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Title: William G. 'Reindeer' Walton and the face of adversity in Canada's North, 1892-1928
Authors: Robinson, Laura
Keywords: missionaires;indigenous people;William G. Walton;Cree people;Inuit people;reindeer campaign;Daisy Spencer;fur trade
Issue Date: 27-Oct-2017
Abstract: “Chapter 1: Historiography” provides the reader with an overview of the work of historians who have written about missionaries, and highlights in particular three main themes: the northern missionary experience, the role of Indigenous and Métis women in the fur trade, and the position of the Federal Government on mission projects and the future of Indigenous people in Canada. “Chapter Two: William G. Walton: An English Missionary in Canada’s North” explores Walton’s experiences as a missionary adjusting to the northern climate and his initial attempts to connect with the people. This chapter briefly introduces the reader to the Spencers, Walton’s in-laws, and their impact on him as an Anglican missionary. There is great detail about some of Walton’s notable achievements, including his work in creating the ‘Eskimo-English’ Dictionary. Also, this chapter displays the shift in the missionary approach in Canada during the early-twentieth century and how this affected the outcome of mission work. “Chapter Three: Daisy and William, a Team Effort” makes extensive use of the correspondence the couple maintained while apart from each other. Daisy was a Métis woman who grew up in the fur trade and spoke Cree. Her skills and life experience proved to be a valuable asset to Walton as he became better trained to work with the Cree and Inuit during his mission work. In letters from the CMS and articles from The Globe, Daisy is said to deserve equal credit to Walton for the work in Fort George and Great Whale River. Lastly, “Chapter Four: The Reindeer Project,” is dedicated to Walton’s last great triumph as a missionary: his recognition of the starving and dying Inuit in Great Whale River and further north. He believed their only salvation would be the domestication of reindeer to make the communities sustainable as they had previously been. This endeavour was the result of almost fifteen years of work with moments of victory as well as disappointment. Walton spread his message across not only Canada, but also across the ocean to his homeland in hopes to rally support and the attention for this grand plan to save hundreds of Indigenous people in Canada. By exploring these three aspects of Walton’s career: his mission work, his collaboration with Daisy, and his reindeer campaign; this essay maintains that he represented an earlier approach to missionary work that relied on mediation rather than assimilation, and was out of harmony with the agenda of the Department of Indian Affairs in the early-twentieth century.
Appears in Collections:History / Histoire - Master's Theses
Master's Theses

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