Canada: Peeps at History - Beatrice Home

The Early Discoverers

Canada, which is now bounded by the Atlantic on the east and the Pacific on the west, was at one time a small province on the St. Lawrence, the name as used by the Indians meaning nothing more than a village.

The history of Canada begins with the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492, though there are stories that, as long ago as A.D. 1000, the island of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia were discovered by Norsemen who went exploring from their homes in Greenland. There are two old sagas, or songs, of the Icelanders, which tell of the heroic deeds of these Norsemen, but their adventures belong to the days of legend. Real history does not begin until Columbus opened to Europe the way to the West.

While Spain, through Columbus, was getting rich with the wealth of the West Indies and Central America, England turned her attention to the north of the wonderful New World that had just been discovered. She was the first to set foot in Canada, little dreaming that it would in after-centuries become such an important part of the British Empire. John Cabot, an Italian sailor from Venice, appealed to Henry VII. of England for permission to discover some of the unknown lands in his name. Cabot had appealed first to the Kings of Spain and of Portugal, but these monarchs had been too much occupied with the lands they had already discovered to give him any support. Henry VII. was anxious to obtain a share in the wealth and honour which were being showered upon Spain and Portugal, so he willingly granted a patent to the bold sailor and his son Sebastian. But, being both cautious and mean, he gave them nothing else. They were to provide the whole cost of the expedition themselves.

The Cabots set sail from Bristol in the spring of 1497, and discovered Newfoundland and the coast of Labrador. The next year they started off again, and travelled all down the coast from the bleak shores of Labrador to South Carolina, finding an open sea in the North which they hoped would lead to Cathay and the spice islands of the East. These spice islands were the great attraction for all the adventurous spirits of the sixteenth century, who were fired with the desire to find a new and quicker way to the wealth of India and China, instead of the long and dangerous journey round Africa. All classes of people shared their enthusiasm. Kings were eager for new lands to be added to their dominions, merchants for new openings for trade, sailors for the joy of discovery, and priests for more souls to be won for Christianity.

England did not follow up the discoveries of the Cabots, and until quite the end of the sixteenth century, did not trouble to find out more of the North American continent. Her bold sailors spent their energies sailing round the world, pushing into the Arctic, or fighting Spain among the beautiful islands of the West Indies which Spain claimed as her own. But in the meantime other countries had been sending out navigators to find out more of the northern continent. Spain was entirely occupied over her possessions in Central and South America, finding it work enough to keep her hold upon these. But Portugal, thinking if others were looking for a better way to her spice islands in the East, she should be the first to discover it, sent Cortereal, who made his way to Labrador and Newfoundland in the year 1500.

France was slower than her more energetic rivals in Europe in discovering the great importance of the New World. But when Francis I. came to the throne in 1515, he began to realize the wealth and importance that Spain had gained by her vast new possessions. In a letter written by him to his life-long enemy, the Emperor Charles V., who was also King of Spain, he said he was not aware that "our first father Adam had made the Spanish and Portuguese Kings his sole heirs to the earth." During the first quarter of the sixteenth century three voyages were made by French navigators to the region of Canada, but it was not until 1534 that the first great effort was made which gave France a new empire which she was to hold for over two centuries.

A daring Breton sailor, Jacques Cartier, left the port of St. Malo in Brittany in the spring of 1534, keen to add land and glory to France in the New World. He was in the prime of life, a man of good family, and of a courageous temperament, well suited to the difficult task he had undertaken. He was aided by influence at Court, where a young nobleman, Philippe de Brion-Chabot, brought his schemes to the notice of King Francis. Cartier and his crew of 120 men, in two small ships, had an easy voyage across the Atlantic, reaching Newfoundland on May 10. They sailed through the Straits of Belle Isle on the north of the island, separating it from Labrador, and came out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. After skirting the islands in the Gulf, Cartier directed his little vessels along the coast of New Brunswick, where he and his men were delighted with the wonderful beauty of the shore. They passed the mouths of many rivers, down to whose banks came forests of maple and pine, and meadows rich with wild flowers. Travelling to the north the voyagers reached a promontory, which they named Gaspe. Here Cartier erected upon the shore a huge cross, thirty feet high; to it was affixed a shield, bearing the arms of France. At this point, Cartier was at the mouth of the great river of Canada, the St. Lawrence, but he was not aware of it. As the season was advanced he determined to return home at once. He repaid the Indians, who had been trustful and friendly, with base ingratitude, for he captured two of them and took them with him to France.

Cartier reached St. Malo at the beginning of September and was welcomed with the greatest enthusiasm. The spirit of adventure, of curiosity, of lust for wealth, and of ardent religious zeal, so marked in the sixteenth century, excited the whole nation, and a new expedition was speedily got ready. This time Cartier was accompanied not merely by brave Breton sailors, but numbered among his company members of some of the greatest families of France.

Jacques Cartier


On his second expedition to the New World, in the following spring, Cartier did not have such a successful voyage across the Atlantic. Severe storms drove his three little ships apart, so that the summer was well advanced before they met again at the Straits of Belle Isle. Cartier, after leaving the straits, kept along the north coast, naming a bay after St. Lawrence, on whose festal day it was discovered. The name was afterwards given to the whole gulf, and to the river which empties its vast waters into it. On this occasion Cartier did not turn his back upon the great river, but sailed up it, he and his companions gazing with wonder at its huge cliffs, and the awesome darkness of its tributary, the Saguenay. Upon its waters the Frenchmen were met by Indians, who gathered round them in their light canoes, made of yellow birch-bark. Leaving the Saguenay to be explored later, Cartier continued up the main stream, passing islands rich in vegetation, till he came to one which he called the Isle of Bacchus, owing to the masses of wild vines that they found upon it. It has since then been renamed the Ile d'Orleans. They were soon surrounded by Indians, who came up in their noiseless canoes, but who proved to be quite friendly. Just beyond the island, near which Cartier had anchored, the river narrowed, running between precipitous rocks and forming a basin. Towering above it on the northern side was a great shoulder of rock, the famous promontory, crowned to-day by the city of Quebec. A native village, called Stadacona, clustered on the summit of the rock, round which a lazy stream wound its way to the main river. Donnacona, the chief of the Indians, welcomed the strangers, but tried to hinder their progress up the river by persuasion and argument, and, finally, by terrible stories of the disasters that would befall them if they ventured farther. Cartier only laughed, and persisted in his journey, leaving his two larger vessels behind and going on in the smallest, accompanied by several boats. He pushed on up the beautiful river until he reached a fertile island rising into a wooded mountain. Under the shelter of this height was the large Indian village of Hochelaga, surrounded by high palisades, and containing fifty long bark-covered houses. Cartier and his men were received with great joy, the Indians regarding the strange white men as wonderful, if not divine. Sick people were brought to them to be cured, and were made happy by being merely touched. After distributing little presents among the Indians, Cartier got some of them to guide him to the top of the mountain, from which he gazed far over the surrounding country, all covered with forest, just beginning to blaze with the beautiful colours of autumn. He named the mountain Mount Royal, a name which now includes the site of stately Montreal, which stands where the palisaded town of Hochelaga once stood.

As winter was approaching Cartier went back to Stadacona and built a little fort underneath the cliff of Quebec, where they were to wait till the spring returned. Cartier did not anticipate a very severe winter, so that when the terrible snow-storms swept over them, he and his men suffered terrible hardships. Illness broke out among them, and nearly a quarter of the small company died, the rest becoming so feeble that Cartier was afraid the Indians might set upon them if they knew how weak they had become. He therefore ordered all who were well enough to make as much noise as possible, and to hammer on the walls, so that the savages might think them very active. The Indians, however, were themselves suffering from scurvy, the same illness that had attacked the Frenchmen, and were not capable of any fighting. One of them eventually told Cartier of a medicine made from an evergreen, which soon cured his men. Directly spring returned Cartier set sail for France, taking with him by force the kind chief Donnacona and four other chiefs, to tell of their wonderful country to the people of France. He told the Indians of Stadacona that the chiefs were anxious to go with him to see the country from which he had come.

Jacques Cartier


Having returned safely to St. Maio in June, 1536, Cartier does not seem to have been anxious to re-visit the St. Lawrence, after the experiences of the winter. Besides, the chiefs whom he had so deceitfully carried away with him, had all died far away from their home and kindred. As for King Francis, he was too busy with wars in Europe to think of Canada. But when peace came his mind turned once more to plans of conquest in the New World, and a new expedition was fitted out. This time a settlement was to be made, the beginning of a colony from which the heathen should be converted. A French nobleman, De Roberval, was appointed Governor of Canada, and Cartier was given the post of Captain-General under him.

Cartier started on his third voyage to Canada in May, 1541. He had with him five ships, containing many intending colonists, and carrying implements and all that was necessary for founding a colony. De Roberval, who was to follow him at once, did not turn up at Newfoundland, the meeting-place agreed upon, and, after waiting some time, Cartier went on without him. When he reached Stadacona he told the Indians that Donnacona was dead, but that the other chiefs were too happy in France to return. Finding that the Indians, though still outwardly friendly, had begun to suspect and hate him, Cartier did not venture to take up his old quarters at Stadacona, but went farther up the river to Cap Rouge, where he started building a fort and preparing for a permanent settlement. The winter which followed was not a severe one, but in the spring, as De Roberval had not appeared, Cartier put all the colonists on board ship and prepared to return to France. At Newfoundland he discovered De Roberval and his ships, who had arrived just a year late. Cartier pretended to agree to the command of the Governor that he should turn back to the St. Lawrence, but in the night he went off secretly and got back to France safely. After this he undertook no more adventurous voyages, but led a life of ease and comfort in his native land.

De Roberval, in the meantime, persisted in his attempt to found a colony on the spot selected by Cartier, who had called it Charlesbourg Royal. The colonists set to work to parcel out the land and sow crops, and all went well under the Governor's stern rule until the winter came, when it was found that there were not enough provisions to last till the spring. Many died, and when the long winter was over De Roberval sailed, with all that were left, back to France, where he had to confess a miserable tale of failure.

After this, France forgot Canada for half a century. She was busy with religious wars at home, and her only connection with the New World lay in the daring fishermen from the Bay of Biscay, who ventured across the Atlantic to engage in the cod-fisheries of Newfoundland.

Sir Humphrey Gilbert


At the latter end of the century, England sent out an expedition under Sir Humphrey Gilbert, the half-brother of Sir Walter Raleigh, to start a settlement in Newfoundland, which holds the proud position of being England's oldest colony. Gilbert was given a charter granting him an enormous tract of land, and on arriving at the island in August, 158 3, he took possession in the name of Queen Elizabeth. Though it had a good start the colony was not a success, because the colonists were more anxious to search for silver than to plant crops. With winter and scarce food they began to get afraid, and so forced Gilbert to sail for home. He was in the smallest vessel of his fleet, the Squirrel, a tiny boat of only ten ton's burden, when, out in the Atlantic a terrific storm arose. But he refused to leave his tiny craft, saying to his men before the ship went down: "Cheer up, lads; we are as near heaven by sea as by land."

Samuel de Champlain, the Father of New France

To Jacques Cartier belongs the merit of having been the first to explore the mainland of Canada, but Samuel de Champlain has earned a higher place among the world's great men, because he founded a colony which was to be the seed from which has sprung the great Dominion of Canada. Champlain, who well deserves his name, "Father of New France," was born at a small fishing-port on the Bay of Biscay. Being the son of a sea-captain, he was early trained to seamanship. Although he was only thirty-six years old when he first went to Canada, he had had a good deal of experience, both as a soldier and explorer, having fought in the French wars under Henry IV., and led an expedition to the West Indies.

