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Father Pat : a hero of the Far West Mercier, Jerome, Mrs. 1909

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The Right Reverend JOHN DART, D.D.
"He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."— S. Matt. x. 39.
1909  Jh
tlo all
OF HIS  MOST NOBLE  LIFE  ,.^r^^u^^wmmmf.n$m
Tffls year, 1909, is the Jubilee Year of the Church of England
in British Columbia. For on S. Matthias' Day, February
the twenty-fourth, 1859, the good Bishop Hills was consecrated to the oversight of that vast province, now divided
into four dioceses (Columbia, Caledonia, New Westminster,
and Kootenay,—the two last as yet under one Bishop).
It seems a fitting time, therefore, to put forth a short record
of the brave life of one who was a hero to his flock,—a Father
Dolling of the West,—the Reverend Henry Irwin, known
far and wide in British Columbia as " Father Pat." The
memoir has been compiled, with the aid of many kind friends,
at the request of the Bishop of New Westminster and
Kootenay, and after a visit to the places where the memory
of Father Pat is still beloved and cherished.
Anne Mercier.
Kemerton, February 1909.  "Hv
The life of a missionary priest in Canada amongst settlers
is not often an eventful one. It generally presents a record
of hard, monotonous work like that of a poor priest in a
scattered agricultural parish in England. There are, however, some points of difference. The Canadian priest must
cover much longer distances both walking and riding, and
he must be more frequently away from home. He should,
therefore, be decidedly hardy and athletic. Again, he has
to deal with a greater variety of people than can be found
in an old-world parish. Besides those born in the Dominion,
immigrants from Britain, Scandinavia, Italy, and the States,
some ignorant, others well educated, will all be met with in
his travels. If these men have reason to believe that the
missionary is a true and sympathetic man, they will attend
his services and be inclined to follow his lead. Cecil's
remark applies to British Columbia even more forcibly than
it does to England: " Men look to a man out of the pulpit,
to see what he is worth in it."
It was because Henry Irwin always showed himself to be
unselfish, sympathetic, and anxious to help others to the
very utmost of his power, that he won his great influence
amongst the pioneers of British Columbia and that his name
and memory are held by them in affection and respect.
Stories showing his character are often told, e.g. how he
went to a man who had been injured by an accident, and
drew him in a sledge over the snow several miles to his home;
how he would carry the consolations of religion in stormy
weather up the mountains to sick miners, in spite of the
opposition (not confined to words) of the thoughtless and
godless in the vicinity. Manners and customs have become
mote polished in British Columbia than they were in early Father Pat
days. A dialogue like the following would scarcely be
possible now during service, even in the newest and roughest
camps. A minister is interrupted in a prayer for a person
by a miner with all gravity, and with no intentional irreverence. " Hold up, parson, I don't pray for that fellow."
" Why not ? " | Because the papers say so and so about
him." | Well, but the papers don't always speak the truth,
do they ? " I Not by a long chalk," was the reply. " And
if all these stories were true, he would need our prayers all j
the more, wouldn't he ? " " Well, I guess you are right,
parson; fire away."
Soon after I arrived in British Columbia, in 1895, Henry
Irwin wrote to me from his living in the north of Ireland,
offering his services to the diocese.
Rossland was then rising into notice as a mining camp,
and Irwin, who had been missionary at Golden, and afterwards chaplain to Bishop Sillitoe, seemed, from the reports
that reached me, to be just the man for the place. Accordingly he was sent there, and the result answered my
expectations. Very soon a spacious frame building was
erected for a church, with rooms in the basement to serve
as a lodging for the priest and a club for the men in the
neighbourhood. But I do not remember ever finding Irwin
in his own rooms. They were always giving shelter to poor
people who had been reduced to want, whilst he himself
had a shake-down in some friendly bachelor's " shack."
Nor was he unmindful of the wider interests of the Church,
as he showed by taking a prominent part in the measures
that led to the erection of Kootenay into a separate Diocese.
When Rossland became more civilized and comparatively
rich, Irwin left it to take up pioneer work in the neighbouring boundary country. Here he remained until his health
imperatively demanded rest and change. We were all
hoping he would return to us in renewed health and strength
- after a short visit to his friends in Ireland; but God saw fit
to order it otherwise.   Beatus mortuus.
JOHN, New Westminster and Kootenay. The Rev. Henry Irwin, B.A.
("Father Pat")
^^riiig r
T\ '^nutrnf-ifimmn
Father Pat
A QUIET TIME ...... 65
A NEW BEGINNING .              .              .              .              .              • 71
SNAP-SHOTS                ...... 8b
"THE PROSPECTOR"             . 91
MEMORIALS .......       107 FATHER    PAT
On August 2nd, 1859, was born among the Wicklow
Mountains a bright, happy, Irish boy, full of nSe and
fun—Henry Irwin, one of a family belonging to the old
Church School of Ireland. His father was incumbent of
Newtown, Mount Kennedy, from 1863 to 1894, and his
grandfather was Precentor of Armagh Cathedral, and
Chaplain and Secretary to the Primate, Archbishop
Beresford.   His great-grandfather was Archdeacon of Emly.
Thus we see that Church feeling was innate in him, and
his merry, brave boyish spirit, far from lessening this feeling,
only added ardour to it. When a mere child his saying
was :  " I am going to be a missionary."
In the roomy old family house, " Prospect House," in
view of the Wicklow Mountains, Henry Irwin received his
first lessons from a lady, who speaks of his sweet and affectionate disposition, willing to share his toys and pleasures,
never bearing malice or sullen after punishment. "To do
something was a necessity to him," she says; he entered
into all boyish games with zest, and loved all animals,
horses especially. He was a fearless rider, and scoured the
country on his shaggy pony. His brother observes: "I
believe it was this rough riding in his boyhood that fitted
Henry so well for the work to which he afterwards devoted
his life. All through his school and college life he studied
to train and harden his body in all kinds of manly exercises,
always with the one end in view."
At the age of twelve Henry Irwin went to S. Columba's
School,  intended to be a sort of Irish Eton, of which
I 14 Father Pat [i.
Dr Sewell, the brother of the authoress and headmaster
of S. Peter's College, Radley, was one of the founders. Archbishop Beresford, Bishop Moberly, Archbishop Magee, and
A. J. Beresford Hope were also promoters of this school,
which was founded in 1843. When young Irwin went to
school, S. Columba's had migrated to Holly Lodge, Co.
Dublin. From its earliest days the school had a fine esprit
de corps, and impressed its pupils with earnest zeal for the
The Rev. R. Rice, Principal of S. Columba's when Henry
Irwin was a pupil there, has kindly sent me the following
I Henry Irwin was the eldest of four brothers, of whom
three were educated at S. Columba's College, and three of
these four have done good work as missionaries. From the
first Henry showed high and strong principle, ever ready
with his work, ever near the front in the playfield, ever
attentive and devout in chapel. These traits became more
distinct as he grew. I recall him vividly as the captain of
games, as a most useful Prefect, enthusiastic in everything
that came in his way, conscientious in his superintendence
of meals in Hall, of Dormitory rules, of chapel processions;
always taking the right line, as if by instinct, in matters of
discipline, such as bullying and protection of the weak, and
in matters of moral tone. He was a diligent learner, though
not able to reach the highest rank in scholarship. Very
early in life he conceived the desire to be a missionary, and
his choice was for a cold climate."
In all this we see the child as " father of the man." There
was plenty of fun and life in the school. | It was a healthy,
free, active life we led," says one of the pupils. " / learned
how to learn at S. Columba's College." The carman who
drove the boys used to say, " I think the young gentlemen
do leave their heart in the place." Yes, their hearts were
with the old schoolroom, the chapel, the deer park, and the
glen; and many a quaint anecdote is still told among the
former alumni, such as the following of "Mr Bulmer's
magpie," from Floreat Columba, the college annual:—
II Of course many remember Mr Bulmer's magpie.   One i.] Home and School Life
scene, in which the bird played an active part, comes back
to me.
" We were mustering at drill before the Warden's house,
and Sergeant Gibson was brandishing his old umbrella and
dressing up the ranks, while stragglers came down from the
old schoolroom at a ' double.' Last of all came—why
not name him ?—Seymour Major, with the choicest of
1 tuppenny' buns, brown, glistening and scorbutic with
broken lump sugar a-top. It was a toothsome morsel, and,
as he ' fell in,' he could not resist the temptation to sample
its delights. Up went the Warden's window. ' Seymour,
Seymour, what have you got there ? ' Seymour held forth
his late purchase, and explained—hardly necessary, indeed,
for the object was large and easily seen—' A bun, sir.' ' Put
it down at once, there, on the grass in front.' So Seymour
stepped on the sacred spot, ' out of bounds,' as all know,
and, to save his luncheon from the damp, put it on the projecting plinth under the common-room window and fell
back into his place. Then the Warden's window closed and
drill continued. ' First extension movement—lock the
thumbs, left in front—one,' etc., etc. And still Seymour's
bun simmered in the morning's sunlight. Tragedy, however,
hovered near at hand. With a sudden flop and elevating
of his tail, dropped Mr Bulmer's magpie before us on the
grass, taking a quite disinterested glimpse at Seymour's bun.
An awful fear fell on us—Seymour had his name \ taken'
twice for gross inattention—could it be wondered at ?
Nearer and nearer came ' Mag,' and at last, with one light
hop, reached the plinth, drove home his beak, and with an
irritating ' keck, keck,' like the jarring laughter of an old
man, sailed off with his prize to the heights of the Warden's
u There is no moral, I regret to say. { Mag ' survived the
theft and the bun for many years.
" But it was rough on Seymour, was it not ? "
We find Henry Irwin's name in the College lists of athletes.
" Those seem giant days to remember now," writes Mr
Orpen, an old " boy " of S.C.C. " Then balls were always
over the Marlay wall—such tricks does memory play—and 16 Father Pat [i.
Henry Irwin kept fielders busy in the vicinity of the Fives
Courts, to the weariness of the Bowler." It is said that one
mighty ball from Irwin's bat almost struck the head of Mrs
Parnell, mother of the redoubted Irish champion, Charles
Stewart Parnell, and of Henry Tudor Parnell, a pupil at
S. Columba's, of whom it is said that, " silent and imperturbable, he hated games, and was always working. He
was a fine classic, and seemed to * tumble' to ^Eschylus
and Sophocles the first time he tried. Parnell's insight
into (Edipus Rex was wonderful." The old Columbans
knew how to work and how to play with zest and zeal, and
we believe that these happy traditions remain. 	
The next step in Henry Irwin's life was his matriculation
at Keble College, in 1878. The deep enthusiasm felt for
" Keble " in its early days exceeds, perhaps, anything that
we in the colder light of the twentieth century can quite
understand. The very name, reminding the students of the
poetic leader who gave the impress of his tender imagination to the Oxford Revival, with the principle of " plain
living and high thinking," which was the ideal of Keble
College in its early days, gave to the place a charm, and
added a certain cachet to every Keble man. As the present
Head of the College (the Rev. Walter Lock, D.D.) has said :
" To commemorate the holy memory of John Keble, and
to carry on the work he had at heart, Keble College, Oxford,
was founded in 1870. Its objects were twofold: (1) to
answer to a widespread desire to make University education
more accessible to the nation, and especially to those who
were anxious to take Holy Orders in the Church of England,
and (2) to insure that their education should be in the hands
of Churchmen." Here, in an atmosphere corresponding to
that which breathed in his own family circle, and which
S. Columba's had fostered, Henry Irwin passed the happy
years of his undergraduate life, bearing there much the same
character as at school. Upright and clean in nature, full
of spirits and goodwill, studious, but not attaining to a high
rank in scholarship, he was every man's friend, and universally loved and trusted.
His College friend, the Rev. Percy Smythe, Vicar of
Kettering, says : " When Irwin first went up to Keble, the
College was just beginning to get over the reputation of being
a new College in an old University.   Some men still referred
B % 18 Father Pat [ii.
contemptuously to the College as Kebble Hall; and we used
still to have sometimes cast at us a very insulting little
rhyme which ran as follows :—
" ' There was a young freshman of Keble,
Whose legs were uncommonly feeble ;
So he chartered a fly
To go down to the High,
A Sabbath-day's journey from Keble.'
" On the whole, however, the College held its own in the
'Varsity, and its reputation was increased in our day both by
recently won triumphs on the river and by the popularity
of Norman MacLachlan, captain of the University Cricket
Eleven, who was a Keble man.
" The dons in those days were a remarkable set of men; the
dear old Warden ; then the Rev. Walter Lock (now Warden);
Jayne, Illingworth, Herbert Gladstone, and others. The men
did not strike me as remarkable. They were a level set, and
there was an honest, straightforward, manly tone about the
College ; and though we seemed to ourselves an ordinary lot,
there were men among us who were destined to make their
mark : Winnington Ingram, now Bishop of London; Mike
Rimington, of South African fame; Mackenzie, afterwards
Principal of the Academy in Edinburgh ; Wilson, afterwards
Vicar of Portsea; and Douglas Eyre, so well known among
workers in East London. Besides, there were dozens of men
unknown to fame who are honestly serving God in their
generation. Keble was just the school to turn out clean,
hard-working Englishmen; what we might call a good level
Henry Irwin kept up his reputation as an athlete; he
rowed in the Torpids and Eights ; played in his College
Eleven and in the 'Varsity Fifteen. A letter of his, written
at this time, may be of interest:—
" Keble College,
Nov. 9,  1878.
" My dear M.—I have had a treat, to hear the two
great preachers of Oxford, Dr Pusey and Canon Liddon:
I only heard the former's sermon read by Mr Paget of Christ ii.] At Keble College, Oxford 19
Church, as the doctors considered Pusey unfit to preach;—
of course it was a beautiful sermon, and Canon Liddon's
of this afternoon was not less beautiful.
" We had a large number at Celebration this morning :
I think there were about seventy. I wonder more don't
avail themselves of the opportunity. You will be glad to
hear that I am in the choir ; or at least I am a probationer.
Freshmen are only admitted as probationers. After the
'Varsity sermon, I and two others went off to High Celebration at SS. Philip and James;  it was very nice indeed.
" It is curious to find men having exactly the same wishes
as oneself;—one of those who intend to go out as missionaries told me that his choice lay between South Africa and
" That terrible ordeal ' Smalls ' comes before Christmas ;
I believe it is not so bad as it is pictured, but I shall be very
glad when it is over. I have bad luck, as the examination
goes in alphabetical order, and they will begin this year
from L, so I shall not have any chance of getting to S.
Columba's College for the breaking up.—Yours, H. I."
Another letter, simply headed " Saturday," but apparently written about the same time concerning a missionary
meeting, shows the joyous interest taken in everything in
his new life. Indeed, is anything equal to the joy of those
young fellows who throw themselves into the best life of
the University, life which may not always be intellectual,
but is full of gladness and hope, to which steady work is a
capital foil?
" My dear M.—I had a treat indeed last night,—one I
would not have missed for anything. The meeting took
place in the Town Hall, and the room was full some time
before the meeting began. The Bishop of Oxford was not
there ; he was ill. We opened with prayer, and then the
Chairman introduced Mr Farler of the African Mission.
He was splendid. He began his lecture from the time when
he set out with Bishop Steere, for the first time, into the
heart of Africa.   He had very odd experiences on his journey,
h=- Father Pat [ii.
but arrived safely at the first town. Here he said he was
very lonely when the Bishop left him,—the only white man.
among a dense population of blacks. His first sermon was
a great success, as the people came from all parts and were
very eager to hear the new religion. He told us most amusing
stories; one of them was, that knives and forks had never
been seen before by the natives, and a large crowd gathered
round every day at dinner to watch the white man eating ;
peals of laughter ran round as each piece was put into his
mouth; it was incomprehensible why such trouble was
taken when one had fingers ready made. Mr Farler told us
that he found the greatest possible advantage in having a
knowledge of medicine; and that he never would have got
the influence he had obtained if he had not known how to
cure the different diseases. The hardest part of doctoring
was, that it took an immensity of time to find out what was
wrong with the natives ■ for if you tapped them on the
head, they would say that was the sore part; and then, if
you touched the arm, that was the sore part, and so on."
Here we see the same deep interest in mission work that
marked Henry Irwin as a boy; with the love of fun which
so distinguished him later in his own missionary life, when
hardships were relieved by his power of always seeing the
humour of the situation.
Another letter, dated " Sunday," speaks of a sermon that
Irwin had heard preached by Mr Richmond at S. Barnabas'
Church, on the necessity of constant prayer, and advising
his hearers to follow S. Paul's example, and remember in
prayer those with whom they came in contact during their
daily life, whether friends or not.
He now joined the Missionary Association of Keble College,
to which the Warden gladly admitted him. He was asked
to join the E.C.U., but replied plainly that he did not approve of joining any such societies (societies with a strong
party bias) while a Freshman. For a similar reason he
refused to hear Monsignor Capel, in spite of his reputation
for eloquence.
More information we have n(5t as to his College life.   He
 inr*"-' ii.] At Keble College, Oxford 21
speaks of playing football frequently, and how no one " who
does not know what a delight it is to have every muscle
strained to do its best, can appreciate this really grand
game." $
In the year 1881 Irwin took his degree, and left Oxford,
having fully resolved on taking Holy Orders, with the ultimate
aim of offering himself for the work of a missionary.
He was already known to his chums as " Pat," from his
Irish origin and marked nationality, but it was not till he
was in his first curacy that a colleague gave him the sobriquet
of " Father Pat," which stuck to him ever after.
On leaving Oxford, where he took an ordinary Degree in
1881, Henry Irwin went for a time to Yarlet, as master in
the Boys' School there, under the Rev. Walter Earle.
The following account of him is from the pen of Mr Earle
himself, now resident at Bilton Grange, Rugby:—
" Henry Irwin came to Yarlet, if I remember right,
straight from the university, and remained about one and a
half years.
" Mis ideas of the future had not then taken any very
definite shape:—his heart was always hot within him, and
he threw the whole of that heart so much into the immediate
present, that it was absorbed in his life with the boys, their
work, their play, their everything.
" Being a man of large sympathies,—sunny, patient, untiring, earnest, loving,—he was cut out for a most valuable
schoolmaster; blessed with a vigorous healthy body and
sunny nature, he always saw the better side of everybody's
character; and if there was a worse, that worse would
safely be confided to Pat Irwin, for a boy knew he was in
good hands, and that his master only wanted to be trusted
with the whole in order to be a real friend and helper.
" His life with me was naturally made up of (so called)
little duties, but he was too thorough a man not to find a
full sufficiency of greatness in the daily drudgery Each
day was ease, happy living, jolly comradeship: I cannot
remember a grievance or rub j all was outspoken, nothing
misunderstood, offence impossible.
"h was a cloudy sad time when he came to tell us that
he had made up his mind to take Holy Orders and devote -^^
in.] His First Curacy—Rugby
himself to parochial work; but his mind was a strong one,
and what he meant, his resolution soon put into doing.
" Well do I remember saying to him (most reluctantly)
when he came to acquaint me of his intention : ' You are
right, you want a bigger field.'
" I felt he saw a larger future, and that his spirit had
subtle powers and latent capabilities that ought to be free
to choose what range they fancied.
| After he left me, he went to Rugby, during 1883. I
used to hear of his busy life, his interest in the working men,
the new Guild which he had started, his kindness to boys
at the big school. He loved my boys and would have them
to tea at his rooms, and with that tea many a kind, wise,
opportune bit of elder-brother advice would be thrown in.
" The last time I saw him was here at Bilton Grange on
one of his short holidays : he arrived galloping down my
drive on Lawrence's pony : I think I hear him shouting to
me: ' Here's my war horse, dear old Lawrence's Taffy !'
big sou'wester hat on the back of his head, face radiant with
health and happiness, not much of the cleric in his attire that
day ! but a heart overflowing with goodwill to all men, and
an irresistible manly influence which one felt must be the
making of his missionary success :—a kind of spirit-magnetism seemed to flow from the shake of his hand and the
merry good-natured laugh.
" I can quite believe that he would wear himself out with
work : he could not understand any half measures : ' all in
all, or not at all,' was his motto.
