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Canadian Missionaries, Indigenous Peoples

Canadian Missionaries, Indigenous Peoples: Representing Religion at Home and Abroad

Alvyn Austin
Jamie S. Scott
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 330
  • Book Info
    Canadian Missionaries, Indigenous Peoples
    Book Description:

    Christian missions and missionaries have had a distinctive role in Canada's cultural history. WithCanadian Missionaries, Indigenous Peoples, Alvyn Austin and Jamie S. Scott have brought together new and established Canadian scholars to examine the encounters between Christian (Roman Catholic and Protestant) missionaries and the indigenous peoples with whom they worked in nineteenth- and twentieth-century domestic and overseas missions.

    This tightly integrated collection is divided into three sections. The first contains essays on missionaries and converts in western Canada and in the arctic. The essays in the second section investigate various facets of the Canadian missionary presence and its legacy in east Asia, India, and Africa. The third section examines the motives and methods of missionaries as important contributors to Canadian museum holdings of artefacts from Huronia, Kahnawaga, and Alaska, as well as China and the South Pacific.

    Broadly adopting a postcolonial perspective,Canadian Missionaries, Indigenous Peoplescontributes greatly to the understanding of missionaries not only as purveyors of western religious values, but also as vehicles for cultural exchange between Native and non-Native Canadians, as well as between Canadians and the indigenous peoples of other countries.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7225-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-18)

    In 1969, John King Fairbank, the distinguished Harvard sinologist, in his presidential address to the American Historical Association, called the missionary ‘the invisible man of American history,’ standing at the sidelines, the messenger, the bridge between East and West. Yet, he continued, the missionary movement was the most important intercultural experiment in history. No apologist for Christian missions, Fairbank saw their significance in cultural and political history. Historians took up Fairbank’s ‘assignment for the ’70s’(as his address was titled), with a different, secular agenda, and gradually, one by one, the mission archives have been opened and the rich historical documentation...

  5. Part I: The Home Fields

    • Chapter 1 Cultivating Christians in Colonial Canadian Missions
      (pp. 21-45)

      In a seminal statement of the policy which dominated the nineteenthcentury evangelizing of the Christian Missionary Society (CMS), Henry Venn, the society’s chief secretary in its formative years, 1841-72, couches his celebrated ‘three-self’ principles in these terms:

      If the elementary principles of self-support and self-government and self-extension be thus sown with the seed of the Gospel, we may hope to see the healthy growth and expansion of the Native Church, when the Spirit is poured down from on high, as the flowers of the fertile field multiply under the showers and warmth of summer.¹

      One historian of missions, David Bosch,...

    • Chapter 2 Mothers of the Empire: Maternal Metaphors in the Northern Canadian Mission Field
      (pp. 46-66)

      Identity and self-identity have increasingly become a focus for historical and sociological discussion. How do people see themselves, and are their identities fluid or contingent upon time and place? When I started to read the primary sources on the lives of 130 or so Anglican women who worked in Aboriginal communities in northern British Columbia, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, I wondered how women missionaries wrote about and saw themselves. How did they and the mission agencies reflect upon their mission work? Through an analysis of the self-representations, perceptions, and discursive...

    • Chapter 3 ‘The Picturesqueness of His Accent and Speech’: Methodist Missionary Narratives and William Henry Pierce’s Autobiography
      (pp. 67-87)

      InFrom Potlatch to Pulpit,the autobiography of William Henry Pierce, an Aboriginal convert and a Methodist missionary, the editor included the following ambiguous tribute:

      To the present writer, who has known a good deal of him and his work over long years, William Henry Pierce is an outstanding figure among a noble band of heroic missionaries. Brave men who, on our own shores, laboured under conditions already difficult for us to visualize, who travelled great distances by canoe or mountain trail; who suffered privation, exposure and danger, for no earthly reward, but solely to bear the glad news of...

    • Chapter 4 ‘Eating the Angels’ Food’: Arthur Wellington Clah — An Aboriginal Perspective on Being Christian, 1857–1909
      (pp. 88-108)

      A Coast Tsimshian man who was having an ample helping of this angel’s food was Arthur Wellington Clah. Like William Henry Pierce (Clah’s nephew who is the subject of Gail Edwards’s chapter 3) or Edward Sexsmith, the Native missionary who described the mission work at Kispiox in 1888 in the above quotation, or, indeed, dozens of other Aboriginal missionaries, catechists, and evangelists throughout northern British Columbia, Clah represents an important aspect of mission history. His perspective on the process of missionization helps to reveal what the transition to Christianity may have meant both ideologically and practically to those at the...

  6. Part II: Over the Seas and Far Away

    • Chapter 5 Wallace of West China: Edward Wilson Wallace and the Canadian Educational Systems of China, 1906–1927
      (pp. 111-133)

      The Rev. Edward Wilson Wallace was - ‘as much as any one man,’ according to Jesse Arnup, secretary of the United Church Board of Overseas Missions – responsible for making Christian education in China ‘intellectually respectable.’ In 1906, Wallace was sent to Sichuan province (formerly spelled Szechwan) in West China to found an overseas daughter of the University of Toronto, West China Union University (WCUU). Once he got there, he was assigned a larger task, creating a ‘feeder’ board of education for all mission schools in three provinces of western China, from kindergarten to middle school. His twentyyear career in China...

