The Conquest of Canada (Vol. 1 of 2)
by George Warburton
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In 1612 Champlain found it necessary to revisit France; some powerful patron was wanted to forward the interests of the colony, and to provide the supplies and resources required for its extension. The Count de Soissons readily entered into his views, and delegated to him the authority of viceroy, which had been conferred upon the count.[104] Soissons died soon after, and the Prince of Conde became his successor. Champlain was wisely continued in the command he had so long and ably held, but was delayed in France for some time by difficulties on the subject of commerce with the merchants of St. Malo.

Champlain sailed again from St. Malo on the 6th of March, 1613, in a vessel commanded by Pontgrave, and anchored before Quebec on the 7th of May. He found the state of affairs at the settlement so satisfactory that his continued presence was unnecessary; he therefore proceeded at once to Montreal, and, after a short stay at that island, explored for some distance the course of the Ottawa, which there pours its vast flood into the main stream of the St. Lawrence. The white men were filled with wonder and admiration at the magnitude of this great tributary, the richness and beauty of its shores, the broad lakes and deep rapids, and the eternal forests, clothing mountain, plain, and valley for countless leagues around. As they proceeded they found no diminution in the volume of water; and when they inquired of the wandering Indian for its source, he pointed to the northwest, and indicated that it lay in the unknown solitudes of ice and snow, to which his people had never reached. After this expedition Champlain returned with his companion Pontgrave to St. Malo, where they arrived in the end of August.

Having engaged some wealthy merchants of St. Malo, Rouen, and Rochelle in an association for the support of the colony, through the assistance of the Prince of Conde, viceroy of New France, he obtained letters patent of incorporation for the company (1614). The temporal welfare of the settlement being thus placed upon a secure basis, Champlain, who was a zealous Catholic, next devoted himself to obtain spiritual aid. By his entreaties four Recollets were prevailed upon to undertake the mission. These were the first[105] ministers of religion settled in Canada. They reached Quebec in the beginning of April, 1615, accompanied by Champlain, who, however, at once proceeded to Montreal.

On arriving at this island, he found the Huron and other allied tribes again preparing for an expedition against the Iroquois. With a view of gaining the friendship of the savages, and of acquiring a knowledge of the country, he injudiciously offered himself to join a quarrel in which he was in no wise concerned. The father Joseph Le Caron accompanied him, in the view of preparing the way for religious instruction, by making himself acquainted with the habits and language of the Indians. Champlain was appointed chief by the allies, but his savage followers rendered slight obedience to this authority. The expedition proved very disastrous: the Iroquois were strongly intrenched, and protected by a quantity of felled trees; their resistance proved successful; Champlain was wounded, and the allies were forced to retreat with shame and with heavy loss.

The respect of the Indians for the French was much diminished by this untoward failure; they refused to furnish Champlain with a promised guide to conduct him to Quebec, and he was obliged to pass the winter among them as an unwilling guest. He, however, made the best use of his time; he visited many of the principal Huron and Algonquin towns, even those as distant as Lake Nipissing, and succeeded in reconciling several neighboring nations. At the opening of the navigation, he gained over some of the Indians to his cause, and, finding that another expedition against the Iroquois was in preparation, embarked secretly and arrived at Quebec on the 11th of July, 1616, when he found that he and the father Joseph were supposed to have been dead long since. They both sailed for France soon after their return from among the Hurons.

In the following year, a signal service was rendered to the colony by a worthy priest named Duplessys: he had been engaged for some time at Three Rivers in the instruction of the savages, and had happily so far gained their esteem, that some of his pupils informed him of a conspiracy among all the neighboring Indian tribes for the utter destruction of the French; eight hundred chiefs and warriors had assembled to arrange the plan of action. Duplessys contrived, with consummate ability, to gain over some of the principal Indians to make advances toward a reconciliation with the white men, and, by degrees, succeeded in arranging a treaty, and in causing two chiefs to be given up as hostages for its observance.

For several years Champlain was constantly obliged to visit France for the purpose of urging on the tardily provided aids for the colony. The court would not interest itself in the affairs of New France since a company had undertaken their conduct, and the merchants, always limited in their views to mere commercial objects, cared but little for the fate of the settlers so long as their warehouses were stored with the valuable furs brought by the Indian hunters. These difficulties would doubtless have smothered the infant nation in its cradle, had it not been for the untiring zeal and constancy of its great founder. At every step he met with new trials from the indifference, caprice, or contradiction of his associates, but, with his eye steadily fixed upon the future, he devoted his fortune and the energies of his life to the cause, and rose superior to every obstacle.

In 1620, the Prince of Conde sold the vice-royalty of New France to his brother-in-law, the Marshal de Montmorenci, for eleven thousand crowns. The marshal wisely continued Champlain as lieutenant governor, and intrusted the management of colonial affairs in France to M. Dolu, a gentleman of known zeal and probity. Champlain being hopeful that these changes would favorably affect Canada, resolved now to establish his family permanently in that country. Taking them with him, he sailed from France in the above-named year, and arrived at Quebec in the end of May. In passing by Tadoussac, he found that some adventurers of Rochelle had opened a trade with the savages, in violation of the company's privileges, and had given the fatal example of furnishing the hunters with fire-arms in exchange for their peltries.

A great danger menaced the colony in the year 1621. The Iroquois sent three large parties of warriors to attack the French settlements. This savage tribe feared that if the white men obtained a footing in the country, their alliance with the Hurons and Algonquins, of which the effects had already been felt, might render them too powerful. The first division marched upon Sault St. Louis, where a few Frenchmen were established. Happily, there was warning of their approach; the defenders, aided by some Indian allies, repulsed them with much loss, and took several prisoners. The Iroquois had, however, seized Father Guillaume Poulain, one of the Recollets, in their retreat; they tied him to a stake, and were about to burn him alive, when they were persuaded to exchange the good priest for one of their own chiefs, who had fallen into the hands of the French. Another party of these fierce marauders dropped down the river to Quebec in a fleet of thirty canoes, and suddenly invested the Convent of the Recollets, where a small fort had been erected; they did not venture to attack this little stronghold, but fell upon some Huron villages near at hand, and massacred the helpless inhabitants with frightful cruelty; they then retreated as suddenly as they had come. Alarmed by this ferocious attack, which weakness and the want of sufficient supplies prevented him from avenging, Champlain sent Father Georges le Brebeuf as an agent, to represent to the king the deplorable condition of the colony, from the criminal neglect of the company. The appeal was successful; the company was suppressed, and the exclusive privilege transferred to Guillaume and Emeric de Caen, uncle and nephew.

The king himself wrote to his worthy subject Champlain, expressing high approval of his eminent services, and exhorting him to continue in the same career. This high commendation served much to strengthen his hands in the exercise of his difficult authority. He was embarrassed by constant disputes between the servants of the suppressed company, and those who acted for the De Caens; religious differences also served to embitter these dissensions, as the new authorities were zealous Huguenots.

This year Champlain discovered that his ancient allies, the Hurons, purposed to detach themselves from his friendship, and unite with the Iroquois for his destruction. To avert this danger, he sent among them Father Joseph la Caron and two other priests, who appear to have succeeded in their mission of reconciliation. The year after, he erected a stone fort[108] at Quebec for the defense of the settlement, which then only numbered fifty souls of all ages and sexes. As soon as the defenses were finished, Champlain departed for France with his family, to press for aid from the government for the distressed colony.

On his arrival, he found that Henri de Levi, duke de Ventadour, had purchased the vice-royalty of New France from the Marshal de Montmorenci, his uncle, with the view of promoting the spiritual welfare of Canada, and the general conversion of the heathen Indians to the Christian faith. He had himself long retired from the strife and troubles of the world, and entered into holy orders. Being altogether under the influence of the Jesuits, he considered them as the means given by heaven for the accomplishment of his views. The pious and exemplary Father Lallemant, with four other priests and laymen of the Order of Jesus, undertook the mission, and sailed for Canada in 1625. They were received without jealousy by their predecessors of the Recollets, and admitted under their roof on their first arrival.[109] The following year three other Jesuit fathers reached Quebec in a little vessel provided by themselves; many artisans accompanied them. By the aid of this re-enforcement, the new settlement soon assumed the appearance of a town.

The Huguenot De Caens used their powerful influence to foment the religious disputes now raging in the infant settlement;[110] they were also far more interested in the profitable pursuit of the fur trade than in promoting the progress of colonization; for these reasons, the Cardinal de Richelieu judged that their rule was injurious to the prosperity of the country; he revoked their privileges, and caused the formation of a numerous company of wealthy and upright men; to this he transferred the charge of the colony. This body was chartered under the name of "The Company of One Hundred Associates:"[111] their capital was 100,000 crowns; their privileges as follows: To be proprietors of Canada; to govern in peace and war; to enjoy the whole trade for fifteen years (except the cod and whale fishery), and the fur trade in perpetuity; untaxed imports and exports. The king gave them two ships of 300 tons burden each, and raised twelve of the principal members to the rank of nobility. The company, on their part, undertook to introduce 200 or 300 settlers during the year 1628, and 16,000 more before 1643, providing them with all necessaries for three years, and settling them afterward on a sufficient extent of cleared land for their future support. The articles of this agreement were signed by the Cardinal de Richelieu on the 19th of April, 1627, and subsequently approved by the king.

