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Champlain
Chapter IX The Company of New France or Hundred Associates


IN spite of Champlain's strenuous efforts, the permanent existence of New France seemed as yet problematical. At a time when internal peace was imperative the domination of the mercantile companies came to increase the distress of the struggling colony. The difficulties of colonization likewise were immense, and Quebec at the period of which we write, instead of being a thriving town, had scarcely the appearance of a small village. In the year 1627 it could boast only six private residences. The Recollets were living at their convent, but the Jesuits had not completed their new building. The Rdcollets had abandoned the Huron mission as their numbers were diminishing every year, and they were too poor to continue their ministrations without assistance. They still held in charge the missions at Quebec and at Tadousac. Father d'Olbeau, who had been present at the opening of the Rdcollet convent at Quebec, saw its doors closed. He remained, however, at his post, and rendered valuable assistance to Champlain.

The Jesuits made great personal efforts for the advancement of the colony, and Father Noyrot had sailed for Canada with a number of workmen and a good store of provisions, but unfortunately his vessel did not reach Quebec.

The negligence of Montmorency's company was the principal cause why Quebec was abandoned to its own resources. Champlain was powerless against the ill-will of the company, and the only redress was in the person of the king. Cardinal Richelieu, who was superintendent of the navigation and commerce of Prance, resolved to reform the remnant of a company founded in 1626, and composed of one hundred associates, for conducting the commerce of the East and West. As the due de Ventadour had resigned the office of viceroy, the cardinal held a meeting of many rich and zealous persons in his hotel at Paris, whose names would be a guarantee of the success of the colonization of New France, and also of its religious institutions. Among those present were Claude de Roquemont, Sieur de Bri-son, Louis Houel, Sieur du Petit-Prd, Gabriel de Lattaignant, formerly mayor of Calais, Simon Da-blon, syndic of Dieppe, David Duchesne, councillor and alderman of Havre de Gr&ce, and Jacques Cas-tillon, citizen of Paris.

On April 25th, 1627, the cardinal and these personages signed the act which founded the Company of New France. In the preamble it is mentioned that the colonization in New France shall be Catholic only, as this was regarded as the best means of converting the Indians. The associates pledged themselves to send two or three hundred men to New France during the year 1628, and to augment this number to four thousand within fifteen years from this date, i.e., by the year 1643. They agreed to lodge, feed and entertain the settlers for a period of three years, and after that date to grant , to each family a tract of land sufficiently prepared for cultivation. Three priests were to be maintained at each habitation, at the expense of the company, for a period of fifteen years.

The king granted to the company numerous privileges, the lands of New France, the river St. Lawrence, islands, mines, fisheries, Florida, together with the power of conceding lands in these countries, and the faculty of granting titles, honours, rights and powers, according to the condition, quality, or merit of the people. His Majesty also granted to the company the monopoly of the fur and leather trade from January 1st, 1628, until December 31st, 1643, reserving for the French people in general the cod and whale fisheries. In order to induce his subjects to settle in New France the king announced that during the next fifteen years all goods coming from the French colony should be free of duty.

This act was signed on April 29th, 1627, and the letters patent ratifying the articles were signed on May 6th, 1628. The letters patent also ratified some other provisions made on May 7th, 1627, namely:—(1.) A capital of three hundred thousand livres, by installments of three thousand livres each.

(2.) The society to **dopt the name of the Cam-pagnie de la Nouvelle France. (3.) The management of the company to be conducted through twelve directors, with full powers to name officers, to distribute lands, establish factors or clerks, to conduct trade and dispose of the joint-stock.

Of these twelve directors six were obliged to live in Paris. The names of the twelve directors who were elected are here given :—Simon Alix, councillor and king's secretary; Pierre Aubert, councillor and king's secretary; Thomas Bonneau, SieurduPlessis; Pierre Robineau, treasurer of cavalry; Raoul L'Huillier, merchant of Paris; Barth^lemy Quentin, merchant of Paris; Jean Tuffet, merchant of Bordeaux; Gabriel Lattaignant, formerly mayor of Calais ; Jean Rozde, merchant of Rouen ; Simon Lemaistre, merchant of Rouen ; Louis Houel, comptroller of saltworks at Brouage ; Bonaventure Quentin, Sieur de Riche-bourg.

