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An apostle of the north : memoirs of the Right Reverend William Carpenter Bompas Cody, H. A. (Hiram Alfred), 1872-1948 1908

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First Bishop of Athabasca, 1874-1884.
First Bishop of Mackenzie River, 1884-1891
First Bishop of Selkirk ( Yukon), 1891 -1906
H.  A. CODY, B.A
Rector of Christ Church, Whitehorse, Y.T., Canada
It has been a great joy to me to learn that a life of
my dear friend, Bishop Bompas, is being prepared
for publication. Quite apart from the pleasure
which the perusal of the record of his life will afford
to a large circle of friends, it is, I consider, in the
interests of missions that the Christian public should
know something more of the heroic work of that
great "Apostle of the North." That work was
carried on in the seclusion of a prolonged isolation
in the wilds of a land which was entirely shut out,
except at rare intervals, from communication with
the rest of the world. The Bishop loved to have it
so. He had no care to speak to galleries or to come
to the front. On the contrary, he retired before an
approaching civilization, and when he saw it coming
he retreated into " regions beyond."
His first episcopate covered what is now comprised in the districts of Athabasca, Mackenzie
River, and Yukon.    When the first subdivision took INTRODUCTION
place, and the diocese of Athabasca was formed out
of his jurisdiction in 1883, he selected, not the part
most accessible to civilization, but the northern
portion, and became Bishop of Mackenzie River.
When, subsequently, another subdivision took place,
he gave up Mackenzie River, retreated again farther
North, and assumed charge of the distant Yukon.
This I hiding of self" was typical of the man.
His life was " hid with Christ in God," and he hid
the activities of it in an unselfish shrinking from the
world's gaze. Some of us thought that in this latter
he made a mistake, and he was frequently urged to
give us the help and inspiration of his presence at
our Synods once in three years at least. We longed
to see and show " our hero." But it was of no
avail. His unvarying answer was, " You can do
without me at your meetings. My work is with my
As a consequence of this self-imposed isolation,
the work of Bishop Bompas was little known to the
general public outside of those who were near
enough to see it. I rejoice, therefore,-that we are
to be privileged to have placed before us in this
biography a short record of his work, and I pray
that its story of simple devotion may appeal to some
hearts, and draw from them, while the harvest still INTRODUCTION
is great and the labourers few, the self-surrendering
cry, I Here am I; send me."
No matter how vivid the story is made, it will be
hard to portray the real greatness of the man. In
order even measurably to appreciate William
Carpenter Bompas and realize his personality, so
simple and yet so great, it was necessary to see him
and hear his self-effacing words. After we write
our best about him, we have to recognize the
inadequacy of verbal description, and are constrained to exclaim, " Quantum mutatus ab illo!"
Bishop's Court, Winnipeg,
January, 1908.  PREFACE
It has been the custom in all ages for people to
ascribe to their heroes wonderful accomplishments
and deeds of daring. The further removed in time
and place, the greater the glamour.
There is something similar to this in reference
to the life of Bishop Bompas. So long did he live
apart from the bustle of civilization, and so little
did he speak of his own achievements, that people
have loved to weave around his life the garment
of romance. Time, instead of lessening, has only
increased this disposition, and some of the stories
related have no foundation whatever.
In the following pages every endeavour has been
made to adhere strictly to facts, and to record
nothing that is not well authenticated.
The Bishop kept no journal of his many wanderings, and of his numerous hardships and dangers he
seldom spoke. When he did refer to them it was
with the utmost brevity, as in a letter to England, PREFACE
dated November 23, 1876 : " I have been nearly
frozen and nearly drowned this winter already."
But all available sources of information have been
placed at my disposal.
I wish to record my thanks for invaluable assistance received from Mrs. Bompas, whose journals
have been of great service to me ; to His Honour,
Judge Bompas, and to other members of the Bishop's
family, for letters written by him and for information
communicated; to the Church Missionary Society
for extracts from its records ; to the Right Rev.
Bishop Stringer, the Ven. Archdeacon McDonald,
the Ven. Archdeacon Collison, the Rev. John
Hawksley, the Rev. William Spendlove, the Rev.
R. J. Bowen, and many others, to whom I am much
Mr. Eugene Stock's " History of the Church
Missionary Society " has been of great use to me,
and also Dr. George Bryce's " Remarkable History
of the Hudson Bay Company." My grateful
thanks are due to the Society for Promoting
Christian Knowledge for permission to quote from
the Bishop's little book on " The Mackenzie River
Diocese," and to Messrs. J. Nisbet and Co. for
leave to make extracts from his " Northern Lights
on the Bible." PREFACE
The illustrations are almost all reproduced from
photographs kindly lent by friends, and by the
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the
Church Missionary Society, and the Colonial and
Continental Church Society.
This sketch of one of the Church's noblest
missionaries is now sent forth, with the earnest
prayer that
" The afterglow of his devoted life
Will lead men on to do and dare for Christ,
And win for Him through darkness, pain, and strife."
* Christ Church Rectory,
" Whttehorse, Y.T.,
" January 11, lSOS."  CONTENTS
L THE VOLUNTEER (1834-1865)
[.  FORWARD TO THE FRONT (1865)      -
r. THE FATHER'S BUSINESS  (1865-1870)
.  HOME AND HONOURS (1873-1874)    -
:. BISHOP OF ATHABASCA (1874-1876)-
. A RACE WITH WINTER (1877-1878)-
.  ONWARD  AND UPWARD (1878-1884)
THE FLOOD (1896-1900)        -
xvn. "FAINT YET pursuing" (1901-1906) - - 289
XVm. LIGHT AT EVENTIDE (1906) - - - 310
XIX. THE STUDENT ----- 336
1905- .....     frontispiece
!.  FEEDING THE DOGS       ....
i.  AN ESKIMO BRIDE ON HER WEDDING-DAY        - -     110
:.  BIG CHIEF AND HIS WIVES       - - - -     120
.  MRS.  BOMPAS, IN WINTER DRESS - - -    210
23. A CREE WOMAN - - -
29. MRS.  BOMPAS     - - - - -
HIDE - .....
' Here am I; send m
A master was touching the living keys with subtle
power in a crowded building on May 1, 1865, at
St. Bride's, London, England. He had travelled a
long way to attend the anniversary of the Church
Missionary Society, and was preaching the sermon
which was destined to bear so much fruit.
Bishop Anderson, late of Rupert's Land, was the
bearer of a great message to the Church in England.
He had much to tell of the vastness of Canada, and
the great regions where the children of the wild
lived and died without the knowledge of Christ.
He told of a lonely mission-station on the mighty
Yukon River, where a soldier of the cross, the
Rev. Robert McDonald, with health fast failing,
was standing bravely at- his post of duty till some
one should relieve him. What thoughts must have
surged through his mind as he looked on the many
upturned faces before him! Who was there among
those listeners willing to consecrate his life to the
Master's work ? Lifting up his voice, the Bishop
uttered these words, which have become so
memorable :
" Shall no one come forward to take up the
standard of the Lord as it falls from his hands, and
to occupy the ground ?"
The service ended, the clergy retired, and the
congregation began to disperse. But there was
one whose heart had been deeply touched by the
speaker's words, and, walking at once into the
vestry, a Lincolnshire curate, in the prime of life,
offered to go to Canada to relieve the missionary at
Fort Yukon.
William Carpenter Bompas, this young volunteer, was born at 11, Park Road, Regent's Park,
London, on January 20, 1834. He was the fourth
son of Charles Carpenter Bompas, Serjeant-at-Law,
one of the most eminent advocates of his day, and
leader of the Western Circuit, and of Mary Steele,
daughter of Mr. Joseph Tomkins, of Broughton,
Hants. Serjeant Bompas, it is said, was the
original of Charles Dickens's celebrated character
" Serjeant Buzfuz " in the | Pickwick Papers."
The Bompas family is of French extraction, and
the name still exists in the West of France, but it
is believed that in the seventeenth century members
of the family owned land in Gloucestershire and THE VOLUNTEER
Worcestershire. We find the name spelled in different ways : Bonpar, Bonpart, and de Bonpas in
Languedoc, Provence, and near Caen in Normandy,
of which last one writer says, "They bear the
coat of three lions rampant." There is a tradition
that the motto " C'est un Bonpas" was given
on the field of Crecy to an ancestor, who was
knighted by Edward the Black Prince for his valour
in the fight. A bystander remarked, " C'est un
Bonpas," and the knight replied that he would take
that for his motto. The great-grandfather of
Bishop Bompas was lord of the manor of Longden
Heath, in Worcestershire, and was descended
from the Gwinnetts of Gloucestershire. There
are records of an Edward Bompas who sailed,
in 1623, in the ship Fortune, which followed the
Mayflower, for America, and received a grant of
land in the new country, where many of his
descendants still reside. The family on the
mother's side was partly Royalist and partly
Puritan. One member is known to have been
private secretary to Henrietta Maria, and was
hanged by the Parliamentarians for aiding Charles I.;
another, at one time, was secretary to Hampden.
On February 29, 1844, Serjeant Bompas died
very suddenly, leaving a widow and eight children,
five sons and three daughters, in poor circumstances. The eldest son, Charles, a lovable character, but of delicate constitution, died in 1847.
The second son, George, who had been intended
for the Bar, was articled to a firm of City solicitors, THE VOLUNTEER
with whom he worked for fifty-nine years, retiring
as senior partner in 1903, and died in May, 1905. To
his continued liberality the Dioceses of Mackenzie
River and Selkirk (Yukon) have been much indebted. Joseph, the third son, emigrated to Canada,
where he died. William and Henry, the two youngest
sons, were educated by Mr. Elliott, a distinguished
graduate of Cambridge University. Henry, after
obtaining a gold medal at the London University,
proceeded to St. John's College, Cambridge, where
he became Fifth Wrangler. After a short period
employed in tuition, he was called to the Bar, and
became, like his father, leader of the Western
Circuit. He continued to practise until 1896,
when he accepted the County Court Judgeship of
Bradford Circuit.
William, in early youth, showed most plainly
those characteristics which marked his whole life.
He was a shy boy, owing partly, no doubt, to
private tuition at home, which deprived him to a
large extent of the society of other boys. Cricket,
football, or such games, he did not play, his chief
pleasure being walking, and sketching churches and
other buildings that he encountered in his rambles.
Gardening he was fond of, and the knowledge thus
gained stood him in good stead years later when
planning for the mission-farms in his northern
The influence of a religious home made a deep
and lasting impression upon him. His parents were
earnest  Christians, belonging to  the   Baptist de- THE VOLUNTEER
nomination. Sunday was strictly observed, the
father making it a firm rule never to read briefs
or hold consultations on the Day of Rest. Bible
reading, too, was carefully observed. Serjeant
Bompas was a man of liberal views, allowed his
children to indulge in harmless amusements, and
occasionally permitted them to attend the theatre
and to play cards, if not for money.
William from childhood was of a deeply religious
nature, and at the age of sixteen was baptized by
immersion, on a profession of his faith, by the
Hon. and Rev. Baptist Noel. This step caused
his mother great joy, and after her death the
following was found among her many papers :
" July 7, 1850.—This day I would record the
mercy which has rendered it one of peculiar blessing
and happiness. The favour and presence of God
has been manifested to us again during the past
week, and I have enjoyed the best earthly happiness in seeing my dear and dutiful son W. devote
himself unreservedly to the service of his Saviour.
Having conscientiously decided on baptism by
immersion, he was publicly baptized on the 5th
by Mr. Baptist Noel, at his chapel in John Street,
and was at the same time admitted as member
of Mr. Stratten's church, and to-day I have had the
privilege of partaking with him of that ordinance
which I trust will be most profitable to us both."
At this time William was attending the small
day-school kept by Mr. Elliott, and of him the
latter wrote:
" I never had a pupil who made such acquisitions
of knowledge in so short a time; his attainments
in mathematics and classics are far beyond the
majority of youths at his age, and would warrant
anyone conversant with the state of education in
the Universities in predicting a brilliant career for
him, should he ever have that path open to him. I
think, however, that the development of his mind
is still more remarkable than the amount of his
But a University career was not practicable, and
William was therefore articled in 1852 to the same
firm of solicitors with whom his brother George
was working. At the expiration of his five years
of service he transferred himself to another City firm,
Messrs. Ashurst, Morris, and Company, with whom
he remained about two years. While here a catastrophe occurred in the failure of a great company,
involving ruin to unnumbered families. The harrowing spectacle of the poorer shareholders who brought
their claims into court, having lost their all without
remedy, was a terrible strain upon the young man's
nervous system, which had been weakened by a
severe illness but a short time before. This,
together with strenuous labour, brought on a
second breakdown, and early in 1858 he was
forced to give up work altogether. He declared
that it took him three months to learn to do
nothing. During his year of inaction the Greek
Testament was his constant companion. Change
of scene became necessary, and he spent some time THE VOLUNTEER
at his mother's home, Broughton, Hants, and later,
with his sister, visited the Normandy coast.
" The summer after his illness," writes his
brother, Judge Bompas, " we went on a walking
tour to Scotland, and one evening it got dark before
we had reached our destination, and we had to
sleep out in the mountains with no shelter, and
amidst frequent showers of rain. William, though
in weak health, was perfectly fearless, and in great
spirits, repeating part of Macaulay's 'Lays' and
other poems for much of the night."
As his strength returned, his mind reverted
more and more to his early desire of entering the
ministry. Leaving the communion of his early
associations, he decided to seek ordination in the
Church of England, and in 1858 was confirmed by
the Bishop of London at St. Mary's, Bryanston
Square. His remarkable linguistic ability enabled
him soon to add by private study a good knowledge
of Hebrew to that of Latin and Greek, which he
already possessed.
In 1859 he was accepted by Dr. Jackson, the
Bishop of Lincoln, as a literate candidate for Holy
Orders, and was ordained deacon by him at the
Advent ordination the same year, and appointed
curate to the Rev. H. Owen, rector of Trusthorpe
and Sutton-in-the-Marsh.
This first charge was artrying experience.    The
parish of Sutton was a wild district, with a rough
and primitive population, and most of the men had
been smugglers in former times.    No school was
established, and there had been no resident clergyman since the time of the Reformation. Mr.
Bompas at once began a great work among the
children, gathering them into his own house, and
teaching them, at first by himself, and later with
the help of his sister and a girl from a neighbouring village. By his care for the children, and by
the unfailing sympathy shown in his visits to his
parishioners, he succeeded in winning their gratitude
and confidence. His plan for the erection of a
school was at first strongly opposed by some of the
farmers, who were unwilling to give land for the
purpose. But Mr. Bompas, with that tact and
gentleness which marked all his dealings, at length
overcame the opposition, and when he left at the
end of two years the building was completed and
" I can well remember," writes one, in reference
to the young curate's work at Sutton, " as quite a
little child, how he won my heart by carrying my
poor pet cat, that had been hurt by a heavy piece
of wood falling on it, into a place of safety, and
doing all he could to ease its pain. Also, about
the same time, in a heavy gale of wind, he was
going out to dinner at Mablethorpe, and, passing
through Trusthorpe, found a little girl blown into
the thick black mud at the side of a big drain,
and unable to free herself. He not only went to
the rescue, but carried her to her home at the far
end of Sutton, regardless of dinner! The once"
continues   the   same   writer,  % that he   revisited William Carpentkr Bomp/  THE VOLUNTEER
Sutton and preached there the people lined the
path from church to gate, and stood waiting for
him to leave the church, that they might get a
word as he passed—a very unusual demonstration
from our true but undemonstrative Lincolnshire
folk of those days."
While at Sutton, in the second year of his clerical
life, a great sorrow came to Mr. Bompas in the
death of his mother, to whose bedside he was summoned in January, 1861. He was devotedly
attached to her, and was able to take part, with the
rest of the family, in ministering comfort to her
during her last days.
In the midst of early discouragements, Mr.
Bompas found a valuable friend and helper in
Mrs. Loft, of Trusthorpe Hall. He was always
sure of a hearty welcome at her house, and in
after-years she followed his course with the
warmest interest, and corresponded with him to
the end of her life.
In 1862 he accepted the curacy of New Radford,
Nottingham, a poor and crowded parish, populated
largely by lace-workers. The number of souls,
about 10,000, within the small triangle of New
Radford was about the same as the population
of the vast diocese of 900,000 square miles of
which he was later to have episcopal supervision.
To this circumstance he referred when preaching
in the parish on his return to England for consecration in 1874.
From Nottingham Mr. Bompas went for a short THE VOLUNTEER
time as curate to Holy Trinity, South Lincolnshire,
returning in 1864 to his former neighbourhood as
curate to the Rev. H Oldrid at Alf ord, Lincolnshire.
As the earnest curate passed from house to house in
his daily work, his parishioners little thought what a
bright fire of enthusiasm was burning in his heart. He
had been much stirred by the stories told by missionaries of heathen dying without the knowledge of
Christ in far-away lands, and he longed to go abroad
and bear the message of salvation. His mind turned
to China and India, with their seething millions ; but
as he was a little over thirty years of age at that
time, the Church Missionary Society thought him
rather old to grapple with the difficulties of the
Eastern languages. But when one door closes
another opens, and at the right moment Bishop
Anderson arrived from Rupert's Land, and made the
great appeal for a volunteer to relieve the Rev.
Robert McDonald at Fort Yukon. So stirred was
Mr. Bompas by the address that he offered himself
for the work. He was at once accepted by the
Church Missionary Society, and ordained to the
priesthood by Bishop, afterwards Archbishop,
Machray, who had just been consecrated successor
to Bishop Anderson.
How little did those who attended that ordination
service realize the important part those two men
would take in Christ's great work, or that among
the heroes of the Church in Canada in years to
come no names would be held in greater reverence
than those of Machray and Bompas !
Only three weeks did Mr. Bompas have in which
to prepare for his long journey. But they were
sufficient, as he was anxious to be on his way. So
complete was his consecration to the work before
him that " he decided," so his brother tells us, " to
take nothing with him that might lead back his
thoughts to home, and he gave away all his books
and other tokens of remembrance, even the paragraph Bible which he had always used." CHAPTER II
"One who never turned his back, but marched breast
forward."—Robert Browning.
Shortly after Mr. Bompas was accepted by the
Church Missionary Society, he went to Salisbury
Square and inquired how far it was to his mission-
field, and the length of time required for the
journey. When told it was about 8,000 miles, and
that he was hardly likely to reach it that year, a
smile passed over his face as he replied, " I see I
must start with a small bag."
After he learned more about the country, a
longing entered into his heart to start as soon as
possible, and reach Fort Simpson, on the Mackenzie
River, by Christmas Day. Was such a thing
possible ? No one before had ever done it in winter,
and was it likely that the young, ardent missionary
would be the first to accomplish the task ? With
this determination in view, Mr. Bompas was not
long in making preparations for his journey, and
on June 30, 1865, he left London for Liverpool, FORWARD TO THE FRONT
where he boarded the steamer Persia, bound for
New York.
He travelled in company with the Rev. J. P. and
Mrs. Gardiner and family and Miss M. M. Smith,
who were going to the Red River. There were
many passengers, mostly Americans, and for these
an effort was made to hold service the first Sunday,
but the captain refused to give his permission. On
the following Sunday, however, they were more
successful, and service was held in the saloon,
attended by crew and passengers. Tracts were also
distributed among the sailors, " accompanied by
religious conversation."
Reaching New York on July 12, two days were
spent at the Astor House Hotel, where they had the
exciting experience of viewing a disastrous fire right
across the street, when a large block of buildings,
including Barnum's Museum, was destroyed. From
New York they proceeded to Niagara by the Hudson
River and New York Central Railway. On the
way Mr. Bompas spent one night at Rochester, to
see Captain Palmer, of the American Telegraph
" He informed me," wrote Mr. Bompas, " that a
party of explorers were already on their way to Fort
Yukon from Sidkar,# on the Pacific coast, with the
view of carrying out the company's contract entered
into with the Russian Government for laying a telegraph line through Siberia and across Behring's
Strait, to join existing lines in America. Should
* Sitka, until recently the capital of Alaska. FORWARD TO THE FRONT
the Atlantic cable prove successful, the Yukon line
would, I suppose, complete the circuit of the globe."
Mr. Bompas considered the American railways
rather noisy and jostling, and the large saloon
carriages, holding about sixty people, less pleasant
than the English style. At the same time, he
thought the general arrangements were " good and
expeditious," and admired the system of communication throughout the train and the " booking through
luggage by duplicate ' cheques' or metal badges."
Leaving Niagara, Chicago was reached by way of
Detroit. Here were seen " many soldiers returning
from the war, some of them wounded, and most
looking pale and sickly, reminding one too plainly of
the many who never returned." From Chicago they
went by rail to La Crosse, and thence by steamer to
St. Paul. Here Dr. Schultz, a Red River merchant,
and afterwards Sir John Schultz, Lieutenant-
Governor of Manitoba, was met, who conveyed
their heavy luggage across the plains in his ox-
train, and proved in many ways of great assistance.
At St. Cloud the first difficulty presented itself.
Since the fearful Sioux massacre of 1862 people
were in great dread all over the country, and they
found it impossible to get anyone to convey them
on towards Red River. After much trouble and
delay, they were forced to procure a conveyance
for themselves. Before leaving St. Cloud they
were told time and time again to beware of the
Indians, who were always prowling around. " But,"
said one informant, " they will respect the English
flag, and I advise you to take one along." Such a
thing the party did not possess. But Mr. Bompas
was equal to the occasion, so, procuring some red
and white cotton, he soon formed quite a respectable
banner, which was fastened to a small flagstaff
erected on the cart. Some distance out on the
prairie* mounted Indians appeared in sight, and,
like the wind, one warrior swept down to view the
small cavalcade. Beholding til
crosses, he gazed for a time
and, moving away, left them v
"On the whole, however,
" we travelled without spej
Schultz acting as guide. The
making fires, cooking, encam
course, threw much work upoi
Reaching the Red River in
was much pleased with the who
" The houses," he wrote, " a
ful, and new ones are being bi
extends altogether about twe
the banks of the river. In th
e flag of the clustered
iponithe little band,
said Mr. Bompas,
ial discomfort, Dr.
charge of the horses,
niles (
, of
churches.    The three whi
long to wait, f
*y Company we
ce out on the prair FORWARD TO THE FRONT
ready to start on their long Northern journey, and he
was to go with them. There were four boats, called
a "brigade," each rowed by seven or eight men,
I mostly Salteaux Indians, heathen, and unable to
speak English—a tribe much averse to Christianity."
Then northward fled that fleet of boats, across
great inland lakes, over hard portages where the
freight had to be carried, past the Company's posts,
mission-stations, and Indian encampments, where
services were held when possible.
But winter was rapidly closing in upon them,
and threatening the daring voyagers. Sixty-three
days had they been out from the Red River Settlement when Portage la Loche was reached on
October 12, and there they found they were too
late to meet any boat going farther north. Here
was a difficult situation, but Mr. Bompas was not
to be defeated. Engaging a canoe and two French
half-breeds, he pushed bravely forward. The
journey was a hard one. In some places they had
to battle with drifting ice, and the water froze to
their canoe and paddles. Still they pressed on, all
day long contending with running ice, and the bleak
cold wind whistling around them, and freezing the
water upon their clothes. At night there was the
lonely shore, the camp-fire, the scanty meal, and
the cold ground covered with brush for a bed.
The next day up and on again—the same weary
work, the same hard fight. Such was the struggle
for eight long days, till Fort Chipewyan, on Lake
Athabasca, was reached. FORWARD TO THE FRONT
Here Mr. Christie, the officer in charge of the
post, gave him a hearty welcome; here the warm
stove sent out its Cheerful glow; and here, too, were
to be found many comforts for months, if he would
only stay and rest. But no, it was ever up and on.
Never before had such a man stood within the fort.
Who could conquer that northern stream at such a
season ? But the missionary only smiled, and asked
for canoe and men. They were given a large craft
and three Indian lads.
And once more that dauntless herald of the Cross
sped northward. For several days the trim canoe
cut the water, driven by determined arms. Then
winter swept down in all its fury. The river
became full of floating ice, jamming, tearing, and
impeding their canoe. Axes were brought to bear.
They would cleave a passage : the missionary must
not be stopped. How they did work! The ice-
chips flew. The spray dashed and drenched them,
and then encased their bodies with an icy armour.
Colder and colder it grew, and the river became a
solid mass from bank to bank. The canoe was
dragged ashore, and placed en cache on the bank
with their baggage. All around was the pitiless
wild. It was a dreary sight to this intrepid traveller,
with winter upon him, the bleak wilderness surrounding him, and very little food. The enthusiasm of a less ardent spirit would\ have been
completely dampened. But Mr. Bompas was made
of sterner stuff, and without delay he and his
companions pushed forward through the forest.
On and on they travelled by a circuitous route,
through brushwood and thickets, with clothes torn,
hands and faces scratched and bleeding, and uncertain where they were. Night shut down and
wrapped them in its gloomy mantle. All the next
day they struggled forward, without food, and
again night overtook them. Still they staggered
on, and just when wearied to the point of exhaustion the lights of Fort Resolution, on Great
Slave Lake, gleamed their welcome through the
It was necessary for the traveller to remain here
until the ice in the lake became firm enough to
cross with dogs and snow-shoes. Mr. Lockhart,
the Company's officer, offered his hospitality, and
during the delay Mr. Bompas continued busy "in
the preparation," as he tells us, " of letters for the
winter express, which is dispatched hence to the
south in December, and also in practising walking
with snow-shoes, in preparation for my journey
After remaining at Fort Resolution about a month,
" Mr. Lockhart kindly dispatched him across the
lake On snow-shoes, with two men and a sledge of
dogs." Ice was found drifting in the open lake,
and they were obliged to lengthen their course by
following the shore very closely. " However, by
God's help," wrote Mr. Bompas, " we arrived safely
at the next post (Big Island) in five days, when I
was again hospitably entertained by the officer in
charge, Mr. Bird."
Here, again, he waited anxiously for the men
from Fort Simpson with the winter packet of mails.
They arrived on December 13, and four days later
started for Fort Simpson, and the missionary
with them. Could they make the fort by Christmas
Day ? That was the question. Only a short time
remained in which to do it. Day after day they
sped forward. Saturday came, and still they were
on the trail, and the next would be Christmas Day.
One hundred and seventy-seven days had passed
since leaving London ; and was he to lose, after all,
and so very near his destination ? But still the
dogs raced forward, nearer and nearer, till—oh, joy!
on Christmas morning the fort hove into sight.
There was the flag floating from its tall staff ; there
were the men crowding around to give their
welcome, and among them stood that dauntless
pioneer, the Rev. W. W. Kirkby, with great surprise
upon his face, as Mr. Bompas rushed forward and
seized him by the hand.
Great was Mr. Bompas's delight in having accomplished the journey, and reached the fort on
that blessed day in time for the morning service,
and thankfully he wrote :
"As I had especially wished to arrive by
Christmas, I could not but acknowledge a remarkable token that our lives are indeed in God's hand.
It is hardly needful to say how warm.a welcome I
received from Mr. Kirkby. When I heard what a
trying time he had passed through last fall in consequence of the epidemic sickness among the Indians, FORWARD TO THE FRONT
I felt very glad to have persevered in my efforts to
reach him this winter."
No less enthusiastically did Mr. Kirkby write
to the Church Missionary Society on June 3,
" You will imagine, better than I can tell, what
a delight and surprise the unexpected arrival of
Mr. Bompas was to us. He reached us in health
and safety on Christmas morning, making the day
too doubly happy by his presence and the glad tidings
that he brought. He was a Christmas-box indeed,
and one for which we thank God with a full heart.
The entire unexpectedness of his coming caused us
to see in it more of the loving-kindness of our God.
Such a thing as an arrival here in winter ds never
thought of, nor had it ever before occurred. After
the boats leave here in the fall, we have no visitors
from without the district until now, when the waters
are open again. Our dear brother deserves the
greatest credit for the way in which he persevered
in getting to us, and the accomplishment of his
journey speaks much for his energy and determination. A more auspicious day, too, he could not
have had for his arrival. He was just in time for
morning service, so that we had, at once, the
happiness of partaking of the Holy Communion
together. Then followed the Indian service, in
which he expressed much delight; and in the evening, like good S. Marsden of old, he began his work
by preaching from St. Luke ii. 10. He remained
with us until Easter, and then went on with the
packet-men to Great Bear Lake, where I trust God
is doubly blessing him.
" Fancy! it is not yet a year since he left England,
and in that short time he has travelled so far,
entered upon his work, and acquired enough of the
language to be able to tell to the Indians, in their
own tongue, the wonderful works of God. I
admire that way of doing things exceedingly, and
would accord all honour to him who thus performs
his Master's work." CHAPTER in
'Forward! . . .
Into the sleet and snow,
Over bleak rivers that flow
Far to the North and Westward.'
William Wilfred Campbell.
The progress of civilization and Christianity in the
Canadian North-West, as in many other parts of
the world, is due in a large measure to great fur-
trading companies. With a wonderful devotion to
the cause in hand, they pushed beyond the bounds
of civilization and entered regions never before
trodden by white man. They built forts, gained
the respect of savage tribes, and ruled them with a
firm hand. By their boats missionaries travelled
over the noble streams into the wilderness, ministered to the natives who gathered around the forts,
and received supplies from the companies' stores.
That they had their faults is quite evident, and
there are only too many to-day ready to lay grave
charges at their door. But we must not forget
what an important part they played in preserving
Canada as a British colony. Neither must we omit
the fact that the first clergyman of the Church of EXPLORATION OF THE NORTH-WEST
England, the Rev. John West, was brought into the
North-West by the Hudson Bay Company in 1820,
or that upon the magnificent gift of £12,000 from
Mr. Alexander Leith, a chief factor of the same
Company, the bishopric of Rupert's Land was
established in 1849.
Considering that these great companies, and especially the Hudson Bay Company, pioneered the way,
and opened up the vast territory over which Mr.
Bompas travelled and laboured so many years, it
seems well to give some account of these early
As friction between bodies produces heat, fire,
and light, so by the rivalry of fur-trading companies
the northland of Canada was" opened up and a new
era ushered in. Eager to outstrip one another, they
were ever pushing farther and farther into the
country, and, as has been well said, " The great
explorers of the period (1763-1812) were all
connected with the fur trade."
Away to the north stretched a region, a land of
wonder and strange stories. Indians told of a
" great river " in the far North-West, and showed
specimens of copper found along its banks. The
Hudson Bay Company, acting upon these reports,
decided to make a thorough investigation, with the
object of solving the North-West Passage by land,
to ascertain what mines were near the mouth of the
Great River, " to smoke the calumet of peace with
the Indians,  and to  take   accurate   astronomical EXPLORATION OF THE NORTH-WEST
The man chosen for this work, Samuel Hearne,
the " Mungo Park of Canada," was a trustworthy
servant of the Company, who, on November 6,1769,
started on his voyage of exploration from Prince of
Wales Fort, on the shore of Hudson Bay. Owing
to the desertion of over half his men, the attempt
proved a failure, and he was forced to turn back.
Two months later he started again, and followed
a north-westerly course over streams, lakes, and
then inland across the "Barren Grounds." Food
was very scarce, and they were reduced to great
straits. " For a whole week cranberries, scraps of
leather, and burnt bones were their only food."
To add to their troubles, when 500 miles had been
made, their only quadrant was blown over and
broken. So again Hearne was forced to retrace
his weary steps to the Bay.
Nothing daunted by these failures, this noble-
hearted explorer once more started on his north-,
ward quest. This time he was more successful.
With a strong band of Indians who were waging
war against the Eskimos, he floated down stream,
and ere long gained the sea, the first white man to
reach the Arctic Ocean from the interior.
" The most unpleasant part of Mr. Hearne's
story," wrote Bishop Bompas in his " Diocese of
Mackenzie River," " is that the party of Indians
with whom he travelled, entirely without his
sanction, made an unprovoked attack on a number
of Esquimaux\encamped on the Coppermine River,
and in the night barbarously massacred the whole
body of men, women, and children, and spoiled their
tents. The site of the massacre became known
afterwards as the ' Bloody Falls.'
" It is remarkable that there is a bird in those
parts which the Indians there call the { alarm bird,'
or ' bird of warning'—a sort of owl, which hovers
over the heads of strangers and precedes them in
the direction they go. If these birds see other
moving objects, they flit alternately from one party
to the other with screaming noise, so that the
Indians place great confidence in the alarm bird to
apprise them of the approach of strangers or to
conduct them to herds of deer or musk oxen.
" Mr. Hearne remarks that all the time the
Indians lay in ambush, preparatory to the above-
mentioned horrid massacre, a large flock of these
birds were continually flying about and hovering
alternately over the Indian and Esquimaux tents,
making a noise to awake any man out of the
soundest sleep. The Esquimaux, unhappily, have a
great objection to being disturbed from sleep, and
will not be awakened—an obstinacy which seems to
have cost that band their lives."
Hearne, like Columbus, was not to have the
honour of giving his name to the great river he
discovered. This was reserved for another intrepid
explorer, Alexander Mackenzie, of the North-West
Company. In 1789 he started from .Fort Chipe-
wyan, on Lake Athabasca, in search of the " Western
Sea." He, too, was confronted with great difficulties. Wild Indians told " of demon-haunted
caves and impassable falls." Terrified by these
tales, his Indians refused to go further. With
infinite patience Mackenzie induced them to continue seven days longer, and if in that time they did
not discover the sea he promised to turn back.
Before the end of the week the mouth of the river
was reached, and the explorer knew it was the
Arctic Ocean he had gained instead of the Western
" It is hard," says Bishop Bompas, " to overpraise
the intrepid courage, cool prudence, and inquiring
intelligence of that noble traveller. . . . Sir
Alexander Mackenzie took the greatest pains to
conciliate all Indians whom he met by presents and
promises of peaceful trade, and he energetically
restrained all attempts at murder or rapine made by
the Indians who accompanied him. He did not
meet with Esquimaux, and it is little wonder that
these and the Mackenzie River Indians were shy of
him, as it was then customary for the Athabasca
Indians to make annual war expeditions down the
Mackenzie for purposes of plunder, massacre, and
rapine, as well as for the kidnapping of women and
In after-years many eminent explorers, such as
Franklin, Richardson, Simpson, and Rae, entered the
country, the accounts of whose journeys and thrilling adventures may be read elsewhere.
Several years after the discovery of the Mackenzie
River, trading-posts were established at various
places along this stream and its tributaries. To
these the Indians brought their furs, and a thriving
business was carried on. For a time there was a
keen rivalry between the Hudson Bay Company
and the North-West Company, but at length a union
was effected under the name of the former.
Not satisfied with the great advance which had
thus been made, these "lords of the forest and
lakes " turned their attention in another direction.
Ever before their vision rose the majestic peaks of
the Rocky Mountains. Beyond those barriers were
unknown regions. What possibilities lay in that
terra incognita they could only conjecture. News
reached them of a great river flowing to the west,
the estuary of which had been explored by the
Russians several years before, and named by them
the " Quickpak." This stream they knew must
drain a large territory, which might prove valuable
for fur-trading purposes.
There was a man in the Company's service
especially fitted for the task of pathfinder into the
new region. This was Robert Campbell, a Scotchman by birth, over 6 feet of upstanding flesh, bone,
muscle, and iron nerve, as dauntless a pioneer as
ever shot a swirling rapid or faced a howling
blizzard. To him, therefore, the task was consigned
in the spring of 1840 by Sir George Simpson,
Governor of the Company.
At once he began the undertaking,.and after a
hard and dangerous voyage up the Liard River, over
lakes and portages, a stream was reached, which
Campbell named the Pelly, in honour of Sir H.
Pelly. A raft was hurriedly made, on which they
floated several miles down the river to view the
country. Considering they had gone far enough
from their base of supplies, the raft was abandoned,
but not before Campbell had cast into the stream a
sealed tin can with notice of his discovery, the date,
and other information.
This discovery of the Pelly River only served to
increase the interest of the Company, and it was
resolved to push forward the investigation. In 1842
birch bark in sufficient quantity for the building of a
canoe was sent up to the Pelly River, and the same
year the construction of a fur-trading post was
begun, and named Fort Pelly Banks. Early in
June, 1843, Mr. Campbell started down the stream
in the canoe which had been built, accompanied by
two French Canadians and an Indian interpreter.
After a long voyage they reached the mouth of the
river, where it flows into another of considerable
size. This Campbell named the Lewes, after Chief
Factor John Lewes. Here a large camp of Wood or
Stick Indians was found, who gazed with curiosity,
mingled with dread, upon the hardy adventurers
from the East. It was Campbell's earnest desire to
continue down the river in order to explore the
country. This he was unable to do, owing to the
many stories told by the Indians of the wild people
along the river, which so terrified his companions
that they refused to proceed. There was nothing
left but to return, which he did most reluctantly,
the Indians treacherously pursuing in the hope of
In the spring of 1848 Campbell once more returned,
and erected a post for trading purposes at the confluence of the Lewes and Pelly Rivers. This place
was called Fort Selkirk, and occupied a dangerous
position, owing to the animosity of a tribe of
Indians, known as the Chilcats, along the Pacific
Coast. From time immemorial they had kept the
natives of the interior in abject submission, having
defeated them in a great battle. They refused to
allow them to cross the mountains to trade with
the white men on the coast, as they themselves
did a thriving business as " middle men." When
they beheld the hated white race establishing a post
in what they considered their rightful domain, and
drawing away the principal part of the trade, their
anger knew no bounds. Crossing the mountains,
they floated down the river, and without a word of
warning attacked the fort and razed it to the ground.
Campbell was not present at the destruction of his
trading-post, as two years after its erection he had
started down the river to see at any cost what lay
In the meantime another entry had been made
into the Yukon region away to the north. In 1842
Mr. J. Bell, in the employ of the Hudson Bay Company, crossed the Rocky Mountains, and descended
the Porcupine River for three days' journey. In
1846 he returned and moved down the river to its
mouth till he reached a great stream, which the
Indians told him was the Yukon. Believing this to
be in British territory, Mr. A. H. Murray established
a trading-post at this spot the following year, and
called it Fort Yukon. It was here that the first
missionary work was carried on by the Church
Missionary Society, the scene of Archdeacon
McDonald's wonderful labours for the Master.
At this post Mr. Campbell arrived from Fort
Selkirk, the first white man to make the journey.
He had ascended the Porcupine River, crossed the
Rocky Mountains, dropped down the Peel River,
and ascended the Mackenzie to Fort Simpson.
Great was the surprise of the men at this latter
place to see Campbell return in an opposite direction
from that in which he had started out.
In this brief outline of the discovery of the
Mackenzie and the Yukon Rivers we have seen the
brave efforts of these noble pioneers. We shall see
later how they were followed by the great King's
messengers with the glorious gospel of salvation. CHAPTER IV
" While life is good to give, I give."
E. Arnold.
A writer tells us he once saw a statue of a knight
of the olden time, clad in mail, with his good sword
at his side. His pose was one of conscious strength,
and his face alight with intensity of purpose, as he
lifted before him a scroll which bore for a legend
the single word " Credo."
In this picture we see the young knight, William
Bompas, with heart aglow, touched by the altar-
flame, taking up his great work in that far north
land, proving by deed the faith he confessed, and
anxious to pass it on to others.
Previous to the year 1858 the North-West
America Mission had not advanced into the far
northern territory of vast distances, having confined its efforts to the Algonquin nation of Indians.
On June 6, in the year 1858, which has been called
the " Annus Mirabilis of missionary enterprise,"
Archdeacon Hunter resigned for a time his charge at
Red River, and started north with one of the Hudson
Bay Company's " brigades." The Roman Catholics
were already establishing missions at various
places, so, not to interfere with these, it was decided
to go further and carry the Gospel to the regions
Archdeacon Hunter was well received at the
various forts along the way, and after a journey of
2,000 miles, occupying two months and ten days,
reached Fort Simpson, the principal station in the
Mackenzie River District. He remained in the
north the following winter, and visited Forts Liard,
Norman, and Good Hope. Seeing a number of
Tukudh Indians from beyond the Rocky Mountains,
he longed to carry the good tidings to that densely
ignorant people. But this was reserved for another
hero of our Church.
It was the privilege of a young man stationed at
Red River to continue and extend the work thus
begun by Archdeacon Hunter. This was the
Rev. William West Kirkby (afterwards Archdeacon),
who, in 1852, had been sent out as a schoolmaster
by the Church Missionary Society. Upon Archdeacon Hunter's return from the North, Mr. Kirkby
was hurried forward to take his place. With Fort
Simpson as his head-quarters, he laboured faithfully
among the whites and Indians in the vicinity, and
succeeded in building, so he tells us, "a little ge
of a church." Concerning his work here, Mr.
Bompas bore testimony a few years later:
" Few missionaries have endured more privations
and hardships from the climate and isolation of his THE FATHER'S BUSINESS
position. ... In spite of all opposition he has
established a fine mission-station, built a beautiful
church, learned their (Indian) language, printed in
it a useful book of elementary instruction, and now
he has translated two Gospels."
During the spring of 1862 Mr. Kirkby resolved
to cross the Rocky Mountains, and carry the message
of peace to the far-off Yukon region. On May 29,
after he had asked the blessing of God " on those
who journeyed, and on those who remained behind,"
Mr. Kirkby began his long journey in a canoe,
which he called the Herald, accompanied by two
Indian lads.
Down the mighty Mackenzie River he wound his
tedious way, up the Peel, and then over the Rocky
Mountains. Standing there on the summit which
separates the rivers flowing into the Arctic Ocean
from those rolling down to the Pacific, the noble
soldier of the Cross knelt down and prayed that
the entrance of the Gospel light into those new
regions might be abundantly blessed by God.
Then on he pressed, against many difficulties.
The mosquitoes were bad, and caused his temples
and the back of his ears to stream continually with
" Our course to-day," he wrote, " was more
varied than before : at one time walking up to our
knees through dirty swamps, at another, climbing
up the craggy sides of the mountain ridge ; now
fording a river; then treading with weary steps
over large patches of unthawed snow. The rivers
were neither very wide nor deep, but the current
in all was very strong. In all, we crossed twenty-
five to-day. . . . The current of one was very
strong ; but by all three of us holding fast together,
we managed to ford it."
A hearty welcome was given him at La Pierre's
House, a Hudson Bay Company's post.
" I never thought to see the day," said the
officer in charge with tears in his eyes, " when a
minister of the Gospel would be at La Pierre's
Proceeding on his way down the Porcupine River,
Fort Yukon, another Hudson Bay Company's post,
was reached on July 6. Notwithstanding the
warning Mr. Kirkby had received about the danger
he would encounter from the medicine - men, he
preached Christ boldly. The result was marvellous.
The Indians crowded around him incessantly, and
one after another renounced their evil way, and
promised to lead better lives.
