Count Frontenac
Chapter VI The Life of a Colony


THE great trouble in Canada was that it was an over-governed country. The whole population when Frontenac arrived was but little over six thousand souls, scattered over a territory stretching from Matane and Tadousac in the east, to the western limit of the Island of Montreal. What these people needed in the first place was freedom to seek their living in their own way, and secondly, an extremely simple form of government. Instead of this they were hampered in their trade, and made continually to feel their dependence on the central power; while, in the matter of political organization, they were placed under the precise system which prevailed in the provinces of the French kingdom. In the Sovereign Council they had the equivalent of a parliament in the French—by no means in the English—sense; that is to say, a body for registering, and so bestowing a final character of validity upon, the decrees of the sovereign, and for administering justice. The executive power was divided between governor and intendant with very doubtful results. Below the Sovereign Council, as a judicial body, was the court of the Prdvote. The one thing the people were not allowed to have was anything in the way of representative institutions. Colbert, perhaps by immediate royal direction, gave the keynote of monarchical absolutism when he said, in words already quoted: " Let every man speak for himself; let no one presume to speak for all." Thus was the king in his strength and majesty placed over against the solitary protesting individual. Doubtless self-government in the full sense would not have been possible at the time, seeing that self-government implies, as its first condition, pecuniary independence, and the country was not in a position to provide all the money required for its civil and military expenditure. However, possible or impossible, the thing was not thought of, or to be thought of, at the time. The result of the elaborate organization actually established was that administrators and councillors, having far too little to do, fell to quarrelling with one another in the manner already seen and.yet to be seen. The Canadian colony was not really peculiar in this respect. Any one who reads in Clement's great work the voluminous correspondence of Colbert will see that strife and jealousy was the rule throughout the whole colonial service. The same spirit, in fact, prevailed which was exhibited in the daily life of the court, where every one was desperately struggling for the sunshine of royal favour, and where, consequently, questions of precedence and etiquette were regarded as of surpassing importance. And now a most serious question of this nature was to blaze forth in Canada.

In various despatches from the court, Frontenac had been spoken of as " President of the Sovereign Council," though that office had never in any-formal way been attached to the governorship. Shortly after Duchesneau's appointment as intendant, a ro^al ordinance was issued conferring the title in question upon him. In this there was no intention whatever to diminish the rank or prestige of the governor. The idea was rather to relieve him from the drudgery of presiding at meetings of the council, by giving to the latter a permanent working head in the person of the intendant, a man assumed to be accustomed to routine business and to have the trained official's capacity for details. Any other man than Frontenac would have seen the matter in this light, and rejoiced that a substitute had been found for him in a most uninteresting duty. He still had access to the council, and whenever he chose to attend, he occupied the seat of honour as the king's immediate representative, while a lower functionary would act as chairman, put questions to the vote, and sign the minutes. To the mind of Frontenac, unfortunately, the thing presented itself in a very different light; he saw his prerogative attacked, his dignity impaired. If he was not president of the council, why was he ever so addressed in official despatches ? M. Duchesneau, on the other hand, took his stand on the stronger ground of a special ordinance appointing him to the office. Behold the elements of a mighty quarrel

In the early days of Frontenac's governorship the preamble of the proceedings in council used to read: " The council having assembled, at which presided the high and mighty lord, Messire Louis de Buade Frontenac, chevalier, Comte de Palluau," etc. Later it was simplified so as to read: "At which presided his Lordship, the governor-general." After the arrival of Duchesneau a new formula was adopted. In the minutes of the 23rd September 1675, the intendant is mentioned as " having taken his seat as president" ; and in those of 30th September we find the words " acting as president according to the declaration of the king." The bickering began almost from the date of Duches-neau's arrival; but it was not till the winter of 1678-9 that it developed into actual strife. The minister received many tiresome communications on the subject, and in April 1679 he seems to think that the chief fault is on the side of the intendant, for he writes to him sharply: "You continually speak as if M. de Frontenac was always in the wrong. . . . You seem to put yourself in a kind of parallel with him. The only reply I can make to all these despatches of yours is that you must strive to know your place, and get a proper idea into your head of the difference between a governor and lieutenant-general representing the person of the sovereign, and an intendant." This was hard enough, but what follows is a shade worse: he is told that in making his reports, particularly when they contain accusations, he " should be very careful not to advance anything that is not true." Finally, he is warned that until he learns the difference between the king's representative and himself, he will be in danger, not only of being rebuked, but of being dismissed. Frontenac's turn came a few months later. Colbert writes in December of the same year, and tells him that the king is getting very tired of all this squabbling, and has come to the conclusion that he (Frontenac) " is not capable of that spirit of union and conciliation which is necessary to prevent the troubles that are continually arising, and which are so fraught with ruin to a new colony." The king had heard of the trouble that was being made over this petty question, and Colbert expresses his Majesty's surprise that Frontenac should bother his head about such a thing.

When this despatch reached Canada, Frontenac had gone much further in the matter than either the king or the minister suspected. Peuvret, clerk of the council, had been imprisoned because he would not disobey the orders of the council, in the matter of his minutes, in order to obey those of the governor. During four months the routine business of the council had been suspended while this wretched business was being fought over. Three of the councillors had been banished from Quebec, being ordered to remain in their country-houses till permitted to return. A more discreditable state of things could not well be imagined, nor one of worse example for the country. At last a compromise was proposed by d'Auteuil, the attorney-general, which was that the minutes should mention the presence of the governor and intendant at the meetings of the council, without speaking of either as presiding or as president. Frontenac at first would not have anything to do with such an arrangement, but finally he consented to it till the king's pleasure could be known.

