The Makers of Canada: Champlain
by N. E. Dionne
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Entered according to Act of the Parliament of Canada in the year 1905, by Morang & Co., Limited, in the Department of Agriculture.




















In undertaking to write a biography of Samuel Champlain, the founder of Quebec and the father of New France, our only design is to make somewhat better known the dominant characteristics of the life and achievements of a man whose memory is becoming more cherished as the years roll on.

Every one will admire Champlain's disinterested actions, his courage, his loyalty, his charity, and all those noble and magnificent qualities which are rarely found united in one individual in so prominent a degree. We cannot overpraise that self-abnegation which enabled him to bear without complaint the ingratitude of many of his interpreters, and the servants of the merchants; nor can we overlook, either, the charity which he exercised towards the aborigines and new settlers; the protection which he afforded them under trying circumstances, or his zeal in promoting the honour and glory of God, and his respect for the Recollet and Jesuit fathers who honoured him with their cordial friendship. His wisdom is evidenced in such a practical fact as his choice of Quebec as the capital of New France, despite the rival claims of Montreal and Three Rivers, and his numerous writings reveal him to us as a keen and sagacious observer, a man of science and a skilful and intrepid mariner. As a cosmographer, Champlain added yet another laurel to his crown, for he excelled all his predecessors, both by the ample volume of his descriptions and by the logical arrangement of the geographical data which he supplied. The impetus which he gave to cartographical science can scarcely be overestimated.

Naturalist, mariner, geographer, such was Samuel Champlain, and to a degree remarkable for the age in which he lived. It is, perhaps, unnecessary to dwell upon the morality of the virtuous founder. The testimony of the Hurons, who, twenty years after his death, still pointed to the life of Champlain as a model of all Christian virtues, is sufficient, and it is certain that no governor under the old regime presented a more brilliant example of faith, piety, uprightness, or soundness of judgment. A brief outline of the character of Champlain has been given in order that the plan of this biography may be better understood. Let us now glance at his career more in detail.

Before becoming the founder of colonies, Champlain entered the French army, where he devoted himself to the religion of his ancestors. This was the first important step in his long and eventful career. A martial life, however, does not appear to have held out the same inducements as that of a mariner. An opportunity was presented which enabled him to gratify his tastes, when the Spanish government sent out an armada to encounter the English in the Gulf of Mexico. Champlain was given the command of a ship in this expedition, but his experience during the war served rather as an occasion to develop his genius as a mariner and cosmographer, than to add to his renown as a warrior.

God, who in His providence disposes of the lives of men according to His divine wisdom, directed the steps of Champlain towards the shores of the future New France. If the mother country had not completely forgotten this land of ours, discovered by one of her greatest captains, she had, at least, neglected it. The honour of bringing the king's attention to this vast country, which was French by the right of discovery, was reserved for the modest son of Brouage.

While Pierre du Gua, Sieur de Monts, was wasting his years and expending large sums of money in his fruitless efforts to colonize the island of Ste. Croix and Port Royal, Champlain's voyage to Acadia and his discovery of the New England coast were practically useful, and in consequence Champlain endeavoured to assure de Monts that his own efforts would be more advantageously directed to the shores of the St. Lawrence, for here it was obvious that the development of the country must commence.

Champlain's next step was to found Quebec. With this act began our colonial history, the foundation of a Canadian people with its long line of heroic characters distinguished by their simplicity and by their adherence to the faith of their fathers. Quebec was founded, but nothing more was accomplished at the moment owing to the lack of means. The trials of Champlain now commenced. Day by day he had to contend against his own countrymen. The attractions of fur trading were too great for the merchants to induce them to settle down and develop the country around them, and they were unwilling to fulfil their promises or to act in accordance with the terms of their patents.

During the next twenty years Champlain crossed the ocean eighteen times. Each voyage was made in the interest of the colony, and he sought by every means in his power, by prayers and petitions, to obtain the control of the commerce of the country so as to make it beneficial to all. In spite of his extraordinary exertions and the force of his will, he foresaw the fatal issue of his labours.

The settlers were few in number, bread and provisions were scarce, and the condition of the infant colony was truly deplorable. At this distressing period a British fleet arrived in the harbour of Quebec. What was to be done? The rude fortress of St. Louis could not withstand the assault of an armed fleet, even if it were well defended. But Champlain had no ammunition, and he, therefore, adopted the only course open to him of capitulating and handing over the keys of the fort to the commander, Kirke. Champlain then left Quebec and returned to France. Bitter was this journey to him, for it was like passing into exile to see the familiar heights of Quebec fade into the distance, the city of his foundation and the country of his adoption.

We have an idea of his sorrow during the three years that England maintained supremacy in Canada, for he says that the days were as long as months. During his enforced sojourn in France, Champlain exerted all his energies to revive interest in the abandoned colony. His plan was to recover the country by all means. Finally success crowned his efforts, and the treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye gave back to France the young settlement. Champlain recrossed the sea and planted the lily banner of France upon the heights of Cape Diamond.

In the year 1635 Champlain was taken ill, and died on Christmas Day, after having devoted forty years of his life to the promotion of the religion and commercial interests of the land of his ancestors, but he bequeathed to the Canadian people the priceless heritage of Quebec, and the memory of a pure and honest heart.

Before Champlain's death, however, Quebec had commenced to develop. On the Beauport coast might be seen the residences of many of the settlers who arrived from the province of Perche in 1634. On the shores of the river Lairet, the Jesuits had built a convent, where the young Indians received instruction; and agriculture had received some attention. Robert Giffard had established a colony at Beauport which formed the nucleus of a population in this section of the country. Near Fort St. Louis the steeple of Notre Dame de la Recouvrance gave witness that Champlain had fulfilled his promise to build a church at Quebec if the country was restored to her ancient masters.

The colony was now entering upon an era of prosperity, and that harmony and happiness which Champlain had longed for in his life, and which occupied his thoughts even in death, were destined to be realized.




Samuel Champlain, the issue of the marriage of Antoine Champlain and Marguerite Le Roy, was born at Brouage, now Hiers Brouage, a small village in the province of Saintonge, France, in the year 1570, or according to the Biographie Saintongeoise in 1567. His parents belonged to the Catholic religion, as their first names would seem to indicate.

When quite young Samuel Champlain was entrusted to the care of the parish priest, who imparted to him the elements of education and instilled his mind with religious principles. His youth appears to have glided quietly away, spent for the most part with his family, and in assisting his father, who was a mariner, in his wanderings upon the sea. The knowledge thus obtained was of great service to him, for after a while he became not only conversant with the life of a mariner, but also with the science of geography and of astronomy. When Samuel Champlain was about twenty years of age, he tendered his services to Marshal d'Aumont, one of the chief commanders of the Catholic army in its expedition against the Huguenots.

When the League had done its work and the army was disbanded in 1598, Champlain returned to Brouage, and sought a favourable opportunity to advance his fortune in a manner more agreeable, if possible, to his tastes, and more compatible with his abilities. In the meantime Champlain did not remain idle, for he resolved to find the means of making a voyage to Spain in order "to acquire and cultivate acquaintance, and make a true report to His Majesty (Henry IV) of the particularities which could not be known to any Frenchmen, for the reason that they have not free access there." He left Blavet at the beginning of the month of August, and ten days after he arrived near Cape Finisterre. Having remained for six days at the Isle of Bayona, in Galicia, he proceeded towards San Lucar de Barameda, which is at the mouth of the river Seville, where he remained for three months. During this time he went to Seville and made surveys of the place. While Champlain was at Seville, a patache, or advice boat, arrived from Porto Rico bearing a communication addressed to the king of Spain, informing him that a portion of the English army had put out to sea with the intention of attacking Porto Rico.

The king fitted out twenty ships to oppose the English, one of which, the Saint Julien, was commanded by Provencal, Champlain's uncle. Champlain proposed to join the expedition under his uncle, but Provencal was ordered elsewhere, and General Soubriago offered the command of the Saint Julien to Champlain, which he gladly accepted.

The armada set sail in the beginning of January, 1599, and within six days, favoured by a fresh breeze, the vessels sighted the Canary Islands. Two months and six days later the armada drew near to the island called La Desirade, which is the first island approached in this passage to the Indies. The ships anchored for the first time at Nacou, which is one of the finest ports of the Guadeloupe. After having passed Marguerite Island and the Virgins, Champlain proceeded to San Juan de Porto Rico,[1] where he found that both the town and the castle or fortress had been abandoned, and that the merchants had either made their escape or had been taken prisoners. The English army had left the town and had taken the Spanish governor with them, as he had surrendered on the condition that his life should be spared.

On leaving Porto Rico the general divided the galleons into three squadrons, and retained four vessels under his own command. Three were sent to Porto Bello, and three, including Champlain's vessel, to New Spain. Champlain arrived at Saint Jean de Luz eight days afterwards, although the place is fully four hundred leagues from Porto Rico. This fortress bore the name of San Juan d'Ulloa. Fifteen days afterwards we find Champlain setting sail for Mexico, situated at a distance of over one hundred leagues from San Juan.

