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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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The Remarkable Legacy of Chief Dan George

By The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Like Chief Joseph Brant, Chief Dan George has left a remarkable legacy across Canada. In the 1990 North Vancouver Centennial book, Chuck Davis describes Chief Dan George as one of North Vancouver’s most famous citizens.  Born on July 24th 1899, Chief Dan George died at age 82 on September 12th 1981.  His birth name was Gwesanouth/Teswahno Slahoot, meaning ‘thunder coming up over the land from the water.’  He memorably said that “A man who cannot be moved by a child’s sorrow will only be remembered with scorn.”  In getting to know and pray with his son Robert/Bob George, I gained a glimpse of the deep spirituality and humanity of his father.

I recently had the privilege of attending the fifth Annual Tsleil-Watuth Nation Cultural Arts Festival held at Cates Park/Whey-ah-Wichen. This year the festival celebrated the 30-year legacy of Chief Dan George.  While there, I attended the Legacy tent where I was videoed sharing my understanding of Chief Dan George’s legacy.  Afterwards, the Legacy Tent leader Cheyenne Hood agreed to be interviewed for this Deep Cove Crier article: “…My mother is Deborah George, who is the daughter of Robert George, who is the son of Chief Dan George. He is my Great-Grandfather.  A lot of people while I was growing up used to ask me what it was like to have Chief Dan George as your Great-Grandfather. To be honest, I never really knew of his fame, the things that he had done, because I was a fairly young child. To me, he was always just Grandpa Dan, or Papa Dan. I didn’t know that he was a movie star.  I didn’t know that he went to Hollywood. I didn’t know that he was a writer or a poet.  He was just a grandfather.”

“‘My best memory of him’, said Cheyenne, “is after his wife died.  He used to take turns with different children and spending time in their homes.  His daughter Rosemary used to have an old house that had a steep set of stairs. It faced the Burrard inlet. They had a swing in the backyard.  We were over visiting my grandparents and we went trucking over there to see who was at the swing, to see who I could play with for the day.  I saw Grandpa Dan sitting on the porch, facing the water. He had his face up to the sun, and he kind of reminded me of a turtle on the rock.”

“My curiosity got the better of me, so I walked up the stairs and said: “Grandpa, what are you doing?’ He took a few minutes to answer me and said: ‘I am sitting’. He said: ‘Do you want to come sit with me?’ So I climbed to the top of the stairs, and sat down there beside his feet. He was sitting there with his face to the sun. I said: “Grandpa, what are you doing?” He said: ‘Do you feel that?’  And he leaned his head back and he had his eyes closed.  I kept looking at him: ‘What is he doing?’ So I mimicked him, copied him and closed my eyes with my face to the sun.  He said: ‘Do you feel that?’ After a few minutes, I said: ‘Yes, I do.” He said: “What is that?”  I said: ‘That is the sun on my face.’  Then he started to talk about the importance of the sun and what it does for mother earth, and what it does for nature, and nature’s cycles. I sat there feeling the warmth of the sun spread across my face.”

“Grandpa Dan said: ‘Do you hear that?’ So I listened quietly.  I said: ‘Yes, I do.’  I said: ‘What is that?’ He said: ‘That is the wind blowing through the trees.’  Grandpa smiled, a really faint kind of smile.  Then he started talking about the importance of the wind and the role that it plays with the trees and the music that it makes.”

“Then he said: ‘Do you smell that?’ I am still sitting there with my eyes closed. I said: ‘Yes, I do.’ He said: ‘What do you smell?’ I said: ‘I smell the salt from the inlet.’ Then he started talking about the role that the water and the inlet played for our people and our nation, and how when the tide went out, we were able to go out and feast and eat. We had clams and mussels and crabs and we could fish, and we could harvest sea food.  He said: ‘Do you hear that?’ I sat for another few minutes listening, and then I said: ‘Yes, I can hear that.’ He said: ‘What do you hear?’ I said: ‘I hear the waves crashing against the rocks.’  Then he started talking about the history of the Tsleil-Watuth Nation people, and how we came to be, and how we moved through this life and this world.  I sat and I listened and we were quiet for a few minutes, and then I opened up my eyes.  He was looking down at me and he was smiling. I said: ‘What are we listening for now, Grandpa?’ He said: ‘Nothing’. I said: ‘What are you going to do now, Grandpa?’ I just wanted to be near him, I just wanted to be with him.  He said: ‘Now we are going to go inside and have tea and bannocks’. And we did.”