In 1603 he made his first voyage to Canada, which was to be the scene of his life-work. He was sent out by Aymar de Clermont, Seigneur de Chastes, to whom the King had granted a patent. This journey was to be one merely of exploration, just to find out the condition of life on the great river, discovered more than half a century before by Cartier, and to see what prospects there were for planting a future colony. Champlain sailed up the St. Lawrence as far as Hochelaga, which he found deserted, the once busy and prosperous Indian town having been destroyed by savage enemies. Four years before Champlain's visit, an attempt had been made at Tadousac, at the mouth of the Saguenay, to start a settlement, but with no success, for the promoters were only keen upon the fur-trade, and cared nothing about the colonists. Throughout the history of the French rule in Canada, the adventurous life of the fur-trader proved more attractive to Frenchmen than the more sober, laborious work of the settler. But with the coming of Champlain the first real efforts at colonizing were begun.

Sir Humphrey Gilbert


When Champlain returned to France he found that his patron had died, and that his privileges had been handed on to Pierre du Guast, Sieur de Monts, who employed Champlain to help him in his work of exploration. De Monts set out with Champlain in 1604 to colonize in Canada, but in order to avoid the severe winters of the St. Lawrence he chose the shores of Nova Scotia for the site of his colony. Champlain spent the next three years exploring in this region, the story of which is told in the succeeding chapter.

In 1608, Champlain visited the St. Lawrence for the second time, with directions from De Monts to explore and colonize, and also to carry on a fur-trade with the Indians, the profits of which were to pay for the expedition. He selected the site of Stadacona, the Indian village where Cartier had received so kindly a welcome and which had now disappeared, as the place upon which to plant his infant colony. His men were soon busily at work at the foot of the great rock, building the log-houses that were to be the homes of the first brave citizens of Quebec. For protection there was a high wall of stakes surrounded by a ditch, while within the walls there were guns mounted upon bastions. In the centre of the square rose a dovecote upon a pole, typifying the peaceful nature of the settlement.

Almost before the work of building was finished, Champlain discovered a plot, which was to kill him, and to place the colony in the hands of those fur-traders who had no licence, and, therefore, were forbidden to practise their trade under the monopoly conferred upon De Monts. The leader, Jean du Val, was hanged, and four of the other conspirators sent back in chains to France, where they were severely punished.

Samuel de Champlain


The natives of America have always been called Indians by Europeans, owing to the mistake of Columbus, who thought he had discovered the long-desired India, but they were known, of course, by quite other names to themselves. The Canadian Indians belonged to the Algonquin race, who were very numerous, and who differed from other tribes in language. The Algonquins were to be found chiefly in Nova Scotia, and on the northern banks of the St. Lawrence. They numbered among their allies the Hurons, who did not belong to the same stock, being closely related to the Iroquois. Both the Hurons and the Algonquins were the deadly foes of the Iroquois, who were the most savage though the most cultured of all the Indian tribes.

The Iroquois are known also as the Five Nations, for they consisted of five different tribes, all akin to one another, and regarding each other as brothers. Their country lay south of Quebec, from Lake Ontario to the River Hudson. They were never able to muster more than three to four thousand warriors, but, in spite of their comparative smallness of numbers, they were the most feared among the Indians. Their strength lay in their organization, which gave them the power of carrying out very promptly any warlike plan proposed by their General Council. Each tribe had its own Council, but could not make a peace which would be binding on the others unless agreed upon by the Common Council. In times of war the Iroquois practised unspeakable cruelties upon their prisoners, but in their homes they were kind and very hospitable to one another.

[Illustration] from Peeps at History - Canada by Beatrice Home


The name Iroquois is of French origin, the savages speaking of themselves as the "people of the long house," a title taken from the style of dwelling in which they lived. Their houses were often as long as 150 feet, separate families gathering round the many fires that were burning all along the centre of the building, which was divided into small compartments on either side for sleeping accommodation.

Although their chief interest lay in warfare, the Indians did not neglect agriculture, for the invading Frenchmen found fields of maize stretching for some miles from their villages. Until long after the arrival of the Europeans, the Iroquois only used flint for their spear and arrow-heads, and their pottery was of a rough character. Pride and concealment of feelings were the dominating forces that controlled the Iroquois, who were trained from childhood to show neither pleasure, fear, nor passion upon their features They were capable of great eloquence, making long orations at their Councils, using all the imagery of the forest to express their meaning. Along with their nobler traits, of respect for age, and heroism in suffering for the cause of glory, the Iroquois carried natures full of jealous suspicion leading them to deeds of the meanest treachery. They loved the warfare that lent itself to sudden attack upon an unsuspecting people, rather than the reckless bravery of a battle in the open field.

Champlain was asked by the Algonquins, who had been very friendly to him, to help them against their fierce foes, the Iroquois. He agreed, and with a few of his own company and sixty of the Canadian Indians, he advanced into the land of the Five Nations, by way of the Richelieu River, then known as the River of the Iroquois. Proceeding along its course, he reached the beautiful lake that has since been known by his name—Lake Champlain—near the head of which he and his small force came upon a band of Iroquois nearly three times their number. The Iroquois were driven into a shameful retreat, owing to the panic caused by the mysterious deaths of their chiefs, whom Champlain and his few Frenchmen shot with their muskets. This was the first time the French had come into conflict with the Iroquois, who were to prove the greatest source of trouble to them throughout all the period of their rule in Canada. Champlain has often been blamed for not remaining strictly neutral with the Indians, but, considering the deadly feud that existed between the different groups of savages, it was almost impossible for him to have kept impartial. He needed the help of the Canadian Indians in his exploring expedition; and he would only have earned their enmity if he had not helped them against their foes.

Four years later Champlain was deceived by a man, named Nicolas Vignau, into thinking he had at last found the way to Cathay. Vignau led him up the Ottawa River, past the Falls of Chaudière—which so frightened the Indians who were with him that they threw offerings into the boiling waters to appease the angry spirit—and on to Allumette Island, where Champlain learned from some Algonquins the imposture practised upon him.

Champlain, who was at heart an explorer, fostering settlements chiefly as a means for the discovery of new lands, set out in 1615 on a great expedition to the west. He proceeded up the Ottawa to its tributary, the Mattawa, which brought him to Lake Nipissing, from which he journeyed to Georgian Bay, an inlet of Lake Huron. Here he was among the Hurons, whom he had promised to assist in their attack on the Iroquois. Crossing Lake Ontario with a war-party of Hurons, all in their savage war-paint, he reached a strong town of the Onondagas, one of the tribes of the Five Nations. The town was protected by very high wooden walls, with a trough of water running all round the top, to enable the defenders to put out any fire that might threaten their defences. The Hurons advanced yelling to the attack, but were driven back by a shower of arrows. Champlain then taught them how to make wicker-work shields to keep off the arrows, and also how to construct a sort of covered tower, from which he and the few Frenchmen with him might shoot over the high walls. When these preparations were ready the savages advanced again, but did not obey any of the orders which Champlain had given them. After a fruitless effort to set fire to the walls, they withdrew in disgust. Champlain, who had been wounded in the attack, had to spend the winter among the Hurons, returning to the little settlement at Quebec in the following spring, when he was welcomed with great joy.

The story of Champlain's life is one of ceaseless energy, spent in exploring farther and farther into the country, fighting the Iroquois, and ruling the colony.

Meanwhile the nominal rulers of Canada in France were constantly changing, but, happily for the future of Quebec, Champlain had always been maintained as Lieutenant-General. Going backwards and forwards to France, trying to get more funds and privileges for the little band of settlers at Quebec, Champlain was the life of New France. His two main objects, the outcome of his daring and yet devout character, were to find a short way to the Indies and to convert the heathen. In order to fulfill them he was anxious for the growth of the colony under his care.

In 1628, Cardinal Richelieu, the great French Minister, whom Louis XIII. had made all-powerful, formed a new company, which was to manage the affairs of Canada, under the title of the "Company of the Hundred Associates." A huge territory was comprised within the charter of the company, including Canada, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia, and one of its chief terms was that the company was bound to send out a certain number of settlers, in order to increase the King's subjects in New France. Unfortunately the Cardinal barred Huguenots, which prevented the best type of working-class citizens from crossing the Atlantic, and so deprived the colony of a class of men that would have helped it by their energy, skill, and prudence.

Just at the time when the new company was being formed, and the people at Quebec were anxiously waiting for the supplies promised by Richelieu, an English fleet entered the St. Lawrence. It was led by Admiral Kirke, with instructions to fight all French ships and settlements in America, England being then at war with France. Kirke sent a demand for the surrender of Quebec, but, though his men were starving, and the defences quite incapable of standing a siege, Champlain refused to submit. Apparently thinking that the place was much stronger than it really was, Kirke did not attempt to take Quebec, but withdrew to the mouth of the river, where he found a French fleet, laden with ammunition and food for the starving garrison. The English warships attacked the French transports and captured them all.

All through the winter Quebec suffered the horrors of starvation, the men living on roots or anything they could get, and when, in the following spring, Kirke returned with a strong fleet, the place at once surrendered, the English being regarded almost in the light of saviours. Champlain was taken as a prisoner to England, but the rest of the garrison were treated very kindly, and allowed to remain in their homes.

For three years the flag of England floated from the Fort of St. Louis, which Champlain had built upon the summit of the Rock of Quebec, but when peace was made between England and France in 1632, at the Treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye, the red flag of St. George was hauled down, and the lilies of France once more waved proudly in its place. It was Champlain who had insisted that the honour of France required the restitution of Canada, for the far-away colony was regarded as of little value in the eyes of the King. Champlain pointed out that England would grow much too powerful if she gained the St. Lawrence, and with it the entrance into the vast continent of America. He won his cause, and England was obliged, very reluctantly, to give up Quebec.

It was during the year after the signing of the treaty that Champlain returned for the last time to Quebec, the little colony for which he had done so much, and which he was never again to leave. He was happy in seeing a time of peace and prosperity settle down in Canada under his wise rule. He died, at the age of sixty-eight, on Christmas Day, 1635.

Quebec was fortunate in having a founder so noble as Champlain, whose pure life and unselfish ambition were an example alike to the settlers and to those who came after him. Had the men who succeeded him maintained his lofty aims, and shown his sound judgment, Canada to-day might still be known as New France.

The Story of the French in Acadie

The first mention of Acadie is to be found in the charter by which De Monts, one of Champlain's early patrons, obtained the right of colonizing in the country called "La Cadie," a vast territory which, according to the charter, spread from about New York to Montreal. But Acadie, as it appears in the story of Canada, merely included the Peninsula of Nova Scotia, the mainland of New Brunswick, part of the state of Maine, and Prince Edward Island. Its limits were always rather uncertain, varying according to its different owners. It was a beautiful country, with rich fertile soil, splendid harbours, and many rivers.

[Illustration] from Peeps at History - Canada by Beatrice Home


The accounts of the sufferings endured during the winter by the colonists on the St. Lawrence, made De Monts avoid that region when he led his expedition to the New World in the year 1604. He sailed farther south, and skirted the coast of Acadie, the Nova Scotia of to-day. He was accompanied by two ships, containing Champlain, just returned from his first visit to the St. Lawrence, the Baron de Pontrincourt, and a motley following of gentlemen of fortune, Huguenots, and thieves set free from the prisons of France. De Monts led this mixed company round the coast, naming various bays, until he came to the Bay of Fundy, where he discovered the beautiful opening now known as Annapolis Basin. The explorers were enchanted with the long stretch of calm water, sheltered by wooded hills from the storms of the bay outside. Pontrincourt, who had obtained a grant from De Monts, named the place Port Royal, and determined to build his home there, but the rest of the company went on to find another site.