" Oh, it was a goodly sight," said Mr. Kirkby,
" to see that vast number, who had never prayed
before, bending their knees, and trying to syllable
the name of Jesus."
After a stay of seven days, the missionary, on
July 13, began his long return journey. This was
much more difficult, as the way was nearly all up
stream. But by God's grace Fort Simpson was
reached on August 29, after an absence of three
" I have travelled over 3,000 miles," thankfully
wrote Mr. Kirkby, " and have been honoured by God
to carry the glad tidings of salvation far within the
Arctic Circle to a people who had never heard it
The news of Mr. Kirkby's successful journey to
the Yukon so stirred a missionary meeting at St.
Andrew's, Red River, that a young catechist offered
to go to the Indians in that far-off region, and the
congregation proposed to raise the funds to send
him. This was Robert McDonald, afterwards
Archdeacon of the Yukon, a name destined to
occupy the very foremost place among the heroes
of the Canadian Church. He reached Fort
Yukon that same fall (1862) and was bravely
holding the post when the young and ardent recruit,
William Bompas, entered the field.
Upon reaching Fort Simpson, Mr. Bompas
learned that Mr. McDonald had recovered from
his sickness, and was able to continue his work.
Though this news filled him with thankfulness, yet
he was disappointed for himself, as his heart had
been set upon the Yukon region as his special
sphere of labour. Nevertheless, he began with
enthusiasm to master the Indian language at Fort
Simpson, assisted by Mr. Kirkby, with whom he
remained till Easter, 1866. Then he pushed forward to Fort Norman, on the Mackenzie River,
north of Great Bear Lake, where he remained till
August. The Hudson Bay Company built him a
house, and engaged a schoolmaster, Mr. Murdo
McLeod, to assist in teaching the Indians, which
57 L
encouraged him very much.* He tells us that he
did " not find the Indian children deficient in intelligence, but only in application. Their restlessness
and want of thought appear to be the chief difficulties to be overcome.
"With respect to the adults, I have not been
dissatisfied with the reception given to the Word,
though I cannot speak of results at present. God's
book is treated with respect, and if I visit their
tents Bible in hand, it is seldom that I cannot find
some one ready to listen to it. My chief impediment is the imperfect knowledge of the language,
but I am thankful to speak even a few words in the
name of Jesus."
In August Mr. McDonald arrived from the
Yukon, and, accompanying him, Mr. Bompas returned to Fort Simpson, where those three heroes
of the Cross assembled to consider the Master's
vineyard and arrange plans for the future. The
question was, where to place Mr. Bompas. After
a long and earnest discussion, it was considered
best to give him a roving commission rather than a
settled station. With this plan Mr. Bompas was
well pleased, as it accorded best with his " judgment
and wishes."
" I am quite willing," he tells us, " to push on to
the extreme north, to try and carry the Gospel
among the Esquimaux ;  but meanwhile it seems
* This school was established principally for orphans left
by the epidemic of scarlet fever during 1865. The school
was broken up in 1868.
best for me to try and learn first one language
thoroughly, and that the Slave, that I may be fit
for itinerating throughout the different posts of the
It mattered little to him where he was sent, as his
feelings were those expressed by an English poet:
" Should fate command me to the farthest verge
Of the green earth, to distant barbarous climes,
Rivers unknown to song . . . 'tis naught to me,
Since God is ever present, ever felt,
In the void waste as in the city full."
After the conference, Mr. Bompas returned to
Fort Norman, taking with him two Indian boys to
be trained at the school, and then plunged into
earnest work among the natives, visiting their
camps, making journeys some distance away, and
patiently studying the language.
" My time," he tells us, " was occupied in visiting
the separate tents, and trying to convey the simple
truths of the Gospel to the natives. Some few of
the Indians, especially one of the chiefs and the
Indian who hunted with me, took great interest in
my instructions. Living in the Indian tents was
not hard to me. The habits of the Indians are
quiet and inoffensive. Their hours of eating,
sleeping, etc., are regular, and they are mostly
occupied in some useful way—fishing, snaring
rabbits, net-making, turning snow-shoes and sledges,
and other manual labour, while the 'women are
chiefly engaged in dressing deer-skins.
" The month of December was occupied by me
at the fort, chiefly in conversing with Indians, who
arrived almost daily in large or small bands, and
nearly all of them visited me at the schoolhouse
for instruction.
" One of the Indians, of whom I thought better
than any, died during this month, after a few days'
illness. He had built a house near the fort for the
express purpose of being near the mission. He
hunted for us until his illness, and showed every
desire to receive what instruction I could give. I
baptized him before his death; his name was
Antoine. Another Indian also, whom I baptized
in the spring by the name of Christian Kaia, has
behaved very well. He took me in his canoe to
the Indian camps, hunted for me, housed me, and
waited on me with every care and attention."
Strongly did these Great Bear Lake Indians
appeal to Mr. Bompas's noble nature. He sympathized deeply with them in their many troubles,
and of them he wrote most pathetically :
"Do the noble ladies of our land, when they wrap
around them their highly prized fur, consider that
they cannot choose but be indebted for this luxurious
boon to the half-naked savage roaming the woods,
houseless and homeless, in a temperature nearly
100° below the freezing-point, wrapped in his
single blanket, and kindling in the deep snow his
solitary fire, owing his preservation and food—not
daily food, perhaps—to the one great Father, who
regardeth not the rich more than the poor, for they
are all one in His hands ?    Oh, pray for the souls THE FATHER'S BUSINESS
of these poor Indians, that they may become our
brethren in Christ, that so their pitiable state on
earth may be forgotten in the joys of one common
heaven above !"
Leaving Fort Norman on January 10, 1867, he
started on a long journey to Fort Rae, on Great
Slave Lake, in company with Mr. King, the officer in
charge of the Hudson Bay Company's post at that
place. They were twenty days in making the trip,
passing on the way one large brigade of Dog Rib
Indians, whom Mr. Bompas visited for a few hours.
" The name of Jesus," he says, " was that which I
sought feebly to proclaim, and with this they did not
seem familiar.    Two I saw nearly in a dying state."
He found the Indians at Fort Rae greatly
diminishing in numbers, owing to European diseases,
which they contract " through intercourse with the
whites. This is a call to us," he adds, " to be
earnest and active in ministering to them the Gospel,
that a ' remnant may be saved.'
" My feeling in regard to this country is much
the same as that expressed by the Moravian missionaries in a similar sphere in Greenland—namely,
that for any other object than that of walking
patiently and humbly with our God this country
offers but a poor position ; while if we ever keep in
mind our Saviour's words, 'Whosoever shall humble
himself as this little child, the same is greatest
in the kingdom of heaven,' then we shall, I think,
view our sphere of labour here as affording a good
school for heaven."
He earnestly longed to acquire the Indian
language, that he might the better impart the truth,
and yet he found many difficulties in the way.
| The little I already know," he writes, " the
Indians often ascribe to magic, or ' medicine,' as
they call it, but I trust I know how to ascribe it
entirely to the help of God's Spirit. Beyond this,
a familiarity with the Indians' habits and feelings
and modes of thought, the hardening of one's
own constitution to bear the exposure of associating
with them in their tents, the discovery of the best
means of approaching them with the truth, etc., are
all matters of time, and in this country progress is
It appeared to him to be of little use to teach the
Indians to read their own language until books were
printed in it, and he longed for " a small quantity of
large printing type, with ink and paper," that he
might teach "the Indian lads to read in Slave.
Had I these things," he continues, " which I have
mentioned, I think I could cheerfully resign myself
to a lifetime spent in the wilderness, devoting such
of my time as is not occupied among the Indians to
the study of God's word in the original languages—
a favourite study, which the bustle of home-life
sadly interrupted, and which the infidel assaults of
our day and generation urgently demand."
Mr. Bompas remained at Fort Rae until the latter
end of June, and then went to Fort Resolution, on
the opposite shore of the same lake.    He travelled
in company with a Roman Catholic  priest, Pere
Gascoigne, who had spent the winter at Fort Rae.
During this trip Mr. Bompas endeavoured to bring
about a dispassionate consideration of the differences
between Protestantism and Romanism, but in vain.
From Fort Resolution Mr. Bompas went to Fort
Chipewyan, on Lake Athabasca, where he remained
during the summer. Here good work was carried
on among the Cree and Chipewyan Indians, when
they assembled around the fort to receive their supplies. Though for fifteen years the Roman Catholics
had held sway at this post, Mr. Bompas was very
anxious to start a Church of England mission here,
and the Hudson Bay Company's officers gave him
every encouragement.
" A mission here," he says, " would form a sort
of connecting-link with that at Fort Simpson, which
hitherto has been so far isolated, and we might
then, I think, consider that the whole country is
brought to some extent within the sound of the
Gospel, with the exception of the Esquimaux, for
service among whom I would gladly volunteer at
any time if this and nearer stations can be otherwise filled."
Mr. Bompas shows how good work done in one
section of the country affects another many miles
away. He mentions that at the post were Indians
who had been brought up in the mission-schools at
Red River and the neighbourhood "whp are now
married and with families, and who, in their education, habits of life, and deportment, do great credit
to their instructors. The seed sown at Red River
is thus bearing fruit at a distance of more than
1,000 miles."
He pleaded earnestly for a man to take up work
at Fort Chipewyan, and urged that "the small
Protestant community here needs the rites of
baptism, marriage, and burial performed for them.
It is a Cree-speaking student from St. John's
College, Red River, that I should rejoice to see
labouring here."
Early in January, 1868, Mr. Bompas left Fort
Chipewyan and travelled up the Peace River to
Fort Vermilion, and found himself in the country
of the Beaver Indians, whose physical condition he
described as " very pitiable. They are very careless
and neglectful in their dress, and, though quick and
intelhgent, appear idle and dissipated. There are
but few among them sound in health, and they
seem fast dying off. I do not think there is any
hope of saving their lives in this world, as well
as their souls for the next, except through the
ameliorating influence of Christianity, brought to
bear on them by means of a mission established in
their midst."
" The most necessary adjunct to winter travelling
in the North is a dog-sledge, for dogs alone are
there used for hauling provisions and fuel over the
winter snows. The strength and endurance of a
train of three or four dogs is wonderful, Each
dog is expected to haul a weight of 100 to 150
pounds. . . . Hard blows and unfeeling usage
are too often the experience of the dogs in the
North, and hence their temper is snappish and their
intelligence and affection but small.
" Much pride or zeal is shown in the North in
decking the sledge dogs in gay trappings with
ribbons, beads, coloured cloth, and with numerous
jingling bells. A number of dog-trains together
form an animated scene."
A good dog-team in the North costs from 100
to 200 dollars, averaging about twenty - five
dollars a dog. Some of the best in the country
are bred by the natives, nearly every grown-up
Indian having his own dog-team and sledge or
toboggan. The Indians make their own sledges
and harness, the former being made of birch wood,
and the latter of moose-skin.
The affection of the dogs towards their master
is of the kind that has been called " cupboard
love." They attach themselves quite readily to
the one who feeds them. They resemble mankind
to a certain extent in this respect, and also in the
matter of work, some being very willing, while
others are lazy.
Their life, as a rule, is a hard one. At times
they suffer much, not only from the cruel lash, but
their feet become bruised and sore, owing to the
sharp crust and ice, and blood often marks the
trail. The snow, too, gathers in lumps between
their toes, and often the driver is forced to stop
and clear this away. Sometimes the dogs themselves will pick out the snow and ice with their
teeth. To obviate this, little moccasins are
made for the feet, which give the animals much
comfort. When a dog is disabled he is turned
loose to follow in the best way he can.
They can travel from twenty-five to thirty miles
a day, under ordinary conditions, for two or three
weeks, and longer if given an occasional day's rest.
" They show a marked difference of character,"
says the Rev. John Hawksley, who has lived for
over twenty years in the North, " some being mild
and gentle, with a certain amount of affection,
while others are most ferocious, and very quarrelsome with the other dogs in the team. Others,
again, are very uncertain, at one time licking your
hand while harnessing them, at another snapping
fiercely at you." They do not mind being shifted
about in the team. The leader, who has been
carefully   trained   for    his   position,   is    seldom
The dogs are fed only once a day, after camp has
been pitched for the night. If fed in the morning
or while on the trail, they become so lazy and indifferent that no progress can be made. Their food
consists of either dried fish or rice, cornmeal, rolled
oats or flour, boiled either with bacon or dried fish
well cut into small pieces.
Seldom does the traveller ride during a long
northern journey. He is thankful if the dogs draw
the load, and at times he is forced to assist. Day
after day he must follow the sledge, running by the
side of the dogs, urging them on, or plodding ahead
breaking a trail through the deep snow. This is
all done on the light and springing snow-shoes,
which have been well named " northern slippers."
I Anyone who has tried walking in the rough
country of the Arctic region in summer-time will
readily admit the increased facility of movement in
winter over smooth snow on snow-shoes. The
ground is mostly marsh, clothed with a coarse
grass, which eats out the soil into high tufts or
lumps, on or between which the ankles of the
pedestrian twist and writhe. These tufts are
locally known as " women's heads," being, from the
long grass pendent from them, like dishevelled hair.
Certainly, to walk over them may be compared to
what it would be to walk over the heads and
shoulders of a crowd.
" Snow - shoe walking requires care to avoid
troubles. If the snow-shoe lashing or any other
bands are too tight on the limbs, or if the feet are
held too stiffly, a very painful affection of the
muscles supervenes, known as the snow-shoe sickness. This sickness sometimes causes the legs to
swell like those of an elephant, and renders them
so powerless that the feet may have to be lifted
with the hand by lines attached to the front of the
snow-shoe. Such an accident, when the end of the
journey may be 100 miles off, and no provision
nearer, and hence no chance of resting, is not
In  addition to  the labour   of   travelling,  Mr.
Bompas had the severity of the climate to contend
with.    Though at times the weather is mild and
yet only too often the thermometer
plunges down to 60° and even 70° below zero.
This extreme cold is bearable owing to the dryness and perfect stillness of the atmosphere.
" For outside travelling," continues Mr. Bompas,
" it is possible to keep warm on the coldest day
without heavy clothing by walking very fast, which
pace is often alternated with running by a good
voyager. ... It is the hands and feet which
require the most careful covering of blankets and
leather, the covering of the hands being locally
termed mittens, and of the feet moccasins."
Though each day's journey was made with difficulty, yet at night there was the bright camp fire
in some sheltered spot. The process of this
camping is interesting, and has been well described
by Mr. Bompas.
" As sundown approaches, a spot is selected in
the woods, where some dead trees are seen standing. The snow is scraped away, by using a snow-
shoe for a shovel, from a circular space sufficient
to seat the party. This space is next thickly strewn
with pine-branches lopped down for the purpose,
and which are locally termed brush. The axes are
then in requisition to fell a sufficient number of
dead trees for the consumption of firewood for the
I With a few splinters of dry wood and shavings
cut from them, or with a piece of birch bark which
burns like a torch, a fire is started and piled to a
sufficient height with logs.    Water is procured by
melting some of the surrounding snow, and kettles
are brought for preparing the evening meal.    Dogs
are fed with fish, and when supper is consumed,
shoes and socks are dried for the next day's travel,
i and the travellers seek repose wrapped in their
j blankets on the pine-brush before the fire embers,
| till shortly after midnight, when preparations begin
for another day's march.
I To sleep in the woods is much easier than to
i sleep without woods.    In the Saskatchewan plains,
| which are mostly bare, a traveller's life may be lost
by Jus being overtaken with a storm in the open
plain, far from water, shelter, or fuel.    The fact
that the cold is not so extreme there as in the far
| North may make the danger onl^greater, for if the
I snow melts about a sleeper, it will soon freeze him
j to death.    For this reason one falling asleep in
I the snows of Europe will rarely wake-again, whereas
in the far North a lost traveller overtaken in a
storm without fire or shelter, by burying himself in
the snow, may probably sleep well and awake in the
morning none the worse.
"4 Want of fuel in a winter camp is a great
trouble, but a benign Providence arranges that dry
wood may be found almost anywhere. The most
difficulty in finding fuel occurs in the approach to
the Arctic coast. Where dry pines are lacking, a
fire can be made of green pines, by felling a number
together and igniting them in the heads with the
brush or branches upon them.
'* If there are no pines, fire can be made with dry THE FATHER'S BUSINESS
willows. If these are lacking, even green willows
are supposed to burn when once ignited, though the
theory is rather a difficult one to reduce to practice.
Should there be none of these, there may probably
be no fire, unless as a last resort a sledge can be
chopped up for the purpose.
" There may be inconvenience also in the lack of I
materials for starting a fire. In the absence of
lucifers or sulphur matches, fire is commonly made
with flint and steel and a piece of country touchwood, which consists of a fungoid growth or
excrescence on the bark of the birch or poplar. A
small particle of this touchwood is kindled to a
spark with flint and steel; the touchwood is then
placed in a handful of shavings cut from dry wood,
and the whole is waved together in the air till it
bursts into a flame. When a steel is missing, a knife
may be at hand, or fire may be obtained by snapping
a gun. An Indian chief has told of his life being
saved at a last emergency by obtaining fire from a
piece of green stone, carried for a whetstone, and
an iron buckle from his dog harness.
" If a traveller in the woods happens to meet-
with an accident by cutting his foot with his axe
while chopping firewood, his position is not an
enviable one, and on this account it is not customary
in the North, except with natives, for the voyager
to travel alone. In case of such a mishap, the
lamed one will be carried by his companions on the
dog-sledge, if they have one, to the nearest house,
which may be a hundred miles distant.
"As to finding the proper direction to travel
through the woods, a native Indian is seldom at a
loss, though a stranger may soon lose himself. For
one lost in the woods,' when neither sun nor stars
appear,' the best hope of knowing his position or
the direction in which to travel is by observing the
bark and branches of trees. These in an exposed
position may be somewhat blasted towards the
north compared with their southern aspect, and
hence the points of the compass may be surmised."
Mr. Bompas believed that Fort Vermilion offered
remarkable advantages for a mission-station, and
was the only place he had seen in the north where an
ultimate Indian settlement appeared hopeful. He
thought there were facilities for farming, rearing
cattle, horses, etc., that would render missionary
work more cheerful and promising as far as the
present world is concerned than farther north.
Writing to his sister in England from this place,
he said:
" In your letter I am amused at your regret that
you cannot promise me no snow and ice in heaven.
All I can say is, let us be thankful for it here while
we have it, and say,' Praise Him, snow and vapours.'
Depend on it there would be a gap in the display in
the wonders of God in Nature if this country were
left out. Nowhere in Nature is God's power more
forcibly shown, as you will find explained in Job
xxxvii. and Psalm cxlvii. Besides this, you must
know that I have already returned to Southern
climes, being now in the latitude of Scotland, and
with a length of day in winter nearly like yours.
We can no longer say with Habakkuk,' There is
no herd in the stall, and the fields yield no meat,'
for there are plenty of horses and cattle here, and
the fields would grow any quantity of corn and
"Food is abundant here. The Indians live on
moose and beaver ; we on moose alone. It is well
that there is the beaver for the Indians to fall back
on, for moose-hunting is rather precarious. It is
only in a wind that the hunter can elude the
animal's quick scent, and only when the snow is
quite soft that he can escape its keen sense of hearing. Last fall, when there was calm weather, and
the surface of the snow became hard, through rain
falling on it, some of the Athabasca Indians were
nearly starved to death, there being no beaver
there—by so precarious a thread does the life of
these poor wandering Indians hang. The beaver
are numerous here. About 4,000 beaver skins
have been traded at the fort this winter, and there
are but about fifty Indian hunters.
11 have paid the Indians a couple of visits in the
woods since I have been here, but not to stay long
with them. Lately they have been, most of them,
at the fort. I have tried to learn something of
their language, which is a new dialect for me.
Sometimes I think they were the first people that
were made, because they call a finger-ring ' O' and
a star ' Sun.' What can I teach, except to look to
Jesus and ask Him to give them good hearts ?
I You can have little idea of the way in which
we count here by years what you count by days.
:  You would say, ' I will get it to-morrow.'   We say,
j It has not come this year, perhaps it will come
i  next'; or, ' I must order such a book from home ;
if no mishap occur, in three or four years I may
hope to see it.'    A bit of white  chalk would, I
j think, have been more use to me the last twelvemonth than  fifty sovereigns,  and I have   often
I thought I would barter everything I brought out
| with me, except the Bible, for one or two Sunday-
school primers. ...    But I hope I can say I am
learning in whatever state I am therewith to be
content, and to rely on the promise that' My God
shall supply all your needs according to His riches
in glory by Jesus Christ.'"
While Mr. Bompas was at Fort Vermilion
carrying on his Master's work, a change had taken
place at Fort Simpson. After sixteen years' absence
from England, nine of which had been spent on the
Mackenzie River, Mr. Kirkby returned home for a
well-deserved rest, and also with a view to the printing of the Gospels of St. Mark and St. John, which
he had translated into the Chipewyan language. It
was his earnest wish that his work at the post
should be carried on by Mr. Bompas, who returned
from Fort Vermilion for that purpose, about
August 20, 1868, took charge of the mission
premises, and continued the services. The latter's
time on week-days was occupied chiefly in " schooling about a dozen children, all of them natives of
this country, about half of them children of white
men, and the other half pure Indians."
That fall a medical man, Dr. Mackay, arrived at
the fort, " who had been sent by the Fur Company
chiefly for the purpose of investigating the diseases
of the Indians, with a view of recommending
remedial measures." He was given a room in the
mission-house for the winter, and the missionary
supplied him with much assistance in the way of
interpretation, and felt very " grateful that the Fur
Company had taken interest enough in the Indians'
welfare to send a medical officer to so great a
distance on their behalf." Mr. Bompas believed
that " in this country one is sometimes tempted to
think too much of the physical aid, and yet the
misery here, as elsewhere, is the fruit and punishment of sin, and the Physician of souls is He to
whom recourse must be had for a medical cure.
Still, I should be delighted for the Gospel and
medical science to go hand in hand."
During the winter and spring he remained at
Fort Simpson ; but a change was soon to take place
which would remove him to the far north among
hardships and dangers of the most thrilling nature,
the account of which must be reserved for another
chapter. In this has been given the outline of a
work carried on over a vast extent of country,
where thousands of miles had to be travelled, and
obstacles and dangers overcome, that the Father's
business might be performed and precious souls
brought home. CHAPTER V
" What charming solitudes! and what life was there !
Yes, life was there! inexplicable life."
Charles Matr.
0e the country in which Mr. Bompas was to play
such a grand part for so many long years, we are
able to give an account, chiefly in his own words.*
It is a region of about 1,000,000 square miles—
the fourth of all Canada. Two mighty rivers, the
Mackenzie and the Yukon, pour their icy waters
into the Arctic Ocean and the Behring Sea.
Between these the Rocky Mountains lift their
hoary peaks as a huge barrier.
" The great Mackenzie River is the longest in the
British dominions, being, from its source to its
mouth, upwards of 3,000 miles long. It bears the
name of Mackenzie only after passing through
Great Slave Lake, whence its  course to the sea
* The substance of this chapter is taken from the Bishop's
two volumes, "The Diocese of Mackenzie River" and
" Northern Lights on the Bible," by kind permission of the
Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and Messrs.
J. Nisbet and Co.
is about 1,200 miles. It averages about a mile in
breadth, with a swift current running about three
to four miles an hour. From about 150 miles
above Great Slave Lake to the sea there is no great
obstruction to the navigation, the few rapids being
inconsiderable. In the upper part of the stream it
is called by the names of the Athabasca and Slave
" The banks of the Mackenzie River are mostly
high and clothed with pines. The shores are
stony, except in reaches where soil is being cut
from muddy banks by the encroaching water.
Islands occur at intervals in the course of the
stream. The chief features of interest along the
river occur where the mountains or jutting crags
border the channel. There are first the Nahany
Mountains, to avoid which the river takes a sudden
bend to the north. Next is noticed the bold precipice
known as the ' Hill by the River-side,' a sheer cliff
which drops into the water on the right bank of the
stream. About 150 miles below this is Bear Rock,
an imposing headland immediately below Fort Norman. In the same vicinity are seen constant natural
fires burning on the river-banks, and fed by underground coal or mineral pitch. These have been on
fire for at least a century—in fact, ever since the
discovery of the river.
I Just above the Arctic Circle, the Mackenzie
River narrows into a gorge or canon, between high
perpendicular cliffs, known as the Ramparts. These
cliffs are fantastically scarped by  Nature  into a   THE COUNTRY—ITS INHABITANTS
semblance of towers and turrets, and present a
pleasing aspect. The gorge is about ten miles
long, and seems to form a stupendous portal into the
Arctic world. Immediately beyond these cliffs is
situated Fort Good Hope. Below this point the
river sometimes expands into the appearance of
a lake, and at other times narrows, when hemmed
in by rocks, till the single stream reaches Point
Separation, about lat. 68°. From thence the
river divides into numerous channels, which widely
expand as they approach the sea, till at the coast
the delta of the river measures probably about fifty
miles across."
The principal lakes in the far North are three—
namely, Athabasca, Great Slave and Great Bear
Lakes. Athabasca Lake may be about 150 miles
long; Great Slave Lake is counted about 300 miles
long ; Great Bear Lake is only about 200 miles
in length, but as it will measure about the same in
width, it probably contains more water than Great
Slave Lake.
"In attempting a succinct view of the natural
features Of the diocese at large, it may be stated
generally that its northern border, consisting of the
country within about 100 miles of the Arctic coast,
is known as the 'Barren Lands,' from its being
quite denuded of trees by the blasts of the frozen
ocean. To the south of this belt the whole, country
is generally clothed with pines, except so far as it is
intersected by lakes and small marshes. The lakes
are of every dimension,  and so numerous that in THE COUNTRY—ITS INHABITANTS
scanning the country from a height you will sometimes deem the surface to be more water than land.
The soil among the pine-trees is generally covered
with a yellowish moss, which forms the natural
food of the reindeer, and a more succulent moss
generally occupies the marshes, though these and
the small lakes are often fringed with grass, which,
near the trading-posts, is mown for the cattle.
1 One noticeable feature of the country is the
burnt wood. From various causes fires are apt to run
through the forests in the drought of summer, and
these reduce the pine-trees to bare and blackened
poles. In a few years after such a fire an undergrowth springs up, and soon young saplings begin
to replace the timber trees that have been destroyed.
The charred poles, however, of the consumed forest
remain standing for many years. Such a burning
of the forests will often change the course of the
• migratory reindeer, and perhaps leave a country
hungry that has been rich in provisions. The
spectacle of a blazing forest, when one pine-tree
after another flares up in sparkling splendour, is a
sight of startling magnificence."
Crossing the Rocky Mountains westward, we
come upon the Yukon River. It is a noble stream
of over 2,000 miles in length, flowing into the
Behring Sea about lat. 62° 30' N. Only a portion
of it flows through British territory, about 639
miles, the remainder being in the United States
territory of Alaska. It flows through the entire
length of the Diocese of Yukon, and has many fine   THE COUNTRY—ITS INHABITANTS
feeders, the most important of which are the
Stewart, the Pelly, with its branch the Macmillan,
and the Teslin. Though generally known as the
Yukon for its entire length, this river for some
distance from its source is called by various names,
such as the Lewes, the Sixty Mile, and many
others. The principal lakes through which this
stream flows are Lake Bennett, twenty-five miles
long, Marsh Lake, nineteen miles long, and Lake
Laberge, thirty-one miles in length. Besides these
there are splendid lakes and rivers over the entire
country, filled with many fine fish.
The climate in the Yukon is unequalled anywhere. The winters are clear, cold, and crisp.
The thermometer falls very low at times, but so dry
and still is the air that the cold is felt far less than
in many places of a higher temperature where the
air is moisture-laden. The summers are warm and
pleasant. The snowfall is not heavy, except on
the mountains, while the rainfall in summer is light.
In considering the inhabitants of the far North,
we can only touch the hem of the question, on
which so much has been written. For those who
wish to make an exhaustive study of the natives
of this land the admirable article, " The Canadian
Denes," by the Rev. A. G. Morice, in the Annual
Archaeological Report of 1905, will be most helpful. Though Mr. Morice differs from Bishop
Bompas in certain points, we will in this short
account follow the Bishop's views as set forth in
his writings.
The natives of the far North may be divided
into three classes: the Tenni, Tukudh, and
The Tenni, who live towards the south, are known
by different names, such as the Chipewyans, Yellow
Knives, Dog Ribs, Big River Indians, Slave Indians,
Nahany or Mountain Indians, and others. They are
of a sallow complexion, of the Mongolian type.
They have coarse features, thick lips, and prominent
cheek-bones. They live in conical tents or lodges,
with a frame of poles, and covered with dressed
deer or moose skin. " In spring they make canoes
of birch bark for water travel and chase. In the
fall of the year they make birchwood snow-shoes
for winter voyaging. Their tents are floored with
a litter of pine-branches, and warmed with a pine
log fire in the centre. Their dress is of moose or
deer skin trimmed more or less with beads or dyed
porcupine quills, except so far as they may be
able to purchase clothing of European manufacture.
" Many of the Indians have erected wooden
log-houses, after the fashion of the whites, which
they are quite competent to do, but they seldom
inhabit these long. Their fondness for roving, or an
increasing scarcity of wild animals round their fixed
abode, soon drives them again to their tent. Moreover, if a death occurs in their house the Indians
have a superstitious dread of remaining there.
" The whole of the Tenni race seem to be of a
sickly habit, and are rather dwindling in numbers.
They do not seem to be much addicted to ardent
spirits, nor are these now supplied to them; but
they have an inveterate propensity to gamble.
Though almost wholly free from crimes of violence,
and not much inclined to thieve, yet heathen habits
of impurity cling, alas ! still too closely to them,
and they exhibit the usual Indian deficiency in a
want of stability and firmness of character. This
Indian race seems to have been free from idolatry
before the arrival of Europeans among them,
and they had some knowledge of a good and
evil spirit, and of rewards and punishments after
The Tukudh Indians live farther to the north,
and extend westward beyond the Rocky Mountains.
They, too, are known by various names, such as the
River, Lake, Valley, and Mountain Indians. They
have sharper features, are " more lively and intelligent, as well as more cordial and affectionate, than
the Tenni. Their eyes are inclined to be small and
pointed, rather as the Chinese. From this circumstance, probably, they obtained from the French
the sobriquet of the Loucheux, or squint-eyed, for
they are not really affected with squint.
" The Tukudh make their tents in the shape of a
beehive, with bent poles for the frame, and the tent
covering is formed of deer-skins with the hair on,
and turned on the inside, the skins being-softened
by scraping. Their camps thus become nearly as
warm as a log-house."
Many customs of these northern Indians are very w*
interesting. " The women's dress mostly consists
of a long leather coat trimmed with cloth or beads,
and sometimes a cloth hood for the head. The
women's faces until recently were often slightly
tattooed with dark lines on the chin, formed by
drawing a thread loaded with gunpowder or colouring
matter under the skin. The men were formerly
addicted to painting their faces with vermilion, but
this has fallen into disuse among the tribes in contact with Europeans.
"The Indians are fond of rings, earrings, bracelets,
and necklaces, and they formerly pierced the
cartilage of the nose for the insertion of a shell
ornament. Belts are tastefully manufactured by
the Indian women of porcupine quill-work. This
or bead-work, and the making of shoes, form
their chief employment. The old women employ
themselves in twisting grass, or roots, or sinew
into twine for sewing or fishing-nets. The men
and boys are often busied in shaping bows, arrows,
snow-shoes, sledges, or other articles.
" The Indians were formerly accustomed, instead,
of burying their dead, to place them on high
scaffolds above the ground; but this habit was
probably owing to the ground being for many
months in the year frozen too hard to dig it. The
raising on scaffolds was also a greater preservative
than burying underground, from the ravages of
animals of prey. Since mingling with the whites,
however, the Indians conform to European habits
of burial. . . .
" None of the Indians of Mackenzie River seem
to have been acquainted with the use of plants or
herbs for medicines. In their medicine-making
they used only the charms of drumming and singing.
The Esquimaux, with the drumming and singing,
combine an address to an invisible spirit supposed
to have power over the disease.
" In sickness the Indians are very pitiful. They
soon lose heart, and seem to die more from despondency than disease. Their need is often not so
much medicine as good nourishment and nursing ;
but this is hard to obtain. Food is often scarce for
those in health to seek it, and for a sick Indian it
may be hard to find a friend in need. The constant
removals are trying to the weak and infirm, and in
times of distress those who cannot follow the band
are left behind to perish. Indians have been known
to devour their own children in cases of absolute
starvation; but such cases are rare, and may,
perhaps, be attributed to a temporary mania.
Those who are believed to have perpetrated such an
act are feared and shunned.
" Chocolate is a favourite beverage with the sick,
where it can be obtained, and is looked upon as
a medicine. The Indians universally give it the
name of ' ox-blood,' because it was mistaken by
them for the blood of the musk-ox when first
they saw it used by the whites. Rice, which
is called ' white barley,' is another luxury coveted
by the sick. Flour is known by the Tukudh
Indians as ' ashes from the end of heaven.' Tobacco
is ' warmth and comfort,' and the pipe the ' comfort-1
ing stone.'
" All articles in use by the whites are named by I
the Indians without hesitation, according to their
employment. A table is ' what you eat on'; a chair, j
' what you sit on'; a pen, ' what you write with.'
A watch is called ' the sun's heart.' A minister is
with them ' the speaker,' and the church ' the
speaking-house.' So a lion is called ■ the hairy
beast,' and the camel ' the one with the big back.'
A bat is called ' the leather-wing,' because such is
its appearance. Thus an Indian is never lost for a
name. A steam-boat, before it was seen by the
Indians, used to be called ' the boat that flies by
fire'; but since they have seen it, ' the fire-boat'
seems to be name enough.
" The Esquimaux differ much in appearance and
habits from the Indians. In complexion they are as
fair and fresh-coloured as ourselves, and do not
differ much in feature from northern Europeans,
but their eyes are rather smaller, and their faces
and hands somewhat chubby. . . .
" In stature the Esquimaux of the mouth of the
Mackenzie River are, many of them, large and tall,
and of muscular frame; but the women are mostly
below the average height of Europeans. The dress
of men and women is nearly alike, but the coats
differently shaped. The material is white deerskin, tastefully decorated with beads and trimmed
with fur. The men wear a circular tonsure on the
head. They have also the inconvenient custom of
piercing each cheek with a hole, to admit the insertion of a large bead, often surrounded by a
white disc or tablet of ivory nearly 2 inches in
diameter. . . .
I The Esquimaux, both men and women, are
immoderately fond of tobacco, which they smoke
differently from other people. The bowl of their
pipe is less than half the size of a thimble, and two
or three whiffs are all they use on each occasion.
This smoke, however, they swallow, which produces a
transient intoxication or even unconsciousness, under
the influence of which they occasionally fall from
their seat. . . .
" The skill of the Esquimaux workmanship is
considerable, especially in carving needle-cases and
other small ornaments out of the ivory of the
walrus tusks. Their spears, bows and arrows, and
other implements, are all neatly contrived. Their
canoes are well framed and covered with seal-skin.
These have no natural tendency to keep upright,
but the reverse ; yet the owner will ride them over
the ocean waves as on a prancing steed. When his
waterproof coat is secured over the mouth of the
canoe, he will turn a somersault, canoe and all, from
side to side in the water. They have a singular
way of throwing a spear from a hand-rest at the
musk-rat, so as not to overbalance the canoe, the
management of which probably resembles somewhat
that of a bicycle.
" Their provisions consist mostly of the flesh and
oil of whales, walrus, and seal.    These they hunt,
not in their canoes, but embarked ten or a dozen
together in a larger boat covered with walrus hide.
In their common travels this large boat is managed
by the women, who convey the tents, bedding, and
utensils therein, while the men paddle about and
hunt in their light canoes. The Esquimaux wives
thus become superior oarswomen.
I The dwellings of the Esquimaux vary at different
seasons of the year. In the fall and early winter
they dwell in houses partly excavated and lined
with logs covered with poles, and over these with
earth or snow. They are thus much warmer than
they would be quite above ground, and it is not
their habit to use fire in their dwellings. If fire is
required for cooking they make one outside. If
fuel is at hand they prefer to cook their food; but
if fuel is wanting or cooking inconvenient, they eat
their meat or fish raw without trouble. In fact,
meat or fish frozen can be eaten raw without so
much distaste, the freezing having an effect on the
tissues somewhat similar to the cooking. The taste
of whale blubber is not unlike raw bacon, and it
cannot easily be cooked, as it would liquefy too
soon. Seal-oil is the favourite luxury of the
Esquimaux, and it is indeed sweet, but somewhat
mawkish and sickly.
"When the winter is advanced, the Esquimaux,
leave their excavated dwellings, and build houses or
eveD villages of frozen snow. These are constructed
with such ease and speed that, as Milton's imagined
palace, they seem to rise like an exhalation from the
earth. The blocks of frozen snow are cut out of the
mass with large knives, and built into solid masonry,
which freezes together as the work proceeds, without
the aid of mortar. Being arched over, a dome-shaped
house is formed, with a piece of clear ice for a
window, and a hole, through which you creep on all
fours, for a door or entrance. One-half of the
interior is raised about 2 feet, and strewn with
deerskins as beds and sofas, in which the long
nights are passed in sleep, for which an Esquimaux seems to have an insatiable capability and
" In summer the Esquimaux camp in deer-skin
tents. They then visit the trading establishment
of the Hudson Bay Company at Peel River, about
100 miles from the sea-coast, and there they barter
their furs for tobacco, kettles, and axes. They do
not purchase European clothing. In the autumn
they often hunt for reindeer or fish for herring,
which they store for winter use; and they seem to
prefer these when somewhat rotten.
I The character of the Esquimaux is, unhappily,
still rather treacherous and murderous. They are
great thieves and soon angry. They are, however,
capable of attachment and gratitude, and are some
of them quite free from ill-will. They are willing to
accept instruction in the Christian religion, though
they have not yet learned to obey its dictates.
Though in some respects disgusting in their domestic
: habits, yet in their manners to a stranger they are
courteous and even ceremonious."
Concerning the Indian languages the Rev. John
Hawksley says :
" They are radically different. In the Diocese of
Mackenzie River the natives of the northern part, in
the Peel River district, speak a totally different
language to those of the southern, and the same
condition exists in the Diocese of Yukon.
"The Bishop had sufficient knowledge of these
various languages spoken by the different tribes in
his vast field of work to enable him to communicate
with them in their own tongue.
"The Indians do not give up the use of their
language when they become Christianized; on the
contrary, they cling tenaciously to it. Quite a
number speak a broken kind of English, but only
when compelled to do so."
Speaking further of them, he says :
" They nearly all wear European dress, and like
it. None of the Christian Indians retain thehf
old dress, though they sometimes wear a modification of it when out in the woods hunting, because of
its suitability for that purpose.
"Their capacity for civilization is very limited^
none become business men.   Some do take up voluntary lay-readers' work, and four of the Tukudh tribe
have been ordained deacons.
"The Indians of the North do not seem to be
dying off. There are the average number of births,
and in some cases large families. The children do
not seem healthy, and many die in infancy."
j  "Love took up the harp of life, and smote on all the chords
with might—
Smote the chord of self, that, trembling, passed in music
out of sight."
We left Mr. Bompas conducting the Indian school at
Fort Simpson, according to Mr. Kirkby's desire. But
the committee at Red River had other plans, and
the Rev. W. D. Reeve, afterwards Bishop of Mackenzie River Diocese, was placed at Fort Simpson,
while Mr. Bompas was sent to the far North. It
suited his roving disposition well to take that long
trip down the Mackenzie River, up the Peel River,
over the Rocky Mountains to the Porcupine
River, and then 600 miles to Fort Yukon. It
was a thrilling moment when he reached the scene
of Mr. McDonald's great labours, in July, 1869.
It was for that place he had started four years
before, when the appeal for help reached England.*
* On August 9, 1869, the United States Government, as
represented by Captain Charles Raymond, took formal possession of Fort Yukon by hoisting the Stars and Stripes. Mr.
s was present on that important occasion.
But though much interested in Mr. McDonald's
work, still, a call was ever sounding in his ears which
he could not silence. On his way to the Yukon he
had met a number of Eskimos at Fort McPherson,
who requested him to go with them down to the;
coast. It was this cry from Macedonia which was
continually before him, so, leaving the Yukon, he
ascended the Porcupine River, spent the winter at
the lonely Rampart House, and in the spring went
back over the mountains to visit the Eskimos.
These poor natives, with their strange, uncouth
manners, strongly appealed to his noble nature, and^
he expressed his feeling for such as these in the
following beautiful words :
I At the funeral of the great Duke of Wellington;
it was considered to be a mark of solemn respects
that the obsequies should be attended by one soldier
from every part of the regiments of the British
Army, and it is a part of the Saviour's glory that-
one jewel be .gathered to His crown from every
tribe of the lost human race. It is an honour to
seek to secure for our Lord one such jewel from
even the remotest tribe."
Leaving Fort McPherson on April 18, Mr.
Bompas started down the river in company with'
two Eskimos, a man and a boy, hauling a small
sledge with blankets and provisions. On the way -
he received a message from the chief of the
Eskimos to defer his visit, as the "Esquimaux
were starving and quarrelling, and one had just
been stabbed and killed in a dispute about some
tobacco." But this message had no effect upon the
missionary ; he was doing his Master's service, and
he knew that same Master would take care of
His servant, and, undaunted, he pressed bravely
For three days they continued to travel without
any difficulty, camping at night on the river-bank,
and making a small fire of broken boughs. But
the glare of the spring sun was very severe, and
Mr. Bompas was stricken with snow-blindness.
This snow-blindness is very common in the North,
and has been described by Mr. Bompas in the
following words :
" As the sun rises higher and has more power in
the months of March and April, to walk long over
the snow in the sunlight becomes distressing to the
eyes from the dazzling brightness. This is especially the case in traversing a wide lake or in descending a broad river, where there are no near forests of
dark pines to relieve the gaze, but an unbroken
expanse of snow.
" The effect of this is to produce after a time
acute inflammation of the eyes. These in the end
may be so entirely closed as to involve a temporary
blindness, accompanied by much smarting pain. . . .
The inflammation generally lasts for at least three
days, after which it gradually subsides. In the
meantime it may be ameliorated by dropping one
drop of laudanum into the eye, though the sensation
of this is like an application of liquid fire. The
voyager feels verv helpless during the acute stage
of snow-blindness, and, like Elymas the sorcerer or
St. Paul himself, he ' seeks some to lead him by the
For three days, in awful darkness, he was led by
the hand of the native boy, making about twenty-
five miles a day, till the first Eskimo camp was
reached. It was only a snow-house, and to enter it
with closed eyes, stumbling at every step, was a
most disagreeable introduction. And yet such
sufferings were little considered by Mr. Bompas.
