John George Bourinot.

Canada under British Rule 1760-1900 online

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intriguing with the Iroquois and the Foxes, always jealous of French
encroachments in the northwest, and encouraging them to harass the
French settlers. The efforts of the English to establish themselves in
Hudson's Bay and Newfoundland, had to be met by vigorous action on the
part of Canadians. In fact, we see on all sides the increasing
difficulties of France in America, on account of the rapid growth of
the English colonies.

When Frontenac arrived in Canada, war had been, declared between France
and England. James II. had been deposed and William of Orange was on
the English throne. Before the governor left France a plan had been
devised at the suggestion of Callières, the governor of Montreal, for
the conquest {198} of New York. An expedition of regular troops and
Canadian volunteers were to descend from Canada and assault New York by
land, simultaneously with an attack by a French squadron from the sea.
Unforeseen delays prevented the enterprise from being carried out, when
success was possible. Had New York and Albany been captured, Callières
was to have been the new governor. Catholics alone would be allowed to
remain in the province, and all the other inhabitants would be
exiled - an atrocious design which was to be successfully executed sixty
years later, by the English authorities, in the Acadian settlements of
Nova Scotia.

Count de Frontenac organised three expeditions in 1690 against the
English colonies, with the view of raising the depressed spirits of the
Canadians and showing their Indian allies how far Onontio's arm would
reach. The first party, led by Mantet and Sainte-Hélène, and
comprising among the volunteers Iberville, marched in the depth of
winter on Corlaer (Schenectady), surprised the sleeping and negligent
inhabitants, killed a considerable number, took many prisoners, and
then burned nearly all the houses. The second party, under the command
of François Hertel, destroyed the small settlement of Salmon Falls on
the Piscataqua, and later formed a junction with the third party, led
by Portneuf of Quebec, and with a number of Abenakis under Baron de
Saint-Castin. The settlement at Casco Bay, defended by Fort Loyal
(Portland) surrendered after a short struggle to these combined forces,
and the garrison was treated with great inhumanity. The {199}
cruelties practised by the Indian allies invested these raids with
additional terrors.

While Frontenac was congratulating himself on the success of this
ruthless border warfare, and on the arrival at Montreal of a richly
laden fleet of canoes from the west, the English colonies concerted
measures of retaliation in a congress held at New York. The blow first
fell on Acadia, which had been in the possession of France since the
treaty of Breda. Port Royal was taken without difficulty in 1690 by
Sir William Phipps, and the shore settlements at La Hève and Cape Sable
ravaged by his orders.

Another expedition organised in New York and Connecticut to attack
Montreal, was a failure, although a raid was made by Captain John
Schuyler into the country, south of Montreal, and a number of persons
killed at La Prairie. A more important expedition was now given to the
command of Phipps, a sturdy figure in colonial annals, who had sprung
from humble parentage in Maine, and won both money and distinction by
the recovery of the riches of a Spanish galleon which had been wrecked
on the Spanish Main half a century before. His fleet, consisting of
thirty-two vessels - including several men-of-war, and carrying 2300
troops, exclusively provincials, fishermen, farmers, and
sailors - appeared in the middle of October, 1690, off Quebec, whose
defences had been strengthened by Frontenac, and where a large force
had assembled from the French towns and settlements. As soon as the
fleet came to an anchorage, just below the town, Phipps {200} sent a
messenger to present a letter to Frontenac, asking him to surrender the
fort. This envoy was led blindfolded up the heights and brought into
the presence of the governor, who was awaiting him in the fort,
surrounded by a number of officers dressed in the brilliant uniform of
the French army. As soon as he had recovered from the surprise which
for the moment he felt, when the bandage was taken off his eyes, and he
saw so brilliant an array of soldierly men, he read the letter, which,
"by the orders of the King and Queen of England and of the government
of the colony of New England," demanded "the surrender of the forts and
castles undemolished, and of all munitions untouched, as also an
immediate surrender of your persons and property at my discretion."
The envoy, when the whole letter was read, took out his watch, and
remarking that it was ten o'clock, asked that he be sent back by
eleven. Count de Frontenac's answer was defiant. He refused to
recognise William of Orange as the lawful sovereign of England, and
declared him an "usurper." The haughty governor continued in the same
strain for a few moments longer, and when he had closed, Phipps's
messenger asked that the answer be given in writing. "No," he replied,
"I have none to give but by the mouth of my cannon; and let your
general learn that this is no way to send a summons to a man like me.
Let him do the best on his side, as I am resolved to do on mine."

