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Champlain
Chapter XIII The Jesuit missions in New France


THE Jesuits, who had only been in the country about four years, had not as yet a true idea of the magnitude of the task they had undertaken. Father Charles Lalemant had abandoned the theatre of his first apostolic labours on our Canadian soil, at the same time that some workmen whom Father Noyrot had brought from France during the pre-ceeding year, left the place. He was the last representative, together with Fathers Massd, de Noiie and de Brdbeuf of the primitive church of Canada. Mention has been made of the temporary residence in the convent of the Recollets, and of a building which was erected for themselves at about two hundred feet from the shore, near the junction of the river Lairet and the river St. Charles. The Jesuits received a concession of this land which was bounded on the west by a stream called St. Michel, and the river St. Mary or Beauport on the east. This was named the Seigniory of Notre Dame des Anges.

The Jesuits' convent was finished on April 6th, 1626. It was a poor residence of about forty feet in length and thirty feet in width. The building contained a small chapel dedicated to Notre Dame des Anges, on account of a picture which decorated a wall representing the Blessed Virgin receiving the homage of angels. This name extended beyond the chapel, and was given to the seigniory, and after a lapse of three centuries, it remains unchanged.

The different mission-stations of the Jesuits in Canada and around the gulf of the St. Lawrence were maintained at the expense of the Hundred Associates from the year 1632, with the exception of their college at Quebec which was founded through the liberality of the Marquis de Gamache, who gave them a sum of sixteen thousand dcus d'or for that purpose, in 1626, on the occasion of his son taking religious vows. The offer was accepted by Father Vitelleschi, general of the order, and the college was founded in 1635, and opened a few years later. "This," writes Parkman, "was the cradle of the great missions of Canada!"

As soon as the Jesuits arrived they commenced to repair their residence, and in the year 1632 it was in a fit state for a banquet which was given to Emery de Caen, who had been appointed governor ad interim of the French colony.

Champlain returned from France to Quebec in the month of June of the following year, and again took over the government of New France. He brought with him Fathers Massd and Jean de Brd-beuf, and their arrival was the dawn of a brighter era for the Canadian missions. The Jesuits founded, during the same year, a mission at Three Rivers, and another at Ihonatiria in the Huron country.

The mission-stations at Miscou and at Cape Breton were also opened at about the same time, but they were all, practically speaking, dependent upon the liberality of the Hundred Associates.

The Jesuits in their Relations of 1635 regarded the establishment of the mission of 'Notre Dame des Anges as destined to fulfil three designs which they had in view for the honour and glory of God. These were: (1.) To erect a college for the education of young Frenchmen who were becoming more and more numerous. (2.) To found a seminary for young Indians for the purpose of civilizing or improving their moral condition. (3.) To extend the missions of the Jesuits among the Hurons and other savage tribes. These three designs were in a measure accomplished by this means. From the year 1626 Quebec was the principal centre of Canadian missions, which extended from Tadousac to the Great Lakes. Seeing that the French were all gathering in the vicinity of Fort St. Louis, and that their convent was exposed to attacks of the Indians, the Jesuits decided to build their new college upon the promontory of Cape Diamond. In the year 1637 the Hundred Associates conceded twelve acres of land to the Jesuits near Fort St. Louis, upon which they built their college and a church, some years after. The seminary for young Indians was opened in the year 1627, and Father Charles Lalemant conducted a class for them as long as there were pupils to attend.

The seminary of Notre Dame des Anges has an interesting though brief history. It was Father Le Jeune's intention to have removed it near to the fort. The question of transferring it to the Huron country, in order to obtain a greater number of pupils had been discussed, but there were many reasons against the change, the principal being that the proximity to the Huron families would have caused the fathers annoyance. The seminary was, therefore, continued at Notre Dame des Anges, where it remained until it was closed. Father Le Jeune wrote to the Provincial in France on August 28th, 1636:—

