairie, or whether I had overlooked that
part of the directions, the darkness concealing the divergence of the
road back to the Prairie, I cannot tell. Anyway I followed the
mountain road, never for a moment thinking I might be wrong,
telegraph poles being planted right along the road side. Still,
calculating the time that should be required to travel 13 miles, I
began to wonder that Mr. Vedder's house was not coming into
view. I hurried along through the woods until I came to a bridge,
which spanned a mountain stream, but upon which and right in the
middle of it a huge cedar tree had fallen, breaking its back. Further progress on horseback along this line was seemingly barred.
Yet sure that I must be on the right road it was extremely tantalizing to be in the immediate neighbourhood of my objective point
(the Vedder residence) and yet to have the approach to it cut off.
In the woods it was dark, but as there was a clear starry sky overhead, I proceeded to examine, as best I could, the broken bridge,
having taken the precaution to tie my pony to a tree. To attempt
to cross appeared hazardous, and yet unwilling to turn back, I made
the attempt, and in doing so stepped, in the dark, on a floating
plank, which threw me into the water. In extricating myself from
various impediments there was no small difficulty and even danger.
However, after a struggle and a thorough drenching I got on to
dry land, and then walked and ran a long distance, (it seemed miles)
still looking for Mr. Vedder's house. But no Vedder's house appeared. At last the painful fact was forced upon me that somehow
or other I must be on the wrong trail, and reluctantly retraced
my steps to the bridge, which I managed to recross without mishap.
Chagrined and crestfallen I saw there was nothing for it but to
walk back to Mr. York's house. It was freezing, and, being wet
from head to foot, I couldn't ride. I got to Mr. York's door as
the clock was striking six. The door I found unlocked, and entering, went to a spare bed-room, and in a few minutes I was sound
asleep. My return was unknown to the family till noon, no one
having seen my pony feeding in a shed.     The surprise my presence SI0NARY    JOURNEYS
/er to the dinner bell, I appeared at table can be
In relating the story of my adventures to Mr. York he almost
paralized me by saying "Oh that's nought. I have come through
much worse than that." And then he proceeded to give me such
stirring accounts of perilous journeys he had taken, and hair
breadth escapes which he had made, that my little trip of 26 hours,
with attending discomforts and dangers appeared to be completely
eclipsed. His remarks, however, taught me a lesson, right at the
beginning of my missionary journeys, namely, to have as little
as possible to say, specially to old-timers, regarding difficulties
met with by the way.
Wishing to discharge the duty at Harrison to which I had been
called and desirous also to ascertain the number of Presbyterian
families in the region round about, while at the same time attending
to that business in connection with Mr. McDonald, I, on a subsequent occasion, renewed my journey to Chilliwack, and carried
it out with success and pleasure, with the exception of one disagreeable experience.
In going up the Harrison I observed, at a certain point, a
curve in the river. Though quite ignorant of Chinook, I succeeded
in making the Indian understand that I wanted to Walk a piece,
taking a near cut over a sandy beach, and arranged to join him
at the upper end of the bend. This I did, but had not proceeded
far when an unlooked-for trouble arose. The beach was strewn
with decaying, humpback salmon, which rendered necessary the
utmost care in picking my steps.     Then the stench was sickening.
We got to the mill late for dinner; but little dinner sufficed
that afternoon. Days elapsed before the odour of the decaying
salmon seemed to leave my nostrils. While trying to partake of
some food at the mill, (another new experience) three Indians
stood by the window watching the performance. A stranger
appearing in those parts, dressed as I was, afforded the Indians a
fertile subject for wonder and remark.
Before reaching Chilliwack I had heard that the Wm. McDonald of whom I was in quest had died some months previously.
Nevertheless I visited the McDonald family, and baptised Mrs.
McDonald's youngest child, a girl of eight years of age. Mrs.
McDonald, who at that time kept the Post Office, remembered
hearing her late husband speak of many painful accidents and
many melancholy deaths by drowning and otherwise, but could
give no reliable particulars of the death of the individual in regard to whom I desired information.
At that time (1875) there were a few families in Chilliwack
the parents of which had either been born in Scotland or were of missions
Scotch descent. But, on making personal enquiry, I found that
they were, and had been for years, members of the Methodist
Church. The McDonald family alone claimed connection with
the Presbyterian Church.
