List Of Contents | Contents of The Jesuit Missions, by Thomas Guthrie Marquis
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report of his work. These reports, known as Relations,
were generally printed and sold by the booksellers of
Paris. About forty volumes of the Relations from the
missions of Canada were published between 1632 and 1672
and widely read in France.] moved both king and people
to sustain it until the time arrived when New France was
valued as a barrier against New England.

Scarcely had the Jesuits made themselves at home in the
convent of the Recollets when they began planning for
the mission. It was decided that Lalemant and Masse should
remain at Quebec; but Brebeuf, believing, like the
Recollets, that little of permanent value could be done
among the ever-shifting Algonquins, desired to start at
once for the populous towns of Huronia. In July, in
company with the Recollet La Roche de Daillon, Brebeuf
set out for Three Rivers. The Indians--Hurons, Algonquins,
and Ottawas--had gathered at Cape Victory, a promontory
in Lake St Peter near the point where the lake narrows
again into the St Lawrence. There, too, stood French
vessels laden with goods for barter; and thither went
the two missionaries to make friends with the Indians
and to lay in a store of goods for the voyage to Huronia
and for use at the mission. The captains of the vessels
appeared friendly and supplied the priests with coloured
beads, knives, kettles, and other articles. All was going
well for the journey, when, on the eve of departure, a
runner arrived from Montreal bringing evil news.

For a year the Recollet Nicolas Viel had remained in
Huronia. Early in 1624 he had written to Father Piat
hoping that he might live and die in his Huron mission
at Carhagouha. There is no record of his sojourn in
Huronia during the winter 1624-25. Alone among the savages,
with a scant knowledge of their language, his spirit must
have been oppressed with a burden almost too great to be
borne; he must have longed for the companionship of men
of his own language and faith. At any rate, in the early
summer of 1625 he had set out for Quebec with a party of
trading Hurons for the purpose of spending some time in
retreat at the residence on the banks of the St Charles.
He was never to reach his destination. On arriving at
the Riviere des Prairies, his Indian conductors, instead
of portaging their canoes past the treacherous rapids in
this river, had attempted to run them, and a disaster
had followed. The canoe bearing Father Viel and a young
Huron convert named Ahaustic (the Little Fish) had been
overturned and both had been drowned.

[Footnote: This rapid has since been known as Sault au
Recollet and a village near by bears the name of Ahuntsic,
a corruption of the young convert's name. Father A. E.
Jones, S. J., in his 'Old Huronia' (Ontario Archives),
points out that no such word as Ahuntsic could find a
place in a Huron vocabulary.]

The story brought to Cape Victory was that the tragedy
had been due to the treacherous conduct of three
evil-hearted Hurons who coveted the goods the priest had
with him. On the advice of the traders, who feared that
the Hurons were in no spirit to receive the missionaries,
Brebeuf and Daillon concluded not to attempt the ascent
of the Ottawa for the present, and returned to Quebec.
Ten years later, such a report would not have moved
Brebeuf to turn back, but would have been an added
incentive to press forward.



The Jesuits, with the exception of Brebeuf, spent the
winter of 1625-26 at the convent of the Recollets, no
doubt enduring privation, as at that time there was a
scarcity of food in the colony. Brebeuf, eager to study
the Indians in their homes, joined a party of Montagnais
hunters and journeyed with them to their wintering grounds.
He suffered much from hunger and cold, and from the
insanitary conditions under which he was compelled to
live in the filthy, smoky, vermin-infested abodes of the
savages. But an iron constitution stood him in good stead,
and he rejoined his fellow-missionaries none the worse
for his experience. He had acquired, too, a fair knowledge
of the Montagnais dialect, and had learned that boldness,
courage, and fortitude in suffering went far towards
winning the respect of the savages of North America.

On the 5th of July the eyes of the colonists at Quebec
were gladdened by the sight of a fleet of vessels coming
up the river. These were the supply-ships of the company,
and on the Catherine, a vessel of two hundred and fifty
tons, was Champlain, on whom the Jesuits could depend as
a friend and protector. In the previous autumn Lalemant
had selected a fertile tract of land on the left side of
the St Charles, between the river Beauport and the stream
St Michel, as a suitable spot for a permanent home, and
had sent a request to Champlain to secure this land for
the Jesuits. Champlain had laid the request before the
viceroy and he now brought with him the official documents
granting the land. Nine days later a vessel of eighty
tons arrived with supplies and reinforcements for the
mission. On this vessel came Fathers Philibert Noyrot
and Anne de Noue, with a lay brother and twenty labourers
and carpenters.