" He came to Yarlet to teach boys, and the best teaching
he ever gave was to us men: if there was any iron in us,
' Pat' was the iron to sharpen it: no one forgets him, there
is no one who does not feel all the better for having known
him, and we are assured that his blessed influence must still
be circling forth, ever widening out, beyond the cognisance
of his4ellows, but never lost sight of by the great Omniscient
Between the happy time at Yarlet and his first curacy,
came the deepening spiritual experience of a Theological
^J> #
24 Father Pat [hi.
College. In 1882 Henry Irwin entered his name at Ely, and
remained there for a year, when he was ordained Deacon.
The Theological College at Ely was founded in 1876, by the
generosity of Bishop Woodford, and has distinguished itself
by sending forth priests, manly and hard-working, " into
every diocese of England and Wales, into Scotland, Ireland,
and far beyond—into Australia, New Zealand, Africa, and
India ; into Canada and the West Indies." x
In former days a man proceeded straight from the university to ordination, with the interim preparation only of
reading for the Bishop's examination. He then at once
took up work in school or parish, and it depended entirely
on his Vicar or Rector whether he received any training for
his sacred office that was worthy of the name. The wonder
is that so many good clergymen were produced by such a
course ; for the gap between lay and clerical life is too great
to be bridged over merely by work and daily experience;
it needs the calm of retirement, well-directed study, constant
and mutual prayer. The spiritual life which has come into
the Church of England's junior clergy dates chiefly from the
foundation of the Theological Colleges, of which Cuddesdon
and Ely may be said to stand first in regard to the number
and character of the men emanating from them.
Belonging, as Henry Irwin did, to one of the Irish families
which had been most earnest in the revival of Church life
under such leaders as Beresford and Trench, he naturally
took advantage of the privileges of theological and devotional
training recently offered by the newly-founded college.
He was respected and liked there, as at school and at the
university; and in the " Report of Ely Theological^College for
1902 " he is referred to in terms of affectionate regret, his
touching end being narrated.
Henry Irwin had the good fortune to find his first curacy
under the Rev. John Murray, Rector of Rugby, than whom
a more wise and ardent spirit never existed. His curates
loved him as a father and a friend. Rugby is, in most people's
minds, absorbed in the great public school, with the intense
1 See Canon Newholt's Address at the Festival of Ely Theological College, June 4, 1901. in.] His First Curacy—Rugby 25
interest lent to it by the memory of Dr Arnold, who " trusted
his boys," and the ever-fresh pages of " Tom Brown's
School-days." But a fine town and noble churches exist
there ; and for two happy years Irwin acted as curate. He
was ordained Priest in 1884, and then again the urgent call
to mission work came to him, and (as will be seen) his Rector
let him go with regret, but with approval of his choice.
We are indebted to Mr Irwin's former fellow-curate at
Rugby, the Rev. T. H. Parker (now Vicar of Ettington,
Stratford-on-Avon), for the following full and interesting
account of the life there :—
" Who among the clergy can deny a special affection for
one's first curacy, if, at least, the conditions of life in it were
reasonably favourable ? From the time that thoughts of
ordination have occupied the mind of a young man, the place
where he would begin his ministry for God, preach his first
sermon, visit the sick and poor, and be regarded as holding
a sacred office, looms large in his imagination. And when
it is settled what and where this shall be, and a preliminary
visit has been paid, there is an idealised view taken of Rector
and fellow-curates, of Church and district, of the rooms that
will be at once a base of operations and a refuge from
publicity. I do not know that Irwin, when it was arranged
that the Rector of Rugby was to give him a title for ordination, could have easily put his feelings into words, or would
have put them into just such words as these. But Trinity
Sunday, 1883, was a great day to him, for it brought to an
end his year of special training for Holy Orders at Ely
Theological College, and launched him on the course to which
he had long looked forward, a course of parochial work for
two years in some well-ordered parish at home and then
pioneer work in mission fields abroad. **
" It was the friendly commendation of the Rev. Hedley
Vicars, who had been with Irwin at Keble, that brought
him to the knowledge of the Rev. John Murray, Rector of
Rugby, with the result that he became one of the four
assistant curates. The others were, at that time, the Revs.
F. Northcote Smith, Hedley Vicars, and A. 0. Tisdall; but in M
26 Father Pat [hi.
September, 1883, the Rev. F. Northcote Smith left, and at
Christmas the vacancy was filled by the ordination and
arrival of Henry Tudway Coney, who had been with Irwin
at Ely. The curates now certainly formed a happy family :
three of them were Irishmen and three were Ely men, and
they were further knit together in the bonds of friendship
and by thorough keenness and pretty good capacity. The
Rector, moreover, was proud of his curates, and put great
trust in them, and the parish was thoroughly well worked.
" It was at that time fairly workable. The population
did not exceed 9000, so none of the clergy had more than
2000 people to look after, and their districts were compact.
As to churches, besides the Parish Church, which is admitted
to be one of Butterfield's most successful restorations, and
which holds about 900 people, there was Holy Trinity Church,
technically a chapel-of-ease, but itself larger and finer than
most Parish Churches. This was built from designs by Sir
George Gilbert Scott, since whose death it has been considerably improved by Mr Bodley, and it holds at least 700 people.
And the services were as follows :—Daily Matins in the
Parish Church at 7.30, and daily Evensong in Holy Trinity
at 5.30 : Holy Communion on Sundays was at 7 and at 9 in
the Parish Church, and on the first Sunday in the month at
11, while it was celebrated in Holy Trinity Church every
Sunday at 8 and on the third Sunday in the month at 11. On
Holy Days and on Thursdays there were also celebrations,
and sometimes for the sick and aged, for some society or
guild, or upon special occasions. So every week each priest
on the staff celebrated at least once, and in the matter of
preaching, if any preached more than once it was the Rector
or the senior curate, and not one of the juniors. The schools
in the parish were Church Schools, and the clergy gave
religious instruction in them on two mornings in the week,
and superintended the teaching on Sundays, and there were
several classes and guilds. So there was plenty of work, but
not too much. All was carefully arranged at a convocation
held at the Rectory, week by week, on Monday mornings, the
rule being that nobody outside it was to know when or where
anyone was going to preach, and that each member of the \
in.] His First Curacy—Rugby 27
staff, when it was settled what he had to do, was held responsible for it, and for doing it punctually and efficiently.
" Irwin, therefore, was kept busy during his time at Rugby,
and had variety of work, but was not overweighted. In
visiting, which was held to be of great importance,, he spent
two or three hours every afternoon, and he put a good deal
of affection and zeal into his district. Through the middle
of this ran, like a crooked thread, Gas Street and Pinder's
Lane, where some of the poorest people in the town lived and
some of the most unruly. Two public houses kept guard at
the top of Gas Street, and at the further end another public
house and a lodging house kept watch and ward. The place
was honeycombed with courts and alleys, with the usual
result that quarrels were frequent and fights periodical.
" Here, one night early in his career, Irwin came upon a
man fighting with his wife. Without a moment's hesitation *
he ran in to part them. And when the man's wrath' was
turned upon himself—' Look here,' he said, and he promptly
pulled off his coat,—' if you want to fight anyone, you can
fight me.' The affair was over, and Irwin went to his rooms
slightly heated. He had done an unconventional thing;
perhaps the old Adam was still strong in his blood, for,
truth to say, he had enjoyed himself well.
" None the less, it would be quite a mistake to imagine
incidents like this came often in Irwin's life at Rugby, or that
he was in those days the mission-priest who made himself
one with the people in all conditions of life. His photograph gives a different impression, and a truer one. He was,
during the first two years of his clerical life, the well-trained
young ecclesiastic, brought, and not unwillingly, to sustain
his part in a well-ordered and established system, being
run, some would say, into ecclesiastical grooves. He was
earnest and dutiful, but he was diffident. Full of fun and
high spirits with his fellow-curates when work was done,
but finding some things far from easy; worrying himself a
good deal about his sermons, practising a little elocution,
and anxious to overcome a difficulty he found in pronouncing
' negligences and ignorances' when called upon to say the
Litany.   He was not yet what he became later, his person-
y r
28 Father Pat [hi.
ality was not developed. He was too fresh from the mould
to run free, and it may well be that the time had not come
for freedom. At any rate Irwin owned then, and afterwards,
that he owed a great debt to Ely and to the dominant influences of his first curacy.
" Personally he soon became popular at Rugby, but was
always thoroughly humble, which was doubtless one reason
for his popularity. It was not long before he was on good
terms with most of the men and boys with whom he came in
" Perhaps, he was least at ease in a lady's drawing-room,
where he had a tendency to get hot, and to long for the open
air. That, it must be confessed, was really his element:
his nature was akin to it. And when, in 1884, the definite
offer of mission-work in British Columbia came to him, this
may have had its influence in making him eager at once to go.
His Rector knew from the beginning that after two years'
work at Rugby, Irwin's intention was to go abroad; that was,
so to speak, in the bond ; and if he expected to have more
than two years rather than less of Irwin's help, he could
not find it in his heart to resist the generous impulse of his
" I find from the Parish Magazine that Irwin went with the
workhouse inmates on an excursion to Coombe Abbey within
a month of his coming to Rugby, and again with St Andrew's
Guild to the same place a few weeks later. To expeditions
of this sort he was in himself almost a pledge of success.
Misfortunes, if they occurred, had the same effect upon him
that they had on Mark Tapley : his good spirits could always
be relied upon to relieve the tedium of a journey, and his good
nature to bring out the shy or the neglected. The guild in
those days was strong, and, under the care of the Rev. Hedley
Vicars, had come to number nearly a hundred men and boys.
Their cricket eleven was strong also, but found in Irwin a
useful as well as an agreeable member. He was a lively bat,
with the capacity to bring off a big hit or two, and in all
departments of the game he was a most unselfish player. At
football he was even better than at cricket, and the Rugby
Town fifteen, hearing of the arrival of a curate who was an HP
His First Curacy—Rugby
Oxford * blue,'1 speedily offered him a place in their team,
which thought no small things of itself. He played occasionally, and did them good service; but one Saturday
afternoon he returned home with an unmistakable black eye.
Tisdall, with whom he lived at that time, made a great effort
with a box of paints and his utmost skill to lay on a coat of
flesh-colour; but his patient laughed so outrageously during
the operation that the result was not very satisfactory. At
any rate the Rector on the following day saw beneath the
surface, and laid an interdict on a Sunday preacher engaging
in football on a Saturday afternoon.
" When Irwin first went to Rugby, he lodged at 112 Railway Terrace; but before long he and Tisdall joined forces,
and took a small house in Bath Street, which in those days
looked over the glebe allotment gardens, and so was named
Glebeview. Mr and Mrs Masters kept house for them, and
here they were thoroughly comfortable and happy. They
were able also to exercise a little their hospitable spirits.
Irwin had two cousins named Wilson at Rugby School who
sometimes came to tea, and brought a posse of companions.
And late in the evenings there would often drop in a friend
or two of their own age and standing, schoolmasters perhaps
whose work was done for the day, to have a sociable chat
and smoke a quiet pipe. There were other visitors too;
sometimes from a distance, but much more often from close
at home, who rang the bell and wanted ' to see Mr Irwin, if
you please, and could he let Mrs B  have a grocery
ticket ?' The Rector made it a general rule that relief tickets
were only to be given by the district-visitors, holding that it
spoiled a curate's pastoral visitation if he was thought to
have them about his person. But somehow tickets were
often obtained by these applicants, or something which they
liked still better.
" I suppose that Irwin, at all times in his life, was willing
to give almost anything he had to almost anyone who wanted
it. He was no great accumulator of goods, and even what
came as a gift often went as a gift, and made with him but
1 This, I believe, was rather a term of honour than an actual
I 30 Father Pat [hi.
a temporary sojourn. When he was about to leave Rugby,
at Easter 1885, many people wished to give him parting
presents, and he accepted a few books, a mariner's compass
from the men's Bible Class which used to meet in his room at
Glebeview, and a case of sacred vessels for the communion
of the sick, subscribed for by the congregations : but when
he could do it without hurting their kindly feelings, he
pleasantly urged his friends not to load up a missionary
with baggage.
" In the Parish Magazine for April 1885 the followiiig
valedictory note appeared :—c The general regret which is
felt at the approaching departure of the Rev. H. Irwin to
labour in the distant diocese of New Westminster found
expression in a very interesting gathering, at the Coffee
Tavern, on Thursday, March 26, the choirs of both churches
having invited him to meet them that they might have the
pleasure of spending a last evening with him, and of telling
him how highly they held him in regard, and how heartily
they bade him God-speed in his new work.
" ' Mr Irwin's brother clergy were kindly included in the
invitation, and a goodly number sat down to a substantial
tea. The Rector spoke with much affection and gratitude
of the help and comfort Mr Irwin had been to him and his
flock, of the brightness he had shed around him, and the
simplicity and earnestness with which he had fulfilled his
duties; and hoped that some day he would recross the Rocky
Mountains and visit Rugby again, where he would always
find warm hearts that still remembered and loved him.
"' Messrs W. H. Linnell and G. E. Over for the Parish
Church, and Messrs Miller and Orchard for Holy Trinity Church
choir, gave utterance in turn to the sincere regret with which
all would bid farewell to Mr Irwin, and the deep interest they
must ever feel in his future happiness and success. They
then begged his acceptance of two beautifully bound books,
viz.: " The Imitation of Christ " and " The Christian Year."
"f Mr Irwin, with his wonted cordiality, thanked his friends
for their kind words and gifts, and said that it was no new
impulse that was severing the tie which had bound them
together so happily, but a resolution formed years ago, before
v in.] His First Curacy—Rugby 31
he came to Rugby, when he had felt moved to devote himself
to the work of a missionary.
f■■ It goes without saying that such an assembly was nothing
if not musical, and the songs most appropriately ended with
(< Auld Lang Syne." '
" The following month the Rector added these words :—
■ Many will feel interested to hear that our good friend the
Rev. H. Irwin left Liverpool on the 1st of May by steamer
for New York, whence he will proceed across North America
to the scene of his future labours on the western coast of that
Continent. Numerous were the tokens of regard offered to
him ere his departure, but chiefest of all was a compact and
handsome travelling case, containing the sacred vessels and
other articles necessary for the administration of the Holy
"' In his far-off home this useful and fitting memorial of
their affection will often recall to his thoughts the friends he
has left behind him.' "
It has not been found possible to procure many of Irwin's
letters written to Rugby friends, but the following extracts
appeared in the Parish Magazine. Writing on September
10, 1885, he says : "I received from Mr Lawrence yesterday
the beautifully illuminated list of my friends in Rugby (who
had given him the Holy Communion vessels), whom I need
not say I remember every time I have to make use of their
gift. It seems as if we were all together again now, as I read
their names over, and I wish that you would kindly let them
know that away here in the wild West such a memory is a
wonderful help."
And again a year later,—" The year and a half I have been
here I have had fairly hard but the pleasantest of work.
Most of the time I have been in the saddle. Our district is
so large, and the population so small and scattered, that
there's nothing for it but galloping from Sunday to Sunday,
and often on Sunday itself we have fairly long rides between
services. ^ . . I cannot tell you how miserable it is meeting
men from the mines who have lost their all, tramping over
the country with their blankets on their backs, and not a £
32 Father Pat [hi.
cent in their pockets, getting a meal here and there for love,
and trying to obtain work." But there were some, he went
on to say, who were only too willing to help themselves to
other people's property, and he concluded the letter with
the account of an adventure by which a member of his congregation had nearly lost his life at the hands of two ruffianly
u highwaymen."
In a letter of about the same date, referring to some Prayer-
books which had been sent to him, he wrote :—§ You cannot
think how much they are valued away here in the west. We
have so many from the old country who feel better at even the
sight of a Prayer-book.  ...  I am just now hard at work
! getting a church built here in Donald, a little railway town
of 600 men, and if you know any people who would like to
give us help towards furnishing it, I should be thankful for
the smallest trifle."
In response to this appeal, the Rugby members of the All
Saint's Guild, a branch of which was formed at Rugby
before Irwin left for New Westminster, sent a brass cross
for the altar of S. Peter's Church at Donald, and a silk veil
and some linen for use at celebrations of Holy Communion.
They also gave a certain amount for some years to the
diocesan funds, sending it to the Rev. H. H. Mogg,1 and £20
was once sent to Irwin direct, probably to help him to get
materials for building at Donald, where he laid his own hands
vigorously both to the axe and the workman's hammer.
Lastly, there is an interesting and amusing letter written
to Mr Masters concerning his clothes, and dated " Kamloops,
August 10, 1887." It runs :—" Thank you for the clothes,
which arrived safely and are a great blessing to me. You
cannot think how nice it is to feel respectable out here, where
one has to put on, and up with, almost anything in the way
of coats. There is no great symmetry, as you know, in ready-
made clothes, and- when a parson has only the rainbow
colours to choose from it is hard to be quite sombre, and
certainly there's little in the ready-made clothes here of the
dim religious light. You would hardly know me in many of
my costumes.   Last trip I started with those riding pants
1 Secretary of the Missionary Association for New Westminster. %
in.] His First Curacy—Rugby 33
you sent me, but after about 300 miles they went to pieces,
and I had to get into a vile kind of garment they call overalls,
striped like the zebra, and cut like a sailor's pantaloons.
You would open your eyes wide to see a parson at work out
here. . . . The hot weather still continues, and it is hot, and
no mistake; up to 101 in the shade. But after a certain
amount of broiling one's skin gets quite hardened. I am
now as hard as a cake and a browned one at that. You can
guess that one has a benefit when you have to ride from early
morning till the evening under a sun like ours, and that for
perhaps a month at a stretch. I finished in June a trip of
570 miles in the saddle, and by the end of that time I was a
dirty brown, very like an Indian. ... I think that the longer
I live here the more I wonder why people leave quiet peaceful
homes in the old country to rough it in Colonial life. There
is absolutely no comfort here for the first five years, and a
man must have quite a small fortune with him to give him a
good enough start to make a home in that short time. You
may be surprised at this, but it has been the experience of
many who had all the best of the country to choose from in
early days, and have had more advantages than any later
comers are likely to get. I am looking forward to having a
visit home about Christmas, but I cannot say yet whether I
shall get off. Of course, if I do, I shall come to see you all
at Rugby, and it will be a greater pleasure for me to see you
than you me."
Bishop Sillitoe paid a visit to Rugby in August 1887, and
preached in the Parish Church; but Irwin did not come
until 1889 when he stayed a few days, and addressed a meeting in the parochial schools. He came again in 1894, and
joined the clerical staff again for a month or so while the
Rector was away for his holiday. He was a different man
then in many ways from the curate of ten years before, but
in spirit he was the same, and a kind and cheery spirit Rugby
always found it.
The Rev. C. J. Whitehead, of South Newington Vicarage,
Banbury, gives^the following^account of his friendship with
Henry Irwin:— 34
Father Pat
" I knew and liked dear Pat Irwin very much; but my
intimacy with him was only too brief. I went to Rugby
as an assistant master in Hillbrow Preparatory School in
January 1883 ; and that same year Irwin came to Rugby as
curate. During the few years he was there, we made friends,
and he was kind enough to invite me to stay with his father
in Ireland. I was still at Rugby when he came back from
his first term of work as a missionary in British Columbia,
where he had already done noble work, especially at Kamloops. The Canadian Pacific Railway was then being constructed, and Pat's work with the very cosmopolitan set of
men at work at Kamloops, the head-quarters of that section
of the line, was very remarkable.
" He brought with him on that occasion, a number of photographs, which he showed to the boys in the school and to
the masters ; and we had long talks till late at night, when
he recounted his adventures to us ; such as, riding 500 miles
on one horse in a week ; recovering his horse which had been
stolen by Indians ; avoiding an Indian murderer in a vast
forest. His influence over the ' very rough diamonds' he
had to deal with was wonderful; he got them to build
churches, and (better still) to attend them, and he pulled
many a poor fellow who had gone utterly wrong, straight
" That visit to Rugby was the last I saw of him. He
went back to Ireland for a little time when his good father
died, and I think he held the living ; but his love for British
Columbia was too strong, and he returned there. I remember a friend of mine who had been round the world and
had met Pat in British Columbia, telling me that he was the
most remarkable man he had come across."