Chief Dan George once said: “I would be a sad man if it were not for the hope I see in my grandchild’s eyes.” Chuck Davis of the Greater Vancouver book commented that Chief Dan George “embodied the dignified elder.”  As one of eleven children, he became a longshoreman, working on the waterfront for twenty-seven years until he smashed his leg in a car accident aboard a lumber scow.  Chief Dan George also worked as a logger, construction worker, and school bus driver. He formed a small dance band, playing in rodeos and legion halls. His instrument was the double-bass.

In the original Deep Cove Heritage book ‘Echoes Across the Inlet”, it speaks about how Chief Dan George gave his historic Centennial ‘Lament for Confederation’ address in 1967 to 30,000 people at the Empire Stadium in Vancouver.  Memorably he commented: “I shall see our young braves and our chiefs sitting in the houses of law and government, ruling and being ruled by the knowledge and freedoms of our great land.  So shall we shatter the barriers of our isolation.  So shall the next hundred years be the greatest in the proud history of our tribes and nations.”  Sent to residential school at age 5, Chief Dan George never lived to see the day when Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Government of Canada apologized to the First Nations people for the trauma many experienced in the Residential Schools.

He first acted in the 1968 TV Series ‘Cariboo Road’ which became the movie “Smith”.  He went on to win the 1970 Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in the hit movie Little Big Man.  Chief Dan George made famous the phrase: “It is a good day to die”.  Dustin Hoffman commented “I was amazed at his energy (he was in his seventies); he was always prepared with his lines; it was a six-day week; we were shooting thirteen hours a days.” Helmut Hirnschall noted that “His quiet assertion, his whispered voice, his cascading white hair, his furrowed face with the gentle smile became a trademark for celluloid success.”

From there, he went on to act in many films and TV shows, including The Outlaw Josey Wales, Harry and Tonto, and the TV series Centennial.

Many honours have been given to Chief Dan George including being made an Officer of the Order on Canada in 1971.  In 2008 Canada Post issued a postage stamp in its “Canadians in Hollywood” series featuring Dan George. Schools and theatres have been named after him.  In the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympic Games, his poem “My Heart Soars” was quoted by Actor Donald Sutherland. To me, Chief Dan George was a Benjamin Franklin of the indigenous world.

His poetry and prayers are gripping and unforgettable.  As Chief Dan George said; “…I am small and weak. I need your wisdom.  May I walk in beauty. Make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset. Make my hands respect the things that you have made, and my ears sharp to hear your voice.  Make me wise so that I may know the things that you have taught your children, the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.  Make me strong not to be superior to my brothers but to fight my greatest enemy –myself.  Make me ever ready to come with you with straight eyes so that when life fades as with the fading sunset, my spirit will come to you without shame.”

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-an article previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author  of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Marie-Anne Lagimodiere, Louis Riel’s Grandmother

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Mother’s Day always bring to mind exceptional mothers who have made a difference.  Well-known author Maggie Siggins holds that the most exceptional Canadian mother of the 19th Century was Marie-Anne Lagimodière (née Gaboury). Her home town was Maskinongé, a small village near modern-day Trois-Rivières in Quebec. In 1807, Marie-Anne became the first women of European background to permanently settle in Canada’s far west.  It would take another forty years before another European woman joined her.

With the death of her father when she was 12, Marie-Anne spent the next fifteen years as a housekeeper to a priest who taught her to read and write French, Latin, and do basic math.  Such education was rare for women in those days.  Marie-Anne did not marry until late in life, from a 19th Century Quebecois perspective. She rejected suitor after suitor until the grand old age of 26. Doing the unthinkable, she married a voyageur Jean Baptiste, and then accompanied him back into the hinterlands of western Canada.  They broke the cardinal rule that under no circumstances were Eastern Canadian wives to be involved in the fur trade.  Wives in the fur trade were known as ‘fur widows’, only seeing their husbands every four or five years.

