The Founder of New France: A Chronicle of Champlain
Charles W. Colby

Part 1 out of 2

This etext was produced by Gardner Buchanan

Edited by George M. Wrong and H. H. Langton
In thirty-two volumes

Volume 3

A Chronicle of Champlain




Were there a 'Who's Who in History' its chronicle of
Champlain's life and deeds would run as follows:

Champlain, Samuel de. Explorer, geographer, and colonizer.
Born in 1567 at Brouage, a village on the Bay of Biscay.
Belonged by parentage to the lesser gentry of Saintonge.
In boyhood became imbued with a love of the sea, but also
served as a soldier in the Wars of the League. Though an
enthusiastic Catholic, was loyal to Henry of Navarre. On
the Peace of Vervins (1598) returned to the sea, visiting
the Spanish West Indies and Mexico. Between 1601 and 1603
wrote his first book--the Bref Discours. In 1603 made
his first voyage to the St Lawrence, which he ascended
as far as the Lachine Rapids. From 1604 to 1607 was
actively engaged in the attempt of De Monts to establish
a French colony in Acadia, at the same time exploring
the seaboard from Cape Breton to Martha's Vineyard.
Returned to the St Lawrence in 1608 and founded Quebec.
In 1609 discovered Lake Champlain, and fought his first
battle with the Iroquois. In 1613 ascended the Ottawa to
a point above Lac Coulange. In 1615 reached Georgian Bay
and was induced to accompany the Hurons, with their
allies, on an unsuccessful expedition into the country
of the Iroquois. From 1617 to 1629 occupied chiefly in
efforts to strengthen the colony at Quebec and promote
trade on the lower St Lawrence. Taken a captive to London
by Kirke in 1629 upon the surrender of Quebec, but after
its recession to France returned (1633) and remained in
Canada until his death, on Christmas Day 1635. Published
several important narratives describing his explorations
and adventures. An intrepid pioneer and the revered
founder of New France.

Into some such terms as these would the writer of a
biographical dictionary crowd his notice of Champlain's
career, so replete with danger and daring, with the
excitement of sailing among the uncharted islands of
Penobscot Bay, of watching the sun descend below the
waves of Lake Huron, of attacking the Iroquois in their
palisaded stronghold, of seeing English cannon levelled
upon the houses of Quebec. It is not from a biographical
dictionary that one can gain true knowledge of Champlain,
into whose experience were crowded so many novel sights
and whose soul was tested, year after year, by the
ever-varying perils of the wilderness. No life, it is
true, can be fitly sketched in a chronological abridgment,
but history abounds with lives which, while important,
do not exact from a biographer the kind of detail that
for the actions of Champlain becomes priceless. Kant and
Hegel were both great forces in human thought, yet
throughout eighty years Kant was tethered to the little
town of Konigsberg, and Hegel did not know what the French
were doing in Jena the day after there had been fought
just outside a battle which smote Prussia to her knees.
The deeds of such men are their thoughts, their books,
and these do not make a story. The life of Champlain is
all story. The part of it which belongs to the Wars of
the League is lost to us from want of records. But
fortunately we possess in his Voyages the plain, direct
narrative of his exploits in America--a source from which
all must draw who would know him well.

The method to be pursued in this book is not that of the
critical essay. Nor will these pages give an account of
Champlain's times with reference to ordinances regulating
the fur trade, or to the policy of French kings and their
ministers towards emigration. Such subjects must be
touched on, but here it will be only incidentally. What
may be taken to concern us is the spirited action of
Champlain's middle life--the period which lies between
his first voyage to the St Lawrence and his return from
the land of the Onondagas. Not that he had ended his work
in 1616. The unflagging efforts which he continued to
put forth on behalf of the starving colony at Quebec
demand all praise. But the years during which he was
incessantly engaged in exploration show him at the height
of his powers, with health still unimpaired by exposure
and with a soul that courted the unknown. Moreover, this
is the period for which we have his own narrative in
fullest detail.

Even were we seeking to set down every known fact regarding
Champlain's early life the task would not be long. Parkman,
in referring to his origin, styles him 'a Catholic
gentleman,' with not even a footnote regarding his
parentage. [Footnote: It is hard to define Champlain's
social status in a single word. Parkman, besides styling
him 'a Catholic gentleman,' speaks of him elsewhere as
being 'within the pale of the noblesse.' On the other
hand, the Biographie Saintongeoise says that he came from
a family of fishermen. The most important facts would
seem to be these. In Champlain's own marriage contract
his father is styled 'Antoine de Champlain, Capitaine de
la Marine.' The same document styles Champlain himself
'Samuel de Champlain.' A petition in which he asks for
a continuation of his pension (circ. 1630) styles him in
its opening words 'Le Sieur de Champlain' and afterwards
'le dit sieur Champlain' in two places, while in six
places it styles him 'le dit sieur de Champlain.' Le
Jeune calls him 'Monsieur de Champlain.' It is clear that
he was not a noble. It is also clear that he possessed
sufficient social standing to warrant the use of de. On
the title-page of all his books after 1604 he is styled
the 'Sieur de Champlain.'] Dionne, in a biography of
nearly three hundred pages, does indeed mention the names
of his father and mother, but dismisses his first twenty
years in twenty lines, which say little more than that
he learned letters and religion from the parish priest
and a love of the sea from his father. Nor is it easy to
enlarge these statements unless one chooses to make
guesses as to whether or not Champlain's parents were
Huguenots because he was called Samuel, a favourite name
with French Protestants. And this question is not worth
discussion, since no one has, or can, cast a doubt upon
the sincerity of his own devotion to the Catholic faith.

In short, Champlain by birth was neither a peasant nor
a noble, but issued from a middle-class family; and his
eyes turned towards the sea because his father was a
mariner dwelling in the small seaport of Brouage.

Thus when a boy Champlain doubtless had lessons in
navigation, but he did not become a sailor in the larger
sense until he had first been a soldier. His youth fell
in the midst of the Catholic Revival, when the Church of
Rome, having for fifty years been sore beset by Lutherans
and Calvinists, began to display a reserve strength which
enabled her to reclaim from them a large part of the
ground she had lost. But this result was not gained
without the bitterest and most envenomed struggle. If
doctrinal divergence had quickened human hatreds before
the Council of Trent, it drove them to fury during the
thirty years that followed. At the time of the Massacre
of St Bartholomew Champlain was five years old. He was
seventeen when William the Silent was assassinated; twenty
when Mary Stuart was executed at Fotheringay; twenty-one
when the Spanish Armada sailed against England and when
the Guises were murdered at Blois by order of Henry III;
twenty-two when Henry III himself fell under the dagger
of Jacques Clement. The bare enumeration of these events
shows that Champlain was nurtured in an age of blood and
iron rather than amid those humanitarian sentiments which
prevail in an age of religious toleration.

Finding his country a camp, or rather two camps, he became
a soldier, and fought for ten years in the wretched strife
to which both Leaguers and Huguenots so often sacrificed
their love of country. With Henry of Valois, Henry of
Navarre, and Henry of Guise as personal foes and political
rivals, it was hard to know where the right line of faith
and loyalty lay; but Champlain was both a Catholic and
a king's man, for whom all things issued well when Henry
of Navarre ceased to be a heretic, giving France peace
and a throne. It is unfortunate that the details of these
adventurous years in Champlain's early manhood should be
lost. Unassisted by wealth or rank, he served so well as
to win recognition from the king himself, but beyond the
names of his commanders (D'Aumont, St Luc, and Brissac)
there is little to show the nature of his exploits.
[Footnote: He served chiefly in Brittany against the
Spanish allies of the League, and reached the rank of
quartermaster.] In any case, these ten years of campaigning
were a good school for one who afterwards was to look
death in the face a thousand times amidst the icebergs
of the North Atlantic, and off the rocky coast of Acadia,
and in the forests of the Iroquois.

With such parentage and early experiences as have been
indicated Champlain entered upon his career in the New
World. It is characteristic that he did not leave the
army until his services were no longer needed. At the
age of thirty-one he was fortunate enough to be freed
from fighting against his own countrymen. In 1598 was
signed the Peace of Vervins by which the enemies of Henry
IV, both Leaguers and Spaniards, acknowledged their
defeat. To France the close of fratricidal strife came
as a happy release. To Champlain it meant also the dawn
of a career. Hastening to the coast, he began the long
series of voyages which was to occupy the remainder of
his life. Indeed, the sea and what lay beyond it were
henceforth to be his life.

The sea, however, did not at once lead Champlain to New
France. Provencal, his uncle, held high employment in
the Spanish fleet, and through his assistance Champlain
embarked at Blavet in Brittany for Cadiz, convoying
Spanish soldiers who had served with the League in France.
After three months at Seville he secured a Spanish
commission as captain of a ship sailing for the West
Indies. Under this appointment it was his duty to attend
Don Francisco Colombo, who with an armada of twenty
galleons sailed in January 1599 to protect Porto Rico
from the English. In the maritime strife of Spain and
England this expedition has no part that remains memorable.
For Champlain it meant a first command at sea and a first
glimpse of America.

The record of this voyage was an incident of no less
importance in Champlain's fortunes than the voyage itself.
His cruisings in the Spanish Main gave him material for
a little book, the Bref Discours; and the Bref Discours
in turn advanced his career. Apart from any effect which
it may have had in securing for him the title of Geographer
to the King, it shows his own aspiration to be a geographer.
Navigation can be regarded either as a science or a trade.
For Champlain it was plainly a science, demanding care
in observation and faithfulness of narrative. The Bref
Discours was written immediately upon his return from
the West Indies, while the events it describes were still
fresh in mind. Appearing at a time when colonial secrets
were carefully guarded, it gave France a glimpse of
Spanish America from French eyes. For us it preserves
Champlain's impressions of Mexico, Panama, and the
Antilles. For Champlain himself it was a profession of
faith, a statement that he had entered upon the honourable
occupation of navigator; in other words, that he was to
be classed neither with ship-captains nor with traders,
but with explorers and authors.