At every house where I called I met with the utmost civility,
and still retain a pleasant recollection" of "an evening spent in the
home of Mr. D. McGillivray, J.P., then an energetic and enterprising farmer in Lower Sumas; also an evening in the home of
Mr. D. Gillanders, a farmer in Upper Chilliwfack, and an eminently
pious man. My conversation with the latter was prolonged into
the night, was resumed the following morning, and was continued
along the road until we said good-bye. We met again but once,
and then only for a short time, but the day of my meeting Mr. D.
Gillanders of Chilliwack was a day to be remembered.
Coming to Langley in September, 1875, I conducted services
during the month of October at Fort Langley, Langley Prairie and
Maple Ridge. In the beginning of November I went for the first
time to South Arm (Delta) and Mud Bay, at each of which there
were a few Presbyterians. On my first trip to these settlements
a Langley settler volunteered to accompany me, thinking it quite
possible that there might be serious difficulties in the way—serious
at least to one entirely inexperienced. We left Fort Langley early
on a Friday morning, and, the forenoon being fair, we had a very
enjoyable ride to New Westminster.
A person, who ought to have known better, informed us that
while the Scott Road to South Arm was not altogether completed,
it was so far advanced, being brushed and logged and graded to
some extent, he thought we should have no trouble in passing
over it on horseback. But to our surprise we learned from Mr.
Scott himself, who with a number of men was engaged, some two
miles from the river, in building the road, that we should have to
leave the road a little further on, and take the old Semiähmoo
Trail. Upon that trail, which was hard and dry, we made good
speed, and after riding some six miles, we came out to what was,
and is still, known as the Kirkland Road, connecting Mud Bay and
South Arm. Then following the Kirkland Road for two miles
westwards we came in sight of Thompson's Camp at the east end
of the South Arm flats.
Two brothers, Thompson, were at that time at work building
the road from the green timber westwards. With one of the two
we had a short conversation regarding' our destination and the missionary   journeys
character of the road to be traversed ere we reached it. We asked
howj far it was to Mr. J. McKee's place, the place for which we
were making. He said it was about two miles, but, at the same
time, expressed a fear as to the possibility of our getting there that
, a certain bridge over a certain slough having been undermined and carried away by a high tide. From Thompson's
camp westwards, travelling became most laborious. Already
(November) heavy rains had fallen, and all that the Thompsons
with their men had yet done toward road-building was to cut deep
ditches, some twenty feet apart, throwing the sod and mud upon
the intervening space. To cross these boggy flats, specially bad
at the east end, where there was little natural drainage, was a serious undertaking for strangers at any time. But when on the
space where the road was to be, and to which we were confined,
there were thrown up several feet of sod and mud it was very
much worse. Thompson had dissuaded us from going, but as
night was approaching we felt we must make a strong effort to
reach some human habitation.
Starting out, the first thing to be done was to dismount. Even
had it been possible to keep in the saddle, the horses had quite
enough ado to get through without riders, plunging and wading
every foot. There was no let up to it. After spending more than
an hour in that manner we met a man in a boat, coming along one
of the ditches. By this time we were quite ready to take a breathing spell. We remarked upon the terrible character of the task
we had in hand, and expressed the hope that the worst was past.
"Oh no," he said, "the worst is ahead of you." "How far is it
from Mr. McKee's place?" "About two miles." "But it was two
miles when we set out from the camp more than an hour since."
"Yes, but if you will look back you will see that you have not
: far in that time." This man also advised us to go back.
However we pushed onwards. By and by, while it was yet light,
we reached the slough spoken of, which, as we could see, it would
be madness to attempt to cross, its sides being deep and slimy.
Turning to the right, over a temporary bridge of rails, we followed the bank of the slough northwards, all the time looking for
a possible ford, until darkness came down and rain began to fall.
Just then in our extremity, we saw a light a short way ahead
of us. There a settler had a cabin, and an acre of land, surrounded by a dyke, as we learned afterwards. My companion suggested
that I should stand by the horses while he went forward to reconnoitre and make enquiry. He could see the dim outline of the
dyke, and ditches on either side filled with water. To reach the
top of the dyke he made a big leap and succeeded. He made
another to reach the ground on the other side but fell short, jump-
,. ing right into the ditch. Dripping wet he struggled out toward
the light. missionary   journeys
Soon I could overhear the two men in animated consultation.
The owner of the cabin, lantern in hand, conducted us across the
slough where it was shallow and gravelly, and did not leave us till
he brought us back to the road which we had left, on the west side
of that slough.
Thanking our obliging guide, I said by way of a joke, "Are
we still two miles from Mr. McKee's place?" "Yes," he answered,
seriously, "about two miles." Now how we managed to cover
the distance over such a tract, and avoid the ditches in the deep
darkness, must ever remain a mystery, and at the same time a
cause of thankfulness.
