[HORDEN, John (1828-1893, translator).] Portions of the Book of Common Prayer [title in Cree]. Church Missionary Society Settlement, Moose, Ontario: 1853[-1854].
A remarkable survival; the first book printed at the Moose Press, Hudson's Bay, Canada, in syllabic Moose Cree dialect. Born to a printer in Exeter, John Hordern became interested in missionary work at a young age. In 1851, the Church Missionary Society selected him and his wife, Elizabeth Baker Oke (1826-1908), to travel to Moose Factory, territory of the Hudson's Bay Company, to undertake school teaching and lay preaching, and to specifically read the scriptures in Sunday services. By 1852, Hordern had sufficient knowledge of Cree to enable him to preach without an interpreter, and had translated into Cree syllabic characters a portion of the Book of Common Prayer. This he sent to London to be printed, but instead of receiving a printed text, by way of return the CMS sent him a set of type cast in Cree syllabic characters, some proof sheets, and the disassembled components of a printing press. Despite being the son of a printer, Hordern was completely unfamiliar with presses, and without any instruction manual, struggled to assemble the machine, and then operate it. However, by the end of 1853 he had printed some of the sheets of the present lot, and by February 1854 had probably completed it. We can trace only one copy of this book selling at auction: Sotheby's Parke-Bernet, 26 October 1971, lot 318, acquired by the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto; and we can only trace two other copies in institutions: Coutts Collection, University of Calgary; and in the Edward E. Ayer Collection, Newberry Library in Chicago. Cf. Joyce Banks 'The First Book Printed at the Moose Press in the Diocese of Rupert's Land' (https://asc.ucalgary.ca/node/899).
Octavo (171 x 98mm). Text printed in syllabic Cree with the exception of the imprint which is printed in English, printed Cree text to front pastedown and 55pp. (scattered spotting and staining throughout, mostly light, with the exception of heavy browning on pp.7-12 and heavy staining on pp.15-17, this latter obscuring some words). Original cloth (front inner hinge starting to split, but holding, lightly rubbed and soiled, one corner lightly creased). Provenance: J.C. (gothic letter stencilled initials on front pastedown).