Travelling almost 3,000 kilometres by canoe, Marie-Anne faced violent rapids, portages, and deadly storm on her way west. Upon arriving at Pemina, her husband’s ‘country wife’ tried to poison Marie-Anne with a plum pudding. Her hungry dogs ate the pudding instead of Marie-Anne, and all the dogs died!

Living until age 96, Marie-Anne never returned to see her family in Eastern Canada.  It is said that she was healthy and wise up till the end.  Instead of her dainty dresses, she adopted caribou-skin leggings and embroidered moccasins. Along with learning to make pemmican, Marie-Anne became fluent in Ojibwe and Cree, and helped establish the city of Winnipeg.

She was described in Maggie Siggins’ book Marie-Anne as being ‘one tough cookie’ in order to survive her Western adventures. Shortly after her horse rushed towards a herd of buffalo, Marie-Anne gave birth to her second child in the middle of a prairie field.  Another time when a large bear attacked her companion, Marie-Anne fought back and shot the bear dead.  Once she and her husband were captured by the Tsu Tinna. Upon escaping, they were chased for five days until reaching the safety of Edmonton.  Marie-Anne lived through terrifying conflict between the Hudson Bay Company and the North West Company, in which many forts were burned to the ground.  For four summers in a row, swarms of grasshoppers were so thick that the sky was pitch black.  All crops, gardens, and greenery were ravaged within a few short hours.  During the Great Flood of 1825, Marie-Anne’s house was swept away by the river surge. Trees and cattle were swallowed up.  Marie-Anne begged her husband to leave this ‘God-forsaken’ land, but Jean Baptiste replied that if the local clergy refused to leave, they too would hang in there.  Remarkably all of her seven children lived to adulthood, with her four sons becoming involved in the thriving family businesses.

Her favorite grandchild was one of Canada’s most famous leaders Louis Riel.  He was deeply influenced by the passion and courage of his dear grandmother.  She taught him to speak the various first nations languages. She taught him to be willing to risk.  As Marie-Anne was grieved by the alcoholic debauchery that she saw at Fort Williams, Louis Riel likewise rejected alcohol abuse.  Dying in 1875, Marie-Anne lived long enough to see her grandson Louis’ dream come true: that Manitoba become a province, not just a territory in the Canadian Confederation.  This Mother’s Day I pray that like Louis Riel, we may be inspired by our mothers and grandmothers to be pioneers and explorers of Canada’s future.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Laura Secord: more than just chocolates

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Many Canadians associate Laura Secord with delicious chocolates. Few realize how strategic her life really was.  So often Canada ignores its heroes and heroines.  The concept of a hero comes from our Greek heritage, a key foundation of western and Canadian civilization. The Greek hero, according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, is a person of superhuman qualities favoured by the gods; an illustrious warrior; one who has fought for his/her country. By those standards, Laura Secord was an unlikely hero.  She was gentle, a little shy, and soft-spoken.  Yet without her courage, Canada would likely not exist today.

During the War of 1812, the beloved General Isaac Brock lost his life and Toronto (York) was burnt to the ground.  Most of the strategic Niagara Peninsula had been captured and was in enemy hands. Only one small section remained under Canadian control: Beaver Dam where Lieutenant James FitzGibbons was bravely hanging on.

Laura Secord overheard Cyrenius Chapin describe plans to have a surprise attack upon Beaver Harbour. Laura’s husband James was badly injured and unable to pass on the vital message. So Laura decided to go herself.  James tried to stop her, but Laura confidentially said: ““You forget, James, that God will take care of me.”

Laura’s only chance of avoiding the military patrols was to go through the Great Black Swamp where she faced the three-fold dangers of rattlesnakes, wild cats, and quicksand. For nearly twenty miles, she fought her way through overwhelming obstacles.  When she finally reached Beaver Dam, Lieutenant FitzGibbons listened carefully to her warning.

With only fifty soldiers and two hundred First Nation warriors, FitzGibbons was able to convince five hundred enemy soldiers to surrender.  Laura Secord’s bravery gave Canada time to rearm, and defend its borders.