It was in March 1601 that Champlain reached France on
his return from the West Indies. The next two years he
spent at home, occupied partly with the composition of
his Bref Discours and partly with the quest of suitable
employment. His avowed preference for the sea and the
reputation which he had already gained as a navigator
left no doubt as to the sphere of his future activities,
but though eager to explore some portion of America on
behalf of the French crown, the question of ways and
means presented many difficulties. Chief among these was
the fickleness of the king. Henry IV had great political
intelligence, and moreover desired, in general, to befriend
those who had proved loyal during his doubtful days. His
political sagacity should have led him to see the value
of colonial expansion, and his willingness to advance
faithful followers should have brought Champlain something
better than his pension and the title of Geographer. But
the problems of France were intricate, and what most
appealed to the judgment of Henry was the need of domestic
reorganization after a generation of slaughter which had
left the land desolate. Hence, despite momentary impulses
to vie with Spain and England in oversea expansion, he
kept to the path of caution, avoiding any expenditure
for colonies which could be made a drain upon the treasury,
and leaving individual pioneers to bear the cost of
planting his flag in new lands. In friendship likewise
his good impulses were subject to the vagaries of a
mercurial temperament and a marked willingness to follow
the line of least resistance. In the circumstances it is
not strange that Champlain remained two years ashore.

The man to whom he owed most at this juncture was Aymar
de Chastes. Though Champlain had served the king faithfully,
his youth and birth prevented him from doing more than
belongs to the duty of a subaltern. But De Chastes, as
governor of Dieppe, at a time when the League seemed
everywhere triumphant, gave Henry aid which proved to be
the means of raising him from the dust. It was a critical
event for Champlain that early in 1603 De Chastes had
determined to fit out an expedition to Canada. Piety and
patriotism seem to have been his dominant motives, but
an opening for profit was also offered by a monopoly of
the Laurentian fur trade. During the civil wars Champlain's
strength of character had become known at first hand to
De Chastes, who both liked and admired him. Then, just
at the right moment, he reached Fontainebleau, with his
good record as a soldier and the added prestige which
had come to him from his successful voyage to the West
Indies. He and De Chastes concluded an agreement, the
king's assent was specially given, and in the early spring
of 1603 the founder of New France began his first voyage
to the St Lawrence.

Champlain was now definitely committed to the task of
gaining for France a foothold in North America. This was
to be his steady purpose, whether fortune frowned or
smiled. At times circumstances seemed favourable; at
other times they were most disheartening. Hence, if we
are to understand his life and character, we must consider,
however briefly, the conditions under which he worked.

It cannot be said that Champlain was born out of his
right time. His active years coincide with the most
important, most exciting period in the colonial movement.
At the outset Spain had gone beyond all rivals in the
race for the spoils of America. The first stage was marked
by unexampled and spectacular profits. The bullion which
flowed from Mexico and Peru was won by brutal cruelty to
native races, but Europe accepted it as wealth poured
forth in profusion from the mines. Thus the first conception
of a colony was that of a marvellous treasure-house where
gold and silver lay piled up awaiting the arrival of a
Cortez or a Pizarro.

Unhappily disillusion followed. Within two generations
from the time of Columbus it became clear that America
did not yield bonanza to every adventurer. Yet throughout
the sixteenth century there survived the dream of riches
to be quickly gained. Wherever the European landed in
America he looked first of all for mines, as Frobisher
did on the unpromising shores of Labrador. The precious
metals proving illusive, his next recourse was to trade.
Hawkins sought his profit from slaves. The French bought
furs from the Indians at Tadoussac. Gosnold brought back
from Cape Cod a mixed cargo of sassafras and cedar.

But wealth from the mines and profits from a coasting
trade were only a lure to the cupidity of Europe. Real
colonies, containing the germ of a nation, could not be
based on such foundations. Coligny saw this, and conceived
of America as a new home for the French race. Raleigh,
the most versatile of the Elizabethans, lavished his
wealth on the patriotic endeavour to make Virginia a
strong and self-supporting community. 'I shall yet live
to see it an English nation,' he wrote--at the very moment
when Champlain was first dreaming of the St Lawrence.
Coligny and Raleigh were both constructive statesmen.
The one was murdered before he could found such a colony
as his thought presaged: the other perished on the
scaffold, though not before he had sowed the seed of an
American empire. For Raleigh was the first to teach that
agriculture, not mines, is the true basis of a colony.
In itself his colony on Roanoke Island was a failure,
but the idea of Roanoke was Raleigh's greatest legacy to
the English race.

With the dawn of the seventeenth century events came
thick and fast. It was a time when the maritime states
of Western Europe were all keenly interested in America,
without having any clear idea of the problem. Raleigh,
the one man who had a grasp of the situation, entered
upon his tragic imprisonment in the same year that
Champlain made his first voyage to the St Lawrence. But
while thought was confused and policy unsettled, action
could no longer be postponed. The one fact which England,
France, and Holland could not neglect was that to the
north of Florida no European colony existed on the American
coast. Urging each of these states to establish settlements
in a tract so vast and untenanted was the double desire
to possess and to prevent one's neighbour from possessing.
On the other hand, caution raised doubts as to the balance
of cost and gain. The governments were ready to accept
the glory and advantage, if private persons were prepared
to take the risk. Individual speculators, very conscious
of the risk, demanded a monopoly of trade before agreeing
to plant a colony. But this caused new difficulty. The
moment a monopoly was granted, unlicensed traders raised
an outcry and upbraided the government for injustice.

Such were the problems upon the successful or unsuccessful
solution of which depended enormous national interests,
and each country faced them according to its institutions,
rulers, and racial genius. It only needs a table of events
to show how fully the English, the French, and the Dutch
realized that something must be done. In 1600 Pierre
Chauvin landed sixteen French colonists at Tadoussac. On
his return in 1601 he found that they had taken refuge
with the Indians. In 1602 Gosnold, sailing from Falmouth,
skirted the coast of Norumbega from Casco Bay to Cuttyhunk.
In 1603 the ships of De Chastes, with Champlain aboard,
spent the summer in the St Lawrence; while during the
same season Martin Pring took a cargo of sassafras in
Massachusetts Bay. From 1604. to 1607 the French under
De Monts, Poutrincourt, and Champlain were actively
engaged in the attempt to colonize Acadia. But they were
not alone in setting up claims to this region. In 1605
Waymouth, sailing from Dartmouth, explored the mouth of
the Kennebec and carried away five natives. In 1606 James
I granted patents to the London Company and the Plymouth
Company which, by their terms, ran athwart the grant of
Henry IV to De Monts. In the same year Sir Ferdinando
Gorges sent Pring once more to Norumbega. In 1607 Raleigh,
Gilbert, and George Popham made a small settlement at
the mouth of the Sagadhoc, where Popham died during the
winter. As a result of his death this colony on the coast
of Maine was abandoned, but 1607 also saw the memorable
founding of Jamestown in Virginia. Equally celebrated is
Champlain's founding of Quebec in 1608. In 1609 the Dutch
under an English captain, Henry Hudson, had their first
glimpse of Manhattan.

This catalogue of voyages shows that an impulse existed
which governments could not ignore. The colonial movement
was far from being a dominant interest with Henry IV or
James I, but when their subjects saw fit to embark upon
it privately, the crown was compelled to take cognizance
of their acts and frame regulations. 'Go, and let whatever
good may, come of it!' exclaimed Robert de Baudricourt
as Joan of Arc rode forth from Vaucouleurs to liberate
France. In much the same spirit Henry IV saw De Monts
set sail for Acadia. The king would contribute nothing
from the public purse or from his own. Sully, his prime
minister, vigorously opposed colonizing because he wished
to concentrate effort upon domestic improvements. He
believed, in the second place, that there was no hope of
creating a successful colony north of the fortieth
parallel. Thirdly, he was in the pay of the Dutch.

The most that Henry IV would do for French pioneers in
America was to give them a monopoly of trade in return
for an undertaking to transport and establish colonists.
In each case where a monopoly was granted the number of
colonists was specified. As for their quality, convicts
could be taken if more eligible candidates were not
forthcoming. The sixty unfortunates landed by La Roche
on Sable Island in 1598 were all convicts or sturdy
vagrants. Five years later only eleven were left alive.

For the story of Champlain it is not necessary to touch
upon the relations of the French government with traders
at a date earlier than 1599. Immediately following the
failure of La Roche's second expedition, Pierre Chauvin
of Honfleur secured a monopoly which covered the Laurentian
fur trade for ten years. The condition was that he should
convey to Canada fifty colonists a year throughout the
full period of his grant. So far from carrying out this
agreement either in spirit or letter, he shirked it
without compunction. After three years the monopoly was
withdrawn, less on the ground that he had failed to fulfil
his contract than from an outcry on the part of merchants
who desired their share of the trade. To adjudicate
between Chauvin and his rivals in St Malo and Rouen a
commission was appointed at the close of 1602. Its members
were De Chastes, governor of Dieppe, and the Sieur de la
Cour, first president of the Parlement of Normandy. On
their recommendation the terms of the monopoly were so
modified as to admit to a share in the privilege certain
leading merchants of Rouen and St Malo, who, however,
must pay their due share in the expenses of colonizing.
Before the ships sailed in 1603 Chauvin had died, and De
Chastes at once took his place as the central figure in
the group of those to whom a new monopoly had just been

[Footnote: The history of all the companies formed during
these years for trade in New France is the same. First
a monopoly is granted under circumstances ostensibly most
favourable to the Government and to the privileged
merchants; then follow the howls of the excluded traders,
the lack of good voluntary colonists, the transportation
to the colony of a few beggars, criminals, or unpromising
labourers; a drain on the company's funds in maintaining
these during the long winter; a steady decrease in the
number taken out; at length no attempt to fulfil this
condition of the monopoly; the anger of the Government
when made aware of the facts; and finally the sudden
repeal of the monopoly several years before its legal
termination.--H. P. Biggar, 'Early Trading Companies of
New France,' p. 49.]

We are now on the threshold of Champlain's career, but
only on the threshold. The voyage of 1603, while full of
prophecy and presenting features of much interest, lacks
the arduous and constructive quality which was to mark
his greater explorations. In 1603 the two boats equipped
by De Chastes were under the command of Pontgrave [Footnote:
Francois Grave, Sieur du Pont, whose name, strictly
speaking, is Dupont-Grave, one of the most active French
navigators of the seventeenth century. From 1600 to 1629
his voyages to the St Lawrence and Acadia were incessant.]
and Prevert, both mariners from St Malo. Champlain sailed
in Pontgrave's ship and was, in fact, a superior type of
supercargo. De Chastes desired that his expedition should
be self-supporting, and the purchase of furs was never
left out of sight. At the same time, his purpose was
undoubtedly wider than profit, and Champlain represented
the extra-commercial motive. While Pontgrave was trading
with the Indians, Champlain, as the geographer, was
collecting information about their character, their
customs, and their country. Their religious ideas interested
him much, and also their statements regarding the interior
of the continent. Such data as he could collect between
the end of May and the middle of August he embodied in
a book called Des Sauvages, which, true to its title,
deals chiefly with Indian life and is a valuable record,
although in many regards superseded by the more detailed
writings of the Jesuits.

