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Title: Crusaders of New France - A Chronicle of the Fleur-de-Lis in the Wilderness - Chronicles of America, Volume 4
Author: Munro, William Bennett, 1875-1957
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  To my good friend
  (_Henri d'Arles_)
  this tribute to the men
  of his race and faith is
  affectionately inscribed.






France, when she undertook the creation of a Bourbon empire beyond the
seas, was the first nation of Europe. Her population was larger than
that of Spain, and three times that of England. Her army in the days
of Louis Quatorze, numbering nearly a half-million in all ranks, was
larger than that of Rome at the height of the imperial power. No
nation since the fall of Roman supremacy had possessed such resources
for conquering and colonizing new lands. By the middle of the
seventeenth century Spain had ceased to be a dangerous rival; Germany
and Italy were at the time little more than geographical expressions,
while England was in the throes of the Puritan Revolution.

Nor was it only in the arts of war that the hegemony of the Bourbon
kingdom stood unquestioned. In art and education, in manners and
fashions, France also dominated the ideas of the old continent, the
dictator of social tastes as well as the grim warrior among the
nations. In the second half of the seventeenth century France might
justly claim to be both the heart and the head of Europe. Small wonder
it was that the leaders of such a nation should demand to see the
"clause in Adam's will" which bequeathed the New World to Spain and
Portugal. Small wonder, indeed, that the first nation of Europe should
insist upon a place in the sun to which her people might go to trade,
to make land yield its increase, and to widen the Bourbon sway. If
ever there was a land able and ready to take up the white man's
burden, it was the France of Louis XIV.

The power and prestige of France at this time may be traced, in the
main, to three sources. First there were the physical features, the
compactness of the kingdom, a fertile soil, a propitious climate, and
a frontage upon two great seas. In an age when so much of a nation's
wealth came from agriculture these were factors of great importance.
Only in commerce did the French people at this time find themselves
outstripped by their neighbors. Although both the Atlantic and the
Mediterranean bathed the shores of France, her people were being
outdistanced on the seas by the English and the Dutch, whose
commercial companies were exploiting the wealth of the new continents
both east and west. Yet in France there was food enough for all and to
spare; it was only because the means of distributing it were so poor
that some got more and others less than they required. France was
supporting at this time a population half as large as that of today.

Then there were qualities of race which helped to make the nation
great. At all periods in their history the French have shown an almost
inexhaustible stamina, an ability to bear disasters, and to rise from
them quickly, a courage and persistence that no obstacles seem able to
thwart. How often in the course of the centuries has France been torn
apart by internecine strife or thrown prostrate by her enemies only to
astonish the world by a superb display of recuperative powers! It was
France that first among the kingdoms of Europe rose from feudal chaos
to orderly nationalism; it was France that first among continental
countries after the Middle Ages established the reign of law
throughout a powerful realm. Though wars and turmoils almost without
end were a heavy drain upon Gallic vitality for many generations,
France achieved steady progress to primacy in the arts of peace.
None but a marvellous people could have made such efforts without
exhaustion, yet even now in the twentieth century the astounding vigor
of this race has not ceased to compel the admiration of mankind.

In the seventeenth century, moreover, France owed much of her national
power to a highly-centralized and closely-knit scheme of government.
Under Richelieu the strength of the monarchy had been enhanced and the
power of the nobility broken. When he began his personal rule, Louis
XIV continued his work of consolidation and in the years of his long
reign managed to centralize in the throne every vestige of political
power. The famous saying attributed to him, "The State! I am the
State!" embodied no idle boast. Nowhere was there a trace of
representative government, nowhere a constitutional check on the
royal power. There were councils of different sorts and with varied
jurisdictions, but men sat in them at the King's behest and were
removable at his will. There were _parlements_, too, but to mention
them without explanation would be only to let the term mislead, for
they were not representative bodies or parliaments in the ordinary
sense: their powers were chiefly judicial and they were no barrier in
the way of the steady march to absolutism. The political structure of
the Bourbon realm in the age of Louis XIV and afterwards was simple:
all the lines of control ran upwards and to a common center. And all
this made for unity and autocratic efficiency in finance, in war, and
in foreign affairs.

Another feature which fitted the nation for an imperial destiny was
the possession of a united and militant church. With heresy the
Gallican branch of the Catholic Church had fought a fierce struggle,
but, before the seventeenth century was far advanced, the battle had
been won. There were heretics in France even after Richelieu's time,
but they were no longer a source of serious discord. The Church,
now victorious over its foes, became militant, ready to carry its
missionary efforts to other lands--ready, in fact, for a new crusade.

These four factors, rare geographical advantages, racial qualities
of a high order, a strongly centralized scheme of government, and a
militant church, contributed largely to the prestige which France
possessed among European nations in the seventeenth, century. With all
these advantages she should have been the first and not the last to
get a firm footing in the new continents. Historians have recorded
their reasons why France did not seriously enter the field of American
colonization as early as England, but these reasons do not impress one
as being good. Foreign wars and internal religious strife are commonly
given and accepted as the true cause of French tardiness in following
up the pioneer work of Jacques Cartier and others. Yet not all the
energy of nearly twenty million people was being absorbed in these
troubles. There were men and money to spare, had the importance of the
work overseas only been adequately realized.

The main reason why France was last in the field is to be found in the
failure of her kings and ministers to realize until late in the day
how vast the possibilities of the new continent really were. In a
highly centralized and not over-populated state the authorities must
lead the way in colonial enterprises; the people will not of their
own initiative seek out and follow opportunities to colonize distant
lands. And in France the authorities were not ready to lead. Sully,
who stood supreme among the royal advisers in the closing years of
the sixteenth century, was opposed to colonial ventures under all
circumstances. "Far-off possessions," he declared, "are not suited to
the temperament or to the genius of Frenchmen, who to my great regret
have neither the perseverance nor the foresight needed for such
enterprises, but who ordinarily apply their vigor, minds, and courage
to things which are immediately at hand and constantly before their
eyes." Colonies beyond the seas, he believed, "would never be anything
but a great expense." That, indeed, was the orthodox notion in circles
surrounding the seat of royal power, and it was a difficult notion to

Never until the time of Richelieu was any intimation of the great
colonial opportunity, now quickly slipping by, allowed to reach
the throne, and then it was only an inkling, making but a slight
impression and soon virtually forgotten. Richelieu's great Company of
1627 made a brave start, but it did not hold the Cardinal's interest
very long. Mazarin, who succeeded Richelieu, took no interest in the
New World; the tortuous problems of European diplomacy appealed far
more strongly to his Italian imagination than did the vision of a New
France beyond the seas. It was not until Colbert took the reins
that official France really displayed an interest in the work of
colonization at all proportionate to the nation's power and resources.

Colbert was admirably fitted to become the herald of a greater France.
Coming from the ranks of the _bourgeoisie_, he was a man of affairs,
not a cleric or a courtier as his predecessors in office had been. He
had a clear conception of what he wanted and unwearied industry in
moving towards the desired end. His devotion to the King was beyond
question; he had native ability, patience, sound ideas, and a firm
will. Given a fair opportunity, he would have accomplished far more
for the glory of the fleur-de-lis in the region of the St. Lawrence
and the Great Lakes of America. But a thousand problems of home
administration were crowded upon him, problems of finance, of
industry, of ecclesiastical adjustment, and of social reconstruction.
In the first few years of his term as minister he could still find a
little time and thought for Canada, and during this short period he
personally conducted the correspondence with the colonial officials;
but after 1669 all this was turned over to the Minister of Marine, and
Colbert himself figured directly in the affairs of the colony no more.
The great minister of Louis XIV is remembered far more for his work at
home than for his services to New France.

As for the French monarchs of the seventeenth century, Louis XIV was
the first and only one to take an active and enduring interest in the
great crusade to the northern wilderness. He began his personal reign
about 1660 with a genuine display of zeal for the establishment of a
colony which would by its rapid growth and prosperity soon crowd the
English off the new continent. In the selection of officials to carry
out his policy, his judgment, when not subjected to sinister pressure,
was excellent, as shown in his choice of Frontenac. Nor did the King's
interest in the colony slacken in the face of discouragement. It kept
on to the end of his reign, although diminishing somewhat towards the
close. It could not well do otherwise than weaken during the European
disasters which marked his later years. By the death of Louis XIV in
1715 the colony lost its most unwavering friend. The shrewdest of
French historians, De Tocqueville, has somewhere remarked that "the
physiognomy of a government may be best judged in the colonies....
When I wish to study the spirit and faults of the administration of
Louis XIV," he writes, "I must go to Canada, for its deformity is
there seen as through a microscope." That is entirely true. The
history of New France in its picturesque alternation of sunshine and
shadow, of victory and defeat, of pageant and tragedy, is a chronicle
that is Gallic to the core. In the early annals of the northland one
can find silhouetted in sharp relief examples of all that was best and
all that was worst in the life of Old France. The political framework
of the colony, with its strict centralization, the paternal regulation
of industry and commerce, the flood of missionary zeal which poured
in upon it, the heroism and courage of its priests and voyageurs, the
venality of its administrative officials, the anachronism of a feudal
land-tenure, the bizarre externals of its social life, the versatility
of its people--all these reflected the paternity of New France.

The most striking weakness of French colonial policy in the
seventeenth century was its failure to realize how vastly different
was the environment of North America from that of Central Europe.
Institutions were transplanted bodily, and then amazement was
expressed at Versailles because they did not seem to thrive in the new
soil. Detailed instructions to officials in New France were framed by
men who had not the slightest grasp of the colony's needs or problems.
One busybody wrote to the colonial Intendant that a bake-oven should
be established in every seigneury and that the _habitants_ should
be ordered to bring their dough there to be made into bread. The
Intendant had to remind him that, in the long cold winters of the St.
Lawrence valley, the dough would be frozen stiff if the habitants,
with their dwellings so widely scattered, were required to do
anything of the kind. Another martinet gravely informed the colonial
authorities that, as a protection against Indian attacks "all the
seigneuries should be palisaded." And some of the seigneurial estates
were eight or ten miles square! The dogmatic way in which the colonial
officials were told to do this and that, to encourage one thing and
to discourage another, all by superiors who displayed an astounding
ignorance of New World conditions, must have been a severe trial to
the patience of those hard-working officials who were never without
great practical difficulties immediately before their eyes.

Not enough heed was paid, moreover, to the advice of men who were on
the spot. It is true that the recommendations sent home to France by
the Governor and by the Intendant were often contradictory, but even
where the two officials were agreed there was no certainty that their
counsel would be taken. With greater freedom and discretion the
colonial government could have accomplished much more in the way of
developing trade and industry; but for every step the acquiescence of
the home authorities had first to be secured. To obtain this consent
always entailed a great loss of time, and when the approval arrived
the opportunity too often had passed. From November until May there
was absolutely no communication between Quebec and Paris save that in
a great emergency, if France and England happened to be at peace, a
dispatch might be sent by dint of great hardship to Boston with a
precarious chance that it would get across to the French ambassador in
London. Ordinarily the officials sent their requests for instructions
by the home-going vessels from Quebec in the autumn and received their
answers by the ships which came in the following spring. If any plans
were formulated after the last ship sailed in October, it ordinarily
took eighteen months before the royal approval could be had for
putting them into effect. The routine machinery of paternalism thus
ran with exasperating slowness.

There was, however, one mitigating feature in the situation. The hand
of home authority was rigid and its beckonings were precise; but as
a practical matter it could be, and sometimes was, disregarded
altogether. Not that the colonial officials ever defied the King or
his ministers, or ever failed to profess their intent to follow the
royal instructions loyally and to the letter. They had a much safer
plan. When the provisions of a royal decree seemed impractical or
unwise, it was easy enough to let them stand unenforced. Such decrees
were duly registered in the records of the Sovereign Council at Quebec
and were then promptly pigeonholed so that no one outside the little
circle of officials at the Château de St. Louis ever heard of them.
In one case a new intendant on coming to the colony unearthed a royal
mandate of great importance which had been kept from public knowledge
for twenty years.

Absolutism, paternalism, and religious solidarity were characteristic
of both France and her colonies in the great century of overseas
expansion. There was no self-government, no freedom of individual
initiative, and very little heresy either at home or abroad.
The factors which made France strong in Europe, her unity, her
subordination of all other things to the military needs of the nation,
her fostering of the sense of nationalism--these appeared prominently
in Canada and helped to make the colony strong as well. Historians of
New France have been at pains to explain why the colony ultimately
succumbed to the combined attacks of New England by land and of Old
England by sea. For a full century New France had as its next-door
neighbor a group of English colonies whose combined populations
outnumbered her own at a ratio of about fifteen to one. The relative
numbers and resources of the two areas were about the same,
proportionately, as those of the United States and Canada at the
present day. The marvel is not that French dominion in America finally
came to an end but that it managed to endure so long.



The closing quarter of the fifteenth century in Europe has usually
been regarded by historians as marking the end of the Middle Ages. The
era of feudal chaos had drawn to a close and states were being
welded together under the leadership of strong dynasties. With this
consolidation came the desire for expansion, for acquiring new lands,
and for opening up new channels of influence. Spain, Portugal, and
England were first in the field of active exploration, searching for
stores of precious metals and for new routes to the coasts of Ormuz
and of India. In this quest for a short route to the half-fabulous
empires of Asia they had literally stumbled upon a new continent which
they had made haste to exploit. France, meanwhile, was dissipating her
energies on Spanish and Italian battlefields. It was not until the
peace of Cambrai in 1529 ended the struggle with Spain that France
gave any attention to the work of gaining some foothold in the New
World. By that time Spain had become firmly entrenched in the lands
which border the Caribbean Sea; her galleons were already bearing home
their rich cargoes of silver bullion. Portugal, England, and even
Holland had already turned with zeal to the exploration of new
lands in the East and the West: French fishermen, it is true, were
lengthening their voyages to the west; every year now the rugged old
Norman and Breton seaports were sending their fleets of small vessels
to gather the harvests of the sea. But official France took no active
interest in the regions toward which they went. Five years after the
peace of Cambrai the Breton port of St. Malo became the starting point
of the first French voyageur to the St. Lawrence. Francis I had been
persuaded to turn his thoughts from gaming and gallantries to the
trading prospects of his kingdom, with the result that in 1534 Jacques
Cartier was able to set out on his first voyage of discovery. Cartier
is described in the records of the time as a corsair--which means that
he had made a business of roving the seas to despoil the enemies of
France. St. Malo, his birthplace and home, on the coast of Brittany,
faces the English Channel somewhat south of Jersey, the nearest of the
Channel Islands. The town is set on high ground which projects out
into the sea, forming an almost landlocked harbor where ships may ride
at ease during the most tumultuous gales. It had long been a notable
nursery of hardy fishermen and adventurous navigators, men who had
pressed their way to all the coasts of Europe and beyond.

Cartier was one of these hardy sailors. His fathers before him had
been mariners, and he had himself learned the way of the great waters
while yet a mere youth. Before his expedition of 1534 Jacques Cartier
had probably made a voyage to Brazil and had in all probability more
than once visited the Newfoundland fishing-banks. Although, when
he sailed from St. Malo to become the pathfinder of a new Bourbon
imperialism, he was forty-three years of age and in the prime of his
days, we know very little of his youth and early manhood. It is enough
that he had attained the rank of a master-pilot and that, from his
skill in seamanship, he was considered the most dependable man in
all the kingdom to serve his august sovereign in this important

Cartier shipped his crew at St. Malo, and on the 20th of April, 1534,
headed his two small ships across the great Atlantic. His company
numbered only threescore souls in all. Favored by steady winds his
vessels made good progress, and within three weeks he sighted the
shores of Newfoundland where he put into one of the many small harbors
to rest and refit his ships. Then, turning northward, the expedition
passed through the straits of Belle Isle and into the Gulf of St.
Lawrence. Coasting along the northern shore of the Gulf for a short
distance, Cartier headed his ships due southward, keeping close to the
western shore of the great island almost its whole length; he then
struck across the lower Gulf and, moving northward once more, reached
the Baie des Chaleurs on the 6th July. Here the boats were sent ashore
and the French were able to do a little trading with the Indians.
About a week later, Cartier went northward once more and soon sought
shelter from a violent gulf storm by anchoring in Gaspé Bay. On the
headland there he planted a great wooden cross with the arms of
France, the first symbol of Bourbon dominion in the New Land, and the
same symbol that successive explorers, chanting the _Vexilla Regis_,
were in time to set aloft from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Gulf of
Mexico. It was the augury of the white man's coming.

Crossing next to the southerly shore of Anticosti the voyageurs almost
circled the island until the constant and adverse winds which
Cartier met in the gradually narrowing channel forced him to defer
indefinitely his hope of finding a western passage, and he therefore
headed his ships back to Belle Isle. It was now mid-August, and the
season of autumnal storms was drawing near. Cartier had come to
explore, to search for a westward route to the Indies, to look for
precious metals, not to establish a colony. He accordingly decided to
set sail for home and, with favoring winds, was able to reach St. Malo
in the early days of September.

In one sense the voyage of 1534 had been a failure. No stores of
mineral wealth had been discovered and no short route to Cipango or
Cathay. Yet the spirit of exploration had been awakened. Carrier's
recital of his voyage had aroused the interest of both the King and
his people, so that the navigator's request for better equipment to
make another voyage was readily granted. On May 19, 1535, Cartier once
more set forth from St. Malo, this time with three vessels and with a
royal patent, empowering him to take possession of new lands in his
sovereign's name. With Cartier on this voyage there were over one
hundred men, of whom the majority were hardened Malouins, veterans of
the sea. How he found accommodation for all of them, with supplies and
provisions, in three small vessels whose total burden was only two
hundred and twenty tons, is not least among the mysteries of this
remarkable voyage.[1]

[Footnote 1: The shipbuilders old measure for determining tonnage was
to multiply the length of a vessel minus three-quarters of the beam by
the beam, then to multiply the product by one-half the beam, then
to divide this final product by 94. The resulting quotient was the
tonnage. On this basis Cartier's three ships were 67 feet length by 23
feet beam, 57 feet length by 17 feet beam, and 48 feet length by 17
feet beam, respectively.]

The trip across the ocean was boisterous, and the clumsy caravels had
a hard time breasting the waves. The ships were soon separated by
alternate storms and fog so that all three did not meet at their
appointed rendezvous in the Straits of Belle Isle until the last week
in July. Then moving westward along the north, shore of the Gulf, they
passed Anticosti, crossed to the Gaspé shore, circled back as far as
the Mingan islands, and then resumed a westward course up the great
river. As the vessels stemmed the current but slowly, it was well into
September when they cast anchor before the Indian village of Stadacona
which occupied the present site of Lower Quebec.

Since it was now too late in the season to think of returning at once
to France, Cartier decided to spend the winter at this point. Two of
the ships were therefore drawn into the mouth of a brook which entered
the river just below the village, while the Frenchmen established
acquaintance with the savages and made preparations for a trip farther
up the river in the smallest vessel. Using as interpreters two young
Indians whom he had captured in the Gaspé region during his first
voyage in the preceding year, Cartier was able to learn from the
Indians at Stadacona that there was another settlement of importance
at Hochelaga, now Montreal. The navigator decided to use the remaining
days of autumn in a visit to this settlement, although the Stadacona
Indians strenuously objected, declaring that there were all manner
of dangers and difficulties in the way. With his smallest vessel and
about half of his men, Cartier, however, made his way up the river
during the last fortnight in September.

Near the point where the largest of the St. Lawrence rapids bars the
river gateway to the west the Frenchman found Hochelaga nestling
between the mountain and the shore, in the midst of "goodly and large
fields full of corn such as the country yieldeth." The Indian village,
which consisted of about fifty houses, was encircled by three courses
of palisades, one within the other. The natives received their
visitors with great cordiality, and after a liberal distribution
of trinkets the French learned from them some vague snatches of
information about the rivers and great lakes which lay to the westward
"where a man might travel on the face of the waters for many moons in
the same direction." But as winter was near Cartier found it necessary
to hurry back to Stadacona, where the remaining members of his
expedition had built a small fort or _habitation_ during his absence.

Everything was made ready for the long season of cold and snow, but
the winter came on with unusual severity. The neighboring Indians grew
so hostile that the French hardly dared to venture from their narrow
quarters. Supplies ran low, and to make matters worse the pestilence
of scurvy came upon the camp. In February almost the entire company
was stricken down and nearly one quarter of them had died before the
emaciated survivors learned from the Indians that the bark of a white
spruce tree boiled in water would afford a cure. The Frenchmen dosed
themselves with the Indian remedy, using a whole tree in less than
a week, but with such revivifying results that Cartier hailed the
discovery as a genuine miracle. When spring appeared, the remnant of
the company, now restored to health and vigor, gladly began their
preparations for a return to France. There was no ardor among them for
a further exploration of this inhospitable land. As there were not
enough men to handle all three of the ships, they abandoned one of
them, whose timbers were uncovered from the mudbank in 1843, more than
three centuries later. Before leaving Stadacona, however, Cartier
decided to take Donnacona, the head of the village, and several other
Indians as presents to the French King. It was natural enough that
the master-pilot should wish to bring his sovereign some impressive
souvenir from the new domains, yet this sort of treachery and
ingratitude was unpardonable. Donnacona and all these captives but one
little Indian maiden died in France, and his people did not readily
forget the lesson of European duplicity. By July the expedition was
back in the harbor of St. Malo, and Cartier was promptly at work
preparing for the King a journal of his experiences.

Cartier's account of his voyage which has come down to us contains
many interesting details concerning the topography and life of the new
land. The Malouin captain was a good navigator as seafaring went in
his day, a good judge of distance at sea, and a keen observer of
landmarks. But he was not a discriminating chronicler of those things
which we would now wish to understand--for example, the relationship
and status of the various Indian tribes with which he came into
contact. All manner of Indian customs are superficially described,
particularly those which presented to the French the aspect of
novelty, but we are left altogether uncertain as to whether the
Indians at Stadacona in Cartier's time were of Huron or Iroquois
or Algonquin stock. The navigator did not describe with sufficient
clearness, or with a due differentiation of the important from the
trivial, those things which ethnologists would now like to know.

It must have been a disappointment not to be able to lay before the
King any promise of great mineral wealth to be found in the new
territory. While at Hochelaga Cartier had gleaned from the savages
some vague allusions to sources of silver and copper in the far
northwest, but that was all. He had not found a northern Eldorado, nor
had his quest of a new route to the Indies been a whit more fruitful.
Cartier had set out with this as his main motive, but had succeeded
only in finding that there was no such route by way of the St.
Lawrence. Though the King was much interested in his recital of
courage and hardships, he was not fired with zeal for spending good
money in the immediate equipping of another expedition to these
inhospitable shores.

Not for five years after his return in 1536, therefore, did Cartier
again set out for the St. Lawrence. This time his sponsor was the
Sieur de Roberval, a nobleman of Picardy, who had acquired an ambition
to colonize a portion of the new territory and who had obtained the
royal endorsement of his scheme. The royal patronage was not difficult
to obtain when no funds were sought. Accordingly in 1540 Roberval, who
was duly appointed viceroy of the country, enlisted the assistance of
Cartier in carrying out his plans. It was arranged that Cartier with
three ships should sail from St. Malo in the spring of 1541, while
Roberval's part of the expedition should set forth at the same time
from Honfleur. But when May arrived Roberval was not ready and
Cartier's ships set sail alone, with the understanding that Roberval
would follow. Cartier in due course reached Newfoundland, where for
six weeks he awaited his viceroy. At length, his patience exhausted,
he determined to push on alone to Stadacona, where he arrived toward
the end of August. The ships were unloaded and two of the vessels were
sent back to France. The rest of the expedition prepared to winter at
Cap Rouge, a short distance above the settlement. Once more Cartier
made a short trip up the river to Hochelaga, but with no important
incidents, and here the voyageur's journal comes to an end. He
may have written more, but if so the pages have never been found.
Henceforth the evidence as to his doings is less extensive and less
reliable. On his return he and his band seem to have passed the winter
at Cap Rouge more comfortably than the first hibernation six years
before, for the French had now learned the winter hygiene of the
northern regions. The Indians, however, grew steadily more hostile
as the months went by, and Cartier, fearing that his small following
might not fare well in the event of a general assault, deemed it wise
to start for France when the river opened in the spring of 1542.

Cartier set sail from Quebec in May. Taking the southern route through
the Gulf he entered, early in June, the harbor of what is now St.
John's, Newfoundland. There, according to Hakluyt, the Breton
navigator and his belated viceroy, Roberval, anchored their ships side
by side, Roberval, who had been delayed nearly a year, was now on his
way to join Cartier at Quebec and had put into the Newfoundland harbor
to refit his ships after a stormy voyage. What passed between the two
on the occasion of this meeting will never be known with certainly. We
have only the brief statement that after a spirited interview Cartier
was ordered by his chief to turn his ships about and accompany the
expedition back to Quebec. Instead of doing so, he spread his sails
during the night and slipped homeward to St. Malo, leaving the viceroy
to his own resources. There are difficulties in the way of accepting
this story, however, although it is not absolutely inconsistent
with the official records, as some later historians seem to have

[Footnote 1: Justin Winsor, _Narrative and Critical History of
America_, vol. iv., 58.]

At any rate it was in no pleasant humor that Roberval now proceeded
to the St. Lawrence and up to Cap Rouge, where he took possession of
Carrier's post, sowed some grain and vegetables, and endeavored
to prepare for the winter. His company of followers, having been
recruited from the jails of France, proved as unruly as might have
been expected. Discipline and order could only be maintained by the
exercise of great severity. One of the malefactors was executed;
others were given the lash in generous measure. The winter, moreover,
proved to be terribly cold; supplies ran low, and the scurvy once
again got beyond control. If anything, the conditions were even worse
than those which Cartier had to endure seven years before. When spring
arrived the survivors had no thought of anything but a prompt return
to France. But Roberval bade most of them wait until with a small
party he ventured a trip to the territory near what is now Three
Rivers and the mouth of the St. Maurice. Apparently the whole party
made its way safely back to France before the autumn, but as to how or
when we have no record. There is some evidence that Cartier was sent
out with a relief expedition in 1543, but in any case, both he and
Roberval were in France during the spring of the next year, for they
then appeared there in court to settle respective accounts of expenses
incurred in the badly managed enterprise.

Of Carrier's later life little is known save that he lived at St. Malo
until he died in 1557. With the exception of his journals, which cover
only a part of his explorations, none of his writings or maps has come
down to us. That he prepared maps is highly probable, for he was an
explorer in the royal service. But diligent search on the part of
antiquarians has not brought them to light. His portrait in the town
hall at St. Malo shows us a man of firm and strong features with jaws
tight-set, a high forehead, and penetrating eyes. Unhappily it is of
relatively recent workmanship and as a likeness of the great Malouin
its trustworthiness is at least questionable. Fearless and untiring,
however, his own indisputable achievements amply prove him to have
been. The tasks set before him were difficult to perform; he was often
in tight places and he came through unscathed. As a navigator he
possessed a skill that ranked with the best of his time. His was
an intrepid sailor-soul. If his voyages resulted in no permanent
establishment, that was not altogether Cartier's fault. He was sent
out on his first two voyages as an explorer, to find new trade routes,
or stores of gold and silver or a rich land to exploit. On his third
voyage, when a scheme of colonization was in hand, the failure of
Roberval to do his part proved the undoing of the entire plan. There
is no reason to believe that faint-heartedness or lack of courage had
any place in Carrier's sturdy frame.

For sixty years following the ill-starred ventures of 1541-1542 no
serious attempts were made to gain for France any real footing in the
regions of the St. Lawrence. This is not altogether surprising, for
there were troubles in plenty at home. Huguenots and Catholics had
ranged themselves in civil strife; the wars of the Fronde were
convulsing the land, and it was not until the very end of the
sixteenth century that France settled down to peace within her own
borders. Norman and Breton fishermen continued their yearly trips to
the fishing-banks, but during the whole latter half of the sixteenth
century no vessel, so far as we know, ever made its way beyond the
Saguenay. Some schemes of colonization, without official support, were
launched during this interval; but in all such cases the expeditions
set forth to warmer lands, to Brazil and to Florida. In neither
direction, however, did any marked success attend these praiseworthy
examples of private initiative.

