Fairford History Society

Monthly Archives: October 2008

September 18th 2008: Fairford in Canada

Visitors from Fairford, Manitoba

Visitors from Fairford, Manitoba

June Lewis-Jones told the Society something of the fascinating story of Abraham Cowley who left his native Fairford to minister to the indigenous people of Canada. He was the son of a stonemason and left school at the age of 12. He overcame his lack of formal education and with the encouragement of the Vicar, the Rev Francis Rice (later Lord Dynevor), he trained for the ministry and went off to the wilds of Canada. He and his wife coped with the harsh winters and raised a family there. Converts were slow to appear but eventually he made progress and built a church and school house. His family background in stonework undoubtedly helped him in such practical tasks. The original Indian name for the settlement was changed on the suggestion of the Bishop of Rupert’s Land to Fairford in honour of Cowley’s home town in 1851.

June described the warm reception on her visits to Manitoba – that warmth contrasting with the chill of -30o C outside – and she showed pictures of the more recent occasion when in 1997 a deputation came to Fairford for the 500th anniversary of the re-dedication of St Mary’s Church. A colourful procession made its way from the Market Place to the Church for the thanksgiving service. The Bishop of Gloucester was present in his robes plus priests, choir, two Mounties, various members of the visiting party and most important the chief with his feathered head-dress.

The only picture of Abraham taken from his obituary in the Church Missionary Quarterly 1888. During his time in Canada Abraham returned to Fairford, Glos, only twice; he died at the age of 71 on September 11th, 1887 and is buried in St Peter’s Churchyard, Dynevor, Manitoba.

The only picture of Abraham taken from his obituary in the Church Missionary Quarterly 1888. During his time in Canada Abraham returned to Fairford, Glos, only twice; he died at the age of 71 on September 11th, 1887 and is buried in St Peter’s Churchyard, Dynevor, Manitoba.