Fr. Honor� Timothy Lempfrit

The Reverend Honor� Timothy Lempfrit O.M.I. served as the Roman Catholic priest and teacher at Fort Victoria from 1849 to 1851, while Bishop Modeste Demers was away in Europe. This zealous missionary was a native of Lixheim, France. He had served as chaplain in the reserve French light infantry in 1828, and had particpated in the expedition to Algiers in 1830. He joined the Oblate Order in February 1847, and received his appointment to eastern Canada in September 1847. He was then sent west, arriving in Fort Victoria in company with James Douglas and his family on 6 June 1849.

He soon set up a "promising little school" in "a sort of shed." From the beginning he had 20 to 25 pupils. They were the Indian wives and children of the Hudson Bay Company's French Canadian servants. James Douglas noted in one of his despatches that the pupils "derive great benefit and are rapidly improving in respectability, under his zealous instruction."

Father Lempfrit boarded at the fort and at mealtimes sat at the same table with the Reverend Robert Staines, the Anglican chaplain who conducted a school for the children of Company's officers. Apparently, the two divines enjoyed "much mutual cordiality." However, Mr. Staines received a salary of �340 per year, plus �100 for the support of his school, while Father Lempfrit had to rely "on the generosity of his parishioners."

In October 1851, on Bishop Demers' return, Father Lempfrit was transferred from Fort Victoria to the Cowichan Valley; his school did not continue when he left. Catholic education had to wait until 1858, when Bishop Demers called on the Sisters of St. Ann to come out to Victoria from eastern Canada.

Contributed by Usha Rautenbach, July 2001.