Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Oblate Assault on Canada's Northwest

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Oblate Assault on Canada's Northwest

Article excerpt

The Oblate Assault on Canada's Northwest. By Robert Choquette. [Religions and Beliefs series, No. 3]. (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press. 1995. Pp. xii, 258. Paperback.)

Some readers will find Robert Choquette's history of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in the Canadian Northwest to be irritating, as well as interesting. The military analogy he uses does not indicate the gentler side of many Oblates. Instead he discusses their mission in terms of "conquerors," "white juggernaut," "strategic position:" Choquette equates the bringing of the Gospel message to various military coups. However, as the author writes concerning the efforts of the Oblates:

Their apostolic methods were fundamentally determined by their Catholic doctrine and theology, which in turn determined specific policies, methods, and tactics in relation to Indians, their evangelization, and their conversion to Christianity. (p.200)

Choquette explores the Catholic/Protestant missionary relationship, as both sides struggle to convert aboriginal peoples to the true religion of Jesus Christ in its nineteenth-century incarnation. His book also surveys the clash of Frenchspeaking and English-speaking missionaries.As an author, Choquette seems like a juggler, trying to keep Catholics,Anglicans, Methodists, French Canadians, and English Canadian settlers balanced while in constant movement. The juggling author puts the balls in motion by relying on the strength of two "foreign arms: the ultramontane Catholic energizer (centered in Rome) and the evangelical Protestant thrust from societies in England. Amid this divergence is the somewhat neutral Hudson's Bay Company. …

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