At this time the Indians were a constant terror to the settlers in Canada: several Frenchmen had been assassinated by the ruthless savages, and their countrymen were too feeble in numbers to demand the punishment of the murderers. Conscious of their strength, the natives became daily more insolent; no white man could venture beyond the settlement without incurring great danger. Building languished, and much of the cleared land remained uncultivated. Such was the disastrous state of the colony.

The commencement of the company's government was marked by heavy misfortune. The first vessels sent by them to America fell into the hands of the English, at the sudden breaking out of hostilities. In 1628, Sir David Kertk, a French Calvinist refugee in the British service, reached Tadoussac with a squadron, burned the fur houses of the free traders, and did other damage; thence he sent to Quebec, summoning Champlain to surrender. The brave governor consulted with Pontgrave and the inhabitants; they came to the resolution of attempting a defense, although reduced to great extremities, and sent Kertk such a spirited answer that he, ignorant of their weakness, did not advance upon the town. He, however, captured a convoy under the charge of De Roquemont, with several families on board, and a large supply of provisions for the settlement. This expedition against Canada was said to have been planned and instigated by De Caen, from a spirit of vengeance against those who had succeeded to his lost privileges.

In July, 1629, Lewis and Thomas, brothers of Sir David Kertk, appeared with an armament before Quebec. As soon as the fleet had anchored, a white flag with a summons to capitulate was sent ashore. This time the assailants were well informed of the defenders' distress, but offered generous terms if Champlain would at once surrender the fort. He, having no means of resistance, was fain to submit. The English took possession the following day, and treated the inhabitants with such good faith and humanity, that none of them left the country. Lewis Kertk remained in command at Quebec; Champlain proceeded with Thomas to Tadoussac, where they met the admiral, Sir David, with the remainder of the fleet. In September they sailed for England, and Champlain was sent on to France, according to treaty.[112]

When the French received the news of the loss of Canada, opinion was much divided as to the wisdom of seeking to regain the captured settlement.[113] Some thought its possession of little value in proportion to the expense it caused, while others deemed that the fur trade and fisheries were of great importance to the commerce of France, as well as a useful nursery for experienced seamen. Champlain strongly urged the government not to give up a country where they had already overcome the principal difficulties of settlement, and where, through their means, the light of religion was dawning upon the darkness of heathen ignorance. His solicitations were successful, and Canada was restored to France at the same time with Acadia and Cape Breton, by the treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye[114] (1632). At this period the fort of Quebec, surrounded by a score of hastily-built dwellings and barracks, some poor huts on the island of Montreal, the like at Three Rivers and Tadoussac, and a few fishermen's log-houses elsewhere on the banks of the St. Lawrence, were the only fruits of the discoveries of Verazzano, Jacques Cartier, Roberval, and Champlain, the great outlay of La Roche and De Monts, and the toils and sufferings of their followers, for nearly a century.[115]

By the treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye the company were restored to all their rights and privileges, and obtained compensation for the losses they had sustained, but it was some time before the English could be effectually excluded from the trade which they had established with the Indians during their brief possession of the country. In 1633 Champlain was reappointed governor of New France, and on his departure for the colony took with him many respectable settlers: several Protestants were anxious to join him; this, however, was not permitted. Two Jesuits, Fathers de Brebeuf and Enemond Masse, accompanied the governor: they purposed to devote themselves to the conversion of the Indians to Christianity, and to the education of the youth of the colony. The Recollets had made but little progress in proselytism; as yet, very few of the natives had been baptized, nor were the Jesuits at first[116] much more successful: these persevering men were, however, not to be disheartened by difficulties, and they were supported by the hope that when they became better acquainted with the language and manners of their pupils, their instructions would yield a richer harvest.[117]

As New France advanced in population and prosperity, the sentiments of religion became strengthened among the settlers. On the first arrival of the Jesuits, Rene Rohault, the eldest son of the Marquis de Gamache, and himself one of the order, adopted the idea of founding a college at Quebec for the education of youth and the conversion of the Indians, and offered 6000 crowns of gold as a donation to forward the object. The capture of the settlement by the English had, for a time, interrupted the execution of this plan; but Rohault at length succeeded in laying the foundation of the building in December, 1635, to the great joy of the French colonists.

In the same month, to the deep regret of all good men, death deprived his country of the brave, high-minded, and wise Champlain. He was buried in the city of which he was the founder, where, to this day, he is fondly and gratefully remembered among the just and good. Gifted with high ability, upright, active, and chivalrous, he was, at the same time, eminent for his Christian zeal and humble piety. "The salvation of one soul," he often said, "is of more value than the conquest of an empire." To him belongs the glory of planting Christianity and civilization among the snows of those northern forests; during his life, indeed, a feeble germ, but, sheltered by his vigorous arm—nursed by his tender care—the root struck deep. Little more than two centuries have passed since the faithful servant went to rest upon the field of his noble toils. And now a million and a half of Christian people dwell in peace and plenty upon that magnificent territory, which his zeal and wisdom first redeemed from the desolation of the wilderness.


[Footnote 98: "Parceque les relations et les voyageurs parloient beaucoup de Tadoussac, les Geographes ont suppose que e'etait une ville, mais il n'y a jamais eu qu'une maison Francaise, et quelques cabannes de sauvages, qui y venoient au tems de la traite, et qui emportoient ensuite leurs cabannes; comme on fait les loges d'une foire. Il est vrai que ce port a ete lontems l'abord de toutes les nations sauvages du nord et de l'est; que les Francois s'y rendoient des que la navigation etoit libre; soil de France, soil du Canada; que les missionnaires profitoient de l'occasion, et y venoient negocier pour le ciel.... Au reste Tadoussac est un bon port, et on m'a assure que vingt cinq vaisseaux de guerre y pouvoient etre a l'abri de tous les vents, que l'ancrage y est sur, et que l'entree en est facile."—Charlevoix, tom. v., p. 96, 1721.

"Tadoussac, one hundred and forty miles below Quebec, is a post belonging to the Hudson Bay Company, and is the residence of one of its partners and an agent. They alone are allowed to trade with the Indians in the interior. At Tadoussac is a Roman Catholic chapel, a store and warehouse, and some eight or ten dwellings. Here is erected a flag-staff, surrounded by several pieces of cannon, on an eminence elevated about fifty feet, and overlooking the inner warehouse, where is a sufficient depth of water to float the largest vessels. This place was early settled by the French, who are said to have here erected the first dwelling built of stone and mortar in Canada, and the remains of it are still to be seen. The view is exceedingly picturesque from this point. The southern shore of the St. Lawrence may be traced, even with the naked eye, for many a league; the undulating line of snow-white cottages stretching far away to the east and west; while the scene is rendered gay and animated by the frequent passage of the merchant vessel plowing its way toward the port of Quebec, or hurrying upon the descending tide to the Gulf; while, from the summit of the hill upon which Tadoussac stands, the sublime and impressive scenery of the Saguenay rises to view."—Picturesque Tourist, p. 267 (New York, 1844).]

[Footnote 99: "The colony that was sent to Canada this year was among the number of those things that had not my approbation; there was no kind of riches to be expected from all those countries of the New World which are beyond the fortieth degree of latitude. His majesty gave the conduct of this expedition to the Sieur de Monts."—Memoirs of Sully, b. xvi., p. 241, English translation.]

[Footnote 100: The pious Romanist, Champlain, thus details the inconveniences caused by the different creeds of the Frenchmen composing the expedition of De Monts: "Il se trouva quelque chose a redire en cette entreprise, qui est en ce que deux religions contraires ne font jamais un grand fruit pour la gloire de Dieu parmi les infideles que l'on veut convertir. J'ai vu le ministre et notre cure s'entre battre a coups de poing, sur le differend de la religion. Je ne scais pas qui etoit le plus vaillant et qui donnoit le meilleur coup, mas je scais tres bien que le ministre se plaignoit quelquefois au Sieur de Monts d'avoir ete battue, et vuidoit en cette facon les points de controversie. Je vous laisse a penser si cela etoit beau a voir; les sauvages etoient tantot d'une partie, tantot d'une autre, et les Francois meles selon leurs diverses croyances, disoit pis que pendre de l'une et de l'autre religion, quoique le Sieur de Monts y apportat la paix le plus qu'il pouvoit."—Voyages de la Nouvelle France Occidentale, dite Canada, faits par le Sieur de Champlain a Paris, 1632.]

[Footnote 101: De Poutrincourt had been accompanied, in his last voyage from France, by Marc Lescarbot, well known as one of the best historians of the early French colonists. His memoirs and himself are thus described by Charlevoix: "Un avocat de Paris, nomme Marc L'Escarbot, homme d'esprit et fort attache a M. de Poutrincourt, avoit eu la curiosite de voir le Nouveau Monde. Il animoit les uns, il piequoit les autres d'honneur, il se faisoit aimer de tous, et ne s'epargnoit lui-meme en rien. Il inventoit tous les jours quelque chose de nouveau pour l'utilite publique, et jamais on ne comprit mieux de quelle ressource peut etre dans un nouvel etablissement, un esprit cultive par l'etude.... C'est a cet avocat, que nous sommes redevable des meilleurs memoires que nous ayons de ce qui s'est passe sous ses yeux. On y voit un auteur exact, judicieux, et un homme, qui eut ete aussi capable d'etablir une colonie que d'en ecrire une histoire." (Charlevoix, vol. i., p. 185.) The title of L'Escarbot's work is "Histoire de la Nouvelle France, par Marc L'Escarbot, Avocat en Parlement, temoin oculaire d'une partie des choses y recitees: a Paris, 1609."]

