Charlie And Ben.

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During a short visit which I paid to England in the winter of 1877, the idea was formed of building a separate Home for Indian girls, and now it became necessary to make the project known also in Canada. Accordingly, in the summer vacation of that year I started off, taking with me two little fellows from our Institution–Charlie and Ben, and also a model which I had made of the Shingwauk Home. My object was not so much to collect money as to tell the friends who had been helping us what, by God’s help, we had been enabled to do, and what, with His blessing, we still hoped to do.

The first part of the journey was a dash of two miles along a muddy road in a buggy drawn by my spirited little mare “Dolly,” with only ten minutes to catch the boat. The next 300 miles were passed on board the steamboat _Ontario_, which, after rather a rough passage, landed us in Sarnia on the night of Tuesday, May 22nd. From Sarnia we took train to Toronto. Here we passed the Queen’s birthday, and the boys saw a splendid display of fireworks in the evening. The most remarkable part of the entertainment was a races between a pig and an elephant in mid-air. They were fire balloons shaped like those animals, and it was really very good. On Friday we arrived in Belleville about noon. This was the beginning of our work, and we held our first meeting that evening in the Town Hall. There was a fair attendance, and after the meeting our two boys distributed papers about our Home, and contribution envelopes, which I asked the people to take home with them, and at any future day that they might feel disposed, to put something in and place it on the offertory plate, and it would thus in due time come to us. The envelopes, I should mention, had the following words on them: “Algoma. A contribution to God’s work in the Indian Institution at Sault Ste. Marie.”

After visiting Brockville, Smith’s Falls, and Prescott, we arrived in Ottawa on the 31st. I had here an interview with the Premier in regard to my work among the Indians, which was quite satisfactory, and in the afternoon we went to pay our respects to the Governor-General. Happily his Excellency was at home, and he received the boys very kindly, and showed them through the rooms of Rideau Hall. One thing that he said to them at parting I hope they will always remember. He said, “I hope you boys will grow up to be good Canadians.” This just expresses the secret of our work; this is just what we want to do with our Indian boys: to make Canadians of them. When they leave our Institution, instead of returning to their Indian Reserves, to go back to their old way of living, we want them to become apprenticed out to white people, and to become, in fact, Canadians.

At Montreal we had several meetings, and met with many kind friends who evinced great interest in our work.

Early on the morning of June 8th we arrived in Quebec, and found rooms provided for us at the hotel. The Synod of the diocese was sitting, and we received a hearty welcome from the Bishop and many of the clergy whom I knew. In the afternoon I took the boys to the citadel, where they were greatly pleased to see the soldiers and the big guns; and in the evening we dined at the Bishop’s. Both the Bishop and Mrs. Williams have always taken much interest in our work. On Sunday evening I preached at the cathedral. The following day I took my boys over the ocean steamship _Sardinian_, and in the afternoon drove out to visit Wolf’s monument and the gaol. The boys each took a copy of the inscription on the monument, and we returned to Mr. Hamilton’s for dinner. There was a capital meeting in the National School Hall in the evening. The Bishop of Quebec presided, and nearly all the city clergy were present.

We had not intended to go further east than St. John, N. B., but finding we had a day or two to spare, we resolved to run on into Nova Scotia and visit Halifax. Two telegrams had been despatched, one to Rev. Geo. Hill, rector of St. Paul’s, Halifax, to tell of our intended visit, and the other to Montreal in the hope of obtaining a pass from the manager of the line. The application for the pass was happily successful, and after travelling all day and all night and half the next day, we at length reached Halifax, met with a warm reception from Mr. Hill and had a capital meeting. The boys enjoyed themselves immensely, paddling about in the sea water among the limpets and star-fish and sea-weed, and making vain attempts to catch crabs.

