Our Forest Children

Wilson, Edward Francis, Reverend (1844-1915), Editor
Media Type:
Our forest children. Vol. 1, No. 6 (Aug. 1887): Shingwauk Home, 4 pages.
It was published monthly between 1888-1890 by Shingwauk Home, Sault Ste Marie, Ont. and edited by the Rev. E. F. Wilson.
The Rev. Edward Francis Wilson was a missionary among the Indians (Shingwauk mission)and a principal of residential school at Garden River, near Sault Ste. Marie, between 1872 and 1893.

"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.
Sault Ste Marie, Ont. : Shingwauk Home
Date of Original:
August, 1887
Width: 17.3 cm
Height: 27.5 cm
Image Dimensions:
Image Width: 9.8cm
Image Height: 14cm
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Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
Location of Original:
St. Mark's Anglican Church
41 Byron St.
Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0
Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library
Agency street/mail address
10 Anderson Lane P.O. Box 430
Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0
Full Text


Copies Sent Gratis

to those who will interest themselves in the educating and christianizing of the 35,000 Indian Children of schoolable age scattered throughout our country.

At a Standstill.


I make no fresh appeal for funds, but 1 ask you kindly to spare a few moments to read through carefully, and I hope sympathetically, the following notes :

1.-In June 1884 we had 32 boys, 22 girls, total 54 :

In June 1885 we had 43 boys, 21 girls, total 64 : In June 1886 we had 47 boys, 23 girls, total 70 : In June 1887 we had 53 boys, 27 girls total 80. Our homes were never in a more hopeful and prosperous condition than in this summer of 1887.

2.-The location of branch or receiving homes is not yet definitely decided on, so many different contingencies having to be considered, out we hope, if the way opens, to have two or more of them. Towards the receiving home at Elkhorn Manitoba, we have $2,000 in hand, and the offer of a free grant of land. We want to build another at Banff, among the Rocky Mountains, and another in the neighborhood of Sarnia.

3.-We had very much hoped that ere this something would have been dona towards enlarging the Shingwauk Home.

Our increasing numbers require it and we desire to carry out our plan of making it large central Protestant institution for Indian children.

4.-Everything just now as regards our Homes is at a complete standstill.

5.-We have been overdrawing our resources, resting in the hope of a Government grant and liberal gifts from our friends to set all this new work on foot and these hopes having failed we are now obliged to retrench.

6.-I am obliged to part with my Assistant Superintendent, being unable to pay his salary, and must reduce the number of my pupils to about 40 boys and 20 girls. At the beginning of the year our Maintenance Fund was overdrawn $667, and now shows a deficit of $1,400;

7.-We therefore sink back into the position we were in about 5 years ago; and all our prospects of enlargement and extension seem to be for the present blighted.

8.-A question forces itself to my mind. How is it that in the United States, notwithstanding all that has been said of their cruel and unjust treatment of the Indians, they have some 32 large Institutions for Indian children, notably the Carlisle Institution in Pennsylvania for 600 pupils, which receives $80,000 a year from the United States Government, and $10,000 a year from the United States public ?

9.-And another question forces itself upon me. How is it that our Canadian government has within the last few year erected an Indian Institution, at a cost of $25,000, near Calgary in the NW for the Roman Catholics, and another Indian Institution, at a cost of $25,000, at Fort Qu'Appelle for the Roman Catholics, and is about to build another Institution for Indian girls at the same place for the Roman Catholics, and last year gave $4000 towards re-building the Roman Catholic InstitutionA on Manitoulin Island, and yet has nc money to spare for the Shingwauk Home, which has been struggling upward through many difficulties, during the past 14 years?

10.--Is it the will of this country that the Indians whose land we are now occupying should be given over into the hands of the Roman Catholic priests? Is it a matter of indifference to Protestants in Canada and in England, whether the Indians are brought up to the Romish faith, under Roman and French influence or whether they be taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

11--I have my own views-and strong views--on the subject, but, with the government refusing help, English contributions diminishing, the Canadian Church so indifferent, apparently about the whole question. What am I to do?

1 commit my cause into God's hands, and pray for patience. to await His time.

E. F. WILSON. Sault Ste-Marie, July 27th, 1887.

Letter to the Queen.

