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GLIMPSES OF THE PAST.
History of the River St. John
A. D. 1604-1784.
By Rev. W. O. RAYMOND, LL.D.
St. John, N. B. 1905.
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Born and reared upon the banks of the River Saint John, I have always loved it, and have found a charm in the study of everything that pertains to the history of those who have dwelt beside its waters.
In connection with the ter-centenary of the discovery of the river by de Monts and Champlain, on the memorable 24th of June, 1604, the chapters which follow were contributed, from time to time, to the Saturday edition of the Saint John Daily Telegraph. With the exception of a few minor corrections and additions, these chapters are reprinted as they originally appeared. Some that were hurriedly written, under pressure of other and more important work, might be revised with advantage. Little attempt at literary excellence has been practicable. I have been guided by an honest desire to get at the facts of history, and in so doing have often quoted the exact language of the writers by whom the facts were first recorded. The result of patient investigation, extending over several years, in the course of which a multitude of documents had to be consulted, is a more elaborate and reliable history of the Saint John River region than has yet appeared in print. The period covered extends from the discovery of the river in 1604 to the coming of the Loyalists in 1784. It is possible that the story may one day be continued in a second volume.
At the conclusion of this self-appointed task, let me say to the reader, in the words of Montaigne, "I bring you a nosegay of culled flowers, and I have brought little of my own but the string that ties them."
W. O. RAYMOND.
ST JOHN, N. B., December, 1905.
Page 36, line 8. After word "and," the rest of the line should read—"beautiful islands below the mouth of."
Page 97, line 31. The last half of this line is inverted.
GLIMPSES OF THE PAST.
INCIDENTS IN THE HISTORY OF THE ST. JOHN RIVER.
The Indian period of our history possesses a charm peculiarly its own. When European explorers first visited our shores the Indian roamed at pleasure through his broad forest domain. Its wealth of attractions were as yet unknown to the hunter, the fisherman and the fur-trader. Rude as he was the red man could feel the charms of the wilderness in which he dwelt. The voice of nature was not meaningless to one who knew her haunts so well. The dark recesses of the forest, the sunny glades of the open woodland, the mossy dells, the sparkling streams and roaring mountain torrents, the quiet lakes, the noble river flowing onward to the sea with islands here and there embosomed by its tide—all were his. The smoke of his wigwam fire curled peacefully from Indian village and temporary encampment. He might wander where he pleased with none to say him nay.
But before the inflowing tide of the white-man's civilization the Indian's supremacy vanished as the morning mist before the rising sun. The old hunting grounds are his no longer. His descendants have long ago been forced to look for situations more remote. The sites of the ancient villages on interval and island have long since been tilled by the thrifty farmer's hands.
But on the sites of the old camping grounds the plough share still turns up relics that carry us back to the "stone age." A careful study of these relics will tell us something about the habits and customs of the aborigines before the coming of the whites. And we have another source of information in the quaint tales and legends that drift to us out of the dim shadows of the past, which will always have peculiar fascination for the student of Indian folk-lore.
With the coming of the whites the scene changes and the simplicity of savage life grows more complicated. The change is not entirely for the better; the hardships of savage life are ameliorated, it is true, but the Indian learns the vices of civilization.
The native races naturally play a leading part in early Acadian history, nor do they always appear in a very amiable light. The element of fierceness and barbarity, which seems inherent in all savage races, was not wanting in the Indians of the River St. John. They united with their neighbours in most of the wars waged with the whites and took their full share in those bloody forays which nearly annihilated many of the infant settlements of Maine and New Hampshire. The early annals of Eastern New England tell many a sad story of the sacrifice of innocent lives, of women and children carried into captivity and homes made desolate by savage hands.
And yet, it may be that with all his faults the red man has been more sinned against than sinning.
Many years ago the provincial government sent commissioners to the Indian village of Medoctec on the St. John river, where the Indians from time immemorial had built their wigwams and tilled their cornfields and where their dead for many generations had been laid to rest in the little graveyard by the river side. The object of the commissioners was to arrange for the location of white settlers at Medoctec. The government claimed the right to dispossess the Indians on the ground that the lands surrounding their village were in the gift of the crown. The Indians, not unnaturally, were disinclined to part with the heritage of their forefathers.
On their arrival at the historic camping ground the commissioners made known the object of their visit. Presently several stalwart captains, attired in their war paint and feathers and headed by their chief, appeared on the scene. After mutual salutations the commissioners asked: "By what right or title do you hold these lands?"
The tall, powerful chief stood erect, and with the air of a plumed knight, pointing within the walk of the little enclosure beside the river, replied: "There are the graves of our grandfathers! There are graves of our fathers! There are the graves of our children!"
To this simple native eloquence the commissioners felt they had no fitting reply, and for the time being the Maliseets remained undisturbed.
It in not necessary to discuss at length the origin of the Indians who lived on the banks of the St. John at the time the country became known to Europeans. Whether or not the ancestors of our Indians were the first inhabitants of that region it is difficult to determine. The Indians now living on the St. John are Maliseets, but it is thought by many that the Micmacs at one time, possessed the valley of the river and gradually gave place to the Maliseets, as the latter advanced from the westward. There is a tradition among the St. John river Indians that the Micmacs and Maliseets were originally one people and that the Maliseets after a while "went off by themselves and picked up their own language." This the Micmacs regarded as a mongrel dialect and gave to the new tribe the name Maliseet (or Milicete), a word derived from Mal-i-see-jik—"he speaks badly." However, in such matters, tradition is not always a safe guide. It is more probable the two tribes had an independent origin, the Micmacs being the earlier inhabitants of Acadia, while the Maliseets, who are an offshoot of the Abenaki (or Wabenaki) nation, spread eastward from the Kennebec to the Penobscot and thence to the St. John. The Indians who are now scattered over this area very readily understand one another's speech, but the language of the Micmacs is unintelligible to them.
The Micmacs seem to have permitted their neighbors to occupy the St. John river without opposition, their own preference inclining them to live near the coast. The opinion long prevailed in Acadia that the Maliseets, were a more powerful and ferocious tribe than the Micmacs; nevertheless there is no record or tradition of any conflict between them.
That the Maliseets have for centuries inhabited the valley of the River St. John is indicated by the fact that the Indian names of rivers, lakes, islands and mountains, which have been retained by the whites, are nearly all of Maliseet origin. Nevertheless the Micmacs frequented the mouth of the St. John river after the arrival of Europeans, for we learn that the Jesuit missionary, Enemond Masse, passed the winter of 1611-2 at St. John in the family of Louis Membertou, a Micmac, in order to perfect himself in the Micmac language, which he had already studied to some extent at Port Royal. The elder Membertou, father of the Indian here named, was, perhaps, the most remarkable chieftain Acadia ever produced. His sway as grand sagamore of the Micmac nation extended from Gaspe to Cape Sable. In the year 1534 he had welcomed the great explorer Jacques Cartier to the shores of Eastern New Brunswick, as seventy years later he welcomed de Monts and Poutrincourt to Port Royal. The Jesuit missionary, Pierre Biard, describes Membertou as "the greatest, most renowned and most formidable savage within the memory of man; of splendid physique, taller and larger limbed than is usual among them; bearded like a Frenchmen, although scarcely any of the others have hair upon the chin; grave and reserved with a proper sense of the dignity of his position as commander." "In strength of mind, in knowledge of war, in the number of his followers, in power and in the renown of a glorious name among his countrymen, and even his enemies, he easily surpassed the sagamores who had flourished during many preceding ages."
In the year 1605 Pennoniac, one of the chiefs of Acadia, went with de Monts and Champlain as guide on the occasion of their voyage along the shores of New England and was killed by some of the savages near Saco. Bessabez, the sagamore of the Penobscot Indians, allowed the body of the dead chief to be taken home by his friends to Port Royal and its arrival was the signal of great lamentation. Membertou was at this time an old man, but although his hair was white with the frosts of a hundred winters, like Moses of old, his eye was not dim nor his natural force abated. He decided that the death of Pennoniac must be avenged. Messengers were sent to call the tribes of Acadia and in response to the summons 400 warriors assembled at Port Royal. The Maliseets joined in the expedition. The great flotilla of war canoes was arranged in divisions, each under its leader, the whole commanded by Membertou in person. As the morning sun reflected in the still waters of Port Royal the noiseless procession of canoes, crowned by the tawny faces and bodies of the savage warriors, smeared with pigments of various colors, the sight struck the French spectators with wonder and astonishment.
Uniting with their allies of the River St. John, the great war party sped westward over the waters of the Bay of Fundy and along the coast till they reached the land of the Armouchiquois. Here they met and defeated their enemies after a hard-fought battle in which Bessabez and many of his captains were slain, and the allies returned in triumph to Acadia singing their songs of victory.
The situation of the Maliseets on the River St. John was not without its advantages, and they probably obtained as good a living as any tribe of savages in Canada. Remote from the war paths of the fiercer tribes they hunted in safety. Their forests were filled with game, the rivers teemed with fish and the lakes with water fowl; the sea shore was easy of access, the intervals and islands were naturally adapted to the cultivation of Indian corn, wild grapes grew luxuriantly along the river banks, there were berries in the woods and the sagaabum (or Indian potato) was abundant. Communication with all arts of the surrounding country was easily had by means of the short portages that separated the sources of interlacing rivers and with his light bark canoe the Indian could travel in any direction his necessity or his caprice might dictate.
