Some Notes on the Canadian Mission to Trinidad, XIId
Regional Offshoots of the Canadian Mission to Trinidad: British Guiana
As early as 1868, a philantropic Scottish land-owner, Mr. Alexander Crum-Ewing, built a church and manse on his plantation, "Better Hope", at Demerara, and persuaded the United Church of Scotland to provide a missionary. Three successive missionaries served between the founding and Rev. Morton's visit in 1880. Dr. Morton noted in his diary that "it was a noble idea of Mr Ewing, though much to be regretted that the missionary part of the work has so long been neglected in favour of the less urgent English service. I have urged [the incumbent missionary] Dr Turner to give at least half of his time and energy to the 1,500 heathen who live within a mile of his church...".
The heathen East Indian population of B.G. in 1880 was about 65,000, easily the largest of the West Indian colonies. In 1883, another group of individuals from the colonial Scottish Church, aware of the Canadian Mission work in Trinidad, appealed to the Presbyterian Church in Canada for a similar mission to the British Guiana East Indians. The Western branch of the Canadian church agreed; and despatched Rev. John Gibson to the Trinidad mission on Sept 26, 1884 to learn the basics of Hindi, and the methods in use there; he then began work at Demerara in June of the following year.
Rev. Grant visited Rev Gibson in 1887 to offer help and encouragement. But this initial foray was short-lived: Rev. Gibson fell victim to yellow fever in November of 1888, leaving a widow and a child born a few days after his death; and the effort languished for the next seven years.
At that point, two circumstances united happily: firstly, Mr Alexander Crum-Ewing, the church's previous benefactor, and also a friend of the Trinidad Mission, offered to rejuvenate a B.G. mission with a new manse, a church, and a school; and secondly, the newly Reverend J. B. Cropper, outstanding friend of the Mission in St Lucia, graduated from Pine Hill in Halifax. The renewed Mission was launched, directly administered from the Trinidad Mission, and in September 1896 Rev. Cropper began what was to be a twenty-five year tenure as head of the B.G. Mission.
In August 1898, Rev. Morton and Rev. Grant visited Demerara together, and individually on subsequent occasions. By 1921, there were 11 missionaries serving in British Guiana.