Church in the Colonies.
No. XIX.
 
A VISIT TO LABRADOR
IN THE AUTUMN OF
MDCCCXLVIII.
BY THE
LORD BISHOP OF
NEWFOUNDLAND.
 
WITH A PREFATORY LETTER, BY THE
LORD BISHOP OF LONDON,
AND A MAP.
 
 
LONDON:
Printed for
THE SOCIETY FOR THE PROPAGATION OF THE GOSPEL;
SOLD BY
RIVINGTON'S, ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD AND
WATERLOO PLACE;
AND BY ALL BOOKSELLERS.
1849.
 

Dec. 1848.

/3/ Fulham, 2d Dec. 1848.

MY DEAR MR. HAWKINS,

It appears to me extremely desirable that the account which the Bishop of Newfoundland has given of his visit to the coast of Labrador, should be earnestly pressed upon the attention of the Church at home, as affording a very striking specimen of the benefits which result from the appointment of Colonial Bishops, and of the good which may be effected by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, in its own peculiar and most important department of charity, if it be enabled, as it ought to be, to carry out its purposes, by contributions in some degree adequate to the calls which are made upon it for assistance.

Surrounded by all the appliances and means of good which are at the disposal of a Bishop in /4/ this country, I have been deeply moved by contrasting with them the necessities and difficulties which embarrass and impede the Bishop of such a diocese as that of Newfoundland, in the discharge of his pastoral duties; and I can readily imagine the comfort and encouragement which it must give him, to know, that in the midst of these difficulties he can look to the venerable Society for cordial sympathy and efficient support.

In a letter to me of the 5th of August last, the Bishop, asking for information on a point of ecclesiastical law, says:-

"On the coast of Labrador I am not likely to find documents to refresh my memory. The thing most resembling a Church in this locality, is a beautiful iceberg, with a tower, and buttresses, and pinnacles complete."

Let not this continue, from any neglect or parsimony of ours, to be a true description of that country, too long unblest with the means of grace. Let us provide the settlers there with that which they so eagerly desire, a competent number of stationary clergymen; and they themselves will erect churches, not perhaps /5/ with towers and pinnacles, but sufficient for the indispensable decencies of common worship.

In the letter just quoted, the Bishop gives a summary of the present state and wants of the settlers in Labrador, which are more fully detailed in his communications to the Society. He says:

"I have now nearly completed my visitation of the coast of Labrador. It is quite a voyage of discovery. No Bishop, or Clergyman of our Church, has ever been along this coast before, and yet the inhabitants are almost all professed members of our Church, and of English descent. There are a good many Esquimaux Indians among them, and a tribe of Mountaineers. The latter are Roman Catholics, the former Protestants. These have been chiefly instructed by the Missionaries (Moravians, I believe,) at Nain.

"The Coast of Labrador, from Bradore Bay, where my diocese begins, to Sandwich Bay, where it does not end, (but where I must end my journey and superintendence,) is about 280 miles in extent, full of bays and creeks, with a permanent population of about 1,000 persons, and in summer of above 10,000. What can be done for them? It will require the services of three Clergymen, and as many Schoolmasters, to provide moderately for their spiritual wants. Each Clergyman would have a line of coast of above seventy miles in extent, and about 300 persons scattered here and there in creeks and bays; and nearly all these, at present, professed members of our Church. But /6/ the wolves are among them, not sparing the flock; and soon, we may expect of their own selves will men arise, &c. All the merchants and their agents are well disposed towards us. The harvest is indeed ripe: where can the labourers be found?"

May the Lord of the harvest dispose the hearts of many of his servants to answer, there and elsewhere, the call for missionary exertion! But the labourer is worthy of his hire; and it can but rarely happen that one is found to go a warfare of his own cost. Therefore, the first thing to be done is, to provide funds for the maintenance of a sufficient number of Clergymen and Schoolmasters. The sum of many required is very small, compared with the good which will be done by its expenditure. At the trifling cost of £200 a year, the dwellers along 250 miles of a cold and rugged coast, numbering at all times of the year 1,000, and during the summer months above 10,000, now entirely destitute of pastoral instruction and superintendence, and of the sacraments and means of grace, eagerly thirsting for the waters of life, will be put in possession of all the inestimable privileges and blessings to which, as the Church's children, they are entitled as their /7/ birthright. But small as the sum is, the Society has no unpledged means at its disposal, wherewith to furnish it. Nevertheless, I rejoice that the Society has without hesitation promised it.

