Ever since his arrival at Edmonton House in 1840, the British Methodist missionary Robert Rundle wanted to establish a mission outside the Hudson’s Bay Company fort. When the Company finally gave him permission in 1847, he selected this site. Here was a lake full of fish, soil for crops and a spring which flowed the year round. Besides bringing the Christian message, Rundle dreamed of helping First Nations people grow food.
As a young man in England, Rundle had a keen interest in the missionary work of the Methodist Church. In 1839, a call came from the Hudson’s Bay Company. They required a clergyman to serve as a missionary to the First Nations people and as Company chaplain at Edmonton House. On March 16, 1840, Rundle started his journey from Liverpool to Edmonton. Rundle soon discovered that when he was at the Fort he met First Nations people on Company terms. In their camps, away from the trading, a different exchange took place. Rundle offered his Gospel message and teaching in return for their hospitality, food and shelter. He introduced syllabics to the Cree of the area, thus providing them with a means of reading and writing their own language.
Rundle first traveled through this area in November 1845, on his way from Rocky Mountain House to Edmonton. He reported: “Before I slept I went to the beach. What a spectacle. No sound was heard but the rise and splash of the fish in the lake. A slight ripple was all that was discernible on the lake. It lay almost like a sea of molten silver & the stars were reflected on its glassy breast. A mirrored heaven!”