The North Honan Mission

Map of North Honan Mission. Map of the North Honan mission from Foster's PhD thesis, pg. 377/378.

The Canadian Presbyterian Mission was one of the first to station and permanently establish itself in Honan (now known as Henan) north of the Yellow River in 1881. Student volunteers of the Canadian Presbyterian Church reached Honan in 1888 and established a station in Weihwei (now known as Weihui) in 1891.

Medical service was very important to the Canadian Presbyterian mission in Honan because it made the Chinese people more willing to accept the teachings of the gospel. The Chinese people of Honan otherwise resented the missionaries and their evangelism but since they came to Honan with certain medical expertise that the Chinese themselves did not have they were more inclined to listen to what they had to say in exchange for these new medicinal practices.[1]

Lantern slide scan of medical clinic being held and patient being treated. Dr. William McClure holding a Clinic, in Honan, n.d. 

The first converts of the North Honan mission came from mostly rural areas within the province rather than the larger cities. Rural citizens seemed to be more receptive than those citizens living in cities like Honan.

The Chinese church that the mission had created spread through the countryside of North Honan to result in 123 congregations by 1925. Central stations at Wuan, Changte, Tao Kou, Weihwei, Siu Wu and Hwaiking all housed mission compounds. By 1925 the mission membership was made up of 32 men, 26 wives, 33 single women and with help from 11 Chinese ministers and 152 Chinese evangelists the mission had created a Christian community of 9157 people in China. As well as fostering evangelic work, the mission had set up 93 day schools, 8 boarding schools, 4 high schools, and 2 bible training schools by 1925 and became involved with Shantung Christian University, also known as Cheeloo University in 1916.


Lantern slide scan of Cheeloo University grounds. Cheeloo University, n.d. 


The North Honan mission is represented by 51 slides in the John William Foster fonds. The slides reflect the rural areas and residents of North Honan, medical work brought by the Church and images of Cheeloo University among other aspects of missionary work in the area. The North Honan mission slides reflect the wide range of work that took place over the years and the wide range of the people who were involved in the process. 

Take a look at this map to see the North Honan Mission locations and some corresponding slides. 


[1] Foster, John. “The Imperialism of Righteousness: Canadian Protestant missions and the Chinese Revolution: 1925-1928,” (PhD diss., University of Toronto, 1976) page 389. JOFO-005