George Young.

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PROVINCE, i868-i884.



Founder of Methodist Missions in the Red River Settlement.



General Secretary of the Missionary Society of the Methodist Church.

SSHit^r |Jartrai;ts anb Illustrations.






Entered, according to Act of the Parliament of Canada, in the year one
thousand eight hundred and ninety-seven, by WILLIAM BRIGQS, at
the Department of Agriculture.


MANY a book has been published for which no good
reason could be assigned, but this book is not of that class.
Many manuscripts might have been consigned by publishers
to the waste-basket or the flames and the world have been
none the poorer ; but to have withheld these " Manitoba
Memories " from the public would have been a distinct and
serious loss. Methodists would have lost some pages of
inspiring autobiography, as well as the story of the plant-
ing of Methodism in the great North- West ; Christians
who can rise above the low level of denominational shib-
boleths would have lost the profit which comes from
studying the movements of other divisions of the Lord's
army than their own ; patriots would have lost the record
of some of the most stirring scenes in the founding of our
Western Empire ; and coming historians of both Church
and State would have lost a veritable mine of materials of
the highest value.

Only a single chapter is devoted to the author's auto-
biography, but the glimpses it affords of his early life serve
the good purpose of bringing the reader into sympathy



with the man and his work. From this starting point we
follow him with sympathetic interest through the valedic-
tory services at Toronto, before setting out with his com-
panions for their distant mission fields ; the long and toil-
some journey over the hundreds of miles of unsettled
prairie that intervened between St. Cloud and Fort Garry ;
the difficulties which beset his early ministry, growing in
part out of the sparseness of population, the long distances
between the settlements, the scarcity and cost of supplies,
and, last but not least, the bigotry of some who claimed
a monopoly of religious teaching, poorly qualified though
they might be to supply it. But all these were succes-
sively overcome, and the reader cannot fail to rejoice in
the success which ultimately crowned the labors of this
devoted missionary and those who succeeded him in the

The part of these " Memories " which will most deeply
stir the hearts of loyal Canadians, irrespective of name or
party, is that which covers the revolt of the half-breeds
under Louis Riel in 1869. In this book we have a simple
narrative of the facts, recorded by an eye-witness whose
well-known reputation for integrity, veracity and upright-
ness precludes any suspicion of unfairness. The narrative
in its simplicity, directness, circumstantial details and
evident freedom from mere partizan bias, bears the stamp
of truthfulness upon its face, and the future historian will
find in it materials which he can use with unhesitating
confidence. The beginning of the troubles ; the persistent


attempts of Riel to fan the passions of the ignorant half-
breeds (which a word from the Hierarchy could have
checked, had it been spoken) ; the seizure of Fort Garry
and the imprisonment of loyal Canadians ; the escape of
some and the recapture of part of them ; the climax of
crime and cruelty in the cold-blooded murder of Thomas
Scott ; the enforced exodus of the loyal element until order
was restored by the triumphal entry of the forces under
General Wolseley all these occurrences are detailed with
simple but graphic power, and supply information of intense
interest and permanent value.

Following the stirring chapters on the Riel rebellion,
the author turns again to the peaceful scenes of missionary
labor and the planting of the Methodist Church. " The
First Manitoba Missionary Conference," when Drs. Pun-
shon and Wood, and John Macdonald, Esq., (all of whom
have since joined the "great majority ") met the mission-
aries of the North- West, is sketched chiefly in the language
of contemporaneous records, and Dr. Lachlan Taylor's
journey through the " Great Lone Land " is given in the
words of the Doctor's own journal and report. The history
of the early educational movement is an interesting
chapter, and so is that which details two dissimilar mis-
sionary journeys in 1874 and 1875. The second of these
journeys was in the winter season, through an uninhabited
wilderness, and gave our author some experience of the
toils and hardships of missionaries in the far North. But
to follow the remaining chapters in detail would exceed