Champlain was evidently very much interested in this country, and his description is that of an enthusiast: "It is impossible to see or desire a more beautiful country than this kingdom of New Spain, which is three hundred leagues in length, and two hundred in breadth.... The whole of this country is ornamented with very fine rivers and streams ... the land is very fertile, producing corn twice in the year ... the trees are never devoid of fruit and are always green." The voyage to Mexico occupied a month, and Champlain gave an animated description of the city of Mexico, of its superb palaces, temples, houses and buildings, and well laid streets, as well as of the surrounding country.

After leaving Mexico, Champlain returned to San Juan de Luz, and from there sailed in a patache to Porto Bello, "the most pitiful and evil residence in the world." The harbour, however, was good, and well fortified. From Porto Bello to Panama, which is on the sea, the distance is only seventeen leagues, and it is interesting to read Champlain's description:—

"One may judge that if the four leagues of land which there are from Panama to this river were cut through, one might pass from the South Sea to the ocean on the other side, and thus shorten the route by more than fifteen hundred leagues; and from Panama to the Straits of Magellan would be an island, and from Panama to the New-found-lands would be another island, so that the whole of America would be in two islands."

It is thus seen that the idea of connecting the Atlantic ocean with the Pacific by cutting through the Isthmus of Panama is not a modern one, as it was promulgated by Champlain over three hundred years ago.

At this time Spain was in great need of a good transportation service at the isthmus. The treasures of Peru were sent to Europe by the Panama route to Porto Bello, from where the ships sailed to the old continent. The route between the Pacific coast and the Gulf of Mexico was exceedingly bad. Sometimes the merchants forwarded European goods to Panama, having them transported to Chagres. Here they were landed in boats and conveyed to Cruces. From Cruces to Panama mules were employed for the remainder of the journey. It was, however, the route taken by travellers visiting Peru, Chili, New Granada, Venezuela, and other Spanish possessions on the Pacific coast. The most regular connection between the two oceans was from Fort Acapulco to Vera Cruz, through Mexico. If Spain had adopted a better line of communication with her western territories in the New World she might have derived vast treasure from that source. In the year 1551 Lopez de Gomara, the author of a "History of Indies," a work written with care and displaying considerable erudition, proposed to unite the two oceans by means of canals at three different points, Chagres, Nicaragua and Tehuantepec. Gomara's proposals were not acted upon, and the honour of carrying out the project was reserved for France. Ferdinand de Lesseps, who succeeded in connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea, was the man who, after the lapse of centuries, seriously interested his fellow-countrymen in boring the Isthmus of Panama.

Champlain returned to San Juan de Luz, where he remained for fifteen days, and he then proceeded to Havana, the rendezvous of the army and of the fleet. Eighteen days later he embarked in a vessel bound for Cartagena, where there was a good port, sheltered from all winds. Upon his return to Havana Champlain met his general and spent four months in collecting valuable information relating to the interesting island of Cuba. From Havana he proceeded past the Bahama channel, approached Bermuda Island, Terceira, one of the Azores, and sighted Cape St. Vincent, where he captured two armed English vessels, which were taken to Seville.

Champlain returned to France in March, 1601, having been absent on his first voyage for a period of two years and two months, during which time he collected much valuable information. He also published a small volume containing plans, maps and engravings, fairly well executed for the time, and now exceedingly scarce. The manuscript of this volume is still preserved; it covers one hundred and fifteen pages with sixty-two drawings, coloured and surrounded with blue and yellow lines. It appears to have been written between the years 1601 and 1603.[2]

The first voyage of Champlain across the Atlantic, though important from a military standpoint, did not suffice to satisfy the ambition of a man whose thoughts were bent upon discovery and colonization. Champlain was a navigator by instinct, and in his writings he gave to nautical science the first place.

"Of all the most useful and excellent arts," he writes, "that of navigation has always seemed to me to occupy the first place. For the more hazardous it is, the greater the perils and losses by which it is attended, so much the more is it esteemed and exalted above all others, being wholly unsuited to the timid and irresolute. By this art we obtain a knowledge of different countries, regions and realms. By it we attract and bring to our own land all kinds of riches; by it the idolatry of Paganism is overthrown and Christianity proclaimed throughout all the regions of the earth. This is the art which won my love in my early years and induced me to expose myself almost all my life to the impetuous waves of the ocean, and led me to explore the coasts of a portion of America, especially those of New France, where I have always desired to see the lily flourish, together with the only religion, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman."

After his return to France in the year 1601, Champlain received a pension, together with the appointment of geographer to the king. Pierre de Chauvin, Sieur de Tontuit, who had unsuccessfully endeavoured to establish a settlement at Tadousac, died at this time, while Champlain was residing in Paris. Here he had the good fortune to meet Aymar de Chastes, governor of the town and chateau of Dieppe, under whose orders he had served during the latter years of the war with the League.

De Chastes, who had resolved to undertake the colonization of Canada, obtained a commission from the king, and formed a company, composed of several gentlemen and the principal merchants of Rouen. Francois Grave, Sieur du Pont, who had already accompanied Chauvin to Tadousac, was chosen to return there and to examine the Sault St. Louis and the country beyond.

"Going from time to time to see the Sieur de Chastes," writes Champlain, "judging that I might serve him in his design, he did me the honour to communicate something of it to me, and asked me if it would be agreeable to me to make the voyage, to examine the country, and to see what those engaged in the undertaking should do. I told him that I was very much his servant, but that I could not give myself license to undertake the voyage without the commands of the king, to whom I was bound, as well by birth as by the pension with which His Majesty honoured me to enable me to maintain myself near his person, but that, if it should please him to speak to the king about it, and give me his commands, that it should be very agreeable to me, which he promised and did, and received the king's orders for me to make the voyage and make a faithful report thereof; and for that purpose M. de Gesvres, secretary of his commandments, sent me with a letter to the said Du Pont-Grave, desiring him to take me in his ship and enable me to see and examine what could be done in the country, giving me every possible assistance."

"Me voila expedie," says Champlain, "I leave Paris and take passage on Pont-Grave's ship in the year 1603, the 15th of the month of March." The voyage was favourable for the first fifteen days, but on the 30th a heavy storm arose, "more thunder than wind," which lasted until April 16th. On May 6th the vessel approached Newfoundland, and arrived at Tadousac[3] on the 24th. Here they met with about one hundred Indians, under the command of Anadabijou, who were rejoicing on account of their recent victory over the Iroquois. The chief made a long harangue, speaking slowly. He congratulated himself upon his friendship with the French nation, and stated that he was happy to learn that the king was anxious to send some of his subjects to reside in the country and to assist them in their wars. Champlain was also informed that the Etchemins, the Algonquins, and the Montagnais, to the number of about one thousand, had lately been engaged in warfare with the Iroquois, whom they had vanquished with the loss of one hundred men.

On June 9th following, Champlain witnessed the spectacle of a grand feast given by the Indians in commemoration of their victory. The celebration consisted of dances, songs, speeches and games. Tessoueat, the sagamo of the Ottawas, was the chief captain, and took a prominent part in the demonstration.

After a long description of these public festivities, Champlain gives ample details of the manners and customs of the Indians, especially of their superstitions. The Indians believed that a God existed who was the creator of all things, but they had a curious manner of explaining the creation of man. "When God had made everything," they said, "He took a quantity of arrows and fixed them in the earth, whence came men and women, who have increased ever since." The sagamo said they believed in the existence of a God, a son, a mother and a sun; that God was the greatest of the four; that the son and the sun were both good; that the mother was a lesser person, and so was the father, who was less bad.

The Indians were convinced that their deity had held communication with their ancestors. One day five Indians ran towards the setting sun where they met God, who asked them, "Where are you going?" "We are going to seek our life," they replied. Then God said, "You will find it here." But they did not hear the divine word, and went away. Then God took a stone and touched two of them, and they were immediately turned into stones. Addressing the three other Indians, God asked the same question, "Where are you going?" and He was given the same answer. "Do not go further," said the divine voice, "you will find your life here." Seeing nothing, however, they continued their journey. Then God took two sticks and touched two of them, and they were at once turned into sticks. The fifth Indian, however, paused, and God gave him some meat, which he ate, and he afterwards returned to his countrymen.

These Indian tribes had their jugglers, whom they called pilotois, from the Basques, or autmoins, which means a magician. These jugglers exercised great sway over the Indians, who would not hesitate to kill a Frenchman if the jugglers decided that it was necessary.

In spite of their superstitions Champlain believed that it would be an easy task to convert the Indians to Christianity, especially if the French resided near them. This desirable end was not to be attained without great difficulty, as Champlain soon realized, for the missionaries toiled for many years before their efforts were crowned with success.

Champlain now proceeded to explore the river Saguenay for a distance of twelve to fifteen leagues, and he thus describes the scenery:—

"All the land I have seen is composed of rocks, covered with fir woods, cypress, birch, very unpleasing land, where I could not find a league of plain land on each side." He also learned from the Indians of the existence of Lake St. John, and of a salt sea flowing towards the north. It was evidently Hudson Bay to which these northern tribes directed Champlain's attention, and if they had not seen it themselves they had probably heard of its existence from the Indians dwelling around the southern or south-western shores of the bay, who came annually to Nemiscau Lake to trade their furs. This lake was half way between Hudson Bay and the river St. Lawrence. The Kilistinons and other Indians of the north had regular communication with their congeneres scattered along the shores of the St. Maurice and the several rivers which flow into Lake St. John.

