Above: The Flag of the Northwest Territories
Image in the Public Domain
ROBERT MCDONALD (NOVEMBER 7, 1829-AUGUST 29, 1913)
Anglican Priest and Missionary
His feast transferred from August 30 (the Anglican Church of Canada) and December 15 (The Episcopal Church)
Robert McDonald was of Scottish and Ojibwa ancestry. He, born at Point Douglas, Manitoba, on November 7, 1829, was a son of Neil McDonald and Ann Logan. Until the age of 15 years our saint attended Red River Academy. Then, for four years, he worked on the family farm. At age 19 McDonald began to teach at Norway House, a Methodist mission. Later he studied at St. John’s College.
McDonald became an Anglican missionary among the indigenous people of British North America (later Canada). He, ordained to the diaconate on December 15, 1852, became a priest the following June. In October 1853 our saint took charge of Islington Mission, on the Winnipeg River. At Islington Mission McDonald began to translate the Bible, focusing on the minor prophets at first.
In 1862 the Church Missionary Society convinced our saint to found a mission at Fort Yukon (in Alaska after the settlement of a border dispute in 1872). He worked among members of the Tinjiyzoo Nation, translated works from English into Tudukh (a dialect of Gwitch’in), discovered gold in the Yukon, and became the first missionary in the Klondike region. In 1872 McDonald relocated to Fort McPherson, on the Peel River, in the Northwest Territories. There he remained until his retirement, in 1904.
Our saint’s partner in life, love, and ministry, starting on November 7, 1876, was Julia Kuttag, a Gwich’in. The couple had nine children. Husband and wife translated the Bible and The Book of Common Prayer into Tudukh. They also prepared a Tudukh hymnal. McDonald shared the translations freely with Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox priests. He also baptized more than 2000 people.
McDonald retired from the Church Missionary Society in 1904 and moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba. In retirement he prepared a grammar and dictionary (1911) of the Tudukh dialect, having already developed the alphabet for that tongue. Our saint died at Winnipeg on August 29, 1913. He was 84 years old.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
OCTOBER 28, 2016 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINTS SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS
God of ice, sea and sky, you called your servant Robert McDonald
and made him strong to endure all hardships for the sake of serving you in the Arctic:
Send us forth as laborers into your harvest, that by patience in our duties
and compassion in our dealings, many may be gathered to your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
1 Thessalonians 1:2-8
—Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 121