    • Chapter 6 ‘Their Names May Not Shine’: Narrating Chinese Christian Converts
      (pp. 134-151)

      One of the most difficult yet important issues emerging from the study of the impact of the Western missionary movement on China is to understand how the Christian church was built, and by whom. The version of Foreign Mission Board publications and missionary literature gives the simplistic answer: the missionaries. But this claim obscures the reality of a Sino-Western partnership in the creation of a Chinese church, and hides the identity of those Chinese who responded to the message of the missionaries and built the church within their home communities, often against great opposition. The objective of my research is...

    • Chapter 7 Shifts in the Salience of Gender in the International Missionary Enterprise during the Interwar Years
      (pp. 152-176)

      In 1934 an article called ‘Ideals of the Missionary Enterprise’ appeared in theIndian Social Reformer,a nationalist weekly whose editor provided considerable space for exponents of Christian missions even as he subjected them to his critical gaze. Based on a sermon preached at Cambridge by former missionary Paul Gibson, the article dealt with the challenges that had confronted the missionary enterprise since the First World War. The war, Gibson wrote, had demonstrated to the rest of the world the lack of real Christianity in the so-called Christian nations, while the International Missionary Council’s Jerusalem Conference a decade later had...

    • Chapter 8 Missions and Empires: A Case Study of Canadians in the Japanese Empire, 1895–1941
      (pp. 177-202)

      In North America, Africa, the West Indies, the Pacific Islands, South Asia, Southeast Asia, where missions and empires joined, the missionaries were either nationals of the imperial power or working in territory belonging to an imperial power that was Christian.¹ There were exceptions, of course; the Ottoman and Persian empires before the Great War were two, but in those places the rights of missionaries were protected by Capitulations and by the active interest of the great powers in assuring the rights of the Christian minority. In China down to 1943, extraterritoriality and the ubiquitous gunboats protected missionaries.The only real exception...

  7. Part III: Bringing It All Back Home

    • Chapter 9 The Silent Eloquence of Things: The Missionary Collections and Exhibitions of the Society of Jesus in Quebec, 1843–1946
      (pp. 205-234)

      In 1925 Pope Pius XI, known as ‘the Pope of Missions,’ dedicated the Holy Year to the Mission and the missions of the Roman Catholic Church. To promote them, he inaugurated the Vatican Missionary Exhibition, entitledLux in Tenebris(The Light in the Midst of Darkness), which displayed objects sent to the Vatican from around the world. At the close of the exhibition, he issued one of the most significant encyclicals of his pontificate,Rerum Ecclesiae(The Things of the Church, 28 February 1926), in which he referred to the ‘silent eloquence of things’ in arousing mission interest among the...

    • Chapter 10 Collecting Cultures: Canadian Missionaries, Pacific Islanders, and Museums
      (pp. 235-261)

      Ethnographic objects sit uneasily in storage or on display in museums around the world; many with stories long forgotten, others with shameful collection histories remembered. Along with the emergence of colonial realms as fertile ground for investigation,¹ there has been an efflorescence of works dealing with the colonial context of ethnographic collecting, bringing new interest to museum-bound artifacts.² One obstacle to this development has been the potential of negatively charged colonial baggage to eclipse all other meanings and contexts as evidenced in the public reaction to the Royal Ontario Museum’s ROM) exhibitInto the Heart of Africa

      A contrasting response...

    • Chapter 11 ‘Curios’ from a Strange Land: The Oceania Collections of the Reverend Joseph Annand
      (pp. 262-278)

      A number of Canadian museums are guardians to collections of artifacts acquired by Canadian missionaries during the nineteenth century. The Robertson collection at McGill University’s Redpath Museum, described by Barbara Lawson in chapter 10, is one example, as well as another collection from Vanuatu, the Geddie collection at the Nova Scotia Museum. The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto has many missionary collections, such as the Walter T. Currie collection, which was featured in the ROM’sInto the Heart of Africaexhibit (16 November 1989-29 July 1990), and the Richard W. Large collection of Pacific northwest coast Native art.


    • Chapter 12 Finding God in Ancient China: James Mellon Menzies, Sinology, and Mission Policies
      (pp. 279-306)

      The young man on the old horse was a Canadian Presbyterian missionary named James Mellon Menzies, and the year was 1914, the third spring of the Republic of China. The place was a village named Xiao Tun (formerly spelled Hsiao-t’un) - literally ‘Little Village’ - on the broad North China Plain in North Henan (formerly spelled Honan). (This is the same mission discussed by Margo S. Gewurtz in chapter 6.) Menzies was a unique missionary, for he was a civil engineer and Dominion land surveyor who had spent his summers surveying the bush of northern Ontario. Although he had only...

  8. Contributors
    (pp. 307-310)
  9. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 311-312)
  10. Index
    (pp. 313-326)