Engaged today in preparing for tomorrow. What a
responsibility rests on me! Immortal spirits are entrusted to my care
& Lord what am I? But thou choosest the weak things of the world to
confound the things which are mighty.
- Robert Rundle, June 13, 1840
Robert Terrill Rundle was born in Mylor, England in 1811. Little is known of his childhood
or family except that on his mother's side he had a grandfather who was a
well known Methodist preacher and an uncle who was a missionary.
In 1837 Rundle entered business school, but within two years left to enter a Methodist missionary
training college. After only two
months of theological training, he accepted an offer to become a
missionary for the Hudson's Bay Company's Saskatchewan District. On March
8, 1840, eight days after his ordination, Rundle left for North America.
Following a brief stay at Norway House, he arrived at Fort Edmonton to be the
For the next eight years, Rundle spent the majority of his time spreading the Christian message to numerous forts and
Aboriginal camps. His travels took him as far north as Lesser Slave Lake
and Fort Assiniboine, as far south as Big Hill Springs, deep into
Blackfoot territory near present-day Cochrane, and as far east as Fort Pitt and
Fort Carlton. During his travels he learned Cree, made many
connections among the Aboriginal tribes and established cordial relations
with most Hudson's Bay Company officials as well as Father de Smet, a
Catholic missionary working in the region. He had various
companions throughout the years, including translator William Rowland, painter Paul Kane and the Chief Factor of the Saskatchewan District,
In 1847, with the help of one of his early friends and
converts from Norway House, Benjamin
Rundle attempted to establish a permanent
mission at Pigeon Lake. However, that same year he fractured his left arm,
an injury that would not heal and which caused Rundle to return to England. On
September 9, 1848 he sailed out of Western Canada into Hudson Bay.
In England, Rundle continued to travel and preach. He married and had nine
children. Although he expressed an interest in returning to North America,
because of various circumstances, he remained in England until his death in 1896.
Rundle, Robert Terrill. Edited by Hugh A. Dempsey. The Rundle Journals,
1840-1848. Calgary: Alberta Records Publications Board, Historical Society
of Alberta and Glenbow-Alberta Institute, 1977.