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Pioneers in Canada Johnston, Harry, 1858-1927 1923

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  ?"• AUTHORITATIVE
AND INTERESTING
BOOKS
Fully illustrated
The World of Animal Life. By the Rev.
Fred. Smith.
Romances of the Wild. By H. Mortimer
Batten. Lavishly illustrated by Warwick Reynolds.
The Stories of the Months and Days*
By R. C. Couzens.
The Outdoor Year.   By W. J. Claxton.
The Story of the Great War* A Concise
History of the European War. By
Donald A. Mackenzie.
The Mastery of the Air. A Full Account
of Aviation, Aeroplanes, and Zeppelins.    By William J. Claxton.
Triumphs of Invention. With 32 illustrations in black-and-white. An interesting and popular account of the
progress of invention in all departments.     By Cyril Hall.
Conquests of Engineering. With 32 full-
page black-and-white illustrations and
a map.    By Cyril Hall.
Treasures of the Earth* An instructive
account of the extraordinary richness
and importance of the mineral substances of the earth.    By Cyril Hall.
Conquests of the Sea. The romantic story
of man's attempt to conquer the waves.
By Cyril Hall.
Wood and what We Make of It. With
32 full-page black-and-white illustrations and text cuts.     By Cyril Hall.
Wonders of Transport* With 32 full-page
black-and-white illustrations. By Cyril
Hall.
The Age of Machinery* Large Crown
8vo.   Illustrated.   By Alex. R. Home.
The British Navy Book* Illustrated from
drawings by C. M. Padday and others,
and from photographs. By Lt.-Col.
Field.
The British Army Book* Illustrated
by 34 plates.     By Lt. -Col. Field.
BLACKIE AND SON LIMITED
LONDON  GLASGOW BOMBAY
'/na/
y0,ou€^n^a/   PIONEERS IN CANADA   c 312
TYPE OF SHIP SAILED  IN  BY THE ENGLISH OR  FRENCH  PIONEERS
IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY PIONEERS  IN
CANADA  1
By SIR HARRY JOHNSTON
G.C.M.G., K.C.B.
WITH EIGHT COLOURED ILLUSTRATIONS
BY E.  WALLCOUSINS
BLACKIE AND  SON  LIMITED
LONDON GLASGOW BOMBAY  PREFACE
I have been asked to write a series of works which
should deal with "real adventures", in parts of the
world either wild and uncontrolled by any civilized
government, or at any rate regions full of dangers,
of wonderful discoveries; in which the daring and
heroism of white men (and sometimes ot white
women) stood out clearly against backgrounds of
unfamiliar landscapes, peopled with strange nations,
savage tribes, dangerous beasts, or wonderful birds.
These books would again and again illustrate the
first coming of the white race into regions inhabited
by people of a different type, with brown, black, or
yellow skins; how the European was received, and
how he treated these races of the soil which gradually came under his rule owing to his superior
knowledge, weapons, wealth, or powers of persuasion. The books were to tell the plain truth,
even if here and there they showed the white man
to have behaved badly, or if they revealed the fact
that the American Indian, the Negro, the Malay,
the black Australian was sometimes cruel and
treacherous.
A request thus framed was almost equivalent Prefaa
to asking me to write stories of those pioneers who
founded the British Empire; in any case, the first
volumes of this series do relate the adventures of
those who created the greater part of the British
Dominions beyond the Seas, by their perilous explorations of unknown lands and waters. In many
instances the travellers were all unconscious of their
destinies, of the results which would arise from
their actions. In some cases they would have
bitterly railed at Fate had they known that the
result of their splendid efforts was to be the enlargement of an empire under the British flag.
Perhaps if they could know by now that we are
striving under that flag to be just and generous to
all types of men, and not to use our empire solely
for the benefit of English-speaking men and women,
the French who founded the Canadian nation, the
Germans and Dutch who helped to create British
Africa, Malaysia, and Australia, the Spaniards who
preceded us in the West Indies, and the Portuguese
in West, Central, and East Africa, in Newfoundland
and Ceylon, might—if they have any consciousness
or care for things in this world—be not so sorry
after all that we are reaping where they sowed.
It is (as you will see) impossible to tell the tale
of these early days in the British Dominions beyond
the Seas, without describing here and there the
adventures of men of enterprise and daring who
were not of our own nationality. The majority,
nevertheless, were of British stock; that is to saty,
they were English, Welsh, Scots, Irish, perhaps
here and there a Channel Islander and a Manxman: Preface 7
or Nova Scotians, Canadians, and New Englanders.
The bulk of them were good fellows, a few were
saints, a few were ruffians with redeeming features.
Sometimes they were common men who blundered
into great discoveries which will for ever preserve
their names from perishing; occasionally they were
men of Fate, predestined, one might say, to change
the history of the world by their revelations of new
peoples, new lands, new rivers, new lakes, snow
mountains, and gold mines. Here and there is a
martyr like Marquette, or Livingstone, or Gordon,
dying for the cause of a race not his own. And
others again are mere boys, whose adventures come
to them because they are adventurous, and whose
feats of arms, escapes, perils, and successes are
quite as wonderful as those attributed to the juvenile
heroes of Marryat, Stevenson, and the author of
The Swiss Family Robinson.
I have tried, in describing these adventures, to
give my readers some idea of the scenery, animals,
and vegetation of the new lands through which
these pioneers passed on their great and small
purposes; as well as of the people, native to the
soil, with whom they came in contact. And in
treating of these subjects I have thought it best
to give the scientific names of the plant or animal
which was of importance in my story, so that any
of my readers who were really interested in natural
history could at once ascertain for themselves the
exact type alluded to, and, if they wished, look it
up in a museum, a garden, or a natural history book.
I hope this attempt at scientific accuracy will not s
Prefi
ace
frighten away readers young and old; and, if you
can have patience with the author, you will, by
reading this series of books on the great pioneers
of British West Africa, Canada, Malaysia, West
Indies, South Africa, and Australasia, get a clear
idea of how the British Colonial Empire came to
be founded.
You will find that I have often tried to tell the
story in the words of the pioneers, but in these
quotations I have adopted the modern spelling,
not only in my transcript of the English original
or translation, but also in the place and tribal
names, so as not to puzzle or delay the reader.
Otherwise, if you were to look out some of the
geographical names of the old writers, you might
not be able to recognize them on the modern atlas.
The pronunciation of this modern geographical
spelling is very simple and plear: the vowels are
pronounced a = ah, e = eh, i ^= ee, o — o, 6 = oh,
# = aw, o = u in 'hurt', and u = oo, as in German, Italian, or most other European languages;
and the consonants as in English.
H. H. JOHNSTON. CONTENTS
Chap. Page
I. The White Man's Discovery of North America - 15
II. Jacques Cartier -------- 29
III. Elizabethan Pioneers in North America 45
IV. Champlain and the Foundation of Canada 53
V. After Champlain: from Montreal to the Mississippi  -      -      -      -  88
VI. The Geographical Conditions of the Canadian
Dominion --------- 120
VII. The Amerindians and Eskimo: the Aborigines of
British North America ------ 153
VIII. The Hudson Bay Explorers and the British Conquest of all Canada     ------ 202
IX. The Pioneers from Montreal: Alexander Henry
the Elder        -------- 211
X. Samuel Hearne -------- 248
XI. Alexander Mackenzie's Journeys    -      -      -      - 277
XII. Mackenzie's Successors    ---... 313
9  LIST  OF   ILLUSTRATIONS
COLOURED  PLATES
Page
Type of Ship sailed in by the English or French Pioneers
in the Sixteenth Century        - Frontispiece
Icebergs and Polar Bears      --.----50
Indians hunting Bison   -       -       -       -       -       -       -       -102
Indians lying in wait for Moose   ------    140
Caribou swimming a River -       -       -       -       -       -       -172
Great Auks, Gannets, Puffins, and Guillemots    -       -       -    198
Scene on Canadian River: Wild Swans flying up, disturbed
by Bear    ----------   230
Big-horned Sheep of Rocky Mountains        - 282
BLACK-AND-WHITE  ILLUSTRATIONS
Jacques Cartier       ---------32
Samuel de Champlain and Alexander Henry the Elder      - 84
An Amerindian Type of British Columbia   -       -       -       - 162
Lake Louise, the Rocky Mountains     ----- 250
Samuel Hearne and Alexander Mackenzie   -       -       -       - 2^6
The Upper Waters of the Fraser River       - 290
The Kootenay or Head Stream of the Columbia River      - 316
A Hunter's " Shack" in British Columbia: After a successful
Shoot of Blue Grouse      ------- 322
Map of Canada      -----__.
Map of Eastern Canada and Newfoundland
Map of Part of the Coast Region of British Columbia
11
122
206
3M  List of the Chief Authorities
FROM WHOM THE PRINCIPAL FACTS AND
INCIDENTS   OF   THIS   BOOK   HAVE   BEEN
DERIVED, IN ADDITION TO THE AUTHOR'S
OWN RESEARCHES AND EXPERIENCES, AND
^INFORMATION    SUPPLIED    BY    PROFESSOR
R. RAMSAY WRIGHT, OF TORONTO
UNIVERSITY
The Saint Lawrence Basin. By Dr. S. E. Dawson.
London.    1905.    Lawrence & Bullen.
Relation Origin ale du Voyage de Jacques Cartier au
Canada en 1534; Documents inedits, &c. Publies par
H. Michelant et A. Rame.   Paris.   Librairie Tross.    1867.
Voyage de Jacques Cartier au Canada en 1534, &c. Par
H. Michelant.    Paris.    1865.
Champlain's Voyages: The Publications of the Prince Society.
Boston.    1878.    Three volumes.
Voyage of Verrazano, &c. By Henry C. Murphy. New
York. 1875. (Also the Essay on the Journeys of Verrazano, by Alessandro Bacchiani, in the Bollettino della So-
cieta Geografica Italiana.    Rome.    November, 1909.)
Volume IX of the Proceedings and Transactions of the
Royal Society of Canada. (For the History of Cape
Breton and of the Beothiks of Newfoundland.)
The Search for the Western Sea. By Lawrence J. Burpee.
London.    Alston Rivers.    1908.
is *4
List of the Chief Authorities
Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in
New France, &c. Edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites.
Vol. LIX.    Cleveland, U.S.A.    Burrows Bros.    1900.
Travels and Explorations in Canada and the Indian
Territories between the years 1760 and 1776. By
Alexander Henry, Esq.    New York.    1809.
Voyages from Montreal on the River St. Lawrence
through the Continent of North America to the
Frozen and Pacific Oceans, in the years 1789 and
1793, &c. &c. By Alexander Mackenzie, Esq. London.
1801.
A Journey from Prince of Wales's Fort in Hudson's
Bay to the Northern Ocean, &c. By Samuel Hearne.
London.    1795.
Les Bourgeois de la Compagnie du Nord-Ouest. By
L. R. Masson.    Quebec.    1890.    Two volumes.
New Light on the Early History of the Greater North-
West: The Manuscript Journals of Alexander Henry, Jun.,
and of David Thompson. Edited by Elliott Coues.
Three Volumes.    New York.    Harper.    1897.
Sport and Travel in the Northland of Canada. By David
T. Hanbury.    London.    Edward Arnold.    1904.
Henry Hudson the Navigator, &c. By G. M. Asher.
London.    Hakluyt Society,    i860.
The Three Voyages of Martin Frobisher. By Rear-Admiral
Richard Collinson.    London.    Hakluyt Society.    1867.
The Voyages and Works of John Davis the Navigator.
By Admiral Sir Albert Hastings Markham. London.
Hakluyt Society.    1880.
The Voyages of William Baffin, 1612-1622. By Sir
Clements R. Markham.    London.    1881.
fflSS ^
CHAPTER I
The White Man's Discovery of North America
So far as our knowledge goes, it is almost a matter
of certainty that Man originated in the Old World—in
Asia possibly. Long after this wonderful event in the
Earth's history, when the human species was spread over
a good deal of Asia, Europe, and Africa, migration to
the American continents began in attempts to find new
feeding grounds and unoccupied areas for hunting and
fishing. How many thousands or hundreds of thousands
of years ago it was since the first men entered America
we do not yet know, any more than we can determine the
route by which they travelled from Asia. Curiously
enough, the oldest traces of man as yet discovered in the
New World are not only in South America, but in the
south-eastern parts of South America. Although the
most obvious recent land connection between the Old
and New Worlds is the Aleutian chain of islands connecting Kamschatka with Alaska, the ethnologist is
occasionally led to think by certain evidence that there
may, both earlier and later, have existed another way of
reaching western America from south-eastern Asia through
Pacific archipelagoes and islets now sunk below the sea.
In any ease it seems quite probable that men of Mongolian
or Polynesian type reached America on its western coasts
long before the European came from the north-east and
east, and that they were helped on this long journey by
touching at islands since submerged by earthquake shocks
or tidal waves.
15 i6
Pioneers in Canada
The aboriginal natives of North and South America
seem to be of entirely Asiatic origin; and such resemblances as there are between the North-American Indians
and the peoples of northern Europe do not arise (we
believe) from any ancient colonization of America from
western or northern Europe, but mainly from the fact
that the North-American Indians and the Eskimo (two
distinct types of people) are descended from the same
human stocks as the ancient populations of the northern
part of Europe and Asia.
It was^-we think—from the far north-west of Europe
that America was first visited by the true White man,
though there has been an ancient immigration of imperfect
"White" men (Ainu) from Kamschatka. Three or four
hundred years after the birth of Christ there were great
race movements in northern and central Europe, due to
an increase of population and insufficiency of food. Not
only did these white barbarians (though they were not as
barbarous as we were led to think by Greek and Roman
literature) invade southern Europe, North Africa, and Asia
Minor, but from the fourth century of the Christian era
onwards they began to cross over to England and Scotland. At the same time they took more complete possession of Scandinavia, driving north before their advance
the more primitive peoples like the Lapps and Finns,
who were allied to the stock from which arose both the
Eskimo and the Amerindian.1 All this time the Goths
and Scandinavians were either learning ideas of navigation from the Romans of the Mediterranean or the Greeks
of the Black Sea, or they were inventing for themselves.
1This is a convenient name for the race formerly called "American Indian".
They are not Indians (i.e. natives of India), and they are not the only Americans,
since there are now about 110,000,000 white Americans of European origin and
24,000,000 negroes and negroids. The total approximate "Amerindian" or aboriginal population of the New World at the present day is 16,000,000, of whom about
111,000 live in the Canadian Dominion, and 300,000 in the United States, the remainder id Central and South America.
(0 312) The White Man's Discovery        17
better ways of constructing ships; and although they propelled them mainly by oars, they used masts and sails as
well.1 Having got over the fear of the sea sufficiently to
reach the coasts of England and Scotland, the Hebrides,
Orkneys, and Shetlands, they became still more venturesome in their voyages from Norway, until they discovered
the Faroe Archipelago (which tradition says they found
inhabited by wild sheep), and then the large island of
Iceland, which had, however, already been reached and
settled by the northern Irish.
Iceland, though it lies so far to the north that it is
partly within the Arctic Circle, is, like Norway, Scotland,
and Ireland, affected by the Gulf Stream, so that considerable portions of it are quite habitable. It is not almost
entirely covered with ice, as Greenland is; in fact, Iceland
should be called Greenland (from the large extent of its
grassy pastures), and Greenland should be called Iceland.
Instead of this, however, the early Norwegian explorers
called these countries by the names they still bear.
The Norse rovers from Norway and the Hebrides
colonized Iceland from the year 850; and about a hundred
and thirty-six years afterwards, in their venturesome journeys in search of new lands, they reached the south-east
and south-west coasts of Greenland. Owing to the glacial
conditions and elevated character of this vast continental
island (more than 500,000 sq. miles in area)—for the whole
interior of Greenland rises abruptly from the sea-coast to
altitudes of from 5000 to 11,000 ft.—this discovery was of
small use to the early Norwegians or their Iceland colony.
After it was governed by the kingdom of Norway in the
thirteenth century, the Norse colonization of south-west
Greenland faded away under the attacks of the Eskimo,
1 It is doubtful whether actual masts and sails were known in America till the
coming of Europeans, though the ancient Peruvians are said to have used mat sails
in their canoes. But the northern Amerindians had got' as far as placing bushes or
branches of fir trees upright in their canoes to catch the force of the wind.
(0818) 2 i8
Pioneers in Canada
until it ceased completely in the fifteenth century. When
Denmark united herself with the kingdom of Norway in
1397, the Danish king became also the ruler of Iceland.
In the eighteenth century the Norwegian and Danish
settlements were re-established along the south-east and
south-west coasts of Greenland, mainly on account of the
value of the whale, seal, and cod fisheries in the seas
around this enormous frozen island; and all Greenland
is now regarded as a Danish possession.
But the adventurous Norsemen who first reached Greenland from Iceland attempted to push their investigations
farther to the south-west, in the hope of discovering more
habitable lands; and in this way it was supposed that their
voyages extended as far as Massachusetts and Rhode
Island, but in all probability they reached no farther than
Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. This portion of North
America they called " Vinland ", more from the abundance
of cranberries (vinbcer) on the open spaces than the few
vines to be found in the woods of Nova Scotia.1
This brings us down to the year 1008. The Icelandic
Norsemen then ceased their investigations of the North-
American Continent, and were too ignorant to realize the
value of their discoveries. Their colonies on the coasts of
Nova Scotia (" Vinland") and Newfoundland (" Estoti-
land") were attacked probably by Eskimos, at any rate
by a short, thick-set, yellow-skinned ugly people whom
the   Norsemen  called   % Skrasling ",2  who  overcame  the
1 The grapes and vines so often alluded to by the early explorers of North America
ripened, according to the species, between August and October. They belong to the
same genus— Vitis—as that of the grape vines of the Old World, but they were quite
distinct in species. Nowadays they are known as the Fox Grapes {Vitis vulpina),
the Frost Grape (V cordifolia), the V. cestivalis, the V. labruska, &c. The fruit of
the Fox Grape is dark purple, with a very dusky skin and a musky flavour. The
Frost Grape has a very small berry, which is black or leaden-blue when covered with
bloom. It is very acid to the taste, but from all these grapes it is easy to make a
delicious, refreshing drink. Champlain, however, says that the wild grapes were
often quite large in size, and his men found them delicious to eat.
2 Perhaps from the Eastern Eskimo national name Karalit. The White Man's Discovery 19
unfortunate settlers, murdered some, and carried off others
into the interior.
But about this period, when Europe was going through
that dismal era, the Dark Age which followed the downfall
of the Roman Empire of the west, various impulses were
already directing the attention of European adventurers
to the Western Ocean, the Atlantic. One cause was the
increased hold of Roman and Greek Christianity over the
peoples of Europe. These Churches imposed fasts either
for single days or for continuous periods. When people
fasted it meant that they were chiefly denied any form of
meat, and therefore must eat fish if they were not content
with oil, bread, or vegetables. So that there was an
enormous and increasing demand for fish, not only
amongst those fortunate people who lived by the seashore, and could get it fresh whenever they liked, but
among those who lived at a distance inland, and were
still required to fast when the Church so directed. Of
course in many parts of Europe they could get freshwater fish from the rivers or lakes. But the supply was
not equal to the demand; and fish sent up from the sea-
coast soon went bad, so that the plan of salting and curing
fish was adopted. The Norsemen found it a paying business to fish industriously in the seas round Iceland, Norway, Scotland, and Ireland, salt and cure the fish, and
then carry it to more southern countries, where they exchanged it against wine, oil, clothing materials, and other
goods. This led to the Venetians (who had absorbed so
much of the carrying trade of the Mediterranean) sending
their ships through the Straits of Gibraltar into the
northern seas and trading with the Baltic for amber and
salt fish. In the course of this trade some Venetians,
such as Antonio Zeno, found their way to Norway and
Iceland.1   It is thought that by this means Venice became
1 Antonio Zeno served as pilot to Earl Sinclair of the Faeroe Islands and of Roslyn,
a Norman-Scottish nobleman who owed joint fealty to the kings of Norway and Scot- 20
Pioneers in Canada
acquainted with the records of the Icelandic voyages to
North America, and that her explorers thus grew to entertain the idea of a sea journey westward, or north-westward,
of Britain, bringing mariners to a New World represented
by the far-eastern extension of Asia.
Christopher Columbus, the Genoese, conceived a similar
idea, which also may have owed something to the tradition
of the Norsemen's discovery of Vinland. But Columbus's
theories were based on better evidence, such as the discovery on the coasts of the Azores archipelago, Madeira,
and Portugal of strange seeds, tree trunks, objects of
human workmanship, and even (it is said) the bodies of
drowned savages—Amerindians—which had somehow
drifted across, borne by the current of the Gulf Stream,
and escaping the notice of the sharks.
Whilst Columbus was bestirring himself to find Asia
across the Atlantic, a sea pilot, John Cabot (Zuan Cabota)
—Genoese by birth, but a naturalized subject of Venice—
came to England and offered himself to King Henry VII
as a discoverer of new lands across the ocean. At first
he was employed at Copenhagen to settle fishery quarrels
about Iceland, and probably Cabota, or Cabot, visited
Iceland in King Henry's service, and there heard of the
Icelandic colonies on the other side of the Atlantic, only
recently abandoned.
In 1496 King Henry VII provided money to cover
some of the expense of a voyage of discovery to search
for the rumoured island across the ocean. The people of
Bristol were ordered to assist John Cabot, and by them
he was furnished with a small sailing ship, the Matthew,
and a crew of fifteen mariners. Cabot, with his two sons,
Luis and Sancio, sailed for Ireland and the unknown West
in May, 1497, and, after a sea voyage quite as wonderful
as that of Columbus, reached the coast of Cape Breton
land.   Sinclair was so impressed with the stories of a "Newland" beyond Greenland
that he sailed to find it about 1390, but only reached Greenland. The White Man's Discovery        21 |
Island (or "the New Isle", as it was first named1) on
June 24, 1497. They found "the land excellent, and the
climate temperate". The sea was so full of fish along
these coasts that the mariners opined (truly) that henceforth Bristol need not trouble about the Iceland trade.
Here along this "new isle" were the predestined fisheries
of Britain.2
They encountered no inhabitants, though they found
numerous traces of their existence in the form of snares,
notched trees, and bone netting needles. John Cabot
hoisted the English flag of St. George and the Venetian
standard of St. Mark; then—perhaps after coasting a little
along Nova Scotia—fearful that a longer stay might cause
them to run short of provisions, he turned the prow of the
Matthew eastward, and reached Bristol once more about
August 6, and London on August 10, 1497, with his report
to King Henry VII, who rewarded him with a donation
of ;£io. He was further granted a pension of ^20 a year
(which he only drew for two years, probably because he
died after returning from a second voyage to the North-
American coast), and he received a renewal of his patent
of discovery in February, 1498. In this patent it is evidently inferred that King Henry VII assumed a sovereignty over these distant regions because of John Cabot's
hoisting of the English flag on "the new Isle" (Cape
Breton Island) in the preceding year.
1 Cape Breton was not then, or for nearly two hundred years afterwards, known to
be an island. It was thought to be part of the "island" (peninsula) of what we now
call Nova Scotia, and the whole of this region which advances so prominently into
the Atlantic was believed to be at first the great unknown "New Island" of Irish and
English legends—legends based on the Norse discoveries of the eleventh century.
Cape Breton was thus named by the Breton seaman who came thither soon after the
Cabot expeditions to fish for cod. This large island is separated from Nova Scotia by
the Gut of Canso, a strait no broader than a river.
2Dr. S. E. Dawson {The St. Lawrence Basin) says of this voyage: "When the
forest wilderness of Cape Breton listened to the voices of Cabot's little company (ot
Bristol mariners) it was the first faint whisper of the mighty flood of English speech
which was destined to overflow the continent to the shores of another ocean. ..." 22
Pioneers in Canada
The new expedition of 1498 was a relatively important
affair. The king assisted to finance the ventures of the
Bristol captains, and five of his ships formed part of the
little fleet. It is probable that John Cabot was in command,
and almost certain that his young son Sebastian was a
passenger, possibly an assistant pilot. The course followed lay much farther to the north, and brought the little
sailing vessels amongst the icebergs, ice floes, polar bears,
and stormy seas of Greenland and Labrador. Commer-.
cially the voyage was a failure, almost a disaster. The
ships returned singly, and after a considerable interval of
time. Nevertheless, some of the king's loans were repaid
to him; and in 1501 a regular chartered company was
formed (perhaps at Bristol), with three Bristolians and
three Portuguese as directors. Henry VII not only gave
a royal patent to this association, but lent more money to
enable it to explore and colonize these new lands across
the western sea.
There can be little doubt that between 1498 and 1505
these Bristol ships, directed by Italian, English, and
Portuguese pilots, first revealed to the civilized world of
western Europe the coasts of Newfoundland, Cape Breton
Island, Nova Scotia, Massachusetts, and Delaware. They
must have got as far south as the State of Delaware (according to Sebastian Cabot, their southern limit was lat.
380), because in 1505 they were able to bring back parrots
(" popyngays"), as well as hawks and lynxes ("catts of
the mountaigne"), for the delectation of King Henry;
and parrots even at that period could not have been obtained from farther north than the latitude of New York.1
But after 1505 English interest in "the Newe founde
launde" and the "Newe Isle" languished; the exploration
of North America was taken up and carried farther by
1 Almost certainly this was Conurus carolinensis, a green and orange parrakeet still
found in the south-eastern States of North America, but formerly met with as far
north as New York and Boston. The White Man's Discovery!      23
Portuguese, Bretons and Normans of France, Italians,
and Spaniards.1 It revived again under Henry VIII,
owing to the irresistible attraction of the Newfoundland
fisheries and the knowledge that the ships from France
were returning every autumn with great supplies of fish
cured and salted; for an adequate supply of salt fish was
becoming a matter of great importance to the markets
of western Europe. In 1527 Henry VIII sent two ships
under the command of John Rut to explore the North-
American coast, and Captain Rut seems to have reached
the Straits of Belle Isle between Newfoundland and
Labrador (then blocked with ice so that he took them
for a bay), and afterwards to have passed along the east
coast of Newfoundland—already much frequented by the
Bretons, Normans, and Portuguese—and to have stopped
at the harbour of St. John's, thence sailing as far south
as Massachusetts.
The Portuguese monarchy had begun to take possession of the Azores archipelago from the year 1432.
These islands were probably known to the Phoenicians,
and even to the Arabs of the Middle Ages; between the
1 The name America probably appears for the first time in English print in the old
play or masque the Four Elements, which was published about 1518. In a review of
the geography of the Earth, as known at that period, a description is given of this
vast New World across the Ocean: '' But these new landys found lately, been called
America, because only Americus did find them first". Americus was a Florentine
bank clerk—Amerigo Vespucci—at Seville who gave up the counting-house for adventure, sailed with a Spanish captain to the West Indies and the mainland of Venezuela
(off which he notes that he met an English sailing vessel, and this as early as 1499!),
and then joined the first exploring voyage of the Portuguese to Brazil. He returned
to Europe, and in a letter to a fellow countryman at Paris, written in the late autumn
of 1502, he claimed to have discovered a New World across the Ocean. His clear
statement about what was really the South American Continent aroused so much
enthusiasm in civilized Europe that five years afterwards the New World was called
after him by a German printer (Walzmuller) at the little Alsatian University of St.
Did. By 1518 the English writers and mariners were probably aware that the discoveries of Cabot, Columbus, and the Portuguese indicated the extension of "America" from the Arctic to the Antarctic, but not till about 1553 did the scholars and
adventurers of England show themselves fully alive to the gigantic importance of this
New World. Between 1530 and 1553 their attention was distracted from geography
and over-sea adventure by the religious troubles of the Reformation.
Mi
■^ 24
Pioneers in Canada
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries they had been rediscovered by Catalans, Genoese, Flemings, and Portuguese;
and after 1444 the Azores began to prove very useful to
the sea adventurers of this wonderful fifteenth century,
as they became a shelter and a place of call for fresh
water and provisions almost in the middle of the Atlantic,
800 to 1000 miles due west of Portugal. Portuguese
vessels sailed northwards from the Azores in search of
fishing grounds, and thus reached Iceland, which they
called Terra do Bacalhao.1 They may even before Cabot
have visited in an unrecorded fashion the wonderful
banks of Newfoundland—an immense area of shallow sea
swarming with codfish.
As soon as the news of the Cabot voyages reached
the King of Portugal he arranged to send an expedition
of discovery to the far north-west, perhaps to find a
northern sea route to Eastern Asia. He gave the command to Gaspar Corte-Real, a Portuguese noble connected
through family property with the Azores. Starting from
the Azores in the summer of 1500, Corte-Real discovered
Newfoundland, and called it "Terra Verde" from its
dense woods of fir trees, which are now being churned
into wood pulp to make paper for British books and
newspapers. He then sailed along the coast of Labrador,2
and thence crossed over to Greenland, the southern half
of which he mapped with fair accuracy. His records of
this voyage take particular note of the great icebergs off
the coast of Greenland. His men were surprised to find
that sea water frozen becomes perfectly fresh—all the salt
is left out in the process.    So that his two ships could
1 Bacalhao in Portuguese (and a similar word in Spanish, old French, and Italian)
means dried, salted fish. It comes from a Latin word meaning "a small stick",
because the fish were split open and held up fiat to dry by means of a cross or
framework of small sticks, the Norse name "stokfiske" meant the same: stockfish
or stickfish.
1 Labrador {Lavrador in Portuguese) means a labourer, a serf. The Portuguese
are supposed to have brought some Red Indians from this coast to be sold as The White Man's Discovery        25
supply themselves with fresh water of the purest, by hacking ice from the masses floating in these Greenland
summer seas. The next year he started again, but on
a more westerly course. His two ships reached the
coasts of New Jersey and Massachusetts, and sailed
north once more to Labrador. They captured a number
of Amerindian aborigines, but only one of the two ships
(with seven of these savages on board) reached Portugal;
Gaspar Corte-Real was never heard of again. His
brother Miguel went out in search of him, but he likewise disappeared without a trace.
Nevertheless these Portuguese expeditions to North
America have left ineffaceable traces in the geography
of the Newfoundland coast, of which (under the name
of Terra Nova1) the governorship was made hereditary in
the Corte - Real family. Cape Race for example — the
most prominent point of the island—is really the Portuguese Cabo Raso—the bare or %shaved" cape—and this
was by the Spaniards regarded as the westernmost limit
of Portuguese sovereignty in that direction. For the
Spaniards were by no means pleased at the intrusion of
other nations into a New World which they desired to
monopolize entirely for the Spanish Crown. They did
not so much mind sharing it, along the line agreed upon
in the Treaty of Tordesillas, with the Portuguese, but
the ingress of the English and French infuriated them.
The Basque people of the north-east corner of Spain were
a hardy seafaring folk, especially bold in the pursuit of
whales in the Bay of Biscay, and eager to take a share
in the salt - fish trade. This desire took them in the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries to Ireland and Iceland.
They began to fish off the Newfoundland coasts perhaps
as early as  1525.     About this  time also the Emperor
1 Corte-Real's name of Terra Verde ("Greenland") was soon dropped in favour of
the older English name "New Land" (Newfoundland, Terra Nova). This was at
once adopted by the French seamen as " Terre Neuve". 26
Pioneers in Canada
Charles V, King of Spain, having through one great
Portuguese sea captain—Magalhaes (Magellan)—discovered
the passage from Atlantic to Pacific across the extremity
of South America, thought by employing another Portuguese—Estevao Gomez—to find a similar sea route through
North America, which would prove a short cut from
Europe to China. This was the famous " North-west
Passage" the search for which drew so many great
and brave adventurers into the Arctic sea of America
between 1500 and 1853, to be revealed at last by our
fellow countrymen, but to prove useless to navigation on
account of the enormous accumulation of ice.
Gomez left Corunna in the winter of 1524-5, and reached
the North-American coast somewhere about Florida. He
probably only began to investigate closely after he passed
into the broad gulf of Maine, between Cape Cod and Nova
Scotia. Here he sighted from the sea the lofty mountains
of New Hampshire, and steered for the mouth of the
Penobscot River (which he named the River of Deer), a
title which sticks to the locality—in Deer Island—at the
present day). But this being no opening of a broad
strait, he passed on into the Bay of Fundy (from Portuguese word, Fundo, the bottom of a sack or passage),
explored its two terminal gulfs, then returned along the
coast of Nova Scotia,1 past Cape Sable, and so to the
"gut,! or Canal of Canso. Gomez realized that Cape
Breton was an island (we now know that it is two islands
separated by a narrow watercourse), but thought that
Cabot Strait was a great bay, and guessed nothing of
the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the chance of securing
for Spain the possession of this mighty waterway into
the heart of North America.
From Cape North he crossed over to the south coast
1The name Nova Scotia was not applied to this peninsula until 1621, by the
British Government. It was at first included with New Brunswick under the
Spanish name of Norumbega, and after 1603 was called by the French "Acadie". The White Man's Discovery        27
of- Newfoundland, and followed this more or less till he
came to Cape Race. Newfoundland was a " very cold
and savage land", and Gomez decided it was no use
prosecuting any farther his enquiry as to a water passage
across North America, because, if it existed, it must lie
in latitudes of frozen sea and be unnavigable.
At different places along the east coast of North
America he kidnapped natives, and eventually returned
to Spain (via Florida and Cuba) with a cargo of Amerindian slaves.
He had been preceded, by seven or eight months, in
his explorations along the same coast by Giovanni da
Verrazano, a native of Florence, who as a navigator and
explorer had visited the East, and had associated himself
a good deal with the shipowners of Dieppe. Ever since
the issue of Cabot's voyages was known—at any rate
from 1504—ships from Brittany and Normandy had made
their way to Cape Breton Island and Newfoundland for
the cod fisheries. In 1508 a Norman named Aubert was
sent out by Jean Ango—a great merchant of Dieppe of
that day—to found a colony in Newfoundland. Aubert
failed to do this, but he captured and brought away at
least seven of the natives, no doubt of the Beothik tribe,
from Newfoundland to Rouen, with their canoe, clothing,
and weapons. A good many ships also went out from
La Rochelle on the west coast of France, and took part
in the fishing off the coast of Newfoundland: together
with the ships of Brittany and Dieppe there may have
been a French fishing fleet of seventy to eighty ships
plying every summer season between France, Newfoundland, and Cape Breton. So that when "John from
Verrazano' offered his services to Francis I to make
discoveries across the ocean, which should become possessions of the French Crown, he was quickly provided
with the requisite funds and ships.
Verrazano started on the 17th of January,  1524, for 28
Pioneers in Canada
the coast of North America, but I shall say little about
his expedition here, because it resulted chiefly in the
discovery and mapping of what is now the east coast of
the United States. He reached as far as the south coast
of Newfoundland, it is true; he also gave the names
of Nova Gallia and Francesca to the coast regions of
eastern North America, and distinctly intended to take
possession of these on behalf of the French Crown. But
his work in this direction did not lead directly to the
creation of the French colony of Canada, because, when
he returned from America, Francis I was at war with
Spain, and could pay no attention to Verrazano's projects.
His voyage is worth recording in the present volume only
for these two reasons: he certainly put it into the minds
of French people that they might found an empire in
North America; and he inspired geographers for another
hundred years with the false idea that the great North
American Continent had a very narrow waist, like the
Isthmus of Panama, and that the Pacific Ocean covered
the greater part of what is now called the United States.
This mistake arose from his looking across the narrow
belts or peninsulas of sand in North Carolina and Virginia,
and seeing vast stretches of open water to the west. These
were found, a hundred years afterwards, to be merely large
shallow lagoons of sea water, but Verrazano thought they
were an extension of the Pacific Ocean.
Nevertheless, Verrazano's voyage developed into the
French colonization of Canada, just as Cabot drew the
British to Newfoundland, Columbus the Spaniards to
Central and South America, and Amerigo Vespucci
showed the Portuguese the way to Brazil. The modern
nations of western Europe owe the inception of their
great colonies in America to four Italians. CHAPTER II
Jacques Cartier
Verrazano and Gomez, and probably the English captain, John Rut, had all sought for the opening of a strait
of salt water—like Magellan's Straits in the far south—
which should lead them through the great North-American
continent to the regions of China and Japan. Yet in some
incomprehensible way they overlooked the two broad passages to the north and south of Newfoundland—the Straits
of Belle Isle and of Cabot—which would at any rate lead
them into the vast Gulf of St. Lawrence, and thence to
the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes; a natural
system of waterways connected each with the other and
all with the Mississippi and Missouri, the Arctic Ocean,
and Hudson's Bay; nay, more, with the North Pacific
also; so that with a few "portages", or carryings of
canoes from one watershed to another, a traveller of any
enterprise, accompanied by a sturdy crew, can cross the
broad continent of North America at its broadest from sea
to sea without much walking.