When the French arrived in Canada with Chauvin, in the year 1600, they began to monopolize the fur trade of all the Indian nations, but some years later the English established themselves on the shores of Hudson Bay, and prosecuted the trade for their own benefit.

Champlain could not, evidently, have been in possession of any exact information as to the existence of this large bay, as he was searching for a northern passage to Cathay, the great desideratum of all the navigators and explorers of the time.

After having promised to aid the various tribes gathered at Tadousac in their wars, Champlain and Pont-Grave proceeded to Sault St. Louis. This expedition lasted fifteen days, during which they saw Hare Island, so named by Jacques Cartier, and the Island of Orleans. The ship anchored at Quebec where Champlain stopped to make a short description of the country watered by the St. Lawrence, and they then proceeded to Sault St. Louis. Here Champlain gathered much valuable information relating to lakes Ontario and Erie, the Detroit River, Niagara Falls, and the rapids of the St. Lawrence. Returning to Tadousac, he determined to explore Gaspesia, and proceeded to visit Perce and Mal Bay, where he met Indians at every turn. He also was informed by Prevert, from St. Malo, who was exploring the country, of the existence of a copper mine.

Champlain carefully noted all the information he had received, and after his return to Tadousac he sailed again for France on August 16th, 1603, and reached Havre de Grace, after a passage of twenty-one days. On his arrival in France, he heard that Aymar de Chastes had died a few weeks previously, on August 13th. This was a great loss to Canada, and especially to Champlain, for he was convinced that the noble and enterprising de Chastes was seriously disposed to colonize New France. "In this enterprise," he says, "I cannot find a single fault, because it has been well inaugurated." With the death of de Chastes, the project of colonizing would undoubtedly have fallen through had not Champlain been present to promote another movement in this direction. Champlain had an interview with the king, and presented him with a map of the country which he had visited, and placed in his hands a relation of his voyage.[4] Henry IV was so favourably impressed that he promised to assist Champlain in his patriotic designs.


[1] This island is only forty leagues in length and twenty in breadth, and belonged to the Spanish from the date of its discovery by Ponce de Leon in 1509, to 1598. When Champlain visited the island it had been taken by George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland. During the same year Sir John Berkeley commanded, but being unable to remain there, he deserted the place, and joined Clifford near the Azores, when both went to England, having lost about seven hundred men during their expedition.

[2] This volume is entitled Brief Discours des choses plus remarquables que Samuel Champlain de Brouage A reconneues aux Indes Occidentalles Au voiage qu'il en a faict en icelles en l'annee VeIIIJ. XXIX, et en l'annee VIeJ, comme ensuit.

This manuscript was discovered by M. Feret, antiquarian, poet and librarian, of Dieppe. The Hakluyt Society had it translated in 1859, and published at London. In 1870 the Reverend Laverdiere, librarian of the Laval University, of Quebec, had it printed in French, with the designs, coloured for the most part, with the complete works of Champlain. This manuscript is supposed to have been preserved by a collateral descendant of Aymar de Chastes.

[3] Tadousac means breast, and is derived from the Montagnais Totouchac. Father Jerome Lalemant says that the Indians called the place Sadilege.

[4] This volume is entitled Des Sauvages ou Voyage de Samuel Champlain de Brouage, fait en la Nouvelle France, l'an mil six cent trois ... A Paris ... 1604.

Extremely rare. The original of the first edition is kept at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris; this is the only copy known.

This volume contains a dedication to Charles de Montmorency, admiral of France, a letter in verse from the Sieur de la Franchise, and an extract from the Privilege du Roi, dated November 15th, 1603, signed by Brigard.

The second edition does not differ much from the preceding, and its title bears the date 1604. Purchas's Pilgrims contains an English version of this last edition. We find a synopsis of it in the Mercure Francois, 1609, in the preface to the former called Chronologie Septennaire de l'Histoire de la paix entre les rois de France et d'Espagne, 1598-1608. This historical part has been borrowed by Victor Palma Cayet for Champlain's Voyage, and its title is: Navigation des Francais en la Nouvelle France dite Canada.



Soon after the period mentioned at the close of the previous chapter, Pierre du Gua, Sieur de Monts, Governor of Pont, a native of the ancient province of Saintonge, who had served under Henry IV, obtained a commission as "Lieutenant general au pays de Cadie, du 40 deg. au 46 deg.," on the condition that his energies should be especially directed to the propagation of the Catholic faith.

De Monts was a Huguenot; nevertheless he agreed to take with him to America a number of Catholic priests, and to see that they were respected and obeyed. Champlain was not satisfied with the choice of a Protestant to colonize a country which he had intended to make solely Catholic, and he states, "that those enterprises made hastily never succeed."

De Monts was not a stranger to America. He had first visited the country with Chauvin in 1600, but when he left Tadousac he was so discouraged that he determined, in the event of his becoming master of the situation, to attempt colonization only in Acadia, or on the eastern borders of the Atlantic running towards Florida.

It was well known in France that Acadia was the richest and most fertile part of the New World. Excellent harbours and good soil were found there. Fish abounded near its coasts; its forests were numerous and dense. An opinion existed that there were numerous mines, rich in copper, coal and gypsum. This country was also the favourite of the Normans, Britons and Basques, who for a hundred years had pursued their callings as fishermen or traders without interruption.

De Monts, however, was unable to bear the expense of this undertaking alone, and he consequently formed a company, composed of merchants of Rouen, La Rochelle and other towns. To further the enterprise Henry IV diminished the duty on merchandises exported from Acadia and Canada, and granted to the company the exclusive privilege of fur trading for a period of ten years, "from Cape de Raze to the 40 deg., comprising all the Acadian coast, Cape Breton, Baie des Chaleurs, Perce Island, Gaspe, Chisedec, Miramichi, Tadousac and Canada River, from either side, and all the bays and rivers which flow within these shores."

Acadia of that day was not confined to the peninsula of our own time, called Nova Scotia. It included that part of the continent which extends from the river St. John to the Penobscot. These boundaries were the cause of long quarrels and fierce and bloody wars between England and France until they were finally settled by the Treaty of Utrecht. In the early part of April, 1604, the king's proclamation confining the fur trade to de Monts and his associates was published in every harbour of France. Four ships were lying at anchor at Havre de Grace, ready to sail, and one hundred and twenty passages had been secured in two of the ships. Pont-Grave commanded one of the vessels of one hundred and twenty tons burthen, and another vessel of one hundred and fifty tons was under the charge of de Monts, who had taken on board Jean de Biencourt, Sieur de Poutrincourt, a gentleman of Picardy, Samuel Champlain, some Catholic priests and some Protestant ministers. Poutrincourt was going to America with the intention of residing there with his family. He was a good Catholic and a loyal subject. Champlain was attached to de Monts' expedition as geographer and historian.

The rendezvous had been fixed at Canseau, but de Monts proceeded directly to Port au Mouton on the Acadian coast, where he decided to await the arrival of Pont-Grave. In the meantime Champlain explored the country from Port au Mouton to Port Sainte Marguerite, now called St. Mary's Bay. This occupied a whole month. He also named Cape Negre, Cape Fourchu and Long Island. Champlain reported to de Monts that St. Mary's Bay was a suitable place to establish a settlement, and, following this advice, the lieutenant-general proceeded with Champlain to this bay, and further explored the Bay of Fundy, or French Bay. They soon perceived the entrance to another splendid port, which is now known as Annapolis Bay, or Port Royal.

Notwithstanding the authority of Lescarbot, Champlain was the first to give this place the name of Port Royal, for he says himself, "I have named this harbour Port Royal." When de Monts named the place La Baie Francaise, Champlain did not hesitate to give to his chief the merit which he deserved.

Three rivers flow into this splendid harbour: the Riviere de l'Equille, so called from a little fish of the size of our eperlan or lancon, which is found there in large quantities; the river named St. Antoine by Champlain, and a stream called de la Roche by Champlain, and de l'Orignac by Lescarbot.

After having explored the harbour, Champlain traversed La Baie Francaise to see whether he could discover the copper mine mentioned by Prevert of St. Malo, and he soon arrived at a place which he named the Cape of Two Bays, or Chignecto, and perceived the High Islands, where a copper mine was found.

On May 20th an expedition started from the Port of Mines, in search of a place suitable for a permanent settlement. Proceeding towards the south-west they stopped at the entrance of a large river, which was named St. John, as it was on St. John's day that they arrived there. The savages called the river Ouigoudi. "This river is dangerous," writes Champlain, "if one does not observe carefully certain points and rocks on the two sides. It is so narrow at its entrance and then becomes broader. A certain point being passed it becomes narrower again, and forms a kind of fall between two large cliffs, where the water runs so rapidly that a piece of wood thrown in is drawn under and not seen again. But by waiting till high tide you can pass this fall very easily. Then it expands again to the extent of about a league in some places where there are three islands."

Champlain did not explore the river further, but he ascertained a few days later that the Indians used the river in their journeys to Tadousac, making but a short portage on the way.

