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Bruce Peel Special Collections Life, Events, and Players in the North-West
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1844 (Jun) from John Hargrave to Rev. John Smithurst

Place: Red River Settlement

From: John Hargrave (Hudson's Bay Company clerk factor)

To: Reverend John Smithurst

Details: 2pp

Notes: Hargrave, writing from York Factory, writes to Rev. Smithurst to let him that the articles Smithurst requested were delivered to the depot by Mr. Mowat. Hargrave also mentions that he would happily comply with Smithurst's request to supply all of the Church Missionary Society with whatever "gentleman and Mrs. Hunter" may need to be comfortable in the autumn months.

Hargrave, John

1845 (Sept) from James Hunter to Smithurst

Place: Cumberland Station, Rivière du Pas

From: James Hunter

To: The Revd J. Smithurst, Indian Settlement, Red River

Details: 3pp with integral address face

Notes: Reverend James Hunter writes to Rev. Smithurst. James Settee recently arrived at Cumberland Station [The Pas, MB] with his wife, family, and coincidentally with the carpenter hired by Rev. Hunter. He mentions Mr. Ross at Norway House. Rev. Hunter decided to keep the mission in its current location rather than move it to Cumberland Lake. He feels threatened by a Catholic missionary's activity in the area, referring to the man as "the Priest." This priest persuaded Wetus to convert to Roman Catholicism, but Rev. Hunter dismisses Wetus as “simply a Medicine man of which there are several here all equally as much claim to be considered Chiefs.” It is too late in the season for Settee to continue on to Rapid River [Lac la Ronge mission], so he will stay until the spring and assist Henry Budd and the carpenter in building Rev. Hunter a house. Rev. Hunter says he will “endeavour to manage Mrs. Settee as well as possible.”

Hunter, James

1846 (Aug) from James Hargrave to Rev. John Smithurst

Place: Red River Settlement

From: James Hargrave, York Factory

To: Reverend John Smithurst

Details: 2pp

Notes: A letter in which Hargrave writes about successfully arranging passage for another reverend and his wife to get to Red River. He also discusses the shipping of packages for Smithurst and Cowley that will be received by Mowat.


Mr. Hunter and Reverend Cockran are also mentioned. 


At the end of the letter Hargrave thanks Smithurst for his package of cucumbers and melons.

Hargrave, James

1847 (Jan & Apr) from W.G. Smith to Smithurst

Place: Hudson’s Bay House, London [England]

From: W.G. Smith

To: Rev’d John Smithurst, R.R.S. [Red River Settlement]

Delivery: Forwarded to Red River Settlement via Hudson’s Bay Company supply ship and canoe brigade, and thence by courier to the Indian Settlement at Netley Creek

Details: 1pp + integral address face

Notes: William Gregory Smith, a secretary at the Hudson’s Bay Company London office, acknowledges receipt of Smithurst’s letter dated August 4, 1846 containing two bills to be paid and credited to Mr. Cockran, also that six cases belonging to Mr. Cockran have arrived safely and “have not been lost sight of.”

An addition to the letter reads: “Your letter of the 17th Nov’r forwarded by Winter Packet has just come to hand. Sir George Simpson leaves tomorrow with the Express. I have therefore only time to say that every exertion shall be used to meet your wishes.”

Smith, William Gregory

1847 (Mar) from Richard Davies to Smithurst

Place: Church Missionary House [Islington, London, England]

From: Richard Davies

To: Brother Smithurst

Delivery: Forwarded by the Church Missionary Society to Red River Settlement via Hudson’s Bay Company supply ship and canoe brigade, and then by courier to the Indian Settlement at Netley Creek

Details: 3pp on one sheet of paper.

Notes: Davies, a colleague of Smithurst’s in England, offers his thoughts and prayers to Smithurst as a letter from William Cochran has informed him that cholera has been rampant in the Red River district. Davies relates that dysentery claimed one of his own brothers in September. Davies also expresses hope that Mr. and Mrs. James have reached the Red River area safely and that Mr. James is able to relieve Smithurst of “some of the heavy duties which must have weighed on your mind as well as tried your physical powers.”

Other comments: “In many parts of Ireland too a severe pestilence is at this time raging and carrying off hundreds who hitherto have been spared by the grievous famine which has prevailed there and in some places in Scotland.”

