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Not Cowboys & Indians, Part 3

So for the 3rd post in the Not Cowboys & Indians series, I will focus on the 18th century. I cannot, of course, cover all the battles, but I hope to offer you a view of what it was like in Canada at the time.

Queen Anne's War

A map depicting the state of European occupation of North America at the start of Queen Anne’s War, as the North American theatre of the War of the Spanish Succession is known.

The first war in the 18th century was Queen Anne’s War, also known as the Third Indian War, and it took place between 1702 and 1713. The main issue was the rivalry between France and England in America, which had been left unresolved by the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697.

The War was primarily fought in Europe, in France and England, and later Great Britain. The war also involved many Native tribes allied with each nation.

The war was fought on three fronts:

1. Spanish Florida and the English Province of Carolina were each attacked from the other, and the English engaged the French at Mobile (Alabama), involving allied Indians on both sides. This war had the effect of nearly wiping out the Indian population of Spanish Florida, including parts of present-day southern Georgia, and destroying Spain’s network of missions in the area.

2. The English colonies of New England fought with French and Indian forces based in Acadia and Canada. Quebec City was repeatedly targeted by British expeditions, and the Acadian capital (Port Royal) was taken in 1710. The French and Wabanaki Confederacy fought the New Englanders’ expansion into Acadia.

3. In Newfoundland, English colonists based at St. John’s, disputed control of the island with the French based at Plaisance. Most of the conflict consisted of economically destructive raids against the other side’s settlements. The French successfully captured St. John’s in 1709, but the British quickly reoccupied it after the French abandoned it.

Broad conclusion of this war was: the British received Acadia (now Nova Scotia), Newfoundland and fur trading posts in the Hudson Bay area. France managed to keep several islands in the Saint Lawrence River and Cape Breton Island at the north-eastern end of Nova Scotia.

There were casualties on both sides:
* Spain (50-60); French Indian allies (50); Spanish Indian allies (many).
* Great Britain (900); New England (200); Carolina (150); Indian allies (light).

The 18th century had many other wars in North America. A few are:

1722 – 1725: Father Rale’s War (a series of battles between New England and the Wabanaki Confederacy (specifically the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Abenaki), who were allied with New France.

1744 – 1748: King George’s War (It took place primarily in the British provinces of New York, Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, and Nova Scotia. Its most significant action was an expedition organized by Massachusetts Governor William Shirley that besieged and ultimately captured the French fortress of Louisbourg, on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, in 1745.)

1749 – 1755: Father Le Loutre’s War. The war began with the British unilaterally establishing Halifax, which was a violation of an earlier treaty with the Mi’kmaq, signed after Father Rale’s War. With the fall of Beausejour, Le Loutre was imprisoned and the Acadian expulsion began. The British forces rounded up French settlers and deported the Acadians and burned their villages at Chignecto to prevent their return. The Acadian Exodus from Nova Scotia during the war spared most of the Acadians who joined it – particularly those who went to Ile St. Jean and Ile Royal – from the British deportation of the Acadians in 1755.

1754 – 1763: Seven Years’ War. The war was fought mostly between the colonies of British America and New France, with both sides supported by military units from their parent countries of Great Britain and France, who declared war on each other in 1756.

1763 – 1766: Pontiac’s War. This war was launched by a loose confederation of Native American tribes, from the Great Lakes region, the Illinois Country, and Ohio Country. More warriors from many tribes joined the uprising. They wished to drive British soldiers and settlers out of the region. The war is named after the Ottawa leader Pontiac, the most prominent of many native leaders in the conflict.

1775 – 1776: the American Revolutionary War. The war initially began in the resistance of many Americans to taxes imposed by the British parliament, which they held to be unlawful. In the end, the Americans received their independence, and British recognition of the United States of America. The territorial changes at the end of the war were that Britain lost the area east of Mississippi River and south of Great Lakes & St. Lawrence River to independent United States & to Spain; Spain gained East Florida, West Florida and Minorca; Britain ceded Tobago and Senegal to France. And the Dutch Republic ceded Negapatnam to Britain.

1789, the Nootka Crisis. The Pacific Northwest was little explored by European ships before the mid-18th century. But by the end of the century, several nations were vying for control of the region, including Britain, Spain, Russia, and the United States.

1792, the destruction of Opitsaht. American merchant and maritime fur trader Captain Robert Gray built the establishment on Meares Island in (present day British Columbia). In 1792, a newly constructed ship was launched, making it the first American-built vessel in the Pacific Northwest. Just before launching the ship, the fort was abandoned. However, Gray desired to leave nothing of use to the natives because of a foiled attack against his men conceived by the Tla-o-qui-aht people. So he ordered the destruction of 200 homes in the local village of Opitsaht. This is known in part because of entry in his own ship’s log, admitting he let his passions go too far.

