Treaties Pt. 4: 7 at Blackfoot Crossing
Heritage Trails: McLeod to Calgary Trail, Fort Whoop Up
Missionary societies had long desired to enter the
Blackfoot Confederacy of southern Alberta. No permanent missions were established, however, until after the signing of Treaty 7 in 1877
and the designation of reserves.
Methodist John Maclean first entered the area to begin a mission among
the Kainai (Blood) tribe. He was appointed to Fort Macleod, which the
missionary soon deemed unsuitable as a mission post-the fort officers were generally opposed
to the mission, treated him with disrespect and hindered men from attending
services. Maclean remained in town, however, teaching school and learning the
Blackfoot language until he felt sufficiently equipped to meet the
Aboriginal people on their own ground. In 1883 he built a mission house
and school on the reserve.
1889 the Fort Macleod Mission was closed upon recommendation of
John McDougall, Superintendent of Missions, who considered it a failure owing
to the lack of conversions and prevalence of Aboriginal customs. Maclean
subsequently served at a number locations throughout the West and in 1918
was appointed Chief Archivist of the Methodist Church.