Most books about Laura Secord only talk about how brave she was. Few, if any, talk about the source of her courage.  Laura attributed her unusual courage to her deep faith in God.  Connie Brummel Crook, whom I met at the Write! Canada Conference, is one of the few authors who shows how faith made a big difference in Laura’s life.  Again and again in Laura’s letters, she used the expression ‘If God so decrees’.  Courage for Laura came from a deep surrender

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

– previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Chief Joseph Brant: Canadian Hero

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

My wife and I had the privilege of attending the First Peoples Forgiven Summit in Ottawa.  During that time we were able to meet a number of Mohawk believers, including Jonathan Maracle of Broken Walls who led us in remarkable worship music.  Canada’s most famous Mohawk was Chief Joseph Brant.  Recently the Canadian Royal Mint produced a Canadian Loonie with the imprint of Chief Joseph Brant  (1742-1807).  More Canadians need to hear this story of this Canadian hero.  He was described by Mark Jodoin as having the mind of a statesman, the heart of a leader, and the soul of a warrior. Without the military and spiritual support of Chief Brant, Canada would have likely never survived.

Chief Joseph Brant’s Mohawk name was Thayendanegea which means “two sticks bound together for strength”.  Isabel Thompson Kelsay notes that “the most famous (aboriginal) who ever lived, has been for two centuries a virtual unknown.”   I suspect that he is unknown to most North Americans because he chose the side of Canada in the American revolutionary war.  As Canada’s premier First Nations leader, Brant had the privilege of meeting both Georges in person: King George III and President George Washington.

Brant learned to speak, read and write English at a New Hampshire school led by Rev Wheelock. Wheelock described Brant as being “of a sprightly genius, a manly and gentle deportment, and of a modest, courteous and benevolent temper.”  In 1772, Brant was then mentored by Rev John Stuart, being trained in the art of Bible and Prayer Book translation.  During that time, Brant developed a deep prayer life, becoming a committed Anglican Christian.

During the American Revolutionary war, Brant was falsely accused of committing atrocities in locations which he was not present, including the tragic Wyoming and Cherry Valley Massacres.  Those who knew Brant well testified that he often prevented atrocities through the use of his persuasive leadership. As a devout Anglican Christian, he exhibited compassion and humanity, especially towards women, children, and non-combatants. American Colonel Ichabod Alden commented that he “should much rather fall into the hands of Brant than either of them [Loyalists and Tories].”  It was frequently said of Joseph Brant that during the American revolution, he fought with a tomahawk in one hand, a copy of the New Testament in the other.

Joseph Brant’s father was one of the sachem/chiefs, known as the Four Indian Kings, who visited Queen Anne in 1710.  These chiefs asked ‘for missionaries to be sent to the People of the Longhouse to teach them more about Christianity.”  Queen Anne sent this request to the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, promising to build them a chapel. In 1711, Queen Anne’s Royal Chapel was built in the Mohawk Valley in New York State.  When the Mohawks relocated to Southern Ontario, the Mohawk Royal Chapel was rebuilt there in 1785.  Joseph Brant’s grave is located right next to the historic Mohawk Chapel, the oldest protestant church in Ontario. Just this past July, Queen Elizabeth, while visiting Ontario, presented the Mohawk Chapel with a set of eight silver hand bells engraved ‘The Silver Chain of Friendship 1710-2010’.

On each side of the Mohawk Chapel pulpit are two tablets in the Mohawk language of the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments.  Joseph Brant was a brilliant linguist translating the Bible and Anglican Prayer Book into Mohawk (of which there are microfiche copies at Simon Fraser University).  He also wrote a concise history of the Bible and a Mohawk language catechism. Brant spoke at least three and possibly all of the Six Nations’ languages.  When the Chapel was dedicated in 1788, each person was given a Mohawk book containing the Gospel of Mark and the Anglican Prayer Book.  At that celebration, sixty five Mohawks were baptized and three couples were married.

When Joseph Brant first visited England in 1775, he was described by a British commander as ‘His Majesty’s greatest North American subject.’, and painted in full aboriginal regalia by George Romney.  Receiving a captain’s commission, Brant met with the King on two occasions, with a dinner being held in his honour. Brant was honoured by the English leaders in the arts, letters and government, including James Boswell, the famed biographer of Samuel Johnson.

In 1779 Brant was commissioned by the King as ‘captain of the Northern Confederate Indians’ in recognition of his “astonishing activity and success’. Brant was described as “the perfect soldier, possessed of remarkable stamina, courage under fire, and dedicated to the cause, an able and inspiring leader and a complete gentleman.”

