Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


The Bishop Who Ate His Boots

This just in from the You Think You've Got It Tough? department...

seal skin boots
The website The Bishop Who Ate His Boots tells the true story of Bishop Isaac O. Stringer (1866-1934) whose regular visitation in northern Canada in September 1909 turned into a 51-day life or death struggle.

Stringer has first heard the call to the arctic as a Bishop from the Yukon addressed his seminary class in much more hospitable Toronto. Though his father refused to support him in the endeavor, Stringer said, "The way seemed plain to me and so I decided to go." His high school sweetheart Sadie would later say,
…both of us were burning with a missionary zeal laced by a sense of adventure on the far side of the cold horizon.
Stringer got special permission to ammend his studies to include "dentistry, obstetrics, and minor surgery in preparation for his position."

The day after his 1892 ordination, Stringer headed to the Yukon. In 1905, he was selected as Bishop of Selkirk (Yukon), a position he held for 26 years. It was while serving as Bishop and also overseeing his neighboring Diocese of Mackenzie in the absence of a bishop their that Stringer experienced a visitation gone bad. a photo of Stringer and Johnson on an Arctic TrekHe and his companion Charles F. Johnson, set out on a 500 mile trek through dense bush over a steep mountain divide with provisions for 8 days though they expected to complete the trip in five days. The two ended up with no guides and decided they knew the way well enough. The weather turned severe and the two made as little as five miles progress a day before opting for a shorter route directly across the mountains.

Provisions ran out and though they did hunt and trap for some food, the Bishop noted in his journal,
"October 17 - Travelled 15 miles, made supper of toasted rawhide sealskin boots. Palatable. Feel encouraged.

"October 18 - Travelled all day. Ate more pieces of my sealskin boots, boiled and toasted. Used sole first. Set rabbit snares.

"October 19 - No rabbit in snare. Breakfast and dinner of rawhide boots. Fine. But not enough.

"October 20 - Breakfast from top of boots. Not so good as sole. Very tired. Hands sore. Tied up Mr. Johnson's fingers
The Bishop and his fellow traveller, Mr. Johnson emerged 50 pounds lighter after the harrowing ordeal. Read all about it here: The Full Story. The website also tells more of the missionaries of the far north including the story of Stringer's wife, Sadie.

I can't help but be reminded of how foreign this whole experience of an arctic journey would have been to Jesus' first followers. Yet they valued and preserved Jesus' words for Stringer and for us as he said,

Go and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name
of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Teach these new disciples to obey
all the commands I have given you.
And be sure of this:
I am with you always,
even to the end of the age.
—Matthew 28:19-20

"When the Holy Spirit has come upon you,
you will receive power
and will tell people about me everywhere
– in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth."
—Acts 1:8


  • At 8/18/2006 3:58 PM, Blogger Victoria said…

    I'm speechless. What an amazing couple. We are so spoiled these days even in regard to spreading the Word of God.


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