The characteristics of the Indians of Acadia, whether Micmacs or Maliseets, were in the main identical; usually they were closely allied and not infrequently intermarried Their manners and habits have been described with much fidelity by Champlain, Lescarbot, Denys and other early explorers. Equally accurate and interesting is the graphic description of the savages contained in the narrative of the Jesuit missionary Pierre Biard, who came to America in 1611 and during his sojourn visited the St. John River and places adjacent making Port Royal his headquarters. His narrative, "A Relation of New France, of its Lands, Nature of the Country and of its Inhabitants," was printed at Lyons in 1616. A few extracts, taken from the splendid edition of the Jesuit Relations recently published at Cleveland, will suffice to show that Pierre Biard was not only an intelligent observer but that he handled the pen of a ready writer. "I have said before," he observes, "that the whole country is simply an interminable forest; for there are no open spaces except upon the margins of the sea, lakes and rivers. In several places we found the grapes and wild vines which ripened in their season. It was not always the best ground where found them, being full of sand and gravel like that of Bourdeaux. There are a great many of these grapes at St. John River in 46 degrees of latitude, where also are to be seen many walnut (or butternut), and hazel trees."
This quotation will show how exact and conscientious the old French missionary was in his narration. Beamish Murdoch in Ibis History of Nova Scotia (Vol. 1, p. 21) ventures the observation, "It may perhaps be doubted if the French account about grapes is accurate, as they mention them to have been growing on the banks of the Saint John where, if wild grapes exist, they must be rare." But Biard is right and Murdoch is wrong. Wild grapes naturally grow in great abundance on the islands and intervals of the River St. John and, in spite of the interference of the farmers, are still to be found as far north at least in Woodstock. Biard visited the St. John River in October, 1611, and stayed a day or two at a small trading post on an island near Oak Point. One of the islands in that vicinity the early English settlers afterwards called "Isle of Vines," from the circumstance that wild grapes grew there in great profusion.
We quote next Father Biard's description of the Indian method of encampment: "Arrived at a certain place, the first thing they do is to build a fire and arrange their camp, which they will have finished in an hour or two; often in half an hour. The women go into the woods and bring back some poles which are stuck into the ground in a circle around the fire and at the top are interlaced in the form of a pyramid, so that they come together directly over the fire, for there is the chimney. Upon the poles they throw some skins, matting or bark. At the foot of the poles under the skins they put their baggage. All the space around the fire is strewn with soft boughs of the fire tree, so they will not feel the dampness of the ground; over these boughs are thrown some mats or seal skins as soft as velvet; upon these they stretch themselves around the fire with their heads resting upon their baggage; and, what no one would believe, they are very warm in there around that little fire, even in the greatest rigors of the winter. They do not camp except near some good water, and in an attractive location."
The aboriginies of Acadia when the country became known to Europeans, no doubt lived as their ancestors had lived from time immemorial. A glimpse of the life of the Indian in prehistoric times is afforded us in the archaeological remains of the period. These are to be found at such places as Bocabec, in Charlotte county, at Grand Lake in Queens county, and at various points along the St. John river. Dr. L. W. Bailey, Dr. Geo. F. Matthew, Dr. W. F. Ganong, James Vroom, and others have given considerable attention to these relics and they were studied also to some extent by their predecessors in the field of science, Dr. Robb, Dr. Gesner and Moses H. Perley. The relics most commonly brought to light include stone implements, such as axes, hammers, arrow heads, lance and spear heads, gouges and chisels, celts or wedges, corn crushers, and pipes; also bone implements such as needles, fish hooks and harpoons, with specimens of rude pottery.
When Champlain first visited our shores the savages had nothing better than stone axes to use in clearing their lands. It is to their credit that with such rude implements they contrived to hack down the trees and, after burning the branches and trunk, planted their corn among the stumps and in the course of time took out the roots. In cultivating the soil they used an implement of very hard wood, shaped like a spade, and their method of raising corn, as described by Champlain, was exactly the same as that of our farmers today. The corn fields at the old Medoctic Fort were cultivated by the Indians many years before the coming of the whites. Cadillac, writing in 1693, says: "The Maliseets are well shaped and tolerably warlike; they attend to the cultivation of the soil and grow the most beautiful Indian corn; their fort is at Medocktek." Many other choice spots along the St. John river were tilled in very early times, including, probably, the site of the old Government House at Fredericton, where there was an Indian encampment long before the place was dreamed of as the site of the seat of government of the province.
Lescarbot, the historian, who wrote In 1610, tells us that the Indians were accustomed to pound their corn in a mortar (probably of wood) in order to reduce it to meal. Of this they afterwards made a paste, which was baked between two stones heated at the fire. Frequently the corn was roasted on the ear. Yet another method is thus described by the English captive, John Gyles, who lived as a captive with the St. John river Indians in 1689: "To dry the corn when in the milk, they gather it in large kettles and boil it on the ears till it is pretty hard, then shell it from the cob with clam shells and dry it on bark in the sun. When it is thoroughly dry a kernel is no bigger than a pea, and will keep years; and when it is boiled again it swells as large as when on the ear and tastes incomparably sweeter than other corn. When we had gathered our corn and dried it in the way described, we put some of it into Indian barns, that is into hole in the ground lined and covered with bark and then with earth. The rest we carried up the river upon our next winter's hunting."
The Indians were a very improvident race, and in this respect the Maliseets were little better than the Micmacs, of whom Pierre Biard writes: "They care little about the future and are not urged on to work except by present necessity. As long as they have anything they are always celebrating feasts and having songs dances and speeches. If there is a crowd of them you certainly need not expect anything else. Nevertheless if they are by themselves and where they may safely listen to their wives, for women are everywhere the best managers, they will sometimes make storehouses for the winter where they will keep smoked meat, roots, shelled acorns, peas, beans, etc."
Although the Indians living on the St. John paid some attention to the cultivation of the soil there can be no doubt that hunting and fishing were always their chief means of support. In Champlain's day the implements of the chase were very primitive. Yet they were able to hunt the largest game by taking advantage of the deep snow and making use of their snow-shoes. Champlain says. "They search for the track of animals, which, having found, they follow until they get sight of the creature, when they shoot at it with their bows or kill it by means of daggers attached to the end of a short pike. Then the women and children come up, erect a hut and they give themselves to feasting. Afterwards they proceed in search of other animals and thus they pass the winter. This is the mode of life of these people, which seems to me a very miserable one."
There can be little doubt that wild game was vastly more abundant in this country, when it was discovered by Europeans, than it is today. In the days of La Tour and Charnisay as many as three thousand moose skins were collected on the St. John in a single year, and smaller game was even more abundant. Wild fowl ranged the coasts and marshes and frequented the rivers in incredible numbers. Biard says that at certain seasons they were so abundant on the islands that by the skilful use of a club right and left they could bring down birds as big as a duck with every blow. Denys speaks of immense flocks of wild pidgeons. But the Indian's food supply was not limited to these; the rivers abounded with salmon and other fish, turtles were common along the banks of the river, and their eggs, which they lay in the sand, were esteemed a great delicacy, as for the musquash it is regarded as the "Indian's turkey."
A careful examination of the relics discovered at the sites of the old camping grounds suffices to confirm the universal testimony of early writers regarding the nomadic habits of the Indians. They were a restless race of people, for ever wandering from place to place as necessity or caprice impelled them. At one time they were attracted to the sea side where clams, fish and sea fowl abounded; at another they preferred the charms of the inland waters. Sometimes the mere love of change led them to forsake one camping place and remove to some other favorite spot. When game was scarce they were compelled by sheer necessity to seek new hunting grounds. At the proper season they made temporary encampments for salmon fishing with torch and spear. Anon they tilled their cornfields on the intervals and islands. They had a saying: "When the maple leaf is as big as a squirrel's foot it is time to plant corn." Occasionally the outbreak of some pestilence broke up their encampments and scattered them in all directions. In time of peace they moved leisurely, but in time of war their action was much more vigorous and flotillas of their bark canoes skimmed swiftly over the lakes and rivers bearing the dusky warriors against the enemies of their race. Many a peaceful New England hamlet was startled by their midnight war-whoop when danger was little looked for.
It is a common belief in our day that the Indians were formerly more numerous than they now are. Exactly the same opinion seems to have prevailed when the country was first discovered, but it is really very doubtful whether there were ever many more Indians in the country than there are today. In the year 1611 Biard described them as so few in number that they might be said to roam over rather than to possess the country. He estimated the Maliseets, or Etchemins, as less than a thousand in number "scattered over wide spaces, as is natural for those who live by hunting and fishing." Today the Indians of Maine and New Brunswick living within the same area as the Etchemins of 1611, number considerably more than a thousand souls. There are, perhaps, as many Indians in the maritime provinces now as in the days of Champlain. As Hannay observes, in his History of Acadia, excellent reasons existed to prevent the Indians from ever becoming very numerous. A wilderness country can only support a limited population. The hunter must draw his sustenance from a very wide range of territory, and the life of toil and privation to which the Indian was exposed was fatal to all but the strongest and most hardy.
One of the most striking Indian characteristics is the keenness of perception by which they are enabled to track their game or find their way through pathless forests without the aid of chart or compass. The Indian captive, Gyles, relates the following incident which may be mentioned in this connection:
"I was once travelling a little way behind several Indians and, hearing them laugh merrily, when I came up I asked them the cause of their laughter. They showed me the track of a moose, and how a wolverene had climbed a tree, and where he had jumped off upon the moose. It so happened that after the moose had taken several large leaps it came under the branch of a tree, which, striking the wolverene, broke his hold and tore him off; and by his tracks in the snow it appeared he went off another way with short steps, as if he had been stunned by the blow that had broken his hold. The Indians were wonderfully pleased that the moose had thus outwitted the mischievous wolverene."
