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Thomas Woolsey SketchThe Pigeon Lake mission was established during a tense time of periodic food shortages and an increasing number of arriving missionaries, traders and explorers and mounting hostilities.

CarioleIn 1865 John McDougall was given the task of reopening the Pigeon Lake Mission. The re-established mission, renamed Woodville, became a meeting place for the Nakoda and, to lesser extent, the Cree in the region.

By 1869 the mission was taken over by Peter Campbell, who revealed in a report of 1870 his concerns about the hostilities between the local Blackfoot and the Nakoda:

The country at present is in a very disturbed state, the different tribes are at war. The Blackfeet, with an insatiable thirst for blood, are on the track of the Stoney, and it is quite possible they will visit the Mission in search of our people . . . Now there is no safety for the traveler, and he who journeys alone runs a great risk of losing his scalp . . . I have tried to visit Edmonton regularly during the winter; twice I walked it alone. It is 50 miles from here.

In 1870 hostilities between the Blackfoot and the Nakoda people had once again erupted. Although the situation was tense and Campbell was nervous, the mission continued to operate. 

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John NelsonAfter 1874 the Pigeon Lake Mission declined. While a few missionaries attended to the neglected site, until the arrival of John Nelson in 1882, the mission was generally ignored. Although Nelson remained at Woodville for 10 years, the mission proceeded to decline and was eventually moved Wolf Creek in 1884. Misfortune continued and in 1886 a measles epidemic claimed a full third of the community and half of the school children. By this time the original Pigeon Lake Mission site had been fully abandoned.

Related Topics:
Robert Rundle »
Thomas Woolsey »
John McDougall »
Henry Steinhauer »
Peter Erasmus »

Citation Sources
Hutchinson, Gerald. The Meeting Place: Rundle's Mission at Pigeon Lake, Alberta. Edmonton: Rundle's Mission Conference Centre Inc., 199

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