It is impossible to imagine, that, when the circumstances of the case are generally known, contributions will be wanting, to supply the excellent Bishop of Newfoundland with the means of achieving an object so near to his heart, and of solving, in the only manner consistent with the honour and duty of our more prosperous Church at home, the question so emphatically proposed by him, "What can be done for them?"

Fourpence a year contributed from every one of our 12,000 parishes and districts would furnish the sum required.

Believe me,

Yours most truly,

C.J. London.


The Rev. Ernest Hawkins.

/9/

L A B R A D O R
 

Forteau, Labrador, Aug. 2, 1848.

My Dear ___, I wrote to you last week from St. George's Bay, and spoke of my disappointment in missing Mr. Meek, after sailing five hundred miles through fog and foam, to visit him and his flock, and impart unto them, with God's blessing, more than one spiritual gift, by the administration of Confirmation and the Lord's Supper, neither of which have they had an opportunity of receiving for three years; and another dreary interval of the same length may elapse before they can expect to receive either of these blessings. For alas! Mr. Meek is only in deacon's orders, and our nearest priest is 200 miles from them, and he the only on till you come within a few miles of St. John's, 500 miles in all. However, as the time of Mr. Meek's return was altogether uncertain, I did not think it prudent to tarry, having so many places to visit, through fog and storm and calm, with only three months of summer, counting September as one of those summer months, which, I have had too much reason to know, is far from being agreeable or safe for sailing.

/10/ We therefore left St. George's after remaining two days -- in which I had full service morning and evening, and preached twice -- on Thursday last, July 27. We were becalmed all that day in the Bay, but in the evening a favourable breeze sprang up, and we had a splendid run up to the Straits of Belle Isle; the good Church ship bounding over the waves as if conscious of her sacred and honourable employment: and I trust it may be truly predicated of her, what the poet has said of her namesake bird --

Ou toi aneu Theou eptato dexios Ornis.(1)

None of my party had ever before been in this part of the coast of Labrador, but we made the very harbour I particularly wished to reach in the first place. You know nothing of the excitement of entering a strange harbour in a stiff breeze without pilot or directions; but you can imagine something of the feelings of a Bishop lighting upon a portion of his diocese, which neither he nor any other of his Clergy have visited before, and which he has reason to believe has never been visited by any Christian bishop. The coast of Labrador, too, is generally supposed so bleak and desolate, either wholly unoccupied, or traversed only by a few Indians, that it has an interest of its own: how particularly to me, who came to inquire, not about the climate and natural productions, but whether any, and what Christian men had settled, in whatever state of ignorance and unhappiness, on its shores!

/11/ It was a matter of no small interest, under such circumstances, to observe on either side of a noble bay the dwellings of men, and fish-stages, and boats in abundance, (not unlike what I had been accustomed to in Newfoundland itself, only the fish flakes and stages on even a larger scale than I had seen elsewhere;) and then, in a short time, as we made our way onwards, a boat hastening to meet us with a friendly greeting. We were soon safely at anchor, about five o'clock on Saturday afternoon; and found that in this bay there are not less than four fishing establishments, three connected with Jersey and one with St. John's, besides five resident families. A store was quickly offered and prepared for Sunday service, and in the morning, July 30th, we had a congregation of 150 persons, almost all men, and nearly as many in the afternoon. None of the heads of families had ever had an opportunity of being married by a Clergyman, and all their children were admitted into the Church. You would have been equally surprised and delighted to have seen the decent and devout way in which the people entered into these services. Had there been longer notice, many would have attended the service from neighbouring coves and harbours, but the intelligence and opportunity were confined to this Bay only.

