Interview With Lance Morgan

Jeanne: Today is April the 28th, 2005. I am Jeanne Anderson, and with me is Clare Willis. We are members of the Prince George Oral History Group and the BC Retired Teachers Prince George Branch Association Heritage Committee. This morning we are doing an interview with Lance Morgan. Lance Morgan is a very outstanding citizen of Prince George. He has received many awards for his efforts to make a Prince George the place to live. In 1984 by the City of Prince George, he was given the Citizen of the Year Award. In 1998 the city council made him freeman of the city. He’s also received an award from the Baptist Union of Western Canada for being the longest period of service by a pastor, 36 years in western Canada. And he has also been made honourary chaplain of the City of Prince George in 2001. And there are many other outstanding awards, notable awards that he has received which we will include in the introduction to his history and also a list of his participation in many community organizations which has made for a better life in Prince George including the Hospital Board and was instrumental in getting the medical school at the University of Northern British Columbia while he was Chairman of that group. Good morning Lance.


Lance: Good Morning.

Jeanne: And we would like you first of all to give us an inkling of your early, early history. How you got started in this world. So if you’d like to begin.

Lance: Well I was born. (laughter) Yes. Well, I was born in Nicaragua actually, but grew up in Jamaica. I left Nicaragua when I was 2 months old. And had most of my life in Jamaica.

Jeanne: Can you tell us a little a bit about your parents.

Lance: Oh my father was a minister in Nicaragua, and then when he left there, he too became a minister in Jamaica for a while, where I spent most of my early years. I went to high school in Jamaica. What else you would like to know about me?

Jeanne: What did your father do as well as being a minister? How did he get from Nicaragua to Jamaica? Or why did he?

Lance: Well my dad, he used to be a sailor at one time. And he and his family had a ship called the Edna and they used to do trading in Jamaica. And that’s how my dad got to Jamaica. He was part of my… his dad’s crew. And he went to Jamaica and he felt led, I guess, of God to switch from being a sailor into a minister. And it was there that he got in touch with the high school, the theological college that he went to in Jamaica, the Calabar Theological College. And he just stayed in Jamaica. It was possible in those days you could do crazy things, and that was one of the crazy things that he did. He never went back to Nicaragua then, he just stayed in Jamaica and said, “I have come to college.” And they were intrigued with his approach and kept him. And so he spent, I think it was about 6 years or 7 years in Jamaica in theological school.

Jeanne: You were born before this time, before he went to college?

Lance: No, I was not born yet. My dad wasn’t even married yet.

Jeanne: Oh. (chuckle)

Lance: But he fell in love with some girl in Jamaica and he took her to Nicaragua and married her. No, I think they were married in Jamaica just before he, he took off to Nicaragua again. And he became a minister of a church in Nicaragua and that’s where I was born. There were three of us born over there, and I was the third.

Jeanne: You told us a little bit about how he sustained himself when he was at the theological college in Jamaica.

Lance: Well he. . first of all he worked in various places. They sent him to different churches to be a part of the church work and so on. And his dad at that time was mad at him because he stopped in Jamaica instead of coming back home and he refused to send him any money. But he was doing so well that when the time came for his graduation, his dad decided to come over. And he not only came but he brought all the money that was necessary to pay his tuition for five years. And so he paid up all that my dad owed in that time. And that’s how he started off.

Jeanne:I  nteresting. What was he was doing in Nicaragua that time as he was

Lance: My dad? My grandfather?

Jeanne: Your grandfather... yes.

Lance: Well, my grandfather was a self-made teacher. He had a little school that he created in his home. And there were no formal schools at that time in Corn Island... which was a certain part of Nicaragua. And my grandfather had the only school there was and he was the head of it. But apart from that he had a business in his boats and so on. So he was prepared to bring quite a bit of money to pay off my dad’s debts in Jamaica.

Clare: A sure sign of forgiveness.

Lance: Yeah, that’s right.

Jeanne: And so then ah you were born in…

Lance: Nicaragua

Jeanne: Nicaragua. And he took you then to Jamaica when you were...

Lance: When, when I was two months old. He got a call to go to Jamaica and become a minister of a church there. And I went with him. I was only two months old. And he told me he put me in shoe box and took me over to Jamaica. (laughter) I don’t know how true that was, but it..

Jeanne: Made a good story.

Lance: ...it made a good story. Yes.

Jeanne: And so then will you tell us a little bit about how you were educated then, your beginning education then.

Lance: Well, I went to Springfield Elementary School and after that I went to Calabar High School. I was ten years old when I started high school in Jamaica. And ...

Jeanne: The system that was in effect in Jamaica was…

Lance: It was the Baptist Theological. Well, they had a college and they had a high school. And I went to the high school. And the college was in the same area as well and so I spent a good time in the elementary school and after I graduated, then I left for Canada.

Clare: You did, before you left… you worked for a newspaper. Is that right?

Lance: Oh yes, I forgot that.

Clare: In Kingston?

Lance: Just when I graduated from high school, I worked for the Daily Gleaner which was the newspaper in Jamaica. And I worked for it for two years before leaving Jamaica and coming to Canada.

Clare: And they have a web site now, The Gleaner.

Lance: The Gleaner?

Clare: Yes.

Lance: Oh. ...well, I didn’t know that (chuckle). But it’s the largest paper in the West Indies, I think. And it was quite prominent, even during my time.

Jeanne: We have something here about the early education, as you said the schools were run by the church. What system of education did they follow there?

Lance: Well, they followed the British system. And everything was British. And all the exams taken in Jamaica were marked by people in Oxford and so our senior Cambridge exam was orchestrated by people in Oxford. So we had a very good education.

Jeanne: And you mentioned here that you, most of what you did was rote learning.

Lance: Yes, we learned a lot by heart. I remember. All of history. I could recite, you know, a lot of history just by heart, because that’s the way I learned them.And English I knew most of the poems by Wordsworth and Shelley and Keats and all that, and, when I came to Canada, I was amazed that people didn’t know all these things. And I was determined to show them how much they could learn. (laughing)

Jeanne: Well, where did you go to high school? Your early education was in Springfield. Where was the high school?

Lance: In Calabar High School in Jamaica. That’s where my dad went to Theological School, too.

Clare: That was in Kingston.