The early French writers all notice the skill and ingenuity of the savages, in adapting their mode of life to their environment. Nicholas Denys, who came to Acadia in 1632, gives a very entertaining and detailed account of their ways of life and of their skillful handicraft. The snowshoe and the Indian bark canoe aroused his special admiration. He says they also made dishes of bark, both large and small, sewing them so nicely with slender rootlets of fir that they retained water. They used in their sewing a pointed bodkin of bone, and they sometimes adorned their handiwork with porcupine quills and pigments. Their kettles used to be of wood before the French supplied them with those of metal. In cooking, the water was readily heated to the boiling point by the use of red-hot stones which they put in and took out of their wooden kettle.
Until the arrival of Europeans the natives were obliged to clothe themselves with skins of the beaver and other animals. The women made all the garments, but Champlain did not consider them very good tailoresses.
Like most savage races the Indians were vain and consequential. Biard relates that a certain sagamore on hearing that the young King of France was unmarried, observed: "Perhaps I may let him marry my daughter, but the king must make me some handsome presents, namely, four or five barrels of bread, three of peas and beans, one of tobacco, four or five cloaks worth one hundred sous apiece, bows, arrows, harpoons, and such like articles."
Courtship and marriage among the Maliseets is thus described by John Gyles: "If a young fellow determines to marry, his relations and the Jesuit advise him to a girl, he goes into the wigwam where she is and looks on her. If he likes her appearance, he tosses a stick or chip into her lap which she takes, and with a shy side-look views the person who sent it; yet handles the chip with admiration as though she wondered from whence it came. If she likes him she throws the chip to him with a smile, and then nothing is wanting but a ceremony with the Jesuit to consummate the marriage. But if she dislikes her suitor she with a surly countenance throws the chip aside and he comes no more there."
An Indian maiden educated to make "monoodah," or Indian bags, birch dishes and moccasins, to lace snowshoes, string wampum belts, sew birch canoes and boil the kettle, was esteemed a lady of fine accomplishments. The women, however, endured many hardships. They were called upon to prepare and erect the cabins, supply them with fire, wood and water, prepare the food, go to bring the game from the place where it had been killed, sew and repair the canoes, mend and stretch the skins, curry them and make clothes and moccasins for the whole family. Biard says: "They go fishing and do the paddling, in short they undertake all the work except that alone of the grand chase. Their husbands sometimes beat them unmercifully and often for a very slight cause."
Since the coming of the whites the Maliseets have had few quarrels with the neighboring tribes of Indians. They entertained, however, a dread of the Mohawks, and there are many legends that have been handed down to us which tell of their fights with these implacable foes. One of the most familiar—that of the destruction of the Mohawk war party at the Grand Falls—told by the Indians to the early settlers on the river soon after their arrival in the country and has since been rehearsed in verse by Roberts and Hannay and in prose by Lieut.-Governor Gordon in his "Wilderness Journeys," by Dr. Rand in his Indian legends and by other writers.
John Gyles, the English captive at Medoctec village in 1689, relates the following ridiculous incident, which sufficiently shows the unreasonable terror inspired in the mind of the natives of the river in his day by the very name of Mohawk:
"One very hot season a great number of Indians gathered at the village, and being a very droughty people they kept James Alexander and myself night and day fetching water from a cold spring that ran out of a rocky hill about three-quarters of a mile from the fort. In going thither we crossed a large interval corn field and then a descent to a lower interval before we ascended the hill to the spring. James being almost dead as well as I with this continual fatigue contrived (a plan) to fright the Indians. He told me of it, but conjured me to secrecy. The next dark night James going for water set his kettle on the descent to the lowest interval, and ran back to the fort puffing and blowing as in the utmost surprise, and told his master that he saw something near the spring which looked like Mohawks (which he said were only stumps—aside): his master being a most courageous warrior went with James to make discovery, and when they came to the brow of the hill, James pointed to the stumps, and withal touched his kettle with his toe, which gave it motion down hill, and at every turn of the kettle the bail clattered, upon which James and his master could see a Mohawk in every stump in motion, and turned tail to and he was the best man who could run the fastest. This alarmed all the Indians in the village; they, though about thirty or forty in number, packed off bag and baggage, some up the river and others down, and did not return under fifteen days, and the heat of the weather being finally over our hard service abated for this season. I never heard that the Indians understood the occasion of the fright, but James and I had many a private laugh about it."
 The old Medoctec fort was on the west bank of the River St. John about eight miles below the town of Woodstock. The spring is readily identified; an apparently inexhaustible supply of pure cold water flows from it even in the driest season.
Until quite recently the word "Mohawk," suddenly uttered, was sufficient to startle a New Brunswick Indian. The late Edward Jack upon asking an Indian child, "What is a Mohawk?" received this reply, "A Mohawk is a bad Indian who kills people and eats them." Parkman describes the Mohawks as the fiercest, the boldest, yet most politic savages to whom the American forests ever gave birth and nurture. As soon as a canoe could float they were on the war path, and with the cry of the returning wild fowl mingled the yell of these human tigers. They burned, hacked and devoured, exterminating whole villages at once.
A Mohawk war party once captured an Algonquin hunting party in which were three squaws who had each a child of a few weeks or months old. At the first halt the captors took the infants, tied them to wooden spits, roasted them alive before a fire and feasted on them before the eyes of the agonized mothers, whose shrieks, supplications and frantic efforts to break the cords that bound them, were met with mockery and laughter. "They are not men, they are wolves!" sobbed one of the wretched women, as she told what had befallen her to the Jesuit missionary.
Fearful as the Maliseets were of the Mohawks they were in turn exceedingly cruel to their own captives and, strange as it may appear, the women were even more cruel than the men. In the course of the border wars English captives were exposed to the most revolting and barbarous outrages, some were even burned alive by our St. John river Indians.
But while cruel to their enemies, and even at times cruel to their wives, the Indians were by no means without their redeeming features. They were a modest and virtuous race, and it is quite remarkable that with all their bloodthirstiness in the New England wars there is no instance on record of the slightest rudeness to the person of any female captive. This fact should be remembered to their credit by those who most abhor their bloodthirstiness and cruelty. Nor were the savages without a certain sense of justice. This we learn from the following incident in the experience of the English captive John Gyles.
"While at the Indian village (Medoctec) I had been cutting wood and was binding it up with an Indian rope in order to carry it to the wigwam when a stout ill-natured young fellow about 20 years of age threw me backward, sat on my breast and pulling out his knife said that he would kill me, for he had never yet killed an English person. I told him that he might go to war and that would be more manly than to kill a poor captive who was doing their drudgery for them. Notwithstanding all I could say he began to cut and stab me on my breast. I seized him by the hair and tumbled him from off me on his back and followed him with my fist and knee so that he presently said he had enough; but when I saw the blood run and felt the smart I at him again and bid him get up and not lie there like a dog—told him of his former abuses offered to me and other poor captives, and that if ever he offered the like to me again I would pay him double. I sent him before me, took up my burden of wood and came to the Indians and told them the whole truth and they commended me, and I don't remember that ever he offered me the least abuse afterward, though he was big enough to have dispatched two of me."
The unfortunate conduct of some of the New England governors together with other circumstances that need not here be mentioned, led the Maliseets to be hostile to the English. Toward the French, however, they were from the very first disposed to be friendly, and when de Monts, Champlain and Poutrincourt arrived at the mouth of our noble river on the memorable 24th day of June, 1604, they found awaiting them the representatives of an aboriginal race of unknown antiquity, and of interesting language, traditions and customs, who welcomed them with outward manifestations of delight, and formed with them an alliance that remained unbroken throughout the prolonged struggle between the rival powers for supremacy in Acadia.
THE COMING OF THE WHITE MAN.
There are yet to be found in New Brunswick forest clad regions, remote from the haunts of men, that serve to illustrate the general features of the country when it was discovered by European adventurers 300 years ago. Who these first adventurers were we cannot with certainty tell. They were not ambitious of distinction, they were not even animated by religious zeal, for in Acadia, as elsewhere, the trader was the forerunner of the priest.
The Basque, Breton, and Norman, fishermen are believed to have made their voyages as early as the year 1504, just 100 years before Champlain entered the mouth of the St. John river. But these early navigators were too intent upon their own immediate gain to think of much beside; they gave to the world no intelligent account of the coasts they visited, they wave not accurate observers, and in their tales of adventure fact and fiction were blended in equal proportion. Nevertheless, by the enterprise and resolution of these hardy mariners the shores of north-eastern America were fairly well known long before Acadia contained a single white inhabitant.
Adventurers of Portugal, Spain and Italy vied with those of France and Britain in the quest of treasure beyond the sea. They scanned our shores with curious eyes and pushed their way into every bay and harbor. And thus, slowly but surely, the land that had lain hidden in the mists of antiquity began to disclose its outlines as the keen searchlight of discovery was turned upon it from a dozen different sources.
While the first recorded exploration of the southern shores of New Brunswick is that of de Monts and Champlain in 1604, there can be little doubt that European fishers and traders had entered the Bay of Fundy before the close of the 16th century and had made the acquaintance of the savages, possibly they had ventured up the St. John river. The Indians seem to have greeted the new-comers in a very friendly fashion and were eager to barter their furs for knives and trinkets. The "pale-faces" and their white winged barks were viewed at first with wonder not unmixed with awe, but the keen-eyed savages quickly learned the value of the white man's wares; and readily exchanged the products of their own forests and streams for such articles as they needed. Trade with the savages had assumed considerable proportions even before the days of Champlain.