I know not whether to be most pleased or perplexed by the earnest, anxious desire of the people to /12/ have a Clergyman among them. One very respectable man, who has brought up, or is bringing up, a family of nine children, is just on the point of removing to Nova Scotia, in despair of finding any spiritual guide or counsel for himself and family here. He has been resident in this neighbourhood nearly thirty years, and in all that time has never seen a Clergyman of his own Church. All his children were admitted into the Church, and one of his daughters married, or re-married. He leaves a very profitable estate, to which, though on the coast of Labrador, he has become very much attached. * * * * But if a bright bracing sky overhead, with a profusion of wild flowers and wild fruits at your feet, and a sea before you teeming, in the summer, with fish par excellence, i.e. cod, with salmon and herrings, and seals in the spring; and then on land in the winter, deer and ptarmigan, (called here partridges,) to say nothing of the valuable silver and black foxes, and martens, if these can please or profit you; in short, if you want health and wealth, you may be as likely to find either or both on the Labrador, as in your close and crowded streets --

"Where ever-moving myriads seem to say,

Go, thou art nought to us, nor we to thee -- away."

Ah! that opens another consideration. Surely the blessing of God is ready to come upon any who will devote himself to seeking out the scattered sheep in these wild but not desert scenes, "that they may be saved through Christ for ever." My chief object in writing to you is to ask and pray that some /13/ Clergyman may be sent to take the oversight of these poor people.

They say they are well able to support a Clergyman. One poor man, as we should call him, said there is not a family-man on the shore who would not give 5 lbs. a year towards his support; and, if I would only give them the promise of a Clergyman, they would soon build a Church. What shall I do? You will observe, this is the first place I have visited on the coast of Labrador, and I may expect to have similar applications in other settlements which I hope to see. A Clergyman placed here, would be able occasionally to visit the western coast of Newfoundland; and in a settlement almost immediately opposite, called Anchor Point, are nearly 100 souls, who have never seen a Clergyman among them. At Bay of Islands are as many; and at Bonne Bay, more than half that number. But on the Labrador coast in the summer, within the limits of the government of Newfoundland, and therefore, I presume, of my diocese, are ten thousand souls, who have no spiritual guide or overseer; most of these remain four months, and there are now many resident families. One person in this Bay, (who is now, as I said, about to remove to Nova Scotia to educate his family,) offered years ago to give 40 lbs. a year towards the support of a Clergyman. But "hope deferred maketh the heart sick," and the desire has come (if it has come) too late to be to him a tree of life. It would be very desirable to have a Clergyman here who can speak the French language, as /14/ many of the men at the Jersey house understand but little English. One house here brings upwards of seventy men, another fifty, a third forty, and the fourth twenty-seven; and at L'Anse-à-Loup which I visited on Monday, (a very pleasant walk,) the merchant's house has 130 hands. None of these knew of my being here. Again at Blanc Sablon, about ten or twelve miles to the westward of this, are some large establishments. There the government of Newfoundland begins, and my responsibility.

Will no one come over to help me, and take some portion of this serious and heavy charge? I hope to proceed forward to-morrow; but there may be fog -- there may be heavy winds -- or there may be none at all. In either case I must be content to remain, and should be well content if I had not the thought of so many other duties before me.

God be with you, and bless you, and all who will care for the poor souls on the Labrador.

Your affectionate friend and brother,

E. Newfoundland.

The good Church ship rolls in this open Bay, so that I can hardly write.


/15/ La Poele Bay, Sept. 8, 1848.

My Dear ___, I may now give you some fuller account of the Labrador coast, to be laid before the Society when convenient, which I hope will be on an early day. I would premise, that as my voyage has been one of discovery in the department of religion and morality, the result may be the addition of a large and interesting district to the vineyard of the Church. Instead of "may be," I would boldly write "will be," if I were certain that the Church at home could make the necessary exertion and sacrifice to meet the wants and wishes of, I might almost say, this newly-converted race.

I wrote to you from Forteau just after my arrival there. It was our first place of call, and nearly at the southern extremity on that shore of the government of Newfoundland -- and therefore, it is presumed, of my diocese. A map of that coast would show you that it is the nearest point of American coast to Newfoundland; the distance across the Strait is little more than twelve miles. * * *

We remained at Forteau four days, one of which was a Sunday. We held two services in a store, and many children were received into the Church; and several couples, who had long been living together as husband and wife, were married by the Clergy who accompanied me. Though some of the women were Roman Catholics, no objection was made to the baptism of the children and the marriage by the Clergyman. The people were all /16/ earnest in petitioning to have a Clergyman among them, and promised to do their utmost to support him.

