Methodism in the Canadian west in the nineteenth century

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Brooks, William Howard
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The British Wesleyans were the first Methodists in the north-west. Four came out in 1840 at the request of the Hudson's Bay Company. The British Wesleyans were conservative in character and no longer practised the enthusiastic evangelism which had marked the early days of the movement. Frontier conditions have often provided a stimulus for evangelical activity and these precedents inspired some of the Wesleyans to attempt a heroic approach to the conversion of the Indians in the West. These attempts to convert a primitive culture to an eighteenth century Protestantism in the presence of the all-pervading metropolitan power of the Hudson's Bay Company, which had greatly modified the wilderness, could not succeed. The Canadian Methodists from Canada West took over the Indian missions from the British Wesleyans in 1854. This church was perhaps even less evangelical - and heroic than the Wesleyans had been. Their approach to the problem of Indian conversion brought litt1e in the way of new ideas but they produced at least one heroic figure in the person of George McDougall. He found a courageous and selfless role among the Indians of what is now Alberta during the years when war and disease were stalking the western plains. The Canadian Methodists began work among the white settlers of Red River in 1868 on the eve of the first Riel Rebellion. The reaction of their first pastor to the events of 1869-70 sufficiently demonstrated his Anglo-Saxon and Ontario biases. In 1872, the first Western conference met and institutional Methodism came to the prairies...