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Map First Nations 1820Prior to choosing Pigeon Lake for his mission, Robert Rundle considered a number of possible locations. However, Pigeon Lake (located in present-day, central Alberta) was situated near the boundaries of the Cree, Nakoda and Blackfoot people, and as Rundle hoped to to serve all tribes, the site was selected.

To help him with the mission, Rundle asked for Benjamin Sinclair. Sinclair, his wife and infant son shortly thereafter travelled by Hudson's Bay Company boat to Fort Edmonton and arrived at Pigeon Lake in the fall of 1847. To the mission Sinclair brought experience in growing crops, whipsawing lumber and knowledge of the Bible and the Cree syllabic system of reading and writing. 

Unfortunately, Rundle had injured his arm two months prior to Sinclair's arrival leaving only the Sinclair family to occupy the mission site in the winter of 1847-48. Rundle subsequently left the region the following year because of his injury and, despite his intentions, never returned.

Stoney IndiansConstruction of mission buildings began in the spring of 1848 and Sinclair, with the assistance of Aboriginal Christian leaders, was left in charge. While he diligently attended to the Methodist Christians in the area, the community and Sinclair himself awaited the arrival of a trained missionary. In 1851, having received no assistance, he left Pigeon Lake to return to Norway house and eventually continued his work at Lac La Biche, where he started a school.  Pigeon Lake was consequently abandoned from 1851 until a new missionary, Thomas Woolsey, entered the region in 1855.

Shortly after his arrival, Woolsey and fellow missionary Henry Steinhauer inspected the Pigeon Lake mission, only to discover that the site had returned to its natural state and two of the four buildings were beyond restoration. The physical process of rebuilding the mission did not begin until the next year, when it was carried out by Peter Erasmus and the young Aboriginal men of the region.


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