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MISSION WORK IN LABRADOR.
BY THE REV. J. NEWMAN.
To-day one wild, neglected race
We fervently commend
Lord visit and befriend.
The work that has been done to seem specially appropriate in this establish and extend the kingdom case, “And herein is that saying of our Lord Jesus Christ on this true, One soweth, and another reapcoast of the great American conti- eth. I sent you to reap that whereon nent is not as fully known as it ye bestowed no labour: other men ought to be. Other more inviting laboured, and ye are entered into fields have claimed attention, and their labours.” (John iv. 37, 38.) this field, with its magnificent dis- While the British Government was tances and great disadvantages, is extending its power under Robert as yet comparatively little known. Clive in India, and struggling to reOf late Dr. Grenfel, of the Deep Sea tain her hold on America, and fightMission, has brought this coast be. ing bravely against the French to fore the world; and whilst we re- gain Canada, the brethren of the joice in all that he has done, it is Moravian Church were nobly enonly just that the Christian Church deavouring to plant the flag for should know what has been done by Christ on this coast, and claim it for others. No writer professing to give Him in whom all the families of the an account of missionary work on earth shall be blessed. This struggle the Labrador coast can do so fairly continued for twenty years, viz., from and fully unless there is the most 1750 to 1770. This mission is comreasonable recognition of the work prised within Lat. 55° 60' N. and done by previous labourers on that Long. 60° 65' W., extending from rough, bleak coast.
Cape Webeck in the south to Cape Foremost among the latter stand Chudleigh in the north. the brethren of the Moravian Church. The first proposal to commence From personal experience after two this Mission was made by a poor years' residence on the Labrador sailor, John Christian Ehrhardt, who coast, I can testify to the far-reach- was a member of the Moravian ing influence of their work, not Church, in 1750. The proposal was simply as it respects the Eskimo, taken up, but did not receive the but also some of the Indians of the warmest support, by Count Zinzeninterior, as well as thousands of dorf, at Herrnhut. They attempted Newfoundlanders who in the sum- to gain access to Labrador through mer time have visited their stations. the Hudson's Bay Company, which
Before giving a description of my for over a century previous had ocown labours and travel I will en- cupied trading posts on the coast. deavour to give a brief résumé of Their request for permission to send previous missionary work done missionaries to the Company's post amid untold discouragements and was not approved of. difficulties. The words of Jesus A merchant in London named Nisbet then offered to help the proclaimed. I spent my first New Brethren. He formed a company Year's Eve on the coast in the house of with two others named Grace and Mikak's great-grandchildren. Her Bell, fitted out a vessel, and Ehr- descendants are numerous also in hardt had charge of the expedition. Hamilton Inlet. . They sailed from London in the ship In the same year that Mikak Hope, on the 17th of May, 1752. On visited England His Majesty King the 31st of July they reached a bay George III, by an order-in-council, in Lat. 55° 30' N., and in grateful gave the Brethren a block of land remembrance called it Nisbet Har. containing one hundred thousand bour. Afterwards they continued acres, to be selected in the vicinity their journey up the shore, and a of Eskimo Bay. Since then the folcompany of Eskimo were seen on lowing stations have been formed, the 13th of September. Ehrhardt viz, Nain, 1771; Okak, 1776 ; Hopewent ashore with the captain and dåle, 1782; Hebron, 1828; and Zoar, five of the crew in a boat full of 1865. From the commencement of articles for barter. Not one of these these missions the missionaries have ever returned to the ship. After carried on a barter trade with the several days' waiting without seeing natives which has met almost the any trace of the missing men the entire expense.
