Thursday, 8 March 2012

Reverend Robert MacDonald

Fort Garry and St. Boniface by Paul Kane 1851-56

Passengers are picked up at Red River (June 1862) by the Portage La Loche Brigade

“Between the Stone Fort and Lake Winnipeg was a protestant mission of “Savanais”. These Indians are now called “Machkegons”. We stopped a few moments to pick up in one of the boats a Scot Chippewa Metis, who was going for four years to the Mackenzie District. The reverend Mr. MacDonald was a man of 35 years, with amber eyes and the complexion of milk in coffee. He was dressed all in grey and he was single. That is he was not accompanied by a wife.
There we also picked up a young “Savanaise”with a small child who was to join her husband, William Charles Burke at Fort Yukon, towards Alaska. This courageous woman had to travel by boat 1500 leagues of this empty land to reach her husband. What courage! Without my knowing then, I was destined, after accompanying her to the Mackenzie, to see and appreciate her even more later on at Fort Good Hope.
We also had in our brigade a Catholic Chippewa family whose head, Francois Wabisten, also called Canard, would later become a member of my flock at Great Slave Lake.” (page 206-207)

Reverend Robert MacDonald holds an evening service at Portage La Loche July 21, 1862

“As I returned late I caught the pleasant sight of Reverend MacDonald dressed in a grey suit and a small clerical collar. He was singing with a trembling voice in the middle of the field like an evening singer of Marseille.
He even had the two traditional candles. He had set them on the grass, on each side of his hat, a little ahead of his sacred person. I would have gladly deposited two pennies, if I had any, so much the scene made me pity him. He looked around in all directions to see if anyone responded to his call.. Unfortunately! No one came.
Looking through the gloom, I finally saw a kneeling woman a little way away, head uncovered holding a child in front of her. It was our courageous travelling companion the “Savanaise” Annie Burke. Her faith and devotion touched me. Without offending the grammar, the minister, while addressing this woman, could have called her ‘ma chere auditoire’.” (page 272-273) a biography of Reverend Robert MacDonald

This is my translation from pages 206-207 and 272-273 of the following French book