Estevao Gomez noticed Cabot Straits between Cape
Breton and Newfoundland, but thought them only a very
deep bay. John Rut and others discerned the Straits of
Belle Isle as a wide recess in the coast rather than the
mouth of a channel leading far inland. And yet, after
thirty years of Breton, English, and Portuguese fishing
operations in these waters, there must have been glimmerings of the existence of the great Gulf of St. Lawrence
behind Newfoundland; and Jacques Cartier (or Quartier),
29 30
Pioneers in Canada
who had probably made already one voyage to Newfoundland (besides a visit to Brazil), suspected that between
Newfoundland and Labrador there lay the opening of the
great sea passage "leading to China". He proposed himself to Philippe de Chabot, the Admiral of France, as the
leader of a new French adventure to find the North-west
Passage, was accepted by King Francis, and at the age of
forty-three years set out, with two ships, from St. Malo in
Brittany, on April 20, 1534, ten years after Verrazano's
voyage, and reached the coast of Newfoundland after a
voyage of only twenty days. As he sailed northwards,
past the deeply indented fiords and bays of eastern Newfoundland (the shores of which were still hugged by the
winter ice), he and his men were much impressed with
the incredible numbers of the sea fowl settled for nesting
purposes on the rocky islands, especially on Funk Island.1
These birds were guillemots, puffins, great auks,2 gannets
(called by Cartier margaulx)y and probably gulls and eider
duck. To his sailors—always hungry and partly fed on
salted provisions, as seamen were down to a few years
ago—this inexhaustible supply of fresh food was a source
of great enjoyment. They were indifferent, no doubt, to
the fishy flavour of the auks and the guillemots, and only
noticed that they were splendidly fat. Moreover, the birds
attracted Polar bears "as large as cows and as white as
swans ". The bears would swim off from the shore to the
islands (unless they could reach them by crossing the ice),
xFunk Island—called by Cartier "the Island of Birds"—is only about 3 miles
roundt and 46 feet above the sea level.   It is 3 miles distant from the coast.
*The Great Auk {A lea impennis), extinct since about 1844 in Europe and 1870 in
Labrador, once had in ancient times a geographical range from Massachusetts and
Newfoundland to Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, N.E. England, and Denmark. Perhaps
nowhere was it found so abundantly as on the coasts of Eastern Newfoundland and
on Funk Island hard by. The Great Auk was in such numbers on the north-east coast
of Newfoundland that the Amerindians of that country and of southern Labrador used
it as fuel in the winter time, its body being very full of oil and burning with a splendid
flame. The French seamen called it pingouin ("penguin") from its fatness, and this
name was much later transferred to the real penguins of the southern seas which are
quite unrelated to the auks. Jacques Cartier 31
and the sailors occasionally killed the bears and ate their
flesh, which they compared in excellence and taste to veal.
Passing through the Straits of Belle Isle, Carder's
ships entered the Gulf of St. Lawrence. They had previously visited the adjoining coast of Labrador, and there
had encountered their first "natives", members of some
Algonkin tribe from Canada, who had come north for seal
fishing (Cartier is clever enough to notice and describe
their birch-bark canoes). After examining the west coast
of Newfoundland, Carder's ships sailed on past the Magdalen Islands (stopping every now and then off some islet
to collect supplies of sea birds, for the rocky ground was
covered with them as thickly as a meadow with grass).1
He reached the north coast of Prince Edward Island, and
this lovely country received from him an enthusiastic
description. The pine trees, the junipers, yews, elms,
poplars, ash, and willows, the beeches and the maples,
made the forest not only full of delicious and stimulating
odours, but lovely in its varied tints of green. In the
natural meadows and forest clearings there were red and
white currants, gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries, a
vetch which produced edible peas, and a grass with a
grain like rye. The forest abounded in pigeons, and the
climate was pleasant and warm.
Later on he coasted New Brunswick, and paused for
a time over Chaleur Bay, hoping it might be the opening to the strait across the continent of which he was in
search; but finding it was not, he continued northwards
till he had almost rounded the Gaspe Peninsula, a course
which would have led him straight away into the wonderful discovery of the St. Lawrence River, but that,
being forced by bad weather into Gaspe Bay, and perhaps hindered by fog, instead of entering the St. Lawrence he sailed right across to Anticosti Island.    After
*0n the shores of these islands they noticed " several great beasts like oxen, which
have two tusks in the mouth similar to those of the elephant".   These were walruses. 32
Pioneers in Canada
that, being baffled by bad weather and doubtful as to his
resources lasting out, he decided to return to France
through the Strait of Belle Isle.
So far he had failed to realize two of the most important things in the geography of this region: the broad
southern entrance into the Gulf of St. Lawrence (subsequently called Cabot Strait), which separates Newfoundland on the north from Cape Breton Island on the south,
and the broad entrance into the River St. Lawrence between Anticosti Island and the Gaspe Peninsula.
Yet, whilst staying in Gaspe Bay, he had a very important meeting with Amerindian natives of the Huron-
Iroquois stock, who had come down the River St. Lawrence
from the neighbourhood of Quebec, fishing for mackerel.
These bold, friendly people welcomed the French heartily,
greeting them with songs and dances. But when they
saw Cartier erect a great cross on the land at the entrance
to Gaspe Bay (a cross bearing a shield with the arms of
France and the letters "Vive le Roi de France"), they
were ill at ease. It is certain that not one word could be
understood in language between the two parties, for there
were as yet no interpreters; but the Amerindians were
probably shrewd enough to perceive that Cartier was
making some claim on the land, and they explained by
signs that they considered all this country belonged to
themselves. Nevertheless, Cartier persuaded two youths,
the sons of one of the chiefs, to go back with him to
France on his ship, to learn the French language, to see
what France looked like, and to return afterwards as interpreters. The boys, though they were practically kidnapped at first, were soon reconciled to going, especially
when they were dressed in French clothes!
When Cartier was on his way home he sailed in a
north-easterly direction in such a way as to overlook the
broad channel between the Gaspe Peninsula and Anticosti
Island, but having rounded the easternmost extremity of '   -
mm
^^Jach^f^r
0 312
■■'* ■
JACQUES CARTIER  Jacques Cartier 33
that large island, he coasted along its northern shores
until he caught sight of the opening of the Canadian
channel to the west. He believed then that he had discovered the long-looked-for opening of the trans-continental passage, and sailed for France with his wonderful
news.
On the 19th of May, 1535, Cartier started again from
St. Malo with three ships, the biggest of which was only
120 tons, while the others were respectively 60 and 40 tons
capacity. The crew consisted of about 112 persons, and
in addition there were the two Indian youths who had
been kidnapped on the previous voyage, and were now
returning as interpreters. Instead, however, of reaching
Newfoundland in twenty days, he spent five weeks crossing the Atlantic before he reached his rendezvous with the
other ships at Blanc Sablon, on the south coast of Labrador; for the easy access to the Gulf of St. Lawrence
through Cabot Strait (between Newfoundland and Cape
Breton) was not yet realized. Once past Anticosti Island,
the two Huron interpreters began to recognize the scenery.1
They now explained to Cartier that he had entered the
estuary of a vast river. This they said he had only to
pursue in ships and boats and he would reach "Canada"
(which was the name they gave to the district round about
Quebec), and that beyond "Canada" no man had ever
been known to reach the end of this great water; but, they
added, it was fresh water, not salt, and this last piece of
information much disheartened Cartier, who feared that
he had not, after all, discovered the water route across
North America to the Pacific Ocean. He therefore turned
about and once more searched the opposite coast of Labrador most minutely, displaying, as he did so, a seaman-
1 Anticosti Island received from Cartier the name of " the Island of the Assumption
of the Blessed Virgin ", in consequence of his having discovered it to be an island on
the feast day of that name. It did not receive its present title until the late seventeenth
century.
(0 312) 3
■H
- 34
Pioneers in Canada
ship which was little else than marvellous, for it is a very
dangerous coast, the seas are very stormy, and the lookout often hampered by a sudden rising of dense fog; there
are islands and rocks (some of them almost hidden by the
water) and sandbanks; but Cartier made this survey of
southern Labrador without an accident.
At this period, some three hundred and seventy-five
years ago, the northern coasts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence
and of Anticosti Island swarmed with huge walruses,
which were described by Cartier as sea horses that spent
the night on land and the day in the water. They have
long since been exterminated by the English and French
seamen and settlers.
At last Cartier set sail for the south-west, intending
to explore this wonderful river and to reach the kingdom
of Canada. According to his understanding of the Amerindian interpreters, the waters of the St. Lawrence flowed
through three great states: Saguenay, which was the
mountainous Gaspe Peninsula and the opposite coast;
Canada, Quebec and its neighbourhood; and Hochelaga,
the region between Montreal and Lake Ontario. At the
mouth of the Saguenay River, where Tadoussac is now
situated, he encountered large numbers of white whales—
the Beluga. These are really huge porpoises, allied to
the narwhals, but without the narwhal's exaggerated tusk.
When he reached the vicinity of the modern Quebec,1 and
his Amerindian interpreters found themselves at their
actual home (for they were far away from home on a
fishing expedition when he caught them in Gaspe Bay)
there was great rejoicing; for they were able to tell
their relations of the wonderful country to which they
had been across the ocean. Cartier was delighted with
the surroundings of "Canada" (Quebec), near which at
that time was a large settlement (Stadacona) of Huron
iThen called  "Canada",
narrow part of a river.
The word Quebec (pronounced Kebek) means the Jacques Cartier
35
Indians under a chief named Donnacona. He decided
to lay up his ships here for the winter, and to pursue
the rest of his western explorations in his boats.
But the Amerindians for some reason were not willing
that he should go any farther, and attempted to scare him
from his projects by arranging for three of their number
to come down river in a canoe, dressed in dogs' skins,
with their faces blackened, and with bisons' horns fastened
to their heads. These devils pretended to take no notice
of the French, but to die suddenly as they reached the
shore, while the rest of the natives gave vent to howlings
of despair and consternation. The three devils were pretending to have brought a message from a god to these
Hurons of " Canada" that the country up river (Hoche-
laga) was so full of ice and snow that it would be death
for anyone to go there.
However, this made little or no impression on Cartier;
but he consented to leave a proportion of his party behind
with the chief Donnacona as hostages, and then started
up country in his boats with about seventy picked officers
and men. On the 2nd of October, 1535, they reached
the vicinity of the modern Montreal, the chief settlement
of Hochelaga. The Huron town at the foot of the hills
was circular in outline, surrounded by a stockade of three
rows of upright tree trunks, which rose to its highest
point in the middle, where the timbers of the inner and
outward sides sloped to meet one another, the height of
the central row being about 8 feet above the ground.
All round the inside there was a platform or rampart on
which were stored heavy stones to be hurled at any enemy
who should attempt to scale the fence. The town was
entered by only one doorway, and contained about fifty
houses surrounding an open space whereon the townspeople made their bonfires. Each house was about 50
feet long by 12 to 15 feet wide. They were roofed with
bark, and usually had attics which were storerooms for Pioneers in Canada
food. In the centre of each of these long houses there
was a fireplace where the cooking for the whole of the
house inhabitants was done. Each family had its own
room, but each house probably contained five families.
Almost the only furniture, except cooking pots, was mats
on which the people sat and slept. The food of the
people consisted, besides fish and the flesh of beavers
and deer, of maize and beans. Cartier at once recognized the maize or Indian corn as the same grain ("a
large millet") as that which he had seen in Brazil.
He gives a description of how they made the maize
into bread (or rather " dampers", "ashcakes "); but as
this is not altogether clear, it is better to combine it"
with Champlain's description, written a good many years
later, but still at a time when the Hurons were unaffected
by the white man's civilization. According to both Cartier
and Champlain, the women pounded the corn to meal in
a wooden mortar, and removed the bran by means of fans
made of the bark of trees. From this meal they made
bread, sometimes mixing with the meal the beans (Phas-
eolus vulgaris), which had been boiled and mashed. Or
they would boil both Indian corn and beans into a thick
soup, adding to the soup blueberries,1 dried raspberries,
or pieces of deer's fat. The meal derived from the corn
and beans they would make into bread, baking it in the
ashes.
Or they would take the pounded Indian corn without
removing the bran, and put two or three handfuls of it
into an earthen pot full of water, stirring it from time
to time, when it boiled, so that it might not adhere to
the pot. To this was added a small quantity of fish,
fresh or dry, according to the season, to give a flavour
to the migane or porridge.    When  the dried  fish was
1 The Canada Blueberry (Vaccinium canadense), called by the French blues or bluets.
These blue's were collected and dried by the Amerindians, and made a sweet nutriment for eating in the winter. Jacques Cartier 37
used the porridge smelt very badly in the nostrils of
Europeans, but worst of all when the porridge was mixed
with dried venison, which was sometimes nearly putrid!
If fish was put into this porridge it was boiled whole
in the mealy water, then taken out without any attempt
to remove the fins, scales, or entrails, and the whole of
the boiled fish was pounded up and put back into the
porridge. Sometimes a great birch-bark " kettle" would
be filled with water, fish, and meat, and red-hot stones
be dropped in till it boiled. Then with a spoon they
would collect from the surface the fat and oil arising
from the fish or meat. This they afterwards mixed with
the meal of roasted Indian corn, stirring it with this fat
till they had made a thick soup. Sometimes, however,
they were content to eat the young corn-cobs freshly
roasted, which as a matter of fact (with a little salt) is
one of the most delicious things in the world. Or they
would take ears of Indian corn and bury them in wet
mud, leaving them thus for two or three months; then
the cobs would be removed and the rotted grain eaten
with meat and fish, though it was all muddy and smelt
horribly. Cartier also noticed that these Huron Indians
had melons and pumpkins, and described their wampum
or shell money.1
From the eminence on which the Huron city stood,
Cartier obtained a splendid view of rivers and  moun-
1 Cartier, in Hakluyt's translation, is made to say (I modernize the spelling): "They
dig their grounds with certain pieces of wood as big as half a sword, on which ground
groweth their corn, which they call 'ofnci'; it is as big as our small peason. . . .
They have also great store of musk melons, pompions, gourds, cucumbers, peas, and
beans of every colour, yet differing from ours."
Wampum, or shell money (which recalls the shell money of the Pacific Islands),
consisted either of beads made from the interior parts of sea shells or land shells, or of
strings of perforated sea shells. The most elaborate kind of wampum was that of the
Amerindians of Canada and the eastern United States, the shell beads of which were
generally white. The commoner wampum beads were black and violet. Wampum
belts were made which illustrated events, dates, treaties of peace, &c., by a rude symbolism (figures of men and animals, upright lines, &c), and these were worked neatly
on string by employing different-coloured beads. 38
Pioneers in Canada
tains and magnificent forests, and called the place then
and there, in his Norman French, Mont Real, or Royal
Eminence, a name which it will probably bear for all time,
though the actual city of Montreal lies a few miles below.
Montreal was the limit of Carder's explorations on
this journey. He returned thence to |Canada" or Stada-
cona, where his men built a fort armed with artillery,
and where his ships were anchored. Here he had to
stay from the middle of November, 1535, to the middle
of April, 1536, his ships being shut in by the ice. The
experiences of the French during these five months were
mostly unhappy. At first Cartier gave himself up to the
collecting: of information. He noticed for the first time-
the smoking of tobacco,1 and collected information about
the products and features of "Canada". The Indians told
him of great lakes in the far west, one of which was so
vast that no man had seen the end of it. They told him
that anyone travelling up the Richelieu River (as it was
called sixty years later) would eventually reach a land in
the south where in the winter there was no ice or snow,
and where fruit and nut trees grew in abundance. Cartier
thought that they were talking to him of Florida, but
their geographical information can scarcely have stretched
so far; they probably referred to the milder regions of
New Jersey and Virginia, which would be reached by
following southwards the valley of the Hudson and
keeping to the lowlands of the eastern United States.
1 " There groweth also a certain kind of herb whereof in summer they make a great
provision for all the year, making great account of it, and only men use it; and first
they cause it to be dried in the sun, then wear it about their necks wrapped in a little
beast's skin made like a bag, together with a hollow piece of stone or wood like a pipe.
Then when they please they make powder of it and put it in one of the ends of the
said cornet or pipe, and laying a coal of fire upon it at the other end, suck so long
that they fill their bodies full of smoke, till that it cometh out of their mouth and
nostrils, even as out of the tunnel of a chimney. They say that this doth keep them
warm and in health: they never go without some of it about them. We ourselves
have tried the same smoke, and having put it in our mouths, it seemed almost as hot
as pepper." The foregoing is one of the earliest descriptions of tobacco smoking in
any European language, the original words being in Carrier's Norman French. Jacques Cartier 39
As the winter set in with its customary Canadian
severity the real trouble of the French began. They
did not suffer from the cold, but they were dying of
scurvy. This disease, from which the natives also
suffered to some extent, was due to their eating nothing
but salt or smoked provisions—forms of meat or fish.
They lived, of course, shut up in the fort, and Carder's
fixed idea was to keep the Hurons from the knowledg
of his misfortune, fearing lest, if they realized how the
garrison was reduced, they might treacherously attack
and massacre the rest; for in spite of the extravagant joy
with which their arrival had been greeted, the Amerindians—notably the two interpreters who had been to
France and returned—showed at intervals signs of disquiet and a longing to be rid of these mysterious white
men, whose coming might involve the country in unknown misfortunes. In January and February, also,
Donnacona and these two interpreters and many of the
Huron men had been absent hunting in the forests, so
that there was no one among the Amerindians to whom
the French could turn for information regarding this
strange disease. At last 25 out of the 112 who had left
France were dead, and of the remainder only 10 men,
including Cartier, were not grievously ill. Those who
were living found it sometimes beyond their strength to
bury the dead in the frozen ground, and simply placed
their bodies in deep snow. Once or twice, when Cartier
left the fort to go out to the ships, he met Domagaya, one
of the two interpreters, and found that he also was suffering from this mysterious disease, though not nearly so
badly as the French people. On the body of one young
man who died of scurvy Cartier and his officers, shuddering, made investigations, opening the corpse and
examining the organs to try and find the cause of death.
This was on the afternoon of a day on which they had
held a solemn service before a statue erected to the Virgin 40
Pioneers in Canada
Mary on the shore opposite to the ships. All who were
fit to walk went in procession from the fort to the statue,
singing penitential psalms and the Litany and celebrating
Mass.
Some days after this religious service Cartier met the
interpreter, Domagaya, and to his surprise found him
perfectly well and strong. He asked him for an explanation, and was told that the medicine which cured this disease was made from the leaves and bark of a tree called
ameda.1 Cartier then ventured to say that one of his
servants was sick of this unknown disease, and Domagaya
sent for two women, who taught the French people how to
make an extract from the balsam fir for drinking, and how
to apply the same liquid to the inflamed skin. The effect
on the crews was miraculous. In six days all the sick
were well and strong.
Then came the sudden spring. Between April 15th
and May 1st the ice on the river was all melted, and on
the 6th May, 1536, Cartier started from the vicinity of
Quebec to return to France. But before leaving he had
managed to kidnap Donnacona, the chief of the Huron
settlement, and six or seven other Amerindians, amongst
them Tainyoanyi, one of the two interpreters who had
already been to France. He seized these men, it appears,
partly because he wanted hostages and had good reason
to fear that the Indians meditated a treacherous attack on
his ships before they could get away. He also wished for
native witnesses at Court, when he reached France, to
testify to the truth of his discoveries, and even more to
convince the King of France that there was great profit
to be obtained from giving effect to Carder's explorations.
The chief, Donnacona, was full of wonderful stories of the
Saguenay region, and of the great lakes to the northwards
of Quebec. Probably he was only alluding to the wealth
of copper now known to exist in northern Canada, but to
xThis tree was the balsam fir, Abies balsamea. m
Jacques Cartier 41
Cartier and the other Frenchmen it seemed as though he
spoke of gold and silver, rubies, and other precious stones.
Donnacona's people howled and wept when their chief
was seized I but Cartier obliged the chief to reassure them,
and to say that the French had promised to bring him
back after he had paid a visit to their great king, who
would return him to his country with great presents. As
a matter of fact, not one of these Indians rapt away by
Cartier ever saw Canada again. But this was not the
fault of Cartier, but of the distractions of the times which
turned away the thoughts of King Francis I from American
adventures. The Indians were well and kindly treated in
France, but all of them died there before Cartier left St.
Malo to return to Canada in 1541.
One advantage he derived from sailing away with these
hostages was (no doubt) that they could give him geographical information of importance which materially shortened the return journey. For the first time he made use of
the broad strait between Anticosti Island and Gaspe Peninsula, and, better still, entered the Atlantic, not by the
dangerous northern route through the straits of Belle Isle,
but by means of Cabot Strait, between Newfoundland and
Cape Breton Island. Of these discoveries he availed himself on his third and last voyage in 1541.
When in that year he once more anchored his ships
near Quebec he found the attitude of the Hurons changed.
They enquired about their friends and relations who had
been carried off five years before, and although they pretended to be reconciled to their fate when they heard (not
altogether truly) that one or two were dead, and the others
had become great lords in France and had married French
women, they really felt a disappointment so bitter and a
hostility so great that Cartier guessed their expressions of
welcome to be false. However, he sent back to France
two of the ships under his command and beached the other
three,  landed his stores, built two forts at Cap Rouge,
M 42
Pioneers in Canada
above and below, and then started off with a few of his
men and two boats to revisit the country of Hochelaga.
Here he intended to examine the three rapids or "saults"
—interruptions to the navigation of the St. Lawrence—
which he had observed on his previous journey, and which
were later named the La Chine Rapids (in the belief that
they were obstacles on the river route to China). But
these falls proved insuperable obstacles to his boats, and
he gave up any further idea of westward exploration, returned to his forts and ships near Quebec, and there laid
the foundations of a fortified town, which he called Charles-
bourg Royal. Here he spent a very difficult winter, the
Hurons in the neighbourhood becoming increasingly
hostile, and at last, when the spring came, as he had received no relief from France, he took to his three ships,
abandoned Charlesbourg Royal (having probably to do
some fighting before he could get safely away) and thence
sailed for France. Off the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland he met the other ships of the expedition which was
to have occupied Canada for France. These were under
the command of the Sieur de Roberval, a French nobleman, who had really been made head of the whole enterprise, with Cartier as a subordinate officer, but who, the
year before, had allowed Cartier to go off to Canada and
prepare the way, promising to follow immediately. The
interview between Cartier and Roberval, near where the
capital of Newfoundland (St. John's) now stands, was a
stormy one. Roberval ordered Cartier to return at once
to Charlesbourg and await his arrival. However, in the
middle of the night which followed this interview, Cartier
took advantage of a favourable wind and set sail for
France, arriving soon afterwards at St. Malo.
But Roberval arrived at Charlesbourg (going the
roundabout way through the straits of Belle Isle, for
Cartier had told him nothing of the convenient passage
through   Cabot   Strait),   and   there   spent  the winter  of h
Jacques Cartier
43
1542-3, sending his ships back to France. This winter
was one of horrors. Roberval was a headstrong, passionate man, perfectly reckless of human life. He maintained discipline by ferocious sentences, putting many oi
his men in irons, whipping others cruelly, women as well
as men, and shooting those who seemed the most rebellious.
Even the Indians were moved to pity, and wept at the
sight of the woes of these unhappy French men and
women under the control of a bloodthirsty tyrant, and
many of them dying of scurvy, or miserably weak from
that disease.1
However, when the weather was warm again, in June,
1543, Roberval started up the St. Lawrence River in boats
to reach the wonderful country of Saguenay. Apparently
he met with little success, and, being relieved by French
ships in the late summer of 1543, he returned to France.
Thus the splendid work achieved by Cartier seemed to
have come to nothing, for neither he nor Roberval revisited
America.    The French settlement near Quebec was aban-
1A story was subsequently told of Roberval's stern treatment which had a germ
of truth in it, though it has since been the foundation of many a romance. On the
journey out from France it is said that Roberval took with him his niece Marguerite,
a high-born lady, who was accompanied by an old companion or nurse. Marguerite
was travelling with her uncle because, unknown to him, she had a lover who had sailed
with him on this expedition and whom she hoped to marry. As they crossed the
Atlantic these facts leaked out, and Roberval resolved to bide his time and punish his
niece for her deception. As they passed the coast of Southern Labrador Marguerite
and her old nurse were seized and put into a boat, Roberval ordering his sailors to row
them ashore to an island, and leave them to their fate. They were given four guns
with ammunition and a small supply of provisions. But, as the boat was leaving the
ship, Marguerite's lover threw himself into the sea and swam to the island. Here,
according to the story which Marguerite is supposed to have told afterwards, they
endeavoured to live by killing the wild animals and eating their flesh; but her lover-
husband died, so also did her child soon after it was born, and then the old nurse, and
the unhappy Marguerite was left alone with the wild beasts, especially the white Polar
bears, who thronged round her hut. Nevertheless she kept them at bay with her
arquebus, and managed somehow to support an existence, until after nineteen months'
isolation the ascending smoke of her fire was seen by people on one of the many fishing
vessels which, by this time, frequented the coasts of Newfoundland. She was taken
off the island and restored to her home in France. The island to which this tradition
more especially relates is now called Grand Meccatina. 44
Pioneers in Canada
doned, so far as the officers of the French king were concerned, and between 1545 and about 1583, if any other
Frenchman or European visited Canada it was some
private adventurer who traded with the natives in furs, or
Basques from France and Spain who frequented the waters!
of the Gulf of St. Lawrence on account of the abundance
of whales, walruses, and seals. In fact, at the close of the
sixteenth century, the Spanish Basques had established
themselves on shore at Tadoussac and other places, and
seemed likely to colonize the country. CHAPTER III
Elizabethan Pioneers in North America
Except that the ships of Bristol still no doubt continued
to resort to the banks of Newfoundland for fishing, and that
even the captains of these ships were occasionally elected
admirals of the French, Basque, Portuguese, and English
fishing fleets during the summer, the English, as a nation,
took no part in claiming political dominion over North
America after the voyage of Captain John Rut in 1527.
This was the fault of Sebastian Cabot, the son of the
man who founded British America, and who had returned to England long afterwards as the Grand Pilot
appointed by Edward VI to further the discovery of a
northern sea passage to China. Through him the attention
of adventurers for a time was diverted from America to
the " discovery" of Russia (as it has been called). The
efforts of Sebastion Cabot were directed towards the revelation of a north-east passage by way of Arctic Russia to
the Pacific, rather than past Newfoundland and Labrador
and across Arctic America.
But as soon as Elizabeth came to the throne the sea
adventurers of Britain, freed from any subservience to
i Spanish wishes, developed maritime intercourse between
England, Morocco, and West Africa on the one hand,
and Tropical and North America on the other. Once
more the discovery of the North-west Passage across
America to China came into favour.   Martin Frobisher1
1 The name was also spelt Furbusher, and in other ways. He became Sir Martin
Frobisher over the wars of the Armada, and died Lord High Admiral of England in
1592.
45 46
Pioneers in Canada
offered himself as a discoverer, and the Earl of Warwick
found the means which provided him with two small
sailing vessels of 25 and 20 tons each, besides a pinnace
of 10 tons.1 Queen Elizabeth confined herself, in the
way of encouragement, to waving her lily hand from her
palace of Greenwich as these three little boats dropped
down the Thames on the 8th of June, 1576. She also
sent them "an honourable message", which no doubt
reached them at Tilbury.
But the pinnace was soon swallowed up in the high
seas; the seamen in the vessel of 20 tons lost heart and
turned their ship homewards. Frobisher alone, in his
25-ton bark, sailed on and on across the stormy Atlantic,
past the south end of Greenland, and over the great gulf
that separates Greenland from Labrador. He missed the
entrance to Hudson's Bay, but reached a great "island"
which he named Meta Incognita2. Here he gathered up
stones and, as he believed, minerals, besides capturing at
least one Eskimo, and then returned.
One of his stones was declared by the refiners of
London to contain gold. There was at once — as we
should say in modern slang—a boom for these Arctic
regions. Queen Elizabeth took part in it, and on the
27th of May, 1577, a considerable fleet, under the command of Frobisher, sailed past the Orkneys for the south
end of Greenland. It did not reach as far as Meta Incognita, but it brought back large heaps of earth and
pieces of rock, probably from northern Labrador, which
1 It may be of interest to set forth the kind of rations shipped in those Elizabethan
times for the food of the sailors. According to Frobisher's accounts these consisted of
salted beef, salt pork, salt fish, biscuit, meal for making bread, dried peas, oatmeal,
rice, cheese, butter, beer, and wine, with brandy for emergencies. As regards beer,
the men were to have a ration of i gallon a day each. Altogether it may be said
that these rations were superior in variety—and no doubt in quality—to the«food given
to seamen in the British merchant marine in the nineteenth century.
3 We now know Meta Incognita to be the southernmost peninsula of the vast Baffin
Island. I*
Elizabethan Pioneers 47
almost certainly contained mica schist, and were therefore believed to be full of gold. The following year,
1578, Frobisher started on his third American voyage
with a fleet of fifteen vessels, mainly financed by Queen
Elizabeth, and manned to a great extent by the sons
of the aristocracy, besides a hundred persons who were
going out as colonists. For this region of ice and snow
which was believed to be a mass of gold-bearing rocks!
But the result was one of bitter disappointment. The
captains were bewildered by the immense icebergs, "so
vast that, as they melted, torrents poured from them in
sparkling waterfalls". One iceberg toppled over on to a
ship and crushed it, though most of the sailors were picked
up in the sea and saved. In the thick mists the greater
part of the fleet blundered into Hudson's Straits, yet did
not realize that they had found a passage into the heart
of Canada. At last, disgusted with this land of bare
rocks, ice, and snow, they filled up the ships with cargoes of stones supposed to contain gold, and straggled
back to England. No gold was extracted, however, from
these cargoes, and much discouragement ensued.
Sir Humphrey Gilbert, one of the brilliant figures
of Elizabeth's reign—scholar, poet, courageous adventurer,
and man of chivalry—stimulated by the discoveries of
Frobisher, obtained a patent or charter in 1578, and,
after several unsuccessful attempts, led an expedition
of small sailing ships to Newfoundland, where he entered St. John's Bay, and in the presence of the Basque,
Portuguese, and Breton fishermen took formal possession of the country for Queen Elizabeth, raising a pillar
on which the arms of England were engraved as a
token. He then proceeded to grant lands to the fishermen to reassure them, and loaded his ships with rocks
brought from the interior mountains and supposed to
contain minerals. But in his further explorations of the
southern coast of Newfoundland one of the ships was
■■ 48
Pioneers in Canada
lost and nearly a hundred men intended as colonists
were drowned.
Gilbert then determined to return to England in his
small frigate of 10 tons named the Squirrel. He was
accompanied by a larger vessel, the Golden Hinde, but
refused to leave the men on the Squirrel to their fate.
Consequently, between the Azores and the north coast of
Spain, when the Squirrel was overwhelmed by the heavy
seas, Sir Humphrey Gilbert perished together with all on
board.
In spite, however, of the disappointing results of
Gilbert's attempt to found a colony in Newfoundland,
the importance of the cod fishery and the ivory tusks
and oil of the walruses drew ever more and more ships
from Bristol and Devonshire to the coasts of that great
island and to the Gulf of St. Lawrence beyond. In 1592
the English adventurers got as far west as Anticosti
Island (in a ship from Bristol), and in 1597 there is the
first record of English ships (from London — the Hopewell and the Chancewell) sailing up the St. Lawrence
River, perhaps as far west as Quebec.
In 1602, stimulated by Sir Walter Raleigh,1 Bartholomew Gosnold sailed direct to the coast of North
America south of the Newfoundland latitudes, and anchored his bark off the coast of Massachusetts on the
26th of March, 1602. Failing to find a good harbour
here, he stood out for the south and definitely discovered
and named Cape Cod, not far from the modern city of
Boston. From Cape Cod he made his way to the Elizabeth Islands in Buzzard's Bay, and here he built a
storehouse and fort, and may be said to have laid the
foundations of the future colony of New England.    He
1 In 1584, Sir Waiter Raleigh, the half-brother of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, financed
an expedition to sail to the coast of North America in a more southerly direction. In
this way was founded the (afterwards abandoned) colony of Roanoke, in North Carolina. It was to this region that Queen Elizabeth applied the title of Virginia, which
some years afterwards was transferred to the first English colony on the James River. Elizabethan Pioneers
49
brought back with him a cargo of sassafras root, which
was then much esteemed as a valuable medicine and a
remedy for almost all diseases.
Subsequent expeditions of English ships explored and
mapped the coast of Maine, and took on board Amerindians for exhibition in England. Their adventures,
together with those of the colonists farther south, led to
the creation of chartered companies, and to the great
British colonies of New England, New York, Virginia,
the Carolinas, and Georgia, which were to become in
time the United States of America—a vast field of adventure which we cannot follow farther in this book.
As regards Newfoundland, James I, in 1610, granted
a patent to a Bristol merchant for the foundation there of
a colony, and although this attempt, and another under
Sir George Calvert (Lord Baltimore) in 1616, came almost
to nothing through the attacks of the French and the dislike of the crews of the fishing vessels to permanent settlers
who might interfere with the fishing industry, the English
colonization of Newfoundland to some extent caught hold,
so that in 1650 there were about two thousand colonists
of English descent along the east and south-east coasts
of the island. But settlement was prohibited within six
miles of the shore, to please the fishermen, and this
regulation checked for more than two hundred years the
colonization of Newfoundland.
Nova Scotia as a British colony also came into being
as another result of these adventurous British expeditions
to North America in the reign of James I. Under the name
of Acadie this region had been declared to be a portion
of New France by De Monts and Champlain in 1604-14.
But the English colonists in 1614 drove the French out of
the peninsula of Nova Scotia on the plea that it was a part
of the discoveries made by the Cabots on behalf of the
British Crown. In 1621 James I gave a grant of all this
territory to Sir William Alexander under the name of
(0 312 4
J 50
Pioneers in Canada
Nova Scotia, and both Charles I and Cromwell encouraged settlement in this beautiful region. When Charles
II ceded it to France in 1667 the English and Scottish
colonists who were residing there, and the English settlers
of New England, refused to recognize the effects of the
Treaty of Breda, and so harassed the French in the years
which followed that in 1713 Nova Scotia was, together with
Newfoundland, recognized as belonging to Great Britain.
The French colonists were allowed to remain, but during
the course of the eighteenth century they combined with
the Amerindians (who liked the French and disliked the
British) and made the position of the British colonists
so precarious that they were finally expelled and obliged
to transfer themselves to Louisiana and Canada. This
was the departure of the Acadians so touchingly described by Longfellow.
The British had become tenacious of their rights over
the east coast of Newfoundland, because from the middle
of the seventeenth century onwards they were becoming
increasingly interested in the whale fisheries and the fur
trade of the lands bordering on Hudson's Bay, and would
not tolerate any blocking of the sea route thither by the
French.
In the explorations of Arctic America, Frobisher's expeditions had been succeeded by those of John Davis,
who in the course of three voyages, beginning in June,
1585, passed the entrance of Hudson's Straits and reached
a point as far north as 720 41', a lofty granite island, which
he named Sanderson's Hope. He saw beyond him a great
sea, free, large, very salt, and blue, unobstructed by ice
and of an unsearchable depth, and believed that he had
completely discovered the eastern entrance of the North-
West Passage.
Henry Hudson, the great English navigator, who
had made two voyages (1607-8) for the English-Moscovy
Company to discover a north-east passage to India, past C '.i Ii
ICEBERGS AND POLAR BEARS  Elizabethan Pioneers
51
Siberia, commanded a third experiment in 1609 at the
expense of the Dutch East India Company. He was to
discover the North-West Passage. For this purpose he
entered the river now named the Hudson, but soon found
it was only a river; though he returned to Holland with
such an encouraging account of the surrounding country
that the Dutch a little later on, founded on the banks
of the Hudson River their colony of New Amsterdam
(afterwards the State of New York). In 1610 Hudson
accepted a British commission to sail beyond where Davis
and Frobisher had passed, and once more seek for the
north-west passage to China. Instead he found the way
into Hudson's Bay. Here his men, alarmed at the idea
of being lost in these regions of ice and snow, mutinied
against/him, placed him and those who were faithful to
him in a boat, and cast them off, themselves returning to
England with the news of his discovery. Hudson was
never heard of again, and, strange to say, the mutineers
apparently received no punishment.