After discovering the St. John River, which they named after the saint, De Monts and Champlain came to Passamaquody Bay, at the mouth of the St. Croix River, now the boundary of Maine. They chose an island in the bay on which to build the settlement, sending back Pontrincourt to France to get more supplies. The winter that followed was a very severe one, causing terrible suffering to the unfortunate settlers. Being on an island they were often cut off from obtaining any water or fuel from the mainland. Storms of snow and sleet beat down upon the roughly-built cabins, striving to find a way in through all the cracks. Champlain did his best to keep up the spirits of the colonists, but scurvy broke out, and when the spring came only forty-four were alive out of the seventy-nine who had begun the winter full of hope and courage. The spring brought Pontrincourt with fresh supplies from France, but the island had proved so unsuccessful that it was decided to abandon it and seek another and more suitable place. The leaders set out to explore the coast, but finding nothing better, they removed the colony to Port Royal, leaving no trace of their short residence upon the island.

With the winter Pontrincourt and De Monts returned to France, leaving Champlain in command at Port Royal De Monts had heard that some of his enemies at the French Court were trying to persuade the King to take away his charter, so he had to go back to look after his interests, The Indians near Port Royal, known as the Micmacs, had a very wise old chief, named Membertou, who treated the Frenchmen very kindly. Owing to his friendship, the milder weather, and the more sheltered situation, the settlers did not have to endure any of the hardships of the previous winter. But when the spring came and food was getting scarce, Champlain became very anxious when the ships from France with the expected supplies did not arrive. Two small boats, built by the settlers, started off to try to reach Newfoundland, where they hoped to come across some French fishing-boats. Just after they had gone Pontrincourt arrived with the longed-for supplies, together with more colonists, among whom was a lawyer from Paris, named Lescarbot, who became the historian of New France. De Monts had been obliged to remain behind.

All through the summer of 1606, Champlain and Pontrincourt went exploring down the coast of America, and when they returned, after a somewhat unfortunate voyage, they found the colony at Port Royal, which had been left in the charge of Lescarbot, very prosperous and full of good spirits. Lescarbot had inspired the people with his own bright good humour, and by keeping them employed—digging the fields, planting crops, and working in their gardens—he had kept them happy as well. Champlain, in the following winter, instituted what he called the "Order of a Good Time," an order that was to promote good-fellowship. It was the duty of the Grand Master to provide food for the members of the Order for one day, handing on his collar of office to another member when the chief meal was over. There was no scarcity of food, for the supplies from France were abundant, and fish and game were obtained from the Indians, who, while the meal was in progress, used to squat on the floor round the fire in the large raftered room of Pontrincourt's house. Membertou, the old chief; sat at the chief table, being much respected for his wisdom and kindness. In this way the dark winter days passed away pleasantly, and when the spring returned the colonists were full of hope, working enthusiastically on their farms. They were making a water-mill, and everything was looking very prosperous, when bad tidings came from home. A ship arrived from France, saying that De Monts' charter had been taken away, and that the colonists could no longer look for any help from the Mother-country. This obliged them to leave their sunny fields, and their homes by the sparkling waters of Port Royal, and sail back to France, leaving their settlement to the care of the Indians, who were deeply grieved at their departure. It was the misfortune of the French colonies that they depended too little upon their own efforts, and too much on royal favour, so that when it was withdrawn, as it very often was, the settlers were incapable of supporting themselves. Many lives had been lost, much money spent, and great efforts put forth to start a colony in Acadie, and now everything was abandoned because the King no longer smiled upon De Monts.

Three years later, in 1610, Pontrincourt returned to Port Royal, which had so delighted him that he could not rest in France. He brought with him a missionary-priest, Father La Fleche, who entered upon the task of converting the Micmacs with great zeal. Membertou and his tribe accepted his teaching gladly, the old chief being with difficulty prevented from fighting all those Indians who were not instantly converted. Champlain never came back to Acadie, but spent the rest of his life upon the St. Lawrence, as related in the last chapter.

Meanwhile, in France, the King (Henry IV.), who had granted the Huguenots freedom to follow their own religion, had been murdered, and the Court of the new King (Louis XIII.) was filled with the most ardent supporters of the Catholic faith. There was a great desire to win souls for the Church, and the Queen and the ladies of the Court being very generous, the funds were soon supplied to send the black-robed Jesuits into the pathless forests of America, to suffer death willingly if only they might convert the heathen. One of the Queen's ladies, Madame de Guercheville, bought out all the shares of the Huguenots in Acadie, and obtained a grant from the King of all North America, from Florida to the St. Lawrence.

Two Jesuits, Father Biard and Father Masse, went out with an expedition in 1613, to try and start a colony near the Penobscot River in Acadie (now in the state of Maine). They had barely begun this settlement, which they called St. Sauveur, before they were attacked by a British ship, led by Samuel Argall of Virginia. Argall claimed that the French were invading territory belonging to King James I., who had decided that all North America was his, by right of the first discovery of the continent by Cabot. Seizing the colony, Argall took most of the settlers as prisoners to Virginia, leaving the rest to their fate in an open boat, to be rescued, after much suffering, by a French trading-ship.

Hearing of Port Royal from the prisoners, the Governor of Virginia sent Argall to capture it. He found this an easy task, as Pontrincourt was not expecting any enemies and had left it practically defenceless. Argall, who was a man without any mercy, burnt all the buildings erected with such high hopes, and destroyed all the crops, leaving the colonists to pass the winter as best they could, without either homes or food. He, himself, returned to Virginia to be knighted by his grateful King.

By this time England had begun to occupy a minute portion of the vast continent that she claimed for herself. There was a flourishing little colony at Jamestown in Virginia, and settlements began to be made in Newfoundland. A Scotch favourite of King James, Sir William Alexander, to whom had been given all the land of Acadie, was busy with a scheme to people his new property. In the meantime France had obtained a stronghold upon the St. Lawrence, at Quebec, and had a colony in Acadie.

After the disaster at Port Royal, Pontrincourt returned to France, where he died a soldier's death. His son Biencourt remained in Acadie and rebuilt part of Port Royal. When Biencourt died he left his possessions and rights to his friend Charles de la Tour, who had been his faithful companion. Disaster again overtook the French in Acadie, for Admiral Kirke, after defeating the fleet laden with supplies for Quebec, took possession of Acadie in the name of Sir William Alexander. Charles de la Tour refused to submit and shut himself up in a little fort, near Cape Sable. When peace was proclaimed between France and England in 1632 De la Tour was rewarded for his constancy by being made Lieutenant-General of Acadie.

France having been persuaded by Champlain that it was necessary for her honour to maintain her hold upon the New World, now determined to make Acadie into a really strong colony. A friend of Richelieu, Isaac de Razilly, was sent out as Governor, and with him came Charles Daunay, Seigneur of Charnisay, who was to prove a source of great trouble in the rising colony. With the death of Razilly, in 1636, a quarrel arose between De la Tour and Charnisay, who both claimed the right of succeeding as Governor.

Having considerable influence at Court, Charnisay, after persistent efforts, succeeded in getting De la Tour's commission taken from him, and an order recalling him to France to be tried. It is not surprising that De la Tour did not submit quietly to this injustice, but from within the strong walls of his fort at the mouth of the St. John River, defied his enemy. He was supported by some French soldiers, who remained loyal to their leader, and by a number of Indians; but his chief strength lay in the courage and devotion of his beautiful wife. The first attack made by Charnisay against the fort failed utterly, owing to the resourcefulness of the defenders. When the assault was beaten back Charnisay tried to blockade the fort, but De la Tour and his wife managed to slip out and reach a ship from La Rochelle, which carried them to Boston. The men of Boston, English puritans, who, a little more than twenty years before had left their homes and fled across the ocean to seek freedom for their faith, came to the assistance of De la Tour. With five ships they surprised Charnisay, driving him back to Port Royal.

His anger against his foe being only inflamed by his defeat, Charnisay two years later in 1645, once more fell upon Fort la Tour. This time he felt sure of an easy victory, for he knew that De la Tour was absent. But he had forgotten Lady de la Tour, who so inspired the defenders, that they made an heroic resistance in the face of fearful odds. For nearly three months the fort held out, though supplies were getting low, and even the ammunition ran short. But the end was inevitable, for no ship could get through the blockade. At last Charnisay determined upon a great attack, and, landing his men, stormed the landward side. With stubborn resistance the defenders succeeded in keeping him off for two days, till, through the help of a traitor, who opened the gates, Charnisay obtained an entrance into the fort. Still De la Tour's followers fought on. Fearing that he might after all be beaten by a woman, Charnisay offered honourable terms in consideration of the heroism displayed by the defence. No sooner had Lady de la Tour consented to the terms and had handed over the fort, than Charnisay tore up the paper, and proceeded to hang her brave devoted followers before her face, She herself was conveyed by the shameless Charnisay to Port Royal, where she died a few weeks later. Now that his enemy was completely ruined, Charnisay enjoyed a few years of prosperity and undivided rule in Acadie, but, just when all things were smiling upon him, he was drowned in the river at Port Royal.

Directly he heard the news, De la Tour, who had been wandering homeless in New England, returned to France, put his case before the King, and obtained such restitution as was possible. He was restored to his estates and made Governor of Acadie. Just when good fortune seemed to have settled upon him after his stormy life, an English fleet appeared in 1654 off the coast of Acadie, and captured both Fort la Tour and Port Royal. England was not at war with France, but with Holland, and the fleet had set out from England to capture the Dutch settlements on the Hudson River. Hearing at Boston that England and Holland had made peace, the fleet, disgusted at losing the opportunity of fighting, took Acadie on its way home. Cromwell, who was then ruling in England, refused to give up Acadie to the French, but he listened to De la Tour, who had gone to England to plead his cause, and granted him a third share in a company to whom had been granted the whole of Acadie. Having suffered so many reverses of fortune, De la Tour was anxious for a peaceful life, so, selling out his shares, he retired from the historical stage of Acadie. England held the colony till Charles II. returned it to France in 1667 by the Treaty of Breda.

Concerning the Jesuits in Canada

England and France, towards the middle of the seventeenth century, had succeeded in planting small but vigorous colonies in America. The English settlers were to be found along the eastern coast, from Cape Cod to Virginia. They were content to remain in close contact with the sea, not venturing far into the impenetrable forest behind them. Conquest and discovery not being the motives which had impelled them to leave their homes in England, they were not fired with enthusiasm to find out what lay beyond the forest and the mountains. Many had faced the terrors of the ocean merely to find a living, while others had come to obtain freedom to worship according to their conscience. They therefore chose the nearest places which seemed suitable, cut down the forest trees, planted crops, built houses, and became agriculturists and traders.

[Illustration] from Peeps at History - Canada by Beatrice Home


It was far otherwise with the French colonists. The sea-coast was almost entirely avoided by them. Their chief settlements lay along the St. Lawrence, the great waterway into the heart of the continent. No desire for a mere livelihood brought Frenchmen from their sunny land, but a passion for adventure, which did not make them good colonists. They were restless beings, ill-content with the slow life of a farmer, always anxious to push into the unknown, and to grow rich rapidly through fur-trading with the Indians. Their leaders, men of the type of Champlain, were inspired with the thought of conquest, of conversion, of the winning of a vast empire for their King and their Church. These divergent motives made a vast difference in the nature of the English and French colonies. France reproduced in Canada all her old customs, her feudal system, and her tyranny; England sent out men who were filled with a spirit of independence.

Religion played a great part in the history of Canada. The Roman Catholic religion gave to Canada many heroic men and women, and supplied countless stories of patient courage in the face of unspeakable torture. But the Jesuits who flocked to the New World, eager to give their lives for their faith, were not the best or most profitable kind of colonists. The country wanted married settlers, whose happiness would be wrapped up in their families and their farms. As one writer puts it: "Martyrs and virgins the Roman Catholic Church sent out to Canada, but it did not send out men and women." Nothing could damp the enthusiasm of the Jesuits. They pleaded their cause in Europe, obtained money, and persuaded brave men and women to follow them into the unknown depths of the forests of America, where they founded mission-stations among the villages of cruel and suspicious savages, far away from any help. Yet in spite of the self-sacrificing heroism of its teachers, the Roman Catholic religion, in shutting the gates of Canada against the Huguenots, brought weakness to New France. The Huguenots would have gladly flocked to the St. Lawrence to face—as did the Puritans of New England—its cold winters and the savage foes, if they could have obtained toleration for their religion. Whereas the Catholics of France, apart from the priests and nuns, had no desire to leave their comfortable homes.