[Footnote 102: "Argall se fondait sur une concession de Jacques I., qui avait permis a ses sujets de s'etablir jusqu'au quarante cinq degres, et il crut pouvoir profiter de la foiblesse des Francais pour les traitre en usurpateurs.... Si Poutrincourt avoit ete dans son fort avec trente hommes bien armes, Argall n'auroit pas meme eu l'assurance de l'attaquer ... en deux heures de tems le fen consuma tout ce que les Francais possedoient dans une colonie ou l'on avait deja depense plus de cent mille ecus.... Celui qui y perdit davantage, fut M. de Poutrincourt qui, depuis ce tems la ne songea plus a l'Amerique. Il rentra dans le service, ou il s'etait deja par plusieurs belles actions et mourut au lit d'honneur."—Jean de Laet.

In 1621, James I. conferred Acadia upon Sir William Alexander, who gave it the name of Nova Scotia. At the treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye, in 1632, it was restored to the French; again taken by the English, it was again restored to France by the treaty of Breda, in 1667. In 1710, when Acadia was taken by General Nicholson, the English perceived its importance for their commerce. They obtained its formal and final cession at the treaty of Utrecht, 1713.]

[Footnote 103: "It was at this time that the name of New France was first given to Canada."—Charlevoix. tom. i., p. 232.]

[Footnote 104: Champlain, part i., p. 231; Charlevoix, vol. i., p. 236.]

[Footnote 105: Seven or eight years before the arrival of the PP. Recollets at Quebec, Roman Catholic missionaries had found their way to Nova Scotia. They were Jesuits. It was remarkable that Henry IV., whose life had been twice attempted by the Jesuits,[106] should have earnestly urged their establishment in America. When Port Royal was ceded to Poutrincourt by De Monts, the king intimated to him that it was time to think of the conversion of the savages, and that it was his desire that the Jesuits should be employed in this work. Charlevoix acknowledges that De Poutrincourt was "un fort honnete homme, et sincerement attache a la religion Catholique"—nevertheless, his prejudices against Jesuits were so strong, that "il etoit bien resolu de ne les point mene au Port Royal." On various pretexts he evaded obeying the royal commands, and when, the year after, the Jesuits were sent out to him, at the expense of Madame de Gruercheville, and by the orders of the queen's mother, he rendered their stay at Port Royal as uncomfortable as was consistent with his noble and generous character, vigilantly guarding against their acquiring any dangerous influence. His former prejudices could not have been lessened by the assassination of Henry IV.[107] The two Jesuits selected by P. Cotton, Henry IV.'s confessor, for missionary labors in Acadia, were P. Pierre Biast and P. Enemond Masse. They were taken prisoners at the time of Argall's descent on Acadia, 1614, and conveyed to England.—Charlevoix, tom. i., p. 189, 216.]

[Footnote 106: By Barriere in 1593; by Jean Chatel in 1594. He finally perished by the hand of Ravaillac, in 1610. See Sully's Memoirs, b. vi., vii.; Cayet, Chron. Noven., b.v.; Pere de Chalons, tom. iii., p. 245, quoted by Sully.]

[Footnote 107: Henri s' etait montre bienveillant pour les Jesuites, encore que les parlemens et tous ceux qui tenoient, a la magistrature ressentoient plus de prevention contre ces religieux que les Hugonots eux-memes.... Henri IV. fit abattre la pyramide qui avait ete elevee en memoire de l' attentat de Jean Chatel contre lui, parce que l' inscription qu' elle portait inculpait les Jesuites d'avoir excite a cet assassinat.—Sismondi: Histoire des Francais. See De Thou, tom. ix., p. 696, 704; tom. x., p. 26 a 30.]

[Footnote 108: When Champlain first laid the foundations of the fort in 1623, to which he gave the name of St. Louis, it is evident that he was actuated by views, not of a political, but a commercial character. When Montmagny rebuilt the fort in 1635, it covered about four acres of ground, and formed nearly a parallelogram. Of these works only a few vestiges remain, except the eastern wall, which is kept in solid repair.—Bonchette.]

[Footnote 109: Charlevoix, tom. i., p. 247.]

[Footnote 110: "Ce fut Guillaume de Caen qui les conduisit (les Jesuites) a Quebec. Il avoit donne sa parole au Duc de Ventadour qu'il ne laisseroit les Jesuites manquer du rien; cependant, des qu'ils furent debarques, il leur declara que, si les PP. Recollets ne vouloient pas les recevoir et les loger chez eux, ils n'avoient point d'autre parti a prendre que retourner en France. Ils s'apercurent meme bientot qu'on avoit travaille a prevenir contre eux les habitans de Quebec, en leur mettant entre les mains les ecrits les plus injurieux, que les Calvinistes de France avoient publies contre leur compagnie. Mais leur presence eut bientot efface tous ces prejuges."—Charlevoix, tom. i., p. 248.]

[Footnote 111: Charlevoix highly extols this brilliant conception of the Cardinal de Richelieu, "et ne craint point d'avancer que la Nouvelle France seroit aujourd'hui la plus puissante colonie de l'Amerique, si l'execution avoit repondue a la beaute du projet, et si les membres de ce grand corps eussent profite des dispositions favorables du souverain et de son ministre a leur egard."—Charlevoix, tom. i., p. 250; Memoires des Commissaires, vol. i., p. 346.]

[Footnote 112: Champlain's proposals of capitulation (Smith's Canada, vol. i., p. 22) sufficiently prove that, down to 1629, France had scarcely any permanent footing in the country. By stipulating for the removal of "all the French" in Quebec, Champlain seems to consider that the whole province was virtually lost to France, and "the single vessel," which was to furnish the means of removal, reduces "all the French" in Quebec to a very small number.]

[Footnote 113: Charlevoix.]

[Footnote 114: Charlevoix, tom. i., p. 273.]

[Footnote 115: "L'ile au Cap Breton (c'etoit bien peu de choses que l'etablissement que nous avions alors dans cette ile) le fort de Quebec environne de quelques mechantes maisons et de quelques baraques, deux ou trois cabanes dans l'Ile de Montreal, autant peut-etre a Tadoussac, et en quelques autres endroits sur le fleuve St. Laurent, pour la commodite de la peche et de la Traite, un commencement d'habitation aux Trois Rivieres et les rivieres de Port Royal, voila en quoi consistoit la Nouvelle France et tout le fruit des decouvertes de Verazzani, de Jaques Cartier, de M. de Roberval, de Champlain, des grandes depenses de Marquis de la Roche, et de M. de Monts et de l'industrie d'un grand nombre de Francais qui auroient pu y faire un grand etablissement, s'ils eussent ete bien conduits."—Charlevoix, tom. i., p. 274.]

[Footnote 116: See Appendix, No. XVI. (see Vol II)]

[Footnote 117: The Jesuits always retained the superior position they held from the first among the Roman Catholic missionaries of Canada. There is a well-known Canadian proverb, "Pour faire un Recollet il faut une hachette, pour un Pretre un ciseau, mais pour un Jesuite il faut un pinceau." See Appendix, No. XVII., (see Vol II) for Professor Kalm's account of these three classes.]


Having followed the course of discovery and settlement in New France up to the death of the man who stamped the first permanent impression upon that country, it is now time to review its character and condition at the period when it became the abode of a civilized people. Champlain's deputed commission of governor gave him authority over all that France possessed or claimed on the continent and islands of North America; Newfoundland, Isle Royale, and Acadia, were each portions of this vast but vague territory; and those unknown, boundless solitudes of ice and snow, lying toward the frozen north, whose very existence was a speculation, were also, by the shadowy right of a European king, added to his wide dominion. Of that portion, however, called Canada, it is more especially the present subject to treat.

Canada is a vast plain, irregular in elevation and feature, forming a valley between two ranges of high land; one of these ranges divides it, to the north, from the dreary territories of Hudson's Bay; the other, to the south, from the republic of the United States and the British province of New Brunswick. None of the hills rise to any great height; with one exception, Man's Hill, in the State of Maine, 2000 feet is their greatest altitude above the sea. The elevated districts are, however, of very great extent, broken, rugged, and rocky, clothed with dense forests, intersected with rapid torrents, and varied with innumerable lakes. The great plain of Canada narrows to a mere strip of low land by the side of the St. Lawrence, as it approaches the eastern extremity. From Quebec to the gulf on the north side, and toward Gaspe on the south, the grim range of mountains reaches almost to the water's edge; westward of that city the plain expands, gradually widening into a district of great beauty and fertility; again, westward of Montreal, the level country becomes far wider and very rich, including the broad and valuable flats that lie along the lower waters of the Ottawa. The rocky, elevated shores of Lake Huron bound this vast valley to the west; the same mountain range extends along the northern shore of Lake Superior; beyond lie great tracts of fertile soil, where man's industrious hand has not yet been applied.

Canada may be described as lying between the meridians of 57 deg. 50' and 90 deg. west; from the mouth of the Esquimaux River on the confines of Labrador, to the entrance of the stream connecting the waters of Lake Superior and the Rainy Lake, bordering on Prince Rupert's Land. The parallels of 42 deg. and 52 deg. inclose this country to the south and north. The greatest length is about 1300 miles, the breadth 700. A space of 348,000 square miles is inclosed within these limits.

