The shirt was originally made for Bishop Bompas by a friend of First Nations decent. It is thought that the Bishop never wore the shirt. Instead he sent it to a friend in England as an example of the fine sewing done by First Nations in the Yukon. The tunic was made during Bishop Bompas' tenure in the Yukon. The shirt was made by an unrecorded artisan, most likely from a community of Gwitch'in or Han peoples in the Yukon where Bishop Bompas was stationed.
Bishop William Carpenter Bompas was born in London, England on January 20, 1834. He came to the Yukon in 1862, arriving to replace the ailing Robert MacDonald at Fort Simpson. MacDonald made a full recovery and the vestry thought it would be best to keep Bompas in the Yukon to help with mission work for the Diocese. He left the Yukon to marry Charlotte Selina Cox in England in 1874 and promptly returned to continue his work.
Bompas was probably best known for his tenure at Forty Mile where he learned several First Nation languages and helped enlist the assistance of the Royal North West Mounted Police to maintain order during the rowdy gold rush days when there was debate over whether the territory belonged to the US or Canada. Bishop Bompas' legacy to the North was his commitment to education. He was the happiest when engaged in teaching in the mission schools or preaching at fishing and hunting camps while First Nations people followed their seasonal pursuits. The setting did not matter as long as teacher and pupils could spend time together in pursuit of literacy and the teachings of the Gospel.
Bompas served 43 years in the Mackenzie and Yukon Dioceses, returning only once to England during that time. He died on June 9, 1906 in Carcross, Yukon.
Old Log Church Museum, Whitehorse