In accordance with her appreciative biography of the Anglican missionary Henry 'Father Pat' Irwin entitled Father Pat: A Hero of the Far West (Edinburgh, 1909; reprinted by Vernon News Ltd.), the author identified as Mrs. Jerome Mercier recalls the time in a Fairview mining camp near Oliver when the 'Padre' pulverized an uncouth miner with his fists, supposedly saying, "I don't mind you insulting me, but you shall not insult my Master." He thereupon fell upon his fallen victim with remorse, crying, "O Lord, forgive me for not telling the man that I was a champion boxer." Such hokum adds to the legend of Father Pat, born in Ireland on August 2, 1859. Educated at St. Columbia's School near Dublin and at Keble College, Oxford, he was invited to the frontier by A.W. Sillitoe, Bishop of New Westminster. In 1885 he began to serve his Anglican ministry on horseback from Kamloops to Osoyoos, and from Princeton to the Nicola Valley, mainly preaching to miners. He met his wife Frances Innes in Kamloops and they were married at St. Paul's Church in Esquimalt on Vancouver Island on January 8, 1890. Their first child was born in November but it soon died, as did its mother. Father Irwin was stationed at Rossland, then finally at Fairview near Oliver. He died in Montreal en route to Ireland on January 13, 1902.

[Photo: Father Pat]


Father Pat: A Hero of the Far West, With a Preface by The Right Reverend John Dart, D.D. Bishop of New Westminster and Kootenay (Gloucester: Michin and Gibbs, 1909, Edinburgh, 1909; reprinted by Vernon News Ltd.)

[BCBW 2004] "Missionaries"