Between 1602 and 1668, English adventurers from
London and Bristol, notable amongst whom were William
Baffin, Luke Fox, and Captain James, mapped the
coasts of Hudson's Bay and Baffin's Bay and brought
to the notice of merchants in England the abundance of
whales in these Arctic waters, and of fur-bearing beasts
and fur-trading Indians in the region of Hudson's Bay.
This last point was most forcibly presented to Charles
II and his Government by a disappointed French Canadian, Pierre Esprit Radisson, whose adventures will later
on be described. Radisson, conceiving himself to be
badly treated by the French Governor of Canada, crossed
over to England with his brother-in-law, Chouart, and the
two were warmly taken up by Prince Rupert of Bavaria,
the cousin of Charles II. They were sent out by Prince
Rupert in command of an expedition financed by him
and a number of London merchants, and in 1669 the
J 52
Pioneers in Canada
New England captain, Gillam, returned to England with
Chouart and the first cargo of furs from Hudson's Bay.
This cargo so completely met the expectations of those
who had promoted the venture that it led in 1670 to the
foundation of the Governor and Company of Adventurers
of England trading into Hudson's Bay, a company chartered by Charles II and presided over by Prince Rupert,
and an association which proved to be the germ of British
North America, of the vast three-quarters of the present
Dominion of Canada.
fl&27*M CHAPTER IV
Champlain and the Foundation of Canada
From the first voyage of Cartier onwards, Canada
was called intermittently New France, and its possibilities were not lost sight of by a few intelligent Frenchmen on account of the fur trade. Amongst these was
Amyard de Chastes, at one time Governor of Dieppe,
who got into correspondence with the adventurers who
had settled as fur traders at Tadoussac, prominent amongst
whom was Du Pont-Grave. De Chastes dispatched with
Pont-Grave a young man whose acquaintance he had just
made, Samuel Champlain.1 This was the man who,
more than any other, created French Canada.
Champlain had had already a most adventurous life.
He was born about 1567, at Brouage, in the Saintonge,
opposite to the Island of Heron, on the coast of western
France. From his earliest years he had a passion for the
sea, but he also served as a soldier for six years. His
father had been a sea captain, and his uncle as an experienced navigator was commissioned by the King of
Spain to transport by sea to that country the remainder
of the Spanish soldiers who had been serving in Brittany.
The uncle took his nephew with him. Young Champlain
when in Spain managed to ingratiate himself so much
with the Spanish authorities that he was actually commissioned as a captain to take a king's ship out to the
West Indies.    No sooner did he reach Spanish America
1 Afterwards the Sieur de Champlain.   The title of Sieur (from the Latin Senior)
is the origin of the English "sir", and is about equivalent to an English baronetcy.
53 54
Pioneers in Canada
than he availed himself of the first chance to explore it.
For two years he travelled over Cuba, and above all
Mexico. He visited the narrowest part of Central America
and conceived the possibility of making a trans-oceanic
canal across the Panama isthmus.
When he got back to France he placed before Henry IV
a report on Spanish Central America, together with a project for making a canal at Panama. Henry IV was so
pleased with his work and enterprise that he gave him a
pension and the title of Geographer to the King. Shortly
afterwards he met Governor de Chastes at Dieppe, and
was by him sent out to Canada. The ship which carried
Champlain, Pont-Grave,1 the Sieur de Monts,2 and
other French adventurers (together with two Amerindian
interpreters whom Pont-Grave had brought from Canada
to learn French) arrived at Tadoussac on May 24, 1603.
Champlain lost no time in commencing his explorations. Tadoussac was at the mouth of an important river,
called by the French the Saguenay, a name which they
also applied to the mysterious and wonderful country
through which it flowed in the far north; a country rich
in copper and possibly other precious metals. Champlain
ascended the Saguenay River for sixty miles as far as
the rapids of Chicoutima. The Amerindians whom he
met here told him of Lake St. John, lying at a short
distance to the west, and that beyond this lake and the
many streams which entered it there lay a region of
uplands strewn with other lakes and pools; and farther
away still began the sloping of the land to the north
till the traveller sighted a great arm of the salt sea,
and found himself amongst tribes (probably the Eskimo)
who ate raw flesh, and to the Indians appeared absolute
1 Correctly written this was Francois Grave*, Sieur du Pont.
3 The full name was Pierre du Guast, Sieur de Monts. Including de Champlain
and de Poutrincourt, who will be described later, we have here the four great heroes
who founded French Canada. The Foundation of Canada :-;      55
savages.1 This was probably the first allusion, recorded
by a European, to the existence of Hudson's Bay, that
huge inlet of the sea, which is one of the leading features
in the geography of British North America.
The Montagnais Indians round about Tadoussac received Champlain with great protestations of friendship,
and at the headquarters of their principal chief or " Sagamore " celebrated this new friendship and alliance with
a feast in a very large hut. The banquet, as usual, was
preceded by a long address from the Sagamore in answer
to the description of France, given by one of the Indian
interpreters. The address was accompanied by the solemn
smoking of tobacco, and at every pause in this grave oration the natives present shouted with one voice: W Ho! ho!
ho!" The repast consisted of elk's meat (which struck
the Frenchmen as being like beef), also the flesh of bear,
seal, beaver, and wild fowl. There were eight or ten stone
boilers or cauldrons full of meats in the middle of the great
hut, separated each six feet from each other, and each one
having its own fire. Every native used a porringer or
vessel made of birch bark. When the meat was cooked
a man in authority distributed it to each person. But
Champlain thought the Indians ate in a very filthy manner.
When their hands were covered with fat or grease they
would rub them on their own heads or on the hair of their
dogs.. Before the meat was cooked each guest arose,
took a dog, and hopped round the boilers from one end
of the great hut to the other. Arriving in front of the
chief, the Montagnais Indian feaster would throw his
dog violently to the ground, exclaiming: "Ho! ho! ho!"
after which he returned to his place.
At the close of the banquet every one danced, with the
1 The real name for this remarkable people, the Eskimo, is, in Alaska and Arctic
North America, Innuit, and in Labrador and Greenland, Karalit. Eskimo (in French,
Esquimaux) is said to be a corruption of the Montagnais-Indian word, Eskimantsik,
meaning " eaters of raw flesh ". 56
Pioneers in Canada
skulls of their Iroquois enemies slung over their backs.
As they danced they slapped their knees with their hands,
and shouted: | Ho! ho! ho!" till they were out of breath.
The huts of these Indians were low and made like
tents, being covered with the bark of the birch tree. An
opening about a foot of the top was left uncovered to
admit light and to allow the smoke to escape. Though
low, the huts were sometimes quite large, and would
accommodate ten families. These slept higgledy-piggledy
on skins, with their dogs amongst them. The dogs in
appearance were something like what we know as Eskimo
dogs, and also rather resembled the Chinese chow, with
broad heads and rather short muzzles, prick ears, and a
tail inclined to curl over the back. "All these people
have a very cheerful disposition, laughing often, yet at
the same time they are somewhat phlegmatic. They
talk very deliberately, as if desiring to make themselves
well understood, and, stopping suddenly, they reflect for
a long time, when they resume their discourse."
They were agile, well-proportioned people, who in
the summertime went about nearly naked, but in the
winter were covered with good furs of elk, otter, beaver,
bear, seal, and deer. The colour of their skin was usually
a pale olive, but the women for some reason made themselves much darker-skinned than the men by rubbing
their bodies with pigments which turned them to a dark
brown. At times they suffered very much from lack of
food, being obliged then to frequent the shore of the
river or gulf to obtain shellfish. When pressed very
hard by famine they would eat their dogs (their only
domestic animal) and even the leather of the skins with
which they clothed themselves. In the autumn they were
much given to fishing for eels, and they dried a good
deal of eel flesh, to last them through the winter. During
the height of the winter they hunted the beaver, and later
on the elk.    Though they ate wild roots and fruits when- The Foundation of Canada 57
ever they could obtain them, they do not seem to have
cultivated any grain or vegetables. In the early spring
they were sometimes dying of hunger, and looked so thin
and haggard that they were mere walking skeletons. They
were then ready to eat carrion that was putrid, so that
it is little wonder that they suffered much from scurvy.
Yet the rivers and the gulf abounded in fish, and as
soon as the waters were unlocked by the melting of the ice
in April, the surviving Indians rapidly grew fat and well,
and of course the late summer and the autumn brought
them nuts (hickory and other kinds of walnut, and hazel
nuts), wild cherries, wild plums, raspberries, strawberries,
gooseberries, blackberries, currants,1 cranberries, and
grapes.
Champlain observed amongst them for the first time
the far-famed Amerindian snowshoes, which he compares
very aptly for shape to a racquet used in tennis.
Champlain next visited the site of Stadacona, but there
was no longer any settlement of Europeans at that place,
nor were the native Amerindians the descendants of the
Hurons that had received Jacques Cartier. For the first
time the name Quebec (pronounced Kebek) is applied to
this point where the great River St. Lawrence narrows
before dividing to encircle the Isle of Orleans. In fact,
Quebec meant in the Algonkin speech a place where a river
narrows;  for a tribe of the great Algonkin family, the
1 The wild currants so often mentioned by the early explorers of Canada are often
referred to as red, green, and blue. The blue currants are really the black currant,
now so familiar to our kitchen gardens {Ribes nigrum). This, together with the red
currant {Ribes rubrum), grows throughout North America, Siberia, and eastern
Europe. The unripe fruit may have been the green currants alluded to by Champlain,
or these may have been the white variety of our gardens. The two species of wild
strawberry which figure so frequently in the stories of these early explorers are Fra-
garia vesca and F. virginiana. From the last-named is derived the cultivated strawberry of Europe. The wild strawberries of North America were larger than those of
Europe. Champlain does not himself allude to gooseberries (unless they are his gro-
seilles vertes), but later travellers do. Three or more kinds of gooseberry grow wild
in Canada, but they are different from the European species. The blueberry so often
mentioned by Champlain (bluets or blues) was Vaccinium canadense. 58
Pioneers in Canada
Algonkins, allied to the tribes of Maine and New Brunswick, had replaced the Hurons as the native inhabitants
of this region.
On the shore of Quebec he noticed Ifdiamonds" in
some slate rocks—no doubt quartz crystals. Proceeding
on up the River St. Lawrence he observed the extensive
woods of fir and cypress (some kind of Thuja or Juniper)^
u
3S,   "wild   pears",   hazel   nuts,
the undergrowth of
cherries, red currants and green currants, and | certain
little radishes of the size of a small nut, resembling truffles
in taste, which are very good when roasted or boiled".
As they advanced towards the interior the country became
increasingly mountainous on the south (the green mountains of New Hampshire), and was more and more beautiful—"the pleasantest land yet seen". Landing on the
south bank of the St. Lawrence, west of the entrance of the
river of the Iroquois (the Richelieu), he found magnificent
forests, which, besides the trees already mentioned, included oaks, chestnuts, maples, pines, walnut-like nut
trees,1 aspens, poplars, and beeches; with climbing hops
and vines, strawberries trailing over the ground, and raspberry canes and currant bushes " growing in the thick
grass". These splendid woods on the islands and banks
of the broad river were full of game: elks,2 wapiti deer,
Virginian deer, bears, porcupines, hares, foxes, beavers,
otters, and musk rats, besides many animals he could not
recognize.
At last his little expedition in "a skiff and canoe' had
to draw into the bank, warned by the noise that they were
approaching a great fall of water—the La Chine or St.
Louis Rapids. Champlain wrote: "I saw, to my astonishment, a torrent of water descending with an impetuosity
1 Of the genera Juglans and Carya.
3 The huge deer of the genus A Ices. Elk is the old Scandinavian name. Moose,
derived from the Kri language, is the Canadian term, '' Elk " being misapplied to the
wapiti (red) deer.   Champlain calls the elk orignac, its name in Algonkin. The Foundation of Canada
59
such as I have never before witnessed. ... It descends as
if in steps, and at each descent there is a remarkable boiling, owing to the force and swiftness with which the water
traverses the fall, which is about a league in length. . . .
The territory on the side of the fall where we went overland
consists, so far as we saw it, of very open wood, where one
can go with his armour without much difficulty."
From the Algonkin Indians in the neighbourhood of
these St. Louis Rapids, and also from those living near
Quebec, Champlain obtained a good deal of geographical
information to add to his own observations. He was given
an idea, more or less correct, of Lake Ontario, the Falls
of Niagara, Lake Erie and Lake Huron, and perhaps also
of Lake Superior, a sea so vast, said the Amerindians, that
the sun set on its horizon. This sheet of water, Champlain
calculated, must be 1200 miles distant to the west, and
therefore identical with the gj Mer du sud" (Pacific Ocean),
which all North-American explorers for three centuries
wished to reach.
After collecting much information about possible copper
mines in the regions north and south of the Lower St.
Lawrence, and of silver1 in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia,
and a terrible story which he more than half believed about
a monster of prodigious size, the Gougou? Champlain set
sail for France at the end of August, 1603.
In April, 1604, Champlain accompanied the Sieur de
Monts (who had succeeded the dead Amyard de Chastes
as head of a chartered fur-trading association) in a fresh
expedition to North America, together with a hundred and
1 Or lead mixed with silver. The local natives used this ore, which was white when
beaten, for their arrowheads.
2 The Gougou dwelt on the small island of Miscon, to the east of the Bay of Cha-
leurs. It had the form of a woman but was about a hundred feet high. Its habit was
to catch and devour men and women, whom it first placed in a pocket capacious
enough to hold a small ship. Its roarings and hissings could be heard at times coming
from the island of Miscon, where the Gougou lay concealed. Even a Frenchman, the
Sieur PreVert, had heard these noises. Probably this islet had a whirlpool communicating with a cavern into which fishermen were sucked by the current. 6o
Pioneers in Canada
jral   nobl(
twenty artisans and several noblemen. lhey were to
occupy the lands of "Cadie" (Acadia, Nova Scotia),
Canada, and other places in New France. De Monts
thought Tadoussac and Quebec too cold in wintertime,
and preferred the sunnier east coast regions. He aimed
indeed at colonizing what is now New England.
On the way to Nova Scotia, the expedition was nearly
wrecked on Sable Island, about one hundred and twenty
miles south of Cape Breton Island, and noticed there the
large red cattle run wild from the bulls and cows landed
on Sable Island by the Portuguese some sixty years earlier.
(The Portuguese of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries
deserved well of humanity for the generous way in which
they left cattle, goats, pigs, and rabbits to run wild on
desert islands and serve as provender for shipwrecked
mariners like Robinson Crusoe.) Champlain also speaks
of the "fine large black foxes" which he and other voyagers noticed on Sable Island. How they came there is
a mystery, unless the island had once been part of the
mainland.
This same Sable Island had been the scene of an extraordinary experiment at the end of the previous century.
In 1598 the Marquis de la Roche, given a commission to
colonize New France, sailed in a small ship for North
America with sixty convicts from French prisons as colonists. He landed them on Sable Island, and went away to
look for some good site for his colony. But then a storm
arose, and his little ship was literally blown back to France.
The convict% abandoned thus, built themselves shelters out
of the driftwood of wrecks; killed and ate the cattle and
caught fish. They made themselves warm clothes out ot
the skins of the seals which frequented the island coast
in thousands. But these convicts quarrelled and fought
among themselves so fiercely that when at last a ship from
Normandy came to take them away, there were only twelve
left—twelve shaggy men with long tangled hair and beards; The Foundation of Canada    I   61
and, a legend says, in addition a Franciscan monk who
had been landed on the island with them as a kind of
missionary or chaplain, and who had been so heartbroken
at their bloody quarrels and horrible deeds that when the
Norman ship arrived to take the castaways back to France,
the Franciscan refused to go with them, believing himself
to be dying and wishing to end his life undisturbed. So
he was left behind. But after the ship had sailed away
he slowly mended, grew well and strong, and cultivated
eagerly his little garden. For food he ate the whelks,
mussels, and oysters that were so abundant on the shore.
Occasionally ships (then as now) were wrecked on Sable
Island in stormy weather, and the good monk ministered
to the mariners who reached the shore. Also he was
visited, ever and again, by the Breton fishing boats,
which brought him supplies of necessaries and the bread
and wine for celebrating Mass. Long after his death his
spirit was thought to haunt the desolate island.
Champlain and his companions passed on from Sable
Island to the south-east coast of Nova Scotia, noticing as
they landed here and there the abundance of rabbits1 and
sea birds, especially the Greak Auk, of which they killed
numbers with sticks, cormorants (whose fishy eggs they
ate with enjoyment), puffins, guillemots, gulls, terns,
scissorbills, divers, ospreys, buzzards, and falcons; and
no doubt the typical American white-tailed sea eagles,
ravens, ducks, geese, curlews, herons, and cranes. Here
and there they found the shore "completely covered with
sea wolves "—seals, of course, probably the common seal
and the grey seal. Of these they captured as many as
they wanted, for the seals, like most of the birds, were
quite unafraid of man.
They then explored the Bay of Fundy, and, after zigzagging about, decided to fix on the harbour of St. John's
1 There are no real rabbits in America.   This was probably the Polar Hare {Lefus
timidus glacialis), or the common small varying hare (Z» americanus). 62
Pioneers in Canada
(New Brunswick) as the site for their colony. The future
capital of New France, therefore, was begun on La Sainte
Croix (Dochet) Island, near the mouth of the wonderful
tidal estuary of the Uigudi (Ouygoudy) River.
Here they passed the winter, but suffered so badly from
scurvy1 that, when in the spring of 1605 Du Pont Grave
arrived from Brittany with supplies, the remnant of the
colony was removed to the opposite coast of Nova Scotia to
Port Royal (afterwards named by the English Annapolis2).
The French seem to have fallen in love with this place
from the very first. Nevertheless here they suffered from
scurvy during the winter as elsewhere. Before moving
over here, however, Champlain, together with De Monts,
had explored the west of New England south of New
Brunswick as far as Plymouth, just south of Boston.
Off the coast of Maine (Richmond's Island) they encountered agricultural Amerindians of a new tribe, the
Penobskot probably, who cultivated a form of rank narcotic tobacco (Nicotiana rustica), which they called Petun.
(A variety of this has produced the handsome garden flower
Petunia, whose Latin name is derived from this native word
Petun.) They also grew maize or Indian corn, planting
very carefully three or four seeds in little mounds three
iHow awful was this "mal de terre" or scurvy amongst the French settlers may
be seen from this description of Champlain: " There were produced in the mouths of
those who had it great pieces of superfluous and drivelling flesh, which got the upper
hand to such an extent that scarcely anything but liquid could be taken. Their teeth
became very loose and could be pulled out with the fingers without its causing them
pain. . . . Afterwards a violent pain seized their arms and legs, which remained
swollen and very hard, all spotted as if with fleabites; and they could not walk on
account of the contraction of the muscles. . . . They suffered intolerable pains in the
loins, stomach, and bowels, and had a very bad cough and short breath. . . . Out of
seventy-nine who composed our party, thirty-five died and twenty were on the point
of death (when spring began in May)."
Scurvy is said to be a disease of the blood caused by a damp, cold, and impure
atmosphere combined with absence of vegetable food and a diet of salted or semi-
putrid meat or fish, such as was so often the winter food of Amerindians and of the
early French pioneers in Canada. We have already noted Cartier's discovery of the
balsam remedy. 2 From Queen Anne. The Foundation of Canada
63
feet apart one from the other, the soil in between being
kept clear of weeds. The American farmers of to-day
cannot adopt any better method.
The islands round about Portland (Maine) were matted
all over with wild red currants, so that the eye could
scarcely discern anything else. Attracted by this fruit,
clouds of wild pigeons had assembled.1 They manifested
hardly any fear of the French, who captured large numbers
of them in snares, or killed them with guns. The natives
of southern Maine fled with dismay on sighting the
French ships, for they had never before seen sailing
vessels, but later on they timidly approached the French
ships in a canoe, then landed and went through a wild
dance on the shore to typify friendliness. Champlain
took with him some drawing paper and a pencil or crayon,
together with a quantity of knives and ship's biscuit.
Landing alone, he attracted the natives towards him by
offering them biscuits, and having gathered them round
him (being of course as much unable to understand their
speech as they were French), he proceeded to ask questions
by means of certain drawings, chiefly the outlines of the
coast. The savages at once seized his idea, and taking
up his pencil drew on the paper an accurate outline of
Massachusetts Bay, adding also rivers and islands unknown to the French. They went on by further intelligent
signs to supply information. For instance, they placed
six pebbles at equal distances to intimate that Massachusetts Bay was occupied by six tribes and governed
by as many chiefs. By drawings of growing maize and
other plants they intimated that all these people lived
by agriculture.
Champlain thought Massachusetts (in his first voyage)
1 The pigeons referred to by Champlain were probably the Passenger pigeon {Ecto-
pistes) which at one time was extraordinarily abundant in parts of North America,
though it has now been nearly killed out by man. It would arrive in flocks of millions
on its migratory journeys in search of food. 64
Pioneers in Canada
a most attractive region in the summer, what with the
blue water of the enclosed arms of the sea, the lofty forest
trees, and the fields of Indian corn and other crops.
When these French explorers reached the harbour of
Boston, the islands and mainland were swarming with
the native population. The Amerindians were intensely
interested in the arrival of the first sailing vessel they
had ever seen. Although it was only a small barque,
its size was greater than any canoe known to them. As
it seemed to spread huge white wings and to glide silently
through the water without the use of paddles or oars, it
filled them with surprise and admiration. They manned
all their canoes1 and came out in a flotilla to express their
honour and reverence for the wonderful white men. But
when the French took their leave, it was equally obvious
that the natives experienced a sense of relief, for they
were disquieted as well as filled with admiration at the
arrival of these wonderful beings from an unknown
world.
Champlain describes the wigwams or native huts as
being cone-shaped, heavily thatched with reeds, with an
opening at the top of the roof for the smoke to escape.
Inside the huts was a low bed raised a foot from the
ground and made of short posts driven into the ground,
with a surface made of boards split from trees. On these
boards were laid either the dressed skins of deer or bear,
or thick mattresses made of reeds or rushes. The beds
were large enough for several people to lie on. Champlain describes the huts as being full of fleas, and likewise the persons of the nearly naked Indians, who carried
these fleas out with them into the fields when they were
working, so that the Frenchmen by stopping to talk to
1 It is interesting to learn from his accurate notes that in Massachusetts (and from
thence southwards) there were no more bark canoes, but that the canoes were '' dugouts "—trunks of tall trees burnt and chipped till they were hollowed into a narrow
vessel of considerable length. The Foundation of Canada
65
the natives became covered with fleas to such an extent
that they were obliged to change their clothes.
In the fields were cultivated not only maize, but beans
similar to the beans grown by the natives of Brazil,
vegetable marrows or pumpkins, Jerusalem artichokes1,
radishes, and tobacco. The woods were filled with oaks,
walnut trees2, and the red "cedar" of North America,
really a very large juniper, the foliage of which in the
summertime often assumes a reddish colour, together
with the trunk. This Virginian juniper or "red cedar"
is now quite a common tree in England. In warm
weather it exhales a delicious aromatic scent.
All these natives of the Massachusetts coast were described by Champlain as being almost naked in the
summertime, wearing at most a small piece of leather
round the waist, and a short robe of spun hemp which
hung down over the shoulders. Their faces were painted
red, black and yellow. The men pulled out any hairs
which might come on the chin, and thus were beardless.
They were armed with pikes, clubs, bows, and arrows.
The pikes were probably made of wood with the ends
hardened by being burnt to a point in the fire, and the
arrow tips were made of the sharp termination of the
tail of the great king-crab.3
1 This tuber, which is a well-known and very useful vegetable in England, comes
from the root of a species of sunflower {Helianthus tuberosus). It has nothing to do
with the real artichoke, which is a huge and gorgeous thistle, and it has equally nothing
to do with Jerusalem. The English people have always taken a special delight in mispronouncing and corrupting words in order to produce as much confusion as possible
in their names for things. Jerusalem is a corruption of Girasole, which is the Italian
name given to this sunflower with the edible roots, because its flower is supposed
always to turn towards the sun. The Jerusalem artichoke was originally a native of
North America.
2 These walnut trees were afterwards known in modern American speech as hickories, butter-nuts, and pig-nuts, all of which are allied to, but distinct from, the
European walnut.
3 Limulus polyphemus. This extraordinary crustacean is one of the oldest of living
animals in its history, as it is closely related to the Xiphosura and even the Trilobites
of the Primary Epoch, which existed millions of years ago. In a rough way it is a
kind of connecting link between the Crustacea, or crabs and lobsters, and the Scorpions
and spiders.
(C 312) 5 66
Pioneers in Canada
These Massachusetts "Indians" described to Champlain a wonderful bird which at some seasons of the year
they caught in snares and ate. This Champlain at once
guessed was the wild turkey, now, of course, quite extinct
in that region. This wild turkey of the eastern half of
North America (including southern Canada) was quite
a distinct form from the Mexican bird, which last is the
origin of our domestic turkey.
In July, 1606, as De Monts had not returned from
France, and the little colony at Port Royal was without
supplies, they decided to leave two Frenchmen in charge
of the local chief of the Mikmak Indians, and find their
way along the coast to Cape Breton, where they might
get a fishing vessel to take them back to France. But
after travelling in an open boat—a chaloupe—round the
coast of Nova Scotia they met another small boat off
Cape Sable, under the charge of the secretary of De
Monts, and learnt that Lieutenant-General de Poutrin-
court1 (one of the great names amongst the pioneers of
Canada, and the man who had really chosen Port Royal
for the French headquarters at Nova Scotia) had already
returned from France with fresh supplies. Consequently,
Champlain and his companions returned to Port Royal,
and all set to work with eagerness to develop the settlement. Champlain relates in his book how he created
vegetable gardens, trout streams and ponds, and a reservoir of salt water for sea fish; but he was soon off
again on a fresh journey of exploration, because De
Monts was not satisfied with Nova Scotia on account of
the cold in winter. Accordingly Champlain examined
the whole coast round the Bay of Fundy, and down to
Cape Cod, and the islands of Martha's Vineyard and
Nantucket. But in this region, already visited in past
times by French, Spanish, and English ships, they found
ijean de Biencourt, the Sieur de Poutrincourt and Baron de Saint-Just, were his
full titles. The Foundation of Canada
67
the natives treacherous and hostile. An unprovoked attack was made on the French after they landed, and
several of the seamen were killed with arrows.
On the 24th of May, 1607, a small barque of six or
seven tons burden (fancy crossing the wide Atlantic from
Brittany to Nova Scotia in a ship of that size at the present
day!) arrived outside Port Royal from France, with an
abrupt notification that De Monts' ten years' monopoly
and charter were cancelled by Henry IV, and that all the
colony was to be withdrawn and brought back to France.
Henry IV took this action simply because De Monts
attempted to make his monopoly a real one,1 and stop the
ships of fur traders who were trading with the Amerindians
of Cape Breton without his licence. These fur traders of
Normandy then complained bitterly that because De Monts
was a Protestant he was allowed not only to have this
monopoly, but to endanger the spiritual welfare of the
savages by spreading his false doctrines! So King Henry
IV, volatile and capricious, like most of the French kings,
cancelled a charter which had led to such heroic and
remarkable results.
The greater part of the little colony had to leave Port
Royal and make its way in small boats along the Nova
Scotia coasts till they reached Cape Breton Island. Here
fishing vessels conveyed them back to Brittany. It was in
this boat journeying along the coast of Nova Scotia that
Champlain discovered Halifax Harbour, then called by
the Indian name of Shebuktu. As they passed along this
coast with its many islands, they feasted on ripe raspberries, which grew everywhere "in the greatest possible
quantity ".
Poutrincourt, however, had succeeded in taking back
1 You will observe that neither the French nor the English sovereigns of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries went to much personal expense over the creation of
colonies. They simply gave a charter or a monopoly, which cost them nothing, but
which made other people pay.
_— Pioneers in Canada
with him samples of the corn, wheat, rye, barley, and oats
which had been so successfully grown on the island of
Sainte Croix and at Port Royal, and also presented to that
monarch five brent-geese1 which he had reared up from
eggs hatched under a hen. The king was so delighted at
these presents that he once more veered about and gave
to De Monts the monopoly of the fur trade for one more
vear, in order to enable him to renew his colonies in New
France.
The Sieur de Monts was again appointed by Henry IV
Lieutenant-General in New France. The latter engaged
Champlain as his lieutenant, and also sent out Du Pont
Grave in command of the second vessel, as head of the
trading operations. This time, on the advice of Champlain, the expedition made its way directly to the St.
Lawrence River, stopping first at Tadoussac, where Du
Pont Grave proceeded to take very strong measures with
the Basque seamen, who were infringing his monopoly by
trading with the natives in furs. Apparently they were
still allowed to continue their whale fishery.
Once more Champlain heard from the Montagnais
Indians of the great Salt Sea to the north of Saguenay,
in other words, the southern extension of Hudson's Bay;
and in his book he notes that the English in these latter
years "had gone thither to find their way to China".
However, he kept his intent fixed on the establishment of
a French colony along the St. Lawrence, and may be said
to have founded the city of Quebec (the site of which was
then covered with nut trees) on the 4th of July, 1608. Then
his enterprise was near being wrecked by a base conspiracy
got up between a surgeon and a number of French artisans,
who believed that by seizing and killing Champlain, and
then handing over the infant settlement to the Spanish
1 Branta canadensis, a handsome black-and-brown goose with white markings,
which the French pioneers in Canada styled "outarde" or "bustard", and whose
eggs were considered very good eating. The Foundation of Canada
69
Basques, they might enable these traders and fishermen
with their good strong ships to overcome Du Pont Grave,
and seize the whole country. Naturally (they believed)
the Basques would reward the conspirators, who would
thus at a stroke become rich men. They none of them
wished to go to France, but would live here independent
of outside interference. A conspirator, however, revealed
the plot to Champlain as he was planting one of the
little gardens which he started as soon as he had been
in a place a few days. He went about his business very
discreetly, arrested all the leading conspirators, gave them
a fair trial, had the ringleader executed by Pont Grave,
and sent three others back to France. After this he settled
down at Quebec for the winter, taking care, however, in
the month of October, to plant seeds and vines for coming
up in the spring.
In the summer of 1609 Champlain, apparently with the
idea of thus exploring the country south of the St. Lawrence, decided to accompany a party of Algonkins and
Hurons from Georgian Bay and the neighbourhood of
Montreal, who were bent on attacking the Iroquois confederacy in the Mohawk country at the headwaters of the
Hudson River. He was accompanied by two French
soldiers—Des Marais and La Routte—and by a few Montagnais Indians from Tadoussac.
The Hurons1 were really of the same group (as regards
language and descent) as the Iroquois (Irokwa), but in
those days held aloof from the five other tribes who had
formed a confederacy2 and alliance under the name of
1 Huron was a French name given to the westernmost group of the Iroquois family
(see p. 159). The Huron group included the Waiandots, the Eries or Erigas, the
Arendaronons, and the Atiwandoronk or "neutral" nation. The French sometimes
called all these Huron tribes "the good Iroquois". Iroquois was probably pronounced !' Irokwa", and seems to have been derived from a word like Irokosia, the
name of the Adirondack mountain country.
2 The confederacy was founded about 1450 by the great Hiawatha (of Longfellow's
poem), himself an Onondaga from south of Lake Ontario, but backed by the Mohawks
only, in the beginning of his work.
_ 'O
Pioneers in Canada
Ongwehonwe—"Superior Men". The Iroquois (Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Kayugas, and Senekas)
dominated much of what is now New York State, and
from the mountain country of the Adirondaks and Cat-
skills descended on the St. Lawrence valley and the
shores of Lakes  Ontario and  Huron to  rob and  mas
sacre.
The route into the enemy's country lay along the
Richelieu River and across Lake Champlain to its southern
end, in sight of the majestic snow-crowned Adirondak
Mountains. On the way the allies stopped at an island,
held a kind of review, and explained their tactics to Champlain. They set no sentries and kept no strict watch at
night, being too tired; but during the daytime the army
advanced as follows: The main body marched in the centre
along the warpath; a portion of the troops diverged on
either side to hunt up food for the expedition; and a third
section was told off for jj intelligence " work, namely, they
ran on ahead and roundabout to locate the enemy, looking
out especially along the rivers for marks or signals showing
whether friends or enemies had passed that way. These
marks were devised by the chiefs of the different tribes,
and were duly communicated to the war leaders of tribes
in friendship or alliance, like our cipher codes; and equally
they were changed from time to time to baffle the enemy.
Neither hunters nor main body ever got in front of the
advance guard, lest they should give an alarm. Thus
they travelled until they got within two days or so of the
enemies' headquarters; thenceforward they only marched
by night, and hid in the woods by day, making no
fires or noise, and subsisting only on cooked maize
meal.
At intervals the soothsayers accompanying the army
were consulted for signs and omens; and when the war-
chiefs decided on their plan of campaign they summoned
all the fighting men to a smooth place in a wood, cut sticks The Foundation of Canada 71
a foot long (as many as there were warriors), and each leader
of a division "put the sticks in such order as seemed to
him best, indicating to his followers the rank and order
they were to observe in battle. The warriors watched carefully this proceeding, observing attentively the outline which
their chief had made with the sticks. Then they would
go away and set to placing themselves in such order as
the sticks were in. This manoeuvre they repeated several
times, and at all their encampments, without needing a
sergeant to maintain them in the proper order they were
able to keep accurately the positions assigned to them"
(Champlain).
The Hurons who were accompanying Champlain frequently questioned him as to his dreams, they themselves
having a great belief in the value of dreams as omens and
indications of future events. One day, when they were
approaching the country of the Iroquois, Champlain
actually did have a dream. In this he imagined that he
saw the Iroquois enemies drowning in a lake near a mountain. Moved to pity in his dream he wished to help them,
but his savage allies insisted that they must be allowed
to die. When he awoke he told the Amerindians of his
dream, and they were greatly impressed, as they regarded
it as a good omen.
Near the modern town of Ticonderoga the Hurons and
Algonkins of Georgian Bay and Ottawa met a party of
Iroquois, probably of the Mohawk tribe. The Iroquois
had built rapidly a stockade in which to retreat if things
should go badly with them, but the battle at first began
in the old heroic style with as much ceremony as a French
duel. First the allies from the St. Lawrence asked the
Iroquois what time it would suit them to begin fighting
the next day; then the latter replied: "When the sun is
well up, if you don't mind? We can see better then to kill
you all." Accordingly in the bright morning the Hurons
and Algonkins advanced against the circular stockade of
—_ 72
Pioneers in Canada
the Iroquois, and the Iroquois marched out to fight in
great pomp, their leaders wearing plumed headdresses.
With this exception both parties fought quite naked, and
armed only with bows and arrows.
"I marched twenty paces in advance of the rest"
(wrote Champlain) "till I was within about thirty paces
of the Iroquois. ... I rested my musket against my
cheek, and aimed directly at one of the three chiefs.
With the same shot two fell to the ground, and one of
their men was so wounded that he died some time afterwards. I had loaded my musket with four balls. When
they saw I had shot so favourably for them, they (the
Algonkins and Hurons) raised such loud cries that one
could not have heard it thunder.
"Meantime the arrows flew on both sides. The Iroquois were greatly astonished that two men had been so
quickly killed, though they were equipped with armour
woven from copper thread and with wood, which was
proof against their arrows."
Whilst Champlain was loading to fire again one of
his two companions fired a shot from the woods, whereupon the Iroquois took to flight, abandoning their camp
and fort. As they fled they threw off their armour of
wooden boards and cotton cloth.
As to the way in which the Hurons tortured their
Iroquois prisoners, Champlain writes of one instance.
"They commanded him (the prisoner) to sing, if he
had courage, which he did, but it was a very sad song."
The Hurons kindled a fire, and when it was well alight
they each took a brand from the blaze, the end of which
was red-hot, and with this burnt the bodies of their prisoners tied to stakes. Every now and then they stopped
and threw water over them to restore them from fajnting.
Then they tore out their finger nails and applied fire to
the extremities of the fingers. After that they tore the
scalps off their heads, and poured over the raw and bleed- The Foundation of Canada
73
ing flesh a kind of hot gum. Then they pierced the arms
of the prisoners near the wrists, and drew up their sinews
with sticks inserted underneath, trying to tear them out
by force, and, if failing, cutting them. One poor wretch
"uttered such terrible cries that it excited my pity to see
him treated in this manner, yet at other times he showed
such firmness that one would have said he suffered scarcely
any pain at all".