Lance: In Kingston. Yeah. And I graduated from high school twice in Jamaica, Senior Cambridge exams. That when I was about fifteen years old and then after the high school examination, which was the first year university, and I did that in Jamaica and I was about seventeen years old then.

Clare: You had told us a bit about your interest in photography arising when you were in grandmother’s house in Kingston.

Lance: Oh yes, I said photography was my hobby. I learned it from my brother, who was a photographer too, amateur photographer. And we built our own darkroom and we did a lot of interesting things and, we set up a little studio and sold pictures. In Jamaica we could put up a sign right in front of the house that we took pictures and we didn’t have to pay taxes for that. So we (chuckle), we had a wonderful time. And I had a real interest in photography. I still do today. I still have a dark room downstairs and all the pictures in my house are pictures that I’ve taken. Yeah.

Jeanne: And you told us a little story about your father in the dark room, I think.

Lance: Oh yes, yes.

Jeanne: Well,

Lance: You don’t want to hear that story again.

Clare: We do.. we didn’t get it on tape. (Laugh)

Lance: Oh you didn’t get it on tape. Well, what happened, my dad had converted an outside toilet into a darkroom for me; he filled it up. And so in Jamaica, when it’s dark, it’s dark. And we could leave the door open and do our pictures inside because it was so hot. If you closed the door we would just boil right up. My dad lived in the country about ten miles away from where we were. And so one day he came up from the country and we didn’t know. And he came into the darkroom, and it was one of those days I was in there with a pile of girls. (Laughter) I was supposed to be studying. It was a school night and I was out doing pictures. So while I was in the darkroom, my dad walked in. And remember it was dark, and no way could we see him coming in. So he started playing in my hair. And I said, “Somebody’s playing in my hair.” And I didn’t know it was my dad. And then I took this person’s ear and I said, “Who is it?” And I called out, “Barry, is it you?” No, Barry was over there. And nobody owned up to who it was playing in my hair. And finally they had to turn on the light. When they turned on the light, there was my dad! (Chuckle) So he said, “This is what you do? You know, I build you a darkroom and you’ve turned it into a, a place to have your fun.”(chuckle)

Jeanne: So he took it all in good spirit?

Lance: Oh, yes.

Jeanne: Good fun?

Lance: He took it well. The interesting thing is, after all these years I got a call from.. where is that place… down in the Okanagan… and this fellow, who I knew in Jamaica, and he was one of those in my darkroom that time. And his sister, who was a very nice girl, and she was in the darkroom. He was now a minister in one of our churches in Abbotsford, and after all these years he had come up from Jamaica. I didn’t know that. And it was interesting how the past caught up with the present. (chuckle)

Clare: The small world syndrome!

Lance: Yes.

Jeanne: Can you tell us a little bit about your grandmother that you stayed with? That’d probably be interesting.

Lance: Yes. My grandmother was a very, very wonderful lady. My dad, when he needed somebody to stay in Kingston and look after a house that he bought so that his kids could go to high school in Kingston, had my grandmother stay in the house and look after us. So it was with our grandmother I actually lived. When I came up from the country, I would come into Kingston and live at my grandmother’s house and she looked after us.

Jeanne: You say when you left Nicaragua, the family was three boys, and you were the youngest?

Lance: Three boys, I was the youngest.

Jeanne: Of the three?

Lance: Yes.

Jeanne: And from there?

Lance: ..and from there. . my dad, they got happy and he had a whole pile more kids. (laughter) He had seven boys in all, seven boys and one girl. And he became a minister in Jamaica in several churches.. .that’s before, and then after a while he felt called to go to Panama, and he was a minister in Panama for a while, on the Canal Zone. And then from the Canal Zone, he went to New York, and he was a minister in [the] Manhattan area. And so . . I came to… right to McMaster University. I, oh I should say, before I say that... I was working for the newspaper…in Jamaica, for about two years. And then I came to McMaster.

Jeanne: How did you get to come to Canada?

Lance: McMaster?Well, what had happened, my dad had come over to Canada on behalf of the Jamaica Baptist Union to raise money for storm relief in Jamaica. And one of the places he stopped was at McMaster. And while he was there, he just thought he would ask about university and they said, “We’d be happy to have your son here.” And my dad said that was fine. [he asked] “Do you have scholarships?” And they arranged a kind of small scholarship for me and that helped me quite a bit. So when my dad came back home, he told me that I could go to McMaster. So I immediately started making preparations to come to Canada.

Jeanne: It didn’t bother you to have to leave or?

Lance: Well it, it bothered me a bit because I had a few girls chasing me at that time and (laughing) I had to leave them. But anyway, I came... that’s how I came to McMaster. I was only what twenty, twenty-one years old. But when I came, I discovered that there was a fellow at McMaster that I knew. I did not know he was at McMaster until I was being interviewed by the manager, the housing manager at the university. And I discover this fellow was there, so I went and lived with him. And he was part of a co-op situation where they had about, oh ten students living together, and I became a part of that. It was very interesting.

Jeanne: What program did you start out with?

Lance: Well, I started with a general B.A. program to, to. . I had nothing in mind. Nothing particularly. But something very interesting happened to me during that time. I needed to get a job to make some money because I had no money. And I heard about a place in Tillsonburg . .that I could work on a tobacco farm. So I decided to go to Tillsonburg, so when I went down to Tillsonburg, I got a job immediately. The farmer was very intrigued with me and he put me to work right away and making big money in those days. You know, big money. And.. but what interested me more than the job was the farmer’s daughter. (laughing) I .. remember that time. I was not married, you know... obviously. So anyway, I met this girl who turned out to be Margaret Fishback Powers. Now Margaret Fishback was the person who wrote, ‘The Footprints’; you may have heardof that poem, Footprints.

Clare: Oh, right and who God was carrying

Lance: That’s right.

Clare: …is that the one?

