la Barre, Viceroy—1682. Iroquois War renewed —Disaster of Famine
Cove—1684. Denonville, Viceroy -Seizes Iroquois Chiefs—1685. Defeats
Senecas —Plants Western Forts —1687. Iroquois Ravage Frontier—Treachery
of Le Rat—1688. Massacre of Lachine, the "brain-blow" of Canada—1689.
During the ten years of
Frontenac's first colonial administration, his haughty and overbearing
manners involved him in perpetual disputes with the Bishop, the
Intendant, the Council, the Jesuits—in fact, with all who opposed his
often arbitrary will. At length, wearied with complaints, the King
recalled Frontenac in 1682, and appointed M. de la Barre his successor.
On his arrival in Canada, he found the country threatened with the
outbreak of another Iroquois war. Mustering a thousand militiamen and
Indians, and a handful of regulars, at Fort Frontenac, he proceeded to
invade the Seneca country; but was compelled to make an ignominious
peace. He was soon recalled in disgrace, and was succeeded by the
Marquis de Denonville.
Denonville, who was
shortly followed by six hundred regulars, after a few hours' rest at
Quebec, pushed on to Fort Frontenac; and in June, 1687, defeated the
Senecas with great loss. He spent ten days ravaging the country, burning
the villages, and destroying an immense stock of maize—over a million
bushels, says one account. He planted palisaded posts at Niagara,
Toronto, Detroit, Sault Ste. Marie, Mackinaw, and on the Illinois River,
as a barrier against the encroachments of the English or their Iroquois
The whole Five Nations
now united to avenge the 1688 the Senecas. They prowled like famished
wolves all along the frontier. They lay in wait near every settlement,
thirsting for Christian blood. During this fatal year, over a thousand
of the colonists fell by the scalping knife or tomahawk of their
In this extremity,
negotiations for peace were opened under the menace of a thousand
Iroquois warriors at Lake St. Francis, who demanded the restoration of
their betrayed chiefs, now toiling in the royal galleys in France. While
the negotiations were pending, a crafty Huron chief, Kondiarak or the
Rat, a forest Machiavelli, offended at the prospect of a treaty with his
hereditary foe, by a deed of double treachery fell on an Iroquois
embassy, and declared that he acted by the command of the French. He had
effectually, as he boasted, "killed the peace." The incipient treaty was
broken off, and the war was waged with intenser violence.
The culminating act in
this bloody drama was the massacre of Lachine in 1689. On the night of
August 5th, twelve hundred painted warriors landed amid a shower of hail
on the Island of Montreal. Before daybreak they lay in wait around every
dwelling in the doomed village. At a given signal, the dreadful
war-whoop awoke the sleepers to a death-wrestle with a pitiless foe.
Men, women, and children were dragged from their beds and
indiscriminately butchered with atrocious cruelty. The houses were
fired, and two hundred persons perished in the flames. As many more were
carried off for the nameless horrors of deliberate torture. For two
months the victors ravaged the island, the besieged inhabitants of Ville
Marie cowering in mortal fear behind their palisades.
This "brain-blow" seems
to have staggered the colony. Fort Frontenac was blown up and abandoned.
The dominion of France in the New World was practically reduced to the
forts of Quebec, Three Rivers, and Montreal. At this hour of its deepest
depression, Denonville was recalled, and the fiery Frontenac was