A. R. (Augustus Robert) Buckland.

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the Albany river ; it is always, as the Indians say,
KitemahuTiy tapwd naspich hitemakun — *It is poor;
truly it is very poor/ "

Horden's coming seemed to give all new life. He
was, compared with them, in health, and full of the
bright, cheerful faith which they had seen him show
in times of hardship before. He was here, there,
and everywhere amongst them, distributing medicine
and food ; comforting the dying, burying the dead,
consoling the bereaved ; setting the convalescent to
such tasks as they were fit for. After five weeks
of such work he was able to turn his face home-
wards, leaving not one Indian seriously ill behind

At Eupert's House, too, sickness and death had
been busy. It was one of the brightest spots in the
land. The Indians had all received the gospel, and


held it faithfully; they were orderly, industrious,
well-to-do people ; starvation rarely threatened their
little community. But now Horden found every-
thing changed. Such suffering had come upon them
as was usually seen in less prosperous settlements.

" Now," wrote the bishop in his annual letter, " I
looked around and inquired, ' Where is this Indian ?
where that ? what became of this child's father ?
where is this child's mother ? '

" And the answer came : ' He died of starvation
four winters ago; he was starved to death three
years since ; she and all the rest of her children were
cut off two years ago.*

"'And what losses were sustained by you, last
winter ? '

"And I am told — four men, three women, and
nineteen children ; they were all baptized Christians."

Once in returning from Eupert's House the
bishop nearly lost his life. They were crossing
part of the bay in a dog-sleigh, and were nearly
ten miles from land, when, looking seaward, they saw


the ice breaking up before the tide, and a stick struck
vigorously upon the ice near them went through!
They turned at once, happily reaching Eupert's
House in safety.

The next catastrophe was the wreck of the annual
ship, The Princess Royal. Happily for the settlers
it was upon her return voyage ; but the crew were
for some months prisoners at Moose.

The autumn of 1885 was a trying one, for the
weather turned warm when it should have been
cold. This was hard for those who dwelt on Moose
Island. "We can generally," he wrote, "cross the
main channel of our river about Nov. 10th, on
the ice, while this season we could not do so until
a few days since. This is by no means to our advan-
tage, as most of our firewood and a good portion of our
food are obtainable at a distance from our island, to
which we are confined until the river is firmly frozen;
as it was, it lay for weeks quite impassable, with too
much ice in it for navigation by boat or canoe, and
too little for either sledge or snow-shoe."

But amidst the anxieties of this time Horden still


had an eye for the beauties of nature. In one letter
he describes the forest as converted into a fairyland,
in a way to which even his long experience does not
seem to have furnished any parallel.

" A light rain fell for several hours, and froze at
once on touching the houses, trees, and bushes; con-
sequently the windward sides of the houses were
covered with innumerable small icicles, depending
from the lower edge of the weather boards; the
trees, and especially the poplars, were thickly coated
with ice, every branch being apparently encased in
transparent glass ; while the bushes, almost flattened
to the ground by their weight of beauty, presented a
most curious and striking appearance. Nor was this
all, for a few days subsequently some very fine snow,
or rather perhaps frozen mist, fell on the transpar-
encies, the result being the most fairy like imaginable;
and in a walk in the forest one would not have been
at all surprised had he met with troops of elves, pixies,
and fairies, with whose history we were made so
well acquainted in the days of our childhood. But


this beauty was very destructive; the branches of
the trees could not bear this unaccustomed burden,
and numbers of them were continually breaking off,
so that it was somewhat dangerous to walk under
them, and of the bushes many were entirely destroyed.
The birds and herbivorous animals must have suffered
severely for a time, as it was impossible for them to
obtain food ; even the blades of grass which appeared
above the snow were all as thick as ropes. Things
are better now, although they have not yet reached
their normal condition."

At the end of the same year the bishop made
another journey to Albany. His account, published
in England in the following April, is marked by all
his old power of picturesque description. It will
help the reader to understand the life which Horden
still found it a joy to lead. The start was made on
Dec. 18th, when, directly after breakfast, accom-
panied by his faithful fellow- workers, he walked to the
Hudson's Bay Company's establishment, whence they
were to start. The sledge was already on the river.