The great lakes in Canada give a character to that country distinct from any other in the Old World or the New. They are very numerous; some far exceed all inland waters elsewhere in depth and extent; they feed, without apparent diminution, the great river St. Lawrence; the tempest plows their surface into billows that rival those of the Atlantic,[118] and they contain more than half of all the fresh water upon the surface of the globe.[119]

Superior[120] is the largest and most elevated of these lakes: it is crescent-shaped, convex to the north; to the southeast and southwest its extremities are narrow points: the length through the curve is 360 geographical miles, the breadth in the widest part 140, the circumference 1500. The surface of this vast sheet of fresh water is 627 feet above the level of the Atlantic; from various indications upon the shores, there is good reason to conclude that at some remote period it was forty or fifty feet higher. The depth of Lake Superior varies much in different parts, but is generally very great; at the deepest it is probably 1200 feet. The waters are miraculously pure and transparent; many fathoms down, the eye can distinctly trace the rock and shingle of the bottom, and follow the quick movements of the numerous and beautiful fish inhabiting these crystal depths. No tides vary the stillness of this inland sea, but when a strong prevailing wind sweeps over the surface, the waves are lashed to fury, and the waters, driven by its force, crowd up against the leeward shore. When in the spring the warm sun melts the mountain snows, and each little tributary becomes an impetuous torrent pouring into this great basin, the level of the surface rises many feet. Although no river of any magnitude helps to supply Lake Superior, a vast number of small streams fall in from among clefts and glens along the rugged shores;[121] there are also many large islands; one, Isle Royale, is more than forty miles in length. In some places lofty hills[122] rise abruptly from the water's edge; in others there are intervals of lower lands for sixty or seventy miles, but every where stands the primeval forest, clothing height and hollow alike. At the south-eastern extremity of this lake, St. Mary's Channel carries the superabundant waters for nearly forty miles, till they fall into Lake Huron; about midway between, they rush tumultuously down a steep descent, with a tremendous roar, through shattered masses of rock, filling the pure air above with clouds of snowy foam.

Lake Huron is the next in succession and the second in magnitude of these inland seas. The outline is very irregular, to the north and east formed by the Canadian territory, to the southwest by that of the United States. From where the Channel of St. Mary enters this lake to the furthest extremity is 240 miles, the greatest breadth is 220, the circumference about 1000; the surface is only 32 feet lower than that of Superior; in depth and in pure transparency the waters of this lake are not surpassed by its great neighbor. Parallel to the north shore runs a long, narrow peninsula called Cabot Head, which, together with a chain of islands, shuts in the upper waters so as almost to form a separate and distinct lake. The Great Manitoulin Island, the largest of this chain, is seventy-five miles in length. In the Indian tongue the name denotes it the abode of the Great Spirit,[123] and the simple savages regard these woody shores with reverential awe.

To the north and west of Lake Huron the shores are generally rugged and precipitous; abrupt heights of from 30 to 100 feet rise from the water's edge, formed of clay, huge stones, steep rocks, and wooded acclivities; further inland, the peaks of the Cloche Mountains ascend to a considerable height. To the east, nature presents a milder aspect; a plain of great extent and richness stretches away toward the St. Lawrence. Many streams pour their flood into this lake; the principal are the Maitland, Severn, Moon, and French Rivers; they are broad and deep, but their sources lie at no great distance. By far the largest supply of water comes from the vast basin of Lake Superior, through the Channel of St. Mary. Near the northwestern extremity of Huron, a narrow strait[124] connects it with Lake Michigan in the United States; there is a slight difference of level between these two great sheets of water, and a current constantly sets into the southern basin: this lake is also remarkable for its depth and transparency.[125]

At the southern extremity of Lake Huron, its overflow pours through a river about thirty miles in length into a small lake; both lake and river bear the name of St. Clair.[126] Thence the waters flow on, through the broad but shallow stream of the Detroit, until they fall into Lake Erie thirty miles below; on either side, the banks and neighboring districts are rich in beauty and abundantly fertile.

Lake Erie is shallow and dangerous, the anchorage is bad, the harbors few and inconvenient. Long, low promontories project for a considerable distance from the main land, and embarrass the navigation; but the coasts, both on the Canadian and American side, are very fertile.[127] Lake Erie is about 265 miles long, and 63 wide at its greatest breadth; the circumference is calculated at 658 miles; its surface lies 30 feet below the level of Lake Huron.[128] The length of the lake stretches northeast, almost the same direction as the line of the River St. Lawrence.

The Niagara River flows from the northeastern extremity of Lake Erie to Lake Ontario in a course of 33 miles, with a fall of not less than 334 feet. About twenty miles below Lake Erie is the grandest sight that nature has laid before the human eye—the Falls of Niagara. A stream three quarters of a mile wide, deep and rapid, plunges over a rocky ledge 150 feet in height; about two thirds of the distance across from the Canadian side stands Goat Island, covered with stately timber: four times as great a body of water precipitates itself over the northern or Horse-shoe Fall as that which flows over the American portion. Above the cataract the river becomes very rapid and tumultuous in several places, particularly at the Ferry of Black Rock, where it rushes past at the rate of seven miles an hour; within the last mile there is a tremendous indraught to the Falls. The shores on both sides of the Niagara River are of unsurpassed natural fertility, but there is little scenic beauty around to divert attention from the one object. The simplicity of this wonder adds to the force of its impression: no other sight over the wide world so fills the mind with awe and admiration. Description may convey an idea of the height and breadth[129]—the vast body of water[130]—the profound abyss—the dark whirlpools—the sheets of foam[131]—the plumy column of spray[132] rising up against the sky—the dull, deep sound that throbs through the earth, and fills the air for miles and miles with its unchanging voice[133]—but of the magnitude of this idea, and the impression, stamped upon the senses by the reality, it is vain to speak to those who have not stood beside Niagara.

Tho descent of the land from the shores of Lake Erie to those of Ontario is general and gradual,[134] and there is no feature in the neighborhood of the Falls to mark its locality. From the Erie boundary the river flows smoothly through a level but elevated plain, branching round one large and some smaller islands. Although the deep, tremulous sound of Niagara tells of its vicinity, there is no unusual appearance till within about a mile, when the waters begin to ripple and hasten on; a little further it dashes down a magnificent rapid, then again becomes tranquil and glassy, but glides past with astonishing swiftness. There are numberless points whence the fall of this great river may be well seen: the best is Table Rock, at the top of the cataract; the most wonderful is the recess between the falling flood and the cliff over which it leaps.

For some length below Niagara the waters are violently agitated; however, at the distance of half a mile, a ferry plies across in safety. The high banks on both sides of the river extend to Queenston and Lewiston, eight miles lower, confining the waters to a channel of no more than a quarter of a mile in breadth, between steep and lofty cliffs; midway is the whirlpool,[135] where the current rushes furiously round within encircling heights. Below Queenston the river again rolls along a smooth stream, between level and cultivated banks, till it pours its waters into Lake Ontario.

Ontario is the last[136] and the most easterly of the chain of lakes.[137] The greatest length is 172 miles; at the widest it measures 59 miles across; the circumference is 467 miles, and the surface is 334 feet below the level of Lake Erie. The depth of Ontario varies very much along the coast, being seldom more than from three to 50 fathoms; and in the center, a plummet, with 300 fathoms of line, has been tried in vain for soundings. A sort of gravel, small pieces of limestone, worn round and smooth by the action of water, covers the shores, lying in long ridges sometimes miles in extent. The waters, like those of the other great lakes, are very pure and beautiful, except where the shallows along the margin are stirred up by violent winds: for a few days in June a yellow, unwholesome scum covers the surface at the edge every year. There is a strange phenomenon connected with Ontario, unaccounted for by scientific speculation; each seventh year, from some inscrutable cause, the waters reach to an unusual height, and again subside, mysteriously as they arose. The beautiful illusion of the mirage spreads its dreamy enchantment over the surface of Ontario in the summer calms, mixing islands, clouds, and waters in strange confusion.[138]

The outline of the shores is much diversified: to the northeast lie low lands and swampy marshes; to the north and northeast extends a bold range of elevated grounds; southward the coast becomes again flat for some distance inland, till it rises into the ridge of heights that marks the position of Niagara. The country bordering the lake is generally rich and productive, and was originally covered with forest. A ridge of lofty land runs from the beautiful Bay of Quinte, on the northwest of the lake, westward along the shore, at a distance of nine or more miles: from these heights innumerable streams flow into Ontario on one side, and into the lakes and rivers of the back country on the other. At Toronto the ridge recedes to the distance of twenty-four miles northeast from the lake, separating the tributary waters of Lakes Huron and Ontario; thence merging in the Burlington Heights, it continues along the southwest side from four to eight miles distant from the shore to the high grounds about Niagara.

