Fort Vancouver historic site
An 1855 rendering of Fort Vancouver.
Fort Vancouver historic site
An 1855 rendering of Fort Vancouver.
To the Catholic Sentinel:

The 80 bells at St. Paul mentioned in the Sentinel article in January as having been hung from an oak tree likely had a prior history at Fort Vancouver.

Records of the Hudson’s Bay Company list a bell and other church supplies sent there close to the arrival of Rev. Herbert Beaver of the Church of England. Following the early departure of Rev. Beaver, after an encounter with Chief Factor, John McLoughlin, the supplies were retained until they were eventually sent to the Church of England Museum at Victoria, B.C. Curiously the initial list for Fort Vancouver included a bell but there is no presence of a bell at the Victoria site.

It would appear the St. Paul bell was an inheritance from the Church of England through the initial supplier to the Catholic mission of the Willamette.

Contrary to any legend, there is no mention of a bell transported overland with Frs. Blanchet and Demers to the Pacific Northwest. It is of probably English manufacture sent by company ship to Fort Vancouver.

George Thomas Brown
St. Paul Mission Historical Societ, St. Paul