The Makers of Canada: Champlain eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 242 pages of information about The Makers of Canada.



A quarter of a century had elapsed since the founding of Quebec, and still it could scarcely be regarded as other than a village, while in some parts of New France colonization was absolutely null.  Agriculture had received some attention in the vicinity of Quebec, but it was on such a small scale that it should be termed gardening rather than farming.

Charlevoix writes:  “The fort of Quebec, surrounded by a few wretched houses and some sheds, two or three cabins on the island of Montreal, as many, perhaps, at Tadousac, and at some other points on the river St. Lawrence, to accommodate fishers and traders, a settlement begun at Three Rivers and the ruins of Port Royal, this was all that constituted New France—­the sole fruit of the discoveries of Verrazzani, Jacques Cartier, de Roberval, Champlain, of the great expenses of the Marquis de la Roche and de Monts, and of the industry of many Frenchmen, who might have built up a great colony had they been well directed.”

The various companies, as we have seen, took no interest whatever in settling the country, their chief design being to carry on fur trade with the Indians.  Patriotism had no meaning for them, the all-absorbing question was money.  This was not the case, however, with the company established by Cardinal Richelieu, whose desire was to christianize the savages, to found a powerful colony, and to secure for his king the possession of New France.  The principal associates of this company were pious, patriotic and zealous men, who laboured to extend the power and influence of France throughout the vast continent of America for the honour and glory of God.  There were among the associates a certain number of gentlemen and ecclesiastics, who, realizing their incapacity to transact the business of such an important undertaking, preferred to hand over the administration to merchants of Dieppe, Rouen and Paris, together with the advantages to be derived therefrom.  A special association was consequently formed, composed of merchants who undertook the financial affairs of the settlement, such as paying the new governor, providing ammunition and provisions, and maintaining the forts; and if there were profits they were to be divided amongst the Hundred Associates.  This association was formed before the departure of Champlain for Quebec in 1633.  Its agents were a merchant of Rouen named Rosee, and Cheffault, a lawyer of Paris, who had a representative at Quebec.

As it was necessary for the Hundred Associates to appoint a governor of New France, they offered the position to Champlain, as he was universally respected and known to be experienced and disinterested.  Moreover he was well acquainted with the country, and on friendly terms with the savages.  It is doubtful whether any one could have taken his place with better prospects of success.  Champlain, moreover, desired

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