The Jesuits chose a site for the buildings at a bend in
the St Charles river a mile or so from the fort. Here,
opposite Pointe-aux-Lievres (Hare Point), on a sloping
meadow two hundred feet from the river, they cleared the
ground and erected two buildings--one to serve as a
storehouse, stable, workshop, and bakery; the other as
the residence. The residence had four rooms--a chapel,
a refectory with cells for the fathers, a kitchen, and
a lodging-room for the workmen. It had, too, a commodious
cellar, and a garret which served as a dormitory for the
lay brothers. The buildings were of roughly hewn planks,
the seams plastered with mud and the roofs thatched with
grass from the meadow. Such was Notre-Dame-des-Anges. In
this humble abode men were to be trained to carry the
Cross in the Canadian wilderness, and from it they were
to go forth for many years in an unbroken line, blazing
the way for explorers and traders and settlers.

Almost simultaneously with the arrival of Noyrot and Noue
a flotilla of canoes laden deep with furs came down from
the Huron country. Brebeuf had made up his mind to go to
far Huronia; Noue and the Recollet Daillon had the same
ambition; and all three besought the Hurons to carry them
on the return journey. The Indians expressed a readiness
to give the Recollet Daillon a passage; they knew the
'grey-robes'; but they did not know the Jesuits, the
'black-robes,' and they hesitated to take Brebeuf and
Noue, urging as an excuse that so portly a man as Brebeuf
would be in danger of upsetting their frail canoes. By
a liberal distribution of presents, however, the Hurons
were persuaded to accept Brebeuf and Noue as passengers.

Towards the end of July, just when preparations were
being made to break ground for the residence of
Notre-Dame-des-Anges, the three fathers and some French
assistants set out with the Hurons on the long journey
to the shores of Georgian Bay. Brebeuf was in a state of
ecstasy. He longed for the populous towns of the Hurons.
He had confidence in himself and believed that he would
be able to make the dwellers in these towns followers of
Christ and bulwarks of France in the New World. For
twenty-three years he was to devote his life to this
task; for twenty-three years, save for the brief interval
when the English flag waved over Quebec, he was to dominate
the Huron mission. He was a striking figure. Of noble
ancestry, almost a giant in stature, and with a soldierly
bearing that attracted all observers, he would have shone
at the court of the king or at the head of the army. But
he had sacrificed a worldly career for the Church. And
no man of his ancestors, one of whom had battled under
William the Conqueror at Hastings and others in the
Crusades, ever bore himself more nobly than did Brebeuf
in the forests of Canada, or covered himself with a
greater glory.

The journey was beset with danger, for the Iroquois were
on the war-path against the Hurons and the French, and
had attacked settlers even in the vicinity of Quebec.
The lot of the voyagers was incessant toil. They had to
paddle against the current, to haul the canoes over
stretches where the water was too swift for paddling,
and to portage past turbulent rapids and falls. The
missionaries were forced to bear their share of the work.
Noue, no longer young, was frequently faint from toil.
Brebeuf not only sustained him, but at many of the
portages, of which there were thirty-five in all, carried
a double load of baggage. The packs contained not only
clothing and food, but priestly vestments, requisites
for the altar, pictures, wine for the Mass, candles,
books, and writing material. The course lay over the
route which Le Caron had followed eleven years before,
up the Ottawa, up the Mattawa, across the portage to Lake
Nipissing, and then down the French River. Arrived in
Penetanguishene Bay, they landed at a village called
Otouacha.  They then journeyed a mile and a half inland,
through gloomy forests, past cultivated patches of maize,
beans, pumpkins, squashes, and sunflowers, to Toanche,
where they found Viel's cabin still standing. For three
years this was to be Brebeuf's headquarters.

Huronia lay in what is now the county of Simcoe, Ontario,
comprising the present townships of Tiny, Tay, Flos,
Medonte, and Oro. On the east and north lay Lakes Simcoe
and Couchiching, the Severn river, and Matchedash Bay;
on the west, Nottawasaga Bay. Across the bay, or by land
a journey of about two days, where now are Bruce and Grey
counties, lived the Petuns, and about five days to the
south-west, the Neutrals. The latter tribe occupied both
the Niagara and Detroit peninsulas, overflowed into the
states of Michigan and New York, and spread north as far
as Goderich and Oakville in Ontario. All these nations,
and the Andastes of the lower Susquehanna, were of the
same linguistic stock as the Iroquois who dwelt south of
Lake Ontario. Peoples speaking the Huron-Iroquois tongue
thus occupied the central part of the eastern half of
North America, while all around them, north, south, east,
and west, roamed the tribes speaking dialects of the

