Archival Documents

Richard Martin fonds [textual record]

Creation Date(s): 1929-1943

Physical Description:
1.5 cm of textual records. - 8 books

Bio Sketch / Admin History:
Richard Martin was born at the head of the Peel River on June 1, 1879 or 1882, to Martin Sha-un-Nakhya (Old Martin) and Jane Chiljulthoo. Martin’s family were Tukudh, a Gwich’in speaking people who lived and traveled in the upper Porcupine River region, down into the headwaters of the Ogilvie River and through the western portions of the upper Peel River basin. Martin had six siblings: John Martin, Thomas, Annie G. Robert, Bella Alexie, Adeline Billips and Charlotte Vehus.

Martin was a skilled hunter, trapper and guide. In 1901 he was among the first group of Gwich’in hunters and traders to visit Dawson City in what would become annual winter trips to sell caribou meat to the local residents. During these visits the men stayed down river from Dawson, in Moosehide, and returned home with trade goods from local stores.

In 1904 the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) began making annual winter patrols between Dawson City and Fort McPherson, and later to Herschel Island. Richard Martin guided two of these police patrols, utilizing his skills and knowledge of traditional routes and camps.

The Christian faith played a sustaining role in Richard Martin’s life. Martin’s uncle, Amos Nijootli, was a First Nations catechist, trained by Anglican missionary Robert McDonald. Nijootli taught his nephew how to read, and Martin took up the work of ministering to people in the remote regions of the Peel watershed. On August 22, 1926, Bishop I.O. Stringer ordained Martin as a deacon in the Anglican Church.

Martin continued to act as an itinerant minister to the Tukudh until January 1927 when his rifle backfired and exploded during a hunting trip, seriously damaging one of his eyes. Already blind in the other eye from a childhood accident, Martin was left completely blind. Following the accident Martin moved to Moosehide where he played a very active role in the affairs of St. Barnabas Anglican Church, frequently leading services in the absence of resident missionaries.

Martin was married four times in his life. His wives were: Enna, Rachel, Martha Roderick and Mary Tetlichi. He and his last wife, Mary, had eight children, in addition to Joe, a child from a previous marriage. Their eldest child was Jane, followed by Alice, Lydia (and Lydia’s twin who died at a young age), Benjamin, Talitha (d. 1924), Charlotte, and Annabella (Ann). Mary and Richard Martin were among the last people to leave Moosehide, a move they finally made in 1962.

Richard Martin died on April 3, 1975, and is remembered as dedicated leader by both the Anglican Church and the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in. The chapel behind St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Dawson City is dedicated in his name.

Scope and Content:
This fonds consists of materials accumulated by Richard Martin of Moosehide Village, Yukon Territory, between 1929 and 1943. Material includes: eight bound volumes of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, in Moon Type; loose pages of Moon Type scripture; church related correspondence; canceled cheques; a printed bulletin pertaining to the Anglican Church's missionary work in northern Canada, and church related merchandising material.

Accession Number(s): 1983.70, 1995.157

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