Besides the great stream of Niagara, many rivers flow into Ontario both on the Canadian and American sides. The bays and harbors are also very numerous, affording great facilities for navigation and commerce: in this respect the northern shore is the most favored—the Bays of Quinte and Burlington are especially remarkable for their extent and security.[139]

The northeast end of Lake Ontario, where its waters pour into the St. Lawrence, is a scene of striking beauty;[140] numerous wooded islands, in endless variety of form and extent, divide the entrance of the Great River[141] into a labyrinth of tortuous channels, for twelve miles in breadth from shore to shore: this width gradually decreases as the stream flows on to Prescot, fifty miles below; a short distance beyond that town the rapids commence,[142] and thence to Montreal the navigation is interrupted for vessels of burden; boats, rafts, and small steamers, however, constantly descend these tumultuous waters, and not unfrequently are lost in the dangerous attempt. The most beautiful and formidable of these rapids is called the Cedars, from the rich groves of that fragrant tree covering numerous and intricate islands, which distort the rushing stream into narrow and perilous channels: the water is not more than ten feet deep in some places, and flows at the rate of twelve miles an hour. The river there widens into Lake St. Francis, and again into Lake St. Louis, which drains a large branch of the Ottawa at its south-western extremity. The water of this great tributary is remarkably clear and of a bright emerald color; that of the St. Lawrence at this junction is muddy, from having passed over deep beds of marl for several miles above its entrance to Lake St. Louis: for some distance down the lake the different streams can be plainly distinguished from each other. From the confluence of the first branches above Montreal these two great rivers seem bewildered among the numerous and beautiful islands, and, hurrying past in strong rapids, only find rest again in the broad, deep waters many miles below.

The furthest sources of the Ottawa River are unknown.[143] It rises to importance at the outlet from Lake Temiscaming, 350 miles west of its junction with the St. Lawrence.[144] Beyond the Falls and Portage des Allumettes, 110 miles above Hull, this stream has been little explored. There it is divided into two channels by a large island fifteen miles long: the southernmost of these expands into the width of four or five miles, and communicates by a branch of the river with the Mud and Musk Rat Lakes. Twelve miles further south the river again forms two branches, including an extensive and beautiful island twenty miles in length; numerous rapids and cascades diversify this wild but lovely scene; thence to the foot of the Chenaux, wooded islands in picturesque variety deck the bosom of the stream, and the bright blue waters here wind their way for three miles through a channel of pure white marble. Nature has bestowed abundant fertility as well as beauty upon this favored district. The Gatineau River joins the Ottawa near Hull, after a course of great length. This stream is navigated by canoes for more than 300 miles, traversing an immense valley of rich soil and picturesque scenery.

At the foot of the Chenaux the magnificent Lake des Chats opens to view, in length about fifteen miles; the shores are strangely indented, and numbers of wooded islands stud the surface of the clear waters. At the foot of the lake there are falls and rapids;[145] thence to Lake Chaudiere, a distance of six miles, the channel narrows, but expands again to form that beautiful and extensive basin. Rapids again succeed, and continue to the Chaudiere Falls. The boiling pool into which these waters descend is of great depth: the sounding-line does not reach the bottom at the length of 300 feet. It is supposed that the main body of the river flows by a subterraneous passage, and rises again half a mile lower down. Below the Chaudiere Falls the navigation is uninterrupted to Grenville, sixty miles distant. The current is scarcely perceptible; the banks are low, and generally over-flowed in the spring; but the varying breadth of the river, the numerous islands, the magnificent forests, and the crystal purity of the waters, lend a charm to the somewhat monotonous beauty of the scene. At Grenville commences the Long Sault, a swift and dangerous rapid, which continues with intervals till it falls into the still Lake of the Two Mountains. Below the heights from whence this sheet of water derives its name, the well-known Rapids of St. Anne's discharge the main stream into the waters of the St. Lawrence.[146]

Below the island of Montreal the St. Lawrence continues, in varying breadth and considerable depth, to Sorel, where it is joined by the Richelieu River from the south; thence opens the expanse of Lake St. Peter, shallow and uninteresting; after twenty-five miles the Great River contracts again, receives in its course the waters of the St. Maurice, and other large streams; and 180 miles below Montreal the vast flood pours through the narrow channel that lies under the shadow of Quebec.[147] Below this strait lies a deep basin, nearly four miles wide, formed by the head of the Island of Orleans: the main channel continues by the south shore. It would be wearisome to tell of all the numerous and beautiful islands that deck the bosom of the St. Lawrence from Quebec to the Gulf. The river gradually expands till it reaches a considerable breadth at the mouth of the Saguenay. There is a dark shade for many miles below where this great tributary pours its gloomy flood into the pure waters of the St. Lawrence: 120 miles westward it flows from a large, circular sheet of water, called Lake St. John; but the furthest sources lie in the unknown regions of the west and north. For about half its course, from the lake to Tadoussac at the mouth, the banks are rich and fertile; but thence cliffs rise abruptly out of the water to a lofty height—sometimes 2000 feet—and two or three miles apart. The depth of the Saguenay is very great, and the surrounding scenery is of a magnificent but desolate character.

Below the entrance of the Saguenay the St. Lawrence increases to twenty miles across, at the Bay of Seven Islands to seventy, at the head of the large and unexplored island of Anticosti to ninety, and at the point where it may be said to enter the Gulf between Gaspe and the Labrador coast, reaches the enormous breadth of 120 miles. In mid-channel both coasts can be seen; the mountains on the north shore rise to a great height in a continuous range, their peaks capped with eternal snows.

Having traced this vast chain of water communication from its remotest links, it is now time to speak of the magnificent territory which it opens to the commerce and enterprise of civilized man.

Upper or Western Canada[148] is marked off from the eastern province by the natural boundary of the Ottawa or Grand River. It consists almost throughout of one uniform plain. In all those districts hitherto settled or explored, there is scarcely a single eminence that can be called a hill, although traversed by two wide ridges, rising above the usual level of the country. The greater of these elevations passes through nearly the whole extent of the province from southeast to northwest, separating the waters falling into the St. Lawrence and the great lakes from those tributary to the Ottawa: the highest point is forty miles north of Kingston, being also the most elevated level on that magnificent modern work, the Rideau Canal;[149] it is 290 feet above the Ottawa at Bytown, and 160 feet higher than the surface of Lake Ontario. Toward these waters the plain descends at the gradient of about four feet in the mile; this declivity is imperceptible to the eye, and is varied by gently undulating slopes and inequalities. Beyond the broad, rich valley lying to the north of this elevation there is a rocky and mountainous country; still farther north are seen snow-covered peaks of a great but unknown height; thence to the pole extends the dreary region of the Hudson Bay territory.

The lesser elevation begins near the eastern extremity of Ontario, and runs almost parallel with the shores of the lake to a point about twenty-four miles northwest from Toronto, where it separates the streams flowing into Lakes Huron and Ontario: it then passes southeast between Lakes Erie and Ontario, and terminates on the Genesee in the United States. This has a more perceptible elevation than the southern ridge, and in some places rises into bold heights.

The only portion of the vast plain of Western Canada surveyed or effectually explored is included by a line drawn from the eastern coast of Lake Huron to the Ottawa River, and the northern shores of the great chain of lake and river; this is, however, nearly as large as the whole of England.

The natural features of Lower or Eastern Canada are unsurpassed by those of any other country in grace and variety: rivers, lakes, mountains, forests, prairies, and cataracts are grouped together in endless combinations of beauty and magnificence. The eastern districts, beginning with the bold sea-coast and broad waters of the St. Lawrence, are high, mountainous, and clothed with dark forests on both sides, down to the very margin of the river. To the north, a lofty and rugged range of heights runs parallel with the shore as far westward as Quebec; thence it bends west and southwest to the banks of the Ottawa. To the south, the elevated ridge, where it reaches within sixty miles of Quebec, turns from the parallel of the St. Lawrence southwest and south into the United States; this ridge, known by the name of the Alleganies, rises abruptly out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence at Perce, between the Baye de Chaleur and Gaspe Cape, and is more distant from the Great River than that upon the northern shore. Where the Alleganies enter the United States they divide the plains of the Atlantic coast from the basin of the Ohio; their greatest height is about 4000 feet above the level of the sea.

The Valley of the St. Lawrence, lying between these two ranges of heights, is marked by great diversities of hill, plain, and valley. Both from the north and south numerous rivers pour their tributary flood into the great waters of Canada; of those eastward of the Saguenay little is known beyond their entrance; they flow through cliffs of light-colored sand, rocky, wooded knolls, or, in some places, deep, swampy moss-beds nearly three feet in depth. From the Saguenay to Quebec the mountain ridge along the shore of the St. Lawrence is unbroken, save where streams find their way to the Great River, but beyond this coast-border the country is in some places level, in others undulating, with hills of moderate height, and well-watered valleys. From Quebec westward to the St. Maurice, which joins the St. Lawrence at Three Rivers, the land rises in a gentle ascent from the banks of the Great River, and presents a rich tract of fertile plains and slopes: in the distance, a lofty chain of mountains protects this favored district from the bitter northern blast. Along the north bank of the St. Lawrence, from the St. Maurice, the country toward the Ottawa is slightly elevated into table ridges, with occasional abrupt declivities and some extensive plains. In this portion of Canada are included the islands of Montreal, Jesus, and Perrot, formed by the various branches of the Great River and the Ottawa, where their waters unite. Montreal is the largest and most fertile of these islands; its length is thirty-two miles and breadth ten; the general shape is triangular. Isle Jesus is twenty-one miles by six in extent, and also very rich; there are, besides, several other smaller islands of considerable fertility. Isle Perrot is poor and sandy. The remote country to the north of the Ottawa is but little known.