The great valley of the St. Lawrence during these six decades remained
a land of mystery. The navigators of Europe still clung to the vision
of a westward passage whose eastern portal must be hidden among
the bays or estuaries of this silent land, but none was bold or
persevering enough to seek it to the end. As for the great continent
itself, Europe had not the slightest inkling of what it held in store
for future generations of mankind.



In the closing years of the sixteenth century the spirit of French
expansion, which had remained so strangely inactive for nearly three
generations, once again began to manifest itself. The Sieur de La
Roche, another Breton nobleman, the merchant traders, Pontgravé of St.
Malo and Chauvin of Honfleur, came forward one after the other with
plans for colonizing the unknown land. Unhappily these plans were not
easily matured into stern realities. The ambitious project of La Roche
came to grief on the barren sands of Sable Island. The adventurous
merchants, for their part, obtained a monopoly of the trade and for a
few years exploited the rich peltry regions of the St. Lawrence, but
they made no serious attempts at actual settlement. Finally they lost
the monopoly, which passed in 1603 to the Sieur de Chastes, a royal
favorite and commandant at Dieppe.

It is at this point that Samuel Champlain first becomes associated
with the pioneer history of New France. Given the opportunity to sail
with an expedition which De Chastes sent out in 1603, Champlain gladly
accepted and from this time to the end of his days he never relaxed
his whole-souled interest in the design to establish a French dominion
in these western lands. With his accession to the ranks of the
voyageurs real progress in the field of colonization was for the first
time assured. Champlain encountered many setbacks during his initial
years as a colonizer, but he persevered to the end. When he had
finished his work, France had obtained a footing in the St. Lawrence
valley which was not shaken for nearly a hundred and fifty years.

Champlain was born in 1567 at the seaport of Brouage, on the Bay of
Biscay, so that he was only thirty-six years of age when he set out
on his first voyage to America. His forbears belonged to the lesser
gentry of Saintonge, and from them he inherited a roving strain. Long
before reaching middle manhood he had learned to face dangers, both
as a soldier in the wars of the League and as a sailor to the Spanish
Main. With a love of adventure he combined rare powers of description,
so much so that the narrative of his early voyages to this region had
attracted the King's attention and had won for him the title of royal
geographer. His ideas were bold and clear; he had an inflexible will
and great patience in battling with discouragements. Possessing these
qualities, Champlain was in every way fitted to become the founder of
New France.

The expedition of 1603 proceeded to the St. Lawrence, where some
of the party landed at the mouth of the Saguenay to trade with the
Indians. The remainder, including Champlain, made their way up the
river to the Indian village at Hochelaga, which they now found in
ruins, savage warfare having turned the place into a solitude.
Champlain busied himself with some study of the country's resources
and the customs of the aborigines; but on the whole the prospects of
the St. Lawrence valley did not move the explorers to enthusiasm.
Descending the great river again, they rejoined their comrades at the
Saguenay, and, taking their cargoes of furs aboard, the whole party
sailed back to France in the autumn. There they found that De Chastes,
the sponsor for their enterprise, had died during their absence.

The death of De Chastes upset matters badly, for with it the trade
monopoly had lapsed. But things were promptly set right again by a
royal act which granted the monopoly anew. This time it went to the
Sieur de Monts, a prominent Huguenot nobleman, then governor of Pons,
with whom Champlain was on friendly terms. To quiet the clamors of
rival traders, however, it was stipulated that Monts should organize a
company and should be bound to take into his enterprise any who might
wish to associate themselves with him. The company, in return for its
trading monopoly, was to transport to the new domains at least one
hundred settlers each year.

Little difficulty was encountered in organizing the company, since
various merchants of St. Malo, Honfleur, Rouen, and Rochelle were
eager to take shares. Preparations for sending out an expedition on a
much larger scale than on any previous occasion were soon under way,
and in 1604 two well-equipped vessels set forth. One of them went to
the old trading-post at the Saguenay; the other went southward to
the regions of Acadia. On board the latter were De Monts himself,
Champlain as chief geographer, and a young adventurer from the ranks
of the _noblesse_, Biencourt de Poutrincourt. The personnel of this
expedition was excellent: it contained no convicts; most of its
members were artisans and sturdy yeomen. Rounding the tip of the Nova
Scotian peninsula, these vessels came to anchor in the haven of Port
Royal, now Annapolis. Not satisfied with the prospects there, however,
they coasted around the Bay of Fundy, and finally reached the island
in Passamaquoddy Bay which they named St. Croix. Here on June 25,
1604, the party decided to found their settlement. Work on the
buildings was at once commenced, and soon the little colony was safely
housed. In the autumn Poutrincourt was dispatched with one vessel and
a crew back to France, while Champlain and the rest prepared to spend
the winter in their new island home.

The choice of St. Croix as a location proved singularly unfortunate;
the winter was long and severe, and the preparations that had been
made were soon found to be inadequate. Once more there were sufferings
such as Cartier and his men had undergone during the terrible winter
of 1534-1535 at Quebec. There were no brooks or springs close at hand,
and no fresh water except such as could be had by melting snow. The
storehouse had no cellar, and in consequence the vegetables froze, so
that the company was reduced to salted meat as the chief staple of
diet. Scurvy ravaged the camp, and before the snows melted nearly
two-fifths of the party had died. Not until June, moreover, did a
vessel arrive from France with, fresh stores and more colonists.

The experience of this first winter must have indeed "produced
discontent," as Champlain rather mildly expressed it, but it did not
impel De Monts to abandon his plans. St. Croix, however, was given up
and, after a futile search for a better location on the New England
coast, the colony moved across the bay to Port Royal, where the
buildings were reconstructed. In the autumn De Monts went back to
France, leaving Champlain, Pontgravé, and forty-three others to spend
the winter of 1605-1606 in Acadia. During this hibernation the fates
were far more kind. The season proved milder, the bitter lessons of
the previous season had not gone unlearned, and scurvy did not make
serious headway. But when June came and De Monts had not returned from
France with fresh supplies, there was general discouragement; so much
so that plans for the entire abandonment of the place were on the eve
of being carried out when a large vessel rounded the point on its way
into the Basin. Aboard were Poutrincourt and Marc Lescarbot, together
with more settlers and supplies. Lescarbot was a Parisian lawyer in
search of adventure, a man who combined wit with wisdom, one of the
pleasantest figures in the annals of American colonization. He was
destined to gain a place in literary history as the interesting
chronicler of this little colony's all-too-brief existence. These
arrivals put new heart into the men, and they set to work sowing grain
and vegetables, which grew in such abundance that the storehouses were
filled to their capacity. The ensuing winter found the company with an
ample store of everything. The season of ice and snow passed quickly,
thanks largely to Champlain's successful endeavor to keep the
colonists in good health and spirits by exercise, by variety in diet,
and by divers gaieties under the auspices of his _Ordre de Bon Temps_,
a spontaneous social organization created for the purpose of banishing
cares and worries from the little settlement. It seemed as though the
colony had been established to stay.

But with the spring of 1607 came news which quickly put an end to all
this optimism. Rival merchants had been clamoring against the monopoly
of the De Monts company. Despite the fact that De Monts was a Huguenot
and thus a shining target for the shafts of bigotry, these protests
had for three years failed to move the King; but now they had gained
their point, and the monopoly had come to an end. This meant that
there would be no more ships with settlers or supplies. As the colony
could not yet hope to exist on its own resources, there was no
alternative but to abandon the site and return to France, and this the
whole party reluctantly proceeded to do.

On arrival in France the affairs of the company were wound up, and De
Monts found himself a heavy loser. He was not yet ready to quit the
game, however, and Champlain with the aid of Pontgravé was able to
convince him that a new venture in the St. Lawrence region might
yield profits even without the protection of a monopoly. Thus out of
misfortune and failure arose the plans which led to the founding of a
permanent outpost of empire at Quebec.

In the spring of 1608 Champlain and Pontgravé once again set sail for
the St. Lawrence. The latter delayed at the Saguenay to trade, while
Champlain pushed on to the site of the old Stadacona, where at the
foot of the cliff he laid the foundations of the new Quebec, the first
permanent settlement of Europeans in the territory of New France.
On the shore below the rocky steep several houses were built, and
measures were taken to defend them in case of an Indian attack. Here
Champlain's party spent the winter of 1608-1609.

With the experience gained at St. Croix and Port Royal it should have
been possible to provide for all eventualities, yet difficulties in
profusion were encountered during these winter months. First there was
the unearthing of a conspiracy against Champlain. Those concerned in
it were speedily punished, but the execution of the chief culprit gave
to the new settlement a rather ominous beginning. Then came a season
of zero weather, and the scurvy came with it. Champlain had heard of
the remedy used by Cartier, but the tribes which had been at Stadacona
in Cartier's time had now disappeared, and there was no one to point
out the old-time remedy to the suffering garrison. So the scourge
went on unchecked. The ravages of disease were so severe that, when
a relief ship arrived in the early summer of 1609, all but eight of
Champlain's party had succumbed.

Yet there was no thought of abandoning the settlement. The beginnings
of Canada made astounding demands upon the fortitude and stamina of
these dauntless voyageurs, but their store of courage was far from the
point of exhaustion. They were ready not only to stay but to explore
the territory inland, to traverse its rivers and lakes, to trudge
through its forests afoot that they might find out for the King's
information what resources the vast land held in its silent expanses.
After due deliberation, therefore, it was decided that Champlain and
four others should accompany a party of Huron and Algonquin Indians
upon one of their forays into the country of the Iroquois, this being
the only way in which the Frenchmen could be sure of their redskin
guides. So the new allies set forth to the southeastward, passing up
the Richelieu River and, traversing the lake which now bears his name,
Champlain and his Indian friends came upon a war party of Iroquois
near Ticonderoga and a forest fight ensued. The muskets of the French
terrified the enemy tribesmen and they fled in disorder. In itself
the incident was not of much account nor were its consequences so
far-reaching as some historians would have us believe. It is true that
Champlain's action put the French, for the moment in the bad graces
of the Iroquois; but the conclusion that this foray was chiefly
responsible for the hostility of the great tribes during the whole
ensuing century is altogether without proper historical foundation.

Revenge has always been a prominent trait of redskin character, but
it could never of itself have determined the alignment of the
Five Nations against the French during a period of nearly eight
generations. From the situation of their territories, the Iroquois
were the natural allies of the English and Dutch on the one hand, and
the natural foes of the French on the other. Trade soon became the
Alpha and the Omega of all tribal diplomacy, and the Iroquois were
discerning enough to realize that their natural rôle was to serve as
middlemen between the western Indians and the English. Their very
livelihood, indeed, depended on their success in diverting the flow of
the fur trade through the Iroquois territories, for by the middle
of the seventeenth century there were no beavers left in their own
country. Such a situation meant that they must promote trade between
the western Indians and the English, at Albany; but to promote trade
with the English meant friendship with the English, and friendship
with the English meant enmity with the French. Here is the true key to
the long series of quarrels in which the Five Nations and New France
engaged. Champlain's little escapade at Ticonderoga was a mere
incident and the Iroquois would have soon forgotten it if their
economic interests had required them to do so. "Trade and peace," said
an Iroquois chief to the French on one occasion, "we take to be
one thing." He was right; they have been one thing in all ages. As
companions, trade and the flag have been inseparable in all lands. The
expedition of 1609 had, however, some results besides the discomfiture
of an Iroquois raiding party. It disclosed to the French a water-route
which led almost to the upper reaches of the Hudson. The spot where
Champlain put the Iroquois to flight is within thirty leagues of
Albany. It was by this route that the French and English came so often
into warring contact during the next one hundred and fifty years.

Explorations, the care of his little settlement at Quebec, trading
operations, and two visits to France occupied Champlain's attention
during the next few years. Down to this time no white man's foot had
ever trodden the vast wilderness beyond the rapids above Hochelaga.
Stories had filtered through concerning great waters far to the West
and North, of hidden minerals there, and of fertile lands. Champlain
was determined to see these things for himself and it was to that end
that he made his two great trips to the interior, in 1613 and 1616,

The expedition of 1613 was not a journey of indefinite exploration; it
had a very definite end in view. A few years previously Champlain had
sent into the villages of the Algonquins on the upper Ottawa River a
young Frenchman named Vignau, in order that by living for a time among
these people he might learn their language and become useful as
an interpreter. In 1612 Vignau came back with a marvelous story
concerning a trip which he had made with his Algonquin friends to the
Great North Sea where he had seen the wreck of an English vessel. This
striking news inflamed Champlain's desire to find out whether this was
not the route for which both Cartier and he himself had so eagerly
searched--the western passage to Cathay and the Indies. There is
evidence that the explorer from the first doubted the truth of
Vignau's story, but in 1613 he decided to make sure and started up the
Ottawa River, taking the young man with him to point the way.

After a fatiguing journey the party at length reached the Algonquin
encampment on Allumette Island in the upper Ottawa, where his doubts
were fully confirmed. Vignau, the Algonquins assured Champlain, was an
impostor; he had never been out of their sight, had never seen a Great
North Sea; the English shipwreck was a figment of his imagination.
"Overcome with wrath." writes Champlain, "I had him removed from my
presence, being unable to bear the sight of him." The party went no
further, but returned to Quebec. As for the impostor, the generosity
of his leader in the end allowed him to go unpunished. Though the
expedition had been in one sense a fool's errand and Champlain felt
himself badly duped, yet it was not without its usefulness, for it
gave him an opportunity to learn much concerning the methods of
wilderness travel, the customs of the Indians and the extent to which
they might be relied upon. The Algonquins and the Hurons had proved
their friendship, but what they most desired, it now appeared, was
that the French should give them substantial aid in another expedition
against the Iroquois.

This was the basis upon which, arrangements were made for Champlain's
next journey to the interior, the longest and most daring enterprise
in his whole career of exploration. In 1615 the Brouage navigator
with a small party once again ascended the Ottawa, crossed to Lake
Nipissing and thence made his way down the French. River to the
Georgian Bay, or Lake of the Hurons as it was then called. Near
the shores of the bay he found the villages of the Hurons with the
Récollet Father Le Caron already at work among the tribesmen. Adding a
large band of Indians to his party, the explorer-now struck southeast
and, by following the chain of small lakes and rivers which lie
between Matchedash Bay and the Bay of Quinte, he eventually reached
Lake Ontario. The territory pleased Champlain greatly, and he recorded
his enthusiastic opinion of its fertility. Crossing the head of Lake
Ontario in their canoes the party then headed for the country of the
Iroquois south of Oneida Lake, where lay a palisaded village of the
Onondagas. This they attacked, but after three hours' fighting were
repulsed, Champlain being wounded in the knee by an Iroquois arrow.

The eleven Frenchmen with their horde of Indians then retreated
cautiously; but the Onondagas made no serious attempt at pursuit, and
in due course Champlain with his party recrossed Lake Ontario safely.
The Frenchmen were now eager to get back to Quebec by descending
the St. Lawrence, but their Indian allies would not hear of this
desertion. The whole expedition therefore plodded on to the shores of
the Georgian Bay, following a route somewhat north of the one by which
it had come. There the Frenchmen spent a tedious winter. Champlain was
anxious to make use of the time by exploring the upper lakes, but the
task of settling some wretched feuds among his Huron and Algonquin
friends took most of his time and energy. The winter gave him
opportunity, however, to learn a great deal more about the daily life
of the savages, their abodes, their customs, their agriculture, their
amusements, and their folklore. All this information went into his
journals and would have been of priceless value had not the Jesuits
who came later proved to be such untiring chroniclers of every detail.

When spring came, Champlain left the Huron country and by way of Lake
Nipissing and the Ottawa once more reached his own people at Quebec.
It took him forty days to make the journey from the Georgian Bay to
the present site of Montreal.

Arriving at Quebec, where he was hailed as one risen from the dead,
Champlain found that things in France had taken a new turn. They had,
in fact, taken many twists and turns during the nine years since De
Monts had financed the first voyage to the St. Lawrence. In the first
place, De Monts had lost the last vestige of his influence at court;
as a Huguenot he could not expect to have retained it under the stern
regency which followed the assassination of Henry IV in 1610. Then a
half-dozen makeshift arrangements came in the ensuing years. It was
always the same story faithfully repeated in its broad outlines. Some
friendly nobleman would obtain from the King appointment as viceroy
of New France and at the same time a trading monopoly for a term of
years, always promising to send out some settlers in return. The
monopoly would then be sublet, and Champlain would be recognized as
a sort of viceroy's deputy. And all for a colony in which the white
population did not yet number fifty souls!

Despite the small population, however, Champlain's task at Quebec was
difficult and exacting. His sponsors in France had no interest in the
permanent upbuilding of the colony; they sent out very few settlers,
and gave him little in the way of funds. The traders who came to
the St. Lawrence each summer were an unruly and boisterous crew who
quarreled with the Indians and among themselves. At times, indeed,
Champlain was sorely tempted to throw up the undertaking in disgust.
But his patience held out until 1627, when the rise of Richelieu in
France put the affairs of the colony upon a new and more active
basis. For a quarter of a century, France had been letting golden
opportunities slip by while the colonies and trade of her rivals were
forging ahead. Spain and Portugal were secure in the South. England
had gained firm footholds both in Virginia and on Massachusetts Bay.
Even Holland had a strong commercial company in the field. This was a
situation which no far-sighted Frenchman could endure. Hence Cardinal
Richelieu, when he became chief minister of Louis XIII, undertook to
see that France should have her share of New World spoils. "No realm
is so well situated as France," he declared, "to be mistress of the
seas or so rich in all things needful." The cardinal-minister combined
fertility in ideas with such a genius for organization that his plans
were quickly under way. Unhappily his talent for details, for the
efficient handling of little things, was not nearly so great, and some
of his arrangements went sadly awry in consequence.

At any rate Richelieu in 1627 prevailed upon the King to abolish the
office of viceroy, to cancel all trading privileges, and to permit the
organization of a great colonizing company, one that might hope to
rival the English and Dutch commercial organizations. This was formed
under the name of the Company of New France, or the Company of One
Hundred Associates, as it was more commonly called from the fact that
its membership was restricted to one hundred shareholders, each of
whom contributed three thousand _livres_. The cardinal himself, the
ministers of state, noblemen, and courtesans of Paris, as well as
merchants of the port towns, all figured in the list of stockholders.
The subscription lists contained an imposing array of names.

The powers of the new Company, moreover, were as imposing as its
personnel. To it was granted a perpetual monopoly of the fur trade
and of all other commerce with rights of suzerainty over all the
territories of New France and Acadia. It was to govern these lands,
levy taxes, establish courts, appoint officials, and even bestow
titles of nobility. In return the Company undertook to convey to the
colony not less than two hundred settlers per year, and to provide
them with subsistence until they could become self-supporting. It was
stipulated, however, that no Huguenots or other heretics should be
among the immigrants.

The Hundred Associates entered upon this portentous task with
promptness and enthusiasm. Early in 1628 a fleet of eighteen vessels
freighted with equipment, settlers, and supplies set sail from Dieppe
for the St. Lawrence to begin operations. But the time of its arrival
was highly inopportune, for France was now at war with England, and it
happened that a fleet of English privateers was already seeking prey
in the Lower St. Lawrence. These privateers, commanded by Kirke,
intercepted the Company's heavily-laden caravels, overpowered them,
and carried their prizes off to England. Thus the Company of the
One Hundred Associates lost a large part of its capital, and its
shareholders received a generous dividend of disappointment in the
very first year of its operations.

A more serious blow, however, was yet to come. Flushed with his
success in 1628, Kirke came back to the St. Lawrence during the next
summer and proceeded to Quebec, where he summoned Champlain and his
little settlement to surrender. As the place was on the verge of
famine owing to the capture of the supply ships in the previous year,
there was no alternative but to comply, and the colony passed for
the first time into English hands. Champlain was allowed to sail for
England, where he sought the services of the French ambassador and
earnestly advised that the King be urged to insist on the restoration
of Canada whenever the time for peace should come. Negotiations for
peace soon began, but they dragged on tediously until 1632, when the
Treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye gave back New France to its former

With this turn in affairs the Company was able to resume its
operations. Champlain, as its representative, once more reached
Quebec, where he received a genuine welcome from the few Frenchmen who
had remained through the years of Babylonian captivity, and from the
bands of neighboring Indians. With his hands again set to the arduous
tasks, Champlain was able to make substantial progress during the next
two years. For a time the Company gave him funds and equipment besides
sending him some excellent colonists. Lands were cleared in the
neighborhood of the settlement; buildings were improved and enlarged;
trade with the Indians was put upon a better basis. A post was
established at Three Rivers, and plans were made for a further
extension of French influence to the westward. It was in the midst of
these achievements and hopes that Champlain was stricken by paralysis
and died on Christmas Day, 1635.

Champlain's portrait, attributed to Moncornet, shows us a sturdy,
broad-shouldered frame, with features in keeping. Unhappily we have no
assurance that it is a faithful likeness. No one, however, can deny
that the mariner of Brouage, with his extraordinary perseverance and
energy, was admirably fitted to be the pathfinder to a new realm. Not
often does one encounter in the annals of any nation a man of greater
tenacity and patience. Chagrin and disappointment he had to meet on
many occasions, but he was never baffled nor moved to concede defeat.
His perseverance, however, was not greater than his modesty, for never
in his writings did he magnify his difficulties nor exalt his own
powers of overcoming them, as was too much the fashion of his day.
As a writer, his style was plain and direct, with, no attempt at
embellishment and no indication that strong emotions ever had much
influence upon his pen. He was essentially a man of action, and his
narrative is in the main a simple record of such a man's achievements.
His character was above reproach; no one ever impugned his honesty or
his sincere devotion to the best interests of his superiors. To his
Church he was loyal in the last degree; and it was under his auspices
that the first of the Jesuit missionaries came to begin the enduring
work which the Order was destined to accomplish in New France.

On the death of Champlain the Company appointed the Sieur de Montmagny
to be governor of the colony. He was an ardent sympathizer with the
aims of the Jesuits, and life at Quebec soon became almost monastic in
its austerity. The Jesuits sent home each year their _Rélations_,
and, as these were widely read, they created great interest in the
spiritual affairs of the colony. The call for zealots to carry the
cross westward into the wilderness met ready response, and it was amid
a glow of religious fervor that the settlement at Montreal was brought
into being. A company was formed in France, funds were obtained, and
a band of forty-four colonists was recruited for the crusade into the
wilderness. The Sieur de Maisonneuve, a gallant soldier and a loyal
devotee of the Church, was the active leader of the enterprise, with
Jeanne Mance, an ardent young religionist of high motives and fine
character, as his principal coadjutor. Fortune dealt kindly with the
project, and Montreal began its history in 1642.

A few years later Montmagny gave up his post and returned to France.
With the limited resources at his disposal, he had served the colony
well, and had left it stronger and more prosperous than when he came.
His successor was M. D'Ailleboust, who had been for some time in the
country, and who was consequently no stranger to its needs. On his
appointment a council was created, to consist of the governor of the
colony, the bishop or the superior of the Jesuits, and the governor of
Montreal. Henceforth this body was to be responsible for the making
of all general regulations. It is commonly called the Old Council to
distinguish it from the Sovereign Council by which it was supplanted
in 1663.

The opening years of the new administration were marked by one of the
greatest of forest tragedies, the destruction of the Hurons. In 1648
a party of Iroquois warriors made their way across Lake Ontario and
overland to the Huron country, where they destroyed one large village.
Emboldened by this success, a much larger body of the tribesmen
returned in the year following and completed their bloody work. A
dozen or more Huron settlements were attacked and laid waste with
wanton slaughter. Two Jesuit priests, Lalemant and Brébeuf, who were
laboring among the Hurons, were taken and burned at the stake
after suffering atrocious tortures. The remnants of the tribe were
scattered: a few found shelter on the islands of the Georgian Bay,
while others took refuge with the French and were given a tract of
land at Sillery, near Quebec. To the French colony the extirpation of
the Hurons came as a severe blow. It weakened their prestige in the
west, it cut off a lucrative source of fur supply, and it involved the
loss of faithful allies.

More ominous still, the Iroquois by the success of their forays into
the Huron country endangered the French settlement at Montreal.
Glorying in their prowess, these warriors now boasted that they would
leave the Frenchmen no peace but in their graves. And they proceeded
to make good their threatenings. Bands of confederates spread
themselves about the region near Montreal, pouncing lynx-like from the
forest upon any who ventured outside the immediate boundaries of the
settlement. For a time the people were in despair, but the colony soon
gained a breathing space, not by its own efforts, but from a diversion
of Iroquois enmity to other quarters.

About 1652 the confederated tribes undertook their famous expedition
against the Eries, whose country lay along the south shore of the lake
which bears their name, and this enterprise for the time absorbed
the bulk of the Iroquois energy. The next governor of New France, De
Lauzon, regarded the moment as opportune for peace negotiations, on
the hypothesis that the idea of waging only one war at a time might
appeal to the Five Nations as sound policy. A mission was accordingly
sent to the Iroquois, headed by the Jesuit missionary Le Moyne, and
for a time it seemed as if arrangements for a lasting peace might be
made. But there was no sincerity in the Iroquois professions. Their
real interest lay in peaceful relations with the Dutch and the
English; the French were their logical enemies; and when the Iroquois
had finished with the Eries their insolence quickly showed itself once

The next few years therefore found the colony again in desperate
straits. In its entire population there were not more than five
hundred men capable of taking the field, nor were there firearms for
all of these. The Iroquois confederacy could muster at least three
times that number; they were now obtaining firearms in plenty from the
Dutch at Albany; and they could concentrate their whole assault upon
the French settlement at Montreal. Had the Iroquois known the barest
elements of siege operations, the colony must have come to a speedy
and disastrous end. As the outcome proved, however, they were unwise
enough to divide their strength and to dissipate their energies in
isolated raids, so that Montreal came safely through the gloomy years
of 1658 and 1659.

In the latter of these years there arrived from France a man who was
destined to play a large part in its affairs during the next few
decades, François-Xavier de Laval, who now came to take charge of
ecclesiastical affairs in New France with the powers of a vicar
apostolic. Laval's arrival did not mark the beginning of friction
between the Church and the civil officials in the colony; there were
such dissensions already. But the doughty churchman's claims and the
governor's policy of resisting them soon brought things to an open
breach, particularly upon the question of permitting the sale of
liquor to the Indians. In 1662 the quarrel became bitter. Laval
hastened home to France where he placed before the authorities the
list of ecclesiastical grievances. The governor, a bluff old soldier,
was thereupon summoned to Paris to present his side of the whole
affair. In the end a decision was reached to reorganize the whole
system of civil and commercial administration in the colony. Thus, as
we shall soon see, the power passed away altogether from the Company
of One Hundred Associates.



Louis XIV, the greatest of the Bourbon monarchs, had now taken into
his own hands the reins of power. Nominally he had been king of France
since 1642, when he was only five years old, but it was not until 1658
that the control of affairs by the regency came to an end. Moreover,
Colbert was now chief minister of state, so that colonial matters were
assured of a searching and enlightened inquiry. Richelieu's interest
in the progress of New France had not endured for many years after the
founding of his great Company. It is true that during the next fifteen
years he remained chief minister, but the great effort to crush the
remaining strongholds of feudalism and to centralize all political
power in the monarchy left him no time for the care of a distant
colony. Colbert, on the other hand, had well-defined and far-reaching
plans for the development of French industrial interests at home and
of French commercial interests abroad.

As for the colony, it made meager progress under Company control: few
settlers were sent out; and they were not provided with proper means
of defense against Indian depredations. Under the circumstances it did
not take Colbert long to see how remiss the Company of One Hundred
Associates had been, nor to reach a decision that the colony should
be at once withdrawn from its control. He accordingly persuaded the
monarch to demand the surrender of the Company's charter and to
reprimand the Associates for the shameless way in which they had
neglected the trust committed to their care. "Instead of finding,"
declared the King in the edict of revocation, "that this country is
populated as it ought to be after so long an occupation thereof by our
subjects, we have learned with regret not only that the number of its
inhabitants is very limited, but that even these are daily exposed to
the danger of being wiped out by the Iroquois."