Yes, truly, a remarkable man was Henry Irwin; not for
intellectual gifts so much as for character. He was the friend
of every man. To him every human soul was of intense
value : he tried to look on men as the angels do, " with
larger, other eyes than ours " ; and in this he is an example
of the true Socialism—the only sort that will ever work—
the socialism which bids a man give his life for others. ri
I f
(Father Pat's first home in B.C.) CHAPTER IV
At last, in 1885, the day came when Henry Irwin's dream
was to be fulfilled, and having got his training under so good
a master as Mr Murray of Rugby, he was to go forth to test
his mettle on a wider field.
As a boy, Irwin had laughingly declared his intention
of choosing a cold climate and being a missionary there ;
and he now fulfilled this intention by choosing British
Columbia as the province, and New Westminster the diocese,
where he would begin work. Although he had always declared his intention of doing missionary work, yet in British
Columbia he never (or very rarely) worked among the native
population ; he rather turned to the Colonists, among whom,
indeed, such ardent workers are greatly needed.
The history of the Church in British Columbia which (in
1909) is celebrating its Jubilee may be shortly set forth by
a quotation from a leaflet issued by the Association for New
"The Diocese of New Westminster and Kootenay
I New Westminster is a third of the vast Diocese of British
Columbia, divided for purposes of organization, and in 1900
again sub-divided into New Westminster and Kootenay.
As yet the two halves are under one Bishop, but the way is
prepared for a new See when funds are raised.
" This diocese, as large as France, lies between the Rocky
Mountains and the Pacific. The great Fraser River flows
through it. It is 40,000 square miles larger than the United
"There are some 100,000 of population, consisting of—.
" (a) English immigrants.   These are'the main part of the
35 36 Father Pat [iv.
population, and mainly of the wage-earning classes ; therefore the Church in British Columbia is not yet able to be
self-supporting like the Church in Eastern Canada. The call
to help our own Colonists is strong ; if England does not care
for the souls of her own children, who is to do so ? (Gal.
vi. 10.)
" (b) Indians. There are some 11,000 Indians in the diocese.
These, the original possessors of the land, claim our care as
an act of justice. Many are Christians, and 1,500 are under
the special care of the Ven. Archdeacon of Yale: 250 are
Communicants of the Church of England. An excellent
school under Sisters of the English Church, at Yale, receives
Indian girls in one department, and Colonists' daughters
in another. A school for Indian boys (urgently needed)
has also been established : The New England Company
have taken this in hand.
"(c) Chinese. Of these there are about 9000 working,
chiefly as servants, laundry men, and market gardeners.
They come as heathen ; shall they go away without instruction in the Christian religion ? Does not the martyr blood,
shed by native Christians in China, cry aloud for spiritual
help for these people when working for Christians in a Christian land ? A Chinese Mission, opened in 1891, has lately
been successful; but the Bishop appeals for more help.
The Industries of this Busy Corner of our Empire are salmon
canning, coal mining, gold digging, and fruit growing. All
these contribute to the comfort or luxury of English people.
Let us return a gift of goodwill to the workers.
" History of the Diocese
" British Columbia in 1858 passed from the hands of the
Hudson Bay Company to the position of a Crown Colony,
and is now an integral confederated province of the Canadian
Dominion. In 1859, the Diocese of Columbia was founded
under Bishop Hills, and endowed by the Baroness Burdett
Coutts. It was found to be too large a diocese to be workable,
and at last was sub-divided into three : Columbia, Caledonia,
and New Westminster.
" The latter was founded, in 1879, by Bishop Hills.    Bishop iv.] In Kamloops, British Columbia 37
Acton Windeyer Sillitoe, the first Bishop, who worked with
the most earnest zeal, died in 1894. Bishop John Dart
succeeded in 1895, and, in spite of financial difficulties which
had supervened in Diocesan funds, great progress has been
made in the work of the Church."
What led Henry Irwin to select this special field for his
labours, we do not exactly know, though it is said to have
been suggested to him by a sermon which he heard. We
may be sure that the choice was made with thought and
prayer, and that the Holy Spirit led him to this sphere of
After correspondence with the Bishop, Acton Windeyer
Sillitoe, it was decided that Mr Irwin should begin work in
Kamloops on the C.P.R. or Canadian Pacific Railway, as
assistant to Mr Horlock, the Vicar, and thither he proceeded
m 18
The town of Kamloops lies on the South Thompson River,
which, after making a bend at an acute angle, runs straight
for many miles under a line of hills of which the most prominent is known as Mount Paul. To the south spreads a
beautiful prospect of hill and plain, but westward run the
river and the railway through a panorama as strange as a
mirage or an optical delusion. It consists of a series of
miniature hills and valleys of sand, extending for miles along
* the north side of the river; doubtless the deposit of a far
wider prehistoric stream. Barren and weird and strange
look these quaint little hills, some thirty to forty feet high,
with crenelated summits and a few stunted fir trees here
and there; with cave and creek and winding valleys, they
resemble the abode of gnomes or pigmies.
The C.P.R. runs through the main street of Kamloops.
When Henry Irwin arrived there, no church had yet been
built. Service was held in the court-house. The inhabitants
largely consisted of the men employed on the C.P.R., then
in progress of formation.
These men were of mixed nationalities, many of them
wild and rough. The bright young Irishman, full of zeal
and enthusiasm, threw himself heartily into the new life.
w 38
Father Pat
The exquisite air of British Columbia,—light, bracing and
health-giving,—was congenial to him and spurred him on
to new energy. He quickly became a favourite, his work
extending far and wide, for he was really an itinerant parson,
assisting Mr Horlock, the Vicar of Kamloops, by riding into
the mountains to the mining camps and elsewhere. Few
and far between were the clergy in British Columbia at that
The name " Father Pat" appears to have at once been
given to Henry Irwin, and to have been constantly used for
him by the rougher portion of his flock. It suited his nature,
which combined with a devout and earnest spirit a natural
winning humour.
A friend who knew him in Oxford and at Rugby x says :—
" he was always the same straightforward, simple, fearless,
true-hearted character ; and it was this simplicity and utter
fearlessness that gave him the power which he possessed,
especially among men of the roughest class, and made him
attractive to a very large circle of friends. I gave him the
name of Pat in those first days at Oxford, the name which
stuck to him all his life, and was used by everyone who knew
him, in the new world as well as in the old."
A characteristic anecdote is told that shows his pluck and
spirit, qualities sure to win him friends among the rough
but hearty " boys " of the Far West. It was regarded by
them as a good joke to make a fool of a parson, or a padre,
as he is generally called out West. Therefore seeing a bright,
well-dressed young fellow as Irwin then was, they at once
concluded he was a milksop, and soon asked, " Can you ride ? "
" I was bred in the saddle," he answered.
" Then you won't mind trying this nag, though he's a bit
spirited ? "
" All the better for that."
And Irwin mounted a fine-looking creature, which however,
was that nasty thing—a buck-jumper.
Now of all uncomfortable animals, your buck-jumper, as
described to me, is the worst.
His mind seems sets on no other thing than to break his
1 The Rev. Hedley Vicars, of All Saints' Rectory, Huntingdon. iv.] In Kamloops, British Columbia 39
rider's bones and shatter his nerves. Gathering up his four
legs and humping up his back, he executes a pas seul unequalled for its power of unseating a rider. Up he goes in
the air, and alighting on all four feet with a thud that makes
a man feel as if all his teeth had been suddenly extracted,
he then executes a few caracoles with his hind feet above
the level of the rider's head ; and if that unfortunate be still
in the saddle, the beast resumes the agreeable exercise.
Harry Irwin had learned in his Irish home to ride any
ordinary horse with ease, even bare-backed. But a buck-
jumper was a new experience. He soon found out the trick
that had been played on him, but kept his temper and his
nerve; and though thrown and shaken, he remounted once
and again, hating to be beaten, and would have done so a
third time but that his friends interposed, assuring him he
had given ample proof of pluck; in which even his tormentors concurred. They never called him " milksop"
again. CHAPTER V
among the selkirks
It was while he was at Kamloops that Mr Irwin met the
sweet lady who was the love of his life, and whose influence
worked so strongly in him after her passing from this
Mi$> Frances Stuart Innes was the youngest daughter of
a gentleman who held a public appointment in Victoria,
British Columbia. Her elder sister had married the Rev.
A. Shildrick, now and for many years past Rector of Holy
Trinity Cathedral Church, New Westminster. At the time
when Mr Irwin went out to British Columbia, Mr Shildrick
was senior assistant priest in Kamloops district, and settled
in the Spallumcheen Valley, the district where Enderby and
Vernon lie. He rode to and fro on his missionary work (as
we have seen from his letter in the last chapter Mr Irwin
also did), holding services " from house to house," in
scattered ranches. The people he ministered to, though
seldom of gentle breeding, were almost invariably hospitable
and welcoming to the clergy, and in some cases very appreciative of their ministrations.
Frances Innes was one of those gentle, timid creatures
who appeal most powerfully to a brave man's heart by
their essential womanliness. Spiritually minded, of strong
religious principle, she was yet so shy that it was hard to
persuade her to go into the world alone, even for necessary
business. She must have been very charming in appearance, though not regularly beautiful, Soft curling brown
hair, blue eyes very expressive, and a sweet childlike smile.
Merry and bright at home, the life of the family, there yet
was a pathos in her look which seems natural now to us who
1 v.] Among the Selkirks 41
know how soon that lovable personality was to be removed
from this world.
Henry Irwin was one to whom such womanly charm
especially appealed; and when Frances Innes, on her way
to spend a long visit with her sister Mrs Shildrick, stopped
first for a time at the house of Mr and Mrs Horlock of Kamloops (old friends of her family), it was natural that the
young assistant priest should be drawn to her irresistibly.
When she left Kamloops for the Spallumcheen Valley, he
soon found his way thither; and the end was a happy
engagement, a complete and perfect union of hearts, which
lasted four years before their marriage could be arranged.
No love letters remain, or none are permitted for use here.
It is felt that the departed would have wished to shield
their most sacred feelings from the world's eyes. " Not
easily forgiven are they who lay bare the marriage chambers
of the heart."1
In the year 1887, Mr Irwin's sphere of work was moved to
Donald, a busy centre of the C.P.R., lying close upon the
Rocky Mountains,—between these and the Selkirks. A
glance at the map will show that whereas Kamloops is in a
district of comparatively low hills diversifying the plain,
Donald is among all the glories of the mountains. The
Rockies are well named : Stony Mountains they were called
by the early settlers, and stony indeed they are. The snow
which lies upon them does not cover their nakedness with its
downy softness all the year round as in the Swiss mountains,
but the bare ribs of the giants stand out in summer, gaunt
and terrible. To a traveller on the C.P.R. after days on the
level prairie, which becomes monotonous despite its lovely
varied greens stretching away into a sea-like distance, it is
refreshing at Calgary to observe the delicate outline of the
Rockies, softened by haze and distance. Forty-three peaks
can be counted from one point in Calgary. Thenceforth
to the traveller all is one succession of beauty. The upward strain and climb of the panting engine leads through
a range of foothills, broken by picturesque glades and gullies ;
and then at last the Rockies begin to assert themselves with
1 Emerson.
d «0W
42 Father Pat [v.
their strange and weird forms. The words of Scott—exaggerated as regards the Trossachs of which he wrote—are
literally true of these passes of the West:—
" Not a setting beam could glow
Within the dark ravines below,
Where twined the path in shadow hid
Round many a rocky pyramid,
Shooting abruptly from the dell
Its thunder-splintered pinnacle ;
Round many an insulated mass,
The native bulwarks of the pass,
Huge as the tower which builders vain
Presumptuous reared on Shinar's plain.
The rocky summits, split and rent,
Formed turret, dome, or battlement,
Or seemed fantastically set
With cupola or minaret."
I have seen a mountain on which appeared to be the ruins
of a feudal castle; not only with its towers and bastion,
but also with a Gothic doorway approached by broken steps,
and a natural bridge cast across the ravine,—all from the
unaided hand of Nature. Then the traveller tarries on his
way to visit the " Lakes in the Clouds," approached from
Laggan, where Indian ponies await the tourist. There
are three of these lakes, each of its own special hue, lapis
lazuli blue, emerald green and the exquisite blue of the
peacock. Glaciers, too, lie between the peaks, one (at the
spot named " Glacier ") is said to be vast enough to contain
within itself all the icefields of Switerzland; and there are
smaller ones here and there which repay a visit. Beside one
of these recently dwelt an old man bearing the name of
Hathaway, and claiming descent from the kin of Shakspere's
wife,—strange link between the old world and the new.
Arrived at the summit, the traveller begins his descent
through the majestic scenery of the Kicking-Horse Pass.1
Its jagged summits climbing the sky, pines darkly clothing
the lower rocks, and leading the eye down, down, down to an
1 Various reasons are given for this strange name ; it may be
a rude word-picture of the tearing, plunging torrent at the
bottom of the pass. The Kicking-Horse Pass, Rocky Mountains  v.] Among the Selkirks 43
abyss where the Kicking-Horse River gleams white and
foaming below. In the gathering gloom of a summer night
we saw it, a young moon rising behind the peaks and glinting on little lakes and tracts of snow among them. The
Canadian Pacific train winds its slow and cautious.route by
curve and precipice, and for all the dreadful gradients,
accidents very seldom occur.
It was in 1887, when the C.P.R. was diligently and swiftly
laying its line from the Rockies to the Pacific, that Donald
was a centre of great activity. Now it is a dead town.
Hardly an inhabited house remains. The church erected
by Father Pat has been removed; the vicarage is at Golden;
every good house has been taken elsewhere, as is so easily
done with the wooden buildings of the West.1 Nothing is
more sad and strange than these new ruins of the Far West.
Without the dignity of age, without mystery or beauty, the
shattered relics of the wooden shacks and gimcrack stores
stare from their empty window-holes, and lean in ghastly
fashion, ready to fall with the next tempest, while all the
ground is strewn with their debris.
Nor is one of these towns more gracious in its rapid growth.
All is for speed and immediate use ; the question of beauty
does not enter the builder's mind ; the only sign of a desire
to save appearances being the large square sham fronts of
the stores. But the spot in which Donald stands, close
under the Selkirks and beside the Columbia River, is very
fine; the air is delicious, and the absolute freedom from all
social conventionality is attractive to many.
The* making of the line was accompanied by many dangers,
one of the chief arising from the frequent snow-slides. In the
summer months, when snows begin to melt, vast masses of
the liberated snow will descend and bury hut or man beneath
it. In one of these accidents, at Donald, Father Pat first
showed the characteristics which later made his name proverbial, and himself beloved among the rough settlers of
British Columbia.   In the first year when the C.P.R. ran
1 When ft was desired to move the Church of S. Paul's, Vancouver, it was done by means of a windlass worked by one old
pony ! 44 Father Pat [v.
straight through to the coast (1887), when about half the great
snowsheds that now protect the railway had been built,
but much of the line still lay exposed, such an accident
occurred. A report came to Donald that part of the line was
blocked by a snow-slide. The snow-plough was sent out to
clear the way, and while this was being done, a second slide
occurred in which Mr Green, the conductor of the snpw-
plough, was killed. As soon as this sad news was made known,
the superintendent and other men went out to the summit
of the pass to clear the road and to see what could be done.
The snow was still coming down in small slides, the way was
blocked, and Donald was cut off from communication with
these men. Mrs Green was wild with anxiety, and her
husband's body could not be brought in, as the line was
blocked by masses of snow. " Father Pat" resolved if
possible to relieve the poor widow's anxiety and restore to
her the remains of her beloved husband. He took a toboggan
or handsleigh, which could move over the snow where an
engine could not cut its way through ; and disregarding the
danger threatening at every step from the snow-slides still
going on, he made his way to where the dead man lay, took
the body, reverently covered, on the little sleigh, and brought
it in to Donald. He was away two days and a night. While
under the protection of a snowshed, he would watch and wait
for an opportunity to pass in safety to the next. He spent
that night alone with the dead man on the desolate and
dangerous road.
During the same event, another wife was terribly anxious
for her husband, who was among those who were cut off by
the snow from communication with his home at Donald.
Half mad with fear for her husband's safety, the poor
woman came to Father Pat for news. " I have heard from
your husband," said Mr Irwin. "He is all right, and will
soon be home." It was true that the man was safe, and
he was ere long restored to his wife. But it was not the
fact that Father Pat had heard from him. He afterwards
confessed this to the wife whose mind he had calmed and
relieved,—dare we say, by his splendid lie ? "I did it,"
said he, " lest I should have you distracted on my hands."
i v.] Among the Selkirks 45
It was Irwin's characteristic, that he acted boldly on
impulse, led by his heart as often as by his head,—perhaps
oftener. And this loving impulsiveness won him the hearts
of the people.1
When in Donald, Mr Irwin boarded with a Mrs Lovelock ;
she had another boarder, named Black, who took an active
interest in Church work in Donald. He was the best helper
that Father Pat had there in that respect; perhaps the only
one to render much service. There was no church at Donald
when Mr Irwin went there; services were held (as usual in
such cases) in the Court-House. He had a little organ
which he played himself, and moved from place to place for
services, on a trolly on the line. At first only women attended these services. Religion seems to form but a small
part of the life of male colonists, even of those who have been
accustomed to fulfil its duties in the home country. Nor
was Father Pat a brilliant or specially attractive preacher.
Sound Church doctrine, clothed in simple language, was what
he gave his flock, as one can judge from the specimens of
his sermons remaining to us. His view was that of the old
Tractarians : " Worship the Deity according to the rites He
has prescribed through His Church, and lean not on the gifts
of men." Once when a hearer praised him for a good sermon
that he had given, his face fell; a look of sadness and even of
reproach stole over it, and he said, turning away : " We go
to church to worship God."
But as his hand was ever at the service of others, so they
became willing and glad to help him in things practical, and
he soon had a little church erected in Donald. These tiny
wooden churches do not take long to build. A clearing in
the primeval forest, a few boards, much energy on the part
of the priest, some kindly help given by others, and a place
of worship may be erected at the cost of £100 or even less.
When the church at Donald was completed, Mr Irwin remembered his former parish at Kamloops and its needs.
He collected on several occasions among his new flock money
for a church at Kamloops.   Records of the sums he sent for
11 am indebted for these anecdotes to Miss Nelson of Kaslo,
B.C. Father Pat [v.
that purpose still remain in the minutes of the church, as
also a list of the many places where Father Pat went in a
wide circuit to hold divine service in the wilds. It would
seem as if he were ubiquitous. One can hardly conceive of
a priest ministering in so many spots within so short a space
of time, many of them being so far distant and inaccessible.
But " where there's a will there's a way," and his almost
abnormal activity now revealed itself.
The Rev. C. F. Yates, Rector of Golden, British Columbia,
gives us details of some of these mission tours. He says:
" Father Pat did not confine his work to the main line of the
C.P.R. but journeyed down the Arrow Lakes, services being
held as far south as Nelson, then a mere mining camp. We
find, too, that he followed the Columbia from Golden to the
Kootenay River, services being recorded at these places.
Some six or eight clergy now occupy the territory thus
covered, divided into five or six parishes."
Kamloops Church was built while Mr Shildrick was in
England, and the Rev. Canon Cooper was appointed Vicar
of Kamloops for a time, Mr Shildrick returning to it from
England. Mr Horlock had also gone to England for a year's
rest and change.
It will be well here to quote a passage from the memoir
of Bishop Sillitoe,1 showing the state of Church work in these
The Bishop and Mrs Sillitoe had been to England, where
the annual meeting of the New Westminister mission was held,
in London, the Marquis of Lome speaking at it. They had
been present at " the ever-memorable Jubilee Service in
Westminster Abbey, at which the whole Empire lifted up
its heart to God for Queen Victoria's glorious and happy
Now, on his return to his diocese (1887) ^e Bishop was
warmly welcomed by his people.