Phipps and his officers determined to attack Quebec in the rear by the
way of Beauport, {201} simultaneously with a fierce cannonading by the
fleet. A considerable force, under the command of Major Walley,
landed, and after some days of unhappy experiences, during which Phipps
showed his incapacity to manage the siege, the former was obliged to
find refuge in the ships, without having succeeded in crossing the St.
Charles. By this time Frontenac had at least three thousand men, many
of them veterans, in Quebec, and Phipps considered it his only prudent
course to return to Boston, where he arrived with the loss of many
vessels and men, chiefly from disasters at sea. The French had lost
very few men by the cannonading and in the skirmishing on the St.
Charles - probably not more than sixty killed and wounded - and
celebrated their victory with great enthusiasm. Religious processions
marched through the streets to the cathedral and churches, _Te Deums_
were chanted, the colonial admiral's flag, which had been cut down by a
lucky shot from the fort, was borne aloft in triumph, a new church was
consecrated to _Notre Dame de la Victoire_, and a medal was struck in
Paris in commemoration of the event. In Boston, the people received
with dismay the news of the failure of an expedition which had ended so
ignobly and involved them so heavily in debt.

The Iroquois, in league with the English of New York, where the able
governor Dongan and his successor Andros, carefully watched over the
interests of their colony, continued to be a constant menace to the
French on the St. Lawrence, and to their allies in the West. In order
to strengthen {202} themselves with the Five Nations, the New York
authorities sent Major Peter Schuyler, with a force of Mohawks, Dutch,
and English, to harass the settlements near Montreal. An obstinate
fight occurred at La Prairie between him and a considerable force of
troops, Canadians, Hurons, and Iroquois of the Canadian mission under
Varennes, an able officer, but Schuyler succeeded in breaking through
the ranks of his enemies and reaching the Richelieu, whence he returned
to Albany without further losses. In Acadia, however, the French
gained an advantage by the recovery of Port Royal by Villebon.

At this time occurred an interesting episode. A young girl of only
fourteen years, Magdeleine, daughter of the seigneur of Verchères, on
the south side of the St. Lawrence, ten miles from Montreal
successfully held her father's fort and block-house against a band of
Iroquois, with the aid of only six persons, two of whom were boys, and
one an old man. Day and night, for a week, she was on the watch
against surprise by the Indians, who were entirely deceived by her
actions, and supposed the fort was held by a garrison. At last a
reinforcement came to the succour of the brave girl, and the Indians
retreated. The courage displayed by this Canadian heroine is an
evidence of the courage shown by the people of Canada generally, under
the trying circumstances that so constantly surrounded them throughout
the whole of the French régime.

In 1693 the Mohawks were punished by an expedition composed of
regulars, militia, and bush-rangers, with a large Indian contingent,
chiefly {203} drawn from the Iroquois mission near Montreal, the modern
settlement of Caughnawaga. This force was led by Mantet, Courtemanche,
and La Noue, who succeeded in destroying the Mohawk villages after a
fierce fight, in killing a large number, and in capturing several
hundreds. The English, who had early information of the invasion, sent
Major Peter Schuyler to pursue the retreating force, but it was too
late. The immediate result of this success was a revival of trade. A
large fleet of canoes came down from the upper lakes with a rich store
of furs, that had been accumulating at Mackinac and other posts for
nearly three years, on account of the Iroquois. Frontenac's triumph
was complete, and he was called far and wide "the father of the people,
the preserver of the country."

Returning for the moment to the Atlantic shores of Acadia, we find that
the French arms triumphed in 1696 at Pemaquid, always an important
point in those days of border warfare.

The fort, which was of some pretensions, was captured by the French
under Iberville and the Abenakis under Saint-Castin, and after its
destruction Iberville went on to Newfoundland, where the French ruined
the English settlements at St. John and other places. Then the fleet
proceeded to Hudson's Bay, where the French recaptured the trading
posts which had been retaken a short time previously by the English.