In truth, the company had little to show for its thirty years of
exploitation. The entire population of New France in 1663 numbered
less than twenty-five hundred people, a considerable proportion of
whom were traders, officials, and priests. The area of cleared land
was astonishingly small, and agriculture had made no progress worthy
of the name. There were no industries of any kind, and almost nothing
but furs went home in the ships to France. The colony depended upon
its mother country even for its annual food supply, and when the
ships from France failed to come the colonists were reduced to severe
privations. A dispirited and nearly defenseless land, without solid
foundations of agriculture or industry, with an accumulation of Indian
enmity and an empty treasury--this was the legacy which the Company
now turned over to the Crown in return for the viceroyal privileges
given to it in good faith more than three decades before.

When the King revoked the Company's charter, he decided upon Colbert's
advice to make New France a royal domain and to provide it with a
scheme of administration modeled broadly upon that of a province at
home. To this end a royal edict, perhaps the most important of all the
many decrees affecting French colonial interests in the seventeenth
century, was issued in April, 1663. While the provisions of this edict
bear the stamp of Colbert's handiwork, it is not unlikely that the
suggestions of Bishop Laval, as given to the minister during his visit
of the preceding year, were accorded some recognition. At any rate,
after reciting the circumstances under which the King had been
prompted to take New France into his own hands, the edict of 1663
proceeded to authorize the creation of a Sovereign Council as the
chief governing body of the colony. This, with a larger membership and
with greatly increased powers, was to replace the old council
which the Company had established to administer affairs some years

During the next hundred years this Sovereign Council became and
remained the paramount civil authority in French America. At the
outset it consisted of seven members, the governor and the bishop _ex
officio_, with five residents of the colony selected jointly by these
two. Beginning with the arrival of Talon as first intendant of the
colony in 1665, the occupant of this post was also given a seat in the
Council. Before long, however, it became apparent that the provision
relating to the appointment of non-official members was unworkable.
The governor and the bishop could not agree in their selections; each
wanted his own partisans appointed. The result was a deadlock in which
seats at the council-board remained vacant. In the end Louis Quatorze
solved this problem, as he solved many others, by taking the power
directly into his own hands. After 1674 all appointments to the
Council were made by the King himself. In that same year the number of
non-official members was raised to seven, and in 1703 it was further
increased to twelve.[1] At the height of its power, then, the
Sovereign Council of New France consisted of the governor, the
intendant, the bishop, and twelve lay councilors, together with an
attorney-general and a clerk. These two last-named officials sat with
the Council but were not regular members of it.

[Footnote 1: Its official title was in 1678 changed to Superior

In the matter of powers the Council was given by the edict of 1663
jurisdiction over all civil and criminal matters under the laws and
ordinances of the kingdom, its procedure in dealing with such matters
to be modeled on that of the Parliament of Paris. It was to receive
and to register the royal decrees, thus giving them validity in New
France, and it was also to be the supreme tribunal of the colony with
authority to establish local courts subordinate to itself. There was
no division of powers in the new frame of government. Legislative,
executive, and judicial powers were thrown together in true Bourbon
fashion. Apparently it was Colbert's plan to make of the governor
a distinguished figurehead, with large military powers but without
paramount influence in civil affairs. The bishop was to have no civil
jurisdiction, and the intendant was to be the director of details. The
Council, according to the edict of 1663, was to be the real pivot of
power in New France.

Through the long years of storm and stress which make up the greater
part of the history of the colony, the Sovereign Council rendered
diligent and faithful service. There were times when passions waxed
warm, when bitter words were exchanged, and when the urgent interests
of the colony were sacrificed to the settlement of personal
jealousies. Many dramatic scenes were enacted around the long table at
which the councilors sat at their weekly sessions, for every Monday
through the greater portion of the year the Council convened at seven
o'clock in the morning and usually sat until noon or later. But
these were only meteoric flashes. Historians have given them undue
prominence because such episodes make racy reading. By far the greater
portion of the council's meetings were devoted to the serious and
patient consideration of routine business. Matters of infinite variety
came to it for determination, including the regulation of industry and
trade, the currency, the fixing of prices, the interpretation of
the rules relating to land tenure, fire prevention, poor
relief, regulation of the liquor traffic, the encouragement of
agriculture--and these are only a few of the topics taken at random
from its calendar. In addition there were thousands of disputes
brought to it for settlement either directly or on appeal from the
lower courts. The minutes of its deliberations during the ninety-seven
years from September 18, 1663, to April 8, 1760, fill no fewer than
fifty-six ponderous manuscript volumes.

Though, in the edict establishing the Sovereign Council, no mention
was made of an intendant, the decision to send such an official to New
France came very shortly thereafter. In 1665 Jean Talon arrived
at Quebec bearing a royal commission which gave him wide powers,
infringing to some extent on the authority vested in the Sovereign
Council two years previously. The phraseology was similar to that used
in the commissions of the provincial intendants in France, and so
broad was the wording, indeed, that one might well ask what other
powers could be left for exercise by any one else. No wonder that the
eighteenth-century apostle of frenzied finance, John Law, should have
laconically described France as a land "ruled by a king and his thirty
intendants, upon whose will alone its welfare and its wants depend."
Along with his commission Talon brought to the colony a letter of
instructions from the minister which, gave more detailed directions as
to what things he was to have in view and what he was to avoid.

In France the office of intendant had long been in existence. Its
creation in the first instance has commonly been attributed to
Richelieu, but it really antedated the coming of the great cardinal.
The intendancy was not a spontaneous creation, but a very old and,
in its origin, a humble post which grew in importance with the
centralization of power in the King's hands, and which kept step in
its development with the gradual extinction of local self-government
in the royal domains. The provincial intendant in pre-revolutionary
France was master of administration, finance, and justice within his
own jurisdiction; he was bound by no rigid statutes; he owed obedience
to no local authorities; he was appointed by the King and was
responsible to his sovereign alone.

From first to last there were a dozen intendants of New France. Talon,
whose ambition and energy did much to set the colony in the saddle,
was the first. François Bigot, the arch-plunderer of his monarch's
funds, who did so much to bring the land to its downfall, was the
last. Between them came a line of sensible, earnest, hard-working
officials who served their King far better than they served
themselves, who gave the best years of their lives to the task of
making New France a bright jewel in the Bourbon crown. The colonial
intendant was the royal man-of-all-work. The King spoke and the
intendant forthwith transformed his words into action. As the King's
great interest in New France, coupled with his scant knowledge of
its conditions, moved him to speak often, and usually in broad
generalities, the intendant's activity was prodigious and his
discretion wide. Ordinances and decrees flew from his pen like sparks
from a blacksmith's forge. The duty devolved upon him as the overseas
apostle of Gallic paternalism to "order everything as seemed just and
proper," even when this brought his hand into the very homes of the
people, into their daily work or worship or amusements. Nothing that
needed setting aright was too inconsequential to have an ordinance
devoted to it. As general regulator of work and play, of manners and
morals, of things present and things to come, the intendant was the
busiest man in the colony.

In addition to the governor, the council, and the intendant, there
were many other officials on the civil list. Both the governor and the
intendant had their deputies at Montreal and at Three Rivers. There
were judges and bailiffs and seneschals and local officers by the
score, not to speak of those who held sinecures or received royal
pensions. There were garrisons to be maintained at all the frontier
posts and church officials to be supported by large sums. No marvel it
was that New France could never pay its own way. Every year there was
a deficit which, the King had to liquidate by payments from the royal

The administration of the colony, moreover, fell far short of even
reasonable efficiency. There were far too many officials for the
relatively small amount of work to be done, and their respective
fields of authority were inadequately defined. Too often the work of
these officials lacked even the semblance of harmony, nor did the
royal authorities always view this deficiency with regret. A fair
amount of working at cross-purposes, provided it did not bring affairs
to a complete standstill, was regarded as a necessary system of checks
and balances in a colony which lay three thousand miles away. It
prevented any chance of a general conspiracy against the home
authorities or any wholesale wrong-doing through collusion. It served
to make every official a ready tale-bearer in all matters concerning
the motives and acts of his colleagues, so that the King might with,
reasonable certainty count upon hearing all the sides to every story.
That, in fact, was wholly in consonance with Latin traditions of
government, and it was characteristically the French way of doing
things in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Louis XIV took a great personal interest in New France even to the
neglect at times of things which his courtiers deemed to be far
more important. The governor and the intendant plied him with their
requests, with their grievances, and too often with their prosy tales
of petty squabbling. With every ship they sent to Versailles their
_mémoires_, often of intolerable length; and the patient monarch read
them all. Marginal notes, made with his own hand, are still upon many
of them, and the student who plods his way through the musty bundles
of official correspondence in the _Archives Nationales_ will find in
these marginal comments enough to convince him that, whatever the
failings of Louis XIV may have been, indolence was not of them. Then
with the next ships the King sent back his budget of orders, counsel,
reprimand, and praise. If the colony failed to thrive, it was not
because the royal interest in it proved insincere or deficient.

The progress of New France, as reported in these dispatches from
Quebec, with their figures of slow growth in population, of poor
crops, and of failing trade, of Indian troubles and dangers from the
English, of privations at times and of deficits always, must often
have dampened the royal hopes. The requests for subsidies from
the royal purse were especially relentless. Every second dispatch
contained pleas for money or for things which were bound to cost money
if the King provided them: money to enable some one to clear his
lands, or to start an industry, or to take a trip of exploration to
the wilds; money to provide more priests, to build churches, or to
repair fortifications; money to pension officials--the call for money
was incessant year after year. In the face of these multifarious
demands upon his exchequer, Louis XIV was amazingly generous, but the
more he gave, the more the colony asked from him. Until the end of his
days, he never failed in response if the object seemed worthy of
his support. It was not until the Grand Monarch was gathered to his
fathers that the officials of New France began to ply their requests
in vain.

So much for the frame of government in the colony during the age of
Louis XIV. Now as to the happenings during the decade following 1663.
The new administration made a promising start under the headship of De
Mézy, a fellow townsman and friend of Bishop Laval, who arrived in the
autumn of 1663 to take up his duties as governor. In a few days he and
the bishop had amicably chosen the five residents of the colony who
were to serve as councilors, and the council began its sessions. But
troubles soon loomed into view, brought on in part by Laval's desire
to settle up some old scores now that he had the power as a member
of the Sovereign Council and was the dominating influence in its
deliberations. Under the bishop's inspiration the Council ordered the
seizure of some papers belonging to Péronne Dumesnil, a former agent
of the now defunct Company of One Hundred Associates. Dumesnil
retorted by filing a _dossier_ of charges against some of the
councilors; and the colonists at once ranged themselves into two
opposing factions--those who believed the charges and those who did
not. The bishop had become the stormy petrel of colonial politics, and
nature had in truth well fitted him for just such a rôle.

Soon, moreover, the relations between Mézy and Laval themselves became
less cordial. For a year the governor had proved ready to give way
graciously on every point; but there was a limit to his amenability,
and now his proud spirit began to chafe under the dictation of his
ecclesiastical colleague. At length he ventured to show a mind of his
own; and then the breach between him and Laval widened quickly.
Three of the councillors having joined the bishop against him, Mézy
undertook a _coup d'état_, dismissed these councilors from their
posts, and called a mass-meeting of the people to choose their
successors. On the governor's part this was a serious tactical error.
He could hardly expect that a monarch who was doing his best to crush
out the last vestige of representative government in France would
welcome its establishment and encouragement by one of his own
officials in the New World. But Mézy did not live to obey the recall
which speedily came from the King as the outcome of this indiscretion.
In the spring of 1665 he was taken ill and died at Quebec. "He went
to rest among the paupers," says Parkman, "and the priests, serenely
triumphant, sang requiems over his grave."

But discord within its borders was not the colony's only trouble
during these years. The scourge of the Iroquois was again upon the
land. During the years 1663 and 1664 bands of Mohawks and Oneidas
raided the regions of the Richelieu and penetrated to the settlement
at Three Rivers. These _petites guerres_ were making things
intolerable for the colonists, and the King was urged to send out a
force of troops large enough to crush the bothersome savages once for
all. This plea met with a ready response, and in June, 1665, Prouville
de Tracy with two hundred officers and men of the Regiment de
Carignan-Salières disembarked at Quebec. The remaining companies of
the regiment, making a force almost a thousand strong, arrived a
little later. The people were now sure that deliverance was at hand,
and the whole colony was in a frenzy of joy.

Following the arrival of the troops came Courcelle, the new governor,
and Jean Talon, who was to take the post of intendant. These were gala
days in New France; the whole colony had caught the spirit of the new
imperialism. The banners and the trumpets, the scarlet cloaks and
the perukes, the glittering profusion of gold lace and feathers, the
clanking of swords and muskets, transformed Quebec in a season from a
wilderness village to a Versailles in miniature. But there was little
time for dress parades and affairs of ceremony. Tracy had come to give
the Iroquois their _coup de grâce_, and the work must be done quickly.
The King could not afford to have a thousand soldiers of the grand
army eating their heads off through the long months of a Canadian

The work of getting the expedition ready, therefore, was pushed
rapidly ahead. Snowshoes were provided for the regiment, provisions
and supplies were gathered, and in January, 1666, the expedition
started up the frozen Richelieu, traversed Lake Champlain, and moved
across to the headwaters of the Hudson. It was a spectacle new to
the northern wilderness of America, this glittering and picturesque
cavalcade of regulars flanked by troops of militiamen and bands of
fur-clothed Indians moving on its errand of destruction along the
frozen rivers. But the French regular troops were not habituated
to long marches on snowshoes in the dead of winter; and they made
progress so slowly that the Dutch settlers of the region had time to
warn the Mohawks of the approach of the expedition. This upset all
French plans, since the leaders had hoped to fall upon the Mohawk
villages and to destroy them before the tribesmen could either make
preparations for defense or withdraw southward. Foiled in this plan,
and afraid that an early thaw might make their route of return
impossible, the French gave up their project and started home again.
They had not managed to reach, much less to destroy, the villages of
their enemies.

But the undertaking was not an absolute failure. The Mohawks were
astute enough to see that only the inexperience of the French had
stood between them and destruction. Here was an enemy which had proved
able to come through the dead of winter right into the regions which
had hitherto been regarded as inaccessible from the north. The French
might be depended to come again and, by reason of greater experience,
to make a better job of their coming. The Iroquois reasoning was quite
correct, as the sequel soon disclosed. In September of the same year
the French had once again equipped their expedition, more effectively
this time. Traveling overland along nearly the same route, it reached
the country of the Mohawks without a mishap. The Indians saved
themselves by a rapid flight to the forests, but their palisaded
strongholds were demolished, their houses set afire, their _cachés_ of
corn dug out and destroyed. The Mohawks were left to face the oncoming
winter with nothing but the woods to shelter them. Having finished
their task of punishment, Tracy and his regiment made their way
leisurely back to Quebec.

The Mohawks were now quite ready to make terms, and in 1667 they
sent a delegation to Quebec to proffer peace. Two raids into their
territories in successive years had taught them that they could not
safely leave their homes to make war against the tribes of the west so
long as the French were their enemies. And the desire to dominate the
region of the lakes was a first principle of Iroquois policy at this
time. An armistice was accordingly concluded, which lasted without
serious interruption for more than a decade. One of the provisions
of the peace was that Jesuit missions should be established in the
Iroquois territory, this being the usual way in which the French
assured themselves of diplomatic intercourse with the tribes.

With its trade routes once more securely open, New France now began a
period of marked prosperity. Tracy and his staff went back to France,
but most of his soldiers remained and became settlers. Wives for these
soldiers were sent out under royal auspices, and liberal grants of
money were provided to get the new households established. Since
1664, the trade of the colony had been once more in the hands of
a commercial organization, the Company of the West Indies, whose
financial success was, for the time being, assured by the revival of
the fur traffic. Industries were beginning to spring into being, the
population was increasing rapidly, and the King was showing a lively
interest in all the colony's affairs. It was therefore a prosperous
and promising colony to which Governor Frontenac came in 1672.



The ten years following 1663 form a decade of extraordinary progress
in the history of New France. The population of the colony had
trebled, and now numbered approximately seven thousand; the red peril,
thanks to Tracy's energetic work, had been lessened; while the fur
trade had grown to large and lucrative proportions. With this increase
in population and prosperity, there came a renaissance of enthusiasm
for voyages of exploration and for the widening of the colony's
frontiers. Glowing reports went home to the King concerning the latent
possibilities of the New World. What the colony now needed was a
strong and vigorous governor who would not only keep a firm hold upon
what had been already achieved, but one who would also push on to
greater and more glorious things.

It was in keeping with, this spirit of faith and hope that the King
sent to Quebec, in 1672, Louis de Buade, Count Frontenac, naming him
governor of all the French domains in North America. Fifty-two years
of age when he came to Canada, Frontenac had been a soldier from his
youth; he had fought through hard campaigns in Italy, in the Low
Countries, and with the Venetians in their defense of Candia against
the Turks. In fact, he had but shortly returned from this last service
when he was chosen to succeed Courcelle as the royal representative in
New France.

To Frontenac's friends the appointment seemed more like a banishment
than a promotion. But there were several reasons why the governor
should have accepted gladly. He had inherited only a modest fortune,
and most of this had been spent, for thrift was not one of Frontenac's
virtues. His domestic life had not been happy, and there were no
strong personal ties binding him to life in France.[1] Moreover, the
post of governor in the colony was not to be judged by what it had
been in the days of D'Avaugour or De Mézy. The reports sent home by
Talon had stirred the national ambitions. "I am no courtier," this
intendant had written, "and it is not to please the King or without
reason that I say this portion of the French monarchy is going to
become something great. What I now see enables me to make such a
prediction." And indeed the figures of growth in population, of
acreage cleared, and of industries rising into existence seemed to
justify the intendant's optimism. Both the King and his ministers were
building high hopes on Canada, as their choice of Frontenac proves,
and in their selection of a man to carry out their plans they showed,
on the whole, good judgment. Frontenac proved to be the ablest and
most commanding of all the officials who served the Bourbon monarchy
in the New World. In the long line of governors he approached most
nearly to what a Viceroy ought to be.

[Footnote 1: Saint-Simon, in his _Mémoires_, prints the current
Parisian gossip that Frontenac was sent to New France to shield him
from the imperious temper of his wife and to afford him a means of

It is true that in New France there were conditions which no amount
of experience in the Old World could train a man to handle. Nor was
Frontenac particularly fitted by training or temperament for all
of the duties which his new post involved. In some things he was
well-endowed; he had great physical endurance, a strong will, with no
end of courage, and industry to spare. These were qualities of the
highest value in a land encircled by enemies and forced to depend for
existence upon the strength of its own people. But more serviceable
still was his ability in adapting himself to a new environment. Men
past fifty do not often show this quality in marked degree, but
Frontenac fitted himself to the novelty of colonial life exceedingly
well. In his relations with, the Indians he showed amazing skill. No
other colonial governor, English, French, or Dutch, ever commanded so
readily the respect and admiration of the red man. But in his dealings
with the intendant and the bishop, with the clergy, and with all those
among the French of New France who showed any disposition to disagree
with him, Frontenac displayed an uncontrollable temper, an arrogance
of spirit, and a degree of personal vanity which would not have made
for cordial relations in any field of human effort. He had formed his
own opinions and was quite ready to ride rough-shod over those of
other men. It was this impetuosity that served to make the official
circles of the colony, during many months of his term, a "little hell
of discord."

But when the new viceroy arrived at Quebec he was in high fettle;
he was pleased with the situation of the town and flattered by the
enthusiastic greeting which he received from its people. His first
step was to familiarize himself with the existing machinery of
colonial government, which he found to be far from his liking. He
proceeded, accordingly, in his own imperious way, to make
some startling changes. For one thing, he decided to summon a
representative assembly made up of the clergy, the seigneurs, and
the common folk of New France. This body he brought together for his
inauguration in October, 1672. No such assembly had ever been convened
before, and nothing like it was ever allowed to assemble again.
Before another year had passed, the minister sent Frontenac a polite
reprimand with the intimation that the King could not permit in the
colony an institution he was doing his best, and with entire success,
to crush out at home. The same fate awaited the governor's other
project, the establishment of a municipal government in the town of
Quebec. Within a few months of his arrival, Frontenac had allowed
the people of the town to elect a syndic and two aldermen, but the
minister vetoed this action with the admonition that "you should very
rarely, or, to speak more correctly, never, give a corporate voice
to the inhabitants, for ... it is well that each should speak for
himself, and no one for all." In the reorganization of colonial
administration, therefore, the governor found himself promptly called
to a halt. He therefore turned to another field where he was much more
successful in having his own way.

From the day of his arrival at Quebec the governor saw the pressing
need of extending French, influence and control into the regions
bordering upon the Great Lakes. To dissipate the colony's efforts in
westward expansion, however, was exactly what he had been instructed
not to do. The King and his ministers were sure that it would be far
wiser to devote all available energies and funds to developing the
settled portions of the land. They desired the governor to carry on
the policy of encouraging agriculture which Talon had begun, thus
solidifying the colony and making its borders less difficult to
defend. Frontenac's instructions on this point could hardly have been
more explicit. "His Majesty considers it more consistent with the good
of his service," wrote Colbert, "that you apply yourself to clearing
and settling the most fertile places that are nearest the seacoast and
the communication with France than to think afar of explorations
in the interior of the country, so distant that they can never be
inhabited by Frenchmen." This was discouraging counsel, showing
neither breadth of vision nor familiarity with the urgent needs of the
colony. Frontenac courageously set these instructions aside, and in
doing so he was wise. Had he held to the letter of his instructions,
New France would never have been more than a strip of territory
fringing the Lower St. Lawrence. More than any other Frenchman he
helped to plan the great empire of the West.

Notwithstanding the narrow views of his superiors at Versailles,
Frontenac was convinced that the colony could best secure its own
defense by controlling the chief line of water communications between
the Iroquois country and Montreal. To this end he prepared to build a
fort at Cataraqui where the St. Lawrence debouches from Lake Ontario.
He was not, however, the first to recognize the strategic value of
this point. Talon had marked it as a place of importance some years
before, and the English, authorities at Albany had been urged by the
Iroquois chiefs to forestall any attempt that the French might make by
being first on the ground. But the English procrastinated, and in the
summer of 1673 the governor, with an imposing array of troops and
militia, made his way to Cataraqui, having first summoned the Iroquois
to meet him there in solemn council. In rather high dudgeon they came,
ready to make trouble if the chance arose; but Frontenac's display
of armed strength, his free-handed bestowal of presents, his tactful
handling of the chiefs, and his effective oratory at the conclave soon
assured him the upper hand. The fort was built, and the Iroquois,
while they continued to regard it as an invasion of their territories,
were forced to accept the new situation with reluctant grace.

This stroke at Cataraqui inflamed the governor's interest in western
affairs. During his conferences with the Indians he had heard much
about the great waters to the West and the rich beaver lands which lay
beyond. He was ready, therefore, to encourage in every way the plans
of those who wished to undertake journeys of exploration and trade
into these regions, even although he was well aware that such
enterprises would win little commendation from his superiors at the
royal court. Voyageurs ready to undertake these tasks there were in
plenty, and all of them found in the Iron Governor a stalwart friend.
Foremost among these pioneers of the Far Country was Robert Cavelier
de La Salle, whom Frontenac had placed for a time in command of the
fort at Cataraqui and who, in 1678, was commissioned by the governor
to forge another link in the chain by the erection of a fort at
Niagara. There he also built a small vessel, the first to ply the
waters of the upper lakes, and in this La Salle and his lieutenants
made their way to Michilimackinac. How he later journeyed to the
Mississippi and down that stream to its mouth is a story to be told
later on in these pages. It was and will remain a classic in the
annals of exploration. And without Frontenac's vigorous support it
could never have been accomplished. La Salle, when he performed his
great feat of daring and endurance, was still a young man under forty,
but his courage, firmness, and determination were not surpassed by any
of his race. He had qualities that justified the confidence which the
governor reposed in him.

But while La Salle was the most conspicuous among the pathfinders
of this era, he was not the only one. Tonty, Du Lhut, La Forêt, La
Mothe-Cadillac, and others were all in Frontenac's favor, and all had
his vigorous support in their work. Intrepid woodsmen, they covered
every portion of the western wilderness, building forts and posts of
trade, winning the friendship of the Indians, planting the arms of
France in new soil and carrying the _Vexilla Regis_ into parts unknown
before. If Frontenac could have had his way, if the King had provided
him with the funds, he would have run an iron chain of fortified
posts all along the great water routes from Cataraqui to the
Mississippi--and he had lieutenants who were able to carry out such
an undertaking. But there were great obstacles in the way,--the
lukewarmmess of the home government, the bitter opposition of the
Jesuits, and the intrigues of his colleagues. Yet the governor was
able to make a brave start, and before he had finished he had firmly
laid the foundations of French trading supremacy in these western

During the first three years after his coming to Canada, the governor
had ruled alone. There was no intendant or bishop to hamper him, for
both Talon and Laval had gone to France in 1672. But in 1675 Laval
returned to the colony, and in the same year a new intendant, Jacques
Duchesneau, was appointed. With this change in the situation at Quebec
the friction began in earnest, for Frontenac's imperious temper did
not make him a cheerful sharer of authority with any one else. If
the intendant and the bishop had been men of conflicting ideas and
dispositions, Frontenac might easily have held the balance of power;
but they were men of kindred aims, and they readily combined against
the governor. United in their opposition to him, they were together a
fair match for Frontenac in ability and astuteness. It was not long,
accordingly, before the whole colony was once more aligned in two
factions. With the governor were the merchants, many of the seigneurs,
and all the _coureurs-de-bois_. Supporting the intendant and the
bishop were many of the subordinate officials, all of the priests, and
those of the tradesmen and habitants with whom the clerical influence
was paramount.

The story of the quarrels which went on between these two factions
during the years 1675-1680 is neither brief nor edifying. The root of
it all lay in the governor's western policy, his encouragement of the
forest traders or _coureurs-de-bois_, and his connivance at the use
of brandy in the Indian trade. There were unseemly squabbles about
precedence at council meetings and at religious festivals, about
trivialities of every sort; but the question of the brandy trade was
at the bottom of them all. The bishop flayed the governor for letting
this trade go on; the missionaries declared that it was proving the
ruin of their efforts; and the intendant declared that Frontenac
allowed it to continue because he was making a personal profit from
the traffic. Charges and countercharges went home to France with every
ship. The intendant wrote dispatches of wearisome length, rehearsing
the governor's usurpations, insults, and incompetence. "Disorder," he
told the minister, "rules everywhere. Universal confusion prevails;
justice is openly perverted, and violence supported by authority
determines everything." In language quite as unrestrained Frontenac
recounted in detail the difficulties with which he had to contend
owing to the intendant's obstinacy, intrigue, and dishonesty. The
minister, appalled by the bewildering contradictions, could only
lay the whole matter before the King, who determined to try first a
courteous reprimand and to that end sent an autograph letter to each
official. Both letters were alike in admonishing the governor and the
intendant to work in harmony for the good of the colony, but each
concluded with the significant warning: "Unless you harmonize better
in the future than In the past, my only alternative will be to recall
you both."

This intimation, coming straight from their royal master, was to each
a rebuke which could not be misunderstood. But it did not accomplish,
much, for the bitterness and jealousy existing between the two
colonial officers was too strong to be overcome. The very next vessels
took to France a new budget of complaints and recriminations from
both. The King, as good as his word, issued prompt orders for their
recall and the two officials left for home, but not on the same
vessel, in the summer of 1682.