These directors were elected for a term of two years, and six of them had to be replaced at each election. The first term of office expired on December 31st, 1629. The election was held in Paris at the house of the intendant, Jean de Lauzon, king's councillor, master of requests and president of the Grand Council. Cardinal Richelieu and the Duke d'Effiat headed the list of the Hundred Associates. We find also the name of Samuel Champlain, captain of the king's marine, of Isaac de Razilly, chevalier de St. Jean de Jerusalem, S^bastien Crainoisy, the famous printer; Francis de Rd, Sieur Gand, and many important merchants of Paris, Rouen, Calais, Dieppe, Bordeaux, Lyons, Bayonne, and Havre de Grace.

This association was formed under auspicious circumstances ; its members possessed wealth and influence, and they were certainly in a position to remove the difficulties which had hindered the growth of New France from its foundation.1

While these transactions were in progress Champlain was living at Quebec in want of even the necessaries of life. For the past two years Champlain had established a farm for raising cattle at the foot of Cape Tourmente. Some farm buildings and dwellings for the men were erected there, and Champlain visited the place every summer to see that the work was properly carried on. The Rdcol-lets had a chapel there in which they said mass from time to time. In 1628 this establishment was in a flourishing condition, and Champlain believed it would ultimately prove of great value to the inhabitants. The colony in the meantime had to rely upon the mother country for provisions, and for flour which could not be produced in Canada.

The new company sent out four vessels in 1628 under the command of Claude de Roquemont, laden with provisions, munitions, and a number of men. This first shipment cost 164,720 livres or about $33,000 of our currency. This large outlay was proof that the associates were determined to maintain the new Canadian settlement. The fleet sailed from Dieppe on May 3rd, and arrived at Percd about the middle of July. During the voyage Roquemont was often exposed to the attacks of the English and Dutch vessels, but he preferred to alter his course rather than to fight. The vessels stopped at the Island of Anticosti, where the crews landed, and planted a cross in token of their gratitude to God, who had protected them.

Some days afterwards they reached Percd, and a little later entered Gaspd Bay. Roquemont was here informed by the savages that five large English vessels were anchored in Tadousac harbour. It was the fleet of David Kirke,1 who was going to make an assault on Quebec, after having devastated the Acadian coast. Roquemont at once sent Thierry-Desdames to St Barnabd Island, where he had intended to go himself. Roquemont left Gaspe on July 15th, 1628, and proceeded up the St Lawrence, hoping that he would be able to escape his powerful enemies, as the French vessels were not properly anned for a regular fight Unhappily, on the eighteenth the French came within cannon shot of the British fleet. For a period of fourteen hours the vessels cannonaded each other, and over twelve hundred shots were exchanged. The French having exhausted their stock of balls used the lead of their fishing poles instead. Finally Roquemont perceived that his vessel was sinking, and asked for a compromise. It was decided that no penalties should be exacted, and that the English admiral should take possession of the ships. The French crews were taken on board the British vessels, which continued their route for England. The British commander soon realized that he had too many persons on board, and some of the families and the Rdcollet fathers were put off on the Island of St. Peter. Among the families were a Parisian named Le Faucheur, who with his wife and five children were bound for Quebec, Robert Giffard, surgeon, his wife and three girls, and fifteen or sixteen sailors. Kirke left them to the mercy of God on this island with some provisions and a small Basque vessel.

The Basques who were hidden in the mountains came down upon the French after the English were out of sight-, and threatened to kill them if they attempted to escape in their vessel. They at last agreed to allow them to go elsewhere in consideration of a certain amount of biscuit and cider. They all embarked in a frail shallop, and eventually arrived at Plaisance on the coast of Newfoundland, where some French fishermen conducted them to France.

Some writers have blamed Roquemont for avoiding a fight. His conduct is pardonable, however, to a certain extent, because his mission was not one of war, but to carry provisions to the colony, and he had armed his vessels only for any ordinary attack.