As preparations had shortly to be made for winter quarters, de Monts decided to proceed southwards, and the party at length came to a number of islands at the entrance of the river Ste. Croix, or Des Etchemins. One of these islands was chosen for their establishment, and named Ste. Croix, "because," says Lescarbot, "they perceived two leagues above this island two streams flowing into the channel of the river, presenting the appearance of a cross." De Monts at once commenced to fortify the place by forming a barricade on a little inlet, which served as a station on which he set up a cannon; it was situated halfway between the mainland and the island of Ste. Croix. Some days afterwards all the French who were waiting in St. Mary's Bay disembarked on the island. They were all eager and willing to work, and commenced to render the place habitable. They erected a storehouse and a residence for de Monts, and built an oven and a hand-mill for grinding wheat. Some gardens were also laid out, and various kinds of seeds were sown, which flourished well on the mainland, though not on the island, which was too sandy.

De Monts was anxious to ascertain the location of a mine of pure copper which had been spoken of, and accordingly he despatched Champlain, with a savage named Messamouet, who asserted that he could find the place. At about eight leagues from the island, near the river St. John, they found a mine of copper, which, however, was not pure, though fairly good. According to the report of the miner, it would yield about eighteen per cent. Lescarbot says that amidst the rocks, diamonds and some blue and clear stones could be found as precious as turquoises. Champdore, one of the carpenters, took one of these stones to France, and had it divided into many fragments and mounted by an artist. De Monts and Poutrincourt, to whom they were presented, considered these gems so valuable that they offered them to the king. A goldsmith offered Poutrincourt fifteen crown pieces for one of them.

Agriculture did not flourish on the island of Ste. Croix, which is about half a league in circumference. The rays of the sun parched the sand so that the gardens were entirely unproductive, and there was a complete dearth of water. At the commencement there was a fair quantity of wood, but when the buildings were finished there was scarcely any left; the inhabitants, consequently, nearly perished from cold in the winter. All the liquor, wine and beer became frozen, and as there was no water the people were compelled to drink melted snow. A malignant epidemic of scurvy broke out, and of seventy-nine persons thirty-five died from the disease and more than twenty were at the point of death.

This disease proved one of the obstacles to rapid colonization in New France. It was epidemic, contagious and often fatal. It is a somewhat remarkable fact that the epidemic was prevalent amongst the French only when they were established on the soil, being rarely discovered on ship-board. Jacques Cartier had experienced the horrors of this disease in the winter of 1535-6, when out of his one hundred and ten men twenty-five died, and only three or four remained altogether free from attack. During the year 1542-3, Roberval saw fifty persons dying of the disease at Charlesbourg Royal. At Ste. Croix the proportion of deaths was still greater, thirty-five out of seventy-nine. There was a physician attached to de Monts' party, but he did not understand the disease, and therefore could not satisfactorily prescribe for it. De Monts also consulted many physicians in Paris, but he did not receive answers that were of much service to him.

At the commencement of the seventeenth century scientific men distinguished scurvy on land from scurvy on sea. They laboured under the false impression that the one differed from the other. Champlain called the disease mal de terre. It is certain, however, that the symptoms did not vary in either case, as we may ascertain from the descriptions furnished by Jacques Cartier and Champlain.

The position of the settlement was soon proved to be untenable, and de Monts was certainly to blame for this unhappy state of affairs. Why did he abandon Port Royal, where he had found abundant water? Champlain, however, defends the action of his chief.

"It would be very difficult," he says, "to ascertain the character of this region without spending a winter in it, for, on arriving here in summer, everything is very agreeable in consequence of the woods, fine country, and the many varieties of good fish which are found." We must not forget, however, that the climate of this island differed very little from that of Tadousac, which had greatly disappointed de Monts, and that his sole object in settling in a more southern latitude was to avoid the disagreeable consequences of the climate.

Champlain made a plan of the island of Ste. Croix, indicating the buildings constructed for the habitation of the settlers. We observe many isolated tenements forming a large square. On one side was the residence of Champlain, of Champdore and d'Orville, with a large garden opposite. Near d'Orville's residence was a small building set apart for the missionaries. On the other side may be seen the storehouse, de Monts' dwelling, a public hall where the people spent their leisure, and a building for Boulay and the workmen. In an angle of the large square were the residences of Genestou, Sourin, de Beaumont, La Motte, Bourioli and Fougeray. A small fort is shown at one end of the island, approached by a pathway. The chapel of the priest Aubry was located near the cannon of the fort. Such was the plan of the first Acadian settlement. Much expense had been incurred for a very poor result.

De Monts was the directing spirit of the colony, and in spite of his noble attempts, he realized that his efforts were fruitless and that he would have to try another place for a permanent settlement. By the direction of his chief, Champlain accordingly undertook to explore the seacoast of Norembega.

De Monts has found a defender in Moreau, who held that Ste. Croix was only intended for winter quarters. If this had been his intention, we can scarcely believe that he would have incurred so great an expense in building a number of houses. Lescarbot, whose testimony is most valuable, says: "When we go into a country to take possession of land we don't stop on islands to imprison ourselves. If that island had been supplied with rivers or streams, if the soil had been favourable to agriculture, it would have been half wrong." But this island lacked the very first element essential to life, fresh water.

Towards the middle of May, 1605, every one's attention was directed towards France, as the ships which had been expected for over a month had not yet arrived. De Monts then determined to send his party to Gaspe in two large boats to join Pont-Grave. At this juncture, however, Pont-Grave arrived at Ste. Croix with his crew, comprising forty men.

De Monts and Pont-Grave held a consultation and decided to seek a more suitable place for a settlement, rather than to return to France. De Monts was still under the impression that the best plan was to attempt to settle in the vicinity of Florida, although the result of Champlain's exploration along the coast of the Norembega[5] was considered unsatisfactory.

Let us now examine what Champlain had accomplished during the month of September, 1604.

He left Ste. Croix on September 5th, in a patache, with twelve sailors and two savages as guides. On the first day he covered twenty-five leagues and discovered many islands, reefs and rocks. To another island, four or five leagues in length, he gave the name of Ile des Monts Deserts[6], which name has been preserved. On the following day Champlain met some hunting Indians of the Etchemin tribe, proceeding from the Pentagouet River to the Mount Desert Islands. "I think this river," says Champlain, "is that which several pilots and historians call Norembegue, and which most have described as large and extensive, with very many islands, its mouth being in latitude 43 deg., 43', 30''.... It is related also that there is a large, thickly-settled town of savages, who are adroit and skilful, and who have cotton yards. I am confident that most of those who mention it have not seen it, and speak of it because they have heard persons say so, who know no more about it than they themselves.... But that any one has ever entered it there is no evidence, for then they would have described it in another manner, in order to relieve the minds of many of this doubt."

Champlain's description is written from personal knowledge, because he had seen the Pentagouet River.[7] The country which it passes through is agreeable, but there was no town or village, and no appearance of either, with the exception of a few deserted cabins of the Souriquois or Micmacs.

Here Champlain met two Souriquois chiefs, Bessabe and Cabahis, and succeeded in making them understand that he had been sent by de Monts to visit their country, and to assure them of the friendship of the French for the Souriquois. Champlain continued his journey southwards, and two days later he again met Cabahis, of whom he asked particulars as to the course of the river Norembegue. The chief replied "that they had already passed the fall, which is situated at about twenty leagues from the mouth of the river Penobscot. Here it widens into a lake, by way of which the Indians pass to the river Ste. Croix, by going some distance overland and then entering the river Etchemin. Another river also enters the lake, along which they proceed for some days until they gain another lake and pass through it. Reaching the end of it they again make a land journey of some distance until they reach another small river, the mouth of which is within a league of Quebec." This little river is the Chaudiere, which the Indians follow to reach Quebec. On September 20th Champlain observed the mountains of Bedabedec, and after having proceeded for ten or twelve leagues further he decided to return to Ste. Croix and wait until the following year to continue his explorations. His opinion was that the region he had explored was quite as unfavourable for a settlement as Ste. Croix.

On June 18th, 1605, de Monts, at the head of an expedition consisting of Champlain, some gentlemen, twelve sailors and an Indian guide named Panonias and his wife, set out from the island of Ste. Croix to explore the country of the Armouchiquois, and reached the Pentagouet River in twelve days. On July 20th they made about twenty leagues between Bedabedec Point and the Kennebec River, at the mouth of which is an island which they named La Tortue.

Continuing their journey towards the south they observed some large mountains, the abode of an Indian chief named Aneda. "I was satisfied from the name," says Champlain, "that he was one of his tribe that had discovered the plant called aneda, which Jacques Cartier said was so powerful against the malady called scurvy, which harassed his company as well as our own when they wintered in Canada. The savages have no knowledge at all of this plant, and are not aware of its existence, although the above mentioned savage has the same name." This supposition was unfounded, because if this Indian had been of the same origin as the aborigines who acquainted Jacques Cartier with the virtue of the aneda plant in cases of scurvy, he would have understood the meaning of the word. Aneda is the Iroquois word for the spruce tree, but there is no evidence to prove that Champlain was ever aware that it was a specific. Had he known of its efficacy he would have certainly employed it.

At Chouacouet de Monts and Champlain received visits from many Indians, differing entirely from either the Etchemins or the Armouchiquois. They found the soil tilled and cultivated, and the corn in the gardens was about two feet in height. Beans, pumpkins and squash were also in flower. The place was very pleasant and agreeable at the time, but Champlain believed the weather was very severe in the winter.

