During the 1840s the
Hudson's Bay Company
(HBC) was becoming very concerned about the state of the
that served their outposts. George Simpson, the Hudson's Bay Company governor at the time,
had become convinced that both the Anglican and Roman Catholic clergy in
Rupert's Land were beyond company control. As a result he began to limit
their activities in the region, and began to recruit
and place the more conciliatory Methodist Ministers across
Robert Rundle was one of four Methodists invited by the Hudson's Bay Company
to establish missions in this area.
Born in Mylor, England in 1811, Robert Rundle was introduced to the church
at an early age, heavily influenced by both his grandfather, a Methodist lay
minister, and his uncle, a Reverend. In 1837 he entered a business school,
only to choose the ministry at the end of two years of University study. After
only two months of theological training he was offered a missionary post for
the Hudson's Bay Company's Saskatchewan District. In 1840, Rundle left England for
North America with two other missionaries, and by October of that year found
himself at Fort Edmonton.
For the next eight years Rundle spent the majority of his time travelling throughout
the province, carrying his Methodist message to the people at various places.
His travels took him as far north as Lesser Slave Lake and Fort Assiniboine, as
far south as Big Hill Springs and as far east as Fort Pitt and Fort Carlton. It was through his
travels with his companion and interpreter William Rowand that he was able to study
Cree. During his mission
in the West, Rundle befriended many
and he seemed to have developed cordial relations with most
Hudson's Bay Company officials. When the Hudson's Bay Company began pressuring him
to establish mission schools, he did not immediately comply. Though he spent
some time looking for an appropriate site to establish the mission school, he never
actually completed his task. Tragically, in 1847 Reverend Rundle took a bad fall from
his horse, seriously injuring his arm. When his arm did not heal properly, he
decided to return home to England to seek proper medical attention;
he did this without obtaining permission from either the Hudson's
Bay Company or the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society.
Despite all his hard work in Rupert's Land and the many friends he left behind, he
never returned to the West and remained in England until his death in 1887.
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