We hunted and trapped and fished, and engaged in all manner of
athletics, foot races, horse races, anything for real fun and common
brotherhood. Thus we found out men, and these in turn saw us and read us
as a book, until they knew that on every page of our life there was
written friendship and the true desire to help them. More than this, they
saw we believed in them, and at last they grew to believe most heartily in
- John McDougall,
In the Days of the Red
John McDougall was born in 1842 in Sydenham, Upper Canada to George and
Elizabeth McDougall. George McDougall
was a Methodist missionary and, as a result, John grew up attending mission
schools and learning to speak Ojibwa and Cree.
In 1862, George McDougall (by this time the Superintendent for the
Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada) decided to move his mission West, and
the family relocated to the Victoria
John worked as an interpreter and teacher and, in 1864, married Abigail,
the eldest daughter of the Reverend Henry Bird Steinhauer and
Jessie Mamanuwartum. That same year he became a candidate for missionary service.
John and Abigail were appointed to reopen the Pigeon Lake
Mission, from which John visited Aboriginal camps and Hudson's Bay
at Rocky Mountain House and Fort
Edmonton. These were tumultuous years for the missionary: violence was escalating between the Assinboine, Cree and Blackfoot
tribes; in 1870-71 a smallpox epidemic swept the plains; and in
1871, Abigail died. After his wife's death, John travelled back to
Upper Canada where he was ordained and married his second wife, Elizabeth
Boyd. In 1873, they moved south and established a new mission at Morley, on
the banks of the Bow River, to serve the Stoney people.
Throughout his life, John McDougall was involved in public and
Aboriginal affairs. During the 1870s he was present for the negotiation of Treaty
and Treaty 7.
During the North-West Rebellion he accompanied the Alberta Field Force,
negotiating with tribes to stay on the side of the government. In 1897,
he was named chairman of the Indian District, comprising parts of all four
present western provinces. After his retirement in 1906, he served as a
commissioner for the Dominion Government and Department of Indian Affairs
and later (unsuccessfully) ran as a Liberal representative for Calgary
Centre. In 1917, John McDougall died in Calgary.
John. In the days of the Red River Rebellion: The Life and Adventure in
the Far West of Canada (1868-1872): 1911.