Tag Archives: Champlain

Higher than Niagara Falls!

Canada boasts so many beautiful locations, for tourists and visitors alike.  We are all familiar with Niagara Falls, which borders Canada and the United States.  But in Quebec there is a special gem called Montmorency Falls and is 30 meters higher than Niagara Falls!

It is at the junction of Montmorency River and the St. Lawrence River, about 10 kilometres east of Quebec City.  It has captured people’s fascination and awe since the years of Champlain.  Like most of Canada’s geography, there is a different experience to be had if you visit in the summer or in the winter.  The following videos can show you its beauty more than my words ever could.  Enjoy them.








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Not Cowboys & Indians, Part 2

For the month of April, I’ll be continuing the series of “Indian wars in Canada,” this post will cover the 17th century.  Now, I have to say that there were skirmishes, battles and wars.  I can’t, obviously, cover every one.  So with a broad pen stroke, let’s keep going.

Beaver War Map of colonial settlements.

Map of the location of major tribes involved in the Beaver Wars laid against a period map showing colonial settlements.

In the mid-17th century, the Beaver Wars began. They were also known as the Iroquois Wars or the French and Iroquois Wars. These battles were fought in eastern North America.  Two of them were:

On June 19, 1610 the battle of Sorel began and continued intermittently for almost a century, and ended with the Great Peace of Montreal in 1701. It pitted the nations of the Iroquois confederation, led by the dominant Mohawks, against the Algonquian people of the Great Lakes region.  They were supported by the Kingdom of France.   Actually, the first deliberate battle in 1609 was fought at Champlain’s initiative. William Brandon, in his book, The American Heritage Book of Indians (1984), wrote that Champlain is said to have written, “I had come with no other intention than to make war.”  Unfortunately, this battle created 150-years of mistrust that diminished any chances that French-Iroquois alliances would be durable and long-lived.

Another was the Lachine Massacre (present-day Montreal, Quebec) on the morning of August 5, 1689. 1,500 Mohawk warriors attacked 375 inhabitants.  The event was precipitated by the Iroquois who wanted to avenge the 1,200,000 bushels of corn burned by the French.  But since they were unable to reach the food stores in Montreal, they kidnapped and killed the Lachine crop producers instead. 3 Mohawks and 72 French settlers were killed.  When one survivor reported to a local garrison, 4.8 km (3 miles) away, two hundred soldiers, along with 100 armed civilians and some soldiers from nearby, marched against the Iroquois.  Numerous attacks from both sides followed, but the two groups quickly realized the futility of their attempts to drive the other out.  The Montreal Treaty of 1701, concluded with the Iroquois promising to remain neutral in case of war between the French and English.

Map of King William's War.

Map of King William’s War.

Another major war of the 17th century, besides the Beaver War,  was King William’s War, from 1688 to 1697.  It was also known as the Second Indian War, Father Baudoin’s War, as well as Castin’s War. This war had many battles.  To offer a sense of the war, here is one of many battles in that war.

At Siege of Pemaquid, in 1696, New France and the tribes of the Wabanaki Confederacy, led by St. Castine and Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, returned and fought a naval battle in the Bay of Fundy before moving on to raid Pemaquid (Maine). After the siege, d’Iberville led a force of 124 Canadians, Acadians, Mi’kmaq and Abanakis in the Avalon Peninsula Campaign. They destroyed almost every English settlement in Newfoundland, over 100 English were killed, many times that number captured, and almost 500 deported to England or France.

In retaliation, Church (Colonel Benjamin Church is considered to be the father of American ranging. He was the captain of the first Ranger force in America) went on his fourth expedition to Acadia and carried out a retaliatory raid against Acadian communities on the Isthmus of Chignecto and Fort Nashwack (now Fredericton, New Brunswick), which was then the capital of Acadia.  He led his troops personally in killing inhabitants of Chignecto, looting their household goods, burning their houses and slaughtering the livestock.

My next post will cover the 18th century.




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Samuel de Champlain’s General Maps of New France

Champlain’s maps and more! Great blog, too, btw! – tk

Library and Archives Canada Blog

In the fall of 1612, Samuel de Champlain had an engraving of his first detailed map of New France made in Paris. The map contained new geographic information, based on his own explorations from 1603 onward. The site of Montreal is clearly identified. Using information obtained from Aboriginal peoples, he was able to include previously uncharted areas, such as Lake Ontario and Niagara Falls. He also made use of other maps to depict certain regions, including Newfoundland. Although the engraving was made in 1612, the map was not published until the following year as an appendix to Voyages, Champlain’s 1613 account of his journeys.

