John McDougall's parents, George
and Elizabeth, had a great influence on their son. When he was just a
child they converted to Methodism and John received theological and
missionary training. As a result, he grew up attending mission schools and
learning to speak Ojibwa and Cree. By the time his father was appointed
superintendent for Western missions and given his first posting at
Rossville, John was 18 and had decided to follow his parents.
John soon joined Thomas Woolsey at the Victoria Mission on the banks of the
North Saskatchewan River to prepare the site his father had chosen as his home
and mission headquarters. He eagerly anticipated and worked
towards his ordainment, which occurred in 1871 (although John had already
been working as a missionary, assisting his father as a teacher and
interpreter, and opening the Pigeon Lake Mission).
requested college training, but was denied, instead gaining his knowledge from
working directly with the people on the Western plains.