the limits properly assigned to an Introduction, and I must
refer the reader to the book itself for further information.
A work such as was done by George Young and his
associates in the North- West does not bulk very large in
the public eye at the time. Theirs was emphatically the
work of laying foundations, and this is a work which has
to be done quietly, and, for the most part, out of sight ; but
its importance to the superstructure to be built thereupon
cannot be overstated. That these men planned wisely and
built solidly, the results abundantly testify. Not often is
it given to pioneers to see the full fruit of their labors ; but
it is matter of profound satisfaction that the man who,
under God, planted the seeds of Methodism in the Prairie
Province, has lived to see and help to gather the won-
derful harvest that sprang from his sowing. Some men
have monuments in dead marble, reared long after they
have passed away ; George Young has his monument to-
day in the living Methodism of the great North- West.


Toronto, May 10th, 1897.


THE writer of this volume desires to intimate to its
readers that in its preparation and publication he has
simply yielded to the solicitations of many friends, as
well as to the request of the members of the Manitoba
and North-West Conference embodied in the following
resolution :

Moved by Rev. G. R. Turk, seconded by Rev. Dr.

" That we have read with pleasure the letters of the
Rev. George Young, D. D., which have recently appeared
in the Christian Guardian.

" Because of his intimate association with the early
history of this country, Dr. Young is specially qualified
to impart information which can be obtained from no
other source, and which will be of great interest and
importance to coming years. We, therefore, as a Con-
ference, express the hope that Dr. Young may see his"
way clear to place the information contained in the
letters in permanent book form. Also, that a copy of
this resolution be forwarded to Dr. Young by the Secre-
tary of this Conference."


My readers will suffer another prefatory remark :

I have given a more detailed account of some of the
events narrated than would be deemed advisable but for
the fact that hitherto they have not, to my knowledge,
appeared in print, or when they have were so inter-
blended with the fictitious as to be deservedly discredited
by their readers. I will also add, that in consenting to
prepare this volume I was influenced somewhat by the
strong probability that it would be read by a goodly
number of our young people whose birth has taken place
since the times when these recorded events transpired,
and who may not so much as have heard of their occur-

To such, and all others who may consult these pages,
I herewith give the assurance that I have not in the
least drawn upon my imagination in their preparation,
but in all cases where the incidents given or the events
described have not been matters of personal experience
or observation, I have drawn my information from what
I deem reliable sources.



An Autobiographical Sketch. (1821-1868) . .11

Valedictory Services . 29

The Forthgoing of the Missionary Party ... 54

Perplexities and Encouragements Interblending . . 67

The Arrival of an Efficient Helper 90

Troublous Times 100

Escaping for Life ........ 117

The Climax of Crime and Cruelty ..... 131

Post- Mortem Indignities, etc. . . . . . 148

An Enforced Exodus 163



A Notable Military Expedition ..... 174

The Triumphal Entry, and What Came of It . . . 186

The Building of Our First Grace Church . . .200

The Fenian Raid of 1871 A Fizzle and a Farce . . 212

The First Manitoba Missionary Conference . . . 230


Dr. Lachlan Taylor's Wonderful Tour Among the Mis-
sions in the " Great Lone Land " .... 250

Our Early Educational Movements in Manitoba . . 268


Two Missionary Journeys into the Interior . . . 280

My Last Hand-Shake with an Heroic Missionary . . 302

Returning to Ontario . ... 317

My Second Appointment to Mission Work in Manitoba . 328


My Third Appointment to Mission Work in the North-
West 343




HAVING been spared to pass the seventy-fifth mile-
stone in my life's pathway, and to enjoy fifty-seven
years of membership in the Methodist Church and
fifty-five years of preacher life, it would seem as if
the requests of many friends that I should give a
brief sketch of some, at least, of my many recollec-
tions of events and experiences of bygone years, were
not altogether unreasonable.

To the chapters following this much larger space
will be given, as it is judged that my Manitoba
memories will be regarded as of more general inter-
est than those by which they were preceded, and
which will therefore be more briefly recorded, and
even in many cases barely summarized.

