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Rundle, Robert

During the 1840s the Hudson’sBay Company (HBC) was becoming very concerned about the state of the missionsthat served their outposts. Missions were religious centres set up in new countries to do religious and social work. George Simpson, the Hudson’s Bay Company governorat the time, had become convinced that both the Anglican and Roman Catholicclergy in Rupert’sLand were beyond company control. As a result, he began to limit theiractivities in this region and, as an alternative began to recruit and place the Methodist Ministers across Rupert’s Land. Robert Rundle wasone of four Methodists invited by the Hudson’s Bay Company to establishmissions in this area.

Born in Mylor, England in 1811, Robert Rundle was introduced to the church atan early age, heavily influenced by both his grandfather, a Methodist minister, and his uncle, a Reverend. In 1837 he entered a business school, onlyto choose the ministry at the end of two years of University study. After onlytwo months of religious training he was offered a missionary posting for theHudson's Bay Company's Saskatchewan District. In 1840 Rundle left England forNorth America with two other missionaries and, by October of that year, foundhimself at Fort Edmonton after a rather tough trip across country.

For the next 8 years, Rundle spent the majority of his time travellingthroughout the province, carrying his Methodist message to the people at variousplaces. His travels took him as far north as Lesser Slave Lake and FortAssiniboine, as far south as Big Hill Springs, deep in Blackfoot territorynear present-day Cochrane, Alberta and even as far east as forts Pitt andCarlton. It was through his ambitious travels that he was able to study Cree,aided by his travelling companion and interpreter William Rowand. During hismission out west Rundle became friends with many Métis,Creeand Assiniboinesand he seemed to have developed good relations with most Hudson’s BayCompany officials. When the Hudson’s Bay Company began pressuring him toestablish mission schools however, he did not immediately do so. Though hespent some time looking for an appropriate site to establish the mission school,he never actually completed his task. Tragically, in 1847 Reverend Rundle took abad fall from his horse, seriously injuring his arm. When his arm did not healproperly, without obtaining permission from either the Hudson’s Bay Company orthe Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society, he returned home to England to seekproper medical attention. Despite all his hard work in Rupert’s Land and themany friends he left behind, he never returned to the west and remained inEngland until his death in 1887.

Robert and Mary

Robert and Mary

Portrait of Reverend Robert T. Rundle

Portrait of Reverend Robert T. Rundle