Our Indian pupils sent the following letter to her Majesty to congratulate her on her Jubilee ; it was written on two sheets of gilt edged cardboard by one of the boys and headed with a water-color sketch, by Mr. Wilson, shew ing the two Institutions, the hospital, chapel, and some Indian wigwams in the back ground.

Sault Ste. Marie, Ont, June 21st, 1887.

May it please your Majesty:

We the pupils of the Shingwauk and Wawanosh Homes desire to congratulate our Queen on her Jubilee. We wish to relate your Majesty about our procession this morning ; we took picture, and above it the bible to indicate that always to put first God atever we do in this world ; our teacher had told us before you gave a present to a prince from Africa, and you said "This the secret of England's greatness." You so love the bible and we love you. When we got the town we all turned to the people and singing the Jubilee hymn. In 1874, Lord Dufferin laid the foundation stone of our Institution. The Marquis of Lorne and suite visited us on their way to the North West.

We are your humble Indian subjects

D. Minominee for the Ojibway pupils.

J. A. Maggrah for the Ottawa pupils.

J. Thunder for the Sioux pupils.

Joseph Soney for the Pottowatamie pupils.

Appikokia for the Blackfeet pupils.

Dora Jacobs for the Delaware pupils.

The following reply has been received from the Queen's private secretary--

" The Private Secretary has received the Queen's commands to thank the pupils of Shingwauk for the kind and loyal expressions conveyed in their communication of the 21st June."

15th July, 1887,

Privy Purse Office,

Buckingham Palace, S.W.

The Branch Home at Elkhorn.

Just before going to press we have received a letter from our friend Mr. Rowswell at Elkhorn saying that building operations are now actually commenced. For some time past we have had $2000 in hand towards the erection of this Branch Home at Elkhorn in Manitoba, but a letter from the Indian Department saying that no aid could be given from Indian Funds placed us for the time somewhat in a dilemma. We have decided however now to go on and build. We have a man on the spot, in the person of Mr. Rowswell, who we feel sure will do everything in his power to make the Institution a success, is with his advice and promise of cooperation that we have commenced the work. He feels with us how able it is that this nominally protestant country should be swayed so much by Roman Catholic influence. We wrote to him "If you will go ahead we will," and he wrote back "It wont do to stop!" and so, with barely enough money to put up the building, and without a cent promised towards its future maintenance, resting on God, and believing that He in hip own good time will find us the means we have commenced the work. The site is right in the village of Elkhorn close to the Railway track and has been donated to us by the C. P. R. The land will be deeded to the church, provision being made that no part of it can be sold leased mortgaged except with the consent and approval of the Rev. E. F. Wilson or his successor. The building it is expected will be completed before winter sets in, but it must remain closed until funds are forthcoming for the annual maintenance.

Our New Magazine.

In our last issue of OUR FOREST CHILDREN we spoke of setting on foot a new monthly illustrated Magazine, to be called the " Indian Canadian." We have received many warm and encouraging letters from friends and persons hold high official position to whom we wrote on the subject, among them the Lieut. Governor Dewdney, Dr. Wilson, of University College, Toronto, Horatio Hale, Dr. Rand of Halifax, and others. We thank these friends for their kind words and promises of assistance, and are now waiting to hear from others to whom we wrote before taking any further steps.

The Blackfeet Boys

The two Blackfeet boys from Alberta are doing splendidly, one is learning carpentering, the other bootmaking. They still have their hair in long plaits, but are becoming gradually civilized in their habits. Neither of them can as yet read or write intelligibly. When they want to send a letter home; they dictate to Mr. Wilson what they have to say in the Blackfeet language, and he takes it down as nearly as possible according to the sound, without understanding beyond an occasional word or two what it is they are saying. The letter is sent to Mr. Tims, the Missionary, and he has to decipher it and read it to the parents. We are glad to hear that the Blackfeet people are not angry at these two boys being taken away from their Reserve, and if God spare them to return strong and well to their people next summer, we trust that the year they have spent at our Institution may be the beginning of a new and important work among those interesting people.

Clothing for the Indian Homes

JUNE 1886.