But while it is probable that the coasts of Acadia were visited by Europeans some years before Champlain entered the Bay of Fundy, it is certain that the history of events previous to the coming of that intrepid navigator is a blank. The Indians gradually become familiar with the vanguard of civilization as represented by the rude fishermen and traders, that is all we know.
The honor of the first attempt at colonization in Acadia belongs to the Sieur de Monts, a Huguenot noblemen who had rendered essential service to the French king. This nobleman, with the assistance of a company of merchants of Rouen and Rochelle, collected a band of 120 emigrants, including artisans of all trades, laborers and soldiers, and in the month of April, 1604, set sail for the new world. Henry IV of France gave to the Sieur de Monts jurisdiction over Acadia, or New France, a region so vast that the sites of the modern cities of Montreal and Philadelphia lay within its borders. The Acadia of de Monts would today include the maritime provinces, the greater part of Quebec and half of New England.
The colonists embarked in two small vessels, the one of 120, the other of 150 tons burden; a month later they reached the southern coast of Nova Scotia. They proceeded to explore the coast and entered the Bay of Fundy, to which the Sieur de Monts gave the name of La Baye Francaise. Champlain has left us a graphic account of the voyage of exploration around the shores of the bay. In this, however, we need not follow him. Suffice it to say that on the 24th day of June there crept cautiously into the harbor of St. John a little French ship; she was a paltry craft, smaller than many of our coasting schooners, but she carried the germ of an empire for de Monts, Champlain and Poutrincourt, the founders of New France, were on her deck.
There is in Champlain's published "voyages" an excellent plan of St. John harbor which, he says, lay "at the mouth of the largest and deepest river we had yet seen which we named the River Saint John, because it was on this saint's day that we arrived there."
Champlain did not ascend the river far but Ralleau, the secretary of the Sieur de Monts, went there sometime afterwards to see Secoudon (or Chkoudun), the chief of the river, who reported that it was beautiful, large and extensive with many meadows and fine trees such as oaks, beeches, walnut trees and also wild grape vines. In Champlain's plan of St. John harbor a cabin is placed on Navy Island, which he describes as a "cabin where the savages fortify themselves." This was no doubt the site of a very ancient encampment.
Lescarbot, the historian, who accompanied de Monts, says they visited the cabin of Chkoudun, with whom they bartered for furs. According to his description: "The town of Ouigoudy, the residence of the said Chkoudun, was a great enclosure upon a rising ground, enclosed with high and small tress, tied one against another; and within the enclosure were several cabins great and small, one of which was as large as a market hall, wherein many households resided." In the large cabin which served as a council chamber, they saw some 80 or 100 savages all nearly naked. They were having a feast, which they called "Tabagie." The chief Chkoudun made his warriors pass in review before his guests.
Lescarbot describes the Indian sagamore as a man of great influence who loved the French and admired their civilization. He even attended their religious services on Sundays and listened attentively to the admonitions of their spiritual guides, although he did not understand a word. "Moreover," adds Lescarbot, "he wore the sign of the cross upon his bosom, which he also had his servants wear; and he had in imitation of us a great cross erected in the public place called Oigoudi at the port of the River Saint John." This sagamore accompanied Poutrincourt on his tour of exploration to the westward and offered single handed to oppose a hostile band who attacked the French.
According to Champlain's plan of St. John harbor, the channel on the west, or Carleton, side of Navy Island was much narrower in his day than it is now. The name Ouygoudy (or Wigoudi), applied by the Indians to Chkoudun's village on Navy Island, is nearly identical with the modern word "We-go-dic," used by the Maliseets to designate any Indian village or encampment. They have always called the St. John river "Woolastook," but their name for the place on which the city of St. John is built is "Men-ah-quesk," which is readily identified with "Menagoueche," the name generally applied to St. John harbor by Villebon and other French commanders in Acadia.
Navy Island assumes a historic interest in our eyes as the first inhabited spot, so far as we know, within the confines of the city of St. John. In Champlain's plans the principal channel is correctly given as on the east side of Partridge Island. Sand Point is shown, and the cross at its extremity was probably erected by the explorers in honor of their discovery. Groups of savages are seen on either side of the harbor, and a moose is feeding near the present Haymarket Square. A little ship rests on the flats, the site of the new dry dock.
De Monts and Champlain passed their first winter in America on an island in the St. Croix river. Their experience was disastrous in the extreme. Nearly half of their party died of "mal de la terre," or scurvy, and others were at the point of death. Pierre Biard, the Jesuit missionary, attributed the fatality of the disease to the mode of life of the people, of whom only eleven remained well. "These were a jolly company of hunters who preferred rabbit hunting to the air of the fireside, skating on the ponds to turning over lazily in bed, making snowballs to bring down the game to sitting around the fire talking about Paris and its good cooks." In consequence of their unfortunate experience during the first winter the little colony removed to Port Royal.
The advent of European explorers and traders materially affected the manner of life of the Indians. Hitherto they had hunted the wild animals merely for subsistence, but now the demand of the traders for furs and peltry stimulated enormously the pursuit of game. The keen-eyed savages saw the advantages of the white man's implements and utensils. Steel knives, axes, vessels of metal, guns, powder and shot, blankets, ornaments and trinkets excited his cupidity. Alas, too, love of the white man's "fire water" soon became a ruling passion and the poor Indian too often received a very indifferent compensation for his toil and exposure.
In the summer time, when the annual ships arrived from France, the Indians gathered in large numbers at the various trading posts. They came from far and near, and for several weeks indulged in feasting and revelry. Pierre Biard comments severely on their folly. He says: "They never stop gorging themselves excessively during several weeks. They get drunk not only on wine, but on brandy, so that it is no wonder they are obliged to endure some gripes of the stomach during the following autumn."
The Maliseets frequently came to the mouth of the St. John to trade with the French; sometimes they even resorted to Port Royal, for these daring savages did not fear to cross the Bay of Fundy in their frail barks.
The chief of the savages of the River St. John, Chkoudun, proved a valuable ally of the French owing to his extensive knowledge of the country and of the tribes that inhabited it. Champlain crossed over to St. John from Port Royal in the autumn of 1605 to get him to point out the location of a certain copper mine on the shores of the Bay of Fundy, supposed to be of fabulous richness. Chkoudun readily agreed to accompany his visitor and they proceeded to the mine, which was on the shores of the Basin of Minas. The master miner, a native of Sclavonia, whom de Monts had brought to Acadia to search for precious metals, deemed the outlook not unpromising, but Champlain was disappointed, and says: "The truth is that if the water did not cover the mines twice a day, and if they did not lie in such hard rocks, something might be expected from them."
The commercial spirit that has ever predominated in our good city of St. John evidently goes back to the days of its discovery. Chkoudun lived at "Menagoueche" in his fortified village on Navy Island when Champlain invited him to go with the Sieur de Poutrincourt and himself as guide on a tour of exploration along the coast of New England. They set out in the month of September, 1606, and the chief took with him in a shallop certain goods he had obtained from the fur traders to sell to his neighbors the Armouchiquois, with whom he proposed to make an alliance. The savages of New England were beginning to covet the axes and other implements of civilization that their neighbors to the eastward had obtained from the fishermen and traders who visited their shores.
The Indians were now for a season to part with their friends and allies. In 1607 de Monts decided to abandon his attempt to establish a colony and Champlain and his associates were recalled to France. Acadia was once more without a single European inhabitant. Three years later Poutrincourt, to the great joy of the savages, returned to Port Royal, and most of the rights and privileges formerly held by de Monts were transferred to him.
The summer of 1611 was notable for the arrival of the Jesuit missionaries, Pierre Biard and Enemond Masse.
It seems that the French traders did not quietly acquiesce in Poutrincourt's monopoly of trade, and the masters of certain ships of St. Malo and Rochelle boasted to the Indians that they would devour Poutrincourt as the fabled Gougou would a poor savage. This was an insult our nobleman was not disposed to endure, so accompanied by the missionary Biard he crossed over to St. John and proceeded along the coast as far as Passamaquoddy. The offenders were sternly admonished and compelled to acknowledge his authority. Later it was discovered that they had carried away nearly all that was valuable of the fur trade for that season.
Biard at this time succeeded in reconciling Poutrincourt and the younger Pontgrave who for some misdemeanor had been banished from Port Royal and had spent the previous winter among the Indians of the St. John river, living just as they did. Biard speaks of him as "a young man of great physical and mental strength, excelled by none of the savages in the chase, in alertness and endurance and in his ability to speak their language."
Early in the month of October a little island in Long Reach called Emenenic—now known as Caton's Island—was the scene of an exciting incident of which Biard has left us a picturesque description. It seems that Poutrincourt's son, Biencourt, wished to exact submission on the part of a number of traders of St. Malo, who had established a trading post on the island. Accordingly accompanied by a party of soldiers and the Jesuit missionary he proceeded to the scene of operations. Father Biard did not admire, as do our modern travellers, the "reversing falls" at the mouth of our noble river. "The entrance to this river," he says, "is very narrow and very dangerous * * and if you do not pass over it at the proper moment and when the water is smoothly heaped up, of a hundred thousand barques not an atom would escape, but men and goods would all perish."