Lance: Well, at that time she hadn’t written it, but she was writing poetry. I didn’t know she was writing poetry at that time. We became quite cozy, you know. And she even wrote a poem about me in those days, I did not know. And it was years later, while I was in Prince George…. You see, we had broken up because I had to go back to university and it was just too complicated to carry on in those days. So she went her way, I went mine. And it was not until, of course, years later that I got a message from the bookstore in Prince George that somebody had left something for me. And I went down there and there was this book on how 'Footprints' was written and there was Margaret Fishback’s picture and everything. She had written the book because it was published… the poem had been published under an anonymous writer, because they didn’t know who wrote it. And finally they discovered who wrote it. And so if you look at the pictures today, you will see, some on them will say Anonymous, and others will say Margaret Fishback Powers. She was married to this fellow who, whose name was Powers. And I could not believe it... and she searched all over for me and found out I had became a minister. And I was in Prince George. And, but we did not meet here, she left her address and phone number. And I phoned Vancouver where she had moved. And I got in touch with her, actually I had her come up to Prince George to the church, our church. And she spoke at our church. And her husband spoke at our church as well. That’s how life is. After all these years, things come together. Yeah.

Jeanne: Tell us just a little bit more about McMaster, what type of university it was, and where it was...

Lance:  Well, McMaster, of course, was in Hamilton, Ontario and it was started by the Baptist Church years ago. And it broke away from the Baptist Church and became a government church, a government university. And is now one of the best universities in Canada. If not the best. Of course it is the best!

Jeanne:  We hear about it but I said, you know, people will be reading this down the line as...

Lance: Yes. And they have a very large medical school, too, now, at McMaster. Yes, I spent quite a few years there. I did a B.A., M.A. and they gave me a doctorate later on.

Jeanne: So, anyway, you went back from the tobacco farm with a broken heart and back to university.

Lance: That’s right.

Jeanne: And...you carried on, and you were still on your B.A. program?

Lance: Yes, yes. And after the B.A. I. didn’t know I was going on to a Master’s degree at that time. I was going to... going to theology. But when I went before the Dean and we were talking about things, it suddenly came to me that I should be going on with further studies. I just dropped the idea of going into theology at that time and decided to go into graduate work and do a master’s degree in the subject I was best in and that was in English. So I did a Master’s degree in English.

Jeanne: And how did they test you on your ...? Did you have an exam? You told us a little bit about how they asked you several oral questions and so on.

Lance: Oh yes. Well... when, during.. . my exams, they looked at my paper and wondered if I had copied the answers because to their mind nobody could have the answers without copying them from the original source. So they, they brought me before a group of professors and asked me very embarrassing questions. They were suggesting that I was…I was cheating. So I was quite annoyed with them actually and I said, "You have the book in front of you; open to it. Turn to any poem and read the first four lines." So they would turn to a poem, you know, and read the first four lines and then I would immediately carry on with four more or ten more lines. I got carried away. I said,” Turn to another poem, “and they would turn to Tintern Abbey or something, you know, and again I would become very inspired, and, you know... “Five years have passed, five summers with the length/ of five long winters and once again /Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs that on a wild secluded scene impress/ thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect the landscape with the quiet of the sky.” And I would go on and on and they were amazed. And I said, "Turn to another one. Any one." And they said, “No, that’s enough!” (laughing)

Clare: You proved your point.

Lance: I... ah-“We apologize for thinking that you had...” You know, actually I had highest marks anybody had made at the university, up to that point. And that’s why they were so concerned about me carrying notes. They said nobody quotes like that.

Jeanne: Where do you think you learned this?

Lance: I learned that in Jamaica, that’s the way we used to learn. In fact in Jamaica, P.J. Patterson... that’s the guy, P.J. Patterson. He was... he’s now the Prime Minister of Jamaica. Well, he and I were in the same class together. And we used to have a competition to see who could learn more English poems. And, you know, they had found it very hard to beat me because I used to just learn a lot of poetry and I could recite a lot of poetry, and so could P.J… he could, too. And so we got in this habit that just about anything we read, we maintained. (Laugh)

Clare: Oh

Lance: And it became, it became bad... because when we were doing an exam, we couldn’t finish the exam, we had too much…

Clare: Too much to say.

Lance: …too much information and I had to go to a psychiatrist to have him unlearn me in certain things.

Clare: So you could control it.

Lance: That’s so I could control it, yeah. But it, it helped me in a lot of ways. ‘Cause I could walk into an exam and the moment I looked at it, a flood of things would come to mind. And I would just start writing, you know, but not enough time to finish and, but it helped me anyway.

Jeanne: Did you achieve your Masters in English then?

Lance: Oh yes, yes, I found it very easy. I mean I couldn’t imagine they would give me a Masters for what I was doing because I found it just a joy to be able to write all this stuff and…oh yeah. (laughter)

Jeanne: What happened when they removed this, or tried to remove it?

Lance: They tried to remove it but they hadn’t fully done it. I can, I can still remember things.

Jeanne: That’s good. You’ve already proven that to us.

Lance: Yeah

Jeanne: So what did you do with your Masters degree?

Lance: Well what I did.. . I decided then, “I’ll go into theology”, that’s when I decided to go into, and do theology.

Jeanne: You got your Masters in 1959?

Lance: Yeah

Jeanne: Then you went into theology at McMaster?

Lance: Yeah

Jeanne: And how did you make out on that one?

Lance: Well I made out fine except. . I found it pretty dull, I mean...(chuckle)…you know, I. did… so I spent most of my time visiting with people, instead of studying. I didn’t… I couldn’t stand wasting time to study theology. So I wonder up to this day why I passed. (laughing)

Clare: Oh, you could remember all those scriptures… maybe...that would help you.

Lance: Oh, I could remember and…. but theology, I used to make up my own stuff. And, and you know, you had to put down who, you know, great authors who said so and so, and you agree with them or disagree. I made up all my stuff. . . Oh I shouldn’t be telling you this. But I did do some awful things. (chuckle)

Clare: Oh, you ----(laugh)

Jeanne: Well this is the Lance Morgan we want to know.

Clare: Well right, yes.

Lance: Oh, I was terrible. But they... I passed theology, you know; all my references were accepted and except one professor, I forget his name now, he died. He was over a hundred when he died, but I couldn’t fool him. I wrote down things and he... he wrote back on my paper. He says, “I’m going to withhold my mark until you tell me who these authors are, where they came from…” (laughing). .Dr. Walters his name was. And he, he just could not find them. He said he searched everywhere and he thought he knew everybody who had written about this matter. . (laugh) So finally I had to admit to him, I said, “I was the author.” He said, “Well, that’s not permitted. You know. “

Jeanne: You say here that you, from your English, you were in a teaching career.