" Soon the dogs, twelve in number, and as beautiful
, creatures as were ever in harness, were led down the
bank, and each with his separate trail fastened to
the sledge, which was firmly moored to prevent the
dogs running off with it until all was ready. This
was soon effected; I said good-bye to the many
friends assembled to see me off, the dogs in the
meantime jumping, howling, tugging at the sledge
in their eagerness to start ; the mooring-rope was soon
loosened, and a moment afterwards we were at the
gallop, passing down the river in front of the houses
standing on its northern bank, the inmates cheering
us onward. At the end of the first half-mile we
passed the last house, and were soon in the wilder-
ness, away from the sight and sound of everything
except ourselves. For a short time, while we were
among the islands, the ice was rough, occasioned
by the currents of the river and the action of the
tides in the narrow spaces between the islands, but
presently this was at an end, and the running
became as smooth as the most fastidious traveller
could desire. The temperature was delightful, no



wrapping up being required ; it was simply perfec-
tion, and the mind felt a degree of elasticity to
which it had long been a stranger. After going
about fourteen miles, we came in sight of the ill-


fated Princess Boyal, lying about six miles from the
shore, and a little farther on we reached North Bluff
Beacon. There we remained half an hour to give
the dogs a little rest, and take a little refreshment


ourselves; then on again; the splendid dogs, with
their tails curled over their backs, required no whip
to urge them forward, but either at full gallop or
fast trot, went on to our tent at Piskwamisk. We
had done 40 miles in little over six hours, one of
the best and most pleasant travelling days I have
ever experienced. We soon made ourselves comfort-
able, and then saw to the comfort of our hard-
working beasts, removing their harness, and fastening
each with a chain to a separate tree stump to
prevent their indulging in a fight, giving each a bed
of pine brush, and then supplying him with a good
supper of frozen white-fish, which, having most
greedily devoured, and seeing that nothing more
was forthcoming, he coiled himself up on his bed
with his tail over his head, and relapsed into perfect
silence for the night.

"The following morning the weather was very
rough, and the atmosphere so thick that nothing
seaward was visible, so we remained in camp, and
passed most of the day in reading. The weather
was not very inviting on our third morning,


but we had only a short stage before us to
Cock Point, which it was absolutely necessary
for us to reach so as to secure food for our
dogs. Four hours took us there, and six hours
and a half brought us the next day to Albany,
where I found all well."



The Coming of Summer — Break-up of the Ice — The Three Cows
of Churchill — Eskimo Dog Teams — Farewell Services — A
Polyglot Preacher — In the Canoe Once More — A Critical
Moment — Horden in England.

HE coming of the summer of 1886'
was not without its alarm and
danger for the dwellers at Moose.
The ice broke up earlier than had
ever been known before. An Indian came
in on April 16th to warn the settlement that the
ice was rotten. Four days later the ice could
be seen some six miles off to be standing in high
mounds. Big guns were fired — the warning to
all Indians hunting at the river mouth. There was



no immediate change, but at three the next morning
the crash came. "There was," wrote the bishop*
" a roar as of heavy artillery. The ice broke right
across the river, and began to heave and plunge, and
a large body of it moved onwards. A huge field of
it, rising above the river's bank, rushed forward as
if it would destroy the mission premises, and stopping
but a few feet from my front gate, all became quiet
again. The river, packed with piled and broken ice-
blocks looked wild and threatening, and we anxiously
waited to see what the result of future shores would
be. The water ebbed and flowed, and an occasional
movement took place, but there was no cause for
alarm, until eleven o'clock at night, when the water
rose very high and the ice was borne forward with
great velocity, the field of ice in front of my house
being brought up to our fence, and the water lying
deep in my garden."