The party settled on the island of Emenenic included their captain, Merveille, and young Pontgrave. Biard in his narrative terms them "the Malouins"—or people of St. Malo. "We were still," he says, "one league and a half from the island when the twilight ended and night came on. The stars had already begun to appear when suddenly towards the northward a part of the heavens became blood red; and this light spreading little by little in vivid streaks and flashes, moved directly over the settlement of the Malouins and there stopped. The red glow was so brilliant that the whole river was tinged and made luminous by it. This apparition lasted about five minutes and as soon as it disappeared another came of the same form, direction and appearance.
"Our savages, when they saw this wonder, cried out in their language, 'Gara, gara, maredo'—we shall have war, there will be blood.
"We arrived opposite the settlement when the night had already closed in, and there was nothing we could do except to fire a salute from the falconet, which they answered with one from the swivel gun.
"When morning came and the usual prayers ware said, two Malouins presented themselves upon the bank and signified to us that we could disembark without being molested, which we did. It was learned that their captains were not there but had gone away up the river three days before, and no one knew when they would return. Meanwhile Father Biard went away to prepare his altar and celebrate holy mass. After mass Sieur de Biencourt placed a guard at the door of the habitation and sentinels all around it. The Malouins were very much astonished at this way of doing things. The more timid considered themselves as lost; the more courageous stormed and fumed and defied them.
"When night came on Captain Merveille returned to his lodgings, knowing nothing of his guests. The sentinel hearing him approach uttered his "qui voila"—who goes there? The Malouin, thinking it was one of his own people, answered mockingly, 'who goes there thyself?' and continued upon his way. The sentinel fired his musket at him in earnest and it was a great wonder (merveille) that Merveille was not killed. But he was very much astonished and still more so when he saw some soldiers upon him with naked swords who seized him and took him into the house; you may imagine how soldiers and sailors act at such times, with their cries, their theats and their gesticulations.
"Merveille had his hands bound behind his back so tightly that he could not rest and he began to complain very pitifully. Father Biard begged Sieur de Biencourt to have the sufferer untied, alleging that if they had any fears about the said Merveille they might enclose him in one of the Carthusian beds, and that he would himself stay at the door to prevent his going out. Sieur de Biencourt granted this request."
"Now I could not describe to you," Biard goes on to say, "what a night this was; for it passed in continual alarms, gun shots and rash acts on the part of some of the men; so that it was feared with good reason that the prognostications seen in the heavens the night before would have their bloody fulfilment upon earth. I do not know that there was one who closed his eyes during the night. For me, I made many fine promises to our Lord never to forget His goodness if He were pleased to avert bloodshed. This He granted in His infinite mercy. * * Certainly Captain Merveille and his people showed unusual piety for notwithstanding this so annoying encounter, two days afterwards they confessed and took communion in a very exemplary manner, and at our departure they all begged me very earnestly, and particularly young du Pont, to come and stay with them as long as I liked. I promised to do so and am only waiting the opportunity, for in truth I love these honest people with all my heart."
The missionaries, Biard and Masse, were anxious to cultivate the friendship of young du Pont, knowing that he could greatly assist them in learning the Indian language, a knowledge of which was essential to the work they hoped to accomplish amidst the forests of Acadia. Inspired by their motto "ad majoram Dei gloriam," they shrank from no toil or privation. Father Masse passed the winter of 1611-12 with Louis Membertou and his family at the River St. John with only a French boy as his companion, his object being to increase his knowledge of the Indian language. He suffered many hardships, was at one time seriously ill, but eventually returned in safety to Port Royal. He describes the winter's experience with the savages as "a life without order and without daily fare, without bread, without salt, often without anything; always moving on and changing, * * for roof a wretched cabin, for couch the earth, for rest and quiet odious cries and songs, for medicine hunger and hard work."
The missionaries found immense difficulty in acquiring the language of the natives. The task was not so difficult so long as they sought to learn the names of objects that might be touched or seen, but when it came to such abstract words as virtue, vice, reason, justice, or to such terms as to believe, to doubt or to hope, "for these," said Biard, "we had to labor and sweat; in these were the pains of travail." They were compelled to make a thousand gesticulations and signs that greatly amused their savage instructors who sometimes palmed off on them words that were ridiculous and even obscene, so that the Jesuits labored with indifferent success in the preparation of their catechism. Their work was still in the experimental stage when the destruction of Port Royal by Argal in 1613, and the capture and removal of the missionaries brought everything to a stand and put an end to all attempts at colonization in Acadia for some years.
The Indians, however, were not forgotten; the Jesuits had failed, but in 1619 a party of Recollet missionaries from Aquitaine began a mission on the St. John. These humble missionary laborers had no historian to record their toils and privations, and unlike the Jesuits they did not become their own annalists. We know, however, that one of their number, Father Barnardin, while returning from Miscou to the River St. John, in the year 1623, died of hunger and fatigue in the midst of the woods, a martyr to his charity and zeal. Five years afterwards, the Recollets were compelled to abandon their mission which, however, was reoccupied by them before many years had passed. Meanwhile the fur traders established a post on the River St. John as a convenient centre for trade with the Indians.
The French, with young Biencourt at their head, still kept a feeble hold on Acadia. Biencourt had as his lieutenant, Charles de la Tour, who had come to the country many years before when a mere boy of 14 years of age. Biencourt and la Tour—such was their poverty—were compelled to live after the Indian fashion, roaming through the woods from place to place. In this rude life la Tour acquired an extensive knowledge of the country and its resources, and in all probability became familiar with the St. John river region. Biencourt at his death left him all his property in Acadia.
The destruction of Port Royal by Argal was the first incident in the struggle between England and France for sovereignty in Acadia, a struggle that for a century and a half was to remain undecided.
The next attempt at colonization was made on the part of the British, but it proved as futile as that of de Monts. James I. of England, in the year 1621, gave to Sir William Alexander, under the name of Nova Scotia, the peninsula which is now so called, together with a vast adjacent wilderness as a fief of the Scottish crown. For several years this favored nobleman seems to have contented himself with sending annually a ship to explore the shores of his domain and to trade with the Indians. Later he devised a scheme to facilitate the settlement of a colony by the creation of an order of baronets of Nova Scotia, each of whom was to receive an estate six miles in length and three in breadth in consideration of his assistance in the colonization of the country. In the course of 10 years more than 100 baronets were created, of whom 34 had estates within the limits of our own province. To that part of Nova Scotia north of the Bay of Fundy, now called New Brunswick, Sir William gave the name of the Province of Alexandria. The St. John river he called the Clyde and the St. Croix, which divided New England and New Scotland, he not inaptly called the Tweed.
When war broke out between England and France in 1627, young Charles la Tour found his position in Acadia very insecure. However, he was naturally resourceful and by his diplomacy and courage continued for many years to play a prominent part in the history of affairs. He sought and obtained from Louis XIII. of France a commission as the King's lieutenant-general and at the same time obtained from Sir William Alexander the title of a Baronet of Nova Scotia. He procured from his royal master a grant of land on the River St. John and obtained leave from Sir William Alexander to occupy it.
By the treaty of St. Germain, in 1632, Acadia was ceded to France. Immediately after the peace de Razilly came to the country at the head of a little colony of settlers, many of them farmers, whose descendants are to be found among the Acadians of today. With de Razilly came d'Aulnay Charnisay, who was destined to become la Tour's worst enemy. De Razilly died in 1635, leaving his authority to Charnisay, his relative and second in command. Charnisay made his headquarters at Port Royal and nobody disputed his authority except la Tour, who claimed to be independent of him by virtue of his commission from the crown and his grant from the Company of New France. The dissensions between la Tour and Charnisay at length culminated in war and the strife was long and bitter.
THE RIVAL FEUDAL CHIEFS.
Charles de Menou, Seigneur d'Aulnay Charnisay, came of a distinguished family of Touraine. He married Jeanne Motin, a daughter of the Seigneur de Courcelles. She came to Acadia with him in 1638. They resided at Port Royal where Charnisay in his log mansion reigned like a feudal lord.
Charles St. Etienne de la Tour was probably of less conspicuous lineage than his rival, although in legal documents he is called "a gentleman of distinguished birth." He married Frances Marie Jacquelins who, according to the questionable testimony of his enemies, was the daughter of a barber of Mans. She was a Huguenot and whatever may have been her origin her qualities of mind and heart have deservedly won for her the title of "the heroine of Acadia." Never had man more faithful ally than Marie Jacquelins proved to Charles la Tour.
As early as the year 1630 la Tour had be concerned in a project to erect a strong fort at the mouth of the St. John river in order to ward off the incursions of hostile adventurers and secure control of the far trade of the vast wilderness region extending from the mouth of the river nearly to the St. Lawrence. It was not, however, until the 15th of January, 1635, that the Company of New France granted him his tract of land at St. John, extending five leagues up the river and including within its bounds "the fort and habitation of la Tour."
The French government endeavored to establish a good understanding between la Tour and Charnisay. A royal letter was addressed to the latter in which he was cautioned against interference with la Tour's settlement at the River St. John. La Tour received a like caution as regards Charnisay's settlement at Port Royal. Charnisay was commissioned the king's lieutenant-general from Chignecto to Penobscot and la Tour was given like jurisdiction over the Nova Scotian peninsula. Thus la Tour's settlement and fort at St. John lay within the limits of Charnisay's government and Charnisay's settlements at La Have and Port Royal lay within the government of la Tour, an arrangement not calculated to promote harmony on the part of the rivals.