" They are delights," he once said. " The first
footprint on earth made by our risen Saviour was
the nail-mark of suffering, and for the spread of the
Gospel I, too, am prepared to suffer."
After one day of rest in the snow-house, Mr.
Bompas recovered his sight, and then, moving
forward, reached another camp. His appearance at
each place, so he tells us, " excited a great deal of
observation and curiosity, as they had never had a
European among them in the same way before."
In this camp he was disturbed ■" by yelling and
dancing" on the very spot where he was lying.
This was caused by an old woman "making
medicine—that is, conjuring in order to cure a man
who was, or was thought to be, sick." Mr. Bompas,
unable to stand the terrible confusion, tried to stop
them by saying that medicine-making was all a
wicked lie, whereupon the old woman threw herself
upon the missionary, and in no gentle manner
vented upon him her wrath. After this he left the
place and betook himself to another camp, where he
lay down and " enjoyed a good night's rest." Next
morning, seeing the man who was the cause of all
the trouble, Mr. Bompas found he was suffering
from a sore head, for which he gave him a " small
piece of soap and a few grains of alum to rub it
with." When he saw the man some time later, he
was told that his conjuring was very strong.
What a forlorn hope lay before this missionary
in trying to uplift and save such wild, uncouth
creatures, who were ever around him ! Yet there
were many things which appealed to him. He
looked deeper than the mere surface, and, studying
them very carefully, saw there was much cause for
encouragement. He noticed how ingenious the
Eskimo was in the forming of implements " out of
any old iron which he is able to obtain, such as
files, saws, etc., from which he will forge variously
shaped knives, gimlets, and other tools, with which
he constructs his boats and canoes, as well as
arrows, bows, spears, fishing - hooks, nets and
tackle, sledges, and all other implements for the
chase, as well as furniture for his tent."
Then he watched his skill in building the snow-
house, which he could " compare to nothing but the
skill of the bee in making its honeycomb. . . .
The snowy material is so beautiful that the work
proceeds as if by magic." People who were so
clever and artistic he well knew must have a love
for the beautiful, and were capable of higher
He studied their religious instincts, and found
they were very low.    They were addicted to lying,
stealing,   and   even   stabbing.     "They  practised
heathen dances, songs, and conjuring, and placed
much dependence upon spells and charms."   And '
yet, sifting through all this, he found they believed
in two spirits : one " an  evil, named Atti,  which
seems to symbolize cold and death, and which they
seek to exorcise or appease by their charms and
spells;   the other a dim idea of   a   good  spirit j
connected with the sun, as the source of warmth and
life."   Their faint idea of heaven was that of a  I
"perpetual  spring,  and the   name   they  give to
ministers who bring  them  tidings  of the  world
above is ' Children of the Sun.'"    He also learned  j
that they possessed a tradition  of  the creation,
and of   the descent of   mankind from a  single
Though he found them at times very treacherous!
yet there was a spirit of true hospitality still existing, which he felt could be fanned into a flame, and
which would work a great change. His own difficulty was the language, and he maintained that the
best hope would be to bring a Christian Eskimo
from Labrador, as the Moravian missionaries there
and in Greenland had mastered the language in the
course of many years' labour.
"A native of Labrador would probably be able to
converse fluently with the natives in the course of a
few months, and might be able in that time to give
them a better knowledge of Christianity than a
European missionary could in as many years."
Though the language was a great drawback, still
Mr. Bompas determined to do the best he could.
He collected many Eskimo words, and with his
remarkable linguistic ability made fair progress in
a short time. He found they expressed great
willingness to be taught, and says :
I They have received the little instruction I have
been able to give them with great thankfulness.
At the same time, their ignorance and carelessness
are so great that they seem quite unable at present
to apprehend the solemnities of religion. The chief
idea they have in seeing my books is to wish that
they could be metamorphosed into tobacco, and
indeed, at present, smoking seems to be the sole
object of their lives."
He accompanied them on their various hunting
and fishing journeys, and lost no opportunity of
studying them and winning their affection. He
stood by their side as they fished for hours through
holes in the ice, and, observing their great patience,
he himself became strengthened in the greater task
of fishing for souls, and expresses the thought in
the following words:
I We may admire the patience of an Esquimau
fishing for hours over the blow-hole for a seal;
and such should be the perseverance of a watcher
for souls. ' Lord, we have toiled all night, and have
taken nothing : nevertheless, at Thy word I will let
down the net.' "
During the cold weather Mr. Bompas slept with
the Eskimos in their small, crowded houses, and the
inconvenience he suffered must have been great, as
the following words will show :
"The Esquimaux sleep in their tents between
their deer-skins, all together in a row extending the
whole breadth of the tent, and if there are more
than enough for one row, they commence a second
at the foot of the bed, with the head turned the
other way. For myself, I always took care to
commence the second row, keeping to the extremity
of the tent, and thus generally rested without inconvenience, except, perhaps, a foot thrust occasionally into my side. At the same time, it must
be confessed that the Esquimaux are rather noisy,
often talking and singing a great part of the night,
especially the boys; and if any extra visitors
arrive, so that the tent is overfull, it is not exactly
When the warmer weather arrived, Mr. Bompas
began to camp by himself outside, and found it
much better. The days became so long that he
found it difficult to tell what time of day or night
it was, as he "thought it most prudent" not to
carry his watch with him. Seldom did the missionary speak of his hardships, but, reading between
the lines of the few words he utters, one can see
they were of no ordinary nature.
In a letter to Mrs. Loft in England, Mr. Bompas
gave a vivid description of these Eskimos:
" It would be easy for you to realize," he wrote,
" and even experience the whole thing if so minded.
First go and sleep a night in the first gipsy camp
you can find along some roadside, and that is precisely like life with the Indians. From thence go
to the nearest well-to-do farmer, and spend a night
in his pigsty (with the pigs, of course), and this is
exactly life with the Esquimaux. As this comprises the whole thing in a nutshell, I think I need
give you no further description. The difficulty you
would have in crawling or wriggling into the sty
through a hole only large enough for a pig was
exactly my case with the Esquimaux houses. As
to the habits of your companions, the advantage
would be probably on the side of the pigs, and the
safety of the position decidedly so. As you will
not believe in the truth of this little simile, how
much less would you believe if I gave you all particulars ? So I prefer silence to exposing myself
to your incredulity, but if I had to visit them again
I should liken it rather to taking lodgings in the
den of a Polar bear. The first time, in God's good
providence, he did not show his claws.
" Harness yourself to a wheelbarrow or a garden
roller, and then, having blindfolded yourself, you
will be able to fancy me arriving, snow-blind and
hauling my sledge, at the Esquimaux camp, which
is a white beehive about 6 feet across, with the way
a little larger than that for the bees. . . . As to
one's costume, you cannot manage that, except that a
blanket is always a good cloak for us; but take a large
butcher's knife in your hand, and that of itself will
make you an Esquimaux without further additions.
" If you will swallow a chimney-ful of smoke,
or take a few whiffs of the fumes of charcoal, you
will know something of the Esquimaux mode of
intoxicating themselves with tobacco, and a tanyard
will give you some idea of the sweetness of their
camps. Fat raw bacon, you will find, tastes much
like whale blubber, and lamp oil, sweetened somewhat, might pass for seal fat. Rats you will doubtless find equally good to eat at home as here, though
without the musk flavour ; but you must get some
raw fish, a little rotten, to enjoy a good Esquimaux
" Fold a large black horse's tail on the top of
your head, and another on each side of your face,
and you will adopt exactly the Arctic lady's headgear. Then thrust a knife through the centre of
each cheek, and leave the end of the knife-handle
permanently in the hole, and you will experience
the agreeable comfort of the Arctic cheek ornament. After this, get a dozen railway trucks,
tackled together, and load them with large and
small tow-boats, scaffold-poles, a marquee, three or
four dead oxen, the contents of a fishmonger's stalM
and of a small rag-shop, and then harness all your
family, and draw the trucks on the rails from
Alford to Boston, with a few dogs to help, and
thus you will have a very close resemblance to an
Esquimaux family travelling in winter with their
effects over the frozen ice. As I have formed one
of the haulers on such an expedition, I speak from
personal experience."
Writing to his brother George, he says : " Do you
know that the Esquimaux took me for a son of
Cain, probably Mahujael, for they said on my visit
I that in the first family in the world two brothers
I quarrelled, and the one killed the other, and the
murderer had to wander away, and they concluded
that the white men who now came to meet them
were probably sons of the murderer. ... I should
think it probable that the Esquimaux circled round
the pole from Northern Siberia, which they would
first reach on the dispersion of Noah's sons from
Babel. They may be descendants of Javan, to
whose name their word for tribe, ' kavani,' has
some resemblance. All the races in this part of
the world show evidence of having crossed from
[ Asia by Behring's Straits, and the Tukudh have a
tradition to that effect. These, as the nearest, must
have been the last to cross, but their language is
allied to that of the Chipewyan race, who must have
preceded them, and who extend the whole breadth
of the continent from Hudson Bay to the Pacific
coast in British Columbia. The Crees must have
preceded these, as they are beyond them to the south,
and retain so many Eastern customs that they have
been mistaken, like most other nations, for the
so-called lost ten tribes of Israel."
Several years later, referring to these Eskimos,
he wrote:
"Both the Rev. Mr. Canham and myself often
showed   the   Esquimaux   the  Illustrated   London
News, when, on meeting with an elephant, they
would recognize it, apparently by its trunk, ex-
claiming ' Kaleh!' as an exclamation of surprise. J
The interpreter, an Esquimaux who speaks English I
well, told me that they knew the animal, because, j
though not now alive in their country, they thought j
it was not long since it was so, from finding its
body or skeleton.    As elephant bodies are known I
to have been found on the Siberian coasts, it is I
still less strange that they should be found near 1
the Mackenzie, for the current sets eastward from
Behring's Straits.    The bodies might, however, lie I
embedded in the ice for thousands of years without j
decomposition, and may have been floated hither
at the time of the flood."
His great friend among the Eskimos was the old I
chief, Shipataitook by name, who had at the first I
invited him to visit them, and had offered the missionary the use of his camp, and entertained and fed I
him with the greatest kindness and cordiality. To
this old chief Mr. Bompas was indebted for his life 1
not long after, and ever remembered him with the |
greatest affection.
When the ice had gone out of the Mackenzie
River, the Eskimos began to move up stream to
trade with   the   Hudson Bay   Company at Forti
McPherson, taking the missionary with them.    It
was  a voyage of  250 miles, and much ice  was
encountered.    For days they made slow progress
and laboured hard.    Then they became angry with I
one another, and also cast threatening glances upon
the white man in their midst.    They imagined that I
in some way he was the cause of all their trouble,
and the angry glances were followed by threatening
gestures, and Mr. Bompas saw that the situation was
Most critical. One night, after a day of unusually
hard work, when little progress had been made, the
natives became so hostile that Mr. Bompas feared
they would take his life ere morning. But, notwithstanding the impending danger, the faithful servant
committed himself to the Father's keeping, and,
wearied out, soon fell asleep.
Old Shipataitook was to be reckoned with. He
had taken a fancy to the brave young white man,
and could not see him murdered without making an
effort to save him. He had heard the threatening
words, and when the plotters were about to fall
upon their victim, he told them to wait, as he
had something to tell them before they proceeded
farther. Then he began a strange story, which,
falling upon the ears of the naturally superstitious
natives, had a great effect. He told them he had a
remarkable dream the night before. They had
moved up the river, and were almost at Fort
McPherson, and as they approached they saw the
banks lined with the Hudson Bay Company's men
and Indians, all armed ready to shoot them down in
the boats if they did not have the white man with
When this story was told, all plotting ceased, and
in the morning, when Mr. Bompas awoke, he found
no longer angry glances cast upon him, but the
natives were attentive in their care.
On June 14 the ice left them and the river
became clear, and without more detention they
continued on their way, "and arrived safely, by
God's help," says Mr. Bompas, " at Peel's River
Fort on June 18, about midnight."
Here a most hearty welcome was given him by
Mr. Andrew Flett, the officer in charge of the
Fur Company's post, and of him Mr. Bompas wrote
in the following words :
" His influence over the Esquimaux, as well as|!
the Indians, has been very beneficial, for the whole
time of his residence among them—now nearly ten
years—and by consistent and honourable conduct,
as well as by bis attention to the duties of religion,
he has done much to assist the work of the
missionary. Of his personal kindness to myself I
have had much experience during the past twelve
In this beautiful heartfelt testimony to the work
and kindness of one man we see how the missionary
was cheered in his great labour by earnest words
of sympathy and an ever-open door of hospitality,
where he could rest from his great journeys. To
Mrs. Flett also Mr. Bompas was greatly indebted ;
for in his study of the Loucheux language she
gave him much material aid. Upon the lay
members of the Church of Christ devolves a noble
work in cheering the hearts and upholding the
hands of their leaders in their strenuous battle
against the powers of darkness.
Never again was Mr. Bompas able to visit that
band of Eskimos along the Mackenzie River, but he AMONG THE CHILDREN OF THE COLD
ever held them in mind, and often his heart went out
to them, and he declared that " there was nothing
warmer than the grasp of a Husky's hand."
But his visit had not been in vain. He had
lived among them, and shared their humble camps,
and, though they could not understand him, nor f ully
comprehend his message, yet they could understand his love for them, and long years after they
spoke of him in the highest terms.
Bishop Stringer, who more than twenty years
later travelled a good deal with Takachikima, son
of Chief Shipataitook, says :
" Takachikima was a young boy at that time.
Several times he asked me about the white man
who lived with his father long ago, and he bemoaned the fact that they treated him so shamefully. ' Why would they not listen to him ?' he
used to say. ' We were like dogs. We know now
what our fathers missed.'" CHAPTER VII
" When Thy word goeth forth, it giveth fight and understanding to the simple."—Ps. cxix. 130.
Not long could Mr. Bompas rest at Fort McPherson;
there was great work before him, and, like his Divine
Master, he had to be ever going about doing good,
sowing the seed of the Gospel beside all waters in
that great northern region. Two thousand miles
away was the Peace River Valley, which needed
his attention, and towards this he once again set
his face. The Mackenzie and Slave Rivers had to
be ascended, and this took him ten weeks to accomplish. Then six weeks more passed before he
reached Fort Vermilion on the Peace River, having
travelled since May, 1869, 4,700 miles, all in a
Travelling in the North during the summer is bjl I
boats, and of this Mr. Bompas has given a vivid
The boats for long journeys are generally builli
by the French half-breeds in the employ of the
Hudson Bay Company, assisted by the Indians.
They are not decked. Some of the Indians can
build well-modelled, substantial boats, though they
prefer canoes.
" The average distance accomplished in a day's
journey, whether in summer or winter, is from
twenty-five to thirty miles, with many delays in
i summer, either by rain or contrary winds, sometimes involving detention in one spot for days
" The travel is tedious and monotonous. In
| summer the day's voyage begins about 3 a.m. and
is continued to 7 or 8 p.m., with a halt of about an
hour twice a day for breakfast and dinner. The
progress in boat voyaging is either by tow-line,
hauled by four men on the river-bank, or by eight
or ten heavy oars, unless a fair wind permits of
hoisting a sail. The canoes are propelled by the
Indian paddles. Any impediment to the navigation
in the way of rocks, causing an impassable rapid,
occasions delay, and the boats have to be hauled
over the land tUl the obstruction is passed. In other
places, the cargoes only have to be carried by land.
" An accidental breakage of the boat on the
stones obliges the steersman to insert a piece of
wood by way of a patch, which causes a detention
of some hours. The breakage of a canoe by a
stick or stone is more frequent, as the canoes are
constructed of tender birch bark. This, if torn, is
patched with a piece of fresh bark, sewed with
roots, and cemented with gum or pitch.
"As the trading posts are mostly from 200 to
300 miles apart, houses are generally seen on a
summer's voyage about once a week. Between
these a few Indian tents may be passed, but on
most days no human being is encountered ; yet
so incessant is travelling that it is hardly possible
to land in any spot along the river-bank, without
traces appearing of some person having been there
previously, who is betrayed by a chopped stick or
by his long-extinguished fire.
" What is termed in the North a rapid, or |H
Americans a ripple, is an interruption to navigation
occasioned by a shallow or rocky point in the river,
where the water is hurried turbulently among the
stones or in eddies, sometimes with small cascades,
till it gains a less confined channel.
" The test of skill in the Canadian boatmen is the
passing of these rapids, especially in the descent,
when the boat (mostly lightened of its cargo) is often
urged with headlong speed down the swift waters,
the traveller trusting to the coolness and skill of the
helmsman and bowsman to avoid the stones. It is
needful to urge the boats more rapidly than the
hurrying current, in order to have headway enough
for steering, and a quick eye and ready hand are
quite essential.
" The boat's cargo is generally carried past the
obstruction by a land track, technically termed a
portage. There are sometimes as many as fifty to
one hundred of these interruptions in a single voyage,
so rocky are the channels of these northern rivers,
and so impeded their navigation. SOWING BESIDE MANY WATERS
" Such, however, is not the case with all the rivers.
The great Mackenzie has no obstruction for about
1,400 miles from the sea. Then, after one long
rapid of about fifteen miles, the navigation is again
undisturbed for about 300 miles more."
On the Peace River Mr. Bompas tells us that
I large masses of driftwood descend the river from
the mountains with the ice in spring, and some of
these, lodging along the banks, form drift-piles, not
without danger for a passing voyager. His canoe
may be wrecked and sunk among the snags, and
himself whirled by the eddying current into midstream, or sucked under the boiling rapid."
In addition to the difficulty of travelling by water,
the flies are a continual pest. " An African traveller,
who passed down the Mackenzie, stated his experience to be that the flies of the North were
more virulent than the insects of Africa.
" And these are of ' divers sorts.' Early in spring
appear the large blue horse-flies, which bite a piece
out of the skin. These are succeeded by the
mosquitoes, the summer infliction, which are at
times so numerous as to cover the clothes andi fill
the mouth and plate at meal-time.
"In some travellers lately arrived, with a soft
skin, the mosquito bites produce a kind of fever, and
greatly disfigure the face and neck."
This magnificent river " received its name from
Peace Point, one of the angles in its course, where
about a century since the Indians were persuaded
by the traders to terminate their former wars and
feuds,   to   bury   their   weapons,   and   to   devote
themselves to peace and commerce."
Arriving at Fort Vermilion in October, this-^
messenger of peace remained there during the
winter, teaching the natives for miles around. But
in the spring of 1871 he again went down Peace
River, and, after visiting Fort Chipewyan and
Fond du Lac, on Lake Athabasca, once more
ascended Peace River as far as Rocky Mountain
" It is now, I believe," wrote Mr. Bompas, " nearly
thirty years since a Protestant minister visited the
upper part of Peace River, and I am thankful to
have been brought by God's providence thus
far. . . . These head waters of the Peace River
in the Rocky Mountains, about ten days' travel
hence, have been the scene of a great excitement
during the last twelve months, in consequence of
the discovery of new gold-mines there. About
2,000 miners are said to have been working there
during the past summer, and of these some
hundreds will probably remain to pass the winter
among the snow. Some of them, of course, have
not been very successful, but a considerable quantity
of fine gold-dust has, I believe, been procured.
This discovery will doubtless tend to the opening
up of the country. Wagon roads are being made
at Government expense from the coast to supply
the miners with provisions and necessaries, and
already the traffic is considerable. In the end it
may turn out that one of the readiest ways of
access to this part of the country will be from the
Columbian side. The rivers here actually seem to
cross through the mountains, and are doubtless
intended, in God's providence, to be a channel of
communication from east to west."
Mr. Bompas formed hopes of visiting these
miners, but was unable to do so. He was much
encouraged by what he heard, that " nearly all
abstain from work on the Sabbath, notwithstanding
the excitement of their occupation, and that the
mining operations are restricted by the frost to
about four months in the year."
I We hear," he wrote further, " of several parties
from the Columbian side of the mountains being
sent out to explore a route for the proposed railway
from Canada to the Pacific, and in this way I trust
the progress of civilization, and Christianity also,
in this wild country may be facilitated. God's
providence is plainly working in the changes that
are going forward, and I trust they will redound to
His glory."
In a letter to his sister in England, Mr. Bompas
describes another phase of his work in this region,
and lets in a little light which is most interesting.
I This spring my chief character has been that
of public vaccinator, I should think I must have
vaccinated about 500, and as 2,000 Indians are
said to have died last summer of smallpox at
one post only, in the plains, vaccination is not
uncalled for. The smallpox also broke out last
fall at Peel's River, only about two months after
I left there. Five died, and many others, including
Mr. Flett's family, were attacked. . . . Knowing
the danger of the smallpox to the Indians, it has
been a pleasure to me to vaccinate them, though
rather troublesome sometimes to persuade them to
submit to the operation."
In the same letter he describes the death of Mrs.
Donald Ross, the wife of one of the Hudson Bay
Company's clerks :
" I had not seen her," he goes on to say, " smclp
I was here three years ago, and this spring she fell
into consumption. . . . She expressed a wish to
see me before her death, and they were bringing
her down to me in the boat, when she died, and her
body only came to me to be buried. I have this
morning buried her little girl, born about three
months before the death of her mother. Mrs. Ross
was a very quiet, kind woman, and seems to have
been fully prepared for her death. She expressed
herself quite happy to the last, and during the last
night was often asking for the candles to be put
out, for she said, ' It is all broad daylight with me
now.' Her delight was in hearing the Bible read,
especially the fourteenth chapter of St. John. I
feel this death rebukes me for having expressed in
a letter this spring a fear that our Saviour gathers
no lilies from this desert land, for here are two."
Having ministered to the Indians around Rocky
Mountain Portage, Mr. Bompas in the fall moved
down the river, sowing the Gospel seed as he went
Reaching Fort St. John, he gathered the Indians
around him, who gladly received his instruction.
It was here that a fearful massacre of several of
the Hudson Bay Company's men, by the Tsekanies
Indians, took place years before, and on that spot
where the awful deed of violence was committed,
the noble ambassador delivered his great King's
message. Only a few days did he remain here, and
as he continued on his way he received letters from
the committee at Red River, instructing him " to
proceed next spring (D.V.) to the Youcon district,
to replace Mr. McDonald, who has obtained leave
of absence. This quite accords with my own
views," continues Mr. Bompas, " of what is fitting
and necessary, and, with God's permission, I shall
hope, if life is spared me, once again to visit the
far North, being the district to which I was appointed
on leaving England."
From Vermilion he crossed overland till he
struck the Hay River, and, following its course,
reached Great Slave Lake in safety in the spring
of 1872.
1 Hay River," he tells us, " takes its rise near the
Rocky Mountains, not far from the source of the
Peace River. In descending the river, I witnessed
its stupendous cataract, which is, I think, one of
the wonders of the world. It is a perpendicular
fall of about 150 feet high by 500 feet wide, and of
surpassing beauty. The amber colour of the falling water gives the appearance of golden tresses
twined with pearls, while in the spray was a rainbow
reaching from the foot of the fall to the rocks far
133 L
above its brink.    We viewed the fall only from the j
brink, as the access from below is precipitous.    I j
named   the  cataract the  Alexandra  Falls.     The I
waterfall which  I have  described impressed  me
much more with its beauty than did Niagara, which j
I saw on entering the country about seven years
ago.    Both at Niagara and Alexandra Falls I spent
a Sunday.    The beauty of the  scene was much
enhanced by the rainbows in the spray."
Though Mr. Bompas longed to take up work atj
Fort Yukon, still it caused him much anxiety to
leave the Athabasca district vacant.
" If I have to leave this district a second time j
unoccupied," he writes, " the Indians will lose all
confidence in the permanence and reliability of our
instruction, and will be thrown more completely
than ever into the arms of Rome."
Then the earnest traveller was feeling the effects
of his long journeys. For seven years he had been
ever moving from place to place, and, like the great j
Apostle of old, he had endured much " in journey-
Lugs often, in perils of water, in perils by the
heathen, in perils in the wilderness, in weariness
and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and
thirst, in cold and nakedness."
" As I am now once more directed to return to
the far North," he writes, " I do not think reliance
should be placed on my being able to return hither
again ; for even if life should be prolonged, which
is doubtful, I cannot reckon on being able to accomplish repeatedly so long a journey from north to
south.    I hope God's good providence will order the
arrangements made according to the Divine will."
A question 'might naturally arise here concerning the advisability of Mr. Bompas's extensive
travelling. Could he not have done much better
i work by remaining in one locality, and cultivating
! it thoroughly, instead of spreading over so much
country ? No doubt there is much truth is this ;
but there is another side which needs careful
The Indians in the North at the time of Mr.
Bompas's arrival were mostly in heathen darkness,
and the work of evangelization had only been begun
in a few places. To the Indians the Gospel message
was new, and in their unenlightened minds the progress could only be slow, like leaven in the meal.
Having sown a little seed among one band of
Indians, it would be necessary for the missionary
to pass on to others. This was what Mr. Bompas
did. He was, to use a naval metaphor, a " detached
cruiser," speeding from place to place, that he
might bring in the Gospel dawn to widely scattered
And, further than this, we find the Indians were
ever on the move themselves. They were forced to
travel in order to obtain a living. They were to be
met with in so many places : a little group by some
river bank, or a few encamped near a lake. These
he would meet as he passed to and fro. The seed
would be cast, and then more sown when he met
them again.
In reality -this has ever been the principal method
of work among the Indians in the North. The
missionary establishes himself in some place where
the natives congregate. For months they will be
away hunting, but at certain seasons they return
to the mission. They may remain only a few
weeks, and in that time the work of instruction
must be carried on. The lessons learned in this
short time are not forgotten. A missionary
along the Yukon River unexpectedly came upon a
camp of Indians miles away from the mission. It
was night, and he found them sitting around the
fire repeating what he had taught them, and singing
a hymn learned but a few weeks before.
Pushing on his way down the Mackenzie River,
Mr. Bompas spent the fall and winter and spring in
the regions to the north and west of Fort McPherson.
During the fall he " visited a tribe of Esquimaux
encamped on the sea-coast about 200 or 300 miles
west of the Mackenzie River, and found their camps
full of American goods, which they trade from the
whaling vessels in the Arctic Sea, inside Behring
Straits, somewhere about Point Barrow."
He also visited La Pierre House, west of the
Rocky Mountains, and the reception he met with
from the Loucheux Indians there filled him with
thankfulness, and encouraged him much in his work.
Writing of these Indians, he says:
" I have been much cheered in my work among
them by finding them all eager for instruction and
warm-hearted in their reception of the missionary.
Each day I spent in the Loucheux camps was like a
Sunday, as the Indians were clustered around me
from early morning till late at night, learning
prayers, hymns, and Scripture lessons as I was
able to teach them. I never met with so earnest
desires after God's word, nor have I passed so happy
a time since I left England ; indeed, I think I may
say that, had I ever found at home such a warm
attachment of the people to their minister, and so
zealous a desire for instruction, I should not have
been a missionary.     These  mountain Loucheux
ma the ' fewest of all people,' but I cannot help
hoping they are ' a chosen race.' "
On April 28, 1873, he wrote the following letter
to his sister in England from Peel River:
I As I have again an opportunity of writing home,
1 will send a line to tell you that, by God's providence, I have been safely preserved during the past
winter with the Indians in their camps, and walking
with them over the snow, and that in the coldest
part of the country and in the coldest season,
yet I have not suffered from cold, hunger, or
fatigue. God's good providence has most visibly
watched over and protected my ways, in answer, I
suppose, to the prayers of friends at home, and I
have been much happier the past winter than any
time previously since I left England.
I News reaches us this spring that men are to be
sent here shortly to cut an ox-road across the Rocky
Mountains, with a view to steamboats being placed
as soon as possible on the Yukon and Mackenzie SOWING BESIDE MANY WATERS
Rivers, and a communication opened between
Rupert's Land and the Pacific. It is therefore
probable that in a few years civilization will reach
this remotest spot on the earth's surface, and the
two ends of the earth here meet. I have this winter
again visited Fort Yukon, where the American
steamer came again last summer, and thence, via San
Francisco, you could reach Europe in two months. ■
" The Indians here have treated me like Christian
brothers all winter, and I quite look on them in that
light. They are all eager for instruction, and warmhearted, so that it is a pleasure to be among them!
I must have walked more than 1,000 miles among
the Indians this winter, but that is nothing—not so
much as I used to walk in a winter in the streets of
London. On the last day of my winter's marching I
composed about 200 lines of poetry on the Loucheux,
which I shall enclose to you. I was walking about
eighty days, and in camp with the Indians about as
many. I am now trying to learn a little more
Eskimo from the interpreter here, though I do
not know that I shall be .able to instruct the Esquimaux at once, as I hope (D.V.) next winter to visit
Fort Yukon again."
Later we find Mr. Bompas far west, beyond the
Rocky Mountains, carrying on his work along the
Yukon River.    Of this he says:
" There is much that I might tell you of my
labours.    The summer has been spent in visiting all
the Indians on the Upper Yukon.    I am thankful
to relate that the Word of Life was received with
penitence and tears. Some of these Indians have
now been under instruction for nearly ten years, and
I thought it right to baptize the more advanced of
them, to the number of thirty-five adults and eighty
children. Already, I regret to say, has an epidemic
reached these tribes, and of the newly baptized
infants, one at least, and perhaps more, has ere this
been summoned to glory as the first-fruit of this flock
of lambs freshly gathered into the Saviour's fold.
Directly my time of instruction with them (the
fishing for men) was over began the literal fishing
for salmon, the Indians' harvest here, and they let
down their nets for what is likely, I think, to be a
plentiful draught, reminding us of New Testament
Travelling up the river, he was much pleased
with the beauty he observed on every hand.
I It is a splendid river with high wooded hills on
each bank, occasionally broken into bold and cragged
rocks. The margin of the river is rather flowery
with lupins, vetches, bluebells, and other wild-
flowers ; and I was surprised to see a few ferns in
the clefts of the rocks, so close to the Arctic circle.
Gold has not yet been found in the Yukon, but I
brought down with me good specimens of iron ore,
of which there seems to be a great quantity close
to the river's bank. This may some day be
These words were penned in the summer of
1873, and what changes this missionary was to see
before the closing of the century ! Instead of the
iron which he thought" some day would be utilized,"
the gleaming gold would be luring thousands into
the country.
Mr. Bompas ascended the Yukon for 300 miles,
and everywhere he was gladly received by the
Indians, who gathered around him to hear the
message he had to deliver. But a change was soon
to take place in the life of this noble man, and
while quietly and humbly pursuing his work, a
letter reached him, summoning him back to England
to be consecrated Bishop of the huge diocese. To
the hardships and dangers of travel there was to be
henceforth added " the care of all the Churches." CHAPTER VIII
" Called to the work and ministry of a Bishop."
Prayer Book.
While Mr. Bompas was performing his wonderful
journeys in the far North, and enduring so many
hardships for the Master's sake, men no less earnest
were following his movements and planning and
praying for the success of the Church in North-
West Canada.
Owing to the statesmanlike plans of Bishop
Machray, of Rupert's Land, it was decided to divide
the vast district, comprising more than one-half of
all Canada, into separate dioceses. The Bishop
realized that more effective supervision was needed
in the large field, as the distances were too
great for one man to think of undertaking. The
distance from the Red River to the farthest posts
on the Mackenzie River was as great as " from
London to Mecca," and it would have taken him two
years to visit the northern posts with profit. Crossing to England, the Bishop set forth the proposal
for the division of his diocese into four parts, which
was accepted by all concerned.
" The reduced Diocese of Rupert's Land would
comprise the new province of Manitoba and some
adjacent districts; the coasts and environs of
Hudson's Bay would form the Diocese of Moosonee;
the vast plains of the Saskatchewan, stretching
westward to the Rocky Mountains, the Diocese of
Saskatchewan ; and the whole of the enormous
territories watered by the Athabasca and Mackenzie
Rivers, and such part of the Yukon basin as was
within British territory, the Diocese of Athabasca."
For Moosonee, the veteran missionary, John
Horden, had been consecrated Bishop in 1872 ; and
in the following year John McLean, Archdeacon of
Manitoba, and William Carpenter Bompas were
summoned home to be consecrated Bishops of the
new Dioceses of Saskatchewan and Athabasca.
Mr. Bompas shrank much from the thought of
becoming a Bishop, and in July, 1873, he set his
face homewards with the express purpose of turning
the Church Missionary Society from the idea. It
was a long journey that lay ahead of him, fraught
with many dangers and difficulties. The clerk at
Fort Yukon in charge of the American Fur
Company's post kindly supplied him with provisions and with two Indian lads who had volunteered for the trip. Soon all was ready, and then
the start was made up the Porcupine River, and
after two weeks of hard and persevering labour he
reached the Rocky Mountains.    Here the Indians HOME AND HONOURS
left him to return to Fort Yukon, and alone and on
foot the missionary began his journey across the
mountains. Three days was he in accomplishing
the task, and in a furious snow-storm, "which
rendered the mountains almost as white as in
winter," reached Fort McPherson, Peel River, on
August 6.
I The force of the Arctic storm in the mountains,"
says Mr. Bompas," is greater and less endurable than
elsewhere—not because the winter temperature is
more severe on the mountain than below, for it
is milder on a height, but because the wind is
more violent, and the snow is whirled with blinding
fury and freezing bitterness in the face of the
| Happily, in the mountains there is generally
some angle or jutting crag where shelter can be had
from the blast till the storm is past, and if fuel is
found at the same point wherewith to kindle a fire,
the voyager is comfortable.
I The effect of the sharp frozen snowdrift, blown
from the mountain-top in the traveller's face, is
first to make his eyes water, and then effectually to
seal these up, through the freezing of the exuding
moisture. Frost-bites on the cheeks soon follow,
and, if travel is continued, these will be running
with blood. It is in such a case that the expression
of the Almighty is recognized, ' Who can stand
before His cold ?' (Ps. cxlvii. 17).
I When a storm is blowing on the mountains, the
appearance of these from the distance is as if they
were fringed with hair, the snowdrift blown in heavy
clouds from the ridge having such an aspect. . . .
"Though, while earth remains, winter storms
will never cease, yet we may well believe that, in
heaven above, when there shall be no more night
and no more sea, the surging tempest will sink for
ever into an unruffled calm; and the storms of our
earthly lives are intended to prepare us to enjoy
more fully that haven of repose."
Starting again by canoe, with two other Indian
lads, Fort Simpson, a distance of 800 miles, was made
on September 2, " after. three weeks of fatiguing
towing." Pushing on his way, after a difficult
journey, contending with the cold and swift stream,
he reached Portage la Loche on October 8, having
travelled 2,600 miles since July, " and all, except
about 300 to 400 miles, against a strong current."
Owing to the cold weather he was forced to
remain at the Portage for ten days, and when the
swamps were sufficiently frozen he " started on foot
through the woods to Buffalo Lake in company
with two servants of the Hudson Bay Company."
Reaching the lake, he travelled with some difficulty
on the fresh ice around the margin, and at the
farther end found a camp of Indians, who guided him
to Isle a la Crosse. Here a stay of ten days was
made, and then he left with dogs and sledge for
Green Lake, with three employes of the Hudson
Bay Company. The weather becoming milder, they
were forced " to cross one of the intervening rivers
on a raft."
From Green Lake they entered "on the plain
country of the Saskatchewan," and after a walk of
five days reached Fort Carlton. While here Mr.
Bompas visited the Prince Albert Settlement on the
banks of the North Saskatchewan, and says : " This
settlement is the first that has been formed by the
immigrants in that neighbourhood, and it bears
every sign of increasing prosperity and success."
From Carlton House, Touchwood Hills was
reached with a horse and sledge. Here, through the
kindness of the postmaster, he was furnished with
a carriole and dogs, and, after a journey of 400 or
500 miles, reached the Red River Settlement.
11 enjoyed the kind hospitality of the Bishop
of Rupert's Land and Archdeacon Cowley," wrote
Mr. Bompas, " and was much interested in
seeing the progress of the mission work in the
colony. I reached, by God's good providence, the
first houses of the settlement on the last evening of
the old year, and after nearly six months' travel in
the wilds, I awoke on New Year's morning to a new
life of civilization and society."
It is said that when Mr. Bompas reached the
episcopal residence and inquired for Bishop
Machray, the servant mistook him for a tramp (in
his rough travelling clothes), and told him his
master was very busy and could not be disturbed.
So insistent was the stranger that the servant went
to the Bishop's study and told him a tramp was at
the door determined to see him.
I He is hungry, no doubt," replied the Bishop ;
147 r
" take him into the kitchen and give him something
to eat."
Accordingly, Mr. Bompas was ushered in, and
was soon calmly enjoying a plateful of soup, at the
same time urging that he might see the master of
the house. Hearing the talking, and wondering
who the insistent stranger could be, the Bishop
appeared in the doorway, and great was his astonishment to see before him the travel-stained missionary.
1 Bompas!" he cried, as he rushed forward, 1 is
it you ?"
We can well realize how Mr. Bompas must have
enjoyed this little scene, and the surprise of the
good and noble Bishop of Rupert's Land.
We will let Mr. Bompas describe the rest of the
" From Manitoba the dog-train was exchanged
for the stage-coach for Mborhead, the terminus of
the American railway towards the North-West. In
this the cold was piercing and freezing, even though
the travellers were wrapped in buffalo-skins. The
poor horses were utterly exhausted in drawing the
vehicle about fifteen miles through the snow, and
though changed thus often, yet at last the journey
had to be suspended during a storm, and in the end
the horses, though changed every stage, occupied a
week in performing the same distance as that
travelled by the dogs in four days, more easily and
pleasantly—that is, 160 miles.
" The journey was next continued by railway,
but from the fires not being lighted in the cars the HOME AND HONOURS
cold was intense, and the train was shortly brought
to a standstill in a snow-drift. Though two locomotives were tugging at it, no progress could be
made till the guards with shovels disengaged the
carriage-wheels from the snow which entangled
"In Canada the journey by stage-coach was
resumed. This was shortly after overturned into
a ditch by the wayside while scaling a snow-drift.
The outside passengers were deposited in an
adjoining field, where, to be sure, the snow provided them with a sufficiently soft bed to fall on.
The inside passengers had a more uncomfortable
1 The journey was next proceeded with by train
to Montreal, before approaching which the cars left
the rails, causing some apprehension and delay,
which might have been increased had not the guard
been provided with a powerful winch for the
purpose of replacing the carriages on the track.
" In passing through Canada, I was much pleased
with the cities of Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal.
The first I should consider the pleasantest place of
residence, but the Parliament buildings and Government offices at Ottawa are very handsome, and
Montreal shows the greatest activity in business.
I had the honour of waiting upon the Governor-
General of Canada, the Metropolitan of Canada,
the Bishop and the Dean of Toronto, the Deputy
Minister of the Interior, and others, all of whom
received me most affably.
"From Montreal, following the Grand Trunk
Railway to Portland, I embarked in the steamship
Scandinavian, of the Allan line. At starting, the
masts, yards, and deck of the steamer presented
a woeful appearance, from being thickly coated and
hung with ice, yet 200 miles were made the first
day. By the constantly increasing head-wind, however, the daily speed was decreased down to 100
miles per day, at which rate the Captain thought it
prudent to shut off half the steam, and diminish the
speed to a minimum, for fear that something should
give way in the plunging vessel. After thirteen
days, under the careful seamanship of Captain
Smith, Liverpool was reached on February 13, in
the safe keeping of a protecting Providence."
This account is given to show some of the difficulties the traveller experienced in the early days
in his trips to and from England. Mr. Bompas,
after this journey, decided in favour of the dog-
" On the whole," he said, " the dogs may be
counted to hold their own in competing with horseflesh or steam, whether on land or water."
At last the soldier was home from the front, the
hero among his friends, and after the years of
hardships he might have enjoyed a well-earned
rest. But his thoughts were far away across the
ocean in his vast field of labour, and the voice of
the children of the wild was ever urging him to
make haste. The restraints, conventionalities, and
luxuries of civilized life worried him ; the narrow-
ness of the streets was unbearable, and he longed
for the smell of the camp-fire, the free, fresh air of
the North, the great untamed streams, the snowcapped mountains, and his dusky flock.
During his stay in England Mr. Bompas had
many commissions to fulfil, which occupied much
of his time. There were purchases to make for
people in North-West Canada, including six gold
watches for as many female residents, and a pair
of corsets for another. Obtaining the latter caused
much worry to the missionary. But he was never
known to back down, and finally the purchase was
made. Is it any wonder that he preferred the life
among the Indians, who worried so little concerning
the wherewithal they should be clothed ?
Mr. Bompas was unsuccessful in dissuading the
Church Missionary Society from carrying out
their plan, and on May 3 he and John McLean were
elevated to the Episcopate. The consecration took
place in the parish church of St. Mary's, Lambeth,
Dr. Tait, Archbishop of Canterbury, being assisted
by Bishop Jackson of London, Bishop Hughes of
St. Asaph, and Bishop Anderson, late of Rupert's
Land. The sermon was preached by the last-
named prelate, who thus referred to the two new
Dioceses of Saskatchewan and Athabasca :
" To-day the noble plan will be consummated by
the consecration of two more Bishops. One will
preside over the Church in the western portion of
the land, labouring among the Indians of the plains,
and along the valley of that river whose source is
in the Rocky Mountains, the River Saskatchewan.
The other will have the northern diocese as
his own, along yet mightier lakes, and with rivers
which roll down an immense volume and discharge
themselves into the Arctic Ocean."
After some words addressed to Bishop McLean;
the following charge was given to Bishop Bompas :
" In leaving for the more distant sphere of
Athabasca, brother, it is to no untried work that
you proceed. It is matter of very deep interest to
notice the links in the chain of God's providence
which has guided you to this hour. Nine years
ago to-morrow it was my privilege to preach the
anniversary sermon of that noble Society which
mainly sends you forth. I had then heard that he
who was bearing the standard of the Cross in the
most advanced position of Fort Yukon was sinking
in rapid decline. I read a touching extract from a
letter which I had just received from his nearest
fellow-labourer, in which were these words :
" ' Oh, plead for us, my lord—plead with God for
men and with men for God, that they may come
to gather in the harvest here ! The time is short,
the enemy is active, the Master will soon be here,
and then blessed will those servants be who are
found working and watching.'
" On this I grounded my appeal, and said:
' Shall the minister fall in the forefront of the
battle, in the remotest outpost, and shall no one
come forward to take up the standard of the Lord
as it drops from his hands, and occupy the ground ?'
These were the words which commended themselves to your heart. You offered yourself to the
Society, and within three weeks of your offer you
were on your way to the far North-West. He
who was thought to be sick unto death was raised
up, restored, to find you by his side, ready to aid
and sustain him in his work.