The missionary sbip returned to Nisbet Harbour. ship takes out supplies each summer In the course of the following year for the natives, and brings back an American captain found some of their fur, fish, oil, etc. the provisions and the remains of Much might be written respecting the seven men. Jens Haven and these missions, which like beacons Christian Lawrence Drachart after- flash their cheering light on these wards succeeded in establishing in hospitable shores. I will leave friendly relations with the natives. the narrative of the glorious work In 1769 Commodore Sir H. Palliseer done by these heroic servants of God brought three natives from Labrador during the last century and a quar-Mikak, whose husband had been ter to some abler pen than mine. I killed in a fight with English trad- have adduced it as a link in the ers, her little son six years old, and chain of events which, under God, a youth of fifteen called Karpik. have done great things for this onceDaring Mikak's stay in England she benighted coast. was shown great
great kindness, the Next to the Moravian Church the Dowager Princess of Wales and other honour of attempting to establish persons of rank being greatly in- a permanent mission on the Labraterested in her. She was taken dor coast belongs to the Methodist back to Labrador in a man-of-war, Church. Some time between 1825. and after her return she married and 1830 the Wesleyan Methodist one named Tuglivina, and they Church in Newfoundland made an took the name of Palliseer, after effort in this direction. The followthe Commodore. Mikak bad fine ing ministers successively were sent robes, a dress of white cloth, deco- to Hamilton Inlet, viz., Revs. F. rated with gilt ornaments and lace, Hickson, Dr. R. Knight, G. Ellege and a gold medal with the likeness and C. Bates. Two of them re. of the king of England. She had mained for the summer only, and also a tine large tent, the gift of two, I am informed, stayed winter Commodore Palliseer. Attired in and summer. The missionaries met her robes she received the mission with much opposition, and one re. aries, and placed the tent at their tired from the station disheartened disposal. Meetings were held in it, at the manner in which he was and the Gospel message faithfully treated by the whites, and at the
effects of their bad example on the Moraviau Brethren sent the Rev. natives *
Mr. Elsner, who undertook a sledge The Rev. Mr. Ellege resided at journey to Hamilton Inlet, in the Cul-de-Sac, and had a servant man hope that missionary operations named King, who taught the chil. might be commenced. He was very dren to read. Among these were hospitably received at the factory two sisters, who became Mrs. Mishe- near the mouth of the North-West lin and Mrs. Campbell, and lived River, but found that the population to a good old age. The latter has was small, chiefly composed of Inwritten the story of her life, which dians whose places of residence were was published a short time ago in scattered over a wide tract of counthe St. John's Herald. These women try and often in places difficult of have taught many to read their access. The natives were in a posiBibles. I found both of them long- tion of complete dependence upon ing for the consolation of Israel. the trader at the station, which Upon my first visit Mrs. Mishelin would seriously interfere with reguproduced the hymn-book given her lar missionary work. Hence no by Mr. Ellege, and we sang together further steps were taken in this the songs of Zion. I found the name direction. of this man of God greatly beloved. In the spring of the year 1870 A stone was pointed out to me at another Moravian missionary, the Indian Harbour on which Mr. Ellege Rev. Mr. O'llara, made a missionary used to stand and preach to audi. tour of three months between Hopeences composed of Newfoundland dale and Sandwich Bay. After and American fishermen, and men the Methodist Church withdrew its belonging to foreign vessels.
missionaries it continued to send a The seed sown by these earnest,
minister in the summer season to faithful men of God has sprung up. visit the coast. The pious Methodist After the missionaries were with- fishermen who go to Labrador in the drawn, a Canadian named Brown- summer season have always held son, who was agent for Hunt & their meetings, and have done much Henly, used to gather the people good in this way. The coast has together and teach them to sing also been visited by clergymen of hymns. As far as I can learn he the Church of England, but until was a Methodist, and appears to our mission was formed I am not have been a very useful man. aware that one was resident on the Among other things he taught them coast so far north as this. to bury their dead in graves. For- In 1883 the late - Rev. J. Em bree merly they simply laid the corpse visited the coast and reported to the on the ground, and then piled large General Board of Missions, and they stones over it to keep dogs, wolves decided to occupy the field. The and other wild animals from it. The Conference of 1884 appointed me to burying-ground at Moliac, where take charge of the work on this rest the mortal remains of this man coast. The Red Bay Mission is in whose memory is so revered by the the Strait of Belle Isle, on the Labranatives, is a beautiful spot in the dor side. The Hamilton Inlet Missummer time. The people missed the sion is comprised within Lat. 53° servants of God, and often longed 55' N. and Long. 55° 60' W. This for their return.
includes a number of large bays In 1857, in response to an invita- and islands along the shore. Hamiltion received from the chief officer ton Inlet forms the head of the Misof the Hudson's Bay Company, the sion. It is also called Aivektok, or * See Prof. H. Y. Hind's · The Labrador
Invucktoke Bay, meaning walrus, as Peninsula," Vol. II., p. 195.
the walrus formerly abounded there.
Eskimo Bay is the name given by have a bright colour in their cheeks; the Indians of the interior, from the but generally they are dark—speCree words, “Ashki,”
and cially so in the spring. The Eskimo “mow," to eat-eaters of raw flesh. are a nomadic race, dependent for Gross Water Bay was
the name food and clothing almost entirely on given to it by the French.