In this case Champlain, seeing that the man could not
recover from his injuries, drew apart and shot him dead,
"thus putting an end to all the tortures he would have
suffered ".
But the savage Hurons were not yet satisfied. They
opened the corpse and threw its entrails into the lake.
Then they cut off head, arms, and legs, and cut out the
heart; this they minced up, and endeavoured to force the
other prisoners to eat it.
With those of his allies who were Montagnais Indians
from Tadoussac, Champlain returned to that place. As
they neared the shore the Montagnais women undressed
themselves, jumped into the river, and swam to the prows
of the canoes, from which they took the heads of the slain
Iroquois. These they hung about their necks as if they
had been some costly chain, singing and dancing meanwhile.
However, in spite of these and other horrors, Champlain had "separated from his Upper Canadian allies
with loud protestations of mutual friendship ", promising
to go again into their country and assist them with continued "fraternal" relations.
From this expedition Champlain learned much regarding the geography of eastern North America, and he
brought back with him to France, to present to King
Henry IV, two scarlet tanagers—one of the commonest
and most beautiful birds of the eastern United States—a
girdle of porcupine quills made from the Canadian por- 74
Pioneers in Canada
cupine, and the head of a gar-pike caught in Lake Champlain.1
On Champlain's return from France in 1610 (he and
other Frenchmen and Englishmen of the time made surprisingly little fuss about crossing the North Atlantic in
small sailing vessels, in spite of the storms of spring and
autumn) he found the Iroquois question still agitating
the minds of the Algonkins, Montagnais, and Hurons.
Representatives of these tribes were ready to meet this
great captain of the Mistigosh or Matigosh2 (as they called
the French), and implored him to keep his promise to take
part in another attack on the dreaded enemy of the Adiron-
dak heights. Apparently the Iroquois (Mohawks) this
time had advanced to meet the attack, and were ensconced
in a round fortress of logs built near the Richelieu River.3
The Algonkins and their allies on this expedition were
armed with clubs, swords, and shields, as well as bows
and arrows. The swords of copper (?) were really knife
blades attached to long sticks like billhooks. Before the
barricade, as usual, both parties commenced the fight by
hurling insults at each other till they were out of breath,
and shouting "till one could not have heard it thunder".
The circular log barricade, however, would  never have
1 Unconsciously, no doubt, he brought away with him to the King of France one of
the most remarkable freshwater fish living on the North-American continent, for the
gar-pike belongs, together with the sturgeon and its allies, to an ancient type of fish
the representatives of which are found in rock formations as ancient as those of the
Secondary and Early Tertiary periods. Champlain may be said to have discovered
this remarkable gar-pike {Lepidosteus osseus), which is covered with bony scales "so
strong that a poniard could not pierce them ". The colour he describes as silver-grey.
The head has a snout two feet and a half long, and the jaws possess double rows of
sharp and dangerous teeth. These teeth were used by the natives as lancets with
which to bleed themselves when they suffered from inflammation or headache. Champlain declares that the gar-pike often captures and eats water birds. It would swim in
and among rushes or reeds and then raise its snout out of the water and keep perfectly
still. Birds would mistake this snout for the stump of a tree and would attempt to
alight on it; whereupon the fish would seize them by the legs and pull them down
under the water.
2 Spelt by Champlain with a "ch" instead of sh.
8 Then called the Riviere des Iroquois. The Foundation of Canada 75
been taken by the Algonkins and their allies but for the
assistance of Champlain and three or four Frenchmen,
who with their musketry fire at short range paralysed the
Iroquois. Champlain and one other Frenchman were
wounded with arrows in the neck and arm, but not seriously. The victory of the allies was followed by the usual
torture of prisoners, which Champlain made a slight—
only slight—attempt to prevent.
But results far more serious arose from these two
skirmishes with the Iroquois in 1609 and 1610. The
Confederacy of the Five Nations (afterwards six) realized
that they had been attacked unprovoked by the dominant
white men of the St. Lawrence, called by the Montagnais
Mistigosh} and by the Iroquois A doresetui (u men of iron",
from their armour). They became the bitter enemies of
the French, and tendered help first to the Dutch to establish themselves in the valley of the Hudson, and secondly
to the English. In the great Colonial wars of the early
eighteenth century the Iroquois were invaluable allies to
th'e British forces, Colonial and Imperial, and counted for
much in the struggle which eventually cost France Nova
Scotia, New Brunswick, Maine, the two Canadas, and
Louisiana. On the other hand, the French alliance with
the Hurons, Algonkins, and Montagnais, begun by this
brotherhood-in-arms with Champlain, secured for France
and the French such widespread liking among the tribes
of Algonkin speech, and their allies and friends, that the
two Canadas and much of the Middle West, together with
Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois, became French in
sympathy without any war of conquest. When the French
dominion over North America fell, in 1759, with the capture of Quebec by Wolfe's army, tribes of Amerindians
went on fighting for five years afterwards to uphold the
banner and the rule of the beloved French king.
On Champlain's next visit to Canada, in 1610, he
handed over to the Algonkin  Indians a French youth 76
Pioneers in Canada
r
named Etienne Brule (see p. 88), to be taught the Algonkin
language (the use of which was spread far and wide over
north-east America), and, further, sent a Huron youth
to France to be taught French. Between 1611 and 1616
he had explored much of the country between Montreal
(the foundations of which city he may be said to have
laid on May 29, 1611, for his stockaded camp is now
in the centre of it) and Lakes Huron and Ontario,
especially along the Ottawa River, that convenient short
cut (as a water route) between the St. Lawrence at Sault
St. Louis (Montreal) and Lakes Huron and Superior.
With short portages you can get in canoe's from Montreal to the waters of Hudson Bay, or to Lake Winnipeg
and the base of the Rocky Mountains.
In exploring this "River of the Algonkins" (as he
called it), Champlain was nearly drowned between two
rocks, and much hurt, from over bravery and want of
knowledge of how to deal with a canoe on troubled water;
but on June 4, 1613, he stood on the site of the modern
city of Ottawa—the capital of the vast Canadian Dominion
—and gazed at the marvellous Rideau or Curtain Fall,
where the Rideau River enters the Ottawa. But the air
was resonant with the sound of falling water. Three miles
above the falls of the Gatineau and the Rideau, the main
Ottawa River descended with a roar and a whirl of white
foam and rainbow-tinted mist into the chasm called the
Chaudiere or Kettle. On a later occasion he describes
the way in which the Algonkins propitiated the Spirit of
the Chasm:
" Continuing our way, we came to the Chaudiere Falls,
where the savages carried out their customary ceremony.
After transporting their canoes to the foot of the fall they
assemble in one spot, where one of them takes up a collection on a wooden platter, into which each person puts
a bit of tobacco. The collection having been made, the
plate is placed in the midst of the troop, and all dance The Foundation of Canada 77
about it, singing after their style. Then one of the
captains makes an harangue, setting forth that for a long
time they have been accustomed to make this offering,
by which means they are ensured protection against their
enemies, that otherwise misfortune would befall them from
the evil spirit. This done, the maker of the harangue
takes the plate and throws the tobacco into the midst of
the cauldron (the chasm of foaming water), whereupon
they all together raise a loud cry. These poor people
are so superstitious, that they would not believe it possible
for them to make a prosperous journey without observing
this ceremony at this place; for sometimes their enemies
(Iroquois) await them at this portage, not venturing to
go any farther on account of the difficulty of the journey.
Consequently they are occasionally surprised and killed
by the Iroquois at this place (the south bank of the
Ottawa)." >fl
Above the Chaudiere Champlain met the Algonkin
chief, Tessouat, and thus described the burial places of
his tribe:
"On visiting the island I observed their cemeteries,
and was struck with wonder as I saw sepulchres of a shape
like shrines, made of pieces of wood fixed in the ground
at a distance of about three feet from each other, and
intersecting at the upper end. On the intersections above
they place a large piece of wood, and in front another
upright piece on which is carved roughly, as would be
expected, the figure of the male or female interred. If
it is a man, they add a shield, a sword attached to a handle
after their manner, a mace, and bow and arrows. If it
is a chief, there is a plume on his head, and some other
matachia or embellishment. If it is a child, they give
it a bow and arrow, if a woman or girl, a boiler, an earthen
vessel, a wooden spoon, and an oar. The entire sepulchre
is six or seven feet long at most, and four wide; others are
smaller.    They are painted yellow and red, with various 78
Pioneers in Canada
ornaments as neatly done as the carving. The deceased is
buried with his dress of beaver or other skins which he
wore when living, and they lay by his side all his possessions, as hatchets, knives, boilers, and awls, so that these
things may serve him in the land whither he goes; for they
believe in the immortality of the soul, as I have elsewhere
observed. These carved sepulchres are only made for
the warriors, for in respect to others they add no more
than in the case of women, who are considered a useless
class, accordingly but little is added in their case."
In the summer of 1615 Champlain, returning from
France, made his way up the Ottawa River, and, by a
short portage, to Lake Nipissing, thence down French
River to the waters of Lake Huron. On the banks of
the French River he met a detachment of the Ottawa
tribe (of the Algonkin family). These people he styled
the Cheveux Peleves, because the men's hair was gathered
up and dressed more carefully and becomingly on the
top of the head than (he says) could at that time be
done by a hairdresser in France. This arrangement of
the hair gave the men a very handsome appearance, but
here their toilet ended, for they wore no clothes whatever
(in the summertime), making up for this simplicity by
painting their faces in different colours, piercing their
ears and nostrils and decorating them with shell beads,
and tattooing their bodies and limbs with elaborate patterns.
These Ottawas carried a club, a long bow and
arrows, and a round shield of dressed leather, made
(wrote Champlain) "from the skin of an animal like the
buffalo".1 The chief of the party explained many things
to the white man  by drawing with a  piece of charcoal
xThis was the first intimation probably that any European sent home for publication regarding the existence of the bison in North America, though the Spanish
explorers nearly a hundred years before Champlain must have met with it in travelling
through Louisiana, Texas, and northern Mexico. The bison is not known ever to
have existed near Hudson Bay, or in Canada proper (basin of the St. Lawrence).
South of Canada it penetrated to Pennsylvania and the Susquehanna River, but not
farther eastward. The Foundation of Canada
on the white bark of the birch tree. He gave him to
understand that the present occupation of his band of
warriors was the gathering of blueberries, which would
be dried in the sun, and could then be preserved for eating
during the winter.
From French River, Champlain passed southwards to
the homeland of the Hurons, which lay to the east of
what Champlain called "the Fresh Water Sea" (Lake
Huron). This country he describes in enthusiastic terms.
The Hurons, like the other Iroquois tribes (and unlike
the hunting races to the north of them), were agriculturists, and cultivated pumpkins, sunflowers,1 beans and
Indian corn.
The Hurons persuaded Champlain to go with them to
attack the Iroquois tribe of the Senekas (Entuh6norons)
on the south shores of Lake Ontario. On the way thither
he noticed the abundance of stags and bears, and, near
the lake, of cranes, white and purple-brown.2
On the southern shores of the lake3 were large numbers
1The Amerindians of the Lake regions made much use of the sunflowers of the
region {Hetianthus muliiflorus). Besides this species of sunflower already mentioned,
which furnishes tubers from its roots (the "Jerusalem " artichoke) others were valued
for their seeds, and some or all of these are probably the originals of the cultivated
sunflower in European gardens. The largest of these was called Soleille by the French
Canadians. It grew in the cultivated fields of the Amerindians to seven or eight feet
in height, with an enormous flower. The seeds were carefully collected and boiled.
Their oil was collected then from the water and was used to grease the hair. This
same Huron country (the Simcoe country of modern times) was remarkable for its wild
fruits.    There was the Canada plum {Prunus americana), the wild black cherry
i (Prunus serotina), the red cherries (P. pennsylvanica), the choke cherry (P. vir-
giniana), wild apples (Pyrus coronaria), wild pears (a small berry-like pear called
"poire" by the French: Pyrus canadensis), and the may-apple {Podophyllum pelta-
| turn). Champlain describes this ntay-apple as of the form and colour of a small
lemon with a similar taste, but having an interior which is very good and almost like
! that of figs. The may-apples grow on a plant which is two and a half feet high, with
not more than three or four leaves like those of the fig tree, and only two fruits on
; each plant.
2 The cranes of Canada—so often alluded to by the French explorers as " Grues "—
are of two species, Grus canadensis, with its plumage of a purple-grey, and Grus
; americanus, which is pure white (see p. 139).
8 Lakes Ontario and Huron were probably first actually reached by Father Le
Caron, a RecoUet missionary who came out with Champlain in 1615 (see p. 90), and
I by Etienne Brule, Champlain's interpreter. 8o
Pioneers in Canada
of chestnut trees, u whose fruit was still in the burr. The
chestnuts are small but of a good flavour." The southern
country was covered with forests, with very few clearings.
After crossing the Oneida River the Hurons captured
eleven of the Senekas, four women, one girl, three boys,
and three men. The people had left the stockade in which
their relations were living to go and fish by the lake
shore. One of the Huron chiefs—the celebrated Iroquet,
who had been so much associated with Champlain from
the time of his arrival—proceeded at once to cut off the
finger of one of these women prisoners. Whereupon
Champlain, firmer than in years gone by, interposed
and reprimanded him, pointing out that it was not the
act of a warrior such as he declared himself to be, to
conduct himself with cruelty towards women "who had
no defence but their tears, so that one should treat them
with humanity on account of their helplessness and weakness ". Champlain went on to say that this act was base
and brutal, and that if he committed any more of such
cruelties he, Champlain, "would have no heart to assist
or favour them in the war". To this Iroquet replied
that their enemies treated them in the same manner, but
that since this was displeasing to the Frenchmen he
would not do anything more to women, but he would
not promise to refrain from torturing the men.
However, in the subsequent fighting which occurred
when they reached the six-sided stockade of the Senekas
(a strong fortification which faced a large pond on one
side, and was surrounded by a moat everywhere else
except at the entrance), the Hurons and Algonkins showed
a great lack of discipline. Champlain and the few Frenchmen with him, by using their arquebuses, drove the enemy
back into the fort, but not without having some of their
Indian allies wounded or killed. Champlain proposed
to the Hurons that they should erect what was styled in
French a cavalier—a kind of box, with high, loopholed Hi
The Foundation of Canada   |    81
;ides, which was erected on a tall scaffolding of stout
timbers. This was to be carried by the Hurons to within
a pike's length of the stockade. Four French arquebusiers
jthen scrambled up into the cavalier and fired through the
loopholes into the huts of the Seneka town. Meantime
the Hurons were to set fire, if possible, to the wooden
stockade* They managed the whole business so stupidly
that the fire produced no effect, the flames being blown
in the opposite direction to that which was desired. The
brave Senekas threw water on to the blazing sticks and
put out the fire. Champlain was wounded by an arrow
in the leg and knee. The reinforcement of the five hundred Hurons expected by the allies did not turn up.
The Hurons with Champlain lost heart, and insisted on
retreating. Only the dread of the French firearms prevented the retreat being converted into a complete disaster.
Whenever the Senekas came near enough to get speech
jwith the French they asked them "why they interfered
jwith native quarrels".
Champlain being unable to walk, the Hurons made
a kind of basket, similar to that in which they carried
their wounded. In this he was so crowded into a heap,
and bound and pinioned, that it was as impossible for
him to move "as it would be for an infant in his swaddling
clothes". This treatment caused him considerable pain
after he had been carried for some days; in fact he suffered
agonies while fastened in this way on to the back of a savage.
He was afterwards obliged to pass the winter of 1615-6
in the Huron country. At that time it swarmed with
game. Amongst birds, there were swans, white cranes,
Ibrent-geese, ducks, teal, the redbreasted thrush (which
the Americans call " robin "), brown larks {Anthus), snipe,
and other birds too numerous to mention, which Champlain seems to have brought down with his fowling-piece
in sufficient quantities to feed the whole party whilst
waiting for the capture of deer on a large scale.
(0 312) 6 82
Pioneers in Canada
Meanwhile, many of the Indians were catching fish,
"trout and pike of prodigious size". When they desired
to secure a large number of deer, they would make an
enclosure in a fir forest in the form of the two converging
sides of a triangle, with an open base. The two sides of
these traps were made of great stakes of wood closely
pressed together, from 8 to 9 feet high; and each of the
sides was 1000 yards long. At the point of the triangle
there was a little enclosure. The Hurons were so expeditious in this work that in less than ten days these
long fences and the "pound" or enclosure at their convergence were finished. They then started before daybreak
and scattered .jthemselves in the woods at a considerable
distance behind the commencement of these fences, each
man separated from his fellow by about 80 yards. Every
Huron carried two pieces of wood, one like a drumstick
and the other like a flat, resonant board. They struck
the flat piece of wood with the drumstick and it made a
loud clanging sound. The deer who swarmed in the
forest, hearing this noise, fled before the savages, who
drove them steadily towards the converging fences. As
they closed up, the Hurons imitated very cleverly the
yapping of wolves. This frightened the deer still more,
so that they huddled at last into the final enclosure,
where they were so tightly packed that they were completely at the men's mercy. "I assure you," writes
Champlain, "there is a singular pleasure in this chase,
which takes place every two days, and has been so
successful that in thirty-eight days one hundred and
twenty deer were captured. These were made good use
of, the fat being kept for the winter to be used as we
do butter, and some of the flesh to be taken to their
homes for their festivities."
Champlain himself, in the winter of 1615, pursuing
one day a remarkable bird "which was the size of a hen,
had a beak like a parrot and was entirely yellow, except The Foundation of Canada   J;   83
I for a red head and blue wings, and which had the flight
lof the partridge"—a bird I cannot identify—lost his way
in the woods. For^two days he wandered in the wilderness, sustaining himself by shooting birds and roasting
them. But at last he found his way back to a river which
he recognized, and reached the camp of the Hurons, who
were extremely delighted at his return. Had they not
found him, or had he not come back of himself, they
told him that they could never again have visited the
French for fear of being held responsible for his death.
By the month of December of this year (1615) the
drivers, lakes, and ponds were all frozen. Hitherto,
Champlain had had to walk when he could not travel
in a canoe, and carry a load of twenty pounds, while
the Indians carried a hundred pounds each. But now
the water was frozen the Hurons set to work and made
their sledges. These were constructed of two pieces of
board, manufactured from the trunks of trees by the
patient use of a stone axe and by the application of fire.
These boards were about 6 inches wide, and 6 or 7 feet
long, curved upwards at the forward end and bound together by cross pieces. The sides were bordered with strips
of wood, which served as brackets to which was fastened
the strap that bound the baggage upon the sledge. The
load was dragged by a rope or strap of leather passing
round the breast of the Indian, and attached to the end
of the sledge. The sledge was so narrow that it could
be drawn easily without impediment wherever an Indian
could thread his way over the snow through the pathless
forests.
The rest of the winter and early spring Champlain
spent alone, or in company with Father Joseph Le Caron
(one of the Recollet missionaries), visiting the Algonkin
and Huron tribes in the region east of Lake Huron. He
has left this description of the modern country of Simcoe,
the home, three hundred years ago, of the long-vanished Pioneers in Canada
Hurons1; and gives us the following particulars of their
home life. The Huron country was a pleasant land, most
of it cleared of forest. It contained eighteen villages, six
of which were enclosed and fortified by palisades of wood
in triple rows, bound together, on the top of which were
galleries provided with stores of stones, and birch-bark
buckets of water; the stones to throw at an enemy, and
the water to extinguish any fire which might be put to
the palisades. These eighteen villages contained about
two thousand warriors, and about thirty thousand people
in all. The houses were in the shape of tunnels, and
were thatched with the bark of trees. Each lodge or
house would be about 120 feet long, more or less, and
36 feet wide, with a 10-foot passage-way through the middle
from one end to the other. On either side of the tunnel
were placed benches 4 feet high, on which the people slept
in summer in order to avoid the annoyance of the fleas
which swarmed in these habitations. In winter time they
slept on the ground on mats near the fire. In the summer
the cabins were filled with stocks of wood to dry and be
ready for burning in winter. At the end of each of these
long houses was a space in which the Indian corn was
preserved in great casks made of the bark of trees. Inside
the long houses pieces of wood were suspended from the
roof, on to which were fastened the clothes, provisions,
and other things of the inmates, to keep them from the
attacks of the mice which swarmed in these villages.
Each hut might be inhabited by twenty-four families,
who would maintain twelve fires. The smoke, having
no proper means of egress except at either end of the
long dwelling, and through the chinks of the roof, so
injured their eyes during the winter season that many
people lost their sight as they grew old.
"Their life", writes Champlain, "is a miserable one
1 They were almost completely exterminated by the Iroquois confederacy between
thirty and forty years after Champlain's visit. c3:s
ALEXANDER HENRY THE ELDER  The Foundation of Canada 85
in comparison with our own, but they are happy amongst
■themselves, not having experienced anything better, nor
imagining that anything more excellent could be found."
These Amerindians ordinarily ate two meals a day,
land although Champlain and his men fasted all through
Lent, "in order to influence them by our example", that
1 was one of the practices they did not copy from the
French.
The Hurons of this period painted their faces black
land red, mixing the colours with oil made from sunflower
seed, or with bears' fat. The hair was carefully combed
land oiled, and sometimes dyed a reddish colour; it might
1 be worn long or short, or only on one side of the head.
The women usually dressed theirs in one long plait.
Sometimes it was done up into a knot at the back of the
head, bound with eelskin. The men were usually dressed
in deerskin breeches, with gaiters of soft leather. The
shoes ("Moccasins") were made of the skin of deer,
bears, or beavers. In addition to this the men in cold
weather wore a great cloak. The edges of these cloaks
would often be decorated with bands of brown and red
colour alternating with strips of a whitish-blue, and
ornamented with bands of porcupine quills. These,
which were originally white or grey in colour, had been*
previously dyed a fine scarlet with colouring matter from
the root of the bed-straw {Galium tinctorum). The women
were loaded with necklaces of violet or white shell beads,
bracelets, ear-rings, and great strings of beads falling
below the waist. Sometimes they would have plates of
leather studded with shell beads and hanging over the
back.
In 1616 Champlain returned to France, but visited
Quebec in 1617 and 1618. During the years spent at
Quebec, which followed his explorations of 1616, he was
greatly impeded in his work of consolidating Canada as
a   French   colony  by  the   religious  strife   between   the 86
Pioneers in Canada
Catholics and Huguenots, and the narrow-minded greed
of the Chartered company of fur-trading merchants for
whom he worked. But in 1620 he came back to Canada
as Lieutenant-Governor (bringing his wife with him), and
after attending to the settlement of a violent commercial
dispute between fur-trading companies he tried to compose the quarrel between the Iroquois and the Algonkins,
and brought about a truce which lasted till 1627.
In 1628 came the first English attack on Canada. A
French fleet was defeated and captured in the Gulf of
Sf:. Lawrence, and in the following year ChamplainJ
having been obliged to surrender Quebec (he had only
sixteen soldiers as a garrison, owing to lack of food),
voyaged to England more or less as a prisoner of state
in the summer of 1629. He found, on arriving there,
that the cession of Quebec was null and void, peace
having been concluded between Britain and France two
months before the cession. Charles I remained true to
his compact with Louis XIII, and Quebec and Nova
Scotia were restored to French keeping. In 1633 Champlain returned to Canada as Governor, bringing with him
a considerable number of French colonists. It is frorm
i6jj that the real French colonization of Canada beginsm
hitherto there had been only one family of settlers in the
fixed sense of the word; the other Frenchmen were fur
traders, soldiers, and missionaries. But Champlain only
lived two years after his triumphant return, and died at
Quebec on Christmas Day, 1635.
His character has been so well summed up by DrJ
S. E. Dawson, in his admirable book on the Story of the
St. Lawrence Basin, that I cannot do better than quote
his words:
"Champlain was as much at home in the brilliant
court of France as in a wigwam on a Canadian lake, as
patient and politic with a wild band of savages on Lake
Huron as with a crowd of grasping traders in St.  Malo The Foundation of Canada
87
or Dieppe. Always calm, always unselfish, always depending on God, in whom he believed and trusted, and
thinking of France, which he loved, this single-hearted
man resolutely followed the path of his duty under all
circumstances; never looking for ease or asking for profit,
loved by the wild people of the forest, respected by the
courtiers of the king, and trusted by the close-fisted
merchants of the maritime cities of France." CHAPTER V
After Champlain: from Montreal to the
Mississippi
A very remarkable series of further explorations were
carried out as the indirect result of Champlain's work.
In 1610 he had allowed a French boy of about eighteen
years of age, named Etienne Brule, to volunteer to
go away with the Algonkins, in order to learn their language. Brule was taken in hand by Iroquet,1 a chief of
the "Little Algonkins", whose people were then occupying the lands on either side of the Ottawa River, including
the site of the now great city of Ottawa. After four years
of roaming with the Indians, Brule was dispatched by
Champlain with an escort of twelve Algonkins to the
headwaters of the Suskuehanna, far to the south of Lake
Ontario, in order to warn the Andastes2 tribe of military
operations to be undertaken by the allied French, Hurons,
and Algonkins against the Iroquois. This enabled Brule
to explore Lake Ontario and to descend the River Suskuehanna as far south as Chesapeake Bay, a truly extraordinary journey at the period. This region of northern
Virginia had just been surveyed by the English, and was
soon to be the site of the first English colony in North
America.3
1 Mentioned on p. 80.
2 The Andastes were akin to the Iroquois, but did not belong to their confederacy;
they lived in Pennsylvania.
3 The inaccurate statement has frequently been written about Newfoundland being
"the first British American colony". Newfoundland was reached by the ship in
which John Cabot sailed on his 1497 voyage of discovery, and a few years after-
88 After Champlain 89
In attempting to return to the valley of the St. Lawrence in 1616, with his Andaste guides, Brule lost his
way, and to avoid starvation surrendered himself to the
Seneka Indians (the westernmost clan of the Iroquois)
against whom the recent warlike operations of the French
were being directed. Discovering his nationality, the
Senekas decided to torture him before burning him to
death at the stake. As they tore off his clothes they
found that he was wearing an Agnus Dei medal next
his skin. Brule told them to be careful, as it was a
medicine of great power which would certainly kill them.
By a coincidence, at that very moment a terrific thunderstorm burst from a sky which until recently had been all
sunshine. The Senekas were so scared by the thunder
and lightning that they believed Brule to be a person of
supernatural powers. They therefore released him, strove
to heal such slight wounds as he had incurred, and carried
him off to their principal town, where he became a great
favourite. After a while they gave him guides to take
him north into the country of the Hurons.
His further adventures led him to discover Lake
Superior and the way thither through the Sault Ste.
Marie, and to reach a place probably not far from the
south coast of Hudson Bay, in which there was a copper
mine. Then he explored the Montagnais country north
of Quebec, and even at one time (in 1629) entered the
service of the English, who had captured Quebec and
Tadoussac from the French. When the English left this
region Brule travelled again to the west and joined the
Hurons once more.
wards its shores were sought by the English in common with the French and the
Portuguese, and later on the Spaniards and Basques, for the cod fishery. But no
definite British settlement, such as subsequently grew into an actual colony, was
founded in Newfoundland until the year 1624; the island was not recognized as
definitely British till 1713, and no governor was appointed till 1728. The first permanent English colonial settlement in America was founded at Jamestown, Virginia,
in 1607; and in the Bermudas and Barbados (West Indies) soon afterwards. 90
Pioneers in Canada
His licentious conduct amongst his Indian friends
seems to have roused them to such a pitch of anger that
in 1632 they murdered him, then boiled and ate his body.
But immediately afterwards misfortune seemed to fall on
the place. The Hurons were terrified at what they had
done, and thought they heard or saw in the sky the spirits
of the white relations of Brule—some said the sister, some
the uncle—threatening their town (Toanche), which they
soon afterwards burnt and deserted.
In 1615 Champlain, returning from France, had
brought out with him friars of the Recollet order.1
These were the pioneer missionaries of Canada, prominent
amongst whom was Father Le Caron, and these Recol-
lets traversed the countries in the basin of the St. Lawrence
between Lake Huron and Cape Breton Island, preaching
Christianity to the Amerindians as well as ministering
to the French colonists and fur traders. One of these
Recollet missionaries died of cold and hunger in attempting to cross New Brunswick from the St. Lawrence to the
Bay of Fundy, and another—Nicholas Viel—was the first
martyr in Canada in the spread of Christianity, for when
travelling down the Ottawa River to Montreal he was
thrown by the pagan Hurons (together with one of his
converts) into the waters of a rapid since christened Sault
le Recollet. Another Recollet, Father d'Aillon, prompted
by Brule, explored the richly fertile, beautiful country
known then as the territory of the Neutral nation, that
group of Huron-Iroquois Amerindians who strove to keep
aloof from the fierce struggles between the Algonkins and
Hurons on the one hand and the eastern Iroquois clans
1 The Recollet (properly Recollect) friars were a strict branch of the Franciscan
order that were sometimes called the Observantines. They were also known as "Recollects " (pronounced in French ricollet) because they were required to be constantly
keeping guard over their thoughts. This development of the Franciscan order of
preaching missionary friars was originally a Spanish one, founded early in the sixteenth
century, and becoming well established in the Spanish Netherlands. Many of them
were Flemings or Walloons. After Champlain 91
on the other. This region, which lies between the Lakes
Ontario, Erie, and Huron, is the most attractive portion
of western Canada. Lying in the southernmost parts
of the Dominion, and nearly surrounded by sheets of
open water, it has a far milder climate than the rest of
eastern Canada.
In 1626 the Jesuit order supplanted the Recollets, and
commenced a campaign both of Christian propaganda and
of geographical exploration which has scarcely finished in
the Canada of to-day.
In 1627 the war between the Iroquois Confederacy
and the Huron and Algonkin tribes recommenced, and
this, together with the British capture of Quebec and
other portions of Canada, put a stop for several years to
the work of exploration. This was not resumed on an
advanced scale till 1634, wnen Champlain, unable himself,
from failing health, to carry out his original commission
of seeking a direct passage to China and India across
the North - American continent, dispatched a Norman
Frenchman named Jean Nicollet to find a way to the
Western Sea. Nicollet, as a very young man, had lived
for years amongst the Amerindian tribes, especially
amongst the Nipissings near the lake of that name.
Being charged, amongst other things, with the task of
making peace between the Hurons and the tribes dwelling
to the west of the great lakes, Nicollet discovered Lake
Michigan. He was so convinced of the possibility of
arriving at the Pacific Ocean, and thence making his
way to China, that in the luggage which he carried in
his birch-bark canoe was a dress of ceremony made of
Chinese damask silk embroidered richly with birds and
flowers. He was on his way to discover the Winnebago
Indians, or "Men of the Sea", of whom Champlain had
heard from the Hurons, with whom they were at war. But
the great water from which they derived their name was
not in this instance a sea,  but the Mississippi   River. 92
Pioneers in Canada
The Winnebago Indians were totally distinct from the
Algonkins or the Iroquois, and belonged to the Dakota
stock, from which the great Siou confederation1 was also
derived.
Nicollet advanced to meet the Winnebagos clad in
his Chinese robe and with a pistol in each hand. As
he drew near he discharged hib pistols, and the women
and children fled in terror, for all believed him to be a
supernatural being, a spirit wielding thunder and lightning. However, when they recovered from their terror
the Winnebagos gave him a hearty welcome, and got
up such lavish feasts in his honour, that one chief alone
cooked 120 beavers at a single banquet.
Nicollet certainly reached the water-parting between
the systems of the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi,
and under that name — Misi-sipi—"great water" — he
heard through the Algonkin Indians of a mighty river
lying three days' journey westward from his last camp.
Winnebago (from which root is also derived the names
of the Lakes Winnipeg and Winnipegosis much farther
to the north-west) meant "salt" or "foul" water. Both
terms might therefore be applied to the sea, and also to
the lakes and rivers which, in the minds of the Amerindians, were equally vast in length or breadth.
From 1648 to 1653 the whole of the Canada known
to the French settlers and explorers was convulsed by
the devastating warfare carried on by the Iroquois, who
during that period destroyed the greater part of the
Algonkin and Huron clans. The neutral nation of Lake
Erie (the Erigas) was scattered, and between the shores
of Lakes Michigan and Huron and Montreal the country
was practically depopulated, except for the handfuls of
French settlers and traders who trembled behind their
fortifications. Then, to the relief and astonishment of
the French, one of the Iroquois clans—the Onondaga—
1 See p. 160. After Champlain
93
proposed terms of peace, probably because they had no
more enemies to fight of their own colour, and wished
to trade with the French.
The fur trade of the Quebec province had attracted
an increasing number of French people (men bringing
their wives) to such settlements as Tadoussac and Three
Rivers. Amongst these were the parents of Pierre Esprit
Radisson. This young man went hunting near Three
Rivers station and was captured in the woods by Mohawks
(Iroquois) who carried him off to one of their towns and
intended to burn him alive. Having bound him at a
stake, they proceeded to tear out some of his finger
nails and shoot arrows at the less vital parts of his
body. But a Mohawk woman was looking on and was
filled with pity at the sufferings of this handsome boy.
She announced her intention of adopting him as a member
of her family, and by sheer force of will she compelled
the men to release him. After staying for some time
amongst the Mohawks he escaped, but was again captured just as he was nearing Three Rivers. Once more
he was spared from torture at the intercession of his
adopted relations. He then made an even bolder bid
for freedom, and fled to the south, up the valley of the
Richelieu and the Hudson, and thus reached the most
advanced inland post of Dutch America — then called
Orange, now Albany — on the Hudson River. From
this point he was conveyed to Holland, and from Holland he returned to Canada.
Soon after his return he joined two Jesuit fathers who
were to visit a mission station of the Jesuits amongst the
Onondagas (Iroquois) on a lakelet about thirty miles southeast of the present city of Rochester. The Iroquois (whose
language Radisson had learnt to speak) received them
with apparent friendliness, and there they passed the
winter. But in the spring Radisson found out that the
Onondaga Iroquois were intending to massacre the whole 94
Pioneers in Canada
of the mission. Instructed by him, the Jesuits pretended
to have no suspicions of the coming attack, but all the
while they were secretly building canoes at their fort.
As soon as they were ready for flight, and the sun of
April had completely melted the ice in the River Oswego,
the French missionaries invited the Onondagas to a great
feast, no doubt making out that it was part of the Easter
festivities sanctioned by the Church. They pointed out to
their guests that from religious motives as well as those
of politeness it was essential that the whole of the food
provided should be eaten, "nothing was to be left on the
plate ". They set before their savage guests an enormous
banquet of maize puddings, roast pigs, roast ducks, game
birds, and fish of many kinds, even terrapins, or freshwater turtles. The Iroquois ate and ate until even their
appetites were satisfied. Then they began to cry off;
but the missionaries politely insisted, and even told them
that in failing to eat they were neglecting their religious
duties. To help them in this respect they played hymn
and psalm tunes on musical instruments. At last the
Onondagas were gorged to repletion, and sank into a
stertorous slumber at sunset. Whilst they slept, the
Jesuits, their converts, and Radisson got into the already
prepared canoes and paddled quickly down the Oswego
River far beyond pursuit.
Radisson next joined his brother-in-law, Medard
Chouart, and after narrowly escaping massacre by the
Iroquois (once more on the warpath along the Ottawa
River) reached the northern part of Lake Huron, and
Green Bay on the north-west of Lake Michigan. From
Green Bay they travelled up the Fox River and across a
portage to the Wisconsin, which flows into the Mississippi.
Down this river they sped (meeting people of the great
Siou confederation and Kri (Cree) Indians, these last an
Algonkin nation roaming in the summertime as far north
as Hudson's Bay, until at length they reached the actual After Champlain
95
waters of the Mississippi, first of all white men. Returning
then to Lake Michigan, the shores of which seemed to them
an earthly paradise with a climate finer than Italy, they
journeyed northwards into Lake Huron, and thence northwestwards through the narrow passages of St. Mary's River
into Lake Superior. The southern coast of Lake Superior
was followed to its westernmost point, where they made
a camp, and from which they explored during the winter
(in snowshoes) the Wisconsin country and collected information regarding the Mississippi and its great western
affluent the Missouri. The Mississippi, they declared, led
to Mexico, while the other great forked river in the far west
was a pathway, perhaps, to the Southern Sea (Pacific).
The Jesuits, on the other hand, were convinced that
Hudson's Bay (or the " Bay of the North ") was at no great
distance from Lake Superior (which was true) and that it
must communicate to the north-west with the Pacific Ocean
or the sea that led to China.
