QUARTER of a century had elapsed since the founding of Quebec, and still
it could scarcely be regarded as other than a village, while in some
parts of New France colonization was absolutely null. Agriculture had
received some attention in the vicinity of Quebec, but it was on such a
small scale that it should be termed gardening rather than farming.
Charlevoix writes: "The fort of Quebec, surrounded by a few wretched
houses and some sheds, two or three cabins on the island of Montreal, as
many, perhaps, at Tadousac, and at some other points on the river St.
Lawrence, to accommodate fishers and traders, a settlement begun at
Three Rivers and the ruins of Port Royal, this was all that constituted
New France—the sole fruit of the discoveries of Verrazzani, Jacques
Cartier, de Rob-erval, Champlain, of the great expenses of the Marquis
de la Roche and de Monts, and of the industry of many Frenchmen, who
might have built up a great colony had they been well directed."
various companies, as we have seen, took no interest whatever in
settling the country, their chief design being to carry on fur trade
with the Indians.
Patriotism had no meaning for them, the all-absorbing question was
money. This was not the case, however, with the company established by
Cardinal Richelieu, whose desire was to christianize the savages, to
found a powerful colony, and to secure for his king the possession of
New France. The principal associates of this company were pious,
patriotic and zealous men, who laboured to extend the power and
influence of France throughout the vast continent of America for the
honour and glory of God. There were among the associates a certain
number of gentlemen and ecclesiastics, who, realizing their incapacity
to transact the business of such an important undertaking, preferred to
hand over the administration to merchants of Dieppe, Rouen and Paris,
together with the advantages to be derived therefrom. A special
association was consequently formed, composed of merchants who undertook
the financial affairs of the settlement, such as paying the new
governor, providing ammunition and provisions, and maintaining the
forts; and if there were profits they were to be divided amongst the
Hundred Associates. This association was formed before the departure of
Champlain for Quebec in 1633. Its agents were a merchant of Rouen named
Rosde, and Cheffault, a lawyer of Paris, who had a representative at
it was necessary for the Hundred Associates to appoint a governor of New
France, they offered the position to Champlain, as he was universally
respected and known to be experienced and disinterested. Moreover he was
well acquainted with the country, and on friendly terms with the
savages. It is dqubtful whether any one could have taken his place with
better prospects of success. Champlain, moreover, desired to finish his
work, and although there was much to accomplish, the future appeared
more favourable than at any other time. The company had a large capital
at its disposal, and this alone seemed to insure the success of the
colony. Three ships were equipped for Quebec in the spring of
St. Pierre, one hundred and fifty tons
burden, carrying twelve cannon ; the
St. Jean, one hundred and sixty tons, with
ten cannon, and the
Don de Dieu, eighty tons, with six cannon.
The ships carried about two hundred persons, including two Jesuits, a
number of sailors and settlers, and one woman and two girls. Provisions
and ammunition were in abundance. When the fleet arrived in the St.
Lawrence, Champlain saw a number of English trading vessels which were
there contrary to the treatyof St. Germain-en-Laye. From this moment
Champlain resolved to establish a fixed post for trading, both for the
Indians as well as strangers. The island selected for this purpose by
Champlain was situated in the river St. Lawrence, about ten leagues
above Quebec, and was named Richelieu Island.
Champlain caused the island to be fortified as soon as possible, and
surrounded it with a platform, upon which cannon were placed pointing in
every direction. Sentinels were placed on guard, and it would have been
impossible for vessels to pass unobserved. The Indians were informed of
this new plan, and in the autumn of the same year, the Nipissings and
the Algonquins of the Iroquet came to. this island for trading. The
Hurons, however, came to Quebec, as they had heard from the Algonquins
of Allumette Island that the French would take revenge for the murder of
Etienne Bruld. Champlain did not desire to punish them for the death of
this traitor, and he therefore did his best to retain the friendship of
the Indians, and entertained them at public feasts. He knew well that
their fur trade was of great importance, and, moreover, he wanted them
as allies in the event of an attack by the Iroquois, which might be
expected at any time, as they were unreliable and always anxious for
war. A league with the Hurons, Algonquins and Montagnais, with one
hundred French, would, in the opinion of Champlain, be sufficient to
protect the colony, and he wrote to that effect to the cardinal. This
was probably his last letter to the great minister:—
:—The honour of the commands that I have received from your Eminence has
inspired me with greater courage to render you every possible service
with all the fidelity and affection that can be desired from a faithful
servant. I shall spare neither my blood nor my life whenever the
occasion shall demand them.