The question as to which of the two was the more at fault is hardly
worth determining. The share of blame to be cast on each by the
verdict of history should probably be about equal. Frontenac was by
far the abler man, but he had the defects of his qualities. He could
not brook the opposition of men less competent than he was, and when
he was provoked his arrogance became intolerable. In broader domains
of political action he would soon have out-generaled his adversary,
but in these petty fields of neighborhood bickering Duchesneau,
particularly with the occasional nudgings which he received from
Laval, proved no unequal match. The fact remains that neither was able
or willing to sacrifice personal animosities nor to display any spirit
of cordial cooperation even at the royal command. The departure of
both was regarded as a blessing by the majority of the colonists to
whom the continued squabbles had become wearisome. Yet there was not
lacking, in the minds of many among them, the conviction that if ever
again New France should find itself in urgent straits, if ever there
were critical need of an iron hand to rule within and to guard
without, there would still be one man whom, so long as he lived, they
could confidently ask to be sent out to them again. For the time
being, however, Frontenac's official career seemed to be at an end. At
sixty-two he could hardly hope to regain the royal favor by further
service. He must have left the shores of New France with a heavy

Frontenac's successor was La Barre, an old naval officer who had
proved himself as capable at sea as he was now to show himself
incompetent on land. He was the antithesis of his headstrong
predecessor, weak in decision, without personal energy, without
imagination, but likewise without any of Frontenac's skill in the
art of making enemies. With La Barre came Meulles, an abler and more
energetic colleague, who was to succeed Duchesneau as intendant. Both,
reached Quebec in the autumn of 1682, and problems in plenty they
found awaiting them. Shortly before their arrival a fire had swept
through the settlement at Quebec, leaving scarcely a building on the
lands below the cliff. To make matters worse, the Iroquois had again
thrown themselves across the western trade route and had interrupted
the coining of the colony's fur supply. As every one now recognized
that the protection of this route was essential, La Barre decided
that the Iroquois must be taught a lesson. Preparations in rather
ostentatious fashion were therefore made for a punitive expedition,
and in the summer of 1684 the governor with his troops was at
Cataraqui. At this point, however, he began to question whether a
parley might not be a better means of securing peace than the laying
waste of Indian lands. Accordingly, it was arranged that a council
with the Iroquois should be held across the lake from Cataraqui at a
place which later took the name of La Famine from the fact that during
the council the French supplies ran low and the troops had to be put
on short rations. After negotiations which the cynical chronicler La
Hontan has described with picturesque realism, an inglorious truce was
patched up. The new governor was sadly deficient in his knowledge of
the Indian temperament. He had given the Iroquois an impression that
the French were too proud to fight. For their part the Iroquois
offered him war or peace as he might choose, and La Barre assured them
that he chose to live at peace. When the expedition returned to Quebec
there was great disgust throughout the colony, the echoes of which
were not without their effect at Versailles, and La Barre was
forthwith recalled.

In his place the King sent out the Marquis de Denonville in 1685 with
power to make war on the tribesmen or to respect the peace as he might
find expedient upon his arrival. The new governor was an honest,
well-intentioned soul, neither mentally incapable nor lacking in
personal courage. He might have served his King most acceptably in
many posts of routine officialdom, but he was not the man to handle
the destinies of half a continent in critical years. His mission, to
be sure, was no sinecure, for the Iroquois had grown bolder with the
assurance of support from the English. Now that they were securing
arms and ammunition from Albany it was probable that they would carry
their raids right to the heart of New France. Denonville was therefore
forced to the conclusion that he had better strike quickly. In making
this decision he was right, for in dealing with savage races a thrust
is almost always the best defense.

Armed preparations were consequently once more placed under way,
and in the summer of 1687 a flotilla of canoes and batteaux bearing
soldiers and supplies was again at Cataraqui. This time the expedition
was stronger in numbers and better equipped than ever before. Down the
lakes from Michilimackinac came a force of _coureurs-de-bois_, among
them seasoned veterans of the wilderness like Du Lhut, Tonty, La
Forêt, Morel de la Durantaye, and Nicholas Perrot, each worth a whole
squad of soldiers when it came to fighting the Iroquois in their own
forests. At the rendezvous across the lake from Cataraqui the French
and their allies mustered nearly three thousand men. Denonville had
none of his predecessor's bravado coupled with cowardice; his plans
were carried forward with a precision worthy of Frontenac. Unlike
Frontenac, however he had a scant appreciation of the skill with which
the red man could get out of the way in the face of danger. By moving
too slowly after he had set out overland towards the Seneca villages,
he gave the enemy time to place themselves out of his reach. So he
burned their villages and destroyed large areas of growing corn. After
more than a week had been spent in laying waste the land, Denonville
and his expedition retired slowly to Cataraqui. Leaving part of his
force there, the governor went westward to Niagara, where he rebuilt
in more substantial fashion La Salle's old fort at that point and
placed it in charge of a garrison. The _coureurs-de-bois_ then
continued on their way to Michilimackinac while Denonville returned to

The expedition of 1687 had not been a fiasco like that of 1685,
but neither was it in any real way a success. It angered the whole
Iroquois confederacy without, having sufficiently impressed the
Indians with the punitive power of the French. Denonville had stirred
up the nest without destroying the hornets. It was all too soon the
Indians' turn to show what they could do as ravagers of unprotected
villages; within a year after the French expedition had returned, the
Iroquois bands were raiding the territory of the French to the very
outskirts of Montreal itself. The route to the west was barred; the
fort at Niagara had to be abandoned; Cataraqui was cut off from succor
and ultimately had to be destroyed by its garrison; not a single
canoe-load of furs came down from the lakes during the entire summer.
The merchants were facing ruin, and the whole colony was beginning to
tremble for its very existence. The seven years since Frontenac left
the land had indeed been a lurid interval.

It was at this juncture that tidings of the colony's dire distress
were hurried to the King, and the Grand Monarch moved with rare good
sense. He promptly sent for that grim old veteran whom he had recalled
in anger seven years before. In all the realm Frontenac was the one
man who could be depended upon to restore the prestige of France along
the great trade routes.

The Great Onontio, as Frontenac was known to the Indians, reached the
St. Lawrence in the late autumn of 1689, just as the colony was about
to pass through its darkest hours. Quebec greeted him as a _Redemptor
Patriae_; its people, in the words of La Hontan, were as Jews
welcoming the Messiah. Nor was their enthusiasm without good cause,
for in a few years Frontenac demonstrated his ability to put the
colony on its feet once more. He settled its internal broils, opened
the channels of trade, restored the forts, repulsed the English, and
brought the Iroquois to terms.

Now that his mission had been achieved and he was no longer as robust
as of old, the Iron Governor asked the minister to keep him in mind
for some suitable sinecure in France if the opportunity came. This the
minister readily promised, but the promise was still unfulfilled when
Frontenac was stricken with his last illness. On November 28, 1698,
the greatest of the Onontios, or governors, passed away. "Devoted to
the service of his king," says his eulogist, "more busied with duty
than with gain; inviolable in his fidelity to his friends, he was as
vigorous a supporter as he was an untiring foe." Had his official
career closed with his recall in 1682, Frontenac would have ranked as
one of the singular misfits of the old French colonial system. But the
brilliant successes of his second term made men forget the earlier
days of petulance and petty bickerings. In the sharp contrasts of his
nature Frontenac was an unusual man, combining many good and great
qualities with personal shortcomings that were equally pronounced. In
the civil history of New France he challenges attention as the most
remarkable figure.



The greatest and most enduring achievement of Frontenac's first term
was the exploration of the territory southwestward of the Great Lakes
and the planting of French influence there. This work was due, in
large part, to the courage and energy of the intrepid La Salle.
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, like so many others who
followed the fleur-de-lis into the recesses of the new continent, was
of Norman birth and lineage. Rouen was the town of his nativity; the
year 1643 probably the date of his birth. How the days of his youth
were spent we do not know except that he received a good education,
presumably in a Jesuit seminary. While still in the early twenties
he came to Montreal where he had an older brother, a priest of the
Seminary of St. Sulpice. This was in 1666. Through, the influence of
his brother, no doubt, he received from the Seminary a grant of the
seigneury at Lachine on the river above the town, and at once began
the work of developing this property.

If La Salle intended to become a yeoman of New France, his choice of a
site was not of the best. The seigneury which he acquired was one of
the most dangerous spots in the whole colony, being right in the path
of Iroquois attack. He was able to gather a few settlers around him,
it is true, but their homes had to be enclosed by palisades, and they
hardly dared venture into the fields unarmed. Though the Iroquois and
the French were just now at peace, the danger of treachery was never
absent. On the other hand no situation could be more favorable for
one desiring to try his hand at the fur trade. It was inevitable,
therefore, that a young man of La Salle's adventurous temperament
and commercial ancestry should soon forsake the irksome drudgery of
clearing land for the more exciting and apparently more profitable
pursuit of forest trade. That was what happened. In the winter
of 1668-1669 he heard from the Indians their story of a great
southwestern river which made its way to the "Vermilion Sea." The
recital quickened the restless strain in his Norman blood. Here, he
thought, was the long-sought passage to the shores of the Orient, and
he determined to follow the river.

Having no other means of obtaining funds with which to equip an
expedition, La Salle sold his seigneury and at once began his
preparations. In July, 1669, he set off with a party of about twenty
men, some of whom were missionaries sent by the Seminary of St.
Sulpice to carry the tidings of the faith into the heart of the
continent. Up the St. Lawrence and along the south shore of Lake
Ontario they went, halting at Irondequoit Bay while La Salle and a few
of his followers went overland to the Seneca villages in search of
guides. Continuing to Niagara, the party divided and the Sulpicians
made their way to the Sault Ste. Marie, while La Salle with the
remainder of the expedition struck out south of Lake Erie and in all
probability reached the Ohio by descending one of its branches. But,
as no journal or contemporary record of the venture after they had
left Niagara has come down to us, the details of the journey are
unknown. It is believed that desertions among his followers prevented
further progress and that, in the winter of 1669-1670, La Salle
retraced his steps to the lakes. In its main object the expedition had
been a failure.

Having exhausted his funds, La Salle had no opportunity, for the
present at least, of making another trial. He accordingly asked
Frontenac for trading privileges at Cataraqui, the site of modern
Kingston, where stood the fortified post named after the governor.
Upon Frontenac's recommendation La Salle received in 1674 not only the
exclusive right to trade but also a grant of land at Fort Frontenac on
condition that he would rebuild the defenses with stone and supply a
garrison. The conditions being acceptable, the explorer hastened to
his new post and was soon engaged in the fur trade upon a considerable
scale. La Salle, however, needed more capital than he himself could
supply, and in 1677 he made a second trip to France with letters from
Frontenac to the King and Colbert. He also had the further design in
view of obtaining authority and funds for another trip of exploration
to the West. Since his previous expedition in 1669 two of his
compatriots, Père Marquette and Louis Joliet, had reached the Great
River and had found every reason for believing that its course ran
south to the Gulf of Mexico, and not southwestward to the Gulf of
California, as had previously been supposed. But they had not followed
the Mississippi to its outlet, and this was what La Salle was now
determined to do.

In Paris he found attentive listeners to his plans, and even the
King's ministers were interested, so that when La Salle sailed back to
Quebec in 1678 he brought a royal decree authorizing him to proceed
with his project. With him came a daring spirit who was to be chief
lieutenant and faithful companion in the ensuing years, Henri de
Tonty. This adventurous soldier was later known among the Indians
as "Tonty of the Iron Hand," for in his youth he had lost a hand in
battle, and in its stead now wore an artificial one of iron, which he
used from time to time with wholesome effect. He was a man of great
physical strength, and commensurate courage, loyal to his chief and
almost La Salle's equal in perseverance.

La Salle's party lost no time in proceeding to Fort Frontenac. Even
though the winter was at hand, Hennepin was at once sent forward
to Niagara with instructions to build a post and to begin the
construction of a vessel so that the journey westward might be begun
with the opening of spring. Later in the winter La Salle and Tonty
joined the party at Niagara where the fort was completed. Before
spring arrived, a vessel of about forty-five tons, the largest yet
built for service on the lakes, had been constructed. On its prow
stood a carved griffin, from the armorial bearings of Frontenac, and
out of its portholes frowned several small cannon. With the advent of
summer La Salle and his followers went aboard; the sails were spread,
and in due course the expedition readied Michilimackinac, where the
Jesuits had already established their most westerly mission.

The arrival of the _Griffin_ brought Indians by the hundred to marvel
at the "floating fort" and to barter their furs for the trinkets with
which La Salle had provided himself. The little vessel then sailed
westward into Lake Michigan and finally dropped anchor in Green Bay
where an additional load of beaver skins was put on deck. With the
approach of autumn the return trip began. La Salle, however, did not
accompany his valuable cargo, having a mind to spend the winter in.
explorations along the Illinois. In September, with many misgivings,
he watched the _Griffin_ set sail in charge of a pilot. Then, with the
rest of his followers he started southward along the Wisconsin shore.
Reaching the mouth of the St. Joseph, he struck into the interior to
the upper Kankakee. This stream the voyageurs, who numbered about
forty in all, descended until they reached the Illinois, which they
followed to the point where Peoria now stands.

Here La Salle's troubles began in abundance. The Indians endeavored
to dissuade him from leading the expedition farther, and even the
explorer's own followers began to desert. Chagrinned at these untoward
circumstances and on his guard lest the Indians prove openly hostile,
La Salle proceeded to secure his position by the erection of a fort
to which he gave the name Crèvecoeur. Here he left Tonty with the
majority of the party, while he himself started with five men back to
Niagara. His object was in part to get supplies for building a vessel
at Fort Crèvecoeur, and in part to learn what had become of the
_Griffin_, for since that vessel had sailed homeward he had heard no
word from her crew. Proceeding across what is now southern Michigan,
La Salle emerged on the shores of the Detroit River. From this point
he pushed across the neck of land to Lake Erie, where he built a canoe
which brought him to Niagara at Eastertide, 1680. His fears for the
fate of the _Griffin_ were now confirmed: the vessel had been lost,
and with her a fortune in furs. Nothing daunted, however, La Salle
hurried on to Fort Frontenac and thence with such speed to Montreal
that he accomplished the trip from the Illinois to the Ottawa in
less than three months--a feat hitherto unsurpassed in the annals of
American exploration.

At Montreal the explorer, who once more sought the favor of Frontenac,
was provided with equipment at the King's expense. Within a few
months he was again at Fort Frontenac and ready to rejoin Tonty at
Crèvecoeur. Just as he was about to depart, however, word came that
the Crèvecoeur garrison had mutinied and had destroyed the post. La
Salle's one hope now was that his faithful lieutenant had held on
doggedly and had saved the vessel he had been building. But Tonty in
the meantime had made his way with a few followers to Green Bay,
so that when La Salle reached the Illinois he found everyone gone.
Undismayed by this climax to his misfortunes, La Salle nevertheless
pushed on down the Illinois, and early in December reached its
confluence with the Mississippi.

To follow the course of this great stream with the small party which
accompanied him seemed, however, too hazardous an undertaking. La
Salle, therefore, retraced his steps once more and spent the next
winter at Fort Miami on the St. Joseph to the southeast of Lake
Michigan. In the spring word came to him that Tonty was at
Michilimackinac, and thither he hastened, to hear from Tonty's own
lips the long tale of disaster. "Any one else," wrote an eye-witness
of the meeting, "would have thrown up his hands and abandoned the
enterprise; but far from this, with, a firmness and constancy that
never had its equal, I saw him more resolved than ever to continue his
work and push forward his discovery."

Now that he had caught his first glimpse of the Mississippi, La Salle
was determined to persist until he had followed its course to the
outlet. Returning with Tonty to Fort Frontenac, he replenished his
supplies. In this same autumn of 1681, with a larger number of
followers, the explorer was again on his way to the Illinois. By
February the party had reached the Mississippi. Passing the Missouri
and the Ohio, La Salle and his followers kept steadily on their
way and early in April reached the spot where the Father of Waters
debouches through three channels into the Gulf. Here at the outlet
they set up a column with the insignia of France, and, as they took
possession of the land in the name of their King, they chanted in
solemn tones the _Exaudiat_, and in the name of God they set up their

But the French were short of supplies and could not stay long after
the symbols of sovereignty had been raised aloft. Paddling slowly
against the current. La Salle and his party reached the Illinois only
in August. Here La Salle and Tonty built their Fort St. Louis and here
they spent the winter. During the next summer (1683) the indefatigable
explorer journeyed down to Quebec, and on the last ship of the year
took passage for France. In the meantime, Frontenac, always his
firm friend and supporter, had been recalled, and La Barre, the new
governor, was unfriendly. A direct appeal to the home authorities
for backing seemed the only way of securing funds for further

Accordingly, early in 1684 La Salle appeared at the French court with
elaborate plans for founding a colony in the valley of the lower
Mississippi. This time the expedition was to proceed by sea. To this
project the King gave his assent, and commanded the royal officers to
furnish the supplies. By midsummer four ships were ready to set sail
for the Gulf. Once more, however, troubles beset La Salle on every
hand. Disease broke out on the vessels; the officers quarreled among
themselves; the expedition was attacked by the Spaniards, and one ship
was lost. Not until the end of December was a landing made, and then
not at the Mississippi's mouth but at a spot far to the west of it, on
the sands of Matagorda Bay.

Finding that he had missed his reckonings, La Salle directed a part of
his company to follow the shore. After many days of fruitless search,
they established a permanent camp and sent the largest vessel back to
France. Their repeated efforts to reach the Mississippi overland were
in vain. Finally, in the winter of 1687, La Salle with a score of his
strongest followers struck out northward, determined to make their way
to the Lakes, where they might find succor. To follow the detail of
their dreary march would be tedious. The hardships of the journey,
without adequate equipment or provisions, and the incessant danger of
attack by the Indians increased petty jealousies into open mutiny. On
the 19th of March, 1687, the courageous and indefatigable La Salle
was treacherously assassinated by one of his own party. Here in the
fastnesses of the Southwest died at the age of forty-four the
intrepid explorer of New France, whom Tonty called--perhaps not
untruthfully--"one of the greatest men of this age."

"Thus," writes a later historian with all the perspective of
the intervening years, "was cut short the career of a man whose
personality is impressed in some respects more strongly than that
of any other upon the history of New France. His schemes were too
far-reaching to succeed. They required the strength and resources of
a half-dozen nations like the France of Louis XIV. Nevertheless the
lines upon which New France continued to develop were substantially
those which La Salle had in mind, and the fabric of a wilderness
empire, of which he laid the foundations, grew with the general growth
of colonization, and in the next century became truly formidable. It
was not until Wolfe climbed the Heights of Abraham that the great
ideal of La Salle was finally overthrown."

It would be difficult, indeed, to find among the whole array of
explorers which history can offer in all ages a perseverance more
dogged in the face of abounding difficulties. Phoenix-like, he rose
time after time from the ashes of adversity. Neither fatigue nor
famine, disappointment nor even disaster, availed to swerve him from
his purpose. To him, more than to any one else of his time, the French
could justly attribute their early hold upon the great regions of the
West. Other explorers and voyageurs of his generation there were in
plenty, and their service was not inconsiderable. But in courage and
persistence, as well as in the scope of his achievements, La Salle,
the pathfinder of Rouen, towered above them all. He had, what so many
of the others lacked, a clear vision of what the great plains and
valleys of the Middle West could yield towards the enrichment of a
nation in years to come. "America," as Parkman has aptly said, "owes
him an enduring memory; for in this masculine figure she sees the
pioneer who guided her to the possession of her richest heritage."



Nearly all that was distinctive in the life of old Canada links itself
in one way or another with the Catholic religion. From first to last
in the history of New France the most pervading trait was the loyalty
of its people to the church of their fathers. Intendants might come
and go; governors abode their destined hour and went their way; but
the apostles of the ancient faith never for one moment released their
grip upon the hearts and minds of the Canadians. During two centuries
the political life of the colony ran its varied rounds; the habits of
the people were transformed with the coming of material prosperity:
but the Church went on unchanged, unchanging. One may praise the
steadfastness with which the Church fought for what its bishops
believed to be right, or one may, on the other hand, decry the
arrogance of its pretensions to civil power and its hampering
conservatism; but as the great central fact in the history of New
France, the hegemony of Catholicism cannot be ignored.

When Frenchmen began the work of founding a dominion in the New World,
their own land was convulsed with religious troubles. Not only were
the Huguenots breaking from the trammels of the old religion, but
within the Catholic Church, itself in France there were two great
contending factions. One group strove for the preservation of the
Galilean liberties, the special rights of the French King and the
French bishops in the ecclesiastical government of the land, while
the other claimed for the Pope a supremacy over all earthly rulers in
matters of spiritual concern. It was not a difference on points of
doctrine, for the Galileans did not question the headship of the
Papacy in things of the spirit. What they insisted upon was the
circumscribed nature of the papal power in temporal matters within the
realm of France, particularly with regard to the right of appointment
to ecclesiastical positions with endowed revenues. Bishops, priests,
and religious orders ranged themselves on one side or the other, for
it was a conflict in which there could be no neutrality. As the royal
authorities were heart and soul with the Galileans, it was natural
enough that priests of this group should gain the first religious
foothold in the colony. The earliest priests brought to the colony
were members of the Récollet Order. They came with Champlain in 1615,
and made their headquarters in Quebec at the suggestion of the King's
secretary. For ten years they labored in the colony, striving bravely
to clear the way for a great missionary crusade.

But the day of the Récollets in New France was not long. In 1625 came
the advance guard of another religious order, the militant Jesuits,
bringing with them their traditions of unwavering loyalty to the
Ultramontane cause. The work of the Récollets had, on the whole, been
disappointing, for their numbers and their resources proved too small
for effective progress. During ten years of devoted labor they had
scarcely been able to make any impression upon the great wilderness of
heathenism that lay on all sides. In view of the apparent futility of
their efforts, the coming of the Jesuits--suggested, it may be, by
Champlain--was probably not unwelcome to them. Richelieu, moreover,
had now brought his Ultramontane sympathies close to the seat of royal
power, so that the King no longer was in a position to oppose the
project. At any rate the Jesuits sailed for Canada, and their arrival
forms a notable landmark in the history of the colony. Their dogged
zeal and iron persistence carried them to points which missionaries
of no other religious order would have reached. For the Jesuits were,
above all things else, the harbingers of a militant faith. Their
organization and their methods admirably fitted them to be the
pioneers of the Cross in new lands. They were men of action, seeking
to win their crown of glory and their reward through intense physical
and spiritual exertions, not through long seasons of prayer and
meditation in cloistered seclusion. Loyola, the founder of the Order,
gave to the world the nucleus of a crusading host, disciplined as no
army ever was. If the Jesuits could not achieve the spiritual conquest
of the New World, it was certain that no others could. And this
conquest they did achieve. The whole course of Catholic missionary
effort throughout the Western Hemisphere was shaped by members of the
Jesuit Order.

Only four of these priests came to Quebec in 1625. Although it was
intended that others should follow at once, their number was not
substantially increased until seven years later, when the troubles
with England were brought to an end and the colony was once more
securely in the hands of the French. Then the Jesuits came steadily,
a few arriving with almost every ship, and either singly or together
they were sent off to the Indian settlements--to the Hurons around
the Georgian Bay, to the Algonquins north of the Ottawa, and to the
Iroquois south of the Lakes. The physical vigor, the moral heroism,
and the unquenchable religious zeal of these missionaries were
qualities exemplified in a measure and to a degree which are beyond
the power of any pen to describe. Historians of all creeds have
tendered homage to their self-sacrifice and zeal, and never has work
of human hand or spirit been more worthy of tribute. The Jesuit went,
often alone, where no others dared to go, and he faced unknown dangers
which had all the possibilities of torture and martyrdom. Nor did this
energy waste itself in flashes of isolated triumph. The Jesuit was a
member of an efficient organization, skillfully guided by inspired
leaders and carrying its extensive work of Christianization with
machine-like thoroughness through the vastness of five continents.
We are too apt to think only of the individual missionary's glowing
spirit and rugged faith, his picturesque strivings against great odds,
and to regard him as a guerilla warrior against the hosts of darkness.
Had he been this, and nothing more, his efforts must have been
altogether in vain. The great services which the Jesuit missionary
rendered in the New World, both to his country and to his creed, were
due not less to the matchless organization of the Order to which he
belonged than to qualities of courage, patience, and fortitude which
he himself showed as a missionary.

During the first few years of Jesuit effort among the Indians of New
France the results were pitifully small. The Hurons, among whom the
missionaries put forth their initial labors, were poor stock, even as
red men went. The minds of these half-nomadic and dull-witted savages
were filled with gross superstitions, and their senses had been
brutalized by the incessant torments of their Iroquois enemies. Amid
the toils and hazards and discomforts of so insecure and wandering a
life the Jesuits found little opportunity for soundly instructing the
Hurons in the faith. Hence there were but few neophytes in these early
years. By 1640 the missionaries could count only a hundred converts in
a population of many thousands, and even this little quota included
many infants who had died soon after receiving the rites of baptism.
More missionaries kept coming, however; the work steadily broadened;
and the posts of service were multiplied. In due time the footprints
of the Jesuits were everywhere, from the St. Lawrence to the
Mississippi, from the tributaries of the Hudson to the regions north
of the Ottawa. Le Jeune, Massé, Brébeuf, Lalemant, Ragueneau, Le
Dablon, Jogues, Gamier, Raymbault, Péron, Moyne, Allouez, Druilletes,
Chaumonot, Ménard, Bressani, Daniel, Chabanel, and a hundred
others,--they soon formed that legion whose works of courage and
devotion stand forth so prominently in the early annals of New France.

Once at their stations in the upper country, the missionaries
regularly sent down to the Superior of the Order at Quebec their
full reports of progress, difficulties, and hopes, all mingled with
interesting descriptions of Indian customs, folklore, and life. It is
no wonder that these narratives, "jotted down hastily," as Le Jeune
tells us, "now in one place, now in another, sometimes on water,
sometimes on land," were often crude, or that they required careful
editing before being sent home to France for publication. In their
printed form, however, these _Rélations des Jésuites_ gained a wide
circle of European readers; they inspired more missionaries to come,
and they drew from well-to-do laymen large donations of money for
carrying on the crusade.

The royal authorities also gave their earnest support, for they saw
in the Jesuit missionary not merely a torchbearer of his faith or a
servant of the Church. They appreciated his loyalty and remembered
that he never forgot his King, nor shirked his duty to the cause of
France among the tribes. Every mission post thus became an embassy,
and every Jesuit an ambassador of his race, striving to strengthen the
bonds of friendship between the people to whom he went and the people
from whom he came. The French authorities at Quebec were not slow to
recognize what an ever-present help the Jesuit could be in times of
Indian trouble. One governor expressed the situation with fidelity
when he wrote to the home authorities that, "although the interests of
the Gospel do not require us to keep missionaries in all the Indian
villages, the interests of the civil government for the advantage of
trade must induce us to manage things so that we may always have at
least one of them there." It must therefore be admitted that, when the
civil authorities did encourage the missions, they did not always do
so with a purely spiritual motive in mind.

As the political and commercial agent of his people, the Jesuit had
great opportunities, and in this capacity he usually gave a full
measure of service. After he had gained the confidence of the tribes,
the missionary always succeeded in getting the first inkling of what
was going on in the way of inter-tribal intrigues. He learned to
fathom the Indian mind and to perceive the redskin's motives. He was
thus able to communicate to Quebec the information and advice which
so often helped the French to outwit their English rivals. As
interpreters in the conduct of negotiations and the making of treaties
the Jesuits were also invaluable. How much, indeed, these blackrobes
achieved for the purely secular interests of the French colony, for
its safety from sudden Indian attack, for the development of its
trade, and for its general upbuilding, will never be known. The
missionary did not put these things on paper, but he rendered services
which in all probability were far greater than posterity will ever

It was not, however, with the conversion of the Indians or with the
service of French secular interests among the savages that the work of
the Jesuits was wholly, or even chiefly, concerned. During the middle
years of the seventeenth century, these services at the outposts
of French territory may have been most significant, for the French
population along the shores of the St. Lawrence remained small, the
settlements were closely huddled together, and a few priests could
serve their spiritual needs. The popular impression of Jesuit
enterprises in the New World is connected almost wholly with work
among the Indians. This pioneer phase of the Jesuit's work was
picturesque, and historians have had a great deal to say about it. It
was likewise of this service in the depths of the interior that the
missionary himself wrote most frequently. But as the colony grew and
broadened its bounds until its settlements stretched all the way from
the Saguenay to Montreal and beyond, a far larger number of _curés_
was needed. Before the old régime came to a close there were far
more Frenchmen than Indians within the French sphere of influence
in America, and they required by far the greater share of Jesuit
ministration, and, long before the old dominion ended, the Indian
missions had to take a subordinate place in the general program of
Jesuit undertakings. The outposts in the Indian country were the chief
scene of Jesuit labors from 1615 to about 1700, when the emphasis
shifted to the St. Lawrence valley. Some of the mission fields held
their own to the end, but in general they failed to make much headway
during the last half-century of French rule. The Church in the settled
portions of the colony, however, kept on with its steady progress in
achievement and power.