Our next place of call was Battle Harbour; and here we were surprised to find in a small tickle,(2) nearly one hundred vessels assembled from different parts of Newfoundland.

The store provided for our Sunday service was crowded to excess; and though 300 were accommodated, many could not obtain admittance. Here, as at Forteau, we celebrated the Morning and Evening Service on a Sunday, and on that and two following days great numbers of children (fifty-seven in all) were admitted into the Church. I also consecrated two graveyards, one in Battle Island, the other in Great Caribou. Here the people are more concentrated, and live together during a greater part of the year, than in any other settlement. There are 150 residents in Battle Harbour, and full 200 more in other parts of this Mission, with five or six thousand fishing all the summer on the shore.

I would wish it to be understood, that besides the principal harbour in which the Hawk remained, the Clergy, and occasionally I with them, visited several neighbouring settlements. At Battle Harbour the Messrs. Slade have a long-established house of business, partly for trading, and partly for packing seals. The agent (Mr. Bush Bendell) is a very respectable person, and gave us every assistance. He is a young unmarried man; but by his exemplary /17/ and kind deportment, he has gained not only the confidence of his employers, but the respect and regard of all his neighbours. He had himself intended to apply to the heads of the Church at home, for advice and assistance in procuring a schoolmaster. Some of the people in the neighbourhood talked of trying to engage a Clergyman (?) for themselves from Quebec, so little hope did they appear to have of being recognised by their own Bishop.

The men at Battle Harbour are either Englishmen or natives, and the women either natives or Irish, from Newfoundland. The natives, in many instances, are half Indian.

At St. Francis Harbour, where we next stopped, we celebrated the Lord's Supper, as there were several members of the Church from Newfoundland fishing in the neighbourhood; and the agent and his lady also communicated, (Mr. and Mrs. Saunders). Several Esquimaux Indians were here admitted into the Church, and married. One of them afterwards accompanied us as pilot to Sandwich Bay.

I was obliged very reluctantly to leave the Church ship at St. Francis harbour (the wind blowing in), and proceeded in a boat twenty-five miles to the Venison Islands, where I remained three days on shore, before the Hawk could join us, and, with Mr. Hoyles, was very kindly entertained by Mr. Howe, Messrs. Slade's agent. Here all the females are either Esquimaux or mountaineer Indians, or descended from them. With the exception of Mrs. Saunders, there is not an Englishwoman on the coast, /18/ from Battle Harbour to Sandwich Bay; all, or nearly all, are Indians (Esquimaux or mountaineer), or half Indians, and of course the children are the same mixed race. I should have mentioned that at Battle Harbour, and at St. Francis Harbour, no Clergyman of our Church had ever been seen before; but it appeared that Archdeacon Wix had called at the Venison Islands seventeen years ago -- or, as an old fisherman told me, "the head man of St. John's." He had married and baptized, and had left Prayer-books and Bibles with his name, and the names of the children he baptized, inscribed. I had the pleasure of reading a chapter in a poor fisherman's hut, from a Testament given so long ago by Mr. Wix, and bearing his name. It was well preserved, but, it is too probable, had never been used, for none of the family could read. They were indeed deplorably ignorant. I could not discover that Mr. Wix had called at any other place, or any other traces of his visitation. We spent a Sunday at the Venison Islands, and held the usual services, and admitted the children into the Church. Mr. Hoyles visited many of the settlements in the neighbourhood; but unfortunately a very strong adverse wind prevented many of the people from those places attending our Sunday service.

We next stayed two full days at Seal Island; but in consequence partly of not finding a convenient store, and our not being there on a Sunday, and the settled inhabitants nearly all Esquimaux, we held no public service. I visited their huts, and had much /19/ conversation with them. Two couples were married, and the children received into the Church.

