Transcribed Sources: Denouement of Isaac Bearfoot’s Life

My colleagues and I worked on transcribing Isaac Bearfoot’s file stored in the Huron Diocese archives. One is looking at Bearfoot’s financial documents while the other is more concerned with why people he wrote to are not responding to his requests and concerns. The focus in this post and transcriptions is on letters that reflect the end of Bearfoot’s life and one source is traced to Margaret Bearfoot, succeeding Isaac’s death.

Bearfoot’s letters that are from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century are reflective of his career and the difficulties he encountered. These sources give context to the relationships that developed through the region surrounding Huron College itself, as Bearfoot was active in surrounding communities. The documents, when compiled and considered in collaboration with my colleagues’ work, they are representative of the complex processes that shaped the indigenous and settler relationships in the region.

The first transcribed document is Isaac Bearfoot resigning his position as missionary at Waepol Island. The second is at age 70, applying for superannuation under the church. The final document transcribed was from Mrs. Bearfoot to Archdeacon Young likely responding to a letter expressing sympathy for her husband’s recent death. There are numerous questions that these sources lead historians to ask. One potentially interesting question to probe is where lies the connection between Isaac, his wife and the archdeacon, and why she is confirming her wedding date.

Bearfoot’s life, which historians are given a window into through preserved sources, is a strong example and representation of the indigenous relationship with settlers and European religion and language was like and its development over time.






The Bishop’s Room,

Synod Office, Diocese of Huron

London, ONT.


Dec. 18th 1885

I hereby resign my position

as missionary of Waepol

Island. Resignation to

take affect at the close

of the year. Dec. 31st 1885

I. Bearfoot






The Incorporated Synod of the Diocese of Huron



London, Ont. 


I hereby apply for

Superannuation under

the canon. I am

now 70 years old

I. Bearfoot



As did earn Young

for the Bishop and the

Executive Committee of the

Synod of Huron


Caledonia March 12 1911

  deathsympthylg To

Archdeacon Young

From Mrs Bearfoot

My marriage to the

Late Mr Bearfoot took place

On June 7th 1905 by the

Rev J I E. Godden at Caledonia

Thanks for expression of sympathy



Recommended Further Reading: 

Austin, Alvyn J. and Jamie S. Scott. Canadian Missionaries, Indigenous Peoples: Representing Religion at Home and Abroad. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004.


Chute, Janet E. The Legacy of Shingwaukonse: A Century of Native Leadership. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998.


Leighton, Douglas. “A Calling That Straddled Two Cultures.” Anglican Diocese of Huron Church News (London, ON), Feb., 2015.