On the south shore of the St. Lawrence, the peninsula of Gaspe is the most eastern district; this large tract of country has been very little explored: so far as it has been examined, it is uneven, mountainous, and intersected with deep ravines; but the forests, rivers, and lakes are very fine, and the valleys fertile. The sea-beach is low and hard,[150] answering the purposes of a road; at the Cape of Gaspe, however, there are some bold and lofty cliffs. Behind the beach the land rises into high, round hills, well wooded; sheltered from the Gaspe district to the Chaudiere River, the country is not so stern as on the northern side of the St. Lawrence; though somewhat hilly, it abounds in large and fertile valleys. The immediate shores of the river are flat; thence irregular ridges arise, till they reach an elevated table-land fifteen or twenty miles from the beach. From the Chaudiere River westward extends that rich and valuable country now known by the name of the Eastern Townships. At the mouth of the Chaudiere the banks of the St. Lawrence are bold and lofty, but they gradually lower to the westward till they sink into the flats of Baye du Febre, and form the marshy shores of Lake St. Peter, whence a rich plain extends to a great distance. This district contains several high, isolated mountains, and is abundantly watered by lakes and rivers. To the south lies the territory of the United States.


[Footnote 118: "The sea (if it may be so termed) on Lake Ontario is so high during a sharp gale, that it was at first thought the smaller class steamboats could not live on it; and on Lake Superior, the waves almost rival those of the far-famed Cape of Storms, while the ground-swell, owing to the comparative shallowness, or little specific gravity of the fresh water, is such as to make the oldest sailor sick. Whether the water in the lowest depths of Lakes Superior and Ontario be salt or fresh, we can not ascertain; for the greater density of the former may keep it always below, or there may be a communication with the fathomless abysses of the ocean."—Montgomery Martin, p. 181.]

[Footnote 119: "Beyond Lake Superior, stretching into the vast interior of North America, we find first a long chain of little lakes connected by narrow channels, and which, combined, form what in the early narratives and even treaties is called Long Lake. Next occur, still connected by the same channel, the larger expanses of Lake La Pluie and Lake of the Woods. Another channel of about 100 miles connects this last with the Winnipeg Lake, whose length from north to south is almost equal to the Superior; but in a few parts only it attains the breadth of 50 miles. The whole of this wonderful series of lakes, separated by such small intervals, may almost be considered as forming one inland sea. There is nothing parallel to this in the rest of the globe. The Tzad, the great interior sea of Africa, does not equal the Ontario. The Caspian, indeed, is considerably greater than any of these lakes, almost equal to the whole united; but the Caspian forms the final receptacle of many great rivers, among which the Volga is of the first magnitude. But the northern waters, after forming this magnificent chain of lakes, are not yet exhausted, but issue forth from the last of them, to form one of the noblest river channels either in the old or new continent."—History of Discoveries and Travels in North America, by H. Murray, Esq., vol. ii., p. 458.]

[Footnote 120: "Lake Superior is called, also, Keetcheegahmi and Missisawgaiegon. It is remarkable, that while every other large lake is fed by rivers of the first order, this, the most capacious on the surface of the globe, does not receive a third or even fourth rate stream; the St. Louis, the most considerable, not having a course of more than 150 miles. But, whatever deficiency there may be in point of magnitude, it is compensated by the vast number which pour in their copious floods from the surrounding heights. The dense covering of wood and the long continuance of frost must also, in this region, greatly diminish the quantity drawn off by evaporation."—Bouchette, vol. i., p. 127, 128. Darby's View of the United States (1828), p. 200.]

[Footnote 121: "The Pictured Rocks (so called from their appearance) are situated on the south side of the lake, toward the east end, and are really quite a natural curiosity; they form a perpendicular wall 300 feet high, extending about twelve miles, with numerous projections and indentations in every variety of form, and vast caverns, in which the entering waves make a tremendous sound. The Pictured Rocks of Lake Superior have been described as 'surprising groups of overhanging precipices, towering walls, caverns, waterfalls, and prostrate ruins, which are mingled in the most wonderful disorder, and burst upon the view in ever-varying and pleasing succession.' Among the more remarkable objects are the Cascade La Portaille and the Doric Arch. The Cascade consists of a considerable stream precipitated from a height of 70 feet by a single leap into the lake, and projected to such a distance that a boat may pass beneath the fall and the rock perfectly dry. The Doric Arch has all the appearance of a work of art, and consists of an isolated mass of sandstone, with four pillars supporting an entablature of stone, covered with soil, and a beautiful grove of pine and spruce trees, some of which are 60 feet in height."—Montgomery Martin's History of Canada, vol. i., p. 211.]

[Footnote 122: "The Thunder Mountain is one of the most appalling objects of the kind that I have ever seen, being a bleak rock, about twelve hundred feet above the level of the lake, with a perpendicular face of its full height toward the west; the Indians have a superstition, which one can hardly repeat without becoming giddy, that any person who may scale the eminence, and turn round on the brink of its fearful wall, will live forever."—Simpson, vol. i., p. 33.]

[Footnote 123: "The Indian appellation of 'Sacred Isles' first occurs at Lake Huron, and thence westward is met with in Superior, Michigan, and the vast and numerous lakes of the interior. Those who have been in Asia, and have turned their attention to the subject, will recognize the resemblance in sound between the North American Indian and the Tartar names."—Montgomery Martin's History of Canada, vol. i., p. 117.]

[Footnote 124: "The remarkable post of Michillimackinack is a beautiful island or great rock, planted in the strait of the same name, which forms the connection between Lakes Huron and Michigan. The meaning of the Indian word Michillimackinack is Great Turtle. The island is crowned with a cap 300 feet above the surrounding waters, on the top of which is a fortification. If Quebec is the Gibraltar of North America, Mackinaw (the vulgar appellation for this fort) is only second in its physical character, and in its susceptibilities of improvement as a military post. It is also a must important position for the facilities it affords in the fur trade between New York and the Northwest."—Mr. Colton's American Lakes, vol. i., p. 92.

The value of canals and steam navigation may be judged of from the fact that, in 1812, the news of the declaration of war against Great Britain by the United States did not reach the post of Michillimackinack (1107 miles from Quebec) in a shorter time than two months; the same place is now within the distance of ten days' journey from the Atlantic.]

[Footnote 125: "So clear are the waters of these lakes, that a white napkin, tied to a lead, and sunk thirty fathoms beneath a smooth surface, may be seen as distinctly as when immersed three feet."—Colton. vol. i., p. 93.]

[Footnote 126: "The St. Clair (according to Dr. Bigsby) is the only river of discharge for Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron, which cover a surface of thirty-eight and a half million of acres, and are fed by numerous large rivers. Other able observers are of opinion that the Missouri and the Mississippi receive some of the waters of Superior and Michigan. Many persons think that a subterraneous communication exists between all the great lakes, as is surmised to be the case between the Mediterranean and the Euxine."—Montgomery Martin.]

[Footnote 127: "The Lake Erie is justly dignified by the illustrious name of Conti, for assuredly it is the finest lake upon earth. Its circumference extends to 230 leagues; but it affords every where such a charming prospect, that its banks are decked with oak-trees, elms, chestnut-trees, walnut-trees, apple-trees, plum-trees, and vines, which bear their fine clusters up to the very top of the trees, upon a sort of ground that lies as smooth as one's hand. Such ornaments as these are sufficient to give rise to the most agreeable idea of a landscape in the world."—La Hontan, in Pinkerton, vol. xiii., p. 343 (1683).

"Le nom que le Lac Erie porte est celui d'une nation de la langue Huronne, qui etait etablie sur ses bords et que les Iroquois ont entierement detruite. Erie veut dire Chat, et les Eries sont nommes dans quelques relations la nation du Chat. Ce nom vient apparemment de la quantite de ces animaux qu'on trouve dans le pays. Quelqes cartes modernes ont donne au Lac Erie le nom de Conti, mais ce nom n'a pas fait fortune, non plus que ceux de Conde, de Tracy, et d'Orleans, donnes au Lac Huron, au Lac Superieur, et au Lac Michigan."—Charlevoix, tom. v., p, 374 (1721).]

[Footnote 128: "In extreme depth Lake Erie varies from forty to forty-five fathoms, with a rocky bottom. Lakes Superior and Huron have a stiff, clayey bottom, mixed with shells. Lake Erie reported to be the only one of the series in which any current is perceptible. The fact, if it is one, is usually ascribed to its shallowness; but the vast volume of its outlet—the Niagara River—with its strong current, is a much more probable cause than the small depth of its water, which may be far more appropriately adduced as the reason why the navigation is obstructed by ice much more than either of the other great lakes. As connected with trade and navigation, this lake is the most important of all the great chain, not only because it is bordered by older settlements than any of them except Ontario, but still more because from its position it concentrates the trade of the vast West. The Kingston Herald notices a most extraordinary occurrence on Lake Erie during a late storm (1836). A channel was made by the violence of the tempest through Long Point, N. Foreland, 300 yards wide, and from 11 to 15 feet deep. It had been in contemplation to cut a canal at this very spot, the expenses of which were estimated at L12,000. The York Courier confirms this extraordinary intelligence, stating that the storm made a breach through the point near the main land, converted the peninsula into an island, and actually made a canal 400 yards wide, and eight or ten feet deep, almost at the very point where the proposed canal was to be cut, and rendered nothing else now necessary in order to secure a safe channel for the vessels, and a good harbor on both sides, than the construction of a pier on the west side, to prevent the channel being filled up with sand."—Montgomery Martin.]