The king this time lost patience. When an answer came back, it was his ^pleasure that was known, and displeasure with his " high and mighty Lordship, the governor." The king told him plainly that he had on various occasions advanced claims that had very little foundation, and that in this matter his pretensions were directly opposed to a royal ordinance. His Majesty added : "lam sure you are the only man in my kingdom who, being honoured with the titles of governor and lieutenant-general, would care to be styled chief and president of a council such as that at Quebec." Colbert dealt with the matter officially, and quoted this opinion of the king's almost in the same words. He also observed that, if Frontenac had any wish to give satisfaction to his Majesty, he would have to change entirely the line of conduct he had hitherto pursued. It seemed, however, as if the court could not afford to give a clear victory to Duchesneau, for, as a practical settlement of the point at issue, it was ordered that the modus vivendi suggested by the attorney-general and actually in force should be adopted as a permanent rule—a classical example of political trimming.

It is difficult to understand how any man in Frontenac's position could fail to feel profoundly humbled and chastened by so emphatic a reproof emanating direct from his sovereign master, and echoed in an official despatch from the minister in charge of colonies. We look in vain, however, for evidence that any such effect was produced on the spirit of the governor. He doubtless felt that he had achieved at least half a victory. The title had been depreciated in the despatches from the court; it was not worth his having, and Duchesneau was not to have it. For a time there was what looked like a truce between the two heads of the state, and shortly afterwards we find Duchesneau writing to say that he and the governor are now on excellent terms; that he is omitting nothing on his side that can give satisfaction to the latter; that he communicates the very smallest things to him, and that he hopes, by sheer force of amiability, to secure a little show of kindness in return. Seeing, however, that in the same despatch in which these excellent sentiments occur, he enters into lengthy accusations against Frontenac on the trading question, and that the latter was engaged about the same time in working up similar charges against him, as appears by a document bearing date the following year, we may reasonably doubt whether very amicable or charitable feelings prevailed on either side.

D'Auteuil, the attorney-general, who had been for some time in a failing condition, and whose health had probably not been improved by his occasional stormy interviews with the governor, by whom he was cordially detested, died in the early winter of 1679-80. Duchesneau, in anticipation of this event, had obtained the king's permission to name a successor, and had secured a signed commission which, to be complete, only required to have a name filled in. Auteuil's son, Francis Madeleine, had been assisting him for a couple of years in his office, and as he was a very assuming youth—he was not yet twenty-one—and bitterly hostile to the governor, he was naturally the intendant's choice. Young d'Auteuil had hardly entered on his duties before he picked a quarrel with Boulduc, prosecutor of the lower court, known as a firm ally of Frontenac, whom he ordered to wait upon him at his office every Saturday to prepare cases for the court under his (d'Auteuil's) supervision. Boulduc refused. The council took the matter up, but found it hard to decide, and the squabble dragged during most of the year 1680. In the following year facts came to light which caused Boulduc to be charged with embezzlement, and d'Auteuil pushed the matter with great zeal. Frontenac, anxious to save his friend, tried to represent the accusation as the outcome of private vengeance; unfortunately the facts were against the procureur, who was condemned, and dismissed from office.

Some of the side issues that were raised on this occasion brought out strikingly the spirit of Canadian official society. Villeray, first councillor, a man more obnoxious to Frontenac on account of his extreme devotion to the ecclesiastical authorities perhaps than by reason of his dubious antecedents,1 gave himself, in certain pleadings, the title of " esquire." Frontenac denied that he had any right to it, and held the pleadings invalid. Frontenac's secretary, Le Chasseur, appeared on a summons before the council, but refused to answer because he had been described in the summons as "secretary of Monsieur, the Governor," instead of "Monseigneur the Governor." Thus were the king's instructions to all and sundry to practise peace and concord being observed! A worse affair was that of the councillor, Damours, who, in the summer of 1681, obtained a cong6 from Frontenac to go as far as Matane where he had a property, and who was arrested by order of the governor on his return a few weeks later for having in some way exceeded the terms of his permit. Damours' wife appealed to the council, but Frontenac objected to having her letter read. Duchesneau urged the council to take cognizance of the case, but some of the members did not feel it safe to do so, and finally the papers were referred to the king—another quarrel for his Majesty to adjust! Meantime Damours remains in confinement for about six weeks. His Majesty of course disapproves of such harshness. In a letter dated 30th April 1681, after giving his representative various other cautions, he begs him to divest his mind of all those private animosities which up to the present have been almost the sole motive of his actions. "It is hard," he adds, "for me to give you my full confidence when I see that everything gives way to your personal enmities."

A question reserved for consideration in this chapter was as to how far there was foundation for the charges of illegitimate trading brought so continually by the intendant against the governor, and retorted by the latter .against the intendant. What may be noticed in the first place is the slight amount of attention apparently paid by the court to these charges and counter-charges. The king could not openly approve of trading on the part of his high officers; he was obliged to condemn it in strong and precise terms ; but he knew at the same time that they had starvation salaries, and it is possible that he was not wholly unwilling that they should, in a quiet way, make a little money out of the traffic in furs. Frontenac and Duchesneau were both recalled in the end ; but it was not for trading; it was for quarrelling, playing at cross-purposes, and sacrificing the welfare of the country to their mutual jealousies. M. Lorin, whose sympathy with Frontenac is conspicuous, is disposed to admit that he did not wholly abstain from trading; but he thinks he did it in a more respectable and less rapacious manner than Duchesneau. He observes that Frontenac's partners, if partners he had, were chiefly the great explorers, La Salle, Du Lhut and others; while the associates of Duchesneau were traders pure and simple, men like Lebert, Le Moyne and La Chesnaye. On the other hand the court does not seem to have taken Frontenac's accusations against the intendant seriously. The king indeed informs him that he regards his charges as "mere recriminations." Duchesneau, it will be remembered, had been warned not to put into his despatches things that were not true; possibly he was worrying the minister and the king with information they would rather not receive. The correspondence of 1679 shows clearly the hostile relations of the two administrators.

In the summer and fall of that year the governor spent nearly three months at Montreal. On the 6th November, having returned to Quebec, he writes to the king: " I have received diverse advices from the Jesuit fathers and other missionaries that General Andros (Governor of New York) was lately soliciting the Iroquois in an underhand way to break with us, and that he was about convening a meeting of the Five Nations, in order to propose matters of a nature to disturb our trade with them." Four days later the intendant takes up his parable and informs the minister that the governor " had made the news he pretended to have received regarding the plans of the English general, Andros, to debauch the Iroquois," the whole thing being a mere pretext for making a prolonged stay at Montreal at the height of the trading season. He charges the governor with exacting presents from the Indians in return for the protection afforded them by his guards, and with having taken seven packages of beaver skins from the Ottawas in consideration of his having settled a dispute into which they had got with some Frenchmen at Montreal. It will be remembered, and the fact certainly has an air of significance, that, when it was a question of granting amnesty to the coureurs de bois, it was Duchesneau who suggested that each man should be required to give the fullest information as to what trade he had been carrying on, and on whose account. The amnesty was granted without this condition. Evidently the court did not want an embarrassment of information. Duchesneau's trouble was an excess of not* wholly disinterested zeal.

The case is not overstated by Frontenac's latest and fullest biographer, M. Lorin, when he says that " the lack of a good understanding between the two administrators had divided Canadian society, or at least that portion of it which came into contact with the king's officers, into two camps." Street brawls arising out of the embitter-ment of feeling were not infrequent. An illustrative incident was the imprisonment of young Duchesneau, son of the intendant, for singing in the streets some snatches of a song disrespectful to the governor. The patience of the court was at last exhausted, and in the summer of 1682, Frontenac and Duchesneau were simultaneously recalled; and thus was brought to a close the count's first term of office as governor of Canada.

Some larger questions relating to this period may now profitably occupy our attention. One of the earliest acts of Frontenac, it will be remembered, was to summon the Iroquois to meet him in conference at Cataraqui, where, by his happy manner of dealing with them, he established a remarkable personal ascendency over their minds, and succeeded, for the time at least, in placing the relations between them and the French upon an excellent footing. The frequent visits which he subsequently paid to his favourite fort gave him opportunities of improving his acquaintance with his dusky lieges and of strengthening the good understanding that had been brought about. For some years things worked smoothly, and the colony enjoyed a comfortable sense of security. From the first, however, the influence of Onontio was more felt by the eastern and nearer members of the confederacy than by the western and more remote; and, as time wore on, the latter, particularly the Senecas, began to show a quarrelsome and insolent temper. They did not venture to attack the French, but they committed various acts of aggression on native tribes allied with - them and under their protection. Several years before they had waged war with the Illinois and driven them from their habitations. Then they turned southwards and engaged in a prolonged conflict with a tribe known as the Andostagnds, during which time the Illinois, having recovered in a measure from their losses, ventured to return to their former abodes. The explorations of La Salle had brought these people into alliance with the French; but when the Senecas had successfully concluded their war with the Andos-tagnds they were not disposed to refrain from attacking them anew on that account. After various preliminary raids, they sent, in the spring of 1680, an army of five or six hundred men into the Illinois territory and committed great havoc. It was on this occasion that Tonty, La Salle's lieutenant, nearly lost his life at Fort Crevecoeur. The question now was whether the French would stand idly by and see their allies destroyed. If they did, not only would their influence over the tribes trusting in their protection be annihilated, but they might soon have to fight for their own preservation without any native assistance. Frontenac sent messages to the Iroquois enjoining them to keep the peace; but the voice that once had charmed and overawed sounded now a very ineffectual note. Father Lamberville, Jesuit missionary to the Iroquois, wrote to say that the upper tribes had lost all fear of the French, and that a slight provocation would cause them to make war on Canada.

Frontenac and Duchesneau both discuss the matter in their despatches of the year 1681, the latter as usual blaming the former, hinting that he shirked his duty in not going up to Cataraqui in the previous summer in order to meet the tribes and use his personal influence in favour of peace. Frontenac writes as if he had not much confidence in that method ; he asks for five or six hundred soldiers to quell the rebellious tribes. He thinks it would be quite enough to patrol Lake Ontario with a respectable force in order to bring them to submission. After this despatch had gone, news arrived of a most regrettable incident which threatened to precipitate war. This was the murder of a Seneca chief by an Illinois on the territory of the Kiskakons, one of the Ottawa tribes in alliance with the French. According to Indian usage the Kiskakons were responsible for the crime, and the Senecas were hot for revenge. Appreciating the gravity of the situation, Frontenac sends a special message to request the offended tribe to stay their hands, promising to hold himself responsible for seeing that full atonement is made for the wrong done. They consent, but ask that he will meet them somewhere in or near Iroquois territory on the 15th June of the following year. No pledge is given on this point, but messengers are sent to the Ottawas to tell them that they must be prepared to make full amends, and that, if they will send delegates to Montreal, the matter will be discussed and arranged there.

The winter of 1681-2 was clearly an anxious one for the colony. Frontenac thought it well to summon the wisest heads in the country to meet in the Jesuit Seminary at Quebec in order to discuss the Indian question in all its bearings. Those taking part in the conference, in addition to himself, were the intendant, the provost, and three Jesuit fathers, who had had long experience in mission work and knew the savage tribes thoroughly. The general opinion of the meeting was that Frontenac should go to Fort Frontenac to meet the Iroquois, as they had requested, in the following month of June. Frontenac, for some reason or other, did not like the idea. He did not want to go further than Montreal. Moreover, there was no use, he said, in meeting the Iroquois till he knew what the Ottawas were going to do; and they would not reach Montreal till late in the summer. The governor had his way. The Ottawas, including the Kiskakons, came in August. Only with great difficulty were they persuaded to give the necessary satisfaction to the Iroquois, who, they said, no doubt with truth, were much keener in seeking satisfaction for wrongs than in giving it when wrong was done by themselves. The Iroquois sent delegates to Montreal in the following month ; and by dint of presents and promises a somewhat doubtful arrangement was patched up for the temporary maintenance of peace. Frontenac took advantage of his visit to Montreal to survey the fortifications and give instructions for strengthening them at several points. These were virtually the final acts of his administration, for in the last week of September his successor landed at Quebec.

What at this time were the resources of the colony in population ? In 1668, under the administration of Courcelles, Talon, the intendant, had reported the population at 6282. In 1673, a year after his arrival, Frontenac made a return showing a total of 6705 souls. The king, Colbert said, was much disappointed at these figures and thought they could not be correct, as there were more people in the country ten years before. Where his Majesty got this information we do not know, but probably from some agent of the West India Company interested in exaggerating the prosperity of the country. He seems to have completely overlooked Talon's figures for 1668, not to mention two previous returns made by the same careful officer in 1666 and 1667; the first showing a population of 3418 only, and the second one of 4312. It seems probable, however, that Frontenac's figures were somewhat short, as the increase they showed was less than seven per cent over Talon's for 1668, five years earlier; while a return which he made two years later gave a population of 7832, indicating a gain of nearly seventeen per cent, in that comparatively brief period. Even these figures did not satisfy the king, who insisted that he had sent over more people himself in the fifteen years or so that the country had been under his direct control.

It is to be remarked that for some years after Frontenac's arrival in Canada immigration received a serious check. His commission as governor was nearly even in date with the commencement of Louis XIV's buccaneering war against Holland, in which he was joined by his English cousin Charles II. The heroic stand made by the Dutch against the united power of the French and English monarchies is one of the glories of their history. It was not a good time for French immigrant ships to be abroad; moreover, all available Frenchmen were wanted for military service, over 200,000 having been drafted into the land forces alone, and the losses by war continually calling for recruits. A natural increase, however, was gding on in the colony all the time ; and in 1679 Duchesneau reported the population of Canada at 9400, and that of Acadia at 515. Three years later, at the end of Frontenac's first administration, the number had increased to over 10,000.

Trade, however, was not prosperous. Duchesneau, in November 1681, speaks of it as declining; though he tries to show that the West India trade in particular had increased in his time. The reason why trade was not prosperous is not far to seek: it was hampered and strangled by various forms of political control. The West India Company, called into existence by Colbert in 1663, had not fared much better than the Company of New France organized by Richelieu. The reflections which Clement makes on this subject in his life of Colbert are much to the point. " If ever a company," he says, "was placed in circumstances where everything seemed to promise success, assuredly it was the West India Company as reconstituted by Colbert. Monopolizing the commerce of a large part of the West Indies and of the settlements on the west coast of Africa, absolute and sovereign proprietor of all the territory in which its privilege was exercised, receiving large premiums on all that it exported or imported, one would naturally expect it to surpass the expectations of its founders. The contrary, however, was what happened, and new mortifications were added to all. that had gone before. . . . By the year 1672 the company was bankrupt."1 The chief cause of the failure M. Clement believes to have been the prohibition of trade with foreigners. Certainly what Canada most wanted was an outlet for its productions ; and, could foreign vessels have freely visited the country to buy fish, lumber, potash, and skins, not to mention their own supplies, Canada would have had an open and really unlimited market during nearly the whole season of navigation. This restriction of foreign trading continued unfortunately after the king had bought out the rights of the bankrupt company in the year 1674. Having only the market of France to depend on, the trade of the colony was subject to all the vicissitudes by which that market was affected. It thus suffered severely through the war with Holland, which brought an enormous strain to bear, for a period of six years (1672-8), on the finances of the kingdom. In the years 1675 and 1676 starvation was stalking through the land; the courtiers, in driving from Paris to Versailles, would frequently see the corpses of the wretched victims of famine strewing the highway; while in Brittany and one or two other provinces the hangman was doing a merry business in swinging off the unfortunates whose misery had driven them to theft or other acts of disorder. " Gallows and instruments of torture were to be seen at all the crossways," says Henri Martin. Madame de Sevignd gives the most horrible details in regard to the severities exercised, but with very little show of sympathy for the unhappy people whom she speaks of as a " canaille revoltee "—rebellious riff-raff. " This province" [Brittany], she says, "will be a fine example for the rest and will teach the lower orders to respect the higher powers." To the same fluent and graceful pen we owe the almost Tacitean utterance : " The punishments are easing off: by dint of vigorous hanging, there will be no more hanging to do." " They make a desert," says Tacitus, " and they call it peace."

Such was the industrial stagnation prevalent about this time throughout the kingdom that very often vessels arriving at certain ports could not find return freights ; there was nothing to export. Colbert's efforts to build up great industries by means of bounties and restrictive tariffs had, after a temporary flash of success, resulted in dismal failure; and when peace was made with Holland in 1678, one of the conditions agreed upon was that "reciprocal liberty of trade between France and the United Provinces was not to be forbidden, limited, or restrained by any privilege, customs duty, or concession, and that neither country should give any immunities, benefits, premiums, or other advantages not conceded equally to subjects of the other." Thus was Colbert's leading principle of commercial policy completely overthrown, and that after a war, which had brought him to the verge of despair to provide the means for carrying it on.

Those were the days, however, of " imperialism " in a very real sense. Whatever the state of commerce might be in the Mother Country, Canada still had to trade with her alone; and, even so, all mercantile operations were hampered by an arbitrary fixing of prices. This was so under the sway of the company, and continued to be so to a large extent after its privileges had been swept away. Very imperial was the rule of Louis XIV. In his youth he had seen an attempt by the parliament of Paris to assert its prerogatives. In January 1649, just about the time when the scaffold was being prepared for Charles I of England, he and the court hardly knew where to turn for shelter; and he never forgot one night which they had to spend in fireless rooms without any attendance. The royal power, astutely guided by Mazarin, asserted itself eventually over parliaments and princes alike; and Louis XIV, arrived at manhood, determined that no such trouble should occur again in his time. Gaillardin, in his history of the reign of Louis XIV, fixes upon the year 1672—the year in which Frontenac was sent to Canada—as the epoch of the most complete enslavement of the parliaments. The historic function which those bodies were supposed to exercise, apart from their judicial powers, was that of registering the royal edicts ; and in theory such registration was necessary in order to give any edict the full force of law. Manifestly this privilege might, like the control over money votes exercised by the English House of Commons, have developed into an effective check upon monarchical absolutism. The possibility was not overlooked, and marvellously clear and precise is the declaration by which Louis XIV, in the year 1673, put all the parliaments of his kingdom into the precise position he meant them to occupy. " First of all," the decree reads, " silent obedience : the courts [parliaments] are strictly forbidden to listen to any opposition to the registration of the letters of the king; clerks are forbidden to enter such oppositions on the records; bailiffs are forbidden to give notification of them. . . . The courts are ordered to register the letters of the king without any modification, restriction, or condition which might cause delay or impediment to their execution." When this duty has been submissively performed, then, if the parliaments have any observations to make, they may make them; but, when once the king has replied, there is to be no further discussion of any kind, simply prompt obedience. The registration of the royal edicts became henceforth a mere matter of form ; and remonstrances of any kind, even such as the king graciously permitted after registration, ceased to be made. The Chancellor dAguesseau1 says that none were made during the remaining forty-two years of the king's lifetime.

It may be objected, perhaps, that this is French and not Canadian history; if so the answer must be that it is impossible to understand the history of Canada in this period unless we have a sufficient comprehension of the political system to which Canada was bound by the most vital of ties. We get a strong light upon the character of Frontenac when we rightly grasp that of his master, the Roi-Soleil, as he allowed himself to be called, the man who, daring the fate of Herod or Nebuchadnezzar, once said, " It seems to me as if any glory won by another was robbed from myself." Some years before he had put on record the sentiment: " It is God's will that whoever is born a subject should not reason but obey."

To return, however, to Canada, when the king bought out the rights of the bankrupt company, monopoly was not at an end, for he proceeded to put up the trade of the country, under limited leases, to the highest bidders. Those who obtained leases were called the " farmers," and were entitled to ten per cent, of the value of all furs taken in the country. The Sovereign Council at Quebec undertook to fix the prices of goods except as regards dealings with the Indians; and non-resident merchants, while they might establish warehouses, and there sell to the French inhabitants, were not allowed to deal directly with the Indians, these being left to the mercy of local traders who made a practice of charging them excessive prices for all that they sold. Frontenac and Duchesneau both report to the home government that the Indians get twice as much from the English and Dutch in exchange for their furs as they do from the French; and yet the aim of both is to force all the Indians in their jurisdiction to sell their furs exclusively in Canada. Canadians who went to the English settlements, either in New England or in what is now New York, were amazed at the cheapness of goods. Duchesneau, in one of his later despatches, speaks of the commercial prosperity of Boston and the large fortunes accumulated by some of its citizens. Nothing similar was to be seen in Canada, where there was a settled belief on the part of the governing powers in whatever was most restrictive and illiberal in commercial policy.

The first administration of Frontenac will always be associated with the intrepid enterprises of the great western explorers, Jolliet, La Salle, Du Lhut, Nicolas Perrot, and others. To Jolliet is reasonably assigned the first discovery of the Mississippi. Starting from Green Bay, or, as it was then called, Baie des Puants, on the west shore of Lake Michigan, in company with the Jesuit father, Marquette, he worked his way to the Wisconsin River, which he followed to its junction with the Mississippi; and then descended the latter river till he reached, latitude 33°, or about as far as the northern boundary of the present state of Louisiana. Fear of falling into the hands of the Spaniards, who, as he was informed by the Indians, had settlements not far to the south, caused him to retrace his steps. When he was just completing his return journey, his canoe upset close to Montreal, and all his papers were lost, including the notes he had made of his observations, and a map of the region through which he had passed. He himself narrowly escaped with his life—the laws of nature were in fact suspended, as he gravely declares, in his behalf—but a young savage whom he was bringing from the country of the Illinois was drowned.2 He reached Quebec in the month of August 1674, and the thrilling account which he gave of his adventures produced a strong impression on the mind of the governor. Nevertheless when, two years later, he asked permission to go with twenty men to make further explorations in the same direction, Colbert refused his request. A possible explanation is that his previous journey with P£re Marquette had established relations which Frontenac did not quite approve between him and the Jesuits in the western country, who had lost no time in pushing their missions towards the south. However this may have been, Frontenac had his eye at this very time upon a man who seemed to him much better suited to be an agent of his policy.

It has already been mentioned that Robert Cavelier de la Salle obtained from the king in the year 1675 a grant of the fort erected by Frontenac at Cataraqui. The conditions of the grant were that he was to reimburse the cost of construction, estimated at ten thousand livres; keep it in good repair; maintain a sufficient garrison; employ twenty men for two years in clearing the land conceded to him in the neighbourhood; provide a priest or friar to perform divine service and administer the sacraments; form villages of Indians and French; and have all his lands cleared and improved, within twenty years. On these terms he was to have four square leagues of land, that is to say, eight leagues in length along the river and lake front, east and west of the fort, by half a league in depth, together 156 with the islands opposite. But what was of most value in a pecuniary sense, and what he depended on to compensate his outlay, was the right of hunting and fishing in the neighbouring region, and of trading with the Indians. To what extent La Salle actually developed the property thus conceded to him is a matter of dispute. The Abb£ Faillon, who perhaps has some little animus against him, says that he did nothing worth mentioning towards establishing such a colony as the king intended. The king, on the other hand, when granting La Salle authority to undertake explorations in the direction of the Mississippi speaks approvingly of the work he had done on his concession. The information may have been derived from La Salle himself, who went to France in the autumn of 1677 to obtain sanction for his proposed expedition; but it is hardly likely that he would lay altogether false information before the minister for submission to the king. It seems to be certain that he did at least put the fort in a good condition of defence. He pulled down the old one, which consisted merely of a wooden palisade banked up with earth and having a circumference of one hundred and twenty yards, and replaced it by one having a circumference of seven hundred and twenty yards, and protected by four stone bastions.

The probability is that La Salle, from the first, looked upon his establishment at the fort partly as an advanced base for the further explorations he had in view, and partly as a means of providing the funds without which his schemes could not be realized. The proposition which he laid before the government, was that he should erect at his own expense two forts, one at the mouth of the Niagara River on the east side, the other at the southern extremity of Lake Michigan ; and that he should be commissioned to proceed to the discovery of the mouth of the Mississippi, and be granted the exclusive right of trading with the Indians inhabiting the countries to be visited. The trade he was most anxious to control was that in buffalo hides, a sample of which he had brought with him to France. Having obtained all necessary powers, he sailed for Canada in the summer of 1678, bringing with him as much money as he could persuade his family and friends to advance, together with a large quantity of goods. The pecuniary obligations thus assumed were to be paid off, as he hoped, partly by the profits of his trade at Cataraqui, and partly by those of his operations in the more distant West. The story of his struggles and tribulations is too long to give in any detail here, but the main points may be hurriedly sketched.

The first care of the explorer on arriving at Quebec in the autumn was to load several canoes with goods to the value of several thousands of francs, and despatch them with a party of men to the Illinois country. In the spring carpenters were sent forward to Niagara to commence the construction of a fort. He himself followed in a large canoe laden with provisions and goods. His first misadventure was the loss of this canoe and its freight, not far from the mouth of the Niagara River. The accident was due to the inattention of his men while he was on shore. A little above the Falls of Niagara he began the construction of a forty-five ton vessel, destined for the trade between that point and an establishment he proposed to make at the southern end of Lake Michigan. The Iroquois of the neighbourhood did not like these proceedings, but did not make any active opposition. The vessel was completed and La Salle and his men sailed away in her through Lake Erie, the St. Clair River, and Lake Huron into Lake Michigan. Severe storms were encountered on the way. Near Green Bay the men whom he had sent forward with goods the previous fall met him with a number of canoes, all laden with skins, the result of their trading with the Illinois. This was more expedition than he had counted on, for he had told them to await his arrival. He caused the goods, however, to be transferred to his vessel, the Griffon, as she was called, and sent her back to Niagara with a sufficient crew. She was never-heard of more; but the Indians reported that, shortly after she left shelter, a terrible storm had arisen on Lake Michigan. They watched her for some time as she was tossed about by the fury of the waves, and then they lost sight of her. Ignorant of this disaster, La Salle was making his way south. He established two forts on the Illinois River. The first, which he called St. Louis, was near the site of the present town of La Salle. The second, a little further south, near to Peoria, he named Crkvecceur. The name is significant of " heartbreak," and his fortunes were then at their lowest ebb, for provisions were exhausted and a number of men had deserted; still it is not recorded that the name was given on that account. Leaving Henry Tonty, a man of great energy and resource, whom he had brought out from France, in charge of Fort Cr&vecceur he made his way back alone to Fort Frontenac and thence to Montreal.

It was at Fort Frontenac that La Salle first learnt the fate of his richly-laden Griffon; while at Montreal the news reached him of the loss of a vessel coming from France with a large quantity of goods for his trade. Such an accumulation of misfortunes was enough to break the spirit of an ordinary man; but La Salle was a man whom adversity could not conquer. Straining his credit to the utmost to procure supplies and reinforcements, he returns to the Illinois country to find Fort Cr&vecceur in ruins. It had been attacked by the Iroquois and its defenders scattered. Tonty, wounded in the skirmish, had gone to Michili-mackinac. Getting no word of him, La Salle assumes that he is dead. Once more the long journey eastward must be faced. He reaches Montreal, and succeeds in organizing yet another expedition. Again he sets out for the West. It is late in the fall of 1680 when he reaches Michilimackinac, where he is overjoyed to find the lost Tonty. The two proceed together to the Illinois country. The year 1681 is spent in establishing or re-establishing posts and dealing or negotiating with the natives. On the 6th February 1682 La Salle strikes the Mississippi. Two months and three days later, or on the 9th of April, he is gazing forth over the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The tale is quickly told; but not so easy is it adequately to appraise the courage, determination and resource necessary for the accomplishment of such an enterprise. Knowing what we do of the man, the portrait of him in Margry's third volume seems to possess a certain convincing character, though Margry himself does not vouch for its authenticity. We see a face sensitive, perhaps sensuous, subtle, passionate, daring, tenacious. Such a man could not bind himself to the task of patient colonization at Fort Frontenac, or even find satisfaction in the more varied and exciting life of a frontiersman and trader. An overwhelming desire possessed him and to follow the swelling flood of the mightiest of rivers to its bourne in some mighty sea. Such a man will have the defects of his qualities, and La Salle was neither devoid of jealousy nor incapable of injustice ; and he was a somewhat hard taskmaster. Possessed himself of iron nerve and unbending resolution, and sustained by visions of high accomplishment, he expected more from average men than they were altogether capable of rendering. More than once some of his followers deserted him. One attempt was made at Fort Frontenac to poison him ; and finally he met his death at the hand of an assassin, a member of his own party, in that far southern region which he had added to the domain of France.

Frontenac's personal relations with La Salle are not very clearly defined. He was certainly favourable to him at first. The two men were much alike in their attitude towards the ecclesiastical power; and both showed a preference for the Itdcollet order, two members of which La Salle maintained at the fort. Frontenac also approved of La Salle's plans of discovery in the west and south, as tending to the extension of the French dominions and the glory of the French name, and possibly also as furnishing a counterpoise to the growing influence of the Jesuits among the western Indians. There is nothing, however, to show that he followed the later movements of the great explorer with any particular sympathy.

Du Lhut was a man of a different type. He did not possess the vaulting ambition, nor perhaps the talent for organization, of La Salle; but he discovered a vast stretch of new territory in what is now the western part of New Ontario, and along the course of the Assiniboine; and, so far as skill in the management of the native races was concerned he was probably superior to the more romantic explorer. No man was more successful in upholding French prestige amongst the Indian tribes. It was just before La Salle returned from France in the autumn of 1678 that Du Lhut, in somewhat clandestine fashion, slipped off to the West. Those were the days in which the coureur de bois difficulty was at its height; and, upon arriving at Sault Ste. Marie, he wrote to Frontenac in a rather deprecatory tone as if sensible of the doubtful legality of his position, but pointed out the advantages that would accrue from entering into relations with the North Western Indians. About a year later he presided over a great meeting of the tribes on the site of the important city which now bears his name (according to one spelling of it); established peace between communities that had long been at war; and obtained. the promise of the important tribe of the Nades-sioux to direct their trade in future to Montreal. This was eminently useful work, and gained for its author the full sympathy of Frontenac. Nevertheless, on his return to Quebec in the following year (1680), he was imprisoned for violation of the king's regulations, in all probability at the instance of the vigilant M. Jacques Duchesneau, who would be prompt to suspect complicity in illegal trading between him and the governor. He was released after a short detention, and went to France in the fall of 1681, in the hope of obtaining the king's sanction for further explorations. In this he was unsuccessful; but, returning to Canada, he obtained employment in the West as post commander and agent to the tribes west and north of Lake Superior. Through him the French influence was extended, not only far into what is now our own North-West, but even to the shores of Hudson's Bay, much of the trade which had before been done with the English of that region being diverted, through his persuasions, to Montreal.

While the secular rulers of the country were, with somewhat divided aims, striving to promote the material interests and provide for the security of the colony, the church, with considerably more unity of purpose, was labouring to achieve spiritual results. The promotion of M. de Laval to the see of Quebec put an end to much disputing and mutual distrust amongst different orders of the clergy. It is said to have had a markedly beneficial effect on Laval himself, who seemed at once to dismiss the exaggerated suspicions he had entertained regarding all who were not thoroughly subdued to his influence, and the Sulpician order in particular. Missionary work was actively carried on, and though the question of tithes gave more or less trouble, and the people were not as zealous as might have been wished in providing for the maintenance of their local clergy, the influence of the church and of religion was strongly felt throughout the length and breadth of the land. The king had much at heart the establishment of permanent curacies, and in 1679 issued an edict on the subject, which,.however, had little effect.

His Majesty's idea was that the cure should receive tithes, and that if these did not suffice to give him a decent living, further rates should be levied on the seigneurs and the people. As even the tithes were paid very grudgingly, it is easy , to believe that a scheme of further taxation for church purposes stood little chance of acceptance. We have already seen that Laval was by no means in love with the policy of fixed cures, and he was probably not sorry to be able to represent to the court that it really could not be carried into effect. Bishop and people together were too much even for the king.

The Rdcollets, always on the alert to make themselves useful, rose to the occasion by offering to serve the parishes and accept simply what the people might be disposed to give, but the bishop thought their zeal savoured of officiousness, and declined the offer with scanty thanks. These worthy ecclesiastics were very popular in the country, and it is probable they could have successfully carried out their undertaking had they been allowed to try. The bishop had other views for the nurture of his Canadian flock. The Rdcollet fathers did not at this time stand very high in his esteem. The Jesuits accused them of tolerating grave abuses in the household of the governor, who had a Rdcollet, Father Maupassant, for confessor; but, as M. Lorin pertinently observes, the accusation was singularly ill-timed, considering the flagrant disorders which marked the private life of Frontenac's master, Louis XIV, whose spiritual interests were in charge of the Jesuit, P&re Lachaise. The monarch—" ce religieux prince," as the Abb£ Faillon calls him—had no hesitation in demanding of the parliament of Paris legitimation of successive batches of his bastard offspring, and registration of the titles of nobility he was pjeased to confer upon them. Whatever the responsibilities of Father Maupassant may have been, he must have had a sinecure in comparison with the king's confessor. It may be added that Frontenac vehemently denied that there were any disorders or scandals in his household.

Missions to the different Indian tribes were in active operation during the whole of the period now under review. Those of the Jesuits were by far the most widespread. Their chief establishment outside of Quebec was at Sault Ste. Marie ; in addition they had permanent missions at Mackinac, Green Bay, and various points in the Iroquois country; while Father Albanel penetrated as far as Hudson's Bay, and others laboured amongst the Indians of the Saguenay region. The Sulpicians were less adventurous; they did most of their evangelizing work on or near to the Island of Montreal. They had an establishment, however, on the Bay of Quintd, and one or more on the Ottawa River. The Rdcollets had Fort Frontenac, Perc£ on the Baie des Chaleurs, and certain posts on the line of La Salle's explorations.

As regards the conversion of the savage tribes. it can hardly be claimed that any of these missions were very successful. All authorities agree that it was extremely difficult to impress the Indian mind with the truths of Christianity, or with the idea of any absolute and exclusive theology. The Indian was quite ready to accept the missionary's version of the origin of the world, provided the missionary would reciprocate and accept his decidedly different version. Each, he held, was good in its place ; a little variety in these matters did no harm. He had little or no sense of sin, for he did not recognize that the things he did were wrong, and when threatened with the terrors of a future world, he simply said that he did not believe the " master of life " could hate anybody. At the same time he was quite prepared to join in religious services if requested, and seemed even to enjoy the ceremonial. He believed in unlimited charity to relatives and friends, but could not be got to admit the duty of forgiving enemies. An Indian who had been informed that in France many died of want, while others of the same nation had food and substance of all kinds in the greatest profusion, was scandalized beyond measure. He was affected much as we should be by some dark tale of cruelty and superstition from a far-off heathen land. And to think that people of whom such things could be told were sending missionaries to him, to enjoin upon him, among other things, the duty of charity!

But if the missionaries made comparatively little headway in the matter of actual conversions, it is impossible to doubt that they exerted a general influence for good upon the tribes to whom they ministered. This may fairly be inferred from the moral authority they exercised and the security and respect they enjoyed. They were themselves men of pure lives and disinterested motives; and so far they personally recommended the doctrines they preached. To some extent also they taught the savages various useful arts of life. Frontenac specially commends the Montreal Seminary for their efforts to civilize the Indians of their missions who, under their instruction, had taken to raising domestic animals, swine, poultry, etc., and to cultivating wheat as well as native grains. The Abbé Verreau, on the other hand, is inclined to hold that the attempts made, at the urgent demand of the French government, to civilize as well as christianize the Indians are accountable, in part at least, for the general failure of the missions. "We all know now," he says, " what has been the result of so much effort and so much outlay of money. Two or three poor villages inhabited by unhappy creatures who have added our vices to their own deficiencies, without having adopted any of our better qualities. That is all that remains of the Abenaquis, the Hurons, and the Iroquois."1 The reflection is a sad one, and the abbé feels it, for he speaks further of the painful mystery of the disappearance of these children of the forest. Truly does the poet say that" God fulfils Himself in many ways," yet none the less the surviving white man may well feel some misgiving when he thinks of all his past dealings with his red brother.


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