All that summer the bishop was busy. There
were still translations to be made ; there were still
teachers to- train ; there was still the ordinary work
of the evangelist and pastor to discharge. Amidst


it all he finds time to write long letters home for
publication, for Bishop Horden knew that the way
to excite and keep alive an interest in missionary
enterprise is to tell people how it is going,
and how men fare in the land where the worker
is. So Horden trained himself to write almost as
fully of the everyday life of his people as of
the work of grace which was manifest amongst

Thus, in one letter, he has a long account of Fort
Churchill, " the last house in the world," i.e. the
nearest to the North Pole. He devoted a good deal
of space to the three cows of Churchill — valuable
beasts, fed in winter chiefly on the white moss
beloved of the reindeer. They were a strange trio.
One was so small as to be almost a dwarf. The
other was " so supple, that she required no milkmaid
to milk her ; she did it herself." The third was the
proud owner of an artificial tail. This distinction
she owed to an encounter with wolves. Not being
far from home, she succeeded in reaching a place of
safety alive. But the wolves were not wholly un-


successful, for one got near enough to bite off the
fugitive's tail.

The loss was serious. Nowhere does a cow want
her tail more than at Churchill. Flies swarm there,
and without the weapon nature has provided she
must die under their attacks. But art came to the
help of nature. Somebody remembered that there
was a dead cow's tail lying in the store. Happy
thought ! It was brought out ; secured firmly to the
stump of the lost member, the* join neatly covered
with canvas and tar; and then the cow was able
once more to hold her own against the flies.

In another letter he gives a long account of the
dogs which play so useful a part in the life of their
almost Arctic settlement. It is suggested by the
unexpected appearance at Moose of a large body of
men coming up the river, hauling a heavy sledge
behind them. As such work is generally done by
dogs, the Moose people knew not what to make of
the exhibition, unless the arrivals were strangers
from parts unknown. They were, however, no
strangers, but neighbours from Albany, who had


been compelled to harness themselves to their sledge
and come to Moose for supplies, as their dogs had
been attacked by a fatal epidemic which had carried
off nearly the whole of them.

The bishop then describes the character and
work of the dogs upon which the settler has to rely
for so much aid in the hardest season of the year.

" These dogs, of pure Eskimo breed, are invaluable
in winter, and large teams of them are kept at
Albany, Kupert's House, "Whale Eiver, York, and
Churchill. The Albany team was a particularly
fine one, great care having been taken of late years
in the selection of animal§ for breeding. They
were well taken care of, were very tractable, and
the pride of their famous driver, Harvey, who loved
them almost as much as he does his children,
and treated them most mercifully, an undeserved
blow being never inflicted, and who, when on a
journey, saw that every evening they were well
fed, and, what is equally necessary, well bedded.
In summer they do nothing, and are then voted a



great nuisance, as they are very dangerous to the
calves, and require to be heavily blocked, which
by no means improves their temper, and gives
them a sadly hangdog look. In winter they do
no work at Albany itself, but the whole season
ply between Moose and Albany, bringing from there
quantities of provisions, and taking back sledge-
loads of dry goods. The Eupert's House team
is used in a similar manner ; Moose, from the
large number of inhabitants, receiving all the food
the neighbouring posts can spare, and being the
depot of the country, supplying all the goods
required for use and trade. At Whale Kiver,
where no cattle are kept, dogs haul all the fire-
wood consumed at the station, and as the wood
is cut seven miles distant from the place, and the
consumption is very great, they are kept very
busy, and I think work much harder than at the
more southern stations. A very large team, or
indeed several teams, are kept at York Factory,
and are employed in hauling venison, the principal
food of the station, from the various places where


the hunters have succeeded in killing it. The
Churchill team, too, is a splendid one, and the
principal driver, George Oman, is almost as excellent
in his way as Harvey of Albany. I have seen these
dogs as playful and gentle as kittens, and as fierce
and cruel as a pack of wolves ; sometimes they are
playing with and fondling each other and persons
of their acquaintance, although there is perhaps less
personal attachment in the Eskimo dog than in any
other ; and, again, I have seen dogs lying dead, killed
by their companions in their terrible battles. As
a rule, they are not dangerous to people, but they do
occasionally attack them, and commit great outrages."

