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
Construction of mission buildings began in the spring of 1848 and Sinclair, with the assistance of
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
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
carried out by Peter Erasmus and the young Aboriginal men of the region.