[Illustration] from Peeps at History - Canada by Beatrice Home


The grey-robed Récollets, friars of the Franciscan Order, were the first of the Roman Catholic missionaries to venture into Canada. They came out with Champlain in 1615, and settled in Quebec, sending out members of their Order among the savage tribes. When Champlain made his first visit to Lake Huron he found a Récollet Father, Le Caron, had been there before him, carrying the Gospel to the heathen and founding a mission. Ten years after the Récollets, the Jesuits arrived, and soon established a convent of their own at Quebec.

The restless energy of the Jesuits often proved a source of trouble and anxiety to the rulers of Canada. They continued to push farther and farther into the untracked forest, converting the Indians, and building small mission-stations far away from any possible help from Quebec, only to suffer extermination, again and again, from the Iroquois.

The city of Montreal was founded by some religious enthusiasts in France. The beautiful island, discovered by Cartier, was fixed upon as the site of the town that was to put the Church first in everything. Under the leadership of a brave and ardently devout soldier, Maisonneuve, the company arrived at Quebec in the autumn of 1641. Maisonneuve insisted upon building at Montreal, in spite of the arguments of the Governor, who, knowing the ferocity of the Iroquois, wished the settlement to be made near Quebec. The following spring saw the zealous little colony planted within the walls of Ville Marie de Montreal.

Indignation and fury reigned among the Iroquois at this intrusion in their territory, for Ville Marie was close to the Richelieu River, which was their highway. War-parties roamed through the woods, cutting off any who ventured from the fort. One of these parties managed to capture a Jesuit, Father Isaac Jogues, who was among a company of Hurons bringing furs to Quebec. The prisoners were carried down the Richelieu, along the island-studded Lake Champlain to the Mohawk country, and there, from village to village, they were tortured by their merciless foes, who used all their ingenuity to drag from them some cries of suffering. So terrible was the daily torture, that it is marvellous that any came through with their lives. Father Jogues, who had never failed to cheer the Christian Hurons, was taken by the Iroquois to Albany, one of the Dutch towns on the Hudson. With the help of the Dutch he managed to escape, getting back to France. But the next year saw him again in Canada, maimed in body, but unbroken in spirit, to win eventually a martyr's death among the savage Iroquois.

The Jesuits had taken up the work, commenced by the Récollets, among the Hurons, who dwelt on the shores of the great lake named after them. They realized that the Hurons were more capable of receiving the new teaching than any of the other tribes, and with their untiring energy had built numerous mission-stations among them. But, though their success was great, winning the hearts of the Indians through their courage and their tender care of the sick, a terrible disaster was in store for them.

Iroquois attacking the Hurons


A declaration of war against the Hurons was issued by the Council of the Iroquois, a war not merely of conquest, but of extermination. The blow fell upon the unsuspecting Hurons in 1648, and by the following year their land had become a desert, and what was left of the nation was scattered among distant tribes. The priests died bravely among their flock, who, in accepting Christianity, seemed to have lost their war-like strength, offering very little resistance to their foes. After this exhibition of their power the Iroquois lorded it over Canada, keeping the French within the fortified walls of Quebec, Montreal, and Three Rivers. Beyond the immediate neighbourhood of these places, the Iroquois scalped and slaughtered at their pleasure, and every small settlement was wiped out.

For nearly ten years the Iroquois indulged in an orgy of conquest. They were bent upon exterminating all their foes, and destroyed tribe after tribe.

Concerning the Jesuits in Canada Natural enemies of the French, who were invading their land and threatening their supremacy, they were friendly to the English, who left them unmolested. Had they been a weak nation they must have been crushed between the French and English, between whose colonies they lay, but they were strong and clever enough to use one European foe against the other. Though none of the tribes could stand against them, the Iroquois had suffered heavy losses, but by their custom of incorporating certain of their prisoners, they were able to keep up their numbers.

St. Isaac Jogues


All this time the French had been showing their weakness to the Iroquois. They had proved themselves incapable of protecting their allies, the Hurons, and, indeed, had more than enough to do to maintain their own position. Naturally the Iroquois became more and more menacing to the French, whom they now openly despised.

At last, in 1660, news came to Montreal that a horde of Iroquois, all in their war-paint, was advancing down the Ottawa River to wipe out the settlement. There was a young French nobleman in Montreal, named Dollard, who was eager to do some deed of heroism, by which he might wipe out a stain upon his name. He volunteered, with sixteen others, to meet this savage horde before it reached the city, and to convince the Indians that Frenchmen could still fight. With his band of comrades, all vowed to give their lives for France, Dollard took up his position in an old stockade close to the Long Sault Rapids near where the Ottawa joins the St. Lawrence. A brave Algonquin chief, with ten Hurons, joined him, and with this small force he awaited the Iroquois. The war-party soon burst upon them, seven hundred strong, and with loud yells stormed the little fort, only to be beaten back with loss. The defenders fought continuously for three days, with not a moment's rest nor time to eat. Though they were exhausted with hunger and thirst, having no water in the fort, the heroic men kept the foe at bay till the bodies of dead men lay deep outside the wooden walls. When at last the firing ceased and the Iroquois burst in, they found all but five of the tiny garrison were dead, and those who were still living were covered with wounds. Only one of the five lived long enough to be tortured. But their dauntless courage had not been in vain, for the Iroquois were so impressed that they gave up the idea of attacking Montreal and returned to their lodges.

Just when the French were filled with dread of the Iroquois, the ground beneath their feet began to fill them with superstitious fears. Terrible earthquakes shook the earth, crumbling the massive ice of the rivers, and causing chimneys to fall. Strange meteors were seen among the fixed stars of the heavens; the solid ground swayed, giving out horrible noises, till the wretched settlers lived in hourly terror.

The earthquakes occurred in the year 1663, and with that year better times dawned on Canada. It became a royal province, under the direct rule of the King. The Company of the Hundred Associates was broken up, having shown itself entirely neglectful of its duties. Fur-trading had absorbed all its attention, and the interests and growth of the colony had been forgotten. The total population of Canada at the end of the company's rule only amounted to 2,000.

Canada as a Royal Province

For a hundred years Canada was under the direct control of the French Kings, being what we should now call a Crown Colony. From the year 1663 to the Peace of Paris, a century later, she enjoyed the fostering care of the monarchs and ministers of the Mother-country. Sometimes, it is true, she was forgotten in the interests of European policy, but, on the whole, the Bourbon Kings were generous in supplies and benevolent in intention to their subjects in New France. Indeed, if the settlers therein had been left more dependent upon their own resources, as were the English in America, they would have developed more self-reliance. As it was, they looked to France to supply their means of defence and all their other needs.

The Government of Canada under the royal direction, consisted of a Governor, an Intendant, and a Sovereign Council. The Governor represented the King, and commanded all the military forces. Though holding a slightly subordinate position, the Intendant had really the greater power. He was at the head of all civil affairs, managing the finance and supplies, giving an account of his stewardship direct to the King. Being a civilian, with, in most cases, a legal training, he was better qualified than the Governor to write long letters to the Colonial Minister in France, explaining his actions. This division of authority led to much trouble, Governor and Intendant each throwing the blame upon the other.

The citizens of Canada had no voice in the Government. The Council was composed of the Governor, the Intendant, the Bishop, and twelve members, appointed by the King. The Bishop naturally represented the Church, which was all-powerful. A large proportion of the inhabitants being priests, and a great part of the land belonging to the Church, the Bishop's authority was often above that of Governor or Intendant.

When royal rule began the French population in Canada consisted of about 2,000, but, under the encouragement of the Crown, it increased rapidly, almost doubling itself in ten years. Colonists were sent out in great numbers. Many of them were women, destined to become the wives of settlers. These women were carefully chosen, all of them being strong enough to bear the hardships of life in a new country.

[Illustration] from Peeps at History - Canada by Beatrice Home


Among the old institutions transplanted into Canada was the feudal system, though it was no longer upon a military basis. Its main purpose was to keep the settlers on the soil, and prevent them from wandering. Two classes were created, the Seigneurs  and the Habitants. The Seigneurs obtained their land from the King, on the condition that they kept it under cultivation. Such land as they were unable to cultivate themselves, they granted to other settlers, who became their vassals, owning the land through them. The Habitant was bound to cultivate his land, to bring his corn to be ground at the Seigneur's mill, to pay a rent in money or kind, and to deliver up a tenth of all the fish he caught.

As the St. Lawrence was the only highway in those days, all the seigneuries fronted it. In this way the land became divided into narrow strips, running up from the river far into the forest, which served as a hunting-ground and a source of timber.

Beside the two classes of Seigneurs and Habitants, there were a number of men, known as Coureurs des Bois, or Runners of the Woods. They were Frenchmen who had left the ordered life of the towns to enjoy the wild free life of the Indians—roaming among the forests, discovering new lands, and carrying on the fur-trade.

In 1665 the Marquis de Tracy arrived as Viceroy, amid great rejoicing, in Quebec. His duty was to put the colony in order and prepare the way for the new constitution.

Canada was fortunate in her first Governor and Intendant, who both arrived the same year as De Tracy. De Courcelles, the Governor, was a capable soldier, and the Intendant, Talon, spent all his energies on promoting the welfare of the colony. In order to obtain freedom from the ceaseless attacks of the Indians, an expedition was led by De Courcelles into the heart of the Iroquois country. He started in January, 1666, and, after traversing the Richelieu, Lake Champlain, and Lake George, a continuation of the great lake, he reached the Hudson River. Here, by a mistake, he found himself among the Dutch settlements instead of the Iroquois villages. Unwelcome news greeted him, for the Dutch informed him that he was invading English territory, Charles II. having captured the Dutch colony two years before. De Courcelles was obliged to lead his men back to Quebec, having done nothing.

But the Iroquois did not triumph long, for the following September a force of 1,300 men left Quebec to attack the Mohawks. It was commanded by De Tracy, but De Courcelles also accompanied it. This time no blunder was made in the direction of the troops, who marched straight through the Mohawk country. The haughty Indians fled before so imposing an array, leaving their villages undefended. When all the villages were burnt and the stores of corn destroyed, the French turned back, having given the Iroquois a lesson they did not soon forget. After this demonstration of strength the Iroquois sought for peace, which was maintained for nearly twenty years.

New France began to enjoy a time of settled prosperity. The first dance recorded in Quebec was held in February, 1667. Louis XIV. showed a paternal interest in the royal province, and was lavish in sending out stores and settlers, for which he paid out of his own private purse.

When De Courcelles returned to France in 1672, his place was taken by one of the great figures or Canadian history, Count Frontenac. He had been brought up in the most brilliant Court in Europe, and had very early in life obtained a distinguished reputation in the service of what was then the finest army of the world. Yet he left it all at the age of fifty-two, to become the Governor of New France.

Though possessed of an overbearing, but not unkindly disposition, he proved himself an excellent ruler. During his administration he never allowed the Indians to gain the upper hand, always showing a firmness which quelled any attempt at insurrection. He had what is so necessary for rulers of new lands, a belief in the great destiny of the country.

Now that the Iroquois were no longer scouring the forests on the war-path, the French began to reach out to the west beyond the lower St. Lawrence, which had hitherto been the scene of their energies. A fort was built on the northern shore of Lake Ontario, on the site of the present town of Kingston, and was named after the Governor. This fort, erected in 1673, was the first link in a chain of outposts placed along the great lakes.