The party proceeded still further south, in sight of the Cap aux Iles (Cape Porpoise), and on July 17th, 1605, they came to anchor at Cape St. Louis,[8] where an Indian chief named Honabetha paid them a visit. To a small river which they found in the vicinity they gave the name of Gua, in honour of de Monts. The expedition passed the night of the 18th in a small bay called Cape St. Louis. On the 19th they observed the cape of a large bay, which they distinguished by the title of Ste. Suzanne du Cap Blanc, and on July 20th they entered a spacious harbour, which proved to be very dangerous on account of shoals and banks; they therefore named it Mallebarre.

Five weeks had now elapsed since the expedition had left Ste. Croix, and no incident of importance had occurred. They had met many tribes of Indians, and on each occasion their intercourse was harmonious. It is true that they had not traversed more than three degrees of latitude, but, although their progress was slow, their time was well spent. De Monts was satisfied that it would be easier to colonize Acadia than this American coast, and Champlain was still convinced that Port Royal was the most favourable spot, unless de Monts preferred Quebec.

The expedition returned to Ste. Croix in nine days, arriving there on August 3rd. Here they found a vessel from France, under the command of Captain des Antons, laden with provisions, and many things suitable for winter use. There was now a chance of saving the settlers, although their position was not enviable.

De Monts was determined to try the climate of Port Royal, and to endeavour to establish a settlement there. Two barques were fitted out and laden with the frame work of the buildings at Ste. Croix. Champlain and Pont-Grave had set out before to select a favourable site around the bay, well sheltered from the north-west wind. They chose a place opposite an island at the mouth of the river de l'Equille, as being the most suitable. Every one was soon busily engaged in clearing the ground and in erecting houses. The plan of the settlement, says Champlain, was ten fathoms long and eight fathoms wide, making the distance around thirty-six fathoms. On the eastern side was a storehouse occupying the width of it, with a very fine cellar, from five to six feet deep. On the northern side were the quarters of Sieur de Monts, comfortably finished. In the backyard were the dwellings of the workmen. At the corner of the western side was a platform, upon which four cannon were placed, and at the eastern corner a palisade was constructed in the shape of a platform. There was nothing pretentious or elegant about these buildings, but they were solid and useful.

The installation of the new settlement being now complete, de Monts returned to France, leaving Pont-Grave in command. During the absence of de Monts, Champlain determined to pursue his discoveries along the American coast, and in this design he was favoured by de Monts, as the latter had not altogether abandoned his idea of settling in Florida. The season, however, was too far advanced, and Champlain therefore stopped at the river St. John to meet Schoudon, with whom he agreed to set out in search of the famous copper mine. They were accompanied by a miner named Jacques, and a Slavonian very skilful in discovering minerals. He found some pieces of copper and what appeared to be a mine, but it was too difficult to work. Champlain accordingly returned to Port Royal, where several of the men were suffering from scurvy. Out of forty-five, twelve died during the winter. The surgeon from Honfleur, named Deschamps, performed an autopsy on some of the bodies, and found them affected in the same manner as those who had died at Ste. Croix. Snow did not fall until December 20th, and the winter was not so severe as the previous one.

On March 16th, 1606, Champlain resumed his explorations, and travelled eighteen leagues on that day. He anchored at an island to the south of Manan. During the night his barque ran ashore and sustained injuries which it required four days to repair. Champlain then proceeded to Port aux Coquilles, seven or eight leagues distant, where he remained until the twenty-ninth. Pont-Grave, however, desired him to return to Port Royal, being anxious to obtain news of his companions whom he had left sick. Owing to indisposition, Champlain was obliged to delay his departure until April 8th.

Champlain and Pont-Grave intended to return to France during the summer of 1606. Seeing that the vessels promised by de Monts had not arrived, they set out from Port Royal to Cape Breton or Gaspe, in search of a vessel to cross the Atlantic, but when they were approaching Canseau, they met Ralleau, the secretary of de Monts, who informed them that a vessel had been despatched under the command of Poutrincourt, with fifty settlers for the country. They, therefore, returned to Port Royal, where they found Poutrincourt, who as lieutenant-general of de Monts intended to remain at Port Royal during the year.

On September 5th, Champlain left Port Royal on a voyage of discovery. Poutrincourt joined the expedition, and they took with them a physician, the carpenter Champdore, and Robert Grave, the son of Francois. This last voyage, undertaken to please de Monts, did not result in anything remarkable. They first paid a visit to Ste. Croix, where everything remained unchanged, although the gardens were flourishing. From Ste. Croix the expedition drifted southwards, and Champlain pointed out the same bays, harbours, capes and mountains that he had observed before. Schoudon, chief of the Etchemins, and Messamouet, captain of the Micmacs, joined the party, and proceeded with them as far as Chouacouet, where they intended to form an alliance with Olmechin and Marchim, two Indian chiefs of this country.

On October 2nd, 1606, the expedition reached Mallebarre, and for a few days they anchored in a bay near Cape Batturier, which they named Port Fortune (Chatham). Five or six hundred savages were found at this place. "It would be an excellent place," says Champlain, "to erect buildings, and lay the foundation of a state, if the harbour was somewhat deeper and the entrance safer." Poutrincourt stopped here for some days, and in the meantime visited all the surrounding country, from which he returned much pleased.

According to a custom peculiar to the French since the days of Jacques Cartier, de Monts had planted a large cross at the entrance of the Kennebec River, and also at Mallebarre. Poutrincourt did the same at Port Fortune. The Indians seemed annoyed at this ceremony, which they evidently considered as an encroachment upon their rights as proprietors. They exhibited symptoms of discontent, and during the night they killed four Frenchmen who had imprudently stayed ashore. They were buried near the cross. This the Indians immediately threw down, but Poutrincourt ordered it to be restored to its former position.

On three different occasions the party attempted to pursue their discoveries southwards, but they were prevented each time by a contrary wind. They therefore resolved to return to Port Royal, which was rendered imperative both by the approach of winter and the scarcity of provisions. The result of the voyage was not altogether satisfactory. Champlain had perhaps held a degree further south than on the former occasion, but he had not discovered anything of importance.

On their return to Port Royal, the voyagers were received with great ceremony. Lescarbot, a Parisian lawyer, who had arrived some time before, and some other Frenchmen, went to meet them and conducted them to the fort, which had been decorated with evergreens and inscriptions. On the principal door they had placed the arms of France, surrounded with laurel crowns, and the king's motto: Duo protegit unus. Beneath the arms of de Monts was placed this inscription: Dabit Deus his quoque finem. The arms of Poutrincourt were wreathed with crowns of leaves, with his motto: In via virtuti nulla est via. Lescarbot had composed a short drama for the occasion, entitled, Le Theatre de Neptune.

The winter of 1606-07 was not very severe. The settlers lived happily in spite of the scurvy, from which some of them died. Hunting afforded them the means of providing a great variety of dishes, such as geese, ducks, bears, beavers, partridges, reindeer, bustards, etc. They also organized a society devoted to good cheer called, Ordre du Bon Temps, the by-laws of which were definite, and were fixed by Champlain himself. The Indians of the vicinity who were friendly towards the French colony were in need of food, so that each day loaves of bread were distributed amongst them. Their sagamo, named Membertou, was admitted as a guest to the table of Poutrincourt. This famous Souriquois, who was very old at that time—probably a hundred years, though he had not a single white hair—pretended to have known Jacques Cartier at the time of his first voyage, and claimed that in 1534 he was married, and the father of a young family.

Lescarbot, who was an able man and a good historian, records the particulars above related, besides many other interesting facts concerning Port Royal which appear to have escaped Champlain's observation. Lescarbot was an active spirit in the life of the first French colony in Acadia. He encouraged his companions to cultivate their land, and he worked himself in the gardens, sowing wheat, oats, beans, pease, and herbs, which he tended with care. He was also liked by the Indians, and he would have rejoiced to see them converted to Christianity. Lescarbot was a poet and a preacher, and had also a good knowledge of the arts and of medicine. Charlevoix says: "He daily invented something new for the public good. And there was never a stronger proof of what a new settlement might derive from a mind cultivated by study, and induced by patriotism to use its knowledge and reflections. We are indebted to this advocate for the best memoirs of what passed before his eyes, and for a history of French Florida. We then behold an exact and judicious writer, a man with views of his own, and who would have been as capable of founding a colony as of writing its history."

With the departure of Lescarbot and Champlain the best page of the history of Port Royal is closed. The two men left on September 2nd, 1607, on board the Jonas, commanded by Nicholas Martin. They stopped at Roscoff in Basse-Bretagne, and the vessel arrived at Havre de Grace in the early days of October.

Poutrincourt, his son Biencourt, and Lescarbot made a pilgrimage to Mont St. Michel, and Champlain went to Brouage, his native country, having sojourned in America for three years and five months.


[5] Norembega was the name applied at that time to a vast tract of country whose limits were nearly unknown. There was a river and a cape called Norembega. The river is now the Penobscot, and the cape is the southern extremity of the Acadian peninsula.

[6] The Indians called this island Pemetig, which means the island which is ahead. The French settled here in 1613, and founded St. Sauveur on the north-eastern coast, in a splendid harbour which is to-day known as Bar Harbour. The remains of many of the French who were killed during the contest with the English, were interred at Point Fernald. At the point nearest the mainland there is a bridge of seven hundred feet in length, which communicates with the town of Trenton.

