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British Wesleyans

In 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.

In 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 Aboriginal people.

Wesley Preaching at the Market Cross

Wesley Preaching at the Market Cross