Others, like Champlain, thought that Roquemont had unnecessarily exposed himself, and blame him for the follbwing reasons:—(1.) The equipment was made out for helping the fort and habitation of Quebec. In going forward Roquemont not only exposed himself to a loss, but also the whole country, that is to say about one hundred persons who were in distress. (2.) At Gaspd he was made aware that * the English admiral had proceeded up the St. Lawrence in command of a fleet much more powerful than his own. He ought, therefore, to have taken the advice of his mariners in order to ascertain whether there was not a safe harbour along the coast which would have seemed a safe retreat. (3.) After having put his vessels in such a harbour, Roquemont ought to have sent a well equipped shallop to observe every movement of the enemy, and await his departure before going higher up the river. (4.) If Roquemont desired to fight, he ought to have laden the Flibot with flour and gunpowder, and placed on board the women and children, and this small ship, which was sailing fast, could have escaped to Quebec during the fight. Champlain, in setting forth these views, is probably just, for the merit of a captain is not only in his courage, but also in his prudence. Nothing remained of the expedition under Roquemont, which was undertaken with so much courage, and at so much expense. It is certain that if he had been able to reach Quebec with his vessels, David Kirke would not have risked, in the following year, the capture of the habitation of Quebec.

The king of England had granted letters patent to the Company of Adventurers which authorized them to trade, plant, seize Spanish and French vessels, and to destroy the forts of New France. By a singular coincidence the king of France had established the Company of the Hundred Associates at the same time, and they were thus constituted masters of commerce in Canada and Acadia.

Sir William Alexander had equipped three vessels, to which he had appointed David Kirke and his two brothers as captains. They stopped for a time at Newfoundland, and then taking the gulf and river St. Lawrence, they anchored at Tadousac, as we have already seen, during the first days of July, 1628. The news of Kirke's arrival soon reached Champlain, through an Indian named Napagabis-cou, or Tregatin, who came in haste to Cape Tour-mente. Foucher, the chief of the farmers, proceeded at once to Quebec to confirm the news, and also to inform Champlain that the establishment had been burnt, his cattle destroyed, and all the inhabitants taken prisoners. The prisoners were brought back to Quebec some days after in the custody of six Basques, who delivered to Champlain the following letter:

"Messieurs:—I give you notice that I have received a commission from the king of Great Britain, my honoured lord and master, to take possession of the countries of Canada and Acadia, and for that purpose eighteen ships have been despatched, each taking the route ordered by His Majesty. I have already seized the habitation of Miscou, and all boats and pinnaces on that coast, as well as those of Tadousac, where I am presently at anchor. You are also informed that among the vessels that I have seized, there is one belonging to the new company, commanded by a certain Noyrot, which was coming to you with provisions and goods for the trade. The Sieur de la Tour was also on board, whom I have taken into my ship. I was preparing to seek you, but thought it better to send boats to destroy and seize your cattle at Cape Tourmente; for I know that, when you are straightened for supplies, I shall the more easily obtain my desire, which is, to have your settlement; and in order that no vessels shall reach you, I have resolved to remain here till the end of the season, in order that you may not be re-victualled. Therefore see what you wish to do, if you intend to deliver up the settlement or not, for, God aiding, sooner or later I must have it. I would desire, for your sake, that it should be by courtesy rather than by force, to avoid the blood which might be spilt on both sides. By surrendering courteously, you may be assured of all kinds of contentment, both for your persons and for your property, which on the faith that I have in Paradise, I will preserve as I would my own, without the least portion in the world being diminished.

The Basques whom I send you are men of the vessels that I have captured, and they can tell you the state of affairs between France and England, and even how matters are passing in France, touching the new company of this country. Send me word what you desire to do, and if you wish to treat with me about this affair, send me a person to that effect, whom, I assure you, I will treat with all kinds of attention, and I will grant all reasonable demands that you may desire in resolving to give up the settlement. Waiting your reply, I remain, messieurs, your affectionate servant,

"David Quer.

"On board the Vicaille, July 18th, 1628, and addressed to Monsieur Champlain, Commandant at Quebec."