[7] Champlain called the river Peimtegoueet. This word means the place of a river where rapids exist. The English have given their preference to the word Penobscot, which comes from the Indian Penaouasket, the place where the earth is covered with stones.

[8] The Pilgrim Fathers, the founders of New England, landed at this place, which they named Plymouth, to preserve the name of the English city from which they had sailed.



After his return to France, as before described, Champlain had an interview with de Monts, and laid before him the journal which he had prepared of his explorations in America, together with plans of the ports and coasts which he had minutely examined during his visits. Champlain proposed to de Monts to continue his explorations, and advanced some reasons for prosecuting an enterprise upon which a large sum had been already expended, and which he was persuaded would ultimately afford the means of repairing their fortunes. De Monts, owing to the failure of his own efforts as a colonizer, was not at first inclined to listen to Champlain's proposals, but he was finally convinced of the wisdom of his suggestions, and appointed him lieutenant of an expedition to Quebec for the purpose of trading with the Indians. The expedition was to return to France during the same year. De Monts obtained another commission from the king, dated at Paris, January 9th, 1608, which gave him the monopoly of the fur trade in the lands, ports and rivers of Canada for a period of one year. Two vessels were equipped for this expedition, the Don de Dieu, captain Henry Couillard, and the Levrier, captain Nicholas Marion. Champlain was given the command of the former vessel, and Pont-Grave was in command of the latter. The Levrier sailed from France on April 5th, and the Don de Dieu eight days later. The two vessels proceeded directly to Tadousac, without calling at Perce, according to the usual custom.

On the arrival of the Don de Dieu at Tadousac, Champlain found that Pont-Grave had been attacked by Captain Darache, a Basque, who continued to trade furs with the Indians in spite of the king's commands. Darache had brought all his guns to bear upon the Levrier, and Pont-Grave being unable to defend himself, had offered no resistance, whereupon Darache's crew had boarded the vessel and carried off the cannon and arms, at the same time intimating that they would continue to trade as they pleased. The arrival of Champlain, however, altered the situation, and Darache was compelled to sign an agreement by which he pledged himself not to molest Pont-Grave, or to do anything prejudicial to the interest of the king or of de Monts. It was also agreed that all differences should be settled by the authorities in France. After this agreement was effected through Champlain's intervention, the carpenters of the expedition fitted out a small barque to convey to Quebec all the articles necessary for the use of the future settlement.

In the meantime Champlain visited the river Saguenay, where he met some Indians from whom he gathered information concerning Lake St. John and its tributaries. The information did not differ greatly from that which he had obtained in the year 1603. Champlain set out from Tadousac on the last day of June and arrived at Quebec on July 3rd, "Where I searched," he says, "for a place suitable for our settlement, but I could find none more convenient or better situated than the point of Quebec, so called by the savages, which was covered with nut trees."

Champlain was accompanied by thirty men, amongst whom may be named Nicholas Marsolet, Etienne Brule, Bonnerme, a doctor, Jean Duval, Antoine Natel and La Taille. These names are specially recorded. Champlain immediately employed some workmen to fell trees in order to commence the construction of an Habitation. One party was engaged in sawing timber, another in digging a cellar and some ditches, while another party was sent to Tadousac with a barque to obtain supplies which had been retained in the ships. Such was the beginning of Champlain's city. Nothing great, it will be admitted, for a settlement which its founder hoped before long would become the great warehouse of New France.

Until this date the merchants had traded with the Indians only in those places where they could easily be met, and even Chauvin, who was mentioned in a previous chapter, had not gone further than Tadousac. Neither Three Rivers, nor the islands of Sorel at the entrance of the Iroquois River, now called the Richelieu River, were known to French navigators at this period, and although these places were easily accessible to the aborigines, they were not so available as Quebec.

Champlain well understood the advantages of founding his city on a spot naturally fortified and where he could readily defend himself against the attack of an enemy, whose approach he expected sooner or later. The first foes, however, whom Champlain had to encounter were not the Indians, but his own countrymen, members of his crew who under various pretexts sought to kill their chief and give the command of the settlement to the Basques. Jean Duval, the king's locksmith, was the leader of this conspiracy against Champlain, and associated with him were four vicious sailors to whom he promised a part of the reward which had been offered for this treason. The conspirators agreed to preserve secrecy, and fixed the night of the fourth day for the assassination of their chief.

On the day upon which the plot was to be put into execution, Captain Le Testu[9] arrived from Tadousac in command of a vessel laden with provisions, utensils, etc. After the vessel was unloaded, one of the conspirators, a locksmith named Natel, approached the captain and acquainted him with the details of the plot. Champlain also listened to the man's account and promised to observe secrecy, although he took precautions to frustrate the scheme by inviting the leader and the four conspirators to an entertainment on board Captain Le Testu's barque.

The men accepted the invitation, and as soon as they were on board they were seized and held in custody until the following day. The deposition of each man was then taken by Champlain in the presence of the pilot and sailors, and set down in writing, after which the "worthies" were sent to Tadousac, where Champlain requested Pont-Grave to guard them for a time. Some days after the men were returned to Quebec, where they were placed on trial for attempted murder.

The jury was composed of Champlain, Pont-Grave, Le Testu, Bonnerme, the mate and the second mate, and some sailors. The verdict was unanimous. Duval was condemned to death on the spot as the instigator of the plot, and the others were also sentenced to death, but their sentence was to be carried out in France. Duval was strangled at Quebec, and his head was placed on a pike which was set up in the most conspicuous part of the fort. This was the second example of capital punishment in New France. The first case recorded was at Charlesbourg Royal, or Cap-Rouge, near Quebec, in the winter of 1542-3, when Michel Gaillon, one of Roberval's companions, was put to death.

Champlain was invested with executive, legislative and judiciary powers, but the founder of Quebec never abused the authority intrusted to him. From this time every one fulfilled his duty day by day, and Champlain was able to continue his work in peace.

The habitation was composed of three buildings of two stories, each one of three fathoms long and two and a half wide. The storehouse was six fathoms long and three wide, with a cellar six feet deep. There was a gallery around the buildings, at the second story. There were also ditches fifteen feet wide and six deep. On the outer side of the ditches Champlain constructed several spurs, which enclosed a part of the dwelling, at the point where he placed a cannon. Before the habitation there was a square four fathoms wide and six or seven long, looking out upon the river bank. Surrounding the habitation were very good gardens, and an open space on the north side, some hundred and twenty paces long and fifty or sixty wide.

During the first weeks after his installation, Champlain made an investigation of the vicinity. "Near Quebec," he says, "there is a little river coming from a lake in the interior, distant six or seven leagues from our settlement. I am of opinion that this river, which is north a quarter north-west from our settlement, is the place where Jacques Cartier wintered, since there are still, a league up the river, remains of what seems to have been a chimney, the foundation of which has been found, and indications of there having been ditches surrounding their dwelling, which was small. We found also, large pieces of hewn, worm-eaten timber, and some three or four cannon balls. All these things show clearly that there was a settlement there founded by Christians; and what leads me to say and believe that it was that of Jacques Cartier is the fact that there is no evidence whatever that any one wintered and built a house in these places except Jacques Cartier at the time of his discoveries."

This "little river coming from a lake in the interior," is evidently the river St. Charles, called Ste. Croix by Cartier. Champlain's conjectures about the place where Jacques Cartier wintered, are certainly correct. It was near this spot also that the Jesuits erected their convent of Notre Dame des Anges in 1626, namely, at two hundred feet from the shore, where the river Lairet joins the St. Charles.

Pont-Grave sailed for France on September 18th, 1608, leaving Champlain with twenty-seven men, and provisions for the approaching winter at Quebec. The carpenters, sawyers, and other workmen were employed in clearing up the place and in preparing gardens.

Many Indians were encamped in the vicinity, who proved troublesome neighbours, as they were constantly visiting the habitation, either to beg food for their families or to express their fear of invisible enemies. Champlain readily understood the character of these people, but he was too charitable to refuse them assistance in their need; besides he believed that they might easily be taught how to live and how to cultivate the soil. It was a difficult task, however, to induce the Indians to settle in any particular place. For generations they had led a wandering life, subsisting on the products of their hunting and fishing. This wild freedom was as necessary to their existence as the open air, and all attempts to make them follow the habits of civilized races seemed to tend towards their deterioration.

The early days of the French settlement at Quebec were distinguished by nothing remarkable. During the first winter scurvy and dysentery claimed many victims. Natel, the locksmith, died towards the end of November, and some time after Bonnerme, the doctor, was attacked and succumbed. Eighteen others also suffered from scurvy of whom ten died, and there were five deaths from dysentery, so that by the spring there were only eight men living, and Champlain himself was seriously indisposed. This was the third time that the founder of Quebec had had to experience the effects of this terrible disease, and although he was beginning to understand its causes, he was still unaware of a specific. "I am confident," he says, "that, with good bread and fresh meat, a person would not be liable to it."

Many trials had been experienced by the settlers during their first winter of 1608-09, and they welcomed the return of spring. Des Marets[10] arrived at Quebec at this time, with tidings that Pont-Grave, his father-in-law, had arrived at Tadousac on May 28th. Champlain at once repaired to Tadousac, where he received a letter from de Monts requesting him to return to France to acquaint him with the progress which he had made in the colony, and with the result of his explorations. Champlain returned to Quebec, and immediately fitted out an expedition to visit the country of the Iroquois, in the company of a party of Montagnais.