" You have been there for more than eight years,
in labours abundant, and your love has not lessened
nor your zeal slackened. You have brought home,
as the fruit of your labour, portions of Scripture,
prayers, and hymns, in seven different dialects or
tongues. You are ready to take the precious
treasure out with you—the translations printed and
prepared by the Society for Promoting Christian
Knowledge. You have also one complete Gospel,
that of St. Mark, which the British and Foreign
Bible Society has enabled you to carry through
the press.
"But you left good treasure behind, in souls
warmed with the love of Christ and softened by
the spirit of Grace. You have the hearts of the
Indians and the Esquimaux."
But Bishop Bompas was not to return alone to
his great work, for a few days after his consecration, May 7, he was united in marriage to Miss
Charlotte Selina Cox, by Bishop Anderson, assisted
by the Rev. John Robbins, Vicar of St. Peter's,
Notting Hill, and the Rev. Henry Gordon, Rector
of Harting.
Mrs. Bompas was a woman of much refinement
and devotion to the mission cause. Her father,
Joseph Cox Cox, M.D., of Montague Square,
London, was ordered to Naples for his health.
During this trip, in which he was accompanied by
his family, his daughter, afterwards Mrs. Bompas,
acquired that love for the Italian language which
ever after continued to be a great source of
pleasure to her. No matter where she went in the
northern wilds of Canada she carried her Dante
with her, which she studied, with much delight, in
the original.
During her stay at Naples she attended her first
ball given by the British Ambassador, and met the
King of Naples (the notorious King "Bomba"),
and often afterwards recalled his remark in Italian,
" What have you done to amuse yourself at the
carnival ?"
When quite young, Mrs. Bompas had little
interest in missions, and says : " My brother, who
was Vicar of Bishop's Tawton, Devonshire, used to
hold missionary meetings at the Vicarage, and I
remember thinking them the dullest affairs, and
the clergymen who addressed us, and whom my
brother, perhaps, would introduce as the distinguished missionary from Japan or Honolulu, I
looked upon as the most dismal old slow coaches
it was anyone's unhappy fate to attend to."
Her interest at length became aroused, and later,
when the martyrdom of Bishop Patteson startled
the Christian world, she became much excited, and
reached, as she tells  us, " the enthusiastic stage
when we resolve to become missionaries ourselves,
and are all impatient to be off anywhere—to China,
Japan, or to the Indians of the Mackenzie River."
Shortly after this she cast in her lot with the
Bishop of Athabasca, and became " consecrated to
mission work." CHAPTER IX
" All we have we offer,
All we hope to be:
Body, soul, and spirit,
All we yield to Thee."
These words were never better illustrated than in
the lives of the Bishop and Mrs. Bompas, who on
May 12, 1874, set their faces towards their great
field of labour. Friends and loved ones came to
bid them farewell, among whom was Bishop
Anderson, late of Rupert's Land, who presented the
Bishop with a beautiful paten for his cathedral in
the new Diocese of Athabasca. The good steamship China, of the Cunard Line, received them, and
soon she was cutting her way through the water
bound for New York. Consecrated, married, a
sailed all in one week! Such was the record of the
Bishop, who declared it was the hardest week he
ever experienced. Never again was he to look upon
the shores of his native land, or visit the scenes of
childhood ; the northern wilds of Canada need
him, and there he remained till the last.
Accompanying the Bishop and Mrs. Bompas were
several missionaries, forming in all a most interesting company : the Rev. Robert Phair (afterwards
Archdeacon) and Mrs. Phair, Mr. and Mrs. Shaw,
Mr. and Mrs. Reader, Miss Moore, Mr. Hines, and
Miss Bompas, eldest sister of the Bishop, who was
returning to Lennoxville, in the province of Quebec.
The Bishop was kept busy during the voyage,
not only in looking after the welfare of his party,
but also in cheering up the steerage passengers,
thus making the tedious trip more bearable by his
words of comfort.
" A strange motley set were these poor emigrants,"
says Mrs. Bompas, " about 150 in number, some
whole families—father, mother, and children—
dragging their thinly filled mattresses along with
them, and all carrying a few tin implements for
cooking. A number of young girls there were, all
neatly dressed, with jet-black hair, and a pretty
scarlet' snood' around their heads."
On Sunday a hearty service was held in the
saloon, at which most of the passengers and some
of the seamen were present. The Bishop gave an
address, and Mrs. Bompas led in the singing of the
two hymns, " Thou art gone up on high," and
" Lord, as to Thy dear Cross we flee," in which
all joined most earnestly.
Off Newfoundland   they encountered   icebergs
and much rough weather, but reached New York
safely on Whit-Sunday, and attended the morning
service at St. Mark's Church, where, for the first
time, the Bishop and Mrs. Bompas knelt together
and received the Holy Communion. In the evening
the Bishop preached at the request of the Vicar.
Here a shadow was cast over the party by the death
of the Phairs' little child, who caught cold on the
" I have been in to see it," wrote Mrs. Bompas,
" lying like a little wax doll, so blessed to see it at
rest after its sufferings."
From New York they took the train for Niagara,
and, having visited the famous waterfall, travelled
on to Chicago and thence to St. Paul's. After j
tedious trip they arrived at the Red River, and
took the heavy, flat-bottomed boat bound for
Winnipeg, as the village around Fort Garry was
already called. Slow progress was made up the
river, and on one occasion the boat stopped to take
a raft in tow, making the journey very tiresome.
But the time was whiled away in the study of the
Indian languages and in reading.
At length Winnipeg was reached one Sunday
morning, and the great-hearted leader, Bishop
Machray, gave them a most cordial welcome.
Bishop Bompas preached that evening in St. John's
Cathedral, and public thanks were offered to God
for their " merciful guidance hitherto."
During the week Messrs. Shaw and Reader underwent their examinations for Deacons' Orders, and
the next Sunday were ordained in the cathedral.
Mrs. Bompas describes this service.
" We started early for St. John's Church, the
cathedral of Manitoba. A pretty walk across the
prairie took us into a neat little square-towered
church standing near the river. There was a good
congregation, fairly good choir (the boys of St.
John's College, which is close to the Bishop's).
Service nice and quiet. William preached. Bishop
ordained candidates. After service the Bishop
invited us into his house to luncheon, so we all
went, and there were a number of other guests.
After a short time he came and took me and sat me
in the seat of honour."
That evening Bishop Bompas preached in the
cathedral, and after service Bishop Machray walked
part of the way home with him and Mrs. Bompas.
Not until thirty years later did this missionary
stand in that building again, and then in touching
words referred to that Sunday and his departed
Ahead of them lay the long journey of two
months by open boat to Fort Simpson. They had
missed the boats of the Hudson Bay Company, and
after some difficulty another was obtained, in the
hope of overtaking the former. It was a " brilliant
cloudless" June morning when they crossed the
prairie towards St. John's Cathedral, and sighted
the " river looking still and silvery in the morning
light," and found the boat, their home for weeks to
come, "moored just below St. John's College."
Farewells were said, the boat pushed off, and they
moved on their way, leaving the Bishop of Rupert's
Land waving his hand from the bank of the stream.
It was a tedious journey, as day after day they
glided forward. Not only was the heat intense,
but the swarms of mosquitoes proved a great
" I had come prepared for intense cold," wrote
Mrs. Bompas, "and we were destined to endure
tropical heat. All up the Saskatchewan, Stanley,
and English Rivers the banks slope down like a
funnel, and the July and August sun scorches with
vertical rays the heads of the travellers. We were
seated in open boats, each with a crew of ten or
twelve men, who spread our sails when the wind
was fair, and took them in when the wind failed us.
Eighty-six was on some of those days our average
temperature, and I had come provided with the
thickest of serge dresses, as none of my friends had
realized the possibility of anything but frost and cold
in these northern regions. Besides this, we had to
encounter swarms of mosquitoes, crowding thick
around us, penetrating our boots and stockings, and
invading our robabou soup and pemmican, etc. I
remember the bliss if was in those days in camping-
time to escape from the rest of the party, and,
getting rid of boots and stockings, to sit with my
feet and legs in the cool water of the river, to soothe
the intolerable irritation of the mosquito bites."
But in the midst of all this there were times of
refreshing, and at various places hearty were the
greetings that awaited them.    One morning they \
reached  St. Andrews,  on Red River, and there |
before them appeared a pretty stone church, with
wide square tower and a comfortable-looking parsonage-house, with a nice veranda, and a few
scattered cottages around. It was a pleasant home
scene, and there they found the Vicar, the Rev.
John Grisdale (afterwards Bishop of Qu'Appelle),
and about sixty others, who had been waiting all
the morning to receive them. After luncheon had
been served a little service was held on the
veranda, and, as they left, the bell of the church
rang out a peal of farewell, and all on shore gave
a hearty cheer.
Welcome also awaited them at St. Peter's
Mission, where Archdeacon and Mrs. Cowley
gladly received them, and at The Pas, where the
native clergyman, Mr. Budd, was stationed. At
this latter place service was held in the yard for
Indians, and the Bishop gave an exposition of the
Creed in the Cree language.
All along the way Indians were encountered
camped on the bank, and at times a halt was made
while the Bishop spoke a few words to them. One
night they stopped near a number of natives, and
service was held. Among the party was a poor
woman totally blind. The Bishop knelt by her
side and told her of the blind man in the Gospel
story, and repeated to her several passages of
Scripture, to which the woman listened with much
eagerness, and seemed greatly pleased.
The many long, hard portages formed a great
impediment to their progress, and through the
scorching heat, fighting myriads of mosquitoes, the
party had to carry the provisions overland and drag
the boat up the rapids. The Bishop willingly took
his share of the labour, and though of great
strength, overtaxed himself in lifting a heavy box
and sprained his back, or, rather, re-sprained it, as
he had been injured some weeks before in hauling
at the boat. He suffered much agony from the
sprain, which troubled him somewhat during the
rest of his life.
An incident happened on this trip which serves
to show the Bishop's forgetfulness of self when
others were to be considered. A young Indian lost
his hat overboard, and, being unable to obtain it,
suffered much from the heat as he toiled at the
oar. The Bishop, seeing his discomfort, at once
placed his own hat upon the Indian's head, and
insisted that he should wear it. The sight of the
native with the flat, broad-brimmed episcopal
headgear caused great amusement to the entire
At Fort Providence they found the Rev. W. D.
Reeve (afterwards Bishop) and Mrs. Reeve, and
took them on board. "It was pleasant," wrote
Mrs. Bompas, "to see the greeting between the
Bishop and his old colleague."
On September 24 they came in sight of Fort
Simpson, and much excitement took place. The
red flag of welcome was soon hoisted, and Mr.
Hardisty, the chief officer, and the whole settlement came to the shore to meet them. So hearty
was the reception that they did not perceive the
shadow, the grim shadow of starvation, that was
hanging over the fort and land. There was only
one week's provisions in the Company's store, and
game was very scarce. At this point the new party
arrived, bringing six extra mouths to be fed, besides
the boat's crew, and yet the Company's officers
received them with the utmost courtesy and good
temper, and did their best to look and speak cheerfully. Most of the men around the fort had to be
sent away, and there was difficulty in collecting dried
scraps of meat for the wives and children. At
length there came a time when there was not
another meal left. The poor dogs hung around
the houses, "day by day growing thinner and
thinner, their poor bones almost through their skins,
their sad wistful look when anyone appeared. Even
a dry biscuit could not be thrown to them." But
just when matters reached the worst two Indians
arrived, bringing fresh meat, and the great tension
" From that moment," says Mrs. Bompas, " the
supplies have never failed. As surely as the provisions got low, so surely, too, would two or
three sledges appear unexpectedly, bringing fresh
Little wonder that the Bishop acquired that great
trust in Providence that caused him to say that
" a restful trust in Heaven's bounty will lead to a
cheerful content even in the far North, and make
a man exult in the consciousness that his God is
still present with him there."
165 I
" He bowed himself
With all obedience to the King, and wrought
All kind of service with a noble ease,
That graced the lowliest act in doing of it."
Fort Simpson was chosen by the Bishop as his
abode at first. It is situated at the confluence of
the Mackenzie and Liard Rivers, and formed the
most central and convenient point for managing
the vast diocese. This position had been occupied
years before by the Hudson Bay Company, and
here, in 1859, Mr. Kirkby built the church and
mission-house. *
All around stretched the huge diocese of 1,000,000
square miles—and such a diocese! It has been well
described by the Bishop himself in the words which
follow :
* In 1874 the mission-house, which had been some distance
away, was removed to the fort, and another building, given
by Mr. Hardisty, of the Hudson Bay Company, was placed
alongside for a schoolhouse. In 1881 these were removed
from the fort and re-erected near the church.
" No shepherd there bis flock to fold,
No harvest waves its tresses gold;
No city with its thronging crowd,
No market with its clamour loud ;
No magistrates dispense the laws,
No advocate to plead the cause;
No sounding bugle calls to arms,
No bandits rouse to dread alarms;
No courser scours the grassy plain,
No lion shakes his tawny mane;
No carriages for weary feet,
No wagons jostle in the street;
No well-tilled farms, no fenced field,
No orchard with its welcome yield,
No luscious fruit to engage the taste,
No dainties to prolong the feast;
No steaming car its weighty load
Drags with swift wheel o'er iron road ;
No distant messages of fire
Flash, hghtning-like, through endless wire;
No church with tower or tapering spire,
No organ note, no chanting choir."
Writing of the extent of his diocese, he says:
" To represent the length and tediousness of travel
in this diocese, it may be compared to a voyage in
a row-boat from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Fort
William, on Lake Superior, or a European may
compare it to a voyage in a canal barge from
England to Turkey. Both the length and breadth
of this diocese equal the distance from London to
" H all the populations between London and Constantinople were to disappear, except a few bands of
Indians or gipsies, and all the cities and towns were
obliterated, except a few log huts on the sites of the
capital cities—such is the solitary desolation of this
land. Again, if all the diversity of landscape and
variety of harvest-field and meadow were exchanged
for an unbroken line of willow and pine trees—such
is this country."
In this region the Bishop and his devoted wife
began their great work together. At once an
Indian school was started, carried on at first
principally by the Bishop himself. Mrs. Bompas
" My ears often grew weary of the perpetual
' ba, be, bo, bu ; cha, che, cho, chu.' These, with a
few hymns translated into their own language, and
a little counting, were the first studies mastered by
our Simpson scholars."
November 22 was a day long to be remembered
at the fort, when the first confirmation took place
in the little church, and four candidates received
the Apostolic rite. The service was very simple,
quiet, and impressive, and the church well filled.
The Bishop gave an earnest address to the candidates
from Eccles. xii. 1, " Remember now thy Creator
in the days of thy youth." Outside, the world was
cold and dismal, but within that little sanctuary in
the far North there was much warmth and peace.
The following Sunday another service of great
interest was held, when the Rev. W. D. Reeve
was admitted to the priesthood. Such a service
was never before performed in the diocese, and all
who attended were much impressed.
Only a short time could the Bishop spend at Fort
Simpson ; other places needed his attention, and he
had to be much on the move, visiting trading-posts
and Indian encampments on the various rivers
and lakes. About 300 miles away was Fort
Rae, on Great Slave Lake, and the heart of the
missionary yearned for the natives and whites
gathered there.
On December 8, with Allen Hardisty, a young
native who was being trained as a catechist, and
several men from Fort Rae, the Bishop set out on
his journey.
Concerning the preparation for this trip Mrs.
Bompas gives us the following very interesting
description :
" It was a clear, beautiful morning, November 27,
1874. The great frozen river glittered in the sunshine—not a smooth glassy surface, as you might
fancy, but all covered with huge boulders of ice,
and these, again, all thickly strewn with snow. Some
of these boulders assume grotesque forms—you
might imagine them great monsters which had
come up from the river depths—while others look
like birds, and some, again, have the appearance
of a beautiful foaming wave, caught by the ice just
in the act of curling.
" Here are our ' trippers,' as they are called, and
all ready to start, and my Bishop in his fur cap and
warm wraps, which I have made for him. His
large mittens, formed of deer-skin and fur, are
suspended from the neck, as is the custom here.
William takes with him Allen Hardisty, an Indian
who is being trained as a catechist.    He packed the
sledges last evening with their bags of clothing
and provisions for the way—blankets, cooking
implements, etc. There are the three sledges, and
the dogs ready harnessed. I am rather proud of my
' tapis,' which, amid sundry difficulties, I contrived
to get finished, with some help, in time. Now
comes the word, ' Off ; all ready !' our farewells are
said, the drivers smack their whips, the dogs cry
out and start in full scamper, the trippers running
by the side of the sledges at such a pace that all
are soon out of sight."
The trip was a hard one, and, failing to obtain any
deer on the way, they struggled on for days without
provisions, gaining the fort in an almost exhausted
condition. But what did such sufferings matter to
the Bishop ? The Indians were reached, and, sitting
by their camp-fires telling them of the great message
he had come to bring, he forgot the days of want
and the weariness of the way.*
Meanwhile, at the fort, Mrs. Bompas was anxiously
awaiting the Bishop's return. Mr. Reeve took
charge of the settlement, while Mr. Hodgson conducted the Indian school. It was a weary time—a
time of darkness, for grease had given out, and there
were few candles, as the deer were very thin.
Never before had there been such a scarcity.
Every particle was saved with jealous care, and
doled out with the greatest caution.
* In 1876 the Rev. W. D. Reeve and family removed to
Fort Rae, to establish a mission there. (From notes found
among Bishop Bompas's papers.) BISHOP OF ATHABASCA
But, notwithstanding the darkness, a cheerful
time was spent at Christmas, when Mrs. Bompas
brought in twelve old Indian wives and gave them a
Christmas dinner. They tried their best to use the
knives and forks, but at last gave up in despair, and
had to " take to Nature's implements."
Then a Christmas-tree—a grand affair—was given
for the Indian and the white children of the officers
of the fort. The presents were made by hand, and
Mrs. Bompas wrote:
"Years ago, in my childhood, when my busy
fingers accomplished things of this kind, my dear
mother used to tell me I should one day be the
head of a toyshop. How little did she then dream
in what way her words would be fulfilled! I actually
made a lamb—' Mackenzie River breed'—all horned
and woolly, with sparkling black eyes."
Many were the wonderful things made for that
tree, and great was the delight of those little dark-
skinned Indians as they looked upon their first
After the excitement had subsided dreary days
of waiting followed, when one Sunday morning
bells were heard, and a dog-team swung into the
fort, and there, to the astonishment of all, appeared
the Bishop, " with white snowy beard fringed with
icicles, in a deer-skin coat and beaver hat and
mittens—a present from Fort Rae." What rejoicing
there was ! and more rejoicing still when he poured
into Mrs. Bompas's lap the long-looked-for home
letters, which had been eight months reaching her.
" Dear, precious letters," says the faithful recorder
of these early days, " for which I had so longed and
prayed and wept for eight months past. The long
silence was broken, the electric chain laid down
between England, Darmstadt, and Fort Simpson!"
The Bishop lamented that it was impossible in
such a huge field to carry on systematic work. He
draws attention to the fact that St. Paul in his great
journeys "found it possible to found small communities of Christians in only hasty visits to the
various cities encountered in his travels. But," he
adds, I St. Paul's labours were among civilized
races," and he believed that to work well among
the Indians a teacher must be " willing to surrender
his life to a permanent residence in the heathen
country as an adopted home "—to teach by example
as well as by precept. But the Bishop became by
no means discouraged in his efforts, and made
wonderful journeys in the face of hardships and
dangers, many of which remain unknown.
Shortly after his return from Fort Rae an incident happened which almost deprived the Church
of this heroic missionary. He wished to visit Fort
Norman, some 200 miles farther north of Fort
Simpson, and made ready to travel in the dead of
winter with several of the Hudson Bay Company's
men who were going that way. On the morning of
the departure Mrs. Bompas went to the Indian camp
and asked the natives who were to accompany the
travellers to look after the Bishop. One of the
boys—Natsatt by name—spoke up and said :
" Are we not men ? Is he not our Bishop ?
Koka " (i.e., " that's enough ").
And so they started. As a rule, the Bishop was
a great traveller, always keeping in front of the
dogs, and running like a deer, with great powers of
endurance ; but on this occasion he lagged behind
the sledge, travelling slower and slower all the time.
Natsatt kept looking back, and when at length the
Bishop disappeared from sight, he became uneasy,
and presently said:
" Me no feel easy.    Me not comfortable."
Leaving the rest of the party, who swung on
their way, he went back to look for the Bishop ;
and there he found him helpless in the middle of
the trail, bent double, with hands on his knees, trying to walk, having been seized with fearful cramps.
At once Natsatt rubbed him thoroughly, made a
fire as quickly as possible, and, after the sufferer
was well warmed, with a great effort succeeded in
getting him back to the fort. The day was
extremely cold, 40° below zero. A few minutes
more, and the Bishop would have perished on the
Poor Natsatt, this noble young Indian, several
years later, while hunting beaver, was drowned.
He was the only support of his old mother, and was
also one of the faithful choir members at Fort
This story serves to show the affection felt by
the Indians for their Bishop, and good reason was
there for this love. He had given up much for
them, and in their troubles and sorrows was always
ready to help. Though his great object was the
saving of the souls of the natives, yet he believed
this work could often be helped by caring for their
bodies. He had never studied at a medical college,
but his keen powers of observation and the study
of some of the standard medical books that he had
always at hand stood him in good stead on many an
occasion. He had witnessed so often the sufferings
endured by his flock owing to snow-blindness in the
spring that when he returned home for consecration
he took advantage of the visit to attend several
lectures at an eye hospital, and was henceforth able
to treat the patients who came to him with splendid
success. Great was the faith the Indians had in the
Bishop's healing powers. Only a few years ago an
Indian along the Yukon River who had been treated
by the police doctor for some time was heard to say,
" P'lice doctor no good "; and then with animation
continued, " Ah! Beeshop heem moche good !"
Wherever he went the Indians came to be cured,
bringing their sick and afflicted, and truly many an
Apostolic scene was enacted in the great northern
wilds; Shortly after he was made Bishop he amputated a man's leg above the knee, and the operation
proved most successful.
The story of poor old Martha is a touching one.
Her daughter's child, little Tommy—a miserable
misshapen creature—was very sick. They sent for
the Bishop, who did all in his power, but in vain:
the child soon passed away. Through his tender
care he won their hearts, and not long after the
child's death Martha came to him one cold, dark
night and begged the Bishop " to give her medicine
to do her heart good ; she had pain there ever since
Tommy died." And there, in the quietness of the
mission-house, the noble teacher talked with her,
telling of the great Physician of souls, and sending
her away comforted.
Great was the love the Bishop had towards the
children of his flock, and this love often blinded
his eyes to many of their imperfections, and at
times caused him to take part with the children
against the mission teachers. On one occasion,
hearing the sobs of a child who was being chastised,
he marched to the schoolroom door and sought
admittance. This not being complied with at once,
with a mighty push he drove open the door, seized
the child from the teacher's grasp, and, placing it
upon his knee, began to soothe it with parental
A beautiful scene is that which shows us the
Bishop seeking for one of his flock, a little girl
who had wandered into the wilderness. Jeannie de
Nord was a child of ten years, with a complexion
scarcely darker than an ordinary English gipsy. A
rogue she looked, and a little rogue she was, up to
all sorts of fun and mischief. Her father, old
De Nord, had left her with an aunt while he went
away some distance to hunt. The aunt was neglectful of her little charge, and Jeannie, unable to bear
this, started in search of her father. So little did
175 k 1
the aunt care that two days elapsed before the word
spread that Jeannie was lost.
No sooner did the Bishop hear of it than, like
the true shepherd he was, he started with others in
search of the little wanderer. They pushed on
over the snow, following the girl's tracks, for she
had taken her snow-shoes with her. She had no
food or blanket, and the nights were cold, and
starving wolves roamed the forests. And where
was Jeannie ? She had reached her father's abandoned camp one night, cold and tired. Groping
about, she found his gun, which had been left there,
and with the cunning of the wild she discharged
the weapon, and from the spark thus obtained
started a fire, which kept her warm through the
night. All the next day she wandered in vain,
searching for her father, and, tired and hungry,
crept back to the abandoned camp and fell asleep.
It was in the night that the rescue-party drew near,
and some distance away discharged a gun to attract
the girl's attention. Jeannie heard the report, and,
thinking it was her father coming back, with a sigh
of relief fell asleep again on her cold bed. When
she next opened her eyes, it was to see standing
before her the tall figure of the anxious Bishop,
and to feel his strong loving arms around her as he
lifted her from the ground, while the only word
she uttered was " Ti tin die " (i.e.," I am hungry ").
The shepherd had found the lost lamb, but oh,
at what a cost! The Bishop's clothes were soaking
from the overflowing streams they had, crossed as
they wandered about, and he could hardly reach
Fort Simpson, so great were the cramps which
seized him, and for days he endured great suffering.
But what did it matter ? Little Jeannie de Nord
was safe, and none the worse for her experience.
Four years later the Bishop was called upon to
lay poor Jeannie to rest. Her father made her
work harder than she was able. One day she
started with the dogs and sledge for the woods, to
bring in a deer her father had killed. The journey
was a long one, and when she returned to the camp
tired out she complained of not feeling well, and,
lyingdown on her bed of brushwood, died the next day.
, Such a scene as this wrung the Bishop's heart,
and he did all in his power to bring the little ones
into the mission-schools, where they could receive
proper care. An interesting sight it was to see
this shepherd returning from some long trip,
bringing with him several wild, dirty little natives
for his school.
Not only did the Bishop bring the Indian children
into the mission-school, but time and time again he
and Mrs. Bompas received some poor little waif as
their own. A few years after his consecration little
Jenny, a mere babe, was thus taken to their hearts.
She came to them, so Mrs. Bompas tells us,
" At holy Christmas-tide,
When winter o'er our northern home
Its lusty arms spread wide;
When snow-drifts gathered thick and deep,
Winds moaned in sad unrest,
My little Indian baby sought
A shelter at my breast."
Upon this child they bestowed their affection;
but, alas ! notwithstanding the greatest care, it
gradually wasted away. Long and patiently they
watched by its side, and did everything possible
to alleviate its sufferings. It was a sad day to
them both when the little one passed away.
Some time later another was received into their
home and hearts. This was Owindia (" The
Weeping One "), who was baptized Lucy May. A
terrible tragedy had been enacted at one of the
Indian camps, from which the babe had been
marvellously rescued. Her mother had been cruelly
murdered by an angry husband, and as there was
no one to care for her, the Bishop and Mrs. Bompas
took the motherless child. Great was the joy they
received from the little one, and, with much pride,
several years later she was taken to England, where
she died some time after. Mrs. Bompas beautifully
tells the story of this waif in her little book,
" Owindia." CHAPTER XI
" Do Thou in ever-quickening streams
Upon Thy saints descend,
And warm them with reviving beams,
And guide them to the end."
As soon as possible after his consecration Bishop
Bompas began to organize the forces at his command, and made preparations for the holding of a
Synod. But his men were few and far removed,
and months passed before word reached them at
their distant posts. At last the difficulty was overcome, and on September 4, 1876, the first Synod
of the vast diocese was held at Fort Simpson.
The general idea of a Synod is a large city,
splendid church or cathedral, enthusiastic gatherings of earnest people, hearty services, imposing
processions, and learned discussions, where
" Grey champions bowed and thoughtful,
Young knights of mettle fine,
Meet as of old in councils vast,
Grave questions to define."
But reverse all this, and behold a Hudson Bay post
in the northern wilds along the great Mackenzie
River, a few houses clustered together, a small
church, a congregation composed mostly of Indians,
and a Bishop with only three clergy, besides a few
schoolmasters and catechists.
Though small, it was still an interesting assemblage which met on that early September day,
unlike any Synod ever before held. Foremost of
the three clergy was the Ven. Archdeacon Robert
McDonald,* who had come from Fort McPherson,
on Peel River. Noble champion of the faith, he
had endured more than all the rest in sickness and
hardships for the Master's sake. Next came the
Rev. W. D. Reeve, who at that time was steadily
making his mark in the great work, and upon whom
in after-years devolved the care of the Churches in
the diocese of Mackenzie River. The third was
the Rev. Alfred Garrioch, recently ordained. Besides these there were Messrs. Allen Hardisty and
William Norn, catechists, and George Sandison, a
servant of the Hudson Bay Company.
There were many things to consider at this
meeting. In August, 1875, the first provincial
Synod of the ecclesiastical province of Rupert's Land
had been held at Winnipeg, and the Bishop wished
to confirm the resolutions then made. There were
also questions to discuss concerning each post, and
many  details  to  be   considered.     But  the  most
* Appointed Archdeacon in 1875. (From notes among
the Bishop's papers.)
important work of this Synod was the division of
the diocese into four parts. The Bishop found it
impossible to be always at hand to settle any
question that might arise in the remote portions
of his field. The year previous to this meeting he
had traversed, so he tells us, " the extreme breadth
of the diocese from north-west to south-east, a
distance of about 2,000 miles, covering, in going
and returning, about double that distance, and
visiting all the mission-stations and other posts on
the route.
" These extended travels," he said, " prove inconsistent with domestic life, and Mrs. Bompas, being
left alone in the rigorous climate, and among the
sometimes chill hearts of our northern clime, has
lost her health from exposure to cold and insufficient
food. There is no doubt that the domestic hearth,
when it can be had, will convey Christian lessons to
the Indians."*
The arrangement of the force under the Bishop's
command at this time was as follows :
1. Tukudh Mission.—Rampart House, Mr. K.
McDonald, catechist; La Pierre's House, Henry
Venn, native catechist; Fort McPherson, Peel
River, Archdeacon Robert McDonald, missionary.
2. Mackenzie River Mission. — Fort Norman
(Trinity Mission), Mr. J. Hodgson, schoolmaster ;
Fort Simpson (St. David's), the Bishop, missionary;
Mr. Alfred Garrioch, catechist.
3. Great Slave Lake Mission.—Fort Rae, Rev.
* Archdeacon McDonald in a letter to the writer.
W. D.  Reeve,  missionary ; Hay River Fort, Mr.
William Norn, catechist.
4. Athabasca Mission.—Fort Chipewyan, Rev. A.
Shaw, missionary ; Mr. Allen Hardisty, catechist;
Fort Vermilion, Mr. G. Garrioch, catechist.
These were the workers scattered over the vast;
diocese, and after careful consideration the follow-
. mg plan was agreed upon :
To the Rev. R. McDonald was entrusted the
Tukudh Mission, in the extreme north-west, on the
Yukon and its tributaries ; to the Rev. W. D.
Reeve, the Mackenzie River Mission ; the Great
Slave Lake Mission to the schoolmasters ; while
the Bishop kept the Athabasca Mission, comprising
the southern district and the Peace River, to himself.
At this time the estimated population of the
diocese was 10,000, of whom half were Roman
Catholics, 3,000 with the Church of England, and
the remainder heathen. The Bishop had 100
children in the various schools, and the same number
of communicants.
But it was not all business that was carried on at
this first diocesan Synod ; there was something of a
very different nature, and that was the charge given
by the Bishop to his little band of men. Portions
of it must be set down here, not only for its interesting and instructive nature, but because it is the
only address delivered by the Bishop to his clergy
of which we have any record.
" 1. At this, our first meeting in diocesan Synod,"
he began, "it is right that I should congratulate
you on the band of union which this Synod forms,
to link us not only to one another, but also (through
our connexion with the newly formed province of
Rupert's Land) first with Manitoba and the whole of
the North-West Territories, and more remotely with
the Churches of Canada and England.
12. The Right Rev. Bishop Machray, as our
Metropolitan, forms the connecting-link between
the four dioceses of Manitoba and the North-West
Territories, while the Archbishop of Canterbury,
being our Primate, assures us that our connexion
remains unbroken with the ancient Mother Church of
England. Again, the Church of the Dominion of
Canada, containing now two ecclesiastical provinces
(a northern and a southern), should not be considered
as disunited but connected by the arrangement,
just as the two provinces of the English Church
(anorthern and a southern), at York and Canterbury,
offer no obstacle to, but only complete the union of,
the Church of England as an undivided whole.
"3. It is also a matter for congratulation, in
these dangerous times, that, by the provisions of our
provincial Synod, our Church is secured in safe
attachment to the faith and formularies of the
Church of England, which all must admit to be
Scriptural and moderate. At the same time we are
happy in being removed by distance from the controversies at home."
After speaking at length about the contention
between the Church of England and the Roman
Catholic Church in his diocese, the Bishop continued : " The day of trial, we are assured, shall
declare who amongst the builders of Christ's Church
has wrought with God's own materials, the gold,
silver, and precious stones of His holy word; and
who, on the other hand, have used the wood, hay,
and stubble of man's invention. 'If any man's
work abide, he shall receive a reward. . . .' It is
important for us to see that our own work be deep
and thorough. Let us not accept any as Christian
converts in connexion with our mission but such as
we believe to have been the subjects of a real
change of heart by the grace of Christ and His
Holy Spirit. Others must, of course, be admitted
to instruction, and from such an endeavour should
be made to select those whose hearts are touched to
form a band of inquirers for more careful and
constant training with prayer and pains.
" 4. The most common and the most open vices
of the Indians, and those which seem to keep them
most from the reception of the Gospel, are the
practices of gambling, conjuring, and impurity.
To their abandoning of these habits, therefore, our
efforts should be specially directed, and no Indian
should be considered as a Christian convert until he
has entirely abandoned them. Dishonesty also,
although not originally habitual to the Indians, has
now become very general with those about the
forts, and efforts should be made to check it.
" 5. The practice, which it would be wrong to
discontinue, of baptizing all the Indian children
who are brought to us for the purpose throws upon
us a great obligation to provide for them, as they
grow up, instruction in the Christian faith. It
seems impossible, at present, to keep the Indian
children regularly at school in any numbers, and
the only alternative seems to be to arrange a short
form of elementary instruction, which shall be
systematically taught to the children by rote at
their camps, or whereve-" opportunity may offer.
"6. It is a melancholy fact that there is still but
one completed church in our diocese, and this,
though more than two years have now elapsed since
a grant of £500 was offered us by the Society for
Promoting Christian Knowledge for erecting additional churches. The school-church at Fort
Norman is, however, now approaching completion.
Let us all make an effort to have some plain buildings erected at our different mission-stations for
Christian worship. The House of God is the chief
visible sign which we are still allowed to retain of
God's presence amongst us, and I take it to be of
great importance that the heathen should be reminded, by this constant memorial before their eyes,
that the introduction of Christianity into their
country by the missionaries is a reality, and more
than a mere tale; and I do not know of any way
in which we may better seek to call down a Divine
blessing on the land in which we live than by
exerting ourselves for the erection of places of
worship in the name of the Saviour whom we serve.
All might do something in this matter by providing A SYNOD IN THE WILD
us with labour, materials, or furniture for the new
" 7. Our plans for education, in which I have been
interested ever since my arrival in the country eleven
years ago, have also proved hitherto partly abortive, and I take this to be a lesson that, in missionary work, efforts for education must follow and
not precede the work of evangelization. Meantime
the missionaries themselves have to undertake
educational duties. I am still, however, earnestly
desirous that at least one school be formed in the
diocese, where the elements of a sound English
education for children should at all times be procurable. It is very desirable that this subject be
further considered by us in Synod and private
conference, with the hope, by God's help, of
arriving at last, by perseverance, at some successful
scheme of education.
" 8. Economy of funds and scarcity of provisions
oblige us at present to confine our mission agents
and stations to as few in number as possible. The
stations proposed to be occupied at present are
the Forts Vermilion, Chipewyan, Rae, Simpson,
Norman, McPherson, and Rampart House, at each
of which it is earnestly desired that a church may
be erected.
" 9. I am glad to be able to testify, in returning
from my recent journey, that the Indians of the
Tukudh Mission are making fair progress in
Christian instruction. I had the pleasure of administering the rite of Confirmation to more than A SYNOD IN THE WILD
one hundred of them. At Fort Norman, also, I
was pleased to find among the Protestant Indians
a readiness to learn. At Fort Simpson I was very
pleased to find, during the first winter after my
return from England, a marked increase of attention and attachment to our mission among all
resident at the fort. I cannot feel, however, that
this has been sustained as I could have hoped
during the past winter; but I would trust the
Christian spirit among you may now be revived and
increased again. At Fort Chipewyan I am glad
to hear of a regular attendance at Divine service,
and at Fort Rae of a spirit of inquiry among the
Indians. I would fain hope that the efforts now
making to extend and strengthen our mission in
the southern portion of the diocese may be permanently successful."
When the Synod ended the little band of workers
had to hurry away to their distant posts, as winter
was fast approaching. And away, too, went the
Bishop. There were stations to visit which needed
his attention, and he was delayed for some time.
On his return in November he found Mrs. Bompas
quite ill. Concerning the Bishop's return Mrs.
Bompas speaks in her journal of that time :
" On the 11th I was in bed, feeling very poorly
and distressed, a bad headache in addition to my
other pains, when suddenly, about 4 o'clock p.m.,
my French girl (whom I had got over from the
French Mission to help me in my extremity) went
to the window, hearing the sound of sledge bells.
In another moment she turned quickly to me and
said, ' C'est votre mari, madame.' Never shall I
forget that moment of joy and thankfulness. He
was at my bedside the next instant, looking so well
and handsome, his beard all hoary with frost, in
fur cap, mittens, and deer-skin coat, etc., etc.
Almost from the moment he arrived he set to work
to make me more comfortable. My room hitherto,
I confess, had been very cold and comfortless, and
I seemed to have no strength to make it less so.
But now every day seemed to take something off
my burden and anxieties. Oh, it seemed impossible
to be thankful enough ! I could only lie in my
weakness and pray to be more thankful."
That sickness, which was so hard to bear, was in
reality a blessing in disguise, as after-events proved
With the opening of navigation Mrs. Bompas
started on her long journey of over 1,000 miles
to Winnipeg.    Of this trip she wrote :
" I am thankful to have come to the end of my
long journey from Athabasca, which, by God's
mercy, I accomplished with less fatigue than I
anticipated. I met with much kindness on my way
at the various mission-stations, and also at the
Company's forts, and I visited many Indian camps,
where one seldom fails to meet with a hearty
welcome. Sometimes I had prayers with some of
the women and children in my tent. They seem
to like to come, and enjoy singing hymns. . . .
My boat's crew from Isle a la Crosse to Cumber-
land was composed of Stanley men, and a more
orderly, well-conducted set I never saw. They had
a nice little service every morning and evening
among themselves, which I always attended; it
consisted of a hymn (beautifully sung in parts), a
few words of Scripture, and a few of the Church
prayers. Some days the poor men were quite worn
out with hard work at the portages, and for two
days their provisions ran short and they were
nearly starving, but they sang their hymn and had
their prayers without fail, and when relief came in
the shape of two canoes bringing bags of flour and
pemmican, their shout of delight, I think, must
almost have reached Salisbury Square. . . .
" I came with the Governor-General from the
Grand Rapids. His Excellency and Lady Dufferin
were kind enough to invite me to join their party,
as they heard that I was anxious to get on.
" I am thankful to find all my powers gradually
returning, and the state of woeful emaciation to
which I was reduced giving way under the influences of milk and other luxuries, of which I was
deprived at Athabasca. I deplore my having to
leave my work so soon, but I earnestly trust in
God's mercy to bring me back to it again in the
early spring." *
* Church Missionary Society Gleaner, January, 1878. CHAPTER XII
" The watery deep we pass,
With Jesus in our view;
And through the howling wilderness
Our way pursue."
While Bishop Bompas was carrying on his steady
work along the great inland streams, a storm was
brewing in an active mission centre on the Pacific
coast. Mr. Duncan, who had been sent out by the
Church Missionary Society, was working among the
Indians at Metlakahtla with good results. Bishop
Hills, of Columbia Diocese, several times visited the
settlement, and baptized a large number of converts.
But Mr. Duncan objected to the Indian Christians
being prepared for Confirmation, thinking they
would make a fetish of it. Time and time again
the Church Missionary Society sent out ordained
men to Metlakahtla, but Mr. Duncan would not
listen to them, and remained most headstrong in his
views. Matters thus reached a climax. Bishop
Hills well knew if he visited Metlakahtla it would
only add fuel to the flames, as Mr. Duncan, for
certain reasons, had taken a dislike to him. He
therefore acted a wise part, and wrote to Bishop
Bompas, asking him to go to Metlakahtla as
It was late in the season when the letter reached
the Bishop, but without delay he prepared for the
trip. At any season it was a great undertaking, but
at that time of the year the difficulty was very much
increased. In a direct line the journey was a long
one, but to reach the coast the distance had
to be lengthened by a circuitous route over rivers,
lakes, portages, and mountain summits.
Then, winter was upon them.
" All the latter part of September," wrote the
Bishop, " the frost and snow had been more severe
than I had ever known it before at the same season,
so the winter had decidedly the first start in our
It was a cold, frosty day, that 8th of October,
1877, when the Bishop left Dunvegan in a stout
canoe with several Indians on his long race to the
coast against stern Winter. For five days they
moved up the river, contending with drifting ice
which met them coming out of " tributary streams,"
and on the 13th Fort St. John was reached, where
they " were kindly entertained for the Sunday by
the officer in charge" of the Hudson Bay post.
From this point they left winter " behind for a fortnight, and were fairly ahead in the race." But
every day they expected to be overtaken by their
competitor, and arose from their " couches anxiously
every morning, foreboding signs of ice or snow."
Rocky Mountain House was reached on the 17th,
where a large band of Indians was found assembled.
The Bishop lost no opportunity of speaking a word
to the natives wherever he met them, and the seed
thus sown bore much fruit in after-years. For the
first time he found no sickness in the camps, which
fact he attributed " to their unusually liberal use of
soap and water, as compared with the tribes farther
Ahead of them was the Peace River Canyon, and,
after making a land portage of twelve miles to
avoid this dangerous spot, they again proceeded by
canoe. But the work was becoming harder all the
time. The current was very swift, and the canoe
had to be poled all the way. In trying to ascend
the Parle Pas Rapids, the current was so " strong
that their canoe turned on them, and was swept
down the stream, but, being a large one, descended
| On the very morning that we left Parsnip
River," wrote the Bishop, " the ice began again to
drift thickly to meet us, and had we been only a few
hours later, we might have been inconvenienced by
it, showing us that stern Winter was still on our track.
I Most of the time that we were passing through
the gorge of the Rocky Mountains the weather was
foggy, but when the mist cleared we saw the bold
crags and hilly heights closely overhanging the
river in snowy grandeur. The mountain terraces
and picturesque scenery on this route have been
described by Canadian explorers."