In the meantime Frontenac had decided on an expedition against the
Onondagas. Early in July, 1696, despite his age, he led the expedition
to Fort {204} Frontenac, which he had restored, and after a delay of a
few days he went on to the Onondaga town, which he destroyed with all
its stores of provisions, and its standing fields of maize. The Oneida
village was also destroyed, and a number of men taken prisoners as
hostages for their good behaviour. The Onondagas had fled, and the
only one captured was an aged chief, who was wantonly tortured to
death. It was now clear to the Iroquois that the English of New York
could not defend them from the constant raids of the French, and they
now made offers of peace, provided it did not include the western
allies of France. Frontenac, however, was resolved to make no peace,
except on terms which would ensure the security of the French for many
years. He died in the November of 1698 amid the regrets of the people
of all classes who admired his great qualities as a leader of men.

Callières, of Montreal, an able and brave soldier, who succeeded him,
soon brought the Iroquois difficulty to an issue. The calumet was
smoked and peace duly signed, in a great council held in the August of
1701, at Montreal, where assembled representatives of the Indian
nations of the West, of the Abenakis, and of the Iroquois. From that
time forward, Canada had no reason to fear the Iroquois, who saw that
the French were their masters. The trade with the West was now free
from the interruptions which had so long crippled it.

[Illustration: Capture of Fort Nelson, in Hudson's Bay, by the French;
from La Potherie. A. French boats. B. Camp. C. Mortar. D.
Skirmishers. E. Fort Nelson.]

The Treaty of Ryswick, which was ratified in 1697, lasted for only five
years. Then broke out the great conflict known in Europe as the War of
{206} the Spanish Succession. The reckless ambition of Louis XIV.,
then in the plenitude of his power, had coveted the throne of Spain for
his own family, and brought him into conflict with England when he
recognised the Pretender as the rightful heir to the English Crown.
Queen Anne, the daughter of James II. and sister of Mary, queen of
William III., had succeeded to the throne, and the war which was
declared on the 15th May, 1702, was thereafter known in America by her
name. The Abenakis, who had promised peace, broke their pledges, and
joined the French Canadian bands in attacking Wells, Saco, and
Haverhill, and the annals of New England tell many a sad story of
burning homes, of murdered men and women. The people of New England
retaliated on Acadia, and several ineffective attempts were made to
take Port Royal by Colonels Church and Wainwright, who proved their
incapacity. A movement was then made for the conquest of Canada by the
English colonists, but it failed in consequence of an European
emergency having diverted the British squadron intended for America to
the shores of Portugal. An expedition was next organised in 1710,
under the command of Colonel Nicholson, a man of much sagacity and
audacity, though of little or no military experience, for the capture
of Port Royal, which was surrendered by the governor, Subercase, and
from that day this historic place has been known as Annapolis Royal, in
honour of the reigning sovereign. It was not until the following year
that the British Government yielded to the urgent representations of
the colonies, {207} and sent to America a powerful armament to attempt
the conquest of Canada. The fleet was under the orders of Sir Hovenden
Walker, whose incapacity was only equalled by that of the commander of
the troops, Colonel Hill. After the loss of eight transports and
nearly nine hundred men in a storm near the Isle aux Oeufs, at the
entrance of the St. Lawrence, the incapable admiral decided to give up
the project of besieging Quebec, and without even venturing to attack
the little French post of Plaisance, he returned to England, where he
was received with marks of disfavour on all sides, and forced soon
afterwards to retire to South Carolina. While New England was sadly
disappointed by this second failure to take Quebec, the French of
Canada considered it a providential interposition in their behalf, and
the church, which had been first named after the defeat of Phipps, was
now dedicated to _Notre Dame des Victoires_.

