Rundle's Mission National Historic Site of Canada
Pigeon Lake Mission
Mission de Pigeon Lake
Benjamin and Margaret Sinclair Provincial Historic Site
Lieu historique provincial Benjamin-et-Margaret-Sinclair
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Rundle’s Mission National Historic Site of Canada is located on the north shore of Pigeon Lake, in Alberta. Associated with Reverend Robert Terrill Rundle, the Wesleyan chaplain to the Hudson’s Bay Company, the site was selected in 1847 for the establishment of a permanent mission. While there are no visible resources of the original mission, archaeological testing has revealed evidence associated with early mission buildings, including remains of houses, an artesian well and possible pre-contact resources. Official recognition refers to the original site of the mission.
Rundle’s Mission was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1928 because:
- in 1840, Robert Terrill Rundle, a Wesleyan chaplain to the Hudson's Bay Company, began the first mission to the First Nations of the Western Plains; and,
- in 1847, he built a mission house to foster Aboriginal education and agriculture.
In 1840, Reverend Robert Terrill Rundle was one of four Wesleyan Methodists invited by the Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company to establish missions in Rupert’s Land. When Rundle arrived at Edmonton, he was the first missionary of any faith to serve in the prairie region between the Pacific Ocean and Norway House, in Manitoba.
Reverend Rundle traveled extensively throughout the area for several years before attempting to establish a permanent mission. In 1847, he selected a site on Pigeon Lake that became the first Protestant mission in the prairies. After Rundle was forced to leave the west due to ill health, responsibility for developing the site, known as ‘Mission Beach,’ belonged to Benjamin Sinclair, a lay preacher, and his wife, who managed the mission for the next few years until leaving for Notre Dame des Victoires / Lac La Biche Mission. The mission was briefly re-established in the mid-1850s, but was unsuccessful until almost a decade later when a permanent mission was created by John and Abigail McDougall, which operated until 1906.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, October 1965, October 2007.
Key elements that contribute to the heritage character of the site include:
- its siting on the north shore of Pigeon Lake in Alberta;
- its remote, wooded setting overlooking the lake;
- the evidence associated with the early mission buildings, including the remains of Benjamin Sinclair’s house, a large cellar depression, the possible foundation from the Mission House, the artesian well, buildings built by Aboriginal families, as well as other depressions, middens and mounds;
- the location, extent and materials of above and below ground archaeological artifacts and remains relating to the site’s use as a mission and the work of Robert Terrill Rundle;
- the viewplanes to and from the mission site and the lake.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
1840/01/01 to 1840/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Religious Institutions
- Building Social and Community Life
- Education and Social Well-Being
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate Documentation Centre 3rd Floor, room 366 30 Victoria Street Gatineau, Québec J8X 0B3
Cross-Reference to Collection