For eleven days the Bishop and his men poled
their craft against the stream, and, with many
dangers passed, reached McLeod's Lake Fort on
October 29. Here they were hospitably received
by Mr. McKenzie, the officer in charge, and an
opportunity was given to see the Indians who were
at the fort. A rest of two days was made here, and
then they started across the lake. This was a
difficult task, as the ice was beginning to stretch
from shore to shore, and they had to force their
way as best they could around the corner of the
solid mass.
From Lake McLeod a long portage of eighty
miles was made over frozen ground to the beautiful
sheet of water known as Stuart Lake, on the shore
of which the officer at Fort St. James gave them a
hearty welcome. Here the Bishop was on historic
ground. Seventy-one years before those famous
explorers, Simon Fraser and John Stuart,* discovered the lake which took the name of the
latter. Fort St. James, which was erected on its
banks " long before Victoria and New Westminster
had been called into existence," was the regular
capital of British Columbia, "where a representative of our own race ruled over reds and whites." t
* " History of the Interior of British Columbia," by the
Rev. A. G. Morice.
t John Stuart was Lord Strathcona's uncle, and was largely
instrumental in bringing the young Scotchman to Canada in
A stay of four days was made at this place,
during which time heavy snow-storms raged over
the land and ice began to form in the lake, which
threatened to bar further progress. This body of
water, which is about fifty miles in length, had to be
traversed, and the Indians refused to make the long
journey at that season and in such weather. During
the delay the Bishop was invited to hold Divine
service at the fort on Sunday. Never before had
the place " been visited by a Protestant missionary,
the Roman Catholics only having laboured in the
region, and Mr. Hamilton, the Hudson Bay Company's chief officer there, brought up a family of
ten children, without having for more than twenty
years any opportunity of seeing a Protestant
After much difficulty the Indians were persuaded
to go forward, and, leaving Fort St. James on
November 7, arrived at Fort Babines, on the lake
of the same name, on the 14th, after encountering
a furious snow-storm on the way. The Babine
Indians in this region, being all Roman Catholics,
were naturally suspicious of a Church of England
missionary. " However," said the Bishop, " they
treated us well."
From Fort Babines they started on the land-trail
over the mountains to Skeena Forks. This was a
difficult undertaking, and winter overtook them once
again. At the beginning of the portage, the snow
was several inches deep, and as they ascended the
mountain it deepened continually, till they were
forced to dig out their camps, " to sleep in a foot
and a half of snow, and without snow-shoes the
walking was heavy. We were invading Winter's
own domain," continued the Bishop, " and it was
little wonder if he was severe with us."
On descending the western slope the next
morning, the snow diminished rapidly, and they
I camped at night in the grass without a vestige of
snow remaining, and only saw stern Winter frowning
down from the heights behind."
Having reached the Skeena Forks, they were given
a hearty welcome by Mr. Hankin, who informed
the Bishop that, till the previous year, the Skeena
River had never been known to continue open so
late, being generally frozen the first week in
November, and now it was the 17th. The next day
the descent of the Skeena was begun by canoe, in
fear and trembling, lest the ice might " drift down
from behind." And the race began in earnest, for
a heavy snow-storm swept over the land, and Winter
once more made a last effort to block them. But
through the tempest sped the determined missionary,
and to his joy found that, on nearing the coast, the
mild breezes of the Pacific were too much for grim
Winter, and he steadily retreated, leaving the little
party unscathed.
On November 23 Port Essington, at the mouth
of the Skeena, was reached, and after spending one
night there with Mr. Morrison, the Bishop proceeded " twenty-five miles by canoe along the coast
to the north to Metlakahtla, which he reached on
the 24th, " this being the tenth canoe," he remarks,
" that we had sat in since leaving Dun vegan."
Mr. Duncan cordially welcomed the traveller,
and 124 of the Christian Indians were confirmed
and communicants' classes formed. Mr. (afterwards
Archdeacon) Collison received both Deacon's and
Priest's Orders, and was placed in pastoral charge of
Metlakahtla. Thus it looked as if the Bishop's
visit would bring about a lasting peace ; but, alas!
after he left the condition of affairs became as they
were before, and the history of the struggle that
followed is a sad one.
Bishop Bompas spent four months on the coast,
making several trips in canoes to visit the Indians
at various places. His visit was very beneficial,
and he wrote that he felt " a good deal invigorated
both in body and mind by the change, and not at all
loath to return to the more northern regions, which
seem to me much less isolated and inaccessible now
that I have made the connexion between them and
the wild western slopes of the Pacific. It had long
been my expectation that Athabasca and Mackenzie
districts would gradually become more approachable
from the west, and this idea is now confirmed."
The Venerable Archdeacon Collison, of the Diocese
of Caledonia, writes from Kincolith, Naas Mission, of
the visit of Bishop Bompas to the Pacific coast:
" It was Mr. Morrison who met the Bishop on his
arrival at Port Essington after what he described as
jj A Race with Winter' down the Skeena.    He was
so travel-worn that Mr. Morrison mistook him for a
miner as he disembarked from the canoe. ' Well,
said he,' what success have you had ?' The Bishop
replied that he had been fairly successful, evidently
relishing the joke. Just then Mr. Morrison saw
the remains of his apron, and, recollecting that he
had heard that a Bishop was expected at Metlakahtla
from inland, exclaimed,' Perhaps you are the Bishop
who I heard was expected ?' ' Yes,' replied the
Bishop, c I am all that is left of him.' He remained
at Metlakahtla that winter, where he succeeded in
confirming a large number of candidates. By the
first steamer in spring he came over to me on
Queen Charlotte's Island, at Massett. I had a little
bedroom specially prepared for him in the new
mission-house, but he preferred lying down on the
floor, as he said he was not accustomed to sleeping in
rooms. He was about to lie down just across the
doorway when I begged him to take another position,
as he might be disturbed by some one entering late
or early.
" I returned with him to the mainland on the
steamer. We went up together to the Naas River
by canoe, a voyage of some fifty miles to Kincolith.
The owner of the canoe, who was a chief, was
steering, and I was seated near him towards the
stern, whilst the Bishop was seated forward. As
the Bishop raised his arms in paddling, in which
we were all engaged, it revealed a long tear in the
side of his shirt. Suddenly the chief asked me in
a low tone in Tsimshean, ' Why is the chief's shirt
so torn ?' I replied: ' He has been a long time
travelling through the forest.' He was dressed
very roughly, and wore a pair of moccasins. When
we reached Kincolith, he purchased a coarse pair
of brogans in the little Indian store there. He was
in the habit of sitting, after the others had finished
their meal, eating a small piece of dry yeast-powder
bread, baked by Mrs. Tomlinson or one of her
Indian girl boarders, and he would exclaim, ' How
sweet this bread is to my taste after roughing it so
long on the trails !' He informed us of the privations
both missionaries and Indians had endured owing
to scarcity of food during certain seasons, on
more than one occasion having had to boil and
eat the skins of the animals that had been caught
in the hunt for their furs. I ventured to suggest to
him that this might be avoided if they could only
grow potatoes and pit them securely. We had
taught our Indians to do this. The Bishop feared
they would not mature in his diocese, but promised
to remember it. Afterwards I was informed he
had introduced the potato with success.
" The Rev. R. Tomlinson and I accompanied the
Bishop when he started to return to the head of
canoe navigation on the Naas River, and some
distance on the trail. We had a prayer-meeting at
the point where we separated in the forest, in which
we joined in prayer for needful blessings—the
Bishop for us and God's work in our hands, and
we for him in his journey and labours for the Lord.
He gave away his great-coat and a pot to the
Indians, and started on the second stage of his A RACE WITH WINTER
return journey accompanied by one young
While on the coast it was but natural that his
thoughts should wander to his native land.
" From the Pacific coast," he wrote, " a few
weeks would have taken me to England or any
part of the civilized world ; but I preferred to
return north without even visiting the haunts of
civilization (except so far as the Indians are cultivated at our missions), on the ground that such a
visit renders the mind unsettled or disinclined for a
life in the wilds."
Brave soldier of the Cross, how willing he was
to sacrifice anything for the Master's cause !
Leaving the coast, he started in the spring up the
Skeena River, and once again plunged into the
wilderness among his dusky flock.
" The labourers are few, the field is wide,
New stations must be filled, and blanks supplied."
J. Borthwick.
The Bishop reached Fort St. John, on the Peace
River, during the latter part of April, and remarked
that his trip from the coast was "unmarked by
special interest, though not without much assistance
by a kind Providence." He was much interested
in the lava plain on the Naas River, " about twelve
miles square, caused by a volcanic eruption from a
neighbouring mountain. The Indian tale is," wrote
the Bishop, " that some cruel children, playing at the
mouth of a small stream, were catching the salmon,
and, cutting open their backs, put stones in them
and let them go again. The Good Spirit, being
angry, set the river on fire, and burnt up the
children, and the lava plain remains as the memento.
I could not help thinking it a mercy, when I heard
the tale, that some of our London urchins have
never yet set the Thames on fire!"
Seldom did the Bishop refer to the legendary lore
of the Indians, with which he must have been most
familiar, except " to point a moral," and never " to
adorn a tale."
Upon reaching his own diocese, sad news met him
of a terrible famine which had ravaged his flock
the previous winter. Food was scarce, " owing to
the extreme mildness of the season interfering with
the chase, and the mission supplies having failed to
reach there in the fall." Mrs. Bompas was not in
the country, for which the Bishop was most thankful ; but his heart was sore over the suffering, not
only of the Indians, but of the missionaries at the
various posts. He gives a graphic picture of the
sufferings endured in the diocese.
" Horses were killed for food, and furs eaten at
several of the posts. The Indians had to eat a good
many of their beaver-skins. Imagine an English
lady taking her supper off her muff. The gentleman now here with me supported his family for
a while on bear-skins. These you see at home
mostly in the form of Grenadier caps. Can you
fancy giving a little girl, a year or two old, a piece of
Grenadier's cap, carefully singed, boiled and toasted,
to eat ? Mr. McAulay's little girl has not yet
recovered from the almost fatal sickness that
resulted. The scarcity brings out the strange contrast between this country and others. Elsewhere
money 'answereth all things,' and among India's
millions half a million sterling will relieve a famine;
but send it here, and though a great sum among our
scattered individuals, who can be counted by tens,
yet it would do us no good, as for digestion we must
find it ' hard cash ' indeed."
This severe " wasting of the famine " induced the
Bishop to launch a plan which for some time he
had had in mind. He felt how uncertain it was to
depend upon the supplies brought in from the
outside, and to obviate the scarcity he knew they
must endeavour to raise their own produce.
" A mission-farm in connexion with the mission,"
he wrote, " seems almost a necessity, for as the wild
animals of the wood are ceasing to yield even a
precarious subsistence, Providence seems to point
us plainly to raise food out of the earth."
Peace River was the region chosen for the
venture, " the country there being very picturesque,
having some resemblance to the English South
Down hills. The grass slopes are a great relief to
the eye from the monotonous pine-forests, which
are often almost our only view. The soil is fertile,
and the country well adapted for farming ; and
though Peace River is at present a starving country,
yet it is strange to see it spoken of in the papers as
adapted by Nature to be a great granary for the two
Continents of Europe and America."
A new mission was accordingly commenced at
Dun vegan, " as this point is likely to prove one of
the most important in the country, being a convenient door of ingress and egress to and from the
Mr.   Thomas   Bunn, who   had   done   "patient ONWARD AND UPWARD
and successful school work at Chipewyan," was
placed in charge of the mission, while Mr. G. Garrioch had control of the farm which was started.
Another farm in connexion with Dunvegan was
begun at Smoky River, " so called from the constant smoke occasioned by the spontaneous combustion underground of coal and bitumen."
At Vermilion the mission was enlarged " by the
addition of a school, in charge of Mr. Lawrence
from Canada," and in 1880 the Bishop reported
that " the mission - farm at Vermilion has been
also enlarged, and is in a fair way to be productive
enough to provide food for that and other mission-
So encouraged was the Bishop by the success of
his farming plan on Peace River that he began to
think of a similar undertaking on the Liard River,
further north, and he considered this section "better
adapted for farming than any other part of the
Mackenzie River country."
Besides the farming plan, the Bishop had another
in his mind about this time, and that was to have a
small mission - steamer placed on the Mackenzie
River. As the farms would, he hoped, supply the
mission with produce, so the steamer would not
only carry all the supplies, but facilitate travel
and advance the missionary work in the vast
He believed a steam-launch, with portable
engines of about 20 horse-power, a rapidly revolving screw, and a furnace to burn wood or
coal, could be taken in by the way of the Saskatchewan and Peace Rivers, and the hull built in
the country. Such a launch, he estimated, could
ascend the Mackenzie River, the longest river in
British territory, for about 1,300 miles.
The movement thus begun by the Bishop caused
the Hudson Bay Company to make a start in the
same direction. They wished to remain the " lords
of the north," and for a steamer to be placed on
the river and controlled by others would, they
believed, weaken their prestige among the natives.
When the Bishop saw the Company meant business he at once gave up his own plan, for it mattered
little to him who controlled the steamer so long as
the method of travel was improved. This was not
done till some years later, when, in 1882, the little
steamer Graham was built by the Company at Fort
Chipewyan, on Lake Athabasca. In 1885 the screw
propeller Wrigley was built at Fort Smith, on the
Slave River ; and a few years later the stern-wheeler
Athabasca was launched at Athabasca Landing for
the Upper Athabasca River.*
But during the waiting season the Bishop had to
continue his long journeys in the open canoe over
the great network of waterways with which he was
so familiar. In May, 1881, he began those marvellous trips which only a giant constitution could
have endured. From the Peace River district he
made a voyage far north to  visit   the  Tukudh
* " The Remarkable History of the Hudson's Bay Company," chap, xxxviii., p. 395.
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missions. Here he was much pleased with the
hearty welcome given by the native converts,
" whom," he says, " I have come to regard as my
brethren in Christ." " It was a delight to me," he
further adds, " to hear adults and children at each
mission post read before me from the Tukudh
books printed for their benefit; and as they have
now begun to teach one another to read, our
missionary will be somewhat relieved from the
necessity of holding school for all."
But the Indians along the Upper Yukon, whom
he " left weeping in contrition for their sins ten
years ago," weighed much upon his mind, and he
made a strong appeal for men to man the field.
One of the Yukon Indians who had come to plead
for the Bishop to visit his tribe pointed to a
smouldering fire and said :
" That is how you have left us. You kindled
the fire of the Gospel among us, and left it un-
tended to die out again. Why have you done
this ?"
Is it any wonder that this missionary, standing
by the smouldering camp - fire, with the dusky
natives all around, and listening to their cry,
I Come over and help us," sent forth his soul-
stirring appeal for men to support his great undertaking in the northern wilds ?
He also asked the Church  Missionary Society
" to take up work in the American territory of
Alaska,"  adding   "that   international   boundaries
ought to make no bar to evangelistic efforts," and
207 1
that " the whole of the Indians on the Youcon are
thirsty for instruction, and are already partly
evangelized by the efforts of Archdeacon McDonald."
The Eskimos, in their dense ignorance, worried
him much, and he sent appeal after appeal for
assistance. And the cry was not in vain, for the
Bishop's brother, George Bompas, gave a substantial sum for the purpose. While the Bishop
was in the North still pleading, the Church Missionary Society sent out the Rev. T. H. Canham
to start a mission among the Eskimos. Mr. Canham
reached Peel River one year later, and was cordially
received by the Eskimos, among whom he at once
began to work.
For some time Bishop Bompas did not know who
the generous donor was, and when he at length
found out he wrote to his brother George in 1884 :
11 have only just heard that you were yourself
the kind and generous donor. ... I feel very
thankful for your generosity and for the direction it took. Just at the time of Archdeacon
McDonald's absence it was this gift only that has
enabled us to support in sufficiency the Tukudh
Mission, as well as to press on efforts for the
" You may, then, view the Rev. T. H. Canham,
with whom I have been staying at Peel River
during much of last winter, as your own particular missionary. He is making good progress
with the Tukudh and Esquimaux languages; but, ONWARD AND UPWARD
both being difficult, it is hard to acquire the two at
After spending the summer amongst the Tukudh
missions, and travelling from May to August 2,500
miles, the Bishop returned south to Great Slave
Lake to meet the incoming mission-party from
England, and afterwards proceeded up the Liard
River from Fort Simpson, and visited two posts
there, Liard and Nelson. This region he considered
" debatable ground " between the Dioceses of Caledonia and Mackenzie River. " However," he
wrote," as it appears at present quite inaccessible to
Bishop Ridley, and has always been associated with
our missions, I have worked it meanwhile, with the
permission of Bishop Hills, irrespective of the
question to whom it may ultimately be assigned."
Before winter the Bishop returned to Fort
Norman, and had a terrible journey. The following
letter written by Mrs. Bompas the next summer, and
published in the little missionary magazine, The Net,
describes most vividly what the Bishop endured :
"Fort Norman,
| The Bishop's return to us was greatly delayed.
We counted on his arrival for relief in our most
pressing necessities, and I was weary of acting on
my own responsibility and judgment, for daily there
is very much in which the said judgment is called
for. But iwe looked and longed for him in vain,
and the river became more firmly locked with ice. ONWARD AND UPWARD
Towards the middle of November I was roused one
night from sleep and startled to the uttermost by
the loud knocking at the door of two Indians, who
shouted out to me:
"' We bring you tidings of Bishop; he is
"It did not take me long to spring up and
examine the men as to the truth of their report,
and perilous indeed was the adventure which I
gathered from them. The Bishop had reached
Fort Simpson some days later than was expected.
Finding that ice was rapidly forming on the river,
so that to proceed northwards by canoe was utterly
impossible, he started on a small raft (which iwas
hastily and badly constructed) with one Indian.
On this they were beating about for days, in great
peril amid the gathering ice. They reached at last
La Violdtes' house at Little Rapid, and there had
to remain for ten days until the river was fast
bound. Then the Bishop started anew to walk
with four Indians, one of whom went after a bear
in the woods and wholly lost sight of the others.
Their supply of provisions was most insufficient,
and from losing the right track the journey occupied twelve days instead of, as is usual, six. At
length, when within a day's reach of this place,
the Bishop was so overcome with exhaustion as to
be quite unable to proceed, their only meal, sometime previous, having been a fish and small barley
cake between four men. The Indians left him in
the woods and hurried on to tell me of his con-
dition. My heart sank pretty low at such tidings,
yet at the same time came the thought and firm
conviction, which I trust was not presumptuous,
that the Arms which had shielded my dear husband
through so many dangers would befriend him still.
But I felt there was no time to lose, and my first
effort was to induce one of the young Indians to
set off immediately to discover the Bishop in the
woods, with Indian sagacity, and take him the relief
I would send.
"' Whu-tale, Bishop is starving in the woods. I
send him meat—chiddi, chiddi (quick, quick). You
take it to him, eh ?'
" Whu-tale, with true Indian passiveness:
"' Maybe to-morrow.'
"' No, Whu-tale; to-morrow Bishop must be
here : he cannot stand until he has eaten meat. I
want you to take it now, and go to him like the
wind. If you go directly and bring Bishop safe, I
will give you a fine flannel shirt.'
" Whu-tale, a little more briskly :
"' Then it would not be hard for me to go, and
perhaps like the wind.'
" The next moment saw me emerging from my
house, wrapped in my deer-skin robe, up the hill
to the fort, where I had to rouse the Hudson Bay
Company's officer from a sound sleep to obtain
from him a supply of moose meat. The thermometer was nearly 30° below zero, and wolves in a
starving condition had been seen lurking near the
fort; but I thought of neither the one nor the
other, and only rejoiced to get Whu-tale off, and
waited with enough anxiety through the succeeding
hours. After darkness had set in on the following
day, the travellers appeared, trudging along on
snow-shoes, weary and footsore, my husband looking hardly able to stand, and with his beard all
fringed with icicles. It is wonderful how he had
been preserved amid such perils, and brought to me
at last in answer to many prayers."
Here the Bishop stayed all winter, and, notwithstanding his last fearful experience, left again in
the spring among the drift-ice, intending to visit
Archdeacon McDonald at Peel River, whose health
was not good.
Of the risk the Bishop ran in this journey downstream with the drift-ice the following description
in his own words will give some idea:
" The breaking up of the ice in spring in the
large rivers, like the Mackenzie, is sometimes a fine
sight. The ice may pile in masses along the banks
to the height of 40 feet, or be carried far into the
woods. When any check occurs to the drifting of
the broken ice, so as to back the stream, the water
may suddenly rise to the height of 50 feet or more,
and flood the country.
" The rivers and lakes freeze in winter to a depth
of from 6 to 10 feet, and the force and impetus of
large masses of ice of this thickness, when hurled
along the rapid current of a mighty river, are
enormous. Few exhibitions of the power of the
Great Creator are more imposing than when ' He
causeth His wind to blow, and the waters flow.'"
Reaching Fort Good Hope, he heard better
accounts of the Archdeacon, and, turning back,
took Mrs. Bompas from Fort Norman to Fort
Resolution, on Great Slave Lake, occupied by
Messrs. Garton and Norn, " where," wrote the
Bishop, " I have left her, I hope, a little more comfortable than last winter."
From Great Slave Lake he proceeded at once to
Fort Chipewyan,* where he was engaged some
time placing the accounts in the hands of Mr. Reeve,
who had been appointed financial secretary, owing to
the accessibility of his station from north to south.
During the Bishop's stay here Captain Dawson, of
the Royal Artillery, arrived from England with
three men, in connexion with the International
Circumpolar Expedition. At this place he made
preparations for the building of a steamer by the
Hudson Bay Company, " so that civilization,"
remarked the Bishop, " appears approaching us
by degrees."
From Fort Chipewyan the Bishop went to
Vermilion, on Peace River, and was " much encouraged by the sight of the good crops harvested
from the mission-farms." After visiting Dunvegan,
and other places along the river, he returned and
spent three  months at  Vermilion,  assisting  Mr.
* A mission-house was erected here in 1876, and the
church opened on Easter Day, 1880.—(From notes found
among the Bishop's papers.)
Lawrence with the school. At length, becoming
anxious about the lower missions, he started on
foot for Chipewyan. This was a journey of about
200 miles, and many difficulties he must have
endured before reaching his destination, which he
did on March 1, in time to meet the spring letters,
and confer with Archdeacon McDonald respecting
the latter's intended trip to Manitoba and England.
At this place he heard that Mrs. Bompas was ill,
which caused him much uneasiness. After spending
a fortnight here with Mr. Reeve, he " found an
opportunity of proceeding north again to Fort
Resolution," which he reached shortly after Easter.
He found Mrs. Bompas " in tolerable health, though
having suffered rather severe hardships in winter,
through the house not having been properly
arranged in the fall to exclude the cold."
Though the Bishop had been absent from home
for nine months, he only remained at Fort Resolution two weeks, and then pushed north to the
Tukudh Mission, visiting the various stations on
the way. Here he remained one year, and " was
enabled to see nearly all the Indians at each of the
three stations twice, both in winter and spring, and
the Eskimos twice, both in fall and spring." His
time was fully occupied, as the following will
" I held two Confirmations—viz., at Peel River
and Rampart House—about forty being confirmed
each time.    I administered the Communion twice,
to about forty communicants  at  each of   these
stations. I gave a daily address at Evening Prayer
in Indian throughout the year, and the same twice
on Sundays, always from the Gospels. I again went
through the Eskimo primer with the interpreter,
and wrote out additional prayers and lessons, and
endeavoured to assist the Rev. T. Canham with the
language. I made much effort towards the completion of the two mission-churches at Peel River and
Rampart House, and left the former in so forward
a state that we held prayers in it in spring, when
it was quite filled by the Indian converts. Our
cheerfulness was rather damped by the sudden
death after New Year of their aged chief, good old
Red Leggings, who has been from the first a mainstay of our mission there. I count him one that
trusted in the Lord."
These are only the unembellished facts, and how
we long for more interesting detail of that year's
labour in the North ! But only once does he allow
us a brief glimpse into his work at Rampart
" The old Indian chief specially asked me to
administer the Sacrament to the communicants
here, which I did, and about ten days after receiving
it occurred his sudden death, for which, I trust, he
was fully prepared. For the past six weeks I have
been fully occupied in teaching a large band of
Indians, and in holding school for the children.
The sun here is hidden by the mountains all midwinter, and the days are so short that when the sky
is cloudy we use candles at noon, and in clear days
we can read by daylight only for two hours. I
have spectacles, and my eyes are becoming dim by
candle-light through the effect of using them in
fire and twilight, which must be my apology for a
poor letter just now ; but our darkest winter days
are now passing by. The glare of the never-
setting sun is also injurious to the eyesight in
summer ; but, with these drawbacks, I have come to
like the country, and should dread the recommencing life in England much more than ending
my days here."
But the Bishop was longing for one change. The
incessant moving about was telling upon him, and
he asked that the diocese might be divided.
" I feel," he wrote, " much gratitude to Almighty
God for the needful health and strength granted
me for the past year's travel, but I do not feel so
much energy for journeying as before, and may be
unable to accomplish the same again."
He maintained that the great extent of the
country, 3,000 miles long, rendered his own " superintendence of the missions rather superficial;
" but," he continued, " if the zeal and affection of
friends at home would provide an additional Bishop
for Peace River, then I think the whole, diocese, as
large as half Europe, might be viewed as an end
worth an effort to accomplish. If the diocese remains undivided, my itinerancies will be inconsistent
with domestic life, and I have asked Mrs. Bompas
to revisit England next year. If relieved of the
of the mission accounts, and of domestic   ~1
duties, I wish to surrender myself without reserve
to the visitation of the mission-stations."
The Bishop did not think that he was sacrificing
himself in giving up so much for the work's sake,
for the compensation, he considered, was very great,
as the following will show:
" This land of retirement and rest offers considerable attraction to a contemplative and sedate mind ;
and if grace is given to heart and mind to ascend
and dwell above, the turmoil of earth is so far
removed that the rest of heaven may almost be
begun below; while our constant dependence on
our heavenly Father's care and providence makes
the life a good school for trust, and the scarcity of
food impresses the truth that man shall not live
on bread alone, nor his mind be fed alone by
the giddiness of worldly gaieties,' but by every word
that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord shall
man live.'"
The Bishop had now spent almost twenty years of
strenuous life in the North, and one naturally asks
what was the outcome of those years of uuceasing
labour. Looking back to the year 1865, we find
there were'then three missionaries in the huge field:
McDonald at Fort Yukon, Kirkby at Fort Simpson,
and Bompas with a roving commission. There was
only one church, that at Fort Simpson. The work
of translation had but begun, and thousands of
Indians were roaming over the land to whom the
name of Christ had little or no meaning. At that
time, the attempt to enlighten those children of the
wild, seemed almost hopeless, and the difficulties
well-nigh insuperable.
Look, now, at the work twenty years later, and
see if any changes had been made. Eleven men
were in the field upholding the standard of the
Cross. Ten stations were occupied and six churches
erected, several of which were finished and others
partly completed. The Bishop himself thus tells of
the progress made in translating the Indian language.
" A manual has been printed in seven dialects of
the country, containing a summary of Christian
instruction, which even the Roman Catholic Indians
tell us is better than the priests' books. Gospels
have been printed in Slave and Chipewyan. The
Tukudh nation long since signalized the power of
the Gospel by turning completely from heathenism
to Christianity. Full translations have been made
into this language."
These are the facts that can be ascertained to
satisfy the world's calculation. But who can estimate the blessings which have flowed into so many
lives during that score of years—the hearts made
glad, the weary comforted, and the dying soothed
by the tidings from on high, delivered by those
noble messengers of peace ? These are the things
which cannot be counted, and yet their price is
above rubies and their influence eternal.
Too often people forget the great force of
national importance exerted by a few missionaries
scattered over a large extent of country. In the
lone wilderness they are doing more than at times ONWARD AND UPWARD
appears on the surface. In their efforts to save
souls they are indirectly advancing the nation's
interests. It has been well said: ' They have promoted civilization ; they have furthered geographical
discovery ; they have opened doors of commerce ;
they have done service to science ; they have corrected national and social evils ; they have sweetened
family life."*
Bishop Galloway, in an address before the
Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions
at Toronto, in 1902, said:
"The statue erected to David Livingstone in
Edinburgh represents the great missionary standing on a lofty pedestal with the calm confidence of
the conqueror, his eager eyes turned towards Africa,
the Bible in one hand, while the other rests on an
axe. These are the suggestive influences that all
missionaries stand for—the world's redemption and
civilization. They have made the echoes of the
woodman's axe keep time with the story of the
Gospel in opening up the regions beyond. They
have opened hospitals and established orphanages,
and founded schools and colleges, and introduced
the great doctrines of personal and civil liberty.
They have taught the tribes of earth all these great
rudiments of life; they have taught them how to
use the plough and the plumb-line, and the saw and
the hammer, and the compass and the trowel."
* Eugene Stock's " History of the Church Missionary
" In Truth for mail enfolden,
Virtue for corselet pure,
And Love for breastband golden,
The soldier shall endure."
Bishop Bompas.
The long-desired change at last took place, for
while the Bishop was writing his letters by the
camp-fires of the Indians a definite step was
taken by the Provincial Synod of the province of
Rupert's Land, and a new diocese was carved out of
the southern part of the old. This included the
Peace River district, and retained the name of
Here, then, were two dioceses—one the Mackenzie River, stretching from the 60th parallel of
north latitude to the Arctic circle, and westward
beyond the great mountains, bleak and desolate;
the other nearer civilization, and only half as large,
but with great prospects before it. Which would
the veteran take ? The one that promised greater
ease ?    No ; that was never his plan.    Leaving   MACKENZIE RIVER DIOCESE
Athabasca in charge of Bishop Young, who had
been consecrated on October 18, 1884, for that
special field, he set his face steadfastly towards the
frozen North, as far as possible from the restraints
of civilization. Great was the Bishop's satisfaction
at the division thus made, for he would be able to
accomplish more definite work, and carry on his
beloved translations.
But just as soon as one care was removed, others
came of a most distressing nature, from unexpected
quarters. His appeals for men to man the vacant
stations of the Tukudh Mission had not been in
vain, and in 1881 the Rev. V. C. Sim, a man of
great earnestness, came forward, and was placed
among the Indians at Rampart House. Splendid
work was done by this new recruit, who spared not
himself in ministering to his dusky flock, for whom
he gave his life. He was incessantly on the move
on river and land, following the example of his
Bishop. On one occasion he visited some Indians
along a branch of the Porcupine River, and camped
on the bank. The medicine-man pitched his tent
near by, and proved most hostile. For three days
Mr. Sim was busy baptizing the Indians who came
to him. At night, tired out, he tried to sleep,
but in vain, as the medicine-man made night
hideous with his noise and the beating of a drum.
The missionary became exhausted, and, having
given away nearly all his food to needy Indians,
was on the point of starvation when he returned
to Rampart House in  the fall.     Even then  he MACKENZIE RIVER DIOCESE
could not rest, for he was kept busy during the
fall and winter nursing sick Indians. When these
recovered he was completely worn out, and his
health gave way.
A messenger was sent to the Rev. T. H. Canham,
on Peel River, 230 miles away, who hurried at once
to Mr. Sim's assistance. For a time the latter
seemed to rally, and longed for his letters, which
were expected by the annual mail. Mr. Canham,
with noble self-sacrifice, made the journey to Peel
River, and upon his return, bringing the mail, he
found a great change had taken place in the sick
man's condition. So weak was he that he could not
hear his letters read, and the fond messages from
loved ones never reached his ears. Day by day he
sank lower, and, lying there in that far-away station,
dying at his post of duty, he repeated over and over
again those beautiful words of Psalm xlvi.: " The
Lord of Hosts is with us ; the God of Jacob is our
"On May 11, 1885," writes Mr. Canham, "his
spirit passed to the presence of his Saviour, whom
he had so faithfully served. He was laid to rest in
the Indian graveyard—a quiet, secluded spot on the
top of a high hill. A neat rail and head-board
were made, and placed by an Indian around the
And there in the wilderness fell the brave soldier
in the great cause among the Indians whom he loved
so dearly.    Some time before his death he had made
a touching appeal to the Church Missionary Society
for assistance, which resulted in the sending of the
Rev. G. C. Wallis to fill the post, who reached
Rampart House, after much difficulty, in the fall of
The death of Mr. Sim was a severe blow to the
Bishop, who at that time was doing the work of
several men at Slave Lake. Though he wrote little
about the sad event, the following extract from a
letter sent to Mrs. Bompas shortly afterwards
describes somewhat the state of his mind:
" The passing changes of the present shadowy
existence are, we know, soon to give place to the
noontide blaze of heavenly glory. Your own life
and health, like that of myself and all, are precarious
and uncertain, but we can do little more than remain
in an attitude of penitence and supplication at the
Saviour's feet, seeking to be sanctified to His will."
The year of Mr. Sim's death saw the outbreak of
the great North-West Rebellion. This was an
uprising of the half-breed element along the
banks of the Saskatchewan River in 1885. It
was brought about through several causes, such
as the advance of civilization, the threatened famine
due to the rapid disappearance of the buffalo, the
" fear that their lands, of which they had received
no patents or title-deeds, would be snatched away
by speculators," and the dissatisfaction " with the
Government's method of surveying the land, which
interfered with the old French plan of having all
the farms fronting upon the river."
Led by Louis  Riel, himself a half-breed  (the MACKENZIE RIVER DIOCESE
leader of the Red River rebellion in 1869), and
joined by the Cree Indians of Saskatchewan, they
spread terror over the country, committing at the
same time a number of unwarrantable murders.
The North-West Mounted Police, of whom there
were only 500 at hand, bravely held them in check
until General Middleton, Commander-in-Chief of
the Canadian Militia, arrived from Eastern Canada
with a force of 4,400 men. After several sharp encounters at Fish Creek, Batoche, and Cut Knife
Creek, the rebels were defeated and the rebellion
brought to a close. Riel was found guilty of
treason, and sentenced to death.
This rebellion had the effect of drawing the
attention of people in Eastern Canada to the richness of the North-West, increasing the number
of mounted police for the protection of settlers
scattered throughout the country, and of obtaining
a stronger Government.*
Though the disaffection did not extend to the
Indians of the Mackenzie River Diocese, yet the
mission-stations suffered severely, as some of the
Hudson Bay Company's posts were in the disturbed
districts, and at these places mission supplies had
been stored, ready to be forwarded during the
summer. These stores were broken into by the rebel
Indians, and a large amount of the property stolen.
Mrs. Bompas, writing of this, says :
* For a fuller account of this rebellion see « The Story of
the Canadian People," by David M. Duncan, p. 368.
Published by Morang and Co., Toronto.   MACKENZIE RIVER DIOCESE
" Think what the want of flour, tea, and sugar
must be ; of warm clothing ; of fish-nets, and twine
to make them ; of soap and candles ; of tobacco ;
and, worst of all, of powder and shot, without which
it is impossible for the Indian hunters to bring us
our supplies of moose, deer, or wild goat's meat !
A number, too, of our charity bales are gone ; and,
indeed, knowing as I do the treasures that these
bales contain in warm clothing, and other kind and
thoughtful gifts for our Indians, and often for the
missionaries themselves, it does make one's heart
ache to think of what the loss of them will be."
Not only did the rebellion cut off the mission supplies, but it was a sore hindrance to Mrs. Bompas, who
was returning from England with recruits for the
work in the far North. Several times they essayed
to go forward, but in vain, and for a whole year were
forced to remain in Winnipeg. This little band
consisted of (besides Mrs. Bompas) Miss French,
on her way to join her betrothed, the Rev. T. H.
Canham, at Peel River; Mr. and Mrs. Garton,
lately married ; and Mr. J. W. Ellington, on his
first and only journey to the North. At Winnipeg
the sad news reached them of Mr. Sim's death, and
of this Mrs. Bompas wrote to The Net:
" Mr. Sim, one of our most gallant workers in the
far North—the most simple, earnest-minded man—
has been honoured by the call to lay down his
life in his Master's service. . . . One thinks of
the little church he has helped to build, with no one
to hold service there; of the gathering of the
Indians next spring at the different places where he
was wont to meet them ; but there is none now to
teach and pray with them, to hold solemn service
among them, and lead them in the hymns they love
so well. There will be infants brought for holy
baptism, and sick members to be doctored, but none
to minister to them."
In August, 1886, the Bishop summoned his clergy
to Fort Simpson to attend the first Synod of the
Mackenzie River Diocese. He had more men at
his disposal now than when he held his Synod ten
years before. Daily services were conducted in
three languages in St. David's Church, for Indians
and whites. A proposal was made to found a
diocesan Indian school, and the Rev. W. Spendlove
was appointed to organize it. The latter was also
made registrar of the diocese, and elected delegate
to attend the Provincial Synod in Winnipeg in 1887.
A motion for the division of the Mackenzie River
Diocese was also made, and a petition sent to the
Church Missionary Society for more men.
Some of the results of this meeting were : the
formation of the new diocese of Selkirk (Yukon)
in 1891, the Canadian Church brought into closer
contact with this northern diocese, and the sending
out of Mr. John Hawksley by the Church Missionary
On Sunday, August 29, an ordination service was
held by the Bishop, when two candidates, John
W. Ellington and David N. Kirkby, were admitted
to the diaconate.    This ordination was of unusual v Dog Team.   F  MACKENZIE RIVER DIOCESE
interest, owing to the fact that these two men were
sons of missionaries, were of the same age, and had
attended school together for about eight years in
England. They had separated for another period
of eight years, and, without any previous planning,
had met in the lonely North, to be ordained to the
sacred ministry. Fort Simpson was the birthplace
of one of the candidates, David Kirkby, and the
church in which the ordination took place had
been built twenty years before by his father, the
Rev. W. W. Kirkby, that noble pioneer missionary
who welcomed Mr. Bompas on Christmas Day, 1865.
The candidates were presented to the Bishop by
the Rev. W. Spendlove, who also preached on that
occasion. In the afternoon the Bishop gave an
address on the duties of the Christian ministry.
At the time of the Synod there was a scarcity of
food, the beginning of the great famine, and all
were placed on short allowance. One day the
dinner consisted of barley and a few potatoes, but
it is said that the Bishop was equal to the occasion,
justifying the scanty fare by repeating Proverbs
xv. 17 : " Better is a dinner of herbs where love is,
than a stalled ox and hatred therewith."
The winter that followed the meeting of the
clergy was a terrible one. The famine increased.
Game was scarce, few moose were to be obtained,
the rabbits all died, and the fish nearly all left the
river. The Indians asserted that the scarcity of the
finny " prey " was caused by the propeller of the
new steamer Wrigley, which first churned the head
waters of the great river the preceding fall, but
was unable to reach the northern posts owing to
the ice—hence the lack of supplies. But any
excuse would serve the Indians, as on a previous
occasion when fish was scarce (so Mrs. Bompas
tells us) the natives said it was due to the white
women bathing in the river. Such a radical change
as cleanliness was evidently as much disliked by
the fish as by the Indians.
Through the weary days of famine sad reports
reached the Bishop of Indians dying for lack of
I Forty starving Indians," so he wrote, " are said
to have been eating each other on Peace River, and
200 dead there of measles, and a like number at
Isle a la Crosse."
" We have been living for some days," says
Mrs. Bompas, " on flour and barley soup, and
potatoes twice a day. We are four in family,
and William gives us all the giant's share, and
takes so little himself. One hopes and prays
for help. One hears terrible accounts of the
Indians all about, all starving, no rabbits or anything for them to fall back upon. Here many of
them hunt for rotten potatoes thrown away last
fall.    Oh, it is truly heartrending!"
At length so serious became the trouble that
the Bishop, to lessen the number at the fort, left
for Fort Wrigley. Thus the winter and spring
passed, and not until the steamer arrived with
supplies did the famine cease. On this steamer
Mrs. Bompas left for England, and never again did
she visit the Mackenzie River Diocese. The Indians
and all missed her very much, and kept asking
continually when she would return.
" I tell the Indians and every one else," wrote
the Bishop to Mrs. Bompas, " that I have sent you
home against your will. I told them yesterday
that Christ died for them long ago, and that was
enough. There was no occasion for you to die for
them as well, however willing you might be."
In 1887 the Bishop was cheered by the arrival
of Mr. John Hawksley from England, sent out by
the Church Missionary Society. He was placed at
first on the Liard River, where the Bishop had for
some time wished to open up regular mission-work.
He accompanied Mr. Hawksley to his new field of
labour, and spent some time travelling and assisting
the young recruit. As an example of the Bishop's
love for the Indians, Mr. Hawksley relates that one
cold night in September, while sleeping near a camp
of Indians, the Bishop was much concerned over
one poor old man who was suffering from a severe
cough. In the night he arose quietly, and, taking
his best and warmest blanket, placed it carefully
blanket ar
For soi
and i
op u
visit, ai
r refuse
ips time
ght of going
pathetically 1
3 perform the
be a missionary. There is a text for everything,
and the one in which I have been driven to find
comfort in the past three weeks is, ' Neither
delighteth He in any man's legs.' I am rather
thinking to change my name and travel incog,
when I come outside, to avoid being pestered by
reporters and interviewers. Perhaps it would be
a good plan to change the Bompas into ' Bon-point'
or ' Bon-rien.'"
Much of his time during his last years on the
Mackenzie River was taken up with translation
work and the writing of his books, an account of
which is given in another chapter. Occasionally
we catch glimpses of him on a special day, such as
Christmas or his birthday, when presents were
given and received. Sometimes the Hudson Bay
Company's officers would present him with a
" prettily worded paper of good wishes."
The arrival of the mail-packet was always a
great event in the quiet life at the fort, when
letters months old were received. They generally
came twice a year, by boat in summer and by dog-
team in winter, when the journey was made from
post to post by some trusty courier. As a rule, the
letters were much soiled and worn from frequent
handling at the various posts, and at times the
Bishop complained of the thinness of the envelopes,
which was not conducive to secrecy.
An amusing incident happened on one occasion,
when the courier was hurrying forward with the
mail. In some manner he broke through the ice,
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and dogs, man, and letters were thoroughly soaked.
It was a cold day, so, heading for the shore, the
Indian made a good fire, dried his clothes, and then
gazed sadly upon the wet letters. At length a
thought occurred to him, and, taking the soiled
epistles out of the envelopes he stacked them
around the fire, near enough to dry, but not to
burn. When this was completed to his satisfaction,
he began to replace them. But, alas ! though well
versed in woodland lore, he had never acquired the
gentle art of reading, so that the letters were replaced
helter-skelter. Into envelopes addressed to the
Bishop went important missives meant only for
the Company's officers, or the tender sighings of
some fair maiden for a Northern lover, while the
Bishop's letters were disposed of in a similar
manner. Thinking he had accomplished a very
clever feat, the courier pushed on his "way, and,
reaching the fort, was much astonished at the exclamations and excitement of all. Not until the
whole matter was explained by the puzzled courier
was its humorous side seen, and then a good laugh
From beyond the great mountains again came
sad news, which gave the Bishop much concern.