While back in France in the summer of 1613, Champlain had an engraving made of a second version of a general map that he had begun the previous year, which he also published in his 1613 book. In that map, he incorporated his most recent…

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Posted by on October 18, 2013 in Canadian-related Links, postaday, Reblogged


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He Could Hardly Believe His Eyes

Engraving after a 1609 drawing by Champlain of...

Engraving after a 1609 drawing by Champlain of an Indian battle near Ticonderoga (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec in 1608 he wanted to explore inland.  In order to do this he had to be on friendly terms with the Montagnais Indians in the Montreal area, and their allies, the Algonquins and Hurons farther inland.  This meant joining those three tribes in their wars against the Iroquois.  It  was a decision that cost France dearly in years to come as the Iroquois were far better fighters.

Champlain made a big hit with his Indian allies in 1609 when he accompanies them to what is now Crown Point, Lake Champlain, and used firearms on the Iroquois for the first  time.  He even drew a picture of the scene.  His Indians won a great victory over the dreaded Iroquois and Champlain was “in” solidly.  The trouble was that his Indians wanted repeat performances, and arranged a really big campaign for 1615.  When he returned from a trip to France they met him at Tadoussac, and urged him to go to the Huron country between Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay.  He would lead 2,500 Hurons in an invasion of Iroquois country.

Champlain was delighted to have the opportunity to explore so far and arrived at the chief Huron village of Cahiagué (now Hawkestone) in September.  He had travelled up the Ottawa River to the Mattawa, and then on to Lake Nipissing.  From there he turned south until he came to a body of water so large that he could hardly believe his eyes.  He called it Mer Douce, or Freshwater Sea.  It was Georgian Bay.

The plan was to attack the Onondagas, and wipe them out.  The Hurons were confident that they could do it with the help of Champlain and his men, armed with guns.  The attack on October 10, 1615, was a failure.  The Indians had no leader of their own and could not be controlled.  They were so overconfident that they would not travel quietly, and the Iroquois at Onondaga knew they were coming.  They would not use their usual shields when they attacked and the Iroquois mowed them down with their arrows.  Champlain and his men used their guns, but the Onondagas were brave and accepted their losses.  The battle was over in three hours.  Champlain was wounded, having been hit in the leg by an arrow, and had to be carried away.  The Hurons were supposed to take the French back to Quebec, but they refused to do so.  Champlain had to spend the winter at Cahiagué.  It was an uncomfortable, sometimes disgusting experience, but Champlain learned a great deal about Indian lore during the winter months, and wrote a book about his sojourn there.

To read more about today’s post, I suggest going to the Ontario Heritage Trust, and the Wyandot Nation of Kansas, as well as the “Samuel de Champlain,” The Biography Channel website, and finally the Virtual Museum Canada.


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“I Don’t Thirst After the Blood of the Garrison …”

French attack St. John's Newfoundland 1762

French attack St. John’s Newfoundland 1762 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two cities in Canada share the distinction of being real “war veterans”:  St. John’s, and Quebec.  They have been bombarded, besieged and bothered more than any others.  Quebec was captured only twice, by the Kirke brothers in 1629 when Champlain was out of supplies, and by Wolfe in 1759.  It withstood heavy attacks by General Lévis in 1760, and by the Americans under Arnold and Montgomery in 1775.  There was also an attack by a British force from New England in 1690, but Governor Frontenac repulsed it easily.

St. John’s was raided by the Dutch, but the worst attacks were by the French, who had a base in Placentia.  Iberville took it in 1696 (see my May 19 post: Iberville is Ordered to Hudson Bay ) and destroyed the fort and settlement.  The French attacked again under Subercase in 1705 and under St. Ovide de Brouillion in 1708.  Once again St. John’s was destroyed.

The last attack by the French was in 1762 when St. John’s was captured by d’Haussonville.  This was a tactical move.  France knew that the Seven Years’ War was ending, and felt that by capturing Newfoundland it would be in a better position to bargain at the peace table.  D’Haussonville was sent from France with four ships which eluded British warships outside Brest in a thick fog.  He reached the Bay of Bulls on June 24, and then marched to St. John’s, which he captured.

The British struck back as soon as possible.  Colonel William Amherst was sent from New York, and a fleet under Lord Colville sailed from Britain to deal with the four French warships at St. John’s.  The French position was strong but Amherst captured it easily after a three-day march from Torbay.  The attack amounted to a series of letters.  Amherst wrote to d’Haussonville urging him to surrender.  D’Haussonville replied that he would not surrender until he had no more powder to fire.  Amherst replied that if d’Haussonville blew up the fort when he left it, every man in the garrison would be put to the sword.  After another exchange of letters, Amherst wrote:   “I don’t thirst after the blood of the garrison, but you must determine quickly or expect the consequences.”  D’Haussonville then surrendered quietly on September 18, 1762.