The Montagnais were anxious to carry on war against their ancient enemies, and although the wars had no attraction for Champlain, he hoped to be able to further his discoveries during the journey. Taking with him the twenty men placed at his disposal by Pont-Grave, Champlain sailed from Quebec on June 18th, 1609. The command of the habitation was given to Pont-Grave in the meantime. The expedition proceeded towards the island of St. Eloi, near the shores of which two or three hundred savages were encamped in tents. They proved to be Hurons and Algonquins who were on their way to Quebec to join Champlain's expedition to the territory of the Iroquois. Their chiefs were named Iroquet and Ochateguin, and Champlain explained to them the object of his voyage. The next day the two chiefs paid a visit to Champlain and remained silent for some time, meditating and smoking. After some reflection the chiefs began to harangue their companions on the banks of the river. They spoke for a long time in loud tones, and the substance of their remarks has been summed up in these words:—

"Ten moons ago Champlain had declared that he desired to assist them against their enemies, with whom they had been for a long time at warfare, on account of many cruel acts committed by them against their tribe, under colour of friendship. Having ever since longed for vengeance, they had solicited all the savages whom they had seen on the banks of the river to come and make an alliance. They had no children with them but men versed in war and full of courage, and well acquainted with the country and the rivers of the land of the Iroquois. They wanted to go to Quebec in order that they might see the French houses, but after three days they would return to engage in the war. As a token of firm friendship and joy, Champlain should have muskets and arquebuses fired."

Champlain replied that he was glad to be able to fulfil his promise to them; he had no other purpose than to assist them in their wars; he had not come as a trader, but only with arms to fight. His word was given, and it was his desire that it should be kept. Thus was the alliance ratified which had been made in 1603 between the French and the Hurons, Algonquins and Montagnais, and the alliance was never broken.

Some historians have reproached Champlain for his intervention in the wars between the Indians of Canada, and have suggested that it would have been wiser to have preserved a strict neutrality, instead of taking up arms against the redoubtable and valiant Iroquois. In order to explain Champlain's actions, it is necessary to consider the relations of the French towards the other tribes. Many years before the period of which we are writing, certain French captains traded with the Montagnais Indians of Tadousac. These Indians were on friendly terms with the Hurons, the Algonquins Superieurs of the Ottawa river, and the Souriquois of Acadia, and were united in their desire to subdue the terrible Iroquois. As the Iroquois did not trade, Champlain had no relations with them of a business character, and therefore he was not bound towards them in the same manner as he was towards the Hurons and others.

The Iroquois at first resided at Montreal and Three Rivers, while their neighbours, the Algonquins, were scattered along the shores of the Ottawa River, Lake Nipissing and French River. The Algonquins, who were brave and very numerous, succeeded in driving the Iroquois back to Lake Erie, and afterwards to Lake Ontario, near Lake Champlain. Here the Iroquois were distributed in five tribes, forming a great confederation. (1.) The Tsonnontouans or Senecas. (2.) The Goyogouins or Cayugas. (3.) The Onontagues or Onondagas. (4.) The Onneyouts or Oneidas. (5.) The Agniers or Mohawks. The Tsonnontouans were the most numerous, but the Agniers were the bravest and wildest.

The Iroquois or confederate tribes had by constant warfare become the greatest warriors of New France, nor is this fact surprising when we consider that they had waged successful warfare, extending over a long period, against the vast coalition of Hurons, Algonquins, Montagnais and Micmacs scattered from Lake Huron to Acadia.

Anadabijou, chief of the Montagnais, made a long speech, telling his men that they ought to feel proud of the friendship of the king of France and of his people, upon whom they could rely for assistance in their wars. It was from that date that the alliance between the Indians and the French commenced, and, as Champlain was obliged to live in the neighbourhood of the Montagnais and Algonquins, the only course open to him, if he desired to live in peace, was to fulfil his promise made to them.

In this year, 1609, Anadabijou reminded Champlain of the agreement made six years before. "Ten moons ago," he says, "the son of Iroquet had seen you. You gave him a good reception, and promised with Pont-Grave to assist us against our enemies." To this Champlain replied, "My only desire is to fulfil what I promised then." Thus was sealed this solemn agreement.

If Champlain had refused to make an alliance with these Indians, they would have been a constant source of trouble, for although they were less ferocious than the Iroquois, they were still barbarians. Champlain and his few men could never have established a settlement at Quebec if they had been forced to encounter the hostility of the neighbouring Indians, for the whole of his work could have been overthrown by them in a single day.

The country of the Iroquois, on the contrary, was situated at a great distance, and consequently he had not so much to fear from them. It was Champlain's desire, however, to make a treaty with the Iroquois as well, for they were at this time even, and long after remained, the terror of North America. But war seemed necessary to the existence of the Iroquois, and Champlain, notwithstanding the exercise of his diplomacy, found it impossible to pacify these restless people.

It is true that the people of New Netherland had been able to maintain a neutral stand towards the Iroquois, and Champlain has been blamed for not following this example. It must be borne in mind, however, that the Dutch were powerful and numerous, and it was to their interest to live in harmony with their immediate neighbours, the Iroquois. The Dutch had also different intentions towards the Indians. They came to America simply to trade, and to establish themselves and live quietly along the shores of the Hudson River, while Champlain's idea was to civilize the Indians and bring them under the influence of the Catholic missionaries.

Champlain and the allied Indians left Quebec on June 28th, 1609. Des Marets, La Routte, a pilot, and nine men accompanied the expedition. On their voyage they passed certain rivers to which Champlain gave the following names, Ste. Suzanne (River du Loup), du Pont (Nicolet), de Genes (Yamaska), and the Three Rivers.[11] The party stopped at the entrance of the Iroquois River. Continuing their journey southwards, they arrived at the Chambly Rapids. "No Christians had been in this place before us," says Champlain. Seeing no prospect of being able to cross the rapids alone, Champlain embarked with the Indians in their canoes, taking only two men with him. Champlain's army, comprising sixty men, then proceeded slowly towards Lake Champlain, and a few days after the party arrived at Lake St. Sacrament (Lake George). On July 29th they encountered the Iroquois, who had come to fight, at the extremity of Lake Champlain, on the western bank. The entire night was spent by each army in dancing and singing, and in bandying words. At daybreak Champlain's men stood to arms. The Iroquois were composed of about two hundred men, stout and rugged in appearance, with their three chiefs at their head, who could be distinguished by their large plumes. The Indians opened their ranks and called upon Champlain to go to the front. The arrows were beginning to fly on both sides when Champlain discharged his musket, which was loaded with four balls, and killed two of the chiefs and mortally wounded the third. This unexpected blow caused great alarm among the Iroquois, who lost courage, abandoned their camp and took to flight, seeking shelter in the woods. Fifteen or sixteen men of Champlain's party were wounded, but the enemy had many wounded, and ten or twelve were taken prisoners.

This victory did not entail much hardship on the part of the French. Champlain and his two companions did more to rout the Iroquois than the sixty allies with their shower of arrows. The result of this day's proceedings was highly satisfactory to the Indians, who gathered up the arms and provisions left behind by the Iroquois, and feasted sumptuously amidst dancing and singing. "The spot where this attack took place," says Champlain, "is in the latitude of 43 deg. and some minutes, and the lake is called Champlain." This place is now called Ticonderoga, or the Cheondoroga of the Indians.

Champlain returned to Quebec with the Montagnais, and a few days after he set out for Tadousac to see whether Pont-Grave had arrived from Gaspe. He met Pont-Grave on the morrow, and they both decided to sail for France, and to leave Quebec in the meantime under the command of Pierre de Chauvin,[12] pending the decision of de Monts as to the future of the colony. Both visited Quebec in order to invest Chauvin with authority, and after leaving him everything necessary for the use of the settlement, and placing fifteen men under his command, the two commanders left Quebec on September 1st, 1609, and sailed from Tadousac for France on the fifth day of the same month.

Champlain had sojourned in New France since the beginning of July, 1608, and during that interval he had made good use of his time. He had chosen the most suitable place for a habitation which was destined to become the metropolis of the French colony; he had constructed a fort and a storehouse, and he had also explored a very important tract of country. Champlain had also visited a part of the river Saguenay; he had made himself acquainted with the vicinity of Quebec, and with the rivers, streams and tributaries of the St. Lawrence and Ste. Croix. For the second time he had seen the river St. Lawrence as far as the Iroquois River over which he had sailed as far as Lake Champlain, whence it receives its waters. Besides his achievements in exploration Champlain had cemented friendly relations with the Montagnais, Algonquins and Hurons; he had renewed his acquaintance with Anadabijou and formed an alliance with Iroquet and Ochateguin, three of the most powerful chiefs of these tribes. He was also well versed in their methods of warfare and had studied their manners and customs and their treatment of their prisoners, so that when he returned to France he was in a position to give de Monts a great deal of valuable information, both as regards the inhabitants and the best means of promoting trade with them.

On his arrival in France Champlain proceeded at once to Fontainebleau, where he met King Henry IV and de Monts. He had an audience with the king and gave His Majesty a satisfactory account of his proceedings. He also presented to the king a girdle made of porcupine quills, two little birds of carnation colour, and the head of a fish caught in Lake Champlain, which had a very long snout, and two or three rows of very sharp teeth.

