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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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David Thompson: “Star-Gazer”

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

One of the best things that ever happened to the famous BC explorer David Thompson was when a large log rolled from a sleigh and crushed his leg.  All things really did work for the good through that tragedy (Romans 8:28).  His broken leg gave him time to learn math, science, and instruments of surveying, how to keep field notes and journal-keeping.  As a result, David Thompson learned the necessary skills which enabled him to put Western Canada on the map.

The early 19th century Western Canada map was essentially blank until Thompson filled it in.  Thompson was one of the master-builders of Canada and possibly the greatest geographer the world has known. As a land geographer, Thompson was the peer of Captain James Cook, the great sea geographer of the oceans.  Thompson has been described as a great surveyor disguised as a fur trader, as a marvelous scientist with the sensitive soul of a prophet.

By his own initiative and industry, he explored and surveyed more than a million and a half square kilometres of wilderness, accomplishing the staggering feat of mapping half a continent. Even Alexander Mackenzie, the renowned explorer, was quite astounded and remarked that Thompson had performed more in ten months than he expected could have been done in two years.  Thompson’s map, his greatest achievement, was so accurate that 100 years later it remained the basis for many of the maps issued by the Canadian government and the railway companies.  We can even credit David Thompson with the exacting survey of much of the Canadian/US 49th Boundary.

Thompson’s written ‘Travels Journal’ shows his multifaceted gifts as scientific explorer, geographer, cartographer, and naturalist.  Some scholars have described Thompson’s Journal as one of the finest works in Canadian literature.  His directness in prose, his modesty and ability to see himself and others, his sharp powers of observation and intense practicality all contribute to a vivid glimpse of early Canadian pioneering. His account of his adventures has also been described as one of the world’s greatest travel books.

When David was only two years old, his father died and his mother moved to London, changing their Welsh name ApThomas to the more easily spoken Thompson.  When David moved to Canada, he never saw either his family or London town again.  In his journal, David wrote movingly of a ‘long and sad farewell to my noble, my sacred country, an exile for ever’.

Thompson the Canadian immigrant grew to love ‘the forest and the white water, the shadow and the silence, the evening fire, the stories and the singing and a high heart.’  He was modest, talented and deeply spiritual.  The First Nations people gave him the name Koo-Koo-Sint, which means ‘Star-Gazer’, in recognition of his star-based map work.  It wasn’t that he was a starry-eyed dreamer, but rather a dedicated scientist using the best mapping technology of his day.

David Thompson apprenticed with the Hudson’s Bay Company, but later switched to the competitors, the North West Company, because the Hudson’s Bay Company wanted him to focus on furs, not map-making. The North West Company appointed Thompson as their official ‘Surveyor and Map Maker’, and proudly displayed his finished map of Canada on their boardroom wall.

Thompson’s brother-in-law, John McDonald, considered Thompson a good trader, a fearless traveler, and a man who was liked and respected by the First Nations.  His few criticisms of his brother-in-law had to do with his spirituality, his passion for surveying, and his total unwillingness to drink or to sell liquor when dealing with customers.  Thompson had seen so many First Nations people harmed by the liquor trade that he had acquired a strong aversion to such profiteering.

Unlike many Nor-Westers, Thompson did not abandon his wife Charlotte and his family when he finally became wealthy.  David and Charlotte Thompson, who had seven sons and six daughters, were only parted by his death fifty-eight years after their marriage.

Thompson tried in vain for years to find a profitable trade route to the Pacific.  Upon hearing that the American Jacob Astor had sent out his sea and land expedition to the Oregon country, the Canadians sent David Thompson to try once again.  Thompson and his voyageurs bravely made their way down the Columbia River.  They were continually wet up to the middle, and exposed to cold highwinds.  The glacier water deprived them of all feeling in their limbs.  Despite such hardships, Thompson never gave up, instead writing in his Journal that they ‘continued under the mercy of the Almighty and at sunset put up, each of us thankful for our preservation’.

When they finally reached the Pacific watershed, Thompson knelt on the banks of the Blueberry Creek and prayed aloud: ‘May God in his mercy give me to see where these waters flow into the ocean, and let us return in safety.’  He and his voyageurs eventually did make it to the mouth of the Columbia River, but unfortunately arrived there after Jacob Astor.  One can speculate that if David Thompson had been a little quicker, the name ‘British Columbia’ might have been a more accurate description of our province.

Despite Thompson’s great success in canoeing to the mouth of the Columbia and in mapping most of Western Canada, he died in extreme poverty and obscurity, even having to pawn his beloved surveying equipment and his overcoat to buy food for his family.  Yet throughout the hardships, Thompson never stopped gazing at the Morning Star, Jesus Christ.  I give thanks for David Thompson the Star-Gazer who did so much for every one of us as Canadians and British Columbians.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, 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 and the Light Magazine

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 Street, 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 $9.99 CDN/USD.