1796, the Newfoundland expedition. This war was a series of fleet manoeuvres and amphibious landings in the coasts of Newfoundland, Labrador and Saint Pierre and Miquelon, carried out by the joint French and Spanish fleets against the British in North America. When they landed at Bay Bulls, they found that there wasn’t much of a force there to protect Newfoundland. And so they took dozens of British prisoners. The combined fleet then sailed toward Saint Pierre and Miquelon, which were held by the British at that time. The combined expedition destroyed over 100 fishing vessels from the Newfoundland fleet and burned fishing stations along the Newfoundland coast, including the base of the English garrison at Placentia Bay.

In my next post in this series, I will focus on the 19th century.


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… The Right To Wear About His Neck an Orange Tawney Ribbon

King James I of England

King James I of England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the greatest gifts in the history of the world was made by King James I of England in 1621.  He gave William Alexander territory now known as Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Maine, and part of Quebec!

Alexander was tutor to King James’ son, Prince Henry, and had some reputation as a poet.  One of his works was Doomes-Day, eleven thousand lines which were very dull.  King James, who authorized the revision of the Bible used by most Protestant churches today, wanted to rewrite the Psalms himself, in metric form.  Alexander helped him, for the poetry tutor had an unusually good eye for business.  The continent of America already contained a New England, New France, and New Spain; so he persuaded King James to give him territory that could be developed as New Scotland, or Nova Scotia.

Alexander became “Sir William” and was authorized to offer grants of land 3 X 6 miles along the sea coasts “to all such principal knights and esquires as will be pleased to be undertakers of the said plantation and who will promise to set forth six men, artificers or labourers, sufficiently armed, apparelled and victualled for two years.  Alexander was to “erect cities, appoint fairs, hold courts, grant lands and coin money.”  (He certainly would “coin money” if he owned that territory today!)

The knights and esquires were slow to take up the grants of land, however, so King James provided an added incentive on October 18, 1624, by creating an order called “Knights Baronet of Nova Scotia.”  Any man could be a “Baronet of Nova Scotia” if he went to live on his grant of land, or paid a sum to £150.  He would have the right to wear about his neck “an orange tawney ribbon from which shall hang pendants in an escutcheon agent a saltire azure with the arms of Scotland.”

The scheme never developed to any great extent, but there are descendants of the Baronets of Nova Scotia still alive today.  Headquarters of the order is in the castle of Clackmannanshire in Scotland.

To read more about today’s post, I suggest visiting the Electric Scotland, and the Fortescue, and the Roots Web, and finally the History of Nova Scotia.


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Acadian or Nova Scotian?

A portrait of colonial entrepreneur and first ...

A portrait of colonial entrepreneur and first governor of Nova Scotia Samuel Vetch (1668-1732). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It is sometimes  difficult to judge when to use “Acadia” and when to use “Nova Scotia.”  The best date is 1713 when the Treaty of Utrecht was signed.  Although France kept Cape Breton, the treaty gave all “Nova Scotia, or Acadia … to the Queen of Great Britain and to her crown forever.”

The change from Acadia to Nova Scotia was brought about by Samuel Vetch, a Scotsman, who became a successful trader in Boston.  His ambitions, however, went far beyond earning money; he wanted to drive Spain and France from the Continent, and make Queen Anne “sole Empress of the vast North American continent.”  Vetch went to London and persuaded the Government to give a fleet and troops to capture Acadia, and eventually Canada.  The New England merchants were keen to capture Acadia because Port Royal had become a base for privateers who were attacking their ships.  In 1708, they had captured or destroyed thirty-five vessels.  The next year one privateer left Port Royal and in twelve days captured four ships laden with wheat and corn.

The expedition was put in charge of another remarkable man, Colonel Francis Nicholson, who during his career served as Governor of Virginia, New York, Maryland, and Carolina.  The British force arrived in Boston in July 1710, but did not sail into Port Royal Harbor until late in September.  The military force included a regiment of Royal Marines, and four battalions of troops from New England.  Vetch was adjutant-general, and was to become Governor of Acadia if the campaign were successful.

There were no more than 250 French soldiers to defend Port Royal, and they were there only because Subercase, the commander of the fort, had paid them with money he had borrowed; France had sent to supplies for two years.  Subercase was a stubborn fighter, but his small force was no match for Nicholson’s 2,000 men.  He surrendered on October 12, 1710, and the French flag was replaced by the British.  Port Royal was renamed Annapolis Royal in honour of the Queen, and from then on Nova Scotia, except for Cape Breton, would belong to Britain.