New France was the child of missionary fervor. Even from the outset,
in the scattered settlements along the St. Lawrence, the interests
of religion were placed on a strictly missionary basis. There were
so-called parishes in the colony almost from its beginning, but
not until 1722 was the entire colony set off into recognized
ecclesiastical parishes, each with a fixed _curé_ in charge. Through
all the preceding years each village or _côte_ had been served by a
missionary, by a movable _curé_, or by a priest sent out from
the Seminary at Quebec. No priest was tied to any parish but was
absolutely at the immediate beck and call of the bishop. Some reason
for this unsettled arrangement might be found in the conditions
under which the colony developed in its early years; with its sparse
population ranging far and wide, with its lack of churches and
of _presbytères_ in which the priest might reside. But the real
explanation of its long continuance lies in the fact that, if regular
_curés_ were appointed, the seigneurs would lay claim to various
rights of nomination or patronage, whereas the bishop could control
absolutely the selection of missionary priests and could thus more
easily carry through his policy of ecclesiastical centralization.

Not only in this particular, but in every other phase of religious
life and organization during these crusading days in Canada, one must
reckon not only with the logic of the situation, but also with the
dominating personality of the first and greatest Ultramontane, Bishop
Laval. Though not himself a Jesuit, for no member of the Order could
be a bishop, Laval was in tune with their ideals and saw eye to eye
with the Jesuits on every point of religious and civil policy.

François Xavier de Laval, Abbé de Montigny, was born in 1622, a scion
of the great house of Montmorency. He was therefore of high nobility,
the best-born of all the many thousands who came to New France
throughout its history. As a youth his had come into close association
with the Jesuits, and had spent four years in the famous Hermitage at
Caen, that Jesuit stronghold which served so long as the nursery for
the spiritual pioneers of early Canada. When he came to Quebec as
Vicar-Apostolic in 1659, he was only thirty-seven years of age.
His position in the colony at the time of his arrival was somewhat
unusual, for although he was to be in command of the colony's
spiritual forces. New France was not yet organized as a diocese and
could not be so organized until the Pope and the King should agree
upon the exact status of the Church in the French colonial dominions.
Laval was nevertheless given his titular rank from the ancient see of
Petraea in Arabia which had long since been _in partibus infidelium_
and hence had no bishop within its bounds. From his first arrival in
Canada his was Bishop Laval, but without a diocese over which he could
actually hold sway. His commission as Vicar-Apostolic gave him power
enough, however, and his responsibility was to the Pope alone.

For the tasks which, he was sent to perform, Laval had eminent
qualifications. A haughty spirit went with the ultra-blue blood in his
veins; he had a temperament that loved to lead and to govern, and that
could not endure to yield or to lag behind. His intellectual talents
were high beyond question, and to them he added the blessing of a
rugged physical frame. No one ever came to a new land with more
definite ideas of what he wanted to do or with a more unswerving
determination to do it in his own way.

It was not long before the stamp of Laval's firm hand was laid upon
the life of the colony. In due course, too, he found himself at odds
with the governor. The dissensions smouldered at first, and then broke
out into a blaze that warmed the passions of all elements in the
colony. The exact origin of the feud is somewhat obscure, and it is
not necessary to put down here the details of its development to the
war _à outrance_ which soon engaged the civil and ecclesiastical
authorities in the colony. In the background was the question of the
_coureurs-de-bois_ and the liquor traffic which now became a definite
issue and which remained the storm centre of colonial politics for
many generations. The merchants insisted that if this traffic were
extinguished it would involve the ruin of the French hold upon the
Indian trade. The bishop and the priests, on the other hand, were
ready to fight the liquor traffic to the end and to exorcise it as the
greatest blight upon the New World. Quebec soon became a cockpit where
the battle of these two factions raged. Each had its ups and downs,
until in the end the traffic remained, but under a makeshift system of

To portray Laval and his associates as always in bitter conflict with
the civil power, nevertheless, would be to paint a false picture.
Church and state were not normally at variance in their views and
aims. They clashed fiercely on many occasions, it is true, but after
their duels they shook hands and went to work with a will at the
task of making the colony stand upon its own feet. Historians have
magnified these bickerings out of all proportion. Squabbles over
matters of precedence at ceremonies, over the rate of the tithes, and
over the curbing of the _coureurs-de-bois_ did not take the major
share of the Church's attention. For the greater part of two whole
centuries it loyally aided the civil power in all things wherein the
two could work together for good.

And these ways of assistance were many. For example the Church,
through its various institutions and orders, rendered a great service
to colonial agriculture. As the greatest landowner in New France,
it set before the seigneurs and the habitants an example of what
intelligent methods of farming and hard labor could accomplish in
making the land yield its increase. The King was lavish in his grants
of territory to the Church: the Jesuits received nearly a million
_arpents_ as their share of the royal bounty; the bishop and the
Quebec Seminary, the Sulpicians, and the Ursulines, about as much
more. Of the entire granted acreage of New France the Church
controlled about one-quarter, so that its position as a great
landowner was even stronger in the colony than at home. Nor did it
fold its talents in a napkin. Colonists were brought from France,
farms were prepared for them in the church seigneuries, and the new
settlers were guided and encouraged through, the troublous years of
pioneering. With both money and brains at its command, the Church was
able to keep its own lands in the front line of agricultural progress.

When in 1722 the whole colony was marked off into definite
ecclesiastical divisions, seventy-two parishes were established, and
nearly one hundred _curés_ were assigned to them. As time went on,
both parishes and _curés_ increased in number, so that every locality
had its spiritual leader who was also a philosopher and guide in all
secular matters. The priest thus became a part of the community and
never lost touch with his people. The habitant of New France for his
part never neglected his Church on week-days. The priest and the
Church were with him at work and at play, the spirit and the life of
every community. Though paid a meager stipend, the _curé_ worked hard
and always proved a laborer far more than worthy of his hire. The
clergy of New France never became a caste, a privileged order; they
did not live on the fruits of other men's labor, but gave to the
colony far more than the colony ever gave to them.

As for the Church revenues, these came from several sources. The
royal treasury contributed large sums, but, as it was not full to
overflowing, the King preferred to give his benefactions in generous
grants of land. Yet the royal subsidies amounted to many thousand
livres each year. The diocese of Quebec was endowed with the revenues
of three French abbeys. Wealthy laymen in France followed the royal
example and sent contributions from time to time, frequently of large
amount. While the Company of One Hundred Associates controlled the
trade of the colony, it made from its treasury some provisions for
the support of the missionaries. After 1663, a substantial source of
ecclesiastical income was the tithe, an ecclesiastical tax levied
annually upon all produce of the land, and fixed in 1663 at
one-thirteenth. Four years later it was reduced to one-twenty-sixth,
and Bishop Laval's strenuous efforts to have the old rate restored
were never successful.

In education, yet another field of colonial life, the Church rendered
some service. Here the civil authorities did nothing at all, and had
it not been for the Church the whole colony would have grown up in
absolute illiteracy. A school for boys was established at Quebec in
Champlain's day, and during the next hundred and fifty years it was
followed by about thirty others. More than a dozen elementary schools
for girls were also established under ecclesiastical auspices. Yet
the amount of secular education imparted by all these seminaries was
astoundingly small, and they did but little to leaven the general
illiteracy of the population. Only the children of the towns attended
the schools, and the program of study was of the most elementary
character. Religious instruction was given the first place and
received so much attention that there was little time in school hours
for anything else. The girls fared better than the boys on the whole,
for the nuns taught them to sew and to knit as well as to read and to

So far as secular education was concerned, therefore, the English
conquest found the colony in almost utter stagnation. Not one in five
hundred among the habitants, it was said, could read or write. Outside
the immediate circle of clergy, officials, and notaries, ignorance of
even the rudiments of education was almost universal. There were no
newspapers in the colony and very few books save those used in the
services of worship. Greysolon Du Lhut, the king of the voyageurs, for
example, was a man of means and education, but his entire library,
as disclosed by his will, consisted of a world atlas and a set of
Josephus. The priests did not encourage the reading of secular books,
and La Hontan recounts the troubles which he had in keeping one
militant _curé_ from tearing his precious volumes to pieces. New
France was at that period not a land where freedom dwelt with

Intellectually, the people of New France comprised on the one hand a
small élite and on the other a great unlettered mass. There was
no middle class between. Yet the population of the colony always
contained, especially among its officials and clergy, a sprinkling of
educated and scholarly men. These have given us a literature of travel
and description which is extensive and of high, quality. No other
American colony of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries put so
much, of its annals into print; the _Rélations_ of the Jesuits alone
were sufficient to fill forty-one volumes, and they form but a small
part of the entire literary output.



From the beginning of the colony there ran in the minds of French
officialdom the idea that the social order should rest upon a
seigneurial basis. Historians have commonly attributed to Richelieu
the genesis of New World feudalism, but without good reason, for its
beginnings antedated the time of the great minister. The charter
issued to the ill-starred La Roche in 1598 empowered him "to grant
lands to gentlemen in the forms of fiefs and seigneuries," and the
different viceroys who had titular charge of the colony before the
Company of One Hundred Associates took charge in 1627 had similar
powers. Several seigneurial grants in the region of Quebec had, in
fact, been made before Richelieu first turned his attention to the

Nor was the adoption of this policy at all unnatural. Despite its
increasing obsolescence, the seigneurial system was still strong in
France and dominated the greater part of the kingdom. The nobility and
even the throne rested upon it. The Church, as suzerain of enormous
landed estates, sanctioned and supported it. The masses of the French
people were familiar with no other system of landholding. No prolonged
quest need accordingly be made to explain why France transplanted
feudalism to the shores of the great Canadian waterway; in fact,
an explanation would have been demanded had any other policy been
considered. No one asks why the Puritans took to Massachusetts Bay the
English system of freehold tenure. They took the common law of England
and the tenure that went with it. Along with the fleur-de-lis,
likewise, went the Custom of Paris and the whole network of social
relations based upon a hierarchy of seigneurs and dependents.

The seigneurial system of land tenure, as all students of history
know, was feudalism in a somewhat modernized form. During the chaos
which came upon Western Europe in the centuries following the collapse
of Roman imperial supremacy, every local magnate found himself forced
to depend for existence upon the strength of his own castle, under
whose walls he gathered as many vassals as he could induce to come.
To these he gave the surrounding lands free from all rents, but on
condition of aid in time of war. The lord gave the land and promised
to protect his vassals, who, on their part, took the land and promised
to pay for it not in money or in kind, but in loyalty and service.
Thus there was created a close personal relation, a bond of mutual
wardship and fidelity which bound liegeman and lord with hoops of
steel. The whole social order rested upon this bond and upon the
gradations in privilege which it involved in a sequence which became
stereotyped. In its day feudalism was a great institution and one
which shared with the Christian Church the glory of having made
mediaeval life at all worth living. It helped to keep civilization
from perishing utterly in a whirl of anarchy, and it enabled Europe to
recover inch by inch its former state of order, stability, and law.

But, having done its service to humanity, feudalism did not quietly
make way for some other system more suited to the new conditions. It
hung on grimly long after the forces which had brought it into being
ceased to exist, long after the growth of a strong monarchy in France
with a powerful standing army had removed the necessity of mutual
guardianship and service. To meet the new conditions the system merely
changed its incidents, never its general form. The ancient obligation
of military service, no longer needed, gave place to dues and
payments. The old personal bond relaxed; the feudal lord became the
seigneur, a mere landlord. The vassal became the _censitaire_, a mere
tenant, paying heavy dues each year in return for protection which,
he no longer received nor required. In a word, before 1600 the feudal
system had become the seigneurial system, and it was the latter which
was established in the French colony of Canada.

In the new land there was reason to hope, however, that this system of
social relations based upon landholding would soon work its way back
to the vigor which it had displayed in mediaeval days. Here in the
midst of an unfathomed wilderness was a small European settlement with
hostile tribes on every hand. The royal arm, so strong in affording
protection at home, could not strike hard and promptly in behalf
of subjects a thousand leagues away. New France, accordingly must
organize itself for defense and repel her enemies just as the earldoms
and duchies of the crusading centuries had done. And that is just
what the colony did, with the seigneurial system as the groundwork of
defensive strength. Under stress of the new environment, which was not
wholly unlike that of the former feudal days, the military aspects of
the system revived and the personal bond regained much of its
ancient vigor. The sordid phases of seigneurialism dropped into the
background. It was this restored vitality that helped, more than
all else, to turn New France into a huge armed camp which hordes of
invaders, both white and red, strove vainly to pierce time after time
during more than a full century.

The first grant of a seigneury in the territory of New France was made
in 1623 to Louis Hébert, a Paris apothecary who had come to Quebec
with Champlain some years before this date. His land consisted of a
tract upon the height above the settlement, and here he had cleared
the fields and built a home for himself. By this indenture feudalism
cast its first anchor in New France, and Hébert became the colony's
first patron of husbandry. Other grants soon followed, particularly
during the years when the Company of One Hundred Associates was
in control of the land, for, by the terms of its charter, this
organization was empowered to grant large tracts as seigneuries and
also to issue patents of nobility. It was doubtless assumed by the
King that such grants would be made only to persons who would actually
emigrate to New France and who would thus help in the upbuilding of
the colony, but the Company did not live up to this policy. Instead,
it made lavish donations, some of them containing a hundred square
miles or more, to directors and friends of the Company in France who
neither came to the colony themselves nor sent representatives to
undertake the clearing of these large estates. One director took the
entire Island of Orleans; others secured generous slices of the best
lands on both shores of the St. Lawrence; but not one of them lifted a
finger in the way of redeeming these huge concessions from a state of
wilderness primeval. The tracts were merely held in the hope that some
day they would become valuable. Out of sixty seigneuries which were
granted by the Company during the years from 1632 to 1663 not more
than a half-dozen grants were made to _bona fide_ colonists. At the
latter date the total area of cleared land was scarcely four thousand

[Footnote 1: An _arpent_ was about five-sixths of an acre.]

With the royal action of 1663 which took the colony from the Company
and reconstructed its government, the seigneurial system was
galvanized at once with new energy. The uncleared tracts which the
officials of the Company had carved out among themselves were declared
to be forfeited to the Crown and actual occupancy was held to be,
for the future, the essential of every seigneurial grant. A vigorous
effort was made to obtain settlers, and with considerable success, for
in the years 1665-1667 the population of the colony more than doubled.
Nothing was left undone by the royal authorities in securing and
transporting emigrants. Officials from Paris scoured the provinces,
offering free passage to Quebec and free grants of land upon arrival.
The campaign was successful, and many shiploads of excellent
colonists, most of them hardy peasants from Normandy, Brittany,
Perche, and Picardy, were sent during these banner years.

On their arrival at Quebec the incoming settlers were taken in hand by
officials and were turned over to the various seigneurs who were ready
to provide them with lands and to help them in getting well started.
If the newcomer happened to be a man of some account at home, and
particularly if he brought some money with him, he had the opportunity
to become a seigneur himself. He merely applied to the intendant,
who was quite willing to endow with a seigneury any one who appeared
likely to get it cleared and ready for future settlers. In this matter
the officials, following out the spirit of the royal orders, were
prone to err on the side of liberality. Too often they gave large
seigneurial grants to men who had neither the energy nor the funds to
do what was expected of a seigneur in the new land.

As for extent, the seigneuries varied greatly. Some were as large as
a European dukedom; others contained only a few thousand _arpents_.
There was no fixed rule; within reasonable limits each applicant
obtained what he asked for, but it was generally understood that men
who had been members of the French _noblesse_ before coming to the
colony were entitled to larger areas than those who were not. In any
case little attention was paid to exact boundaries, and no surveys
were made. In making his request for a seigneury each applicant set
forth what he wanted, and this he frequently did in such broad terms
as, "all lands between such-and-such a river and the seigneury of the
Sieur de So-and-So." These descriptions, rarely adequate or accurate,
were copied into the patent, causing often hopeless confusion of
boundaries and unneighborly squabbles. It was fortunate that most
seigneurs had more land than they could use; otherwise there would
have been as many lawsuits as seigneuries.

The obligations imposed upon the seigneurs were not burdensome. No
initial payment was asked, and there were no annual rentals to be paid
to the Crown. Each seigneur had to render the ceremony of fealty and
homage to the royal representative at Quebec. Each was liable for
military service, although that obligation was not written into the
grant. When a seigneury changed owners otherwise than by inheritance
in direct succession, a payment known as the _quint_ (being, as the
name connotes, one-fifth of the reported value) became payable to the
royal treasury, but this was rarely collected. The most important
obligation imposed upon the Canadian seigneur, and one which did not
exist at all in France, was that of getting settlers established upon
his lands. This obligation the authorities insisted upon above all
others. The Canadian seigneur was expected to live on his domain,
to gather dependents around him, to build a mill for grinding their
grain, to have them level the forest, clear the fields, and make
two blades of grass grow where one grew before. In other words,
the Canadian seigneur was to be a royal immigration and land agent
combined. He was not given his generous landed patrimony in order that
he should sit idly by and wait for the unearned increment to come.

Many of the seigneurs fulfilled this trust to the letter. Robert
Giffard, who received the seigneury of Beauport just below Quebec, was
one of these; Charles Le Moyne, Sieur de Longueuil, was another. Both
brought many settlers from France and saw them safely through the
years of pioneering. Others, however, did no more than flock to Quebec
when ships were expected, like so many real estate agents explaining
to the new arrivals what they had to offer in the way of lands fertile
and well situated. Still others did not even do so much, but merely
put forth one excuse after another to explain why their tracts
remained without settlements at all. From time to time the authorities
prodded these seigneurial drones and threatened them with the
forfeiture of their estates; but some of the laggards had friends
among the members of the Sovereign Council or possessed other means of
warding off action, so that final decrees of forefeiture were rarely
issued. Occasionally there were seigneurs whose estates were so
favorably situated that they could exact a bonus from intending
settlers, but the King very soon put a stop to this practice. By the
Arrêts of Marly in 1711 he decreed that no bonus or _prix d'entrée_
should be exacted by any seigneur, but that every settler was to have
land for the asking and at the rate of the annual dues customary in
the neighborhood.

At this date there were some ninety seigneuries in the colony, about
which we have considerable information owing to a careful survey which
was made in 1712 at the King's request. This work was entrusted to an
engineer, Gedéon de Catalogne, who had come to Quebec a quarter of a
century earlier to help with the fortifications. Catalogne spent two
years in his survey, during which time he visited practically all the
colonial estates. As a result he prepared and sent to France a full
report giving in each case the location and extent of the seigneury,
the name of its owner, the nature of the soil, and its suitability
for various uses, the products, the population, the condition of the
people, the provisions made for religious instruction, and various
other matters.[1] With the report he sent three maps, one of which has
disappeared. The others show the location of all seigneuries in the
regions of Quebec and Three Rivers.

[Footnote 1: This report was printed for the first time in the
author's _Documents relating to the Seigniorial Tenure in Canada_
(Toronto: The Champlain Society, 1908).]

From Catalogne's survey we know that before 1712 nearly all the
territory on both shores of the St. Lawrence from below Quebec to
above Montreal had been parceled into seigneuries. Likewise the
islands in the river and the land on both sides of the Richelieu
in the region toward Lake Champlain had been allotted. Many of the
seigneuries in this latter belt had been given to officers of the
Carignan-Salières regiment which had come out with Tracy in 1665
to chastise the Mohawks. After the work of the regiment had been
finished, Talon suggested to the King that it be disbanded in Canada,
that the officers be persuaded to accept seigneuries, and that the
soldiers be given lands within the estates of their officers. The
Grand Monarque not only assented but promised a liberal money bonus to
all who would remain. Accordingly, more than twenty officers, chiefly
captains or lieutenants, and nearly four hundred men, agreed to stay
in New France under these arrangements.

Here was an experiment in the system of imperial Rome repeated in the
New World. When the empire of the Caesars was beginning to give way
before the oncoming Goths and Huns, the practice of disbanding the
legions on the frontier so that they might settle there and form an
iron ring against the invaders was adopted and served its purpose for
a time. It was from these _praedia militaria_ that Talon got the idea
which he now transmitted to the French King with the suggestion
that "the practice of these sagacious and warlike Romans might be
advantageously followed in a land which, being so far away from its
sovereign, must trust for existence to the strength, of its own
arms." In keeping with the same precedent, Talon located the military
seigneuries in that section of the colony where they would be most
useful as a barrier against the enemy; that is to say, he placed them
in the colony's most vulnerable region. This was the area along the
Richelieu from Lake Champlain to its confluence with the St. Lawrence
at Sorel. It was by this route that the Mohawks had already come more
than once on their errands of massacre, and it was by this portal
that the English were likely to come if they should ever attempt
to overwhelm New France by an overland assault. The region of the
Richelieu was therefore made as strong against incursion as this
colonizing measure could make it.

All who took lands in this region, whether seigneurs or habitants,
were to assemble in arms at the royal call. Their uniforms and muskets
they kept for service, and never during subsequent years was such a
call without response. These military settlers and their sons after
them were only too ready to rally around the royal _oriflamme_ at any
opportunity. It was from the armed seigneuries of the Richelieu that
Hertel de Rouville, St. Ours, and others quietly slipped forth and
leaped with all the advantage of surprise upon the lonely hamlets
of outlying Massachusetts or New York. How the English feared these
_gentilshommes_ let their own records tell, for there these French
colonials put many a streak of blood and fire.

But not all of the seigneuries were settled in this way, and it was
well for the best interests of the colony that they were not. Too
often the good soldier made only an indifferent yeoman. First in war,
he was last in peace. The task of hammering spears into ploughshares
and swords into pruning-hooks was not altogether to his liking. Most
of the officers gradually grew tired of their rôle as gentlemen of the
wilderness, and eventually sold or mortgaged their seigneuries and
made their way back to France. Many of the soldiers succumbed to the
lure of the western fur traffic and became _coureurs-de-bois_. But
many others stuck valiantly to the soil, and today their descendants
by the thousand possess this fertile land.

What were the obligations of the settler who took a grant of land
within a seigneury? On the whole they were neither numerous nor
burdensome, and in no sense were they comparable with those laid upon
the hapless peasantry in France during the days before the great
Revolution. Every habitant had a written title-deed from his seigneur
and the terms of this deed were explicit. The seigneur could exact
nothing that was not stipulated therein. These title-deeds were made
by the notaries, of whom there seem to have been plenty in New France;
the census of 1681 listed no fewer than twenty-four of them in a
population which had not yet reached ten thousand. When the deed had
been signed, the notary gave one copy to each of the parties; the
original he kept himself. These scribes were men of limited education
and did not always do their work with proper care, but on the whole
they rendered useful service.

The deed first set forth the situation and area of the habitant's
farm. The ordinary extent was from one hundred to four hundred
_arpents_, usually in the shape of a parallelogram with a narrow
frontage on the river, and extending inland to a much greater
distance. Every one wanted to be near the main road which ran along
the shore; it was only after all this land had been taken up that the
incoming settlers were willing to have farms in the "second range" on
the uplands away from the stream. At any rate, the habitant took his
land subject to yearly payments known as the _cens et rentes_. The
amount was small, a few sous together with a stated donation in
grain or poultry to be delivered each autumn. Reckoned in terms of
present-day rentals, the _cens et rentes_ amounted to half a dozen
chickens or a bushel of grain for each fifty or sixty acres of land.
Yet this was the only payment which the habitants of New France
regularly made in return for their lands. Each autumn at Michaelmas
they gathered at the seigneur's house, their carryalls filling his
yard. One by one they handed over their quota of grain or poultry
and counted out their _cens_ in copper coins. The occasion became a
neighborhood festival to which the women came with the men. There was
a general retailing of local gossip and a squaring-up of accounts
among the neighbors themselves.

But while this was the only regular payment made by the habitant,
it was not the only obligation imposed upon him. In New France the
seigneur had the exclusive right of grinding all grain, and the
habitants were bound by their title-deeds to bring their grist to his
mill and to pay the legal toll for milling. This _banalité_, as it was
called, did not bear heavily upon the people; most of the complaints
concerning it came rather from the seigneurs who claimed that the
legal toll, which amounted to one-fourteenth of the grain, did not
suffice to pay expenses. Some of the seigneurs did not build mills at
all, but the authorities eventually moved them to action by ordering
that those who did not provide mills at once would not be allowed
to enforce the obligation of toll at any future date. Most of the
seigneurial mills were crude, wind-driven affairs which made poor
flour and often kept the habitants waiting for days to get it. Usually
built in tower-like fashion, they were loopholed in order to afford
places of refuge and defense against Indian attack.

Another seigneurial obligation was that of giving to the seigneur
certain days of _corvée_, or forced labor, in each year. In France
this was a grievous burden; peasants were taken from their own lands
at inconvenient seasons and forced to work for weeks on the seigneur's
domain. But there was nothing of this sort in Canada. The amount of
_corvée_ was limited to six days at the most in any year, of which
only two days could be asked for at seed-time and two days at harvest.
The seigneur, for his part, did not usually exact even this amount,
because the neighborhood custom required that he should furnish both
food and tools to those whom he called upon to work for him.

Besides, there were various details of a minor sort incidental to the
seigneurial system. If the habitant caught fish in the river, one fish
in every eleven belonged to the seigneur. But seldom was any attention
paid to this stipulation. The seigneur was entitled to take firewood
and building materials from the lands of his habitants if he desired,
but he rarely availed himself of this right. On the morning of every
May Day the habitants were under strict injunction to plant a Maypole
before the seigneur's house, and this they never failed to do, because
the seigneur in return was expected to dispense hospitality to all who
came. Bright and early in the morning the whole community appeared and
greeted the seigneur with a salvo of blank musketry. With them they
carried a tall fir-tree, pulled bare to within a few feet of the top
where a tuft of green remained. Having planted this Maypole in the
ground, they joined in dancing and a _feu de joie_ in the seigneur's
honor, and then adjourned for cakes and wine at his table. There is no
doubt that such good things disappeared with celerity before appetites
whetted by an hour's exercise in the clear spring air. After drinking
to the seigneur's health and to the health of all his kin, the merry
company returned to their homes, leaving behind them the pole as a
souvenir of their homage. That the seigneur was more than a mere
landlord such an occasion testified.

The seigneurs of New France had the right to hold courts for the
settlement of disputes among their tenantry, but they rarely availed
themselves of this privilege because, owing to the sparseness of the
population in most of the seigneuries, the fines and fees did not
produce enough income to make such a procedure worth while. In a few
populous districts there were seigneurial courts with regular judges
who held sessions once or twice each week. In some others the seigneur
himself sat in judgment behind the living-room table in his own home
and meted out justice after his own fashion. The Custom of Paris
was the common law of the land, and all were supposed to know its
provisions, though few save the royal judges had any such knowledge.
When the seigneur himself heard the suitors, his decision was
not always in keeping with the law but it usually satisfied the
disputants, so that appeals to the royal courts were not common. These
latter tribunals, each with a judge of its own, sat at Quebec, Three
Rivers, and Montreal. Their procedure, like that of the seigneurial
courts, was simple, free from chicane, and inexpensive. A lawsuit in
New France did not bring ruinous costs. "I will not say," remarks the
facetious La Hontan, "that the Goddess of Justice is more chaste here
than in France, but at any rate, if she is sold, she is sold more
cheaply. In Canada we do not pass through the clutches of advocates,
the talons of attorneys, and the claws of clerks. These vermin do
not as yet infest the land. Every one here pleads his own cause. Our
Themis is prompt, and she does not bristle with fees, costs, and

Throughout the French period there was no complaint from the habitants
concerning the burdens of the seigneurial tenure. Here and there
disputes arose as to the exact scope and nature of various
obligations, but these the intendant adjusted with a firm hand and
an eye to the general interest. On the whole, the system rendered a
highly useful service, by bringing the entire rural population into
close and neighborly contact, by affording a firm foundation for
the colony's social structure, and by contributing greatly to the
defensive unity of New France. So long as the land was weak and
depended for its very existence upon the solidarity of its people, so
long as the intendant was there to guide the system with a praetorian
hand and to prevent abuses, so long as strength was more to be desired
than opulence, the seigneurial system served New France better than
any other scheme of landholding would have done. It was only when
the administration of the country came into new and alien hands that
Canadian seigneurialism became a barrier to economic progress and an
obsolete system which had to be abolished.



