John McDougall is one of the most well known missionaries of the old Canadian west. His calling came early in life at the knee of his father, the Methodist missionary George McDougall, who began ministering to the people in 1860. During that ministry, John married Abigail Steinhauer, a member of a well known Stoney family. Abigail died in 1871 leaving John with three young children.
In 1872, John returned east and was ordained in the Methodist church. There he met Elizabeth Boyd and the two were married that fall. Their honeymoon was spent trekking west from Fort Garry to Fort Victoria (West of Edmonton).
In 1873, the McDougalls founded the mission at Morley, East of Calgary, where their church still stands. Following Georgeís death in a blizzard, John maintained the operation of this mission for over twenty five years.
There is hardly an incident in the history of the west in which the McDougalls were not involved. It was John's reports on the whiskey trade which helped convince the Canadian Government to form the Northt West Mounted Police, he represented native groups in the negotiation of treaty number seven, was signatory to that document and was a special commissioner investigating both the Red River and North West Rebellions. He also helped organise native peoples involvement in the first Calgary Stampede, much to the chagrin of both the Federal Government and other local religious leaders.
John McDougall was not a stereotypical missionary. He was a
experienced hunter and trapper, a manís man well equipped
to deal with pioneer life in the early Canadian West. John and
his brother David (who together carved out a portion of the Calgary-Edmonton
Trail) were especially fond of tall tales and were always trying
to outdo one another in their telling. One old timer once said,
"There are three liars in the territories; the trader David
McDougall is one and his reverend brother, the other two".
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