[Footnote 129: "The Horse-shoe Cataract on the British side is the largest of the Falls. The curvatures have been geometrically computed at 700 yards, and its altitude, taken with a plumb-line from the surface of the Table Rock, 149 feet; the American fall, narrowed by Goat Island, does not exceed 375 yards in curvilinear length (the whole irregular semicircle is nearly three quarters of a mile), its perpendicular height being 162 feet, or 13 feet higher than the top of the Great Fall, adding 57 feet for the fall. The rapids thus give only a total of 219 feet, which is less than many other falls; but their magnificence consists in the volume of the water precipitated over them, which has been computed at 2400 millions of tons per day, 102 millions per hour! A calculation made at Queenston, below the Falls, is as follows: The river is here half a mile broad; it averages 25 feet deep; current three miles an hour; in one hour it will discharge a current of water three miles long, half a mile wide, and twenty-five feet deep, containing 1,111,400,000 cubic feet, being 18,524,000 cubic feet, or 113,510,000 gallons of water each minute."—Montgomery Martin's History of Canada.]

[Footnote 130: "The total area of the four great lakes which pour forth their waters to the ocean over the Falls of Niagara is estimated at 100,000 square miles."—Montgomery Martin.]

[Footnote 131: Colonel Bouchette observes, that, according to the altitude of the sun, and the situation of the spectator, a distinct and bright iris is soon amid the revolving columns of mist that soar from the foaming chasm, and shroud the broad front of the gigantic flood. Both arches of the bow are seldom entirely elicited, but the interior segment is perfect, and its prismatic hues are extremely glowing and vivid. The fragments of a plurality of rainbows are sometimes to be seen in various parts of the misty curtain.]

[Footnote 132: Symptoms of the Falls are discerned from a vast distance. From Buffalo, twenty miles off, two small fleecy specks are distinctly seen, appearing and disappearing at intervals. These are the clouds of spray arising from the Falls; it is even asserted that they have been seen from Lake Erie, a distance of fifty-four miles.—Weld, p. 374.]

[Footnote 133: The sound of the Falls appears to have been heard at the distance of twenty or even forty miles: but these effects depend much on the direction of the wind, and the tranquil or disturbed state of the atmosphere. Mr. Weld mentions having approached the Falls within half a mile without hearing any sound, while the spray was but just discernible.—Weld, p. 374.]

[Footnote 134: "The shores of Lake Erie, though flat, are elevated about 400 feet above those of Lake Ontario. The descent takes place in the short interval between the two lakes traversed by the Niagara Channel. This descent is partly gradual, producing only a succession of rapids. It is at Queenston, about seven miles below the present site of the Falls, that a range of hills marks the descent to the Ontario level. Volney conceives it certain that this must have been the place down which the river originally fell, and that the continued and violent action of its waves must have gradually worn away the rocks beneath them, and in the course of ages carried the Fall back to its present position, from which it continues gradually receding. Mr. Howison confirms the statement, that, in the memory of persons now living in Upper Canada, a considerable change has been observed. The whole course of the river downward to Queenston is through a deep dell, bordered by broken and perpendicular steeps, rudely overhung by trees and shrubs, and the opposite strata of which correspond, affording thus the strongest presumption that it is a channel hewn out by the river itself."—H. Murray's Historical Description of America, vol. ii., p. 466.

"It is now considered that there is clear geological proof that the Fall once existed at Queenston. The 710,000 tons of water which each minute pour over the precipice of the Niagara, are estimated to carry away a foot of the cliff every year; therefore we must suppose a period of 20,000 years occupied in the recession of the cataract to its present site."—Lyell's Geology.]

[Footnote 135: "The mouth of the whirlpool is more than 1000 feet wide, and in length about 2000. Mr. Howison, in his sketches of Upper Canada, says that the current of the river has formed a circular excavation in the high and perpendicular banks, resembling a bay. The current, which is extremely rapid, whenever it reaches the upper point of this bay, forsakes the direct channel, and sweeps wildly round the sides of it; when, having made this extraordinary circuit, it regains its proper course, and rushes with perturbed velocity between two perpendicular precipices, which are not more than 400 feet asunder. The surface of the whirlpool is in a state of continual agitation. The water boils, mantles up, and wreaths in a manner that proves its fearful depth, and the confinement it suffers; the trees that come within the sphere of the current are swept along with a quivering, zigzag motion, which it is difficult to describe. This singular body of water must be several hundred feel deep, and has not hitherto been frozen over, although in spring the broken ice that descends from Lake Erie descends in such quantities upon its surface, and becomes so closely wedged together, that it resists the current, and remains till warm weather breaks it up. The whirlpool is one of the greatest natural curiosities in the Upper Province, and its formation can not be rationally accounted for."—Martin's History of Canada, p. 139.]

[Footnote 136: "This inland sea, though the smallest of the great chain with which it is connected, is of such extent, that vessels in crossing it lose sight of land, and must steer their way by the compass; and the swell is often equal to that of the ocean. During the winter, the northeast part of Ontario, from the Bay of Quinte to Sacket's Harbor, is frozen across; but the wider part of the lake is frozen only to a short distance from the shore. Lake Erie is frozen still less; the northern parts of Huron and Michigan more; and Superior is said to be frozen to a distance of seventy miles from its coasts. The navigation of Ontario closes in October; ice-boats are sometimes used when the ice is glare (smooth). One, mentioned by Lieutenant de Roos, was twenty-three feet in length, resting on three skates of iron, one attached to each end of a strong cross-bar, fixed under the fore-feet, the remaining one to the stern, from the bottom of the rudder; the mast and sail those of a common boat: when brought into play on the ice, she could sail (if it may be so termed) with fearful rapidity, nearly twenty-three miles an hour. One has been known to cross from Toronto to Fort George or Niagara, a distance of forty miles, in little more than three quarters of an hour; but, in addition to her speed before the wind, she is also capable of beating well up to windward, requiring, however, an experienced hand to manage her, in consequence of her extreme sensibility of the rudder during her quick motion."—Martin's History of Canada.

"The great earthquake that destroyed Lisbon happened on the 1st of November, 1755, and on Lake Ontario strong agitations of the water were observed from the month of October, 1755."—Lettera Rarissima data nelle Indie nella Isola di Jamaica a 7 Julio del 1503 (Bassano, 1810, p. 29).

"From some submarine center in the Atlantic, this earthquake spread one enormous convulsion over an area of 700,000 square miles, agitating, by a single impulse, the lakes of Scotland and Sweden, and the islands of the West Indian Sea. Not, however, by a simultaneous shock, for the element of time comes in with the distance of undulation; and, together with this, another complexity of action in the transmission of earthquake movements through the sea, arising from the different rate of progression at different depths. In the fact that the wave of the Lisbon earthquake reached Plymouth at the rate of 2.1 miles per minute, and Barbadoes at 7.3 miles per minute, there is illustration of the law that the velocity of a wave is proportional to the square root of its depth, and becomes a substitute for the sounding line in fixing the mean proportional depth of different parts of this great ocean."—Humboldt.]

[Footnote 137: "There are two lakes in Lower Canada, Matapediac and Memphremagog. The former is about 16 miles long, and three broad in its greatest breadth, about 21 miles distant from the St. Lawrence River, in the county of Rimouski; amid the islands that separate the waters running into the St. Lawrence from those that run to the Bay of Chaleurs, it is navigable for rafts of all kinds of timber, with which the banks of the noble River Matapediac are thickly covered. Memphremagog Lake, in the county of Stanstead, stretching its south extremity into the State of Vermont, is of a semi-circular shape, 30 miles long, and very narrow. It empties itself into the fine river St. Francis, by means of the River Magog, which runs through Lake Scaswaninepus. The Memphremagog Lake is said to be navigable for ships of 500 tons burden."—Martin's History of Canada, p. 102.]

[Footnote 138: "It is worthy of remark, that the great lakes of Upper Canada are liable to the formation of the Prester or water-spout, and that several instances are recorded of the occurrence of that truly extraordinary phenomenon, the theory of which, however, is well known. Whether electricity be a cause or a consequence of this formidable meteor, appears, nevertheless, to be a question of some doubt among natural philosophers; Gassendi being disposed to favor the former opinion, while Cavallo espouses the latter."—Bouchette's Topographical and Statistical Description of Upper and Lower Canada, vol. i., p. 346.]

[Footnote 139: "The most considerable harbors on the English side are Toronto (York, the former name, has recently been changed to the Indian name of the place, Toronto) and Kingston. Toronto is situated near the head of Lake Ontario, on the north side of an excellent harbor or elliptical basin, of an area of eight or nine miles, formed by a long, low, sandy peninsula or island, stretching from the land east of the town to Gibraltar Point, abreast of a good fort. The town of Toronto, at that period York, was twice captured by the Americans, in April and August, 1813, owing to its defenseless state, and a large ship of war on the stocks burned. The Americans would not now find its capture such an easy task. Little more than forty years ago, the site whereon Toronto now stands, and the whole country to the north and west of it, was a perfect wilderness; the land is now fast clearing—thickly settled by a robust and industrious European-descended population, blessed with health and competence, and on all sides indicating the rapid progress of civilization. The other British town of importance on this shore is Kingston, formerly Cataraqui or Frontenac, distant from Toronto 184 miles, and from Montreal 180 miles. It is, next to Quebec and Halifax, the strongest British post in America, and, next to Quebec and Montreal, the first in commercial importance. It is advantageously situated on the north bank of Lake Ontario, at the head of the River St. Lawrence, and is separated from Points Frederic and Henry by a bay, which extends a considerable distance to the northwest beyond the town, where it receives the water of a river flowing from the interior. Point Frederic is a long, narrow peninsula, extending about half a mile into the lake, distant from Kingston about three quarters of a mile on the opposite side of its bay. This peninsula forms the west side of a narrow and deep inlet called Navy Bay, from its being our chief naval depot on Lake Ontario."—Martin's History of Canada.]