Champlain read that letter to Pont-Gravd and to the chief inhabitants. After mature deliberation, it was resolved that Champlain should answer Kirke with dignity and firmness, but should not give any idea of the poor state of Quebec. "We concluded," says Champlain, "that if Kirke wished to see us he had better come, and not threaten from such a distance. That we did not in the least doubt the fact of Kirke having the commission of his king, as great princes always select men of brave and generous courage."

Champlain acknowledged- the intelligence of the capture of Father Noyrot and de la Tour, and also the truth of the observation that the more provisions there were in a fortress the better it could hold out, still it could be maintained with but little, provided good order were kept; therefore, being still furnished with grain, maize, beans and pease, (besides what the country could supply) which his soldiers loved as well as the finest com in the world, by surrendering the fort in so good a condition, he would be unworthy to appear before his sovereign, and would deserve chastisement before God and men. He was sure that Kirke would respect him much more for defending himself than for abandoning his charge, without first making trial of the English guns and batteries. Champlain concludes by saying that he would expect his attack, and oppose, as well as he could, all attempts that might be made against the place. The noble language of Champlain's letter made a deep impression on Kirke, and he deemed it prudent to start for Europe. Before leaving Tadousac, David Kirke destroyed all the captured French barques, with the exception of the largest, which he took to Europe. Since leaving England he had doubled the number of his vessels, having taken away all that he could from the habitation of Miscou and other seaports frequented by the French.

The news of the departure of the English fleet took some days to reach Quebec, where the minds of the inhabitants were divided between hope and fear. Champlain was determined to await the arrival of the enemy, and to defend Quebec, without considering its weakness. Every one began to work to construct new intrenchments around the habitation, and to barricade the road which led to the fort. Each was given a post in the event of an attack, and a defence was determined upon. Later on Champlain was informed of Roquemont's fate and of Kirke's departure.

The English were, indeed, well compensated for their abandonment of Quebec, for the seizure of the vessels and their provisions was equivalent to the capture of the French colony, since famine threatened them sooner or later. In attacking Quebec Kirke, indeed, would have met with but little opposition, because every one was suffering. Those who were unable to live from the product of their own lands, were compelled to ask assistance from the trade agents. Champlain ordered a distribution of pease to be made to each person indiscriminately. The Recollets refused any assistance, and they passed the whole winter subsisting on corn and vegetables of their own cultivation. Champlain succeeded in building a mill for grinding pease. The eel fisheries were productive, and the Indians bought from the French six eels for a beaver skin. In the midst of these perplexities Champlain realized that unless assistance was forthcoming in the spring, it would be advisable for him to accept an honourable capitulation, and to send all the French who wished to return to their country, either to Gaspd or to Miscou.

As soon as the snow had disappeared in the spring of the year 1629, Champlain caused all the arable land to be sown. By the end of May his stock of provisions was nearly exhausted, and he therefore decided to send Desdames to Gaspd with a group of the inhabitants. Hubou, Desportes and Pivert took passage on Desdames' barque, hoping to meet a French vessel at Gaspd. One month later Desdames returned, and confirmed the news that the English vessels had devastated the Acadian coast, and burnt the habitations. Neither Desdames nor his party had seen any French vessel in the gulf, but they had met Iuan Chou, a friend of Champlain, who had agreed to give hospitality to twenty persons, including Pont-Gravd, by whom he was greatly esteemed. The latter was still suffering from gout, and it was with some reluctance that he agreed to leave his position as first clerk, empowered by Guillaume de Caen to take care of the merchandise. Des Marets, who was Pont-Gravd's grandson, accepted his position in the interim.

Before leaving Quebec Pont-Gravd desired Champlain to read publicly the commission which he had received from Guillaume de Caen. After grand mass on June 17th Champlain read Pont-Gravd's commission and his own in the presence of all the people, and he added some words, by which it was easily understood that the king's authority had to be superior to Guillaume de Caen's commissions. Pont-Gravd replied at once: "I see that you believe in the nullity of my commission 1 "Q Yes," replied Champlain, "when it comes in conflict with the king's and the viceroy's authority." This petty dispute had no serious consequence, as it was evident that Pont-Gravd, being only the first clerk of Guillaume de Caen, had no other authority than to take care of the peltry and merchandise belonging to his chief.