" I consider it very probable that, if we had a good building in Kdbec we would get more children through the very same means by which we despaired of getting them. We have always thought that the excessive love the savages bear their children would prevent our obtaining them. It will be through this very means that they will become our pupils; for, by having a few settled ones, who will attract and retain the others, the parents, who do not know what it is to refuse their children, will let them come without opposition. And, as they will be permitted during the first few years to have a great deal of liberty, they will become so accustomed to our food and our clothes that they will have a horror of the savages and their filth. We have seen this exemplified in all the children brought up among our French. They get so well acquainted with each other in their childish plays that they do not look at the savages, except to flee from them or make sport of them. Our great difficulty is to get a building, and to find the means with which to support these children. It is true we are able to maintain them at Notre Dame des Anges; but as this place is isolated, so that there are no French children there, we have changed the plan that we formerly had to locate the seminary there. Experience shows us £hat it must be established where the bulk of the French population is, to attract the little savages by the French children. And, since a worthy and virtuous person has commenced by giving something for a seminary we are going to give up our attempts to clear some land, and shall make an effort to build at Kdbec. I say an effort, for it is with incredible expense and labour that we build in these beginnings. What a blessing from God if we can write next year that instruction is being given in New France in three or four languages. I hope, if we succeed in getting a lodging, to see three classes at Kdbec—the first, of little French children, of whom there will be perhaps twenty or thirty pupils; the second, of Hurons; the third, of Montagnds."

Father Daniel was the chief of the seminary, although he was generally assisted by other fathers, who instructed the children of the families residing near the convent. The chapel was used as a classroom, and both the boys and girls made good progress. They were soon taught to observe the customs of the French, such as joining their hands in prayers, kneeling or standing during the recitation of their lessons. They were also taught to answer with modesty, and to be respectful in their behaviour. The girls were especially apt at learning, and they endeavoured to imitate the French girls, for whom they appeared to have great love. At certain intervals a public meeting was held, at which the governor and the . citizens of Quebec were present, and the pupils were questioned on religious subjects. The most successful received a reward at the hands of the governor; consisting of either a knife or an awl. They were called upon to kiss the governor's hand, and to make a bow a lafranpaise.

The pupils of the seminary were chiefly Hurons, and the names of some of the more prominent are known. These were Satouta, Tsiko, Teouatirhon, Andehoua, Aiandacd. The three first died during their residence in Quebec, on account of the change of air and of diet. Father Le Jeune has written that these young Indians were the columns of the seminary. They were, in fact,, endued with many good qualities, and had given great hopes for the future. Satouta was the son of a Huron admiral, who was the most popular and best known Indian in the country. His authority was considered supreme, and in nautical matters his word was law. He had promised that at his death Satouta should inherit his name.

Tsiko was the son of Ouanda Koka, one of the best speakers of his tribe, and he had won the esteem and admiration of his people through his talents. Tsiko had inherited his father's gifts, and spoke so well that he astonished all who heard him, especially the fathers.

Andehoua was a model of virtue. He was baptized under the name of Armand Jean, in honour of Cardinal Richelieu. The governor stood as his godfather. Andehoua made such good progress in his studies that he became a sort of missionary, and he did everything in his power to convert his countrymen. He died at the Hotel Dieu, Quebec, in 1654, at the early age of thirty-six.

From the year 1639 the number of seminarists began to decrease, until there was only one. However, in the year 1643 four young Hurons went down to Quebec to receive instruction, and were baptized. Their godfathers were LeSueur de St. Sauveur, a priest, Martial Piraube, M. de Repen-tigny and M. de la Valine. In the Relations of the Jesuits the names of three are preserved: Ateiachias, Atarohiat, and Atokouchioiiani.

The seminary was then finally closed. The Jesuits opened another at Three Rivers, and at the commencement there were six pupils, but at the end of a year there were none. After eight years' experience, the Jesuits realized that it was impossible successfully to make an Indian boy adopt the manners and habits of the French, and the same result was afterwards found by others who tried the experiment.

In the year 1635, the Jesuits' missions in New France included those at Cape Breton, Richibucto and Miscou Island. The mission of Miscou was the best organized and the most populous; the Catholics of Gaspd, Miramichi and Nipisiguit (Bathurst) went there. The island of Miscou is situated at the northern extremity of the coast of New Brunswick, near the entrance of the Baie des Chaleurs. It was the common residence of the Jesuits and of the two first who came here, Father Charles Turgis and Father Charles du Marchd On their arrival they found twenty-three Frenchmen there, who were endeavouring to form a settlement. Unfortunately, most of them were taken ill with scurvy* from which they died, including the captain, the surgeon, a clerk and nine or ten officers. Father du Marchd was forced to leave the island, and finally Father Turgis succumbed to the disease, and left behind him a single man, who was in a dying condition.