Lance: Yeah, well I decided I was going to be a teacher. . And after I had decided that, I got a call from McMaster offering me a position as a lecturer, I think they call it, where I would be going to teaching with one of the professors. And then at the same time, about a day later, I got a call from Brantford, Ontario, asking me if I would come and do some preaching in Brantford on a... they didn’t tell me how long, for a period of time. And then I thought to myself, "Hey, why would they call me?" Then I decided, “Hey, this is really what I want to do. I want to be a preacher instead of a teacher.” So at that time I had started going with Pat, my wife.

Lance: She was at Toronto University. So I decided then I was going into theology and I phoned Pat and told her, “Guess what? I’m going into theology”, and she was quite mad. She said,” You’re giving up the position you have at McMaster to go to Brantford?" I said, “Yes, because I’ve had a call. I’ve been called of (by) God .”(chuckle)She thought I was crazy, so.. .but what could she do about it? Either accept me or reject the whole the thing. So she decided she would stick with me. (chuckle)So that’s how I went in to do theology instead and, needless to say, I had already one interview at a place called Haliburton to be an English teacher and I had to tell the guy, “Sorry, I’m not coming.” And he said, “Why not?” I said, “Because I’m going to preach.” “You’re going to what?” I said, "Preach!” (chuckle). I’ll never forget his face, the look on his face. He thought I was crazy. (laughter)

Jeanne: And so, you said, you were just going with Pat. That was your girlfriend at the time...

Lance: Yeah

Jeanne: Was it? And you, when did you marry, before you went to preach or after you went preaching?

Lance: Well, no, after I went to preach. I accepted the call at McMaster, In [Brantford] they gave me a beautiful house, four bedroom house and, and I had no wife. So, and I was still taking some courses in Hamilton so I, and that was what twenty miles away, so I decided I might as well get married. So I got married. I phoned her and told her, “Arrange it”. And we went up and we got married.

Jeanne: Did she finish her nursing course?

Lance: No, she had .., I told her. .she could if she wanted. I said, “You go ahead and finish”, but she decided she wouldn’t be bothered finishing. So she got a… she had a job working in a lab anyway. So she said, “What’s the point?... and I’m not going to... you know, I’m going to be looking after you instead of nursing.” I said, “Well, that’s up to you, whatever you want to do.” So she didn’t finish nursing.

Clare: Did you know her before you came to Canada?

Lance: Well, I knew her in Jamaica but not as... we had nothing in common, absolutely. I knew her because she worked with Dr. Prendergast. You know Dr. Prendergast?

Jeanne: Yes.

Clare: Yes.

Lance: Well Dr. Prendergast was a lab technician and so was Pat, and they worked in the same place. .

Jeanne: This is at McMaster or...

Lance: No, this is in Jamaica.

Jeanne: Oh, in Jamaica.

Lance: In Jamaica. And so the reason Dr. Prendergast is in Prince George today is that I found out where he was in the states and I phoned him, and I invited him to come up. I said, “Prince George can use you.” And so he came up and looked at the situation, and he decided to stay, and he’s here ever since. Yeah.

Jeanne: He’s retired now, isn’t he?

Lance: He’s retired now... yeah. But ... it goes a little deeper than that see. . Please don’t write this down, but it makes no difference. But Keith used to like my sister, you see and he used to try to get an invitation to come over and visit and I used to charge him. He had to (laughing) pay me. I... he used to have to bring chocolate bars and all that and give to me before I let him talk to my sister. You can ask him about it. He will... he will tell you. (laugh)

Jeanne: Such an honourable young man. (laugh)

Lance: Yeah

Jeanne: And you have a bit about the Tommy Douglas.

Lance: Oh yeah, Tommy Douglas. Now, when I was in Brantford, Ontario, I heard about this minister who was a politician. I knew nothing about NDP or anything. So I just thought, “Hey, that would be nice to have a politician come over and preach for us.” So I phoned him up at his hotel.

Jeanne: This is when you were in Brantford?

Lance: Yeah, I was in Brantford then. And so he told me to come down and see him, so I went down and I saw him and he was intrigued by me. And so was I by him. So I invited him to come over and preach. I didn’t know that at that time that all our deacons were Liberals. (laugh) and the worst thing I could have done was asked a New Democrat Party man, who, to them, they were nothing but communists,to come over and preach. And I got hell from my deacons. They said, “How could you invite him over?” And I said, “Well what’s wrong? He’s a Baptist minister isn’t he? And.. .so I said... they said, “Well you have to phone and tell him he can’t.” I said, “I’m not doing such a thing. You phone and tell him”, and they wouldn’t phone, so he came. And when he came, a whole slew of politicians came as well. Then I realized what I was into, but boy did he ever preach a good sermon, you know!

Jeanne: He didn’t preach politics?

Lance: No, not really, he preached ah. . oh what is ... about.... oh man... I have part of his sermon still written down. Oh... it was brilliant. It was just brilliant. And... but, anyway it really bothered me that our deacons would be so upset, you know, and I... that’s one of the reasons I decided after awhile to leave Brantford. They were... they were too narrow. You know, and so, anyway Tommy Douglas told them to go after me to run for Brantford. So they came after me and I told them no; I said I didn’t... I don’t even know what New Democrats are… at that time one of the professors at the university was a New Democratic guy. He knew me well, and he phoned me, and he said, “I’ll back you if you want to run.” So I decided, “No, I’m not running. This... this was ridiculous. I came into the ministry, and not into politics.”

Clare: Excuse me, that was in the days when it was called the CCF, right?

Lance: yeah, CCF.

Clare: Right and it later became the New Democratic Party.

Lance: That’s right. NDP

Lance: Yeah, but he, he was a good man. I really…I really enjoyed oh. . his speech was great, oh man, it flowed well. Yeah, (chuckle) but I got hell from the deacons.

Jeanne: How long did you stay in Brantford then?

Lance: I was in Brantford about three years and

Jeanne: and the church was…

Lance: ... yeah, the church... the church grew , it was

Jeanne: The name of the church did?

