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Alberta Online Encyclopedia
The Missionary

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The 19th century in Canada's northwest was a period of turbulence and rapid transformation. The fur trade had swept across the Prairies and Hudson's Bay Company posts were increasing in size and power. The lives of Aboriginal peoples were subject to famine and increased conflict over diminishing food stocks and territorial conflict with traders and other Aboriginal peoples. 

The fur trade, the influx of settlers and the decline of the buffalo, to name just a few, were making it more difficult for Aboriginal people to maintain their traditional way of life and were, in many cases, causing mounting tension. It was into this environment of change and conflict that the missionary entered.

In this section, with the help of audio, text and images we explore aspects of the missionary era. We look at the work and understanding of missionaries and the evangelical impulse that prompts their departure from family and familiar society to share the Christian gospel. 

We also explore the Christian movement called "Methodism," both its origins in Britain and its transformation in Canada. The periods before and after 1870 marked significant changes in the roles and work of all missionaries. As well, we present the effects of the Methodist missionaries and others as a reflection on the mission era that emerged in the mid and late 20th century and continued into the 21st century.


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            For more on Methodism and Methodist settlement in Alberta, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
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