In the year 1637, two other Jesuits came to this inhospitable island, Father Jacques de la Place and Father Nicholas Gondoin. They found only nine persons there, who were in charge of the storehouse. A year later, Father Claude Quentin, superior of the Canadian missions, came to assist his confrere, who had undertaken to erect a chapel, but after three years of constant labour, they both returned to Quebec in an exhausted condition.

Father Dollebeau and Father Andrd Richard then took charge of the mission on the island of Miscou, but the former was taken ill and was obliged to return to France. During the voyage the vessel was captured by three English frigates, and while pillaging the ship a soldier set fireto the powder magazine, and as a result Father Dollebeau and the whole crew perished.

In the course of years, however, the Miscou mission increased, and the chapel proving insufficient to accommodate the congregation, the Jesuits built another at the entrance of the river Nipisiguit.

Father de Lyonne was the real founder of this new mission. Nipisiguit was a good trading and fishing-station, and a general rendezvous for the French as well as the Indians; it was also a safe harbour. Between the years 1650 and 1657, Father de Lyonne crossed the ocean three times in the interest of his mission, and in the year 1657 he founded another mission at Chedabucto, where he ended his career.

The field of the missionaries was divided after the year 1650. Father de Lyonne took charge of the mission at Chedabucto, while the stations at Miscou and Nipisiguit were under the control of Father Richard, and Father Frdmin was given charge of the Richibucto mission. In the year 1661, Father Richard replaced Father de Lyonne at Chedabucto, but he only remained there one year.

The missions of the Jesuits in Acadia and Baie des Chaleurs closed with the departure of Father Richard. Some historians of. Acadia mention the labours of Father Joseph Aubdri, whom Chateaubriand has immortalized in his "Atala." Father Au-bdri prepared a map of Acadia, and also a memorandum of the boundaries of New France and New England in the year 1720.

The mission-station at Cape Breton was commenced in 1634, and Father Julian Perrault, a Jesuit, took up his residence there and gave religious instruction to the Micmacs, whom he found very attentive. The Micmacs were a hardy race, of great stature. Some of the men who were upwards of eighty years of age had not a single white hair.

Champlain gave to Cape Breton the name of St. Lawrence Island. The name was originally given to the cape but it was afterwards applied to the island. Bras d'Or was called Bibeaudock by the Indians, and Louisburg was commonly known as Port aux Anglais. The Portuguese had formerly occupied the island, but they were forced to leave it on account of the temperature and other causes. Nicholas Denys, who had been obliged to abandon Chedabucto, in Acadia, came to the island and founded Fort St. Pierre, which was taken from him in the year 1654 by Emmanuel le Borgne de Belle Isle, and by one Guilbault, a merchant of La Rochelle. Denys then took up his residence, sometimes at Miscou, sometimes at Gaspd or at Nipisiguit. His son Charles Denys, Sieur de Fronsac, had settled on the shores of the river Miramichi.

The first Jesuits who were invited to take charge of the Cape Breton mission were Fathers Vimont and de Vieux-Pont, who had been brought out by Captain Daniel, who, it will be remembered,- lost a great deal of time in attacking the fort which had been built on the river du Grand Cibou by Stuart. The two Jesuits and forty men were left here. The Jesuits, however, returned to France in 1630. Fathers Davost and Daniel were missionaries at Cape Breton in 1633, and when Champlain visited the place on May 5th of that year, he met the two Jesuits, who soon afterwards returned with him to Quebec.

Father Perrault resided at Cape Breton during the years 1634 and 1635, and Fathers Richard and d'Endemare came in the following year and took up their residence at Fort Ste. Anne in Grand Cibou Bay. This place had many advantages, as it was naturally fortified, and three thousand small vessels could anchor safely in the bay. The Jesuits remained at Cape Breton until the arrival of Bishop de Laval in 1659. These various missions which we have recorded, constitute the religious history of the islands and coasts of the gulf of St. Lawrence during the greater part of the seventeenth century, and they were all founded by Champlain or under his administration, and he certainly took an active part in the civilization of the Micmacs.

In a memorandum addressed to the king, Champlain had set forth his intention to erect a church at Quebec, to be dedicated to the Redeemer. He was, however, unable to accomplish his design. He had also made a solemn promise to the Blessed Virgin, between the years 1629 and 1632, to erect a church in honour of Notre Dame de la Recouvrance, and on his return to Quebec he set out to fulfil his obligation. The occasion was favourable, as the chapel near the habitation in Lower Town had been completely ruined.