Landing of Marquis de Tracy


At last trouble began to brew again among the Iroquois, stirred up by the English. Colonel Dongan, the Governor of New York, was anxious to deflect the fur-trade from the St. Lawrence to the Hudson River, and thence to the English settlements. He therefore tried to break the peace between the Five Nations and the French. Owing to the murder of a chief of the Senecas by one of the Illinois Indians, the Iroquois vowed they would exterminate the whole tribe. Frontenac invited them to a conference to discuss the matter, but, under the influence of Dongan, the Iroquois had become insolent, and said that Frontenac must come to them. Their bold front, however, soon vanished when the resolute Onontio, as they called the Governor of Canada, sent them a command not to touch any of the western tribes. They dreaded the arrival of his soldiers into their villages, and at once did as they were told.

Unfortunately, Count Frontenac had met a will as strong as his own in the city of Quebec. Bishop Laval, the first Bishop of Canada, had arrived at Quebec in 1659, and ever since had been engaged in incessant quarrels with the Governors. He was a narrow-minded man, resolute in his determination to make the Church above all earthly dignitaries. This point of view naturally brought him into conflict with the Governors, but otherwise he lived a life of extreme self-denial and of great charity to the poor. Owing to his influence Count Frontenac was recalled to France, and La Barre, an old soldier, was sent out to take his place.

Count Frontenac


The Iroquois, realizing that the strong hand of Frontenac had been removed, instantly became troublesome, and swore that they would wipe out the Illinois. Instead of imitating the firmness of his predecessor, La Barre weakly gave way, allowing the Senecas to wreak their vengeance on the Illinois, on condition that they did not attack the Hurons and Ottawas. In obtaining protection for the northern tribes the Governor was getting safety for the fur-trade, on whose profits he was rapidly growing wealthy. When the Senecas captured his fur-traders in Illinois, the greedy Governor became indignant and led an army into their land.

He encamped his force of 900 on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, and apparently waited there helplessly until his men had nearly all sickened with fever. The Iroquois surrounded the French in great numbers, and could, had they been so pleased, have utterly destroyed them, and with them the whole power of France in Canada. But, realizing that if they crushed the French the English would then become all-powerful, the sagacious warriors merely imposed shameful terms of peace. For this conduct La Barre was recalled, and was succeeded by the Marquis de Denonville.

The new Governor was a much stronger and more capable man than La Barre. By using the same kind of methods as the Iroquois, he was able, by a deed of great treachery, to obtain a victory over the Senecas. He determined to build a fort at Niagara, a position commanding the trade of the West. As this fort was in the land of the Senecas, he invited all the chiefs to a conference at Fort Frontenac. The unfortunate Indians, led into a trap, were captured, and sent to France as prisoners. With their most important men gone the Senecas proved an easy conquest, and Fort Niagara was erected.

As might have been expected, the Iroquois vowed vengeance. Avoiding anything in the nature of a pitched battle, where they might have been defeated, they moved about rapidly in small parties, slaying and burning wherever they appeared. They struck where they were least expected, leaving desolation behind them.

Massacre of Lachine


The greatest and most horrible outrage ever committed by the Five Nations took place on a summer's night in 1689. A horde of savage warriors burst, under the cover of a storm, upon the sleeping settlement of Lachine, a village at the upper end of the Island of Montreal. Awakened suddenly from sleep, the colonists were unable to make any resistance. Dragged from their beds, they were burned at stakes and tortured by their pitiless foes. Leaving two hundred slain among the charred ruins of the villages, the Iroquois carried off a hundred and twenty captives to be slowly tortured in their lodges.

All this time no rescue was attempted from Montreal. A paralyzing panic had robbed the French of all courage. The triumphant savages paraded their victims within sight of Montreal, whose defenders were forbidden by their leaders to make any attack.

At this moment of peril Frontenac returned, at the advanced age of seventy, to save Canada. Courage and hope again returned to the French, but the Iroquois remained unfriendly. Indeed, Frontenac found that, unless he took prompt measures, the Canadian Indians would make common cause with the Iroquois and join the English. To show once more the power of the French, Frontenac determined to strike a blow at the English settlements. Three raiding-parties of Canadians were sent out from Montreal, Three Rivers, and Quebec. With the unexpectedness of Indians, they attacked two villages in New England and Schenectady, a village on the Hudson. Wholesale massacres took place, the Christian Indians among the French being allowed to butcher the captives. Frontenac, by these successful raids, obtained once more the respect of the Iroquois, but roused a spirit of revenge in the English.

New England became active in her wrath against the French. Sir William Phipps, an adventurous sailor, captured Port Royal in 1690, and then, with a fleet of thirty-two vessels, started on the much greater task of taking Quebec. The land-force, which at the same time marched towards Montreal, never reached its destination, owing to a series of misfortunes. Phipps brought his fleet up the St. Lawrence, and, undaunted by the formidable strength of the rock-crowned city, sent a messenger to demand its immediate surrender. Frontenac replied curtly, "Tell your General that I will answer him only by the mouths of my cannon." After this mutual defiance the attack began. But the guns of the New Englanders made no effect on Quebec's strong walls, and the troops, in spite of valiant efforts, were unable to cross the St. Charles to get to the rear of the city. Phipps was obliged to retire, leaving Quebec to celebrate the victory with great rejoicings.

In 1698 Frontenac died. His stern measures with the Iroquois had saved Canada from their sudden and murdering attacks. Instead of lying humbled under savages, he left New France in the proud position of having repulsed the English, and brought the Iroquois to sue for peace.

A year before his death, the Treaty of Ryswick put an end to the war in Europe between Louis XIV. and William III. of England. Louis had been forced to acknowledge William's claim to the throne of Great Britain.

A Half-Century of Conflict Between New France and the English Colonies

With the death of Count Frontenac the Five Nations ceased to cause any anxiety to New France. But rivalry with the English colonies led to almost continuous strife during the first half of the eighteenth century. In this conflict the savage tribes were used as allies by both European Powers.

It was the misfortune of France that her explorers were too daring. They ventured far into the unknown continent and annexed vast territories, greatly beyond the power of the colony to maintain. Had the French been content to develop quietly the land which they had first discovered, and to have filled it with a sturdy population, they would in all probability have retained their hold upon Canada to this day.

During Frontenac's Governorship of Canada, the Mississippi had been discovered. Father Marquette, accompanied by Jolliet, a Canadian trader, were the first white men to paddle their canoes along the muddy stream of the "Great Water." They only got as far as the Arkansas River, for, finding that the main stream was leading due south, and therefore would not reach the Pacific Ocean, as they had hoped, they turned back to tell of their wonderful discovery. Nine years later, in 1682, the intrepid La Salle, whose name stands high on the roll of explorers, traversed the whole length of the Mississippi, reaching its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico. All the enormous tract of country watered by the Mississippi and its tributaries was annexed by France under the name of Louisiana.

La Salle's fate was a tragic one. He went to France in 1684, told the King of his important discovery, and started off the same year with a considerable expedition to found a colony at the mouth of the Mississippi. Misled by fogs, the colonists were landed far to the west of the intended site, and had to endure great suffering as they toiled through swamps and endless prairies in a wild effort to reach Canada by land. Heroic in enduring suffering himself, La Salle seems to have demanded the same from his followers. They rebelled against his stern measures, formed a plot, and murdered their bold leader, who thus pitiably ended a life full of ceaseless adventure and tireless energy.

From the time of La Salle's discovery, it was the aim of the French to keep the English behind the range of the Alleghanies, to allow them no entrance into the interior of the continent, but to confine them to the narrow strip of eastern coast. By spreading their frontier over such a vast area, the French weakened their forces. The scheme was a great one, too great to be fulfilled.

War broke out in Europe in 1682 over the succession to the Spanish throne. England and Austria objected to the grandson of Louis XIV. becoming King of Spain, fearing that the union of the two countries would mean French supremacy. The trouble in Europe was naturally reflected in America, though the warfare was petty in comparison with the great campaigns of Marlborough.

Port Royal during this war fell once again, never to be restored to France. The English Commander, Colonel Nicholson, changed its name to Annapolis Royal, in honour of Queen Anne, who then sat upon the English throne.

An attempt was also made against Quebec, which ended in a disastrous failure. Fifteen battleships, under the command of Admiral Walker, having on board some of Marlborough's victorious troops, left England for the St. Lawrence. Unfortunately Walker had no skill as a commander, and, through his scorn of the pilot's warnings, allowed eight vessels of his fine fleet to become total wrecks upon the rocks at the entrance of the river. After this great loss the expedition sailed home ingloriously.

Meanwhile England had been victorious in Europe, and at the Treaty of Utrecht, in 1713, obtained many concessions in America. France gave up Acadie, Newfoundland, and the Hudson Bay Territory to the English, who thus showed for the first time their increasing strength in the New World.

Yet France, though England had gained in prestige, had a great future before her. The two great rivers of the continent were hers. Cape Breton Island guarded the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the whole West lay open to her through the Great Lakes. A fort had been erected at Detroit, between Lakes Huron and Erie, by which communication was kept up between Canada and Louisiana.

With the thirty years of peace that followed the Treaty of Utrecht, Canada progressed steadily. The fur-trade—the chief source of wealth—increased, but shipbuilding and the manufacture of hemp and flax began to occupy a considerable number of the inhabitants. Unfortunately, the population grew very slowly. Quebec contained 7,000 people, a little less than half the entire population of the colony.

During this period of progress the knowledge of the Far West also grew. A settlement had been made in 1731 near Lake Winnipeg, on the site of the flourishing city of that name. Some adventurous explorers discovered the Missouri in 1742, and, continuing up its broad stream, had seen the Rocky Mountains.

The War of the Austrian Succession broke the peace in 1744. The Emperor, Charles VI., having no son, obtained the consent of the European Powers to the succession of his daughter, Maria Theresa, to the throne of Austria, in spite of the Salic Law, which prevailed in the country. But on his death France, Spain, and Bavaria withdrew their sanction, leaving the young Empress surrounded by foes. England came to her assistance, partly from a sense of chivalry, and partly to protect her colonies from the greed of France and Spain.

In America an attempt was at once made to recapture Acadie. Annapolis was stormed, but, owing to the courage and resourcefulness of its Governor, it resisted all the efforts of the French, who gave up the siege in disgust.

[Illustration] from Peeps at History - Canada by Beatrice Home


The chief event of the war was the capture of Louisbourg by the New Englanders in 1745. Louisbourg had been built by the French on Cape Breton Island, after they had lost Acadie. No money was spared to make the place absolutely invincible, its position being regarded as the key to the St. Lawrence. Vauban, the great French engineer, designed the fortifications.

Yet this strong fortress fell to the untrained men of New England, led by a commander who had had no previous military experience. Shirley, the Governor of Massachusetts, was responsible for the brilliant, not to say reckless, scheme. Four British battleships, under the command of Commodore Warren, assisted William Pepperell, who led the New England army. In spite of a brave resistance on the part of the French, the town was captured. Nothing could resist the boyish enthusiasm of the New Englanders, who had pushed on the siege with tireless activity.

Bitter was the humiliation of the French at the loss of Louisbourg. A great fleet, under the Duke d'Anville, was sent out to recapture it. Storms scattered the fleet, which, after a series of disasters, returned unsuccessfully to France. Another expedition was rapidly equipped, but it had not left Europe, on its way to America, before it was destroyed, off Cape Finisterre, by an English fleet.

Much to the indignation of New England, Louisbourg was restored to France at the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. So important was the fortress regarded, that France had readily given up her conquests in Europe and India in exchange for it.

