Marie Wadden Abstract
“The Labrador Excursion of George Hutchinson, 1853-1867” is a biography of William Wordsworth’s nephew who lived in Battle Harbour, Labrador, as a missionary in the mid nineteenth century. Little was known of him until the spring of 2017 when the author found five hardcover journals of correspondence from Hutchinson, written while he lived in Labrador. The letters were sent to his family, and transcribed by his sisters, who later donated them to the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere, England. The letters contain far more personal details of Hutchinson’s life than can be learned from his official correspondence with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel for whom he worked. Hutchinson writes of his first transatlantic crossing, his impressions of St. John’s, characterizations of his fellow Church of England clergy, and describes at length the many challenges he faced serving 60 tiny settlements between Henley Harbour and Seal Islands. There is something extraordinary in the way he so quickly adapted to the Labrador way of life, and a terrible poignancy in the personal toll it took on his life, shortening it, just when he had found domestic happiness. Readers will meet a very sympathetic man, sometimes troubled by the need to fulfil the mandate set by the charismatic, but religiously zealous, Bishop Edward Feild, who was determined to build churches and imbue a disciplined religious practice among people who were barely eking a living in one of the world’s most challenging climates.