To de Monts the visit of Champlain was of great importance, because the fate of Quebec was bound up with him. After hearing Champlain's narrative of his voyages in New France, de Monts decided to visit Rouen in order to consult Collier and Legendre, his associates. After deliberation they resolved to continue their efforts to colonize New France and to further explore the great river St. Lawrence. In order to realize means for defraying the expenses of the expedition, Pont-Grave was authorized to engage in any traffic that would help to accomplish this end. In the meantime Lucas Legendre was ordered to purchase merchandise for the expedition, to see to the repairs of the vessels, and to obtain crews. After these details had been arranged de Monts and Champlain returned to Paris to settle the more important questions.

De Monts' commission, which had been issued for one year, had expired, but he hoped that it would be renewed. His requests, which appeared just and reasonable, were, however, refused, owing to protests on the part of merchants of Bretagne and Normandy, who claimed that this monopoly was ruinous to their commerce. Finally de Monts appealed to his former partners, who decided to furnish two vessels, at their own expense, with supplies and stores necessary for the settlement. Pont-Grave was given the command of a fur-trading vessel, and the other was laden with provisions and stores necessary for the use of the settlers. Champlain was informed that his services were dispensed with, but not believing that this news could be true, he saw de Monts and asked him frankly whether such was the case. De Monts told him that he could accompany the expedition, if he chose to do so. Champlain therefore set out from Paris on the last day of February, 1610, and proceeded to Rouen, where he remained for two days, and then left for Honfleur, to meet Pont-Grave and Legendre, who informed him that the vessels were ready to sail.


[9] Le Testu's Christian name was Guillaume. His first voyage to Newfoundland was made in 1601. He came to Quebec in 1608, 1610, 1611, 1612, 1613, 1614, and 1616. He was successively captain of the Fleur de Lys, the Trinite and the Nativite. He was very circumspect in his dealings.

[10] Champlain often speaks of this man. His true name was Claude Godet, Sieur des Marets. His father, Cleophas Godet, a lawyer, had three sons, Claude, Jean and Jesse. Jean was Sieur du Parc, and Jesse parish priest of Chambois in 1634. Both Claude and Jean came to Canada. Claude des Marets was married, in 1615, to Jeanne Grave, only daughter of Francois Grave, Sieur du Pont. He died about the year 1626, leaving one child named Francois, who came to New France with his grandfather, and was present at the capitulation of Quebec in 1629.

[11] This is the river de Fouez of Jacques Cartier, and the Metaberoutin of the Indians, and now the river St. Maurice, to which historians have given the name of Three Rivers, because two islands divide it into three branches at its entrance; these branches are called Les Chenaux, or the narrow channels.

[12] Pierre de Chauvin, Sieur de la Pierre, called Captain Pierre by Champlain, was born at Dieppe, but after the death of his relative, Pierre de Chauvin, Sieur de Tontuit, he resided at Honfleur. There were many families of Chauvin in Normandy during the seventeenth century, notably the Chauvins, Sieurs de Tontuit, and the Chauvins, Sieurs de la Pierre.


CHAMPLAIN'S VOYAGES OF 1610, 1611, 1613

Champlain embarked at Honfleur with eleven artisans for Quebec, on March 7th, 1610. The rough weather experienced during the first days of the voyage rendered it necessary for the vessel to run into Portland, on the English coast, and later to seek refuge in the harbour of the Isle of Wight. At this time Champlain was taken suddenly ill, and was obliged to return by boat to Havre de Grace to undergo medical treatment. A month after he rejoined his former vessel, which in the meantime had returned to Honfleur to take in ballast. Champlain had now somewhat recovered, although he was still weak and ill.

The vessel left Honfleur on April 8th, and reached Tadousac on the 26th of the same month; which was one of the shortest passages ever made up to that time. "There were vessels," says Champlain, "which had arrived on the 18th of the month, a thing which had not been seen for more than sixty years, as the old mariners said who sail regularly to this country." This remark proves that for more than half a century French fishermen and navigators had been accustomed to proceed as far as Tadousac. A Basque, named Lavalette, who had been accustomed to fish on the Acadian coast from about the year 1565, also confirms the statement.

On his arrival at Tadousac, Champlain ascertained from a young nobleman, named du Parc,[13] who had wintered with Chauvin at Quebec, that all the settlers were in good health, and that only a few of them had been slightly ill. They had been able to procure fresh meat during the whole season, and consequently scurvy had not made its appearance. "By avoiding salt food and using fresh meat, the health is as good here as in France."

The Indians had been waiting from day to day for the return of Champlain, for they wished him to accompany them to war. He therefore went ashore to assure them that he would fulfil his promise under the conditions made, namely, that upon his return they would point out to him the three rivers, and the lake which they had described as resembling a sea, the end of which could not be seen, and by means of which he could return by way of the Saguenay to Tadousac. The Indians had readily promised to do all this, but only in the following year. Champlain had also promised the Hurons and Algonquins that he would assist them in their wars, if they would show him their country, the great lake and the copper mines. "I had accordingly," he said, "two strings to my bow, so that, in case one should break, the other might hold."

On April 25th, 1610, Champlain set out from Tadousac for Quebec, where he found Captain Chauvin and his companions in good health. They had with them a stranger named Captain Batiscan, who was so pleased at Champlain's return that he and his comrades showed their appreciation by singing and dancing all night. Champlain entertained them at a banquet, with which they were delighted.

Some days after a party of the Montagnais, numbering about sixty men, made their appearance at Quebec, en route for the war. They presented themselves before Champlain, and said: "Here are numerous Basques and Mistigoches (so they named the Normans and Malouins) who say they will go to the war with us. What do you think of it? Do they speak the truth?" Champlain answered: "No, I know very well what they really mean; they say this only to get possession of your commodities." The Indians replied: "You have spoken the truth. They are women and want to make war only upon our beavers." Confiding in Champlain's word, the Montagnais went to Three Rivers under the agreement that a general rendezvous should be held there with the French. The Hurons were to await them at the entrance of the Iroquois River.

Champlain started on his journey on June 14th. When he was eight leagues from Quebec he met a canoe bearing an Algonquin and a Montagnais, who entreated him to hasten towards Three Rivers, as the Algonquins and Hurons would be at the meeting-place within two days. The Algonquins presented Champlain with a piece of copper a foot long and quite pure, and stated that there were large quantities to be found on the bank of a river, near a great lake. The Indians also stated that they collected the copper in lumps, and after they had melted it, spread it in sheets and smoothed it with stones. Champlain was well pleased to receive this present, although it was of small value.

The Montagnais assembled at Three Rivers, and on June 18th they all set out together. On the following day they arrived at an island situated at the mouth of the river Richelieu, which the Montagnais used to frequent when they wished to avoid the Iroquois.

An alarm was soon given that the Algonquins had fallen in with a band of Iroquois, numbering one hundred, who were strongly barricaded. Each man then took his arms and set out in a canoe towards the enemy. The firing immediately began, and Champlain was wounded by an arrow which pierced his ear and entered his neck. He seized the arrow and withdrew it from the wound. The Iroquois were much astonished at the noise caused by the discharge of the French muskets, and some of them, seeing their companions wounded or dead, threw themselves upon the ground whenever they, heard a musket fired. Champlain resolved after a while to force the barricade, sword in hand, which he accomplished without much resistance, and entered the fort. Fifteen prisoners were taken, and the rest were killed either by musket shots, arrows, or the sword. The savages, according to their custom, scalped the dead. The Montagnais and Algonquins had three killed and fifty wounded. On the following day Pont-Grave and Chauvin did some trading in peltry.

Amongst Champlain's party there was a young lad named Nicholas Marsolet, who desired to accompany the Algonquins in order to learn their language, and he was pleased to learn that after much deliberation the Algonquins had decided to take him, on the condition that Champlain accepted a young Huron as hostage. The Indian boy was named Savignon by the French. Lescarbot writes that he met this youth many times in Paris, and that "he was a big and stout boy."

The French and the allied Indians separated with many promises of friendship. The Indians departed for the fall of the great river of Canada, and the French, with Champlain at their head, proceeded to Quebec. On the return journey they met at Lake St. Peter, Pont-Grave, who was on his way to Tadousac, to arrange some business connected with headquarters.

Pont-Grave contemplated passing the winter at Quebec, but in the meantime des Marets arrived from France, much to the delight of every one, as his vessel was long overdue. The news which he brought, however, was so serious that both Champlain and Pont-Grave decided to return to France. The intelligence received was to the effect that M. de St. Luc had expelled the Catholics from Brouage, that the king had been killed, and that the Duke of Sully and two other noblemen had shared the same fate.

Champlain was much distressed over the condition of affairs in France, and on his departure he left du Parc in command of Quebec, and placed under him sixteen men, "all of whom were enjoined to live soberly, and in the fear of God, and in strict observance of the obedience due to the authority of du Parc." The settlement was left with a plentiful supply of kitchen vegetables, together with a sufficient quantity of Indian corn, wheat, rye and barley. Everything was in good order when Champlain set out from Quebec on August 8th, five days after Pont-Grave's vessel sailed from Tadousac for France. On September 27th they arrived at Honfleur, the voyage having lasted one month and a half.

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