The voyage of 1603 added nothing material to what had
been made known by Jacques Cartier and the fur traders
about Canada. Champlain ascended the St Lawrence to the
Sault St Louis [Footnote: Now called the Lachine Rapids.
An extremely important point in the history of New France,
since it marked the head of ship navigation on the St
Lawrence. Constantly mentioned in the writings of
Champlain's period.] and made two side excursions--one
taking him rather less than forty miles up the Saguenay
and the other up the Richelieu to the rapid at St Ours.
He also visited Gaspe, passed the Isle Percee, had his
first glimpse of the Baie des Chaleurs, and returned to
Havre with a good cargo of furs. On the whole, it was a
profitable and satisfactory voyage. Though it added little
to geographical knowledge, it confirmed the belief that
money could be made in the fur trade, and the word brought
back concerning the Great Lakes of the interior was more
distinct than had before been reported. The one misfortune
of the expedition was that its author, De Chastes, did
not live to see its success. He had died less than a
month before his ships reached Havre.



[Footnote: This word (Acadia) has sometimes been traced
to the Micmac akade, which, appended to place-names,
signifies an abundance of something. More probably,
however, it is a corruption of Arcadia. The Acadia of De
Monts' grant in 1604 extended from the parallel of 40
degrees to that of 46 degrees north latitude, but in the
light of actual occupation the term can hardly be made
to embrace more than the coast from Cape Breton to
Penobscot Bay.]

The early settlements of the French in America were
divided into two zones by the Gulf of St Lawrence.
Considered from the standpoint of colonization, this
great body of water has a double aspect. In the main it
was a vestibule to the vast region which extended westward
from Gaspe to Lake Michigan and thence to the Mississippi.
But while a highway it was also a barrier, cutting off
Acadia from the main route that led to the heart of the
interior. Port Royal, on the Bay of Fundy, was one centre
and Quebec another. Between them stretched either an
impenetrable wilderness or an inland sea. Hence Acadia
remained separate from the Laurentian valley, which was
the heart of Canada--although Acadia and Canada combined
to form New France. Of these two sister districts Canada
was the more secure. The fate of Acadia shows how much
less vulnerable to English attack were Quebec, Three
Rivers, and Montreal than the seaboard settlements of
Port Royal, Grand Pre, and Louisbourg.

It is a striking fact that Champlain had helped to found
Port Royal before he founded Quebec. He was not the
pioneer of Acadian colonization: De Monts deserves the
praise of turning the first sod. But Champlain was a
leading figure in the hard fight at St Croix and Port
Royal; he it was who first charted in any detail the
Atlantic seaboard from Cape Breton to Cape Cod; and his
narrative joins with that of Lescarbot to preserve the
story of the episode.

Although unprosperous, the first attempt of the French
to colonize Acadia is among the bright deeds of their
colonial history. While the death of De Chastes was most
inopportune, the future of the French race in America
did not hinge upon any one man. In 1603 fishing on the
Grand Bank off Newfoundland was a well-established
occupation of Normans and Bretons, the fur trade held
out hope of great profit, and the spirit of national
emulation supplied a motive which was stronger still.
Hence it is not surprising that to De Chastes there at
once succeeds De Monts.

As regards position they belonged to much the same class.
Both were men of standing, with enough capital and
influence to organize an expedition. In respect, however,
of personality and circumstance there were differences.
By reason of advanced age De Chastes had been unable to
accompany his ships, whereas De Monts was in his prime
and had already made a voyage to the St Lawrence. Moreover,
De Monts was a Huguenot. A generation later no Huguenot
could have expected to receive a monopoly of the fur
trade and a royal commission authorizing him to establish
settlements, but Henry IV, who had once been a Protestant,
could hardly treat his old co-religionists as Richelieu
afterwards treated them. The heresy of its founder was
a source of weakness to the first French colony in Acadia,
yet through a Calvinist it came into being.

Like De Chastes, De Monts had associates who joined with
him to supply the necessary funds, though in 1604. the
investment was greater than on any previous occasion,
and a larger number were admitted to the benefits of the
monopoly. Not only did St Malo and Rouen secure recognition,
but La Rochelle and St Jean de Luz were given a chance
to participate. De Monts' company had a capital of 90,000
livres, divided in shares--of which two-fifths were
allotted to St Malo, two-fifths to La Rochelle and St
Jean de Luz conjointly, and the remainder to Rouen. The
personal investment of De Monts was somewhat more than
a tenth of the total, as he took a majority of the stock
which fell to Rouen. Apart from Sully's unfriendliness,
the chief initial difficulty arose over religion. The
Parlement of Normandy refused to register De Monts'
commission on the ground that the conversion of the
heathen could not fitly be left to a heretic. This
remonstrance was only withdrawn after the king had
undertaken to place the religious instruction of the
Indians in the charge of priests--a promise which did
not prevent the Protestant colonists from having their
own pastor. The monopoly contained wider privileges than
before, including both Acadia and the St Lawrence. At
the same time, the obligation to colonize became more
exacting, since the minimum number of new settlers per
annum was raised from fifty to a hundred.

Champlain's own statement regarding the motive of De
Monts' expedition is that it lay in the desire 'to find
a northerly route to China, in order to facilitate commerce
with the Orientals.' After reciting a list of explorations
which began with John Cabot and had continued at intervals
during the next century, he continues: 'So many voyages
and discoveries without results, and attended with so
much hardship and expense, have caused us French in late
years to attempt a permanent settlement in those lands
which we call New France, in the hope of thus realizing
more easily this object; since the voyage in search of
the desired passage commences on the other side of the
ocean and is made along the coast of this region.'

A comparison of the words just quoted with the text of
De Monts' commission will serve to illustrate the strength
of Champlain's geographical instinct. The commission
begins with a somewhat stereotyped reference to the
conversion of the heathen, after which it descants upon
commerce, colonies, and mines. The supplementary commission
to De Monts from Montmorency as Lord High Admiral adds
a further consideration, namely, that if Acadia is not
occupied by the French it will be seized upon by some
other nation. Not a word of the route to the East occurs
in either commission, and De Monts is limited in the
powers granted to a region extending along the American
seaboard from the fortieth parallel to the forty-sixth,
with as much of the interior 'as he is able to explore
and colonize.'

This shows that, while the objects of the expedition were
commercial and political, Champlain's imagination was
kindled by the prospect of finding the long-sought passage
to China. To his mind a French colony in America is a
stepping-stone, a base of operations for the great quest.
De Monts himself doubtless sought honour, adventure, and
profit--the profit which might arise from possessing
Acadia and controlling the fur trade in 'the river of
Canada.' Champlain remains the geographer, and his chief
contribution to the Acadian enterprise will be found in
that part of his Voyages which describes his study of
the coast-line southward from Cape Breton to Malabar.

But whether considered from the standpoint of exploration
or settlement, the first chapter of French annals in
Acadia is a fine incident. Champlain has left the greatest
fame, but he was not alone during these years of peril
and hardship. With him are grouped De Monts, Poutrincourt,
Lescarbot, Pontgrave, and Louis Hebert, all men of capacity
and enterprise, whose part in this valiant enterprise
lent it a dignity which it has never since lost. As yet
no English colony had been established in America. Under
his commission De Monts could have selected for the site
of his settlement either New York or Providence or Boston
or Portland. The efforts of the French in America from
1604. to 1607 are signalized by the character of their
leaders, the nature of their opportunity, and the special
causes which prevented them from taking possession of

[Footnote: There appears in Verrazano's map of 1529 the
word Aranbega, as attached to a small district on the
Atlantic seaboard. Ten years later Norumbega has become
a region which takes in the whole coast from Cape Breton
to Florida. At intervals throughout the sixteenth century
fables were told in Europe of its extraordinary wealth,
and it was not till the time of Champlain that this myth
was exposed. Champlain himself identifies 'the great
river of Norumbega' with the Penobscot.]

De Monts lacked neither courage nor persistence. His
battle against heartbreaking disappointments shows him
to have been a pioneer of high order. And with him sailed
in 1604 Jean de Biencourt, Seigneur de Poutrincourt,
whose ancestors had been illustrious in Picardy for five
hundred years. Champlain made a third, joining the
expedition as geographer rather than shipmaster. Lescarbot
and Hebert came two years later.

The company left Havre in two ships--on March 7, 1604,
according to Champlain, or just a month later, according
to Lescarbot. Although De Monts' commission gave him the
usual privilege of impressing convicts, the personnel of
his band was far above the average. Champlain's statement
is that it comprised about one hundred and twenty artisans,
and there were also 'a large number of gentlemen, of whom
not a few were of noble birth.' Besides the excitement
provided by icebergs, the arguments of priest and pastor
diversified the voyage, even to the point of scandal.
After crossing the Grand Bank in safety they were nearly
wrecked off Sable Island, but succeeded in reaching the
Acadian coast on May 8. From their landfall at Cap de la
Heve they skirted the coast-line to Port Mouton,
confiscating en route a ship which was buying furs in
defiance of De Monts' monopoly.

Rabbits and other game were found in abundance at Port
Mouton, but the spot proved quite unfit for settlement,
and on May 19 De Monts charged Champlain with the task
of exploring the coast in search of harbours. Taking a
barque of eight tons and a crew of ten men (together with
Ralleau, De Monts' secretary), Champlain set out upon
this important reconnaissance. Fish, game, good soil,
good timber, minerals, and safe anchorage were all objects
of search. Skirting the south-western corner of Nova
Scotia, the little ship passed Cape Sable and the Tusquet
Islands, turned into the Bay of Fundy, and advanced to
a point somewhat beyond the north end of Long Island.
Champlain gives at considerable length the details of
his first excursion along the Acadian seaboard. In his
zeal for discovery he caused those left at Port Mouton
both inconvenience and anxiety. Lescarbot says, with a
touch of sharpness: 'Champlain was such a time away on
this expedition that when deliberating about their return
[to France] they thought of leaving him behind.' Champlain's
own statement is that at Port Mouton 'Sieur de Monts was
awaiting us from day to day, thinking only of our long
stay and whether some accident had not befallen us.'

