Book cover image for: Letters of Margaret Butcher

The Letters of Margaret Butcher: Missionary-Imperialism on the North Pacific Coast

Edited by Mary-Ellen Kelm

$29.95 CAD / $34.95 USD (S)

312 pages, 10 illustrations

6 x 9 inches

978-1-55238-166-3 (Paperback)

978-1-55238-384-1 (Institutional PDF)

October 2006

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About the Book

“Now what shall I tell you first? The days . . . have been so full of interests and fresh things that I know not where to begin. Suppose I say right here that I believe I shall be very happy here and also that it seems a post I can fit and having said that I’ll just write consecutively to give you as good an idea as possible of how we are placed.” – Margaret Butcher, September 4, 1916

From 1916 to 1919, Margaret Butcher served as a missionary nurse and teacher at the Elizabeth Long Memorial Home, a residential school in Kitamaat, British Columbia. This collection of letters, written to family and friends, offers a compelling glimpse at her experiences among the Haisla people. Butcher’s correspondence reflects the conventional wisdom of the day about racial hierarchy, native culture, and the need for assimilation. Nevertheless, the letters are an invaluable source of first-hand information on missionary work, residential schools, and the Haisla way of life in the early twentieth century.

Editor Mary-Ellen Kelm bookends the collection with an introduction and conclusion that provide historical and historiographical context, exploring the concepts of race, gender, and cultural conflict as they played out on the north Pacific coast.

Mary-Ellen Kelm is Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous People of North America in the History Department at Simon Fraser University.

Praise for The Letters of Margaret Butcher: 

An important contribution to historical conversations about the Haisla, missionaries, and residential schools in British Columbia. 

—Jacqueline Gresko, BC Studies 

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


SECOND PRIZE, British Columbia Historical Federation Writing Competition | 2007