The two births of which I have been the subject
occurred at the following dates : The first on the last
day of the year 1821, and the second in October, 1840.
In the first I entered the life that now is; by the


second I was introduced into " the household of faith,"
and became a child and an heir of God and a "joint-
heir with Christ." My ancestors, who were of the
old U. E. Loyalist stock, emigrated from the States
and settled in_ those parts of the County of Prince
Edward still known as East and West Lake respec-
tively, considerably more than a hundred years ago.
When but nineteen years of age my mother became
the subject of three experiences such as have come
to but few in so quick succession a happy young
wife, a stricken widow, and an anxious mother and
all during the months of the year 1821. My early
days were passed with my mother in the old home-
stead with her parents, who, being Methodists,
accounted it a privilege to open their home for
public worship and as a resting-place for the weary
itinerants of those pioneering times.

Some of my earliest recollections are of the names
and appearance of those zealous servants of the Most
High. This is especially the case with one whom I
can never forget the Rev. Geo. Ferguson, an ex-
soldier bought out of the army by the Methodists a
man small of stature, but large of heart, and all
aflame with love to God and zeal for His glory,
whose energetic and persistent efforts in pulpit and
prayer-meeting exercises were greatly blessed in the
conversion of multitudes of those early settlers. The
one incident in connection with this consecrated man's
ministry of which I have the most vivid recollection
was the placing of his hands on my head and earn-
estly beseeching God to bless and save " the little


fatherless boy." Will not "the effectual fervent
prayer of a righteous man avail much ? " After
many years of devoted service in the itinerancy, and
when he was literally a " worn-out " preacher, the
name of this saintly man was placed on the list of
superannuates, where it remained until he was trans-
ferred to the ranks of the immortals.

Another distinct recollection I have of early child-
hood days was that of hearing in the class-room, to
which my mother led me, the earnest and frequent
singing of the hymn beginning with " A charge to
keep I have," which was so deeply impressed on my
mind even then as to become ineffaceable. To this
day I rarely read or hear it announced in worship
without being reminded of those messages which it
bore to my mind in the times long gone by.

After many years of widowhood my mother became
the wife of Mr. Thomas Bowerman, whereupon we
removed to a new home, in a much more sparsely
settled part of the country, where for several years
my educational opportunities were both few in num-
ber and poor in quality. Schools were distant,
teachers incompetent, text-books ill adapted, and op-
portunities for study few and far between, so that
my chances for getting an education were in striking
contrast with those now enjoyed by our highly fav-
ored youth, whether in city or country. Helping to
clear up land, to till soil difficult of tillage, ploughing,
harvesting, threshing, teaming, and caring for stock,
generally occupied my attention and called into exer-
cise my energies during the years most favorable for


close work in school or college. Very true, much of
this was in a degree educative, though it tended to
the training and developing of muscle rather than
mind. Still it was not entirely valueless in its bear-
ings upon my future, inasmuch as it brought me such
practical knowledge as subsequently availed me much,
by producing in me such a purpose of self-help as I
have been thankful for ever since.

I will relate just here what I have ever regarded
as a very remarkable instance of Divine interposition,
which occurred prior to my conversion. Our barn
was built on a hill side, the timbers on the upper side
resting on a foundation built but little above the
ground, while on the lower side they rested on posts
some twelve or fourteen feet in height, the basement
becoming a shelter for the stock in wintry weather,
while the upper stories contained grain, threshed or
unthreshed, hay, etc. Early one stormy morning,
while I was engaged in feeding the cattle in the
basement stables, a terrific wind storm, a veritable
tornado, struck the building, and by its marvellous
force crushed the entire structure to the earth, as
if had been but a child's playhouse. Hearing the
crash of the falling and breaking timbers, I was
instantly prompted to fall on my knees and pray.
Responding immediately to the prompting, the prayer
of the penitent publican was earnestly uttered, and,
I fully believe, instantly answered. In a moment all
was over, and stillness and darkness reigned where
I was, the broken timbers having so encompassed me
and the mows of hay and wheat so completely covered


me that both light and sound were entirely excluded,
while I was as free from injury as before the crash