In 1661, without the leave of the French Governor of
Canada, who wanted them to take two servants of his own
with them and to give him half the profits of the venture,
Chouart and Radisson hurried away to the west, picked
up large bodies of natives who were returning to the
regions north of Lake Huron, with them fought their way
through the ambushed Iroquois, and once more navigated
the waters of Lake Superior. Once again they started
for the Mississippi basin and explored the country of
Minnesota, coming thus into contact with native tribes
which lived on the flesh of the bison. In Minnesota they
met a second time the Kri or Kinistino Indians of north-
central Canada, and joined one of their camps in the
spring of 1662, somewhere to the west of Lake Superior.
With Kri guides they started away to the north and northeast, no doubt by way of the Lake of the Woods, the
English River, Lake St. Joseph, and the Albany River,
thus reaching the salt sea at James Bay, the southernmost 96
Pioneers in Canada
extension of Hudson Bay. Or they may have proceeded
by an even shorter route, though with longer portages for
canoes, through Lake Nipigon to the Albany.
The summer of 1662 they passed on the islands and
shores of James Bay hunting "buffalo"1 with the Indians.
Then, in 1663, travelling back along the same route they
had followed in the previous year, they regained Lake
Superior, and so passed by the north of Lake Huron to
the Ottawa River and the St. Lawrence. But on their
return to Three Rivers they were arrested by the French
Governor, D'Avaugour, who condemned them to imprisonment and severe fines. The courts of France gave them
no redress, and in their furious anger Chouart and Radisson went over to the English, offered their services to
England, and so brought about the creation of the Hudson
Bay Company.
Radisson's journey from England to Hudson Bay has
been treated of in an earlier chapter: it is preferable to
follow out to its finish the great, western impulse of the
French, which led them to neglect for a time the doings
of the British on the east coast of North America and in
the sub-Arctic regions of Hudson Bay.
From 1660 onwards the Jesuit missionaries again took
up vigorously that work of Christianizing the Amerindians
which had been so completely checked by the frightful
ravages of the Iroquois between 1648 and 1654.
By 1669 the Jesuits had three permanent stations in
western Canada. The first was the mission station at
Sault Ste. Marie, the second was the station of Ste. Esprit,
on Lake Superior (not far from the modern town of Asht;
land), and the third was the station of St. Francois Xavier
at the mouth of the Fox River, on Green Bay, Lake
Michigan.
As regards some of the sufferings which these missionaries had to go through when travelling across Canada
1 More probably musk oxen. After Champlain
97
in the winter, I quote the following from The Relations of
the Jesuits (p. 35):—
" I [Father de Crepieul] set out on the 16th of January,
1674, from the vicinity of Lake St. John, near the Saguenay
River, with an Algonkin captain and two Frenchmen.
We started after Mass, and walked five long leagues on
snowshoes with much trouble, because the snow was soft
and made our snowshoes very heavy. At the end of five
leagues, we found ourselves on a lake four or five leagues
long all frozen over, on which the wind caused great quantities of snow to drift, obscuring the air and preventing us
from seeing where we are going. After walking another
league and a half with great difficulty our strength began
to fail. The wind, cold, and snow were so intolerable that
they compelled us to retrace our steps a little, to cut some
branches of fir which might in default of bark serve to
build a cabin. After this we tried to light a fire, but were
unable to do so. We were thus reduced to a most pitiful
condition. The cold was beginning to seize us to an extraordinary degree, the darkness was great, and the wind
blew fearfully. In order to keep ourselves from dying with
cold, we resumed our march on the lake in spite of our
fatigue, without knowing whither we were going, and all
were greatly impeded with the wind and snow. After
walking a league and a half we had to succumb in spite
of ourselves and stop where we were. The danger we ran
of dying from cold caused me to remember the charitable
Father de Noue, who in a similar occasion was found dead
in the snow, kneeling and with clasped hands. . . . We
therefore remained awake during the rest of the night. . . .
On the following morning two Frenchmen arrived from
Father Albanel's cabin very opportunely, and kindled a
great fire on the snow. . . . After this we resumed our
journey on the same lake, and at last reached the spot
where Father Albanel was. ... A serious injury, caused
by the fall of a heavy load upon his loins, prevented him
(0 312) 7 98
Pioneers in Canada
from moving, and still more, from performing a missionary's duties."
One of the Jesuit fathers, Allouez, in founding the
station of St. Francois Xavier on Green Bay, Lake
Michigan, had gained further information about the wonderful Mississippi, which he called " Messi Sipi". He
also thoroughly explored Lake Nipigon, to the north of
Lake Superior. In 1669 two missionaries, named Dollier
de Casson and Galinee, started from the seminary of St.
Sulpice (Montreal) to reach the great tribes of the far west,
supposed to be eager to learn of Christianity and known
to be much more tractable than the Iroquois. These two
missionaries, in their expedition of seven canoes and twenty-
one Amerindians, were accompanied by a remarkable
young man commonly known as La Salle, but whose real
name was Robert Cavalier.1
Before leaving Lake Ontario, they actually passed the
mouth of the Niagara River and heard the falls, but had
not sufficient curiosity to leave their canoes and walk a
short distance to see them. The wonderful cascades of
Niagara, where the St. Lawrence leaving Lake Erie
plunges 328 feet down into Lake Ontario (which is not
much above sea level), remained nearly undiscovered and
undescribed until the year 1678, when they were visited by
Father Hennepin. Near the western end of Lake Ontario
the two Sulpician missionaries met another Frenchman,
Jolliet, who had come down to Lake Superior by way
of the Detroit passage, which is really the portion of the
St. Lawrence connecting Lake Huron with Lake Erie.
Jolliet told the missionary de Casson of a great tribe in
the far west, the Pottawatomies, who had asked for missionaries, and who were of Algonkin stock. La Salle, on
the other hand, was determined to make for the rumoured
Ohio River, which lay somewhere to the south-west of
Lake Erie.
1 La Salle was the name of his property in France After Champlain 99
The two Sulpicians wintered in "the earthly paradise"
to the north of Lake Erie, passing a delightful six months
there in the amazing abundance of game and fish. They
then met with various disasters to their canoes, and consequently gave up their western journey, passing northwards through Detroit and Lake St. Clair into Lake
Huron, and thence to the Jesuit mission station of the
Sault Ste. Marie. Here they were received rather coldly,
as being rivals in the mission field and in exploration.
They in their turn accused the Jesuits of thinking mainly,
if not entirely, of the foundation of French colonies, and
very little of evangelizing the natives.
Jolliet, a Canadian by birth,1 was dispatched by the
Viceroy of Canada in 1672 to explore the far west. Two
years—1670—previously the French Government had for
the first time adopted a really definite policy about Canada,
and had taken formal possession of the Lake region and of
all the territories lying between the lakes and the Mississippi. A great assembly of Indians was held at Sault
Ste. Marie, near the east end of Lake Superior; and here
a representative of the French Government, accompanied
by numerous missionaries and by Jolliet, read a proclamation of the sovereignty of King Louis XIV of France and
Navarre. Below a tall cross was erected a great shield
bearing the arms of France. Father Allouez addressed
the Indians in the Algonkin language, and told them of
the all-powerful Louis XIV, who "had ten thousand commanders and captains, each as great as the Governor of
Quebec ". He reminded them how the troops of this king
had beaten the unconquerable Iroquois, of how he possessed innumerable soldiers and uncountable ships; that
at times the ground of France shook with the discharge
of cannon, while the blaze of musketry was like the lightning. He pictured the king covered with the blood of
his enemies and riding in the middle of his cavalry, and
i Born at Quebec in 1645. 100
Pioneers in Canada
ordering so many of his enemies to be slain that no
account could be kept of the number of their scalps,
whilst their blood flowed in rivers. The Amerindians
being what they were, addicted to warfare, and only recognizing the right of the strongest, it may be that this
gospel of force was not quite so shocking and unchristian
as it reads to us nearly 250 years afterwards, though it
jars very much as coming from the lips of a missionary
of Christianity. However, it must be remembered that
but for the valour of the French soldiers in the awful
period between 1648 and 1666 (when the Mohawks received a thorough and well-deserved thrashing) many of
the tribes addressed on this occasion by the Jesuit missionaries would have been completely exterminated; the
Iroquois would have depopulated much of north-eastern
America. It is obvious, indeed, from our study of the
conditions of life amongst the Amerindians, that one
reason why the New World was so poorly populated at
the time of its discovery by Europeans was the wars of
extermination between tribe and tribe; for America between the Arctic regions and Tierra del Fuego is marvellously well supplied with natural food products—game,
fish, fruits, nuts, roots, and grain—much more so than
any area of similar extent in the Old World.
Jolliet was to be accompanied on his westward expedition by Father Jacques Marquette,1 a Jesuit missionary who had become well acquainted with the tribes
visiting Lake Superior, and had learnt the Siou dialect of
the Illinois people. On May 17, 1673, Jolliet and Marquette started from the Straits of Michili-Makinak with
only two bark canoes and five Amerindians. They
coasted along the north coast of Lake Michigan, passed
1 Father Jacques Marquette was born in the province of Champagne, eastern
France. He came to Canada when he was twenty-nine years old, having already
been prepared by the Jesuits for priesthood and missionary work since his seventeenth
year. He spent nine years in Canada, and died at the age of thirty-eight. He has
left an enduring memory for goodness, courage, and purity of life. After Champlain 101
into Green Bay, and thence up the River Fox. They
were assisted by the Maskutins, or Fire Indians, and
were given Miami guides. Thence the natives assisted
them to transport their canoes and baggage over the very
short distance that separates the upper waters of the Fox
River from the Wisconsin River, and down the Wisconsin
they glided till they reached the great Mississippi. The
Governor of Quebec, who had sent Jolliet on this mission,
believed that the Great River of the west would lead
them to the Gulf of California, which was then called the
Vermilion Sea by the Spaniards, because it resembled in
shape and colour the Red Sea.
" On the 17th of June (1673)", writes Father Marquette,
"we safely entered the Mississippi with a joy that I cannot
express. Its current is slow and gentle, the width very
unequal. On its banks there are hardly any woods or
mountains. The islands are most beautiful, and they are
covered with fine trees. We saw deer and cattle (bison),
geese, and swans. From time to time we came upon
monstrous fish, one of which struck our canoe with such
violence that I thought it was a great tree. On another
occasion we saw on the water a monster with the head of
a tiger, a sharp nose like that of a wild cat, with whiskers
and straight erect ears. The head was grey, and the neck
quite black (possibly a lynx). . . . We found that turkeys
had taken the place of game, and the pisikiou, or wild cattle,
that of the other animals."
Father Marquette, of course, by his wild cattle means
the bison, of which he proceeds to give an excellent
description. He adds: "They are very fierce, and not
a year passes without their killing some savages. When
attacked, they catch a man on their horns if they can, toss
him in the air, throw him on the ground, then trample
him under foot and kill him. If a person fires at them
from a distance with either a bow or a gun, he must
immediately after the shot throw himself down and hide 102
Pioneers in Canada
in the grass, for if they perceive him who has fired they
run at him and atttack him."
Soon after entering the Mississippi, Marquette noticed
some rocks which by their height and length inspired awe.
"We saw upon one of them two painted monsters which
at first made us afraid, and upon which the boldest savages
dare not long rest their eyes. They are as large as a calf;
they have horns on their heads like those of deer, a horrible look, red eyes, a beard like a tiger's, a face somewhat
like a man's, a body covered with scales, and so long a
tail that it winds all round the body and ends like that of
a fish. Green, red, and black are the three colours composing the picture. Moreover, these two monsters are so
well painted that we cannot believe that any savage is
their author, for good painters in France would find it
difficult to paint so well, and, besides, they are so high
up on the rock that it is difficult to reach that place conveniently to paint them."1
As the Jolliet expedition paddled down the Mississippi
—ever so easily and swiftly—a marvellous panorama unfolded itself before the Frenchmen's fascinated gaze. ImS
mense herds of bison occasionally appeared on the river
banks, flocks of turkeys flew up from the glades and
roosted in the trees and on the river bank. Everywhere
the natives seemed friendly, and Father Marquette was
usually able to communicate with them through his knowledge of the Illinois Algonkin dialect, which the Siou
understood.
On their first meeting with the Mississippi Indians, the
French explorers were not only offered the natives' pipes
to smoke in token of peace, but an old man amongst the
latter uttered these words to Jolliet:   "How beautiful the
1 These remarkable rock pictures were situated immediately above the present city
of Alton, Illinois. In 1812 they still remained in a good state of preservation, but the
thoughtless Americans had gradually destroyed them by 1867 in quarrying the rock
for building stone. o
(A
s
o
55
1
ID
w
<
Q  After Champlain
io;
sun is, O Frenchman, when thou comest to visit us. Our
village awaits thee, and thou shalt enter all our cabins
in peace." . . . "There was a crowd of people," writes
Marquette; "they devoured us with their eyes, but nevertheless preserved profound silence. We could, however,
hear these words addressed to us from time to time in a
low voice: I How good it is, my brothers, that you should
visit us \
"... The council was followed by a great feast,
consisting of four dishes, which had to be partaken of
in accordance with all their fashions. The first course
was a great wooden platter full of sagamitd, that is to
say, meal of Indian corn boiled in water, and seasoned
with fat. The Master of the Ceremonies filled a spoon
with sagamite three or four times, and put it to my mouth
as if I were a little child. He did the same to Monsieur
Jollyet. As a second course he caused a second platter
to be brought, on which were three fish. He took some
pieces of them, removed the bones therefrom, and, after
blowing upon them to cool them, he put them in our
mouths as one would give food to a bird. For the third
course, they brought a large dog that had just been
killed, but, when they learned that we did not eat this
meat, they removed it ifrom before us. Finally, the fourth
course was a piece of wild ox, the fattest morsels of which
were placed in our mouths. . . . We thus pushed forward and no longer saw so many prairies, because both
shores of the river are bordered with lofty trees. The
cotton wood, elm and bass wood are admirable for their
height and thickness. There are great numbers of wild
cattle whom we hear bellowing. We killed a little par-
roquet, with a red and yellow head and green body.
. . . We have got down to near the 330 of latitude; . . .
We heard from afar savages who were inciting one
another to attack us by their continual yelling. They
were armed with bows and arrows, hatchets, clubs, and 104
Pioneers in Canada
shields. . . , Part of them embarked in great wooden
canoes, some to ascend, others to descend the river in
order to surround us on all sides. . . . Some young
men threw themselves into the water and seized my
canoe, but the current compelled them to return to land.
One of them hurled his club, which passed over without
striking us. In vain I showed the calumet (pipe of peace),
and made them signs that we were not coming to war
against them. The alarm continued; they were already
preparing to pierce us with arrows from all sides when
God suddenly touched the hearts of the old men who
were standing at the water's edge, who checked the ardour
of their young men. . . . Whereon we landed, not without fear on our part. First we had to speak by signs,
because none of them understood the six languages which
I spoke. At last we found an old man who could speak
a little Illinois. We informed them that we were going
to the sea.
"The next day was spent in feasting on Indian corn
and dogs' flesh. The people here had an abundance of
Indian corn, which they sowed at all seasons. They cook
it in great earthen jars which are very well made, and also
have plates of baked earth. The men go naked and wear
their hair short; they pierce their noses, from which, as
well as from their ears, hang beads. . . . Their cabins
are made of bark, and are long and wide. They sleep
at the two ends, which are raised two feet above the
ground. They know nothing of the beaver, and their
wealth consists in the skins of wild cattle. They never
see snow in their country, and recognize the winter only
through the rains."
The expedition had passed the confluence of the
Missouri and that of the Ohio, and had finally reached
the place where the Arkansas River enters the Mississippi.
Here the Frenchmen gathered from the natives that the
sea was only ten days distant, and this sea they knew After Champlain
(for Jolliet was able to take astronomical observations and
to make a rough survey) could only be the Gulf of Mexico.
Jolliet feared if he prosecuted his journey any farther, he
and his people would fall into the hands of the Spaniards
and be imprisoned, if not killed. Therefore, at this point
on the Lower Mississippi, the expedition turned back.
Its return journey was a weary business, for the current
was against the canoes as they were propelled northwards
up the Great River. But Jolliet learnt from the natives
of a better homeward route, that of following the Illinois
River upstream until the expedition came within a very
short distance of Lake Michigan, near where Chicago now
stands. Tbe canoes were carried over a low ridge of
ground, launched again in the Chicago River, and so
passed into Lake Michigan. (There is, in fact, at this
point the remains of an ancient water connection between
Lake Michigan and the Illinois River, and a canal now
connects the two systems.) Jolliet, in describing this
region, realized that by cutting a canal through two
miles of prairie it would be possible to go "in a small
ship" from Lake Erie or Lake Superior "to Florida".
Father Marquette remained at his new mission on the
Fox River (he died two years afterwards on the shores
of the Straits of Michili-makinak). Jolliet, on returning
by way of the Ottawa River to Quebec, was nearly
drowned in the La Chine Rapids (Montreal), and all his
papers and maps were lost. The natives with him also
perished, but he struggled to shore with difficulty, and
went on his way to Quebec to report his wonderful discoveries to the Governor, Frontenac. Fortunately Father
Marquette had also kept a journal and had made maps,
and these reaching the superior of his mission arrived in
time to confirm Jolliet's statements.
Jolliet married at Quebec, and proceeded to explore
and develop the regions along the north coast of the Gulf
of St. Lawrence, travelling in this work as far as Hudson's io6
Pioneers in Canada
Bay. He was given by the French Government the
Island of Anticosti as a reward for his achievements, but
the work and capital which he put into the development
of this long-neglected island came to nothing; for it was
captured by the English, and Jolliet died a poor man
whilst attempting to explore the coast of Labrador.
As to Robert Cavalier de La Salle, he had, after
all, discovered the Ohio, and had descended that river as
far as the site of the present town of Louisville. Then
he interested the Governor (Frontenac) of Canada in his
enterprises. A fort, called Fort Frontenac, was built at
what is now Kingston, at the point where the St. Lawrence leaves Lake Ontario. La Salle returned to France,
and obtained the grant of the lordship of this fort and the
surrounding country on conditions of maintaining the
whole cost of the establishment, and making a settlement
of colonists. Another visit to France in 1677-8 secured
him further support and capital, and he returned from
France with a companion, Henry de Tonty.
La Salle, with de Tonty, started from Fort Frontenac
in September, 1678, so intensely anxious to commence
his discoveries that he disregarded the difficulties of the
winter season. On his way to Niagara he paid a visit
to the Iroquois to conciliate them, and cleverly got from
them permission to build a vessel on Lake Erie and also
to erect a blacksmith's forge, near where Niagara now
stands. The blacksmith's forge grew rapidly into a fort
before the Indians were aware of what was being done.
By August, 1679, he had built and launched (in spite of
extraordinary calamities and misfortunes) on the Upper
Niagara River the first sailing boat which ever appeared
on the four great upper lakes of the St. Lawrence basin.
In this ship he sailed through Lake Erie and past
Detroit into Lake Huron, and thence to Green Bay (Lake
Michigan), stopping at intervals amongst the canoes of
the amazed natives, who for the first time heard the sound After Champlain
107
of cannon, for he had armed his vessel with guns. At
Green Bay he collected a large quantity of furs, which
had been obtained in trade by the men he had sent on
in advance. He loaded up his sailing boat, the Griffon,
and sent her on a voyage back to the east to transport
this splendid load of furs to the merchants with whom
he had become deeply indebted. Unhappily the Griffon
foundered in a storm on Lake Michigan, and was never
heard of again. Meantime La Salle, with de Tonty and
Father Hennepin, the discoverer of Niagara, had travelled
in canoes to the south-east end of Lake Michigan, had
passed up the Joseph River, and thence by portage into
the Kankaki, which flows into the Illinois. This river
he descended till he stopped near the site of the modern
Peoria. Below this place he built a fort—for it was winter
time—and although the natives were not very friendly
he collected enough information from them to satisfy himself that he could easily pass down the Illinois to the
Mississippi.
He sent one of the Frenchmen, Michel Accault, together with Father Hennepin, to explore the Illinois down
to the Mississippi; de Tonty he placed in charge of the
fort with a small garrison; and then himself, on the last
day of February, 1680, started to walk overland from Lake
Michigan to Detroit. Eventually, by means of a canoe,
which he constructed himself, he regained Fort Frontenac
and Montreal. When he returned to Fort Crevecceur, on
the Illinois River,1 it was to meet with the signs of a horrible disaster.    The Iroquois in his absence had descended
1 He had named this place " Heartbreak" because when building it he had learnt
of the loss of his sailing ship Griffon, with the splendid supply of furs which was to
have paid off his debts, with all his reserve supplies and his men. This was not the
limit of his troubles; for, after the overland journey of appalling hardships through a
country of melting ice, flood, swamp, and hostile Iroquois—the Iroquois being furious
with La Salle for having outwitted them in the building of this fort, and seeking him
everywhere to destroy him—when he got to Montreal it was only to learn that a ship,
coming from France with further supplies for his great journey had been wrecked at
the mouth of the St. Lawrence! io8
Pioneers in Canada
on the place with a great war party. They had massacred
the Illinois people dwelling in a big settlement near the
fort, and the remains of their mutilated bodies were scattered all over the place. Their town had been burnt; the
fort was empty and abandoned. There were no traces
of the Frenchmen, however, amongst the skulls and
skeletons lying around him; for the skulls retained sufficient hair to show that they belonged to Amerindians.
Nevertheless, he deposited his new stock of goods and
most of his men in the ruins of the Fort Crevecceur, and
descended the River Illinois to the Mississippi. But he
was obliged to turn back. On the west bank of the river
were the scared Illinois Indians, on the east the raging
Iroquois. Whenever La Salle could safely visit a deserted camp he would examine the remains of the tortured men tied to stakes to see if amongst them there
was a Frenchman.
But de Tonty was not dead. After incredible adventures he had escaped the raids of the Iroquois and had
reached the Straits of Michili-makinak, between Lakes
Michigan and Huron, and there met La Salle, who was
once more on his way to Montreal.
Again de La Salle and de Tonty, in the winter of 1681,
returned to the south end of Lake Michigan, and made
their way over the snow to the Illinois River. On the
6th February, 1682, they left the junction of the Illinois
and the Mississippi to trace that great river to its outlet
in the sea. La Salle reached the delta on the 6th April,
1682, having on the way taken possession of the country
in the name of the King: of France. Accault and Father
Hennepin had meantime paddled up the Northern Mississippi as far as its junction with the Wisconsin. At this
place their party was surrounded and captured by a large
band of Siou warriors.
The Frenchmen were at first in danger of being killed,
as the Sious refused to smoke with them the pipe of peace. Champl;
But being much less bloodthirsty than the Iroquois, they
soon calmed down and treated their captives with a certain
rough friendliness. All their goods were taken from them,
even the vestments worn by Father Hennepin. But they
were well supplied with food such as the country produced—bison, beef, fish, wild turkeys, and the grain of
the wild rice, which made such excellent flour. They
were gradually conveyed by the Siou1 to a large settlement of that tribe on the shore of Mille Lacs, a sheet of
water not far distant from the westernmost extremity of
Lake Superior. Whilst staying at this Siou town Hennepin conversed with Indians from the far north and
north-west, and from what they told him came to the
conclusion that there was no continuous waterway or
1 Strait of Anian" across the North-American continent,
but that the land extended to the north-west till it finally
joined the north-eastern part of Asia—a guess that was
not very far wrong. But he also surmised that there were
rivers in the far west which led to an ocean—the Pacific—
across which ships might go to Japan and China without
passing to the southward of the Equator.
Whilst moving up and down the northern Mississippi,
bison - hunting with the Indians, the Frenchmen were
met near the site of St. Paul by one of the great French
pioneers of the seventeenth century, the Sieur Daniel de
Greysolon du L'Hut. This remarkable man, who was
an officer of the French army, had already planted the
French arms at the Amerindian settlement of Mille Lacs
in 1679, and had established himself as a powerful authority at the west end of Lake Superior. He had also
summoned a great council of Amerindian tribes—the Siou
from the Upper Mississippi, the Assiniboins from the
Lake of the Woods (between Lake Superior and Lake
Winnipeg),   and   the  Kri   Indians from  Lake  Nipigon.
1 The real name of the Siou, as far as we can arrive at it through the records of the
French pioneers, was Issati or Naduessiu. IIC
Pioneers in Canada
He had further discovered, in 1679, the water route of
the St. Croix River from near Lake Superior to the
Mississippi.
Du L'Hut soon persuaded the Siou to let his fellow
countrymen return with him to Lake Superior. Accault
remained behind with the Siou, delighted with their wild,
roving life, and no doubt married an Indian wife and
became the father of some of those bold half-breeds who
played such a great part in the subsequent history of
innermost Canada. But Father Hennepin returned to
Montreal, and made his way eventually to France, where
he fell into great disgrace and was unfrocked. He had
richly merited this treatment, for after he heard of the
death of La Salle he impudently claimed the discovery
of the whole course of the Mississippi River for himself,
and for a long time was believed. He will certainly go
down in history as the man who discovered and described
Niagara Falls (in 1678), and he also assisted greatly to
clear up the geography of the time by the information he
collected from the Amerindians as to the vast extent of
the North-American continent; but he was a boastful,
unscrupulous man.
Du L'Hut, who came to the rescue of Accault and
Hennepin, was of noble family, and a member of the
king's bodyguard. He decided, however, to seek his
fortune in Canada, and obtained a commission as captain. It was his cousin, Henri de Tonty, who had accompanied La Salle. After returning to France to fight in
the wars then going on, he came back to Canada with
a younger brother, Claude. He had in him the spirit of
great adventurers, and longed to visit the unknown countries of the upper Mississippi. In the early part of these
journeys he rescued his fellow countrymen from the keeping of the Sious in the manner described. After that he
spent thirty years travelling and trading about North
America,  from   the   northern   Mississippi   into what we After Champlain
in
should now call Manitoba, and from the vicinity of Lake
Winnipeg to Hudson Bay. He brought the great Amerindian nation of the Dakotas into direct relations with the
French. He was absolutely fearless, and in no period of
Canadian history has France been more splendidly represented in the personality of any of her officers than she
was by Daniel de Greysolon du L'Hut. His was a tiresome name for English scribes and speakers. It was
therefore written by them "Duluth" and pronounced
Dalath (instead of "Diilut"). It is the name given to
the township near the southernmost extremity of Lake
Superior.
When the journeys of du L'Hut came to an end—he
died at Montreal in 1710—and after the era of great French
explorations in North America drew to a close, the French
power was beginning to be eclipsed by that of the British,
who were building up the foundations of a colony on the
shores of Hudson's Bay, and were taking steps to acquire
Newfoundland and to colonize New Brunswick and Nova
Scotia.
Nevertheless, in 1720, the King of France, or rather
the regent acting for the king, decided that a serious
attempt must be made to discover the Western Sea, or
Pacific Ocean, from the French posts which had been
established in what is now known as Manitoba. The
French had already discovered the Missouri, and had
heard from several Indian tribes that it was possible to
cross the Rocky Mountains and descend by other rivers
to the waters of a great ocean, the coasts of which were
visited by Spaniards. Several expeditions were sent out,
more or less under the control of Jesuits, but did not
accomplish much.
The really great discoveries which link the " Great
North-West" for all time in history with France and
French names were initiated by Pierre Gaultier de la
Verendrye, who was born in 1685 at the town of Three 112
Pioneers in Canada
Rivers, in Lower Canada, where his father was Governor.
He entered the army at the age of twelve, and took part
in the French campaigns in Flanders, winning the rank
of lieutenant at the battle of Malplaquet, where he received
nine wounds and was left for dead on the field. He then
returned to Canada, not having the necessary means with
which to support the position of a lieutenant; and then,
as France seemed to have entered upon a period of protracted peace, he determined to become an explorer. In
1728, when he was commandant of the trading post of
Nipigon, to the north of Lake Superior, he heard from
an Indian that there was a great lake beyond Lake
Superior, out of which flowed a river towards the west,
which ultimately led to a great salt lake where the water
ebbed and flowed. As a matter of fact, these stories
simply referred to Lake Winnipeg, but the importance
of them lay in the fact that they acted as a powerful incentive to La Verendrye to push his explorations westwards, and perhaps discover a route to the Pacific
Ocean.1
La Verendrye afterwards went to Quebec, where he
discussed his plans for Western exploration with the
Governor of New France, the Marquis de Beauharnais,
who was a distant connection of the Beauharnais family
from which sprang the first husband of the Empress
Josephine, the grandfather of Napoleon III.
This Governor entered into his scheme with enthusiasm, though he could obtain little or no money from
the ministers of Lous XVI. But a way out of the difficulty was found by the Governor giving La Verendrye
the monopoly of the fur trade in the far North-West.2
1 The water of Lake Winnipeg—whatever it may be now—was frequently stated by
Amerindians in earlier days to be "stinking water", or salt, brackish water, disagreeable to drink, and this lake exhibits a curious phenomenon of a regular risje and fall,
reminding the observer of a tide, a phenomenon by no means, confined to Lake
Winnipeg, but occurring on sheets of water of much smaller extent.
2 What we should call to-day a " concession ". After Champlain
113
This monopoly enabled La Verendrye to obtain the funds
for his expenditure from the merchants of Montreal, and
in the summer of 1731 he started out on his explorations, accompanied by three of his sons, his nephew,
fifty soldiers and French Canadian canoe men, and a Jesuit
missionary. For a guide they had the Indian, Oshagash,
who had first told La Verendrye of the western river
and the salt water. After many delays, necessitated by
the need for trading in furs to satisfy the merchants of
Montreal, La Verendrye and his expedition skated on
snowshoes down the ice of the Winnipeg River and
reached the shores of Lake Winnipeg. They were probably the first white men to arrive there. La Verendrye
established forts and posts along his route from Lake
Nipigon, but his expedition had not been a commercial
success. There was a deficit of £1700 between the amount
realized in furs and the cost of the equipment and wages
of the French and French Canadians. De Beauharnais
made a fresh appeal to the French Court; he urged that
the expenditure to convey La Verendrye's expedition to
the Pacific Ocean would not be a large one—perhaps
only ^1500.
But the French Court was obdurate; it would not
furnish a penny. Thus La Verendrye, in all probability,
was prevented from forestalling the British explorers of
sixty and seventy years later, besides the expeditions of
Captain Cook and Captain Vancouver, which secured
for Great Britain a foothold on the Pacific seaboard of
British Columbia.
La Verendrye in his fort on Lake Winnipeg was in"
a desperate position. He made a hasty journey back to
Montreal and even Quebec, to beat up funds and to
pacify the capitalists of his fur-trading monopoly. He
painted in glowing colours the prospects of cutting off
the trade of the Hudson's Bay Company and the building up of an immense commerce in valuable furs, and
( 0 312) 8 ii4
Pioneers in Canada
these men agreed once again to furnish the funds for
the extension of the expedition. On his return he took
back with him his youngest son, Louis, a boy of eighteen.
Whilst he had been absent from Fort St. Charles (a post
which he had built on the Lake of the Woods, in communication by water with the Winnipeg River), on Lake
Winnipeg, that place was visited by a party of Siou
Indians. They found the fort occupied in the absence
of the French by a number of Kri or "Knistino" Indians in French service. These Kris were frightened at
the arrival of the Sious and fired guns at them. " Who
fired on us?" demanded these haughty Indians from
Dakota, and the Kris replied, "The French". Then
the Sious withdrew, but vowed, to be completely revenged
on the treacherous white man.
When La Verendrye reached Fort St. Charles its
little garrison was almost at the point of starvation. He
had travelled himself ahead of his party, and the immense stock of supplies and provisions he was bringing
up country were a long way behind him when he reached
the fort. He therefore sent back his son Jean, together
with the most active of his Canadian voyageurs and the
Jesuit missionary, in order that they might meet the
heavily laden canoes and hurry them up country as fast
as possible. But this party was met by the Sious on
Rainy River, who massacred them to a man. They were
afterwards found lying in a circle on the beach, decapitated and mutilated. The heads of most of them
were wrapped ironically in beaver skins, and La Verendrye's son, Jean, was horribly cut and slashed, and his
mutilated, naked body decorated with garters and bracelets
of porcupine quills.
Meantime, during his absence in Lower Canada, two
of his sons in charge of Fort Maurepas, on Lake Winnipeg, had been very active. They had discovered the
great size of this lake, and also the entrance of the Red After Champlain
ii
3
River on the south. They then proceeded to explore
both the Red River and its western tributary the Assini-
boin. On the Assiniboin was afterwards built the post of
Fort La Reine, and from this place in 1738 La Verendrye
started with two of his sons, several other Frenchmen,
a few Canadian voyageurs, and twenty-five Assiniboin
Indians. Leaving the Assiniboin River, they crossed the
North Dakota prairies on foot. Owing to the timidity of
his Indian guides, La Verendrye was not led direct to
the Missouri River, the "Great River of the West",
but along a zigzag route which permitted his guides to
reinforce their numbers at Assiniboin villages, and every
now and then join in a bison hunt. All the party were
on foot, horses not then having reached the Assiniboin
tribe. But on the 28th of November, 1738, they drew
near to the Missouri and were met by a chief of the
great Mandan tribe, who was accompanied by thirty of
his warriors, and who presented La Verendrye with
young maize cobs and leaves of native tobacco, these
being regarded as emblems of peace and friendship.
The Mandan tribe differed materially in its habits
and customs from the Indians to the north, who supported themselves mainly, if not entirely, by hunting,
who cared very little for agriculture, and moved continually like nomads over great stretches of country, living
chiefly in tents or temporary villages. The Mandans,
on the other hand, were a people who practised agriculture, and had permanent and well-constructed towns.
In fact, their civilization and demeanour made such an
impression on the Assiniboin and other northern tribes
that they had been considered a sort of "white people",
somewhat akin to Europeans, and La Verendrye was
a little disappointed to find them only Amerindians in
race and colour.
The six hundred Assiniboins who had gathered about
La Verendrye's expedition proved to be a great trouble to u6
Pioneers in Canada
him, as they were constantly picking quarrels with the
Mandans, who were very dishonest. Accordingly, La
Verendrye arranged with the Mandans to frighten them
away by pretending that the Siou Indians were on the
warpath. The six hundred Assiniboins bolted, but took
with them La Verendrye's interpreter, so that he was
henceforth obliged to communicate with the Mandans by
means of signs and gestures. This and other reasons
decided him to return—even though it was the depth of
winter, to Fort La Reine, but not before he had given
the head chief of the Mandans a flag and a leaden plate
which (unknown to the Mandans) meant taking possession
of their country in the name of the French king.
The journey back to Fort La Reine, over the plains of
the Assiniboin, was a terrible experience. The party had
to travel in the teeth of an almost unceasing north-east
wind which was freezingly cold. Night after night they
were obliged to dig deep holes in the snow for their
sleeping places. La Verendrye nearly died of agonizing
pain and fatigue during this journey, and was a long
time recovering from its effects.
As they continued to receive friendly messages from
the Mandans, inviting them to make further discoveries,
La Verendrye's sons, Pierre and Francois, set out in
the spring of 1742, and, after some checks and disappointments, managed with a single Mandan guide to reach
Broad Lands on the Little Missouri River, where they
noticed the earths of different colours, blue, green, red,
black, white, and yellow, which are so characteristic of
this region. They reached the village of the Crow Indians, passed through a portion of the friendly tribe, the
Cheyennes (the name was probably pronounced Shian)
and got into the country which was constantly being
ravaged by the Snake Indians, or Shoshones. Here, on
the 1 st of January, 1743, when the mists of morning
cleared away, they saw upon the horizon the outline of fl
After Champlain
117
huge mountains. As they travelled westwards or south-
westwards, day after day, the jagged blue wall resolved
itself into towering snow-capped peaks, glittering in the
sun and provoking the appellation of "the Mountains of
Bright Stones", a name probably given to the Rocky
Mountains by the Amerindians, but used in all the
earlier French and English maps until the end of the
eighteenth century.1
On the 12th of January they reached the very foot of
the mountains, the slopes of which they saw were thickly
covered with magnificent forests of pine and fir—forests,
that have since suffered to an appalling extent from annual
bush fires, which so far the United States Government
seems unable to check. Here they were to meet with a
bitter disappointment. They were travelling with a very
large war party of the Bow Indians for the purpose, if
need be, of attacking and routing the Shoshones; but a
Shoshone camp at the base of the mountains was found to
be deserted, and the Bow Indians jumped to the conclusion
that the Shoshones had turned back through the forest
unseen, and were now making with all speed for the
principal war camp of the Bow Indians, where they would
massacre the women and children. They would listen to
no remonstrances from the two Frenchmen, who perforce
had also to travel back, either alone or with the Bow
Indians, in the direction of their war camp, where the
idea of a Shoshone attack was found to be baseless.