[1847 (Jun)] Accounts from Church Missionary Society to Smithurst

Place: Church Missionary Society [London, England]

From: Church Missionary Society

To: Rev. J. Smithurst

Delivery: Forwarded by the Church Missionary Society to Red River Settlement via Hudson’s Bay Company supply ship and canoe brigade, and then by courier to the Indian Settlement at Netley Creek

Details: One (1) large sheet of paper + integral address face

Notes: An invoice, showing expenses and salary for the period May 31, 1846 to June 1, 1847.

Church Missionary Society

[ca. 1847] from Alexander Christie Jr. to Smithurst

Place: [Lower Fort Garry]

From: Alex[ander] Christie Jr.

To: Rev’d J. Smithurst, Indian Settlement

Delivery: Carried by courier

Details: 1 pp + integral address face

Notes: Christie thanks Smithurst for the gift of pigeons, and sends 495 lbs. of beef, crediting Smithurst’s account. While the note is undated, Christie was posted to Red River in 1847 and was transferred to Edmonton some time in 1848.

Christie, Alexander Jr

1848 (May) from Duncan Finlayson to Smithurst

Place: Lachine

From: Dun: Finlayson

To: The Revd Jn Smithurst, Red River Settlement

Details: 2pp and integral address face

Notes: Duncan Finlayson writes to Rev. Smithurst. Sir George Simpson is travelling by steam to Sault de St. Marie soon. He answers questions about subscriptions to the New York Albion and the Church. Finlayson is startled by the new republics in France and Prussia, and the fear in Russia, Austria, and the Italian states. He also mentions that Ireland is in "a very disturbed State."

Finlayson, Duncan

1848 (Jul) from E.G. Gear to Smithurst

Place: Fort Snelling [Minnesota Territory]

From: E.G. Gear

To: The Rev. J. Smithurst, Indian Settlement, Red River

Delivery: Carried by courier (Peter Heyden)

Details: 1 pp + integral address face – written in pencil

Notes: Reverend E.G. Gear took the visit of Peter Heyden as an opportunity to send reading material to Rev. Smithurst, including the “English Churchman” and “Jesuits Letters.”

Gear, Ezekiel Gilbert

1848 (Sept) from William Mason to Smithurst

Place: Ross Ville

From: W. Mason

To: Rev. Mr. John Smithurst

Details: 1pp

Notes: Reverend William Mason sends the memoir of the late C. Atmore to Rev. Smithurst by way of Joe Bird. He also mentions "[y]our little Indian Work is in the press" referring to “A Vocabulary in English and Cree, compiled for the use of the Missionary Schools: Part First, Nouns” (Peel3 #257).

Mason, William

1849 (Jun) from E.G. Gear to Smithurst

Place: Fort Snelling

From: E.G. Gear

To: The Rev. J. Smithurst, Indian Settlement, Red River, British America

Details: 3pp and integral address face

Notes: Rev. Gear sends a letter to his friend via a military party headed to the U.S. border. Rev. Gear sends along reading material including magazines and a book about the new territories of New Mexico and California. Rev. Gear mentions the California gold rush, the revolutions in Europe, and the recent death of one of his daughters. A close friend, Dr. Rudor, has also died. Rev. Gear mentions that he preaches at a village called St. Paul's, and expects it will soon be named the government seat for the Minnesota Territory.

Gear, Ezekiel Gilbert

1849 (Jul) from John Ballenden to Smithurst

Place: Fort Garry

From: John Ballenden

To: Revd John Smithurst, Indian Mission, Red River Settlement

Details: 1pp and integral address face

Notes: John Ballenden acknowledges receiving a letter from Rev. Smithurst from June 29th. He agrees that they need to limit cooperation between the Half Breeds & Indians, but he will not be opening a store at the Indian Mission because he cannot find a responsible person to run it.

Ballenden, John

1850 (Jan & Apr) from W.G. Smith to Smithurst

Place: Hudson’s Bay House, London [England]

From: W.G. Smith

To: Rev’d J. Smithurst, RRS [Red River Settlement]

Delivery: Forwarded to Red River Settlement via Hudson’s Bay Company supply ship and canoe brigade, and then by courier to the Indian Settlement at Netley Creek

Details: 2pp + integral address face

Notes: Hudson’s Bay Company secretary William Gregory Smith discusses a request by Rev. Smithurst to submit money to the Hudson's Bay Company for interest. As mentioned to Smithurst by Sir George Simpson, the Company can do so only for money earned through the company. Smith did approach the Governor and Committee on Smithurst’s behalf, but they refused the request.