The center and soul of the economic system in New France was the
traffic in furs. Even before the colony contained more than a handful
of settlers, the profit-making possibilities of this trade were
recognized. It grew rapidly even in the early days, and for more than
a hundred and fifty years furnished New France with its sinews of war
and peace. Beginning on the St. Lawrence, this trade moved westward
along the Great Lakes, until toward the end of the seventeenth century
it passed to the headwaters of the Mississippi. During the two
administrations of Frontenac the fur traffic grew to large
proportions, nor did it show much sign of shrinking for a generation
thereafter. With the ebb-tide of French military power, however, the
trader's hold on these western lands began to relax, and before the
final overthrow of New France it had become greatly weakened.

In establishing commercial relations with the Indians, the French
voyageur on the St. Lawrence had several marked advantages over his
English and Dutch neighbors. By temperament he was better adapted than
they to be a pioneer of trade. No race was more supple than his own in
conforming its ways to the varied demands of place and time. When he
was among the Indians, the Frenchman tried to act like one of them,
and he soon developed in all the arts of forest life a skill which
rivaled that of the Indian himself. The fascination of life in the
untamed wilderness with its hair-raising experiences, its romance, its
free abandon, appealed more strongly to the French temperament than to
that of any other European race. _Non licet omnibus adire Corinthum_.
And the French colonist of the seventeenth century had the qualities
of personal courage and hardihood which enabled him to enjoy this life
to the utmost.

Then there was the Jesuit missionary. He was the first to visit the
Indians in their own abodes, the first to make his home among them,
the first to master their language and to understand their habits of
mind. This sympathetic comprehension gave the Jesuit a great influence
in the councils of the savages. While first of all a soldier of the
Cross, the missionary never forgot, however, that he was also a
sentinel doing outpost duty for his own race. Apostle he was, but
patriot too. Besides, it was to the spiritual interest of the
missionary to keep his flock in contact with the French alone; for if
they became acquainted with the English they would soon come under
the smirch of heresy. To prevent the Indians from engaging in any
commercial dealings with Dutch or English heretics meant encouraging
them to trade exclusively with the French. In this way the Jesuit
became one of the most zealous of helpers in carrying out the French
program for diverting to Montreal the entire fur trade of the western
regions. He was thus not only a pioneer of the faith but at the same
time a pathfinder of commercial empire. It is true, no doubt,
that this service to the trading interests of the colony was but
ill-requited by those whom it benefited most. The trader too often
repaid the missionary in pretty poor coin by bringing the curse of the
liquor traffic to his doors, and by giving denial by shameless conduct
to all the good father's moral teachings. In spite of such inevitable
drawbacks, the Jesuit rendered a great service to the trading
interests of New France, far greater indeed than he ever claimed or
received credit for.

In the struggle for the control of the fur trade geographical
advantages lay with the French. They had two excellent routes from
Montreal directly into the richest beaver lands of the continent. One
of these, by way of the Ottawa and Mattawa rivers, had the drawback
of an overland portage, but on the other hand the whole route was
reasonably safe from interruption by Iroquois or English attack. The
other route, by way of the upper St. Lawrence and the lakes, passed
Cataraqui, Niagara, and Detroit on the way to Michilimackinac or to
Green Bay. This was an all-water route, save for the short detour
around the falls at Niagara, but it had the disadvantage of passing,
for a long stretch, within easy reach of Iroquois interference. The
French soon realized, however, that this lake route was the main
artery of the colony's fur trade and must be kept open at any cost.
They accordingly entrenched themselves at all the strategic points
along the route. Fort Frontenac at Cataraqui was built in 1674; the
fortified post at Detroit, in 1686; the fort at Niagara, in 1678; and
the establishments at the Sault Ste. Marie and at Michilimackinac had
been constructed even earlier.

But these places only marked the main channels through which the trade
passed. The real sources of the fur supply were in the great regions
now covered by the states of Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. As
it became increasingly necessary that the French should gain a firm
footing in these territories as well, they proceeded to establish
their outposts without delay. The post at Baye des Puants (Green Bay)
was established before 1685; then in rapid succession came trading
stockades in the very heart of the beaver lands, Fort St. Antoine,
Fort St. Nicholas, Fort St. Croix, Fort Perrot, Port St. Louis, and
several others. No one can study the map of this western country as
it was in 1700 without realizing what a strangle-hold the French had
achieved upon all the vital arteries of its trade.

The English had no such geographical advantages as the French, nor
did they adequately appreciate the importance of being first upon the
ground. With the exception of the Hudson after 1664, they controlled
no great waterway leading to the interior. And the Hudson with its
tributaries tapped only the territories of the Iroquois which were
denuded of beaver at an early date. These Iroquois might have rendered
great service to the English at Albany by acting as middlemen in
gathering the furs from the West. They tried hard, indeed, to assume
this rôle, but, as they were practically always at enmity with the
western tribes, they never succeeded in turning this possibility to
their full emolument.

In only one respect were the French at a serious disadvantage. They
could not compete with the English in the matter of prices. The
English trader could give the Indian for his furs two or three times
as much merchandise as the French could offer him. To account for
this commercial discrepancy there were several reasons. The cost of
transportation to and from France was high--approximately twice that
of freighting from London to Boston or New York. Navigation on the St.
Lawrence was dangerous in those days before buoys and beacons came
to mark the shoal waters, and the risk of capture at sea during the
incessant wars with England was considerable. The staples most used in
the Indian trade--utensils, muskets, blankets, and strouds (a coarse
woolen cloth made into shirts)--could be bought more cheaply in
England than in France. Rum could be obtained from the British West
Indies more cheaply than brandy from across the ocean. Moreover, there
were duties on furs shipped from Quebec and on all goods which came
into that post. And, finally, a paternal government in New France set
the scale of prices in such a way as to ensure the merchants a large
profit. It is clear, then, that in fair and open competition for the
Indian trade the French would not have survived a single season.[1]
Their only hope was to keep the English away from the Indians
altogether, and particularly from the Indians of the fur-bearing
regions. This was no easy task, but in general they managed to do it
for nearly a century.

[Footnote 1: In the collection of _Documents Relating to the Colonial
History of New York_ (ix., 408-409) the following comparative table of
prices at Fort Orange (Albany) and at Montreal in 1689 is given:

  _The Indian pays for    at Albany       at Montreal_

   1 musket                 2 beavers       5 beavers
   8 pounds of powder       1 beaver        4    "
  40 pounds of lead         1    "          3    "
   1 blanket                1    "          2    "
   4 shirts                 1    "          2    "
   6 pairs stockings        1    "          2    "]

The most active and at the same time the most picturesque figure
in the fur-trading system of New France was the _coureur-de-bois_.
Without him the trade could neither have been begun nor continued
successfully. Usually a man of good birth, of some military training,
and of more or less education, he was a rover of the forest by choice
and not as an outcast from civilization. Young men came from France
to serve as officers with the colonial garrison, to hold minor civil
posts, to become seigneurial landholders, or merely to seek adventure.
Very few came out with the fixed intention of engaging in the forest
trade; but hundreds fell victims to its magnetism after they had
arrived in New France. The young officer who grew tired of garrison
duty, the young seigneur who found yeomanry tedious, the young
habitant who disliked the daily toil of the farm--young men of all
social ranks, in fact, succumbed to this lure of the wilderness. "I
cannot tell you," wrote one governor, "how attractive this life is to
all our youth. It consists in doing nothing, caring nothing, following
every inclination, and getting out of the way of all restraint." In
any case the ranks of the voyageurs included those who had the best
and most virile blood in the colony.

Just how many Frenchmen, young and old, were engaged in the lawless
and fascinating life of the forest trader when the fur traffic was at
its height cannot be stated with exactness. But the number must have
been large. The intendant Duchesneau, in 1680, estimated that more
than eight hundred men, out of a colonial population numbering less
than ten thousand, were off in the woods. "There is not a family of
any account," he wrote to the King, "but has sons, brothers,
uncles, and nephews among these _coureurs-de-bois_." This may be an
exaggeration, but from references contained in the dispatches of
various royal officials one may fairly conclude that Duchesneau's
estimate of the number of traders was not far wide of the mark. And
there is other evidence as to the size of this exodus to the woods.
Nicholas Perrot, when he left Montreal for Green Bay in 1688, took
with him one hundred and forty-three voyageurs.[1] La Hontan found
"thirty or forty _coureurs-de-bois_ at every post in the Illinois

[Footnote 1: _Documents Relative to the Colonial History of New York_,
ix., 470.]

[Footnote 2: _Voyages_ (ed. Thwaites), ii., 175.]

Among the leaders of the _coureurs-de-bois_ several names stand out
prominently. François Dauphine de la Forêt, Nicholas Perrot, and Henri
de Tonty, the lieutenants of La Salle, Alphonse de Tonty, Antoine de
La Mothe-Cadillac, Greysolon Du Lhut and his brother Greysolon de la
Tourette, Pierre Esprit Radisson and Médard Chouart de Groseilliers,
Olivier Morel de la Durantaye, Jean-Paul Le Gardeur de Repentigny,
Louis de la Porte de Louvigny, Louis and Juchereau Joliet, Pierre
LeSueur, Boucher de la Perrière, Jean Peré, Pierre Jobin, Denis Massé,
Nicholas d'Ailleboust de Mantet, François Perthuis, Etienne Brulé,
Charles Juchereau de St. Denis, Pierre Moreau _dit_ La Toupine, Jean
Nicolet--these are only the few who connected themselves with some
striking event which has transmitted their names to posterity. Many of
them have left their imprint upon the geographical nomenclature of the
Middle West. Hundreds of others, the rank and file of this picturesque
array, gained no place upon the written records, since they took part
in no striking achievement worthy of mention in the dispatches and
memoirs of their day. The _coureur-de-bois_ was rarely a chronicler.
If the Jesuits did not deign to pillory him in their _Rélations_,
or if the royal officials did not single him out for praise in
the memorials which they sent home to France each year, the
_coureur-de-bois_ might spend his whole active life in the forest
without transmitting his name or fame to a future generation. And that
is what most of them did. A few of the voyageurs found that one trip
to the wilds was enough and never took to the trade permanently. But
the great majority, once the virus of the free life had entered their
veins, could not forsake the wild woods to the end of their days. The
dangers of the life were great, and the mortality among the traders
was high. _Coureurs de risques_ they ought to have been called, as
La Hontan remarks. But taken as a whole they were a vigorous,
adventurous, strong-limbed set of men. It was a genuine compliment
that they paid to the wilderness when they chose to spend year after
year in its embrace.

In their methods of trading the _coureurs-de-bois_ were unlike
anything that the world had ever known before. The Hanseatic merchants
of earlier fur-trading days in Northern Europe had established their
forts or factories at Novgorod, at Bergen, and elsewhere, great
_entrepôts_ stored with merchandise for the neighboring territories.
The traders lived within, and the natives came to the posts to barter
their furs or other raw materials. The merchants of the East India
Company had established their posts in the Orient and traded with the
natives on the same basis. But the Norman voyageurs of the New World
did things quite differently. They established fortified posts
throughout the regions west of the Lakes, it is true, but they did not
make them storehouses, nor did they bring to them any considerable
stock of merchandise. The posts were for use as the headquarters of
the _coureurs-de-bois_, and usually sheltered a small garrison of
soldiers during the winter months; they likewise served as places
of defense in the event of attack and of rendezvous when a trading
expedition to Montreal was being organized. It was not the policy of
the French authorities, nor was it the plan of the _coureurs-de-bois_,
that any considerable amount of trading should take place at these
western stockades. They were only the outposts intended to keep the
trade running in its proper channels. In a word, it was the aim of
the French to bring the trade to the colony, not to send the colony
overland to the savages. That is the way Father Carheil phrased it,
and he was quite right.[1]

[Footnote 1: Carheil to Champigny (August 30, 1702), in R.G. Thwaites,
_Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents_, lxv., 219.]

Every spring, accordingly, if the great trade routes to Montreal were
reasonably free from the danger of an overwhelming Iroquois attack,
the _coureurs-de-bois_ rounded up the western Indians with their
stocks of furs from the winter's hunt. Then, proceeding to the grand
rendezvous at Michilimackinac or Green Bay, the canoes were joined
into one great flotilla, and the whole array set off down the lakes
or by way of the Ottawa to Montreal. This annual fur flotilla often
numbered hundreds of canoes, the _coureurs-de-bois_ acting as pilots,
assisting the Indians to ward off attacks, and adding their European
intelligence to the red man's native cunning.[1] About midsummer,
having covered the thousand miles of water, the canoes drew within
hail of the settlement of Montreal. Above the Lachine Rapids the
population came forth to meet it with a noisy welcome. Enterprising
_cabaretiers_, in defiance of the royal decrees, had usually set up
their booths along the shores for the sale of brandy, and there was
some brisk trading as well as a considerable display of aboriginal
boisterousness even before the canoes reached Montreal.

[Footnote 1: The flotilla of 1693 consisted of more than 400 canoes,
with about 200 _coureurs-de-bois_, 1200 Indians, and furs to the value
of over 800,000 _livres_.]

Once at the settlement, the Indians set up their tepees, boiled their
kettles, and unpacked their bundles of peltry. A day was then given
over to a great council which, the governor of the colony, in scarlet
cloak and plumed hat, often came from Quebec to attend. There were the
usual pledges of friendship; the peace-pipe went its round, and the
song of the calumet was sung. Then the trading really began. The
merchants of Montreal had their little shops along the shore where
they spread out for display the merchandise brought by the spring
ships from France. There were muskets, powder, and lead, blankets in
all colors, coarse cloth, knives, hatchets, kettles, awls, needles,
and other staples of the trade. But the Indian had a weakness for
trinkets of every sort, so that cheap and gaudy necklaces, bracelets,
tin looking-glasses, little bells, combs, vermilion, and a hundred
other things of the sort were there to tempt him. And last, but not
least in its purchasing power, was brandy. Many hogsheads of it were
disposed of at every annual fair, and while it lasted the Indians
turned bedlam loose in the town. The fair was Montreal's gala event
in every year, for its success meant everything to local prosperity.
Indeed, in the few years when, owing to the Iroquois dangers, the
flotilla failed to arrive, the whole settlement was on the verge of

What the Indian got for his furs at Montreal varied from time to
time, depending for the most part upon the state of the fur market
in France. And this, again, hinged to some extent upon the course of
fashions there. On one occasion the fashion of wearing low-crowned
hats cut the value of beaver skins in two. Beaver was the fur of furs,
and the mainstay of the trade. Whether for warmth, durability, or
attractiveness in appearance, there was none other to equal it. Not
all beaver skins were valued alike, however. Those taken from animals
killed during the winter were preferred to those taken at other
seasons, while new skins did not bring as high a price as those which
the Indian had worn for a time and had thus made soft. The trade,
in fact, developed a classification of beaver skins into soft and
half-soft, green and half-green, wet and dry, and so on. Skins of good
quality brought at Montreal from two to four _livres_ per pound, and
they averaged a little more than two pounds each. The normal cargo of
a large canoe was forty packs of skins, each pack weighing about fifty
pounds. Translated into the currency of today a beaver pelt of fair
quality was worth about a dollar. When we read in the official
dispatches that a half-million _livres_' worth of skins changed owners
at the Montreal fair, this statement means that at least a hundred
thousand animals must have been slaughtered to furnish a large
flotilla with its cargo.

The furs of other animals, otter, marten, and mink, were also in
demand but brought smaller prices. Moose hides sold well, and so
did bear skins. Some buffalo hides were brought to Montreal, but in
proportion to their value they were bulky and took up so much room in
the canoes that the Indians did not care to bring them. The heyday
of the buffalo trade came later, with the development of overland
transportation. At any rate the dependence of New France upon these
furs was complete. "I would have you know," asserts one chronicler,
"that Canada subsists only upon the trade of these skins and furs,
three-fourths of which come from the people who live around the Great
Lakes." The prosperity of the French colony hinged wholly upon two
things: whether the routes from the West were open, and whether the
market for furs in France was holding up. Upon the former depended the
quantity of furs brought to Montreal; upon the latter, the amount of
profit which the _coureurs-de-bois_ and the merchants of the colony
would obtain.

For ten days or a fortnight the great fair at Montreal continued. A
picturesque bazaar it must have been, this meeting of the two ends of
civilization, for trade has been, in all ages, a mighty magnet to draw
the ends of the earth together. When all the furs had been sold, the
_coureurs-de-bois_ took some goods along with them to be used partly
in trade on their own account at the western posts and partly as
presents from the King to the western chieftains. There is reason to
suspect, however, that much of what the royal bounty provided for this
latter purpose was diverted to private use. There were annual fairs at
Three Rivers for the Indians of the St. Maurice region; at Sorel,
for those of the Richelieu; and at Quebec and at Tadoussac, for
the redskins of the Lower St. Lawrence. But Montreal, owing to its
situation at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa trade
routes, was by far the greatest fur mart of all.

It has been mentioned that the colonial authorities tried to
discourage trading at the western posts. Their aim was to bring the
Indian with his furs to the colonial settlement. But this policy could
not be fully carried out. Despite the most rigid prohibitions and the
severest penalties, some of the _coureurs-de-bois_ would take goods
and brandy to sell in the wilderness. Finding that this practice could
not be exterminated, the authorities decided to permit a limited
amount of forest trading under strict regulation, and to this end the
King authorized the granting of twenty-five licenses each year.
These licenses permitted a trader to take three canoes with as much
merchandise as they would hold. As a rule the licenses were not issued
directly to the traders themselves, but were given to the religious
institutions or to dependent widows of former royal officers. These in
turn sold them to the traders, sometimes for a thousand _livres_ or
more. The system of granting twenty-five annual licenses did not
of itself throw the door wide open for trade at the western
establishments. But as time went on the plan was much abused by the
granting of private licenses to the friends of the officials at
Quebec, and "God knows how many of these were issued," as one writer
of the time puts it. Traders often went, moreover, without any license
at all, and especially in the matter of carrying brandy into the
forest they frequently set the official orders at defiance.

This brandy question was, in fact, the great troubler in Israel. It
bulks large in every chronicle, every memoir, every _Rélation_, and
in almost every official dispatch during a period of more than fifty
years. It worried the King himself; it set the officers of the Church
and State against each other; and it provoked more friction throughout
the western dominions of France than all other issues put together.

As to the ethics of the liquor traffic in New France, there was
never any serious disagreement. Even the secular authorities readily
admitted that brandy did the Indians no good, and that it would be
better to sell them blankets and kettles. But that was not the point.
The traders believed that, if the western Indians could not secure
brandy from the French, they would get rum from the English. The
Indian would be no better off in that case, and the French would lose
their hold on him into the bargain. Time and again they reiterated the
argument that the prohibition of the brandy trade would make an end to
trade, to French influence, and even to the missionary's own labors.
For if the Indian went to the English for rum, he would get into touch
with heresy as well; he would have Protestant missionaries come to his
village, and the day of Jesuit propaganda would be at an end.

This, throughout the whole trading period, was the stock argument of
publicans and sinners. The Jesuit missionaries combated it with all
their power; yet they never fully convinced either the colonial or the
home authorities. Louis XIV, urged by his confessor to take one stand
and by his ministers to take the other, was sorely puzzled. He wanted
to do his duty as a Most Christian King, yet he did not want to have
on his hands a bankrupt colony. Bishop Laval pleaded with Colbert that
brandy would spell the ruin of all religion in the new world, but the
subtle minister calmly retorted that the _eau-de-vie_ had not yet
overcome the ancient church in older lands. To set his conscience
right, the King referred the whole question to the savants of the
Sorbonne, and they, like good churchmen, promptly gave their opinion
that to sell intoxicants to the heathen was a heinous sin. But that
counsel afforded the Grand Monarch scant guidance, for it was not
the relative sinfulness of the brandy trade that perplexed him. The
practical expediency of issuing a decree of prohibition was what lay
upon his mind. On that point Colbert gave him sensible advice, namely,
that a question of practical policy could be better settled by the
colonists themselves than by cloistered scholars. Guided by this
suggestion, the King asked for a limited plebiscite; the governor of
New France was requested to call together "the leading inhabitants of
the colony" and to obtain from each one his opinion in writing. Here
was an inkling of colonial self-government, and it is unfortunate that
the King did not resort more often to the same method of solving the
colony's problems.

On October 26, 1678, Frontenac gathered the "leading inhabitants" in
the Château at Quebec. Apart from the officials and military officers
on the one hand and the clergy on the other, most of the solid men of
New France were there. One after another their views were called for
and written down. Most of those present expressed the opinion that
the evils of the traffic had been exaggerated, and that if the French
should prohibit the sale of brandy to the savages they would soon lose
their hold upon the western trade. There were some dissenters, among
them a few who urged a more rigid regulation of the traffic. One
hard-headed seigneur, the Sieur Dombourg, raised the query whether the
colony was really so dependent for its existence upon the fur trade as
the others had assumed to be the case. If there were less attention to
trade, he urged, there would be more heed paid to agriculture, and in
the long run it would be better for the colony to ship wheat to France
instead of furs. "Let the western trade go to the English in exchange
for their rum; it would neither endure long nor profit them much."
This was sound sense, but it did not carry great weight with
Dombourg's hearers.

The written testimony was put together and, with comments by the
governor, was sent to France for the information of the King and his
ministers. Apparently it had some effect, for, without altogether
prohibiting the use of brandy in the western trade, a royal decree of
1679 forbade the _coureurs-de-bois_ to carry it with them on their
trips up the lakes. The issue of this decree, however, made no
perceptible change in the situation, and brandy was taken to the
western posts as before. So far as one can determine from the actual
figures of the trade, however, the quantity of intoxicants used by
the French in the Indian trade has been greatly exaggerated by the
missionaries. Not more than fifty barrels (_barriques_) ever went to
the western regions in the course of a year. A barrel held about two
hundred and fifty pints, so that the total would be less than one
pint per capita for the adult Indians within the French sphere
of influence. That was a far smaller per capita consumption than
Frenchmen guzzled in a single day at a Breton fair, as La Salle once
pointed out. The trouble was, however, that thousands of Indians got
no brandy at all, while a relatively small number obtained too much
of it. What they got, moreover, was poor stuff, most of it, and well
diluted with water. The Indian drank to get drunk, and when brandy
constituted the other end of the bargain he would give for it the very
furs off his back.

But if the Jesuits exaggerated the amount of brandy used in the trade,
they did not exaggerate its demoralizing effect upon both the Indian
and the trader. They believed that brandy would wreck the Indian's
body and ruin his soul. They were right; it did both. It made of every
western post, in the words of Father Carheil, a den of "brutality and
violence, of injustice and impiety, of lewd and shameless conduct, of
contempt and insults." No sinister motives need be sought to explain
the bitterness with which the blackrobes cried out against the
iniquities of a system which swindled the redskin out of his furs and
debauched him into the bargain. Had the Jesuits done otherwise
than fight it from first to last they would have been false to the
traditions of their Church and their Order. They were, when all is
said and done, the truest friends that the North American Indian has
ever had.

The effects of the fur trade upon both Indians and French were
far-reaching. The trade changed the red man's order of life, took him
in a single generation from the stone to the iron age, demolished his
old notions of the world, carried him on long journeys, and made him a
different man. French brandy and English rum sapped his stamina, and
the _grand libertinage_ of the traders calloused whatever moral sense
he had. His folklore, his religion, and his institutions made no
progress after the trader had once entered his territories.

On the French the effects of tribal commerce were not so disastrous,
though pernicious enough. The trade drew off into the wilderness the
vigorous blood of the colony. It cast its spell over New France from
Lachine to the Saguenay. Men left their farms, their wives, and their
families, they mortgaged their property, and they borrowed from their
friends in order to join the annual hegira to the West. Yet very few
of these traders accumulated fortunes. It was not the trader but the
merchant at Montreal or Quebec who got the lion's share of the profit
and took none of the risks. Many of the _coureurs-de-bois_ entered the
trade with ample funds and emerged in poverty. Nicholas Perrot
and Greysolon Du Lhut were conspicuous examples. It was a highly
speculative game. At times large profits came easily and were spent
recklessly. The trade encouraged profligacy, bravado, and garishness;
it deadened the moral sense of the colony, and even schooled men in
trickery and peculation. It was a corrupting influence in the official
life of New France, and even governors could not keep from soiling
their hands in it. But most unfortunate of all, the colony was
impelled to put its economic energies into what was at best an
ephemeral and transitory source of national wealth and to neglect the
solid foundations of agriculture and industry which in the long run
would have profited its people much more.



It was the royal desire that New France should some day become a
powerful and prosperous agricultural colony, providing the motherland
with an acceptable addition to its food supply. To this end large
tracts of land were granted upon most liberal terms to incoming
settlers, and every effort was made to get these acres cultivated.
Encouragement and coercion were alike given a trial. Settlers who did
well were given official recognition, sometimes even to the extent of
rank in the _noblesse_. On the other hand those who left their lands
uncleared were repeatedly threatened with the revocation of their
land-titles, and in some cases their holdings were actually taken
away. From the days of the earliest settlement down to the eve of the
English conquest, the officials of both the Church and the State
never ceased to use their best endeavors in the interests of colonial

Yet with all this official interest and encouragement agricultural
development was slow. Much of the land on both the north and the south
shores of the St. Lawrence was heavily timbered, and the work of
clearing proved tedious. It was estimated that an industrious settler,
working by himself, could clear not more than one superficial _arpent_
in a whole season. So slowly did the work make progress, in fact, that
in 1712, after fifty years of royal paternalism, the cultivable area
of New France amounted to only 150,000 _arpents_, and at the close
of the French dominion in 1760 it was scarcely more than twice that
figure,--in other words, about five _arpents_ for each head of

While industry and trade, particularly the Indian trade, took the
attention and interest of a considerable portion in the population of
New France, agriculture was from first to last the vocation of the
great majority. The census of 1695 showed more than seventy-five per
cent of the people living on the farms of the colony and this ratio
was almost exactly maintained, nearly sixty years later, when the
census of 1754 was compiled. This population was scattered along both
banks of the St. Lawrence from a point well below Quebec to the region
surrounding Montreal. Most of the farms fronted on the river so that
every habitant had a few _arpents_ of marshy land for hay, a tract of
cleared upland for ploughing, and an area extending to the rear which
might be turned into meadow or left uncleared to supply him with

Wheat and maize were the great staples, although large quantities
of oats, barley, and peas were also grown. The wheat was invariably
spring-sown, and the yield averaged from eight to twelve
hundredweights per _arpent_, or from ten to fourteen bushels per acre.
Most of the wheat was made into flour at the seigneurial mills and
was consumed in the colony, but shipments were also made with
fair regularity to France, to the West Indies, and for a time to
Louisbourg. In 1736 the exports of wheat amounted to nearly 100,000
bushels, and in the year following the banner harvest of 1741 this
total was nearly doubled. The price which the habitant got for wheat
at Quebec ranged normally from two to four _livres_ per hundredweight
(about thirty to sixty cents per bushel) depending upon the harvests
in the colony and the safety with which wheat could be shipped to
France, which, again, hinged upon the fact whether France and England
were at peace or at war. Indian corn was not exported to any large
extent, but many cargoes of dried peas were sent abroad, and
occasionally there were small shipments of oats and beans.

There was also a considerable production of hemp, flax, and tobacco,
but not for export in any large quantity. The tobacco grown in the
colony was coarse and ill-flavored. It was smoked by both the habitant
and the Indian because it was cheap; but Brazilian tobacco was greatly
preferred by those who could afford to buy it, and large quantities
of this were brought in. The French Government frowned upon
tobacco-growing in New France, believing, as Colbert wrote to Talon in
1672, that any such policy would be prejudicial to the interests of
the French colonies in the tropical zones which were much better
adapted to this branch of cultivation.

