During those days we camped at Stanley Mission Post; the 21st was a Sunday, and we took things easy, on the 22nd much time was spent at the Hudson Bay Company's post, replenishing supplies, while on the 23rd it rained heavily, and unfortunately delayed our restarting for a day.
Throughout the period we were at Stanley-Post our chief care was to protect our tent and belongings from the sled-dogs of the settlement. They were a downright pest, so bad that Joe and I had to take it in turns to stay at home and sit on the doorstep, so to speak, to defend our belongings against their attentions. We lost a few little things to begin with, in spite of our care, but the culminatng offence that brought our wrath down on them was when on the night of the 23rd they raided our tent while we slept and devoured six loaves of bread which the half breed woman at the Post had that day kindly baked for us as a particular delicacy, and which were to have been our main food supply for the next month on the trail.
1 Next day we found there was a lady teacher at the Mission engaged in educating dusky half breed and Indian children, and that it was she who had spoken to us.
There was no Factor at the Hudson Bay Post, for he was south at the Lac La Ronge Post at the time, and purchase of stores was made through his halfbreed wife, who spoke Cree well, but only a very little broken English, so that conversation was carried on with difficulty; for at this time I knew but a few words of Cree. There was only one more Hudson Bay Post between Stanley and my ultimate objective in the north-that of Fort Du Brochet at the far end of Reindeer Lake-so here at Stanley I replenished my stores to the extent of 150 lbs. from the standard variety common to all fur-trading posts. Selecting a limited quantity of almost every available edible article in the store, my purchases were :-Two 24 lb. sacks of flour, 25 lbs. " Hardtack " ship biscuits, 5 lbs. rice, 5 lbs. beans, 15 lbs. bacon, 8 lbs. salt pork, 5 lbs. sugar, three cans of syrup, 3 lbs. evaporated apples, 2 lbs. baking powder, 2½ lb. bag of fine salt, 2 cakes of soap, ½ lb. cut tobacco, ½ lb. black plug tobacco, three hundred 12-bore cartridges, one spoon troll for pike, one tump line (for roping and carrying loads over portage), two yards mosquito net, and one pair of socks.
The Provincial Government had arranged with the Hudson Bay Company, previous to my departure, to take care of and transport whatever specimens I collected on the expedition, so at their trading post I packed 57 skins and 47 eggs for shipment, those I had taken since passing He a la Crosse post.
Stanley Mission Post is at an abrupt angle of the Churchill River, for the down-trending waters flow unseen through Rock Lake in an almost due-south direction to narrow, then expand to broad river width, at Stanley, and swing again into its natural easterly course. The scattered settlement is on both banks of the river, north-west and south-east; however, the greater number of mud-plastered cabins and canvas-covered teepees (wigwams), and the Protestant church and mission, are on the north-west shore. There is one island in the bay opposite the north-west shore. Wooded hills are behind the settlement, while on the low ground there is clay soil in which good potatoes are grown. I noticed Dandelions growing here, and surmised they had been brought up at some time in potatoes or other foreign seed. Stanley Mission Post is the largest settlement north of the Churchill River. It contains about two hundred inhabitants, men, women, and children; and about twice that number of dogs. Very few of the natives are pure Indians, nearly all being a variety of castes of halfbreed. All speak Cree. The Post, owing to its geographical position, might almost be said to be on the outer fringe of the Frontier, for it is, though distantly, in touch with the large northern town of Prince Albert through the route which lies directly south, some two hundred miles in length, via La Ronge Lake and Montreal River : therefore the race of Indians is affected by contact with civilisation, as almost all Indians are to-day, except in the most remote and furthest-north territories which they inhabit-affected in purity, in physique, in reserve, and the quiet grace of race which indubitably marks, and marked, the full-blooded Indian.
Of our two great religions the Catholic faith appears to be the stronger pioneer on the outskirts of civilisation in North-west Canada, and beyond, for at a great many surprisingly remote stations of the Hudson Bay Company it has established missions where priests work faithfully alone among the few somewhat pagan inhabitants that constitute their charge. Therefore one comes to take Catholic missions as a matter of course on the north trails, but here, at Stanley, was a less common institution-a long-established Protestant mission which at the time of its beginning must have been a great pioneering venture on the part of the mission, and missionary, which undertook it, and even now could give to a man exiled from his kind, and the customs of his kind, but little comfort and reward excepting a measure of satisfaction to earnest conscience and devout determination. The highest-up habitation on the hillside on the north-west shore is the mission house, while the church, dominant and outstanding in this place of tiny dwellings, is erected on the east margin of the settlement, near to the shore. Inhabitants of Stanley say the church was built sixty-five years ago, and as it is the most pretentious erection north of the Churchill, and has been so for many years, I will endeavour to describe it. The architecture, if it could be so called, was crude, almost barn-like ; such as could be described was Gothic in design. The church was constructed with timber above the foundations, which were of rough stone imbedded in and plastered with clay. The main aspect was that which most churches bear in greater or less proportions-a tower rising high over the entrance ; a nave forming the main body of the church, lighted from clerestory windows ; and narrow side-aisles behind columns, and below roofs intaking to the upper walls. There was a small vestry in the rear, but no transept, and so the pulpit stood on the right of the congregation at the head of the nave. There were seats in the nave, and bare forms against the walls in the side-aisles, while in a space in the nave at the rear stood a simple, antique-looking font, which I thought the most beautiful thing in that strange place of worship. The whole was impressive, since it was obviously the outcome of the rude labours of necessity of men who wished beyond all else to advance the faith of God to the outermost corners of the world. A large wood-burning stove stood at either end of the nave, for heating purposes in winter, and from those stoves unconcealed galvanised smoke-funnels ran overhead to find an exit finally in the roof; the whole being one of those harsh, incongruous necessities that one finds in out-of-the-way places and which are most disturbing to one's sense of good taste. The church, well packed, could seat two hundred people. All hymn-books were printed in the Cree language. The whole interior of the church was kept in some degree of preservation with paint, paint that, alas ! in effect was almost vivid rather than gravely peaceful; again, no doubt, a circumstance occasioned by necessity-lack of colours to select from, and the impossibility of having an accurate blend sent in to that remote station by any but a particularly enthusiastic craftsman. The walls, and ceilings between the rafters, were painted pale blue; the column white; and, for the rest, all woodwork was painted dark reddish-brown-the cornice, the column caps, the window-frames, the roof-rafters, and the seating-while the window openings contained leaded glass divided into small oblong panes of red, yellow, blue, green, purple and white in glaring contrasts. I came again outside, and was almost glad of the grave greyness and ill repair of the exterior, which appeared to be in the last stage of decay ; moss growing on the weather-beaten, paintless grey boarding, and many places broken and growing to an open wound.
Leaving the church, the door was closed and secured with a piece of string tied to a nail.