The Sunday School Mission van used by the Anglican Church missionaries in the Yukon. Sunday School Caravan Missions was an undertaking of two British women to bring Sunday school to children in isolated communities in the northwest of Canada.
The mission recruited young women, whom were known as 'vanners' to the communities they visited. The mission started by Eva Hasell would dispatch groups of recruits to remote areas for months in sturdy but sparsely-equipped Ford vans. They would meander about their chosen area spreading the word of the Anglican Church. When the Alaska Highway was opened up to the general public in 1946, the diocese wanted to establish a Sunday School Caravan Mission in the Yukon to help with the vast territory. During the summer, 'vanners' would travel along the highways to minister to families in the communities that sprang up along the highway.
In 1949 Miss Eva Hasell and Miss Iris Sayles officially began and operated the Anglican Sunday School Caravan along the Alaska Highway. Eva Hasell travelled from England every summer to participate in the program. In fact the two women were so involved with the Yukon mission that Miss Hasell personally donated the land for the First Haines Junction Anglican Church. The church was erected in 1956 by Reverened Watson and Peter Tizya, a lay minister from Old Crow. Unfortunately, the church fell into ill repair. The old church was stabilized once but by 1987 it was beyond restore.
One of a fleet of many such vehicles known as "Good Shepherd Vans" plying the "high and byways" of England and Canada from 1920 through to the late 60s, with the peak activity years in the 30s. Two British women, Miss Hasell and Miss Sayre, started the Sunday School Mission in England, eventually enlisting volunteers in Canada.
Among other things they collected clothing for children in depressed areas, and raised money for medical purposes and education for special needs children. They also visited with British families transplanted to Canada, and often enough the younger female volunteers returned as brides to lonely bachelors on farms and in construction camps. The two women undertook the mission along the Alaska Highway themselves over the summers 1949-1959, commissioned by Bishop Greenwood. In 1968 Miss Hasell was presented with a Medal of Service from Governor-General Michener as recognition of her work.
- From article in the Canadian Churchman (n.d.)
Yukon Transportation Museum, Whitehorse