Most of the Huron [Footnote: The name Huron is of uncertain
origin. The word HURON was used in France as early as
1358 to describe the uncouth peasants who revolted against
the nobility. But according to Father Charles Lalemant,
a French sailor, on first beholding some Hurons at
Tadoussac in 1600, was astonished at their fantastic way
of dressing their hair--in stiff ridges with shaved
furrows between--and exclaimed 'Quelles hures!'--what
boar-heads! In their own language they were known as
Ouendats (dwellers on a peninsula), a name still extant
in the corrupted form Wyandots.] towns were encircled by
log palisades. The houses were of various sizes and some
of them were more than two hundred feet long. They were
built in the crudest fashion. Two rows of sturdy saplings
were stuck in the ground about twenty-five feet apart,
then bent to meet so as to form an arch, and covered with
bark. An open strip was left in the roof for the escape
of smoke and for light. Each house sheltered from six to
a dozen families, according to the number of fires. Two
families shared each fire, and around the fire in winter
clustered children, dogs, youths, gaily decorated maidens,
jabbering squaws, and toothless, smoke-blinded old men.
Privacy there was none. Along the sides of the cabin,
about four feet from the ground, extended raised platforms,
on or under which, according to the season or the
inclination of the individual, the inmates slept.

The Huron nation was divided into four clans--the Bear,
the Rock, the Cord, the Deer--with several small dependent
groups. There was government of a sort, republican in
form. They had their deliberative assemblies, both village
and tribal. The village councils met almost daily, but
the tribal assembly--a sort of states-general--was summoned
only when some weighty measure demanded consideration.
Decisions arrived at in the assemblies were proclaimed
by the chiefs.

Of religion as it is understood by Christians the Hurons
had none, nothing but superstitions, very like those of
other barbarous peoples. To everything in nature they
gave a god; trees, lakes, streams, the celestial bodies,
the blue expanse, they deified with okies or spirits.
Among the chief objects of Huron worship were the moon
and the sun. The oki of the moon had the care of souls
and the power to cut off life; the oki of the sun presided
over the living and sustained all created things. The
great vault of heaven with its myriad stars inspired them
with awe; it was the abode of the spirit of spirits, the
Master of Life. Aronhia was the name they gave this
supreme oki. This would show that they had a vague
conception of God. To Aronhia they offered sacrifices,
to Aronhia they appealed in time of danger, and when
misfortune befell them it was due to the anger of Aronhia.
But all this had no influence on their conduct; even in
their worship they were often astoundingly vicious.

To such dens of barbarism had come men fresh from the
civilization of the Old World--men of learning, culture,
and gentle birth, in whose veins flowed the proudest
blood of France. To these savages, indolent, superstitious,
and vicious, had come Brebeuf, Noue, and Daillon, with
a message of peace, goodwill, and virtue.

Until the middle of October the three fathers lived
together at Toanche, save that Daillon went on a brief
visit to Ossossane, on the shore of Nottawasaga Bay. The
Recollet, however, had instructions from his superior Le
Caron to go to the country of the Neutrals, of which
Champlain's interpreter, Etienne Brule, had reported
glowingly, but which was as yet untrodden by the feet of
missionaries. And so on the 18th of October 1626 Daillon
set out on the trail southward, with two French traders
as interpreters, and an Indian guide. Arriving among the
Neutrals, after a journey of five or six days, he was at
first kindly received in each of the six towns which he
visited. But this happy situation was not to last. The
Neutral country, now the richest and most populous part
of Ontario, boasting such cities as Hamilton and Brantford
and London, was rich in fur-bearing animals and tobacco;
and the Hurons were the middlemen in trade between the
Neutrals and the French. The Hurons, fearing now that
they were about to lose their business--for it was rumoured
that Daillon was seeking to have the Neutrals trade
directly with the French--sent messengers to the Neutrals
denouncing the grey-robe as a sorcerer who had come to
destroy them with disease and death. In this the Neutral
medicine-men agreed, for they were jealous of the priest.
The plot succeeded. The Indians turned from Daillon,
closed their doors against him, stole his writing-desk,
blanket, breviary, and trinkets, and even threatened him
with death. But Brebeuf learned of his plight, probably
from one of the Hurons who had raised the Neutrals against

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