The Canadian Commonwealth eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 231 pages of information about The Canadian Commonwealth.
as well as laughable.  When you consider that in some of these northern parishes a man can reach his different missions only by canoe or dog-train, that the missions are forty miles apart, that the canoe must run rapids and the dog-train dare blizzards—­an effeminate type of man is more of a tragedy than a comedy.  I think of one mission where the circuit is four hundred miles and the distance to railroad, doctor, post-office, fifty-five miles.  This little curate had had a hard time, though his mission was an easy one.  When his turn came to report, his face resembled the reflection on an inverted teaspoon.  Hardship had taken all the bounce and laugh and joy and rebound out of him.  The other frontier missionaries grew restless as he spoke.  One magnificent specimen, who had been a gambler in his unregenerate days, began to shuffle uneasily.  When the little curate whined about the vices of the Indians, this big frontier missionary pulled off his coat. (He explained to me that it was “a hot night”; besides it “made him mad to hear the poor Indians damned for their vices, when white men, who passed as gentlemen, had more.”) Finally, when the little curate appealed to “the dear sisters to raise money to build a fence,” the big man could stand it no longer.  He ripped his collar loose and sprang to his feet.  “Man,” he thundered, “pull off your coat and build your own fence and don’t trouble the Lord about such trifles.  I’m rich on thirty dollars a year.  When I need more, I sell a steer.  Don’t let us bother God-Almighty with such unmanly puling and whining,” and much more, he said—­which I have told elsewhere—­which brought that audience to life with the shocks of a galvanic battery.  One of the most successful Indian missionaries in Canada is a full blood Cree.  It does not detract from his services in the least that if in the middle of his prayers he hears the wild geese coming in spring, he bangs the Holy Book shut and shouts for the congregation to grab their guns and get a shot.

The virile note in religious life is one of the chief reasons for its support in Canada; and I have been amused to watch English and American friends who have gone to Canada first indifferent to the church-going habit, then touched and finally caught in the current.  Does the habit react on public life?  Undoubtedly and most strongly!  Catholic Quebec and Protestant Ontario for years literally dictated provincial and federal policies; but, with the shift of the balance of power from East to West, that shuffling of Catholic against Protestant and vice versa has ceased in Canadian politics; and those newspapers that gained their support playing on religious prejudice have had to sell and begin with a new sheet.  At the same time no policy could be put forward in Canada, no man could stay in public life against the voice of the different churches.  If it were not invidious, examples could be given of public men relegated to private life because they violated the principles for which

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The Canadian Commonwealth from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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