Also mentioned is business regarding a Mr. Henry Cook and the property of his deceased father. A postscript dated April 3, 1850, indicates Smith received additional papers from Rev. Smithurst regarding the late Joseph Cook, presumably Henry Cook's father, but he does not have time to process these before the Spring Packet leaves London.

An additional note scrawled in a different handwriting is written on the integral address face and mentions Cook and money.

Smith, William Gregory

1851 (Jan) from Robert James to Smithurst

Place: [Grand] Rapids

From: Robert James

To: Rev’d J. Smithurst, Indian Settlement

Delivery: Local courier

Details: 1pp + integral address face

Notes: Reverend Robert James conveys the bishop's [Bishop David Anderson] instructions to Reverend Smithurst that the Journals be sent by the next packet, which will be sent in mid-February. Reverend Cowley is also mentioned.

James, Robert

1851 (May) from John H. Johnson to Bishop David Anderson via Smithurst

Place: Liverpool [England]

From: John H. Johnson

To: To The Right Rev’d D. Anderson, Lord Bishop of Rupert’s Land, North West America

Delivery: Forwarded by the Christian Missionary Society to Red River Settlement via Hudson’s Bay Company supply ship and canoe brigade, and then by courier

Details: 4pp + 4 newsletters + addressed envelope

Notes: Johnson writes to Bishop David Anderson to propose establishing an annual donation from St. Andrew's Church in Liverpool, England to the Christian Missionary Society in Rupert's Land. Johnson hopes to establish a link between the two groups and he hopes to see the initial donation of 5£ be surpassed in future years. Johnson intends that this letter be sent to Reverend John Smithurst and be "left open for his perusal as probably he may have some suggestions to make before sending it to you."

With his letter, he includes four (4) issues of “St. Andrew’s Monthly Paper.” Each issue consists of a single sheet of paper that measures only 14.5 x 12 cm when unfolded. Includes February, March, April, and May issues for 1851.

Interesting facts: St. Andrew's Church is located on Renshaw Street. Reverend T.C. Cowan is Minister. Issues are printed by Richard C. Scragg, Printer, 75, Renshaw Street. The District of St. Andrew's has a population of "about 6,000." Average monthly attendance at the Day School and Sunday School is approximately 250 each, and is broken down for Boys, Girls, and Infants.

1851 (May) from James Settee to Smithurst

Place: Lac La Ronge, C.M.L. Station

From: James Settee

To: The Reverend J. Smithurst,
Indian Settlement (crossed out),
Church Missionary House, Salisbury Square, London (crossed out),
Middleton, Wirksworth, Derbyshire

Details: 3pp and integral address face

Notes: James Settee writes to Rev. Smithurst on a number of matters. He says that Thomas Cook brought Rev. Smithurst's last letter to him and told Settee that Rev. Smithurst was suffering badly from rheumatism. Settee says both he and his wife also suffer from rheumatism, which he blames on the cold climate. Settee is about to leave on a long journey to Norway House, and he mentions that the baptized Natives object to working on Sundays, but Settee feels that the portages would be impossible without the help of the Hudson's Bay Company boats and so they must work on the Sabbath to keep up. The mission at Lac La Ronge is doing well, and Settee hopes to writes to Rev. Smithurst again once he reaches Norway House.

While written in May, this letter has a cancellation for Sault Ste Marie, C.W. in September. The letter then made its way to Church Missionary House in London, England where it was then redirected to Middleton, Wirksworth, Derbyshire.

Settee, James

1851 (Jun) from William Douglas Lane to Smithurst

Place: Lower Fort Garry

From: W[illiam Douglas] Lane

To: Rev’d J. Smithurst, Indian Settlement

Delivery: Local courier (probably Hudson’s Bay Company courier)

Details: 1pp + integral address face

Notes: A short letter by William Douglas Lane, Postmaster at Lower Fort Garry, discussing the payment of bills, refunding of money, and receipt of a flute.