Returning by way of New Brunswick, we next visited Fredericton, and were the guests of the Lieutenant Governor, who had most kindly invited us. The Bishop and a large party of clergy and others came to lunch at two p.m., and at four o’clock in the afternoon was a Sunday-school gathering in the school-house, the model was exhibited and I gave an address. After this there was a very pleasing little ceremony at Government House. At Lady Tilley’s invitation a number of young girls, members of her Sunday-school class, had met together week after week at Government House and made a variety of articles for sale, then–shortly before our arrival–a bazaar had been held, and the large sum realized of 300 dollars. This sum was presented to me by one of the little girls when they were all assembled in the drawing-room, and is to be applied to the building fund of the Wawanosh Home. The most successful meeting of any that we held took place in the large Temperance Hall. Lady Tilley kindly consented to become one of the patronesses of our Girl’s Home. The following day, Wednesday, I called on the Bishop and we spent an hour and a half very pleasantly in examining every part of their beautiful cathedral–the _one_ church gem in Canada. The Bishop set to work in his own way to satisfy himself what our boys were good for, and I am glad to say that the result of the examination was satisfactory.

The afternoon of this day, June 26th, we bade farewell to our Fredericton friends and took the train back to St. John. About half an hour before we arrived we received word that a fearful fire was raging, and as we drew near the fated city we found that the report was only too true. The whole city seemed to be in a blaze, the fire appearing to extend fully two miles, even at that early hour, about 6 p.m. Leaving the two boys at the Rev. Mr. Dowling’s house, Mr. Dowling and myself started to cross the harbour to try and render some assistance to our friends. We could not take the ferry for the landing stage was on fire, so we hailed a fishing-smack, and landed in Portland. We walked around, to the back of the fire; all the principal part of the city was in flames, and everything in wild confusion; hundreds of people, old and young, heavily ladened and hustling each other along, fire engines at every corner, the open places crowded with a motley throng of people with piles of baggage and furniture.

We made our way round to Mrs. Peter’s house, where we had been on Saturday; they were all packed up ready to fly, but could not get a team. The flames were fast advancing upon them. The gas works were close by, and it was expected they would blow up every minute. The younger children were already sent off with their nurse. We staid till after midnight, doing what little we could to help, and then returned to Carleton by the suspension bridge, bringing several refugees with us. The following day, Thursday, we drove to the station in St. John by way of the suspension bridge. The city was still on fire and enveloped in smoke. Happily, however, the station was just outside the burnt district, so we bade adieu to our friends and started once more for the west.

After visiting and holding meetings in Toronto, Hamilton, St. Catharines, and elsewhere, we arrived July 4th at Niagara. We were now in the great fruit district of Canada, strawberries, cherries, grapes, apples, plums, peaches, all in the greatest abundance, orchards everywhere, rich luxuriant vines trailing over trellis-work, the earth fairly teeming with plenty. What a contrast to poor Algoma, where we can grow neither apple nor plum and cannot even ripen tomatoes. Nothing delighted our boys more than to sit up in a cherry tree and eat cherries _ad libitum_–such a delicious novelty–and then to be summoned in for a tea of strawberries and cream! In the evening we met Archdeacon McMurray, who received us warmly. He was the first Missionary at Sault Ste. Marie, more than forty years ago, and very kindly gave us an organ for the Institution. From Niagara, we proceeded by train to Drummondville. The falls of Niagara were scarcely more than a stone’s throw from the house, and the following morning as soon as breakfast was over we went to pay them a visit. Grand and impressive as was the sight, I fear that our boys, boylike, were more taken up with a couple of bears in their cages than with that enormous mass of water surging over the rocks, and tumbling 200 feet into the boiling basin of white foam below.

On Friday the 6th we arrived in Brantford and had a meeting in the evening. The following day we walked out to visit the Mohawk Institution, supported by the New England Company; this institution has been, I believe, nearly thirty years in existence, and they have at present thirty-eight boys and forty-two girls. It was strange how shy our boys seemed of the young Mohawks, though making friends so readily with white boys. Mohawks and Ojebways were hereditary enemies, and, in days gone by, used to delight in scalping one another.

Altogether we travelled upwards of 4000 miles, and I calculated that I had addressed about 5,500 people at meetings and about 6700 Sunday-school children, besides sermons in churches. Though we made no collections, I nevertheless had handed to me 990 dollars for the Girl’s Home Building Fund, and 225 dollars for the Shingwauk.



MLA Source Citation:

Wilson, Rev. Edward F. Missionary Work Among the Ojebway Indians. London: Society For Promoting Christian Knowledge. 1886. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 16 September 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/charlie-and-ben.htm - Last updated on Apr 5th, 2013


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