I had at one time intended to limit my journey to this place; but hearing that Sandwich Bay, about 100 miles farther north, was a very important locality, and that I should learn much of the character and circumstances of the people in the most distant settlements, I felt it my duty to proceed. I am thankful that I was enabled to reach it, though the consequence now is that I am very late in returning along this shore, and I am afraid must both cause and suffer very considerable inconvenience, some of which I have already experienced. Many of the inhabitants in Sandwich Bay are pure Esquimaux, but the majority Anglo-Esquimaux, with an admixture of old English settlers. The people generally are by no means so ignorant as those in some other settlements which I visited. Several of the Esquimaux could read, and a few write. These advantages they chiefly owe to the Moravian missionaries in Nain and Hopedale,(3) and two other stations, about 200 and 300 miles to the north of Sandwich Bay. These establishments are, I am told, in my diocese; indeed, I was assured there is /20/ no limit to the government of Newfoundland along the shore, and therefore none to my diocese; I may stretch to Baffin's Bay, or to the North Pole. However, I must be allowed to limit my present visitation and voyage of discovery, if not my diocese, at Cape Harrison,(4) about 100 miles north of Sandwich Bay. Not that I extended my journey so far, but I gained information which will suffice to determine what is required to that distance, and what may be done. At Sandwich Bay we remained four days, and celebrated the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper on the Sunday morning; and in the afternoon admitted many, both children and adults, into the Church. I admitted six adults myself, who could answer for themselves. Three of these were Esquimaux, and they answered the questions correctly, intelligently, and seriously. They of course could understand and speak English. At the same service my Chaplains admitted the children, and others, who had sponsors; and the service, which began soon after three o'clock, was not concluded till nearly seven. I had Morning Service the following Monday, and many more were received, with sponsors, into the Church. Great numbers were married, and both here and elsewhere an offering (of four dollars) was very cheerfully paid. On the Tuesday I consecrated a grave-yard, and the interest and reverence shown by the people were very encouraging. If I had time and talents, I might send such a description of the scene and ceremony as I think would greatly interest /21/ you, and make you believe that if these poor Esquimaux are not Christians in heart and hope, as they now are in name, it is not through any fault of theirs. This was the first time any Clergyman of our Church had been among them, and yet they seemed quite prepared to enter into and honour the various services which we celebrated, and most earnestly to desire their continuance. But at present I must confine myself to dry details.

We were much urged to go to the next Bay (called Esquimaux Bay),(5) which is larger, and more peopled, and more important than Sandwich Bay; but the remembrance of the promises I had made, and the consideration of the disappointment which would be caused if I could not fulfil them, determined me against any farther progress. The Hudson's Bay Company have an establishment in Esquimaux [Ivucktoke] Bay.

I returned, therefore, from Sandwich Bay direct to Forteau, only calling at St. Francis Harbour to leave our Indian pilot. I must not stop to mention our dangers and difficulties, but will take you across the Belle Isle Straits somewhat more easily and quietly than we made the journey to Bay St. Barbe, on the opposite coast of Newfoundland. There we spent a Sunday, and had services, married, and christened, on that and the following day; but the wind was so very high, that but few persons could attend from the neighbouring settlements. You are /22/ aware that all travelling is by sea. Within about twenty miles on either side of this Bay, are many families, and between 100 and 200 souls. No Clergyman, but a French Roman Catholic priest, had ever visited them before. I consecrated a grave-yard; and after waiting two or three days for a fair wind and moderate time, took my departure, and so concluded my visitation of the Labrador shore.

The means of keeping the whole shore to the Church, and of giving the blessings and benefits of the Church, or at least some better knowledge and perception of them, to the inhabitants, are detailed in the letter addressed to Messrs. ___(6)

It will be seen that I desire to place three Clergymen immediately on the shore: one at Forteau, for the southern parts of the Labrador, and the opposite coast of Newfoundland; one at Battle Harbour, for the central district; and one at Sandwich Bay, for that and Esquimaux [Ivucktoke] Bay. Each of these Clergyman would have to visit nearly one hundred miles of coast, and be the shepherd of scattered flocks, amounting in each Mission to nearly 500 souls. It is also very desirable, and very much desired, to have a good schoolmaster and schoolmistress at Battle Harbour, who should conduct a school something on the plan of the Missionary establishments of the German Moravians in the northern parts of Labrador.

