Boyd was born in Ontario in 1854. In 1872, John
McDougall, a distant cousin, returned to Ontario from the West following
his ordination in Winnipeg. After a brief courtship they married and
John McDougall had three daughters from his
previous marriage to Abigail Steinhauer
and Elizabeth, at age 19,
stepped into the role of stepmother, missionary wife and pioneer.
The young couple established a new mission on the Bow River in what would
eventually become southern Alberta. At Morley, Elizabeth gave birth to six
children. Like Abigail before her, Elizabeth accompanied her husband on
mission trips (often with
one or two of the children), helping with
worship and the domestic duties.
Although Elizabeth was initially the only white woman at the new mission,
both her sister-in-law, Annie, and mother-in-law, Mrs. George McDougall
(Elizabeth Chantler), would soon join her. With
increasing settlement, the growth of Calgary, and the expansion of
the Morley Mission in proximity to the Stoney Reserve, Elizabeth
McDougall increasingly participated in the social life of the area and was
involved in women's aid
societies and related mission activities.
For the wives of the early missionaries, life among the Aboriginal people
was a challenge, especially when the men were absent. There were stories of Blackfoot people entering the cabins, alarming women to the point
where they barricaded doors and readied themselves
with axe and gun. However, no harm ever came to them.
John MacLean, a Methodist missionary to the Blood
Indians from 1880 to
1889, had a different explanation for these neighbourly visits:
Curiosity led some of the boldest to pry into the affairs of the
immigrants . . . As the busy housewife prepared the noon-day meal or baked
bread, the house suddenly became darkened by a crowd of the natives
peering in at the windows
Maclean, John. Canadian Savage Folk: The Native
Tribes of Canada. Toronto: Briggs, 1896.