Before it came from Rampart House, on the
Porcupine River; this time from the Yukon, where
a new mission had been started. Owing to the
touching and stirring appeal of poor Sim, Mr. T.
Fowell Buxton, of Easneye, Ware, gave the sum of
£100, and the Church Missionary Society sent out a
young man, J. W. Ellington. He was stationed by
the Bishop at the confluence of the Yukon and
Forty Mile Rivers, after his ordination, already
mentioned in this chapter; and for some time the
place was known as "Buxton," but afterwards it
took the name of Forty Mile, which had been
familiar to the miners.
Here Mr. Ellington laboured earnestly and to the
best of his ability, but his position was a hard one.
The miners delighted in playing practical jokes of
a most serious nature upon the young missionary,
and made life so hard for him that mind and body
completely gave way, and in this sad condition he
was taken back to England.*
And once again the Indians were without a
teacher along the Yukon. Most anxious was the
Bishop concerning them, and he longed, as he said,
" to steal away quietly to the Youcon," and proposed
Archdeacon Reeve to succeed him on the Mackenzie
" I fear," he wrote in 1890, " to ask anyone to
take my place in Mackenzie River these starving
times, and I fear I may have to stay myself. But
I write to the Church Missionary Society asking
them again to accept my resignation, and send a
successor, unless they can relieve me of half the
* Mr. Ellington died at Northampton on May 23, 1902.
His father, who died in 1878, served eighteen years as a
Church Missionary Society missionary in the Telugu country,
South India. His mother, after her husband's death, became
a missionary of the Church of England Zenana Missionary
diocese. ... I feel a presentiment that Archdeacon Reeve will at last come up next year and set
me free, that I may go across the mountains or to
He had no inclination to leave the country, and
when it was suggested that he should go to
Manitoba he wrote : " I find the needle points west
rather than east, and north rather than south."
When urged to return to England, he wrote:
" To life in England and to my relations there I
feel so long dead and buried that I cannot think a
short visit home, as if from the grave, would be of
much use. If over fifteen years ago when I was at
home I felt like Samuel's ghost, how should I feel
now ?"
On January 31, 1890, we find him at Fort
Norman, living in the church, with a large stove,
and eating more flour, so he tells us, than he had
done for twenty-five years. To the loneliness of
his position here the Bishop never once referred,
but the following words of the Rev. W. Spendlove, ten years later, give a vivid picture of the
" We reside in the northern confines of British
territory, on the Arctic slopes of this continent, not
far from the Arctic circle and Great Bear Lake,
amid wild mountainous scenery. Either the wild
fury of the storm rages, or dead calm with intense
cold prevails, interchanged with bright sun and
cheery ice and snow landscape for eight months of
the year.     Ice-blocked   and   snow-bound,   dense MACKENZIE RIVER DIOCESE
forest covers the banks of the Mackenzie River,
and beyond a trackless desert of beautiful perfectly dry snow. Distance, 8,000 miles from
England ; upwards of 1,500 miles beyond the outer
limit of Canadian frontier border of civilization ;
and our nearest missionary brother fifteen days'
journey. Cut off from white people; shut up
among Red Indian savages. Oh, what vast solitudes ! What extreme loneliness ! The effort to
procure sufficient food and fuel for these regions is
no easy task. Other conditions of life are most
disadvantageous. Nothing in Nature to smile upon
us for eight months. No sight or sound of civilization. No European Christian to mingle with, or
fellow-worker to shake the hand, join in mutual
sympathetic intercourse, and say, ' Go on, brother ;
I believe in you and your work.'"
Such is the grim picture given of that lonely
Northern post; and how much more isolated
it must have been ten years before! Yet we see
the Bishop alone in the log church, deeply engaged
in his beloved translations, and poring with delight
over the Syriac Testament and Lexicon which Mrs.
Bompas had sent out from England. Listen to
these words of courage and trust penned in the
midst of such dreary surroundings:
"It is only this winter that I find life worth
living, and I think God has paid me handsomely for
twenty-five years' mission service in Mackenzie
River. I have found the winter days very short
and dark, and have been cheered by a sense of MACKENZIE RIVER DIOCESE
God's presence. ' When I sit in darkness, the Lord
will be light unto me.'"
" During the past two weeks my mind has been
entirely diverted from these inward cogitations to
the outward world by a large arrival of letters and
newspapers, after I had been utterly in the dark
regarding the outer world for six months. It is
as though a veil were suddenly drawn over the
inward and spiritual world, and the veil as suddenly
drawn back from the outward world that had been
concealed from me."
Mrs. Bompas tells us that the Bishop was a very
self-contained man. " During the years when he
was itinerating among the Indians and Eskimos he
had lived so much alone in tent or cabin that he had
learnt to be wholly independent of external aid.
Moreover, he had trained himself to endure hardness as a good soldier of the Cross. His diet was
at all times abstemious, almost severely so. To the
last he never allowed himself milk or cream in tea
or coffee. He was a fairly good cook and bread-
maker, and loved to produce a dish good and savoury
for his friends, although eschewing all such dainties
Truly his wants were few.
" An iron cup, plate, or knife," writes Mr. Spendlove, " with one or two kettles, form his culinary
equipment. A hole in the snow, a corner of a boat,
wigwam, or log hut, provided space, 6 feet by 2 feet,
for sleeping accommodation. Imagine him seated
on a box in a 12-foot room, without furniture, and
there cooking, teaching, studying, early and late,
always at work, never at ease, never known to take
a holiday."
On August 5, 1891, we find him still at Fort
Norman, and in a letter to Mrs. Bompas, who was
in England, he wrote :
" I am now engaged in packing up, with the
view, if God will, of shortly and finally leaving
Mackenzie River for the far west. Mr. Hawksley
was ordained to deacon's Orders here last Sunday."
And thus the Bishop's work on the Mackenzie
River closed. Twenty-six years had he laboured
faithfully among the natives of that land, and,
instead of seeking rest, he resolutely set his face to
new work, the account of which must be reserved
for future chapters. CHAPTER XV
" These are the tones to brace and cheer
The lonely watcher of the fold,
When nights are dark, and foemen near,
When visions fade and hearts grow cold."
Meanwhile changes were taking place beyond the
mountains, along the great Yukon River, the Quik-
pak of the Russians. Gold had been discovered,
and the reports of the Government surveyors were
attracting miners to that region, and it became
necessary that more complete episcopal supervision
should be made. The Bishop, writing concerning
the matter, said:
" The missionaries now labouring in the district
referred to are very isolated, and much need the
support of episcopal oversight, which it is hoped
may be no longer denied them. From the Mackenzie River it appears impossible to superintend
the district. A visit thither from the east side of
the Rocky Mountains would involve a journey of
5,000 miles or more, and an absence of two years.
The Rocky Mountains form a natural barrier between
the Mackenzie River and the large country farther
The result was that in 1890 the Provincial Synod
of the province of Rupert's Land sanctioned the
division of the Diocese of Mackenzie River. Archdeacon W. D. Reeve became Bishop of the eastern
portion, stretching to the Arctic Ocean on the
north and the Hudson Bay on the east, while
Bishop Bompas gave himself up to the work along
the Yukon River. Archdeacon Reeve was consecrated in Holy Trinity, Church, Winnipeg, on
November 29. The Very Rev. Dean Grisdale,
in preaching from Acts i. 8, referring to the loneliness and burden of responsibility associated with
the new office, said :
' Of these burdens the noble - hearted Bishop
Bompas has had his full share; yet now, for the
second time, he has resigned his diocese, that he
might go to the regions beyond."
Even after the division was made Bishop Bompas
had no small sphere of work before him. His new
diocese comprised 200,000 square miles—more
than twice the area of Great Britain, and the third
largest diocese in British America. It stretched
from the Diocese of Caledonia on the south to the
Arctic Ocean on the north, and was separated on
the west by the 141st meridian of west longitude
from the United States territory of Alaska. To
this new diocese the Bishop gave the name of
" Selkirk," and when some called the appropriate-
ness of the name into question,* he bravely defended
it in the following paragraph :
" Selkirk,  I presume,  may be  shortened from
* Selig Kirke,' or ' Holy Church,' which does not
seem offensive as the name of a diocese. Manitoba
means, I suppose, * Spirit Narrows,' and Athabasca,
* Plenty of Narrows,' and Saskatchewan, ' Strong
Current,' and Moosonee,' Moose Deer Walk,' and
Qu'Appelle,' Who Calls ?'   And I hardly see why
* Selkirk' should bedeemed an inferiorname to these."
Before Alaska was purchased from Russia by the
United States Government in 1867, Fort Yukon was
the centre of missionary activity of the Church of
England along the Yukon River. It was visited by
Mr. Kirkby from Fort Simpson, on the Mackenzie
River, in 1862, and in the same year the Rev.
Robert McDonald was placed in charge. Great was
the work done by this latter noble missionary during
the eight years he was there. No better testimony
can be produced of the influence he exerted upon
the Indians for many miles around than that of
Archdeacon Stuck, of the Protestant Episcopal
Church of the United States, thirty-six years after.
Travelling in the winter of 1906, he reached the
Chandelar village, sixty miles from Fort Yukon,
and, in an account of these Indians, writes :
" And here I found a most interesting thing-—
that as long as thirty years ago the older ones
among these people had been under the instruction of
the men of the English Church Missionary Society,
* The name of the district was changed to " Yukon" in 1907.
257 1
and were furnished with Prayer Books, Hymnals, and
complete Bibles of Archdeacon McDonald's translation, carefully treasured, and that one of their I
number conducted regular service. They were still !
praying for ' Our Sovereign Lady, Queen Victoria,
and Albert Edward, Prince of Wales,' and I suppose are still; for though I took a lead pencil and
struck out these prayers, and tried to explain that
they were living under the Government of the
United States, and that Queen Victoria was dead, I
doubt if my remarks made much impression against
what they had been taught by Archdeacon McDonald,
whose memory they revere. And I cannot blame
them much ; they owe us little enough—I was the
first missionary of the American Church who had
visited them."
Bishop Bompas, before his consecration, had paid
two visits to Fort Yukon, and travelled up the river
to where another stream, the Forty Mile, joins the
Yukon, the site of the mission started in 1887 by
poor Ellington. To this spot the Bishop turned his
attention in 1891 as a suitable site for his abode.
Crossing the Rocky Mountains, he spent the winter
of 1891 and 1892 at the lonely Rampart House.
Writing on April 2 to his brother George from
this place, he tells of his great happiness in Scripture
studies: "The symmetry of the construction of
Scripture,' he continues, "presents ever new
wonders, and is similar to God's works in Nature,
the pencillings of summer flowers, the plumage of
the birds, the harmonies of music.    Nor need this BEYOND THE GREAT MOUNTAINS
surprise, for Christ tells us that His words will
abide when heaven and earth shall pass away.
Again, He says : • The words that I speak to you I
speak not of Myself'—that is, they were dictated
by the Holy Spirit, the Author of all Scripture, and
were thus measured by the cadences of that heavenly
music which we may suppose to be the speech of
angels, and which resounds in a thousand echoes by
the transposition of its letters. Our words are reechoed from the rocks, not because the rocks have
a mouth, but because the air has been created with
such an elasticity as to reverberate the words spoken.
So the words of God in Scripture are capable of a
million turns, because the language in which they
are spoken was arranged from the first to admit of
its secreting God's messages of love and peace, and
afterwards restoring them. Now that men can
bottle up the human voice, and cause its words to
be repeated at a distant time and place, they need
not deny to God the skill they have themselves,
when they know they cannot make so much as a
feather or a blade of grass."
On July 2 the Bishop wrote from the same place
to his sister, and says : " The last few days I have
been pleased with the following points. First, by
finding that there seems to be no word for ' danger'
in Hebrew or Syriac. Secondly, being scandalized
by the omission of the words ' and of an honeycomb ' from the Revised Version of Luke xxiv. 42.
I thought the best way was to try the experiment of
eating dried fish with syrup. I found it so delicious
that I strongly recommend it to you, and think it
will fully convince you of the genuineness of the
words. Thirdly, I have been profited by noticing
the frequency of the command to 'wait,' which I
am trying to fulfil just now. You are perhaps
aware that the common expression in the Psalms,
' Wait on the Lord,' really means, ' Wait for the
Lord.' . . .
"I have just been for a short walk in the woods,
and find a few flowers in even this Arctic clime,
such as a pretty wild - rose, lupin, and bluebell.
There are also berry blossoms, and plenty of the
white blossom of what we call ' marsh tea.' These
blossoms really make rather pleasant and aromatic
tea. The leaves, when used for the same purpose, are
rather bitter. Raspberry shoots, birch buds, and
some other berry-trees, are also at times used to
make tea in the absence of the genuine article, but
they are rather medicinal. The west side of the
mountains is, on the whole, more flowery than the
east side."
In the spring he went down the Porcupine River to .
the Yukon. It was here he met Mrs. Bompas, who
was returning from England. They had not met
since 1887, and Mrs. Bompas vividly describes this
meeting. After speaking about the trip up the
river from St. Michael's, she mentions the great
excitement which ensued on July 26, when "two
Indians came on board, bringing news of the Bishop,
who is at the next village, ' Showman.' But a delay
took place owing to the boiler being cleaned, and it
was not until midnight that ' two bells' sounded, a
signal for the boat to stop. I pricked up my ears,
and then another bell, which meant' stop her.' It
must be for wood, of course; but I sprang from
my berth, and looked out of my small window to
see a pretty Indian camp, and—my husband on the
beach, grey and weather-beaten, but in health better
than I had expected."
Accompanying Mrs. Bompas were the Rev. T. H.
and Mrs. Canham, the Rev. G. C. and Mrs. Wallis,
and Mr. B. Totty. After the Bishop had joined
them a conference was held, when it was arranged
that the Bishop and Mr. Totty should occupy Forty
Mile, Mr. and Mrs. Canham Fort Selkirk, two
hundred miles up-stream, while Mr. and Mrs.
Wallis should go to Rampart House, on the
Porcupine. Mr. Wallis, it will be remembered,
succeeded Mr. Sim at this latter place, and, having
returned to England after several years of earnest
labour, was returning, bringing with him his bride
to the lonely post. Mrs. Bompas, speaking of their
landing at Fort Yukon, to ascend the Porcupine
River, says :
" Here the Wallises left us, and their great cargo
of 100 pieces was put on shore. Mrs. Wallis's
tent was pitched, and I fixed a few flowers and a
verse on her tent-pole to cheer her up, as she was a
little down-hearted."
Anxious days followed the Bishop's arrival at
Forty Mile. The miners kept coming into the
country, and there was no man at hand to work
263 o 2 1
among them. Then the white men exerted a
baneful influence upon his Indians, demoralizing
them through drink, and in many other unlawful
ways. He had to contend with the same difficulties
as other missionaries in like circumstances. It was
Hans Egede, the great apostle to Greenland, who,
in 1730, said that while able in perfect security to
sleep in the tents of the natives, he had to keep a
watch, and fire-arms by his bed, as a protection
against his fellow-Christians. Bishop Bompas remarked, after several years' sad experience with
the whites among his little flock, that " the advent
of white population strengthens the call for missions
to the natives. While they are in the minority in
population, they are not so in Church attendance.
At Dawson, with a population of 4,000 or 5,000,
no weekday services can be maintained, while at
Moosehide, Klondyke, with only 500 inhabitants,
frequently fifty attend daily Evening Prayers."
But notwithstanding the anxiety, work went on
apace. The Indian school made fair progress, and
steadily were the natives brought into the fold.
The winters were times of great loneliness, and
often eight months passed without hearing from
the outside world. The miners had the law in
their own hands, and, with rare exceptions, kept
good order. Occasionally a disturbance would take
place which worried the missionaries much. In
1893 Mrs. Bompas wrote :
"A terrible quarrel reported among the white
men on Sunday night, resulting in one being shot   BEYOND THE GREAT MOUNTAINS
through both legs, and another stabbed in the
breast. Oh, for some police, or anyone to keep
" I hope for the arrival of some Government
control," wrote the Bishop, "but the miners have
themselves now checked the drinking among the
Indians by deciding that the next person who gives
a drink to an Indian shall receive notice to leave
the country in twenty-four hours. As the alternative to obeying the miners' laws is generally a
revolver or a noose on the nearest tree, they are
pretty well complied with, and they might possibly
do the same with a policeman if he interfered with
their own drinking."
As the miners continued to arrive, vice and crime
increased. The Bishop realized that, if life and
property were to be safe, strenuous steps must be
taken. It was, therefore, largely through his efforts
and representation to the Dominion Government
at Ottawa that the North-West Mounted Police
were sent into the country, and then law and order
In January, 1895, the Bishop gave a description
of Forty Mile : " A town is laid down at Forty Mile,
and they have two doctors, library, reading-room,
debating society, theatre, eating-houses, and plenty
of saloons, as public-houses are called in the West,
besides two stores, or shops, and a few tradesmen.
One debate was as to which has caused most misery
in the past century—war or whisky ? It was decided
to give the enviable preference to whisky.    This BEYOND THE GREAT MOUNTAINS
was truly appropriate to a mining camp. They
had a feast on New Year's Day, of which every
soul in the neighbourhood was invited to partake,
both whites and Indians.
" We have just now about twenty miners who
attend our Sunday afternoon English service, and
afterwards we lend them some books to read ; but
I have not a very good selection for them. They
mostly ask for history of travel, and this I do not
possess. I have some magazines, and they have
taken the Leisure Hour more than any other
And yet for the Bishop and his devoted wife
the miners had nothing but the prof oundest respect.
Though many of them were indifferent to all things
spiritual, still, they could admire nobleness when
they beheld it, as they did every day in the two
faithful soldiers of the Cross in their midst. As
a token of their esteem, on Christmas Day, 1892, a
splendid nugget of gold was presented to Mrs.
Bompas, with the following address, signed by
fifty-three miners:
"It is proposed to make a Christmas present to
Mrs. Bompas, the wife of the Rev. Bishop Bompas
(for which purpose a collection will be taken up
amongst those who are willing to contribute), and
that the present shall be in the form of a Forty
Mile nugget, as most appropriate to the occasion,
as a mark of respect and esteem from the miners
of Forty Mile, irrespective of creeds or religions,
and, further, that it be distinctly understood to be BEYOND THE GREAT MOUNTAINS
a personal present to the first white lady who has
wintered amongst us."
From time to time we catch brief glimpses of the
life in the mission-house. Occasionally Mrs. Bompas
lets in a little light, which is most interesting. We
see the Bishop turning from the cares of the diocese
to provide for some Indian child, or do necessary
work around the house. She tells how the Bishop
" has been busy carpentering and devising a number
of things for our comfort—a beautiful cupboard
to hold the girls' clothes, shelves and brackets, new
bench for dining-room, bedsteads mended, a new
door for our little dining-room, frames for double
windows, new dining-table, and old one repaired.
This, with his self-imposed duty of waiting upon
every one, superintending the kitchen, and doctoring
any sick members, has filled up his time the last
few weeks. I feel thankful when for a short time
in the evening he retires to his study and takes up
his beloved Syriac."
But, alas for " the beautiful cupboard and
shelves " which the Bishop had so carefully made !
Boards were very scarce, not enough even to make
coffins in which to bury the dead, and the shelves
had to be taken down to make a coffin for an
Indian who had been brought in from the distant
hunting-grounds. Mrs. Bompas, who relates this
incident, tells most pathetically of the trials they
had in connexion with burying the dead on the
Mackenzie River. The Indians would beg packing-
boxes from the Hudson Bay Company's officers, BEYOND THE GREAT MOUNTAINS
and as these were generally too small, arms and
legs would often be seen hanging out of the box as
it was lowered into the grave.
Whenever the Indians arrived from some hunting-grounds, the Bishop was kept busy almost night
and day attending to their wants, and instructing
them in the faith, if only for a few days. This
teaching was by no means lost, for out on the hills
and mountains the Indians had their daily services,
when appointed leaders would instruct the others.
Occasionally there would be turbulent spirits among
these natives, but the Bishop was always able to
control them. One day two Indians became engaged
in a serious fight close by the mission. One,
Roderick by name, was determined to kill the other,
and was making desperate thrusts with a long,
sharp knife. The Bishop, observing the encounter,
made for the contestants, and, taking Roderick by
the collar, quietly said, " Come." But the Indian
still fought and slashed with his knife, the Bishop
all the time retaining his hold and saying, " Come,
come with me." After much effort he succeeded
in separating them, and, half leading, half dragging,
drew Roderick to the mission-house. Then the
Indian, completely exhausted, sank upon a large
stone near by. Ere long he began to realize how
he had been saved from committing murder, and,
reaching out his hand, seized that of the Bishop to
thank him for what he had done.
As the miners continued to arrive, the Bishop
became much worried over the change that
took place among his Indians, and sadly he
" Nothing could be of a greater contrast than the
squalid poverty and want of all things in which the
Indians here lived thirty years ago, and the lavish
luxury and extravagance with which they now
squander hundreds of dollars on needless food and
dress, if not in a still more questionable manner.
The Indians now place such high prices on any
meat or fuel, or othes things which they supply to
the whites, such as leather or shoes, that it is hard
for your missionaries to live with economy among
them, and the worst of all is that the younger
Indians are only too apt to imitate the careless
whites in irreligion and debauchery."
Each spring was a season of anxiety to the Bishop
and his household. The mission-house was on an
island, and when the ice of the great Yukon
was going out there was often great danger. As
the mighty blocks of ice moved by, and then
jammed and piled high, the water would rise and
flood the building. Several times they were
awakened in the night to find the water rushing
through the house, and were forced to climb aloft
till the waters subsided. Through these dangers
they were mercifully delivered by Him who had
preserved them so often before.
In 1893 the Rev. G. C. Wallis was compelled to
return to England, owing to the ill-health of his
wife, and this necessitated a change in the missionaries who remained. Archdeacon and Mrs. Canham
271 1
accordingly went to Rampart House; the Rev. B.
Totty, who had been admitted to Priest's Orders on
July 15, 1894, and who had spent the winter of
1893 at Rampart House, was sent to Fort Selkirk,
while the Bishop and Mrs. Bompas remained at
Forty Mile.
Thus the Bishop was left with only two men, and
the outlook appeared very discouraging. But just
at the right moment there arrived on the scene a
young man who was destined to be of great service
in the pioneer work of the diocese. This was Mr.
R. J. Bowen, who had been in the preparatory
institution of the Church Missionary Society at
Clapham for a short time, and who volunteered to
go to Bishop Bompas as an industrial agent. This
was in 1895, and not long after new conditions arose
in the diocese, which taxed the minds and energy of
the mission-workers to the utmost. CHAPTER XVI
" Thy hand, O God, has guided
Thy flock from age to age;
The wondrous tale is written
Full clear on every page."
The year 1896 marked a new era in mission-work
in the Diocese of Selkirk. Up to this time the
Bishop had been groping his way with a small force
at his command. Often he became much discouraged, though pressing bravely forward. But
upon the arrival of Mr. Bowen in 1895, the Rev.
H. A. Naylor and his wife and Mr. F. F. Flewelling
in 1896, sent out from Eastern Canada by the
Canadian Church Missionary Society, prospects
appeared much brighter.
Not only was the Bishop cheered by the addition
to his staff, but the arrival of the Right Rev. Peter
Rowe, the new Bishop of Alaska, filled him with
thankfulness. His joy, however, was somewhat
marred when he learned that the sister Church of
the United States had made no provision for the
spiritual care of the Indians in the northern diocese.
The great work of the Church Missionary Society
among the Indians of Alaska, along the Yukon
River, adjoining British territory, cannot be too
strongly emphasized. From 1862, when the Rev.
W. W. Kirkby crossed the Rocky Mountains and
visited Fort Yukon, this post was held by the
Rev. Robert McDonald till 1869, and a splendid
work was carried on among the Indians for miles
along the great river. When the United States
Government purchased the territory of Alaska from
Russia, the Indians had been left shepherdless but
for the noble exertions of men of the Church of
England, such as the Rev. V. C. Sim, the Rev.
T. H. (afterwards Archdeacon) Canham, the Rev.
R. J. Bowen in 1896, and the Rev. John Hawksley,
who was stationed at Fort Yukon in 1897, having
been transferred from the Mackenzie River Diocese.
Bishop Rowe, upon his arrival, at once realized the
condition of affairs, and sought to make an improvement. He was the right man in the right place.
To him the Church was one, and national boundaries formed no bar when souls were at stake. He
asked Bishop Bompas to care for his Indians till he
could take over the charge himself. This he did
a few years later, and now has an earnest band of
men working among the natives.
Bishop Bompas, in 1893, had himself visited along
the Yukon River to its mouth, holding services and
baptizing a number of Indians. During the summer
of 1896, in company with Archdeacon Canham,
who was then on his way to England, he spent six
weeks at Fort Yukon. Concerning this visit among
the Indians, the Bishop wrote:
" It was a pleasure to me to hold a daily afternoon class of middle-aged men, at which several
chapters of the New Testament were daily read by
them, with intelligence and interest, in their own
tongue, by way of exercise and at their own request.
For the first two weeks I was mostly engaged in
schooling from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Afterwards I was
partly relieved by the arrival of the schoolmistress
from Rampart House."
Little did the Bishop realize while at Fort Yukon
that an event was taking place in his diocese which
in less than a year would change the whole aspect
of mission-work.
About fifty miles up stream from 'Forty Mile the
Klondyke River joins the Yukon. From time
immemorial this had been a favourite Indian fishing
resort, and on various occasions missionaries had
gone up from Forty Mile and held services for the
natives. Little did they think, when pitching their
tents at the confluence of these two streams, what a
change would take place there in a few years.
In July, 1896, George W. Carmack, with
several Indian associates, made the famous gold
discovery, news of which soon travelled abroad and
thrilled the world with intense excitement. At the
very time this information was speeding far and
wide the Bishop was calmly writing :
" There are about 500 miners now in this
neighbourhood, and some few have gone out this
summer with fortunes in gold-dust. The chief
mining attraction just now is on the American side
of the border, about 200 miles farther down the
Yukon River at Circle City, where there are said to
be nearly 1,000 miners."
This was in August, and with the opening of
navigation the human flood arrived. The story of
that great rush of 1897 and 1898 has scarcely a
parallel in history. The Klondyke, a stream which
a few years before geographers did not think worthy
of notice, became a household word the world over.
The Yukon River literally teemed with boats and
rafts of every conceivable shape. Men poured in
thousands over the frowning Chilkoot and White
Pass summits, enduring untold hardships and
dangers. Merchants left their stores, clerks their
desks, farmers their ploughs, woodmen their axes,
carefully nourished sons their homes of luxury,
and rushed for the gleaming treasure. The city of
Dawson sprang like magic into existence, and in the
space of a few short months the Bishop found the
civilized world thrust upon him.
In the following extracts from letters to his
brother George in England we catch brief glimpses
of those stirring days:
"Buxton Mission,
"Upper Yukon River,
" April 15, 1897.
" I think I will put on paper for you a few notes
about the sudden change that is taking place in
the course of a striking Providence in this region.
From being a poor, desolate, and neglected country,
it is suddenly becoming a rich and populous one.
This is tbe effect of the new and very valuable goldmines discovered last year, about fifty miles south
of us, at a place now called Klondyke, and Dawson
City. These new mines are said to be as rich as
any yet known for their size, which is at present
very limited. Only about one hundred claims are
yet found that are very profitable. . . .
" At the new mines last autumn any claim could
be bought for a few hundred dollars. Now we
hear that some have already changed hands for
50,000 dollars, and some are estimated to be
worth 500,000 dollars. The owners of the richest
claims are said to be leaving the country in spring,
having already as much gold as they can carry, and
being as rich as they care to be, and they will sell
their claims at a high price to others.
"The miners of Circle City, about 300 miles
below us, have been coming up all winter hauling
their sleds of provisions, to the number of about
500, till the Yukon has become like a thronged
thoroughfare. They have paid, I think, as much as
250 dollars for an Indian dog to help haul their
" Flour and meal have both been selling during
the winter at from half a dollar to one dollar per
pound, and the Indians here loan out their dogs
at one dollar per day. The Indians, too, get somewhat rich, but, of course, they squander their
279 L
" The temperature has been most singular. The
winter set in very early, being severe in October,
and partly so in November. Then three months,
December, January, and February, were so mild
that it was not like winter at all. This seems quite
a providential favour to the numerous travellers.
" For myself, during the past winter I have
enjoyed more ease and leisure than usual, from
having more helpers around me, and I have devoted
my days to digging the mines of God's holy Word,
and have found, in my own estimation, richer prizes
than the nuggets of Klondyke."
May 28, 1897.—"I hear now that the creeks
are so winding as to make the gold streak extend 200 or 300 miles. I am told £4,000 was
washed from the earth of one claim in one day.
Another bought a claim for £10,000, and paid it all
off out of the ground in two or three months. The
richest claims are thought to be worth £100,000 to
£200,000. (A claim is 600 feet of the creek, which
each miner is allowed to pick for himself at the
start.) . . . From one to two dollars per pan is
reported to be a common rate there. This is something like taking your washing-basin, filling it with
earth from your garden, and then, after washing
away the earth with a little water, finding a silver
crown or half a sovereign at the bottom. I suppose
in such a case you might go again, and so do the
miners. They next proceed to work with sluice-
>s, which is only a similar process on a larger
i.    The earth is thrown into wooden boxes or THE FLOOD
troughs with a corrugated or uneven bottom, so as
to retain the gold when the earth is washed out.
" An Irishman who was here yesterday is said to
do his work so badly that his wife used to make
from four to twenty dollars a day by picking up his
leavings. She is now gone on a visit home with her
This new responsibility was a severe trial to the
veteran of the North. So long had he laboured
among the Indians that, as he sadly acknowledged,
he was entirely unfitted for work among the whites.
But, as has always been the case in the world's
history, just when the need was greatest God raised
up a man for the work. This was the Rev. R. J.
Bowen, the young Clapham student, who had volunteered for service, and was ordained by Bishop
Bompas. We see in his case the working of the
Divine hand. Mr. Bowen at first intended to labour
among the Indians, and, in fact, did make several
visits to their various camps, with encouraging
results. But, finding that the Colonial and Continental Church Society had made a grant for a
mission to the miners, and being asked by the
Bishop to take up this special work, he did so, and
thus became the first missionary among the miners
in the diocese. For a time the work consisted
chiefly in visiting the creeks where the miners were
scattered, and their cabins when in town, holding
services when possible, and in every way endeavouring to win them to Christ. During the spring
of 1896 he began to hold services at Forty Mile, THE FLOOD
" in the first mission building that was wholly
devoted to the spiritual welfare of the miners."
Thus, when thousands of men poured into the
country, the Bishop had a man tested in pioneer
work to send among them.
At once Mr. Bowen started up the river to plant
the standard of Christ in that excited camp of
gold-seekers. It must have seemed a forlorn hope
to the young missionary as he drew near the new
town. Almost two years before he had visited that
place, and on the very site where his camp had then
been pitched large buildings were now erected, and
a hurrying crowd thronged the streets. The great
cry was gold ; for that the people had come, and
not for religion. Yet among them Mr. Bowen
began to work, and through his earnestness won
the hearts of the miners, and induced many of
them to attend service.
These men were not miners in the ordinary sense
of the word. Many had never handled a pick or
shovel, but had been reared in ease in comfortable
homes, sons of noble families, who had joined the
mad rush to win a fortune in a short time. Such
men were not slow to see the efforts the Mother
Church was making for their spiritual welfare in
the great north land. They saw the earnest
missionary valiantly standing in their midst, pleading the Master's cause. Their hearts were touched,
and around him they rallied.
A church building was the next important consideration, and towards this the miners gave what THE FLOOD
they could in labour and money. But even a
modest log edifice meant much in those days.
Wages were $15 a day, and lumber 25 cents a foot.
Then the Bishop cast about for some plan to help
on the work. In 1896 he had applied to that noble
handmaid of the Church, the Society for Promoting
Christian Knowledge, for money towards the building of a church for the miners at Forty Mile. A
grant of £250 was therefore made according to the
rules of the Society. But when the sudden change
took place, and the miners left Forty Mile and flocked
to the new city of Dawson, the Bishop in 1897 wrote
an urgent letter to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, asking permission " to remove the
site of the proposed church from Forty Mile Creek
to Klondyke Creek, where a greater need for it now
exists. The stay of the miners at the rich Klondyke
mines," he continued, " is likely to be permanent for
ten years at least, and in case the whites should
leave, there has always been a band of Indians at
Klondyke, for whom the church would be available."
The society accordingly acceded to the Bishop's
request, and the money was transferred to the
erection of the new church at Dawson. This
building, composed of logs, was ere long erected
under the name of St. Paul's, and a few years
later was replaced by a large frame structure of
imposing appearance.
Two great societies of the Church had mission
agents at work in the diocese : the Church Missionary Society for the Indians, and the Colonial
283 p 2 THE FLOOD
and Continental Church Society for the whites,
while the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge aided in erecting churches and providing
scholarships for the Indian schools. In 1892 the
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel was
appealed to by the Bishop for a man to labour
among the miners, as the Church Missionary
Society considered this beyond its scope. It was
not, however, till the opening of the Klondyke gold-
fields that an offer came to the Society for the
Propagation of the Gospel from the Rev. G. W.
Lyon for this special work. The Society at once
made a grant of £200 for the purpose, and Mr.
Lyon was sent out. He climbed the rugged
Chilkoot Pass, and ministered to the people
stationed at Lake Bennett, and upon the opening
of navigation in 1898 started down to Dawson with
a servant, Montegazza by name. While crossing
Lake Laberge, both Mr. Lyon and his servant were
drowned. Their bodies were recovered by the
North-West Mounted Police, and buried on the
shore of the lake.
Considering the fact that other societies were:,
already in the field, the Society for the Propagation
of the Gospel did not renew its offer. But at Lake
Bennett, Tagish, and Caribou Crossing, for convenience, the work for a time was under the
superintendence of Bishop Ridley, of the Diocese
of Caledonia. When Bishop Bompas took charge of
these two latter places the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel withdrew from the field entirely.
When the Church work was well under way at
Dawson, the Bishop for a while relieved Mr.
Bowen, who returned to Forty Mile, and was united
in marriage to Miss Mellet, who had been labouring
in the diocese for some time as schoolmistress. At
Dawson the Bishop was out of his element. So
long had he laboured among the Indians that work
among the whites was very hard. In his letters of
that time he draws a pathetic picture of the condition of affairs : the dwindling of the congregations,
and the frank acknowledgment of his own inability
to do much among the miners. " But Christ reigns,"
he wrote, " and the work is His, not mine, and let
us trust and hope."
This worry, together with improper food, brought
on a severe attack of scurvy, and when he went
back to Forty Mile in April he was in a very weak
condition. Yet, notwithstanding his illness, he persisted in conducting the Indian school and attending
to his correspondence.
" I cannot move," he wrote, " without losing my
breath, nor walk a few steps without great pain.
If I can hold on till I obtain green vegetables, they
may benefit me."
After a time "green vegetables" reached him
from Dawson, and at once an improvement took
place. To these the Bishop declared his recovery
was almost entirely due.
Mrs. Bompas, during this trying season, was at
Fort Yukon, unable to reach the Bishop. She had
been summoned to England, to the bedside of her THE FLOOD
sister, who was dangerously ill. On her return to
San Francisco, after a few months' absence, she
found that wild excitement reigned, owing to the
Klondyke gold discovery.
"The whole of the great city," so she writes,
" was gathered on the wharf to witness the departure of the first steamer for Klondyke. On the
boat itself the crowd was no less conspicuous.
Men and women seemed locked together in frantic
excitement. Shouts and cries were heard on all sides.
Parting gifts were thrown on board, hats and handkerchiefs waved with enthusiasm, and in a few
instances with wild sobs of pain. Then the anchor
was raised, and the vessel started for St. Michael.
Such a motley crowd is not often seen gathered
together in one vessel. The Company did its best to
accommodate all, but the attempt was but partially
successful. Seven men were often the occupiers
of one state-room, and the chief number of passengers were of the roughest kind of miners. On
reaching St. Michael, the same number of passengers
were moved on to the smaller steamer. Here our
discomforts were considerably increased."
After a tedious voyage up the river, Fort Yukon
was reached. It was a memorable day on which
they arrived at this place.
I The miners," continues Mrs. Bompas, " were
looking eagerly forward to the gold-mines of the
Klondyke, when the whole load of passengers were
set ashore, and the captain announced that he was
not going a step farther.    Prayers, entreaties, and THE FLOOD
remonstrances were unavailing. He gave no excuse
for his conduct but that he was going back immediately to St. Michael—it was supposed to lay in a
And at Fort Yukon Mrs. Bompas was stranded
for eight long months, thirty miles within the Arctic
circle. Fortunately, the Rev. John Hawkesly and
family were stationed here, who did what they
could for her comfort. But to the Bishop at Forty
Mile, in feeble health, disturbing news arrived of
the riotous times among the miners at Fort Yukon,
and their desperate efforts to overpower the
American soldiers. Such information caused him
much anxiety, and most thankful was he when at
length the ice ran out of the river, and Mrs. Bompas
was able to continue on her way after the long delay.
The following summer the Bishop turned his
attention to the southern part of his diocese. Word
had reached him of stirring towns on Lake Bennett
and Lake Atlin. Thinking them to be in his jurisdiction, he made the long and difficult journey up
stream to view the land. Reaching Bennett during
the summer of 1899, he was astonished to see a
flourishing city containing thousands of people.
But greater still was his surprise to find that
Bennett and Atlin were in British Columbia, and
that he had gone several miles beyond his diocese.
His stay was very brief at Bennett, and on his
return trip down the river he spent two days among
the Indians at Tagish, gaining much information
concerning these natives and their language.    One THE FLOOD
week later Bishop Ridley arrived at Bennett, and,
writing of the visit of the Bishop of Selkirk, he says:
"Dr. Bompas has the full tide of civilization
forced upon him to his sorrow. ... A week before my arrival he stood where I now write.
Would that he had waited the few days, that I might
have had the honour of welcoming him to my
diocese. He thought Bennett and Atlin were
within his, and therefore ventured so far. Arriving
here, he found that he had trespassed beyond his
jurisdiction no less than fourteen miles. The newspaper man who reported an interview with him
states that he hurried northwards and buried himself once more in the frozen north, that no other
man loves but for the sake of its gold. This report,
copied into an American paper, added striking
flosses to the account. What would the dear
Bishop think if he saw himself described as the
most devoted of Catholic (meaning Roman Catholic)
Bishops in the wide world ? This gloss was evidently by a Roman newsman, who covertly hit at
the snug and comfortable lives of Protestants who
assumed episcopal authority. Bishop Bompas,
says the paper, was so modest that he would not
talk of the countless hairbreadth escapes from
awful peril and death, treating them as phases of
everyday life not to be counted worthy of notice."
The following winter Bishop Bompas remained
at the Indian village of Moosehide, and, amidst
school labours and diocesan cares, formed plans for
important extension of the mission-work. CHAPTER XVII
" Plain patient work fulfilled that length of life."
Arthur Hugh Clough.
When on a visit to one of his mission-stations
during his later years, the Bishop was asked to
write a few lines in an autograph album. He at
once complied with the request, and wrote the
words, which he felt applied to him as they did to
Gideon and his 300, " Faint yet pursuing."
Years of strenuous work were telling upon his
gigantic constitution, and he began to realize that
ere long he must lay down the staff of office. For
some time he had his attention turned towards the
southern portion of the diocese, to the Indians who
were gathered at Caribou Crossing, which had become
quite an important railway centre. In August,
1901, he and Mrs. Bompas bade farewell to all at
Forty Mile, and started on their journey up the
river. Whitehorse was only in its infancy, and the
Rev. R. J. and Mrs. Bowen had just returned from
England to take ^charge of the Church work. In
the little tent they received the venerable couple, and
did all in their power to minister to their comfort.
The accommodation at Caribou Crossing was most
meagre. A tent which belonged to Bishop Ridley
gave them shelter for a few hours, when, hearing of
a bunk-house across the river, they at once rented
it, and afterwards purchased it for 150 dollars. It
was dirty and uncomfortable, but the Bishop placed a
rug and blanket on the big table for Mrs. Bompas
to rest on, while he went to explore. The house was
infested with gophers, which ran along the rafters,
causing great annoyance. But notwithstanding the
toil of the day, Evening Prayer was held in Bishop
Ridley's tent. Here services were conducted till
the fall, when the weather grew so cold that
Mrs. Bompas's fingers became numb as she played
at the little harmonium, which she had brought
with her. After that services, morning and evening, were held at the mission-house, " which,"
as Mrs. Bompas tells us, " had been used as a
road-house and post-office, and possessed one
good-sized room, over the door of which there
still exists the ominous word c Bar-room' (now
hidden behind a picture); and in this room we
had to gather, Indians and white people, for
Sunday and weekday services, for baptisms, marriages, and funerals, for school-children and adult
classes, etc."
In 1903 Bishop Ridley, of Caledonia, paid a visit
to   Caribou  Crossing  on  his way to Atlin.    His
description of the episcopal residence and the life
of the venerable occupants is most interesting,
and a few extracts must be given here.
" There on the platform stands the straight and
venerable hero of the North, Dr. Bompas, the Bishop
of Selkirk. I jumped from the train, and, though
I had never met him before, I grasped his hand and
exclaimed: ' At last ! at last !' We knew each
other well by letter only. He was as placid as the
mountains and the lakes they embosom."
Then a glimpse is permitted of the " Bishop's
house, built of logs, on the sand. The flooring-boards
were half an inch apart; so shrunken were they that
it would be easy to rip them up and lay them down
close together. Then the roof: it was papered,
with battens across the paper. I was anxious to see
inside less of the light of heaven through the rents.
Ventilation is carried to excess. Everything around
is as simple as indifference to creature comforts can
make it, excepting the books, which are numerous,
up to date, and as choice as any two excellent
scholars could wish.
" The question that has often sprung from my
heart has been this: if this poor £30 affair
is by comparison delightful, what of the contrivances that have sheltered them in the past
forty years ?
" Never in my life did I value hospitality so
much, or feel so honoured, as here under the roof
of these grand apostles of God. Two septuagenarians of grace and broad culture, whose years
have   been   spent   nobly   in   God's   eyes,   have " FAINT YET PURSUING "
deliberately chosen an austere type of service, not
for austerity's sake, but for Christ's sake, under
circumstances the average citizen of the Empire
would feel to be past endurance. They are as
happy as heroic. She, accomplished far beyond the
standard one meets with in London drawing-rooms,
unless among the most cultured circles ; he, a fine
scholar, steeped in Hebrew and Syrian lore, as well
as in the commoner studies of the clergy, live on,
love on, labour on in this vast expanse, little
trodden but by the Indians for whom they live and
will die.
