Roots of church brought to life in diary

Published September 1, 2000

THIS BOOK is a pleasant surprise. I didn’t think we Canadian Anglicans could merit such attention in this age when it is popular to attack the dedicated ministries of our earlier generations.

The well-researched introduction by the editor and Mary Kennear supplies an invaluable historical perspective on church work in western Canada. These pages alone justify the purchase of this volume: I have not read such scholarship since the days of one of our forgotten “saints,” historian T.C.B. Boon (The Anglican Church from the Bay to the Rockies.)

[pullquote] Monica Storrs and her colleagues were among a group of dedicated Englishwomen who enlisted for the work of the Lord in strange, far-off lands such as Canada. We have reaped the benefits of their calling and devoted service. Her personality shines through the pages of her diaries.

The work of Companions of Peace was set in a challenging period of Canadian frontier days. The daily routines, inconveniences, tribulations, and social commentaries of her time in the Peace River country in the days between two world wars are an invaluable source of social history. Frontier life was fraught with incredible challenges and hardships. Monica Storrs and her companions lived among the people and in time became an integral part of those communities.

Storrs was part of a religious outreach in company with other women already at work in the West. She was in the grand but often forgotten traditions of loyalty and service as given by Eva Hasell and the “Vanners.” In isolated places women like Monica Storrs were “the Church”; they laid the foundations of respect which decades later would lead to the endorsement of the ordination of women.

This is an interesting read for all church members. The diary brings to life some of the forgotten roots of the Anglican Church of Canada. Through its pages you will find yourself travelling in good company with some of our unsung heroines. David J. Carter is a former Dean of Calgary and former Speaker of the Alberta Legislature. He is the author of several books and is at present researching two new ones. He conducts supply services in the dioceses of Calgary and Montana. His hobby is locating and maintaining abandoned prairie cemeteries.


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