The chapel of Notre Dame de la Recouvrance was erected during the summer of 1633, and in the autumn of the same year the Jesuits said mass for the inhabitants within the building. The increase of the population and of their religious zeal within the two following years, induced Champlain to raise this humble chapel into a small church. The building was therefore enlarged, and from that date the services assumed a character of solemnity which had been unknown before. Grand mass was celebrated every Sunday by a Jesuit, and the inhabitants each in turn offered consecrated loaves. In the afternoon, after vespers, the catechism was explained by the fathers. The French were very regular in their attendance at these ceremonies, and also at the religious instructions.

Father Charles Lalemant was the first Jesuit who lived at the presbytery as a parish priest. His successor was Father Jean de Quen. Father Le Jeune wrote at that time:—"As soon as we had been lodged near the church (Notre Dame de la Recouvrance) Father Lalemant who had just begun to live at the residence, at the same time initiated its solemnities; Father de Quen, has succeeded him with the same inclination for ceremony. I frankly confess that my heart melted the first time I assisted in this divine service, at the sight of our Frenchmen so greatly rejoicing to hear sung aloud and publicly the praises of the great God in the midst of a barbarous people, at the sight of little children speaking the Christian language in another world. . . . Monsieur Gand's zeal in exercising all his energies to cause our French to love these solemn and public devotions, seems to me very praiseworthy. But the regulations of Monsieur our governor, his very remarkable example, and the piety of the more prominent people, hold all in the line of duty."

When Champlain was on his deathbed he was aware that his promise had been fulfilled. Notre Dame de la Recouvrance was then a nice church, and it was due to his labours. By his last will he bequeathed to this church all his personal chattels, and three thousand livres in stock of the Company of New France, and nine hundred livres which he had invested in a private company founded by some associates, together with a sum of four hundred livres from his private purse. It was the whole fortune of the first governor of New France. This will was afterwards contested and annulled, and the church was only allowed to receive the sum of nine hundred livres, which had been realized from the sale of his personal property. This sum was devoted to the purchase of a pyx, a silver gilt chalice, and a basin and cruets.

Several gifts were made for the decoration of the church of Notre Dame dela Recouvrance. Duplessis-Bochart presented two pictures, one representing the Blessed Virgin, and the other the Holy Family. De Castillon, seignior of the Island of Orleans, offered four small pictures, one of St. Ignace de Loyola, of St. Francis Xavier, of St. Stanislas de Kostka, and of St. Louis de Gonzagne, and also a large engraving of Notre Dame. Champlain had also placed on one of the walls a painting which had been rescued from the shipwreck during Father Noyrot's voyage.

During the year after Champlain's death, the Jesuits consecrated the church of Notre Dame de la Recouvrance under the name of the Immaculate Conception, which from that date was the special patron of the parochial church of Quebec.

The inauguration of this patronage afforded an opportunity for public rejoicing. On December 7th, 1636, a flag was hoisted on the fort and the cannon were fired many times. On the 8th, the day observed by the church in honour of the Immaculate Conception, the citizens fired a salute from the muskets at dawn, and they all assisted at mass, and received the Holy Communion. Devotion to the Mother of God soon became general among the people, who were characterized as moral and honest,

Notre Dame de la Recouvrance was burnt on June 14th, 1640. In a few hours the residence of the Jesuits, the parochial church, and the chapel of Champlain, where his bones had been placed, were destroyed. The Relation of 1640 gives a short description of the catastrophe : " A rather violent wind, the extreme drouth, the oily wood of the fir of which these buildings were constructed, kindled a fire so quick and violent that hardly anything could be done. All the vessels and the bells and chalices were melted; the stuffs some virtuous persons had sent to us to clothe a few seminarists, or poor savages, were consumed in this same sacrifice. Those truly royal garments that His Majesty had sent to our savages to be used in public functions, to honour the liberality of so great a king, were engulfed in this fiery wreck, which reduced us to the hospital, for we had to go and take lodgings in the hall of the poor, until monsieur, our governor, loaned us a house, and after being lodged therein, the hall of the sick had to be changed into a church." This conflagration was a great loss. The registers were burnt, and the Jesuits had to reproduce them from memory. The chief buildings of Quebec had disappeared, and it was seventeen years before a a new church was built.


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