" At Donald, an address, signed by some forty persons,
was presented at the C.P.R. station, in the darkness of a
stormy night, to greet the Bishop.   The next day being
^"Church Work in British Columbia," by Herbert H. Gowen
(Longmans). ■wmwMUU
v.] Among the Selkirks 47
Sunday, the Bishop recommenced diocesan work by celebrating the Holy Communion, and preaching morning and
evening to crowded congregations, in the new church,
fitly called S. Peter's—the first church in the Rocky
" At Kamloops, the visit was marked by a Confirmation
on the Monday, and a conference with the clergy on the
Wednesday. A parish conversazione was also held, and an
address of welcome presented on behalf of the citizens of
" The more official welcome was given in the city of New^
Westminster, where a large number of friends, including the
Executive Committee of the Diocese, met the Bishop and
Mrs Sillitoe on October 17. An address was presented, and
what was more, the affectionate greetings of all emphasized
the gladness of heart with which the inhabitants of New
Westminster again saw their Bishop and his wife.
" The year was marked by one other circumstance deserving of notice.
" On the Festival of S. Andrew an interesting event took
place in the Church of the Holy Trinity, New Westminster,
when a beautiful pastoral staff was presented to the Bishop
in the name of the clergy and communicants of the diocese,
as a token of personal love and esteem."
Bishop Sillitoe and his wife were deservedly beloved, for
they endeavoured to draw forth the best that was in all
around them ; and many a visit did they pay to spots even
more inaccessible then than now, confronting dangers and
hardships, to visit the Indians and settlers in the wilder
parts. Mrs Sillitoe's letters quoted in " Church Work in
British Columbia," and the diary of the Bishop, set these
forth in picturesque words.
Father Pat's work lay to some extent among the Indians.
A few of his missionary excursions led him to their settlements,
but not much record is left of his special intercourse with
them. He did not know the language and had to rely on an
interpreter. His friend Mrs Macartney relates with amusement, that when she asked him how he was getting on with
the Indians, he replied :  "All right.   I know enough to talk rff
48 Father Pat [v.
to them.    I know halo is yes, and noitka, no."    Whereas
the very reverse is the case !
These two years at Donald were broken by a short visit
to his home in Ireland, owing to the need of rest and comfort
after an attack of mountain fever, which is akin to ague.
He landed in Ireland on January 13th, and sailed again for
British Columbia on May 8th, 1889. We can see by the
anecdotes related of his activities on behalf of his flock, that
he had exerted his strength beyond the powers of the human
body. Weak and overstrained, he returned to the dear
home in Wicklow County, where his father and brothers
welcomed and cared for him, till he recovered strength
sufficient to enable his eager spirit to press on to the work
once more. CHAPTER VI
The following letters from Mr Irwin relating to this period
of his career, will illustrate what has been said, and give a
clearer idea of the manner of his life and work :—
" Princetown, Similkameen,
" Saturday igth, 1885.
" Dear B.—You will have been prepared no doubt for
this heading by my last two letters. Here I am in the whirl
of all kinds of excitement. First, as to the way I have got
to this scene of action. I had a good ride on Friday week,
from Kamloops, with Mr H., for about s^ miles, then we
parted, he to Nicola, I to Douglas Lake. I put up with my
friends the North of Ireland people, of whom I told you before.
They were well and most kind; I baptized their child, and
had some shooting, and started to the lake on Saturday
afternoon ; lost my way in the hills, and had quite a toss up
as to where to go ; however, as on Friday, I wandered about
keeping a certain spot in view, and at last found myself at
the right place. No notice had arrived about service ; so
I had to ride off round about and let them know I was there ;
darkish job, this, but I had a man with me who knew the way.
Had service last Sunday there at 11; good gathering. Afternoon rode 20 miles to Quilshana for evening service; good
number. Englishman there, a wanderer; didn't see him afterwards. Slept with some friends at their nice house. Rode
over to Nicola on Monday to find Mr H. very ill, dysentery;
couldn't go on. Heavy rain prevented us camping out, so I
had to make up my mind to ride through to Similkameen
in the day, although it was a long ride. Started at 5 a.m. on
d « 50 Father Pat [vi.
Wednesday, having got up at 2.45, fed horse and got pack
together, then off to awake an Indian who was to show me
up the first 10 miles. He, poor chap, was asleep away down
in his wigwam by a river, and it was a rum thing to find oneself
out in the pitch dark morning searching for a tent across a
horrid marsh, with a very spirited young mare four years old,
then riding up to the tent and halloaing there till the sleep
was broken and a voice from within crying out ' all right.'
Then back I went and had a bite more breakfast, and was
ready to be off in the biting cold breeze across the hills by
an old trail. Indian showed me along till 6.30, then away
I went, diving deep into unknown woods and the hills and
streams ad lib., following an old trail of the Hudson Bay Co.
that they had had in '46. I can't tell you all I should like
to, as it would be endless. The autumn tints have begun.
Cotton trees quite golden, and scarlet shrubs thrown out by
the dark pines, and all reflected in the clearest of mountain
lakes, will beat any pen. Then as we rode through the bush
the birds added new glories to the scene.' One thing you must
hear of: after driving through the forest you come out on a
whole chain of lakes, round which the trail winds until you
get tired of their beauties; one of the lakes, called the Blue
Lake, is the very loveliest thing I've ever seen. The water
is just the colour of the blue or green round your old breakfast cups; some ore or mineral causes the whole thing simply
to look like one big emerald crystal. I can't describe how
heavenly it was ; and then just in the right place was a
great weed with bright scarlet leaves that showed off the
wonderful colour to perfection. Though this was more lovely
than the others, yet all had their own charms, and I can only
leave you to dream of endless lakes in a row, embedded in
the finest fir-wood hills in the home of the deer and bear,
and hardly broken by any but those feet who foot the trail—
not a house the whole way, and the whole day I didn't meet
one single human soul, and I travelled some 50 odd miles
along that trail. I think I accomplished the ride well, as it
is a stiff one and seldom done in less than two days. Camping out in the woods being the fashion here, little camp fires
fringe the trail, and you can see how the big pines have their I I I  II
vi.] Letters 51
middles burnt out by the campers. Well! I had a near
shave of being out myself all night, and I suppose I should
have camped, if I had not a good deal of that Irish Nil
Desperandum in my blood, as when I got down off the hills
on to these flats near here I could have given up myself for
lost, as I knew Mr Allison's was on a river, and I was skirting
a stream the whole time and yet never came to it; this was
6-30 to 7 ; it was pitch dark, but I chanced to meet a
drunken Indian, who told me to keep the road, and so I did,
but had to stick to it for 6 miles and then found myself on
the brink of a steep bank ending in an Indian camp. The
camp fire was blazing, and the Indians were all around their
tents eating and gambling; so I gave up all hope of more
than an Indian tent for the night. After halloaing and roaring
at a fence round the camp, a nice Indian came out and pointed
out Allison's house some few hundred yards away on the flat,
so I was thankful, and had a good supper and went to bed,
rolled up in blankets in one corner of a room. You would
laugh to see me welcome the light of a house at last; and I
found the best of good friends here, and they have such a
comfortable place. On Wednesday I took it easy and went
out with the boys here to give my horse some bunch grass
up the hills, such a tear as we had. Now to get you into our
shape here, I must let you know how we are fixed. Nothing
but mines and gold is heard of here. The mines are just
12 miles away, but the men register here, so we see hundreds.
There are all sorts and conditions of men—lawyers, farmers,
cowboys from the United States and Manitoba, a jolly lot of
rough cards, but rare good, fine-looking fellows and very hearty;
and then more than a thousand Chinamen. Such is the
pack there on the mines at Granite Creek. It was Wednesday
evening; just as we were in the middle of supper I remember
that an Indian, drunk and hurt, came to get something from
the store, but he was not given anything at first, but like
the widow he was stubborn and got a little something to
eat. He complained of a hurt. Well, we had just lighted our
pipes after supper and were sitting round the stove, when
a great knock came to the door and in came a queer crowd.
Three cowboys with clattering spurs, and armed to the teeth
1 52
Father Pat
with revolvers and rifles, came in with the terrible news of
a man having been murdered up at the mines. A rowdy
lot were riding madly about the camp and had been drinking,
etc., when as one of the men was swinging his revolver
round his head and going about, he happened to point it at
the head of a friend of mine who was on a visit to the mines ;
the ball struck him above the left eye, and it was the nearest
chance he wasn't killed on the spot. But this is going to
the end before you hear the exciting beginning of the story.
Well! the three boys who had comp down from the mines
reported the man dead, and they had started off amid a
shower of bullets after the murderers. They rode the 12
miles up and down hill in half an hour they say. Then in
our presence they were sworn in as constables, and sent
off to hunt down the shooter. All night they rode, but could
not get him, until late in the day they ran into him up at a
farm in the hills, and he made off on a good horse, but under
threats of being shot he came back and gave himself up, and
was run in here just before I left for the mines. He's a
cowboy and a rough one. Joke is that the three constables
are also cowboys, so you see how good they are on a case of
this kind. He was committed, and is to go down to New
Westminster to-morrow. They are going to take this letter
down with them, so you see it will be quite romantic. You
can guess how very sad I was to think that my friend had
been shot, especially as he has a wife and family; and I
should have gone up at once to see him if I had known the
trail, but I had to put it off till next day. So on Thursday
I started, and got upon a wretched beastly old screw of a
horse that I was lent, and which I dragged up the hills and
made him carry me down. Bah! I never was so sick in my
life. However, we got into the camp at last, and there I was
glad to see N. was all right and walking about. He had a
terrible shave, and only escaped by a miracle; he was talking
to some friends of mine as they were eating their supper,
and had been laughing a minute before at the cook because
he was afraid of the shooting, and next minute he was lying
on his face on the ground. The cowboy at once made off
whooping and yelling and was pursued by the others as you vi.] Letters 53
have heard. I had a nice time in the mining camp ; lots of
friends there, and had quite a number of visits to supper, etc.
I shall have a service there to-morrow morning. The camp
is in a big rough part of the country, and of course everything
is terribly rough and ready; but it is not a bad place. A
creek runs into the river and forms a peninsula, and on
that tongue is the camp. The hills run up perpendicular
on all sides and are well wooded. The tents are comfortable
but a bit rough; no houses yet built, but some building;
a whole forest was round about there, but now there are no
trees hardly on the tongue, all having been felled to make
mining implements, etc. The gold is plenty and I have
seen lots of it; little wee pieces, as a rule, of all shapes, flat
and bright; other big bits worth seventy-eight dollars or
so, and others something less. Men get cracked on the
subject, and no wonder; you could make your fortune in a
morning if you had luck. It's a queer side of this rough life.
I like the men, and they seem very nice as a rule. I wish
though the whiskey was not in there; it is playing the fool
with most of them. To-day we have had here another
excitement; the Indians like the eagles are gathered together
all round here from all parts. They got some whiskey here
and were all drunk last night; so we ran some white men in
and have been holding Court here. The Indian Chief being
sorry for his poor people, came to give evidence, and he
seems a fine sort of fellow; very unlike your picture chief,
as he is dressed in ordinary Indian pants and shirt, and looks
much like a back-woodsman with his long black hair and big
moccassins. I was in fits of laughter as he was giving his
evidence in Chinook, which is certainly an idiotic conglomeration. The real Indian is a mixture of clicks and chucks and
gutterals, very like a bad sailor aboard ship, as he tries to
repeat poetry to ease his soul and is sick at the same
" I must shut up now as I am hungry and it is lunch time,
and this jobation is enough for at least four meals.—Yours,
" Harry."
W 54 Father Pat [vi.
" Quilshanna, Nicola,
April 7th, 1886.
" Dearest M.—I had some fairly rough days at the mines.
The men have worked until the high water has driven them
out, and have now to lie by for about six weeks till the ice
and snow melt. It was by no means the best of roads or
trails I had to travel over there. In fact, the very worst
sort of walking for one whose feet are likely to be tender,
as mine are still. Crawling along trails and sliding down ice
slopes and scrambling up the steepest of precipices—and all
this in big top boots, you can fancy the state my feet were
in. The skin was off most of them and the heels were all
raw. On Sunday last I had morning service in camp, and
then made a sharp walk to Otter Flat (six miles) and had
afternoon service at three o'clock. Next morning I started on
a bit longer tramp, as I could get no horse, shouldering my
saddle bags, which were by no means light, I started about
8 a.m. for a big 30 mile tramp. People assured me at the
start I could not possibly get over the creeks and rivers, which
were swollen very high and even took the horses to swim
them. However, my Irish nature won't give in, and I
started. You can fancy me trudging along a good trail
through the most lovely lake and forest scenery, up and
down heavy hills, with saddle bags so arranged that one was
on my chest and the other on my back, by slipping my head
through the hole which fits on to the back of the saddle. I
can tell you it was no easy pack I had. Well, I had a real
good start and a most glorious walk on the finest of spring
mornings. Ice on the lakes still and snow on the hills, but
the warm sun makes those winter signs diminish quick.
The birds are all hard at work, trying to make up for their
tuneless nature by twittering in the maddest, merriest way.
Blue jays—little blue birds—great white owls and hawks,
with a lot of little brownies with black top knots, wild geese
and ducks ad lib. on the lakes; a cayote here and there
crawling about—you can guess I enjoyed it well. Armed
with a stout pilgrim's staff, I came to the first creek swollen
high: this I crossed on a log, taking special pains to keep —
vi.] Letters 55
upright across the deepest part of the river, knowing that
if I went in I should have fine times with the saddle bags
round my neck ! Well, then, I crossed a couple more creeks,
successfully walking the logs, and that is no easy matter,
as you have to balance yourself with your pole, which you
can get to the upper side of the log, and the force of the
current keeps it jammed to the log, and gives you a good
support. But you would have seen, no doubt, a woeful
expression on my face when I came to the next river, a
perfect torrent boiling and fussing away in grand style,
no log or tree to be seen anywhere. Well, off I went up
stream to search for something, and at last came to a good
stout tree; but it was three feet under water and a big
rush going over it. This was my only chance ; so I got on
to it, and by dint of a little balancing, I astonished myself
by getting safely across. You would have laughed to have
seen me going inch by inch across the stream, taking just
about five minutes to get across the thirty yards. I then
walked on hard to the house of one of my friends, and there
had lunch on beans and bacon, cooked out in a tent on a
couple of logs, Indian fashion. It was a good scene for life
in the Far West; a dirty, travelled-looking individual, a
poor imitation of a parson, sitting at one side of the log fire ;
a tin plate with his bacon and beans on it, and his tinney of
tea; bread just cooked on the fire in a dirty pan. The
other leading figures being a dirty smutty looking coon,
son of a Canon, blackened with work and smoke : he was
cook that day. Dress,—a pair of old gum boots, an old,
very old shirt, and a beastly old pair of overalls as pants,
completed his rig out. There were two Frenchmen besides
him, who were even dirtier than he was. So you can form
some idea of the Far West dirt. How grimy one gets to be
sure ! How you would have laughed to see me by the end
of that 30 mile walk.
Excuse my plainness of speech, but we are and have
to be very plain here. I got in to the half-way house
all right in good time, best time on record for a pedestrian.
A good night's sleep set me up, and yesterday morning I 56
Father Pat
started with a German to walk right through here ! That
is, to finish up with 35 miles; we marched along from 7 to 6,
with one and a half hour's rest in the middle of the day, and
I got in here fairly beat last evening, but none the worse for
the tramp, except that my feet are sadly in want of skin.
I am taking it easy to-day, and hope to have a nice little ride
this afternoon to the foot of the Nicola lake (about ten miles),
which will set me up again. The mines and miners are the
roughest part of this country just now. It is perfectly
astonishing the numbers that have trooped in from all
countries. It would do your heart good to hear some of the
ghastly tales the old miners have of nearly every wild country
of the globe ; they are certainly the hardest, roughest, and
yet best-hearted fellows alive. It has never been my lot
to rub up against such an utterly fearless class of men. They
go through the wildest countries in search of their darling
gold, and no dangers daunt them. I could yarn for hours
on their doings.—Yours, H. I."
" Bear Creek, Selkirks, E.,
" March $th, 1887.
" Dearest B.—I must write you a fine to tell you of one
of the most weird things you ever heard of and what I have
just gone through to-day. A few days ago up here in the
Selkirks an avalanche came thundering down Mount Carrol,
and came right across the valley and struck the track, turned
right up grade and smashed into two engines and the snow-
plough, burying them completely, and sixteen men with them;
nothing was to be seen of them but the end of the plough
and the smoke stack of one engine and a spout of steam
from the other engine, which was buried up altogether.
Well, the slide came upon the men who were watching it
come down the other side, before any of them could escape ;
of course when the few men who were around saw this, they
set in digging and got out ten, but six of the poor fellows
were killed; the men dared not go on digging for long, as
avalanches were coming down all round them, and they
were in peril of their lives. It was a strange scene and a
heartrending one too ; they now have got all the bodies out;
one of them was the husband of a poor woman in Donald 2SSS
vi.] Letters 57
whom I know. I had to break the news to her, and as there
was no one to hurry up things for her, I started for Donald
yesterday, and after a ride of 12 miles on an engine, and
then a run of 5 miles to catch another train up the hills,
I got up to Bear Creek last evening late. This morning
we had to start for the camp where the bodies were left,
and I think of all queer frisks this day's was the greatest I ever
had. We got about ten men to carry a coffin, and then away
we went with avalanches coming down all round us; we
had to run from one snowshed to another, keeping a good
look out for the avalanches, the roars of which always told
us when they came, and the flurry of snow ahead of them
makes them exactly like artillery booming away, and the
smoke curling from the guns; and, true to the simile, the
great snow or ice balls come thundering down with all the
frightful force of cannon balls. Well—we had to climb
over slides between the snowsheds, and that by a bad trail,
over perhaps 30 feet of snow and trees, and you fancy that
those 200 or 300 yards did not take us long to make. The
scene of the accident was too awful and too weird to describe ;
all snow around piled up 100 feet, and there down in the hole
the engines, and the graves of the poor six, one of whom we
had to put in a coffin, and start back with along that fearful
hillside, and run all the risks again. That was the strangest
funeral procession that ever passed on earth; fancy avalanches
rumbling and thundering around, and twelve men trailing
across the hills with a coffin swinging on a pole ; every man
listening for the avalanche above him and going as fast as
he could across the 200 yards between the sheds. I can tell
you it made one think of the six-hundred ride into the valley
of death. However, thank God, we got through all safe,
but we don't want to have to do it again. I am going in to
Donald to-morrow with the coffin.—Ever Yours,
" Harry."
" Donald,
"March 8th, 1887.
" Dearest B.—I had a fine time of it last Sunday getting
that poor fellow's body down.  I told you we had some horrid Father Pat
risks to run from the slides in carrying him across the hillside, and that was the weirdest funeral that the wildest
imagination could paint; you can only think of great
gigantic heights up to 4000 feet above you, and some 20 feet
of snow on the hillsides; then you hear the rumbling like
the rolls of thunder, you see the smoke (snow) rolling from
guns and the slide rushes into the gulch below you at 100
miles a minute. No place can give you a better idea of the
power of Nature and the powerlessness of man. There is
no railroad to be seen ; the only things to mark the line are
the tops of telegraph poles, or the butt ends here and there
where they have been turned endwise. Well, we felt most
thankful to have escaped as we did, and when we returned
you should have seen how pleased the boys were to see us
back safe, as there were three great slides while we were
away, and they came down just behind us; of course there
is no chance of a man living if he is buried, as the slides will
have to be blown out by powder ; they are as solid as granite
and just as heavy, in fact they are packed into ice. Well,
Sunday morning I thought I could make down the hill to
Donald, which was about 28 miles off. I had gangs of six
men to help me to drag the coffin on a toboggan. I placed
out three gangs and had to haul myself ; and when not hauling
I was breaking track through 3 feet of snow in the middle
of the track. We toiled along at about 2 miles an hour, and
about 4 p.m. met three engines ploughing their way through
the snow up the hill. These picked us up on our way down,
and helped us bn about 8 miles. Then I wired for an engine
from Donald, which came out and brought us in just by
midnight; that was the hardest Sunday's work I've ever
done, and hope it will be the last I'll have to do of that kind :
of course I should not have done it unless the poor wife
was here fretting her heart away that her husband's body
was lying miles away in the snow. Hoping you will be out
here some day to see the places that men can run such risks
in.   Love to all, your loving " Harry." 1
In the year 1890, the greatest happiness of Henry Irwin's
fife came to him, and also his greatest sorrow.