De Monts' position at Port Mouton was indeed difficult.
By changing his course in mid-ocean he had missed rendezvous
with the larger of his two ships, which under the command
of Pontgrave looked for him in vain from Canseau to the
Bay of Islands. Meanwhile, at Port Mouton provisions were
running low, save for rabbits, which could not be expected
to last for ever. The more timid raised doubts and spoke
of France, but De Monts and Poutrincourt both said they
would rather die than go back. In this mood the party
continued to hunt rabbits, to search the coast
north-easterly for Pontgrave, and to await Champlain's
return. Their courage had its reward. Pontgrave's ship
was found, De Monts revictualled, Champlain reappeared,
and by the middle of June the little band of Colonists
was ready to proceed.

As De Monts heads south-west from Port Mouton it is
difficult to avoid thoughts regarding the ultimate destiny
of France in the New World. This was the predestined
moment. The Wars of Religion had ended in the reunion of
the realm under a strong and popular king. The French
nation was conscious of its greatness, and seemed ready
for any undertaking that promised honour or advantage.
The Huguenots were a sect whose members possessed
Calvinistic firmness of will, together with a special
motive for emigrating. And, besides, the whole eastern
coast of America, within the temperate zone, was still
to be had for the taking. With such a magnificent
opportunity, why was the result so meagre?

A complete answer to this query would lead us far afield,
but the whole history of New France bears witness to the
fact that the cause of failure is not to be found in the
individual French emigrant. There have never been more
valiant or tenacious colonists than the peasants of
Normandy who cleared away the Laurentian wilderness and
explored the recesses of North America. France in the
age of De Monts and Champlain possessed adequate resources,
if only her effort had been concentrated on America, or
if the Huguenots had not been prevented from founding
colonies, or if the crown had been less meddlesome, or
if the quest of beaver skins farther north had not diverted
attention from Chesapeake Bay and Manhattan Island. The
best chance the French ever had to effect a foothold in
the middle portion of the Atlantic coast came to them in
1604, when, before any rivals had established themselves,
De Monts was at hand for the express purpose of founding
a colony. It is quite probable that even if he had landed
on Manhattan Island, the European preoccupations of France
would have prevented Henry IV from supporting a colony
at that point with sufficient vigour to protect it from
the English. Yet the most striking aspect of De Monts'
attempt in Acadia is the failure to seize a chance which
never came again to the French race. In 1607 Champlain
sailed away from Port Royal and the English founded
Jamestown. In 1608 Champlain founded Quebec, and thenceforth
for over a century the efforts of France were concentrated
on the St Lawrence. When at length she founded Louisbourg
it was too late; by that time the English grasp upon the
coast could not be loosened.

Meanwhile De Monts, to whom the future was veiled, left
Port Mouton and, creeping from point to point, entered
the Bay of Fundy--or, as Champlain calls it, 'the great
Baye Francoise, so named by Sieur de Monts.' The month
was June, but no time could be lost, for at this juncture
the aim of exploration was the discovery of a suitable
site, and after the site had been fixed the colonists
needed what time remained before winter to build their
houses. Hence De Monts' first exploration of the Baye
Francoise was not exhaustive. He entered Annapolis Basin
and glanced at the spot which afterwards was to be Port
Royal. He tried in vain to find a copper-mine of which
he had heard from Prevert of St Malo. He coasted the Bay
of St John, and on June 25 reached St Croix Island. 'Not
finding any more suitable place than this island,' says
Champlain, the leaders of the colony decided that it
should be fortified: and thus was the French flag unfurled
in Acadia.

The arrangement of the settlement at St Croix was left
to Champlain, who gives us a drawing in explanation of
his plan. The selection of an island was mainly due to
distrust of the Indians, with whom, however, intercourse
was necessary. The island lay close to the mouth of a
river, now also called the St Croix. As the choice of
this spot proved most unfortunate, it is well to remember
the motives which prevailed at the time. 'Vessels could
pass up the river,' says Champlain, 'only at the mercy
of the cannon on this island, and we deemed the location
most advantageous, not only on account of its situation
and good soil, but also on account of the intercourse
which we proposed with the savages of these coasts and
of the interior, as we should be in the midst of them.
We hoped to pacify them in course of time and put an end
to the wars which they carry on with one another, so as
to derive service from them in future and convert them
to the Christian faith.'

De Monts' band was made up largely of artisans, who at
once began with vigour to erect dwellings. A mill and an
oven were built; gardens were laid out and many seeds
planted therein. The mosquitoes proved troublesome, but
in other respects the colonists had good cause to be
pleased with their first Acadian summer. So far had
construction work advanced by the beginning of autumn
that De Monts decided to send an exploration party farther
along the coast to the south-west. 'And,' says Champlain,
'he entrusted me with this work, which I found very

The date of departure from St Croix was September 2, so
that no very ambitious programme of discovery could be
undertaken before bad weather began. In a boat of eighteen
tons, with twelve sailors and two Indian guides, Champlain
threaded the maze of islands which lies between
Passamaquoddy Bay and the mouth of the Penobscot. The
most striking part of the coast was Mount Desert, 'very
high and notched in places, so that there is the appearance
to one at sea as of seven or eight mountains extending
along near each other.' To this island and the Isle au
Haut Champlain gave the names they have since borne.
Thence advancing, with his hand ever on the lead, he
reached the mouth of the Penobscot, despite those 'islands,
rocks, shoals, banks, and breakers which are so numerous
on all sides that it is marvellous to behold.' Having
satisfied himself that the Penobscot was none other than
the great river Norumbega, referred to largely on hearsay
by earlier geographers, he followed it up almost to
Bangor. On regaining the sea he endeavoured to reach the
mouth of the Kennebec, but when within a few miles of it
was driven back to St Croix by want of food. In closing
the story of this voyage, which had occupied a month,
Champlain says with his usual directness: 'The above is
an exact statement of all I have observed respecting not
only the coasts and people, but also the river of Norumbega;
and there are none of the marvels there which some persons
have described. I am of opinion that this region is as
disagreeable in winter as that of our settlement, in
which we were greatly deceived.'

Champlain was now to undergo his first winter in Acadia,
and no part of his life could have been more wretched
than the ensuing eight months. On October 6 the snow
came. On December 3 cakes of ice began to appear along
the shore. The storehouse had no cellar, and all liquids
froze except sherry. 'Cider was served by the pound. We
were obliged to use very bad water and drink melted snow,
as there were no springs or brooks.' It was impossible
to keep warm or to sleep soundly. The food was salt meat
and vegetables, which impaired the strength of every one
and brought on scurvy. It is unnecessary to cite here
Champlain's detailed and graphic description of this
dreadful disease. The results are enough. Before the
spring came two-fifths of the colonists had died, and of
those who remained half were on the point of death. Not
unnaturally, 'all this produced discontent in Sieur de
Monts and others of the settlement.'

The survivors of the horrible winter at St Croix were
not freed from anxiety until June 15, 1605, when Pontgrave,
six weeks late, arrived with fresh stores. Had De Monts
been faint-hearted, he doubtless would have seized this
opportunity to return to France. As it was, he set out
in search of a place more suitable than St Croix for the
establishment of his colony, On June 18, with a party
which included twenty sailors and several gentlemen, he
and Champlain began a fresh voyage to the south-west.
Their destination was the country of the Armouchiquois,
an Algonquin tribe who then inhabited Massachusetts.

Champlain's story of his first voyage from Acadia to Cape
Cod is given with considerable fulness. The topography
of the seaboard and its natural history, the habits of
the Indians and his adventures with them, were all new
subjects at the time, and he treats them so that they
keep their freshness. He is at no pains to conceal his
low opinion of the coast savages. Concerning the Acadian
Micmacs he says little, but what he does say is chiefly
a comment upon the wretchedness of their life during the
winter. As he went farther south he found an improvement
in the food supply. At the mouth of the Saco he and De
Monts saw well-kept patches of Indian corn three feet
high, although it was not yet midsummer. Growing with
the corn were beans, pumpkins, and squashes, all in
flower; and the cultivation of tobacco is also noted.
Here the savages formed a permanent settlement and lived
within a palisade. Still farther south, in the neighbourhood
of Cape Cod, Champlain found maize five and a half feet
high, a considerable variety of squashes, tobacco, and
edible roots which tasted like artichokes.

But whether the coast Indians were Micmacs or Armouchiquois,
whether they were starving or well fed, Champlain tells
us little in their praise. Of the Armouchiquois he says:

I cannot tell what government they have, but I think
that in this respect they resemble their neighbours,
who have none at all. They know not how to worship or
pray; yet, like the other savages, they have some
superstitions, which I shall describe in their place.
As for weapons, they have only pikes, clubs, bows and
arrows. It would seem from their appearance that they
have a good disposition, better than those of the
north, but they are all in fact of no great worth.
Even a slight intercourse with them gives you at once
a knowledge of them. They are great thieves, and if
they cannot lay hold of any thing with their hands,
they try to do so with their feet, as we have oftentimes
learned by experience. I am of opinion that if they
had any thing to exchange with us they would not give
themselves to thieving. They bartered away to us their
bows, arrows, and quivers for pins and buttons; and
if they had had any thing else better they would have
done the same with it. It is necessary to be on one's
guard against this people and live in a state of
distrust of them, yet without letting them perceive it.

This passage at least shows that Champlain sought to be
just to the savages of the Atlantic. Though he found them
thieves, he is willing to conjecture that they would not
steal if they had anything to trade.

The thieving habits of the Cape Cod Indians led to a
fight between them and the French in which one Frenchman
was killed, and Champlain narrowly escaped death through
the explosion of his own musket. At Cape Cod De Monts
turned back. Five of the six weeks allotted to the voyage
were over, and lack of food made it impossible to enter
Long Island Sound. Hence 'Sieur de Monts determined to
return to the Island of St Croix in order to find a place
more favourable for our settlement, as we had not been
able to do on any of the coasts which he had explored
during this voyage.'

We now approach the picturesque episode of Port Royal.
De Monts, having regained St Croix at the beginning of
August, lost no time in transporting his people to the
other side of the Bay of Fundy. The consideration which
weighed most with him in establishing his headquarters
was that of trade. Whatever his own preferences, he could
not forget that his partners in France expected a return
on their investment. Had he been in a position to found
an agricultural colony, the maize fields he had seen to
the south-west might have proved attractive. But he
depended largely upon trade, and, as Champlain points
out, the savages of Massachusetts had nothing to sell.
Hence it was unwise to go too far from the peltries of
the St Lawrence. To find a climate less severe than that
of Canada, without losing touch with the fur trade, was
De Monts' problem. No one could dream of wintering again
at St Croix, and in the absence of trade possibilities
to the south there seemed but one alternative--Port Royal.