All this while the French dominion was slowly and surely extending into
the great valleys of the West and South. A fort had been built
opposite to the Jesuit mission of St. Ignace, on the other side of the
Strait of Michillimackinac, and it was now also proposed to make the
French headquarters at Detroit, which had been founded by Antoine de la
Mothe-Cadillac, despite the opposition of the Jesuits, who wished to
have the mission field of the West in their own hands, and resented the
intention to establish Recollets and other priests at the new post. As
soon as the French established themselves permanently at this key to
the Lakes and West, the {208} English practically gave up for fifty
years the hope of acquiring the Northwest, and controlling the Indian
trade. French pioneers were pushing their way into the valleys of the
Illinois and the Wabash. Perrot and Le Sueur had taken possession of
the region watered by the upper Mississippi and its affluents.
Iberville and Bienville had made small settlements at Biloxi, Mobile,
and on the banks of the Mississippi, and with them was associated one
of the most admirable figures of Canadian history, Henry de Tonty, who
had left his fort on the Illinois. In 1711 Louisiana was made a
separate government, with Mobile as the capital, and included the whole
region from the Lakes to the Gulf, and from the Alleghanies to the
Rocky Mountains. By the time of the Treaty of Utrecht the Indian
tribes of the West were, for the most part, in the interest of the
French, with the exception of the Sioux, Sauks, and Foxes, whose
hostility was for a long time an impediment to their progress on the
upper reaches of the Mississippi.

[Illustration: Chevalier D'Iberville.]

Louis XIV. was humbled by Marlborough on the battlefields of Blenheim,
Ramillies, and Oudenarde, and obliged to agree to the Treaty of
Utrecht, which was a triumph for England, since it gave her possession
of Acadia, Hudson's Bay, Newfoundland (subject to the rights of France
in the fisheries), and made the important concession that France should
never molest the Five Nations under the dominion of Great Britain.
Such questions as the limits of Acadia, and the bounds of the territory
of the Iroquois, were to be among the subjects of fruitful controversy
for half a century.





The attention of Louis XIV. and his ministers was now naturally
directed to Cape Breton, which, like the greater island of
Newfoundland, guards the eastern approaches to the valley of the St.
Lawrence. Cape Breton had been neglected since the days of Denys,
though its harbours had been for over two centuries frequented by
sailors of all nationalities. Plaisance, the Placentia of the
Portuguese, had been for years the headquarters of the French fisheries
in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, but when Newfoundland was ceded to the
English, all the French officials and fishermen removed to English
Harbour, on the eastern coast of Cape Breton, ever since known as
Louisbourg. The island itself was called Île Royale, and its first
governor was M. de Costabelle, who had held a similar position at
Plaisance. It was not, however, until 1720, that France commenced the
{211} construction of the fortifications of Louisbourg, which
eventually cost her over ten million dollars of modern money, and even
then, they were never completed in accordance with the original design,
on account of the enormous expense which far exceeded the original
estimates. The fortifications were built on an oblong neck of land on
the southern shore of the port, which lies only two leagues from that
famous cape from which the island takes its name. The fortress
occupied an area of over one hundred acres, and was planned on the best
system of Vauban and other great masters of engineering skill, who
intended it should be, as indeed it was, despite some faulty details of
construction, the most complete example of a strongly fortified city in
America. The harbour was also defended by batteries on an island at
the entrance, and at other important points, while there were fortified
works and small garrisons at Port Toulouse (St. Peter's) and Port
Dauphin (St. Anne's). The government of the island was modelled on
that of Canada, to which it was subordinate, and the governor was
generally a military man. During the years the fortress was in
possession of the French, there were probably, on an average, nearly
two thousand people living in the town and vicinity, but this number
was increased in the time of war by the inhabitants of the adjacent
ports and bays.