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Love Can Be Blind

Nelson wounded during the battle of Santa Cruz...

Nelson wounded during the battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife; 1806 painting by Richard Westall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Prince William, later King William IV, visited Canada as a frigate captain and like many sailors in those days, had a girl in every port.  One of his friends, and fellow-captain of a frigate, was Horatio Nelson.  He had a girl in one Canadian port, Quebec, and there is a romantic but sad story about them.

During the summer of 1782, Nelson was attacking American privateers along the coasts of Nova Scotia and Cape Cod.  His crew began to suffer from scurvy, so Nelson took his ship Albermarle to Quebec for a refit in September.  This is one of the most delightful months of the year along the St. Lawrence, with the maple leaves changing to red and gold, and Nelson was enchanted.  He referred to “fair Canada” in letters home.

Nelson was in Quebec for most of September and fell in love with Mary Simpson, the daughter of the provost-marshal of the garrison.  She was only sixteen years old, but Nelson was determined to marry her.  Prince William had predicted earlier that Nelson was going to do great things, even though he was probably the youngest captain in the Royal Navy.  Nelson’s Quebec friends agreed, and felt that marriage to an obscure Canadian girl would hurt his career.  They tried to talk him out of it and there were some tempestuous scenes.  There is even a story, unverified, that Nelson had to be tricked into sailing from Quebec.

It was mid-October before he left.  He never returned to Canada, or Mary Simpson, again.  Peace talks had already begun, and the British evacuated New York in May 1783.  The war against the United States ended in September, but Britain was also fighting France, Spain, and Holland so there was plenty of action to occupy Horatio Nelson.

“To leave off action”? Well, damn me if I do! You know, Foley, I have only one eye,— I have a right to be blind sometimes . . . I really do not see the signal!” – At the battle of Copenhagen, Ignoring Admiral Parker’s signal to retreat, holding his telescope up to his blind eye, and proceeding to victory against the Danish fleet. (2 April 1801).

The above quote by Nelson was accessed at Wiki Quote – an incredible archives of quotes from just about anyone of note!

To learn more about Horatio Nelson and today’s post, I would suggest visiting the BBC History, and the Royal Navy National Museum. As a wonderful treat I just found, you may enjoy videos from Manitime GB on You Tube.


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Conspiracy Within The Ranks!

Tadoussac in about 1612, illustrated by Samuel...

Tadoussac in about 1612, illustrated by Samuel de Champlain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was de Monts who fitted out the expedition that was responsible for the founding of Quebec on July 3, 1608.  There were three ships:  one went to Port Royal to revive the original community, while Champlain took the other two to Quebec.  On the way up the St. Lawrence, they had to fight their way past Basque traders at Tadoussac.

Champlain had brought competent workmen and, taking advantage of the abundant timber, they built a habitation of which Champlain left a drawing.  The three wooden buildings, each of two stories, with a gallery around the second storey, were protected by a ditch, 15 feet wide and 6 feet deep   Champlain mounted a cannon as a further safeguard because the Indians heard the news of his arrival through their uncanny “woodlands telegraph,” and came in thousands to see what was going on.  Perhaps they weren’t so different from the “sidewalk superintendents” who like to watch new buildings going up today.

Champlain’s greatest danger at that time was within his own ranks.  While he was working on a garden, a river pilot asked to speak to him alone.  He told Champlain that there was a conspiracy to end the French fur trading monopoly.  The plan was to sound an alarm at night and shoot Champlain when he appeared.   Then Quebec would be handed over to the Basques or to Spain.

Champlain learned who the leaders of the conspiracy were and was amazed to find that even his personal attendant was involved.  He invited the conspirators to a festival at which he served wine.  He then had them seized and put on trial.  Three men were sent back to France to face trial there, and were later executed.  Another man, locksmith Duval, was hanged at Quebec.  His head was exhibited on a pole as a warning to others who might get ideas.

In 1908 there was a stirring ceremony at Quebec celebrating the tri-centennial anniversary of its founding.  Chief among the  visitors was the heir to the throne, who later became King George V.  British and American warships, decorated by day and lit by night, added to the majesty of the scene, dominated by the stone cliff and Citadel of Canada’s oldest city.

So, no doubt you want to read more about Samuel de Champlain and today’s post. As such, I have a few sites I recommend you visit. Start with La Ville de Québec, and then CBC Montreal, and then another would be at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. To learn more about the conspiracy to assassinate Champlain, I suggest going to visit Place Royale Quebec, and then the Ontario Heritage Trust, and lastly, a website I just found, is The Simpson Shack (interesting site!)


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Americans Plan to Acquire Canada!

Benjamin Franklin's celebrity like status in F...

