Portrait of a young Indian boy from Shingwauk Mission
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- Black and white photograph on a sheet of iron metal shows a young boy in school uniform, with one hand resting on a wooden fence and another holding a hat.
The Rev. Edward Francis Wilson was a missionary and a principal of residential school at Shingwauk, near Sault Ste. Marie, between 1872 and 1893. He and Mrs. Wilson came to Canada in 1868 and began working with the First Nations in the diocese of Algoma. Founded Shingwauk and Wawanish homes for First Nations children, as well as the Washakada home at Elkhorn. When his health failed he went to British Columbia and from 1893 to 1911 acted as rector of Salt Spring Island.
- "From 1855 to 1871, the Garden River mission was served by the Rev. James Chance who struggled on with limited resources. During this time, Rev. Chance was visited by an Englishman, Edward Francis Wilson, who felt called upon to do missionary work among the Indians. Following his ordainment in 1867, Rev. Wilson returned to Garden River about 1872 and collaborated with Chiefs Augustin Shingwauk and Buhkwujjenene Shingwauk (sons of Shingwaukoons) in their joint effort to secure funds and support for the teaching wigwam. Their appeals to government and church (at home and in England) were successful. In particular, the Bishop of Toronto, Alexander Neil Bethune, became a strong supporter of mission work at Garden City and intervened to have Rev. Wilson put in charge.
September 22nd, 1873 saw the formal opening of the Shingwauk Industrial Home, with an enrolment of sixteen boys. Disaster struck six days later when the building was destroyed by fire; all occupants escaped without injury. Not deterred, Rev. Wilson quickly appealed for funds a second time and received overwhelming contributions. The replacement residential school would be constructed within the Municipality of Sault Ste. Marie, which had promised a $500 grant for locating within its boundaries.
Rev. Wilson purchased a 90-acre site 4 km east of the town’s centre, on the shores of the St. Mary’s River which was the major waterway linking Lakes Huron and Superior. His Excellency the Earl of Dufferin, Governor General of Canada, was touring the Upper Great Lakes at the time and visited the school site on July 31st, 1874 to lay its corner stone. This was to be the permanent location for the Shingwauk Home (and successor buildings) for the next 100 years.
The new Shingwauk Home was formally opened August 2nd, 1875 by Bishops Hellmuth of Huron and Fauquier of Algoma. The latter diocese, newly formed in 1873, would have a close relationship with this Anglican school throughout its history. Rev. E.F. Wilson served as the school’s first principal, in charge of 50 boys mostly drawn from Ojibway settlements at nearby Garden River and distant Walpole Island, Sarnia and Muncey. While Rev. Wilson did accept girls at Shingwauk, only a few came that first year and none thereafter. In reality, there was little space for female students at this Boys’ Home.
To accommodate girls, a separate residential school building was established on a 15-acre site 5 km away, just north of the village centre. It was named the Wawanosh Home for Girls. Construction of this grand two-storey stone building commenced in spring 1877 and the first ten girls arrived that fall, before work was completed. The building fund was depleted in 1878, prompting new subscriptions for funding. As the federal Government was now more involved in native affairs (following passage of the recent Indian Act of 1876), it agreed to make an annual grant to the Wawanosh Home, provided enrolment was not less than fifteen. The Home was officially opened on August 19th, 1879 with 14 girls in residence.
In his quest to expand and streamline school facilities, Rev. Wilson soon realized that the isolated Wawanosh Home with its limited enrolment should be sold off. He formulated plans in the late 1880s to move the girls to larger facilities at the main Shingwauk site on the St. Mary’s River. There was little support for this school expansion program, probably due to the recession in the 1890s. Rev. Wilson resigned as Principal in March, 1893, owing to ill health and frustration over not being able to consolidate the Boys and Girls Homes. This task would be achieved by others, a few years later. On his departure, Rev. Edward Francis Wilson left behind an educational institution firmly established among aboriginal peoples. In later years Shingwauk would earn the reputation as the Anglican Church’s flagship residential school."
Source: "Shingwauk Indian Residential School — Sault Ste. Marie, ON" - Compiled by General Synod Archives, September 23, 2008.
Width: 5.8 cm
Height: 8.4 cm
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Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0
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