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John MacleanClose contact with our native tribes shows us the mistake we have been making in deciding that ignorance, superstition and cruelty belong to these people, and that there is no wisdom, truth or beauty in their belief and manner of life.

- John Maclean, preface to Canadian Savage Folk 

John MacLean was born in Kilmarnock, Scotland, and came to Canada in 1873. Educated at Victoria College, Cobourg, and the Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois, he entered the Methodist ministry and was appointed to take over the school in Fort Macleod and to work among the Blackfoot people. 

Main Street - Fort MacleodIn 1889 the Fort Macleod Mission was closed upon recommendation of John McDougall, Superintendent of Missions, who considered it a failure owing to the lack of conversions and prevalence of Aboriginal customs. Maclean subsequently served at a number locations throughout the West and in 1918 was appointed Chief Archivist of the Methodist Church.

Maclean is the author of numerous books and pamphlets, most of them dealing with the West. His The Native Tribes of Canada reflects great respect for the culture, knowledge and beliefs of the people he served, and at times offers scathing cynicism about the treatment of Aboriginal peoples by white men. Similar criticism emanates from his short stories about life in the West, written for younger readers, such as his story "The White man's bride."

In spite of his substantial and thought provoking written work, Maclean is seldom mentioned in the writings on Methodist missionary history in Western Canada.

Citation Sources
Maclean, John. The Native Tribes of Canada. Toronto: Briggs, 1896


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