On January 8th, at the Church of S. Paul's, Esquimalt,
Vancouver Island, his marriage was celebrated; the bride,
as before said, was Miss Frances Stuart Innes, daughter of
Mr J. H. Innes, Superintendent of H.M. Naval Establishment at Esquimalt. Her sister, Mrs Shildrick says :
" Mr Irwin was then domestic chaplain to the late Bishop
Sillitoe, and assistant priest at Holy Trinity Cathedral.
The husband and wife were devoted to each other." The
young couple settled in the city of New Westminster, in a
pretty little house on the main street which runs parallel
with the Fraser River, and on its bank.
New Westminster, known in the Far West as " The Royal
City," because the name was given to it by the good Queen
Victoria, is a very beautiful town, where one feels it is good
to dwell. Carved out from the primeval forest, which still
remains to some extent as an adornment to the higher
levels of the town, it forms as it were a series of terraces
parallel with the Fraser River, intersected by extremely
steep streets leading upwards from the main street and the
railway track.
Hitherto, the Bishop had lived in Sapperton, a suburb
of New Westminster, and ministered in the church there,
Archdeacon Woods being Rector of Holy Trinity, New
Westminster. But now the Bishop assumed the charge of
Holy Trinity, which thus became a Cathedral Church. It
was, however, in addition to the episcopal visitations throughout the diocese, too great a burden for the Bishop's strength,
already undermined by ten years of arduous work as a
59 6o Father Pat [vii.
colonial Bishop, with constant harassing anxiety concerning
ways and means ; for in spite of the noble generosity of the
S.P.G., and the loyal efforts of his committee at home, funds
came in far too slowly and in too meagre a supply for the
needs of the clergy in the diocese, for whom the heart of
their Father in God often bled.
The Bishop entered on his new duties on July 19th, 1889,
and the Rev. H. Irwin became assistant curate a week later.
The old rectory was demolished to make way for the present
commodious See House, Bishop and Mrs Sillitoe still living
at Sapperton, a mile and a half away, in a pretty wooden
dwelling somewhat like a chalet, and in a large garden,
bright with shrubs and flowers. This is the old Archdeaconry
House, and is close to the little church at Sapperton thus
described by the Bishop :—
§ S. Mary's Church stands in the grounds of the Archdeaconry House, and is a model of what all wooden churches
might be and ought to be. It was designed and built by
the sappers who came out on the original expedition under
Colonel Moody. It was the ' fashionable church' of those
days. Government House stood near; officials and their
staff had their residences round about; an English tone
pervaded the little society, and they took pride in the church
they had built for themselves and in its services."
The Bishop's first impressions of New Westminster, are
interesting and still very exact:—
I This is really a very lovely place, though of course
we have the advantage of the first fresh brilliancy of summer
to heighten its natural beauty; but the whole situation is
well chosen and picturesque. The ground rises suddenly
from the river on both banks, so that in the town the houses
stand one above another; every one has a view, and indeed
a view more or less panoramic, since abundance of space
has given nearly every house a garden. The opposite bank
of the river is covered with pine forest, rising suddenly to
about a hundred feet above the stream ; and over this ridge,
from the higher parts of the town, is seen the snowy summit
of Mount Baker, nearly 70 miles away to the south-east.
Down the river, to our right, about a mile distant, two vii.]     In New Westminster, British Columbia   6i
fir-clad islands divide the stream into three great arms and
form a basin just above them fully two miles wide, across
which we look over to the mountains of Vancouver Island;
while up stream to our left, the view is bounded by the
mountains of the Cascade range, thirty miles off, and still,
at mid-summer, largely covered with snow."1
There is but little that we can say of the home life of Mr
and Mrs Irwin. For the young wife there would be much
to do to make and keep the home bright and cosy. Servants
are rare in the Far West, and gentlewomen are not afraid
to do the necessary work of their own houses. And then
there came brighter hopes still to occupy her. A few words
from Mrs Greswolde Williams, formerly a resident in British
Columbia, speaks of this time:—
" Mr Irwin was essentially an Irishman. His impulsive
disposition and love of adventure were genuinely Irish, and
that is the key to his character.
" I have heard him say he came to Canada fully resolved
to remain a celibate and devote himself entirely to missionary work. But he met Miss Innes, and the ideals of his
life somewhat changed, though a missionary he remained
to the end.
" All who knew him in New Westminster knew also his
intense devotion to his wife,—a devotion that remained
unchanged till his death."
Shall we not say that the very transience of this precious
time added to the permanence of its impression ? Happy,
indeed, and few are those who in their fives can find the
memory of a period which perfect love and perfect sympathy have enriched. With the Irwins it was so ; the wife's
tender grace still remains a pathetic memory, the husband's
chivalrous devotion a treasured one, among their friends
in the Far West. "ff/..
And then, sadly, quickly, came the end. A little one
who never drew breath in this world; the young mother
taken three days after, and the husband and father left
alone in the house which had seen so much happiness.
1 " Church Work in British Columbia," by the Rev. H. Gowen
(Longmans). 62 Father Pat [vii.
The following letter from Mrs Sillitoe who was ever so
true a friend to Mr Irwin, will best tell the sad and simple
story :—
" You ask me to tell you what I can about Mr Irwin's
short married life, and the time afterwards that he spent
at the See House as the Bishop's Secretary and Chaplain.
" Being away from all my papers it is impossible for me to
remember exact dates, but I think it was about the New Year
1890 that Mr Irwin brought his bride to New Westminster,
to a little house not far from the Church, and which years
before had been used for Columbia College, the girls' school,
which was opened soon after the Bishop reached the Diocese.
I Father Pat and his wife were like two children in the
delight they took in everything, in the pride they took in
each other and their cosy little home; and although it was
given them to spend so short a time together here below, that
time was one of unclouded happiness. This I say from
observation and from what Mr Irwin has since told me, for
he loved to talk to me of his wife and of their happiness,
telling me all sorts of little anecdotes of their life.
" The All Saints' Day services, the anniversary Festivals
of the Diocese of New Westminster, were always much
observed, the Choral Evensong the day before being
attended by many from Vancouver and other parishes ;
and at the Choral Celebration on the Festival itself there
was always an unusually large congregation.
I At the Choral Evensong of All Saints' Eve 1890, the
hymn, \ For all the Saints who from their labours rest,' was
sung for the first time. Mrs Irwin was not feeling well
enough to attend the service, but walked over to the
Cathedral to listen from outside. She thought she had never
heard anything more beautiful than this hymn, the beauty
of which lifts us for a while above the small worries and
harassments of earth, the last triumphant verses carrying
us almost into the Divine Presence. ' And to think,' as
Mr Irwin said to me so soon afterwards, f that it should
have been sung for her.'
" The little baby whose advent was to fill up the cup of
J happiness already so full, was not permitted to see the light
of this world; and on the evening of a Sunday in November,
on which so many prayers had been offered for the safety of
mother and child, the little body was laid at rest in a corner
of the beautiful cemetery overlooking the Fraser River
and snowclad mountains beyond. The grave is now marked
by a tiny stone on which is a touching inscription.
" Three days later Mrs Irwin died, the shock being all
the more crushing as she was supposed to be recovering.
On the evening of the funeral, Mr Irwin took up his residence
at the See House, and here he stayed until early in 1894,
when he was called to Ireland, a few months before the
Bishop's death, on account of his father's severe illness.
" Of his work during these years there is not much to be
recorded. It consisted of the humdrum everyday drudgery,
the writing and copying of letters, interviews, parochial
work (for he was curate of the Cathedral), and numberless
other things too insignificant to mention.
" The office, a large room in the See House used for
meetings and the transactions of business, was where he was
usually to be found, although he had a private sitting room.
In the evenings he was surrounded by a number of young
fellows, for the most part either strangers or down on their
" Our Sunday evening suppers at the See House were
always motley gatherings of all sorts and conditions of men ;
frugal meals they were, as indeed was all our fare; but
happy and restful after the day's work was over. It was
a great amusement to Father Pat to tell us afterwards of
the remarks that were made, the great simplicity being so
different from what was supposed to be en regie in an episcopal
" Mr Irwin's sunny disposition made him a charming
member of the family, and the love between him and the
Bishop was more that of a father and son, and in all these
years I never remember any friction dimming its brightness.
" Mr Irwin always believed the best of everyone, and his
character was to strangers a misleading one: he was so
sweet tempered, so anxious to think others right and to Father Pat
yield his own way, that people were inclined to think that
he could be easily led and influenced ; and it was only when
they were brought up against his principles that they found
themselves face to face before a solid wall round which there
was no way of getting. When he felt a thing to be right,
there was no shadow of yielding. He was from the first one
of my truest and dearest friends; but although I knew he
was out of health, I had no idea that the end, for which he
so much longed, was so near. The sorrow for my personal
loss could not but be very great, and yet there was happiness
in knowing that his many and arduous labours were over,
and that in the Rest of Paradise he was re-united to those
loved ones gone before.—Believe me, sincerely yours,
" Violet G. Sillitoe."
In a corner of the beautiful little cemetery at Sapperton
is a semi-circular headstone, very low and small. In its
centre is a sacred symbol, the Cross enclosed in a circle. It
is the grave of the nameless little one who never saw the
light; and beneath the symbol are these touching lines :—
I No name had I, O Christ, to offer Thee,
| Nor from Thy font received the sacred sign ;
Yet in Thy Book of Life remember me.
I plead my Saviour's Name instead of mine.'
" Child of H. and J. S. Irwin."
Not far off lie the parents in one grave, with two white
marble crosses at head and foot. CHAPTER VIII
A line of black was, as it were, drawn across Henry Irwin's
life at this time ; and though his friends tell us that the zest
of life was still abundant in him, and that in his work he was
ever more and more brave and bright, yet we can note an
underlying secret sorrow gnawing at his heart. It showed
itself in a restless desire of motion, of hard work; a longing
to throw himself heart and soul, and body too, into the
roughest, meanest toil for his brethren. He covered his
grief from strangers with utter shrinking from observation,
even with simulated indifference. When one who had not
yet heard of his loss asked him : | How is Mrs Irwin ? "
he replied with a sort of laugh, " Oh! did you not
know, she died last week ? " and turned away. Can we
not catch an echo of that laugh, sadder than any
tears ?
The kindness of the Bishop and Mrs Sillitoe was beyond
words.    Mr Arthur Irwin says :—
" During the sad time after his wife's death, the kindness
of the Bishop and Mrs Sillitoe was past comprehension,
and from that time forward the Bishop treated him as a son
and gave him rooms in the See House."
In 1891, he paid a second visit to his home in Ireland,
landing on January 30th and sailing again on May 1st. This
visit was a sorrowful one, being so soon after his wife's death.
Bishop Sillitoe persuaded him to take this change in order
to recover his mental tone. It seems to have helped him
to do so to some extent, yet his wife was never absent from
his thoughts. He would speak of her as " Fanny," exactly
as if he expected her to come into the room at any moment.
— ~~    " — —_ 66
Father Pat
No one, hearing him speak of her and ignorant of the facts,
would imagine that she was dead. Her friends were specially
dear to him.
Henry Irwin returned from his short visit home, refreshed
and ready for his work as secretary to Bishop Sillitoe.
The life in the new See House, of which Mr Irwin was
now an inmate, was happy, simple, and, though homely,
much more comfortable in the spacious airy rooms of the
handsome wooden building than had been the case in the
pretty but small house at Sapperton. In this latter residence, the Bishop and Mrs Sillitoe had been honoured by
a visit from the Princess Louise, and her husband the Marquis
of Lome, when on a tour as Governor-General of Canada.
They joined in the home life with kindly simplicity.
In the company of his kind and fatherly friend the Bishop,
Mr Irwin remained till January 1894, during which time
church work in the diocese continued to make steady progress.
At the end of 1890 three experienced priests, Mr Croucher,
Mr Edwardes and Mr (now Archdeacon) Small, had left the
diocese with a view to other work. Their places were hard
to fill, especially that of Mr Small, among the Indians at
Lytton, British Columbia. In vain the Bishop sent home
earnest appeals for a man to come and work among this
interesting people; but a school for Indian girls at Yale,
British Columbia, under Sisters from Ditchingham in Norfolk,
was making progress, and proving what invaluable work
it was possible for Christian women to do among their Indian
sisters. With this school Father Pat had to do; it was
the chief item of his work for the Indians. A new wing had
been built to this school at a cost of about £700, of which
the Dominion Government gave £300. On December 29,
1890, the Bishop and Mrs Sillitoe went to Yale, and the new
wing of the school was dedicated by a procession; the
Bishop in cope and mitre was preceded by Aimie, a little
half-breed girl of twelve, as cross-bearer, dressed like all
her confirmed companions, in white veil and red pinafore.
Another child came after the Bishop carrying the school
banner ; then four choir children, then the remainder of the
school, the Sisters, and finally a troop_of Indians.^ These last, viii.] A Quiet Time 67
nearly seventy in number, walked in couples and in reverent
order and silence. Upstairs wound the long procession,
numbering just 100 in all, singing the 67th Psalm (" God be
merciful unto us and bless us"), then downstairs again to the
refectory and schoolroom, suitable prayers and responses
being said in each, ending with a short service in the little
chapel where there was hardly standing room. A Christmas Tree followed, and then a magic lantern show of scenes
embracing the chief English cathedrals: a red-letter day
indeed for the Indians of Yale.
In July 1905 the writer visited the spot. After a hot
night in the train, the early morning freshness at Yale was
very acceptable, and also the kind welcoming faces of the
Vicar and of a lady from the school. Little dark-skinned
Indian girls from the village, clad in red cotton and holding
Indian baskets with cherries, offered the fruit for sale to
the passengers ; and very refreshing were the cherries to
our parched lips.
A short walk by the Fraser brought us to the school,
where a charming welcome from the Sister in charge awaited
us. After a rest, we took a walk with some of the Indian
girls by the river, which here is deep and rapid and swirls
along between romantic mountains clothed with verdure
almost to the top. We sat by a brooklet—the girls' favourite
spot—which rippled on under fern and moss on its way to
the river, and we chatted and told stories and had a happy
time. We received an Indian basket from them as a
parting gift, and we highly value it as a memento of a happy
There is no doubt that the work done in this school, and
in that for Indian boys at Lytton, British Columbia, lately
built and endowed by the New England Society and under
the care of the Rev. G. Ditcham, is the best foundation for
the evangelization of this interesting people in the diocese,
by training them to form Christian homes and found Christian
families, with habits of decency and order. We owe a debt
to the Indian race, and in no way can we pay it better than
by aiding such efforts at civilization on the only true basis,—
namely, the Christian religion.
U 68
Father Pat
In all such work Mr Irwin of course took part, though as
we have seen the Indian- language was not his forte. He
had yet to find out the direction in which his work was to
prove so striking and unique.
In 1892, Bishop Sillitoe was attacked by influenza—a
serious attack, from the effects of which he never fully recovered. It began in February ; and though he was able
to be out of doors early in March, a relapse followed, and he
was obliged to rest from time to time. Still, he went over
the greater portion of his diocese in that year, including
three visits to Nelson, now the chief town and headquarters
of the Church in Kootenay. It is the important centre of
a large and growing mining district, beautifully situated at
the head of the Kootenay Lake. The work in the diocese
went on steadily, and a beginning was made in the mission
to the Chinese in Vancouver and New Westminster—a
most important work. Thousands of Chinese flock to
British Columbia for labour of various kinds; in laundry,
gardening, and cooking they excel; and as there are few
female servants, the Chinese are invaluable in a domestic
capacity. Bishop Sillitoe and Bishop Dart have expressed
their deep sense of the obligation laid on Christians in British
Columbia to work for the conversion of the Chinese in their
midst while absent from their own land, with its temptations
and hindrances to Christianity.
A Chinese catechist from Honolulu, S. Ten Yong, began
a class in Vancouver ; and many friends, first among whom
we must name Mrs Greswolde Williams, assisted in furthering the work there and in New Westminster. Bishop
Sillitoe had two Chinese servants in his own household.
So quietly and busily passed the time throughout 1892
and 1893. Father Pat was with those who loved and cared
for him ; he enjoyed his rooms in the See House, and had the
privilege of bringing a. friend to dinner; and many were
the jokes at his expense concerning his use of this privilege ;
for he was always on the " losing side," and not seldom
introduced to the Bishop's table some poor fellow " down
on his luck," whom such a reminder of better days might
console and encourage.   But he was careful before doing so, mm.
Father Pat, with Bishop Sillitoe's Chinamen
and Favourite Dogs VL viii.] A Quiet Time 69
to hire a suit of fitting clothes for his protege, and not to
encroach too far on the hospitality of Mrs Sillitoe.
Meanwhile, a change was impending in the happy Irish
home. In July, 1892, Mr Irwin's father had a serious
apoplectic attack, and the medical attendant had such grave
fears of another equally sudden seizure, that Mr Arthur
Irwin invented a code of telegraphic communication with his
brother Henry. In December 1893 the dreaded attack
came, and the word " Hyac " (Chinook for Hurry) was cabled
to Father Pat. The Bishop kindly allowed him to start
at once, and he arrived at home on January 8th, 1894, little
thinking that he would never again see the Father in God
who had been so true a comforter in his sorrow.
Mr Irwin's father recovered slowly, and up to June 1894,
Father Pat assisted in the parish and church, relieving his
father of work and anxiety.
On July 11 he received tidings of Bishop Sillitoe's death,
which came to him as a great shock, and he mourned for
him as a son.
The Bishop, as before stated, had never thoroughly recovered from the effects of influenza; and though at the
beginning of 1894 he felt stronger and better, his friends
were still anxious, and the English committee offered to pay
all expenses if he would take the needed rest. The secretary,
Mr Mogg, writes: " His answer overflowed with gratitude,
but he pointed out the difficulties of leaving, and continued :
' I cannot go away until I have given the parishes the opportunity of confirmations. . . . We must try and make up
for the falling-off last year. Again, I do not think I need go
away for six months. I am now very well; my only trouble
some symptoms in my heart; but quiet and, above all,
peace of mind, are the best relief for this.' "
He went on bravely with his episcopal duties, but gave
up the incumbency of the Cathedral Church, Holy Trinity,
New Westminster, to which the Rev. A. Shildrick was appointed Rector, while the West End of the city had now
become a district—that of S. Barnabas—under Mr Gowen,
with a neat church of its own. Mr Croucher had succeeded
Father Pat as domestic chaplain.
=J 70
Father Pat
While at Lytton, the headquarters of the Indian work,
on Whit-Sunday, 1894, though feeling ill and worn out,
Bishop Sillitoe braced himself to give to his Indian converts
the precious boon of Confirmation. He came to the Indian
church at 8.50 a.m., supported by Mrs Sillitoe, went through
the service, and spoke briefly but to the point to the newly
confirmed. This was his last episcopal act. On Wfyit-
Monday he left for Yale, and the end came rapidly. He
endured terrible suffering at Yale, whispering prayers
between the awful struggles for breath. On Sunday, May
27, as he sat in his bedroom in the parsonage at Yale, adjoining
the little wooden church, he could follow the service heard
through the open window. Mrs Sillitoe, of course, was with
A flood, owing to the rapid rise of the Fraser from melting
snow in the mountains, was causing grave anxiety at this
time; the lower part of Yale was under water, and wooden
houses went sailing swiftly down the river. The knowledge
of his people's sufferings added to the Bishop's trouble,
but when on June 1 he started for home on a river steamer,
he seemed to bear the journey well. Soon after his arrival
at home he received the Holy Communion at the hands of
Mr Croucher, and then lapsed into unconsciousness. Incessant
prayers were offered to God on his behalf, and on the Saturday
night he calmly breathed his last. The telegraphic message
sent home was : " Bishop asleep," and thus a holy and good
spirit passed to a better world, and one phase of Church
work in British Columbia was ended. CHAPTER IX
In less than four months after the death of Bishop Sillitoe,
Henry Irwin was to bear the loss of his beloved father, the
Reverend Henry Irwin, for thirty-one years incumbent of
the chapel-of-ease at Newtown, Mount Kennedy, in Ireland.
The loss of a dear and honoured parent creates a chasm in
a man's life. On that side are all the dear memories of childhood and of the dear and cherished companionship ; on this
side,—cold and silence.