Lance: The church had about 3 – 400 people.Yeah, it was a good size church. And we had one of the largest choirs in Ontario of a church. Oh, a beautiful choir! And we had... our own choir director and organist. Oh, what a big organ... pipe organ of course. And we had an Assistant Minister too. When he heard I became a minister, he quit. (chuckle).Yeah he was quite mad, but the deacons didn’t care if he quit. So, we got another assistant. Yeah.

Jeanne: Now you said mixing politics with religion didn’t go too well with you, so you.. . decided to move?Lance Well that . .wasn’t the reason I had to move. I wanted. .I wanted to get into something where I could build. And I didn’t have to build at that church. It was already built. And it was beautiful and everything, and everything was going too well, and I needed to get to something that I was involved in. And . .so when I heard about Prince George… I had no idea what Prince George was like… none, whatsoever.

Jeanne: How did you hear about… how did you hear about Prince George then?

Lance: Well, there was this fellow Jim Barton, and he’s in Victoria right now. And he was, working for the Baptist Union and looking around for recruits. And he heard about me, so he thought he would come and give me a try. And he came over to Brantford and, and told me about Prince George. And... but when he looked around the church, he said, “I don’t think you’ll be interested, because we don’t have anything like this.” And I said, “Well, that’s good...you don’t have anything like this,” but... he didn’t tell me how bad it was in Prince George. The little old church that... would seat the forty people and it was condemned by the city. .

Jeanne: (chuckle)

Lance: …and when it rained it flooded the whole thing and... (chuckle) it was terrible.

Jeanne: Where was this church?

Lance: Right exactly where we are now.

Jeanne: It flooded.

Lance: It flooded because when I came I could not believe that that there was a church. It was a little old building sitting there and when I went in all I could see was snow. It was... it was in March, and the one toilet had two-by-fours sticking out of it. Some kid had thrown the two-by-four in from outside. And the whole thing was a mess, and that the church (side one ends)

Clare: Okay?

Lance: Yeah, when I came to Prince George I went up to the church. It just looked decrepit and I could not believe that they would have services in a wooden... a place like this, it; it was awful . And the snow was filling the basement of the church and the one bathroom had a two by four sticking out of the toilet and... I found it difficult to believe that anybody could worship in there. But that was the church and on Sunday when I went there were a few people that came out and everybody looked half dead, and there’s only one person in church today who was there when I came and . .

Jeanne: 1962, was it?

Lance: Yeah, 1962. And this fellow, Sisson his name is.... I still have great joy seeing him in church because he was there when I first came.

Jeanne: How many parishioners did you have?

Lance: We had about seven or eight people in church. And it was quite a change from Brantford and where we had a massive pipe organ, big choir and everything, and to come to a thing like this…

Jeanne: Was this the challenge you were looking for?

Lance: Ah. . (chuckle) well, it was more than I expected. Yeah. But we had one deacon, Ginter, you have heard of Ginter?

Jeanne: Which, Ben?

Lance: Ben’s brother

Jeanne: Oh

Lance: He was our deacon and he was the only deacon present. I think they had another one somewhere, but I couldn’t find him. (chuckle) But it was very interesting. I, at first I didn’t know how I could remain and be pastor but the more I thought of it, the more I said to myself, “Well, you wanted a challenge. Well, you have a challenge.”

Jeanne: Did you come by yourself or did you bring your wife?

Lance: I left my wife and I was thanking God I left her, because she definitely would have said, "No.” (laughter) And, so when I went home I could kind of polish it up a bit and I wouldn’t tell her the bad things, you know. Oh, it was awful. But the mission, they had a mission house and that wasn’t too bad. It was bad enough, but it wasn’t too bad. On Harper Street… it’s still there and we sold it finally for six hundred dollars, is it six hundred?. . .six thousand dollars, yeah. We sold the house for, yeah. .

Jeanne: This is where you were to live was it?

Lance: That’s right. Yeah....

Jeanne: Tell us a little bit more. What was it like?

Lance: But it wasn’t too bad. Compared to the church, it was good. Oh yes, it was good. But I’ll tell you one little story. I don’t know if I told you before, but after I told the man, “Yes, I will come to the church.” He said, “Are you sure?” And he was so certain I would turn it down that he said, “I’ll tell you what we’ll do. We will talk to the Baptist Union and if you still want to come after you talk to them and work out things then... we will have you come.” So I said, “I’m not talking to anybody. I am just telling you, I will come if you want me. If you don’t want me, fine.” Finally he realized that I was to come. So anyway I came. And ah. . the first few Sundays were quite depressing because I thought everybody would have realized here is a man all the way from Ontario, you know, let’s go out and hear him and I would really preach up a storm and they’ll come on out. Nobody. It made no difference and I just could not believe that church could be so dead. So I decided to do something different. So I announced that on the following Sunday there was going to be a funeral. And they, they said, “Well, who died?” I said, “Well, they would like to keep that a secret; that’s the family’s wish.” And ... word was spread throughout the community that there was going to be a funeral at Central, it used to be Central Baptist Church at the time. And. ... and so people were spreading the word like crazy. I went down, I had a coffin made. A real coffin. And I brought the coffin into the church. And Mrs. Kellet was the organist and Mrs. Kellet, you know her at all?

Jeanne: Well, I know the name.

Lance: Jean, Jean Kellet. She was the only one who knew what was happening. And I told her, you’re going to play 'When All the Saints Who From Their Labours Rest', and the deacons will come up, we only had one deacon but those who were in leadership and we couldn’t find anybody. But people were allowed to come up and look at the remains and that’s how the service is going to be. And Mrs. Kellet said are you sure you want to do this. And I said, “Yeah, I want to do this.” So the service started. We couldn’t hold the people. I mean it was crowded. And

Jeanne: How many people?

Lance: Eh?

Jeanne: Forty people the church held.

Lance: That’s right and there must have been over a hundred and something people. ‘Cause people are outside and we... we played this mournful song, "For All the Saints Who From their Labours Rest'. And then, I said I would like the deacons to come up first. The deacon and whoever else is in leadership in the church, and then followed by everybody else who would like to come up and pay their respects to the deceased. And everybody wanted to see who was dead 'cause…

Clare: (laugh)

Lance: …nobody, nobody knew who was dead. So they all came up one, and when they came and looked, they were shocked. And I remember for Ginter came first, coming up and looking Ahhh.... and he gasped, and others came up and they all... and the rule was you go right back to your seat without talking to anybody. I said, “Nobody is to be disturbed.” And they came up one by one and it was silence.