Joseph Brant’s Six Nations were tragically driven out of their homeland in Central New York.  Brant was hurt that in granting their Mohawk homeland in Central New York State to the Americans, England had ‘sold the Indians to the US Congress’.  Writing to King George III, he reminded the British that “we, the Mohawks, were the first Indian Nation that took you by hand and invited you to live among us, treating you with kindness…”  The Six Nations were eventually resettled by Governor Frederick Haldimand in the Grand River area around modern-day Brantford.  The British realized that locating the Six Nations in the Grand River area would be a natural protection against any future American invasion.  Initially the Mississauga First Nation resisted the concept of having their former foes on their land.  One Mississauga Chief Pokquan however persuaded his other chiefs by arguing that other aboriginals would be better neighbours than European settlers, and that Brant’s knowledge of the British could prove useful.

The term Brantford comes from Brant’s Ford, the shallow part of the Grand River that could be forded.  The first years at Brantford were difficult as there was a drought with game being hard to find.  Throughout all the challenges, Chief Brant’s deep faith sustained him.  Chief Brant’s sacrificial love for God and nation should inspire all of us.  He memorably said: “No person among us desires any other reward for performing a brave and worthwhile action but the consciousness of having served one’s nation.”

May all of us be willing to learn from the bravery and loyalty of Chief Joseph Brant.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Louis Riel: Canadian Patriot?

By the Rev. Dr. Ed and Mark Hird

Who was Louis Riel?  Was he a patriot or a dissident or both?

Louis Riel was born at St. Boniface (Winnipeg, Manitoba) on October 22nd 1844, inheriting from his father a mixture of French, Irish and Aboriginal blood, with French predominating.

Louis’ mother Julie sent her son Louis to become Canada’s first Metis priest.  The 1864 death of his father however weighed heavily on Louis, bringing about an abrupt end to his seminary training.  Four months from becoming a priest, Louis met a young Montreal girl, fell in love, and decided to marry.  He rashly left the College of Montreal without obtaining his degree, and then his marriage plans collapsed when his fiancée’s parents forbade this proposed union with a Metis.  Embittered by this racist-rejection, Riel left Montreal in 1866 – without a wife, without a career, without money.

Returning home to the Red River settlement, Riel found that locusts had devastated the land. With the demise of the Hudson Bay Company’s influence, both Eastern Canada and the United States seemed poised to swallow up the Red River settlement.  The Metis felt forgotten, ignored and politically abandoned.

Without adequately consulting the local 12,000 Red River people, the Hudson Bay Company sold the Red River settlement to Eastern Canada.  Louis Riel rallied the Metis people in 1869 to take over the local Fort Garry, the Western nerve centre of the HBC.  Riel’s goal was to force the Federal Government to negotiate Manitoba’s admission into Confederation as a full province, not just a territory. The provincial name Manitoba, rather than the expected territorial name Assiniboia, came from Louis Riel himself.

Louis Riel proclaimed that the Metis were ‘loyal subjects of Her Majesty the Queen of England’. “If we are rebels, said Riel, “we are rebels against the Company that sold us, and is ready to hand us over, and against Canada that wants to buy us.  We are not in rebellion against the British supremacy which has still not given its approval for the final transfer of the country…We want the people of Red River to be a free people…”

The Americans watched the Red River Rebellion with keen interest.  Ignatius Donnelly, a former Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota, said: ‘If the revolutionists of Red River are encouraged and sustained…, we may within a few years, perhaps months, see the Stars and Stripes wave from Fort Garry, from the waters of Puget Sound, and along the shore of Vancouver.’  In the summer of 1870, Nathanial F. Langford and ex-governor Marshall of Minnesota visited Riel at Fort Garry.  They promised Riel $4 million cash, guns, ammunition, mercenaries and supplies to maintain himself until his government was recognized by the United States.  Riel declined.

