The Jacket of Monica Storrs

An important native North American Indian jacket, circa 1950’s, belonging to Monica Storrs (1888-1967) ‘God’s Galloping Girl’, the first missionary and one of the founders of the church in Fort St John, British Columbia.

The jacket probably originates from the Dane-Zaa tribe on the west coast of Canada, which was the last of the great frontiers to be settled in the early 20th Century.

Monica Melanie Storrs (February 12, 1888 – December 14, 1967) was a British-born Canadian pioneer and Anglican missionary. She was born at St Peter’s Vicarage, Grosvenor Gardens, in the City of Westminster, London to John Storrs and Lucy née Cust. Her elder brother was Ronald Storrs.

Monica, at two years of age, developed a medical condition which left her unable to walk for ten years. Not physically capable of attending school during this time, her parents educated her themselves. She was later educated at Francis Holland School and St Christopher’s College, Blackheath, London.

After her parents died, Storrs, although educated for a patrician English life, arrived in Fort St John, British Columbia in October 1929 as the Great Depression began. She was the first missionary to teach Sunday school and take regular Christian services. The group of women, the Companions of the Peace, were funded by the Fellowship of the Maple Leaf (which still promotes links between churches in Canada and the United Kingdom.)

Although intending to work for one year, she stayed as missionary for more than 21 years in Peace River Country, British Columbia. She was nicknamed ‘God’s Galloping Girl’ for her marathon rides in all weathers and over rough terrain, to visit remote farm families and promote their welfare. “…we had another mile across stubble fields and between hundreds of ghostly stooks. Once I charged straight upon a barbed wire fence, and was nearly impaled…”

Storrs and the other workers were all women, and sometimes regarded as feminist pioneers. Their pioneer chapel is preserved at Fort St John – North Peace Museum, where it has been restored. She left Peace Country in 1950 to return to England, where she lived at Peacewood, Farther Common, Liss, Hampshire. She continued her work until 1967, when she suffered a stroke and died.

Details and images courtesy of Erna & John from Hiscock Antiques.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Jacob Purches

    Monica Storrs was a friend of my Grandmother, W.Kate Purches (UK). Monica came to the aid of my Grandma when she was suddenly widowed at the age of 42, and as a Vicar’s wife found herself homeless. The house was rented to my Grandmother for a small amount, a vast house in Petersfield. On the death of Ms Storrs the house was willed to my Grandmother to use it for the rest of her life, but on her death (in 2015) the house reverted to a mission charity at the request of Miss Storrs. Which it did. Of course that charity’s mission was quite different in 2014 than it was in 1967. Monica Storrs brother was Ronald Storrs, He served as Oriental Secretary in Cairo, Military Governor of Jerusalem, Governor of Cyprus, and Governor of Northern Rhodesia and was great friends with Laurence of Arabia. Interesting people.

    1. Art & Antiques For Everyone

      Thank you so much for your comment and the further insights. We think one thing all collectors and antique dealers have in common is the love of a great story so we always appreciate hearing more about the beautiful items that pass through our hands.

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