Before turning their attention to Canada Guillaume and Emery de Caen had belonged to a large company trading with the East Indies. Both were Calvinists. Sagard writes that Guillaume was polite, liberal, and of good understanding. This testimony seems somewhat exaggerated, as we have many proofs of his niggardliness. His nephew Emery was frank, liberal and open to conviction, and was always kindly disposed towards the Jesuits. Guillaume de Caen was the commodore of the fleet equipped by his associates. His greatest fault appears to have been that he neglected Champlain and the colony, arid for that reason he should share the responsibility of not having prevented the capitulation of Quebec. However, it is scarcely fair to say of him that he worked directly against the French in New France. After the capitulation of 1629, Cardinal Richelieu wrote of him to the French ambassador in London: " Please examine his actions. Being a Huguenot, and having been much displeased with the new company of Canada, I have entertained a suspicion that he connived with the English. I have not a sure knowledge of it, but you will please me if you inform me of his conduct."

This suspicion seems unfounded,'because Guillaume de Caen was personally interested in the fate of Quebec. His merchandise which was seized by Kirke was valued at about forty thousand dcus. If he had made some agreement with Kirke he would have had no difficulty in recovering his goods after the capitulation, but such was not the case.

As to Emery de Caen we must say that he took an active part in the defence of the colony, and perhaps he might have saved Quebec, had not one of his sailors committed a grave imprudence at a critical juncture. The facts are as follows: The Treaty of Suze, which was signed on April 24th, 1629, had established peace between -France and England. Being aware of this fact Emery de Caen equipped a. vessel for the purpose of bringing back to France all the furs and merchandise which were the property of his uncle. When he arrived near the Escoumins a dense fog obscured the coast, and his vessel ran aground on Red Island, opposite Tadousac. Having succeeded in floating his ship, de Caen went to Chafaud aux Basques, two leagues above Tadousac. Here he was informed that the Kirke brothers were at Tadousac, and he at once made for Mai Bay, where he was informed that Champlain had capitulated. This news lacked confirmation, and so he sent two emissaries to Quebec, who instead of proceeding directly there, amused themselves on the shore of the river at Cape Tour-mente. They finally arrived at their destination, and were badly received by Guillaume Couillard.

In the meantime Thomas Kirke was sailing down from Quebec to Tadousac, after the capitulation of the stronghold, and meeting de Caen's vessel approached within cannon shot. A fight began, and soon both vessels were stopped by Kirke's order. Previous to this, Champlain and all the French who were on board had been sent below deck, the covers of which had been fastened with large nails, so that they were unable to render any assistance to Emery de Caen, even if they had desired to. The battle continued under some difficulties, and the vessels were grappled only by their foremasts. Kirke's position was becoming untenable, but by a singular blunder instead of being defeated he was allowed to become the master. One of Emery de Caen's sailors having cried "Quartier! Quartierf" or Surrender! Kirke hurriedly answered,"Bon quartier, and I promise your life safe, and I shall treat you as I did Champlain, whom I bring with me." Hearing these words the French hesitated, laid down their arms, and soon perceived Champlain on the deck. Kirke had released him from his temporary jail, threatening him with death if he did not order Emery de Caen to cease his fire. Then Champlain said: "It would be easy to kill me, being in your power. But you do not deserve honour for having broken your word. You have promised to treat me with consideration. I cannot command these people, neither prevent them from doing their duty, in defending themselves. You must praise them instead of blaming them." Champlain asked them to surrender willingly. They were wise in doing so, as two English pataches soon arrived which would have settled the fight.

Emery de Caen, and Jacques Couillard de l'Es-pinay, his lieutenant, took passage on Kirke's vessel, and submitted themselves to the enemy's conditions. De Caen was compelled to abandon his ship, which was full of provisions intended for Quebec. In less than two hours every hope of fur trading had disappeared. De Caen had lost not only his vessel, but also five hundred beaver skins and some merchandise for traffic. This loss was valued at fifty-one thousand francs. Emery de Caen returned to France. He came back to Quebec in the year 1631, with permission from Richelieu to treat with the Indians. But the English commander expressly forbade the trade, and placed guardians on his vessel during the period of trading.


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