After William O’Donohogue ripped down the Union Jack, Riel immediately reposted the Union Jack with orders to shoot any man who dared touch it.  Despite his rebellious reputation, Louis Riel showed himself to be a Canadian patriot who single-handedly kept Western Canada from being absorbed by the USA.  Riel prayed in his diary: “O my God!  Save me from the misfortune of getting involved with the United States.  Let the United States protect us indirectly, spontaneously, through an act of Providence, but not through any commitment or agreement on our part.”  Riel also prophetically noted in his diary: “God revealed to me that the government of the United States is going to become extraordinarily powerful.”

“The Metis are a pack of cowards”, boasted Thomas Scott, “They will not dare to shoot me.” If it was not for Riel’s sanctioning of the tragic shooting of the Orangeman Thomas Scott, he might have ended up in John A Macdonald’s federal Cabinet.  Thomas Scott’s death made Riel ‘Canada’s most hated man’.

After fleeing to the United States, Riel was then elected in his absence as a Manitoba MP. The Quebec legislature in 1874 passed a unanimous resolution asking the Governor-General to grant amnesty to Riel.  That same year, after Louis Riel’s re-election as MP, he entered the parliament building, signed the register, and swore an oath of allegiance to Queen Victoria before slipping out to avoid arrest.  The outraged House of Commons expelled him by a 56-vote majority.

Exiled to Montana, Riel married and became a law-abiding American citizen. In 1884, with the slaughtering of the buffalo, many First Nations and Métis were dying of hunger.  The Metis in Saskatchewan convinced Riel to return to Canada.  Riel sent a petition to Ottawa demanding that the Metis be given title to the land they occupied and that the districts of Saskatchewan, Assiniboia and Alberta be granted provincial status.  The Federal Government instead set up a commission.  In the absence of concrete action, Louis Riel and his followers decided to press their claims by the attempted capture of Fort Carlton.

Due to the Canadian Pacific Railway, my great-grandfather Oliver Allen was shipped with the Toronto militia to quickly defeat Riel at Batoche.  Using an American Gatling gun with 1,200 rounds a minute, the battle did not last long.  While in the West, Oliver Allen met his future wife Mary Mclean a Regina Leader news-reporter sympathetic to Louis Riel.  Right before Riel’s hanging, Mary Mclean disguised herself as a Catholic priest in order to interview Riel.  Before Riel died, he prayed in his diary: “Lord Jesus, I love you.  I love everything associated with You…Lord Jesus, do the same favour for me that You did for the Good Thief; in Your infinite mercy, let me enter Paradise with You the very day of my death.”

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Samuel and Helene de Champlain: A Canadian Romance

by the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Before Samuel & Helene de Champlain came on the scene, the very word ‘Canada’ had become a joke in France, thanks to Jacques Cartier bringing back quartz and ‘fool’s gold’ from Canada.  The term ‘diamond of Canada’ became a symbol for deception and emptiness.  During Champlain’s lifetime, France largely ignored him.  To most French citizens, Canada seemed distant and unimportant.  Even well-educated Parisians denied the value of Canada, sometimes dismissing it as another Siberia.

In the 16th century, France’s population was six times that of England, it possessed as much coastline, it was more affluent, its sailors were more skilled and were the first to consistently visit the Canadian seaboard.  But in contrast to England, there was little vision in France for the priority of sending people to the New World.  To immigrate to Canada, there was even a financial disincentive of 36 livres charged to anyone leaving France.  As a result, Champlain and his Quebec people felt disregarded, deserted and discarded.  King Louis XIII even had the thoughtlessness to cancel Champlain’s modest pension of six hundred livres granted by Henry IV; forcing Champlain to successfully implore for its reinstatement.

Champlain was born in 1567 in the town of Brouage, then a bustling seaport on the southwestern coast of France, some 70 miles (112 km) north of Bordeaux. His father was a sea captain and as a boy he became skilled at seamanship and navigation.  Champlain later commented: “…(Navigation) is the art…which led me to explore the coast of America, especially New France, where I have always desired to see the fleur-de-lys flourish.”  Ironically Champlain never learned to swim, even after crossing the rugged Atlantic Ocean twenty-nine times, as he thought swimming was too risky.