It is rather difficult to get at all the facts of the quarrel that now rapidly developed between la Tour and Charnisay. The statements of their respective friends are very diverse, sometimes contradictory, and even the official records of the court of France are conflicting. Nicolas Denys, the historian, had reason to dislike Charnisay, and perhaps some of his statements concerning Charnisay's barbarity should be received with caution. On the other hand the friends of Charnisay have cast aspersions an the character of Lady la Tour that seem entirely unwarranted. The fact remains that Acadia, large as it was, not large enough for two such ambitious men as Charles la Tour and d'Aulnay Charnisay.
 See "Feudal Chiefs of Acadia," by Parkman in Atlantic Monthly of January and February, 1893.
The exact site of la Tour's fort at the mouth of the River St. John has been the subject of controversy, Dr. W. F. Ganong, a most conscientious and painstaking student of our early history, has argued strongly in favor of its location at Portland Point (the green mound near Rankine's wharf at the foot of Portland street); the late Joseph W. Lawrence and Dr. W. P. Dole have advocated the claims of Fort Dufferin, but the site usually accepted is that known as "Old Fort," on the west side of the harbor opposite Navy Island. It seems probable that la Tour resided at one time at "Old Fort," in Carleton, and his son-in-law the Sieur de Martignon lived there afterwards, but whether this was the site of the first fort built by la Tour and so bravely defended by his wife is at least a debatable question.
In the absence of positive information as to the exact location of la Tour's first fort, it is perhaps unadvisable to disturb popular opinion until a thorough search of the records in France shall have been made in order if possible to settle the question.
Upon his arrival at St. John, la Tour speedily surrounded himself with soldiers and retainers and established an extensive traffic with the Indians, who came from their hunting grounds when the ships arrived laden with goods for the Indian trade. Doctor Hannay gives a graphic picture of la Tour's situation:—
"A rude abundance reigned at the board where gathered the defenders of Fort la Tour. The wilderness was then a rich preserve of game, where the moose, caribou and red deer roamed in savage freedom. Wild fowl of all kinds abounded along the marsh, and interval lands of the St. John, and the river itself—undisturbed by steamboats and unpolluted by saw mills—swarmed with fish. And so those soldier-traders lived on the spoils of forest, ocean and river, a life of careless freedom, undisturbed by the politics of the world and little crossed by its cares. Within the fort, Lady la Tour led a lonely life, with no companions but her domestics and her children, for her lord was often away ranging the woods, cruising on the coast, or perhaps on a voyage to France. She was a devout Huguenot, but the difference of religion between husband and wife seems never to have marred the harmony of their relations."
In the struggle between the rival feudal chiefs, Charnisay had the advantage of having more powerful friends at court, chief among them the famous Cardinal Richelieu.
Representations made concerning the conduct of la Tour led the French monarch in 1641 to order him to return to France to answer the charges against him. In the event of his refusal, Charnisay was directed to seize his person and property. The commission of la Tour was also revoked.
The contest now entered upon an acute stage. La Tour claimed that the royal order had been obtained through misrepresentation, and absolutely refused to submit to Charnisay. The latter, not daring to attack la Tour in his stronghold, repaired to France where he succeeded in fitting out five vessels and in obtaining the services of 500 soldiers to compel his rival to submission. He also procured another and more definite order from the king, directing him to seize la Tour's fort and person and to send him to France as a rebel and a traitor.
Meanwhile la Tour was not idle. His friends at Rochelle sent out to him a large armed vessel, the Clement, loaded with ammunition and supplies and having on board 150 armed men. When the vessel neared St. John, it was discovered that Charnisay had established a blockade at the mouth of the harbor and that entrance was impracticable. In this emergency la Tour resolved to seek aid from the people of New England, whose trade and friendship he had begun to cultivate. Boston was then but a straggling village, in its 13th year, with houses principally of boards or logs gathered around its plain little meeting house. Eluding the vigilance of the blockading squadron, la Tour and his wife succeeded in getting safely on board the Clement, and at once repaired to Boston, where their arrival created some consternation, for Boston happened to be at that time in a particularly defenceless position. Governor Winthrop remarked: "If la Tour had been ill-minded towards us, he had such an opportunity as we hope neither he nor any other shall ever have the like again." However, la Tour had come with no ill intent, and after some negotiations, which he conducted with much skill and discretion, he was allowed to hire from Edward Gibbons and Thomas Hawkins, four vessels with 50 men and 38 guns. He also obtained the assistance of 92 soldiers. With these he hurried back to the relief of his fort. Charnisay was compelled to raise the blockade and retire to his defences at Port Royal, where he was defeated with loss by the united forces of la Tour and his allies.
While at St. John, the Bostonians captured a pinnace belonging to Charnisay, laden with 400 moose and 400 beaver skins; their own pinnace went up the river to Grand Lake and loaded with coal. This little incident shows that the coal mines of Queens county were known and worked more than 250 years ago.
As the struggle with la Tour proceeded Charnisay became more and more determined to effect the destruction of his rival. La Tour's resources were nearly exhausted and his situation had became exceedingly critical. He dared not leave his fort and yet he could not hold out much longer unaided. His brave wife was equal to the emergency; she determined herself to go to France for assistance. This was indeed an arduous undertaking for a woman, but her spirit rose to the occasion, and neither the perils of the deep nor the difficulties that were to confront her at the court of France served to daunt her resolute soul. Fearlessly she set out upon the long and dangerous voyage and in the course of more than a year's absence endured disappointments and trials that would have crushed one less resolute and stout hearted. Her efforts in her native country were foiled by her adversaries, she was even threatened with death if she should venture to leave France, but setting the royal command at defiance she went to England and there chartered a ship to carry stores and munitions of war to St. John. The master of the ship, instead of proceeding directly to his destination, went up the River St. Lawrence to trade with the Indians. When, after a six months' voyage, they at length entered the Bay of Fundy some of Charnisay's vessels were encountered, and the English captain to avoid the seizure and confiscation of his ship was obliged to conceal Madame la Tour and her people and proceed to Boston. Here his own tribulations began for Madame la Tour brought an action against him for violation of his contract and after a four days' trial the jury awarded her two thousand pounds damages. With the proceeds of this suit she chartered three English ships in Boston and proceeded to St. John with all the stores and munitions of war that she had collected. The garrison at Fort la Tour hailed her arrival with acclamations of delight for they had begun to despair of her return.
Charnisay's attempt to reduce la Tour to subjection was foiled for the time being, but his opportunity came a little later. In February, 1645, he learned of la Tour's absence and that his garrison numbered only fifty men. He determined at once to attack the fort. His first attempt was an abject failure. The Lady la Tour inspired her little garrison with her own dauntless spirit, and so resolute was the defence and so fierce the cannon fire from the bastions that Charnisay's ship was shattered and disabled and he was obliged to warp her off under the shelter of a bluff to save her from sinking. In this attack twenty of his men were killed and thirteen wounded. Two months later he made another attempt with a stronger force and landed two cannon to batter the fort on the land side. On the 17th of April, having brought his largest ship to within pistol shot of the water rampart, he summoned the garrison to surrender. He was answered by a volley of cannon shot and shouts of defiance.
The story of the taking of Fort la Tour, as told by Nicholas Denys, is well known. For three days Madame la Tour bravely repelled the besiegers and obliged them to retire beyond the reach of her guns. On the fourth day whilst she, hoping for some respite, was making her soldiers rest a miserable Swiss sentinel betrayed the garrison, and when the alarm was given the enemy were already scaling the walls. Lady la Tour even in so desperate an emergency as this succeeded in rallying the defenders, who bravely resisted the attack, though greatly outnumbered by their assailants. She only surrendered at the last extremity and under condition that the lives of all should be spared. This condition Charnisay is said to have shamefully violated; all the garrison were hanged, with the exception of one who was spared on condition of acting the part of executioner, and the lady commander was compelled to stand at the scaffold with a rope around her neck as though she were the vilest criminal.
It is but fair to state that our knowledge of the gross indignity to which Lady la Tour was subjected is derived from Denys' narrative, and its authenticity has been questioned by Parkman. Nevertheless accounts of the transaction that have come to us from sources friendly to Charnisay admit that he hanged the greater number of his prisoners, "to serve as an example to posterity," and that Madame la Tour was put into confinement where, as Charnisay's reporter somewhat brutally observes, "she fell ill with spite and rage." The Lady la Tour did not long survive her misfortunes. Scarcely three weeks had elapsed after the capture of the fort she had so gallantly defended when she died and was laid to rest near the spot consecrated by her devotion, the scene of so many hopes and fears.
There will always be a peculiar charm for us in the story of our Acadian heroine. Fearless, energetic, resolute undoubtedly she was, yet who shall say that the motives that actuated her were other than pure and womanly? A heart more loyal and true never beat in a human breast. She gave her life to protect her husband, her children and the humbler dependents that followed their fortunes from the hands of a bitter and unscrupulous enemy.
The capture of his stronghold and the death of his faithful wife involved la Tour in what appeared to be at the time irreparable ruin. He found himself once more, as in his younger days, an exile and a wanderer.
The booty taken by Charnisay was valued at L10,000 sterling and as it had been accumulated in traffic with the Indians we may form some idea of the value of the trade of the St. John river at this time.