Struck down by pneumonia on September the fifteenth,
Mr Irwin fingered till S. Matthew's Day (September 21,1894),
and then slept away into rest. The funeral was impressive,
and a memorial sermon was preached by the Reverend
Canon Robinson on the text: " Blessed are they that dwell
in Thy House." In God's House indeed this venerable
man had ever dwelt; his own home had been a house of
God, and the church was his dearest home of all: there he
taught his flock, old and young, the simple gospel truths,
and there he gathered his people to receive the Bread of
Father Pat had been away from his home for a time before
his father's death, obeying an urgent summons to help his
former Rector, Mr Murray, who was in failing health. Those
who saw him at Rugby, and had known him there as a curate,
a bright, young fellow, fresh from Oxford, somewhat
fastidious in dress and habits, felt that they were in the
presence of another being. Even on his first visit in 1888
a change was noticed. His brother says : " He left home
in 1885, a smooth-faced, youthful-looking priest of the true
Anglican type : he arrived home, two years and eight months
71 !
Father Pat
later, looking twenty years older, with whiskers and moustache,
and sallow hardened skin, speaking with a somewhat nasal
twang," and with a pointed beard which he used laughingly
to allude to as his Saving Point.
Now, in addition, there were the results of the blow that
had fallen upon him in his wife's death. Although that loss
was always present to him, and he carried always with him
a copy of In Memoriam, from its exquisite pages gathering
consolatory thoughts, yet he did his best to set his grief
aside, and to see God's providence even in the blow. But
it had hewn a fresh model from the marble of his nature,
and the Father Pat known to the miners would never have
been but for that loss.
After his father's death (having been summoned from
Rugby on the approach of that calamity) Henry Irwin
stayed at Newtown and carried through another work, that
of converting the small chapel-of-ease into a church with
a parish. Up to the end of 1895, Father Pat's work was to
see to the conversion of this church, with its trust funds,
into the constitution of a parish, and the dedication and
consecration of it as S. Matthias' Church, Newtown, Mount
Kennedy. " Having completed these matters to the satisfaction of all concerned, he saw the appointment of a revered
clergyman to the vacant cure before his departure again for
British Columbia on January 8th, 1896, exactly two years
from the date of his landing in 1894." 1
Meanwhile a new Bishop had been appointed to the vacant
see of New Westminster. After certain difficulties in the
Colonial Synod, which delayed the selection, the choice was
relegated to the Archbishop of Canterbury and his assessors,
and fell on the Rev. John Dart, who had earned a valuable
experience in Ceylon under Bishop Chapman, and as head
of the Theological College in Nova Scotia, where he had
married a Nova Scotian lady of great personal charm ; and
at the time of his appointment to the see, he was acting as
S.P.G. deputation in the Diocese of Manchester. At the
close of 1895, he went out to his new diocese, where great
trials, financial and personal, awaited him, to be met with a
1 From a letter by A. W. Irwin, Esq.
ix.] A New Beginning 73
firmness and judicious patience that are the strong characteristic of this prelate.
Soon after Bishop Dart reached his new diocese, Mr Irwin
wrote to him to propose returning thither. The Bishop
from the first fully appreciated the noble and self-denying
enthusiasm of the man; and their intercourse from first to
last was marked by an affectionate regard on the part of the
superior and elder, by a beautiful respect and confidence
on the part of the younger, as testified in each of the letters
from Mr Irwin, carefully preserved by Bishop Dart, several
of which with his permission are reproduced here.
It was Mr Irwin's wish to devote himself from the date of
his return to British Columbia, to good hard work of the
pioneer sort) and accordingly the Bishop appointed him
as Mission Priest to Rossland, then a rapidly growing mining
district in the lonely mountainous country in the south of
the diocese, in that half of it nearer the Rocky Mountains
and known as Kootenay.
In 1896 Mr Carlyle, Minister for Mines, in his annual
report says : " Early in the sixties, the placer mines on
Wild Horse, Findlay, and other creeks in East Kootenay,
having been discovered, resulted in the rush there of miners,
and the constant demand for supplies, as there was no means
of communication between the coast and this district, except
through the United States, with vexatious delays at the
Customs. MrE. Dewdney, afterwards the Lieutenant-Governor
of British Columbia, was instructed to survey and construct
a trail entirely within British territory, through the southern
part of the province, as a passage to the north had proved
to be not feasible. In 1865 this trail, since known as the
Dewdney Trail, was finished, and in its course it passed
about one mile south of the present town of Rossland on its
way down Trail Creek to the Columbia River."
The town is now approached by a branch railway, which
zigzags most picturesquely up the mountain pass. It joins
at Robson the main C.P.R. line over the Crow's Nest Pass.
The mines were found to be rich in ores yielding iron,
copper, silver and gold. The chief mines are the Le Roi,
the War Eagle, the Centre Star, the Virginia, and the Idaho; I
Father Pat
all gracious names, but alas !  the things they represent are
unlovely enough.   As Mrs Browning says of other scenes :—
" The palpitating engines snort and steam across the acres,
And mark upon the blasted heaven the ruin of the land."
When ever did a mine not blight the natural beauty of a
landscape ? Here in the purest of air, on a high tableland
overlooking a luxuriant landscape, the rough shacks of the
miners, the gaunt engines and black waste of the mines,
are as blots before the eye.
Father Pat did not ask for beauty; he only asked for
work, and he got it. He settled down among his people only
bent on their good, absolutely forgeftul and negligent of
his own welfare. His flock was of most varied character.
An eye-witness1 says: " Rossland is eminently cosmopolitan. There were men of all European nationalities, as
well as Americans and Chinese. The mining fever had seized
them all; but how differently it affected them ! There
may be seen the pig-tailed Chinaman, fanning himself as
he saunters in his soft white shoes along the pavement,
his objects and occupations a deep mystery, but certain to
be involved in money-getting,—his poorer brother bending
under a load of the barbarian's dirty linen, with his pigtail twisted for convenience round his greasy brow. There
are ' the boys ' back from the mines, with ' a good rough
on them,' determined to enjoy the town. There is the
German, the plump Jew, the Yankee. Men everywhere
in abundance—standing in knots at street corners, sitting
outside the hotels or bars, or perched in armchairs, having
their boots cleaned in the thoroughfare ; and all this crowd,
no matter what other ostensible object they might have,
had but one craze—the mines.
I Yet there was want and suffering here sometimes. The
prospectors, who love the hills with an instinct that is more
sporting than mercenary, are, for the most part, an improvident race;2 and if they come back, as many of them do,
1 Frances Macnab, in " British Columbia for Settlers " (Chapman & Hall).
2 A Prospector is a man who goes about among the mountains ix.] A New Beginning 75
having found nothing, they return to suffer want. They
will help each other to a dinner, but if times are bad with
many at once, even this resource may become exhausted.
They are distinctly not the men to whom charity could be
offered; and if assistance is given by anyone outside the
charmed circle of their own set, it must be done most delicately. I was delighted to find in ' Father Pat' (the
English clergyman at Rossland) one who thoroughly appreciated and liked the miners and prospectors ; a feeling
which, I believe, was warmly reciprocated by them. As I
walked with him in Rossland, I occasionally overheard scraps
of conversation which, perhaps, were not intended for me.
"' Why, Dick ! did I see you in church this evening ? '
"' Yes, yer reverence, I was there. The first time for thirty
years. I couldn't stand too much of it at a time, though.
So just when it was getting a bit long I went outside and had
a smoke. I say, yer reverence, it was good ! I went in
again after I'd had a bit of a smoke, and it all came back
to me as I was used to it when I was a boy, and I tell ye I did
come down on them ah-mens !'
" When I was in Rossland, Father Pat was busy establishing a free library and sitting-room, which he had artfully
contrived under the floor of the church. Many a time had
we to perambulate down the hillside to admire this library.
"f A person don't have to belong to my church or Sunday-
school,' said Father Pat, delivering his invitations as he
went along, ' or any Sunday-school, to be welcome. Doors
are always open—books, magazines, are there. All that
anyone has to do is to help himself. There are oomfortable
chairs. I want those young men and others who have no
places and no homes to go to.'
" It was instructive to hear Father Pat discourse upon
human nature. He was best at this when he sat in the open
doorway of the shack in which he chose to reside. The shack,
like the library, was always open. ' My experience in this
Western country,' he would say, ' is that the more you
trust human nature, and treat people like fellow beings,
to discover ore. He keeps his discoveries secret till he can find
a capitalist to buy his information. Father Pat [ix.
and not with suspicion, the better you will like them. If I
knew a man was a born thief, I would throw the doors open
to him and trust him just the same, relying on his better
nature not to betray me. Take my advice, young man,'
he cried, as a smartly dressed youth in Sunday best was
passing, ' and don't be too suspicious of your fellow mortals,
especially if they be dressed in overalls and boots. Rather
beware of kid gloves and perfumed clothes.'
" The young man thus addressed started and turned
his head. On seeing Father Pat, he raised his hat and
beamed a silent benediction, and went on his way.
" Possibly Father Pat carries his ideas farther than need
be. I was obliged sometimes to remonstrate, but the men
understood him. ' He's a good man,' said one. ' We know
that. There's nothing we can give him. His reward is
ready for him, for all the poor fellows he's nursed
and cared for that nobody else would bother about. No
one can take it from him. He's recorded his claim right
Though time works rapid changes in that quickly-shifting
country, and men are soon forgotten, yet to this day stories
are rife about the beloved Father Pat of the miners, and long
may his name be green there as " a spray of Western pine."
When Bishop Dart made his first visitation it was a rough
road he travelled on to get there : he described it as "a
journey in the air with an occasional rest on the seat," such
were the bumps of his springless conveyance over the roads
often formed of logs laid side by side. He found Father Pat
cosy enough in those rooms under the church which were
intended for his use, and which, as we see above, he turned
eventually into a reading-room. On the Bishop's second
visit a poor homeless prospector was ensconced there, and
Father Pat had betaken himself to the wretched shack which
he henceforth called his home. Could my readers see that
shack they would realize what such self-denial meant to a
cultured gentleman. A small hut of boards, with rough,
uneven wooden steps climbing up a mud bank to the door;
the whole in a side alley near the church turned away from
all the fine prospect of hill and valley.   And yet this seemed
Ml ix.] A New Beginning 77
to him too great a luxury to enjoy alone ; for he constantly
had some sick or needy man to share it with him. As to
clothes, he adopted the blue Deny of the miners as his
working costume. There is a story of a young fellow fresh
from England, who brought an introduction to the Rev.
H. Irwin, and who on finding the shack, and its occupant clad
in the rough dress of a miner, went away, certain that he had
mistaken the place and the man.
The more civilized part of his wardrobe was constantly
being diminished by the inroads of his reckless charity. He
simply could not keep a good hat or coat or pair of boots for
himself, when another needed them. It is told that when
his congregation became scandalized by the green and threadbare overcoat he wore, they summoned up courage to remonstrate, and begged him to accept a new and warm one
which they would provide, better suited to the severe weather.
He thanked them heartily and accepted the gift with affectionate gratitude. For a few days he appeared in the grand
new coat and expressed his appreciation of its warmth and
comfort. But alas ! it was not long before the new coat
disappeared, and the old green and threadbare one took its
place again. " Where is your new coat, Father Pat ? "
they asked. " What have you done with it ? " A look of
contrition came over his face, as he answered :—
" Well, what could I do ? I met a poor fellow who had
no overcoat at all. I couldn't let him go without one in this
bitter weather, and I couldn't give him my old one, could
I ? " A similar tale is recorded of a new hat; and I was
told that once, gazing on a scarecrow in a field, he said
jokingly, but with absolute justice, that he might change
hats with it with advantage to himself.
His days and nights were given to others. His door was
ever open to the men. They might smoke with him, chat
with him ; and then, in the confidence of such talk, he would
lead many a poor fellow to confess his faults, to ask advice,
to remember the better life past, the prayers and counsels
learned at a mother's knee. Who can tell what such quiet
talks among the tobacco-smoke in the rough shack may
have done for many a soul ?
—ft- 78 Father Pat [ix.
The wooden church of Rossland is a barnlike erection
standing on a small piece of level land on the slope on which
Rossland lies. It is below the roadway, below the shops
and houses. One goes down a ricketty wooden stairway
to it. As is the custom in the Far West, rooms are beneath
it, intended (as beforesaid) for the clergyman's use, but given
up by him for the parish. The church is perfectly plain in
form, a simple rectangle, but a chancel is contrived by a
wooden screen, and everything in this extemporized sanctuary
is " decent and in order." The evening services are especially
good and earnest, and the voluntary choir do their work well.
Such was the church where Father Pat ministered, and such
it still is ; but a new one will, it is hoped, be shortly erected
under the auspices of the present Vicar, the Rev. H. W.
A few extracts from the Rossland Parish Magazine of this
date, with a diary written by Father Pat himself, may fitly
close this chapter :—
" H. Irwin arrived in Rossland from England on January
27, 1896, and having secured the Opera House for service,
held mission services on February 2nd, and also went to
Trail1 in the afternoon, but was late, owing to the breakdown of an ore team which blocked the road for the ore
wagon on which he was travelling.
" The absence of books made it necessary to print both
hymns and canticles; and this expense, with the rent of the
Opera House, made it necessary for him to turn out of the
hotel into a shack with four other men for two months, by
which time, with the ready help of a Ladies' Guild, the work
of building a church for Rossland took shape.
" On May 1st, the first visit to the Kettle River District
was paid, and services were held on May 3rd at Grand Forks,
where lots were secured for the church.
" On returning to Rossland, two lots were offered for church
building purposes, and a subscription list opened with fifty
subscribers, a legacy from Bishop Sillitoe, and contributions
from S.P.C.K. and Mr Lloyd Graeme, in memory of his son
1 Trail is a small town at the foot of the track which descends
the hill from Rossland. "\
ix.] A New Beginning 79
who died in Rossland, completing the amount required to
" On May 27 th, church lots were secured at Trail, and a
foundation was shovelled out on June 2 and 3.
" Bishop Dart paid his first visit to Rossland on August 16.
A building committee was then appointed, and the work
of building and furnishing proceeded with; and the first
services were held in our own building at Christmastide
with great joy."
The church at Rossland is connected in my mind with
an amusing incident. One Sunday evening in August 1905,
I attended the service, which was warm and hearty, the
building being full to suffocation. It so happened that a
Friendly Society named The Brethren of Pythias was
that evening attending in state. The Archdeacon of
Kootenay, who was officiating, had by some accident not
been informed of this fact till he issued from the vestry at
the head of the choir. When he began his sermon he expressed a warm welcome to the Brethren, regretting that, not
having known of their intention to be present in a body, he
was unable to give them an address specially prepared, but
he hoped that the one he was about to give would prove
suitable and acceptable. He then gave out his text: " Lo !
these that have turned the world upside down, are come
hither also."
-mmrmmtf^mfrr- - %J
When we were in Kootenay,—indeed, I may say, in any
part of British Columbia,—the name of Father Pat was one
to conjure, with. The face of our interlocutor would light
up as we spoke, and a flood of anecdote would pour forth.
He was a hero in the land.
An interesting account of him is given by the Reverend
Charles Ault Procunier, an ex-Methodist minister, now
Rector of the important town of Revelstoke, British Columbia.
" When I first met \ Father Pat' (he says), I was an ex-
minister of ' The Methodist Church of Canada,' having
resigned from the membership and ministry of that religious
society for the express purpose of becoming a candidate for
Holy Orders in the Church of England. His Lordship, the
Bishop of New Westminster, who had made all arrangements
for my ordination to the Diaconate in Victoria, British
Columbia, by the Bishop of Columbia, on June the 5th, 1898,
was in England. At this important time appeared the inevitable flaw in mundane affairs. The ordination was postponed. However, after voluminous telegrams and letters
the ordination was again arranged, the time—June the 22,
1898, the place—S. George's, Rosslands, and the Bishop was
The Rt. Rev. Lemuel Henry Wells, Bishop of Spokane.
" On June the 21st I arrived, with my young son, who was
five years old—his mother was in the hospital in Kaslo,
British Columbia—on the train at 11.30 p.m., and as I stepped
out of the train crowded with a Western populace—miners,
speculators, gamblers, etc.—the circle of my life, for the first
time, touched the invisible circle of the deep life of ' Father
" ' Hello, Procunier, old boy,' were his unconventional
80 Snap-shots Si
words. There was no red-tape of social forms, no conventional snobbishness, but a man with a human heart.
As his guest at the Lancaster Club I was lodged ; and while
we had a quiet glass of Scotch whisky and a soothing pipe,
late though it was, there was a steady flow of wit and wisdom,
humour and advice, which I shall never forget. But, however, the conclusion was practical details and arrangements
for the future.
" On the following day, in his church, the Confirmation
and Ordination took place. Then came his practical insight
for specific details. Having a innate inclination for missionary work, he had long desired a favourable opportunity to
visit the various mining camps and towns, which were
. springing into existence like blades of grass in the spring,
and, behold ! here was the chance. I was left in charge of
S. George's Parish, Rossland. The difficult task of his
Church work was, with fear and trembling, undertaken.
In my quiet moments of higher insight, I have sometimes
questioned his objective interest in the wild ways of mining
camps at that particular time. Was it not rather pure
self-sacrifice and self-denial, in order that he might provide
an open door to organized work, and an infallible income
for a raw " tenderfoot'—as they say in the West—in the
Church ?
" However, he was a true missioner, and a tried exemplar
of the profound principle of practical Christianity. If God
speaks to us in nature, in history, in conscience, and in
Revelation, .most assuredly, in his saintly life, there was heard
the ' small still voice' of God. It was his feasible advice,
open church and free hand, that made the rugged path of
my life smooth and plain.
= Thus with his hand to my hand, and heart to my heart,
we laboured until the missionary district of Fort Steele,
British Columbia, was opened, and all arrangements had been
completed for my incumbency there. Again, into conspicuous
prominence came his noble traits. He must needs go and
spy out the lie of the land and the look of the people. After
weary days of long tramps, along the surveyed route of the
Crow's Nest Rail Road, he made the journey to and fro.   On 82
Father Pat
his return came the ' tips and pointers ' as he called them;
the history of the people and the places ; how they had a
Moses and an Aaron as licenced lay readers in S. John's
Church, Fort Steele—one was Low Church and the other
was High; how there was jealousy between Fort Steele
and Cranbrook; how I could steer my way, safely and successfully, between the Scylla and the Charybdis of the various
circumstances on that mission field.
" In the meanwhile, my family had been comfortably
ensconced in Rossland. I left them under his paternal care,
and proceeded to my chosen mission. After doing parochial
duty for some time, I returned for them. And dear ' Father
Pat' could not do enough for us.
" We left Rossland, via Northport, for Kaslo, British
Columbia, where my household effects were stored, and lo !
when ready to start—semper et ubique—' Father Pat'
appeared on the scene. He went with us to Goat's River
Landing—the temporary port in connection with the new
Crow's Nest Rail Road.
" It would be beyond our present scope and intention to
describe our journey on a lumber wagon, drawn by four
horses, for twenty miles, then in a freight car on a construction train, which was laying rails. Suffice it to say that we
reached our mission safely, and through the sound advice
—which we had received—(' To be forewarned is to be
forearmed')—we found the key to the people and the
" As Rector of S. Peter's Church in Revelstoke, British
Columbia, sitting quietly in my study, I try to form
a just judgment of Mr Irwin's subjective and \objective
influence—what he was to me and what he was to men in
" On the one hand, I did not read under him. He was
appointed deputy-examiner by the Bishop of New Westminster, and as necessity knows no law, he held the examination in a bedroom of a public-house in Cranbrook. Nevertheless, one could not read the profound volume of his daily*
life with attention, and not receive great thoughts which
sustain the mental and the spiritual life.   Thus came, ———————
x.] Snap-shots 83
" ' Truths that wake,
To perish never
Which neither listlessness nor mad endeavour
Can utterly abolish or destroy.'
" As Tennyson makes Ulysses say :—
" ' I am a part of all that I have ever met,'
therefore I owe more than I can say to his fond memory.