Between what was to be the public road and Mr. McKee's
house—a distance of about 50 yards—planks had been laid down
in specially bad places, very helpful in daylight, but in the darkness a snare and delusion. Before reaching this spot I had stumbled many times but had always succeeded in keeping on my feet.
Then I fell and fell again. Just out from Scotland I never had
had any experience of anything but macadamised roads. Wearing a suit of broadcloth and elastic sided shoes, one can imagine
my grim and bedraggled appearance when I came to the light.
The McKee family, not long from the north of Ireland, received us cordially, but in the face of the dark outlook ahead of
them, they were, as can be understood, feeling discouraged and
homesick. Next morning at breakfast Mr. McKee said that he
had kept awake thinking about us, and wondering how we had
got there at all. (In the morning the McKee dwelling house and
barn, raised several feet from the ground, were surrounded by
water by an incoming high tide.) That same tract, in the same
condition, I often travelled afterwards, but took the precaution to
leave my horse at the foot of the hill, crossing the bridgeless
slough on a stringer. Afraid then to walk a stringer I was obliged
to wriggle myself across, in a rather undignified manner, sitting
astride. There was a wooden pin about the middle of the stringer,
standing up three or four inches. To get over or past that pin
without losing my balance was quite a feat; but, taking time, I
was always able to perform the feat with success.
The journey from Langley to South Arm by New Westminster,
though long and fatiguing, is merely a sample. There were many
similar trips, involving if not precisely the same difficulties, difficulties as perplexing. (The state of the roads underwent little
' improvement for ten years.) Indeed during the greater part of
the year there was seldom what might be appropriately termed an
uneventful journey. If the traveller was fortunate enough to get
across fords, floating corduroy, and treacherous mudholes without getting wet, he rarely escaped a tussle in getting over or under
fallen timber. 12
missionary   journeys
In coming up to a giant fir or cedar, lying right across the
road, the first impression often was that the obstruction was insurmountable—a painful feeling when one happened to be miles
away from the nearest house, and night coming down. Courage,
patience, hard manual labor, as well as some engineering skill
were all at times called into exercise in order to win the victory;
and occasionally—though seldom—all were unavailing, and a sleepless night had to be passed by the roadside.
Never having in all my journeys by night or by day met a
bear or panther fear never entered my mind. As for robbers,
there were none. There was nothing to draw them to those parts
in those days.     The people, with few exceptions, were poor.
Once an old man, in reduced circumstances (though at one
time a millionaire, it was reported, in California) came to Langley
for the purpose of selling a standard medical work. He got the
use of my horse to carry him round the settlement. When he
returned at night he said "I have not sold a single book. They
are the poorest lot of people I ever met. As for the roads they
are the worst I ever travelled, and I.have been travelling all my
life." The old man was quite exhausted as well as unsuccessful
in his business venture, and therefore expressed himself in terms
more forcible than correct.
Still the people generally were poor—but the industrious and
prudent, who were content to crawl until they were able to walk,
and who lived for the most part upon the produce of their land,
really lacked nothing essential; and they and their sons are today
among the prosperous well-to-do farmers of the Fraser Valley. It
was the indolent and the shiftless—those who were always complaining of the roads and the rain and the hard times, and wondering if "the country would ever come to anything anyhow"—who
never had a cent.
On Saturday forenoon we left the McKee place for Mud Bay—
about ten miles eastwards, and towards Surrey Centre. There
was no trouble in finding the home of the McDougall family,
though not long from Ontario. Whether the McKees had heard
of the recent arrival in the province of a number of ministers from
Scotland or not, the McDougalls had heard—had met me at the
Communion table in St. Andrew's Church, New Westminster, on
a previous Sunday. Mr. and Mrs. McDougall had walked all the
way from Mud Bay over a trail (13 miles) on Saturday for the
occasion, returning on Monday. That one fact is sufficient to
give an idea of the kind of people they were, the value they placed
upon the Holy Sacrament of the Supper, and their pleasure in
observing it.
Their small house of cedar logs stood on the south side of the
Nicomekl, as far away as possible from the tall timber in the missionary   journeys
"vicinity. In approaching the house the path led over a swampy
piece of ground where planks, as stepping stones, were put down,
which of course it was prudent to observe. Of that Saturday
afternoon and my meeting with that family I will ever have a most
pleasing remembrance—the kindly intelligent face of the father
and his hearty welcome—the womanly tenderness and thoughtful-
ness of the mother, and the quiet self-possession and readiness to
oblige on the part of the family, three girls and two boys. Here,
any one might observe, was a Christian family indeed.