When the capture of la Tour's fort was known at the court of Versailles the young king was well pleased. He confirmed Charnisay's authority in Acadia and even extended it—on paper—from the St. Lawrence to Virginia. He could build forts, command by land and sea, appoint officers of government and justice, keep such lands as he fancied and grant the remainder to his vassals. He had also a monopoly of the fur trade and with Fort la Tour, the best trading post in Acadia, in his possession, the prospect for the future was very bright. Charnisay possessed the instincts of a colonizer and had already brought a number of settlers to Acadia. Everything at this juncture seemed to point to a growing trade and a thriving colony; but once again the hand of destiny appears. In the very zenith of his fortune and in the prime of manhood Charnisay was drowned on the 24th day of May, 1650, in the Annapolis river near Port Royal.
With Charnisay's disappearance la Tour reappears upon the scene. His former defiant attitude is forgotten, he is recognized as the most capable man of affairs in Acadia and in September, 1651, we find him again in possession of his old stronghold at St. John. The king now gave him a fresh commission as lieutenant-general in Acadia with ample territorial rights. Disputes soon afterwards arose concerning the claims of the widow of d'Aulnay Charnisay; these disputes were set at rest by the marriage of the parties interested. The marriage contract, a lengthy document, was signed at Port Royal the 24th day of February, 1653, and its closing paragraph shows that there was little sentiment involved: "The said seigneur de la Tour and the said dame d'Aulnay his future spouse, to attain the ends and principal design of their intended marriage, which is the peace and tranquillity of the country and concord and union between the two families, wish and desire as much as lies with them that in the future their children should contract a new alliance of marriage together."
There is no evidence to show that la Tour's second marriage proved unhappy, though it is a very unromantic ending to an otherwise very romantic story. His second wife had also been the second wife of Charnisay who was a widower when he married her; her maiden name was Jeanne Motin. Descendants of la Tour by his second marriage are to be found in the families of the d'Entremonts, Girouards, Porliers and Landrys of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
La Tour and his new wife were quietly living at St. John the year after their marriage when four English ships of war suddenly appeared before the fort and demanded its surrender. These ships had in the first instance been placed at the disposal of the people of Massachusetts by Oliver Cromwell for the purpose of an expedition against the Dutch colony of Manhattan (now New York); but on the eve of their departure news arrived that peace had been made with Holland. It was then decided that the expedition should proceed under Major Robert Sedgewick's command to capture the French strongholds in Acadia. This was a bold measure for England and France were then ostensibly at peace. La Tour at once saw that resistance was useless and surrendered his fort and the flag of Britain was hoisted over the ramparts. However, la Tour's address did not desert him; he went to England and laid before Cromwell his claim as a grantee under the charter of Sir William Alexander. He proved as skilful a diplomatist as ever and obtained, cojointly with Thomas Temple and William Crowne, a grant which practically included the whole of Acadia.
La Tour, now more than 60 years of age, was sagacious enough to see that disputes were sure again to arise between England and France with regard to Acadia, and not wishing to be the football of fortune, sold his rights to Sir Thomas Temple his co-partner, and retired to private life. He died in 1666 at the age of 72 years and his ashes rest within the confines of his beloved Acadia.
FRENCH COMMANDERS OF ACADIA.
After the capture of Fort la Tour by Sedgewick's Massachusetts invaders in 1654, Acadia remained nominally in possession of the English for twelve years. Half a century had elapsed since the attempt of de Monts to establish his colony, yet little progress had been made in the settlement of the country and the valley of the St. John remained an almost unbroken wilderness. The first English trading post on the river, of which we have any knowledge was that established in 1659 by Sir Thomas Temple at the mouth of the Jemseg.
As related in the last chapter, la Tour, Temple and Crowne received from Oliver Cromwell a grant that included nearly the whole of Acadia, and la Tour soon after sold his right to Temple, his co-partner. The latter decided to establish a fortified post at the Jemseg as more convenient for the Indian trade and less exposed to marauders than the fort at the mouth of the river. There can be little doubt that Temple would soon have enjoyed a flourishing trade, but unfortunately for his prospects, Acadia was restored to France by the treaty of Breda, in 1667. He attempted to hold possession of his lands, claiming that they did not fall within the boundaries of Acadia, but at the expiration of three years, during which there was considerable correspondence with the home authorities, he received the peremptory orders of Charles II. to surrender the fort to the Sieur de Soulanges. In the formal deed of surrender the fort is termed "Fort Gemisick, 25 leagues up the River St. John." It was a palisaded enclosure, with stakes 18 feet high connected by cross pieces fastened with nails to the stakes and firmly braced on the inside with pickets nine feet high leaned against the stakes. The gate of the fort was of three thicknesses of new plank. It was evidently a frail defence, but sufficient for the Indian trade. The armament consisted of five iron guns, varying in weight from 300 pounds to 625 pounds, mounted on wooden platforms. Within the palisade was a house 20 paces by 10, two chimneys, a forge, two sheds and a store house. The fort stood on a small mound near the top of a hill, less than 100 yards from the bank of the Jemseg river. It commanded an extensive view both up and down the River St. John. A fragment of the rampart is still visible, and numerous relics have from time to time been dug up at the site or in the vicinity. The fort site is now owned by Mr. Geo. F. Nevars.
After the treaty of Breda the Chevalier Grand-fontaine was appointed to command in Acadia, with Pierre de Joibert, Seigneur de Soulanges et Marson, as his lieutenant. One of the first acts of Grand-fontaine was to have a census taken, from which we learn that there were then only a little more than 400 people in Acadia, very few of whom were to be found north of the Bay of Fundy. Grand-fontaine was recalled to France in 1673, and Chambly, who had been an officer in the famous Carignan Salieres regiment, succeeded him as commandant. The control of affairs in New France was now transferred to Quebec, where a governor-general and intendant, or lieutenant-governor, resided.
About this time large tracts of land were granted as "seigniories" by Count Frontenac and his successors. The seignior was usually a person of some consideration by birth and education. He received a free grant of lands from the crown on certain conditions; one of these was that whenever the seigniory changed hands the act of "faith and homage" was to be tendered at the Castle of St. Louis in Quebec. The tendering of faith and homage was quite an elaborate ceremony, in which the owner of the land, divesting himself of arms and spurs, with bared head, on bended knee, repeated before the governor, as representative of the sovereign, his acknowledgement of faith and homage to the crown. Provision was made in all seignioral grants for the reservation of oaks for the royal navy, of lands required for fortifications or highways, and of all mines and minerals; the seignior was also required to reside on his land or to place a certain number of tenants thereon and to clear and improve a certain portion within a stated time. From the year 1672 to the close of the century as many as 16 seigniories were granted on the St. John river, besides others in various parts of New Brunswick. The first in order of time was that to Martin d'Arpentigny Sieur de Martignon. It included a large tract at the mouth of the River St. John, on the west side of the harbor, extending six leagues up the river from Partridge Island (Isle de la Perdrix) and six leagues in depth inland. This seigniory would now include Carleton and the parishes of Lancaster, Musquash and Westfield. The owner of this valuable property is described as "an old inhabitant of Acadia." He married Jeanne de la Tour, only daughter of Charles la Tour by his first wife: she was born in Acadia in 1626. It is stated in his grant that he intended to bring over people from France to settle his seigniory, also that he was a proprietor of lands on the River St. John "from the River de Maquo to the mines of the said country of Acadia."
 Dr. Ganong is probably correct in identifying the "River de Maquo" with Maquapit and the "mines" with the coal mines at Newcastle in Queens county. In this case the sieur de Martignon owned the lands on the north side of Grand Lake including the site of the old Indian village at Indian point where so any relics have been discovered. It is quite possible that the sieur de Martignon and his wife, Jeanne de la Tour, may have lived there for a time.
After la Tour's death his son-in-law, the Sieur de Mantignon, seems to have taken up his abode at the old fort on the west side of the harbor, which in Franquet's map of 1707 is called "Fort de Martinnon."
In the little world of Acadia, Pierre de Joibert, sieur de Soulanges, played a leading part during his eight years residence. He was a native of the little town of Soulanges in the old French province of Champagne. He had served as lieutenant in Grand-fontaine's company of infantry and came with that officer to Acadia. It is said that "he rendered good and praiseworthy service to the king both in Old and New France." As a recognition of those services he was granted, October 20, 1672, a seigniory at the mouth of the St. John on the east side of the river a league in depth and extending four leagues up the river; this seigniory seems to have included the present city of St. John—Carleton excepted. The Sieur de Soulanges, however, did not reside there but at the Jemseg. This is evident from the fact that the document that conveyed to him his St. John seigniory gave him in addition "the house of fort Gemesik," which the great states "he shall enjoy for such time only as he shall hold his commission of commander on the said river in order to give him a place of residence that he may act with more liberty and convenience in everything relating to the king's service." The wife of Soulanges was Marie Francoise, daughter of Chartier de Lotbeniere, attorney-general of Quebec. Their daughter Louise Elizabeth was born at "Fort Gemesik" in 1673.
The sieur de Soulanges did not long enjoy peaceable possession of his place of residence; disturbance came from an entirely unexpected quarter. A band of Dutch marauders under their leader Arenson in the summer of 1674 pillaged and greatly damaged the fort and seized and carried off its commander, but soon after set him at liberty. As a recompense for this misfortune Soulanges received the grant of a large tract of land at the Jemseg, two leagues in depth and extending a league on each side of the fort. It is stated in the grant that "he had made various repairs and additions to the fort in order to make it habitable and capable of defence, there having been previously only a small wooden house in ruins surrounded by palisades half fallen to the ground, in fact it would have been better to have rebuilt the whole, for he would yet have to make a large outlay to put it in proper condition on account of the total ruin wrought by the Dutch (les Hollandois) when they made him their prisoner in the said fort two years ago."