Eventually, the two La Verendrye brothers were obliged
to make their way to the Missouri River, and abandon
any idea of finding a way to the Western Ocean across
the Rocky Mountains.
The French pioneers had already heard of the Spaniards
1 The term Rocky Mountains was probably first officially applied by the American
expedition, under Lewis and Clarke, sent out by the United States Government in 1804
to take possession of the coast of Oregon, but it was used twenty or thirty years earlier
by British explorers of Western Canada.
o- u8
Pioneers in Canada
I
in California, and the possibility of getting into touch with
them. They had now discovered, first of all Europeans,
the Rocky Mountains—that great snowy range of North
America which extends from Robson Peak on the eastern
borders of British Columbia to Baldy Peak in New Mexico.
Afterwards the La Verendryes directed their attention
more to the opportunities of reaching the Far West
through the streams that flowed into the system of Lake
Winnipeg, and in this way discovered, in or about 1743,
the great River Saskatchewan. This river La Verendrye's
sons followed up till they reached the junction between
the North and the South Rivers, and then they probably
learnt a good deal more of the Southern Saskatchewan,
on which they may have built one or two posts. La
Verendrye himself thought that this would prove to be
the best route by which the French could reach the
Western Sea.
By this time the French Government was becoming
alive to the importance of these discoveries, and it conferred a decoration on La Verendrye, and allowed him
to hope that he might be furnished with means for further
exploration. But he died soon afterwards, at the close of
1749, and after his death his sons were treated with
gross ingratitude and neglect. The self-seeking Governor
of New France endeavoured to secure the fur trade for
his own friends, and sent an officer with a terribly long
name—Captain Jacques Repentigny Le Gardeur de Saint
Pierre—to continue the exploration towards the Pacific.
From 1750 to 1763 the French occupation of this region
of the two Saskatchewan Rivers was extended till in all
probability the French got within sight of the northern
Rocky Mountains in the vicinity of Calgary. Then came
the English conquest of Canada to stop all further enterprise in this direction, and the story was next to be taken
up by English, Scottish, and Canadian explorers.
It will  be  men with  English  and  Scottish   names, After Champlain
119
mainly, who will henceforth complete the work begun
and established so magnificently by Cartier, Brule\
Nicollet, Jolliet, La Salle, du L'Hut, and La V6rendrye,
though the French Canadians will also play a notable
part, together with " Americans". from New England.
^^*' CHAPTER VI
The Geographical Conditions of the
Canadian Dominion
Before we continue to follow the adventures of the
pioneers of British North America, I think—even if it
seems wearisome and discursive—my readers would better
understand this story if I placed before them a general
description of what is now the Dominion of Canada, more
particularly as it was seen and discovered by the earliest
European explorers.
The most prominent feature on the east, and that which
was nearest to Europe, was the large island of Newfoundland, 42,000 square miles in extent, that is to say, nearly
as large as England without Wales. It seems to bar the
way of the direct sea access by the Gulf of St. Lawrence
to the very heart of North America; and, until the Straits
of Belle Isle and of Cabot were discovered, did certainly
arrest the voyages of the earliest pioneers. Newfoundland,
as you can see on the map, has been cut into and carved
by the forces of nature until it has a most fantastic outline. Long peninsulas of hills alternate with deep,
narrow gulfs, and about the south-east and east coasts
there are innumerable islets, most of which in the days
of the early discoverers were the haunt of millions of
sea birds who resorted there for breeding purposes.
The heart of Newfoundland, so to speak, is an elevated
country with hills and mountains rising to a little over
2000 feet. A great deal of the country is, or was. dense
forests, chiefly consisting of fir trees.   As numerous al-
120 The Geographical Conditions
121
most as the sea birds were the seals and walruses which
frequented the Newfoundland coasts. Inland there were
very large numbers of reindeer, generally styled nowadays by the French-Canadian name of Caribou1. Besides
reindeer there were wolves, apparently of a smaller size
than those of the mainland. There were also lynxes and
foxes, besides polar bears, martens, squirrels, &c. The
human inhabitants of Newfoundland, whom I shall describe in the next chapter, were known subsequently by
the name of Beothuk, or Beothik, a nickname of no
particular meaning. They had evidently been separated
for many centuries from contact with the Amerindians
of the mainland, though they may have been visited
occasionally on the north by the Eskimo. They had in
fact been so long separated from the other Amerindians
of North America that they were strikingly different
from them in their habits, customs, and language.
The climate of Newfoundland is not nearly so cold
as that of the mainland, nor so hot in summer, but it is
spoilt at times by fogs and sea mists which conceal the
landscape for days together. In the wintertime, and
quite late in the spring, quantities of ice hang about the
shores of the islands, and when the warm weather comes,
these accumulations of ice slip away into the Atlantic in
the form of icebergs and are most dangerous to shipping.
To the south-east of Newfoundland the sea is very
shallow for hundreds of miles, the remains no doubt of
a great extension of North America in the direction of
Europe which had sunk below the surface ages ago. In
this shallow water—the " Banks" of Newfoundland—fish,
especially codfish, swarmed in millions, and still continue
to swarm with little, if any, diminution from the constant
toll of the fishing fleets.    Another creature found in great
1 The first Frenchmen visiting North America, and seeing the caribou without their
horns, thought they were a kind of wild ass. The reindeer of Newfoundland is a subspecies peculiar to this island.
J 122
Pioneers in Canada
abundance on these coasts is the true lobster,1 which
filled as important a part in the diet of the Beothuk
natives, before the European occupation, as the salmon
did in the dietary of the British Columbian tribes.
The next most striking feature in the geography of
Eastern North America is Nova Scotia. As you look
at it on the map this province seems to be a long
peninsula connected with the mainland by the narrow
isthmus of Chignecto; but its northernmost portion—
Cape Breton—really consists of two big and two little
islands, only separated from Nova Scotia by a very
narrow strait—the Gut of Canso. On the north of
Nova Scotia lies the large Prince Edward Island, and
north of this again the small group of the Magdalen
Islands, discovered by Cartier, the resort of herds of immense walruses at one time. Due west of Nova Scotia
the country, first flat (like Nova Scotia itself) and at one
time covered with magnificent forests, rises into a very
hilly region which culminates on the north in the Shik-
shok Mountains of the Gaspe Peninsula (nearly 4000 feet
in height) and the White Mountains (over 6000 feet) and
the Adirondak Mountains (over 5000 feet). The White,
the Green, and the Adirondak Mountains lie just within
the limits of the United States.
North of the Gaspe Peninsula, in the great Gulf of
St. Lawrence, is Anticosti Island, which rises on the south
in a series of terraces until it reaches an altitude of about
2000 feet. This island, which is well wooded, was said
to have swarmed with reindeer at one time, and perhaps
other forms of deer also, and to have possessed grizzly
bears which fed on the deer, besides Polar bears visiting
it in the winter.
1 Homarus americanus. The lobster of Newfoundland and the coasts of Northeast America is closely related to the common lobster of British waters. These true
lobsters resemble the freshwater crayfish in having their foremost pair of legs modified
into large, unequal-sized claws. The European rock-lobster of the Mediterranean and
French coasts (the langouste of the French) has no large claws. Z
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1  The Geographical Conditions       123
Newfoundland is separated from the mainland of
Labrador on the north by the Strait of Belle Isle, and
from Cape Breton Island on the south by Cabot Strait.
Labrador is an immense region on the continent, where
sthe coast (except for the deep inlet of Melville Lake) soon
rises into an elevated plateau 2000 feet in height, which is
strewn with almost uncountable lakes, out of which rivers
flow north, south, east, and west. On the north-east
corner of Labrador there are mountains from 3000 to
4000 feet, overlooking the sea. The whole of this vast
Labrador or Ungava Peninsula, which is bounded on the
south by the River and Gulf of St. Lawrence, and on
the north by Hudson's Bay and Hudson's Straits, is an
inhospitable land, at no time with much population.
"The winter of Labrador is long and severe; one
would need to have blood like brandy, a skin of brass,
and an eye of glass not to suffer from the rigours of a
Labrador winter. In the summer the frequent fogs render
the air damp, and the constant breezes from the immense
fields of ice floating in the gulf keep the land very cool, and
make any alteration in the winter dress almost unnecessary" (James M'Kenzie). Labrador and the lands farther
north on the continent of North America are separated
from Greenland on the east by the broad straits—a great
branch of the Atlantic—named after Davis and Baffin,
who first explored them. Passing up Davis Strait, along
the coast of Labrador to beyond 6o° N. lat., the voyager
comes to Hudson's Straits, which, if followed up first to
the northwards and then to the south-west, would lead
him into the great expanse of Hudson's Bay, one of
the most important features in the geography of North
America.
Hudson's Bay, which is a great inland sea with an
area of about 315,000 square miles, has a southern loop or
extension called James Bay, the shores of which are not
at a very great distance either from Lake Superior to the 124
Pioneers in Canada
south-west, or from the source of the River Saguenay on
the south. The Saguenay flows into the Lower St. Lawrence River. It is therefore not surprising that as soon
as the French began to settle in Lower Canada they heard
of a vast northern inland sea of salt water—Hudson's Bay.
But the people who discovered and surveyed Hudson's
Bay during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth
centuries were always on the search for a passage out of
its waters into the Arctic Sea, which would enable then!
to get right round America into the Pacific Ocean.
In Arctic North America Nature really seems to have
been preparing during millions of years a grim joke with
which to baffle exploring humanity! It is easy enough
to pass from Davis Straits into Hudson's Bay, but to
get out of Hudson's Bay in the direction of the Arctic
Ocean is like getting out of a very cleverly arranged maze.
There are innumerable false exits, which have disappointed
one Arctic explorer after another. When they had discovered that Hudson's Bay to the south was only like a
great bottle, and had no outlet, they explored its northern
waters; and when they found Chesterfield Inlet on the
north-west, which leads into Baker Lake, they thought
perhaps here was the passage through into the Arctic
Sea. But no; that was no good. To the north of Chesterfield Inlet was a broad channel called Roe's Welcome,
which led into Wager Bay and through frozen straits into
Fox's Channel, and this again into Ross Bay. Here only
a very narrow isthmus separates Hudson's Bay from the
Arctic Sea; but still it is an isthmus of solid land.
Turning to the north-east and north there are the broad
waters of Fox's Channel leading into Fox's Basin; but the
north-west corner of this inland sea was so blocked with ice
and islands that it was not until the year 1822 that the
real northern outlet of Hudson's Bay was discovered by
Captain Edward Parry to be the narrow Fury and
Hecla Straits (the discovery was not completed until 1839 The Geographical Conditions       125
by the Hudson's Bay Company's explorers T. Simpson
and W. Dease).
Here you have found the way out into the Gulf of
Boothia, which communicates in the north with Barrow
Strait and Baffin's Bay. But across the supposed peninsula of Boothia there were discovered, in 1847, by Dr.
John Rae (also an officer of the Hudson's Bay Company) the narrow Bellot Straits, which lead into Franklin
Straits and so into M'Clintock Channel and the Arctic
Ocean. After this you might theoretically (if the ice permitted it) sail or steam your ship through Victoria Straits
and Coronation Gulf till you got into Beaufort Sea (part
of the open Arctic Ocean), or, by turning round Prince
Albert Land, pass through the Prince of Wales' Straits
or M'Clure Straits into the same Beaufort Sea.
The North-West Passage across the Arctic extremity
of North America, therefore, did exist after all, and the
directest route would be up Davis Straits, through Hudson's Straits into Fox's Basin, then through the Fury and
Hecla Straits into the Gulf of Boothia, then through the
Bellot Straits and Franklin Straits (past Victorialand and
Kemp Peninsula) and out through the Dolphin and Union
Straits into the Arctic Ocean, and so on round the north
coast of Alaska, past Bering's Straits into Bering Sea and
the Pacific. But of course the accumulations of ice completely block continuous navigation.
The huge jagged island of Baffin's Land differs from
much of Arctic America in that it has high land rising
into mountains. This is so completely covered with ice
that it is of little interest under present circumstances to
the world of civilization, though the large herds of musk
oxen which it once supported were of much use to Arctic
explorers as a food supply in winter. The coasts are inhabited by a few thousand Eskimo, and Davis Straits and
Baffin's Bay possess a certain amount of commercial importance owing to the whale fisheries which are carried on 126
Pioneers in Canada
there by the British, the Danes, the Americans, and the
Eskimo. In fact the importance of these whale fisheries
have of late made the Americans of the United States a
little inclined to challenge the British possession of these
great Arctic islands. North Devon, North Somerset,
Prince of Wales' Land, Melville Island, Banks Land,
Prince Albert Land, &c. &c, are names of other great
Arctic islands completely within the grip of the ice. The
nature of their interior is almost unknown. They are at
present of use to no form of man unless it be to a few
wandering Eskimo, who come to their coasts in the
summer to kill seals.
The great North-West Territories of the Canadian
Dominion extend from the American frontier of Alaska
(which is the 141° of w. long.) to the Ungava Peninsula,
which abuts on Labrador. Where this vast region slopes
to the Arctic Ocean and Hudson's Bay it is rather low and
flat, except between Alaska and the Mackenzie River, and
between the Mackenzie and the watershed of Hudson's
Bay. The principal river system in the far North-West
is that of the great Mackenzie River, which flows into the
Arctic Ocean (Beaufort Sea) through an immense delta,
and is one of the longest rivers in the world. The
southernmost sources of the Mackenzie (such as the Peace
River and the Athabaska River) rise in the Rocky Mountains to the east of British Columbia. These waters are
stored for a time in Lake Athabaska, and then under the
name of Slave River flow northwards into the Great
Slave Lake, and out of this, under the name of Mackenzie River, into Beaufort Sea, through an immense
delta. The Great Bear Lake is also a feeder of the Mackenzie.
Two other Arctic rivers at one time thought to be
of great importance as means of communication with the
Arctic Ocean, are the Great Fish River, which flows into
Elliot Bay, and the Coppermine River, which enters Coro- The Geographical Conditions
12'
nation Gulf. The other northward-flowing rivers (passing
through innumerable lakes and lakelets) enter Hudson's
Bay.
West of the great Mackenzie River rises the northernmost extension of the Rocky Mountains. All this easternmost part of Alaska, which is under British control, is a
region of great elevation, something like parts of Central
Asia. The streams which rise here unite in the great
Yukon River, and this has its outlet in Bering's Sea.
Some points of the great mountains within the limits of
British territory in this direction reach to nearly 20,000 feet
(Mount Logan).
But the climate of the northern parts of the Canadian
Dominion differs very greatly in the west as compared to
the east. For instance, the northern parts of Labrador are
cruelly Arctic, hopelessly frozen, though they are in the
same latitude as St. Petersburg (the capital of European
Russia) and as the splendidly forested northern parts of
British Columbia. Eastern Labrador is a region in which
explorers have frequently perished from cold and starvation. Although in the lofty parts of the Yukon country
(three hundred and fifty miles north of treeless Labrador)
the winter is intensely cold, and the ground is frozen for
a considerable depth downwards, all the year round, there
are still great forests; and a white and Amerindian population find it possible to live there all the year round,
while animal life is extremely abundant. On the other
hand, a good deal of the territory between Mackenzie
River and Hudson's Bay is almost uninhabitable, except
during the summertime, owing to the depth of the snow
and the bare rocky nature of the ground.
The treeless area north of Lake Athabaska (the | barren
lands" of the Canadian Dominion) seems to consist of
nothing but slabs of rock and loose stones. Yet this
region is far from being without vegetation. The rock
is often covered with a thin or thick sod of lichen (" rein- 128
Pioneers in Canada
deer moss", in some districts three feet deep) intermixed
with the roots of the wishakapakka herb {Ledum palustre,
from which Labrador tea is made), of cranberries, gooseberries, heather (with white bell flowers), and a dwarf
birch. This last, in sheltered places where a little vegetable soil has been formed, grows into a low scrubby
bush. As to the gooseberries — here and farther south
—Hearne describes them as " thriving best on the stony
or rocky ground, open and much exposed to the sun".
They spread along the ground like vines. The small
red fruit is always most plentiful and fine on the under
side of the branches, probably owing to the reflected heat
of the stones. In the bleaker places a hard, black,
crumply lichen — the " Tripe de roche" of the French
Canadians {Gyrophoreus) grows on the rocks and stones,
and is of great service to the Amerindians, as it furnishes them with a temporary subsistence when no
animal food can be procured. This lichen, when boiled,
turns to a gummy consistence something like sago.
Hearne describes it as being remarkably good when used
to thicken broth; but some other pioneers complained that
it made them and their Indians seriously ill. Another
lichen, "reindeer moss" {Cladina), is also eaten by men
as well as deer. The muskegs, or bogs and marshes,
produce in the summertime a very rapid growth of grass
(as well as breeding swarms of mosquitoes!), and thus
furnish food for the geese and swans which throng them
between June and October.
In the summertime all these northern territories of
Canada—from the basin of Lake Winnipeg, with its white
pelicans, to the Arctic circle—swarm with birds, wild
swans, geese, ducks, plovers, grouse, cranes, eagles, owls
of several kinds—especially the great snowy eagle-owl—
red-breasted thrushes, black and white snow-buntings,
scarlet grosbeaks (the female green and grey), crested
jays,   and   ravens   "of a  beautiful   glossy black,   richly The Geographical Conditions   § 129
tinged with purple", but smaller in size than those of
Europe.
This is also the country for bears. Some grizzlies still
linger here. Their range at one time extended to near the
Arctic circle. In Alaska (British as well as United States)
there is an enormous chocolate-coloured bear, the biggest
in the world. The Polar bear, usually creamy white along
the seacoast, is stated to range inland during the summer
over the "barren grounds", and to develop either a permanent local variety or a seasonal change of coat, which
is greyish-brown or blue-grey.
The black bear in northern Canada is said to give
birth at times to cubs which are cinnamon-brown in
colour.
"In the early summer the black bears swim up and
down the northern rivers with their mouths open, swallowing the immense number of water insects which have come
into being at that season." Hearne goes on to state that
bears which have subsisted on this food for some days,
' when cut open emit a stench that is intolerable, and
which taints their flesh to a sickening degree. The
insects on which they feed are mostly of two kinds: one
a sort of grasshopper with a hard black skin, and the
other a soft, brown, sluggish fly. "This last is the most
numerous. In some of the lakes such quantities are forced
into the bays when the wind blows hard, that they are
pressed together in dead multitudes and remain a great
nuisance. I have several times, in my inland voyages from
York Fort (Hudson's Bay), found it scarcely possible to
land in some of those bays for the intolerable stench of
those insects, which in some places were lying in putrid
: masses to the depth of two or three feet." It is more than
probable that the bears occasionally feed on these dead
insects. After the middle of July, when they take to a
diet of berries, they are excellent eating, and continue to
be so to the end of the winter.
(C 312 ) 9 130
Pioneers in Canada
The Arctic foxes of this region when young are sooty
black all over, and gradually change to a light ash-grey
in colour, with a dark, almost blue, tint on the head,
legs, and back. In winter they usually become white
all over, with or without a black tip to the tail; but it is
recorded by some travellers that not all the foxes of the
Canis lagopus species turn white; some keep their dark-
grey colour all the year round. The common fox
(C. vulpes fulvus) in Northern Canada is sometimes
black, with white-tipped hairs. Wolves in these far
northern regions do not seem to have been so abundant
as farther south.
The deer tribe are represented (north of the Athabaska region) by the reindeer and the elk (called by the
Canadians " Moose"). The wapiti or red deer (for which
the common Amerindian name in the north was Waskesiu)
seldom ranged farther north than the vicinity of Lake
Winnipeg. The reindeer of the "barren ground" subspecies extended to the Arctic seacoast, and were at on£
time especially abundant in Labrador. Here they were
so tame, down to a hundred years ago, that fishermen
were often known to shoot many of them from the windows of their huts near the seashore. This type {Rangifer
tarandus arcticus) might possibly be domesticated; not so
the larger and much wilder Caribou woodland reindeer of
the more southern and western parts of the Dominion,
which dislikes the neighbourhood of man. The elk or
moose, east of the Rocky Mountains, was not found
northward of about 500 to 55°; but west of that range
extended over all British Columbia and Alaska, in which
latter country it grows to a giant size and develops
enormous antlers.
Hearne says of the elk in northern Canada: "In
summer, when they frequent the margins of rivers
and lakes, they are often killed by the Indians in the
water while they are crossing rivers or swimming from The Geographical Conditions |  131
j the mainland  to  islands,   &c.     When   pursued  in this
manner,  they are the most  inoffensive of all  animals,
[never making any resistance; and the young ones are so
simple that I remember to have seen an Indian paddle
[his canoe up to one of them and take it by the poll without
the least opposition;  the poor, harmless animal seeming
at the same time as contented alongside the canoe as if
swimming by the side of its dam, and looking up in our
faces with the same fearless innocence that a house lamb
would;  making use of its fore foot almost every instant
to clear its eyes of mosquitoes, which at that time were
I remarkably numerous. . . . The moose are also the easiest
to tame and domesticate of any of the deer kind.    I have
repeatedly seen them at Churchill as tame as sheep, and
even more so;  for they would follow their keeper any
distance from   home,  and  at  his call   return with  him
I without the least trouble, or ever offering to deviate from
the path."
The most northern range of the elk would seem to
be the region round Lake Athabaska.
The musk ox {Ovibos) is perhaps the most remarkable
beast of Arctic Canada.1 Samuel Hearne is my principal
source for the following notes as to its habits and appearance: The number of bulls is very few in proportion to
the cows, for it is rare to see more than two or three full-
grown bulls with the largest herd; and from the number
1 The musk ox, which is not an ox, but a creature about midway in structure and
affinities between cattle on the one hand and sheep and goats on the other, is a large
beast comparatively, being the size of a small ox, but appearing very much larger than
it is on account of the extremely thick coat of hair and wool. Both sexes have horns,
and the horns, after meeting in the middle and making more or less of a boss over the
forehead, droop down at the sides of the cheeks and then turn up with sharp points.
The musk ox once ranged right across the northern world, from England and Scandinavia, through Germany, Russia, and Siberia, to Alaska and North America. Many
thousands of years ago, during one of the Glacial periods, it inhabited southern England. At the present day it is extinct everywhere, excepting in the eastern parts of
Arctic America, not going west of the Mackenzie River nor south of Labrador. It is
also found in Greenland. 132
Pioneers in Canada
of the males that are found dead, the Indians are of
opinion that they kill each other in contending for the
females. In the rutting season they are so jealous of the
cows that they run at either man or beast who offers to
approach them, and have been observed to run and bellow even at ravens and other large birds which chanced
to alight near them. They delight in the most stony and
mountainous parts of the "barren ground", but are seldom
found at any great distance from the woods. Though they
are a beast of great magnitude, and apparently of a very
unwieldy inactive structure, yet they climb the rocks with
ease and agility, and are nearly as surefooted as a goat.
Like it, too, they will feed on anything; and though they
seem fondest of grass, yet in winter, when grass cannot
be had in sufficient quantity, they will eat moss or any
other herbage they can find, as also the tops of willows
and the tender branches of the pine tree.
"The musk ox, when full grown, is as large as the
generality of English black cattle; but their legs, though
thick, are not so long, nor is their tail longer than that of
a bear; and, like the tail of that animal, it always bends
downward and inward, so that it is entirely hid by the
long hair of the rump and hind quarters. The hunch on
their shoulders is not large, being little more in proportion
than that of a deer. Their hair is in some parts very long,
particularly on the belly, sides, and hind quarters; but the
longest hair about them, particularly the bulls, is under
the throat, extending from the chin to the lower part of
the chest between the fore legs. It there hangs down like
a horse's mane inverted, and is fully as long, which gives
the animal a most formidable appearance. It is of the hair
from this part that the Eskimo make their mosquito wigs
(face screens or masks). In winter the musk oxen are
provided with a thick fine wool or fur that grows at the
root of the long hair, and shields them from the intense
cold to which they are exposed during that season; but BKEBB&HBB3R3I
The Geographical Conditions
Ov)
as the summer advances this fur loosens from the skin,
and by frequently rolling themselves on the ground it
works out to the end of the hair, and in time drops off,
leaving little for their summer clothing except the long
hair. This season is so short in these high latitudes, that
the new fleece begins to appear almost as soon as the old
one drops off, so that by the time the cold becomes severe
they are again provided with a winter dress."
According to Hearne, the flesh of the musk ox does not
resemble that of the bison, but is more like the meat of
the moose or wapiti. The fat is of a clear white, " slightly
tinged with a light azure ". The calves and young heifers
are good eating, but the flesh of the bulls both smells and
tastes so strongly of musk as to be very disagreeable;
"even the knife that cuts the flesh of an old bull will
smell so strongly of musk that nothing but scouring the
blade quite bright can remove it, and the handle will
retain the scent for a long time".
Bisons of the "wood" variety are (or were) found far
up the heights of the Rocky Mountains and in the regions
south-west of the Great Slave Lake. These "wood buffaloes " delight in mountain valleys, and never resort
to the plains. And higher than anything, of course,
range the great white mountain goat-antelopes {Oream-
nus montanus) from northern Alaska to the Columbia
River.
The north and the north-west were, of course, preeminently the great fur-trading regions, though all parts
of the vast Dominion have at one time or another yielded
furs for commerce with the white man. The principal fur-
bearing smaller mammals of the north and north-west
were wolves, foxes, lynxes, gluttons (wolverene), otters,
martens (sables) and black fishing martens, mink (a kind
of polecat), ermine-stoats, weasels, polar hares {Lepus
timidus), beavers, musquash, lemming, gopher or pouched
ground-squirrels, and the common red squirrel of North 134
Pioneers in Canada
America.     The grey squirrel and striped chipmunk are
only found in southern Canada.
The musquash {Fiber zibethicus) is such a characteristic
animal of northern Canada that it is worth while to give
Hearne's description of it (I would mention it is really a
huge vole, and no relation of the beaver):—
jjj The musk rat or musquash builds a dwelling near
the banks of ponds or swamps to shelter it from the bitter
cold of the winter, but never on land, always on the ice,
as soon as it is firm enough, taking care to keep a hole
open to admit it to dive for its food, which chiefly consists
of the roots of grass or arums. It sometimes happens in
very cold winters that the holes communicating with their
dwellings under the water are so blocked by ice that they
cannot break through them. When this is the case, and
they have no provisions left in the house, they begin to eat
one another. At last there may be only one rat left out of
a whole lodge. They occasionally eat fish, but in general
feed very cleanly, and when fat are good eating. They are
easily tamed and soon grow fond of their owner. They
are very cleanly and playful, and i smell exceedingly
pleasant of musk', but their resemblance to the rat is so
great that few are partial to them, though of course they
are much larger in size, and have webbed hind feet and
a flat scaly tail. In Canadian regions farther south the
musquash no longer builds on the ice, but in swamps,
where it raises heaps of mud like islands in the surrounding water. On the top of these mounds they build their
nests, and on the top of the musquash nest, or \ lodge',
wild geese frequently lay their eggs and bring forth their
young brood without any fear of being molested by foxes."
The Yukon territories of the Dominion, and above all
the State of British Columbia, constitute a very distinct
region from the rest of British North America, not only in
their tribes of Amerindians but in their fauna, flora, and
climate.    British Columbia is one of the most beautiful The Geographical Conditions       135
and richly endowed countries in the world. Here, in spite
of northern latitudes, the warm airs coming up from the
Pacific Ocean act somewhat in the same way as the Gulf
Stream on north-west Europe, and favour the growth of
magnificent forests.
All this north-western part of British Columbia is very
mountainous, and the rocks are rich in minerals, especially
gold in the Fraser and Columbia Rivers, far north in the
upper valley of the Yukon, and copper and coal in Vancouver Island.
The rainfall in British Columbia is considerable, and
the flora—trees, plants, ferns—richer than anywhere else
in North America, with many resemblances to the trees
and plants of Japan and northern China. In British
Columbia more than in any other part of the world are
found the noblest developments of the pines, firs, and
junipers {Coniferce).
The coast rivers swarm with salmon, and perhaps
because of the abundance of sea fish close in shore there
have been developed in the course of ages those remarkable aquatic mammals, the sea lions or fur seals {Otaria),
whose relationship to the true seals is a very distant one.
On the Alaskan coasts and islands is Otaria ursina, the
creature which provides the sealskin fur of commerce.
There is also the much larger sea lion {Otaria stelleri), on
the coasts of British Columbia and Vancouver Island.
Alexander Henry, jun., gives some interesting facts about
this remarkable beast.
"The natives at Oak Point, during the time Mr. Keith
was there, killed five very large sea lions by spearing
them at night. Two canoes being lashed together, they
approach very softly, and throw their spears, which are
fastened by a long, strong cord, with a barb so fixed in a
socket that, when it strikes the animal and pierces the flesh,
it is detached from the shaft of the spear, but remains
fastened to the cord.    This is instantly made fast between 136
Pioneers in Canada
the canoes; the animal dives and swims down river, dragging the canoes with such velocity that they may be in
danger of filling, and require great skill in steering. In
this manner they are carried down some miles before the
animal becomes exhausted with loss of blood, makes for
the shore, and lies on the beach, where they dispatch it
and cut it up. The price of a sea lion among the natives is
one slave and an assortment of other articles. Mr. Keith
bought the flesh of one of these animals, and we had some
roasted; it resembles bear's meat. The hair is like that
of a horse, in summer of a chestnut colour. The natives,
and also the Russians, are particularly fond of marine
animals, such as whales, &c.; they drink the oil like milk."
Another notable water beast of the British Columbia
coast was the sea otter {Enhydris), described on p. 305.
Such an immense value was set on its fur that it is now
nearly extinct within British limits.
The huge chocolate-coloured bear of the Yukon valley
has already been mentioned; also the very large, blackish-
brown wild dog {Canis pambasileus), which from one or
two passages in the writings of Canadian pioneers may
also be found as far south as the British Columbian Rocky
Mountains. In the Yukon country the elk (which was
formerly very common in British Columbia) grows to
gigantic proportions with longer and larger antlers than
elsewhere. In the forested mountains of British Columbia
(as well as farther north) are the wood bison, the white
mountain goat, grizzly bears, black bears, two kinds of
lynx, the wapiti red deer, and the large bighorn sheep.
These {Ovis montana) sheep are of a grey or leaden
colour; the rump and the inner side of the legs are white;
the hoofs black, about one inch long. "The hair is rather
soft, and at the roots is mixed with exceedingly fine white
wool, which seems to grow only in certain patches. The
neck is relatively much thicker than that of other animals
of the same size; the legs and hoofs are also strongly built. The Geographical Conditions       137
like the neck." The horns of the female are comparatively
small, flat, and have only a small bend backward; they are
of a dirty-yellowish white, marked with closely connected
annulations to the very tip. The legs are brown, as are
also the ends of the hairs about the neck; the hoofs are
black. " A ewe will weigh about ioo lb. when in full
flesh, with only the entrails taken out. The head bears
every resemblance to that of our European sheep." The
colour of the males is nearly the same as that of the females,
only rather browner; they are much larger and more
strongly built, with a pair of enormous horns, which incline
backward. As they grow they bend downward, and in the
course of time form a complete curve and project forward.
At the root the horns are nearly three inches square, the
flat sides opposite; they are marked with closely connected
ridges and end in a tapering flat point.
When the horns grow to a great length, forming a
complete curve, the tips project on both sides of the head
so as to prevent the ram from feeding. This, with their
great weight, causes the sheep to dwindle to a mere
skeleton and die. The bighorn sheep feed much in the
caverns of the Rocky Mountains, eating a kind of moss
and grass growing on the floors of these caves, and also
a peculiar soft, sweet-tasting "clay", of which the natives
also are fond.
The southern part of British Columbia contains the
mule deer of western North America {Mazama macrotis),
and a very strange rodent, the sewellel or mountain beaver
{Haplodon), a creature distantly allied to squirrels, marmots, and beavers, but restricted in its distribution to a
few parts of California, Oregon, and British Columbia.
Amongst the birds noteworthy in the landscape are the
white-headed sea eagles and Californian condors {Pseudo-
gryphus californianus). Humming-birds range through
British Columbia and Vancouver Island between mid-
April and October. 138
Pioneers in Canada
In the regions about the upper Kootenay River
(Eastern British Columbia), before the railway was constructed, there were wild horses, descended, no doubt,
from those which had escaped from the Spaniards in New
Mexico and California. They went in large herds, and
in the winter when the snow was deep the natives would
try to catch them by running them down with relays of
fresh horses, or driving them up the mountains into the
deepest snow or some narrow pass. A noose would then
be thrown about the exhausted animal, which would be
instantly mounted by an Indian and broken immediately
to the saddle. Some of these wild horses were exceedingly
swift, well-proportioned, and handsome in shape, but they
seldom proved as docile as those born in captivity. When
in a wild condition they would snort so loudly through the
nostrils on descrying an enemy that they could be heard
at a distance of five hundred yards.
The provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba
—the Middle West—represent mainly the great prairie
region of the Canadian Dominion. Nearly all the streams
here flow from the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains
and direct their course to the basin of Lake Winnipeg and
to Hudson's Bay. A few turn south-west to the Missouri
and Mississippi. The landscapes here remind one more
of the middle part of the United States. The climate is
severe in winter but very warm and dry in summer. In
the extreme south, within the basin of the upper Missouri,
the "prickly pear" {Opuntia) cactus grows in sheltered
places, and suggests affinities with distant Colorado and
California.
These great plains and river courses of the middle West
were, until about fifty years ago, one of the world's great
natural parks or zoological gardens. Large numbers of
wapiti deer, of the smaller Virginian deer,1 and of the
1 Mazama americana, similar to, but quite distinct from, the larger mule deer of
British Columbia. The Geographical Conditions       139
prongbuck "antelope"1 thronged the grassy flats, and
elk browsed on the foliage of the thickets along the river
banks. Grizzly bears and black bears,2 large grey wolves,
the small coyote wolf, the pretty little kit fox and large red
fox preyed on these herbivores, as did also pumas and
lynxes. Marmots and prairie hares {Lepus campestris)—
often called rabbits by the pioneers, who also named the
marmots "wood-chucks"—frolicked in the herbage, and
formed the principal prey of the numerous rattlesnakes.
By the shores of streams and lakes stood rows of stately
cranes: the whooping crane, of large size, pure white,
with black quill feathers, the crown of the head crimson
scarlet and the long legs black; and the purple-brown
crane, somewhat smaller in size. On hot, calm days in
the region of Lake Winnipeg the cranes soar to an amazing
height, flying in circles, till by degrees they are almost out
of sight. Yet their loud note sounds so distinct and near
that the spectator might fancy they were close to him.
The air at this season is full of great birds—eagles,
buzzards, hawks, and falcons—soaring in circles to look
out for prey among the flocks of wild swans, white geese,
bernicle geese and brent geese, duck and teal, which cover
the backwaters and the marshes and shallow lagoons.
Turkey buzzards, coming up from the south, act as scavengers during the summer months. Immense flocks of
passenger pigeons, buntings, grosbeaks, attack the ripening fruits and the wild rice of the swamps. Grouse in
uncountable numbers inhabit the drier tablelands and open
moors.8
1 The prongbuck {Antilocapra americana) is not a true antelope, though in outward appearance it resembles a large gazelle.   It was called "cabri" by the French
Canadians.
2 "Bears make prodigious ravages in the brush and willows; the plum trees, and
every tree that bears fruit share the same fate. The tops of the oaks are also very
roughly handled, broken, and torn down, to get the acorns. The havoc they commit
is astonishing. . . . "—Alex. Henry, jun.
* Nowhere in the world are there so many kinds of grouse as in North America.
In the more northern regions are several species of ptarmigan or snow partridges 140
Pioneers in Canada
But—a hundred years ago and more—the dominant
features in the fauna of the Middle West was the bison.
Between the Athabaska and Saskatchewan Rivers on the
north, the Rocky Mountains on the west, and Lake
Superior on the east the bison passed backwards and forwards over the great plains and prairies in millions, when
white explorers first penetrated these lands. They moved
in herds which concealed the ground from sight for miles.
Here are some word pictures selected from the writings
of the pioneers between 1770 and 1810:
"The buffaloes chiefly delight in wide open plains,
which in those parts produce very long coarse grass, or
rather a kind of small flags and rushes, upon which they
feed; but when pursued they always take to the woods.
