On August 29 the 175th anniversary of Rev. Robert Terrill Rundle’s arrival to Canada was celebrated at the Rundle Mission site. Rundle was the first missionary allowed to settle in the Hudson’s Bay Company’s territory west of The Pas in Manitoba.
In 1847 he came to the Pigeon Lake area and established a mission on the northern edge of the lake. It is here that he brokered a peace between the various tribes and the mission site became known as the “meeting place”. Unfortunately Rundle suffered a severe injury to his wrist and soon had to return to England for treatment never to return to Canada. Yet his efforts remained and the peace held.
The mission would be abandoned after a short time then rekindled and then abandoned a second time. For a period of time it became homestead land and the story of Rundle became largely forgotten. In 1948, 100 years after Rundle last roamed the territory, a young inquisitive minister by the name of Gerald Hutchinson began to inquiry why a local lake access point was called “Mission Beach”. He would spent the next 50 plus years researching the area and through his efforts the Rundle Mission reappeared and became a national historic monument and a provincial historic site.
Nearly 300 people took part in the festivities of the day either as spectators or participants. The day began with a sunrise blessing by Elder John Crier then at 11 a.m. there was procession lead by a piper and the arrival of dignitaries. Master of ceremonies Elmer Rattlesnake then introduced Chief Kurt Buffalo from Samson Nation who welcomed visitors to Treaty 6 Land in Cree before translating his welcome into English. Following Chief Buffalo were a number of dignitaries from the government of Canada, Alberta, Leduc County, Leduc City, and the villages of Warburg and Thorsby and the United Church.
The Honourable David Eggen, Minister of Culture and Tourism, wore two hats as he delivered a message from Premier Rachel Notley and as minister. He was followed by Conservative candidate Mike Lake who presented the message from the Governor General of Canada, David Johnston, as well as relating his pleasure of visiting this very impressive site.
At the conclusion of the speeches 98 year old May Bouvette cut the anniversary cake. May is the sister of former Alberta Lt. Governor Ralph Steinhauer and their family can be traced back to the time of Rundle and the original mission. Native drummers and dancers then provided spectators with some traditional dancing in their full regalia.
A complimentary pioneer lunch was served which included bannock, stew, and rubarb juice. The day featured Fort Edmonton interperters, a Tipi, Russell Thornberry, a flint knapping specialist, wool spinners, and many other individuals capable of reproducing the skills of the 1800’s. With music provided by Lloyd Jardine and the Zolten Liba Band
For several hours the Rundle Mission site was truly a meeting place where for a period of time one could mingle with political leaders and First Nations people, where one could step back in time and watch how the people of an earlier period managed to go about their daily business in suriving a much harder era.
The Rundle Mission Society is very thankful for all the volunteers and organizations that made the day a success. And this reporter is pleased that our final report for the Pipestone-Flyer was so enjoyable and successful.