For a while Champlain served in the army of King Henry IV, fighting alongside Martin Frobisher in a joint undertaking by the British and French against the Spanish.  In 1599 Champlain captained a ship which returned Spanish prisoners-of-war, allowing him to explore the Spanish-controlled West Indies and Mexico.  As a result of his travels, Champlain prophetically suggested the idea of making a canal across Central America to shorten the trip to the southern Pacific Ocean.  King Henry IV was so impressed by Champlain’s map-making work that he granted him a lifetime income.  Henri IV also gave Champlain the title ‘de’, which marked him as a man of noble rank.

Four hundred and seven years ago, in 1603, Samuel de Champlain traveled up the St. Lawrence River to the site of present day Montreal, the First Nations village of Hochelaga.  In Champlain’s 1604 Journal, he wrote: “So many voyages and discoveries without result, and attended with so much hardship and expense, have caused us French in late years to attempt a permanent settlement in those lands which we call New France.”  After two Acadian colonizing attempts at St. Croix and Port Annapolis in the Maritimes, Champlain turned his eyes to the future Quebec City, a name that he translated from an aboriginal word: ‘where the river narrows.’  Quebec City, the Iroquois village of Stadacona, became the earliest enduring city north of Mexico City and Florida settled by Europeans.

Life was not easy for Champlain at Quebec City.  While building a miniature Bastille-like ‘habitation’, Champlain had to stamp out an attempted murder plot against himself.  When spring finally broke up the ice in April 1609, only eight of Champlain’s 24 men who wintered at Quebec were still alive.

Champlain cared deeply about the First Nations people, building lasting friendships with many groups.  Pere Lalemant in 1640 wrote: ‘Would God that all the French, who were the first to come into these regions, had been like him!’ Champlain spoke prophetically to a gathering of the Montagnais, Algonkin, and French: “Our sons shall wed your daughters and henceforth we shall be one people”

When Samuel de Champlain married Hélène Boullé on December 30, 1610 in Paris, she was only 12 years old while he was approximately forty!  She was so young that her father insisted that she live at home for at least another two years.  At age 21, she moved to Quebec City.  The First Nations were intrigued by Helene who loved them dearly in return.  A titled lady with elegant outfits and etiquette, Helene was the center of attention at Quebec.  But for her the settlement held little joy.  Unlike Paris, Quebec had no shops, lively crowds or interesting chitchat.  As a high-spirited twenty-five-year-old, she pined for the exhilaration of Paris.  Champlain, fifty-six, favored the companionship of his hardy French and aboriginal voyageurs and the untainted grandeur of the Canadian outback.  And so, after four years, Champlain and Helene tragically parted ways.  Out of love, Champlain named the ‘Montreal Expo 67’ Island after her: Isle Saint Helene.  When Helene learned of her husband’s death in 1635, she entered a convent, choosing to become a nun rather than to marry again.

More than half of the fur-trading merchants working with Champlain were Huguenot (French Protestants) from La Rochelle; France.  The 1598 Edict of Nantes, which gave them religious freedom in Quebec and France, was first restricted in 1625 and finally revoked in 1685.  Although the Huguenot were therefore forbidden to worship in Canada by royal decree, the crews of Huguenot ships could not be restrained from holding services on board when in harbour.  The Huguenot loved to sing the psalms in French, a practice first encouraged and then outlawed by the French Royal Court.  Both Champlain and his wife Helene had been raised in Huguenot homes.  So thanks to Champlain, it was agreed that the Huguenot could hold prayer meetings on the ships, but sing psalms only at sea where no one else could hear.

After the English under British Commander David Kirke blockaded the French relief supply ships, Champlain and his men nearly starved, surviving mostly on eels purchased from the Indians and on roots & wood-bark. Champlain was forced to surrender in 1628 to David Kirke’s brothers and was sent for four years to England.  The Treaty of Saint Germain-en-Laye was signed in 1632 which brought Champlain back to Quebec City, much of which had been burnt to the ground by the British.  After having devoted the last 32 years of his life to Canada, Champlain died of a stroke in 1635 at age 68.

