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Tag Archives: 1644

A Dog Called Pilot

Français : Iroquois du Monument à Maisonneuve,...

Iroquois du Monument à Maisonneuve, Place d’Armes, Montréal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is disagreement among historians as to whether the following incident took place on March 13 or March 30, 1644.  Maisonneuve’s settlers who had founded Montreal in 1642 were spending their second winter there.  Their activities were restricted because the Iroquois often waited in the woods outside the stockade ready to kill anyone who ventured out.

Maisonneuve’s men usually knew when the Iroquois were there because in the garrison was a dog called “Pilot,” who would howl the moment she scented the Indians.  She had six puppies who learned the same trick.

On March 13 or 30, as the case may be, Pilot and her puppies began to howl.  Maisonneuve’s men clamoured to be allowed to go out and attack the Indians.  Maisonneuve realized the danger but agreed to lead the assault.

It was a mistake.  No sooner had they entered the woods, than they realized that there were a great many Native Indians there.  Furthermore, they had guns as well as bows and arrows.  The Iroquois, greatly outnumbering the French, spread out in an encircling movement.  Maisonneuve knew then that he was trapped.  The only hope for survival was to retreat along a path in the snow that had been made by hauling logs into the stockade.  The Native Indians came racing out of the woods, leaping over snowbanks and firing their guns and arrows at the retreating French.  It was only by the narrowest of margins that the survivors got back into the stockade and closed the gate.  Maisonneuve was the last to enter.  Three of his men had been killed, and others were wounded.

Pilot has been commemorated as one of a group of figures in a statue in Montreal.  Perhaps Walt Disney’s organization will produce a film about her as it did for “Greyfriar’s Bobbie,” of whom there is a statue in Scotland.

Quite a story, I feel.  Want to read more about Pilot (Pilote) and de Maisonneuve?  You can begin your search at Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online; another really good place to go is Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France; and yet another new (new to me) website to visit would be Historion.net.

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The Moose From France

English: breakwater road louis head nova scoti...

breakwater road louis head nova scotia canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Canada‘s first doctor is often credited with being the first European to farm in Canada, as well.  Louis Hebert was born in about 1575 in France.  He died at Quebec, from an injury that occurred when he fell on a patch of ice on January 25, 1627, and was greatly mourned.

Louis Hebert was brought to Quebec by Champlain in 1617 to be the doctor to the new colony.  Previously, in 1606, he made  a trip to Acadia as a member of his cousin-in-law Jean de Biencourt de Poutrincourt’s expedition, and that is how he met Champlain.

Bear River, Nova Scotia, near Champlain’s habitation, is called after “Hebert”, whose name in French is pronounced “Ay-bear“.  Port Hebert, on the southwest shore of Nova Scotia, is another landmark honouring the memory of this great Canadian.  Across the nearby inlet is Louis Head.

Louis Hebert’s father was  a physician to the Royal Court in Paris.  He had cared for Catherine of Medci when she was dying after instigating the Massacre of St. Bartholemew’s.  It was said that she was haunted by ghosts.  In  any case, young Louis Hebert had seen enough of court intrigue and was glad to get as far away as possible.  When he was ready to sail he did not look back, even after learning that the directors of the company financing Champlain had reduced his salary sharply.

When they arrived at Quebec, the Heberts decided quickly that they could not live in the rat-infested ruins of Lower Town, and  so they investigated the land at the top of the cliff.  There they built what was probably the first home in Canada, and cultivated ten acres of land.  They grew enough vegetables to support not only themselves but also many poor families.  Louis Hebert may, therefore, deserve to be known as the first farmer in Canada.

His son-in-law is believed to have used the first plough in 1628.  It was drawn by an ox, since horses were not used until 1647.  The Native Indians called them “the moose from France.”  The first wheat is believed to have been sown in 1644.

 

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