[Illustration: View of Louisbourg in 1731. - From a sketch in the Paris

During the thirty years that elapsed between the Treaty of Utrecht and
the breaking out of war between France and Great Britain, the people of
New England found that the merely nominal possession of Acadia by the
English was of little security to {212} them, while the French still
held the island of Cape Breton and had the fealty of the Indians and
Acadians, who were looking forward to the restoration of the country to
its former owners. England systematically neglected Nova Scotia,
where, until the foundation of Halifax, her only sign of sovereignty
was the dilapidated fort at Annapolis, with an insignificant garrison,
utterly unable to awe the Acadian French, and bring them completely
under the authority of the British Crown. French emissaries, chiefly
priests, - notably the treacherous Le Loutre - were constantly at work
among the Acadians, Micmacs, and Abenakis, telling them that France
would soon regain her dominion in Acadia. For years the Abenakis
tomahawked the helpless English colonists that had made their homes in
the present State of Maine, in the vicinity of the Kennebec and the
Penobscot. The insidious policy of Vaudreuil and other governors of
Canada, acting under instructions from France, was to keep alive the
hostility of the Abenakis so as to prevent the settlement of that
region known as Northern New England, one of whose rivers, the
Kennebec, gave easy access to the St. Lawrence near Quebec. From
Annapolis to Canseau the Micmacs destroyed life and property, and kept
the English posts in constant fear.

New England took a signal revenge at last on the cruel and treacherous
Abenakis, and inflicted on them a blow from which they never recovered.
At Norridgewock perished the famous missionary, Sebastian Rale, beneath
whose black robe beat the heart of a dauntless soldier, whose highest
{213} aspirations were to establish his creed and promote the ambitious
designs of France in Acadia. A peace was made in 1726 between the
colonists and the Abenakis, but New England felt she had no efficient
security for its continuance while Acadian and Indian could see in the
great fortress of Cape Breton powerful evidence that France was not yet
willing to give up the contest for dominion in Acadia. Northern New
England became now of relatively little importance in view of the
obvious designs of France to regain Nova Scotia.

We have now come to an important period in the history of America as
well as of Europe. In 1739 Walpole was forced to go to war with Spain,
at the dictation of the commercial classes, who wished to obtain
control of the Spanish Main. Then followed the War of the Austrian
Succession, in which France broke her solemn pledge to Charles VI.,
Emperor of Germany, that she would support his daughter, Maria Theresa,
in her rights to reign over his hereditary dominions. But when the
Emperor was dead, France and other Powers proceeded to promote their
own ambitious and selfish designs. France wished to possess the rich
Netherlands, and Spain, Milan; Frederick of Prussia had no higher
desire than to seize Silesia, and to drive Austria from Germany.
Bavaria claimed the Austrian duchy of Bohemia. Maria Theresa was to
have only Hungary and the duchy of Austria. The King of England was
jealous of Prussia, and thought more of his Hanoverian throne than of
his English crown. It became the interest of England to assist Austria
and {214} prevent the success of France, now the ally of Spain; forced
to defend her colonial possessions in America. The complications in
Europe at last compelled France and England to fight at Dettingen in
1743, and George II. won a doubtful victory, but war was not actually
declared between these two nations until some months later. England
had no reason to congratulate herself on the results, either in Europe
or America. Her fleet met only with disaster, and her commerce was
destroyed on the Spanish Main. Four years later she won a victory over
the Spanish fleet in the Mediterranean, but hardly had her people
ceased celebrating the event, than they heard that the combined forces
of Hanover, Holland, and England, under the Duke of Cumberland, had
been badly beaten by Marshal Saxe at Fontenoy.

It was at this time, when the prospects of England were so gloomy on
the continent of Europe, that Englishmen heard, with surprise and
gratification, that the strong fortress of Louisbourg in French America
had surrendered to the audacious attack of four thousand colonists of
New England.

A combination of events had aided the success of the brave enterprise.
The news of the declaration of war reached Louisbourg at least two
months before it was known in Boston, and the French Governor, M.
Duquesnel, immediately sent out expeditions to capture the English
posts in Nova Scotia. Canseau, at the entrance of the strait of that
name, was easily taken, and the garrison carried to Louisbourg, but
Annapolis Royal was successfully defended by Colonel Mascarene, then
governor of {215} Nova Scotia. All these events had their direct
influence on the expedition which New England sent in the spring of
1745 against Louisbourg. The prisoners who had been captured at
Canseau had remained until the autumn in Louisbourg, and the accounts
they brought back of its condition gave Shirley and others reason to
believe that if an expedition was, without loss of time, sent against
it, there would be a fair chance of success. Not only did they learn
that the garrison was small, but that it was discontented, and a mutiny

Online LibraryJohn George BourinotCanada under British Rule 1760-1900 → online text (page 13 of 29)