In his notice of De Monts' cruise along the Bay of Fundy
in June 1604, Champlain says: 'Continuing two leagues
farther on in the same direction, we entered one of the
finest harbours I had seen all along these coasts, in
which two thousand vessels might lie in security. The
entrance is 800 paces broad; then you enter a harbour
two leagues long and one broad, which I have named Port
Royal.' Here Champlain is describing Annapolis Basin,
which clearly made a deep impression upon the minds of
the first Europeans who saw it. Most of all did it appeal
to the imagination of Poutrincourt, who had come to Acadia
for the purpose of discovering a spot where he could
found his own colony. At sight of Port Royal he had at
once asked De Monts for the grant, and on receiving it
had returned to France, at the end of August 1604, to
recruit colonists. Thus he had escaped the horrible winter
at St Croix, but on account of lawsuits it had proved
impossible for him to return to Acadia in the following
year. Hence the noble roadstead of Port Royal was still
unoccupied when De Monts, Champlain, and Pontgrave took
the people of St Croix thither in August 1605. Not only
did the people go. Even the framework of the houses was
shipped across the bay and set up in this haven of better

The spot chosen for the settlement lay on the north side
of the bay. It had a good supply of water, and there was
protection from the north-west wind which had tortured
the settlers at St Croix. 'After everything had been
arranged,' says Champlain, 'and the majority of the
dwellings built, Sieur de Monts determined to return to
France, in order to petition His Majesty to grant him
all that might be necessary for his undertaking.' Quite
apart from securing fresh advantages, De Monts at this
time was sore pressed to defend his title against the
traders who were clamouring for a repeal of the monopoly.
With him returned some of the colonists whose ambition
had been satisfied at St Croix. Champlain remained, in
the hope of making further explorations 'towards Florida.'
Pontgrave was left in command. The others numbered

During the autumn they began to make gardens. 'I also,'
says Champlain, 'for the sake of occupying my time made
one, which was surrounded with ditches full of water, in
which I placed some fine trout, and into which flowed
three brooks of very fine running water, from which the
greater part of our settlement was supplied. I made also
a little sluice-way towards the shore, in order to draw
off the water when I wished. This spot was entirely
surrounded by meadows, where I constructed a summer-house,
with some fine trees, as a resort for enjoying the fresh
air. I made there, also, a little reservoir for holding
salt-water fish, which we took out as we wanted them. I
took especial pleasure in it and planted there some seeds
which turned out well. But much work had to be laid out
in preparation. We resorted often to this place as a
pastime; and it seemed as if the little birds round took
pleasure in it, for they gathered there in large numbers,
warbling and chirping so pleasantly that I think I have
never heard the like.'

After a busy and cheerful autumn came a mild winter. The
snow did not fall till December 20, and there was much
rain. Scurvy still caused trouble; but though twelve
died, the mortality was not so high as at St Croix.
Everything considered, Port Royal enjoyed good
fortune--according to the colonial standards of the
period, when a winter death-rate of twenty-six per cent
was below the average.

At the beginning of March 1606 Pontgrave fitted out a
barque of eighteen tons in order to undertake 'a voyage
of discovery along the coast of Florida'; and on the 16th
of the month a start was made. Favoured by good weather,
he and Champlain would have reached the Hudson three
years before the Dutch. But, short of drowning, every
possible mischance happened. They had hardly set out when
a storm cast them ashore near Grand Manan. Having repaired
the damage they made for St Croix, where fog and contrary
winds held them back eight days. Then Pontgrave decided
to return to Port Royal 'to see in what condition our
companions were whom we had left there sick.' On their
arrival Pontgrave himself was taken ill, but soon
re-embarked, though still unwell. Their second start was
followed by immediate disaster. Leaving the mouth of the
harbour, two leagues distant from Port Royal, they were
carried out of the channel by the tide and went aground.
'At the first blow of our boat upon the rocks the rudder
broke, a part of the keel and three or four planks were
smashed and some ribs stove in, which frightened us, for
our barque filled immediately; and all that we could do
was to wait until the sea fell, so that we might get
ashore... Our barque, all shattered as she was, went to
pieces at the return of the tide. But we, most happy at
having saved our lives, returned to our settlement with
our poor savages; and we praised God for having rescued
us from this shipwreck, from which we had not expected
to escape so easily.'

This accident destroyed all hope of exploration to the
southward until word came from France. At the time of De
Monts' departure the outlook had been so doubtful that
a provisional arrangement was made for the return of the
colonists to France should no ship arrive at Port Royal
by the middle of July. In this event Pontgrave was to
take his people to Cape Breton or Gaspe, where they would
find trading ships homeward bound. As neither De Monts
nor Poutrincourt had arrived by the middle of June, a
new barque was built to replace the one which had been
lost on April 10. A month later Pontgrave carried out
his part of the programme by putting aboard all the
inhabitants of Port Royal save two, who were induced by
promise of extra pay to remain in charge of the stores.

Thus sorrowfully the remnant of the colonists bade farewell
to the beautiful harbour and their new home. Four days
later they were nearly lost through the breaking of their
rudder in the midst of a tempest. Having been saved from
wreck by the skill of their shipmaster, Champdore, they
reached Cape Sable on July 24. Here grief became rejoicing,
for to their complete surprise they encountered Ralleau,
De Monts' secretary, coasting along in a shallop. The
glad tidings he gave them was that Poutrincourt with a
ship of one hundred and twenty tons had arrived. From
Canseau the Jonas had taken an outer course to Port Royal,
while Ralleau was keeping close to the shore in the hope
of intercepting Pontgrave. 'All this intelligence,' says
Champlain, 'caused us to turn back; and we arrived at
Port Royal on the 25th of the month, where we found the
above-mentioned vessel and Sieur de Poutrincourt, and
were greatly delighted to see realized what we had given
up in despair.' Lescarbot, who arrived on board the Jonas,
adds the following detail: 'M. de Poutrincourt ordered
a tun of wine to be set upon end, one of those which had
been given him for his proper use, and gave leave to all
comers to drink freely as long as it lasted, so that
there were some who made gay dogs of themselves.'

Wine-bibbing, however, was not the chief activity of Port
Royal. Poutrincourt at once set men to work on the land,
and while they were sowing wheat, rye, and hemp he hastened
preparations for an autumn cruise 'along the coast of
Florida.' On September 5 all was ready for this voyage,
which was to be Champlain's last opportunity of reaching
the lands beyond Cape Cod. Once more disappointment
awaited him. 'It was decided,' he says, 'to continue the
voyage along the coast, which was not a very well considered
conclusion, since we lost much time in passing over again
the discoveries made by Sieur de Monts as far as the
harbour of Mallebarre. It would have been much better,
in my opinion, to cross from where we were directly to
Mallebarre, the route being already known, and then use
our time in exploring as far as the fortieth degree, or
still farther south, revisiting upon our homeward voyage
the entire coast at pleasure.'

In the interest of geographical research and French
colonization Champlain was doubtless right. Unfortunately,
Poutrincourt wished to see for himself what De Monts and
Champlain had already seen. It was the more unfortunate
that he held this view, as the boats were victualled for
over two months, and much could have been done by taking
a direct course to Cape Cod. Little time, however, was
spent at the Penobscot and Kennebec. Leaving St Croix on
September 12, Poutrincourt reached the Saco on the 21st.
Here and at points farther south he found ripe grapes,
together with maize, pumpkins, squashes, and artichokes.
Gloucester Harbour pleased Champlain greatly. 'In this
very pleasant place we saw two hundred savages, and there
are here a large number of very fine walnut trees,
cypresses, sassafras, oaks, ashes and beeches. ...There
are likewise fine meadows capable of supporting a large
number of cattle.' So much was he charmed with this
harbour and its surroundings that he called it Le Beauport.
After tarrying at Gloucester two or three days Poutrincourt
reached Cape Cod on October 2, and on the 20th he stood
off Martha's Vineyard, his farthest point.

Champlain's chronicle of this voyage contains more detail
regarding the Indians than will be found in any other
part of his Acadian narratives. Chief among Poutrincourt's
adventures was an encounter with the natives of Cape Cod.
Unlike the Micmacs, the Armouchiquois were 'not so much
hunters as good fishermen and tillers of the land.' Their
numbers also were greater; in fact, Champlain speaks of
seeing five or six hundred together. At first they did
not interfere with Poutrincourt's movements, even permitting
him to roam their land with a body of arquebusiers. After
a fortnight, however, their suspicions began to become
manifest, and on October 15 four hundred savages set upon
five Frenchmen who, contrary to orders, had remained
ashore. Four were killed, and although a rescue party
set out at once from the barque, the natives made their

To pursue them was fruitless, for they are marvellously
swift. All that we could do was to carry away the dead
bodies and bury them near a cross which had been set
up the day before, and then to go here and there to
see if we could get sight of any of them. But it was
time wasted, therefore we came back. Three hours
afterwards they returned to us on the sea-shore. We
discharged at them several shots from our little brass
cannon, and when they heard the noise they crouched
down on the ground to escape the fire. In mockery of
us they pulled down the cross and disinterred the
dead, which displeased us greatly and caused us to go
for them a second time; but they fled, as they had
done before. We set up again the cross and reinterred
the dead, whom they had thrown here and there amid
the heath, where they kindled a fire to burn them. We
returned without any result, as we had done before,
well aware that there was scarcely hope of avenging
ourselves this time, and that we should have to renew
the undertaking when it should please God.

With a desire for revenge was linked the practical
consideration that slaves would prove useful at Port
Royal. A week later the French returned to the same place,
'resolved to get possession of some savages and, taking
them to our settlement, put them to grinding corn at the
hand-mill, as punishment for the deadly assault which
they had committed on five or six of our company.' As
relations were strained, it became necessary to offer
beads and gewgaws, with every show of good faith. Champlain
describes the plan in full. The shallop was to leave the
barque for shore, taking

the most robust and strong men we had, each one having
a chain of beads and a fathom of match on his arm;
and there, while pretending to smoke with them (each
one having an end of his match lighted so as not to
excite suspicion, it being customary to have fire at
the end of a cord in order to light the tobacco), coax
them with pleasing words so as to draw them into the
shallop; and if they should be unwilling to enter,
each one approaching should choose his man and, putting
the beads round his neck, should at the same time put
the rope on him to draw him by force. But if they
should be too boisterous and it should not be possible
to succeed, they should be stabbed, the rope being
firmly held; and if by chance any of them should get
away, there should be men on land to charge upon them
with swords. Meanwhile, the little cannon on our barque
was to be kept ready to fire upon their companions in
case they should come to assist them, under cover of
which firearms the shallop could withdraw in security.

