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
captain Nicholas Marion. Champlain was given the command of the former
vessel, and Pont-Gravd was in command of the latter. The
Lforier sailed from France on April 5th, and
the Don de Dieu
eight days later. The two vessels proceeded directly to Tadousac,
without calling at Percd, according to the usual custom.
the arrival of the
Don de Dieu at Tadousac, Champlain found that
Pont-Gravd 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-Gravd 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.
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 Bruld, 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
the day upon which the plot was to be put into execution, Captain Le
Testu 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.
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-Grav£ to guard them for a
time. Some days after the men were returned to Quebec, where they were
placed on trial for attempted murder.
jury was composed of Champlain, Pont-Grav£, 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 Kobcrval'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.
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, sortie 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-Gravd 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.
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 Bon-nerme, 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, kt 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 Marets1 arrived
at Quebec at this time, with tidings that Pont-Gravd, 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.
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-Gravd 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
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 Supdrieurs 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
Iroquois at first resided at Montreal and Three Rivers, while their
neighbours, the Algon-quins, were scattered along the shores of the
Ottawa River, Lake Nipissing and French River. The Al-gonquins, 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.
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, JMontagnais
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
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-Gravd 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.
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
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.
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.1 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° 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-Grav£ had arrived from Gaspd.
He met Pont-Grav£ 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,1 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.'
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
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-Gravd
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.
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.