I must now ask whether the Society will be able, /23/ as I am satisfied they will be disposed, to provide means to assist in conveying and securing to these poor people the blessings of our holy religion. I hope and believe that, with the blessing of God, 50 lbs. yearly given by the Society to each of the Missions at Forteau and Sandwich Bays, and 100 lbs. a-year to Battle Harbour, (200 lbs. a-year in all,) would be found sufficient to support, with the assistance of the people and merchants, the required staff in each place. But what I crave and cry for is, the right man for each place. I feel sure, if any man will have faith, and come, a decent maintenance, more than food and raiment, will be provided. But if you send men with 500 lbs. a-year, without faith and good courage, of what use would they be on the Labrador? The climate is healthy, fish abundant, the merchants and their agents are all well-disposed, and the people sadly in need of teaching, and most willing to be taught; and as yet there is no opposition.

I am, my dear ___

Your affectionate friend and brother,

E. Newfoundland.


The following additional particulars are taken from a journal of the Bishop's tour, which appeared in The (Newfoundland) Times of Oct. 21, 1848: --

"On Monday, August 21st, after the Church prayers (in Sandwich Bay), several Esquimaux read /24/ portions of the service they use at the Moravian stations. It is, of course, in the Esquimaux language, and appeared to be a Litany used at their public worship, commencing with the Lord's Prayer. One led, and was in most parts followed by others, who seemed to know their parts very perfectly. There were frequent antiphons, or short hymns, which they all sang in unison, in a clear and pleasing tone.

"On Tuesday, the 22d of August, after Morning Service in the store, the Bishop and his Chaplains, with great numbers of the inhabitants, male and female, proceeded in three boats across the Bay, a distance of four miles, to consecrate the grave-yard. The spot chosen had been long used for that purpose by the traders and settlers; but the Esquimaux, till within a few years, had continued the practice of laying their dead in the clefts of rocks, and protecting them with large stones, rather than bury them in the ground. They had been accustomed also to place with the dead bodies food and other necessities for a journey. Now, however, since their comparative civilization, and conversion to Christianity, they follow the Christian mode of burial, and desire to have the prayers said at the grave. They were not the least interested and devout of the spectators to the service of consecration this day. There is no occasion to give them credit for any degree of reflection, to believe that, looking back only a few years, they must have wondered at the contrast of the events now taking place, and /25/ of their condition and prospects, both worldly and religious, as compared to those of their fathers.

"The Church ship had now coasted along 250 miles of the Labrador shore, and touched at the principal settlements occupied, or visited, by the Newfoundland or English traders and fishermen; and as the season was getting far advanced, and many missions in Newfoundland were expecting the Bishop's promised visit, it was not thought prudent to proceed any farther to the north. Accordingly, on the 23d of August, orders were given to return; and the Church ship was again in Forteau Bay on the 25th, stopping only a few hours at the little settlement of St. Modeste, where some children were baptized. Both in going and returning, the ice islands were very numerous and massive, and great caution was necessary to avoid them, particularly in the latter part of the season, when they are broken into smaller fragments, which, though hardly discernible above water, are quite large enough to cause serious damage by sudden collision.

"On Saturday, August 26th, the Church ship passed across the Straits to Anchor Point, on the opposite coast of Newfoundland, and remained in the Bay of St. Barbe three days. On Sunday the usual services were celebrated, and in the afternoon children were admitted into the Church; on the following day two couples were married, and a grave-yard consecrated. It was remarked by the mother of the settlement, that she had lived thirty-three years in that neighbourhood, and had never /26/ seen any Clergyman but a French priest on the shore. The long cherished desire of her heart was at length gratified, and she declared that the day of the Bishop's visit was the happiest of her life. The land in this neighbourhood appears excellent, and game of all sorts is abundant. In the winter, seals are killed in large numbers, and the fishery is always good. No part of Newfoundland seems surer or better to return to industry.