"There are subjects enough in these regions, if your Eminence,
considering the character of the country, shall desire to extend your
authority over them. This territory is more than fifteen hundred leagues
in length, lying between the same parallels of latitude as our own
France. It is watered- by one of the finest rivers in the world, into
which empty many tributaries more than four hundred leagues in length,
beautifying a country inhabited by a vast number of tribes. Some of them
are sedentary in their mode of life, possessing, like the Muscovites,
towns and villages built of wood; others are nomadic hunters and
fishermen, all longing to welcome the French and religious fathers, that
they may be instructed in our faith.
"The excellence of this country cannot be too highly estimated or
praised, both as to the richness of the soil, the diversity of the
timber such as we have in France, the abundance of *wild animals, game
and fish, which are of extraordinary magnitude. All this invites you,
monseigneur, and makes it seem as if God had created you above all your
predecessors to do a work here more pleasing to Him than any that has
yet been accomplished.
"For thirty years I have frequented this country, and have acquired a
thorough knowledge of it, obtained from my own observation and the
information given me by the native inhabitants. Monseigneur, I pray you
to pardon my zeal, if I say that, after your renown has spread
throughout the East, you should end by compelling its recognition in the
"Expelling the English from Quebec has been a very important beginning,
but, nevertheless, since the treaty of peace between the two crowns,
they have returned to carry on trade and annoy us in this river,
declaring that it was enjoined upon them to withdraw, but not to remain
away, and that they have their king's permission to come for the period
of thirty years. But, if your Eminence wills, you can make them feel the
power of your authority. This can furthermore be extended at your
pleasure to him who has come here to bring about a general peace among
these people, who are at war with a nation holding more than four
hundred leagues in subjection, and who prevent the free use of the
rivers and highways. If this peace were made, we should be in complete
and easy enjoyment of our possessions. Once established in the country,
we could expel our enemies, both English and Flemings, forcing them to
withdraw to the coast, and, by depriving them of trade with the
Iroquois, oblige them to abandon the country entirely. It requires but
one hundred and twenty men, light armed for avoiding arrows, by whose
aid, together with two or three thousand savage warriors, our allies, we
should be, within a year, absolute masters of all these people; and by
establishing order among them, promote religious worship and secure an
incredible amount of traffic.
"The country is rich in mines of copper, iron, steel, brass, silver, and
other minerals which may be found here.
"The cost, monseigneur, of one hundred and twenty men is a trifling one
to His Majesty, the enterprise the most noble that can be imagined.
"All for the glory of God, whom I pray with my whole heart to grant you
ever increasing prosperity, and to make me all my life, monseigneur,
your most humble, most faithful and most obedient servant, "CHAMPLAIN.
"At Quebec, in New France, August 15th, 1635."
order to consolidate his general scheme for the colonization of the
country, Champlain desired that the missionaries should settle
permanently among the Huron tribes. The Jesuits wished to go there, as
they believed they would find a field for their labours. They had
previously set before the people the light of the Catholic faith, but
these efforts had not been as successful as they had wished. Father de
Brdbeuf, the apostle to the Hurons, having decided to return to his
former sphere of labours, left for the Huron country in
1634, prepared to remain there as long as
there was work to be done. He was destined to live among the Hurons
until they were finally dispersed by the Iroquois.
When Champlain arrived at Quebec, he summoned Emery de Caen to deliver
to Duplessis-Bochart the keys of the fort and habitation. Champlain's
arrival caused much rejoicing among the
inhabitants, for he inspired both their love and respect, and he was,
perhaps, the only man who could impress them with a belief in their
future, and thus retain them in the country. The arrival of a certain
number of settlers during the years 1633-4, was also an encouragement
for all. The restoration of Canada to France caused some excitement in
the maritime provinces of France, especially in Normandy, as most of the
settlers of New France up to this date were from there. The exceptions
were, Louis Hubert, a native of Paris, and Guillaume Couillard, of St.
Malo. Emigration soon extended to other parts of the provinces, as the
result of the discrimination of the Relations of the Jesuits, which had
been distributed in Paris and elsewhere during the years 1632 and 1633.
Several pious and charitable persons began to take an interest in the
missions of New France, and forwarded both money and goods to help them.
Some nuns offered to go to Canada to look after the sick and to instruct
the young girls, and in the year 1633 a few families arrived in Quebec
with Champlain, who had defrayed their expenses.
the year 1634 an association was formed in France for the purpose of
promoting colonization, and a group of about forty persons, recruited in
different parts of the province of Perche, were sent to Canada, with
Robert Giffard at their head. Gif-fard, it will be remembered, had
visited Quebec in the year 1627 as surgeon of the vessels sent out by
the company, but he had no intention of
settling in the country. After having built a log hut on the Beauport
shore, he devoted his leisure to hunting and fishing, game and fish
being plentiful at that time, and returned to France during the same
year. He was appointed surgeon to Roquemont's fleet during the following
year, and as the vessels were captured by the English, he, with the
others on board, was compelled to return to his mother country. This
misfortune did not discourage the former solitary inhabitant of
Beauport, and he resolved to revisit the country, but this time with a
view of settling and of farming.