The little daughter of Soulanges, whose infant slumbers were disturbed by these rude Dutch boors, was afterwards the marchioness de Vaudreuil, the wife of one governor general of Canada and the mother of another.
It is evident the authorities at Quebec knew little of the value of the lands on the St. John river or they would hardly have granted them with such prodigality. The Sieur de Soulanges seems to have been highly favored by Frontenac for the three seigniories granted to him included an area of more than a hundred square miles. The one at the mouth of the river possessed all those natural advantages that have made St. John the leading commercial city of the maritime provinces. That at the Jemseg was for a short time the head quarters of French power in Acadia and in its modest way the political capital of the country. The third seigniory—at the very heart of which lay the site of Fredericton—remains to be described. In the grant to Soulanges it is termed, "the place called Nachouac (Nashwaak), to be called hereafter Soulanges, upon the River St. John 15 leagues from Gemesk, two leagues on each side of said river and two leagues deep inland." The grant was made in consideration of the services rendered by Soulanges and to encourage him to continue those services; it was made so large because little of it was thought to be capable of cultivation. This seigniory would include at the present day the city of Fredericton and its suburbs, the town of Marysville, villages of Gibson and St. Mary's and a large tract of the surrounding country; the owner of such a property today would be indeed a multi-millionaire.
Upon Chambly's appointment as governor of Granada he was succeeded as governor of Acadia by the Sieur de Soulanges who did not, however, long enjoy the honors of his new position, for he died about the year 1678 and his widow and children soon afterwards removed to Quebec. Count Frontenac's interest in the family continued, and on March 23, 1691, a grant of a large tract of land on the River St. John was made to Marie Francoise Chartier, widow of the Sieur de Soulanges. Her seigniory included the larger portion of Gagetown parish in Queens county, the central point being opposite her old residence or, as the grant expresses it, "vis-a-vis la maison de Jemsec."
The seigniories granted to Soulanges and his widow proved of no value to their descendants; either the titles lapsed on account of non-fulfilment of the required conditions, or the lands were forfeited when the country passed into the hands of the English.
Louise Elizabeth Joibert, the daughter of Soulanges, who was born on the River St. John, was educated at the convent of the Ursulines in Quebec. At the age of seventeen she married the Marquis Vaudreuil, a gentleman thirty years her senior. She is described as a very beautiful and clever woman possessed of all the graces which would charm the highest circles; of rare sagacity and exquisite modesty. She was the mother of twelve children. Her husband, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, was for twenty-two years governor general of Canada, and her son held the same position when the French possessions passed into the hands of the English; he was consequently the last governor general of New France.
La Valliere succeeded the Sieur de Soulanges and was for six years commander of Acadia. He cared little for the dignity or honor of his position provided he could use it for his own benefit. He established a small settlement at the River St. John and engaged in fishing and trading. Many complaints were preferred against him by rival traders. They alleged that he encouraged the English to fish on the coasts, granting them licenses for the purpose, that he traded with them in spite of the king's prohibition; also that he robbed and defrauded the savages.
These charges seem to have been well founded. An Indian captain named Negascouet says that as he was coming from Neguedchecouniedoche, his usual residence, he was met by the Sieur de la Valliere, who took from him by violence seventy moose skins, sixty martins, four beaver and two otter, without giving him any payment, and this was not the first time la Valliere had so acted.
In 1685 la Valliere was replaced by Perrot whose conduct was, if possible, even more reprehensible than that of his predecessor. He was such a money making genius that he thought nothing of selling brandy to the Indians by the pint and half-pint before strangers and in his own house, a rather undignified occupation certainly for a royal governor of Acadia.
Examples such as these on the part of those in authority naturally found many imitators, indeed there was at this time a general disposition on the part of young men of the better families in New France to become "coureurs de bois," or rangers of the woods, rather than cultivators of the soil. The life of a coureur de bois was wild and full of adventure, involving toil and exposure, but the possible profits were great and the element of danger appeared in the eyes of many an additional fascination. The rulers of New France from time to time enacted stringent laws against these "outlaws of the bush" but they were of little avail. The governor of Quebec felt compelled to represent the conduct of the Canadian noblesse in unfavorable terms to his royal master. "They do not," he writes, "devote themselves to improving their land, they mix up in trade and send their children to trade for furs in the Indian villages and in the depths of the forest in spite of the prohibition of his majesty."
The rapid progress of New England caused Louis XIV to express dissatisfaction at the slow development of Acadia, and he desired a report of the condition of the colony to be transmitted to Versailles. Monsieur de Meulles, the intendant, accordingly visited Acadia in 1686 where he found the French settlements "in a neglected and desolate state." He caused a census to be taken which showed the total population to be 915 souls, including the garrison at Port Royal. There were at that time only five or six families on the St. John river. Bishop St. Vallier made a tour of Acadia the same year, visiting all the Indians and French inhabitants he could find. The Marquis de Denonville in a letter to the French minister of November 10, 1686, announced the safe return of the bishop to Quebec after a most fatiguing journey and adds: "He will give you an account of the numerous disorders committed in the woods by the miserable outlaws who for a long while have lived like the savages without doing anything at all towards the tilling of the soil."
Many interesting incidents of the tour of Mgr. St. Vallier are related in a work entitled "The Present State of the Church and of the French Colony in New France," printed in Paris in 1688. A fac-simile of the title page of the original edition appears opposite. As this rare little volume contains the first published references to the upper St. John region some extracts from its pages will be of interest. The bishop was accompanied by two priests and five canoe men. They left the St. Lawrence on the 7th of May and proceeded by way of the Rivers du Loup and St. Francis to the St. John.
"Our guides," the bishop says, "in order to take the shortest road, conducted us by a route not usually traveled, in which it was necessary sometimes to proceed by canoe and sometimes on foot and this in a region where winter still reigned; we had sometimes to break the ice in the rivers to make a passage for the canoes and sometimes to leave the canoes and tramp amid snow and water over those places that are called portages (or carrying places) because it is necessary for the men to carry the canoes upon their shoulders. In order the better to mark our route we gave names to all these portages as well as to the lakes and rivers we had to traverse.
"The St. Francis is rather a torrent than a river; it is formed by several streams which descend from two ranges of mountains by which the river is bordered on the right and left; it is only navigable from the tenth or twelfth of May until about the end of June; it is then so rapid that one could make without difficulty twenty to twenty-five leagues in a day if it were not crossed in three or four places by fallen trees, which in each instance occupy about fifteen feet of space, and if they were cut out, as could be done with very little expense, the passage would be free; one would not suppose that it would cost 200 pistoles to clear the channel of these obstacles which much delay the traveler.
"The River St. John is of much greater extent and beauty than that just named, its course is everywhere smooth and the lands along its banks appear good; there are several very fine islands, and numerous tributary rivers abounding in fish enter its channel on both sides. It seemed to us that some fine settlements might be made between Medogtok and Gemesech, especially at a certain place which we have named Sainte Marie, where the river enlarges and the waters are divided by a large number of islands that apparently would be very fertile if cultivated. A mission for the savages would be well placed there: the land has not as yet any owner in particular, neither the king nor the governor having made a grant to any person."
The place here referred to by St. Vallier afterwards became the mission of Ekouipahag or Aukpaque. A mission for the Indians has been maintained in that vicinity, with some interruptions, to the present day. The islands which the bishop mentions are the well known and beautiful islands below the mouth of the Keswick stream. There is no mention by St. Vallier of the Indian village at Aukpaque, which was probably of rather later origin: there may have been a camping ground in that locality, however, for the Indians had many camping places on the islands and intervals, particularly at the mouths of rivers, to which they resorted at certain seasons. The name Ekouipahag or, as our modern Indians call it, Ek-pa-hawk, signifies "the head of the tide," or beginning of the swift water. The charms of the place have excited the admiration of many a tourist since St. Vallier's day. At the time of the Acadian expulsion a number of fugitives, who escaped their pursuers, fled for refuge to the St. John river, and took up their abode at this spot where they cultivated the intervals and islands until the arrival of the Loyalists in 1783, when they were again obliged to look for situations more remote.
The progress of Bishop St. Vallier coming down the St. John river was expeditious, the water being then at freshet height. At the mouth of the Madawaska, which he named St. Francois de Sales, he met a small band of savages, who pleaded for a missionary. The day following, May 17th, he came to the Grand Falls, or as he calls it "le grand Sault Saint Jean-Baptiste." His book contains the first published description of this magnificent cataract. The rapidity of the journey is seen in the fact that the bishop and his party slept the next night at the Indian village of Medoctec, "the first fort of Acadia," eighty miles below the Grand Falls. Here they found a hundred savages, who were greatly pleased when informed that the bishop had come for the purpose of establishing a mission for their benefit. This promise was fulfilled soon after by the sending to them the Recollet missionary Simon, of whom we shall hear more ere long. It is evident that the French adventurers the bishop encountered in the course of this wilderness journey led a pretty lawless life, for he observed in his narrative: "It is to be wished that the French who have their habitations along this route, were so correct in their habits as to lead the poor savages by their example to embrace Christianity, but we must hope that in the course of time the reformation of the one may bring about the conversion of the other."
 "Nous vimes l'endroit qu'on appelle le grand Sault Saint Jean-Baptiste, ou la riviere de Saint Jean faisant du haut d'un rocher fort eleve une terrible cascade dans un abime, forme un brouillard qui derobe l'eau a la veue, et fait un bruit qui avertit de loin les navigateurs de descendre de leurs canots."