But as a student and a preacher, he left no distinct impression upon me. His great book was human nature, and his
best sermon was a pure life. On the other hand, as we consider his objective immortality in men, we may say that he
fives and will always live in the memories and affections
of the old timers in British Columbia. Characteristic tales
are told of him, again and again, in the mines and homes,
on the street and in the saloons. And it is a pity that these
rich gems of a rare life should be forgotten. A distinct
line differentiated him from men in general and priests in
particular. Always and only ' Father Pat.' And when we
try to sum up we, as children sometimes say when guessing
riddles, * Give it up !' As well try to trace the sunbeams
of last summer's sun in every bud and bulb, flower and fruit.
Wherever the broad circle of his Catholic life reached, he
lives and will live forever.    Truly can it be said :—
" ' His life was gentle ;   and the elements
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world : This was a man.'
" And in conclusion :—
" 'Sir, fare you well ;
Hereafter in a better world than this,
I shall desire more love and knowledge of you.' "
Mr Irwirf alludes to the writer of the above in the following letter to his Bishop, Dr Dart; and we may see in the
whole letter what a bright state of growth and energy pervaded the diocese,—active, earnest clergy raising new
churches in the rapidly growing townships. Father Pat
" Rossland Club, Rossland, B.C.,
" April, 21 st '99.
" My Lord,—I have just returned from Fort Steele and
Cranbrook, where I had Easter Communion last Sunday.
Procunier is flourishing and has opened a nice church in
Fernie—the parsonage in Fort Steele is finished.
" There is to be a fast C.P.R. service put on through
the Crow's Nest Pass which will save a day nearly. If your
Lordship thought of coming in that way, Procunier could
meet you at Fernie—and he is quite ready for his ordination.
I got the ' De fide symbolo ' for him. Nelson church is
most beautiful and exquisitely finished, and they have it
crowded to the doors. Akehurst deserves more than ever
he'll get for his almost single-handed labour in getting it
up. An ordination and consecration there would be something after your Lordship's heart. Our church committee
have consented to take Festina Lente as our motto for the
present. In my report to the Archdeacon I am showing a
year's ' raise' in .this parish, and my stipend has almost
touched $500; that is a change to the $100 your Lordship
referred to as ! a good beginning ' about two years ago.
" Many thanks for your last letter re the Kootenay Diocese.
I think the committee are troubled and troubling about
many unnecessary questions.
" Hoping your Lordship will have a good journey out, and
that you will soon be with us again,—I am, my Lord, your
grateful servant, H. Irwjn.
" P.S.—My Easter offerings came to $186 which I have
easily disposed of."
During the three years of his sojourn at Rossland, Father
Pat drew largely—too largely—on his store of vitality, which
seemed inexhaustible. The secret of it all was that he had
no desire to live, only to do God's work so long as life should
be granted. A friend observes : " He was all over the
country, holding services and laying the foundations of a
church at Trail, 7 miles east of Rossland, and 2000 feet
below, and at Grand Forks and other points in the Boundary,
the nearest point being 40 miles over the mountains west Snap-shots 85
of Rossland ; two days' journey for most men up and down
steep trails, but only one day's for Father Pat, whether on
foot or in the saddle.
" His journeys over the mountains were phenomenal; he
seemed to be tireless, and he loved the wilds where he was
in close touch with Nature; and sometimes to intimate
friends he spoke of his frequent sense of the nearness of the
Spirit world, with which he seemed in closest touch out on
the trails at night."
Anecdotes abound of him at Rossland. One shows his
blunt way with the miners, taking them in their own vein :
He was a hard football player, and in a match at Nelson,
British Columbia, he got a pair of black eyes. Returning
to Rossland on Saturday evening, he met a miner in the
street, who noted the catastrophe, though his hat was pulled
down over his eyes.
" I just stood and looked at him (said the man), and
Father Pat came up to me and said, ■ What's the matter with
you ? Can't you speak to a man ? ' 'I was just thinking,'
said I, ' what a pretty pair of eyes those are. Prettiest pair
I ever saw.' ' It's not the first time,' said Father Pat.
1 Well, you're a nice one for a minister,' said I, J you're
not going to preach with eyes like that ? ' 'It wouldn't
be the first time for that either,' said he. ' Well, I'd be
ashamed, if I was you. How did you get 'em ? ' ' We had
a rough game,' he said,' over in Nelson, and I ran up against
a fellow, but he's no better off.' "
He preached the next day, but felt bound to make an
apology for the eyes.
Another story illustrates the good and bad side of society
in Rossland: There was a poor girl who had led an evil
life, but in whom Father Pat saw the seeds of better things.
Encouraged by him, some young fellows clubbed together
to put her in a decent lodging, and to buy a sewing machine
with which she might earn an honest living; and this she
was sincerely endeavouring to do. A man meeting her in
the hotel, greeted her with insulting words. Father Pat
happened to be there, and, with his fist in the fellow's face,
said:   " You scoundrel, get out of this very quick, orl'll
r___^>/ Father Pat
help you out." The man speedily vanished, for the Padre's
skill as a boxer was well known.
It was his courage and directness that gave him his influence, though he was no great preacher. Yet he did
preach in a most practical way.
One of the finest comments I heard on Father Pat's
preaching, was a reply given to a reflection some one made
in regard to his pulpit utterances, by a typical old timer.
" Father Pat no preacher ? Well, I guess he was—right to
the point.    I'll tell you a story about his preaching.
" There, was a young fellow down at Trail very ill. The
doctors said there was no salvation for him, he'd got to die,
so they sent for Father Pat. He talked to him a bit, and
the young chap felt better, and held out his hand and said,
' Thank you, Father Pat; good-bye !' ' Good-bye ? '
said Father Pat, drawing back. ! Good-bye ! What
do you mean by that ? D'ye think I am going anywhere
else, but you ? I'll say good-night to you if you like; at
Doomsday, I'll say good-morning! It's only over the
other side of the Divide, and we'll meet together there.'
Now that's what I call preaching;—brought it all right
home to the boy and he died easy."
It is impossible in a memoir like this, compiled from the
recollections of many persons, to avoid a certain amount of
repetition ; and so we need hardly apologize for introducing
here one or two extracts from Canadian newspapers. They
show as well as anything can, the* general feeling about
the beloved Padre of the miners.
The first is from the Toronto Globe, December ioth, 1898 :—
" It is something to be part and parcel of a growing country
like this. There is, after all, more honour in it than in
descent from the men that spurred by William's side when
he smote Harold's followers at Hastings. Here at Rossland
is one pioneer whose career and personality endear him to
the Kootenays, and whose memory will ever be a tradition
and a blessing. And he is an Episcopalian minister, and an
Irishman, the Rev. Henry Irwin. He is known from Fort
Steele to Okanagon Landing.   There is not a trail through
J ■—
x.] Snap-shots 87
the mountains, nor a road through the valleys, that he has
not trudged over and over, and always on errands of mercy
and of love.
" He has been the friend and confidant of every pioneer
and prospector that has lived in the Kootenays for fifteen
years. He saw them come here, poor, eke out a hard existence far from towns and cities and refinement and
civilization, but he was always among them with a cheery
voice and a kindly smile, and they all loved him, and in pure
affection called him ' Father Pat.' He has seen multitudes
of his old friends grow rich and famous. He tells of the
bacon-and-bean days of the log cabin, and talks kindly of
the old friends now dwelling in palatial mansions, and sitting
round tables laden with the richest viands and luxuries
drawn from every land and clime. But Father Pat prefers
the bacon and beans, and hard luck, and black coffee, in the
miner's log cabin to the banquet halls of the rich, the great,
or the famous. He could have grown rich like others, but
he says he wants to be like Him whom he preaches, ' Who
had not whereon to lay His head.'
" And thus he ' gangs his gait,' going about doing good
with cheerful words and kindly smiles, and a warm clasp of
the hand for the Jew and the Gentile, for the orthodox and
the heretic, and thus he has won the hearts of the young
people who are engaged in upbuilding this glorious young
Here is another extract from a local newspaper :—
" Were  all  the  stories  of endurance,  self-sacrifice  and
bravery about Father Pat   published, it would make an
interesting volume.   The latest one is very characteristic
of him.
I A prospector lay sick away out on the lonely mountain
side, thirty miles from doctor or medicine. Father Pat
heard of it. He gathered together medicines, and hit the
trail. While nearing the cabin, he came across three mounted
miners who saluted him with the question, ' Hello, parson,
where are you going ?' He told them. ' Bill needs a doctor
instead of a parson !'  They commenced to abuse the minister. Father Pat
They would not let him pass. Quicker than lightning
the parson jerked one of the miners off his horse, knocked
another one off, and cleared the trail.
" He reached the sick man's side, and ministered to his
wants. On returning the next day he met the three miners,
who had camped on the trail bent on revenge. While being
abused he appeared meek as a lamb. The trio surrounded
him in a threatening manner. Then the parson spoke :
' Will you see fair play if I will fight one at a time ? ' said he.
' Yes, yes, yes,' exclaimed they, chuckling with delight at
the prospect.
" A ring was formed, and soon one of the three measured
his length on the ground. ■ Come on,' said Father Pat,
pleasantly, as the other two seemed somewhat dazed. One
came on, and followed the first. ' Next,' said Father Pat.
But the third miner took to his heels as though his Satanic
Majesty was behind him instead of only a meek minister.
The Father bathed the bruises of the two prostrate miners,
and after preaching them a sermon on the iniquity of fighting,
went on his way."
To complete the series, we have a familiar and friendly
letter to a lady, an English friend, to whom Father Pat
desired to set forth the real colour and sentiment of his life
in the Far" West, and we find in it the brightest record of
his existence in these latter years. The end was soon to
throw its shadow over the story.
I Rossland Club,
" Feb. 4, '99.
" Dear Miss K,—Thank you for your kind letter. It's
like a breath from a warm land to us, as it's 20 below zero
up here just now. Whitest of snowy mountains round us
on all sides, and such lovely clear, crisp, clean streets and
roads : I think it's the cleanness I like best in winter, though
Irish. We are a peculiar—very—people up here in this
sky-bench, 'way up above the clouds and fogs of the lower
world, and in a little world of our own ; that's a funny wee
one.    If I could only have snap-shots of the queer people —
x.] Snap-shots
here, I'd make my fortune. There are some 6000 of us here,
mostly in shacks, with one good suit of clothes which we
wear in the streets and on Sundays, but, as a rule, most rude
in speech and dress on the trails.
" I think there's a charm here which people can't get at
for some time; and that is, we can be just what we please,
what we jolly well like ; and we can show it in our speech.
Slang answers slang, till we find out who is talking it, and
then off we go back to pastures old in the dear old land, and
actually talk English, and drop the nasal twang and slang,
and become ourselves again. I've studied this carefully,
and find that it's only that contrariness, in other nations
as well as in my own, which will always put the worst side
out at first, till it's sure of its ground. The numbers of
languages used here is perplexing.
" I am glad you take an interest in our work. It goes on,
on the quiet. We don't talk much, but we can get in and
rustle as few can. For instance, we can run a Fancy Fair
for a new church for two nights for three hours, and have
our $200 worth of stuff, and clear up nearly $2000. That's
a fair percentage even out here ! We hope to build in spring,
but we have to be sure of which way the town will grow.
It will not do to have ' Pat's Folly' pointed to as other
follies are ; and we wait and watch. The most aristocratic
portion of our community, named ' the Boys,' put up the
present building which is dedicated and known as S. George's
Church; but it is but a barn with good furniture in it.
Everything from reredos to altar cloths, has been made by
the hands of Rosslanders, and we have a very handsome
pipe organ fetched in by ' the Boys ' too ; and so our services
are good ; our full choral Sunday Celebration often astounds
our brethren, and even our Bishops from the other side of
the line. But you see we want to be, like all things in a
Western camp, more than up to date. The church is lighted
by electricity which is brought from fifty miles away, and
though it sometimes goes out, it's good light. Just as we
began the psalms at evensong a week ago, out it went, and
down they sat, and my sermon happened to be on ' darkness,' which lasted till the light came on again, and on we
J Father Pat
went with the psalms and the service. Little things like
that don't even bother us. But though you may think this
a flippant kind of letter—it's not. I'm only trying to give
you an outline of the bench we're on, and the comicalities,
so that you can understand the strange position I hold of
being licensed by the American Bishop as well as our own,
so that I can pray for the President now and then when I've
a foot across ' the line.'1 And I glory in proving that the
forty-ninth parallel doesn't run through the church, even
if it's found in Custom Houses.
" Yes, this mining district has gone on in great strides:
little did I think in '85, riding 1200 miles every six weeks
to give the scattered people a monthly service from Kamloops, that such a population would be here now, and that
we are well within sight of a new Diocese (of Kootenay)
under our old Bishop, but with our own Synod. Home Rule !
With many thanks for your kind thought.—Yours gratefully,
" H. Irwin."
% Or a pro nobis"
1 As Mr Irwin's duty took him at times across the line dividing
Canada from the States, his position was regularized by a license
from the American Bishop. ■	
the prospector
Who has not read " The Sky Pilot," that most picturesque
story of life in the Far West ? By many Father Pat is
called " The Sky Pilot," but Arthur Moore was no portrait
of Henry Irwin, though some of the details coincide, and the
author, " Ralph Connor," allows that there is an aroma of
Pat's life and work in the history of the " Sky Pilot." But
in " The Prospector," by the same hand, there 'is a portrait
of Irwin in the person of Father Mike, the English clergyman,
so hospitable and sympathetic with the young Presbyterian
minister, Hamish Macgregor, known as " Shock," who follows
his course with power and perseverance. And Shock's
reward is to be decreed a failure, and on the lying misrepresentations of some of his blackest sheep, to be withdrawn from his outpost by the Presbyterian Superintendent
at head-quarters. The following extract from " The
Prospector " illustrates the position with a master-touch :—
" i Hello, old man, there's a letter for you in my rooms ;
thought you'd be in to-day, so took care of it for you.'
Father Mike drew near Shock's buckboard and greeted him
cordially. ' By Jove ! what's the matter with you ?'
What have you been doing to yourself ? ' he exclaimed,
looking keenly into Shock's face.
" ' I'm rather seedy,' said Shock, * played out, indeed ';
and he gave Father Mike an account of his last week's experience.
" ' Great Caesar !' exclaimed Father Mike, ' that was a
close thing. Come right along and stretch yourself out on
my couch ; a cup of tea will do you good.' Shock, gladly
accepting the invitation, went with him.    ' There's your
91 Father Pat
letter,' said Father Mike, as he set Shock in his deep armchair ; ' you read it while I make tea !'"
And there and then, poor Shock reads the letter from
his Convener, enclosing extracts from that of the Superintendent (a sort of Presbyterian Bishop, Episcopos, Overseer), stating that Macgregor seems to have failed in tact,
and is to be withdrawn at any rate from the Fort, to the more
populous and civilized part of his circuit.
" As Shock read the letter, his look of weariness passed
away, and the old scrimmage smile came back to his face.
.' Read that,' he said, handing the letters to Father Mike,
who read them in silence.
" ' Withdraw !' he exclaimed, in astonishment when he
had finished reading, ' and why, pray ? '
" • Oh ! don't you see; funds overlapping, denominational
rivalry !'
" j Overlapping, rivalry—rot! You cannot do my work
here, and I cannot do yours. I say, this petition would be
rich it if were not so damnable,' added Father Mike, glancing
at the document. ' Whereas the town is amply supplied with
Church services, there is no desire for services by the Presbyterians,' ' or by any others for that matter,' interjected
Father Mike. ' Let us see who signs this blessed paper ?—
Why, the whole outfit doesn't contribute a guinea a month.
Isn't it preposterous—a beastly humbug ? Who is this
young whippersnapper, Lloyd, pray ? ' (Naming the chief
witness against Shock, at head-quarters.) Father Mike's
tone was full of contempt.
" Shock winced. His friend had touched the only place
left raw by the letter. ' He is a college friend of mine,'
he answered, quickly ;  ' a fine fellow, and a great preacher.'
" * Oh !' replied Father Mike, drily, ' I beg pardon. Well,
what will you do ? '
" ' Withdraw,' said Shock, simply; ' I haven't made it go,
"' Rot!' said Father Mike, with great emphasis.
' Macfarren doesn't want you, and possibly the Inspector
shares in that feeling—I guess you know why—but you are
needed in this town, and needed badly.' xi.] The Prospector 93
" But Shock only replied, ' I shall withdraw; I have been
rather a failure, I guess,   Let's talk no more about it.'
" ! All right, old chap,' said Father Mike, ' come along to
tea. I wish to heaven there were more failures like you
in the country.' "
This sketch portrait, drawn by a Presbyterian, shows
the salient characteristics of Father Pat's nature, the overflowing sympathy, the utter absence of jealousy, the ready
hand held out to all downcast or in need of cheering, whether
or no they saw eye to eye with himself; the simple kindly
hospitality. In the clever story, Shock is the Prospector,
searching far and wide for souls to save; but the name
might have been given to Father Pat himself, for he was
never found resting from the search for souls ; and when the
community at Rossland had become more civilized, he felt
the need of change, and urged his Bishop to send him to
some new spot, to unbroken ground. The kindly Bishop
saw that he was wearing himself away by incessant work,
and by denying himself every comfort, almost every necessary.
To and fro he rode on his well-known Indian pony, " Tom,"
covering more ground than one would think possible ; keeping down by incessant labour the ever-gnawing regret for
a lost love and a lost life. The Bishop offered him easier
work, a fighter post, but he implored to be sent out as a
pioneer, and at last he had his way, and was transferred in
1900 to Fairview in the Okanagan district, one of the loveliest
parts of lovely British Columbia.
Meanwhile, many things were happening in the diocese.
In August 1898, half the city of New Westminster was
destroyed by fire, caused by the sparks from a steamer
alighting on a heap of straw by the riverside. The wooden
houses burned like tinder, and in half an hour a vast extent
was on flames. Even the pretty stone church of Holy
Trinity, the Cathedral church, was gutted, and in a great
measure destroyed. At the time, Bishop Dart was two
thousand miles away, on his road to England to plead the
cause of his diocese ; but in his absence all that was possible
was done, Government sent aid, and in two years' time, 94
Father Pat
the church arose from its ashes, a very well-proportioned
and dignified edifice, completed in 1904 by a tower. It is
interesting to compare Holy Trinity Church as it now is,
with the first little log church in the wilderness built by the
present Bishop of Norwich.
The number of clergy had doubled, organisations were
multiplying (though not too fast, for Bishop Dart has
always preferred quality to quantity in church work), and
there was already a feeling that the vast diocese needed
subdivision, and that such subdivision was possible, though
as yet (even though the finances of the diocese had somewhat
improved) there was but a meagre income for one Bishop—
little over £500 a year—and no prospect of any for a second
Bishop in Kootenay. But the thing had to be done, and
done it was in time. The Kootenay or eastern district,
where Rossland and Fairview lie, is now (1909) fully equipped
with its own Synod, its own Archdeacon, but under the same
Bishop, Dr Dart, who felt that it was easier for him to undertake the journey of 1000 miles to Kootenay to hold the
Synod at Nelson, than for all the Kootenay clergy to spend
their time and money in coming to a Synod at New Westminster. The following is Mr Irwin's answer to the Bishop's
invitation to join a Committee on the subject of the new
diocese, to meet at Nelson :—
" Fairview, B .C.,1
"Aug. 3rd, 1900.
" My Lord,—Thank you for your kind letter. I shall be
glad to be of use to your Lordship in any way, and shall
be proud to act on the Executive Committee. But do you
think I am likely to attend any meetings ? It's far further
from the end of track here than people think it: a long
day's long journey.
" However, I thank y our Lordship for the honour conferred, and shall be glad to hear you have put some more
1 Fairview is situated in the famous Okanagan valley, about
28 miles south of Penticton, which is reached by the Canadian
Pacific Railway. It is the leading Free Milling Gold Camp in
British Columbia. 	
xi.] The Prospector 95
central man, like Hedley, on the Committee. I feel that
I could not, in any truth, say that I should like to go to
Revelstoke, even if I had not my pet work on hand here.
