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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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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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Simon Fraser: Canada’s most successful failure

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

A number of years ago, my middle son Mark graduated from Simon Fraser University in Chemistry.  SFU was named in 1963 by Leslie Peterson, the Provincial Minister of Education, because SFU overlooks the very river where Simon Fraser made his historic journey to the Pacific Coast.

My earliest memory of SFU was walking through the beautiful new plazas in the 1960’s, and then hearing about the student protests that paralyzed the university.  One of the most puzzling demands of the students was that SFU be renamed Louie Riel University.  What is it about Simon Fraser the Explorer that seems to both repel and attract people?  Why is it that he is the least well known of all Canadian explorers?

 The Greater Vancouver Book holds that Simon Fraser could be called the founding father of British Columbia because he built the first colonial trading posts west of the Rockies. Fraser, however, is best known for his bold exploration of the great river which bears his name.  On the Canadian Peace Tower in Ottawa is the verse “He shall have dominion from sea to sea” (Psalm 72:8) By Simon Fraser’s heroic journey to the Pacific Coast, he made it possible for the Dominion of Canada to stretch from sea to sea. Fraser’s was the third expedition to span the continent of North America: after Alexander Mackenzie and Lewis & Clarke.  Simon Fraser felt like a total failure when he reached the Pacific Coast.  Yet his remarkable quest kept Canada from remaining land-locked at the Alberta border.  Simon Fraser was one of the most successful failures that Canada has ever known.

Descended from a well-known Scottish Highland family, the Lovat Frasers, Simon ‘Jr.’ was the youngest son of Simon Fraser of Culbokie and Isabel Grant of Duldreggan.  In September 1773 the family joined a celebrated migration of Highlanders who travelled to America on the SS Pearl to seek their fortunes in the New World. In 1775, the year before the birth of their ninth child Simon, the first shots in the American Revolution were fired.  Simon’s Pro-British father was captured at the Battle of Bennington.  Every time he and his older son refused to join the rebels, his wife was fined another farm animal.  Simon Sr. died  thirteen months later from harsh treatment as a prisoner in the Albany jail.  Mrs. Fraser fled as a United Empire Loyalist with her family to Canada in 1784.

When Simon turned 16, his Uncle John Fraser, a Montreal judge found him a seven-year clerical apprenticeship with the famous North West Company of Montreal.  In 1793 Simon was sent to the Athabascan wilderness to learn his trade at the secluded Peace River posts. By 1802 he was selected as one of the company’s youngest partners.

In 1805 Simon was chosen for the important role of expanding the company’s trade to the land west of the Rocky Mountains from 1805-1808.  His mandate from the North West Company was to cross the Rockies and establish trading relations with the Indigenous people in the interior of what is now British Columbia, but which Fraser named New Caledonia. According to family tradition, Fraser selected the name New Caledonia because the country reminded him of his mother’s description of Caledonia, the ancient Roman name for the Scottish Highlands.  Between 1805 and 1807 Fraser set up the first four forts west of the Rockies at McLeod, Stuart and Fraser Lakes and Fort George, making himself the pioneer of permanent settlement, in what is now the mainland of BC.

What mattered now above all else  to the Nor’Westers was the search for a route to the Pacific that would reduce the enormous cost of the long canoe-haul from Montreal.  Only then would they be able to survive the competition from the Hudson’s Bay Company with its monopoly on all shipping to England via the Hudson’s Bay area.

Photo by Stephen Rees

On May 22, 1808, Fraser left Fort George (Modern-day Prince George) with two clerks, John Stuart and Jules Quesnel, 19 voyageurs and two Indian guides.  Simon Fraser named his lead canoe, Perseverance, which was also  the motto of the North West Company and one of the greatest strengths of the Scottish people.  Fittingly, Fraser wrote at the worst of his Fraser River journey: “Our situation is critical and highly unpleasant; however we shall endeavour to make the best of it; what cannot be cured, must be endured.” As he explored one of the world’s most difficult and dangerous rivers, Fraser showed remarkable courage, stamina, and firmness tempered with restraint. In the midst of enormous strain, he never lost his temper nor acted unfairly.

Simon Fraser travelled during the springtime flood, the most dangerous time of the year on the Fraser.  After surviving numerous near-drownings and upset canoes, Fraser was at last persuaded that it was impossible to make the entire journey by water.  ‘Our situation was really dangerous’, Fraser wrote on June 5th, ‘being constantly between steep and high banks where there was no possibility of stopping the canoe.’  At the Black Canyon, they were forced to follow native guides as they climbed jagged cliffs using intricate scaffolds, bridges and ladders hundreds of feet above the raging water.  One missed step would be their last.  Simon Fraser commented in his journal: “I have been for a long period among the Rocky Mountains, but have never seen anything to equal this country, for I cannot find words to describe our situation at times.  We had to pass where no human beings should venture.”  Every bend threatened new dangers –perilous rapids, treacherous portages, and impassible whirlpools.

Despite incurring a serious groin injury, Fraser completed the journey in 36 days (May 28th-July 2nd) and made the return trip in one day less (July 3rd to August 6th). He and his voyageurs had travelled more than a 1,000 miles of uncharted territory on the largest salmon-spawning river in the world.

Sadly this greatest adventure of his life won him little fame and less reward, for the Fraser River was useless as a canoe Highway for fur traders. Even worse, this river which Fraser so successfully navigated turned out not to be the prized Columbia, but rather an unknown river which fellow Nor’wester David Thompson would later name the Fraser River.  Before Fraser died in poverty and obscurity in 1862, he learned of the BC Gold rush with hundreds of prospectors rushing up the Fraser River, past the Fraser Valley, and through the Fraser Canyon.

Over two hundred years later, I give thanks to God for the perseverance of Simon Fraser who ‘ran with perseverance the race marked out for him’. (Hebrews 12:1)  May Jesus strengthen us this day to never, ever, ever give up in our journeys of life.

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

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