M. de la Barre was thus finally able to set out on his expedition against the Iroquois. At the head of one hundred and thirty soldiers, seven hundred militia and two hundred and sixty Indians, he marched to Lake Ontario, where the Iroquois, intimidated, sent him a deputation. The ambassadors, who expected to see a brilliant army full of ardour, were astonished to find themselves in the presence of pale and emaciated soldiers, worn out more by sickness and privations of every kind than by fatigue. The governor, in fact, had lost ten or twelve days at Montreal; on the way the provisions had become spoiled and insufficient, hence the name of Famine Creek given to the place where he entered with his troops, above the Oswego River. At this sight the temper of the delegates changed, and their proposals showed it; they spoke with arrogance, and almost demanded peace; they undertook to indemnify the French merchants plundered by them on condition that the army should decamp on the morrow. Such weakness could not attract to M. de la Barre the affection of the colonists; the king relieved him from his functions, and appointed as his successor the Marquis de Denonville, a colonel of dragoons, whose valour seemed to promise the colony better days.
RESIGNATION OF MGR. DE LAVAL
The long and conscientious pastoral visit which he had just ended had proved to the indefatigable prelate that it would be extremely difficult to establish his parishes solidly. Instead of grouping themselves together, which would have given them the advantages of union both against the attacks of savages and for the circumstances of life in which man has need of the aid of his fellows, the colonists had built their dwellings at random, according to the inspiration of the moment, and sometimes at long distances from each other; thus there existed, as late as 1678, only twenty-five fixed livings, and it promised to be very difficult to found new ones. To give a pastor the direction of parishioners established within an enormous radius of his parish house, was to condemn his ministry in advance to inefficacy. To prove it, the Abbe Gosselin cites a striking example. Of the two missionaries who shared the southern shore, the one, M. Morel, ministered to the country between Berthier and Riviere du Loup; the other, M. Volant de Saint-Claude, from Berthier to Riviere du Chene, and each of them had only about sixty families scattered here and there. And how was one to expect that these poor farmers could maintain their pastor and build a church? Almost everywhere the chapels were of wood or clapboards, and thatched; not more than eight or nine centres of population could boast of possessing a stone church; many hamlets still lacked a chapel and imitated the Lower Town of Quebec, whose inhabitants attended service in a private house. As to priests’ houses, they were a luxury that few villages could afford: the priest had to content himself with being sheltered by a respectable colonist.