Positioning the Missionary: John Booth Good and the Confluence of Cultures in Nineteenth-Century British Columbia

By Brett Christophers | Go to book overview

7 Dissolution

At some time during 1878, St. Paul's Mission was disturbed by the arrival in the Fraser Canyon of a bizarre prophet. This man, a Flathead Indian referred to by the Anglicans as Qualis, had turned to Protestantism after recanting his Roman Catholic belief, but now found Anglicanism an impure faith. He announced himself to the Nlha7kápmx as the herald of 'a more advanced religious life.' 1 He claimed to possess supernatural power and, if this was the same troublesome prophet James Teit described two decades later, performed 'sleight-of-hand tricks.' 2 He urged the Nlha7kápmx to leave the Anglican Church and follow him instead. By year-end Qualis had disappeared (killed by shamans, according to Teit's informants), and Good looked back on the prophet's intervention as an 'evanescent movement.' But this dismissal belied the extent of Qualis's impact--the Reverend George Ditcham said that the man achieved a 'vast influence.' 3

It is unlikely that Qualis would have swayed the Nlha7kápmx during the heyday of St. Paul's in the early 1870s, but by 1878 the mission was in decline and Good was vulnerable. Numerous factors conspired to weaken a mission that, as Bishop Hills noted when he visited Lytton in 1873 and 1874, had recently seemed in fine health. The bishop's own directives were partly to blame, for while Good was willing to relax church ethics to admit more converts, Hills was not, and his severity alienated many Natives. The great chief Spintlum, to whom Good initially devolved considerable power, would not change his habits and lost much of his authority as he drifted away from the church towards the end of the decade. 4 If Spintlum resented Anglican moral strictures, he was not alone. When Teit questioned the Nlha7kápmx on their view of the Anglicans, he found that despite a great variety of opinion, all were bitter about the church's marriage laws. 5 This anger undoubtedly contributed to the demise of St. Paul's.

By the late 1870s Good was also struggling against the pace of change in the canyon. As construction of the Canadian Pacific Railroad began in

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Positioning the Missionary: John Booth Good and the Confluence of Cultures in Nineteenth-Century British Columbia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures viii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Abbreviations xxiii
  • 1 - Beginnings 3
  • 2 - Redemption 19
  • 3 - Reproduction 41
  • 4 - Space 67
  • 5 - Conversion 92
  • 6 - Morals 119
  • 7 - Dissolution 137
  • Notes 153
  • Bibliography 182
  • Index 193
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