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Dr Louis Pasteur: Sacrificial Servant of All

By the Rev. Dr. Ed HirdDr Louis Pasteur

My family and I watched an Academy Award-winning movie which reminded me that every one of us owes an enormous debt to Dr. Louis Pasteur.

Just think of pasteurized milk and honey, making food safe for our families to eat and drink, thanks to Louis Pasteur.

Think of our children whose lives are safe from rabies transmitted by ‘mad dogs’, thanks to Louis Pasteur.  Think of our wives and mothers who need not fear death from infection during childbirth, thanks to Louis Pasteur.  Think of the sheep, cattle and chickens that we can safely rely on for our food supply, thanks to Louis Pasteur.  No wonder that Pasteur’s name is better known than any other scientist who has ever lived.

Louis Pasteur is a living reminder that anyone who wants to make a difference in life is bound to face bigotry and opposition.  The most narrow-minded usually turn out to be those who pretend to be the most open-minded and inclusive.  Pasteur was maligned as a murderer and a menace to science.  He was even challenged to a duel by an angry physician.

Dr Louis Pasteur1His ‘criminal’ behaviour was none other than publishing a pamphlet urging doctors to wash their hands before surgery and to sterilize their instruments.  Thirty percent of pregnant women in Paris were needlessly dying from infection during childbirth.  One grief-struck husband, whose wife had just died from childbirth fever, went on a rampage and shot his doctor dead.  Medical doctors rallied against Dr. Pasteur, blaming his pamphlet for the murder and claiming that Pasteur was making the practice of medicine unsafe for physicians and surgeons.  “Who did Pasteur think that he was?” They said. “He isn’t even a medical doctor…just a lowly chemist”.

The Emperor’s wife invited Pasteur to the French Court to explain his radical ideas.  Pasteur had the nerve to tell the Emperor that the hospitals of Paris were death houses, and that there was hardly a doctor who didn’t carry death on his hands.  After accurately predicting the death of the Emperor’s sister-in-law from childbirth infection, Pasteur was condemned as a fraud and banned by the Emperor from ever speaking out publicly again about medicine.

Having been banished into obscurity in the Dr Louis Pasteur2countryside of Arbois, Pasteur spent the next decade researching the causes of anthrax, the black plague ravaging the sheep across France.  Miraculously Pasteur invented an anthrax vaccine, which he gave freely to all farmers’ sheep in Arbois.

When the French government needed more sheep to pay the 5 million francs War indemnity to Germany, they came to Arbois to find out why Pasteur’s sheep were healthy.  Telling them of his vaccine, Pasteur was again mocked as a fool and charlatan by the Academy of Medicine.  Only after a rigorous test where infected Anthrax Blood was injected in 50 sheep, was Pasteur finally vindicated.  To everyone’s amazement, the only sheep that survived were the 25 sheep which Pasteur had injected with his vaccine.

Was Pasteur then accepted by the medical establishment?  Not on your life!  When Pasteur had the nerve to look for a rabies cure, again he was vilified and humiliated without mercy.  Pasteur was such a servant of all humanity that he even risked facing prison or guillotine to save the life of a rabies-infected ten-year old boy, Joseph Meister.  Joseph Meister was later made the caretaker of Pasteur’s tomb at the world-famous Pasteur Institute in Paris.  When the Nazis tried to force him to open Pasteur’s tomb in 1940, Joseph tragically committed suicide rather than defile the grave of his hero.

Dr Louis Pasteur3The ‘great physician’ Jesus once said that if anyone wants to be first, he must become the very last, and the servant of all.  Louis Pasteur was indeed the servant of all, who sacrificed his time, energy, and health so that others might live.  Pasteur selflessly taught that the benefits of science are not for the scientist, but for all of humanity.

Though he has saved millions of lives through his discoveries, Pasteur was unable to save the three out of his four daughters who died from typhoid fever.  In his unceasing striving to cure rabies, he suffered a crippling stroke at age 46.  Yet even that setback did not stop him from successfully finding a rabies cure.

Near the end of his life, Pasteur was finally honoured by the French Academy of Medicine.  He graciously said to them: ‘Doctors and scientists of the future, do not Dr Louis Pasteur4let yourselves be tainted by a barren skepticism nor discouraged by sadness of certain hours that creep over every nation.  Do not become angry at your opponents for no scientific theory has ever been accepted without opposition.’

In so many ways, Pasteur embodied the true meaning of Christ-likeness.  My prayer for those reading this article is that we may never let opposition embitter us as we seek to be the servants of all.

 

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

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

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

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