This plot, though carefully planned, fell far short of
the success which was anticipated. To catch a redskin
with a noose required more skill than was available.
Accordingly, none were taken alive. Champlain says: 'We
retired to our barque after having done all we could.'
Lescarbot adds: 'Six or seven of the savages were hacked
and hewed in pieces, who could not run so lightly in the
water as on shore, and were caught as they came out by
those of our men who had landed.'

Having thus taken an eye for an eye, Poutrincourt began
his homeward voyage, and, after three or four escapes
from shipwreck, reached Port Royal on November 14.

Champlain was now about to spend his last winter in
Acadia. Mindful of former experiences, he determined to
fight scurvy by encouraging exercise among the colonists
and procuring for them an improved diet. A third desideratum
was cheerfulness. All these purposes he served through
founding the Ordre de Bon Temps, which proved to be in
every sense the life of the settlement. Champlain himself
briefly describes the procedure followed, but a far more
graphic account is given by Lescarbot, whose diffuse and
lively style is illustrated to perfection in the following

To keep our table joyous and well provided, an order
was established at the board of the said M. de
Poutrincourt, which was called the Order of Good Cheer,
originally proposed by Champlain. To this Order each
man of the said table was appointed Chief Steward in
his turn, which came round once a fortnight. Now, this
person had the duty of taking care that we were all
well and honourably provided for. This was so well
carried out that though the epicures of Paris often
tell us that we had no Rue aux Ours over there, as a
rule we made as good cheer as we could have in this
same Rue aux Ours, and at less cost. For there was no
one who, two days before his turn came, failed to go
hunting or fishing, and to bring back some delicacy
in addition to our ordinary fare. So well was this
carried out that never at breakfast did we lack some
savoury meat of flesh or fish, and still less at our
midday or evening meals; for that was our chief banquet,
at which the ruler of the feast or chief butler, whom
the savages called Atoctegic, having had everything
prepared by the cook, marched in, napkin on shoulder,
wand of office in hand, and around his neck the collar
of the Order, which was worth more than four crowns;
after him all the members of the Order carrying each
a dish. The same was repeated at dessert, though not
always with so much pomp. And at night, before giving
thanks to God, he handed over to his successor in the
charge the collar of the Order, with a cup of wine,
and they drank to each other. I have already said that
we had abundance of game, such as ducks, bustards,
grey and white geese, partridges, larks, and other
birds; moreover moose, caribou, beaver, otter, bear,
rabbits, wild-cats, racoons, and other animals such
as the savages caught, whereof we made dishes well
worth those of the cook-shop in the Rue aux Ours, and
far more; for of all our meats none is so tender as
moose-meat (whereof we also made excellent pasties)
and nothing so delicate as beaver's tail. Yea, sometimes
we had half a dozen sturgeon at once, which the savages
brought us, part of which we bought, and allowed them
to sell the remainder publicly and to barter it for
bread, of which our men had abundance. As for the
ordinary rations brought from France, they were
distributed equally to great and small alike; and, as
we have said, the wine was served in like manner.

The results of this regime were most gratifying. The
deaths from scurvy dropped to seven, which represented
a great proportionate decrease. At the same time,
intercourse with the Indians was put on a good basis
thereby. 'At these proceedings,' says Lescarbot, 'we
always had twenty or thirty savages--men, women, girls,
and children--who looked on at our manner of service.
Bread was given them gratis, as one would do to the poor.
But as for the Sagamos Membertou, and other chiefs who
came from time to time, they sat at table eating and
drinking like ourselves. And we were glad to see them,
while, on the contrary, their absence saddened us.'

These citations bring into view the writer who has most
copiously recorded the early annals of Acadia--Marc
Lescarbot. He was a lawyer, and at this date about forty
years old. Having come to Port Royal less as a colonist
than as a guest of Poutrincourt, he had no investment at
stake. But contact with America kindled the enthusiasm
of which he had a large supply, and converted him into
the historian of New France. His story of the winter he
passed at Port Royal is quite unlike other narratives of
colonial experience at this period. Champlain was a
geographer and preoccupied with exploration. The Jesuits
were missionaries and preoccupied with the conversion of
the savages. Lescarbot had a literary education, which
Champlain lacked, and, unlike the Jesuits, he approached
life in America from the standpoint of a layman. His
prolixity often serves as a foil to the terseness of
Champlain, and suggests that he must have been a merciless
talker. Yet, though inclined to be garrulous, he was a
good observer and had many correct ideas--notably the
belief that corn, wine, and cattle are a better foundation
for a colony than gold or silver mines. In temperament
he and Champlain were very dissimilar, and evidence of
mutual coolness may be found in their writings. These we
shall consider at a later stage. For the present it is
enough to note that both men sat at Poutrincourt's table
and adorned the Order of Good Cheer.

Meanwhile De Monts was in France, striving with all the
foes of the monopoly. Thanks to the fur trade, his company
had paid its way during the first two years, despite the
losses at St Croix. The third season had been much less
prosperous, and at the same moment when the Dutch and
the Basques [Footnote: Traders from the extreme south of
France, whose chief port was St Jean de Luz. Though living
on the confines of France and Spain, the Basques were of
different racial origin from both Spaniards and French.
While subject politically to France, their remoteness
from the main ports of Normandy and Brittany kept them
out of touch with the mariners of St Malo and Havre, save
as collision arose between them in the St Lawrence. Among
the Basques there were always interlopers, even when St
Jean de Luz had been given a share in the monopoly. They
are sometimes called Spaniards, from their close
neighbourhood to the Pyrenees.] were breaking the monopoly
by defiance, the hatters of Paris were demanding that it
should be withdrawn altogether. To this alliance of a
powerful guild with a majority of the traders, the company
of De Monts succumbed, and the news which Poutrincourt
received when the first ship came in 1607 was that the
colony must be abandoned. As the company itself was about
to be dissolved, this consequence was inevitable. Champlain
in his matter-of-fact way states that De Monts sent
letters to Poutrincourt, 'by which he directed him to
bring back his company to France.' Lescarbot is much more
outspoken. Referring to the merits and struggles of De
Monts, he exclaims:

Yet I fear that in the end he may be forced to give
it all up, to the great scandal and reproach of the
French name, which by such conduct is made a
laughing-stock and a byword among the nations. For as
though their wish was to oppose the conversion of
these poor Western peoples, and the glory of God and
of the King, we find a set of men full of avarice and
envy, who would not draw a sword in the service of
the King, nor suffer the slightest ill in the world
for the honour of God, but who yet put obstacles in
the way of our drawing any profit from the province,
even in order to furnish what is indispensable to the
foundation of such an enterprise; men who prefer to
see the English and Dutch win possession of it rather
than the French, and would fain have the name of God
remain unknown in those quarters. And it is such
godless people who are listened to, who are believed,
and who win their suits. O tempora, O mores!

On August 11, 1607, Port Royal was abandoned for the
second time, and its people, sailing by Cape Breton,
reached Roscou in Brittany at the end of September. The
subsequent attempt of Poutrincourt and his family to
re-establish the colony at Port Royal belongs to the
history of Acadia rather than to the story of Champlain.
But remembering the spirit in which he and De Monts
strove, one feels glad that Lescarbot spoke his mind
regarding the opponents who baffled their sincere and
persistent efforts.



From the Island of Orleans to Quebec the distance is
a league. I arrived there on the third of July, when
I searched for a place suitable for our settlement,
but I could find none more convenient or better than
the point of Quebec, so called by the savages, which
was covered with nut-trees. I at once employed a
portion of our workmen in cutting them down, that we
might construct our habitation there: one I set to
sawing boards, another to making a cellar and digging
ditches, another I sent to Tadoussac with the barque
to get supplies. The first thing we made was the
storehouse for keeping under cover our supplies, which
was promptly accomplished through the zeal of all,
and my attention to the work.

Thus opens Champlain's account of the place with which
his name is linked imperishably. He was the founder of
Quebec and its preserver. During his lifetime the results
seemed pitifully small, but the task once undertaken was
never abandoned. By steadfastness he prevailed, and at
his death had created a colony which became the New France
of Talon and Frontenac, of La Salle and D'Iberville, of
Brebeuf and Laval. If Venice from amid her lagoons could
exclaim, Esto perpetua, Quebec, firm based upon her cliff,
can say to the rest of Canada, Attendite ad petram unde
excisi estis--'Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn.'

Champlain's Quebec was very poor in everything but courage.
The fact that it was founded by the men who had just
failed in Acadia gives proof of this virtue. Immediately
upon his return from Port Royal to France, Champlain
showed De Monts a map and plan which embodied the result
of his explorations during the last three years. They
then took counsel regarding the future, and with Champlain's
encouragement De Monts 'resolved to continue his noble
and meritorious undertaking, notwithstanding the hardships
and labours of the past.' It is significant that once
more Champlain names exploration as the distinctive
purpose of De Monts.

To expect a subsidy from the crown was futile, but Henry
felt compunction for his abrupt recall of the monopoly.
The result was that De Monts, in recognition of his
losses, was given a further monopoly--for the season of
1608 only. At the same time, he was expressly relieved
from the obligation to take out colonists. On this basis
De Monts found partners among the merchants of Rouen,
and three ships were fitted out--one for Acadia, the
others for the St Lawrence. Champlain, as lieutenant,
was placed in charge of the Laurentian expedition. With
him went the experienced and invaluable Pontgrave.

Nearly seventy-five years had now passed since Jacques
Cartier first came to anchor at the foot of Cape Diamond.
During this period no one had challenged the title of
France to the shores of the St Lawrence; in fact, a
country so desolate made no appeal to the French themselves.
Roberval's tragic experience at Cap Rouge had proved a
warning. To the average Frenchman of the sixteenth century
Canada meant what it afterwards meant to Sully and
Voltaire. It was a tract of snow; a land of barbarians,
bears, and beavers.

The development of the fur trade into a staple industry
changed this point of view to a limited extent. The
government, as we have seen, considered it desirable that
colonists should be established in New France at the
expense of traders. For the St Lawrence, however, the
first and only fruits of this enlightened policy had been
Chauvin's sixteen derelicts at Tadoussac.

