God's Little Ships: A History of the Columbia Coast Mission


308 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55017-133-X
DDC 362.1'2'09711





Reviewed by Gordon Turner

Contributor to newspapers and magazines in Canada, Britain and United States on travel- and transportation themes.

Author: Empress of Britain: Canadian Pacific's greatest ship (Erin: Boston Mills, 1992).

Reviewer for CBRA since 1993.


For more than 70 years, the Anglican Church of Canada carried out
mission work on the coast of British Columbia, its priests and doctors
visiting lumber camps, Native villages, and small settlements where the
Church had no permanent presence. This work began when its founder, Rev.
John Antle, set out from Vancouver on May 9, 1905, after a year of
planning and raising money.

By Edwardian standards, Antle was an unconventional minister, concerned
less with spreading the word of Christ than with bringing medical and
social services to loggers who lacked both. As a result of his efforts
(and those of his successor, Alan Greene), small hospitals were built in
thinly populated areas and an early form of medical insurance for
loggers was established. Judged by today’s standards, the mission was
paternalistic in its dealing with the Native peoples of the West Coast;
on the other hand, it provided medical services where none had
previously existed. After World War II, the mission’s days were
numbered; the increased use of aircraft, the government’s entry into
the field of medical care, and the more responsible attitude of
lumber-camp owners led gradually to its demise.

Michael Hadley has produced a comprehensive and highly readable account
of the mission, its often-colorful leaders, and the diverse people they
served. Numerous well-reproduced photographs supplement his very
skilfully written text.


Hadley, Michael, “God's Little Ships: A History of the Columbia Coast Mission,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 26, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/1247.