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The Reverand Thomas Crosby was an English Methodist missionary known for his work among the First Nations people of coastal British Columbia. Crosby was born in Yorkshire to (Wesleyan) Methodist parents. When he was sixteen, he emigrated with his parents to Canada (present day Ontario). Economic circumstances forced him to go to work at a tannery. In 1861 he answered a call in a Methodist newspaper for missionaries to go to British Columbia. In 1863, he was sent to teach at the Native school in Nanaimo, B.C. In 1866 he became an itinerant preacher, accompanying the Rev. Edward White on a preaching circuit covering Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and the area around Vancouver. In 1871 he was ordained and began intensively missionizing throughout the province. In 1873, at a revival meeting in Victoria, he converted Elizabeth Diex, a Tsimshian matriarch from Lax Kw'alaams (a.k.a. Port Simpson) on the northern coast of B.C., and later also converted her son Chief Alfred Dudoward and daughter-in-law Kate. At that time, Lax Kw'alaams was without a minister and the Dudowards pressed the Methodist church to commit a missionary to their village. In 1874 Crosby was sent there and, though he learned to speak the Tsimshian language, he insisted on the abandonment of most First Nations traditions. Crosby's wife Emma founded the Crosby Girls' Home in the community in the 1880s, which became part of B.C.'s residential school system in 1893 (closed in 1948). Under Crosby's direction, the Methodist missionary presence in northern B.C. expanded from Lax Kw'alaams to include ten missions and, using Lax Kw'alaams as a base, he also supervised mission work among the Nisga'a, Haida, Gitksan, and others. In 1894 he was appointed superintendent of Indian missions in British Columbia for the Methodist Church. He left Port Simpson in 1897 for Victoria, where he also assumed the chairmanship of the British Columbia Conference. From 1899 to 1907 he ran the missions at Sardis and Chilliwack and then retired to Vancouver. Crosby published three volumes of memoirs about his work among B.C.'s First Nations. [see]

Born: 1840
Died: 1914