The following gifts are very gratefully acknowledged:

Two boxes from England per Mrs. Marten containing a large and useful supply of clothing for the boys and girls of the Shingwauk and Wawanosh Homes, a parcel for Mrs. Renison from Miss Peache, Christmas tree gifts from the children of the late Rev'd Basil Woodd, and Mrs. Halson, Clothing from Miss Wells, Miss Pender the Missionary working party and Girls National School Bath, Texts in Cree from Miss Hadden, besides many presents from kind friends to the Missionary and his family. For Nancy Warner a new and complete outfit, from the Ladies of Kingston per [...] Buxton Smith. For Bella Na[...] a large supply of new clothing, prayer book and Testament etc. from Liverpool, P. 2. per Mrs. Davenport Two boxes from Picton from the Guild of St, M. M. containing quilts, clothing for the Homes, dolls, books, papers and toys. From the Boy's branch of the W. A. Montreal per Mrs. Nivia a box of nice clothing for both Homes, Christmas gifts, and a present for their boy Peter of a pair of skates. Per Miss Baird a box containing parcels of clothing from the scholars of the church of the Ascension S. S. Paisley, also Miss Duncan, Mrs. Daniels, Mrs. Sadler, Mrs. Baird, Miss Arnold. A quilt, toys, 75 cents from the boys of Miss. Arnold's class for the boys of the Home and clothing from Mary and Nellie Fisher to the girls of the Wawanosh. For Philomine Sampson a beautiful new outfit and several nice pieces of cotton and cloth material from the G. F. Society Cornwall, per Mrs. Gault.

JULY--A box of clothing from Mr. Morgan per Rev. M. Fothergill, Quebec. A box sent last year from St. Georges A. S. Kingston has at last arrived containing clothing, books and many pretty presents for Christmas. A box from St. Georges S. S. Montreal containing, Testaments, slates pencils, papers, dolls, tops, and other toys.

Receipts, Indian Homes.

JUNE--JULY, 1887.

Geo. H. Rowswell, for Elijah *75,00

Per Mrs. Nivin, Montreal 28,50

Y.M.C.A. Montreal, boys' meet'g 5,00

St. Lukes' S. Scnool, Halifax, for girl 17,50

Mrs. McWilliams, for boy 25,00

[...] School, Aylmer, for girl 6,25

[...] Roper 1,00

[...] School, Ancaster 6,50

[...] School, St. John, N.B. for boy and girl 37,50

George's S. School, Goderich, for boy 6,25

Sunday School, St. John's Township, London, Ont. 6,00

W.F.D.M.S., St. John's, Peterborough 12,70

Mr. Holmstead 5,00

Dr. Read, Grimsby 5,00

St John's S. School York Mills 3,50

Niagara Ladies, for freight 5,00

Dr. Ridley 10,00

Miss Baring, for Pete 58,08

Per Rev. G. Burson, coll. S. S. " Alberta" 6,50

G. P. G. Hill, for Pascoe 72,50

St. Paul's S. School, Uxbridge, for boy 13,75

St. Paul's S. School, Port Denver for boy 4,00

Miss Bacon 4,20

St. Peter's Guild, Sherbrooke, for girl 18,75

Sunday School, Mount Forest, for boy 6,25

Miss F. Twohy 5,00

Two S. School children, Port Colborne 2,10

Our Forest Children.

Miss Youmans 0,50

Mis. Gibb 0,30

Branch Homes.

" Lend a handclub," Hampton, Ya, 5,00

Christ Church S. School. Gananoque 6,20

Miss Baird , 2,00

Our Forest Children



10 Cents per Annum or 12 of each Issue For $1,00 per Annum. ,

It if intended to issue 15 or 20 numbers in the course of the year, and friends of the cause are asked to keep them on tile, they will thus have a history of this movement from the

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Our Forest Children

Our forest children. Vol. 1, No. 6 (Aug. 1887): Shingwauk Home, 4 pages.
It was published monthly between 1888-1890 by Shingwauk Home, Sault Ste Marie, Ont. and edited by the Rev. E. F. Wilson.
The Rev. Edward Francis Wilson was a missionary among the Indians (Shingwauk mission)and a principal of residential school at Garden River, near Sault Ste. Marie, between 1872 and 1893.