My first thought was that I had been so buried
beneath the large quantities of hay and grain which
I knew had rested on the timbers above and must
have fallen along with them, that escape would be
impossible ; but a vigorous effort resulted in a few
minutes in making an opening through which light
streamed and out of which I rushed, without either
scratch or bruise. Then it was that I discovered that
in my kneeling to pray I had avoided the falling
beams and other timbers, now so piled upon each
other on either side and for about three feet above
my head as to leave a space about a yard square
the only space discernible where I could have escaped
being crushed to death. Had I been disobedient to
the prompting and remained standing, I must have
been instantly killed. Whence came that prompting
to kneel and pray was it from within or from
above ? Was it of blind chance that those falling
timbers were so piled on each other and at such
distances as to ward off the supports of the mow of
hay and grain, and thus shield me completely from
any injury whatever ? Of the many who came that
day to view the ruins all seemed, as they took in the
situation, to regard my escape as miraculous, and
many unhesitatingly declared it to be so. How could
they do otherwise ? Has the God of Almightiness so
laid aside His ability or His right to so direct and
control and counterwork the great forces of Nature,


which are but of His ordaining, as to involve the
miraculous ? I believe in God as Preserver as well
as Creator, and that it was He and He alone that
" redeemed my life from destruction."

When the rebellion of 1837, known as Mackenzie's
rebellion, broke out, and a call came for volunteers to
aid in its suppression, my loyalty led me to respond
to the call, and joining a company of dragoons under
the captaincy of E. D. S. Wilkins, Colonel Landon
commanding the regiment, I came under military
rule in the service of Queen and country. For the
purpose of guarding Presque Isle Harbor, and also, I
suppose, of dissuading any in that region having dis-
loyal proclivities from making demonstration in that
direction, we were stationed, with two or three com-
panies of infantry, in the village of Brighton, where
barracks were secured for the men and stables erected
for the horses. Here we remained except when out
on duty in carrying despatches or patrolling engag-
ing daily in parades for drill in horsemanship, sword
exercise, etc., etc., during -our six months of service.
This also was, in a way, an educative process of some
value to me in after years when horse, saddle and
saddle-bags became so closely associated with me in
my circuit work. My soldier-life was no benefit to
me, however, religiously ; yet I am profoundly grate-
ful for the restraining grace which saved me from
being drawn into those excesses which proved the
ruin of some of my comrades in the service.

I now come to that more important event, my
second birth, which took place in October, 1840,


following a season of deep conviction which the Holy
Spirit wrought in me through the use of means of
His own choosing. A young friend of mine was sud-
denly stricken out of life under circumstances which
seemingly afforded no opportunity for preparation for
the great change. At the burial, as we stood by the
open grave, an earnest, godly neighbor, an exhorter,
was moved to speak such words of warning as greatly
impressed all who heard them, and also proved the
means of awakening to many of the associates of the
deceased young man. My spiritual emancipation took
place not many days thence, in connection with a
series of special services in our newly-erected little
school-house, which soon became the birthplace of
many awakened souls. Almost immediately after
this blessed incoming of life and light and peace, I
was moved to seek, by testimony and exhortation, to
persuade others to become reconciled to God, so that
now nearly fifty-seven years have elapsed since I
began to exclaim, " Behold the Lamb of God." At
the close of the services referred to, with many
others, I united with the Church and received bap-
tism from the Rev. Lewis Warner, who gave me my
first quarterly ticket, which I still hold, and which
reads thus : " To do good and communicate forget not,
for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." That
Scripture, coming to me as it did, was as a message
from heaven. As the weeks passed by, I was
induced to take part in prayer and fellowship
meetings, and occasionally to give an exhortation