At once notice of meeting for service on the following day at
11 a.m. was given to the settlers around. And on that day, the
second Sunday in November, 1875, in the house of Alexander McDougall, with an attendance of sixteen, the first Presbyterian
service in Mud Bay was held.
In order to better accommodate the different families, the meetings for several years previous to the erection of Mud Bay Presbyterian Church in 1885, were held in the house of Mr. Wm. Woodward, a member of the Methodist Church. In the house of that
good man all were made welcome and felt at home.
On returning to New Westminster on Monday forenoon, Rev.
Mr. Jamieson listened with great interest to the exciting and rather
amusing story of my first journey to South Arm. Some considered Mr. Jamieson an austere, unbending, exacting man. With
him, I admit, in all matters of right and wrong, there was no compromise or middle course. But in his own house he was most
pleasant, even playful, and greatly beloved. With congenial friends
he was free and affable, and, possessed of a large vein of Irish wit,
a gifted and entertaining conversationalist.
That afternoon, intending to spend only a few minutes with
him, I spent several hours. Not till night was seen to be approaching did I think of the "lang Scotch miles" that lay between me and
Fort Langley. Hurriedly saying goodbye I hastened to get across
the river in daylight. The Yale road, in those days, was narrow,
and, while the rainy season lasted, it was in a horrible state. In
the darkness I could not walk. There was no help for it but to
sit in the saddle as contentedly as possible, and let the pony plod
along and pick his steps as best he could. A ride of 19 miles in the
darkness on such a road was not fascinating. Several times, that
night, I resolved that I should never again be caught in such a
plight. Alas for human resolutions. Many times afterwards I
forgot myself in like manner in the same house.
As a means of beguiling the time in that lonesome journey,
and in others like it, in the dark, I was in the habit of repeating
passages of scripture and passages from favorite poets. Anon I
sang psalms and hymns. Then by way of varying the program I
sang old familiar Scotch songs—the "sangs my father liked to hear" 14
missionary   journeys
and sang. And as I sang "my heart gaed back to auld Scotland"
and "the dark tear filled my ee" and sincere prayers ascended to
heaven in behalf of loved ones in the old land, who, while life lasted
never ceased to remember me. Perhaps I may be pardoned for
saying that one dark night I became so interested and absorbed
in the sentiments of the old hymn "One is kind above all others"
that I did not realise that I had reached home till the pony stopped
at the stable door.
The Rev. R. Jamieson, who came to New Westminster in 1862,
conducted services at North Arm (Richmond) as soon as settlers
located there. But for some time previous to 1878, the state of
his health prevented him from going outside of New Westminster.
Indeed his strength was often barely sufficient for the morning
and evening services in St. Andrew's.
In the beginning of the summer of 1878 I held my first service
at North Arm in the Methodist Church there, which was situated
on the mainland, on the bank of the river, and to which the entire
congregation came either by rowboat or canoe. There was no road
leading to the church.
Of that Sunday morning, calm and balmy—of that picturesque
scene—cedars and firs of immense stature with their vivid green
foliage in the back ground—the majestic Fraser, silently rolling
along its torrent by Lulu and Sea Islands—the extraordinary
wealth of vegetation along its banks, and, the strong sweet scent
of wild roses—the pleasant looking little church standing a few
yards from the river—the healthy, happy faces of the people as
boat load after boat load was landed—I say of that Sunday morning and of that interesting and attractive scene I still have a clear
and happy remembrance.
At the service adherents of different denominations were present, North of Ireland Presbyterians predominating. As might
be expected there was a good deal of chaffing in subdued tones
while the boats were being tied up. I say in subdued tones, for
they could not know whether their jokes might be considered timely
by the new minister. Once in church all looked serious and expectant. The singing of Psalms and Paraphrases was general and
hearty. The eager faces and the devout appearance of these men
and women, who were unmistakably persons of a superior class,
encouraged the preacher, and made preaching pleasurable.
If the first settlers had peculiar hardships they also had peculiar pleasures.    Only the earliest settlers fully fathomed the depths missionary  journeys
of that feeling of loneliness and homesickness which stole over the
heart, when, hemmed in on every side by the forest primeval, they
thought of the broad continent and the broad sea which separated
them from their native land and loved ones there. And only the
first settlers experienced the peculiar joy which came to them, when
in the far-off land, in a church building, however humble, they could
after the manners of their fathers, worship God. Passages of
Scripture, familiar from childhood, came home to them with fresh
power and appeared singularly appropriate to their changed surroundings.    The very Psalms sounded sweeter on a foreign soil.
