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
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
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.
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
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...
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…
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.
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
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.
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
Clare: And they have a web site now, The Gleaner.
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
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
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
Jeanne: Well, where did you go to high school? Your
early education was in Springfield. Where was the high
Lance: In Calabar High School in Jamaica. That’s
where my dad went to Theological School, too.
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,
Lance: You don’t want to hear that story
Clare: We do.. we didn’t get it on tape.
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)
he took it all in good spirit?
Lance: Oh, yes.
Jeanne: Good fun?
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
Jeanne: Can you tell us a little bit
about your grandmother that you stayed with? That’d
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
Jeanne: You say when you left Nicaragua, the family was
three boys, and you were the youngest?
Lance: Three boys, I was the
Jeanne: Of the three?
Jeanne: And from
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.
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.
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.
right and who God was carrying
Lance: That’s right.
Clare: …is that the
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
Jeanne: We hear about it but I
said, you know, people will be reading this down the line
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
Jeanne: So, anyway, you went back from the tobacco farm
with a broken heart and back to university.
Jeanne: And...you carried on, and you were still on your
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
Clare: You proved your point.
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)
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
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
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
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.
good. You’ve already proven that to us.
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
Jeanne: Then you went into theology at
Jeanne: And how did you make out on that
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
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
Jeanne: You say here that you, from your English, you were in a
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
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.
Jeanne: And so, you said, you were just going with Pat. That
was your girlfriend at the time...
Jeanne: Was it? And
you, when did you marry, before you went to preach or after you went
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
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
Clare: Did you know her before you came to
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.
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
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
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)
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
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.
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
Jeanne: How long did you stay in Brantford
Lance: I was in Brantford about three years and
Jeanne: and the
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.
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,
Jeanne: How did you hear about… how did you hear about Prince
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
Lance: …and when it rained it flooded the
whole thing and... (chuckle) it was terrible.
Jeanne: Where was this
Lance: Right exactly where we are now.
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
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 . .
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
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: 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
Jeanne: Did you come by yourself or did you bring your
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
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
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?
Jeanne: Forty people the church
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…
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
Lance: Well, yes... (chuckle) something was in
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
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.
Clare: You’re talking the population of Prince
Jeanne: And what about your building now...
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.?
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
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.
Jeanne: You had a strong belief in… everything.
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,
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
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.
that’s…(our list) says the second church (was built) in 63/64.
Where is that church now then?
Jeanne: The one you
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
Lance: Yeah, something …And then we built this church in
nineteen eighty something
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
Jeanne: At that one church?
Lance: yeah, yeah.
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: I guess so.
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
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.
Jeanne: And when did you retire from the church?
retired... from here?. .about 7 years ago.
Jeanne: Seven years
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
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
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.
Jeanne: When I saw that
piece about the new venture of the cancer clinic
Lance: Oh yeah
just wonder right away, “Is Lance involved in this?
now we find out that you. ..????...had your finger in it.
yes. Well, I know the guy quite well. He was a member of
our church for years. Bill Christie.
Clare: Oh, was
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.
you have any other ambitions?... like, you’ve had your challenge and
you’ve succeeded, I feel…with the challenge of Prince George
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.
Clare: Well, right!
Jeanne: Be that you’re against
Lance: yeah. Yeah.
Jeanne: I would like to thank you
for this interesting interview.
Lance: No problem, you can phone
Jeanne: You’re a very interesting person to
talk to and have a varied background. Have you ever been defeated in
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
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
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
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.
we kind of stay out of things.
Jeanne: What is the name of your
Lance: Wayne Morgan, Wayne.
Jeanne: Wayne. Lance is showing us pictures
of his family.
Lance: Where, where is he? There he
Lance: He doesn’t have the long hair anymore.
Lance: And this one is in Vancouver. She’s a minister
Jeanne: Is she?
Lance: Yeah, she’s in a church in Vancouver.
Clare: Her name?
Lance: ah, 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
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?
Jeanne: Four children
Lance: Two boys, two girls. The two
boys are here. One of them works at the government office,
Jeanne: The two boys are Wayne and Kevin
Jeanne: Girls, Carla
Jeanne: And Carla is… both in
Vancouver, the girls?
Lance: No, one in Toronto.
Jeanne: One in
Lance: and one in Vancouver. Yeah
Lance: Yeah, we have seven grandchildren.
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.
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
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?
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.
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?
Jeanne: Keeps you involved.
Lance: That’s right, yeah.
Jeanne: Yes, well, I’d like to thank you very much
Lance: Well, I appreciate talking to you.
Jeanne: I find it
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