I guess, my Lord, that you have heard some yarns of my
poverty-stricken aspect in overalls ! but that's my way
parabolic, and I think you must be the receptacle for some
of the many yarns started on me and my work up here, by
people who know nothing of the facts or the country ; ahead
of track we don't expect much ' style,' and I wear overalls,
therefore I must be poverty-stricken, is the false logic.
I have all I need and more, and have lots of good friends
who are only too kind to me. If your Lordship will let me
go ahead quietly here for a year or so, I think we shall have
a strong body of good Church people. I should despise
the man who would drop the plough just because of some
rocky ground : and / get all the meals I want.
" Mr Robins was introduced to some camping out a little
time ago, and I fancy he thought it a little rough under a
tree in saddle-blankets ! With many thanks for your
Lordship's kindness and thought for me,—I am, your
Lordship's humble servant, " H. Irwin."
We read between the lines, and see in this letter certain
symptoms of the trouble that was creeping over the heroic
missionary. Tales of his self-denial and probable overstrain had reached the ears of the Bishop, who had delicately
hinted at the need of more care and comfort, if illness were
to be averted. But in the unwonted hesitation to bestir
himself:—" Do you think I am likely to attend meetings ?—
a long day's journey; " and " if your Lordship will let me
go quietly ahead here for a year or so,"—we note a change
in Father Pat's view of life, which was before a longing
for perpetual motion ; no day was too long, no ride too hard
for him.
The Rev. W. A. Robins here mentioned (now Vicar of
Cirencester) came out for five years' service, and nobly
attacked the difficulties of rough pioneer work; earned
the affection and respect of all, erected a mission hall at
Greenwood, was able to live on the stipend supplied by his 96
Father Pat
congregation without diocesan aid, and at the end of his
five years, left behind him a sorrowing flock and a record
of admirable work.
Two anecdotes illustrative of Father Pat's methods—
forcible and effective !—come to us from the short sojourn
at Fairview. Among a crowd of miners, one coarser than
the rest and not quite sober, ventured to insult the Padre,
who paid no attention to him till words were added which
were an insult to religion and to our Lord Himself. Then
Father Pat turned on him fiercely, saying : "I don't mind
your insulting me, but you shall not insult my Master."
The miner drawing nearer, dared Father Pat to prevent
him, expecting that his own superior bulk would give him
the advantage over the parson. But after a further warning, Irwin turned on the man, using his fists scientifically,
as he well knew how to do, and punished him severely.
In the end, the man went down like a log, unconscious and
bleeding. Down on his knees beside him went Father Pat,
anxiously examining his injuries, and then and there in a
fit of remorse he cried: "0 Lord, forgive me for not
telling this poor man that I was a champion boxer at
The other story tells how Father Pat came wheeling his
little portable organ with intent to hold a service in the
boarding-house and saloon for miners near West Fork,
Kettle River. The proprietor of this extremely rough
hotel was one Cook, a well-known " character," Irish, like
Father Pat himself, and not unwilling to let his saloon be
used for the simple service to which the popular parson
managed to attract a good many of the miners. The service
commenced, and was listened to with attention, as Father
Pat's services and sermons always were, because the men
all knew him to be " white " (their expressive word of praise,
meaning honourable, manly and straightforward). But when
the time came for the hymn, generally the favourite part
of the service, and when the tune had been played through
on the little organ, lo ! no voice responded, and there was
silence. A leader was lacking. Father Pat was no vocalist,
and all the men were shy.   After repeated but vain ex- ^
xi.] The Prospector 97
hortations to the men to tune up, Father Pat turned to his
friend Gorman West, who stood by him, exclaiming, "Gorman,
you beggar, sing !" West replied, " Well, Pat, if I sing,
every other son of a gun will walk out! " " For Heaven's sake
then, don't! " rejoined Father Pat, and closed the service
without a hymn.
Do these anecdotes seem trivial or profane or beside
the mark ? They are necessary to show the tone of the
picture; and indeed those who have been in the Far
West can easily realize that such freedom from formality
means no irreverence. If irreverence be meant, there
is no doubt about it! The language then excludes all
One more of Father Pat's bright letters to a friend in
England remains to us; but in it we can trace the overstrain, a certain physical shrinking from the hardships
which in former days were salt to the life of the missionary.
The poor earthly body cannot be misused for ever; in the
end it revolts against the severity with which ascetics and
enthusiasts treat it, and abruptly ends the scene.
" Fairview, B.C.
"Aug.  14th, 1900.
" Dearest B.—Just got in from an eight days' trip on
i the camel,' that will show you what 'tough ' means. After
a.m. service here last Sunday week I did forty-one miles
between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. for p.m. service—that's not bad
for an old crock of a horse—then on and up the Kettle
River, another forty miles, and away back off trails into the
forest some thirty more miles by Wednesday, when on came
one of those awful rainfalls we have in summer, cold as
charity, even colder, and one's light gum coat is no protection ; nor would tarpaulin keep out the soak one gets from
the brush as you fight your way in and out of deer-trail
windings, cutting with your axe a tree here and a big branch
there, to give the horse a hole to crawl through. How
one could ever find one's way back except for the ' blazes '
on the trees would puzzle a Quaker; but on a horse here
you need never think of how to get back, as the horse does 98
Father Pat
all the thinking in such case. Three to four miles away
through the very depth of a thick pine forest, in and out of
the thickets of underbrushed deer coverts—and lots of
deer too to look at—on a wet day, with a shirt and pants and
socks and boots and straw hat and nothing more on, will
give you my feelings—with nothing to eat but some chocolate
and a lump of cheese from Wednesday 7 a.m. till Thursday
9 a.m., in the saddle the whole time, then into camp where
the tents were the only dry places, as fires have no roofs,
so had to roll up in a saddle blanket and rig a gum coat over
one's things in front of the fire so as to get 'em dry. There's
a bit of a trip for you ! I think the one thing that makes
it so ' winsome' is the fact that away there in the forests
you are alone in places seldom trodden by the foot of man.
To pursue my way : next night found me out on the heights
of the summits, on a vile bad trail, tracking back to this
place, some sixty miles ; about dark I struck a tent of two
Rosslanders lost in the mountains, with whom I stayed to
give them the last items of war news, etc. I wish I had a
snapshot of the old waggon spread—for that was the tent!—
under which lay the two owners side by side, and I, at the
mouth across their feet, slept as guard with a great fire of
logs three feet high blazing on to the graceful scene ! Then up
at 3 a.m. to hunt for the horses, which had to huddle together
under some thick brush of willows, so that it took an hour
to track them, as the bears in these parts scare the life out
of horses at nights, and mountain lions lie for them, so that
a rock or black stump is a bite noire. Off then and away
at 4 a.m. and twenty miles to breakfast, leaving the pair
snoring under their roof and the night's fire just dying out
in smoking gasps.
" Those fellows were glad to see me, as they had used their
last match.
" Then another day of forty miles and back here to get
to a bed again, with the old whitey ' Tom ' as fit as a fiddle,
glad to get out of the wild mountains to those ranges again.
I wish you were here with me for the deer and birds. My !
but those big mountain grouse are whoppers; they are as
big as a Brahma fowl; and when they blow out peacocky- The Prospector 99
wise to guard their young, they look like a great Chinese
fan with a bird's eyes and bill stuck in the centre and a
little pair of bird's claws gummed on below; and such colours
too ! The golden Oriole is the only other to beat them.
So long, B.—Yours in love, P Pat."
the end
The end now drew rapidly near. Things were rather bad
nx Fairview Camp; business black, the clergyman's income
from his. impoverished flock very slender indeed; and we
may be sure that if he had a loaf and a pot of tea, everyone
was welcome to share it. The letter, dated November 21,
1900, addressed to the Bishop, tells its. own tale :—
" Fairview, B.C.
" Nov. 21st, 1900.
I My Lord,—I should have answered your last, but I
have been waiting to hear some news which will either
make or break this camp. This Fairview Corporation has
now a deal on in New York, and upon it depends the future
of this place. At present in this warm southern valley we
have four below zero, and things are very quiet. I just manage
to live, and that's all, on what collections I can get. Pen-
ticton is my safety and stay in these hard times. I don't
know how to thank your Lordship for the $25 a month
you have so kindly let me have for the whole year. It is
quite impossible for a man to live here and work Penticton
without a grant; but perhaps in the spring things will have
taken a turn for the better. There are not more than ten
of our own church people here ! But we get about forty or
fifty in church. I try to keep the services going in as many
places as I can, but it's hard this winter time : no wonder
the Kirk have no students out in the hard months of the
year !
"I am always glad to be in hard places, and I hope the
development this next year will make both Fairview and
Penticton very important.
100 xii.] The End ioi
" I fancy the new roads from twenty mile Camp and
from Princetown will make Penticton a very large place.
" With my most grateful Christmas wishes.—I am, my
Lord, yours humbly, " H. Irwin."
So things went on. The Bishop, realizing that the
pathetic silence of this brave worker covered a depth of
tragic suffering, urged him to take a rest, and to go home
to his friends in Ireland for a time. At length, after considerable persuasion, Mr Irwin consented to do so; and it
was arranged that after a rest at home and on his return
to British Columbia, he should act as an itinerant missionary to the wilder districts where it was impossible to keep
a settled clergyman. In a new country such districts
abound. Men come out and establish themselves as
ranchers far from civilization or " the sound of the church-
going bell." They need space and pasture for their herds
of cattle, and discourage others from settling near them
on this account. Yet it is bad for them to live these lonely
lives ; they often deteriorate in character, or become morbid,
and suicide too often ends the sad tale. To such men,
the visits of a Father Pat would have been invaluable.
To the northern districts of Cariboo and Chilcoten he would
have ridden from time to time—four or five days' hard riding;
settlers ten, twenty, thirty miles apart, separated by streams,
precipices, forests. Even yet the problem is unsolved,
and the Bishop is appealing for funds and men for this
special work.1
For Father Pat it was not to be. " The Lord had need of
him " in Paradise. It seemed to many that the fine gold
of his mind was become dim, and that there was a partial
clouding of the intellect. He set off for England at the end
of 1901. No one knows what befel, for he did not tell the
tale. But it is surmised that he got out of the train some
distance before reaching Montreal, resolving to walk on:
or as is said in Dr Kingston's letter, " he resolved to go for
a long country walk."
1 The opening of the new North Trans-Continental Railway
will open up these parts and aid Church work. Father Pat
In British Columbia, with its clear, light, milder climate,
he had sl^ept out of doors in all seasons, and loved to do so.
But in Montreal, in mid-winter, this cannot be done. Heat
and cold are far more intense in Eastern Canada. Had he
been in full possession of his faculties, Father Pat would
have known this ; but he seems to have lain down under
the stars, half unconscious, and thus the bitter cold did its
sad work.
We recall Father Mackonochie lying dead under the leafless
trees of the Scotch Highlands, watched by the two faithful
dogs of his friend Chinnery Haldane; with the snow drawn
over his face like a veil from an angel's hand. Truly there
was a likeness in the end of these two heroes of our
The details were given verbally by the Mother Superior
of Notre Dame Hospital at Montreal to one who has kindly
communicated them to us.
One morning early in January 1902, a farmer driving
along the Sault au Recollet Road, a few miles from Montreal,
saw a man walking with difficulty on the frozen ice. It
seemed to him as if the man were pushing his feet on, rather
than lifting them up. The farmer immediately ran to him
and asked if he were ill, or if his feet were frozen. The
pedestrian replied that he did not feel any pain, but a
numbness in the legs. The farmer kindly took him in his
sleigh and drove him to a physician living at the Sault.
After examination, the doctor administered a cordial to
the stranger, who refused to give his name, and told the
farmer to drive him as quickly as possible to a hospital in
Montreal, and the stranger begged that it might be that of
Notre Dame, which is famous for its nursing.
When there, he refused to give any name but " William
Henry," and the Sisters let it pass. His clothing had no
clerical feature about it, and he took from the lining of his
cap a package of letters and banknotes. The shoes had
to be cut from his feet, so hardly were they frozen; and the
feet were soaked in a medical preparation to thaw them.
Tears ran down the cheeks of the nursing Sisters, as they >
xii.] The End 103
knew the agony that was but beginning; but Father Pat
(for it was he)—joked with his nurses, and said their tears
affected him more than the pain. His wit, his kindness,
his elevated ideas and courteous manners convinced the
doctors and nurses that their patient was a gentleman, and
an uncommon one. For some days Father Pat felt scarcely
any pain. Mortification had set in; but he did not seem
to realize his position. His appetite was good, his mind
clear and admirable ; there seemed to be a magnetic current
attracting to him all those who had access to his room.
After the first day the Superioress went to him and said
he had forgotten to give his full name when arriving, and
that she was ready to register it if he would kindly tell what
it was. With a lurking, wistful look Father Pat said that
" women were never satisfied, and always curious beyond
measure," and changed the topic ; but the Sister reiterated
her question, saying that she was morally sure that
" William Henry " was not his name, at least not all his
name. Then Father Pat said that she was right, and that
he wanted to see the house doctor of the hospital, who was
Sir William Kingston's son. Dr Kingston used to have
several daily pleasant chats with Father Pat, and came
to his bedside in a moment. Their conference was long.
Mr Irwin entrusted his letters, papers, and his name to Dr
Kingston, on the condition that he would not divulge the
addresses of the envelopes nor his name before his death.
During the days when Father Pat was comparatively well
he entertained those near him brightly, wittily and cleverly
upon many topics, sometimes talking of the West, but he
never pronounced the name of any place, nor would he give
any clue to his name or calling.
After the third day the throat became affected ; there
was difficulty in swallowing and in articulation, and now
for the first time the sufferer seemed to realize his position.
He asked the Sisters if it was the end, and on their answering
that it was, he gave them a long, sad look.
The Reverend Canon Wood, Vicar of S. John's, Montreal,
had often visited Father Pat in the Hospital, the Sisters
having sent for him as soon as they knew that their mysteri-
d 104
Father Pat
ous visitor belonged to the Church of England. He was
now sent for, and for the next three days he was often
with the sufferer, who seemed relieved and cheered by his
presence. His sufferings were borne to the end with the
utmost patience ; but, a few hours before death, he became
During Father Pat's stay at the Hospital two police
officers had called to see him, to obtain his name, and to
question him ; but this the Mother Superior firmly opposed,
and the officials yielded to her decree that the dying man
should be left in peace.
Quietly at last, as a child, the missionary yielded up his
soul to God, keeping his secret to the end and wrapping
his broken heart, his weary spirit, in the dignity of
It was at one time reported that before his death Mr
Irwin became a member of the Church of Rome ; but it
was not so. The nursing Sisters indignantly denied it.
They do not proselytize, but respect the religion of their
His body was removed for burial by Canon Wood, and
the facts being now revealed by Dr Kingston, the remains
were conveyed to Sapperton, New Westminster, to be laid
beside those of his wife and child.
From a letter by Dr Kingston we extract the follow- -
" At all times he hid with a smile the sufferings he must
have experienced, and his pluck and unselfishness were
remarkable." He would suffer agony rather than awake
an attendant at night to get a glass of water or anything
he needed.
" His papers were given to me in a sealed envelope (continues Dr Kingston), addressed to a friend in Ireland. We
ignored his address or the fact that he was the well known
Father Pat. Probably his reason for so doing was to prevent me cabling to his family, or from informing his numerous
friends in Montreal of his condition.
ss 5*
xii.] The End 105
After a severe operation on the throat, to prevent
suffocation, when the power of speech had passed away,
he signed for pencil and paper, and wrote : " That was what
was needed, but it was hard." During the night (says Dr
Kingston) I was twice called to see him; the second time,
as I reached the door, he beckoned me to come back, and
when I returned shook hands with me. His breathing became easier; and towards morning he lost consciousness,
and towards midday, January 13th, he died without having
regained his senses.
" For my own part, I have never seen so much strength
and so much gentleness combined."
(Signed) " D. A. Kingston."
When in Montreal I was admitted to the presence of the
Rev. Canon Wood, so well known as " Father Wood,"
Vicar of S. John's Church, Montreal. He is one of the best
known and most highly revered Anglican' clergy in the
whole Dominion, beloved by all without distinction of sect;
and in his life, simple and ascetic as Henry Irwin himself.
In the dim, half-lighted church, where the choir were
practising in his presence, and where the great Rood over
the screen seemed to spread a hallowing shadow,—there
we found the venerable priest, who took us to the vestry
and told us how he had ministered to Henry Irwin on his
deathbed ; how his loving Christian character had shone
through the veils of physical pain and mental beclouding.
" And certainly," said Father Wood, " he died as he had
lived, in the faith of the English Church, though others
have made statements to the contrary. Were it otherwise,
would not the Roman Church have claimed the right to
interment ? "
We left the place with a profound thankfulness that on
his deathbed the noble missionary was not alone. Though
with the instinct of hiding his innermost feelings from men,
which seems to have been always his characteristic, yet he
was not alone in the passing hour. " Not alone " truly,
for his Lord was with him; and also there were the loving
J Father Pat
tender ministrations of the large-hearted Sisters, and beside
his bed stood a faithful priest. Of Henry Irwin we may
say that in life and death he was such as Jesus owns for His
true disciple and a pastor of His flock, one who could point
the way through suffering to glory.
" Christe's lore and His Apostles' twelve
He preached ; but first he followed it himselve."
No sooner did the news that Father Pat was no more reach
British Columbia, than the wish arose in the whole community
that he should be buried among them. The coffin was placed
in the Cathedral Church of New Westminster, where crowds
of people came to pay the last sad tribute of respect. On a
lovely afternoon, among many friends, he was laid at rest
in the pretty cemetery on the hillside, by the wife he loved
so fondly.
" It will be many a long day before his name is forgotten,
and his unselfish devotion shall cease to live as an influence
for good in the grateful memory of many a miner and railwayman in British Columbia." *
A subscription list was at once opened for a memorial
to Father Pat. " The miners vied with one another in their
desire to honour the best friend and benefactor they ever
had. An ambulance was purchased for the use of miners
in and around Rossland, and so, though being dead, he yet
speaketh in the cure of sickness and the relief of suffering."
A monument was also erected to his memory. It stands
in the main street of Rossland. It combines the uses of a
lamp and a drinking fountain, and speaks to the people
mutely of the Light that their friend humbly followed, and
of the Water of Life from which he strove to give them to
The inscriptions on the monument are as follows :—
On the face of it are these words :—
1 " The New Era." 108
Father Pat
" Rich he was of holy thought and work."
In loving memory of
Rev. Henry Irwin, M.A. (Oxon),
First Rector of S. George's Church, Rossland.
Affectionately known as Father Pat.
Obiit, January 13th,  1902,
Whose life was unselfishly devoted to the welfare of his
fellowmen irrespective of creed or class.
" His home was known to all the vagrant train ;
He chid their wanderings, and relieved their pain."
And on each side of the same stone fountain are these
shorter inscriptions :—
On the East:
" I was thirsty, and ye gave Me to drink."
On the West :
" I was an hungered, and ye gave Me to eat."
On the North:
" In Memoriam, Father Pat."
" He who would write an Epitaph for thee,
And do it well, must first begin to be
Such as thou wert.    For none can truly know
Thy life, thy worth, but he that liveth so."
On the South:
" A man he was to all the country dear."
These inscriptions, chosen with such tender care, show
that this memorial was no mere show, but one that was
meant to express the love in the hearts of the donors.
Close by is another memorial, perhaps as eloquent and
even more touching: A cairn or pyramid erected to
Father's Pat's memory by the miners themselves, consisting
of specimens of all the rich and valued ores produced by
the mines of Rossland, each in its own division and labelled
with the name of the mine.
How can we sum up this record of a sensitive spirit, reserved to excess as to its inmost treasures ; true to the core ;
tender, unselfish and self-forgetting ?   Unconventional, yes, xiii.] Memorials 109
to a high degree; one not to be measured by the common
standards of men but with " the measure of an angel," and
to be fitly appraised only by those beings who surround us
invisible and regard us " With larger other eyes than ours."
requiescat in pace.
Note.—The English Association for the Dioceses of New
Westminster and Kootenay works under the Rev. Canon
Rhodes Bristow, 12 Eliot Park, Lewisham, Commissary to
the Bishop. The Secretray is the Rev. Jocelyn Perkins,
4 Dean's Yard, Westminster. PRINTED  BY
k/ 1


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