The time was now coming for the bishop to
make his last visit to England. Mrs. Horden had
remained before when the bishop sailed for Moosonee
in 1882, and the separation had now been a long one.
Yet, if Mrs. Horden was in England, he had blood-
ties with Moosonee, and to him that still was home.

It was on the last day of May 1888 that he began
the long journey. The preceding Sunday was


marked by a general solemnity on all sides, for, as
he wrote, " every one at Moose is to me as a son or
a daughter."

The first gathering of the day was an English
service, at which the congregation numbered 200,
although only six were Europeans. There were
forty communicants, and the offertory was £35.
Mr. Eichards was ordained, and, as the bishop
afterwards told an English audience, his accomplish-
ments were many and varied. He could preach
"a very good sermon" in English, and a "very
good sermon " in Cree, and a " very tolerable sermon "
in Ojibbeway, besides making himself understood in
Eskimo. In addition he could "paddle his own
canoe " with the best of them — a useful accomplish-
ment in a land where the bishop himself had been
clergyman, doctor, blacksmith, and schoolmaster.

But to return to the service. That over, there
was one for the Indians at 7 A.M., to which they
brought their own Bible and prayer-books, bought
with their own money. At 1.30 the Sunday school
began. At 3.30 the cathedral was again crowded.


Every person present was baptized, and every adult
had been confirmed. The collection was £20. So
ended the public services of a busy and a heart-
moving day.

At last the hour of parting came, and from his
place in the canoe, the bishop gave " a fatherly
blessing " to the crowd gathered on the shore. His
daughter and her children went a day's journey with
the party, and a young grandson accompanied the
bishop as far as Canada. At night they encamped
by the river bank ; supper was cooked by a roaring
fire, and " a very solemn service closed the day."

The next day saw more farewells, and then tlie
journey began in earnest.

It was not without its perils, as the canoe was
poled or tracked up the river. At times they had to
land, and feel their way as best they could through
the pathless woods. Once they were face to face
with a sudden death. " We had ascended a terrible
and long rapid, and had got by the easiest side of the
stream just opposite the foot of our longest portage,
but between us and it ran the swollen and fiercely


flowing river. We all grasped a paddle firmly, and,
bending with our full strength, dashed out into the
stream; we could get no farther, and were swept
down like lightning into the boiling rapid. The
sight was the most dangerous I had ever witnessed ;
but the men were equal to the emergency. Turning
round in the canoe, the bow became the stern, and
we were kept clear of the rocks which threatened
our destruction."

The voyage to Canada was made without mishap,
and soon the bishop was once more in England. It
was not a time of idleness, or even of rest. There
was much yet to be done in making known the work,
and in pleading for the means to still further
extend it. At the Church Missionary Society anni-
versary of 1889 the bishop was a conspicuous figure.
He was warmly greeted, when, with other bishops,
he appeared on the platform at Exeter Hall in the
morning, and in the evening he took the chair.

Few who heard that speech will forget the veteran
who made it. He had come, he told the vast
audience, from the great Lone Land, where he had


spent thirty-eight years of his life. He showed
them, in a graphic anecdote, the old condition of the
Indians there. Then, by way of contrast, he took
them back to that last Sunday in his diocese, already
described. In a few days the bishop said farewell
once more to his friends in England, He had
turned his back upon the old scenes he was never to
look on again.



Last Visits to Outlying Stations — An Eskimo Congregation— The
Disabilities of Old Age — Still an Active Bishop — A Sunday
at Whale River.

ISHOP HORDEN travelled again by
way of Canada, and it was like Horden
that, upon the railway car in the
journey westward, he lectured every
day to the people.

He went first to the north-west of his diocese,
visiting Oxford House, and then going on to York
Factory. " A pleasant week's journey," he called it,
although few Europeans at his age would find it so.
From York Factory he went on by boat to Churchill.