Jeanne: What was in it?

Clare: Nothing

Lance: Well, yes... (chuckle) something was in it.

Clare: The church?

Lance: A mirror was in there. So when they came up and looked in, they saw themselves (chuckle) and then when they had finished, I said, “Do you get the point?” I said, “We are the church and what you looked at was the church. And you see how dead you were?, I said, “This church is dead because you are dead. And this church will only be alive if you become alive.” And boy, did I ever preach up a sermon there, you know, on what life is. .and so on. And boy, it made a difference! I mean that church started to grow. People started to come and... oh my goodness, in no time we had to do something. By that time I had a sign outside anyway, saying the new... and I had changed the name from Central Baptist Church to First Baptist because I got permission from the German Baptists down the road. They were here first, so I went to them and I said, “Do you mind?” They said, “No, we don’t care what you call yourselves.” because they figured we were going to close up soon anyway. (chuckle) And the church grew like crazy and we grew from seven to eight hundred people. Yeah.

Jeanne: Where did you get all these people who were there, how many were living in Prince George then?

Lance: Oh, what happened… the pulp mill started up and people came in from all over the place and we have a l’... had a lot of new people and that helped the church to grow like crazy at the beginning and it was a little sad because we knew that the time would come when the pulp mills would stop building and the people would go back home, which did happen. I remember at one time we lost oh... must have lost at least.., at least forty people at one... one sweep. That pulp mill had stopped and these people had no more jobs here so they had to leave. You know. And... but we said what are we going to do, give up? No, we’re going to continue and so in no time the church revamped. You see Prince George grew from seven th’... we had how many people, oh seven thousand people when I came. And then it grew to eighty thousand. Yeah. Yeah. Seventeen thousand. Yeah. (undec)

Clare: You’re talking the population of Prince George?

Lance: Yeah.

Jeanne: And what about your building now... then..

Lance: Right, I had put out a sign that on this property the First Baptist Church will be built. People thought I was crazy to suggest that we’re going to put up a church in a year. (chuckle) We owed a pile of money on the old building, which had to be torn down, you know, and because the city only allowed us to live in it for a period of time and they told us it had to go because it had too many defects. So when we put up… that’s when I put up a sign that the First Baptist new church will be built. And... I’ll tell you how that happened. I went to Vancouver at the invitation of our board and I had to speak before the board in Vancouver. And so I.... we had about twenty, thirty people on the board and they introduced me. This is Lance Morgan, he’s new in Prince George, he’s been there for nine... six months now and he has a few things that he would like to say to the board. So I said, "Yeah, I have a few things I’d like to say. Some of you may have heard the rumour already that we are building a new church." And they were all shocked ‘cause none of them had heard it. . (laugh) I said, “Oh yeah.” I said, "If you haven’t received it in the mail yet, there is a letter to the board here telling you that we are putting up a new church in... in less than a year.” And everybody was shocked at this. And I said, "This is how we’re doing it. We owe you, I think... I forget how many thousand dollars." I said, "First of all, we’re going to get you to forget that because (chuckle)... I said... if you can get money out of that church now, you are better than anybody I know because we have no money to give you." I said, “They don’t even have money to pay the pastor’s salary and I am their pastor. And... so I have some suggestions for you." So they thought, you know, they couldn’t understand my approach. They thought I’d be down there begging and what not. And... so I said first of all .. I said we owe you all this money. Forget it, that’s the first thing. And they said, "Okay. What’s the second thing? The second thing is that... we want you to undertake paying the pastor’s salary for a period of up to three years. You pay the whole salary." (laugh) “Boy, that’s a cushy position for you to be in,” one guy said. To have your salary paid for forty year’... for three years!" And I said, "Sir, I don’t know who you are but whoever you are, how would you like to uh... take over my salary at three thousand dollars a year. You will have the salary, and I’ll have your salary. And he was minister of First Baptist Church in Vancouver. And at that time there, they had a big salary, it was a big church, and of course everybody else is giggling. (laughing) And that guy, that was the end of him. He didn’t have anything else to say and then I said, “Secondly... I would, I would ask, yeah, this is the third thing. The first thing was that they .. . the second thing was they pay the salary of up to three years and then what was the third thing? That they would give me, yeah, they would give me... I forget how many thousand dollars to start the church. I said, “I need the money to take home and give the people.” They thought I was joking, you know. So I said,” Maybe you don’t understand the power that you guys have." On this board you have a man who is head of Canada Safeway, and he was right here on the board. I didn’t know who he was. I said, “That man... he will tell you that Prince George has a Safeway already and they are going to put up another one, you know, and if you have that kind of... what do you call... in Prince George, that kind of.?

Clare: Potential?

Lance: Eh?

Clare: Potential?

Lance: …potential, yeah. What’s a church, what a few, you know, few thousand dollars for a church. And ...and then I said, "There’s another man here who’s. . who, who owns the largest bank in Prince George. That’s Bentalls, and they own a big bank downtown. They s’... they don’t own it anymore, they sold it. But your company is adding to that bank. And you... you wouldn’t be adding to it unless you thought that Prince George is going to grow. So all I’m asking for our church is just a few thousand dollars to help us to get started. What is that for the... you know... cause of Jesus Christ. And the guy who was head of the bank, who owned the bank, Bentall, he was sitting right there. In fact, he was the chairman at our meeting. I didn’t know who he was. But I went on like that. I had done my homework, you see, and I picked out all these guys. And so I brought them all out. I said, “Now, do you believe in Jesus Christ? Do you believe that he can turn our church around and make it vibrant? I believe it. Or else I wouldn’t have left Brantford, you know... left three hundred people sitting in Brantford, to come to a place like Prince George. I wouldn’t have. But I believe that God is there, and God will. .etc.” yeah, and so by the time I had finished, Bentall himself, he got and says, “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I would like to move that we grant this man all his wishes, and that we get him out of here so (chuckle) he can go back to Prince George and carry on his work.” And that’s how it got started. Yeah. So I came home and we owed no money, we had all that money sitting there waiting for us to start, and I said, “All we have to do is . . .move... move ahead.” So that’s what we did.