Benjamin Franklin’s celebrity like status in France helped win French support for the United States during the American Revolutionary War. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


There have been a number of occasions when the United States nearly took possession of Canada.  One of them was in 1782 when negotiations were taking place to end the American Revolutionary War.

Britain had fought France and Spain in Europe, as well as the Americans overseas, and was greatly tempted to end the war as quickly as possible.  The United States had obtained a secret document, prepared by the French ambassador in Washington, stating that France would oppose American claims to fishing rights in Canadian waters.  It was also clear that Spain, which owned Florida and the lands west of the Mississippi, would oppose American expansion to the south and west.  The Americans thus had every reason to suspect the future intentions of their allies, and were willing to close a separate peace with Britain.

Benjamin Franklin, American ambassador in Paris, was told to try to make a deal with Britain as quickly as possible.  Lord Shelburne, then Colonial Secretary, sent Richard Oswald to Paris to negotiate with Franklin.  Oswald did not even know the geography of North America, and was no match for a wily trader like Franklin, who persuaded him that the surrender of Canada was a logical part of the peace plan.  Oswald sent the proposal to Shelburne, who is believed to have shown it to the King, but kept it from the members of the cabinet.

Fortunately, Charles Fox who was Secretary for Foreign Affairs, sent his own agent to Paris on May 8 to see what was going on.  He learned about the proposal to give up Canada and rushed the information back to Fox.  There was a row in the cabinet during which Prime Minister Rockingham died, and Shelburne became Prime Minister.  He immediately got rid of Fox and it looked as though the Canada deal would go through.

Just then, Britain received some favourable news from Admiral Rodney in the West Indies: he had beaten the French fleet there.  He wrote:  “In two years I have taken two Spanish, one French, and one Dutch admiral.”  This, and the obvious conflict between the United States, France and Spain, strengthened Britain’s hand at the conference table.  When the Treaty of Paris was finally signed in September 1783, Canada remained a British possession.

Interesting, eh? You want to read more than just what’s written in today’s post? Okay. Here are a few places to get you started. There’s the New World Encyclopedia for a good article; and a timeline at Son of the South; another well written timeline is at The History Place; another interesting article can be found at American-Acadian; The U.S. Government Archives has a collection of reports on their Records of Boundary and Claims Commissions and Arbitrations‘s page.

If you are like me, it’s also nice to hold a book. A few good books to check out are Battles of the Revolutionary War, and Redcoats and Rebels: The American Revolution Through British Eyes, and finally Iron Tears: America’s Battle for Freedom, Britain’s Quagmire: 1775-1783.

Finally, even though it’s not exactly related to today’s story, you might want to visit the following site for its history posts: The Battle (


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The Day Louisiana Was Sold To The U.S.

Napoleon Crossing the Alps

Napoleon Crossing the Alps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One story that isn’t well-known is that Napoleon planned to recapture Canada for France.  He made himself dictator of France in 1799, on the pretext of “saving the Revolution,” but then went on to conquer most of Europe.

Napoleon’s plan to recapture Canada was inspired by Sir Alexander Mackenzie, who in 1793 became the first man to cross the continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific.  Mackenzie wrote a book about his trip which Napoleon had translated into French to help him plan his campaign.

His first step was to regain Louisiana.  France had owned the Mississippi Valley all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, but had handed over this territory to Spain before signing the Treaty of Paris in 1763 so that Britain would not acquire it.

In 1800, Napoleon regained Louisiana from Spain as part of the secret treaty of San Ildefonso.  He planned to move his troops up the Mississippi from the Gulf of Mexico.  In order to do this, he sent a large navy and army to recapture the former French colony of Haiti, which had been lost in a rebellion led by a mighty black warrior, Toussaint L’Ouverture.

Français : Le général Toussaint Louverture.

Le général Toussaint Louverture. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This was to be the base for the attack up the Mississippi, led by Napoleon’s favourite general, Count Bernadotte. His campaign was defeated by the same elements that beat the Scotsmen who wanted to set up a colony in Panama and make it New Scotland.  The natives and the mosquitoes were too fierce.    They killed 60,000 French troops in two years!

In the meantime, the British fleet had moved powerful units to the West Indies, and Napoleon knew that it would be too risky to try to move an army to the mouth of the Mississippi.  He abandoned the plan to recapture Canada, and sold Louisiana on April 30, 1803, to the United States for $27 million between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains. Spain still retained claims on the Pacific coast as far north as Oregon, which had an important bearing on the future development of British Columbia.

Want to read more about what became known as the Louisiana Purchase? I suggest National Archives & Records Administration for the transcripts, and a site I just found is that you just have to check out! Oh, and don’t forget Wikipedia


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