Lane, William Douglas

1852 (Jan) from John Chapman to Rev. John Smithurst

Place: Salisbury Street, Ireland

From: John Chapman, Missionary at Middle Church

To: Reverend John Smithurst, 18 Salisbury Street, Ireland

Details: 2pp

Notes: Chapman thanks Smithurst for newspapers and of his letter detailing his route to New York. He also discusses the status of the congregation and the building of a new church.

Chapman, John

1857 (Jan) fragment from E.G. Gear to Smithurst

Place: Fort Snelling, Minnesota Territory

From: E.G. Gear

To: Rev & dear Brother [likely Rev. J. Smithurst]

Delivery: unknown

Details: Letter fragment. 4pp

Notes: While unsigned, this letter fragment is obviously authored by Rev. E.G. Gear, both from the address at Fort Snelling and from the unique handwriting. It was likely sent to Reverend John Smithurst. In this letter, Rev. Gear describes a riding accident where he broke his leg below the knee.

Gear, Ezekiel Gilbert

1857 (Apr and May) from W.H. Taylor to Smithurst

Place: Saint James, Assiniboia [Red River Settlement]

From: W. H. Taylor

To: Rev. J. Smithurst, Harriston [Ontario]

Delivery: Postal system in Canada

Details: 16pp + addressed envelope with postal marks

Notes: A long and detailed letter from Reverend William Henry Taylor of Saint James parish along the Assiniboine River. Rev. Taylor writes to Rev. John Smithurst, updating him on the Red River Settlement. Much of the news has to do with repairing the extensive damage caused by the great flood in 1852. No one seems to be able to find enough workers for these repairs.

Mentioned are:
Father E.G. Gear, who broke his leg.
Mr. Robert Logan and Mrs. Logan, who are living near where the flax mill stood.
Old Mr. Pritchard and his wife died.
Their son, Sam Pritchard, teaches at St. Paul's school. His brother, Arelui (?), married.
Mr. Smith the Collector and Mr. Pruden are briefly mentioned.
Rev. Abraham Cowley and Mrs. Cowley are mentioned multiple times. Rev. Cowley now has a Seraphine instrument which Mrs. Cowley plays during services. Rev. Cowley also has detailed plans for the repair and renovation of his church.
Archdeacon James Hunter now has a barrel organ at the Rapids church (also known as St. Andrew's).
Thomas Cook is catechist at Nepowewin mission. Rev. Henry Budd says the work there is difficult.
Rev. Robert Hunt is at English River, also known as the Stanley mission near Lac la Ronge, and he is building an expensive and impressive church.
Rev. Henry Budd is at The Pas with a young Rev. Henry George, but plans to leave for Nepowewin permanently in the Spring.
Rev. William Stagg is struggling at Manitoba.
Rev. Kirkby is still assistant at St. Andrew's.
McDonald is at Islington (White Dog) but has health problems.
Watkins is leaving Fort George possibly for Cumberland.
Rev. William Mason has success in his work, but following the Bishop's visit, disease broke out and killed multiple Natives. Small pox is rampant among the Plains people in the area of Beaver Creek and Touchwood Hills.
The steam mill is producing excellent flour.
Political unrest as renewal of the Hudson's Bay Company's charter is being debated in England. A Mr. Kennedy and Donald Gunn have written and circulated a petition to the Canadian Legislature urging them to become involved.

Taylor, William Henry

1857 (Oct) from the congregation of St. John’s Church, Elora

Place: Elora [Ontario]

From: the Congregation of St. John's Church, Elora

To: Rev’d John Smithurst

Delivery: unknown

Details: 2pp

Notes: Upon Rev. John Smithurst’s resignation from St. John's Church in Elora, on the grounds of his inability to continue to perform the duties of his office, his congregation presented this petition to him in appreciation of his contributions to them and their community.

The petition is signed by 29 parishioners. Two surnames could not be deciphered.