Cattle raising made substantial progress, and the King urged the
Sovereign Council to prohibit the slaughter of cattle so that the
herds might keep on growing; but the stock was not of a high standard,
but undersized, of mongrel breed, and poorly cared for. Sheep raising,
despite the brisk demand for wool, made slow headway. Most of the wool
needed in the colony had to be brought from France, and the demand was
great because so much woolen clothing was required for winter use. The
keeping of poultry was, of course, another branch of husbandry. The
habitants were fond of horses; even the poorest managed to keep two or
three, which was a wasteful policy as there was no work for the horses
to do during nearly half the year. Fodder, however, was abundant and
cost nothing, as each habitant obtained from the flats along the
river all that he could cut and carry away. This marsh hay was not of
superior quality, but it at least served to carry the horses and stock
through the winter.

The methods of agriculture were beyond question slovenly and crude.
Catalogne, the engineer whom the authorities commissioned to make an
agricultural census of the colony, ventured the opinion that, if
the fields of France were cultivated as the farms of Canada were,
three-quarters of the French people would starve. Rotation of crops
was practically unknown, and fertilization of the land was rare,
although the habitant frequently burned the stubble before putting
the plough to his fields. From time to time a part of each farm was
allowed to lie fallow, but such fallow fields were left unploughed and
soon grew so rank with weeds that the soil really got no rest at all.
All the ploughing was done in the spring, and it was not very well
done at that, for the land was ploughed in ridges which left much
waste between the furrows. Too often the seed became poor, as a result
of the habitant using seed from his own crops year after year until
it became run out. Most of the cultivated land was high and dry and
needed no artificial drainage. Even where the water lay on the land
late in the spring, however, there was rarely an attempt, as Peter
Kalm in his _Travels_ remarks, to drain it off. The habitant had
patience in greater measure than industry, and he was always ready to
wait for nature to do his work. Everybody depended for his implements
largely upon his own workmanship, so that the tools of agriculture
were of poor construction. The cultivation of even a few _arpents_
required a great deal of manual drudgery. On the other hand, the land
of New France was fertile, and every one could have plenty of it
for the asking. Kalm thought it quite as good as the average in the
English colonies and far better than most arable land in his own

Why, then, did French-Canadian agriculture, despite the warm official
encouragement given to it, make such relatively meager progress? There
are several reasons for its backwardness. The long winters, which
developed in the habitant an inveterate disposition to idleness,
afford the clue to one of them. A general aversion to unremitting
manual toil was one of the colony's besetting sins. Notwithstanding
the small per capita acreage, accordingly, there was a continual
complaint that not enough labor could be had to work the farms. Women
and children were pressed into service in the busy seasons. Yet the
colony abounded in idle men, and mendicancy at one time assumed such
proportions as to require the enforcement of stringent penalties. The
authorities were partly to blame for the development of this trait,
for upon the slightest excuse they took the habitant from his daily
routine and set him to help with warlike expeditions against the
Indians and the English, or called him to build roads or to repair the
fortifications. And the lure of the fur trade, which drew the most
vigorous young men of the land off the farms into the forest, was
another obstacle to the growth of yeomanry. Moreover, the curious and
inconvenient shape of the farms, most of them mere ribbons of land,
with a narrow frontage and disproportionate depth, handicapped all
efforts to cultivate the fields in an intelligent way. Finally, there
was the general poverty of the people. With a large family to support,
for families of ten to fifteen children were not uncommon, it was hard
for the settler to make both ends meet from the annual yield of a few
_arpents_, however fertile. The habitant, therefore, took the shortest
cut to everything, getting what he could out of his land in the
quickest possible way with no reference to the ultimate improvement
of the farm itself. If he ever managed to get a little money, he was
likely to spend it at once and to become as impecunious as before.
Such a propensity did not make for progress, for poverty begets
slovenliness in all ages and among all races of men.

If anything like the industry and intelligence that was bestowed
upon agriculture in the English colonies had been applied to the St.
Lawrence valley, New France might have shipped far more wheat than
beaver skins each year to Europe. But in this respect the colony never
half realized the royal expectations. On the other hand, the attempt
to make the land a rich grain-growing colony was far from being a flat
failure. It was supporting its own population, and had a modest amount
of grain each year for export to France or to the French West Indies.
With peace it would soon have become a land of plenty, for the
traveler who passed along the great river from Quebec to Montreal in
the late autumn might see, as Kalm in his _Travels_ tells us he saw,
field upon field of waving grain extending from the shores inward as
far as the eye could reach, broken only here and there by tracts of
meadow and woodland. Here was at least the nucleus of a Golden West.

Of colonial industry, however, not as much can be said as of
agriculture. Down to about 1663 it had given scarcely a single token
of existence. The colony, until that date, manufactured nothing.
Everything in the way of furnishings, utensils, apparel, and ornament
was brought in the company's ships from France, and no one seemed to
look upon this procedure as at all unusual. On the coming of Talon in
1665, however, the idea of fostering home industries in the colony
took active shape. By persuasion and by promise of reward, the
"Colbert of New France" interested the prominent citizens of Quebec in
modest industrial enterprises of every sort.

But the outcome soon belied the intendant's airy hopes. It was easy
enough to make a brave start in these things, especially with the aid
of an initial subsidy from the treasury; but to keep the wheels of
industry moving year after year without a subvention was an altogether
different thing. A colony numbering less than ten thousand souls did
not furnish an adequate market for the products of varied industries,
and the high cost of transportation made it difficult to export
manufactured wares to France or to the West Indies with any hope
of profit. A change of tone, moreover, soon became noticeable in
Colbert's dispatches with reference to industrial development. In
1665, when giving his first instructions to Talon, the minister had
dilated upon his desire that Canada should become self-sustaining in
the matter of clothing, shoes, and the simpler house-furnishings.
But within a couple of years Colbert's mind seems to have taken a
different shift, and we find him advising Talon that, after all,
it might be better if the people of New France would devote their
energies to agriculture and thus to raise enough grain wherewith to
buy manufactured wares from France. So, for one reason or another,
the infant industries languished, and, after Talon was gone, they
gradually dropped out of existence.

Another of Talon's ventures was to send prospectors in search of
minerals. The use of malleable copper by the Indians had been noted by
the French for many years and various rumors concerning the source
of supply had filtered through to Quebec. Some of Talon's agents,
including Jean Peré, went as far as the upper lakes, returning with
samples of copper ore. But the distance from Quebec was too great for
profitable transportation and, although Père Dablon in 1670 sent
down an accurate description of the great masses of ore in the Lake
Superior region, many generations were to pass before any serious
attempt could be made to develop this source of wealth. Nearer at hand
some titaniferous iron ore was discovered, at Baie St. Paul below
Quebec, but it was not utilized, although on being tested it was
found to be good in quality. Then the intendant sent agents to verify
reports as to rich coal deposits in Isle Royale (Cape Breton), and
they returned with glowing accounts which, subsequent industrial
history has entirely justified. Shipments of this coal were brought
to Quebec for consumption. A little later the intendant reported to
Colbert that a vein of coal had been actually uncovered at the foot of
the great rock which frowns upon the Lower Town at Quebec, adding that
the vein could not be followed for fear of toppling over the Château
which stood above. No one has ever since found any trace of Talon's
coal deposit, and the geologists of today are quite certain that the
intendant had more imagination than accuracy of statement or even of
elementary mineralogical knowledge.

Above the settlement at Three Rivers some excellent deposits of bog
iron ore were found in 1668, but it was not until five decades later
that the first forges were established there. These were successfully
operated throughout the remainder of the Old Régime, and much of the
colony's iron came from them to supply the blacksmiths. From time
to time rumors of other mineral discoveries came to the ears of the
people. A find of lead was reported from the Gaspé peninsula, but an
investigation proved it to be a hoax. Copper was actually found in
a dozen places within the settled ranges of the colony, but not in
paying quantities. Every one was always on the _qui vive_ for a vein
of gold or silver, but no part of New France ever gave the slightest
hint of an El Dorado. Prospecting engaged the energies of many
colonists in every generation, but most of those who thus spent their
years at it got nothing but a princely dividend of chagrin.

Mention should also be made of the brewing industry which Talon set
upon its feet during his brief intendancy but which, like all the rest
of his schemes, did not long survive his departure. In establishing a
brewery at Quebec the paternal intendant had two ends in mind: first,
to reduce the large consumption of _eau-de-vie_ by providing a cheaper
and more wholesome substitute; and second, to furnish the farmers of
the colony with a profitable home market for their grain. In 1671
Talon reported to the French authorities that the Quebec brewery was
capable of turning out four thousand hogsheads of beer per annum, and
thus of creating a demand for many thousand bushels of malt. Hops were
also needed and were expensive when brought from France, so that the
people were encouraged to grow hop-vines in the colony. But even with
grain and hops at hand, the brewing industry did not thrive, and
before many years Talon's enterprise closed its doors. The building
was finally remodeled and became the headquarters of the later

Flour-making and lumbering were the two industries which made most
consistent progress in the colony. Flour-mills were established both
in and near Quebec at an early date, and in course of time there were
scores of them scattered throughout the colony, most of them built
and operated as _banal_ mills by the seigneurs. The majority were
windmills after the Dutch fashion, but some were water-driven. On
the whole, they were not very efficient and turned out flour of such
indifferent grade that the bakers of Quebec complained loudly on more
than one occasion. In response to a request from the intendant, the
King sent out some fanning-mills which were distributed to various
seigneuries, but even this benefaction did not seem to make any great
improvement in the quality of the product. Yet in some years the
colony had flour of sufficiently good quality for export, and sent
small cargoes both to France and to the French West Indies.

The sawing of lumber was carried on in various parts of the colony,
particularly at Malbaie and at Baie St. Paul. Beam-timbers, planks,
staves, and shingles were made in large quantities both for use in the
colony and for export to France, where the timbers and planks were
in demand at the royal shipyards. Wherever lands were granted by the
Crown, a provision was inserted in the title-deed reserving all oak
timber and all pine of various species suitable for mastings. Though
such timber was not to be cut without official permission, the people
did not always respect this reservation. Yet the quantity of timber
shipped to France was very large, and next to furs it formed the
leading item in the cargoes of outgoing ships. For staves there was a
good market at Quebec where barrels were being made for the packing of
salted fish and eels.

The various handicrafts or small industries, such as blacksmithing,
cabinet-making, pottery, brick-making, were regulated quite as
strictly in Canada as in France. The artisans of the towns were
organized into _jurés_ or guilds, and elected a master for each trade.
These masters were responsible to the civil authorities for the proper
quality of the work done and for the observance of all the regulations
which were promulgated by the intendant or the council from time to

This relative proficiency in home industry accounts in part for
the tardy progress of the colony in the matter of large industrial
establishments. But there were other handicaps. For one thing,
the Paris authorities were not anxious to see the colony become
industrially self-sustaining. Colbert in his earliest instructions
to Talon wrote as though this were the royal policy, but no other
minister ever hinted at such a desire. Rather it was thought best that
the colony should confine itself to the production of raw materials,
leaving it to France to supply manufactured wares in return. The
mercantilist doctrine that a colony existed for the benefit of the
mother country was gospel at Fontainebleau. Even Montcalm, a man of
liberal inclinations, expressed this idea with undiminished vigor in
a day when its evil results must have been apparent to the naked
eye. "Let us beware," he wrote, "how we allow the establishment of
industries in Canada or she will become proud and mutinous like the
English colonies. So long as France is a nursery to Canada, let not
the Canadians be allowed to trade but kept to their laborious life and
military services."

The exclusion of the Huguenots from Canada was another industrial
misfortune. A few Huguenot artisans came to Quebec from Rochelle at an
early date, and had they been welcomed, more would soon have followed.
But they were promptly deported. From an economic standpoint this was
an unfortunate policy. The Huguenots were resourceful workmen, skilled
in many trades. They would have supplied the colony with a vigorous
and enterprising stock. But the interests of orthodoxy in religion
were paramount with the authorities, and they kept from Canada the
one class of settlers which most desired to come. Many of those same
Huguenots went to England, and every student of economic history knows
how greatly they contributed to the upbuilding of England's later
supremacy in the textile and related industries.

If we turn to the field of commerce, the spirit of restriction appears
as prominently as in the domain of industry. The Company of One
Hundred Associates, during its thirty years of control, allowed no one
to proceed to Quebec except on its own vessels, and nothing could be
imported except through its storehouses. Its successor, the Company of
the West Indies, which dominated colonial commerce from 1664 to
1669, was not a whit more liberal. Even under the system of royal
government, the consistent keynotes of commercial policy were
regulation, paternalism, and monopoly.

This is in no sense surprising. Spain had first given to the world
this policy of commercial constraint and the great enrichment of the
Spanish monarchy was everywhere held to be its outcome. France, by
reason of her similar political and administrative system, found it
easy to drift into the wake of the Spanish example. The official
classes in England and Holland would fain have had these countries do
likewise, but private initiative and enterprise proved too strong in
the end. As for New France, there were spells during which the grip of
the trading monopolies relaxed, but these lucid intervals were never
very long. When the Company of the West Indies became bankrupt in
1669, the trade between New France and Old was ostensibly thrown open
to the traders of both countries, and for the moment this freedom gave
Colbert and his Canadian apostle, Talon, an opportunity to carry out
their ideas of commercial upbuilding.

The great minister had as his ideal the creation of a huge fleet of
merchant vessels, built and operated by Frenchmen, which would ply to
all quarters of the globe, bringing raw products to France and taking
manufactured wares in return. It was under the inspiration of this
ideal that Talon built at Quebec a small vessel and, having freighted
it with lumber, fish, corn, and dried pease, sent it off to the French
West Indies. After taking on board a cargo of sugar, the vessel was
then to proceed to France and, exchanging the sugar for goods which
were needed in the regions of the St. Lawrence, it was to return to
Quebec. The intendant's plans for this triangular trade were well
conceived, and in a general way they aimed at just what the English
colonies along the Atlantic seaboard were beginning to do at the time.
The keels of other ships were being laid at Quebec and the officials
were dreaming of great maritime achievements. But as usual the
enterprise never got beyond the sailing of the first vessel, for its
voyage did not yield a profit.

The ostensible throwing-open of the colonial trade, moreover, did not
actually change to any great extent the old system of paternalism and
monopoly. Commercial companies no longer controlled the channels of
transportation, it is true, but the royal government was not minded
to let everything take its own course. So the trade was taxed for the
benefit of the royal treasury, and the privilege of collecting the
taxes, according to the custom of the old régime, was farmed out. All
the commerce of the colony, imports and exports, had to pass through
the hands of these farmers-of-the-revenue who levied ten per cent on
all goods coming and kept for the royal treasury one-quarter of
the price fixed for all skins exported. Traders as a rule were not
permitted to ship their furs directly to France. They turned them in
to farmers-of-the-revenue at Quebec, where they received the price as
fixed by ordinance, less one-quarter. This price they usually took in
bills of exchange on Paris which, they handed over to the colonial
merchants in payment for goods, and which the merchants in turn sent
home to France to pay for new stocks. Nor were the authorities content
with the mere fixing of prices. By ordinance they also set the rate of
profit which traders should have upon all imported wares brought into
the colony. This rate of profit was fixed at sixty-five per cent, but
the traders had no compunction in going above it whenever they saw
an opportunity which was not likely to be discovered. As far as the
forest trade was concerned, the regulation was, of course, absurd.

Every year, about the beginning of May, the first ships left France
for the St. Lawrence with general cargoes consisting of goods for the
colonists themselves and for the Indians, as well as large quantities
of brandy. When they arrived at Quebec, the vessels were met by the
merchants of the town and by those who had come from Three Rivers and
Montreal. For a fortnight lively trading took place. Then the goods
which had been bought by the merchants of Montreal and Three Rivers
were loaded upon small barques and brought to these towns to be in
readiness for the annual fairs when the _coureurs-de-bois_ and their
Indians came down to trade in the late summer. As for the vessels
which had come from France, these were either loaded with timber or
furs and set off directly home again, or else they departed light to
Cape Breton and took cargoes of coal for the French West Indies, where
the refining of sugar occasioned a demand for fuel. The last ships
left in November, and for seven months the colony was cut off from

Trade at Quebec, while technically open to any one who would pay the
duties and observe the regulations as to rates of profit, was actually
in the hands of a few merchants who had large warehouses and who took
the greater part of what the ships brought in. These men were, in
turn, affiliated more or less closely with the great trading houses
which sent goods from Rouen or Rochelle, so that the monopoly was
nearly as ironclad as when commercial companies were in control. When
an outsider broke into the charmed circle, as happened occasionally,
there was usually some way of hustling him out again by means either
fair or foul. The monopolists made large profits, and many of them,
after they had accumulated a fortune, went home to France. "I have
known twenty of these pedlars," quoth La Hontan, "that had not above
a thousand crowns stock when I arrived at Quebec in the year 1683 and
when I left that place had got to the tune of twelve thousand crowns."

Glancing over the whole course of agriculture, industry, and commerce
in New France from the time when Champlain built his little post at
the foot of Cape Diamond until the day when the fleur-de-lis fluttered
down from the heights above, the historian finds that there is one
word which sums up the chief cause of the colony's economic weakness.
That word is "paternalism." The Administration tried to take the place
of Providence. It was as omnipresent and its ways were as inscrutable.
Like as a father chasteneth his children, so the King and his
officials felt it their duty to chasten every show of private
initiative which did not direct itself along the grooves that they had
marked out for the colony to follow. By trying to order everything
they eventually succeeded in ordering nothing aright.



In New France there were no privileged orders. This, indeed, was the
most marked difference between the social organization of the home
land and that of the colony. There were social distinctions in Canada,
to be sure, but the boundaries between different elements of the
population were not rigid; there were no privileges based upon the
laws of the land, and no impenetrable barrier separated one class from
another. Men could rise by their own efforts or come down through
their own defaults; their places in the community were not determined
for them by the accident of birth as was the case in the older land.
Some of the most successful figures in the public and business affairs
of New France, some of the social leaders, some of those who attained
the highest rank in the _noblesse_, came of relatively humble

In France of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the chief
officials of state, the seigneurs, the higher ecclesiastics, even
the officers of the army and the marine, were always drawn from the
nobility. In the colony this was very far from being the case. Some
colonial officials and a few of the seigneurs were among the numerous
_noblesse_ of France before they came, and they of course retained
their social rank in the new environment. Others were raised to this
rank by the King, usually for distinguished services in the colony and
on the recommendation of the governor or the intendant. But, even if
taken all together, these men constituted a very small proportion of
the people in New France. Even among the seigneurs the great majority
of these landed gentlemen came from the ranks of the people, and not
one in ten was a member of the _noblesse_. There was, therefore, a
social solidarity, a spirit of fraternity, and a feeling of universal
comradeship among them which was altogether lacking at home.

The pivot of social life in New France was the settlement at Quebec.
This was the colonial capital, the seat of the governor and of the
council, the only town in the colony large enough to have all the
trappings and tinsel of a well-rounded social set. Here, too, came
some of the seigneurs to spend the winter months. The royal officials,
the officers of the garrison, the leading merchants, the judges, the
notaries and a few other professional men--these with their families
made up an élite which managed to echo, even if somewhat faintly, the
pomp and glamor of Versailles. Quebec, from all accounts, was
lively in the long winters. Its people, who were shut off from all
intercourse with Europe for many months at a time, soon learned
the art of providing for their own recreation and amusement. The
knight-errant La Hontan speaks enthusiastically of the events in the
life of this miniature society, of the dinners and dances, the salons
and receptions, the intrigues, rivalries, and flirtations, all of
which were well suited to his Bohemian tastes. But the clergy frowned
upon this levity, of which they believed there was far too much. On
one or two occasions they even laid a rigorous and restraining hand
upon activities of which they disapproved, notably when the young
officers of the Quebec garrison undertook an amateur performance of
Moliere's _Tartuffe_ in 1694. At Montreal and Three Rivers, the two
smaller towns of the colony, the social circle was more contracted and
correspondingly less brilliant. The capital, indeed, had no rival.

Only a small part of the population, however, lived in the towns. At
the beginning of the eighteenth century the census (1706) showed
a total of 16,417, of whom less than 3000 were in the three chief
settlements. The others were scattered along both banks of the St.
Lawrence, but chiefly on the northern shore, with the houses grouped
into _côtes_ or little villages which almost touched elbows along the
banks of the stream. In each of these hamlets the manor-house or home
of the seigneur, although not a mansion by any means, was the focus of
social life. Sometimes built of timber but more often of stone, with
dimensions rarely exceeding twenty feet by forty, it was not much more
pretentious than the homes of the more prosperous and thrifty among
the seigneur's dependents. Its three or four spacious rooms were,
however, more comfortably equipped with furniture which in many cases
had been brought from France. Socially, the seigneur and his family
did not stand apart from his neighbors. All went to the same church,
took part in the same amusements upon days of festival, and not
infrequently worked together at the common task of clearing the lands.
Sons and daughters of the seigneurs often intermarried with those of
habitants in the seigneury or of traders in the towns. There was no
social _impasse_ such as existed in France among the various elements
in a community.

As for the habitants, the people who cleared and cultivated the lands
of the seigneuries, they worked and lived and dressed as pioneers are
wont to do. Their homes were commonly built of felled timber or of
rough-hewn stone, solid, low, stocky buildings, usually about twenty
by forty feet or thereabouts in size, with a single doorway and very
few windows. The roofs were steep-pitched, with a dormer window or two
thrust out on either side, the eaves projecting well over the walls in
such manner as to give the structures a half-bungalow appearance. With
almost religious punctuality the habitants whitewashed the outside of
their walls every spring, so that from the river the country houses
looked trim and neat at all seasons. Between the river and the uplands
ran the roadway, close to which the habitants set their conspicuous
dwellings with only in rare cases a grass plot or shade tree at the
door. In winter they bore the full blast of the winds that drove
across the expanse of frozen stream in front of them; in summer the
hot sun blazed relentlessly upon the low roofs. As each house stood
but a few rods from its neighbor on either side, the colony thus
took on the appearance of one long, straggling, village street. The
habitant liked to be near his fellows, partly for his own safety
against marauding redskins, but chiefly because the colony was at best
a lonely place in the long cold season when there was little for any
one to do.

Behind each house was a small addition used as a storeroom. Not far
away were the barn and the stable, built always of untrimmed logs, the
intervening chinks securely filled with clay or mortar. There was also
a root-house, half-sunk in the ground or burrowed into the slope of a
hill, where the habitant kept his potatoes and vegetables secure from
the frost through the winter. Most of the habitants likewise had their
own bake-ovens, set a convenient distance behind the house and rising
four or five feet from the ground. These they built roughly of
boulders and plastered with clay. With an abundance of wood from the
virgin forests they would build a roaring fire in these ovens and
finish the whole week's baking at one time. The habitant would often
enclose a small plot of ground surrounding the house and outbuildings
with a fence of piled stones or split rails, and in one corner he
would plant his kitchen-garden.

Within the dwelling-house there were usually two, and never more than
three, rooms on the ground floor. The doorway opened into the great
room of the house, parlor, dining-room, and kitchen combined. A
"living" room it surely was! In the better houses, however, this room
was divided, with the kitchen partitioned off from the rest. Most of
the furnishings were the products of the colony and chiefly of the
family's own workmanship. The floor was of hewn timber, rubbed and
scrubbed to smoothness. A woolen rug or several of them, always of
vivid hues, covered the greater part of it. There were the family
dinner-table of hewn pine, chairs made of pine saplings with, seats of
rushes or woven underbark, and often in the corner a couch that would
serve as an extra bed at night. Pictures of saints hung on the walls,
sharing the space with a crucifix, but often having for ominous
company the habitant's flint-lock and his powder-horn hanging from the
beams. At one end of the room was the fireplace and hearth, the sole
means of heating the place, and usually the only means of cooking
as well. Around it hung the array of pots and pans, almost the only
things in the house which the habitant and his family were not able to
make for themselves. The lack of colonial industries had the advantage
of throwing each home upon its own resources, and the people developed
great versatility in the cruder arts of craftsmanship.

Upstairs, and reached by a ladder, was a loft or attic running the
full area of the house, but so low that one could touch, the rafters
everywhere. Here the children, often a dozen or more of them, were
stowed away at night on mattresses of straw or feathers laid along
the floor. As the windows were securely fastened, even in the coldest
weather this attic was warm, if not altogether hygienic. The love of
fresh air in his dwelling was not among the habitant's virtues. Every
one went to bed shortly after darkness fell upon the land, and all
rose with the sun. Even visits and festivities were not at that time
prolonged into the night as they are nowadays. Therein, however, New
France did not differ from other lands. In the seventeenth century
most of the world went to bed at nightfall because there was nothing
else to do, and no easy or inexpensive artificial light. Candles were
in use, to be sure, but a great many more of them were burned on
the altars of the churches than in the homes of the people. For his
reading, the habitant depended upon the priest, and for his writing,
upon the notary.

Clothing was almost wholly made at home. It was warm and durable,
as well as somewhat distinctive and picturesque. Every parish had
spinning wheels and handlooms in some of its homes on which the women
turned out the heavy druggets or _étoffes du pays_ from which most of
the men's clothing was made. A great fabric it was, this homespun,
with nothing but wool in it, not attractive in pattern but able to
stand no end of wear. It was fashioned for the habitant's use into
roomy trousers and a long frock coat reaching to the knees which he
tied around his waist with a belt of leather or of knitted yarn. The
women also used this _étoffe_ for skirts, but their waists and summer
dresses were of calico, homemade as well. As for the children, most of
them ran about in the summer months wearing next to nothing at all. A
single garment without sleeves and reaching to the knees was all that
covered their nakedness. For all ages and for both sexes there were
furs in plenty for winter use. Beaver skins were cheap, in some years
about as cheap as cloth. When properly treated they were soft and
pliable, and easily made into clothes, caps, and mittens.

Most of the footwear was made at home, usually from deerhides. In
winter every one wore the _bottes sauvages_, or oiled moccasins laced
up halfway or more to the knees. They were proof against cold and were
serviceable for use with snowshoes. Between them and his feet the
habitant wore two or more pairs of heavy woolen socks made from
coarse homespun yarn. In summer the women and children of the rural
communities usually went barefoot so that the soles of their feet
grew as tough as pigskin; the men sometimes did likewise, but more
frequently they wore, in the fields or in the forest, clogs made of

On the week-days of summer every one wore a straw hat which the women
of the household spent part of each winter in plaiting. In cold
weather the knitted _tuque_ made in vivid colors was the great
favorite. It was warm and picturesque. Each section of the colony
had its own color; the habitants in the vicinity of Quebec wore blue
_tuques_, while those around Montreal preferred red. The apparel of
the people was thus in general adapted to the country, and it had a
distinctiveness that has not yet altogether passed away.

On Sundays and on the numerous days of festival, however, the habitant
and his family brought out their best. To Mass the men wore clothes
of better texture and high, beaver hats, the women appeared in their
brighter plumage of dresses with ribbons and laces imported from
France. Such finery was brought over in so large a quantity that more
than one _mémoire_ to the home government censured the "spirit of
extravagance" of which this was one outward manifestation. In the
towns the officials and the well-to-do merchants dressed elaborately
on all occasions of ceremony, with scarlet cloaks and perukes, buckled
slippers and silk stockings. In early Canada there was no austerity of
garb such as we find in Puritan New England. New France on a _jour de
fête_ was a blaze of color.

As for his daily fare, the habitant was never badly off even in the
years when harvests were poor. He had food that was more nourishing
and more abundant than the French peasant had at home. Bread was made
from both wheat and rye flour, the product of the seigneurial mills.
Corn cakes were baked in Indian fashion from ground maize. Fat salted
pork was a staple during the winter, and nearly every habitant laid
away each autumn a smoked supply of eels from the river. Game of all
sorts he could get with little trouble at any time, wild ducks and
geese, partridges, for there were in those days no game laws to
protect them. In the early winter, likewise, it was indeed a luckless
habitant who could not also get a caribou or two for his larder.
Following the Indian custom, the venison was smoked and hung on the
kitchen beams, where it kept for months until needed. Salted or smoked
fish had also to be provided for family use, since the usages of the
Church required that meat should not be used upon numerous fast-days.

