A hundred and seventy-five years ago Robert Terrill Rundle arrived in Alberta in 1840 at the age of 29. He began his journey on March 16th from Liverpool when he boarded the S.S. Sheridan for New York. After spending two days in the “Big Apple” he arrived in Montreal on April 14. A week later he was on his way west arriving in Norway House on June 5.
Rundle would spend the summer learning from the Cree and living among them. With this knowledge he would begin his last leg of his journey west arriving at Fort Edmonton just after midnight on October 17. He became the fort’s first missionary, however the Cree considered his youth a handicap. The chief factor, John Rowand, would write to Governor Simpson that he believed Rundle was a good man and had nothing but respect for him but thought he was too young to be successful in converting the Cree.
Rundle would spend the next eight years in the part of Rupert’s Land that would become known as Alberta traveling throughout the territory often in difficult weather. Perhaps due to the weather conditions Rundle’s health began to deteriorate and he began to suffer from headaches and a bleeding nose.
In 1847 he received permission to establish a mission along Pigeon Lake then he suffered serious injury to his left wrist from a fall from a horse. The injury would not heal properly leaving his left hand useless. He returned to England in September of 1848 to seek treatment with plans of returning to Alberta. However, life often has other ideas while we are making plans and in 1854 Rundle married Mary Wolverson and would serve as a minister in England retiring in 1887. He died in February of 1896 at the age of 85.
What became of his mission along the shores of Pigeon Lake? To find out more join The Rundle’s Mission Society celebration of the 175th anniversary of Robert Rundle’s missionary efforts on Saturday, August 29 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Source of information: The Rundle Journals, 1840–1848