Sadie's Story - Bishop Stringer - The Bishop who ate his Boots

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Sarah Ann "Sadie" Alexander was born near the small community of Lucan, Biddulph Township in Ontario on April 8, 1869. During her childhood, she moved with her family to nearby Kincardine. Here she met Isaac Stringer while attending high school and their friendship blossomed.

Following graduation and unofficially engaged, Sadie and Isaac pursued their own interests. Sadie persuaded her parents to allow her to attend Barker's Shorthand School in Toronto, while Isaac studied theology at Wycliffe College, an affiliate of the University of Toronto.

After completing her business courses, Sadie accepted employment with a Toronto law firm. Before long, she was offered a stenographer position with a New York firm, quite something for a young woman of her time.

Isaac, on the other hand, answered the Anglican Church's call for missionaries to go work among the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic and he left Toronto for the North in 1892.
Later, he returned on furlough to discuss their future together. He encouraged Sadie to forego her New York career and return to Toronto for medical training in preparation for her new life in the North. She enrolled in nursing classes at Grace Hospital and attended courses at the Deaconess Training School. Although she never indicated any misgivings, it must have been a difficult decision to abandon her independence and fashionable New York City for a life with Isaac on the northern frontier.

On March 10, 1896, Sadie and Isaac were married in Kingarf, Ontario. Two months later, the newlyweds set off on the long trip to the North. Sadie was 24 years of age and Isaac was 29 years of age.

After four months of travel and various stops at missions along the way, the Stringers reached Herschel Island. Sadie recorded her impressions of the tiny Island -

"…as we neared our destination the grey mournful sea became studded with floating ice. On the horizon lay the hump of island, naked of trees and rocky of surface, its grey beach broken only by a few rough buildings that belonged to the American whaling company" ……"we threaded our way through the floating ice, across the black waters as the late evening sun glinted on the peaks of the mountains on the mainland to the south. Soon we reached the land - rolling uninviting hills clothed in coarse grasses, mosses and lichens with the occasional bright tangle of poppies, forget-me-nots, monkshood, and high-bush cranberry."

 

Old Log Church Museum 2002
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Quicktime movie showing iceberg movement - 16mm film shot by Bishop Stringer, circa 1927.
(Glenbow Archives F 88)