their success in hunting and fishing. It is the finest bay on the coast, In the summer time they used to being upwards of thirty miles wide pitch their skin tents along the at its entrance, and thence decreas- banks of the rivers or on the shores ing until at Rigoulette, about fifty of the inlets, and fish for salmon, miles from the sea, it is barely a codfish, etc. Now they have small mile in width. Beyond Rigoulette "tilts," or huts, built of wood, and it extends inland about seventy some of them get salmon nets on miles, and varies from a hundred hire from the Hudson's Bay Comyards to a mile in width. Above pany or the traders. They have Eskimo Island the Bay expands also boats like the settlers, as well into Melville Lake, a magnificent as their own native boats, which salt-water lake extending upwards they call “kayaks." The latter are of ninety miles, and fully twenty- about fifteen feet long, and are made five miles wide in one place. Nu- of wood which is completely covered merous islands lie at the entrance with seal-skins. They are about and within the Bay. Several great two feet six inches wide in the midrivers flow into the Inlet, the largest dle and about two feet deep, and being Hamilton River. About one gradually taper to a point fore and hundred miles from its mouth are aft. In the centre is a small openthe Grand Falls, which are said to ing into which the Eskimo thrusts exceed in grandeur the Falls of his legs, and sits down to row. A Niagara. From the south end of single oar is used, each end of which the Mission to the north is about is flattened and rounded. It is dipped one hundred miles in a direct in the water from right to left, and line. The coast is much broken up vice versa. The speed at which the into bights and bays. This is true kayak is propelled is considerable, also of the shores of each bay. The and it is surprising how it will ride interior a bounds with lakes and the “ top," or slush ice. In the win marshes, which in the winter season ter the Eskimo move to different are frozen and afford good travel- parts of the bays along the coast. ling. For six months each winter Those on my mission wintered at I travelled the whole district with two places principally, viz., Back dogs and comatique and snow-shoes. Run and Karawala. The water is In the performance of this the first not frozen at these places in the winter I had the assistance of over winter, and so they catch with a sixty different teams of dogs.
“jigger” an inferior kind of cod fish The natives of the coast of Labra- which a bounds in the bay. Besides dor are called Eskimo, and are a this they hunt foxes, rabbits, parrace distinct from the Indians of the tridges, bears, deer, etc. In the interior. They are, as a rule, small spring they move farther up the of stature, and they have large heads, bay for the purpose of shooting, or which are thickly covered with spearing seals on the ice. The bay black hair. The forehead is low, seals keep holes open in the ice all and the eyes are large and gener- winter, and they come up through ally dark. The nose seems flat, the these to breathe and sport themselves lips are thick, and the mouth large. on the ice. In the spring they bring The men possess only small beards. forth their young on the ice. Their complexion varies, for some Different methods are adopted by the Eskimo to kill the seals. Some- generally used. These are filled times they stand at the hole in the with seal oil, and have a wick passed ice, and when the seal appears they through the spout. A needle or piece spear it. At other times the seals of wire is tied to the spout, and it is are asleep on the ice, and then the used to prick out the wick as it burns Eskimo puts on his skin clothes and away. crawls over the ice. If the seal Formerly intoxicating liquor was should notice them they wriggle sold in the Bay, and many sad and roll like a seal to allay its sus- stories are related of those who fell picions. The seal, satisfied that there victims to this « fire-water.” The is no foe, falls asleep again. The Newfoundland Government passed Eskimo crawls nearer, and when he a law prohibiting the sale or gift of thinks he is near enough he fires, liquor to any Eskimo or Indian invariably killing the seal.
under a penalty of two hundred dolThe skins of the seals are used in lars. If such a prohibitory law is making boots and clothes. The men good for Labrador, why should it wear a coat called a cossack, and the' not be extended to all British North women wear a similar one with a America ? large hood for carrying the baby. The Eskimo are very fond of Polygamy formerly existed among music, and many of the men can this race, and even now the mar- play the violin. These instruments riage tie with some is very loose. were formerly called into requisiCases of immorality are found among tion at scenes of revelry, but they this people, and this is largely owing are now consecrated to higher and to the crowded state of their houses. better uses. Many pleasant hours Several families are often huddled have been spent teaching them together in one hut. These huts are Methodist and Sankey's hymns. rudely built of wood, and in the Their language is a great hindrance, winter time are frequently covered because it is so unlike any European with snow. If you want to find tongue. So great were the linguisthem you can do so by observing tic obstacles that exactly one hunthe dogs lying around the stovepipe. dred years passed before an Eskimo
On one occasion I descended seven translation of the Bible was finished. steps of snow in order to get to the The Moravian missionaries declare front door of one of these huts. This that it would have been better to covering of snow helps to keep the have substituted the German or Eng. house warm, but often the large lish language for the Eskimo. stove which is used melts the snow Each family is supplied with a and fills the house with water. For- book containing certain chapters of merly the houses were lighted by the Bible, and a few prayers. They means of a stone lamp, which was have also hymn - books. Most of filled with seal oil. I have seen one them can read in their own tongue, of these ancient lamps, the stone of having learned to do so at the Mowhich was most peculiar. It had ravian stations. I could give abun. the appearance of slate, but was dant evidence to prove my former much softer. The lamp was about statement respecting the widespread ten inches long, and a handle was influence of the labours of the Moformed at one end and a spout at ravian missionaries. the other, and in the centre a hollow It is truly impressive to see one of was cut to contain the oil. A wick these men conduct worship with his made of cloth or moss was placed in family. When present with them I this hollow, and one end was passed would sing a hymn and read a along the spout and lighted. Tin chapter in English, and then they lamps with a long spout are now would sing a hymn and read a