The Cliffs Where hunters Shoot Up Their Arrows
Brief History of Stanley Mission
The importance of Holy Trinity Church is highlighted by its massiveness and the dominant position it held in the community. Today, the church is still used for spiritual services, such as weddings and funerals. It also attracts tourists from all over the world. One look in the church will surely take your breath away!
The story behind the name of Amachewespimawin comes from the Woodlands Cree language translated as, "the cliffs where hunters shoot up their arrows", which would determine the coming hunting season. Traditionally, before European contact, hunters would go to this site and it determined whether one would have a successful hunting season or not. If the arrow went over the cliff, this meant one would have luck in journey, and also in the hunt. If the arrow failed to go over the cliff, this meant a year of bad luck.
Before the establishment of the mission, Native people did not live in close proximity with each other. Each family lived on their tradition hunting grounds, where they remained throughout the year. The Native people were extremely self-sufficient in every possible way. They survived off the land; they hunted wild animals, water foul, collected berries, herbs and plants for medicines.
Stanley Mission was established in 1851 on a point which was first known as Church Mission Point. Construction of the church began under the supervision of Reverend Robert Hunt who had arrived from England. The building shows the mixed influences of the English Church architecture of the day, local Native Culture, and the natural environment. Footings made of local stone supported floorboards, which were made of local timber. The stained glass windows, brought over from England, an oval window and 37 Gothic-arched windows allowed sunlight into the church. Over 1,000 pieces of stained glass windows were used in the original construction of the Church. The Church measures 67 feet in length and 35 feet in width. The steeple and spire in 1860 reached an impressive 76 feet! The church was completed in 1856.
Church Mission Point later became known as Stanley Mission, in honor of Mrs. Hunts home town in England.
The Hudson is Bay Company played a crucial role in the establishment of the present site of Stanley Mission. In 1845, the HBC granted permission to the missionary society to establish a mission in the area. It wasn't until 1853 that the HBC established a trading post on the opposite side of the Churchill River. However, all the residents of the area lived on the north bank of the river. Shortly after, the Native people began to settle in the HBC area, abandoning the church, but not their strong Christian beliefs.