Giffard had suffered many losses, and as a compensation for his services
and misfortune, he obtained a tract of land from the Company of New
France, one league in length and a league and a half in breadth,
situated between the rivers Montmorency and Beauport, bounded in front
by the river St. Lawrence, and in the rear by the Lauren-tian Mountains.
He was also granted as a special favour, a tract of land of two acres in
extent, situated near the fort, for the purpose of building a residence,
surrounded with grounds. These concessions, which seem large at first
sight, were, however, not new to the colony. Louis Hubert had been
granted the fief of the Sault au Matelot, and the fief Lepinay, while
the Jesuits had received the fief of Notre Dame des Anges almost free of
Under these favourable conditions Giffard induced two citizens of
Mortagne, Zacharie Cloutier and Jean Guyon, to accompany him to Canada.
Cloutier was a joiner, and Guyon a mason. They promised their seignior
that they would build him a residence, thirty feet long and sixteen feet
other emigrants came to Canada at their own risk. The party numbered
forty-three persons, including women and children, and were within a
space of from five to eight leagues of Mortagne, the chief town of the
old province of Perche. There were two exceptions, however, Jean
Juchereau came from La Fertd Vidame in Thimerais, and Noel Langlois was
from St. Leonard, in Normandy.
vessels bearing the contingent of settlers arrived in Quebec in June.
They were four in number, under the command of Captains de Nesle, de
Lormel, Bontemps, and Duplessis-Bochart. Robert Giffard had preceded the
party by a few days, and he lost no time in selecting the spot where his
residence was to be built, upon which he planted a cross on July 25th.
He also commenced clearing the land, and two
years after he gathered in a harvest of wheat sufficient to maintain
twenty persons. The soil in this part was very productive, and it is,
even to-day, the richest in the province of Quebec.
Among the emigrants of the year 1634 were two remarkable men, Jean
Bourdon, and a priest named Jean LeSueur de St. Sauveur. The Abbd
LeSueur de St. Sauveur had abandoned his parish of St.
Sauveur de Thury, which is to-day known as Thury-Harcourt, in Normandy,
to come to Quebec. One of the suburbs of Quebec to-day takes its name
from this,active and devoted priest.
Jean Bourdon, an inseparable friend of the abbd, established himself on
the borders of Coteau Ste. Genevieve, which is to-day known as St.
John's suburb. He built a house and a mill, and also a chapel, which he
named Chapel St. Jean. Other pioneers soon settled near Bourdon's place,
which finally gave to Quebec a suburb.
Bourdon was a man of great capacity, and he in turn filled the role of
surveyor, engineer, cartographer, delineator, farmer, diplomat and
lawyer. He saw the colony increasing, and knew eight governors of the
colony, including Champlain. He was also acquainted with Bishop Laval,
the Venerable Mother Marie Guyart de l'lncarnation, and was on good
terms with the Jesuits and the nuns of the Hotel Dieu and Ursuline
Convent. Bourdon played an important part in the affairs of the colony.
He was present at the foundation of the Jesuits' college, of the Quebec
seminary, and of the Conseil Sou-verain, of which he was procureur
fiscal. Of his personal qualities, the Venerable Mother de l'lncarnation
has written that he was "the father of the poor, the comfort of orphans
and widows, a good example for everybody."
of the articles of the act incorporating the Company of New France,
provided that the colony was to be settled with French and Catholic
subjects only. This provision may appear at first sight to be arbitrary,
but "when we consider that one of the chief objects of the colonization
of New France was to convert the savages, and that the Huguenots with
their new form of religion were, generally speaking, hostile to the king
and to the Catholics, it seems to have been a judicious provision. In
such a small community the existence of two creeds so opposed to each
other could hardly have produced harmony, and as the Catholics were
undertaking the enterprise and it originated with them, they surely had
the right to do what they considered would most effectively secure their
political reasons this action could also be defended, for the loyalty of
the Huguenots was, perhaps, doubtful, and their past actions did not
offer any guarantee for the future. They did not hesitate to preach
revolt against the authorities of France, and, therefore, intimate
connection with the Indians might have produced results prejudicial to
the colony. If France had the welfare of the colony at heart, it
behooved her to exclude every disturbing element. Viewed impartially,
this precaution was undoubtedly just, and those who blame the company
for their action, do not rightly understand the difficulties which
existed at that period.