and " lead the meeting." Deeply conscious of my
need of the requisite qualifications even for such
exercises, I applied myself to the study of such com-
mentaries, sermons and biographies, etc., as came
within my reach, frequently devoting thereto the
three or four hours which preceded the dawn. In
the meantime, though still engaged in farm work, I
assisted in revival services in adjacent neighborhoods,
as best I could. In order that I might have educa-
tional advantages such as I had not hitherto enjoyed,
I attended the Grammar School in Picton for a sea-
son, and was privileged in boarding at the parsonage
and receiving assistance such as I much needed from
our minister. In due course I received license as a
local preacher, and being recommended by the Quar-
terly Official Meeting in Picton to the District Meet-
ing, was thereby recommended to the Conference,
after due examination, to be received on trial as a
candidate for our ministry.

Sabbath, June 12th, 1842, was one of the many
red-letter days in my life which I shall ever remem-
ber. On that day for the first time it was my privi-
lege to enjoy the solemnities of a Conference Sabbath,
and to me the privilege was great beyond description.
First of all was the early and " old-time " love-feast,
which was followed by the ordination sermon by
President Green on " The Great Pentecostal Revival,"
and the ordination service. Then the three o'clock
service and an eloquent sermon by Rev. G. R. San-
derson on " Glorying in the cross of Christ only."
Then at seven o'clock another excellent and powerful


discourse from Rev. Dr. Ryerson, on " The excellency
of the knowledge of Christ," which helped to prepare
us for, as it was followed by, the holy communion.
No one will marvel when I state that these services
one and all left an impression on my mind which can
never be effaced. One, and only one, of the gifted
preachers of that Sabbath continues in the Church
militant at this date I refer to Rev. Dr. Sanderson,
who was my superintendent in 1845-46 in the Ade-
laide Street charge, Toronto, and subsequently our
Editor and Book Steward, etc.

On the following day (Monday, June 13th) the
Conference in the old Picton chapel (as we called it)
closed, and my name having been read off for my
first appointment, as assistant to my faithful and
zealous friend, Rev. S. C. Philp, sen., who is yet on
this side of the river, but " waiting for the boatman,"
I made haste to get my few belongings in the way of
an outfit for my future life as an itinerant into shape ;
to say good-bye to my friends, and to set out, with
horse, saddle, bridle and valise, a few clothes and a
few books, for the somewhat distant field of labor,
the old Oxford Circuit.

And now to summarize, as want of space will not
allow of anything more extended. I will mention the
fields of labor to which I have been assigned from
year to year. The positions I have been permitted
to occupy have been duly reported in the Annual
Minutes, and need no mention from me, further than
this simple statement. My circuits have been as
follows: Oxford, Chatham, London (as a supply),


Brantford, Toronto, St. Catharines, Gatineau and
Hull, Hamilton and Glanford, London (again as
a supply), Niagara and Drummondville, Belleville,
Montreal, Brantford, Kingston, Quebec, Toronto
(Richmond and Queen Street Churches). At this
point, however, I will diverge somewhat to make
special reference to the appointment which the


Conference gave me in 1848 as the colleague of Rev.
Henry Wilkinson, Superintendent of the Hamilton

I had made the acquaintance of my now sainted
brother while he was President of Conference and
Chairman of Toronto District, and had a very high
estimate of his abilities, both as preacher and admin-
istrator, and also of his deep piety as well as his
uniform kindliness, for which, and other reasons, I was


greatly pleased with my appointment. Henry Wil-
kinson was a true out-and-out Methodist, and as a
minister a long way above mediocrity in spirituality,
zeal, industry, moral courage and faithfulness to his
charge, as well as in his preaching ability and
usefulness. It was a great blessing to me to be
associated so closely with him in circuit work, and to
enjoy a most friendly and free correspondence with
him through the years of his after life. After leaving

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Online LibraryGeorge YoungManitoba memories, leaves from my life in the prairie province, 1868-1884 → online text (page 1 of 23)