William Reynolds, Church Warden
John S. Crossman, Church Warden

John Burke
William Carter
George Crane
F Dalby
Thomas Farrow
Andrew Geddes
Thomas Greathead
D. Henderroll(?)
Edwin Henry Kertland
George W. Kirkendall
John J. Marten
Valentine McKenzie
John M. McLean
Edw H. Newman
Richard Newman
Robert M. Newman
Walter P. Newman
Philip Pepler
James Reynolds
William Reynolds
Hugh Roberts
James L. Ross
David Smith
David Smith Jr.
Henry Smith

1857 (Oct) from Bethune, Palmer & Osler to the Bishop of Toronto

Place: Guelph [Ontario]

From: A.N. Bethune, Archdeacon of York; Arthur Palmer, Rector of Guelph & Rural Dean; F.L. Osler, Rector of Ancaster cum Dundas & Rural Dean

To: Bishop of Toronto

Delivery: unknown

Details: 4pp (secretarial copy)

Notes: A copy of the report submitted by Bethune, Palmer, and Osler on their inquiry into John Smithurst’s absence from his missionary post at Elora in the county of Wellington in the diocese of Toronto. John Strachan, Bishop of Toronto, requested these men investigate the allegation that Reverend Smithurst abandoned his post without permission. Churchwardens William Reynolds and J.S. Crossman in Elora confirmed that Rev. Smithurst had been largely absent since the end of April, sometimes remaining only a week at a time. The Churchwardens said Rev. Smithurst was unable “to read or preach in a tone of voice audible to all the members of his congregation; but admitted that his bodily health was on the whole vigorous.” Andrew Geddes confirmed the frequent absence of Rev. Smithurst, who is said to have taken up residence in the township of Minto. The report recommends the Bishop demand Rev. Smithurst's resignation.

Bethune, Alexander Neil

Fort Chipewyan Photographs and HBC Journal

The photographic archive comes from Louise Rourke’s working papers used to illustrate her book “Land of the Frozen Tide,” published in London, 1928. Photographs are mounted on paper, many with typed captions. Some are mocked up with borders and decoration, or are marked up to silhouette individuals. Various notations in ink and pencil appear on most items. Most photographs are of Fort Chipewyan, Lake Athabasca, and Fond-du-Lac, SK. There are many photographs of boats on Lake Athabasca. Of note are two photographs accompanied by newspaper clippings.

  • Photograph of John Hornby in front of a cabin. Photograph is accompanied by an undated newspaper clipping describing the tragic discovery of Mr. Hornby, dead by starvation.
  • Photograph of two men captioned as the "factor" and "Mr. Mercredi, local boatbuilder." Accompanied by photograph clipped from a 1996 newspaper, captioned “Assembly of First Nations chief Ovide Mercredi looks toward aboriginal Korean War veteran Leon Fontaine from Manitoba Monday in Ottawa.”

Also included is an unpublished Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading post journal. Contains daily manuscript entries written by Louise Rourke's first husband, accountant Douglas Musgrave Rourke, who worked at Ft. Chipewyan. Entries are from between January 1, 1926 and January 7, 1927. The entries are preceded by a page of comments probably written by Louise Rourke. A carbon typescript biography of Louise Rourke and her second husband, Alwyn H.B. Dawson, is included as a loose sheet of paper.

Rourke, Louise

T. A. Patrick Letters & Correspondence

An archive of 52 interesting and significant letters by Thomas “Alf” Patrick and his wife Marion (1889-1904). Almost all letters come with their original stamped mailing envelopes (49 envelopes in total). 44 letters are by Thomas and 8 by Marion.
Most of the letters are handwritten and signed, ranging from a single page up to five pages, often closely written. 3 are typed and signed.
In the case of letters by Thomas Patrick, many of the letters to his wife are almost in diary form recording events as they happened [often mailed from Regina]. Some letters are written when Patrick was physically sitting in the Legislative Chambers waiting for events to unfold there. These are usually on embossed North West Territory Legislative stationery.
Three themes run through the archive:

  • Significant political matters and events surrounding the period when Patrick served in the North West Territories Legislature
  • Historical events on the Prairies
  • Issues relating to a lack of infrastructure and a changing societal and political landscape due to heavy immigration into the
    Prairies.
  • Life on the Prairies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries
  • The close personal relationship and related family matters between two early pioneers in Saskatchewan
    Topics covered include: medical, legislative matters, Indians and half-breeds, railway events, life in Saltcoats and Regina, Saskatchewan, land investments, illnesses on the prairies, people (Clifford Sifton and Frederick Haultain) and related topics, immigration, Mennonites, Hungarians, Doukhobors, infrastructure, visiting patients, and much more.

Patrick, Thomas Alfred

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