To learn more about today’s post, I suggest visiting British Battles, and The Rooms, and then Newfoundland Grand Banks.


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Little Giant

English: 'Buffalo Hunt on the Southwestern Pra...

‘Buffalo Hunt on the Southwestern Prairies’, oil on canvas painting by John Mix Stanley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was not until 1926 that historians could be certain that Henry Kelsey really did reach as far west as Saskatchewan in 1691.  He was an employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company and his career was distorted by witnesses who criticized the company during a parliamentary investigation in 1749.  The story of his journey to Western Canada came to light in 1926 when his diary was found in the library of Castle Dodds, at Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland.

The Hudson’s Bay Company was granted its charter in 1670 on the understanding that it would explore the enormous territory under its control, and try to find the Northwest Passage.  Kelsey, although only twenty years old, was working at the Hudson’s Bay Company post at Fort Nelson, Hudson Bay.  He volunteered to go with a party of Stone Indians to their hunting grounds, and left with them on June 12, 1690.

Many of the great explorers, Cartier, Champlain, Mackenzie, Fraser, and Thompson kept diaries.  Fortunately Kelsey did too, but  much of his writing was in poor verse.  He described his departure:

Then up ye River I with heavy heart
Did Take my way & from all English part
To live among ye natives of this place
If God permits me for one two years space.

Kelsey’s writings are entertaining but do not give a clear account of where he went.  It is known now that he reached The Pas, which he named Deering’s Point after a director of the company.  He was the first white man to see the Prairies, musk oxen, and a buffalo hunt; he actually took part in a buffalo hunt on August 23, 1691.

Kelsey was given the name Mis Top Ashish by the Indians.  It meant Little Giant because he saved an Assiniboine Indian in a fight with two fierce grizzly bears.

Before any other white man penetrated the Prairies (La Vérendrye and his sons did so in 1738), Kelsey had spent nearly forty years on Hudson Bay, including the two years exploring the interior.  He was captured by Iberville in 1694 when the great French-Canadian military leader attacked York Factory.

For more about today’s post, I suggest going to Dictionary of Canadian Biography to learn about the man, and the Manitoba Historical History with more of his diary is revealed. And lastly, a site I just found, the Encyclopedia of the Great Plains.



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A Marvellous Sight!

Replica of Champlain's habitation at the Port-...

Replica of Champlain’s habitation at the Port-Royal National Historic Site of Canada, Nova-Scotia, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


One of the happiest meetings in Canadian history occurred off the shore of Nova Scotia on July 27, 1606.  De Monts, Champlain and party had spent their first winter in Canada on Dochet Island in the St. Croix River, not far from the wealthy summer resort of St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick.  Dochet Island were unsatisfactory as a base, so the party moved to Port Royal, now Annapolis Royal, in Nova Scotia, where they spent the winter of 1605.

This was a pleasant experience.  The winter was mild, and Champlain directed the building of houses surrounded by a ditch that carried running water.  He even designed two reservoirs, — one of fresh water to hold trout, and the other, salt water for fish from the sea.  There was a safe harbor big enough to hold 2,000 ships!

De Monts had returned to France, seeking to have his monopoly renewed by Henry IV.  He left instructions that if he had not returned by July 16, the colony was to be abandoned and the settlers were to return to France.  As it happened, Henry IV would not renew De Mont’s monopoly.  It was a sad day for the Port Royal colonists when July 16 came, heralding no ship from France.  They loaded their supplies into small P, the only boats they possessed, and sailed along the south shore, hoping to find fishing vessels that would take them back to France.

De Monts never saw his colony again, but the Sieur de Poutrincourt had managed to buy the rights to Port Royal.  On July 24, as his sip Jonas was sailing along the south shore of Nova Scotia, it sighted the pinnaces for Port Royal.  The colonists were told the good news and returned to Port Royal with the Jonas.  On July 27, the entire group gathered at the first permanent French colony in Canada, described by Mark Lescarbot, a young historian in Poutrincourt’s Party, as “a marvellous sight.”  The future of New France seemed to be assured. (see my May 11 post, Order of the Good Cheer)

To read more about today’s post, I can suggest a few sites to visit. For instance, there’s The History of Nova Scotia, and the Acandian History (good place for genealogy, too). Another good read is to be found at Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

And finally, if you have the time, you can read the complete book History of the County of Annapolis : including old Port Royal and Acadia : with memoirs of its representatives in the provincial parliament, and biographical and genealogical sketches of its early English settlers and their families (1897) – very interesting reading!


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