EXTRACT FROM “ EXPLORATIONS IN THE INTERIOR OF THE LABRADOR PENINSULA.”
BY HENRY YULE HIND, M.A., F.R.G.S.
CHURCH OF ENDLAND MISSIONS ON THE GULF AND LABRADOR COASTS.
In his journal of the voyage of visitation, on the coast of Labrador, in the Church Ship “ Hawk,” during the summer of 1853, the Bishop of Newfoundland says : “ I am looking forward to a third visit to the Labrador coast, and to all the settlements on the north and eastern side of Newfoundland. In this visit I expect to celebrate the first consecration of a church, and the first confirmations on the Labrador, and I trust to mark many other signs and proofs of the Church's progress on that wild and desolate shore.”
Before the year 1818, no bishop of the Church of England had ever visited the Labrador coast proper, and no clergyman had ever gone beyond Forteau Bay, in the Straits of Belle Isle, ten miles east of Blanc Sablon. In 1848 the present Bishop of Newfoundland landed at Forteau and touched at different parts of the coast as far as Sandwich Bay. In 1849 the first clergyman (the Rev. Algernon Gifford) was placed in residence at Forteau. In 1850 a second clergyman, the Rev. H. Disney, M.A., went to reside at Battle Harbour. In 1851 the first church was commenced, and in 1853 consecrated in St. Francis Harbour. Since 1851 two clergymen have been almost constantly in residence, both winter and summer, at the places before named. In 1857, the first Esquimaux were confirmed and admitted to the holy communion at Battle Harbour. There are now three churches finished and consecrated, and two others nearly completed between Seal Island and Blanc Sablon. There is no resident minister of any other denomination between Blanc Sablon and Sandwich Bay, on the Atlantic coast about fifty miles east of Hamilton Inlet ; and only one Roman Catholic chapel, visited annually by a priest from Quebec. At Forteau Bay and Battle Harbour parsonages have been erected, and are now occupied by the resident ministers—a blessing not easily to be appreciated by those who have never felt the loneliness and apprehension which sometimes comes over the solitary families crouching under the bark roofs of their “ tilts ” on the Labrador.
In 1861 the Bishop of Newfoundland started on his annual visitation from St. John's, on June 27, in the Church Ship. The Bishop visited in succession Battle Harbour, St. Francis Harbour, Square Islands, Dead Islands, Venison Tickle, Seal Island, Ship Harbour, Fox Harbour and Cape Charles. There is a consecrated church at Battle Harbour and St. Francis Harbour, and at Seal Island a store is used as a church, but at all places service was performed on board the well-named Church Ship.