The Governors of Canada found the vast territory over which they ruled a very serious responsibility. English traders were carrying goods up and down the valley of the Ohio, and if once they were allowed to get any hold over the country, they would cut off Louisiana from Canada. Therefore the Marquis de la Galissoniere, the Governor-General in 1749, sent Celeron de Bienville, a colonial officer, with a small force to fix a boundary line beyond which the English were not to advance. Once the boundary was decided, it was to be guarded by a series of forts, Celeron de Bienville drew a line all round the valley of the Ohio, marking it by nailing a sheet of tin with the arms of France to a tree, and burying underneath it a leaden plate, proclaiming Louis XV. as the owner' of the land.

[Illustration] from Peeps at History - Canada by Beatrice Home

Ever since the acquisition of Acadie in 1713 England had tried to gain the loyalty of the people. Her Governors showed great patience and forbearance. Those Acadians who wished to leave were given time to do so, while those who remained were allowed free exercise of their religion, provided they took an oath of allegiance to King George. Had it not been for the persistent efforts of the French priests, backed up by the rulers of Canada, the people would no doubt have soon settled down under the English Government. Abbe Le Loutre, the Vicar-General of Acadie, fanned the hatred of the Acadians to the English by his own fierce fanaticism. Anyone who wavered was refused the offices of the Church, till the poor superstitious people meekly obeyed the dictates of the priests, who forbade allegiance to the English.

There was scarcely any English population in Acadie until 1749, when the town of Halifax was founded. Over two thousand colonists were sent out, and before the winter closed in a well-built town had arisen on Chebucto Harbour, on the southern coast of the peninsula.

Disputes were constantly arising concerning the boundary-line of Acadie. Before it became English the French had placed the frontier much west of New Brunswick, but when they lost it, they declared that Acadie was confined to the peninsula, and that the Missiguash River, on the isthmus of Chignecto, was the true boundary. Two forts faced one another across the marshy stream—Fort Beausejour on the French side, and Fort Lawrence on the English.

The unhappy Acadians were torn between two masters. Their priests ordered them to remain loyal to France, under severe penalties, while the English governors urged them to take the oath of allegiance to King George. When the secret influences to which they were exposed at last roused the Acadians, it led to hostilities at the frontier. Then Governor Lawrence called the Acadians together and tried to persuade them to take the oath. Though he told them that this time they must decide between loyalty and banishment, they had had so much experience of English toleration that they relied upon it once too often.

[Illustration] from Peeps at History - Canada by Beatrice Home


Inspired by their spiritual teacher, Le Loutre, the Micmac Indians attacked English colonists in Acadie, having been supplied with powder and ammunition by the French in Canada. A dastardly deed of treachery was committed by these Indians, though Le Loutre denied all knowledge of the affair. Among the officers at Fort Lawrence was a Captain Howe, who had, by his influence over the Acadians, won the dislike of Le Loutre. He was lured out of the fort by the appearance of a French officer—really an Indian in disguise—waving a flag of truce. Howe, with a few others, went out to meet him, when a number of Indians sprang from hiding and fired upon Howe. His companions picked up their dying leader, and succeeded in getting back to the fort amidst the fire of the Indians.

This perpetual danger from both the inhabitants of Acadie, and the French beyond the border, could no longer be endured. Fort Beausejour was blockaded, and fell an easy victim, owing to the cowardice of Vergor, its Governor.

Exile of Acadians


Then followed the sad banishment of the Acadians in 1755. English troops suddenly surrounded their towns and villages, and a proclamation was read to them, announcing that, after fifty years of indulgence, the King ordered their immediate removal, with all their household goods, out of the country. Six thousand people were exiled from their homes, going down in sad little family groups to the ships that were to convey them to New England. Some of the exiles made their way into Canada; others travelled into Louisiana; and some eventually got back to their beloved Acadie, where they were allowed to remain. The English, in expelling the Acadians, had been prompted by no desire for their lands, since some years elapsed before the deserted farms of the misguided Acadians were occupied by English colonists.

While these events had been taking place in Acadie, history was moving in the Ohio Valley. The Marquis Duquesne, then Governor of Canada, sent an expedition to build forts along the boundary marked out by Celeron de Bienville. The Indians, hitherto more or less friendly to the English, were won over by the French, and vowed fidelity to them.

Naturally the English colonies became alarmed at this encroachment of their rivals. A race, to see who could be the first to build forts, was begun. The English built one at the junction of the Monongahela with the Alleghany River, on the site of the present city of Pittsburg. Unfortunately they left it insufficiently garrisoned, so that it was easily taken by the French, who rebuilt it, calling it Fort Duquesne.

All this time peace was nominally maintained, but both England and France winked at the warlike operations in America. Two English regiments were sent out from England under General Braddock. It was agreed at the council of colonial governors that Forts Duquesne, Niagara, and Crown Point (on Lake Champlain), were to be seized. Braddock led the expedition against Fort Duquesne, his troops consisting of 1,000 regulars and 1,200 Virginia militia. He was a man ill-fitted for his post, for, though personally brave and honest, he relied too much upon the regular troops, having a very mean opinion of the capacity of the colonials, who were trained to bush warfare.

As the English army was marching through the woods a few miles from Fort Duquesne, they were set upon suddenly by the French and Indians, who were swarming all round them. Conspicuous in their scarlet and blue, the English soldiers made a splendid mark for their unseen foes. The Virginian militia, understanding the Indian tactics, spread out, and fought from behind trees. But Braddock, regarding this as cowardly, ordered them back into line. Confusion and panic reigned among the crowded mass of men, who could see nothing at which to fire. When nearly 900 men lay dead or dying, Braddock gave the order to retreat. He himself was mortally wounded as he was striving to keep his men from a headlong flight. Four days later, when he lay dying, he was heard to murmur: "We shall know better how to deal with them another time." He was buried in the road, the whole army passing over his grave that the Indians might not discover it.

No great credit is due to the French for this victory. It was almost entirely won by the Indians, who suffered the most loss. Only about twenty Frenchmen were among the killed and wounded.

The Loss of New France

England threw off the pretence of peace by declaring war in the spring of 1756, after a year of conflict in America. She had for her ally, Frederick the Great of Prussia, the strong ruler of a small kingdom, while against her was ranged the Triple Alliance of France, Austria, and Russia. The Seven Years' War, which was thus begun, had more far-reaching results than any other struggle of the eighteenth century.

In America the English were a little more than double the number of the French in Canada. Being worried by few taxes, the colonists were rapidly growing in wealth; but along with their wealth and their large population, they suffered from the great disability of jealousy of one another, and a consequent disinclination to combine against the enemy. After Braddock's defeat the frontier remained open to the persistent attacks of the Indians, yet the colonists refused to join their forces for defence against their common enemy.

Conditions were entirely different in Canada. There the population only numbered 60,000, nearly all of them extremely poor and heavily burdened with taxes. The French officials were corrupt, using the millions sent out from France for the benefit of the colony, merely to enrich themselves. Bigot, the Intendant, grew fabulously wealthy as leader of a gang of plunderers as bad as himself. The people were robbed, and the soldiers were stinted of food, clothing and ammunition, when the colony was most in need of them. But the Canadians were trained to war, and, being under the immediate control of the Governor, were liable to be called up at any moment to reinforce the garrison.



Immediately after the declaration of war, the Marquis de Montcalm was sent out to Canada as commander-in-chief. He was a man of middle age, a fine soldier, courageous, chivalrous, and loyal. His three lieutenants, De Lévis, De Bougainville, and De Bourlamaque, who accompanied him, were all able men.

With such brilliant military leaders the war opened well for France. The fort at Oswego was taken and utterly destroyed, and Ticonderoga, where Lake George enters Lake Champlain, was strongly fortified against the expected advance of the English. All this time the English leaders were busily doing nothing. The Earl of Loudoun and General Abercromby, both incompetent soldiers, had come out from England to lead the army. Loudoun had intended to take Louisbourg, but owing to the interminable time of his preparations he allowed the French fleet to get there before him.

Montcalm, finding that a large number of troops had been called away to assist in the abortive attempt on Louisbourg, made a determined attempt on Fort William Henry, recently erected by the English at the foot of Lake George. The fort was held by Colonel Monroe, who only surrendered after a hard struggle. He had sent for help to General Webb at Fort Edward, fourteen miles away, but had been refused, the cowardly Webb being afraid to venture out. By the terms of the surrender, the English troops were to be escorted to Fort Edward by the French soldiers, and thus protected from the Indians, who formed a large part of Montcalm's army. But, though Montcalm had pledged his word, he was not able to restrain his savage allies. They set upon the unarmed English, robbing them of all they possessed, and scalping those who resisted. Six hundred were carried off in spite of the efforts of Montcalm and his officers. Four hundred were recovered the next day, but the savages decamped with the rest into the forest.

Just when things were looking very black for England, William Pitt became the head of the Government, and immediately the war took on a different aspect. With that confidence in himself, which was so characteristic of him, he remarked: "I am sure that I can save this country and that nobody else can." His burning desire was to win glory for England, to make her mistress of the seas, and to open to her the markets of the world.

But to achieve this object it was necessary to crush France in both India and America, and to acquire her colonies. The incompetent Loudoun was at once recalled, and officers chosen by Pitt for their capacity, and not for their influence, were sent out. General Amherst, with Colonel James Wolfe as one of his brigadiers, was placed in command of the expedition against Louisbourg. Amherst was a brave, able, but extremely cautious commander. Wolfe, on the other hand, was distinguished by an almost reckless daring. In spite of his feeble frame and his persistent ill-health, he had entered the army at the age of fifteen, and had gained rapid promotion. He had a marvellous gift of command, winning the adoring confidence of his men and the devotion of his officers. In June, 1758, the English fleet appeared off Louisbourg. A landing was effected, the boats making their way through the surf, in spite of a fierce resistance on the part of the enemy. Trenches were dug, creeping day by day nearer to the strongly fortified walls of the town. The Island Battery was captured, and with it the entrance to the harbour in which lay the French fleet. After having held out till the end of July, the "Dunkirk of America," as Louisbourg had been proudly called, was unconditionally surrendered. Its commander, the brave Chevalier de Drucour, had however held out long enough to prevent the English doing more fighting in Canada that year. No sooner had the French soldiers and inhabitants been conveyed out of the town, than Louisbourg was demolished. Never again was it to be handed back to France to become a menace to the English colonies. Green earthworks, upon which sheep peacefully graze, now mark the place where massive fortifications once rose.

That same year the French had won a great victory at Ticonderoga. Montcalm defended the fort with a force of 3,000 men, realizing that ruin was almost inevitable in the face of the vastly preponderating numbers of the English. Owing to influence Pitt had not been able to remove General Abercromby, who was in command of the army at Fort George. But he hoped that Brigadier Lord Howe, described by Wolfe as "the best soldier in the British army," would make up for the deficiencies of his chief. Ticonderoga Fort was built upon a rocky height, protected by a high breastwork of sharpened tree-trunks, making it almost impregnable to a frontal attack.

Abercromby, with his fine army of 15,000 men, embarked upon Lake George at the beginning of July, on his way to take Ticonderoga. Misfortune began early, for Lord Howe was shot in a skirmish before the attack began, and, with his death, "the soul of General Abercromby's army seemed to expire." No longer able to rely upon the advice of his second-in-command, Abercromby used no tactics, never thinking of outflanking or cutting off supplies, but merely ordering his soldiers against the glacis of tree-trunks. All day long his stubborn men tried in vain to storm that terrible breastwork, regiment after regiment hurling themselves against it, only to be mown down by the deadly fire of the defenders whom they could not see. Montcalm was full of admiration for their dogged persistence. At last, when evening was falling, Abercromby withdrew his men, leaving 2,000 dead upon the field. It is not surprising that Montcalm, who had only lost 300 men, wrote: "This glorious day does infinite honour to the valour of our battalions."

By the end of the campaign of 1758, England, in spite of the defeat at Ticonderoga, had gained a substantial success. Louisbourg had been destroyed; Fort Pitt had arisen in the place of Fort Duquesne, abandoned by the French; and Fort Frontenac had been captured. Though the French had triumphed at Ticonderoga, they were unable to take advantage of their victory, having to remain on the defensive owing to lack of troops. No help could be expected from Europe, where France needed all her money and her soldiers to protect herself.