For three years the missionary stationed at Langley gave
supply to North Arm every third Sunday; and, singular to relate,
he never once failed to keep his appointment, during these years.
On several occasions, ice on the river prevented his going to Maple
Ridge, only five miles from Langley; but on the North Arm Sundays, as it always happened, the river was open. In summer, the
journey was pleasant enough, if tedious. In winter, during cold,
rainy weather, it was the reverse.
Let me here give a brief account of a journey to North Arm
in January, 1879, and from one learn of others. To ensure an
early start on Saturday morning, my boatman, Robbie Robertson,
came from Whonnock to Hudson's Bay Company's farm, Langley,
(where I then lived) on Friday evening. Breakfasting before daylight, at early dawn we set out for Fort Langley, (3 miles) carrying
coats etc., needed for warmth and protection. The distance from
point of commencement to North Arm was from 33 to 35 miles,
according to location of respective stopping places. In New Westminster we had dinner at the "Farmer's Home," kept by a most
worthy couple, Mr. and Mrs. James Turnbull, and almost immediately afterwards the journey was resumed. In the short days,
North Arm was seldom reached with daylight. If the tide was
going out good speed was made; if coming in, progress was labored and slow. On the day referred to, we got to the point opposite
to the house of Messrs Robson and Smith, which was situated on
the bank of an ugly slough, between 6 and 7 o'clock p.m. The tide
was out; it was very dark; it was raining, and a cold wind was
blowing from the east. Robbie, who was wearing long boots, insisted on packing me to the bank. I, somewhat unwillingly consented, fearing the result. He got along only a few steps when
he stuck in the mud and fell. I was then obliged to wade and crawl
through the slimy mud till I got on to solid ground. Our figures,
as we appeared in the lamp-light, must have been provocative of
laughter, but our hosts succeeded in restraining merriment, and
proceeded at once to get us change of garments and something to
eat. Under the influence of the cup that cheers we ourselves soon
became merry over our struggle in the mud—a struggle, which
if not serious was nevertheless calculated ;to test the temper. 16
MISSIONARY   journeys
On the following morning, the rain was heavier and the wind
stronger. Messrs Robson and Smith endeavoured to dissuade us
from going to Church, assuring us that no one would be there in
such a wild day. We went notwithstanding, and, on arriving at
the meeting place, we found one man waiting, who, fearing the big
breakers on the river with his boat, had had a tough tramp through
the bush, not without danger either, owing to the violence of the
gale. He said, "I supposed you would be here as usual else I would
not have come out on such a tempestuous day." Soon the doors
were opened, a fire made, and the service went on as formerly even
to the taking up of the collection, which amounted to five dollars.
The man alluded to was Fitzgerald McGeery. He and his brother,
Samuel, were and continued to be generous supporters of the Presbyterian Church in that locality. Others did nobly; they excelled
in Christian liberality.
In the afternoon the wind moderated, but the rain continued,
and in the evening New Westminster was reached in safety, if not
in comfort. On Monday evening, long after dark, we got back
to Fort Langley, but still had three miles of trudging through mud
in a pouring rain, before home was reached.
Other" exhausting and perilous trips on the Fraser River were
made (we seldom could wait for time and tide with definite appointments to meet) but the trip just described was the worst we
ever came through. It blew fiercely part of the time; twice we were
in actual danger, and it rained steadily during the whole three days,
except two or three hours on Saturday morning.
Referring again to money received at North Arm, the Sunday
collections amounted to four, five or six dollars (one Sunday they
amounted to $17.25) according to the attendance, which again rose
and fell according to the state of the weather. Sunday offerings
together with subscriptions totalled over $300 a year, a sum greater
than the united contributions of all the other stations.
In justice, however, to the ranchers in other settlements it
ought to be kept in mind, in this connection, that they were heavily
handicapped in various respects. 1. Removing heavy timber was
a slow process, involving much hard work. 2. Crops raised on
cleared bush land were seldom remunerative in less than three years.
3. There was no steady or reliable market in New Westminster,
the only market town, for farm produce. 4. The roads leading
to New Westminster, during the greater part of the year, were all
but impassable. Whereas in North Arm, after the initial undertakings of dyking and draining were accomplished, the way was at
once open to success and prosperity. The soil yielded abundant
crops from the beginning. Steamers came to every farmer's landing to take away his hay, oats, cattle, etc. to Victoria and Nanaimo,
where cash was paid on delivery.   PURCHA^D J« (9bd<8t^^i^e>
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