"Leaving Anchor Point on Wednesday, August 30th, the Church ship encountered one of the heavy gales so common at this season in the Straits of Belle Isle. This was succeeded by calms, and, in consequence, the attempt to reach La Poele by the first Sunday in September, (the last of two Sundays named for the consecration of the new Church, and for a Confirmation,) was defeated. On that Sunday the Church ship was beating against a head wind the whole day, in sight of La Poele, and it was with difficulty that Divine service could be celebrated on board. A fearful night followed; heavy rain and frequent lightning, at intervals, with violent gusts of wind and a tremendous sea. It was an occasion of great thankfulness that the ship, at daybreak, was found just off the Bay; and of greater, when at six o'clock on Monday morning she was safely moored in the harbour. The new Church, which is exceedingly well built and commodious, was consecrated on Tuesday morning, and the Confirmation celebrated in the afternoon. The ship was detained, by contrary winds and calms, till the /27/ following Monday (September 11th), and Divine Service was celebrated in the Church twice every day during the Bishop's stay. Great and blessed indeed is the progress in this settlement since the Bishop's first visit, three years ago; a Church duly consecrated, and regularly served by a resident Clergyman, where, before that period, all was darkness, darkness which could be, and was indeed, felt."


The happy completion of the Bishop's long and perilous visitation is thus recorded: --

"At nine o'clock of the evening of October 17, the good Church ship was beating into the harbour [of St. John's], and was soon safely at anchor; having, by the good hand of God upon her, performed this protracted and perilous voyage without any accident or hindrance of the least moment; blessed, it is humbly hoped, for the blessings she conveyed.

"Much credit is due to the master, Mr. J. Squarry, for his skill and pains in the management of the vessel, and to the whole crew for their willing and faithful service.

"All were mercifully preserved from hurt and sickness, and, until the last day, the good Church ship had not received a scratch or strain, or lost a rope or spar. This may justly be recorded as a subject of thankfulness, when it is considered that the whole distance sailed over, reckoning the direct run from place to place, was 2,028 miles, and the time occupied fourteen weeks and five days, and that the season has been unusually tempestuous. `Oh /28/ that men would therefore praise the Lord for His goodness, and declare the wonders that He doeth for the children of men! that they would exalt Him also in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the seat of the elders!' (Ps. cvii. 31,32.)

"The Bishop, with his companions, returned public thanks for their preservation, and received together the Holy Sacrament in the Central School* on the morning after their return, being the festival of St. Luke."(7)


/29/ A P P E N D I X

The following are the most material passages in the letter referred to by the Bishop: --

"My visitation has extended from Blanc Sablon, where the government of Newfoundland commences on the southward, to Sandwich Bay on the north. Within these limits, or a little further only to the north, a line of coast stretching nearly two hundred and fifty miles (without taking into account the circuit of bays and harbours), I have found upwards of twelve hundred settled inhabitants; while, in summer, probably as many thousands are fishing on the coast, for between three and four months. Nearly all the settled inhabitants are, or profess to be, or at least profess a desire to be, members of the Church of England; but, alas! very few of them have ever even seen a Clergyman of our Church -- I mean, on that shore. * * *

"I have every reason to believe, that if a Roman Catholic priest had come along the shore before me this summer, many would have sought baptism, at least for their children, at his hands, (not from preference, but having no prospect of other religious provision,) and have been joined to the Romish Church. And this danger is always imminent; and the only way it can be prevented is by placing three Clergymen of our Church immediately on the shore. The first should be placed at Forteau, and have the coast from Blanc Sablon to Chateau Bay, about seventy-five miles, with the opposite coast of Newfoundland, about forty miles, under his pastoral superintendence. His settled but scattered flock would number about 400 all the year; in summer, many more. The second Clergyman should be placed at Battle Harbour, and have the shore from Chateau Bay to Seal Islands (the latter included) in his charge, a distance of eighty-five miles, with about 400 settled inhabitants, and immense numbers (no less than 5,000) fishing on the coast /30/ all the summer. This charge would include St. Francis Harbour, Venison Tickle, and Seal Islands, -- places in or about which several families are settled. Battle Harbour, however, is the most populous, and much the most important place on the whole shore. The third Clergyman might reside chiefly in Sandwich Bay, and have the whole of that and the next (Esquimaux) Bay under his charge and superintendence, and consider his mission to extend from Sea-Islands to Cape Harrison, about 100 miles -- or, taking the circuit of the bays, nearly double that distance, with about 500 inhabitants, English and English-Esquimaux. It will be at once seen that the duties of each Clergyman would be very onerous and responsible, from the great extent of each Mission, without regarding (what of course ought to be regarded) the very trying nature of the climate. I trust, however, the Church may find some of her Clergy willing to engage in the arduous, and in a worldly point of view, most toilsome and discouraging task.