They are of such an amazing strength, that when they
fly through the woods from a pursuer, they frequently
brush down trees as thick as a man's arm; and be the
snow ever so deep, such is their strength and agility,
that they are enabled to plunge through it faster than
the swiftest Indian can run in snowshoes. To this I have
been an eyewitness many times, and once had the vanity
to think that I could have kept pace with them; but
though I was at that time celebrated for being particularly
fleet of foot in snowshoes, I soon found that I was no
match for the buffaloes, notwithstanding they were then
plunging through such deep snow, that their bellies made
{Lagopus), which turn white in winter, and the spruce partridges {Canachites); in the
more genial climate of the great plains of eastern Canada and in the Far West the
ruffled grouse and hazel grouse {Bonasa), the sage cocks {Centrocercus), the prairie
hens (Tympanuchus), and the blue or pine grouse {Dendrapagus).
"To snare grouse requires no other process than making a few little hedges across
a creek, or a few short hedges projecting at right angles from the side of an island of
willows, which those birds are found to frequent. Several openings must be left in
each hedge, to admit the birds to pass through, and in each of them a snare must be
set; so that when the grouse are hopping along the edge of the willows to feed, which
is their usual custom, some of them soon get into the snares, where they are confined
till they are taken out. I have caught from three to ten grouse in a day by this simple
contrivance, which requires no further attendance than going round them night and
morning " (Hearne). C312
INDIANS LYING IN  WAIT  FOR MOOSE  The Geographical Conditions       141
a trench in it as large as if many sacks had been hauled
through it. Of all the large beasts in those parts the
buffalo is easiest to kill, and the moose are the most
difficult; neither are the (red) deer very easy to come
at, except in windy weather: indeed it requires much
practice and a great deal of patience to slay any of them,
as they will by no means suffer a direct approach, unless
the hunter be entirely sheltered by woods or willows.
"The flesh of the buffalo is exceedingly good eating,
and so entirely free from any disagreeable smell or taste,
that it resembles beef as nearly as possible."
" The spots of wood along the Park River are ravaged
by buffaloes (bison); none but the large trees are standing,
the bark of which is rubbed perfectly smooth, and heaps
of hair and wool lie at the bottom of the trees . . . and
even the grass is not permitted to grow. . . . The ground
is trampled more by these cattle than about the gate of
a farmyard."
"The Kris informed me they had seen a calf as white
as snow in a herd of buffalo. White buffalo are very
scarce. They are of inestimable value among the nations
of the Missouri. . . . There were also some of a dirty-
grey colour, but these are very rare."
"I brought home two buffalo calves alive; they no
sooner lost sight of the herd than they followed my horse
like dogs, directly into the fort. On chasing a herd at
this season the calves follow it until they are fatigued,
when they throw themselves down in high grass and
lie still, hiding their heads if possible. But seeing only
a man and his horse they remain quiet and allow themselves to be taken. Having been a little handled, they
follow like dogs."
In the spring, when the ice melted, innumerable
buffaloes were killed through attempting to cross the
rivers on the melting ice. They would drift by an observer (such as Alexander Henry, jun.) in entire herds
i In All Pioneers in Canada
of drowned corpses. Vast numbers perished. They
formed one continuous line on the current for two days
and two nights.
"By this time the river was crowded with them, swimming across, bellowing and grunting terribly. The bulls
really looked fierce; all had their tails up, and each appeared eager to land first. The scene would have struck
terror to one unaccustomed to such innumerable herds.
From out in the plains, as far as the eye could reach,
to the middle of the river, they were rushing toward
us, and soon began to land about ten yards off. I shot
one dead on the spot, my ball having broken his neck;
my hunter and guide only wounded theirs. This discharge suddenly halted those on the south side, and turned
those that were still in the water."
In the autumn:—"Plains burned in every direction
and blind buffalo seen every moment wandering about.
The poor beasts have all the hair singed off; even the
skin in many places is shrivelled up and terribly burned,
and their eyes are swollen and closed fast. It was really
pitiful to see them staggering about, sometimes running
afoul of a large stone, at other times tumbling down hill
and falling into creeks not yet frozen over. In one spot
we found a whole herd lying dead."
Throughout British North America, from the Yukon
to Newfoundland, and from Labrador to Vancouver's
Island, the rivers and freshwater lakes swarm with fish,
and fish that in most cases is exceedingly good to eat.
Salmon are most strikingly abundant in the rivers of
British Columbia and Newfoundland, but they also ascend
most of the rivers flowing into the Atlantic and Hudson's
Bay. In the great lakes of Canada and of the middle
west there are trout and white fish {Coregonus), pike, bass,
chub, barbel, and h\e species of sturgeon. In the rivers
and lakes of the far north - west is found the blackfisb
{Dallia). The Geographical Conditions   fj
Hearne writes of Lake Athabasca that it swarms with
fish, such as pike, trout, perch, barbel, and other kinds
not easily identified. Apparently there is also a form of
gar-pike found here (see p. 74); this is described as
having scales of a very large and stiff kind, and being a
beautiful bright silver in colour. The size of these gar-
pike range from two feet to four feet in length. Their
flesh was delicately white and soft, but so foul and rank
in taste that even the Indians would not eat it. The trout
in Lake Athabaska seem to have been enormous, weighing from 35 to 40 pounds, while pike were of about the
same weight.
The Amerindian tribes and the early European explorers lived mainly on fish, which was a palatable and
easily obtained food. Yet it must be admitted that they
had a splendid array of large and small game from which
to take their toll.
Nor was the whole Dominion, from west to east and
up to the Arctic zone, wanting in wild vegetable produce fit for man's consumption. The sugar maple {Acer
saccharinum) and its ally the Negundo maple provided
a delicious syrup; the bark of certain poplars and the
bast of the sugar pine were chewed for their well-flavoured
sweetness; the wild rice of the marshes will be further
described in the next chapter. The wild fruits included
delicious strawberries, cherries, gooseberries, currants,
black currants, grapes (in the south only), blackberries
of many kinds, whortleberries, cranberries, pears of the
service tree {Pyrus canadensis1), and raspberries of
various types—red, yellow, and black. Southern Canada
and Nova Scotia contained various nut trees of the
walnut order (hickories, butter-nuts, &c), and hazel nuts
were found everywhere except in the north.
We have left undescribed what is still politically the
most   important  part   of   the   whole   of   British   North
1 Sometimes called Amelanchier canadensis.
mmmm Pioneers in Canada
America—Upper and Lower Canada. These regions
lie within the basin of the great St. Lawrence River,
beyond all doubt the most important waterway of North
America, more important even than the Mississippi.
The main origin of the St. Lawrence in the west is
Lake Superior, the largest sea of fresh water in the
world, which is connected with Lake Nipigon on the
north. The waters of Lake Superior are carried over
the Sault Ste. Marie rapids into Lake Huron and find
a huge backwater in Lake Michigan.1 Out of Lake
Huron again they flow past Detroit into Lake Erie.
From Duluth, at the westernmost extremity of Lake Superior, to Buffalo, on the easternmost point of Lake Erie,
including all Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, with its
bays and channels, a steamer can pass with just the one
difficulty (easily surmounted) *>f the rapids at Sault Ste.
Marie between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. But
after you have left Lake Erie on the east you find yourself in the Niagara River, which at the Niagara Falls
plunges several hundred feet downwards into Lake Ontario. From Lake Ontario to the sea along the St.
Lawrence there is uninterrupted navigation, though there
are rapids that require careful steering both with steamers
and boats. Quebec marks the place where the St. Lawrence River suddenly broadens from a river into a tidal
gulf of brackish or salt water. Ocean steamers from all
over the world can come (except during the height of
the winter, when the water freezes) to Quebec. But for
the ice in wintertime Quebec would be the great seaport of eastern Canada.
" If pitiless rock is commonly understood by an * iron-
bound shore', then the coasts of the River St. Lawrence
along the northern side of the Gulf may truly be so styled,
1 The south shore of Lake Superior, the whole of Lake Michigan, the west shore
of Lake Huron, and the south coasts of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario are within the
territories of the United States. The Geographical Conditions       145
as nothing scarcely is to be seen for hundreds of leagues
but bare rocky mountains, capes and cliffs in various
shapes and figures, some of which are dotted with a few
spruce firs, while others present their bald pates deprived
of covering by the unmerciful hand of time" (James
M'Kenzie).  • i,        I
The winters of the Quebec province are extremely
cold, but the summer and autumn are warm and sunny.
The best winter climate, possibly, in all Canada (though
not as good as that of Vancouver Island, British Columbia)
is to be found in the small peninsula region, on the shores
of Lakes Erie and Huron, between Toronto and Detroit.
This is the district which the Jesuit missionaries described
as "an earthly paradise" even during the winter-time.
The following extracts, mostly from the journals of
Alex. Henry, jun., give a good idea of the difference
in climate and temperature between the western and the
central parts of the Canadian Dominion.
The late spring of northern Canada (Lake Nipigon,
500 N. lat.):—About May 15, the tops of the poplars
begin to appear green, with fresh buds; the hills are
changing their hue from a dry straw colour to a delightful verdure, and fragrant odours greet us.
"Early in March, 1800, in the Assiniboin country
(Manitoba, about 290 N. lat.) the snow was entirely gone,
for this winter had been an abnormally mild one for
central Canada. The birds soon realized the openness
of the season, for, on the 7th of March, turkey-buzzards
began to arrive from the south, and cormorants, ducks,
swans, and other spring birds; indeed, by the 24th of
March not only had the snow quite melted, but the
meadows had grown so dry with the hot sun that some
accidents set them on fire. By April the nth the weather
had become excessively hot, and immense flocks of the
traveller - pigeon {Ectopistes) flew northwards over the
country."
1  :
(0 312)
10 146
Pioneers in Canada
In somewhat similar latitudes (500) the spring bursts
on the Pacific coast region of British Columbia towards
the end of February. "The tall raspberry bushes were
in blossom with a beautiful red flower, which appeared
more forward than the leaf {Rubus spectabilis). The elder
had sprouts an inch long, the alder was also beginning
to sprout, and willows were budding."
Although nowhere in Upper and Lower Canada (or
in the maritime provinces of New Brunswick and Nova
Scotia) are the forests so splendid as in parts of British
Columbia, yet nevertheless when this region was first
discovered the magnificence of its woodlands greatly impressed even the explorers of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries, who were not as much given to praise of landscape beauty as are we of later times. These Canadian
forests include oaks, elms, pines and firs, chestnuts and
beeches, birch trees and sycamores, maples and poplars,
willows, alders, and hazelnuts (these last sometimes growing into tall trees with thick trunks). The trees and low-
growing plants are partly like those of the north-eastern
United States, and partly resemble those of northern and
central Europe.
Nowadays, owing to two centuries of incessant killing,
the beasts and birds of Upper and Lower Canada are
not nearly so abundant as they were a hundred years
ago. When Canada proper was first discovered, the
wapiti red deer was still found in the basin of the St.
Lawrence; it has long since been extinct. There are,
however, still lingering, reindeer in the north, and elk
in the forests of the east. There are also Virginian
deer {Mazamd), but there is no bison (and, so far as we
know, never has been). There is no prongbuck, and
many other creatures characteristic of the United States
and British Columbia are not found in Upper and. Lower
Canada or in the maritime provinces. The tree porcupine
(Erethizon dorsatus), which the Canadians call \' Urson ", The Geographical Conditions       147
or "Little Bear" is found still in the well-wooded regions
of eastern and southern Canada, as well as in British
Columbia and Alaska. In southern Canada there is the
wood hare {Lepus sylvaticus), and in the east and north
the varying hare {L. americanus) which turns white in
winter.
Perhaps the most characteristic animal of this region
was and is still the beaver, though the beaver is found
all over British North America as far north as the Saskatchewan province and westwards into British Columbia.
It is curious that the Indians of central Canada had
a belief (recorded by French and English pioneers) that
occasionally in the dusk, or at night, they have seen an
enormously large beaver in the water, so large that at
first sight they have taken it for a moose. Travellers
who have related this have surmised that the Indian perhaps saw a bear swimming, or a female moose, and in
the dim light mistook it for a giant beaver. But as we
know that there were once giant beavers {Trogontherium)
as large as a bear, existing in England, it is just possible there may have been a gigantic type of beaver
lingering in Canada before the opening up of the country
by Europeans.
The beaver of North America is a very similar animal
to the beaver which used to exist wild in Wales, England, France, Germany, and central Europe, and which
still lingers in some parts of the Rhine valley, Poland,
Russia, and Siberia; but the American form is classified
as a separate species—Castor canadensis.
Beavers were sometimes exterminated or diminished
in numbers by an epidemic disease, which, according to
James Tanner1, destroyed vast quantities of them.
"I found them dead or dying in the water, on the
ice, and on the land; sometimes I found one that, having
1 A remarkable eighteenth-century pioneer who joined the Indians when a boy and
lived as one of them. 148
Pioneers in Canada
cut a tree half down, had died at its roots; sometimes
one who had drawn a stick of timber halfway to his lodge
was lying dead by his burthen. Many of them which I
opened were red and bloody about the heart. Those in
large rivers and running water suffered less; almost all
of those that lived in ponds and stagnant water, died.
Since that year the beaver have never been so plentiful
in the country of Red River and Hudson's Bay as they
used formerly to be."
The great attraction which Canada offered to France
and England as a field of adventure lay in its wonderful
supply of furs. The beaver skins were perhaps the commonest article of export, and were generally regarded
as a unit of value, such as a shilling might be. Other
skins were valued at "so many beavers," or the smaller
ones at half or a quarter of a beaver each. Besides
beaver skins, which were used for making hats, as well
as capes and coats, the following furs and skins were
formerly, or are still, exported from Canada. "Buffalo'1
robes—the carefully rubbed-down hides of the bison,
rendered, by shaving and rubbing, so thin and supple
that they could be easily folded; reindeer and musk-ox
skins treated in the same way; marten or sable skins;
mink (a kind of polecat); ermine (the white winter dress
of the stoat); the fishing marten, or pekan; otter skins;
black bear and white polar bear skins; raccoon, musk-
wash, squirrel, suslik, and marmot skins, and the soft
white fur of the polar hare; the white skins of the Arctic
fox, the skins of the blue fox, black fox, and red fox;1
wolf skins, and the furs of the wolverene or glutton, and
of the skunk—a handsome black-and-white creature of
the weasel family, which emits a most disgusting smell
1 The blue fox is the Arctic fox (Canis lagopus) in its summer dress; the black
fox is a beautiful variety or sub-species of the common fox (C. vulpes); so also is the
red or "cross" fox. There is also common throughout the Canadian Dominion the
pretty little kit fox {Canis velox). The Geographical Conditions      149
from a gland in its body. (The skunk only comes from
the south-central parts of the Canadian Dominion). At
one time a good many swans' skins were exported for
the sake of the down between the feathers, also the
skins of grebes.
A general fact that must not be forgotten in studying
the adventures of the pioneers of Canada was the means
which Nature and savage man had provided or invented
for quickly traversing in all directions this enormous area
of nearly half North America. These means consisted
(1) of the distribution of salt and fresh water in such a
way that by means of ocean-sailing ships explorers coming
from the east could enter through straits and bays of the
sea into the heart of Canada; and (2) the facility, on quitting the seashore, of passing up navigable rivers in boats
or canoes into big lakes, and from these lakes into other
rivers leading to other lakes. Moreover, the different river
systems approached so closely to one another that even
the Amerindians and the Eskimo, long before the white
man, had realized that they had only to pick up their
light canoes and carry them a few miles, to launch them
on fresh waters which might provide hundreds or even
thousands of miles of continuous travel. These are the
celebrated "portages" of Canadian history, from the
French word porter, to carry, transport. Sometimes the
portages were made still easier for loaded canoes by a
road being cleared through the scrub and over the rocks,
and wooden rollers placed across it. Strong men could
then easily haul a loaded canoe over these wooden rollers
until it could be launched again in the water. Often these
portages were made to circumvent dangerous rapids or
waterfalls. The Indians and the French Canadians soon
learnt how to steer canoes down rushes of water—rapids—
which we should think very dangerous on an English
river;  but of course many of the rivers were obstructed
»   !'
A i5o
Pioneers in Canada
at intervals by descents of water which no canoe could
traverse up or down, and in these cases a path was cut
from one smooth part of the river to another, and the
canoe carried or hauled overland.
In this way the great French and British explorers
found it possible to travel by water from the Atlantic to
the Pacific Ocean across a width of land of something like
2500 miles. The only serious walking that had to be
done was the crossing somewhere or other of the Rocky
Mountains, where the streams, of course, were far too
precipitate in descent to be navigable. In the hot, dusty
plains of Assiniboia and the upper Missouri region the
Amerindians had introduced horses, obtained indirectly
from Spanish Mexico, and these were of great service
to the white pioneers, especially in their pursuit of the
bison.
So much for the summer season, when the rivers were
full and overflowing, and the ground consisted of bare
rock, sand, or soil covered with vegetation; the abundance of navigable streams and the suitability of the
country to horses rendered very little walking necessary
for those who wished to traverse the Canadian Dominion
from end to end.
But the winter changed these conditions, the rivers
became coated with thick ice, and the ground was covered,
except in steep places, with an unvarying mantle of snow.
Yet transport became just as easy as in the summertime,
though perhaps a trifle more fatiguing. Men and women
put on snowshoes shaped like tennis rackets, and flew
over the hard snow quicker than a canoe could travel,
dragging after them small sledges on which their luggage
was packed; or, if they had not much luggage, carrying
it slung round the shoulders and scurrying away on their
snowshoes even swifter for the weight they carried; or
they travelled over the smooth ice of the rivers and
lakes. The Geographical Conditions       151
Winter travellers, however, were sometimes troubled
with a disorder known as the snowshoe evil. This arose
from the placing of an unusual strain on the tendons of
the leg, occasioned by the weight of the snowshoe. It
often resulted in severe inflammation of the lower leg.
The local remedy was a drastic one: it was to place a
piece of lighted touchwood on the most inflamed part, and
to leave it there till the flesh was burnt to the nerve!
In the north and the regions round Hudson's Bay,
and also in the far west—British Columbia and Alaska—
there were dogs, more or less of the Eskimo breed, trained
by Eskimo or by Amerindians to drag the sledges. In
the months of December and January it is true that the
daylight in Arctic Canada (north of Lake Athapaska)
became so short that the sun at its greatest altitude only
appeared for two or three hours a short distance above
the horizon. But there were compensations. The brilliancy of the Aurora Borealis, even without the assistance
of the moon and the stars, made some amends for that
deficiency, for it was frequently so light all night that
travellers could see to read a very small print (Samuel
Hearne). The importance of these "Northern lights"
must not be overlooked in forming an opinion on the
habitability of the far north in the "dark" winter
months.    The display was frequent and brilliant.
The Athapaskan Indians called this phenomenon Ed-
thin, that is to say, "reindeer". When the Aurora
Borealis was particularly bright in the sky they would
say that deer were plentiful in that part of the heavens.
Their fancy in this respect was not quite so silly as one
might think. They had learnt from experience that the
Aurora Borealis was in some way connected with electricity, and experience had equally shown them that the
skin of the reindeer, if briskly stroked by the hand on a
dark night, would emit as many electric sparks as the
back of a cat.    On the other hand, the Amerindians in 152
Pioneers in Canada
the southern and more temperate regions thought the
Aurora Borealis was a vast concourse of "spirits of the
happy day " dancing in the clouds.
Thus there were no climatic reasons why, both in
summer and in winter, immense distances should not be
quickly covered in Canada between the Rocky Mountains
and the Atlantic Ocean. This is how a mere hundred of
white pioneers opened up Canada to the knowledge of the
civilized world far quicker than the same area could have
been discovered in Africa or Asia. Sometimes, for about
a month, between the melting of the snow and* ice and the
steady flowing of the rivers in the late spring, or between
the uncertain autumn of November and the confirmed
winter of December, there might be an interval of a few
weeks in which journeys had to be made on foot under
conditions of great hardship, through mud, swamp, and
over sharp stones or slippery rocks.
"The plains are covered with water from the melting
of the snow so suddenly, and our men suffer much, as they
are continually on the march, looking after Indians in
every creek and little river. The water is commonly knee
deep, in some places up to the middle, and in the morning
is usually covered with ice, which makes it tedious and
even dangerous travelling. Some of our men lose the
use of their legs while still in the prime of life ", wrote
one eighteenth-century pioneer, in the Canadian spring.
Severe as were the winter conditions of climate, the
explorers were just as willing to travel through the winter
as the summer, because in the winter they were spared the
awful plague of mosquitoes and midges which still renders
summer and early-autumn travel throughout the whole of
Canada, from the United States borders on the south to
the Arctic Ocean on the north, a severe trial, and even an
unbearable degree of physical suffering. CHAPTER VII
The Amerindians and Eskimo:   the Aborigines
of British North America
I have already attempted to describe in the first chapter
the ancient peopling of America from north-eastern Asia,
but it might be useful if I gave here some description of
the Eskimo and Amerindian tribes of the Canadian Dominion at the time of its gradual discovery by Europeans,
especially during the great explorations of the eighteenth
and early nineteenth centuries.
It is evident that the Eskimo—who are quite distinct
from the Amerindians in physical type, language, customs,
and industries—have been for thousands of years the only
inhabitants of Arctic America. When the Norsemen came
to the New World they seem to have met with Eskimo as
far south as New England, but in more recent times the
Eskimo have only been found inhabiting the extreme
north and north-east: in Greenland, on the Labrador
coast, on Baffin's Land, and along the Arctic coast of
the North-American continent, between the Coppermine
River and the westernmost extremity of Alaska, as well
as on the opposite islands and promontories of Asia.
Their name for themselves as a people is usually
"Innuit" (in Greenland, "Karalit"). Eskimo is a corruption of Eskimantsik, sl northern Algonkin word meaning "eaters of raw flesh". Although their geographical
range extends over a distance of about three thousand five
hundred miles—from north-easternmost Asia to the east
coast of Greenland—the difference in their dialects is little
more than that between French and Italian; whereas the
153 154
Pioneers in Canada
difference between the speech of one Amerindian tribe and
another—even where they belong to the same language
group—is very great—not less than that between German
and Latin, or English and French, or even between Russian
and Hindustani. This fact—of the widespread Eskimo
language—makes some authorities suppose that the presence of the Eskimo in Arctic America cannot be such a
very ancient event as, from other evidence, one might
believe. Perhaps the bold travelling habits of the Eskimo
—which makes them range over vast distances of ice and
snow when hunting seals, walruses, whales, musk ox, or
reindeer—enables them to keep in touch with their faraway relations.
The canoes or kayaks in which they travel (first described by the Norsemen in the tenth century) are made
out of the hide of the seal or walrus. The leather is
stretched over a framework constructed from driftwood or
whales' bones. There is a hole in the middle for the man
or woman to insert their legs. This hole they fill up with
their bodies. If the canoe capsizes, the Eskimo cannot
fall out, but bobs up immediately. He and the canoe are
really " one-and-indivisible" when he is navigating the
seas and lakes, plying deftly a large paddle.
In regard to food they were certainly not particular or
squeamish. They loved best of all whales' blubber, or to
drink the fishy-tasting oil from bodies of whales, seals, or
walruses. Besides the meat of Polar bears and of any fur
animals they could catch, or the musky beef of the musk
ox, they devoured eagerly sea birds' eggs, Iceland moss,
and even the parasitic insects of their own heads and
bodies! Hearne relates that they will eat with a relish
whole handfuls of maggots that have been produced in
meat by the eggs of the bluebottle fly! On the other
hand, they held cannibalism in horror, whereas for two-
two's their Amerindian neighbours on the west and south
would eat human flesh without repugnance. The Amerindians and Eskimo      155
The Eskimo, though occasionally tall, are as a rule
stumpy and thickset, with very small hands and feet,
broad faces, and projecting cheekbones, a narrow nose
without the aquiline bridge of the Amerindian, slanting
narrow eyes, and long heads containing large well-developed brains. In disposition the Eskimo are nearly always
merry, affectionate to one another, honest, and modest.
Modern travellers in the Arctic regions give them invariably a high character; but Frobisher, Davis, and the
explorers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries accused them of treachery and an inclination to steal. Iron
in any shape or form Jhey could hardly resist taking.
Moreover, if they are the same people as the Skraellings
of the Norse traditions they must have been of a fiercer
disposition a thousand years ago.
The Amerindians who inhabited (more or less) the
rest of the Canadian Dominion, and the whole remainder
of the New World, differed in physical appearance from
the Eskimo mainly in being taller and better proportioned,
with shorter and rounder heads, larger, fuller eyes, a
bigger nose, and a handsomer personal appearance. The
skin colour, as a rule, was darker and browner than the
greyish- or pinkish-yellow of the Eskimo.
The various human types that went to form the Amerindian race (beside the Eskimo element in them) seem to
have entered north-west America from Asia, and first to
have peopled the Pacific slopes of the Rocky Mountains,
after which they wandered farther and farther south till
they got into a warmer climate. Then they crossed the
Rocky Mountains and peopled the centre and east of
what is now the United States. As they pushed their
way north up the valleys of the great rivers, they no
doubt killed, mingled with, or pushed back the Eskimo.
At last their northernmost extensions reached to the Mackenzie River, the vicinity of Hudson's Bay, Labrador,
and Newfoundland.    But in all the middle, west, and
o~ 156
Pioneers in Canada
even east of Canada they seem to have been relatively
recent arrivals,1 not to have inhabited the country for a
great many centuries before the white man came, and all
their recorded and legendary movements in North America
have been from the south-west towards the north-east (after
they had got across the Rocky Mountains). The few
cultivated plants they had, such as maize (Indian corn),
tobacco, and pumpkins, they brought with them or received from the south.
The only domestic animal possessed by either Eskimo
or Amerindian was the dog. We are most of us by now
familiar with the type of the Eskimo dog—a large, wolflike animal with prick ears and a bushy tail curled over
its back. In this carriage of the tail the Eskimo and most
other true dogs differ from wolves, with whom the tail
droops between the hind quarters. But there is a small
wild American wolf—the coyote—which carries its tail more
upright, like that of the true dog; and the coyote seems
indeed an intermediate form between the wolf and the
original wild dog. Most of the domestic dogs of the
Amerindians2 (as distinguished from those of the Eskimo)
1 There may have been an earlier race inhabiting north-east America which was
killed out or driven away by the last Glacial period.
2 "The dogs of the Northern Indians are of various sizes and colours, but all of
them have a foxy or wolf-like appearance, sharp noses, bushy tails, and sharp ears
standing erect" (Samuel Hearne).
Hearne also remarks that the northern Indians had a superstitious reverence and
liking for the wolf. They would frequently go to the mouth of the burrows where the
female wolves lived with their young, take out the puppies and play with them, and
even paint the faces of the young wolves with vermilion or red ochre.
When first observed by Europeans the unhappy Beothiks (of Newfoundland) had
apparently no domestic dogs, only "tame wolves", whom they distinguished from the
wild wolves by marking their ears. They were made more angry by the European
seamen attacking and killing the wolves than by anything else they did. Apparently
some kind of alliance had been struck up between the Beothiks—a nation of hunters—
and the wolf packs which followed in their tracks; and the Newfoundland wolves were
on the way to becoming domesticated "dogs". Later on it was realized that the
island did produce a special breed—the celebrated Newfoundland dog— the original
type of which was much smaller than the modern type, nearly or entirely black in
colour, with a sharper muzzle and less pendulous ears.    But its feet were as strongly The Amerindians and Eskimo      157
seem to have been derived from the coyote or small wolf
of central North America.
On the Pacific coast there were other types of domestic
dog, resembling greatly breeds that are found in eastern
Asia and the Pacific islands. Some of these were naked,
and others grew silky hair, which was woven by the
natives into cloth (see p. 323). The Eskimo dog almost
certainly has been derived from northern Asia, and is
closely related to the well-known Chinese breed—the chow
dog—and the domestic breeds of ancient Europe. Even
the commonest type of house dog in the Roman Empire
was very much like an Eskimo or a chow in appearance.
There is a true wild ddg, however, in the Yukon province
of the Canadian Dominion and in Alaska—Canis pam-
basileus—a dark, blackish-brown in colour. This may
have been a parent of the Eskimo dog, but it is also doubtless closely allied to the original (extinct) wild dog of
northern Asia, from which the chow and many other
breeds are directly descended. The Eskimo never under
ordinary circumstances ate their dogs; on the other hand,
the Amerindians were fond of dog's flesh, and in some
tribes simply bred dogs for the table.
When Europeans first reached America all these
Amerindian tribes, and also the Eskimo, were still, for
all practical purposes, in the Stone Age. Those who
lived in the north had discovered the use of copper and
had shaped for themselves knives and spear blades out of
copper, but not even this metal was in use to any great
Qxtent, and for the most part they relied, down to the end
of the eighteenth century, for their implements and weapons,
on polished and sharpened stones, on deer's antlers, buffalo
webbed and its habits as aquatic as those of the "Newfoundland" of the modern
breed. Some people have noticed the resemblance between the farmers' dogs in
Norway and the Newfoundland type, and have thought that the latter may not be
altogether of wolf extraction, but be descended from the dogs brought from Norway
and Iceland by the Norse adventurers who visited Newfoundland in the tenth and
eleventh centuries. *58
Pioneers in Canada
horns, sticks, sharp shells, beavers* incisor teeth,1 the claws
or spines of crustaceans, flints, and suchlike substances
—in short, they were leading the same life and using
almost exactly the same tools as the long-since-vanished
hunter races of Europe of five thousand to one hundred
thousand years ago—the people who pursued the mammoth,
the bison, the Irish "elk", and the other great beasts of
prehistoric Europe. Indeed, North America represented to
some extent, as late as a hundred years ago, what Europe
must have, looked like in the days of palaeolithic Man.
The Amerindians of the Canadian Dominion (when
the country first became known to Europeans) belonged
to the following groups and tribes. The order of enumeration begins in the east and proceeds westwards. I have
already mentioned the peculiar Beothiks of Newfoundland.2
In Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick,
and the Gaspe Peninsula there were the Mikmak Indians
belonging to the widespread Algonkin family or stock.
West and south of the Mikmaks, in New Brunswick and
along the borders of New England, were other tribes of
the Algonkin group: the Etchemins, Abenakis, Tarratines,
Penobscots, Mohikans, and Adirondacks. North of these,
in the eastern part of the Quebec province, on either
side of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, were the Montagnais.
This name, though it looks like a French word meaning
"mountaineers", was also spent Montagnet, and in
various other ways, showing that it was originally a native
name, pronounced Montanye. The Montagnais in various
clans extended northwards across Labrador until they
touched the Eskimo, with whom they constantly fought
The interior of Labrador was inhabited by another
Algonkin tribe, the Naskwapi, living in a state of rude
1 Of which they made very serviceable chisels.
2 See also pp. 156, 164, 186, and 199.    In tins list I have put in italics the names
of the tribes more important in history, and in capitals the principal group names. The Amerindians
imo
savagery. The Algonkins proper, whose tribe gave their
name to the whole stock because the French first became
acquainted with them as a type, dwelt in the vicinity of
Montreal, Lake Ontario, and the valley of the St. Lawrence. In upper Canada, about the great lakes and the
St. Lawrence valley, were the Chippeways, or Ojibwes,
and the Ottawas. West and north of Lake Michigan were
the Miamis, the Potawatomis, and the Fox Indians (the
Saks or Sawkis). Between Lake Winnipeg and Lake
Superior were the Cheyennes (Shians); between North and
South. Saskatchewan, the Blackfeet or Siksika Indians
(sections of which were also called Bloods, Paigans,
Piegans, &c). North of Lake Winnipeg, as far as Lake
Athabaska, and almost from the Rocky Mountains to the
shores of Hudson's Bay, were the widespread tribe of the
Kris, or Knistino.1 The Gros Ventres or Big Bellies
—properly called Atsina—inhabited the southern part
of the middle west, between the Saskatchewan and the
Missouri basins; and the Monsoni or Maskegon were
found in eastern Rupert Land.
All the above-enumerated tribes, except the Beothik
indigenes of Newfoundland, belong to the great and widespread Algonkin group. (Algonkin is a word derived
from the " Algommequin " of Champlain.) In the valley
of the St. Lawrence the French first encountered those
Indians whom they called Huron. This was a French
word meaning "crested", because these people wore their
hair in a great crest over the top and back of the head,
which reminded the French of the appearance of a wild
boar {Hure). The real name of the Hurons, who dwelt
at a later date between Lakes Huron, Erie, Ontario, and
the neighbourhood of Montreal, was Waiandot (Wyandot);
but they went under a variety of other names, according
to the clans, such as the Eries and the Atiwandoran or
Neutral Nation.    They were also called the "Good" Iro-
1 Kinistino, Kiristineaux, Kilistino; called "Crees" or " Kris" for short. 100
Pioneers in Canada
quois, to distinguish them from the six other nations, the
Iroquois proper of the French Canadians, who signalized
themselves by fiendish and frightful warfare against the
French and the various tribes of Algonkin Indians. The
Hurons and the rest of the six tribes grouped under the
name of Iroquois1 were of the same stock originally,
forming a separate group like that of the Algonkins,
though they are supposed to be related distantly to the
Dakota or Siou. Amongst the "Six Nations" or tribes
banded together in warfare and policy were the celebrated
"Mohawks" who dwelt on the southern borders of the
St. Lawrence basin and near Lake Champlain. As the
others of the six nations (including the Senekas and
Onondagas) inhabited the eastern United States, well
outside the limits of Canada, they need not be referred
to here.
Between the South Saskatchewan, the Rocky Mountains, and Lake Superior, nearly outside the limits of the
Canadian Dominion, was the great Dakota, or Siou
group,2 divided into the distinct tribe of Assiniboin or
"Stone" Indians (because they used hot stones in cooking), the "Crows" or Absaroka, the Hidatsa or Minitari
(also called Big Bellies, like the quite distinct Atsina of
the Algonkin family), the Menomini (the most northeastern amongst the Siouan tribes, and the first met with
by the British and French Canadians south-west of Lake
Superior), the Winnebagos on the southern borders of
Manitoba, the Yanktons or Yanktonnais, the " Santi
Siou" proper—generally calling themselves Dakota or
Mdewakanton—and the "Tetons" along the northern
Dakota   frontier  and   into   the   Rocky Mountains—also
1 "Iroquois" was a name invented by Champlain (see p. 69). Apparently this
confederation called themselves Hodenosauni. The termination "ois" in all French-
American names is pronounced " wa "—Irokwa.
2 The far-famed term Siou is said to have been an abbreviation of one of the
original French names for this type of Amerindian, Nadouessiou. In early books they
are often called the Nadouessies. The Amerindians and Eskimo      161
known as Blackfeet, Sans Arcs ("without bows"), "Two-
kettles", "Brules" or "Burnt" Indians, &c.
Next must be mentioned the very important and widespread Athapaskan or Dene (Tinne) group, named after
Lake Athapaska (or Athabaska), because that sheet of
water became a great rallying place for these northern
tribes. The Athapaskan group of Indians indeed represents the "Northern Indians" of the Hudson's Bay Company's reports and explorers. They drew a great distinction between the Northern Indians (the Athapaskan tribes)
and the Southern Indians, which included all the other
Amerindian groups dwelling to the south of the Athapaskan domain. But although nowadays so much associated with the far north and north-west of America, the
Athabaskan group evidently came from a region much
farther south, and has been cut in half by other tribal
movements, wars, and migrations; for the Athapaskan
family also includes the Apaches and the Navaho of the
south-western portions of the United States and the adjoining territories of Mexico. The northern and southern
divisions of the Athapaskan group are separated by something like twelve hundred miles. The following are the
principal tribes into which the Northern Athapaskan
group was divided at the time of the first explorations of
the north-west. There were the Chippewayan Indians1
round about Lake Athapaska, and the Caribou Eaters or
Ethen-eldeli between Lake Athapaska and Reindeer Lake.
The "Slaves", or Slave Indians of the Great Slave Lake
and the upper Mackenzie River; the Beaver and Sarsi
Indians (known also as the Tsekehn), about the Peace
River and the northern part of Alberta province; and the
Yellow Knives, or Totsan-ottine (so called from their being
1 These northern Indians are described by Hearne as having very low foreheads,
small eyes, high cheekbones, Roman noses, broad cheeks, and long, broad chins.