The founding of Quebec represents private enterprise,
and not an expenditure of money by Henry IV for the sake
of promoting colonization. De Monts and Champlain were
determined to give France a foothold in America. The
rights upon which the venture of 1608 was financed did
not run beyond the year. Thenceforth trade was to be
free. It follows that De Monts and his partners, in
building a station at Quebec, did not rely for their
expenses upon any special favours from the crown. They
placed their reliance upon themselves, feeling confident
of their power to hold a fair share of the trade against
all comers. For Champlain Quebec was a fixed point on
the way to the Orient. For De Monts it was a key to the
commerce of the great river. None of his rivals would
begin the season of 1609 with a permanent post in Canada.
Thus part of the anticipated profits for 1608 was invested
to secure an advantage in the approaching competition.
The whole success of the plan depended upon the mutual
confidence of De Monts and Champlain, both of whom
unselfishly sought the advancement of French interests
in America--De Monts, the courageous capitalist and
promoter; Champlain, the explorer whose discoveries were
sure to enlarge the area of trading operations.

Pontgrave sailed from Honfleur on April 5, 1608. Champlain
followed eight days later, reaching Tadoussac at the
beginning of June. Here trouble awaited him. The Basque
traders, who always defied the monopoly, had set upon
Pontgrave with cannon and muskets, killing one man and
severely wounding two others, besides himself. Going
ashore, Champlain found Pontgrave very ill and the Basques
in full possession. To fight was to run the risk of
ruining De Monts' whole enterprise, and as the Basques
were alarmed at what they had done, Darache, their captain,
signed an agreement that he would not molest Pontgrave
or do anything prejudicial to the rights of De Monts.
This basis of compromise makes it clear that Pontgrave
was in charge of the season's trade, while Champlain's
personal concern was to found the settlement.

An unpleasant dispute was thus adjusted, but the incident
had a still more unpleasant sequel. Leaving Tadoussac on
June 30, Champlain reached Quebec in four days, and at
once began to erect his storehouse. A few days later he
stood in grave peril of his life through conspiracy among
his own men.

The ringleader was a locksmith named Jean Duval, who had
been at Port Royal and narrowly escaped death from the
arrows of the Cape Cod Indians. Whether he framed his
plot in collusion with the Basques is not quite clear,
but it seems unlikely that he should have gone so far as
he did without some encouragement. His plan was simply
to kill Champlain and deliver Quebec to the Basques in
return for a rich reward, either promised or expected.
Some of the men he had no chance to corrupt, for they
were aboard the barques, guarding stores till a shelter
could be built. Working among the rest, Duval 'suborned
four of the worst characters, as he supposed, telling
them a thousand falsehoods and presenting to them prospects
of acquiring riches.' The evidence subsequently showed
that Champlain was either to be strangled when unarmed,
or shot at night as he answered to a false alarm. The
conspirators made a mutual promise not to betray each
other, on penalty that the first who opened his mouth
should be poniarded.

Out of this deadly danger Champlain escaped through the
confession of a vacillating spirit named Natel, who
regretted his share in the plot, but, once involved, had
fears of the poniard. Finally he confessed to Testu, the
pilot, who immediately informed Champlain. Questioned as
to the motive, Natel replied that 'nothing had impelled
them, except that they had imagined that by giving up
the place into the hands of the Basques or Spaniards they
might all become rich, and that they did not want to go
back to France.' Duval, with five others, was then seized
and taken to Tadoussac. Later in the summer Pontgrave
brought the prisoners back to Quebec, where evidence was
taken before a court-martial consisting of Champlain,
Pontgrave, a captain, a surgeon, a first mate, a second
mate, and some sailors. The sentence condemned four to
death, of whom three were afterwards sent to France and
put at the discretion of De Monts. Duval was 'strangled
and hung at Quebec, and his head was put on the end of
a pike, to be set in the most conspicuous place on our
fort, that he might serve as an example to those who
remained, leading them to deport themselves correctly in
future, in the discharge of their duty; and that the
Spaniards and Basques, of whom there were large numbers
in the country, might not glory in the event.'

It will be seen from the recital of Duval's conspiracy
that Champlain was fortunate to escape the fate of Hudson
and La Salle. While this cause celebre was running its
course to a tragic end, the still more famous habitation
grew day by day under the hands of busy workmen. As fruits
of a crowded and exciting summer Champlain could point
to a group of three two-storeyed buildings. 'Each one,'
he says, 'was three fathoms long and two and a half wide.
The storehouse was six fathoms long and three wide, with
a fine cellar six feet deep. I had a gallery made all
round our buildings, on the outside, at the second storey,
which proved very convenient. There were also ditches,
fifteen feet wide and six deep. On the outer side of the
ditches I constructed several spurs, which enclosed a
part of the dwelling, at the points where we placed our
cannon. Before the habitation there is a place four
fathoms wide and six or seven long, looking out upon the
river-bank. Surrounding the habitation are very good

Three dwellings of eighteen by fifteen feet each were a
sufficiently modest starting-point for continental
ambitions, even when supplemented by a storehouse of
thirty-six feet by eighteen. In calling the gardens very
good Champlain must have been speaking with relation to
the circumstances, or else they were very small, for
there is abundant witness to the sufferings which Quebec
in its first twenty years might have escaped with the
help of really abundant gardens. At St Croix and Port
Royal an attempt had been made to plant seeds, and at
Quebec Champlain doubtless renewed the effort, though
with small practical result. The point is important in
its bearing on the nature of the settlement. Quebec,
despite such gardens as surrounded the habitation, was
by origin an outpost of the fur trade, with a small,
floating, and precarious population. Louis Hebert, the
first real colonist, did not come till 1617.

Lacking vegetables, Quebec fed itself in part from the
river and the forest. But almost all the food was brought
from France. At times there was game, though less than
at Port Royal. The river supplied eels in abundance, but
when badly cooked they caused a fatal dysentery. The
first winter was a repetition of the horrors experienced
at St Croix, with even a higher death-rate. Scurvy began
in February and lasted till the end of April. Of the
eighteen whom it attacked, ten died. Dysentery claimed
others. On June 5, 1609, word came that Pontgrave had
arrived at Tadoussac. Champlain's comment is eloquent in
its brevity. 'This intelligence gave me much satisfaction,
as we entertained hopes of assistance from him. Out of
the twenty-eight at first forming our company only eight
remained, and half of these were ailing.'

The monopoly granted to De Monts had now reached its
close, and trade was open to all comers. From 1609 until
1613 this unrestricted competition ran its course, with
the result that a larger market was created for beaver
skins, while nothing was done to build up New France as
a colony. On the whole, the most notable feature of the
period is the establishment of close personal relations
between Champlain and the Indians. It was then that he
became the champion of the Algonquins and Hurons against
the Iroquois League or Five Nations, inaugurating a policy
which was destined to have profound consequences.

The considerations which governed Champlain in his dealings
with the Indians lay quite outside the rights and wrongs
of their tribal wars. His business was to explore the
continent on behalf of France, and accordingly he took
conditions as he found them. The Indians had souls to be
saved, but that was the business of the missionaries. In
the state of nature all savages were much like wild
animals, and alliance with one nation or another was a
question which naturally settled itself upon the basis
of drainage basins. Lands within the Laurentian watershed
were inhabited mainly by Algonquins and Hurons, whose
chief desire in life was to protect themselves from the
Iroquois and avenge past injuries. The Five Nations dwelt
far south from the Sault St Louis and did not send their
furs there for the annual barter. Champlain, ever in
quest of a route to the East, needed friends along the
great rivers of the wilderness. The way to secure them,
and at the same time to widen the trading area, was to
fight for the savages of the St Lawrence and the Ottawa
against those of the Mohawk.

And Champlain was a good ally, as he proved in the forest
wars of 1609 and 1615. With all their shortcomings, the
Indians knew how to take the measure of a man. The
difference between a warrior and a trader was especially
clear to their untutored minds, they themselves being
much better fighters than men of commerce. Champlain,
like others, suffered from their caprice, but they
respected his bravery and trusted his word.

In the next chapter we shall attempt to follow Champlain
through the wilderness, accompanied by its inhabitants,
who were his guides and friends. For the present we must
pursue the fortunes of Quebec, whose existence year by
year hung upon the risk that court intrigue would prevail
against the determination of two brave men.

From 1608 till 1611 De Monts had two partners, named
Collier and Legendre, both citizens of Rouen. It was with
the money of these three that the post at Quebec had been
built and equipped. Champlain was their lieutenant and
Pontgrave the commander of their trading ships. After
four years of experience Collier and Legendre found the
results unsatisfactory. 'They were unwilling,' says
Champlain, 'to continue in the association, as there was
no commission forbidding others from going to the new
discoveries and trading with the inhabitants of the
country. Sieur de Monts, seeing this, bargained with them
for what remained at the settlement at Quebec, in
consideration of a sum of money which he gave them for
their share.'

Thus the intrepid De Monts became sole proprietor of the
habitation, and whatever clustered round it, at the foot
of Cape Diamond. But the property was worthless if the
fur trade could not be put on a stable basis. Quebec
during its first three years had been a disappointment
because, contrary to expectation, it gave its founders
no advantage over their competitors which equalled the
cost of maintenance. De Monts was still ready to assist
Champlain in his explorations, but his resources, never
great, were steadily diminishing, and while trade continued
unprofitable there were no funds for exploration. Moreover,
the assassination of Henry IV in 1610 weakened De Monts
at court. Whatever Henry's shortcomings as a friend of
Huguenots and colonial pioneers, their chances had been
better with him than they now were with Marie de Medicis
[Footnote: The second and surviving wife of Henry IV--an
Italian by birth and in close sympathy with Spain. As
regent for her son, Louis XIII, she did much to reverse
the policy of Henry IV, both foreign and domestic.]
Champlain states that De Monts' engagements did not permit
him to prosecute his interests at court. Probably his
engagements would have been less pressing had he felt
more sure of favour. In any event, he made over to
Champlain the whole conduct of such negotiations as were
called for by the unsatisfactory state of affairs on the
St Lawrence.

Champlain went to France. What follows is an illuminating
comment upon the conditions that prevailed under the
Bourbon monarchy. As Champlain saw things, the merchants
who clamoured for freedom of trade were greedy pot-hunters.
'All they want,' he says, 'is that men should expose
themselves to a thousand dangers to discover peoples and
territories, that they themselves may have the profit
and others the hardship. It is not reasonable that one
should capture the lamb and another go off with the
fleece. If they had been willing to participate in our
discoveries, use their means and risk their persons, they
would have given evidence of their honour and nobleness,
but, on the contrary, they show clearly that they are
impelled by pure malice that they may enjoy the fruit of
our labours equally with ourselves.' Against folk of this
sort Champlain felt he had to protect the national
interests which were so dear to him and De Monts. As
things then went, there was only one way to secure
protection. At Fontainebleau a great noble was not
habituated to render help without receiving a consideration.
But protection could be bought by those who were able to
pay for it.