[Footnote 140: "The channel of the St. Lawrence is here so spacious that it is called the Lake of the Thousand Islands. The vast number implied in this name was considered a vague exaggeration, till the commissioners employed in fixing the boundary with the United States actually counted them, and found that they amounted to 1692. They are of every imaginable size, shape, and appearance; some barely visible, others covering fifteen acres; but, in general, their broken outline presents the most picturesque combinations of wood and rock. The navigator, in steering through them, sees an ever-changing scene: sometimes he is inclosed in a narrow channel; then he discovers before him twelve openings, like so many noble rivers; and, soon after, a spacious lake seems to surround him on every side."—Bouchette, vol. i., p. 156; Howison's Sketches of Canada, p. 46.]

[Footnote 141: "The St. Lawrence traverses the whole extent of Lower Canada, as the lakes every where border and inclose Upper Canada. There is a difficulty in tracing its origin, or, at least, which of the tributaries of Lake Superior is to be called the St. Lawrence. The strongest claim seems to be made by the series of channels which connect all the great upper lakes, though, strictly speaking, till after the Ontario, there is nothing which can very properly be called a river. There are only a number of short canals connecting the different lakes, or, rather, separating one immense lake into a number of great branches. It seems an interesting question how this northern center of the continent, at the precise latitude of about 50 deg., should pour forth so immense and overwhelming a mass of waters; for through a great part of its extent it is quite a dead flat, though the Winnepeg, indeed, draws some tributaries from the Rocky Mountains. The thick forests with which the surface is covered, the slender evaporation which takes place during the long continuance of cold, and, at the same time, the thorough melting of the snows by the strong summer heat, seem to be the chief sources of this profuse and superabundant moisture."—H. Murray's Historical Account of Discoveries and Travels in North America, vol. ii., p. 459, 1829.]

[Footnote 142: "The statements laid before Parliament thus enumerate and describe the five rapids of the St. Lawrence, which are impassable by steam, and occur between Montreal and Kingston, a distance, by the St. Lawrence River, of 171 miles, and by the Rideau Canal, 267 miles. The rapids vary in rapidity, intricacy, depth and width of channel, and in extent, from half a mile to nine miles. The Cedar Rapid, twenty-four miles from La Chine, is nine miles long, very intricate, running from nine to twelve miles an hour, and in some places only from nine to ten feet water in the channel. The Coteau du Lac Rapid, six miles above the former, is two miles long, equally intricate in channel, and in some places only sixteen feet wide. Long Sault, forty-five miles above the preceding, is nine or ten miles long, with generally the same depth of water throughout. It is intersected by several islands, through whose channels the water rushes with great velocity, so that boats are carried through it, or on it, at the rate of twenty-seven miles an hour; at the foot of the rapid the water takes a sudden leap over a slight precipice, whence its name. From the Long Sault to Prescot is forty-one miles shoal water, running from six to eight miles an hour, and impassable by steamboats. Then the Rapid du Plas, half a mile long, and Rapid Galoose, one and half a mile long, intervene."]

[Footnote 143: "According to Mr. M'Gregor (Brit. Amer., vol. ii., p. 525), the Ottawa, or Grand River, is said to have its source near the Rocky Mountains, and to traverse in its windings a distance of 2500 miles. The more sober statement of Bouchette attributes to the Ottawa a course of about 450 miles before joining the St. Lawrence."—Bouchette, vol. i., p. 187.

"A tremendous scene is presented at the eastern part of Lake St. Louis, where the St. Lawrence and its grand tributary, the Ottawa, rush down at once and meet in dreadful conflict. The swell is then equal to that produced by a high gale in the British Channel, and the breakers so numerous, that all the skill of the boatmen is required to steer their way. The Canadian boatmen, however, are among the most active and hardy races in the world, and they have boats expressly constructed for the navigation of these perilous channels. The largest of these, called, it is not known why, the Durham boat, is used both here and in the rapids of the Mohawk. It is long, shallow, and nearly flat-bottomed. The chief instrument of steerage is a pole ten feet long, shod with iron, and crossed at short intervals with small bars of wood like the feet of a ladder. The men place themselves at the bow, two on each side, thrust their poles into the channel, and grasping successively the wooden bars, work their way toward the stern, thus pushing on the vessel in that direction. At other times, by the brisk and vigorous use of the oar, they catch and dash through the most favorable lines of current. In this exhausting struggle, however, it is needful to have frequent pauses for rest, and in the most difficult passages there are certain positions fixed for this purpose, which the Canadians call pipes."—H. Murray's Hist. Descr. of America, vol. ii., p. 473.]

[Footnote 144: "From the sea to Montreal, this superb river is called the St. Lawrence; from thence to Kingston, in Upper Canada, the Cataraqui or Iroquois; between Lakes Ontario and Erie, the Niagara; between Lakes Erie and St. Clair, the Detroit; between Lakes St. Clair and Huron, the St. Clair; and between Lakes Huron and Superior, the distance is called the Narrows, or Falls of St. Mary. The St. Lawrence discharges to the ocean annually about 4,277,880 millions of tons of fresh water, of which 2,112,120 millions of tons may be reckoned melted snow; the quantity discharged before the thaw comes on, being 4512 millions of tons per day for 240 days, and the quantity after the thaw begins, being 25,560 millions per day for 125 days, the depths and velocity when in and out of flood being duly considered: hence a ton of water being nearly equal to 55 cubic yards of pure snow, the St. Lawrence frees a country of more than 2000 miles square, covered to the depth of three feet. The embouchure of this first-class stream is that part of the Gulf of St. Lawrence where the island of Anticosti divides the mouth of the river into two branches. According to Mr. M'Taggart, a shrewd and humorous writer, the solid contents in cubic feet of the St. Lawrence, embracing Lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario, is estimated at 1,547,792,360,000 cubic feet, and the superficial area being 72,930 square miles, the water therein would form a cubic column of nearly 22 miles on each side!"—Montgomery Martin's History of Canada.]

[Footnote 145: "Kinnel Lodge, the residence of the celebrated Highland chieftain M'Nab, is romantically situated on the south bank of the lake, about five miles above the head of the Chats Rapids, which are three miles long, and pass amid a labyrinth of varied islands, until the waters of the Ottawa are suddenly precipitated over the Falls of the Chats, which, to the number of fifteen or sixteen, form a curved line across the river, regularly divided by woody islands, the falls being in depth from sixteen to twenty feet."—M. Martin's History of Canada.]

[Footnote 146: See Appendix, No. XIX. (see Vol II)]

[Footnote 147: "At Quebec, the River St. Lawrence narrows to 1314 yards; yet the navigation is completely unobstructed, while there is formed near the city a capacious harbor. About twenty-one miles lower, its waters, beginning to mingle with those of the sea, acquire a saline taste, which increases till, at Kamauraska, seventy-five miles nearer its mouth, they become completely salt. Yet custom, with somewhat doubtful propriety, considers the river as continued down to the island of Anticosti, and bounded by Cape Rosier on the southern, and Mingau settlement on the northern shore."—Bouchette's Top. and Stat. Descr. of Canada, vol. i., p. 164-169.]

[Footnote 148: See Appendix, No. XX. (see Vol II)]

[Footnote 149: "The Falls of the Rideau are about fifty feet in height and 300 in breadth, being, at the time we saw them, more magnificent than usual, by reason of the high state of the waters. It is from their resemblance to a curtain that they are distinguished by the name of Rideau, and they also give this name to the river that feeds them, which again lends the same appellation to the canal that connects the Ottawa with Lake Ontario."—Simpson, vol. i., p. 16.]

[Footnote 150: Modern alluvial accumulations are rapidly increasing on some points of this coast, owing to the enormous mass of fresh water, charged with earthy matter, that here mingles with the sea. The surface of the water at the mouth of the St. Lawrence, where the depth is 100 fathoms, is stated by Bayfield to be turbid from this cause: yet that this discoloration is superficial is evident, for in the wake of a ship moving through the turbid surface, the clear blue waters of the sea are seen below.]


Upon the surface of Canada are found manifest indications of that tremendous deluge, the effects of which are so plainly visible in the Old World. Huge bowlder stones[151] abound in almost every part of the province; sometimes they are seen rounded, piled in high heaps on extensive horizontal beds of limestone, swept together by the force of some vast flood. Masses of various kinds of shells lie in great quantities in hollows and valleys, some of them hundreds of feet above the level of Lake Ontario. Near to great rivers, and often where now no waters are at hand, undulations of rocks are seen like those found in the beds of rapids where the channels are waved. These have evidently, at some remote period, been the courses of floods now no longer existing. On the shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence detached bowlder stones appear, some of enormous size, many tons in weight; they must have come from a great distance, for nowhere in that region is there any rock of similar material. In the upper strata of the country are abundant fossil remains of distinct animal existences now unknown; they are blended with the limestone in which they lie.

It seems certain that the whole of Canada has been violently convulsed by some effort of nature since the floods of the deluge passed away; the mountains are abrupt and irregular in outline, and in some places cleft with immense chasms; the rivers also show singular contortions. North of Quebec and in St. Paul's Bay are many traces of volcanic eruptions, and vast masses of alluvial rocks, bearing marks of vitrification, frequently appear on the surface of the earth. There is, besides, strong evidence that the American Continent has lain for unknown ages beneath the great deep, or that it is of later formation than Europe or Asia.

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