" If such lives fail in Christ's cause, that cause
is doomed. Let those who criticize cease their,
cackling, and try to imitate by self-sacrifice such
lives as those I have just touched on, and they, too,
may have some share in the betterment of mankind, the expansion of Christ's kingdom, and the
eternal welfare of humanity."
Bishop Bompas notes in one of his reports that
Caribou Crossing " forms the centre of a hitherto:
unoccupied area, and forges, perhaps, one of the last
links of the chain of the Church Missionary Society;
stations which girdle the world."
Anxious days followed the Bishop's removal to
this place. Clergy were scarce in the diocese, and
when Mr. Bowen left Whitehorse earnest appeals
were sent " outside " for men. Then it was, upon
the Bishop's earnest request, that the Rev. I. 0.
Stringer arrived in November, 1903, to take up the
work laid down by Mr. Bowen. Much pleased was
the Bishop to have Mr. Stringer so near, and at
once marked him as his successor.
Then followed the death of his old friend Archbishop Machray, and as senior Bishop of the
province of Rupert's Land he was summoned to
Winnipeg. A message reached him from Mr. John
Machray, nephew of the late Primate, telling him
of the Archbishop's death, with the addition : " As
senior Bishop it is important that you should attend
a conference of Bishops in Winnipeg to select a
Though the Bishop shrank much from leaving
the north to mingle with the bustling world, yet,
after a few minutes' thought, he sent back the
following answer:
11 will try to be with you by Easter."
And on Easter Eve, April, 1904,- with Mrs.
Bompas, and Susie, a little deaf-and-dumb girl,* he
was met by several of the clergy at Winnipeg, and
was present at St. John's Cathedral on Easter Day,
though only as one of the congregation, being too
much overcome by the crowd and bustle of the city
to take any active part in the service.
On the following Sunday he was able to preach
in St. John's Cathedral. "His sermon," so Mrs.
Bompas tells us, " was in his usual earnest and un-
embellished style, referring to the last time he had
officiated in that church, nearly thirty years before,
* This girl was placed in the Deaf and Dumb Institution
at Winnipeg. She died on February 26, 1907, of tuberculosis, aged ten years. "FAINT YET PURSUING"
alluding with pathos to the many who had left the
busy whirl of life during that period, and expressing
his great pleasure that, among the many chang
that were taking place in the Church, the services
of St. John's Cathedral still retained something of
their old, almost austere, simplicity."
Many and varied must have been the thoughts
which surged through the Bishop's mind during his
visit to Winnipeg. He was on historic ground,
made sacred by the names of noble men who had
toiled so hard for the Master's cause. There was
John West, the pioneer missionary of the Church
of England in the country; Archdeacon Cockran,
the " sturdy Northumbrian from Ctallingham," who
did such a great work for the Indians and half-breeds;
Archdeacon Cowley, of undaunted courage and
determination, able " either to build a stone wall
or to go through one" as occasion required ; and
the noble Dr. Anderson, first Bishop of Rupert's
Land, " whose heartiness and practical good sense
were conspicuously manifest for sixteen years in the
forests and over the snowfields of Rupert's Land."
But there was one figure which the veteran from
the North most sadly missed, and whose absence
was the cause of his visit to Winnipeg. It was his
firm friend and adviser of long years, the venerable
Archbishop Machray. He saw him for the last
time in 1874, standing on the Red River bank, near
St. John's College, waving his hand in adieu to him
and Mrs. Bompas as they proceeded northward.
They had been set apart the same year in England
for work in the Canadian North-West, and whilexone
bravely upheld the standard of the Lord in the far
North, and ministered to scattered bands of Indians
and a few white people, the other laid the strong
foundation and planned for the welfare of the
Church over the vast diocese. No more fitting
tribute could be given to this great Bishop than that
made by the Ven. Archdeacon Ker, in St. George's
Church, Montreal, March 13, 1904, a portion of
which must be included here :
" As the great Hebrew captain (Joshua) was permitted to see the twelve tribes of Israel encamped
around him in peace, according to their lots, so in
like manner the Archbishop of Rupert's Land was
permitted to see the Israel of God encamped and
entrenched around in their dioceses, Saskatchewan
and Moosonee, Mackenzie River and Athabasca,
Qu'Appelle and Selkirk, Keewatin and Calgary-
each diocese according to its boundaries. ... He
lived to see all this—to see towns and cities spring
up magic-like while he gazed; to see his college
grow into a university, and the clergy of his diocese
increase by scores and scores ; to see the Church of
England in Canada united in one bond of faith and
love, working with one heart and one mind for the
universal extension-of the kingdom of God. All
this he witnessed ; and long years before, when he
stood the lonely missionary at Fort Garry, his
master mind saw and saluted the coming glory.
And when at last the silence of the desert was
broken by the tramp of the hosts carried thither in
search of new homes and new hopes, the Archbishop
was ready, and, so far as he could prepare her, the
Church of England was ready to deal with the
manifold difficulties presented by the new conditions.
" The memory of such a life, such an .example,
is the splendid heritage of the Canadian Church.
It is many-sided, and suggests many thoughts
worthy of consideration. The dignity of personal
self-sacrifice for Jesus Christ's sake ; the dignity
of the lonely watcher, who in the kingdom and
patience of Jesus Christ waits for the dawn; the
dignity of the labourer in the Master's vineyard
who toils at his task, whatever or wherever it may
be, in blazing summer and frosty winter, all through
life's weary day, only ceasing his labours when
the sun has gone down in the west for the last
time, when the sight has gone for ever from the
eyes, when the hands are folded in death, and the
great soul has been summoned to its kindred in the
Paradise of God."*
The Bishop's time was fully occupied during his
stay in Winnipeg. There were old friends calling
upon him, reporters seeking interviews, meetings to
attend, and addresses to deliver, which wearied him
very much. His voice was feeble, and could not be
distinctly heard at the gatherings where he told of
his northern diocese. But what did that matter ?
The people thought rather of the man—the man of
whom they had heard such wonderful things—and
cheered him heartily.
* The New Era, May, 1904. " FAINT YET PURSUING "
The Archbishop of Rupert's Land, in an address
|  at the 107th Anniversary of the Church Missionary
I   Society, at Exeter Hall, London, April, 1907, thus
I  referred to the visit of Bishop Bompas to Winnipeg:
" Dr. Bompas, that splendid veteran missionary,
who came down at the time of my election—he
was as humble as a little child—when he stood on
the platform at a great missionary meeting, and
when I, introducing him, spoke of the hardships he
had gone   through,  corrected  me thus when he
started to speak.    He said : ' It is you men at the
centre, with your telephones and your telegrams,
who have the hardships.    We have a soft time in
the north.    Nobody ever worries us.'   That is all
that he said about his hardships.    Then he told the
story of his work in a simple childlike way."
But the city life did not agree with him. He
longed for his northern flock, and the quietness of
his little log house at Caribou Crossing. A doctor
was consulted, who strongly advised him not to
return to his diocese for some time. Before this
the Bishop was uncertain when he would return ;
but after the doctor's verdict had been given he
hesitated no longer, but fixed a date for his departure.
Only three weeks did he stay in Winnipeg, and
then started northward. Acts of kindness were
showered upon him on every hand. All delighted
to honour the noble missionary in their midst.
As he stood on the platform before leaving Winnipeg, an unknown friend, knowing that the Bishop
would not afford himself the  luxury  of a good " FAINT YET PURSUING'
berth, slipped into his hand a ticket for one in the
Pullman car.
When once again in his own diocese, the longing I
grew stronger for rest, and he became impatient
for the time when his successor would be appointed.
Then, the delay in the election of the new Archbishop gave him much concern. He felt it was ;
his duty to go once more to Winnipeg to hasten
matters, and many were the letters written and
received before everything was finally arranged.
His annual trip down the river to visit the various
mission-stations became more and more of a burden,
and he wished to stay quietly in one place to carry
on his desired work.
And that desired work filled him with gladness. ,
" The daily round, the common task," was all that
he asked for. Praise might go to others, he wished
for none for himself. The Indian school occupied
much of his time, and part of each morning was
given up to it. The building over the river, which
at first had been used for the school, was exchanged
for the log police-barracks, quite close to the
mission-house. It was an interesting sight to
observe the venerable, grey-haired teacher among
a number of stirring young Indian pupils. Gladly
did he leave his beloved translations to be awhile
the teacher.
" Freely the sage, though wrapped in musings high,
Assumed the teacher's part."
Though   the  Bishop  used to  say  that  to  teach
Indians was a very difficult task, " like writing in
the sand, instead of graving in the rock," yet he
never gave up, but went bravely on till the last.
A portion of 'his time was devoted to letter-writing
and translation work. He was always an early
riser, and his letters were written in the early
morning in the quietness of his study. Letter-
writing he seemed to love, and seldom did he pen
less than six or seven missives a day. It was in
this manner he could express himself most freely,
and sometimes, when wishing to convey a message
to a member of his household, he would do so by
letter, at times leaving it at the post-office to be
delivered later in the day.
Rarely did he miss meeting the train on its arrival
at the settlement, that he might be at hand to receive
his mail as soon as possible. His tall, erect figure,
with the leather travelling-bag slung across his
shoulder, walking up and down the platform, was
a most familiar sight. Strangers would gaze with
curiosity upon the veteran of the North, of whom
they had heard so much, and often snapshots were
taken, to be reproduced in books, magazines, or
newspaper articles. This latter the Bishop bore
with good-natured tolerance, considering it a necessary evil, and one of the discomforts of modern
civilization. He told one of his clergy—him who
now wields the episcopal staff—who was busy taking
a number of pictures of the Bishop and his Indian
school, that he did not wish to see him go, but he
would like to see the camera make a hasty departure.
For some time the Bishop wished to change the
name of Caribou Crossing, as his letters often went to I
other places of a similar name, and thus caused much
delay and confusion.    After careful consideration
he chose the name of " Carcross."    Many objected
to the change, and strongly worded articles were
written in the local paper condemning the " mongrel
name of Carcross."    The Bishop remained silent, I
replying to  none of these attacks.    At length a
letter appeared, addressed to the Bishop, from the J
Secretary of the Geographic Board  of   Canada,
stating that at a meeting of the Board " the name 1
' Carcross' was approved instead of ' Caribou' or j
' Caribou Crossing.' "   The Bishop smiled, but said 1
nothing.    Since then the new name has steadily j
won its way.
Notwithstanding the school work and study,
ample time was found for other duties which de-1
volved upon him. There were Indians calling atj
most unseasonable hours for assistance in some perplexing question. The advice thus freely given I
was often interpreted in most unexpected ways.
On one occasion he had a long talk with an Indian j
who had taken a young woman as his second wife,
having wearied of the first. The Bishop told him]
it was wrong to have two wives, and that he should
only have one. The Indian seemed much sur- i
prised with these words, and promised to obey; j
but, to the astonishment of all, he put away hisj
old, faithful wife and kept the younger.
Once at a wedding of two Indians the Bishop j
repeated very carefully the words, "for better, for
worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in
health," etc., and told the groom to repeat them
after him. The Indian was much puzzled. He
could not repeat the words, neither could he understand their meaning, and looked vacantly around.
After a time a light illumined his face, and, turning
to his passive, dusky bride, he said :
" Me sick, you take care me ; you sick, me take
care you—eh ?"
The building of the new church at Carcross was
a great comfort to the Bishop. Services had been
held in the mission-house, which was much too small
to accommodate all who attended. The cost of
Hauilding was met almost entirely by kind friends
outside the diocese. In 1904 Mrs. Bompas visited
Eastern Canada, and addressed the Women's
Auxiliary at Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, and
Quebec on mission-work in the North. Great was
her surprise when, at the Annual Meeting of this
noble handmaid of the Church, at the cathedral in
Toronto, she'was presented with the generous gift
of $800 towards the church building fund for
St. Saviour's, Carcross. Other gifts came steadily
in, and the success of the church was complete.
In the erection of this little building the Bishop
was most active, not only superintending the work,
but doing much manual labour himself. It was a
happy day when at last it was opened for service.
It was consecrated on August 8, 1904, after Mrs.
Bompas's return to the diocese.
The services were of a very simple nature, for
the Bishop seemed to have an almost complete disregard for external things. Seldom did he wear his
episcopal robes, not even when visiting the different
mission-stations in his diocese, being content to use
the long white surplice, with the black stole, and
without his Doctor's hood. This was a cause of worry
to Mrs. Bompas, who rejoiced to see all things done
" decently and in order." Once on the Mackenzie
River, when starting to hold a Confirmation service
some distance away, he was urged by Mrs. Bompas to
take his episcopal robes. He refused to do so, saying
that the surplice was sufficient. On that trip his boat
was swamped, and everything was lost, and only with
difficulty were he and his companions saved.
Though caring little for the outward observances
of worship, he had a jealous regard for his episcopal
office, as an extract from a letter to one of his
clergy will show :
I As the Epiphany appeals were sent direct to
the clergy this year and not to me, I have not yet
notified you on the subject. I think the Mission
Board rather wrongs the episcopal office, and makes
the other Bishops also interlopers in all the dioceses.
Any request to the clergy ought to come from their
own Bishop only. No Bishop has any other
authority than over his own see, and any request
from the Mission Board should come through their
own Bishop to the clergy.
" However, we need not quarrel with them, as it
is well meant, and they are not likely to put my
name to any future letters or addresses without my
306 Bishop Bom:  "FAINT YET PURSUING"
seeing them. It is a good address, and I read it
last night.
" I think the modern idea must be that in ecclesiastical matters all irregularities, however grave, and
of whatever kind, are quite reasonable and proper."
Great was the Bishop's pleasure when a message
arrived summoning Mr. Stringer to Winnipeg for
consecration. Anxiously he awaited his return to
take over the work. For some time his heart had
been set upon going to Little Salmon, on the Yukon
River, to start a mission among the Indians at that
place, and he discussed plans with the enthusiasm
of youth. This idea filled him with happiness, and
the following words, penned on December 29, 1905,
express the state of his feelings :
" We are fast approaching the close of the year,
and I am very thankful to find it ending so tranquilly, with such fair prospects for the future.
Things have assumed a much brighter prospect for
myself since Christmas."
During the month of January the cold was so
intense and the storms so severe that the trains
were unable to run. The Bishop became impatient
at the delay. He longed to hear when Bishop
Stringer would leave for the North, that he might
be free once again to go down the river to work
among his dusky flock.
" It has been dull times for us this week," he
wrote, " without trains."
But at length his successor arrived, and with great
eagerness he handed over the charge of the diocese. CHAPTER XVIII
" God's finger touched him and he slept."
In a famous picture an old warrior, scarred in many
a fierce battle, is seen hanging up his sword; his
work ended, he could afford to rest. But not so
with Bishop Bompas, the faithful soldier of the
Cross. No thought of ease entered his mind, but
only more work for the Master. As St. Paul of
old handed on his commission to St. Timothy, so
did this veteran apostle of a later day pass on the
torch to a younger son in the faith, that he might
be free for other work. Then came the end, the
last scene in the life of this noble man.
Far away in dear old England, 7,000 miles from
a quiet grave in the great Canadian north land, the
following account of those last days has been
beautifully written as a loving tribute by her, the
faithful wife, who for long years bore with the
devoted Bishop the burden and heat of the day :
" The storms on Lake Bennett, on the shores of
which Carcross is situated, are at times pretty
severe. The winds blow in gusts down the steep
mountain gullies, and toss into fury the waters of
the lake. The depth of that lake between Carcross
and Bennett is very great. It has often been
sounded and no bottom reached. Many a hastily
run-up scow, full of brave, enterprising miners, has
been wrecked on these waters, and many a nameless
grave in the white man's territory marks the resting-place of some poor fellow who was strong to
venture, but had not learnt to realize the many
dangers and vicissitudes of a miner's life. But the
lake has its periods of calm no less than those of
turmoil and unrest. Mark it on some evening of
summer, when scarcely a ripple stirs its surface.
The reflection of the mountains on the water is so
clear and vivid that one is tempted to doubt which
is the reality and which is the shadow.
" Such a calm, such a change from turmoil into
peace, marked the evening of the life we have been
considering. We believe that God's servants have
been given a premonition of the approach of death.
The Bishop had laid his plans some months ahead,
and made necessary preparations for a winter down
the river. He had always been remarkable for
physical strength and energy. For his winter
travelling he was always seen running, with the
jaunty pace of the northern tripper, ahead of his
sledge. He was ever ready to help the men hauling
up a boat at some of the portages, or in pushing it
down the bank into the river. Among our party it
313 1
was always the Bishop who insisted on charging
himself with the heaviest articles, and it was only
within the last two years that he abstained from
hauling water from the lake for the whole of
our household. But symptoms of some diminution
of strength and vigour in this strong man were
beginning to show themselves. The eyes that had
pored so long with imperfect light over the pages
of Hebrew and Syriac, in which he so delighted,
were failing, and had to be strengthened by glasses
stronger and yet stronger still. Since his last
attack of scurvy he had lost all sense of smell or
taste. No one could be with the Bishop many
hours without observing an expression of weariness
and dejection in his countenance, which was as
intense as it was pathetic. He was often heard
whispering, ' Courage, courage.' To more than one
of his friends he had given his impression that he
had not long to live. To his brother he wrote just
a year before his death : ' For myself, I am most
thankful to be in this happy retirement. When the
time comes, I hope for as tranquil an earthly ending
as that of our brother George, though perhaps mine
may be more sudden, and possibly not even in my
" The Bishop's burden of responsibility had of
late years been greatly increased by the advent of
the white men. The population of the diocese had
increased sevenfold and at rapid strides. The
problem of providing for the spiritual needs of
these people, and especially of keeping the Indians
from the allurements of the whisky traffic and the
snares of the gambling-table, was weighing heavily
upon him. But the darkest hour is the hour before
the dawn ; the labourer's task was nearly accomplished. The Rev. I. 0. Stringer had been
nominated by the Bishop and approved by the
Church Missionary Society and the Canadian Board
of Missions as successor to Bishop Bompas in the
See of Selkirk (Yukon). He was a good man and an
earnest Churchman, and had had some years' experience of mission-work among the Indians of Peel
River and the Esquimaux of Herschel Island, at the
mouth of the Mackenzie. Mr. Stringer was consecrated Bishop in St. John's Cathedral, Winnipeg,
December 17, 1905, and his arrival in Selkirk
Diocese was ardently looked for. With him was
expected the Rev. A. E. O'Meara, of Toronto, to
be placed in charge of the newly started mission at
Conrad, twelve miles from Carcross, the centre of
a new mining camp.
" And so, with the mission staff a little better
equipped, with the work of the diocese passing
into younger and less toilworn hands, our Bishop
could now turn his thoughts to his own plans for
the coming months. The Church Missionary
Society had suggested to him a retiring pension, but
this he declined to accept, unless he continued in
some department of the work of the mission. His
great desire now, and one which had for a long
time past occupied his thoughts, was to start a new
mission on Little Salmon River, where there are
often congregated together 200 Indians who have
seldom come within sound of the Gospel. But
Bishop Stringer and others dissuaded him from the
new venture, thinking that the work of starting a
new mission, with the prospect of having to build a
house and get in supplies for the coming winter,
was one for which neither the Bishop himself nor
his wife, at their advanced age, were fitted. Accepting this disappointment as God's will, Bishop
Bompas prepared to go down the river to Forty
Mile, below Dawson. Now was there bustle and
unrest on the mission premises at Carcross preparatory to the departure.
" A passage for the Bishop and Mrs. Bompas
and two Indian girls had been secured on one of
the river steamers to sail on Monday. This was
Saturday, June 9, a day calm and bright as our
summer days in the far North mostly are. The
Bishop was as active as ever on that day. Twice
he had walked across the long railway-bridge, and
his quick elastic step had been commented on as
that of a young man. Later he had been up to
the school, and on to the Indian camp to visit some
sick Indians. Then he went home, and remained
for some time in conversation with Bishop Stringer,
into whose hands he had already committed all the
affairs of the diocese. Then the mission-party
dined together, and at eight o'clock they all
reassembled for prayers. After prayers the Bishop
retired to his study and shut the door.
" Was there, we wonder, any intimation of the
coming rest in the breast of that stalwart warrior,
whose end of life was now so near as to be reckoned,
not by hours, but by minutes only ? Was there
any consciousness of having fought a good fight,
and finished his course ? We know not. Sitting
on a box, as was his custom, he began the sermon
which proved to be his last. Presently the pen
stopped: the hand that so often had guided it was
to do so no more. Near him was one of his flock, an
Indian girl, who needed some attention, and as he
arose he leaned his elbow on a pile of boxes. And
while standing there the great call came ; the hand
of God touched him, and the body which had
endured so much fell forward. When Bishop
Stringer reached his side a few minutes later, the
Indian girl was holding his head in her lap. Nothing
could be done, and without a struggle, without one
word of farewell, the brave soul passed forth to a
higher life.
" And so the tale is told, the chapter ended, of
that life begun seventy-two years since. A suffering, quiet, uneventful life, and yet, we hope, not all
unfruitful of God's glory, and of souls won for
the fold of the Good Shepherd. Most aptly do the
words of the poet apply to him :
" ' O good grey head which all men knew,
O voice from which their omens all men drew,
O iron nerve to true occasion true,
O fallen at length that tower of strength
Which stood four-square to all the winds that blew.
Such was he whom we deplore.
The long self-sacrifice of life is o'er.'
" The awe and silence which overspread the
camp and school and mission that night and the
following day were very striking. By the morning
of Sunday, tidings of the Bishop's death had been
flashed to Ottawa and London and all down the
river. On Tuesday morning notices of the Bishop's
life and work were in many-American and Canadian
newspapers, with his portrait.
" The funeral had to be on Monday, June 11,
the Festival of St. Barnabas (the Son of Consolation). Messages came from the Indians down
the river, as well as from friends elsewhere, expressing deepest sympathy with Mrs. Bompas in
the terrible shock she had sustained. The
Indians heard with extreme satisfaction that their
friend and Bishop had once expressed a wish to be
buried among them. Two of them came and
offered to dig his grave, adding, ' You no pay me.'
In the Indian cemetery, therefore, beautifully
situated less than a mile from Carcross, was the
grave made ready. The mountains, clad with
their dark pine-woods, looked down grave and
solemn on the Indians' burial-ground. There were
not many graves, but they were well and carefully
kept and tended, for they were all friends who lay
there, and we knew the life and history of each one.
Below the cemetery were the waters of the lake,
in summer ever studded with swift canoes or white
man's row - boats, or the steamer Gleamer and
smaller vessels. But on this day there was no
movement on the lake. All vessels had their flags
half-mast high, and deferred their sailing that their
captains and men might attend the funeral. It
took place at five o'clock. On account of the
distance, only two of the Bishop's clergy were able
to take part in the solemn service, Mr. O'Meara,
of Conrad, and Mr. Cody, of Whitehorse.
" The little church of St. Saviour's was now
filled with all the white population of Carcross and
all the Indians who had come to do honour to the
great man who had fallen in their midst. The two
hymns chosen from the Hymnal Companion were
most appropriate—one, ' For all the Saints,' telling
of the triumph of the saints of God after earth's
hard fight; the other, ' Jesus lives,' breathing forth
the blessed hope of victory over the grave and a
glorious resurrection. The service was conducted
by Bishop Stringer, assisted by the two clergymen,
and then the dear Bishop's body was lifted into a
boat waiting at the foot of the bank, and rowed by
two natives over water as smooth as glass to the
cemetery. Three white men and three Indians
carried the body from the shore to the grave, and,
after the beautiful service had been read, the
children of the Indian mission-school came one by
one and dropped into the grave their little offerings
of wild flowers, which had been gathered for the
" There is a humble grave in one of the loveliest
and most secluded spots in the Yukon territory.
Dark pine-forests guard that grave.     During the
winter months pure untrodden snow covers it.   It is
enclosed by a rough fence made of fir-wood, which
an Indian woodman cut down and trimmed, leaving
the bark on, and then fixed strong and stable around
the grave. But none will disturb that spot, no foot
of man or beast will dishonour it; the sweet notes
of the Canadian robin and the merry chirp of the
snow-bird are almost the only sounds which break
the silence of that sacred place. The Indians love
that grave ; the mission children visit it at times
with soft steps and hushed voices to lay some cross
of wild flowers or evergreen upon it. There is a
grey granite headstone with the words, ' In the
peace of Christ,' and the name and age of him who
rests beneath.    It is the grave of Bishop Bompas."
" On the night of the Bishop's death," says Bishop
Stringer, " one group of Indians after another came
to the Bishop's house, with sorrow depicted on each
face as they asked at first if the sad news were
true, and then other questions, showing their deep
concern. In the morning they came one by one to
look for the last time on the face of him who was
always their friend. Never more could he listen
patiently to all their troubles—never again would
he get up from the midst of his work and tramp off
half a mile to their camps to see a sick person, and
give all the relief possible in medicine, food, and
clothing, and, above all, advice in their many
adversities and, oftentimes, complicated troubles.
" The day after the funeral an Indian and his
wife arrived on foot from Skagway. As Mrs.
Bompas went out to shake hands with them as old
friends, she said, ' Bishop has gone.' The woman
looked interested, thinking she meant he had gone
to visit some of the other missions. Mrs. Bompas
tried to explain. ' Bishop dead three days,' she
said. Then the truth seemed to dawn on the Indian
woman, and she repeated, with rising inflection,
' Bishop dead ? Bishop dead ? Bishop dead ?' at
the same time giving vent to such a wail as I
scarcely ever heard from a human being. I then
realized more than ever how much the loss of our
dear Bishop meant to his own people, the Indians."
All men had a profound respect for Bishop
Bompas, especially the hardy prospectors. They
had endured so much on the lonely trails that they
looked upon him as one of themselves, who
had not spent his life in ease and luxury, but
struggling with Nature at her sternest. In speaking
of the late Bishop, a prospector at Carcross said:
" I feel as if I had lost my best friend. Sometimes some of us were hard up, no funds and no
food; but we always felt we could turn to the
Bishop for help. We knew that to knock at his
door and ask him if there was any odd job we could
do meant always, and especially if the Bishop knew
we were hard up, that he would find something for
us to do—now some wood to get, or, again, some
stove-pipe to fix, or a few nails to drive for Mrs.
Bompas, or some other work that would give him
the opportunity to pay us sufficient to keep soul
and body together."
Bishop Stringer, who records this conversation,
also mentions that on the Mackenzie River he once
met a miner who had been in Dawson in the early
days. " When asked if he knew Bishop Bompas,
he said he thought he had not seen him. When he
was described as a pioneer in the land, he suddenly
exclaimed, * Oh yes ; that's the man who wrote the
book. I have often seen him and spoken to him.
Many of us have read his book. The miners know
him as " the man who wrote the book."' He
referred to the ' History of the Mackenzie River
Diocese,' which contains much matter of interest
to the miner about the North."
The letters received by Mrs. Bompas were full of
the sincerest sympathy. Some were from the men
of the " Old Brigade," who had stood shoulder to
shoulder with the Bishop in his great fight against the
powers of darkness. Beautiful as well as pathetic
are the words of the Venerable Archdeacon
McDonald, from Winnipeg:
" He was a man dear to me, and I thank God for
the abundant grace that was bestowed upon him,
enabling him to labour patiently and persistently
among the natives, for whose sake he became a
missionary. I cannot forget that it was to replace
me he first came to the North, when, as it was
thought, my earthly course was nearly run, and I
would have to lay down the Banner of the Cross.
Nobly has he borne the standard; he has fought the
fight of faith, he has finished his course, and has
gone to receive, with the Apostle Paul and all who
love the appearing of our sweet Saviour Christ, the
crown of righteousness which shall be bestowed upon
them. . . . Thus another landmark has gone.
Bishop Bompas achieved a great reputation for
devotedness and saintliness and the most heroic
courage. Like our great Pattern, he constantly
went about doing good. He counted not his life
dear unto him, but exposed it many times in his
great Master's cause. He has left a splendid
record and example for all Bishops and clergy.
You and the Bishop have done a magnificent work
in that northern region—a work that has blessed
not only the Indians, but, in an indirect way, the
entire Church of God."
Dr. Matheson, Archbishop of Rupert's Land,
wrote :
" On my arrival from England yesterday I was
met with the sad news of the death of my very dear
friend. I am deeply pained, as he was a lifelong
friend, and I loved him. He was so loyal and true
to his friends. How we ought to thank God for
giving to the Church such a man as Bishop Bompas!
Even without his great work, the very example is
such an inspiration. Humble, unselfish, devoted,
great in simple-mindedness—these are the words
which seem to come to one when thinking of our
departed brother. . . . Accept my heartfelt sympathy. With frail body, yet dauntless spirit, you
have shared in all the trials of that great missionary
hero's life, and now you are alone, and yet not
alone. Oh no. God does seem to come so near to
us at these times."
From Alaska, Bishop Rowe sent the following
i The passing away of your good husband was to
him a euthanasia, a translation into the rest and joy
of Paradise, for which his heroic life and work had
ever pointed and aimed. To him the translation
from warfare into peace, from the sight that is dim
into the perfect light and presence of the King in His
beauty, is a joy beyond all other joys. . . . The world
has lost one of the greatest missionary heroes of the
age, and his beautiful life of service and unselfish
labours will long continue as an inspiration and
blessing to many who, through the dear Lord, have
looked to your husband, and seen in him an
exemplar of the faith such as, God helping them,
they fain would be."
One more letter must be given of the many
testimonies sent, and this is from the Rev. A. J.
Doull, of Westmount, Montreal.
" You have this comfort, that not only has the
noble Bishop passed to the rest and joy of Paradise,
but that he has left behind a name and an example
that cannot and will not be forgotten so long as the
Canadian Church remains in our land, and her
history is read by those who come after us. God
never leaves Himself without witnesses, and it is a
great encouragement and help to feel that an age so
prone to worldliness and indifference has also been
the age which has produced Bishop Bompas, a man
truly Apostolic in self-denying work, fervent zeal,
and devoted consecrated love. The Church in
Canada has a tremendous work to do, and she needs
the brightest examples that can be put before her
sons and daughters to inspire them to go in and
possess the good land. Truly may we bless God
that such an example has been provided at this
crisis in her history, the example of the first Bishop
of Selkirk." CHAPTER XIX
" The best of thoughts which he hath known
For lack of listeners are not said."
Jean Ingelow.
Some there are who assert that missionary work in
the far North is detrimental to all study, owing to
the unsettled life and the want of kindred spirits.
But Bishop Bompas believed just the reverse, and
contended that in the quietness of the great wilds
a person, freed from the bustle of tile city, could
pursue his studies undisturbed.
To the travelling missionary life the Bishop
added that of an indefatigable student of no mean
ability. An old manuscript note-book Which belonged to him gives food for much thought. It is
rude and worn, showing most plainly hard usage
when brought forth by some Indian camp-fire that
he might write down the new words he had
acquired during the day. The cover is only a thin
piece of oil-cloth, and how often it has shed the
rain or snow from the pages beneath ! As St. Paul
carried about " the parchments" from place to
place, so did this faithful apostle of a later day
carry with him his rude note-book.
As soon as Mr. Bompas reached Fort Simpson,
on that Christmas Day, 1865, he began the study
of the Indian language spoken thereabouts, jotting
down words here and there, and, according to Mr.
Kirkby's testimony, by summer he had made such
progress as to be able to converse quite fluently
with the natives.
There were several dialects in the region over
which he travelled, and to learn these in a short
time is proof of no ordinary linguistic ability. Yet
we find that between 1870 and 1880 he put forth
four Indian primers in as many dialects—the Slavi,
Beaver, Dog-Rib, and Tukudh—which were printed
by Gilbert and Rivington, of London, and a portion
of the Prayer Book (syllabic), in Chipewyan, in
conjunction with the Rev. W. W. Kirkby, which was
published by the Society for Promoting Christian
Knowledge. Then followed a long list of publications showing steady work. In 1880 came forth a
I Manual of Devotion, Hymns, Prayers, Catechism,
etc.," in Beaver, and in 1882 " Portions of the
Prayer Book, adapted to the Slavi," prepared in
co-operation with the Rev. W. W. Kirkby, and published by the same society ; in 1883 " The Gospels
in Slavi," published by the British and Foreign
Bible Society, and a vocabulary in manuscript; in
1886 and 1890-1891, with Bishop Reeve, "The
Four Gospels, and Acts to Revelation " (syllabic),
published by the Bible Society.    Besides these, the THE STUDENT
Bishop produced the Epistles and Revelation, Acts
of the Apostles, a hymnal, the New Testament, and
Prayer Book, all in Slavi. Though some of these
have been revised, yet they show the labour performed by this missionary as he travelled from
place to place, studying by camp-fires in mid-winter,
and in canoes on the great northern streams in
summer, contending with the myriads of insects
which surrounded him.
But while working at the Indian languages the
Bishop was patiently observing everything which
came under his notice, and collecting a fund of
information concerning the country in general and
the customs of the natives. This work was carried
on quietly and steadily, and when occasion arose the
treasure was stored up ready for immediate use.
Whether he intended at first to use his data for
publication is not known, but the proverb that
necessity is the mother of invention proved true in
his case.
Money was needed for the diocese, and he was
urged to make an effort to raise funds. To go to
England for the purpose was most repugnant to him,
on account of the publicity to which he would be
exposed, and he mentioned time and time again that
this was one of the reasons why he did not wish to
leave his field of labour. Then the thought occurred
to him that he might " raise money by publishing
some account of the country." Even this idea
caused him much doubt, for he said : "It is hardly
likely that I could write in a style acceptable to a
fastidious public, after my long isolation, though
I think to try the experiment, which I hope may be
a harmless one."
And " try the experiment" he did, with the
result that in October, 1888 the Society for
Promoting Christian Knowledge brought forth his
I Diocese of Mackenzie River." This book of
108 pages, containing ten chapters, shows careful
observation, and is written in a pleasing style,
though one longs for more information concerning
the mission-work in the diocese than that contained
in one chapter. The book treats of the early explorers, and the work of the Church of England;
the inhabitants, their language, dress, and habits;
geography, meteorology, fauna, and flora; and closes
with a chapter .on resources and prospects. Though
the book was reviewed in over twenty leading
English papers and magazines, for the most part
favourably, the sale was not large. By permission
of the Society much use has been made of it in this
This work was followed in 1892 by " Northern
Lights on the Bible," published by J. Nisbet and
Co., London, which will be referred to at length
in another chapter.
But the Bishop's steadiest and most thoughtful
work was the study of the Bible. He maintained
that " Scripture studies may be the easiest and
most profitable to pursue in the North, as the Bible
is oftener close at hand than any other book. It
is right also that the far North, as well as every THE STUDENT
other land, should contribute its quota towards the
elucidation of the Sacred Volume."
Here was a man far from refined Society, and
yet through the pages of Scripture he lived
and communed with Kings, Princes, Apostles, andf
Martyrs ; and what greater society could he have ?
Truth was what the Bishop thirsted for, and the
more he studied, the greater became his desire
for further knowledge. Greek gave him a thirst f oil
the study of Hebrew, and through these he probed?
deep into the sacred mine. But still he was not
satisfied. He longed for something more, and not
until he began the study of Syriac did he reach the
haven of his desire. In this new field he revelled,
and lost a taste for lighter reading. He wrote
enthusiastically to Mrs. Bompas in England:
" I shall bless the day you were born, for two
things you have done for me You sent me my
first pair of spectacles when I was getting blind,
and so imparted new strength to my bodily eyes ;
and you sent me the Syriac Testament with Lexicon,
and so have let the light of heaven into my
darkening mind. I find the Syriac text leads me
nearer to God than all the commentaries I have
The more he studied, the greater were the
wonders he discovered, and, writing again to Mrs.
Bompas, he said: " It is now almost 400 years
since the Nina, with Columbus on board, brought
to listening Europe the tale of the discovery of a
new world in the far West, and it may in God's
providence be reserved for you to tell the tale of
the discovery of a new world of wonders in God's
Holy Word, which will, I think, prove the delightful
study of God's people for a thousand years to come,
and perhaps for a thousand generations. As you
sent me the Syriac Testament, which was the seed,
you ought first to partake of the fruits. ... If
spared to next winter I may (D.V.) be sending
home some matter to be printed."*
" I once told you," he wrote on another occasion,
" that the name of your natal saint, Matthias,
means 'Faith,' and so it has been explained in
Hebrew; but in Syriac it appears to mean'Advent,'
or arrival. This is, doubtless, the better explanation, of which I was ignorant till I saw the Syriac
Testament you sent me, and therefore I misled you.
" I trust that the wonderful things now coming to
light in His Word may be taken to harbinger our
Lord's approach and the extension of His kingdom.
I trust, also, the pleasure I have been having in these
studies may be taken as harbinger for me of the
joys of heaven, which I feel must follow them
speedily, if ever at all."
There is something grand in the thought of this
man, away in the great North in some rude log
building, or by a camp-fire, with hardly the bare
necessities of life, perfectly indifferent to his surroundings, rejoicing in the Sacred Volume, and
discovering so many wonderful things therein.
* Mrs. Bompas's name is Selina, shortened by her relatives
to " Nina," which fact gives point to the Bishop's illustration.
In 1896 James Pott and Company, of New York,
brought forth " The Symmetry of Scripture," a
volume of 350 pages. The book contains " Passages
of Scripture with Notes," and portions of Scripture
systematically arranged from the Old and New
Testaments and the Prayer Book. Though most
of the work is taken up with translations and rearrangement of texts, yet in the first few pages the
Bishop sets forth his discoveries, which gave him
such pleasure during the long Northern nights.
Few realized the extent of the Bishop's Biblical
labours till after bis death, when an old wooden
box filled with a mass of manuscripts revealed the
secret. It seemed almost irreverent to disturb the
collection, and the sight of those old, worn papers
tempted the imagination to stray far afield. And
what did the old box contain ? First, a complete
translation of the New Testament from the Syriac,
the whole of Genesis, portions of the Psalms,
Proverbs, and the Apocrypha, besides a second
translation of all the Epistles and Revelation, and
much of the Gospels and Acts.
On the left-hand side of each page is the Syriac
in English characters, with the translation opposite.
This latter is rendered in most literal English without note or comment. The following will serve as
examples :
St. Matt. i. 1-4.
" A book of history of the Sovereign Saviour,
Son of Darling, Son of Choice-crowd.
To Choice-crowd was born Smiling,
To Smiling was born Heel.
" To Heel were born Confessor
And bis brothers.   To Confessor were born
Outburst and Sunrise from Palm-tree.
To Outburst was born Fold,
" To Fold was born Height,
To Height was born Bounty,
To Bounty was bom Divining,
To Divining was born Peaceful."
St. Matt. ii. 1-2.
" And while the Saviour was born
In Bread-home of Confessor's land,
In the days of Hero the Bang,
Came Astrologers from the East
" To Peacesite, and were saying, * Where
Is the King of the Confessors, who was born ?
For we saw His Star in the East,
And we come to bow to Him."
Next, the box contained two complete works in
manuscript, showing great labour, prepared for
publication. " Scripture Acrostics and Texts of
the Bible Reversed and Transposed" is a mass of
material closely written on 287 pages of 8 by 10
paper, with directions to print " 500 copies in limp
cloth, thin paper, to be printed and published at a
total cost not exceeding $250.00." It is divided
into seven sections dealing with various subjects.
First there is a comparison between the Syriac and
Greek of the New Testament, with eight arguments
in favour of the former. Then follows in alphabetical order lists of ordinary and rare words in
the new Testament, with detailed explanations and
copious references, showing most careful research.
Section 4 treats of Bible history, while the remaining three consider very fully impugned texts
and acrostics of Scripture.
" Scripture Analysed ; or, Investigations in the
Original Text of the Holy Bible," to which the
date 1894 is attached, is a work of 168 pages,
divided also into seven sections. " The object
of this publication," so runs the preface, "is to
establish the fact that the original text of the New
Testament is to be found, not in the Greek, but in
the Syriac tongue, which was actually spoken by
Christ and His Apostles. . . .
" This present publication proceeds to establish
that this original and inspired text of the New
Testament is found in our present Syriac text,
commonly called Peschito, or untranslated text."
The table of contents shows the subjects eon^ ;
sidered in this book: " Scripture Analysed,"
"Parallel Passages in the Gospels alike in Syriac
and Varied Greek," " Alliterations Initialled," " New
Testament Words in the Syriac," " Texts Reversed,"
" Old and New Testament Texts Analysed."
Such independent research on the part of the"
Bishop made him rather a severe critic. He had
little patience with the popular theological writers
of the day, saying that "they pulled the Bible
to pieces too much." The Revised Version of 1885
received a share of his severe denunciation. He
had waited with much expectation, mingled with
anxiety, for the production of this work, and when
Mrs. Bompas sent him a copy from England he
joy was
was much delighted.   But, alas ! his
short duration, and sadly he wrote :
" I do not write more on the Revised Old Testament, for I dislike it too much to consider longer
its dissection, and the most painful part is that I
feel it must be taken as an index of a defection
from purity. Many of the prophecies are rendered
as historical, and some of the most important
prophecies of Christ are diverted from application
to Him."
It is remarkable, considering his isolation, how
the Bishop was conversant with the great Biblical
questions of the day, and the arguments of leading
scholars. He wielded the pen with great facility,
and at times wrote learned articles to Biblical
magazines. His essay, written for The Expositor,
on his favourite subject, a plea " for a wider study
of the Scripture in the Syriac tongue," is written
in a pleasing style, and shows most plainly the skill
and strength of the master in its execution.
No matter what subject he handled, the standard
was always the Divine Word, and every idea had
to be squared and fitted to that, or else he would
none of it. Through long years of patient study
he had " straight got by heart that book to its last
page," and knew his ground. In 1900 the Bishop
wrote an answer to a pamphlet on " The Unlawfulness of War." In this he gives an exhibition of
his strength and versatility in handling the Word
of God. We can almost imagine a smile flitting
across his face as he proceeded, clearly and logically,
to deal with the arguments of his opponent, bringing
forth from the great armoury things both new and
old to serve his purpose.