Champlain was the most versatile of Canadian pioneers, at once sailor and soldier, writer and entrepreneur, artist and voyageur, visionary and pragmatist.  He wrote four important books relating Canada’s early history.  He produced the best North American maps and its earliest harbour charts.  Repeatedly Champlain put his life in jeopardy in order to discover routes to Canada’s western wilderness. He nurtured struggling Quebec to steadfast life.  “No other European colony in America, “commented the eminent historian Samuel Eliot Morison, “is so much the lengthened shadow of one man as Canada is of the valiant, wise, and virtuous Samuel de Champlain.” I thank God for this courageous man Samuel Champlain who showed perseverance and dedication against impossible odds.  My prayer for those reading this article is that we too may show that same perseverance in facing our God-given daily tasks.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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‘Hanging Judge’ Matthew Begbie

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Described as a ‘swashbuckling judge’, Chief Justice Matthew Begbie profoundly shaped BC.  Sir Matthew Begbie and his friend BC governor Sir James Douglas have ‘larger-than-life’ statues at the BC Legislature entrance.  As founding fathers of BC, both Begbie and Douglas were Scots born in the tropics who became bilingual in French while studying in England.

As a child, I first heard of Begbie while on vacation at Barkerville.  Actors still pretend to be Judge Begbie, telling of life when Barkerville was the biggest town west of Chicago and north of San Francisco.

After five years at Cambridge and fourteen years as a lawyer, Begbie was sent to BC at age 39 in response to the 1858 flood of 30,000 American miners from San Francisco.  BC was literally birthed through gold-diggers who panned $543,000 of Fraser River gold in one year.  Most miners stayed a year or less, never putting down roots in BC’s ‘boom or bust’ beginnings.  While a few struck it rich, most came up near empty, spending their gold on wine, women and song.

Without Judge Begbie establishing order on the BC frontier, all hell would have broken loose.  Leading American mining journals in 1863 were already referring to the Fraser River as ‘Our Territory’.  Begbie showed unusual strength and stamina in his work, often travelling by foot and sleeping in a tent so damp that his books mildewed.  Six feet four inches tall with a Van Dyke beard, a gaucho hat, and a long black cloak, Begbie was a commanding figure.

A deeply spiritual man and long-time church-choir member, he loved to read the Anglican Evening Prayer service by campfire, singing hymns before going to his tent.  Even when holding court on a stump under a tree, he wore formal robes.  For twelve years, Begbie was BC’s only judge, travelling two-thirds of the year, and sometimes doing double-duty as a postman!  Because of Begbie’s firm fairness, incidences of violence and highway robberies, all common below the border, were extremely rare in BC.

The ‘hanging judge’ expression was never applied to Begbie during his lifetime, but rather was an overstatement. As historian David Williams puts it, Begbie was ‘an extremely humane, literate, generous, humorous and fair-minded man’.  He abhorred the taking of life.  While vacationing, Begbie met an American former jurist.  The American said: ‘You certainly did some hanging, judge.’  Begbie memorably replied: ‘Excuse me, my good friend.  I never hanged any man.  I simply swore in good American citizens, like yourself, as jurymen, and it was you who hanged your fellow citizens.’  In the BC Place Names (1997) book, it states that Judge Begbie ‘by firmness, impartiality and sheer force of personality maintained British law and order…’  Angered by the acquittal of an armed robber, Begbie said to the prisoner: ‘The jurymen say you are not guilty, but with that I do not agree.  It is now my duty to set you free and I warn you not to pursue your evil ways, but if you ever again should be so inclined, I hope you select your victim from the men who acquitted you.’

Judge Begbie, conversant in four different aboriginal BC languages, had a real heart for the First Nations people whom he praised as ‘a race of laborious independent workers.’  Begbie also advocated for the Chinese miners who often suffered from racism.  He was concerned that legal justice be fair and speedy, regardless of race, colour, or wealth.  Begbie was known as ‘the salvation of the Cariboo and the terror of rowdies.’  Fellow pioneers agreed that Judge Begbie was ‘just the man for a new country’.  “My hair is white, but my hand is strong, and my heart is not weak.  If I punish only a little,” said Begbie, “it is not because I am weak, nor because I am afraid, but because I wish to change your hearts.”  “

When Judge Begbie died in 1894, his two favorite hymns were sung: ‘Just as I am’ and ‘I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say’.  Since the death of Governor Douglas in 1877, Judge Begbie had indisputably become the first citizen of BC.  The size of the Victoria funeral procession was unprecedented with military bands and marching troops, but all that Sir Matthew Begbie wanted on his gravestone was ‘Lord be Merciful to Me a Sinner’.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca