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Bishop Lavel
Chapter VI Settlement of the Colony


TO the great joy of Mgr. de Laval the colony was about to develop suddenly, thanks to the establishment in the fertile plains of New France of the time-expired soldiers of the regiment of Carignan. The importance of the peopling of his diocese had always been capital in the eyes of the bishop, and we have seen him at work obtaining from the court new consignments of colonists. Accordingly, in the year 1663, three hundred persons had embarked at La Rochelle for Canada. Unfortunately, the majority of these passengers were quite young people, clerks or students, in quest of adventure, who had never worked with their hands. The consequences of this deplorable emigration were disastrous; more than sixty of these poor children died during the voyage. The king was startled at such negligence, and the three hundred colonists who embarked the following year, in small detachments, arrived in excellent condition. Moreover, they had made the voyage without expense, but had in return hired to work for three years with the farmers, for an annual wage which was to be fixed by the authorities. "It will seem to you perhaps strange," wrote M. de Villeray, to the minister Colbert, " to see that we make workmen coming to us from France undergo a sort of apprenticeship, by distribution among the inhabitants; yet there is nothing more necessary, first, because the men brought to us are not accustomed to the tilling of the soil; secondly, a man who is not accustomed to work, unless he is urged, has difficulty in adapting himself to it; thirdly, the tasks of this country are very different from those of France, and experience shows us that a man who has wintered three years in the country, and who then hires out at service, receives double the wages of one just arriving from the Old Country. These are reasons of our own which possibly would not be admitted in France by those who do not understand them."

The Sovereign Council recommended, moreover, that there should be sent only men from the north of France, "because," it asserted, "the Normans, Percherons, Picards, and people from the neighbourhood of Paris are docile, laborious, industrious, and have much more religion. Now, it is important in the establishment of a country to sow good seed." While we accept in the proper spirit this eulogy of our ancestors, who came mostly from these provinces, how inevitably it suggests a comparison with the spirit of scepticism and irreverence which now infects, transitorily, let us hope, these regions of Northern France.

Never before had the harbour of Quebec seen so much animation as in the year 1665. The solicitor-general, Bourdon, had set foot on the banks of the St. Lawrence in early spring; he escorted a number of girls chosen by order of the queen. Towards the middle of August two ships arrived bearing four companies of the regiment of Carignan, and the following month three other vessels brought, together with eight other companies, Governor de Courcelles and Commissioner Talon. Finally, on October 2nd, one hundred and thirty robust colonists and eighty-two maidens, carefully chosen, came to settle in the colony.

If we remember that there were only at this time seventy houses in Quebec, we may say without exaggeration that the number of persons who came from France in this year, 1665, exceeded that of the whole white population already resident in Canada. But it was desirable to keep this population in its entirety, and Commissioner Talon, well seconded by Mgr. de Laval, tenaciously pursued this purpose. The soldiers of Carignan, all brave, and pious too, for the most part, were highly desirable colonists. " What we seek most," wrote Mother Mary of the Incarnation, " is the glory of God and the welfare of souls. That is what we are working for, as well as to assure the prevalence of devotion in the army, giving the men to understand that we are waging here a holy war. There are as many as five hundred of them who have taken the scapulary of the Holy Virgin, and many others who recite the chaplet of the Holy Family every day."

Talon met with a rather strong opposition to his immigration plans in the person of the great Colbert, who was afraid of seeing the Mother Country depopulated in favour of her new daughter Canada. His perseverance finally won the day, and more than four hundred soldiers settled in the colony. Each common soldier received a hundred francs, each sergeant a hundred and fifty francs. Besides, forty thousand francs were used in raising in France the additional number of fifty girls and a hundred and fifty men, which, increased by two hundred and thirty-five colonists, sent by the company in 1667, fulfilled the desires of the Bishop of Peteea.

The country would soon have been self-supporting if similar energy had been continuously employed in its development. It is a miracle that a handful of emigrants, cast almost without resources upon the northern shore of America, should have been able to maintain themselves so long, in spite of continual alarms, in spite of the deprivation of all comfort, and in spite of the rigour of the climate. With wonderful courage and patience they conquered a vast territory, peopled it, cultivated its soil, and defended it by prodigies of valour against the forays of the Indians.

The colony, happily, was to keep its bishop, the worthy Governor de Courcelles, and the best administrator it ever had, the Commissioner Talon. But it was to lose a lofty intellect: the Marquis de Tracy, his mission ended to the satisfaction of all, set sail again for France. From the moment of his arrival in Canada the latter had inspired the greatest confidence. "These three gentlemen," say the annals of the hospital, speaking of the viceroy, of M. de Courcelles and M. Talon, "were endowed with all desirable qualities. They added to an attractive exterior much, wit, gentleness and prudence, and were admirably adapted to instil a high idea of the royal majesty and power; they sought all means proper for moulding the country and laboured at this task with great application. This colony, under their wise leadership, expanded wonderfully, and according to all appearances gave hope of becoming most flourishing." Mgr. de Laval held the Marquis de Tracy in high esteem. "He is a man powerful in word and deed," he wrote to Pope Alexander VII, "a practising Christian, and the right arm of religion." The viceroy did not fear, indeed, to show that one may be at once an excellent Christian and a brave officer, whether he accompanied the Bishop of Petraea on the pilgrimage to good Ste. Anne, or whether he honoured himself in the religious processions by carrying a corner of the dais with the governor, the intendant and the agent of the West India Company. He was seen also at the laying of the foundation stone of the church of the Jesuits, at the transfer of the relics of the holy martyrs Flavian and Felicitas, at the consecration of the; cathedral of Quebec and at that of the chief altar of the church of the Ursulines, in fact, everywhere where he might set before the faithful the good example of piety and of the respect due to religion.

The eighteen years of peace with the Iroquois, obtained by the expedition of the Marquis de Tracy, allowed the intendant to encourage the development of the St. Maurice mines, to send the traveller Nicolas Perrot to visit all the tribes of the north and west, in order to establish or cement with them relations of trade or friendship, and to entrust Father Marquette and M. Joliet with the mission of exploring the course of the Mississippi. The two travellers carried their exploration as far as the junction of this river with the Arkansas, but their provisions failing them, they had to retrace their steps.

This state of peace came near being disturbed by the gross cupidity of some wretched soldiers. In the spring of 1669 three soldiers of the garrison of Ville-Marie, intoxicated and assassinated an Iroquois chief who was bringing back from his hunting some magnificent furs. M. de Courcelles betook himself at once to Montreal, but, during the process of this trial, it was learned that several months before three other Frenchmen had killed six Mo-hegan Indians with the same purpose of plunder.

The excitement aroused by these two murders was such that a general uprising of the savage nations was feared; already they had banded together for vengeance, and only the energy of the governor saved the colony from the horrors of another war. In the presence of all the Indians then quartered at Ville-Marie, he had the three assassins of the Iroquois chief brought before him, and caused them to be shot. He pledged himself at the same time to do like justice to the murderers of the Mohegans, as soon as they should be discovered. He caused, moreover, to be restored to the widow of the chief all the furs which had been stolen from him, and indemnified the two tribes, and thus by his firmness induced the restless nations to remain at peace. His vigilance did not stop at this. The Iroquois and the Ottawas being on the point of recommencing their feud, he warned them that he would not allow them to disturb the general order and tranquillity. He commanded them to send to him delegates to present the question of their mutual grievances. Receiving an arrogant reply from the Iroquois, who thought their country inaccessible to the French, he himself set out from Montreal on June 2nd, 1671, with fifty-six soldiers, in a specially constructed boat and thirteen bark canoes. He reached the entrance to Lake Ontario, and so daunted the Iroquois by his audacity that the Ottawas sued for peace. Profiting by the alarm with which he had just inspired them, M. de Courcelles gave orders to the principal chiefs to go and await him at Cataraqui, there to treat with him on an important matter. They obeyed, and the governor declared to them his plan of constructing at this very place a fort where they might more easily arrange their exchanges. Not suspecting that the French had any other purpose than that of protecting themselves against inroads, they approved this plan; and so Fort Cataraqui, to-day the city of Kingston, was erected by Count de Frontenac, and called after this governor, who was to succeed M. de Courcelles.

Their transitory apprehensions did not interrupt the construction of the two churches of Quebec and Montreal, for they were built almost at the same time; the first was dedicated on July 11th, 1666, the second, begun in 1672, was finished only in 1678. The church of the old city of Champlain was of stone, in the form of a Roman cross; its length was one hundred feet, its width thirty-eight. It contained, besides the principal altar, a chapel dedicated to St. Joseph, another to Ste. Anne, and the chapel of the Holy Scapulary. Thrice enlarged, it gave place in 1755 to the present cathedral, for which the foundations of the older church were used. When the prelate arrived in 1659, the holy offices were already celebrated there, but the bishop hastened to end the work which it still required. " There is here," he wrote to the Common Father of the faithful, " a cathedral made of stone; it is large and splendid. The divine service is celebrated in it according to the ceremony of bishops; our priests, our seminarists, as well as ten or twelve choir-boys, are regularly present there. On great festivals, the mass, vespers and evensong are sung to music, with orchestral accompaniment, and our organs mingle their harmonious voices with those of the chanters. There are in the sacristy some very fine ornaments, eight silver chandeliers, and all the chalices, pyxes, vases and censers are either gilt or pure silver."

The Sulpicians as well as the Jesuits have always professed a peculiar devotion to the Virgin Mary. It was the pious founder of St. Sulpice, M. Olier, who suggested to the Company of Notre-Dame the idea of consecrating to Mary the establishment of the Island of Montreal in order that she might defend it as her property, and increase it as her domain. They gladly yielded to this desire, and even adopted as the seal of the company the figure of Our Lady; in addition they confirmed the name of Ville-Marie, so happily given to this chosen soil.

It was the Jesuits who placed the church of Quebec under the patronage of the Immaculate Conception, and gave it as second patron St. Louis, King of France. This double choice could not but be agreeable to the pious Bishop of Petraea. Learning, moreover, that the members of the Society of Jesus renewed each year in Canada their vow to fast on the eve of the festival of the Immaculate Conception, and to add to this mortification several pious practices, with the view of obtaining from Heaven the conversion of the savages, he approved this devotion, and ordered that in future it should likewise be observed in his seminary. He sanctioned other works of piety inspired or established by the Jesuit Fathers ; the novena, which has remained so popular with the French-Canadians, at St. Fran^ois-Xavier, the Brotherhoods of the Holy Rosary and of the Scapulary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. He encouraged, above all, devotion to the Holy Family, and prescribed wise regulations for this worship. The Pope deigned to enrich by numerous indulgences the brotherhoods to which it gave birth, and in recent years Leo XIII instituted throughout the Church the celebration of the Festival of the Holy Family. " The worship of the Holy Family," the illustrious pontiff proclaims in a recent bull, "was established in America, in the region of Canada, where it became most flourishing, thanks chiefly to the solicitude and activity of the venerable servant of God, Francis de Montmorency Laval, first Bishop of Quebec, and of God's worthy handmaiden, Marguerite Bourgeoys." According to Cardinal Taschereau, it was Father Pijard who established the first Brotherhood of the Holy Family in 1650 in the Island of Montreal, but the real promoter of this cult was another Father of the Company of Jesus, Father Chaumonot, whom Mgr. de Laval brought specially to Quebec to set at the head of the brotherhood which he had decided to found.

It was the custom, in these periods of fervent faith, to place buildings, cities and even countries under the aegis of a great saint, and Louis XIII had done himself the honour of dedicating France to the Virgin Mary. People did not then blush to practise and profess their beliefs, nor to proclaim them aloud. On the proposal of the Récollets in a general assembly, St. Joseph was chosen as the first patron saint of Canada; later, St. Fran^is-Xavier was adopted as the second special protector of the colony.

Montreal, which in the early days of its existence maintained with its rival of Cape Diamond a strife of emulation in the path of good as well as in that of progress, could no longer do without a religious edifice wOrthy of its already considerable importance. Mgr. de Laval was at this time on a round of pastoral visits, for, in spite of the fatigue attaching to such a journey, at a time when there was not yet even a carriage-road between the two towns, and when, braving contrary winds, storms and the snares of the Iroquois, one had to ascend the St. Lawrence in a bark canoe, the worthy prelate made at least eight visits to Montreal during the period of his administration. In a general assembly of May 12th, 1669, presided over by him, it was decided to establish the church on ground which had belonged to Jean de Saint-P^re, but since this site had not the elevation on which the Sulpicians desired to see the new temple erected, the work was suspended for two years more. The ecclesiastics of the seminary offered on this very height (for M. Dollier had given to the main street the name of Notre-Dame, which was that of the future church) some lots bought by them from Nicolas God£ and from Mme. Jacques Lemoyne, and situated behind their house; they offered besides in the name of M. de Bretonvilliers the sum of a thousand livres tournois for three years, to begin the work. These offers were accepted in an assembly of all the inhabitants, on June 10th, 1672; Francis Bailly, master mason, directed the building, and on the thirtieth of the same month, before the deeply moved and pious population, there were laid, immediately after high mass, the first five stones. There had been chosen the name of the Purification, because this day was the anniversary of that on which MM. Olier and de la Dauversi&re had caught the first glimpses of their vocation to work at the establishment of Ville-Marie, and because this festival had always remained in high honour among the Montrealers. The foundation was laid by M. de Courcelles, governor-general; the second stone had been reserved for M. Talon, but, as he could not accept the invitation, his place was taken by M. Philippe de Carion, representative of M. de la Motte Saint-Paul. The remaining stones were laid by M. Perrot, governor of the island, by M. Dollier de Casson, representing M. de Bretonvil-liers, and by Mile. Mance, foundress of the Montreal hospital. The sight of this ceremony was one of the last joys of this good woman; she died on June 18th of the following year.

Meanwhile, all desired to contribute to the continuation of the work; some offered money, others materials, still others their labour. In their ardour the priests of the seminary had the old fort, which was falling into ruins, demolished in order to use the wood and stone for the new building. As lords of the island, they seemed to have the incontestable right to dispose of an edifice which was their private property. But M. de Bretonvilliers, to whom they referred the matter, took them to task for their haste, and according to his instructions the work of demolition was stopped, not to be resumed until ten years later. The colonists had an ardent desire to see their church finished, but they were poor, and, though a collection had brought in, in 1676, the sum of two thousand seven hundred francs, the work dragged along for two years more, and was finished only in 1678. " The church had," says M. Morin, "the form of a Roman cross, with the lower sides ending in a circular apse; its portal, built of hewn stone, was composed of two designs, one Tuscan, the other Doric ; the latter was surmounted by a triangular pediment. This beautiful entrance, erected in 1722, according to the plans of Chaussegros de L£ry, royal engineer, was flanked on the right side by a square tower crowned by a campanile, from the summit of which rose a beautiful cross with fleur-de-Us twenty-four feet high. This church was built in the axis of Notre-Dame Street, and a portion of it on the Place d Armes; it measured, in the clear, one hundred and forty feet long, and ninety-six feet wide, and the tower one hundred and forty-four feet high. It was razed in 1830, and the tower demolished in 1843."

Montreal continued to progress, and therefore to build. The Sulpicians, finding themselves cramped in their old abode, began in 1684 the construction of a new seigniorial and chapter house, of one hundred and seventy-eight feet frontage by eighty-four feet deep. These vast buildings, whose main fa9ade faces on Notre-Dame Street, in front of the Place dArmes, still exist. They deserve the attention of the tourist, if only by reason of their antiquity, and on account of the old clock which surmounts them, for though it is the most ancient of all in North America, this clock still marks the hours with average exactness. Behind these old walls extends a magnificent garden.

The spectacle presented by Ville-Marie at this time was most edifying. This great village was the school of martyrdom, and all aspired thereto, from the most humble artisan and the meanest soldier to the brigadier, the commandant, the governor, the priests and the nuns, and they found in this aspiration, this faith and this hope, a strength and happiness known only to the chosen. From the bosom of this city had sprung the seventeen heroes who gave to the world, at the foot of the Long Sault, a magnificent example of what the spirit of Christian sacrifice can do; to a population which gave of its own free will its time and its labour to the building of a temple for the Lord, God had assigned a leader, who took upon his shoulders a heavy wooden cross, and bore it for the distance of a league up the steep flanks of Mount Royal, to plant it solemnly upon the summit; within the walls of the seminary lived men like M. Souart, physician of hearts and bodies, or like MM. Lemaitre and Vignal, who were destined to martyrdom; in the halls of the hospital Mile. Mance vied with Sisters de Brdsoles, Maillet and de Mac£, in attending to the most repugnant infirmities or healing the most tedious maladies; last but not least, Sister Bour-geoys and her pious comrades, Sisters Aimde Chatel, Catherine Crolo, and Marie Raisin, who formed the nucleus of the Congregation, devoted themselves with unremitting zeal to the arduous task of instruction.

Another favour was about to be vouchsafed to Canada in the birth of Mile. Leber. M. de Maison-neuve and Mile. Mance were her godparents, and the latter gave her her .baptismal name. Jeanne Leber reproduced all the virtues of her godmother, and gave to Canada an example worthy of the primitive Church, and such as finds small favour in the practical world of to-day. She lived a recluse for twenty years with the Sisters of the Congregation, and practised, till death relieved her, mortifications most terrifying to the physical nature.

At Quebec, the barometer of piety, if I may be excused so bold a metaphor, held at the same level as that of Montreal, and he would be greatly deceived who, having read only the history of the early years of the latter city, should despair of finding in the centre of edification founded by Champlain, men worthy to rank with Queylus and Lemaitre, with Souart and Vignal, with Closse and Maisonneuve, and women who might vie with Marguerite Bourgeoys, with Jeanne Mance or with Jeanne Leber. To the piety of the Sulpicians of the colony planted at the foot of Mount Royal corresponded the fervour both of the priests who lived under the same roof as Mgr. de Laval, and of the sons of Loyola, who awaited in their house at Quebec their chance of martyrdom; the edifying examples given by the military chiefs of Montreal were equalled by those set by governors like de Mdzy and de Courcelles; finally the virtues bordering on perfection of women like Mile. Leber and the foundresses of the hospital and the Congregation found their equivalents in those of the pious Bishop of Petraea, of Mine, de la Peltrie and those of Mothers Mary of the Incarnation and Andrde Duplessis de Sainte-Hdl&ne.

The Church will one day, perhaps, set upon her altars Mother Mary of the Incarnation, the first superior of the Ursulines at Quebec. The Theresa of New France, as she has been called, was endowed with a calm courage, an incredible patience, and a superior intellect, especially in spiritual matters; we find the proof of this in her letters and meditations which her son published in France. "At the head," says the Abbe Ferland, "of a community of weak women, devoid of resources, she managed to inspire her companions with the strength of soul and the trust, in God which animated herself. In spite of the unteachableness and the fickleness of the Algonquin maidens, the troublesome curiosity of their parents, the thousand trials of a new and poor establishment, Mother Incarnation preserved an evenness of temper which inspired her comrades in toil with courage. Did some sudden misfortune appear, she arose with all the greatness of a Christian of the primitive Church to meet it with steadfastness. If her son spoke to her of the ill-treatment to which she was exposed on the part of the Iroquois, at a time when the affairs of the French seemed desperate, she replied calmly : 4 Have no anxiety for me. I do not speak as to martyrdom, for your affection for me would incline you to desire it for me, but I mean as to other outrages. I see no reason for apprehension; all that I hear does not dismay me.' When she was cast out upon the snow, together with her sisters, in the middle of a winter's night, by reason of a conflagration which devoured her convent, her first act was to prevail upon her companions to kneel with her to thank God for having preserved their lives, though He despoiled them of all that they possessed in the world. Her strong and noble soul seemed to rise naturally above the misfortunes which assailed the growing colony. Trusting fully to God through the most violent storms, she continued to busy herself calmly with her work, as if nothing in the world had been able to move her. At a moment when many feared that the French would be forced to leave the country, Mother of the Incarnation, in spite of her advanced age, began to study the language of the Hurons in order to make herself useful to the young girls of this tribe. Ever tranquil, she did not allow herself to be carried away by enthusiasm or stayed by fear. ' We imagine sometimes,' she wrote to her former superior at Tours, 'that a certain passing inclination is a vocation; no, events show the contrary. In our momentary enthusiasms we think more of ourselves than of the object we face, and so we see that when this enthusiasm is once past, our tendencies and inclinations remain on the ordinary plane of life.' Built on such a foundation, her piety was' solid, sincere and truly enlightened. In perusing her writings, we are astonished at finding in them a clearness of thought, a correctness of style, and a firmness of judgment which give us a lofty idea of this really superior woman. Clever in handling the brush as well as the pen, capable of directing the work of building as well as domestic labour, she combined, according to the opinion of her contemporaries, all the qualities of the strong woman of whom the Holy Scriptures give us so fine a portrait. She was entrusted with all the business of the convent. She wrote a prodigious number of letters, she learned the two mother tongues of the country, the Algonquin and the Huron, and composed for the use of her sisters, a sacred history in Algonquin, a catechism in Huron, an Iroquois catechism and dictionary, and a dictionary, catechism and collection of prayers in the Algonquin language."


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