H A Cody's 'An Apostle of the North', originally published in 1908, captures perfectly the zeal of the 19th century missionary and tells the story of a man called to do God's work in the Diocese of Athabasca in the most northern regions of Canada. Bishop William Carpenter Bompas was a difficult man, cantankerous, stubborn, and more than a little eccentric. He carried on his shoulders the deep spirituality of his own faith, the assumptions of his background, and the cultural aggressiveness of the Victorian age. He was a church leader who often disagreed with his church and ignored its advice. Bompas's life in the North offers insights into the compelling force of religion and faith, one of the most pervasive forces in human experience, capable of transforming people, creating conflict, spreading hope, motivating entire nations, and, as history has shown, making horrible and damaging mistakes. In a new Introduction, historians William Morrison and Ken Coates examine Bompas's career, exploring themes central to the history of the church in Canada and to aboriginal-newcomer relations and giving a new critical evaluation of the missionary enterprise.
H.A. Cody, an Anglican minister, served under Bompas in his final years and also wrote numerous novels including The Frontiersman: A Tale of the Yukon. William Morrison is Professor of History at the University of Northern British Columbia. Ken Coates is Professor of History at the University of Saskatchewan.