The following year saw Wolfe, who had returned to England after the taking of Louisbourg, once more in Canada. According to Pitt's plan he was to take Quebec while General Amherst, who had succeeded to Abercromby's command, was to drive the French from Lake Champlain, take Montreal and co-operate with Wolfe against Quebec. Amherst advanced towards Ticonderoga and Crown Point, both of which were abandoned by Bourlamaque, who retired to a strong position at the northern end or Lake Champlain. Here he kept Amherst at bay all the summer by means of four armed sloops. The cautious Amherst set to work to build vessels capable of meeting the enemy, but, meanwhile, the summer slipped away, and he was not bringing any help to Wolfe at Quebec.

Surrender of Lousibourg


Wolfe arrived at Quebec at the end of June. The fleet had passed safely through the dangerous passage of the St. Lawrence, just below the Ile d'Orleans. Some French pilots had been captured, and ordered, under severe threats, to guide the ships through the shoals. One old English sea-captain, scorning to take advice about his business from a Frenchman, refused to let the pilot speak, but navigated his ship himself by watching the ripple and colour of the water. He led, and the other vessels followed in lordly succession, filling the hearts of the French with a sense of coming doom.

Montcalm had decided to act entirely on the defensive. Though he had 16,000 troops under him, he dared not trust the Canadian militia against disciplined English soldiers in an open field. He ranged his army from Quebec along the northern shore of the river to the Falls of Montmorenci, eight miles distant. Quebec was protected by a great boom of timber placed across the entrance to the St. Charles River, a bridge of boats being formed higher up. Bougainville was posted at Cap Rouge, though no attack was expected there.

Landing on the Ile d'Orleans, the English army encamped on its western promontory, facing Quebec. The day after the troops had landed several French fireships were sent among the fleet, but, owing to the courage of the English sailors, who grappled the blazing vessels, towing them to land, no damage was done. But this enterprise had cost the French great sums of money, and the lives of one of their captains and some sailors who had been unable to leave their ships in time.

James Wolfe


Wolfe then seized Point Lévis, opposite Quebec; and, planting guns, bombarded the town till it was in ruins. But though houses and cathedral were burned, the fortress was not taken, and the army surrounding the town was intact. Finding that nothing would induce Montcalm to leave his strong position, Wolfe, who had raised batteries close to the Falls of Montmorenci, determined to make a frontal attack. While the fleet was engaging the French guns, the grenadiers forded the river, and without waiting for support attacked the French lines. A storm of musketry met them, and heavy rain having made the slopes too slippery to climb, the English were forced to retire with heavy loss.

With the coming of autumn, affairs began to be critical with both armies. Montcalm, invincible on the heights, was feeling the scarcity of provisions. English ships patrolled the river, and very little food could be conveyed by land. On the other hand, Wolfe lay stricken with fever, and was very despondent after the repulse of the grenadiers. He felt that time was slipping by with nothing accomplished, and that he alone, though exhausted and worn with illness, must make the effort, for he had heard that Amherst was checked in his progress to Montreal. After consultation with his brigadiers it was decided to make one last attack.

Two days before the desperate attempt was made, the army was marched from Point Levis, some miles up the river, to where a part of the fleet was lying. The night of September 12 proving calm and starlit, the troops were embarked, and, dropping down with the tide, crept slowly towards Quebec. From the opposite shore Wolfe had detected a precipitous path half hidden by shrubs and bushes. Up this path a few men were to climb, overpower the guard at the top, and hold the place till the main force could follow them. As Wolfe was seated in one of the boats slipping silently down the river, he recited to his officers—doubtless to lessen the tense excitement—Grays Elegy in a Country Churchyard. When he had ended, he said: "Gentlemen, I would rather have been the author of that poem than take Quebec to-morrow."

Arriving at the Anse du Foulon (ever since known as Wolfe's Cove), the twenty-four volunteers, led by Colonel Howe, climbed the steep path, and soon overcame the guard. The rest of the army followed rapidly, Wolfe managing to drag himself up. By daybreak, about 5,000 British troops were formed in battle array on the Plains of Abraham—a stretch of level ground at the western end of the high plateau upon which Quebec stood. It was at complete surprise to Montcalm, who had expected attack to come from below the city. Hurriedly he led his army across the St. Charles to where the red-coated English stood upon the heights.

The French advanced bravely. Waiting till the enemy was close upon them, the English lines opened a terrific fire of musketry. The French wavered, when another deadly volley proved decisive. The army broke into confusion, their columns confused with the dead and dying. Wolfe gave the command to charge, and with wild cheers the English soldiers and the Highlanders dashed forward. Montcalm tried in vain to stop the flight of the French, as they fled towards the safety of the ramparts. Two volleys of musketry had decided one of the great battles of the world.

As Wolfe was leading the charge he had been shot in the wrist; shortly after another bullet struck him in the breast. He fell, and was carried to the rear. One of the officers, who was by Wolfe's side, called out, "See, they run!" "Who run?" asked Wolfe, as he opened his eyes. "The enemy, sir, they give way everywhere." Rousing his failing energies, Wolfe gave orders concerning the cutting off of the retreat, and then murmuring, "God be praised, I will die in peace!" he fell back dead.

His gallant foe, Montcalm, died the next morning, rejoicing that he would not see the fall of Quebec. He had received a mortal wound just as he was entering the city with his fugitive army. An English shell bursting under the floor of the Ursuline Convent had made a hollow, which was dug into a grave for the last great soldier of New France.

The French army retreated to Montreal, leaving Quebec an easy prey to the English, who, on taking Possession of the city, promised consideration to the citizens. When the spring returned the rock-crowned city was once more besieged, this time with the English within its walls. De Lévis brought up the army from Montreal, and tempted General Murray, then in command of the British troops, to give him battle at Ste. Foye, a few miles from the city. Much outnumbered, the English were obliged to retreat, while De Lévis, instead of at once attacking Quebec, proceeded to invest it in a leisurely manner. With the arrival of an English fleet in May, he had to withdraw hastily.

Though the French held out for some months longer in Montreal, the end was now certain. Three armies began to converge upon the island town: one from Lake Ontario, another from Lake Champlain, and the third from Quebec. Within Montreal, the last stronghold of France in Canada, was nothing but a deep spirit of despondency. The Canadian militia had all deserted, returning to their homes, under promise of English protection. Only the regulars were left, about two thousand, to face a victorious force more than eight times their number. In September, Montreal capitulated, and Canada was handed over to England.

James Wolfe


General Murray became the first English Governor. All Canadians, according to the proclamation issued, were to be protected, as British subjects, in person, property, and religion. The war lingered in Europe until 1763, when the Treaty of Paris was signed. England was left in possession of nearly all North America—that is to say, she had Canada, and all the eastern coast, with the River Mississippi as a western boundary. France lost everything, except two small islands near Newfoundland, to be used as fishing stations. New Orleans, at the mouth of the Mississippi, and Louisiana, the country west of the great river, were handed over by France to Spain.

Thus New France was lost. All the results of the untiring devotion of missionaries, and the deeds of intrepid explorers, became the heritage of the hardy race who had enjoyed civil and religious liberty, while their neighbours on the St. Lawrence had been fostered under a benevolent despotism.

The Early Years of the English Dominion in Canada

Three months after the Peace of Paris was signed a serious rebellion broke out in Canada against the new rulers. It did not include the French Canadians, who had had quite enough of fighting, and who realized the hopelessness of struggling against the power of England. The conspiracy was a rising of Indians, the last serious effort of the Red man to assert his independence.

Its leader was Pontiac, the clever, far-sighted chief of the Ottawas. With the going of the French had gone also the power of the Indians, who could no longer play off one white race against the other. The English, never so tactful in their dealings with savages as the French, did not trouble to hold them by diplomacy, knowing they had no enemy to whom they could turn in their displeasure. Realizing that if he did not strike early it would be too late, Pontiac laid his plans so skillfully that it took more than a year to crush him.

An attempt was made to take Detroit by surprise. Having asked for a conference, the chiefs arrived at the fort with their rifles concealed under their blankets; but Major Gladwyn, the commandant, having been warned of the plot, received the chiefs with his troops drawn up in line. Foiled in this way, the Indians besieged the fort closely for many months. A relieving force was cut to pieces, and a daring sortie failed



At Michilimackinac, a fort at the entrance to Lake Michigan, the Indian game of strategy was completely successful. Unaware of the rising, the garrison was persuaded to leave the fort to watch the Indians playing lacrosse. While the game was proceeding, the squaws, carrying hidden weapons, strolled into the fort. Presently the Indians drove the ball close to the walls, and suddenly dashing through the gates, seized their guns and captured the place before the officers or soldiers knew what was happening.

All along the borders of Virginia and Pennsylvania, the lonely cabins of the settlers were burnt and their owners scalped. But by the next year, 1764, the rebellion was put down, though Pontiac did not finally submit till 1766. With his submission all the tribes, who owned his sway along the Ohio, laid down their arms, and quiet reigned once more upon the borders. Pontiac, himself, was slain the following year, by an Indian chief.

In order to please the French Canadians, the Quebec Act was passed in 1774. By this Act freedom of worship, the French civil law, and the use of their language was secured to them. In this way, Canada, though ruled by an English governor, remained essentially French. The English Government was anxious to satisfy its new subjects quickly, for grave signs of disaffection were already noticeable in the thirteen English colonies. Under English rule, the French Canadians, released from the tyranny of greedy officials, gained freedom and prosperity. Evidence of this may be found in their loyalty throughout the Revolution and the War of 1812.

Meanwhile the English colonies were suffering from undoubted grievances: the principal one being that of taxation without representation. Colonial shipping, too, was hindered in its growth, by the restriction that American goods should only be sold to Great Britain. The colonists grew bitter and sullen under the unwise actions of the English Government, until finally war broke out in 1775.

Appeals having failed to shake the loyalty of Canada, the Congress of the United Colonies determined to force the sister province into their union, by war. General Montgomery marched against Montreal, while Captain Benedict Arnold made his way up the Kennebec River to Quebec.

Sir Guy Carleton, the Governor, had only a small force with him in Quebec. All those who were not absolutely to be trusted were sent out of the city, leaving a garrison of 1,600 men. Montreal soon fell, leaving Montgomery free to come to the aid of Arnold at Quebec, which was then besieged for the last time. Great disgust was felt by the invaders that the French Canadians did not flock to their camp. England's new subjects remained neutral in the struggle, and thus helped to save the situation.

Indians attack Machilmackinac


Sheltered only by tents from the severe wintry weather, the besiegers suffered more hardships than those confined within the city. Fearing the arrival of a British fleet in the spring, Montgomery decided to make a determined and unexpected attack. When heavy flakes of snow were just beginning to fall, upon New Year's Eve, two assaulting parties crept silently up to the walls. Arnold, leading the party from the St. Charles, forced his way into the Lower Town; but, being himself wounded, was driven back by the defenders from the Upper Town. On the opposite side of the city Montgomery had advanced in the blinding snow. Carleton, who was prepared for the intended surprise, met the enemy with a fierce fire, causing such a panic among them that they broke and ran. When his men ventured out the next morning, they found among the dead bodies, those of General Montgomery and his two aides. The fallen general was buried within the city with all the honours of war.

The siege was still continued, but when the British fleet appeared the Americans hastily retreated, and by the end of the year had been driven out of Canada.

Owing to the very general feeling in the Mother-country of the injustice of the cause, England did not pursue the war with her rebellious colonies with any enthusiasm, with the natural result that she suffered many humiliating defeats. By the Treaty of Versailles, in 1783, she gave up to the triumphant United Colonies, all the country south of the Great Lakes, by which Canada lost the fertile valley of the Ohio. The St. Croix River became the western boundary of Nova Scotia.