Their skins were soft, smooth and polished, somewhat copper-coloured, and inclining
towards a dingy brown. The hair of the head was black, strong, and straight. They
were not in general above middle size, though well proportioned.
(0 812) H
 J 162
Pioneers in Canada
found with light-coloured copper knives when first discovered by Europeans), north-east of the Great Slave
Lake and along the Coppermine River: the Dogribs between the Great Slave Lake and Great Bear Lake, perhaps
(except in Alaska) the most northern extension of the
Amerindian type towards the Arctic regions. West of
the Dogribs dwelt—and still dwell—the interesting tribe
of Hare Indians, or Kawcho-Tinne. They extend northwards to the Anderson River, on the verge of the Arctic
Ocean. West of the lower Mackenzie River, and stretching thence to the Porcupine or Yukon* Rivers, are the
Squinting Indians ("Loucheux", or Kuchin), who in
former times were met with much farther to the south-east
than at the present day. Finally, there are the Nahani
Indians, who have penetrated through the Rocky Mountains to the Stikine River, reaching thus quite close to
the Pacific Ocean. This penetration* northwards of groups
of Athapaskan Indians into districts inhabited for the
most part by Amerindian tribes differing widely in language and customs from all those east of the Rocky
Mountains, explains the way in which stories of the great
western sea—the Pacific—reached, by means of trading
intercourse, those Amerindian tribes of the middle-west
and upper Canada, and so stirred up the French and
English explorers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to make the marvellous journeys which are recounted in this book.
West of the Rocky Mountains, in British Columbia
and Vancouver Island (besides southern Alaska), the
Amerindian tribes form the Nutka-Columbian group,
which is markedly distinct from the Amerindians east of
the Rocky Mountains, from whom they differ widely in
language, type, and culture. They are divided into quite
a large number of small separate groups—the Wakashan
or Nutkas of Vancouver Island and south-western British
Columbia, the Shahaptian or " Nez perces" Indians of the C312
Photo Thompson
AN AMERINDIAN TYPE OF  BRITISH COLUMBIA  The Amerindians and Eskimo      163
Columbia basin, and the Chinuks of the lower Columbia
River, the Salishan or "Flathead" group (including the
Atnas) of the Fraser and Thompson Rivers and central
British Columbia; and the Haida Indians of Oueen
Charlotte's Islands and the north-west coast of British
Columbia. It must be remembered that these different
groups are only based on the relationships of their component tribes in language or dialect, and do not always
imply that the tribes belonging to them had the same
customs and dispositions; but they were generally able
to communicate with one another in speech, whereas if
they met the Indians of another group the language might
be so totally different that they could only communicate by
means of signs.
Sign and gesture language1 was extraordinarily developed amongst all the Amerindian races from the Arctic
Ocean to the Antarctic. Not only that, but they were
quick to understand the purpose of pictures. They could
draw maps in the sand to explain the geography of their
country, and Europeans could often make them understand
what they required by rough drawings. They themselves
related many events by means of a picture language—the
beginning of hieroglyphics; and in the south-eastern parts
of Canada, as in the United States, these signs or picto-
graphs were recorded in bead-shell work—the celebrated
"wampum ".
All these tribes, of course, varied very much in personal appearance, though not in disposition.    The van-
1 " It is surprising how dexterous all these natives of the plains are in communicating their ideas by signs. They hold conferences for several hours, upon different subjects, during the whole of which time not a single word is pronounced upon either side,
and still they appear to comprehend each other perfectly well. This mode of communication is natural to them; their gestures are made with the greatest ease, and they
never seem to be at a loss for a sign to express their meaning" (Alex. Henry the
Younger, 1800). But it should also be noted that during the last hundred years the
peoples belonging to the Nutka-Columbian group have developed a trade language
which they use in common. This is a mixture of Chinuk, English, French, Chinese,
and Hawaaian.
 illlli 164
Pioneers in Canada
ished Beothiks of Newfoundland are described as having'
been a good-looking tall people, with large black eyes
and a skin so light, when washed free from dirt or paint,
that the Portuguese compared them to gipsies; and the
writer of Fabian's Chronicle, who saw two of them (brought
back by Cabot) at Henry VI Fs Court, in 1499, took them
for Englishmen when they were dressed in English clothes.
It was these people—subsequently killed out by the British
settlers on Newfoundland—who originated the term * * Red
Indians", or, in French, Peaux Rouges, because their
skins, like those of so many other Amerindians, were
painted with red ochre.
Many of the British Columbian peoples made themselves artificially ugly by flattening the sides of the head.
To press the skull whilst it was soft, they squeezed the
heads of their children between boards; others, such as
the warlike tribes of the upper Missouri, had a passion
for submitting themselves to mutilation by the medicine
man of the clan, in order to please the sun god. Such
would submit to large strips being cut from the flesh of
their shoulders, arms, or legs, or having their cheeks
slashed. The result, of course, was to leave their limbs
and features horribly scarred when they healed up. In
some tribes, however, a young man could not obtain—or
retain—a wife unless he had shown his bravery by submitting to this mutilation. Women often cut off one or
more joints of their fingers to show their grief for the
death of children.
In some tribes, especially of the far north-west and
of the Rocky Mountains, the personal habits of men and
women, or of the women only, were so filthy, and their
dislike to bathing so pronounced, that they became objects of loathing to white men; in other tribes personal
cleanliness was highly esteemed, especially on the sea-
coast of British Columbia or along the banks of the great
rivers.    Usually the men were better looking and better The Amerindians and Eskimo
developed than the women—for one reason, because they
were better fed.
Here is a description by Peter Grant—a pioneer of
the North-West Company—of the Ojibwe Indians dwelling
near the east end of Lake Superior at the beginning of
the nineteenth century:—
" Their complexion is a whitish cast of copper colour,
their hair black, long, straight, and of a very strong texture. The young men allow several locks of the hair to
fall down over the face, ornamented with ribbons, silver
brooches, &c. They gather up another lock from behind
the head into a small clump, and wrap it up with very
thin plates of silver, in which they fix the tail feathers of
the eagle or any other favourite bird with the wearing of
which thev have distinguished themselves in war. Thev
are very careful with their hair, anointing it with bears' oil,
which gives it a smooth and glossy appearance. The teeth
are of a beautiful ivory white, the cheeks rather high and
prominent, the eyes black and lively. Their countenances
are generally pleasant, and they might often be called
handsome. The ears are pierced in infancy, and the lobe
is extended to an unnatural size by suspending lead or
any other heavy metal from the outer rim, which in time
brings them down near the shoulder. The nose ornaments hang down half an inch, and nearly touch the
upper lip.
4 \ The men are bold, manly, and graceful in their gait,
always carrying their bodies erect and easy. On the other
hand, the women, by walking with the toes of their feet
turned inwards, have a disagreeable and lame appearance.
The men are specially fond of painting their faces and
bodies with vermilion, white and blue clay, charcoal or
soot mixed with a little grease or water. With this colour
they daub the body, legs, and thighs in bars and patches,
and take the greatest pains about painting the face, usually
with red and black.    Their skins are generally tattooed Pioneers in Canada
with figures representing the sun, stars, eagles, serpents,
&c, especially objects which have appeared to them in
their dreams. The women's faces are much less painted,
usually a spot of red on each cheek and a circle of red
round the roots of the hair or eyes."
Here is a summary of what Alexander Henry, sen.,
wrote of the Kri or Knistino Indians of Lake Athabaska
about 1770:—
'The men in general tattoo their bodies and arms
very much. The women confine this ornamentation to
the chin, having three perpendicular lines from the middle
of the chin to the lip, and one or more running on each
side, nearly parallel with the corner of the mouth. Their
dress consists of leather; that of the men is a pair of
leggings, reaching up to the hip and fastened to the
girdle. Between the legs is passed a strip of woollen
stuff, but when this cannot be procured they use a piece
of dressed leather about nine inches broad and four feet
long, whose ends are drawn through the girdle and hang
down before and behind about a foot. . . . The shirt is of
soft dressed leather, either from the prong-buck or young
red deer, close about the neck and hanging to the middle
of the thigh; the sleeves are of the same, loose and open
under the arms to the elbows, but thence to the wrist
sewed tight. The cap is commonly a piece of leather, or
skin with the hair on, shaped to fit the head, and tied
under the chin; the top is usually decorated with feathers
or other ornament. Shoes are made of buffalo (bison)
hide, dressed in the hair, and mittens of the same. Over
the whole a buffalo robe is thrown, which serves as covering day and night.
Such is their common dress, but on particular occasions they appear to greater advantage, having their cap,
shirt, leggings, and shoes perfectly clean and white,
trimmed with porcupine quills and other ingenious work
of their women, who are supposed to be the most skilful The Amerindians and Eskimo      167
hands in the country at decorations of this kind. The
women's dress consists of the same materials as the
men's. Their leggings do not reach above the knee, and
are gathered below that joint; their shoes always lack
decoration. The shift or body garment reaches down to
the calf, where it is generally fringed and trimmed with
quillwork; the upper part is fastened over the shoulders
by strips of leather; a flap or cape hangs down about a
foot before and behind, and is ornamented with quillwork
and fringe. This covering is quite loose, but tied around
the waist with a belt of stiff parchment fastened on the
side, where also some ornaments are suspended. The
sleeves are detached from the body garment; from the
wrist to the elbow they are sewed, but thence to the
shoulder they are open underneath and drawn up to the
neck, where they are fastened across the breast and back.
"Their ornaments are two or three coils of brass wire
twisted around the rim of each ear, in which incisions are
made for that purpose; blue beads, brass rings, quillwork,
and fringe occasionally answer. Vermilion (a red clay)
is much used by the women to paint the face.
" Their hair is generally parted on the crown and
fastened behind each ear in large knots, from which are
suspended bunches of blue beads or other ingenious work
of their own. The men adjust their hair in various forms;
some have it parted on top and tied in a tail on each side,
while others make one long queue which hangs down behind, and around which is twisted a strip of otter skin or
dressed buffalo entrails. This tail is frequently increased
in thickness and length by adding false hair, but others
allow it to flow loose naturally. Combs are seldom used
by the men, and they never smear the hair with grease,
but red earth is sometimes put upon it. White earth
daubed over the hair generally denotes mourning. The
young men sometimes have a bunch of hair on the crown,
about the size of a small teacup, and nearly in the shape 168
Pioneers in Canada
of that vessel upside down, to which they fasten various
ornaments of feathers, quillwork, ermine tails, &c. Red
and white earth and charcoal are much used in their
toilets; with the former they usually daub their robes and
other garments, some red and others white. The women
comb their hair and use grease on it."
The Slave Indians (a tribe of the Athapaskan family)
tattooed their cheeks with charcoal inserted under the skin,
also daubed their bodies, robes, and garments profusely
with red earth (generally called, in the text of travellers,
vermilion), but they had another favourite pigment, procured from the regions on the west of the Rocky Mountains, some kind of graphite, like the lead of lead pencils.
With this they marked their faces in black lead after red
earth has been applied, and thus gave themselves a ghastly
and savage appearance. Their dress consists of a leather
shirt trimmed with human hair and porcupine-quill work,
and leggings of leather. Their shoes and caps were made
of bison leather, with the hair outside. Their necklaces
were strings of grizzly-bear claws, and a " buffalo1 robe
was thrown over all occasionally. Some of them occasionally had quite light skins—when free of dirt or paint—
and grey eyes, and their hair, instead of being black, was
greyish-brown. These last features (grey eyes and brown
hair) characterized many individuals among the northern
British-Columbian tribes.
The Naskwapis of inland Labrador—allied in speech
to the Kris and the Montagnais, but in blood to the
Eskimo—are described as above the middle size in height,
slender, and long-legged, their cheeks being very prominent, eyes black, nose rather flat, mouth large, lips
thick, teeth white, hair rough and black, and the complexion a yellowish "frog" colour. They were dressed
in elaborate and warm garments made of reindeer skin.
The ordinary covering for the head of the men was the
skin of a bear's head.    "Thus accoutred, with the addi- The Amerindians and Eskimo
tion of a bow and quiver, a stone axe, and a bone knife,
a Naskwapi man possessed no small degree of pride and
self-importance" (James M'Kenzie).
The handsomest tribes of Amerindians encountered by
the Canadian pioneers seem to have been the Ojibwes of
Lake Superior, the Iroquois south of the St. Lawrence,
and the Mandans of the upper Missouri.
Until well on in the nineteenth century none of the
Canadian Amerindians were particular about wearing
clothes if the weather was hot. The men, especially,
were either quite oblivious of what was seemly in clothing
(except perhaps the Iroquois) or thought it necessary to
go naked into battle, or to remove all clothing before
taking part in religious ceremonies.
It is commonly supposed that the Red Man was a
rather glum person, seldom seen to smile and averse to
showing any emotion. That is not the impression one
derives from the many pen portraits of Amerindians in
the journals of the great pioneers. Here, on the contrary, you see the natives laughing, smiling, kissing
eagerly their wives and children after an absence, displaying exuberant and cordial friendship towards the
white man who treated them well, having love quarrels
and fits of raging jealousy, moods of deep remorse after
a fight, touching devotion to their comrades or chiefs,
and above all to their children. They are most emotional,
indeed, and, apart from this chapter you will find frequent
descriptions of how they wept at times over the remembrance of their dead relations and friends.
Hearne remarked, in 1772, that when two parties of
Athapaska Indians met, the ceremonies which passed
between them were very formal. They would advance
within twenty or thirty yards of each other, make a full
halt, and then sit or lie down on the ground, not speaking
for some minutes. At length one of them, generally an
elderly man, broke silence by acquainting the other party
J 170
Pioneers in Canada
with every misfortune that had befallen him and his companions from the last time they had seen or heard of each
other, including all deaths and other calamities which had
happened to any other Indians during the same period.
When he finished, another orator, belonging to the other
party, related in like manner all the bad news that had
come to his knowledge. If these orations contained any
news that in the least affected either party, it would not be
long before some of them began to sigh and sob, and soon
after to break out into a loud cry, which was generally accompanied by most of the grown persons of both sexes; and
sometimes it was common to hear them all—men, women,
and children—joining in one universal howl. When the
first transports of grief had subsided, they advanced by
degrees, and both parties mixed with each other, the
men with the men, the women with the women. They
then passed round tobacco pipes very freely, and the
conversation became general. They had now nothing
but good news left to tell, and in less than half an hour
probably nothing but smiles and cheerfulness would be
seen on every face.
One direction in which the Amerindians did not shine
was in their treatment of women. This perhaps was worse
than in other uncivilized races. Woman was very badly
used, except perhaps for the first year of courtship and
marriage. Courtship began by the young man throwing
sticks at the girl1 who pleased his fancy, and if she responded he asked her in marriage. But not long after
she had become a mother she sank into the position of
a household drudge and beast of burden. For example,
amongst the Beaver Indians, an Athapaskan tribe of the
1 The manner of courtship among the Ojibw^s seemed to Peter Grant not only
singular, but rude. "The lover begins his first addresses by gently pelting his
mistress with bits of clay, snowballs, small sticks, or anything he may happen to
have in his hand. If she returns the compliment, he is encouraged to continue the
farce, and repeat it for a considerable time, after which more direct proposals of
marriage are made by word of mouth." The Amerindians and Eskimo      171
far north-west, it is related by Alexander Mackenzie that
the women are permanently crippled and injured in physique by the hardships they have to undergo. "Having
few dogs for transport in that country, the women alone
perform that labour which is allotted to beasts of burden
in other countries. It is not uncommon whilst the men
carry nothing but a gun, that their wives and daughters
follow with such weighty burdens that if they lay them
down they cannot replace them; nor will the men deign
to perform the service of hoisting them on to their backs.
So that during their journeys they are frequently obliged
to lean against a tree for a small degree of temporary relief. When they arrive at the place which their tyrants
have chosen for their encampment, they arrange the tent
in a few minutes by forming a curve of poles meeting
at the top and expanding into a circle of twelve or fifteen
feet in diameter at the bottom, covered with dressed skins
of the moose sewn together. During these preparations the
men sit down quietly to the enjoyment of their pipes, if
they happen to have any tobacco."
Among the Ojibwe and Huron Indians of the Great
Lakes the men sometimes obliged their wives to bring
up and nourish young bears instead of their own children, so that the bears might eventually be fattened for
eating. If food was scarce, the women went without before
even the male slaves of the tribe were unprovided with
food. Women might never eat in the society of males,
not even if these males were slaves or prisoners of war.
If food was very scarce, the husband as likely as not
killed and ate a wife; perhaps did this before slaying
and eating a valuable dog. (On the other hand, Mackenzie instances the case of a woman among the Slave
Indians who, in a winter of great scarcity, managed to
kill and devour her husband and several relations.) So
terrible was the ill-treatment of the women in some tribes
that these wretched beings sometimes committed suicide [72
Pioneers in Canada
to end their tortures. Even in this, however, they were
not let off lightly, for the Siou men invented as a tenet
of their religion the saying that " Women who hang
themselves are the most miserable of all wretches in the
other world ".
On the other hand, the kind treatment of children by
fathers as well as mothers is an " Indian t trait commented
on by writer after writer. Here is a typical description
by Alexander Henry the Elder, concerning the children
of the Ojibwe tribe:
u As soon as the boys begin to run about, they are
provided with bows and arrows, and acquire, as it were
'by instinct', an astonishing dexterity in shooting birds,
squirrels, butterflies, &c. Hunting in miniature may be
justly said to comprise the whole of their education and
childish diversion. Such as excel in this kind of exercise are sure of being particularly distinguished by their
parents, and seldom punished for any misbehaviour, but,
on the contrary, indulged in every degree of excess and
caprice. I have often seen grown-up boys of this description, when punished for some serious fault, strike
their father and spit in his face, calling him ' bad dog \
or | old woman', and, sometimes, carrying their insolence so far as to threaten to stab or shoot him,
and, what is rather singular, these too-indulgent parents
seem to encourage such unnatural liberties, and even
glory in such conduct from their favourite children. I
heard them boast of having sons who promised at an
early age to inherit such bold and independent sentiments. . . . Children of nine or ten years of age not
only enjoy the confidence of the men, but are generally considered as companions and very deliberately join
in their conversations."
When death overtook anybody the grief of the female
relations was carried to great excess. They not only
cut their hair, cried and howled, but they would some- C312
CARIBOU SWIMMING A RIVER  P8f§3? SBI
The Amerindians and Eskimo
173
times, with the utmost deliberation, employ some sharp
instrument to separate the nail from the finger and then
force back the flesh beyond the first joint, which they
immediately amputated. " Many of the old women have
so often repeated this ceremony that they have not a
complete finger remaining on either hand" (Mackenzie).
The Amerindians of North America were religious
and superstitious, and had a firm faith in a world of
spiritual agencies within or outside the material world
around us. Most of them believed in the existence of
"fairies",—woodland, earth, mountain, or water spirits—
whom they declared they could see from time to time
in human semblance. Or such spirit or demi-god might
assume for a time or permanently the form of an animal.
To all such spirits of earth, air, and water, or to the
sacred animals they inhabited, sacrifices would be offered
and prayers made. Great importance was attributed to
dreams and visions. They accustomed themselves to make
long fasts, so that they might become light-headed and see
visions, or hear spirit voices in a trance. To prepare their
minds for this state they would go four or five days without food, and even abstain from drinking.
Undoubtedly their "medicine men" developed great
mesmeric powers, and this force, combined with rather
clumsy juggling and ventriloquism, enabled them to
perform a semblance of "miracles". The Iroquois offered much opposition to Christianity, thinking it would
tame their warriors too quickly and affect their national
independence; but by the greater part of the Amerindians
the message of the Gospel brought by the French priests
was eagerly received, and the converts became many and
most sincere. Their reverence for the missionaries and
belief in them was increased when they saw how effectually they were able to protect them from too-rapacious
white adventurers, fierce soldiers, and unscrupulous
traders.
-»
_— 174
Pioneers in Canada
The Miamis of Lake Michigan held the symbol of
the cross in great respect. A young Frenchman who
was trading with them got into a passion and drew his
sword to avenge himself for a theft committed on his
goods. The Miama chieftain, to appease him, showed
him the cross, which was planted in the ground at the
end of his lodge, and said to him: "Behold the tree of
the Black Gown; he teaches us to pray and not to lose
our temper,"—of course, referring to the missionary in
the black gown who had been amongst them. Before
the cross was planted here these Miamis kept in their
houses one or more bogies, to which they appealed in
times of distress or sickness. One of these was the
skull of the bison with its horns. Another was the skin
of the bear raised on a pole in the middle of the hut
and retaining the head, which was usually painted green, i
The women sometimes died of terror from the stories told
them by the men about these idols, and the Jesuits did
a great deal of good by getting them abolished in manyi
places.
The Supreme Being of the Eskimos was a goddess
rather than a god: a mother of all things who lived
under the sea. On the other hand, most of the Amer-j
indian tribes believed in one great God of the Sky—
Manito, as He was called by the peoples of Algonkin
stock, Nainubushan by the Siou and their kindred.
This Being was usually kindly disposed towards man;
but they also (in most cases) believed in a bad Manito,
who was responsible for most of the harm in the world.
But sometimes the Great Manito was capricious, or apparently made many mistakes which he had afterwards
to rectify. Thus the Siou tribes of Assiniboia believed
that the Supreme Being (whom they called Eth-tom-e)
first created mankind and all living things, and then,
through some oversight or mistake, caused a great flood
to cover the earths surface.   So in a hurry he was obliged] The Amerindians and Eskimo § 175
to make a very large canoe of twigs and branches, and
into this he put a pair of every kind of bird and beast,
besides a family of human beings, who were thus saved
from drowning, and began the world afresh when the
waters subsided. This legend was something like the
story of Noah's ark, but seems in some form or another
to have existed in the mind of all the North-American
peoples before the arrival of Christian missionaries.
Much the same story was told by the Ojibwes about
the Great Hare-God, Nainiboju.
The Siou and the Ojibwe (and other tribes also) believed that after death the soul lay for a time in a trance,
and then found itself floating towards a River which must
be crossed. Beyond the River lay the Happy Hunting
Grounds, the Elysian fields; but to oppose the weary soul
anxious to reach this paradise there ramped on the other
side a huge, flaming-red bison bull. If it had been ordained
by the Great Spirit that the soul's time was not yet come,
this red bison pushed it back, and the soul was obliged
to re-enter the body, which then awoke from its trance or
swoon and resumed its worldly activities.
Suicide was regarded as the most heinous of crimes.
Any man killing himself deliberately, fell into the river
of the ghost world and was never heard of again, while
women who hanged themselves "were regarded as the
most miserable of all wretches in the other world".
Their belief in spirits—even ancestral spirits—taking
up an abode in the bodies of beasts, birds, or reptiles, or
even in plants or stones, caused them to view with respect
of a superstitious kind many natural objects. Some one
thing—a beast, bird, reptile, fish, plant, or strange stone
had been fixed on as the abode of his tutelary spirit by
some father of a family. The family grew into a clan, and
the clan to a tribe, and the object sacred in the eyes of its
father and founder became its "totem", crest, or symbol.
As a rule,  whatever thing was the totem of the  indi-
\* 176
Pioneers in Canada
vidual or the clan was held sacred in their eyes, and, if
it was an animal, was not killed, or, if killed, not eaten.
Many of the northern Indians would refrain from killing
the wolf or the glutton, or if they did so, or did it by
accident, they would refuse to skin the animal. The elder
people amongst the Athapaskan Indians, in Hearne's day,
would reprove the young folk for "speaking disrespectfully" of different beasts and birds.
Their ideas of medicine and surgery were much mixed
up with a belief in magic and in the mysterious powers
of their "medicine men". This person, who might be
of either sex, certainly knew a few simple medicines to be
made from herbs or decoctions of bark, but for the most
part he attempted to cure the sick or injured by blowing
lustily on the part affected or, more wisely, by massage.
A universal cure, however, for all fevers and mild ailments
was sweating. Sweating huts were built in nearly every
settlement. They were covered over in a way to exclude
air as much as possible. The inside was heated with red-
hot stones and glowing embers, on to which from time to
time water was poured to fill the place with steam. The
Amerindians not only went through these Turkish baths
to cure small ailments but also with the idea of clearing
the intelligence and as a fitting preliminary to negotiations
—for peace, or alliance, or even for courtship. In many
tribes if a young "brave" arrived with proposals of
marriage for a man's daughter he was invited to enter the
sweating house with her father, and discuss the bargain
calmly over perspiration and the tobacco pipe.
Tobacco smoking indeed was almost a religious ceremony, as well as a remedy for certain maladies or states
of mind. The "pipe of peace" has become proverbial.
Nevertheless tobacco was still unknown in the eighteenth
century to many of the Pacific-coast and far-north-west
tribes, as to the primitive Eskimo. It was not a very old
practice in the Canadian Dominion when Europeans first The Amerindians and Eskimo      177
arrived there, though it appeared to be one of the most
characteristic actions of these red-skinned savages in the
astonished eyes of the first pioneers. They used pipes
for smoking, however, long before tobacco came among
them, certain berries taking the place of tobacco.
The Amerindians of the southern parts of Canada and
British Columbia were more or less settled peoples of
towns or villages, of fixed homes to which they returned
at all seasons of the year, however far afield they might
range for warfare, trade, or hunting. But the more
northern tribes were nomads: people shifting their abode
from place to place in pursuit of game or trade. Unlike
the people of the south and west (though these only grew
potatoes) they were not agriculturists: the only vegetable
element in their food was the wild rice of the marshes, the
sweet-'tasting layer between the bark and the wood of
certain trees, and the fruits or fungi of the forest or the
lichen growing on the rocks. Though these people might
in summertime build some hasty wigwam of boughs and
moss, their ordinary dwelling place was a tent.
The Wood Indians, or Opimitish Ininiwak, of the
Athapaskan group (writes Alexander Henry, sen.) had
no fixed villages; and their lodges or huts were so rudely
fashioned as to afford them very inadequate protection
against the weather. The greater part of their year was
spent in travelling from place to place in search of food.
The animal on which they chiefly depended was the hare
—a most prominent animal in Amerindian economy and
tradition. This they took in springes. From its skin
they made coverings with much ingenuity, cutting it into
narrow strips and weaving this into the shape of a blanket,
which was of a very warm and agreeable quality.
The Naskwapi Algonkins of inland Labrador were
savages that led a wandering life through the bare, flat
parts of that country, subsisting chiefly upon flesh, and
clothing themselves with the skin of the caribou, which
(C312)
12
J 178
Pioneers in Canada
they caught in pitfalls or shot with the bow and arrow.
"Very few sights, I believe, can be more distressing to
the feelings of humanity than a Labrador savage, surrounded by his wife and five or six small children, half-
famished with cold and hunger in a hole dug out of the
snow and screened from the inclemency of the weather
by the branches of the trees. Their whole furniture is
a kettle hung over the fire, not for the purpose of cooking
victuals, but for melting snow" (James M'Kenzie).
A description of the tents of the Kris or Knistino
(Algonkins of the Athabaska region), written by Alexander
Henry, sen., applies with very little difference to all the
other tribes dwelling to the east of the Rocky Mountains.1
These tents were of dressed leather, erected with poles,
generally seventeen in number, of which two were tied
together about three feet from the top.    The first two poles
being erected and set apart at the base, the others were
placed against them in a slanting position, meeting at the
top, so that they all formed nearly a circle, which was then
covered with the leather.    This consisted of ten to fifteen
dressed skins of the bison, moose, or red deer, well sewed j
together and nicely cut to fit the conical figure of the poles,
with an opening above, to let out smoke and admit the;
light.    From this opening down to the door the two edges I
of the tent were brought close together and well secured I
with wooden pegs about six inches long, leaving for the
door an oval aperture about two feet wide and three feet
high, below which the edges were secured with similar
pegs.   This small entrance did well enough for the natives,
who would be brought up to it from infancy, but a Euro-'
pean might be puzzled to get through, as a piece of hidej
stretched upon a frame of the same shape as the door, but
somewhat larger, hung outside, and must be first raised!
by the hand of the incomer.
Such tents were usually spacious, measuring twenty
1 See also p. 249. The Amerindians and Eskimo " , 179
feet in diameter. The fire was always made in the centre,
around which the occupants generally placed a range of
stones to prevent the ashes from scattering and to keep
[the fire compact. New tents were perfectly white; some
[of them were painted with red and black figures. These
devices were generally derived from the dreams of the
Amerindians, being some mythical monster or other
hideous animal, whose description had been handed down
[from their ancestors. A large camp of such tents, pitched
regularly on a level plain, had a fine effect at a distance,
especially when numerous bands of horses were seen
[feeding in all directions.
The "lodges" or long houses made of poles, fir
(branches, moss, &c, wherein, among the Iroquois, Al-
igonkin, and Siou peoples, several families made a common
habitation, are described here and there in the course of
the narrative. The houses of the coast tribes of British
Columbia were bigger, more elaborate, and permanent,
?and in this region the natives had acquired some idea of
l carpentry, and had learnt to make planks of wood by
splitting with wedges or hewing with adzes.
One of these British Columbian houses was measured,
and found to be seventy feet long by twenty-five feet wide;
the entrance in the gable end was cut through a plank five
and a half feet wide, and nearly oval. A board suspended
on the outside answered for a door; on the other side of
the broad plank was rudely carved a large painted figure
of a man, between whose legs was the passage. But other
houses on the Pacific coast, visited by Cook or Vancouver,
are said to have been large enough to accommodate seven
hundred people. These houses of the Pacific coast region
were exceedingly filthy, sturgeon and salmon being strewn
about in every direction. The men inhabiting them were
often disgusting in their behaviour, while the women are
declared to have been "devoid of shame or decency".
According to   Mackenzie,  such habitations  swarmed ■■"
i So
Pioneers in Canada
with fleas, and even the ground round about them "was
alive with this vermin ". The Alexander Henrys, both
uncle and nephew, complain of the flea plague (partly
due to the multitude of dogs) in every Indian village or
encampment.
The domestic implements of the Amerindians were
few. Pottery seems to have been unknown amongst the
northern tribes to the east and north of the Mississippi
valley, but earthen jars and vessels were made by the
Dakota-Siou group in the valley of the Mississippi.
Amongst these agricultural Indians the hoe was made
of a buffalo's blade bone fastened to a crooked wooden,
handle. The Ojibwes manufactured chisels out of beavers'
teeth. The Eskimo and some of the neighbouring Amerindian tribes used oblong "kettles" of stone—simply great
blocks of stone chipped, rubbed, and hollowed out into
receptacles, with handles at both ends. (It is suggested
that they borrowed the idea of these stone vessels for
cooking from the early Norse settlers of Greenland; see
p. 18.) |
The Amerindians of the regions west of the Rocky
Mountains made kettles or cooking vessels out of blocks
of "cedar" {Juniper) wood; east of the Rocky Mountains
the birch-bark kettle was universal. Of course these
vessels of wood or bark could not be placed on the fire
or embers to heat or boil the contents, as was possible with
the "kettles" of stone or the cooking pots of clay. So
the people using them heated the water in which the food
or the soup was boiled by making stones red-hot in the!
fire and then dropping them into the birch-bark or cedar-
wood tubs. Many of the northern Indians got into thd
way of eating their food raw because of the difficulty oij
making a fire away from home.
In regard to food, neither Amerindian nor Eskimo was
squeamish. They were almost omnivorous, and specialty
delighted in putrid or noisome substances from which The Amerindians and Eskimo      181
European would turn in loathing, and from the eating of
which he might conceivably die.
It was only in the extreme south of Canada or in
British Columbia (potatoes only) that any agriculture was
carried on and that the natives had maize, pumpkins, and
pease to add to their dietary; but (as compared to the
temperate regions of Europe and Asia) Nature was generous in providing wild fruits and grain without trouble of
husbandry. The fruits and nuts have been enumerated
elsewhere, but a description might be given here of the
"wild oats" {Avena fatua) and the "wild rice" of the
regions of central Canada and the middle west. The wild
oats made a rough kind of porridge, but were not so
important and so nourishing as the wild rice which is so
often mentioned in the stories of the pioneers, who liked
this wild grain as much as the Indians did.
This wild rice {Zizania aquatica) grew naturally in
small rivers and swampy places. The stems were hollow,
jointed at intervals, and the grain appeared at the extremity of the stalk. By the month of June they had
grown two feet above the surface of the shallow water,
and were ripe for harvesting in September. At this
period the Amerindians passed in canoes through the
water-fields of wild rice, shaking the ears into the canoes
as they swept by* The grain fell out easily when ripe,
but in order to clean it from the husk it was dried over
a slow fire on a wooden grating. After being winnowed
it was pounded to flour in a mortar, or else boiled like
rice, and seasoned with fat. "It had a most delicate
taste", wrote Alexander Henry the Elder.
Fish was perhaps the staple of Amerindian diet, because in scarcely any part of the Canadian Dominion is
a lake, river, or brook far away. In the region of the
Great Lakes fish were caught in large quantities in October, and exposed to the weather to be frozen at nighttime.
They were   then   stored  away  in   this   congealed   state, 182
Pioneers in Canada
and lasted good — more or less — till the following
April.
Pemmican—that early form of potted meat so familiar
to the readers of Red-Indian romances—was made of the
lean meat of the bison. The strips of meat were dried in
the sun, and afterwards pounded in a mortar and mixed
with an equal quantity of bison fat. Fish "pemmican*1
was sun-dried fish ground to powder.
A favourite dish among" the northern Indians was
blood mixed with the half-digested food found in the
stomach of a deer, boiled up with a sufficient quantity
of water to make it of the consistency of pease porridge.
Some scraps of fat or tender flesh were shredded small
and boiled with it. To render this dish more palatable
they had a method of mixing the blood with the contents
of the stomach in the paunch itself, and hanging it up in
the heat and smoke of the fire for several days—in other
words, the Scotch haggis. The kidneys of both moose
and buffalo were usually eaten raw by the southern
Indians, for no sooner was one of those beasts killed than
the hunter ripped up its belly, snatched out the kidneys,
and ate them warm, before the animal was quite dead.
They also at times put their mouths to the wound the
ball or the arrow had made, and sucked the blood; this,
they said, quenched thirst, and was very nourishing.
The favourite drink of the Ojibwe Indians in the wintertime was hot broth poured over a dishful of pure snow.
The Amerindians of the Nipigon country (north of
Lake Superior) and the Ojibwes and Kris often relapsed
into cannibalism when hard up for food. Indeed some of
them became so addicted to this practice that they simply
went about stalking their fellow Indians with as much
industry as if they were hunting animals. " These prowling ogres caused such terror that to sight the track of one
of them was sufficient to make twenty families decamp in
all the speed of their terror*' (Alexander Henry).    It was The Amerindians and Eskimo      18
o
deemed useless to attempt any resistance when these monsters were coming to kill and eat. The people would even
make them presents of clothes and provisions to allow
them and their children to live. There were women cannibals as well as men (see p. 171).
As the greater part of their food came from the chase,
and their only articles of commerce likewise, they devoted
themselves more entirely to hunting and fishing than to
any other pursuit. The women did most of the fishing
(and all the skin-curing for the fur market and for their
own dress), while the men pursued with weapons the
beasts of the chase, trapped them in pitfalls or snares,
or drove them into "pounds" (excavated enclosures).
Illustrating the wonderful sagacity of the Amerindians
as game trackers, Alexander Henry the Elder tells the
following story in the autumn of 1799:—
"We had not gone far from the house before we fell
upon the fresh tracks of some red deer (wapiti), and soon
after discovered the herd in a thicket of willows and
poplars; we both fired, and the deer disappeared in different directions. We pursued them, but to no purpose,
as the country was unfavourable. We then returned to
the spot where we had fired, as the Indian suspected that
we had wounded some of them. We searched to see if
we could find any blood; on my part, I could find tracks,
but no blood. The Indian soon called out, and I went to
him, but could see no blood, nor any sign that an animal
had been wounded. However, he pointed out the track
of a large buck among the many others, and told me that
from the manner in which this buck had started off he was
certain the animal had been wounded. As the ground
was beaten in every direction by animals, it was only after
a tedious search that we found where the buck had struck
off. But no blood was seen until, passing through a
thicket of willows, he observed a drop upon a leaf, and
next a  little  more.     He then  began  to examine more
__ 184
Pioneers in Canada
strictly, to find out in what part of the body the animal
had been wounded; and, judging by the height and other
signs, he told me the wound must have been somewhere
between the shoulder and neck. We advanced about a
mile, but saw nothing of the deer, and no more blood.
I was for giving up the chase; but he assured me the
wound was mortal, and that if the animal should lie down
he could n