This, then, was the man who, steeped in Hebrew
and Syriac, and with natural endowments which
would have graced a professor's chair, yet was content
through long years to minister faithfully to his little
flock of untutored Indians. To them he could impart
nothing of his grand thoughts, neither did he think
to do so. His sermons, whether to Indians or white
people, were full of simplicity and beauty. Love
formed the warp and woof of each address, a language
all could easily understand. Few of his sermons
have been preserved. He always spoke from notes,
written on a small ship of paper, which, as a rule,
served to light his fire on Monday morning. Occasionally he would consider his notes worthy of
preservation, and just two months before his death
he forwarded those of his sermon, preached on the
fifth Sunday in Lent, to the London Society for
Promoting Christianity among the Jews, with a
view to their publication.
The Bishop was fond of giving expression to his
thoughts in verse, and he produced several poems
of much beauty. In 1873, while travelling with
the Indians in the North, he composed 200 lines on
"The Loucheux Indians." Not only are these
verses very descriptive and clothed in simple
language, but a yearning strain pervades the whole
poem. He had been labouring among these natives,
walking and camping with them for eighty days.
He had learned to love them, and in this manner
expressed some of the affection he felt. One extract
must suffice here as typical of the whole:
" 'Neath skies with stars that never set,
But round the pole still circle yet;
Where streamers of magnetic light
Enliven winter's lengthening night;
Where niggard suns must stint their ray,
To spend on climates far away;
There Christian brethren bend their knees
In shelter of the forest trees.
Hearts that with heavenly fervour glow
Are found amid the Arctic snow;
And in the dreadful day of gloom,
When all the world to judgment come ;
When, worldly sentence all reversed,
The first are last and last are first;
What if these tribes of sallow face,
Hindermost now of human race,
Their want and poverty lay by
For robes of immortality ?"
Twenty years later the Bishop again made a
passionate appeal for these Loucheux Indians in a
poem entitled " A Plea for the Wild Sheep of the
Rocky Mountains." He was Bishop of the Diocese
of Selkirk at the time, and longing for workers to
man the field. He alludes to poor Sim's death, and
the heroic efforts of Archdeacon McDonald, and
draws a vivid picture of his own position :
" A Bishop and his flock,
Two thousand zealous converts,
Walled in with mounts of rock,
No churches and no clergy.
Was ever such a sight ?
But one chief pastor merely,
In solitary plight."
This poem of twenty-four verses of eight lines
each was published in the Church Missionary
Gleaner of November, 1893.
Other poems were put forth by the Bishop.from
time to time. " A God of Stone" is a modern
development of Bishop Heber's well-known hymn
" From Greenland's icy mountains," and draws a sad
contrast between the simple faith of the Christian
converts in heathen lands and the agnostic
tendencies which prevail so widely in Christian
I One of great length, entitled ' The Critic,'
deals quaintly, yet forcibly, with the modern
criticism of the Bible; another, upon Lot's wife,
contains a solemn warning against tampering with
' the pleasures of sin,' and the remainder consist
chiefly of parables and leading events recorded in
the Gospels, rendered in a versified form."*
With this brief sketch we must turn from these
" monuments of pathetic labour, tasks patiently
fulfilled through slow hours," when, as the Bishop
tells us, " it seemed almost as though I saw an
angel's hand tracing for me Hebrew sentences, as on
the wall of Belshazzar's house." The joy of the
scholar was great as he sat in his rude log building
soberly among his papers, unheeding the loneliness
around him. Some day a worthy and loving hand
may arrange that mass of material, and bring it
forth for the benefit of mankind. In the meantime
the best that those old papers can do for us " is to
* Church Missionary Intelligencer, June, 1894.
bid us cast a wistful and loving thought into the
past, a little gift of love for the old labourer who
wrote so diligently in the forgotten hours, till the
weary, failing hand laid down the familiar pen, and
soon lay silent in the dust." CHAPTER XX
s the man whose strength is in Thee ; in whose
heart are Thy ways.
Who going through the vale of misery use it for a well,
and the pools are filled with water."
Ps. lxxxiv. 5, 6.
In the far northland there are two books the
missionary always has with him : one, the great
volume of Revelation, the other, the book of
Nature. No matter where he goes, over what
lonely trails he winds his devious way, his companions may be the squalid savage, his dwelling-
place the rude lodge, snow-house, or log hut, his
library is ever with him.
These two books Bishop Bompas studied in no
ordinary degree, and when we consider the delight
he found in the work, we begin to understand why
the northland was so dear to him.
For years he had studied the Bible in English,
Greek, Hebrew, and Syriac. In early days he
loved the sacred volume, and ever found pleasure in
discovering new meanings. As he wandered over
the vast regions of the North, he realized how much
the country might produce in the way of illustrating many passages of Holy Scripture. If he could
not tell his discoveries by word of mouth, he could
write them down for the benefit of those who would
come after.
For twenty-five years, as he moved about, he
gained new light and wonderful lessons. These he
embodied in a most fascinating little book, which he
aptly named " Northern Lights on the Bible."
This book, of 207 pages, is an interesting commentary on fifty passages of Scripture, retouched by
illustrations from the far North. Though a record
of the Bishop's experiences, yet he never once
mentions himself in the book, but remains ever
in the background with that humility so characteristic of the man. If he wishes to tell of some event
in which he took part, it is always in the third
\ person.
Taking such subjects as "rivers," "gold,"
| storms," " skins," and " pine-trees," and beginning
with an appropriate verse from the Bible, he
weaves beautiful patterns from his rich storehouse
of knowledge. We walk among richly-scented pines
and cedars, but instead of a lonely forest, pictures
of "an ark of gopher wood," and King Solomon's
stately temple, adorned with the cedars of Lebanon,
rise before the mind. Then, while lost in admiration, we are suddenly aroused, reminded that the
trees teach lessons of strength, security, growth,
and freshness for those who wait upon the Lord.
The following extracts will serve to show the
Bishop's  method of handling his subjects in this
interesting book :
" *. Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon.' .
Josh. x. xii.
"Without the slightest wish to invalidate the
miracle here recorded, or to diminish its stupendous
character, it may not be uninteresting to suggest
some modes in which it may have pleased the
Almighty to accomplish the effect without a suspension of the laws of Nature.
"It may be rightly held to enhance the power
and glory of Almighty God, if it can be shown that
He is able to compass the most surprising results
without travelling outside of the ordinary routine
of His work.
" It appears most unreasonable to attempt a
denial that the Author of what are called Nature's
laws can dispense with them on occasion, but it may
be more allowable to suppose that He may have
seldom occasion to do so, in order to effect His
every volition.
" To use common and unworthy illustrations, the
owner of a watch can move its hands at will without
disturbing its works ; the master of a power-loom
may introduce a new pattern without arresting the
machinery ; or the driver of an engine may reverse
its action on an incline without retarding the train.
"In Arctic regions it is well known that the cold
and mists of the air produce singular appearances of
displacement of the sun and moon by reflection or
refraction in the air, which are not easily explained.
I By refraction the Arctic sun may remain visible
above the horizon for some time after that calculated
for its setting ; and by a parhelion, or mock sun, it
may be seen in mid-heaven when near its setting.
" Now, it would appear from the account in Joshua
that through some deflection of the polar current of
the upper atmosphere, an Arctic temperature was
produced for the time in the region of the clouds,
and not far above the surface of the earth. This is
implied in the congelation of the atmospheric vapours
so suddenly into huge hailstones before the moisture
had time to be shaped into drops.
" This cold, adjacent to the almost tropical heat of
a Syrian sun, must produce such evaporation and
mists as would be highly conducive to the formation
of a parhelion, and all the phenomena of a highly
refracting atmosphere, if not to an actual reflection,
as seen in the mirage.
" It does not seem useless to suggest that any who
find their faith stumbled by Joshua's surprising
miracle, from being unable to imagine the means by
which it was wrought without subversion of astronomical science, may find a stumbling-block removed
from their way by being reminded how often without
miracle an Arctic sun is apparently displaced.
" Hailstones of dangerous size, as described by
Joshua, are not unusual in the Western Saskatchewan. In Arctic regions hail is infrequent, as the
cold of the upper air forms the vapours into snow
before they condense into water.
" It is singular that in Arctic latitudes the winter
temperature on a mountain height is milder than on
a lower level. This, again, may be owing to upper
equatorial currents of air.
"Mild weather is associated in Arctic climes, as
elsewhere, with a cloudy sky, and intense frost with
a clear atmosphere, but it is not so certain how they
are connected.
" It seems most probable that the casual deflection
downward of a warm current in the upper air, both
deposits its moisture in the form of cloud, and raises
the temperature on the earth's surface. A clear sky,
on the other hand, shows that the air is dry and
deficient in moisture, the suction of which by
evaporation intensifies the cold.
" The old explanation of the nightly radiation to
a clear sky of the heat acquired by the earth the
previous day appears quite inapplicable to polar
regions, where, in the sun's absence, there is no daily
accession of heat to be radiated, and the covering of
snow and ice seems impervious to radiation from
I Somewhat similar considerations may apply to
the surprising miracle recorded in 2 Kings xx. and
Isa. xxxviii. 8, as have been ventured on in regard
to that of Joshua x. In the case of Hezekiah's
miracle, we have also a hint of an unusual rarefaction of the air. For the miracle of the sun-dial
appears to have immediately preceded the deadly
simoom by which 185,000 of the Assyrian army were
slain in one night. It may be thought that an
apparent elevation of the sun, either by refraction or
reflection, produced, in obedience to the fiat of the
Almighty, the stated effect on the sun-dial; and the
agent employed may have been a mist or fog in connexion with that peculiar state of the atmosphere
which presages a coining storm. In Hezekiah's time
it would seem to have been the rising, and in
Joshua's case the setting, sun, that was apparently
retarded for a time, though it is not definitely stated
in either case that the day was in the end actually
"' Oreb and Zeeb.'
Judg. viii. 3.
" These two marauding chiefs of the Midianites
come before us in the history of the Judge Gideon.
They were truly dwellers in the wilds, and came up
with their numerous bands to prey upon the harvests
and stores of the defenceless Israelite.
" Such forays have been often made in modern
times by wild tribes of North-American Indians, but
the natives of the extreme North are at present
" It may be worth while to notice how well the
names of the Midian chiefs would befit a modern
Indian brave. Translated, they are the Raven and
the Wolf. The reference is to the feasts provided
for birds and beasts of prey by these plundering
chieftains, who almost exhibited the same spirit as
those greedy animals. Many a modern Indian has
a similar appellation. The Crow or the Fox, and
other such names, borrowed from animals, are frequent among present Indian chiefs.
" Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings or leaders of
Midian, had similarly significant names. These
may be rendered 'Slaughter' and 'Wandering
Shade.' So a recent Indian chief in the Saskatchewan plain was called 'Wandering Spirit,' an idea
very similar to that of Zalmunna, both implying the
consignment to the shades of death of the victims of
their fury.
" It may be noted also that it is now generally the
custom to translate into English the native Indian
names, both for the preservation of their significance and for avoiding the uncouth syllables of a
barbarous tongue.
" It might be well if the Hebrew names, which
are all significant and appropriate to the occasion
of their occurrence, were also translated for a like
" Places in the North-West have also generally
their Indian names translated into English when
spoken of by Europeans, such as Flint River, Axe
Lake, or Stony Mountain. Scripture names are
similar, only buried for us in unattractive Hebrew,
as, for example, the rivers of Paradise might be
called Spreading, Coiling, Gladness, and Fertile. . . .
" Even an inanimate object, when seen for the
first time by an Indian, will be named readily,
according to its use. So a table is a thing to eat
on, a chair a thing to sit on, and so forth. These
became the permanent designations of those objects
in the Indian tongue. . . .
" The names of the Hebrews appear to have been
mostly given to them at birth, and to have been
bestowed by the mother in commemoration of joy
and gratitude at the birth of offspring. The names
of the kings above mentioned may have been possibly assumed in after life.
"The Indian children are also generally named
by the mother, and called from some characteristic
of the infant, or from some circumstance attending
the birth. They have not been taught till recently
the feeling of gratitude to God on such an occasion,
and the Christian converts, of course, give their
children usual Christian names.
" Among the Hebrews many names were patronymics, that is, the son is called by his father's name,
as Bartimseus, the son of Timseus (Mark x. 46). In
the far West, somewhat strangely, the habit is just
the contrary, and as soon as a son is born both
father and mother drop their previous names, and
are thenceforth known by the name of the son, as
William's father or John's mother.
" An Indian has great shyness in mentioning his
name, and if he wishes you to know it he will ask
his friend to tell you. If you wish to know an
Indian's name, it is needful to ask this, not of
himself, but of his companion, when you will obtain
a ready answer.
" Modern critics are apt to indulge in some display
of learning, by deciphering from the hierogylphics
of some ancient Egyptian papyrus a name which
is supposed, by its similarity, to illustrate some
Scripture appellation, or even to be its source or
" A readier match for the Hebrew names might be
found among the present Indians of the North-
West. The father of King Saul was named Fowler
or Snarer (1 Sam. ix. 1). A modern Esquimaux
chief was named Grouse-snare. An Indian chiefs
name, Large-foot, may be compared with the
patriarch Israel's first name, Heel. More exact
parallels might be found, for there is hardly a
common object or a living animal, but what has
furnished a name to a Hebrew of the Old World,
or to an Indian of the New.
" ' Nor the moon by night.'
Ps. cxxi. 6.
" In expounding this text, commentators have been
at some pains to discover tradition and examples of
the injurious effect of the moon's rays on a sleeper
exposed to their glare. The words lunatic, mooned,
moonstruck, betray the same idea. On the other
hand all travellers in the North are accustomed
constantly to sleep exposed to the moonbeams
without being conscious of any injurious effects from
them. It may be suspected that night-dew and
malarious vapours are more noxious than moonshine.
" The promise of the text may also be held to
have a fulfilment to the Arctic traveller in that
Aurora, or Northern Lights, which, when there is no
moon, frequently tempers for him the midnight
darkness. ...
" The shape and apparent height of the Aurora
varies much. It does not seem to appear without
some kind of a cloud, mist, or vapour on which to
exhibit itself. It seems often, therefore, to follow
vaguely the course of some river or frozen lake, or
the direction to which the wind may drive the
exhalations rising from such a source. After a
brilliant display of the Aurora, as morning dawns,
a slight cloud will mostly be seen remaining in the
position from which the chief coruscations appeared
to emanate.
"At times the Aurora descends till it is very
close overhead, just as clouds sometimes do. The
movements of its gleams are then very rapid,
and resemble the foldings of a great fiery pennon
waving in a strong breeze. It is, however, hard to
compare the Aurora's display to anything earthly,
unless indeed to the j brush' from an electrical
" It has been much questioned whether the Aurora
is audible. Those who think they have heard it,
describe the sound as being like the rustling of silk
drapery. This calls to mind the expression of St.
Peter, that when the heavens, being on fire, shall
359 m—1
dissolve, they shall pass away with a rustling noise
(2 Pet. iii. 10).
" In severe frost the listening ear will always detect
some sound caused by congealing moisture, and even
the human breath makes a sort of sawing sound in
condensing and freezing from the lips. These sounds
may have been attributed by some to the Aurora.
" Certainly a vivid display of the Aurora over the
whole sky helps us to picture the day when the
heavens shall be on fire, as the blazing of an
extensive forest feebly portrays the day when the
earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be
burned up.
" Most of the Arctic winter travelling is made at
night time, because the day is so scanty, and the
Aurora is then a pleasant and salutary guide and
companion. It cannot fail to remind a devout
Christian of Israel's pillar of fire of old, which may
have resembled the Aurora in its flash.
" When the light of the Aurora breaks out in the
night time with a cloudy sky, it is difficult to
distinguish the light from day-break, and an unwary
traveller may thus be deceived in the hour. We
may then say with David, ' The Lord my God will
enlighten my darkness' (Ps. xviii. 28).
" It may be remarked that in the snowy regions
of the North, the winter nights, even without the
Aurora, are by no means of pitchy darkness. The
reflection from the white carpet of snow is enough
to make visible trees, rocks, etc., for some short
distance, and the traveller needs not to grope his "NORTHERN LIGHTS ON THE BIBLE"
way in the forest, though care is requisite that his
face be not cut at night with a random branch.
" The twilight also is so long, that even when the
sun does not rise at all, a slight streak of day dawn
will be visible in the south-east, in a clear sky, soon
after 7 a.m., and the last streak will not expire till
; nearly 5 p.m.
" The constant displays of the Aurora are associated in the North with a highly electrical state of
the air, so that clothes, blankets, and furs will
crackle and sparkle at night when removed or
disturbed, and the human hair scintillates in the
" The force of the earth's magnetism is also strong,
but the use of a mariner's compass needs care, as
within the Arctic circle the compass may point as
much east as north, until in approaching the
magnetic pole the attraction is so nearly perpendicular as to render the compass useless as a guide
for direction.
"' Bury thy dead.'
Gen. xxiii. 6.
" The anxiety, which Scripture shows to have
existed from the earliest times, for the suitable
interment of deceased relations is a natural one,
especially in places where unclean animals prowling
for prey are likely to disturb the remains.
"In the great North-West, where the ground "NORTHERN LIGHTS ON THE BIBLE"
throughout the long winter is frozen to a considerable depth, the interment of the dead is no easy
matter. The grave has to be chopped, rather than
dug, either with the axe or pick, if the latter tool is
at hand, which is seldom the case. The work is
laborious, and sometimes beyond the power of the
relatives of the deceased Indian.
" Probably for this reason the original custom of
many tribes of Indians, before the introduction of
Christianity among them, was to suspend their
dead on high stages elevated on poles from the
ground, and thus beyond the reach of predatory
animals. By this means the need of hewing the
frozen ground was avoided.
" It was customary also to place with the body of
the deceased the articles he required for daily use in
life, his bow and arrows, or in later times his gun
and hatchet, his pipe and fire-bag. These customs
have waned before the light of the Gospel, but it is
still difficult to wean the Indian from all superstition regarding the dead, or to convince him that the
corpse does not retain some life or consciousness,
that it is no longer the dwelling, but only the
forsaken shell of a spirit, that has winged its flight
" The wailings of an Indian over his lost relative,
and especially of a mother over her lost children, are
piercing and heartrending ; but it is pleasant to see
the contrast in this respect between those who are
still ignorant of the Gospel, and such as have
received it.     The   Christian   converts have now "NORTHERN LIGHTS ON THE BIBLE"
learned to accept their bereavements as from God's
hand in silence and submission, and their mute
grief is more impressive than the loud lamentation
of the heathen.
" If a conversation is begun with an elderly
Indian female, she will generally turn the subject
to the number of children she has lost, and these
she will count on her fingers. It often takes the
whole ten to number her little ones deceased. The
severe climate and constant removals, with uncertain
food, are very fatal to infant and child life in the
North, and the only comfort is to trust that such
little ones are gathered by our gracious Saviour to
His arms, before they have become the prey of vice
and sin, either among heathen, or, what is perhaps
worse, among only nominal Christians.
" In some instances the Indian mothers literally
cry their eyes out; and if you ask a blind woman
how she lost her vision, she may answer that it was
by weeping too hard for her lost relatives, and dimness of sight is attributed to the same cause.
" Some Indians cling tenaciously to a love of life,
others exhibit great indifference about it. If a sick
Indian despair of recovery, he may die of mere hopelessness. A medicine man may also take the life of
an Indian by telling him that he is going to die.
The Indian may go home and sicken, and expire
from the very expectation of it.
" Sometimes an Indian will carry about with him
the corpse of a deceased child half the winter, waiting for the thawing of the ground in spring to bury it
suitably. It is, however, more common to notice
unseemly haste in disposing of the remains of one
deceased. In Scripture we have instances of hasty
interment, as in Acts v. 6-10, where the burial
followed immediately upon the death. With the
Indian, what is termed in that chapter the winding
up of the dead, or the wrapping round of the body,
sometimes takes place before the breath has left it.
The relatives may have a superstitious fear of
touching a corpse after death. There is no fear of
resuscitation in a climate where the frame is stiffly
frozen as soon as removed from the camp fire.
"On the Pacific coast it is the custom for the
chiefs to be buried each at the door of his house, and
they are careful not to disturb the remains. An
Indian in the North is often buried under the place
occupied by his camp fire, because the ground there
has been softened by the heat. The Indians will
remove at once from a place where one of their camp
has died, and will avoid the place in future.
" As the natives have such a superstitious dread
of a place of burial, it does not seem well to follow
in that country the European custom of placing the
graves round the church.
" A body interred in the constantly frozen ground
of the extreme North might remain unchanged till
the world's end, so complete is the action of frost in
arresting the decay of substances congealed by it.
It is possibly this idea that makes the Indian more
superstitious about the place of his dead."
" God spake, and gave us the Word to keep;
Bade never fold the hands nor sleep
'Mid a faithless world; at watch and ward
Till Christ at the end relieve our guard."
Robert Browning.
We have thus followed Bishop Bompas in his long
and noble course of over forty years in the great
northland, and the question naturally arises as to
the result of the work in which he took so great a
In estimating the effect of missions among the
Indians there are certain things which should be
carefully considered. A rude savage race is not
raised to a high state of civilization in a day or a
generation. It took ages to civilize the ancient
Grecians and Romans. The German and English-
speaking peoples were once barbarians, and it took
a long time to bring them to their present condition,
and still there is much room for improvement. The
Indians in the Yukon Territory and in Alaska have
only come in contact with civilizing influences at a
comparatively recent date.     And what are a few MISSIONS IN THE NORTH-WEST
years in the progress of a race ? The rooting out of
old customs, beliefs, the sowing of the seed, and
the bringing the seed to perfection are all the work
of time.
" In Europe," says Bishop Bompas, " it may I
appear at first sight that the Western races, such as
the English, have risen from savagedom to civiliza- |
tion and intellectual attainment ; but when the
matter is investigated, it is found that each stage
of improvement has been caused by a sort of inoculation with a civilization already existing further to
the East. Thus in England the advent of the
Romans, Saxons, and Normans were each stages
of advancement to the ancient Britons, while the
dispersion to the westward of learned Greeks by
the Turks was a cause of advancement of learning
at the time of the Reformation. All these causes
of improvement were mingled with the renovating
influence of Christianity."
To appreciate the work that has been done among
the Indians it is well to consider their lives and
mode of living before the advent of Christianity
into their midst.
"A residence among a wild and untutored race
yields the strong impression, that one lives there
among the ruins of a bygone civilization, rather
than among men in their pristine and original condition. A savage race appears in a state of decay
and degeneration, nor do we see any evidence of a
tendency in untutored races to rise above themselves." MISSIONS IN THE NORTH-WEST
Though the natives have a little " knowledge of
a good and evil spirit, and a confused idea of a
retribution beyond the grave," yet how great is their
darkness ! Completely under the spell of the medicine-men or conjurers, they are in a sad state. The
sick are neglected, and often murdered, as well as
the helpless and aged. At times these beg to be
put to death as a release from their sufferings and
miseries through neglect. Murder is nothing thought
of, and when formerly a young man appeared in spring
with his face streaked with vermilion, it was a sign
that he had had the glory of killing a human being
in winter.
When the Rev. W. W. Kirkby visited Fort
Yukon in 1862, and carried the Gospel message to
the Indians there, many were the tales he heard of
the darkness of heathenism. Men stood up and told
of the number of murders they had committed, and
I no fewer than thirteen women confessed to having
slain their infant girls ; some in the most cruel and
heartless manner."
But with the arrival of Christianity a great change
took place. " The Indians," says Bishop Bompas,
" now speak of the times before the Gospel as the
days of darkness. These will now seek to tend and
nourish in distress those of an alien tribe, whom
before they would only seek to murder as their
hereditary foes. Kindness and affection and other
fruits of righteousness spring up in the path of the
Gospel. Even the Esquimaux promise to leave off
their murders, and acknowledge the evil of these,
after hearing the Gospel message. Among the
Indian converts bloodshed or violence is almost
unknown. The knowledge of the Gospel inspires
them with a thirst for instruction, and among the
Tukudh tribes adults and children hasten greedily
to school.
" The conjurers, when converted, often refuse to
perform their old tricks even as an exhibition, confessing that while unconverted they were slaves to
the devil, and professing that, since delivered from
Satan's power, they have forgotten the way, and are
quite unable to practise the deception, in which they
formerly delighted. A female Tsimshean conjurer
will exhibit the painted green wood, which by sleight
of hand she had substituted for the green stone that
she pretended to make float on the water. A
Tukudh conjurer will relate how, at the arrival of
the first missionary among his tribe, he was in
immediate danger of death, through accusation of
having murdered by his spells, but, on the reception
of the Gospel, all the dark deeds of the medicineman were blown to the winds and heard no
This is the evidence of missionaries ; what do
others say ?
We have seen the low condition of the Tukudh
Indians at the time of Mr. Kirkby's arrival among
them; now let us bring forward the testimony of
men who are not missionaries concerning their
The first are the words of Mr. William Ogilvie,   MISSIONS IN THE NORTH-WEST
who was Dominion Land Surveyor in 1887, and
later became Commissioner of the Yukon Territory.
In his official report in 1887 he spoke of the Indians
at Rampart House, and other places where Bishop
Bompas, Archdeacon McDonald, and others laboured
for years.    These are his words :
" It is pleasant to testify that they have profited
by this instruction. They hold every Sunday a
service among themselves, reading from their books
the prayers and lessons for the day, and singing in
their own language to some old tune a simple hymn.
They never go on a journey of any length without
these books, and always read a portion before they
go to sleep. I do not pretend that these men are
faultless, or that they do not need watching, but I
do believe that most of them are sincere in their
profession and strive to do what they have been
That was in 1887, and now let us see how they
stand to-day. In August, 1907, Mr. David Cadzow,
the fur-trader at Rampart House, on the Porcupine
River, thus spoke of these same Indians to a newspaper reporter:
" The Loucheux live entirely by hunting, being
good hunters and trappers, but will not work on
Sundays. It appears that they are mostly baptized,
having been for years under the influence of the
English Church Missionary Society at the Mission
Station on the Mackenzie River. In every way they
live up to the teaching of the missionaries, and are
a law-abiding, peaceful race of men."
The same paper (the Dawson News) which contained this account, a year or two ago described a
visit of these Indians to the city.
" The Peel River Indians, who have been visiting
Dawson the last three days, selling meats which they
brought from the Rocky Mountains, left to-day on a
return trip to their hunting-grounds. . . . The
party has had a great time in Dawson this trip. All
the dainties of cheechaco foods have been indulged
in lavishly, but to the credit of the visitors it must
be said they have eschewed the red man's fire-water
and his befudcfling hootch.
" No Indians on the continent, perhaps, are better
behaved, and less brought under the evils of the
white man and his vices, than the Peels. Coming
hundreds of miles from Dawson, they plunge out of
the wilderness into the city, spend a few days selling
their meats and trading, and then, without loitering
or lying idly about the town, after the traditional
habits of Indians, they go immediately back to their
" These Indians all belong to the Church of
England. They were converted many years ago by
the missionaries who pioneered the way into the
Mackenzie and Yukon Valleys long before the gold-
strike in the Klondyke. Joseph and Amos are
native preachers in the tribe, and the Indians are
Of course these Tukudh Indians are the flower of
missionary enterprise. Too often, it must be sadly
acknowledged, have the natives succumbed to the
evil influences of a degenerate class of white men,
the scum of civilization, who exert every effort to
ruin the Indian, soul and body. Time and time
again did Bishop Bompas mourn over the ravages
made among his little flock by the temptations to
which they were exposed.
" When the Gospel is presented to their acceptance," he says, " it is as though they were invited
to eat of the tree of life. . . . But, alas ! as civilized
races intermix with these barbarous and rude, there
are offered also large tastes of the tree of knowledge
of good and evil, and these are greedily devoured,
and perhaps greatly preferred.
" It is pitiful to see the comparative simplicity of
the savage imbibe the allurements to vicious pleasure,
which he learns from more civilized races, without
possessing that self-restraint which enables those
of a higher intellectual grade to moderate their
indulgence even in vice. This applies especially
to the introduction of strong drink among rude
races by those more civilized; but also to other
A very marked characteristic of Bishop Bompas's
work among the Indians was his wonderful faith,
combined with almost complete unselfishness. He
had no doubt about the final outcome, and was
willing to plant the seed, and tend it carefully, and
leave the increase to God. While others became
discouraged at the apparent ingratitude of the
natives, and at times left the work, he never seemed
to look for gratitude or thanks.    He found pleasure MISSIONS IN THE NORTH-WEST
in doing the Master's service,  and deemed that
To him there was much comfort in the promises of
old, and he applied them to his own field of work.
Among his favourite texts in this connexion were the
" The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for
them; and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose"
(Isa. xxxii. 16).
" Judgment shall dwell in the wilderness" (Isa. xxxii. 16).
1 They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before
Him " (Ps. lxxii. 9).
"The wilderness shall be a fruitful field" (Isa. xxxii. 15).
" He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert
like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found
therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody" (Isa. li. 3).
nd other passages show God's purposes of
mercy to bless in spiritual things those who have
niggard supplies of temporal blessings. Christian
missions have prospered in the wilds. In the very
sparse population of the far North-West, more provision is made in God's providence for the hearing of
the Gospel than might seem to be the share of these
countries, if compared by population only with other
) memoirs are now brought to a close. We
have traced the life of Bishop Bompas through
many vicissitudes. With him will always be associated thoughts of mighty rivers and great inland
lakes, snow-capped mountains and sweeping plains;
thoughts of heroism and devotion to duty; but, above
all, thoughts of gratitude for countless unknown
natives of the North on river, mountain, and plain,
who have been lifted out of darkness and brought
close to the Great Shepherd's side through the light
of the Gospel carried by a faithful herald of salvation—this noble Apostle of the North. L INDEX
" Alarm Bird," the, 45
Alexandra Falls on the Hay River, 134
Alford, Mr. Bompas's fourth curacy, 30
Anderson, Bishop, the influence of his sermon on W. C. Bompas, 19
Athabasca, Mr. Bompas consecrated first Bishop of Athabasca,
151; vast extent of the diocese, 167; mission, 182
| Aurora," 358
Beaver Indians, pitiable condition of the, 66
Bennett, Lake, character of, 313
" Bloody Falls," the scene of a massacre, 45
5, Miss, 157
, Mrs., leaves for England, 243 ; returns to Yukon, 260
Bompas, Sergeant, 20
Bompas, William Carpenter: birth, 20; family, 21 ; brothers,
21, 22 ; characteristics of early youth, 22; religious nature
and training, 23; education, 24 ; articled to solicitors, 24;
ill-health, 24; confirmed, 25 ; ordained, 25 ; first curacy at
Sutton, 25; his good work, 26; death of his mother, 29;
curacy of New Radford, 29; curacy at Holy Trinity, South
Lincolnshire, 30; curacy at Alford, 30; offers his services
to the Church Missionary Society, 30; ordained priest by
Bishop Machray, 30; ardour for his new work, 32; lands at
New York, 33; visits Captain Palmer, 33; assisted by Dr.
Schultz, 34; Indians, 35 ; reaches Red River, 35; journey
north by boat, 36; a difficulty bravely overcome, 36; Fort I
Chipewyan, 36 ; a severe land journey, 38 ; Fort Resolution, I
38; crosses Great Slave Lake, 38; arrival at Fort Simpson,
39;   Rev. W. W. Kirkby, 39; his stay, 40;  goes to Fort
Norman, 57;   return to Fort Simpson, 58;   back to Fort
Norman, 6l; among the Great Bear Lake Indians, 62; at I
Fort Rae, 68; at Fort Resolution, 64; at Fort Chipewyan,
65; at Fort Vermilion, 77; at Fort Simpson, 80;  at Fort
McPherson,   108; visits the Eskimos,   109; has snow-blind
ness, 109; plot to murder him, 123; saved by the chief, 123;
reaches Peel's River Fort with the tribe, 124 ; sets out for the
Peace River Valley, 126; traveUing by boats, 127; reaches I
Fort Vermilion, ISO; visits Fort Chipewyan and Fond du Lac,
130 ; mining on the Peace River, 130; reaches Rocky Mountain portage,   130;   while at Rocky Mountain portage   he
acts as public vaccinator, 131 ; reaches Fort St. John, 132;
death of Mrs. Donald Ross, 132; receives instructions to proceed
to Yukon district, 133; follows Hay River to Great Slave Lake,
133; stay at Fort McPherson, 138 ; work among the Loucheux
Indians, 138; on the Yukon River, 140; summoned home for I
consecration, 144; reaches Red River Settlement, and is entertained by Bishop Machray, 148; arrives at Montreal, and embarks on the Scandinavian, 150 ; arrival in Liverpool, 150; consecrated by Archbishop Tait, 151 ; marries Miss C. S. Cox, 153;
return to the field of labour, 156 ; arrival at New York, 158 $J
reaches Winnipeg, 158; an ordination in the cathedral at
Manitoba, 159 ; tedious journey by boat to Fort Simpson, 160;
the Bishop sprains his back, 162; arrival at Fort Simpson,!
162 ; an Indian school started, 168; the first confirmation and
ordination, 168; visits  Fort Rae,  170;  Christmas at Fort.-'
Simpson,  171; visits Fort Norman,  173; skill as a doctor, I
174; old Martha, 174 ; search for Jeannie de Nord, 175; first
Synod, 179; his charge, 182; illness of Mrs. Bompas, 188;
arduous journey to Metlakahtla, 196 ; Mr. Duncan's objection
to confirming native Christians, 196 ; return to Fort Simpson, I
201;  famine,   201;   mission farms commenced, 203 ;   visits I
the Tukudh Missions, 204; the Eskimo Mission, 208; visits
missions on the Liard River, 209; a terrible journey to
Fort Norman, 209; visits Forts Chipewyan, Vermilion, Dun vegan, 217 ; visit to Tukudh Mission, 218; the work of translation, 223; Diocese of Mackenzie River, 226; death of Mr.
Sim, 233; North-West Rebellion, 234; first Synod of Mackenzie
River Diocese, 238 ; famine, 242; Mrs. Bompas leaves for
England, 243 ; at Fort Norman, engaged in translation, 249;
Selkirk Diocese, 254; at Fort Yukon, 258; return of Mrs.
Bompas, 260 ; at Forty Mile, 263; the miners, 264; separates
two fighting Indians, 270; R. J. Bowen, 272; great change
caused by the gold rush, 278 ; church transferred from Forty
Mile to Klondyke, 283; attacked by scurvy, 285; Mrs.
Bompas at Fort Yukon, 287; visits the towns on Lakes Bennett and Atlin, 287 ; leaves Forty Mile for Whitehorse, 289 ;
death of Archbishop Machray, 295 ; attends the Synod at
Winnipeg, 296; his desire for rest, 300; " Carcross," 304;
new church consecrated at Carcross, 305; jealous for his office,
306 j Bishop Stringer appointed his successor, 309; his activity, 314; preparations for leaving Carcross, 318; sudden
death, 321; buried in the Indian cemetery, 322 ; his kindness of heart, 329 ; "the man who wrote the book," 330 ; as
a student, 336 ; his great linguistic powers, 337 ; translations
into Indian dialects, 337 ; his love of Hebrew and Syriac, 340;
his love of verse, 346
Bowen, Rev. It. J., 281
" Burial," S6l
Campbell, Robert, the explorer, 47; discovers the Pelly and
Lewes Rivers, 47, 48 ; erects Fort Selkirk, 51
Camping, Mr. Bompas's interesting description of, 72
Canadian boatmen, the skill of, 128
Canham, Rev. T. H., missionary to the Eskimos, 208, 230
Carcross, the name Caribou Crossing changed to, 304; church
consecrated at, 305
Caribou Crossing,  the Bishop's  reception  at, 294; the  name
changed to Carcross, 304
Charge to his clergy at the first Synod, Bishop Bompas's, 182
Chilcats, the, a dangerous tribe, 51
Circle City, 279
Conjurers, 368
Cox, Miss Charlotte Selina, married to Bishop Bompas, 153 ; her
refinement and enthusiasm, 154
Dawson, mission-church erected at, 285
" Diocese of Mackenzie River, The," by Bishop Bompas, 339
Dogs and dog-teams, usefulness of, 69
Doull, Rev. A. J., on Bishop Bompas's great work, 334
Duncan, Mr., of Metlakahtla, his objection to the confirmation
of Indian Christians, 190;   Bishop  Bompas  endeavours to
smooth matters, 193
Dunvegan, a mission-farm commenced at, 202, 217
EUington, John W., 238, 248
Eskimos, the, their habits and customs, 98 ; their treacherous
character, 105 ; Mr. Bompas among the, 109 ; their ingenuity,
113 ; religion, 114; plot to murder Mr. Bompas, 123; Bishop
Stringer among the, 125
Eskimo mission established, 208
Flies and mosquitoes, the annoyance of, 129
Fond du Lac, on Lake Athabasca, visited by Mr. Bompas, 130
Fort Chipewyan, Mr. Bompas at, 36, 65, 130, 217
Fort McPherson, Mr. Bompas at, 108
Fort Norman, Mr. Bompas at, 57, 6l; the Bishop's illness during
his journey to, 173 ; terrible journey to, 213
Fort Pelly Banks, a fur-trading post, 48
Fort Rae, Mr. Bompas at, 63; revisited by the Bishop, 170
Fort Resolution, Mr. Bompas reaches, 38, 64
Fort St. John, the scene of a fearful massacre in years past,
Mr. Bompas preaches to the Indians, 133, 200
Fort Selkirk established by Robert Campbell, 51
Fort Simpson, arrival of Mr. Bompas at, 39 ; Rev. W. W. Kirkby INDEX
succeeds Archdeacon Hunter at, 55 ; excitement on the return
of Bishop and Mrs. Bompas, 162 ; hunger at, 165 ; the centre
of the diocese, 166
Fort Vermilion, Mr. Bompas at, 66, 79, 130; mission-farm at,
203, 217,^
Fort Yukon established by A. H. Murray, 51 ; here the first
missionary work carried on by Church Missionary Society, 52;
Rev. Robert Campbell at, 57 ; Mrs. Bompas's long stay at,
Forty Mile, description of, 267
Galloway, Bishop, on Livingstone, 225
Garrioch, Rev. Alfred, 180
Great Bear Lake Indians, Mr. Bompas among the, 62
Great Slave  Lake,  Mr.  Bompas  crosses   on snowshoes,  38;
mission, 181
Hay River, description of the, 133
Hearne, Samuel, the " Mungo Park of Canada," 44
" History of the Mackenzie River Diocese," by Bishop Bompas,
Holy Trinity, South Lincolnshire, Mr. Bompas's third curacy,
Hudson Bay Company, valuable work done by the, 42; union
with the North-West   Company,   47;   establish   steamers,
Hunter, Archdeacon, 54
Indians encountered on the prairie, 35
Indians of the far North, different tribes, 90, 93; customs, 94;
sickness among, 97
Infanticide among the Indians, 367
383 u INDEX
Ker,   Archbishop,  his   sermon  on  the  death  of   Archbishop
Machray, 297
Kirkby, Rev. W. W., receives Mr. Bompas at Fort Simpson, 39 ;
at Fort Simpson, 54 ; his arduous journey to the Yukon region,
Kirkby, David N., 238
Klondyke River, the, 277
Lake Atlin, the Bishop visits, 287
Lake Bennett, the Bishop visits, 287
Leith, Alexander, a generous donor to the bishopric of Rupert's
Land, 43
Lewes River, discovered by Robert Campbell, 48
Liard River, missions on the, 209
Loucheux Indians, encouraging work among the, 139, 371
McDonald, Rev. Robert, Fort Yukon, whom Mr. Bompas volunteered to relieve, 80 ; Archdeacon, 180
Machray, Bishop, Mr. Bompas ordained priest by, 30; his plan
for dividing the Diocese of Rupert's Land, 143
Machray, Archbishop, death of, 295
Mackenzie, Alexander, the explorer, 45
Mackenzie River, description of the, 83; mission, 181; Diocese
of, 226
Manitoba,  Cathedral of, Bishop Bompas assists in ordination,
Matheson, Archbishop, on Bishop Bompas's great work, 333
Metlakahtla, Bishop Bompas's arduous journey there, 195
Miners on the Peace River, 131
Mission-farms started at Dunvegan and Smoky River, 202
Missions in the North-West, results of, 365
1 Mock Suns," 352
Naas River, lava plain on the, 200
"Names," 355
Natives of the far North, 90
New Radford, near Nottingham, Mr. Bompas's second curacy,
" Northern Lights on the Bible," by Bishop Bompas, 339, 350
Owen, Rev. H., Mr. Bompas's first Rector, 25
Peace River Valley, Mr. Bompas sets out for, 126; mining on
the Peace River, 130
Peel River Fort, Mr. Bompas leaves the Eskimos at, 124
Peel River Indians, the, 372
Pelly River discovered by Robert Campbell, 48
Quickpak River, the, 47
Red River as Mr. Bompas first saw it, 35
Riel, Louis, and the North-West Rebellion, 233
Rocky Mountain portage, Mr. Bompas at, 131; acts as public
vaccinator, 131
Ross, Mrs., death of, 132
Rowe, Bishop, on the unselfish labours of Bishop Bompas, 334
Rupert's Land, division of the Diocese of, 144
Schultz, Dr., assists Mr. Bompas to cross the plains, 34
"Scripture  Acrostics and Texts of the  Bible  Reversed and
Transposed," by Bishop Bompas, 343
I Scripture Analyzed; or, Investigations in the Original Text of
the Holy Bible," by Bishop Bompas, 344
Selkirk, Diocese of, 238
Sim, Rev. V. C, missionary to the Tukudh Indians, 229
385 u 2 INDEX
Smoky River, mission-farm started at, 203
Snow-blindness, Mr. Bompas stricken with, 109; its nature, 109-
Snow-shoes, usefulness of, 71
Stringer, Rev. I. O., succeeds Mr. Bowen at Whitehorse, 294;
consecrated, 309 ; at Bishop Bompas's funeral, 325
Sutton-in-the-Marsh, Mr. Bompas's first curacy, 25
" Symmetry of Scripture, The," by Bishop Bompas, 342
Tenni tribe of the far North, the, 90
Toft, Mrs., Mr. Bompas's valuable friend, 29
Translation, the work of, 223
Travelling by dog-sledge, 66; by boats, 127
Tukudh Indians, the, 93
Tukudh Mission, the, 181 ; visited, 207, 218
Upper Yukon River Indians, work among the, 140
Vaccination among the Indians: Mr. Bompas acts as public
vaccinator, 132
West, Rev. John, the first Church of England clergyman to enter
the North-West, 43
Whitehorse, the Bishop leaves Forty Mile for, 289
Winnipeg, the Bishop attends the synod at, to appoint Archbishop Machray's
Yukon region, Rev. W. W. Kirkby in the, 56
Yukon River, the, 86; work on, 140 ; description of, 141   PURCHASED..Aa^|fqU^....i^..^.^	
Fro m ...U^>*a^... fc
Place of PuRCHASE..£^upuj£*dl3L %\A...
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