The weather was beautiful and bright every day, but
the nights were very cold, and the sleeping out in
the open boat was, in the bishop's words, " not always
comfortable ; but," he adds, " that mattered little, as



long as we were proceeding." In five days they
were sailing up the Great Churchill Eiver, and
landing at the utmost limit of civilisation. The
place was full, and the people were just as busy as
the myriads of mosquitoes, which in the short


summer help to make life hard for man and beast.
After a few days he returned to York, and thence
went on by schooner to Moose.

It was dark when Horden landed, after his last
absence, amongst his people ; but they were on the
beach in crowds to meet him. Here he was " really
at home " and " felt so overjoyed and so thankful."
From Moose he went on to Eupert's House. Here
Christmas and the spring were spent. It was a time
of trial for the natives, for the harvest of geese very
largely failed them, and there was much suffering.
The goose harvest was always important.

" When," the bishop wrote, " would the first goose
be killed ? Who would be lucky enough to kill it ?
Geese stands were made at intervals of about half
a mile all down the river. Decoy geese were in
abundance, but the real geese were very shy. They
rewarded the hunters' patience and skill but
moderately ; but, in the poor times we were experi-
encing, every single goose was a prize, and often a
hunter sat in his stand two or three days without
securing one. Eupert's House is not noted for geese,


the marshes being very limited in extent ; and this
year the birds can find no food, in consequence of
the great depth of snow, and on certain spots hun-
dreds were found frozen, starved to death. '

Tlie results were often of the saddest. When the

"bands of Indians came in
districts there were gaps
Eighteen had perished in

As summer came
out once more
travels, this
north. He
Main Eiver,
stered to a
Indians who
saw a clergy

he went on to Fort George, and then still farther north
to the Great Whale Eiver. It was a wonderful proof
of the thorough way in which those desolate lands
had been evangelised that, as they journeyed along
the coast of the bay they came one morning upon a
body of Eskimo who were brethren. The bishop


from outlying

in their ranks.

one party.

the bishop set
upon his
time to the
visited East
and mini-
group of
very rarely
man. Then


was amongst them at once, and heard them all read
from their books. Only one of the flock, a woman,
was at all deficient. For her they made apologies ;
she had only just got her books; but they were
teaching her every day. Horden's heart had long
yearned over the Eskimo, and few things gave him
more joy than their earnest attention.

That Christmas was spent at Moose. The school
children were well thought of, for the bishop
provided the nearest possible approach to such a
"treat" as many enjoy at home in England. The tea
was there and cake too, and a Christmas tree filled.

The following summer proved a sickly one. In-
fluenza again broke out, and at Eupert's House the
bishop had once more to be doctor, nurse, and pastor.
He himself fell ill, and regained his strength but

August brought an important visitor to Moose. Hor-
den had for some time felt that increasing years and
declining strength made it desirable for him to place
the work in the hands of some younger man. In
the Kev. J. A. Newnham — now Bishop of Moosonee


— he believed that he had been directed to the right
person. He was happy in this thought, but deferred
his own return to England in order that he might
see his future successor instructed in the work, and
also that he might complete the translation of the
Bible into Cree.

Christmas was spent at Albany with Archdeacon
Vincent. It is a tiring journey. His first visit there
had been made just forty years before. " I was then,"
he wrote, " young and active, and thought nothing of
hardship; I could sleep in the open, bivouac with
the cold bright sky overhead, with the thermomete]-
40 degrees below zero." But those days were gone
for ever. " They tell me," he regretfully adds, " that,
for the future, winter travelling must not be indulged
in." And then he adds: "We must bow to the
inevitable ; we cannot always be young ; the halting
step and the grey head will come, and why should
we dread their approach, when we know that ' if the
earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we
have a building from God, a house not made with
hands, eternal in the heavens'?"


It was a cruel winter though a mild 0.tie, for the
dreaded influenza was again amongst the people.

In the following May, the bishop was able to
reach the last words of his translation of the Bible
into Cree. He still hoped to give it complete and
most careful revision, and this was now never long
out of his thoughts.

Yet at this time he could still visit his distant

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Online LibraryA. R. (Augustus Robert) BucklandJohn Horden, missionary bishop; a life on the shores of Hudson's Bay → online text (page 4 of 5)