Richelieu, who had a clear insight into, the affairs of the time, did
not prohibit trade between the Huguenots and the Indians, but he refused
them permission to settle in Canada, or to
remain thete for any length of time without special leave. Champlain had
observed the attitude of the Huguenots, their unwillingness to erect a
fort at Quebec, their persecution of the Catholics, and their treatment
of the Jesuits, and although he was not fanatical, he was pleased with
this rule. The foundation of the new settlement was based upon religion,
and religion was essential to its progress. Peace and harmony must be
maintained, and everything that would promote trouble or quarrel must be
During the seventeenth century, England preserved a warlike attitude
towards Catholics. A Catholic was not eligible for a public office, and
the learned professions were closed to them, neither could a Catholic
act as a tutor or as an executor to a will. Prejudice was carried still
further, and even the books treating of their faith were suppressed,
while relics or religious pictures were forbidden. These were only a few
of the persecutions to which they were subject.
far back as 1621 Champlain had requested the king to forbid Protestant
emigration to Canada, but his petition was not granted, because the
company was composed of mixed creeds. The company formed by Richelieu,
however, was solely Catholic, and there were no difficulties on this
score. The result of this policy was soon manifest. There were no more
dissensions on board the vessels as to places of worship, and the
Catholics were, as a consequence, enabled to observe their religious
duties without fear of annoyance. The beneficent influence of this
policy extended to the settlement, where the people lived in peace, and
were not subject to the petty quarrels which arose through a difference
the Relation of 1637 we find evidence of this: "Now it seems to me that
I can say with truth that the soil of New France is watered by so many
heavenly blessings, that souls nourished in virtue find here their true
element, and are, consequently, healthier than elsewhere. As for those
whose vices have rendered them diseased, they not only do not grow
worse, but very often, coming to breathe a salubrious air, and far
removed from opportunities for sin, changing climate they change their
lives, and a thousand times bless the sweet providence of God, which has
made them find the door to felicity «where others fear only misery.
a word, God has been worshipped in His houses, preaching has been well
received, both at Kdbec and at the Three Rivers, where Father Bu-teux
usually instructed our French people; each of our brethren has been
occupied in hearing many confessions, both ordinary and general; very
few holidays and Sundays during the winter have passed in which we have
not seen and received persons at the table of our Lord. And certain
ones, who for three, four and five years had not confessed in old
France, now, in the new, approach this so salutary sacrament oftener
than once a month; prayers are offered kneeling and in public, not only
at the fort, but also in families and little companies scattered here
and there. As we have taken for patroness of the Church of Kdbec the
Holy Virgin under the title of her Conception, which we believe to be
immaculate, so we have celebrated this festival with solemnity and
"The festival of the glorious Patriarch Saint Joseph, father, patron and
protector of New France, is one of the great solemnities of this
country. . . . It is, in my opinion, through his favour and through his
merits, that the inhabitants of New France who live upon the banks of
the great river Saint Lawrence, have resolved to receive all the good
customs of the old and to refuse admission to the bad ones.
"And to tell the truth, so long as we have a governor who is a friend of
virtue, and so long as we have free speech in the Church of God, the
monster of ambition will have no altar there.
"All the principal personages of our colony honour religion; I say with
joy and God's blessing, that those whom His goodness has given to
command over us, and those also who are coming to establish themselves
in these countries, enjoy, cherish, and wish to follow the most sincere
maxims of Christianity. . . . Justice reigns here, insolence is
banished, and shamelessness would not dare to raise its head. ... It is
very important to introduce good laws and pious customs in these early
beginnings, for those who shall come after us
will walk in our footsteps, and will readily conform to the example
given them by us, whether tending to virtue or vice."
could multiply evidence on this point. The Jesuits always recall this
good feature of the settlers, their respect for their religion, its
worship and its ministers.
author of the "Secret Life of Louis XV," says that New France owed its
vigour to its first settlers; their families had multiplied and formed a
people, healthy, strong, honourable, and attached to good principles.
Father Le Clercq, a Rdcollet, the Venerable Mother de l'lncarnation, and
many others, seem to take pleasure in praising the virtues of our first
Champlain had begun his administration by establishing order everywhere,
and chiefly among the soldiers, who easily
Understood military discipline, but the
religious code with more difficulty. Fort St. Louis was like a school of
religion and of every virtue. They lived there as in a monastery. There
was a lecture during meals ; in the morning they read history, and at
supper the lives of saints. After that they said their prayers, and
Champlain' had introduced the old French custom of ringing the church
bells three times a day, during the recitation of the Angelus. At night,
every one was invited to go to Champlain's room for the night's prayer,
said by Champlain himself.
These good examples, given by Champlain, governor of the country, were
followed, and produced good fruits of salvation among the whole
population. The blessing of God on the young colony was evident, and
when Champlain died, he had the consolation of leaving after him a
moral, honest and virtuous people.