In a short letter, dated on the following day, September 9th, the Bishop says: --

"I hope you will perceive that I keep steadily the principle in view, and act upon it, of requiring assistance from the people and merchants for the support of the Colony. I believe that more might be done: much more, if men could be found who would make the adventure in faith and hope for Christ's and the Church's sake, and insist upon their just dues and recompence; but nothing has been done, and nothing will be done, while each missionary looks to the Society for a certain assured payment. I feel certain that three clergymen might earn and obtain a decent maintenance on the Labrador shore. But they must be men, I say, of faith and hope. To be sure, the climate is trying, the country bleak and desolate; but when I urged this at Battle Harbour, Mr. Bendell replied `that the winters were longer, the cold greater, the separation from the world more complete, on the Moravian stations, /31/ and yet the missionaries there continued to labour cheerfully and contentedly. Why might not English clergymen be equally contented and cheerful, or, any way, labour with as much zeal and success, at Battle Harbour?' I could not tell what answer to make; but I have done my work, and said my say, for the Labrador. It will be a sore trial if all end with the parade of a Bishop's visitation."

The Bishop calculates that the fund necessary for the decent maintenance of the Clergymen and Schoolmasters might be raised in certain proportions from the people themselves, the chief merchants (to whom he has already made an appeal), and the members of our Church in England.

The foregoing letters having been read at the Monthly Meeting of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, which was held on Friday, November 17, 1848, the Lord Bishop of London being in the Chair, it was unanimously resolved --

"That, as the Bishop of Newfoundland has expressed his full confidence that, with a grant from the Society of 200 lbs. a year, he could open three important Missions on the coast of Labrador, in places hitherto entirely destitute of spiritual supervision, -- a sum of that amount be placed at the Bishop's disposal for five years, for the purpose specified."

And, upon this, it was further agreed, --

"That in complying with the request of the Bishop of Newfoundland, and making the grant of 200 lbs. for five years, for establishing missions in Labrador, the Society cannot but express the sympathy with which it has read the Bishop's account of his visitation in that part of his diocese, and of thankfulness for the opening which has presented itself of further extending /32/ the ministration of the Gospel to a large number of our fellow-subjects on the coast of Labrador, and the Indians and Esquimaux in the neighbourhood.

"The Society unhesitatingly makes this grant, notwithstanding that the present state of its funds would not justify such an addition to its expenditure, in the confidence that when the circumstances of the appeal addressed by the Bishop are made known, the members of the Church will readily enable the Society to fulfil the obligation which it has incurred."
 

The delay which has occurred in the publication of the foregoing letters -- and which was rendered necessary by the determination to accompany them with an accurate map(8) of the coast -- has given time for the arrival of another letter from Newfoundland, in which the Bishop thus warmly expresses his thanks to the Society: --

"I have only, and hardly, time just to thank you, and through you the Committee, for the kind reply to my application for aid in behalf of my poor flock on the Labrador. The Society's promise of assistance is, as I suppose it usually is, the first to cheer and encourage me. . . . . . But now, where are the men, the missionaries, to make of good effect, with God's blessing, the Society's liberality? And what is the money without the men, the men, the right men, patient and laborious, content with slow beginnings and small results?"
 

(Typed by Wallace J. McLean; Proof-read by Heather Russell; HTML by Hans Rollmann)

[NOTES]

1. "Nor without God's guiding flew the auspicious bird." Odyss. O. 530.

2. A small cove or creek.

3. Nain is about 300 miles north of Sandwich Bay; Hopedale, somewhat more than half of that distance. It may interest some to know, that in the year 1838, fifty copies of the Book of Common Prayer were, on the application of the present Bishop of Gibraltar (then Secretary of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge,) warmly seconded by the Bishop of Nova Scotia, placed by that Society at the disposal of the Missionaries at Hopedale, for the use of their flocks.

4. Oftener called Webuck.

5. This, it is conjectured, is what is put down in the maps as Ivucktoke or Hamilton Inlet.

6. The substance of this letter will be found in the Appendix.

7. It will be remembered that the Parish Church was destroyed in the great fire of 1845. A new Cathedral Church is in the course of erection.

8. For the map of Labrador, the Society is indebted to the friendly science of John Arrowsmith, Esq.