[Illustration] from Peeps at History - Canada by Beatrice Home


An unforeseen consequence of the war was the great influx of colonists into Canada. Those who had fought on the side of the Mother-country during the War of Independence, found that peace did not bring a healing of wounds, but a time of ceaseless persecution. Most of these men, who afterwards became known as the United Empire Loyalists, were distinguished men of high standing, numbering among them many judges, clergy, and physicians. The new Republic treated them so vindictively that, after vainly appealing to England, they migrated in great numbers to Canada. More than forty thousand left their homes: some going eastward to settle on the St. John River, where they founded the province of New Brunswick, and others turning westward, to settle around Lake Ontario.

The Government was very generous in giving land, and all necessary supplies, till cultivation should give some return. But most of the loyalists were totally unused to a life of hardship and privation, having been accustomed to stately and luxurious homes. Their sufferings, in consequence, were severe; but the worst year—known as the Hungry Year—was in 1788, when Government supplies had ceased. A bad harvest brought starvation, forcing the unhappy loyalists to live upon what game they could shoot with a scanty store of powder and shot, to dig for roots or anything which would keep them alive till the next harvest should be ripe. With the passing of the famine, prosperity smiled upon the loyalists, who became one of the great forces in the making of the Dominion.

Discontent began to spread among the English colonists in Canada, who disliked being subjected to French law. They clamoured for representative government, and in this they were joined by the French Canadians. Sir Guy Carleton, who had been made Lord Dorchester, came out as Governor-General in 1787, and soon soothed the ruffled feelings of the colonists. Carrying out his suggestions, the British Parliament passed an Act, known as the Constitutional Act, dividing Canada into two provinces, called Upper and Lower Canada. The Government of each province consisted of a Governor, a Legislative Council (appointed by the Crown for life), and a House of Assembly (composed of the representatives of the people). Toronto became the capital of Upper Canada.

War broke out between Canada and the United States in 1812. The Americans had become angry at the restrictions England had been obliged to place upon her commerce to retaliate on Napoleon, who had devised a great scheme to ruin English trade. Allied with France, the Republic hoped to win the whole of the New World for herself; and was glad of any pretext to quarrel with Canada. The New England States were much opposed to this needless war, which in the end brought nothing but disaster to the Americans.

During the two years during which the war lasted, many serious engagements took place. England, fully occupied in her struggle with Napoleon in Europe, was unable to assist the Canadians, who were left to their own resources. But this apparent misfortune proved to be an inestimable boon, for the Canadian militia were able to demonstrate their capacity to defend their own country; and in so doing, aroused a spirit of patriotism in all classes.

One of the earliest incidents in the war, was the capture of Detroit by General Brock, who has gained a place among Canada's heroes. Though a regular soldier, with experience of many campaigns in Europe, and with only ten years' residence in Canada, Brock had learnt to understand and appreciate the militia, who, in consequence, would follow him anywhere. In the autumn of 1812, Brock was slain while leading a charge, in an endeavour to drive the Americans from Queenston Heights (on the Canadian shores of Niagara). Furious at the death of their adored commander, the Canadians, reinforced by General Sheaffe, stormed the Heights, till the Americans surrendered with eleven hundred men. A fine stone column commemorates the death of Brock upon the Heights of Queenston.

In the following year, 1813, the Canadians suffered a shameful defeat at Moravian Town. Colonel Proctor, abandoning Detroit, was attacked by General Harrison, and having by some gross oversight utterly neglected to secure the safety of his camp, was overwhelmed by the suddenness of the American assault. His army fled precipitately, together with himself and all his officers. Only the Indians, led by Tecumseh, the famous Chief of the Shawanoes, made any stand, fighting bravely till their heroic chief was slain.

But the disgrace of Moravian Town was wiped out by the signal success of Châteauguay, in the autumn of the same year, when 350 Canadians defeated an American army, ten times their number. General Wade Hampton, of the United States army, was marching on Montreal from Lake Champlain. Colonel de Salaberry, a member of the old French noblesse, held the way on the Châteauguay River, in the midst of a dense forest. From behind hastily thrown-up defences he resisted a frontal attack, while his buglers, hidden among the trees, sounded their bugles continuously. Driven back in their attempt to cross the river, and thinking that the bugles meant the advance of the whole Canadian army upon them, the Americans broke into a panic and retreated hastily, strewing their path with muskets and baggage.

Peace was arranged in December of 1814, at the Treaty of Ghent, though several disputes were left unsettled.

The Growth of Canada

For the first time in her history, Canada, after the war of 1812, enjoyed a lengthy period of peace with her neighbours across the border. But within her boundaries she entered upon the long struggle for self-government.

With peace had come a steady flow of immigrants: at first chiefly Scotch and Irish, but later numbering many English. These new colonists were hardy and independent just the class required by the country. In 1831, as many as 34,000 people arrived in one year from the British Isles, most of whom settled in the Upper Province.

Bringing with them a keen love of English institutions, they soon joined in the political agitation that was spreading all over the colony. Both French and English were eager to obtain responsible government to make the executive (up till then appointed for life and answerable to no one) responsible to the people, and chosen from among their representatives. Gradually the British party began to take sides with the Government, and to part company with the French Canadians in Lower Canada, fearing that, as a minority, they would suffer.

Louis Papineau, the talented Speaker of the House of Assembly in Quebec, became the leader and hero of the French Canadians. Starting his career with comparatively mild dreams of reform, he became elated with success, and dreamt of a French-Canadian republic, till he ended in preaching open treason.

His prototype in Upper Canada was William Lyon Mackenzie, who first came into notice through the newspaper which he started to popularize reform. After being illegally expelled from the House of Assembly through disagreeing with the Tories, he joined with Papineau and became openly rebellious.

The smouldering rebellion burst into flame in 1837. After all the noisy talk and threats of its leaders, the rebellion turned out a military fiasco. Only a very small section of the people supported Papineau, the French militia remaining staunch for the Government. Papineau fled for safety, and after one or two slight engagements the trouble came to an end.

Almost exactly similar events occurred in Upper Canada. Mackenzie travelled about the colony trying to rouse the people into indignation against the Government. But after his party of extreme reformers had been defeated near Toronto, he retired to the United States.

Louis Papineau


England sent out as Governor-General, with special dictatorial powers to enable him to deal with the disturbed colony, a man of exceptional ability, Lord Durham. To him Canada owes the system of government, instituted in 1840, which has worked so admirably in the evolution of the Dominion. He was in Canada only six months, in which he was badly supported by the British Ministry. He therefore returned to England in great disgust, having sent in his resignation, just before he was recalled. His method of dealing with the rebel prisoners had been adversely criticized by his enemies at home, who accused him of illegal acts. But though Lord Durham's own career was ruined by his short term of office in Canada, his masterly report on the country brought about the Act of Union of 1840. By it Upper and Lower Canada were united, and the executive was made responsible to the people.

From the early years of the nineteenth century the idea of a federation of the provinces of British North America was discussed by far-sighted men, but it was not till 1864 that the great scheme began to reach any kind of fruition. In the month of September in that year a conference was held at Charlottetown, the chief town in Prince Edward Island, to consider the proposed union of the three maritime provinces, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Hearing of this conference, the Government of Canada asked leave to send delegates, who so eloquently showed the advantages of confederation that the idea of a mere maritime union was merged in the larger idea.

It was agreed to hold another conference in Quebec, which took place the following month. For eighteen days the delegates from all the provinces discussed the weighty question, finally adopting seventy-two resolutions, which were ultimately the foundation of the British North America Act. The leaders, or "Fathers of the Confederation," as they are called, were John Macdonald, the first Prime Minister of the Dominion, George Brown, George Etienne Cartier, and Alexander Galt.

Bugles at Chataeuguay


Upper and Lower Canada received the Quebec resolutions with great favour, and the Home Government also welcomed them. Newfoundland refused to consider them, and the other provinces hesitated. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick finally accepted them, and Prince Edward Island came in after confederation had become an accomplished fact.

Three years after the Charlottetown Conference the British North America Act was passed in London in 1867. By it the constitution of Canada was to be a federal one, leaving each province the management of its own affairs.

In the opening speech of the first Dominion Parliament at Ottawa, Lord Monck, the Governor-General, whose wise guidance furthered the new Confederation, spoke of a time when the Dominion should spread from ocean to ocean. His dream has since been amply fulfilled. Manitoba (once the Red River Colony, founded by Lord Selkirk in 1812) was admitted to the Confederation in 1869, and in 1871 British Columbia, up to then remote from Canada, entered the Dominion. She stipulated, however, that a railway should be built to connect her with the eastern provinces. It was a tremendous task for so poor and so young a country to undertake, but after much delay the Canadian Pacific Railway was finally started, and was completed in 1885. By means of this railway the vast wheat-fields of the west have been opened up, and have quickly become one of the granaries of the world.

The main wheat belt is to be found in the three western prairie provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, but in all the provinces agriculture occupies a large proportion of the population. The rapid development of the land is astonishing, the wheat crop having almost doubled itself in ten years. In 1913 the total production of wheat was 231 million bushels, while now it is 400 million bushels. Although an enormous amount of land is already under cultivation, there are still hundreds of thousands of acres ready to become the absolute property of any man willing to reside upon his homestead and work the soil.

It has been said that Canada is a country of magnificent distances and that the Canadian Pacific Railway only gave it "length without breadth." The breadth has now been added by the network of railways known as the Canadian National Railways, which give access to nearly all parts of the vast area of the Dominion. The waterways of Canada are also helping tremendously in the development of the country, the great lakes, rivers and canals affording cheap and easy transport of goods.

Dairy farming and fruit growing have both proved most successful industries. Fruit growing requires much skill and hard work for the first four or five years before the orchards are ready to bear. The main fruit-growing districts are the Valley of St. Lawrence, the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, and what is known as the Dry Belt of British Columbia.

Canada is also rich in natural resources, such as her fisheries and her forests. The latter are now almost entirely under the Government. Land which is only suitable for timber is never sold, but is managed by the provinces with the idea of protecting the watersheds and supplying the necessary timber required for local purposes. There is now an elaborate system of patrols to prevent the dreadful destruction caused by forest fires. These patrol men traverse the forests on foot, in canoes, or on horseback, and telephone lines are carried through the forests. Fires are also detected by aeroplanes, which are used to carry men and supplies rapidly to the scene of conflagration.

The earliest traders in Canada dealt almost exclusively in furs, which still remain an important section of Canada's industrial effort, for the Dominion is one of the great fur-producing countries of the world. Many wild animals are now bred for the purposes of fur production.

The population, in which the British predominate, is growing steadily, and there are now nearly nine millions of people. Sixty thousand Canadians fell in the Great War, in which they took such a distinguished part, gaining imperishable glory in Flanders. When the war broke out in August, 1914, Canada had no regular army, but two months later 33,000 men left for England, the vanguard of that splendid Canadian Corps which became one of the best fighting forces of all the armies engaged in the great struggle. By January, 1916, the Government promised 500,000 men, besides putting out all the energies of the country in quadrupling the food supplies for Europe. From the very first days of the opening of war Canadians had rushed to the support of the Mother-country, and it is with pride that Canada can write in a recent history: "The last troops to leave Mons on August 23, 1914, had been the 42nd Highlanders, the famous Black Watch; the first troops to enter it on the morning of November 11, 1918, were the 42nd Royal Highlanders of Canada, who wore the Black Watch Tartan. Where the Lion of England had retired fighting at bay, the cubs of the Lion, in the fullness of time, stood victorious."

Those who know something of the story of Canada, of the great lives spent in her service, and of the brave men who traversed her trackless forests and ventured on her unknown waterways, believe that no country has a greater future, and that she stands at the threshold of an era of ever-increasing development.