The patron selected by Champlain was the Comte de Soissons,
a Bourbon by lineage and first cousin of Henry IV. His
kinship to the boy-king gave him, among other privileges,
the power to exact from the regent gifts and offices as
the price of his support. Possessing this leverage,
Soissons caused himself to be appointed viceroy of Canada,
with a twelve-year monopoly of the fur trade above Quebec.
The monopoly thus re-established, its privileges could
be sublet, Soissons receiving cash for the rights he
conceded to the merchants, and they taking their chance
to turn a profit out of the transaction.

Such at least was the theory; but before Soissons could
turn his post into a source of revenue he died. Casting
about for a suitable successor, Champlain selected another
prince of the blood--Henri de Bourbon, Prince de Conde,
who duly became viceroy of Canada and holder of the
monopoly in succession to his uncle, the Comte de Soissons.

The part of Champlain in these transactions is very
conspicuous, and justly so. There was no advantage in
being viceroy of Canada unless the post produced a revenue,
and before the viceroy could receive a revenue some one
was needed to organize the chief Laurentian traders into
a company strong enough to pay Soissons or Conde a
substantial sum. Champlain was convinced that the stability
of trade (upon which, in turn, exploration depended)
could be secured only in this way. It was he who
memorialized President Jeannin; [Footnote: One of the
chief advisers of Marie de Medicis. In the early part of
his career he was President of the Parlement of Dijon
and an important member of the extreme Catholic party.
After the retirement of the Duc de Sully (1611) he was
placed in charge of the finances of France.] enlisted
the sympathy of the king's almoner, Beaulieu; appealed
to the royal council; proposed the office of viceroy to
Soissons; and began the endeavour to organize a new
trading company. Considering that early in 1612 he suffered
a serious fall from his horse, this record of activity
is sufficiently creditable for one twelve-month. Meanwhile
the Indians at Sault St Louis grieved at his absence,
and his enemies told them he was dead.

It was not until 1614 that the new programme in its
entirety could be carried out. This time the delay came,
not from the court, but from the merchants. Negotiations
were in progress when the ships sailed for the voyage of
1613, but Champlain could not remain to conclude them,
as he felt that he must keep faith with the Indians.
However, on his return to France that autumn, he resumed
the effort, and by the spring of 1614. the merchants of
Rouen, St Malo, and La Rochelle had been brought to terms
among themselves as participants in a monopoly which was
leased from the viceroy. Conde received a thousand crowns
a year, and the new company also agreed to take out six
families of colonists each season. In return it was
granted the monopoly for eleven years. De Monts was a
member of the company and Quebec became its headquarters
in Canada. But the moving spirit was Champlain, who was
appointed lieutenant to the viceroy with a salary and
the right to levy for his own purposes four men from each
ship trading in the river.

Once more disappointment followed. Save for De Monts,
Champlain's company was not inspired by Champlain's
patriotism. During the first three years of its existence
the obligation to colonize was wilfully disregarded,
while in the fourth year the treatment accorded Louis
Hebert shows that good faith counted for as little with
the fur traders when they acted in association as when
they were engaged in cut-throat competition.

Champlain excepted, Hebert was the most admirable of
those who risked death in the attempt to found a settlement
at Quebec. He was not a Norman peasant, but a Parisian
apothecary. We have already seen that he took part in
the Acadian venture of De Monts and Poutrincourt. After
the capture of Port Royal by the English he returned to
France (1613) and reopened his shop. Three years later
Champlain was authorized by the company to offer him and
his family favourable terms if they would emigrate to
Quebec, the consideration being two hundred crowns a year
for three years, besides maintenance. On this understanding
Hebert sold his house and shop, bought an equipment for
the new home, and set off with his family to embark at
Honfleur. Here he found that Champlain's shareholders
were not prepared to stand by their agreement. The company
first beat him down from two hundred to one hundred crowns
a year, and then stipulated that he, his wife, his
children, and his domestic should serve it for the three
years during which the grant was payable. Even at the
end of three years, when he found himself at liberty to
till the soil, he was bound to sell produce to the company
at the prices prevalent in France. The company was to
have his perpetual service as a chemist for nothing, and
he must promise in writing to take no part in the fur
trade. Hebert had cut off his retreat and was forced to
accept these hard terms, but it is not strange that under
such conditions colonists should have been few. Sagard,
the Recollet missionary, says the company treated Hebert
so badly because it wished to discourage colonization.
What it wanted was the benefit of the monopoly, without
the obligation of finding settlers who had to be brought
over for nothing.

A man of honour like Champlain could not have tricked
Hebert into the bad bargain he made, and their friendship
survived the incident. But a company which transacted
its business in this fashion was not likely to enjoy long
life. Its chief asset was Champlain's friendship with
the Indians, especially after his long sojourn with them
in 1615 and 1616. Some years, particularly 1617, showed
a large profit, but as time went on friction arose between
the Huguenots of La Rochelle and the Catholics of Rouen.
Then there were interlopers to be prosecuted, and the
quarrels of Conde with the government brought with them
trouble to the merchants whose monopoly depended on his
grant. For three years (1616-19) the viceroy of Canada
languished in the Bastille. Shortly after his release he
sold his viceregal rights to the Duke of Montmorency,
Admiral of France. The price was 11,000 crowns.

In 1619 Champlain's company ventured to disagree with
its founder, and, as a consequence, another crisis arose
in the affairs of New France. The cause of dispute was
the company's unwillingness to keep its promises regarding
colonization. Champlain protested. The company replied
that Pontgrave should be put in charge at Quebec. Champlain
then said that Pontgrave was his old friend, and he hoped
they would always be friends, but that he was at Quebec
as the viceroy's representative, charged with the duty
of defending his interests. The leader of Champlain's
opponents among the shareholders was Boyer, a trader who
had formerly given much trouble to De Monts, but was now
one of the associates. When in the spring of 1619 Champlain
attempted to sail for Quebec as usual, Boyer prevented
him from going aboard. There followed an appeal to the
crown, in which Champlain was fully sustained, and Boyer
did penance by offering a public apology before the
Exchange at Rouen.

It was shortly after this incident that Conde abdicated
in favour of Montmorency. The admiral, like his predecessor,
accepted a thousand crowns a year and named Champlain as
his lieutenant. He also instituted an inquiry regarding
the alleged neglect of the company to maintain the post
at Quebec. The investigation showed that abundant cause
existed for depriving the company of its monopoly, and
in consequence the grant was transferred, on similar
terms, to William and Emery de Caen. Here complications
at once ensued. The De Caens, who were natives of Rouen,
were also Huguenots, a fact that intensified the ill-feeling
which had already arisen on the St Lawrence between
Catholic and heretic. The dispute between the new
beneficiaries and the company founded by Champlain involved
no change in the policy of the crown towards trade and
colonization. It was a quarrel of persons, which eventually
reached a settlement in 1622. The De Caens then compromised
by reorganizing the company and giving their predecessors
five-twelfths of the shares.

The recital of these intricate events will at least
illustrate the difficulties which beset Champlain in his
endeavour to build up New France. There were problems
enough even had he received loyal support from the crown
and the company. With the English and Dutch in full
rivalry, he saw that an aggressive policy of expansion
and settlement became each year more imperative. Instead,
he was called on to withstand the cabals of self-seeking
traders who shirked their obligations, and to endure the
apathy of a government which was preoccupied with palace

At Quebec itself the two bright spots were the convent
of the Recollets [Footnote: The Recollets were a branch
of the Franciscan order, noted for the austerity of their
rule.] and the little farm of Louis Hebert. The Recollets
first came to New France in 1615, and began at once by
language study to prepare for their work among the
Montagnais and Hurons. It was a stipulation of the viceroy
that six of them should be supported by the company, and
in the absence of parish priests they ministered to the
ungodly hangers-on of the fur trade as well as to the
Indians. Louis Hebert and his admirable family were very
dear to the Fathers. In 1617 all the buildings which had
been erected at Quebec lay by the water's edge. Hebert
was the first to make a clearing on the heights. His
first domain covered less than ten acres, but it was well
tilled. He built a stone house, which was thirty-eight
feet by nineteen. Besides making a garden, he planted
apple-trees and vines. He also managed to support some
cattle. When one considers what all this means in terms
of food and comfort, it may be guessed that the fur
traders, wintering down below on salt pork and smoked
eels, must have felt much respect for the farmer in his
stone mansion on the cliff.

We have from Champlain's own lips a valuable statement
as to the condition of things at Quebec in 1627, the year
when Louis Hebert died. 'We were in all,' he says,
'sixty-five souls, including men, women, and children.'
Of the sixty-five only eighteen were adult males fit for
hard work, and this small number must be reduced to two
or three if we include only the tillers of the soil.
Besides these, a few adventurous spirits were away in
the woods with the Indians, learning their language and
endeavouring to exploit the beaver trade; but twenty
years after the founding of Quebec the French in Canada,
all told, numbered less than one hundred.

Contrast with this the state of Virginia fifteen years
after the settlement of Jamestown. 'By 1622,' says John
Fiske, 'the population of Virginia was at least 4000,
the tobacco fields were flourishing and lucrative, durable
houses had been built and made comfortable with furniture
brought from England, and the old squalor was everywhere
giving way to thrift. The area of colonization was pushed
up the James River as far as Richmond.'

This contrast is not to be interpreted to the personal
disadvantage of Champlain. The slow growth and poverty
of Quebec were due to no fault of his. It is rather the
measure of his greatness that he was undaunted by
disappointment and unembittered by the pettiness of spirit
which met him at every turn. A memorial which he presented
in 1618 to the Chamber of Commerce at Paris discloses
his dream of what might be: a city at Quebec named
Ludovica, a city equal in size to St Denis and filled
with noble buildings grouped round the Church of the
Redeemer. Tributary to this capital was a vast region
watered by the St Lawrence and abounding 'in rolling
plains, beautiful forests, and rivers full of fish.' From
Ludovica the heathen were to be converted and a passage
discovered to the East. So important a trade route would
be developed, that from the tolls alone there would be
revenue to construct great public works. Rich mines and
fat cornfields fill the background.

Such was the Quebec of Champlain's vision--if only France
would see it so! But in the Quebec of reality a few
survivors saw the hunger of winter yield to the starvation


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