The Life of Jeremiah Johnston: Part II

In 1895, Jeremiah Johnston was called to take a special course for the ministry and was ordained and assigned to The Long Sault. By September of 1896, he had cleared five acres of land and a house and church were built.

James Taylor Rogers traveled from Toronto to Rat Portage (Kenora, Ontario) where he saw Indians buying items from the various shops, some of whom had received their treaty money, five dollar per head. Mr. Rogers took the river boat The Kenora and on July 14th reached the mouth of the Rainy River, where on the American side he saw a fishing station and on the Canadian side he saw a number of houses, some were closed for the summer with the Indians being away. Some of the houses were shingled others covered with bark and there were also summer wigwams nearby. Mr. Taylor saw the Stars and Stripes flying on two wigwams on the Canadian reserve. He also noticed a large boom of logs, which were sorted and passed through to different booms. At about noon that day, Reverend Jeremiah Johnston came aboard the Steamer and brought an Indian and a canoe, it was decided that they could go on to the Little Forks. Mr. Taylor took some clothing and his camera and sent a bag ashore at the Long Sault (pronounced “soo”). It was exactly two years to the day that Mr. Johnston had landed there. On the Steamer the two had a long talk over the mission. It was early evening when they reached the Little Forks, there Mr. Taylor had his introduction to what he described as the pests of the River, the mosquitoes and the “bull-dog” flies.

The Little Forks had a School House, a government building that occupied a position overlooking the River and six acres had been laid aside for the mission, some of it was cleared fairly well but here and there were a few stumps which had been eyed as a playground depending on when they could get out the remaining stumps. Some church in Toronto had promised a football but it had not come yet, they had an old bugle that was used to call the children to school. Mr. Taylor tried to photograph the School as some children came in a councilor (a type of canoe). The mosquitos forced Mr. Taylor to wear a veil which he pronounced as a great service although the mosquitos could get through now and again, without the veil Mr. Taylor felt that a walk in the woods would have been “unendurable.” An Indian guide came to tea with them and Mr. Taylor commented that he was “very well behaved.” When the guide was asked if he wanted some lettuce he declined saying in Indian “the rabbits eat that,” later when he took some raspberries it was said “the bears eat that,” he laughed. The later day was followed up by family prayers and Mr. Taylor gave a short bible reading on daily learning, daily surrender, and daily trusting. Mr. Taylor and Jeremiah slept in the same bed and he added that the mosquitos were rather plentiful when he awoke before five.

Mr. Taylor reported that at breakfast on older Indian Woman (who had opposed the mission pulling up the stakes when the land was marked off) opened the door and seeing them slammed it shut. After breakfast Mr. Taylor was asked to have prayers and he asked Mr. Johnston to have the Indians come in, there a was a man, a young man, a woman and a girl. According to Mr. Taylor they seemed to listen but remained seated while he knelt in prayer. Once, two of them passed a remark in a low voice. Jeremiah read a portion of the New Testament in Ojibwa then explained it and prayed in the same tongue, Mr. Taylor prayed earnestly for the souls in heathen darkness. The man sat with half closed eyes.

Next up Jeremiah and Mr. Taylor in their vernacular talk more heathen adventures and the story of Great Hawk.

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