Jeanne: Fantastic story.

Lance: yeah

Jeanne: You had a strong belief in… everything.

Lance: Yeah…and we had built three times there, right where we are.

Clare: Well, when you had to tear down the old one, where did you worship until the new one was built?

Lance: Well, we were in the old one and we started the new one before tearing down the old,

Clare: Oh

Lance: You see, and when we got it to a place where we could move in, then we tore down the old. And it was interesting tearing down the old too. Because Fred Ginter, he tied a rope around the church and tied it to his truck and drove off. (laughter) But he forgot the organ in the church. And the organ went down into the baptistery, which was in the church. And … but it was too late to pull it out. So the old organ is still below. (laughing) Oh yeah. In fact, in a little while a guy will be phoning me and that’s Fred’s son. I’m going out with him later on. Fred has a son here, two sons here who are still living and...this guy, Lawrence Ginter, yeah he phoned me this morning. He wants to come up and have lunch or something so I told him to phone back about 12 o’clock.

Jeanne: This is just a friendly lunch or are you going to start something else?

Lance: Oh no, no, a friend, like ... he’s a nice guy, you know, but I just befriend him. Nice guy.

Jeanne: So that’s…(our list) says the second church (was built) in 63/64. Where is that church now then?

Lance: Ah

Jeanne: The one you built?

Lance: Where? Right there!

Jeanne: Oh yeah.

Lance: The new sanctuary... before that we just , behind the new church now is the old church. It’s tied into the new church. And that could hold a hundred and s’. .a hundred and fifty. Then we expanded it to hold two hundred, . .two hundred and thirty.

Jeanne: That was nineteen seventy- seven.

Lance: Yeah, something …And then we built this church in nineteen eighty something

Jeanne: ’82.

Lance: ... to hold 650. So the one we have now holds six hundred and fifty. Yeah. And I don’t know what we’re going to do from here. We have four ministers now.

Jeanne: At that one church?

Lance: yeah, yeah. My son…

Jeanne: Really?

Lance: …is one of the ministers. Yeah. I’m still a minister there, but I’m what you call Minister Emeritus, whatever that means.

Jeanne: Earned your way.

Lance: Yeah

Jeanne: Merit.

Lance: I guess so.

Jeanne: Brownie points.

Lance: yeah.

Jeanne: I think you well deserve it. So... and you also (built) a Mackenzie church.

Lance: Yeah, we started a Mackenzie church in nineteen seventy-something. I can’t remember what date exactly. But I used to go up on… I used to go up on about Mondays, yeah, right after our service here. The next day I would go up to Mackenzie and... and then we started a , a church in one of the schools with whoever wanted to come. You know. And in nineteen seventy-something we decided to build. And we built, and we have a church in Mackenzie now. It’s self-supporting now. It’s on its own. And… yeah.

Clare: And you had all that experience to offer about how to get a church built?

Lance: No, we made it up (chuckle) and we also helped out a church in Dawson Creek. We went up there once a month and when they were without a minister and helped them, you know, to carry on and so on. So we were busy, and we had a... a little church in McLeod Lake too. We, we were quite, quite busy. (chuckle)

Jeanne: And when did you retire from the church?

Lance: I retired... from here?. .about 7 years ago.

Jeanne: Seven years ago?

Lance: Yeah, I retired, that’s after, after... what, I was at the church for thirty-six years, yeah.

Jeanne: What do you credit yourself with the fact that you get involved in so many community affairs?

Lance: I think a church should be involved in their community. Okay if they’re not, how can you be ministering to the community, if you’re not involved with them? If you are by yourself, doing your own thing and you restrict everybody who’s coming to your church and you judge everybody who is coming to your church, you know, you become judgmental. And … .I find that a very difficult thing. So when I go to a church ... that has a lot of rules and regulations… Sure you may have rules and regulations but be careful that those are there to help people, not to hinder people. And a lot of churches have rules and regulations that keep people out. And harm people, rather than help them. And ... I really believe a church should help people and... even if there... there’s a little chance of getting damaged sometimes because of it. I think you need to take that... chance. And... I still believe a church needs to reach out to people.

Clare: What about their attitude towards speaking out on political matters?

Lance: Yeah, I, again, I think that the church should feel free to do that.

Lance: And... you shouldn’t make it become the focal point of your church because you might as well just become a political party. But politics is a definite part of church. . of... of life . . and life around the church, belonging to the church as well. That’s why right now I’m. . well… I’m not involved in politics; I still help... help out whether. . if I know the people and they need my help and, I’m there. I get criticized for it… But right now I don’t care. (laugh)

Jeanne: You’re your own man, aren’t you?

Lance: That’s right, exactly.

Jeanne: It’s a wonderful place to be, I think.

Lance: Yeah.

Jeanne: When I saw that piece about the new venture of the cancer clinic

Lance: Oh yeah

Jeanne: I just wonder right away, “Is Lance involved in this?

Lance: Yes

Jeanne: And now we find out that you. ..????...had your finger in it.

Lance: Oh yes. Well, I know the guy quite well. He was a member of our church for years. Bill Christie.

Clare: Oh, was he?

Lance: Yeah. Well he hadn’t… he’s still a member, but he hasn’t been coming to church. I have to have a talk with him one of these days. But.... yeah, he sang in our choir and everything. He’s a good singer. Yeah...Yeah.

Lance: And the present politician is a member of our church, what’s her name?. . .Shirley Bond.Yeah, she’s in our church. And... and what’s the guy from... .oh, we have had lots of political people in our church over the years, yeah.

Clare: Well, we will cover the depth of your community interest with our little list at the end.

Lance: Yes.

Jeanne: Do you have any other ambitions?... like, you’ve had your challenge and you’ve succeeded, I feel…with the challenge of Prince George

Lance: No, my ambition is still to be a part of Prince George, and to. . you know, to be there if they, say they need me to do something, I’ll pitch in and do it. And if they need me to speak out against something, I’ll do it. If I need... if I agree with them that is. (laugh)

Clare: Well, right!

Jeanne: Be that you’re against it?

Lance: yeah. Yeah.

Jeanne: I would like to thank you for this interesting interview.

Lance: No problem, you can phone me.

Jeanne:  You’re a very interesting person to talk to and have a varied background. Have you ever been defeated in anything?

