St. Paul's Anglican Church and school, began working with the Kainai (Blood Indian Nation) in 1880 under the Rev. S. Trivett. Life on the reserve was never easy, sickness and conflict over treaty violations by Canadian governments agencies, was endemic. Trivett attempted to bridge these deficiencies. He initiated a study of the Blood language (Siksika). However little real progress was made under Rev. Trivett's following three successors.
Throughout the early history of St Paul’s School it was common that none of the staff spoke the language.A
After the arrival of Rev. Samuel Middleton in 1909, things changed. Middleton was an athletic man, used to hard work and had an inquisitive mind. He quickly won the approval of the Indians. This was due in no small measure to his direct approach to life on the reserve. ‘He set aside all other duties for months to mingle in the camps, sit in the teepees listening to the old people tell stories of the past’ and he began learning the language- eventually speaking it effortlessly. His devotion to the language led him to reinstate Trivett’s study and compilation of the language.
Middleton produced literature on both Blood and Blackfoot including: Kainai Chieftainship. History, Evolution and Culture of the Blood Indians; Origin of the Sun-Dance.
Middleton- Hunt collection from the Blackfoot/Blood Reserve
7/16 - 9/11, 2021
Rev Middleton married Miss Kathleen Underwood in 1910. Kathleen became head nurse, and led efforts to increase the health care on the reserve.
For years the Middletons found themselves in an almost untenable position dealing with the economic restrictions and prejudices found in the Indian Agencies. Yet they managed to expand the school and medical facilities.
Middleton was an enthusiastic supporter of physical activities. He encouraged students’ interest in hunting and trapping, he established a band and cadet program. His establishment of a gymnasium led to an increase in the participation of the ex-pupil club.
The Middleton's had three children, Charles Samuel, Sophie and Verdun. Verdun married Robert Frazier Hunt, and their children became part of the long familial relationship with the people of the Blackfoot/Blood reserve.
It’s said that the Middleton’s and their children had a common way, embraced life on the reservation, life in the west, with enthusiasm.
Canon Middleton was a leading figure in the creation of the International Peace Park at Glacier and Waterton. He was made an honorary Kainai Chief of the Bloods and his grandson Robin Hunt was initiated into the tribe, 1952.
Canon middleton retired from St. Paul's in 1949, and from the church in 1951. He is buried beside his wife in Waterton, where one of the three beautiful little churches they built still stands.
For further biographical information, see Chief Mountain: The Story of Canon Middleton