the 19th century, major fur trade routes in Canada ran from the Western prairies
along the North Saskatchewan River via Lake Winnipeg to York Factory on
the shores of the Hudson Bay. Just as the trade routes for furs ran from the
Western prairies to Britain, so to did the lines of communication for these missionaries.
The first Methodist missionaries to the Canadian West came directly from
Great Britain. Governed from England, these first missionaries carried no intention of helping to establish a Canadian state
or desire to transform Aboriginal peoples into
Canadians. While their teaching and counselling promoted settled
communities and was grounded in a 19th century Victorian understanding of "civilization,"
it also recognized that traditional means of gathering food needed to be
augmented with crop cultivation to ward off famine.
England, Methodist ministers journeyed from town to town, preaching in fields and village squares. Methodist missionaries in
Canada also travelled, seldom having a permanent residence. Often the mission
buildings were left empty as the missionaries travelled with bands of