Lance: Defeated? Ah no, I... every time I ran for the School Board, the Hospital Board I got elected so. I had to run for that what... three times I think.

Jeanne: Would you like to, before we close, to tell us a little bit about Pat, and how she has played a part in your life and

Lance: Oh yeah

Jeanne: and what your family is doing now?

Lance: Okay, yeah. Pat has been very vital to my whole ministry. She is there. . she looks after me, of course, and... she’s involved with a lot of women around town... in doing things, you know, putting on events. She’s always far more involved than I am right now…

Jeanne: Volunteering

Lance: …volunteering and so on. She does a lot of that. Yeah, she... does a lot of computer work.

Jeanne: Are there any organizations she belongs to?

Lance: Yeah. Well she... she used to, in the church. But she has kind of backed off most of the church stuff now. We... kind of leave the church to ... since we have a son there, we don’t want to seem to be ....involved as much as we were.

Jeanne: Yeah.

Lance: So we kind of stay out of things.

Jeanne: What is the name of your son?

Lance: Wayne Morgan, Wayne.

Jeanne: Wayne. Lance is showing us pictures of his family.

Lance: Where, where is he? There he is.

Jeanne: Yes.

Lance: He doesn’t have the long hair anymore.

Jeanne: ah

Lance: And this one is in Vancouver. She’s a minister too.

Jeanne: Is she?

Lance: Yeah, she’s in a church in Vancouver. And ...

Clare: Her name?

Lance: ah, Carla

Clare: Carla?

Lance: yeah. And we have one in Toronto and... Tanya, no Tanya is. . what’s her name? . . M’ oh that’s my sister. How do you forget your daughter’s name?

Clare: It’s okay.

Lance: Anyway she’s doing well in Vancouver. She’s really. . she works for government but she’s involved in her church. She’s married to. . a fellow who plays guitar in the church too, and he works for some.. .some organization to do with helping people.

Jeanne: How many children do you have?

Lance: Four children

Jeanne: Four children

Lance: Two boys, two girls. The two boys are here. One of them works at the government office, Kevin. Yeah.

Jeanne: The two boys are Wayne and Kevin

Lance: Wayne and Kevin

Jeanne: Girls, Carla and

Lance: Tanya

Jeanne: Tanya

Lance: yeah.

Jeanne: And Carla is… both in Vancouver, the girls?

Lance: No, one in Toronto.

Jeanne: One in Toronto.

Lance: and one in Vancouver. Yeah

Jeanne: Any grandchildren?

Lance: Yeah, we have seven grandchildren.

Jeanne: seven grand children?

Lance: Four of them belong to Kevin, and three of them belong to Wayne. Yeah, yeah, the older ones are Kevin’s. They are having a rough time now in that his wife has MS, and it’s progressing so it’s kind of difficult. We don’t know exactly how it’s going to turn out. But she can’t function by herself anymore. So she’s in... she’s in that home on Ospika. . .ah

Jeanne: Parkside?

Lance: Parkside, yeah. And she’s only... thirty something, she may be forty by now. Nice girl, nice girl, she still comes out at church every Sunday but she has to be brought. .

Clare: Well that’s a heartbreak.

Lance: Yeah, so it’s difficult. He works at the government office, yeah Bill Christie was his, was his boss.

Jeanne: Oh yeah

Lance: Yeah. Yeah.

Jeanne: And so you are satisfied with your life to this point then?

Lance: Yeah, I’m... I like doing what I’m doing. Mainly nothing. . although… I bury a lot of people; I still average about three funerals a week.

Jeanne: Why is it? ... because people don’t have their own minister for that?

Lance: Well, yes, that’s it, and I’ve been involved in so many people’s lives so...the moment they die, their parents think of me. So they ask for me.

Clare: Yes, well,

Lance: Yeah, so. I can still do that so…. .

Jeanne: You’re working from the church or you’re still on your own more or less?

Lance: I’m on my own. yeah

Jeanne: Yeah

Lance: Yeah. But you know I help out at church anytime they need me, but they really don’t need me to preach or anything, anymore. But I preach at different churches. I’ve been preaching at the Alliance Church quite a bit. And sometime I’m at Fort George Baptist... in about 2 weeks time I think. yeah

Jeanne: Just as a visiting minister?

Lance: yeah, yeah.

Jeanne: Keeps you involved.

Lance: That’s right, yeah.

Jeanne: Yes, well, I’d like to thank you very much again.

Lance: Well, I appreciate talking to you.

Jeanne: I find it interesting.

Lance: I say if there’s anything that comes up, just phone me.



LANCELOT HALIWELL MORGANAdditional Biographical NotesBorn in Corn Island, Nicaragua on May 13, 1933Moved to Jamaica as an infant; son of Rev. and Mrs. David MorganGraduated from Calabar High School in Kingston, JamaicaCame to Canada in 1954 and studied at McMaster University in Hamilton, OntarioGraduated with an M.A in English in 1959 and Theology in 1961During and after his studies at the Divinity College (McMaster) he pastored at Calvary Baptist Church in Brantford, OntarioIn 1962 he moved to Prince George, with wife Pat and son Wayne, to be the pastor at First Baptist Church, with a congregation of 8In 1998 he retired from First Baptist Church, with 800 members and adherentsOver the years Lance has served on: - the Board of the B.C. Area of Baptist Churches- later became the Moderator of the Area- the Board of the Baptist Union of Western Canada- the Prince George Regional Hospital Board- the Kiwanis Club- the Board of Bethesda Counseling Services- Project Friendship Board- Prince George Community Foundation- B.C. Hospital FoundationFor several years Lance has given a number of Inspirational and Motivational addresses to Service Clubs, Insurance Groups, Men's Group and Ladies' groups across the country. He has also conducted seminars and workshops in Canada, Bolivia and Brazil.In 1989 he was given the Annual Merit Award of the Baptist Union of Western CanadaIn 1990 he received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from McMaster University foroutstanding contribution to Denomination and CommunityIn 1992 he received a commemorative medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of CanadaIn 1999 he received Award for Service as Chaplain with Corrections BC for over 35 yearsIn 2002 he was the recipient of the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal for long service to the communityIn 2003 he was appointed to the 2010 North Prince George Committee for the Olympics