Vegetables of many varieties were grown in New France, where the warm,
sandy, virgin soil of the St. Lawrence region was splendidly suited
for this branch of husbandry. Peas were the great stand-by, and in the
old days whole families were reared upon _soupe aux pois_, which was,
and may even still be said to be, the national dish of the French
Canadians. Beans, cucumbers, melons, and a dozen other products were
also grown in the family gardens. There were potatoes, which the
habitant called _palates_ and not _pommes de terre_, but they were
almost a rarity until the closing days of the Old Régime. Wild fruits,
chiefly raspberries, blueberries, and wild grapes, grew in abundance
among the foothills and were gathered in great quantities every
summer. There was not much orchard fruit, although some seedling trees
were brought from France and had managed to become acclimated.

On the whole, even in the humbler homes there was no need for any one
to go hungry. The daily fare of the people was not of great variety,
but it was nourishing, and there was plenty of it save in rare
instances. More than one visitor to the colony was impressed by the
rude comfort in which the people lived, even though they made no
pretense of being well-to-do. "In New France," wrote Charlevoix,
"poverty is hidden behind an air of comfort," while the gossipy La
Hontan was of the opinion that "the boors of these seigneuries live
with, greater comfort than an infinity of the gentlemen in France."
Occasionally, when the men were taken from the fields to serve in the
defense of the colony against the English attacks, the harvests were
small and the people had to spend the ensuing winter on short rations.
Yet, as the authorities assured the King, they were "robust, vigorous,
and able in time of need to live on little."

As for beverages, the habitant was inordinately fond of sour milk. Tea
was scarce and costly. Brandy was imported in huge quantities, and not
all this _eau-de-vie_, as some writers imagine, went into the Indian
trade. The people themselves consumed most of it. Every parish in the
colony had its grog-shop; in 1725 the King ordered that no parish
should have more than two. Quebec had a dozen or more, and complaint
was made that the people flocked to these resorts early in the
morning, thus rendering themselves unfit for work during most of the
day, and soon ruining their health into the bargain. There is no doubt
that the people of New France were fond of the flagon, for not only
the priests but the civil authorities complained of this failing.
Idleness due to the numerous holidays and to the long winters combined
with the tradition of hospitality to encourage this taste. The
habitants were fond of visiting one another, and hospitality demanded
on every such occasion the proffer of something to drink. On the other
hand, the scenes of debauchery which a few chroniclers have described
were not typical of the colony the year round. When the ships came
in with their cargoes, there was a great indulgence in feasting and
drink, and the excesses at this time were sure to impress the casual
visitor. But when the fleet had weighed anchor and departed for
France, there was a quick return to the former quietness and to a
reasonable measure of sobriety.

Tobacco was used freely. "Every farmer," wrote Kalm, "plants a
quantity of tobacco near his house because it is universally smoked.
Boys of twelve years of age often run about with the pipe in their
mouths." The women were smokers, too, but more commonly they used
tobacco in the form of snuff. In those days, as in our own, this
French-Canadian tobacco was strong stuff, cured in the sun till the
leaves were black, and when smoked emitting an odor that scented the
whole parish. The art of smoking a pipe was one of several profitless
habits which, the Frenchman lost little time in acquiring from his
Indian friends.

This convivial temperament of the inhabitants of New France has been
noted by more than one contemporary. The people did not spend all
their energies and time at hard labor. From October, when the crops
were in, until May, when the season of seedtime came again, there was,
indeed, little hard work for them to do. Aside from the cutting of
firewood and the few household chores the day was free, and the
habitants therefore spent it in driving about and visiting neighbors,
drinking and smoking, dancing and playing cards. Winter, accordingly,
was the great social season in the country as well as in the town.

The chief festivities occurred at Michaelmas, Christmas, Easter, and
May Day. Of these, the first and the last were closely connected with
the seigneurial system. On Michaelmas the habitant came to pay the
annual rental for his lands; on May Day he rendered the Maypole homage
which, has been already described. Christmas and Easter were the great
festivals of the Church and as such were celebrated with religious
fervor and solemnity. In addition, minor festivals, chiefly religious
in character, were numerous, so much so that their frequency even in
the months of cultivation was the subject of complaint by the civil
authorities, who felt that these holidays took altogether too
much time from labor. Sunday was a day not only of worship but of
recreation. Clad in his best raiment, every one went to Mass, whatever
the distance or the weather. The parish church indeed was the emblem
of village solidarity, for it gathered within its walls each Sunday
morning all sexes and ages and ranks. The habitant did not
separate his religion from his work or his amusements; the outward
manifestations of his faith were not to his mind things of another
world; the church and its priests were the center and soul of his
little community. The whole countryside gathered about the church
doors after the service while the _capitaine de la côte_, the local
representative of the intendant, read the decrees that had been sent
to him from the seals of the mighty at the Château de St. Louis. That
duty over, there was a garrulous interchange of local gossip with a
retailing of such news as had dribbled through from France. The crowd
then melted away in groups to spend the rest of the day in games or
dancing or in friendly visits of one family with another.

Especially popular among the young people of each parish were the
_corvées récréatives_, or "bees" as we call them nowadays in our
rural communities. There were the _épuchlette_ or corn-husking,
the _brayage_ or flax-beating, and others of the same sort. The
harvest-home or _grosse-gerbe_, celebrated when the last load had been
brought in from the fields, and the _Ignolée_ or welcoming of the New
Year, were also occasions of goodwill, noise, and revelry. Dancing
was by all odds the most popular pastime, and every parish had its
fiddler, who was quite as indispensable a factor in the life of the
village as either the smith or the notary. Every wedding was the
occasion for terpsichorean festivities which lasted all day long.

The habitant liked to sing, especially when working with others in the
woods or when on the march. The voyageurs relieved the tedium of their
long journeys by breaking into song at intervals. But the popular
repertoire was limited to a few folksongs, most of them songs of Old
France. They were easy to learn, simple to sing, but sprightly and
melodious. Some of them have remained on the lips and in the hearts of
the French-Canadian race for over two hundred years. Those who do not
know the _Claire fontaine_ and _Ma boulë roulant_ have never known
French Canada. The _forêtier_ of today still goes to the woods
chanting the _Malbrouck s'en va-t-en guerre_ which his ancestors
caroled in the days of Blenheim and Malplaquet. When the habitant
sang, moreover, it was in no pianissimo tones; he was lusty and
cheerful about giving vent to his buoyant spirits. And his descendant
of today has not lost that propensity.

The folklore of the old dominion, unlike the folk music, was
extensive. Some of it came with the colonists from their Norman
firesides, but more, perhaps, was the outcome of a superstitious
popular imagination working in the new and strange environment of the
wilderness. The habitant had a profound belief in the supernatural,
and was prone to associate miraculous handiwork with every unusual
event. He peopled the earth and the air, the woods and the rivulets,
with spirits of diverse forms and varied motives. The red man's
abounding superstition, likewise, had some influence upon the
habitant's highstrung temperament. At any rate, New France was full of
legends and weird tales. Every island, every cove in the river, had
one or more associated with it. Most of these legends had some moral
lessons attached to them: they were tales of disaster which came from
disobeying the teachings of the Church or of miraculous escape from
death or perdition due to the supernatural rewarding of righteousness.
Taken together, they make up a wholesome and vigorous body of
folklore, reflecting both the mystic temper of the colony and the
religious fervor of its common life. A distinguished son of French
Canada has with great industry gathered these legends together, a
service for which posterity will be grateful.[1]

[Footnote 1: Sir J.M. Lemoine, _Legends of the St. Lawrence_ (Quebec,

Various chroniclers have left us pen portraitures of the habitant as
they saw him in the olden days. Charlevoix, La Hontan, Hocquart, and
Peter Kalm, men of widely different tastes and aptitudes, all bear
testimony to his vigor, stamina, and native-born vivacity. He was
courteous and polite always, yet there was no flavor of servility in
this most benign trait of character. It was bred in his bone and
was fostered by the teachings of his church. Along with this went a
_bonhomie_ and a lightheartedness, a touch of personal vanity, with a
liking for display and ostentation, which unhappily did not make for
thrift. The habitant "enjoys what he has got," writes Charlevoix, "and
often makes a display of what he has not got." He was also fond
of honors, even minor ones, and plumed himself on the slightest
recognition from official circles. Habitants who by years of hard
labor had saved enough to buy some uncleared seigneury strutted about
with the airs of genuine aristocrats while their wives, in the words
of Governor Denonville, "essayed to play the fine lady." More than one
intendant was amused by this broad streak of vanity in the colonial
character. "Every one here," wrote Meulles, "begins by calling himself
an esquire and ends by thinking himself a nobleman."

Yet despite this attempt to keep up appearances, the people were
poor. Clearing the land was a slow process, and the cultivable area
available for the support of each household was small. Early marriages
were the rule, and families of a dozen or more children had to be
supported from the produce of a few _arpents_. To maintain such a
family as this every one had to work hard in the growing season, and
even the women went to the fields in the harvest-time. One serious
shortcoming of the habitant was his lack of steadfastness in labor.
There was a roving strain in his Norman blood. He could not stay long
at any one job; there was a restlessness in his temperament which
would not down. He would leave his fields unploughed in order to go
hunting or to turn a few _sous_ in some small trading adventure.
Unstable as water, he did not excel in tasks that required patience.
But he could do a great many things after a fashion, and some that
could be done quickly he did surprisingly well.

One racial characteristic which drew comment from observers of the day
was the litigious disposition of the people. The habitant would have
made lawsuits his chief diversion had he been permitted to do so. "If
this propensity be not curbed," wrote the intendant Raudot, "there
will soon be more lawsuits in this country than there are persons."
The people were not quarrelsome in the ordinary sense, but they were
very jealous each one of his private rights, and the opportunities for
litigation over such matters seemed to provide themselves without end.
Lands were given to settlers without accurate description of their
boundaries; farms were unfenced and cattle wandered into neighboring
fields; the notaries themselves were almost illiterate, and as a
result scarcely a legal document in the colony was properly drawn.
Nobody lacked pretexts for controversy. Idleness during the winter was
also a contributing factor. But the Church and the civil authorities
frowned upon this habit of rushing to court with every trivial
complaint. _Curés_ and seigneurs did what they could to have such
difficulties settled amicably at home, and in a considerable measure
they succeeded.

New France was born and nurtured in an atmosphere of religious
devotion. To the habitant the Church was everything--his school, his
counselor, his almsgiver, his newspaper, his philosopher of things
present and of things to come. To him it was the source of all
knowledge, experience, and inspiration, and to it he never faltered in
ungrudging loyalty. The Church made the colony a spiritual unit and
kept it so; undefiled by any taint of heresy. It furnished the one
strong, well-disciplined organization that New France possessed, and
its missionaries blazed the way for both yeoman and trader wherever
they went.

Many traits of the race have been carried on to the present day
without substantial change. The habitant of the old dominion was a
voluble talker, a teller of great stories about his own feats of skill
and endurance, his hair-raising escapes, or his astounding prowess
with musket and fishing-line. Stories grew in terms of prodigious
achievement as they passed from tongue to tongue, and the scant regard
for anything approaching the truth in these matters became a national
eccentricity. The habitant was boastful in all that concerned himself
or his race; never did a people feel more firmly assured that it was
the salt of the earth. He was proud of his ancestry, and proud of his
allegiance; and so are his descendants of today even though their
allegiance has changed.

To speak of the habitants of New France as downtrodden or oppressed,
dispirited or despairing, like the peasantry of the old land in the
days before the great Revolution, as some historians have done, is to
speak untruthfully. These people were neither serfs nor peons. The
habitant, as Charlevoix puts it, "breathed from his birth the air of
liberty"; he had his rights and he maintained them. Shut off from the
rest of the world, knowing only what the Church and civil government
allowed him to know, he became provincial in his horizon and
conservative in his habits of mind. The paternal policy of the
authorities sapped his initiative and left him little scope for
personal enterprise, so that he passed for being a dull fellow. Yet
the annals of forest trade and Indian diplomacy prove that the New
World possessed no sharper wits than his. Beneath a somewhat ungainly
exterior the yeoman and the trader of New France concealed qualities
of cunning, tact, and quick judgment to a surprising degree.

These various types in the population of New France, officials,
missionaries, seigneurs, voyageurs, habitants, were all the scions of
a proud race, admirably fitted to form the rank and file in a great
crusade. It was not their fault that France failed to dominate the
Western Hemisphere.


On the earlier voyages of discovery to the northern coasts of the New
World the most informing book is H.P. Biggar's _Precursors of Jacques
Cartier_ (Ottawa, 1911). Hakluyt's _Voyages_ contain an English
translation of Cartier's own writings which cover the whole of
the first two expeditions and a portion of the third. Champlain's
journals, which describe in detail his sea voyages and inland trips of
exploration during the years 1604-1618 inclusive, were translated into
English and published by the Prince Society of Boston during the years

For further discussions of these explorations and of the various other
topics dealt with in this book the reader may be referred to several
works in the _Chronicles of Canada_ (32 vols. Toronto, 1914-1916),
namely, to Stephen Leacock's _Dawn of Canadian History_ and _Mariner
of St. Malo_; Charles W. Colby's _Founder of New France_ and _The
Fighting Governor_; Thomas Chapais's _Great Intendant_; Thomas G.
Marquis's _Jesuit Missions_, also to _Seigneurs of Old Canada_ and
_Coureurs-de-Bois_ by the author of the present volume. In each of
these books, moreover, further bibliographical references covering the
several topics are provided.

The series known as _Canada and Its Provinces_ (22 vols. and index,
Toronto, 1914) contains accurate and readable chapters upon every
phase of Canadian history, political, military, social, economic, and
literary. The first two volumes of this series deal with the French
regime. Mention should also be made of the biographical series
dealing with _The Makers of Canada_ (22 vols. Toronto, 1905-1914) and
especially to the biographies of Champlain, Laval, and Frontenac which
this series includes among its earlier volumes.

The writings of Francis Parkman, notably his _Pioneers of New France,
Old Régime in Canada, Jesuits in North America, La Salle and the
Discovery of the Great West_, and _Count Frontenac_ are of the highest
interest and value. Although given to the world nearly two generations
ago, these volumes still hold an unchallenged supremacy over all other
books relating to this field of American history.

Other works which may be commended to readers who seek pleasure as
well as instruction from books of history are the following:

PÈRE F.-X. CHARLEVOIX, _Histoire et description générale de la
Nouvelle-France_, translated by John Gilmary Shea (6 vols. N.Y.,

C.W. COLBY, _Canadian Types of the Old Régime_ (N.Y., 1908).

A.G. DOUGHTY, _A Daughter of New France_ (Edinburgh, 1916).

JAMES DOUGLAS, _Old France in the New World_ (Cleveland, 1906).

F.-X. GARNEAU, _Histoire du Canada_ (5th ed. by Hector Garneau, Paris,
1913. As yet only the first volume of this edition has appeared.)

P. KALM, _Travels into North America_ (2 vols. London, 1772).

LE BARON DE LA HONTAN, _New Voyages to North_ _America_ (ed. R.G.
Thwaites. 2 vols. Chicago, 1905).

MARC LESCARBOT, _Histoire de la Nouvelle-France_ (translated by W.L.
Grant. 3 vols. Toronto, 1907-1914. Publications of the Champlain

FREDERIC A. OGG, _The Opening of the Mississippi_ (N.Y., 1904).

A. SALONE, _La colonisation de la Nouvelle-France_ (Paris, 1905).

G.M. WRONG, _A Canadian Manor and its Seigneurs_ (Toronto, 1908).

For further references the reader should consult, in _The
Encyclopaedia Britannica_, the articles on _France, Canada, Louis XIV,
Richelieu, Colbert_, and _The Jesuits_.


Algonquins, The, act as guides to Champlain, 41;
  friendly to the French, 45
Anticosti, Island of, 19,20
_Arrêts of Marly_ (1711), 143

Belle Isle, 18, 19, 20
Bigot, François, 68
Brébeuf, Jean de, Jesuit missionary, 56
Brouage, birthplace of Champlain, 33

Cambrai, Peace of (1729), 15
Canada, _see_ New France
Cap Rouge, Cartier winters at, 26;
  Roberval winters at, 28
Cartier, Jacques, sets out on first voyage of discovery, (1534), 16;
  a corsair, 16;
  former voyages, 17;
  reaches New World, 18;
  purpose of expedition, 19;
  returns home, 19;
  begins second voyage, 19-20;
  his ships, 20;
  winters at Stadacona, 21-23;
  learns of Great Lakes, 22;
  takes Indians to King, 23;
  account of voyage, 24;
  sails on third voyage from St. Malo (1541), 25;
  winters at Cap Rouge, 26;
  defies patron, Roberval, 27;
  personal characteristics, 29;
  later life, 29;
  death (1557), 29;
  bibliography, 29
Catalogne, Gedéon de, makes survey and maps of Quebec region (1712),
  makes agricultural census, 184
Cataraqui (Kingston), fort established at, 85-86;
  La Salle receives grant of land at, 103
_Chaleurs, Baie des_, 18
Champlain, Samuel de, born at Brouage (1567), 33;
  sails with expedition of De Chastes (1603), 33;
  personal characteristics, 33-34;
  embarks as chief geographer (1604), 35;
  winters at St. Croix, 36-37;
  _Order de Bon Temps_, 38;
  returns to France, 39;
  sails again for the St. Lawrence (1608), 39;
  raid against the Iroquois, 41;
  seeks western passage to Cathay, 44;
  takes journeys into interior (1613 and 1616), 44-47;
  journals, 47;
  as viceroy's deputy, 48;
  surrenders to English, 51-52;
  returns to Quebec as representative of Company of One Hundred
    Associates, 52;
  death (1635), 53;
  appreciation of, 53-54
Champlain, Lake, 41
Chastes, Amyar, Sieur de, 32, 33, 34.
Chauvin of Honfleur, 32
Church in New France, loyalty to, 113;
  Récollets, 115;
  Jesuits, 116 _et seq_.;
  aid to civil power, 127-28;
  revenues, 129-130;
  _see also_ Jesuits
Colbert, Jean Baptiste, personal characteristics, 8;
  interest in
  colonial ventures, 8-9;
  plans for French interest, 60-61;
  plans fleet of merchant vessels, 197-98
Courcelle, Daniel de Rémry, Sieur de, Governor of New France, 75
  attack Indians (1687), 95-96;
  kind of men engaged as, 161-62;
  number, 162-63;
  leaders, 163-64;
  methods of trading, 165 et seq.;
  licenses granted to, 172
Crèvecoeur, Fort, 106, 107

D'Ailleboust, Governor of New France, 55
Denonville, Marquis de, Governor of New France, 94
Donnacona, head of Indian village, 23
Duchesneau, Jacques, Intendant of New France, 88;
  quarrels with Frontenac, 89-91;
  recalled, 91
Du Lhut, Daniel Greysolon, 87, 95, 131
Dumesnil, Péronne, 73

Education in New France, 130-132
  early explorations, 15, 16;
  colonial ventures, 49

Five nations, appellation of the Iroquois Indians, 42
France in the seventeenth century,
  population, 1, 3;
  army, 1;
  power and prestige, 2-4;
  outstripped in commerce, 3;
  racial qualities, 3-4;
  government, 4-5;
  church, 5;
  tardiness in American colonization, 6-8;
  weakness of colonial policy, 10-14
Frontenac, Louis de Buade, Count,
  chosen to carry out colonial policy, 9;
  sent as Governor to Quebec (1672), 80;
  early life, 80;
  personal characteristics, 81-82;
  inauguration, 83;
  plans checked by King, 83-84;
  expansion policy, 84 et seq.;
  builds fort at Cataraqui, 86;
  opposed by Bishop and Intendant, 89-91;
  recalled (1682), 91;
  returns to Quebec as Governor (1689), 97-98:
  death (1698), 98
Frontenac, Fort, 85-86, 103, 108
Fur trade with the Indians, 155 et seq.

Gallican branch of the Catholic Church, 5, 114
Gaspé Bay, 18
Georgian Bay, Champlain's journey to, 46-47
Giffard, Robert, 142
Green Bay, 163
_Griffin_, The, ship, 104-105, 106

Habitants, 147-51, 207-26
Hakluyt, account of meeting of Cartier and Roberval, 27
Hébert, Louis, 137
Hennepin, Louis, Récollet friar, 104
Hochelaga (Montreal), 21-22, 26, 34
Huguenots excluded from Canada, 195-96
Hurons, The,
  act as guides to Champlain, 41;
  friendly to the French, 45-46;
  destroyed by the Iroquois, 55-56;
  Jesuits among, 118-19
Hurons, Lake of the, _see_ Georgian Bay

Illinois River, La Salle reaches, 106, 109
  hostility toward Cartier, 26;
  fur trade with, 156 et seq.;
  effect of trade upon, 178;
  _see also_ Algonquins, Hurons, Iroquois, Onondagas
Irondequoit Bay, 102
Iroquois, The, Champlain's encounter with, 41-43;
  friends of English, enemies of French, 42-43;
  troubles with, 56-58, 74-78, 93 _et seq_.

Jesuit _Relations_, 54, 119-20, 132
Jesuits, The, settle Montreal, 54-55;
  oppose Frontenac, 88;
  come to Canada (1625), 115-16;
  characteristics, 110, 117-18;
  missionaries to Indians, 118 _et seq_.;
  progress among French settlers, 122 _et seq_.;
  service to trade interests, 156-58
Joliet, Louis, 103, 164

Kalm, Peter, _Travels_, 185-86, 188
Kirke, Sir David, Commander of English privateers, 51

La Barre, Le Febvre de, Governor of New France, 92-94, 109
La Durantaye, Olivier Morel de, 95, 164
La Forêt, François Dauphine de, 87, 95, 163
Lalemant, Jesuit missionary, 56
La Mothe-Cadillac, Antoine de 87, 163
La Roche, Sieur de, 32
La Salle, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de,
  foremost among French pathfinders, 87;
  born (1643), 100;
  comes to Montreal (1666), 100-01;
  equips expedition (1669), 102;
  receives trading rights and land at Fort Frontenac, 103;
  goes to France for further aid, 103-04;
  first journey down the Illinois, 105-107;
  returns to Montreal, 107;
  reaches the Mississippi, 107;
  winters at Fort Miami, 108;
  journeys down the Mississippi, 108-09;
  plans for founding colony in lower Mississippi valley (1684), 109-10;
  death (1687), 110;
  later estimates of, 111-12
Lauzon, Jean de, Governor of New France, 57
Laval, François-Xavier de,
  Abbé de Montigny, Bishop of Quebec, arrives in New France (1659), 58;
  friction with civil authorities, 58-69;
  relations with Mézy, 72-73;
  returns to colony, 88;
  opposed to Frontenac, 89 _et seq_.;
  born (1622), 124;
  personal characteristics, 125-26;
  opposed to liquor traffic. 126-27
Law, John, 67
Le Caron, Joseph, Récollet, missionary, 46
Le Moyne, Jesuit missionary, 57
Lescarbot, Marc, 38
Liquor traffic with the Indians, 126-27, 173-78
Longueuil, Baron de, 142
Louis XIV,
  centralization of power under, 4-5;
  interest in colonial ventures, 9;
  assumes power (1658), 60;
  edict of 1663, 62-63;
  personal interest in New France, 70-71

Maisonneuve, Paul de Chomedey, Sieur de, 54-55
Mance, Jeanne, 55
Marquette, Jacques, Jesuit missionary, 103
Matagorda Bay, 110
Mazarin, Jules, not interested in colonial ventures, 8
Meules, Intendant of New France, 93
Mézy, de, Governor of New France, 72-74
Miami, Fort, 108
Michilimackinac, 105, 108
Mingan Islands, 20
Mississippi River, La Salle reaches, 108
Montmagny, Charles Jacques Huault. Sieur de, 54, 55
  settled, 54-55;
  annual fur fair at, 166-71;
  _see also_ Hochelaga
Monts, Pierre du Guast, Sieur de,
  granted trade monopoly, 35;
  organizes company, 35-39;
  loses influence at court, 48

New France,
  reflects old France, 10, 14;
  difficulty of communication with Europe, 12-13;
  population (1663), 61-62;
  colonial intendant, 67-69;
  administration, 69-70;
  requests for money, 71-72;
  period of prosperity, 78, 79;
  seigneurial system of land tenure, 133 et seq.;
  military seigneuries, 145-46;
  forced labor in, 150;
  merrymaking in, 151;
  courts, 151-53;
  fur trade, 155 et seq.;
  competition with English in trade, 159-61;
  liquor traffic, 173-78;
  effect of trade upon, 178-79;
  agriculture, 180 et seq.;
  industries, 188 et seq.;
  minerals, 190-92;
  exclusion of Huguenots from, 195-96;
  trade conditions, 198-201;
  social organization, 203 et seq.;
  seigneurs, 206-07;
  homes of habitants, 207-11;
  clothing, 211-13;
  food, 213-17;
  use of tobacco, 217;
  festivities, 217-21;
  folklore, 221-22;
  poverty of habitants, 223;
  litigious disposition of people, 224-25;
  religion, 225;
  characteristics of people, 225-26;
  types of population, 227;
  bibliography, 229-31
New France, Company of, _see_ One Hundred Associates, Company of
Newfoundland, Cartier's expeditions rests at, 18
  fort rebuilt by Denonville, 96;
  La Salle builds post at, 104

Old Council, 55
One Hundred Associates, Company of,
  organization, 50;
  powers and duties, 50-51;
  sends fleet to the St. Lawrence (1628), 51;
  sends Champlain as representative, 52-53;
  charter revoked, 61;
  failure of, 62;
  grants by, 137-38;
  restricts industry, 196
Onondagas, The, Champlain's attack upon, 46
Ontario, Lake, 46
Ottawa River, 44

Perrot, Nicholas, 95, 163
Pontgravé of St. Malo, 32, 29
Port Royal (Annapolis), 36, 37
  early explorations, 15, 16;
  colonial ventures, 49
Poutrincourt, Biencourt de, 35, 36, 38

  Champlain settles, 39-40;
  population, 48;
  surrenders to English, 51-52;
  burns, 93;
  pivot of social life, 204-05;
  _see also_ Stadacona

Récollets, The, 115
Richelieu, Cardinal,
  interest in colonial ventures under, 7-8;
  becomes chief minister of Louis XIII, 49;
  prevails upon King to organize colonizing company (1627), 50;
  interest in New France not lasting, 60
Richelieu River, 41
Roberval, Jean François de la Roque, Sieur de,
  enlists services of Cartier, 25-26,
  meets Cartier returning to France, 27;
  winters at Cap Rouge, 28
Rouen, birthplace of La Salle, 100

Sable Island, 32
Saguenay River, 34
St. Croix, 36-37
St. Germain-en-Laye, Treaty of (1632), 52
St. John's, Newfoundland, 27
§t. Lawrence, Gulf of, 18
St. Louis, Fort, 109
St. Malo, 16-17, 19, 25, 29
St. Maurice, 28
Seigneurs of New France, 133 et seq., 206-07
Sovereign Council, 63-66
  early explorations, 15, 16;
  colonial ventures, 49
Stadacona (Lower Quebec), 21, 26, 39
Sully, Due de, opposed to colonial ventures, 7
Sulpicians, The, 102, 128
Superior Council, _see_ Sovereign Council

Talon, Jean, first Intendant of New France (1665), 63;
  arrives in Quebec, 66-67, 68, 75;
  report to the King, 80-81;
  fosters industries, 188-89;
  plans trade with West Indies and France, 197-98
Three Rivers, 28, 53
Ticonderoga, fight between French and Indians at, 41
Tocqueville, de, French historian, 10
Tonty, Henri de, 87, 95, 104, 163
Tracy, Prouville de, 74-78

Ursulines, The, 128

Vignau tells Champlain of English shipwreck, 44-45

West Indies, Company of the, 78, 196, 197

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