The following images are from the 7th publication of the Rossville Mission Press.
It is an expanded version of the first compilation of hymns printed by James
Evans, which apparently was printed sometime in early summer, 1841 and was
16 pages in length. This first edition was of approximately 100 copies, but
no surviving copies remain.
The second, slightly expanded version reproduced here was 20 pages in length also printed during 1841. Three copies of this book survive at the Library of Victoria University, Toronto.
Page 1/title page:
Fish River [Norway House]
Jesus my hope
Who has gone on high
I see He went
Where I too shall go.
Those who were good
In this life
The way of life
There I will walk.
Long where it is dark
Here I have walked
For I was not good
Now I am in pain
I make pitiful sounds
Jesus hear me, and say
Come, I am the way.
When you come in great gladness
Here where I walk
I am poor
You are merciful
The very poor
I want to show them
I will point out to them
Look ! Here is the way.
Now all of you
Be very glad
To hear this
Throughout the world:
Light comes to you
Be very, very glad
Jesus who is God
Sympathize with Him
You would please Him.
From 1841 until 1845, James Evans relied on his wits; using
what could be scavenged from the Hudson's Bay post and surroundings.
Despite repeated requests for a printing press, one was not to arrive until
1845, not long before
his death, and it is unlikely he ever had the opportunity to use
it. He was however able to have some type cast for him in England in 1842,
but it was a limited supply. Despite the difficulties, at least seven imprints
were made, with thousands of pages printed over these few years.
Even when the press did arrive, it was found to be old and decrepit—a vintage 1786 wooden screw press, with a broken screw. Such was the state of affairs when the new Superintendent of Missions, William Mason, succeeded Evans in 1846.
The eighth imprint, the first produced by Mason, was completed in the autumn of 1846. He found that there was only enough type to set two pages at a time, and that Evans had taken the matrices to London in order to have more type cast there, but the matrices were misplaced forcing Mason to attempt other ways of producing more type:
Henry with the Fort Blacksmith have been trying to punch the Indian characters on copper pennies and brass wire, as we are not able to proceed with our printing for want of type.
In the summer, Mason travelled to the Red River settlement so that his daughter could get some medical attention, as well as using the opportunity to have some matrices made:
On the evening of the 12th of July I embarked, taking with me the type mould, punches, and lead; purposing, if possible, to get matrices made by the blacksmith at Red-River, that during the coming winter we might proceed with our printing, and endevour to meet the constant and earnest desires of our people for books.
My time was principally taken up at the blacksmith's forge, which was about seven miles from Mr Thomas's ; and I am happy to say that we succeeded in making a new punch, an entire set of the matrices, and we also cast a few types in each of the matrices. Should you, however, be fortunate enough to meet with the original matrices, please send them out, as they are much superior to any we can make in this country, and can be of no use at home.
But by 1849, the original matrices were found and sent out to Rossville, but this did not make the casting of type much easier given the conditions and tools available. Frost was always a major factor; not only effectively destroying type metal, but also the tools needed for manuafacture, such as wooden planes. The desire for type to be cast in England and then sent out was ever-present, as were requests for better printing equipment. But despite the adversity, Mason was able to coordinate many imprints during his time at Rossville. In 1854 Mason resigned when the Rossville Mission, and responsibilty for all missions in Rupert's Land was handed over from the English Weslyan Society to the Canadian Weslyan Methodist Church. His position was then taken up by Thomas Hurlburt, while Mason went to York Factory to continue his work under the auspices of the Church of England.
Hurlburt continued to produce inprints at Rossville until 1857, at which time the press fell into disuse. Mason and his wife also left their post to return to England and over the next few years worked on the translation of the bible, the New Testament being completed in 1859 and the Old in 1861.
During the life of the Rossville Press—from 1840 until 1857—22 imprints were printed.