The new mission-house they named Ste Marie; and from this central station the missionaries went forth in pairs to the farthest parts of Huronia and beyond. The missions to the Petuns and the Neutrals, however, ended in failure. The Petuns hailed Garnier and Jogues as the Famine and the Pest and the priests barely escaped with their lives. In the following year (1640), when Brebeuf and Chaumonot went among the Neutrals, they found Huron emissaries there inciting the Neutrals to kill the priests. These Hurons, while themselves fearing to murder the powerful okies of the French, as they regarded the black-robes, desired that the Neutrals should put them to death. But no such tragedy found place as yet. After visiting nineteen towns, meeting everywhere maledictions and threats, Brebeuf and Chaumonot returned to Ste Marie.
The good work went on, notwithstanding trials and reverses. The story of the Cross was being carried even to the Algonquins and Nipissings of the upper Ottawa and Georgian Bay. At Ste Marie neophytes gathered in numbers, and here there were no medicine-men, ‘satellites of Satan,’ to seduce them from their vows. But, just at the time when the harvest seemed richest in promise, a cloud appeared on the horizon—a forerunner of darker clouds, heavy with calamity, and of the storm which was to bring destruction to the Huron people.
Meanwhile, how fared the mission at Quebec? Champlain had died on Christmas Day 1635, and the Jesuits had lost a staunch friend and never-failing protector. His successor, however, was Charles Huault de Montmagny, a knight of Malta, a man of devout character, thoroughly in sympathy with the missions. Under Montmagny’s rule New France became as austere as Puritan New England.
The Relations of the Jesuits, sent yearly to France and published and widely read, had roused intense enthusiasm among wealthy and pious men and women. Thus Noel Brulart, Chevalier de Sillery, was moved to take an interest in the Canadian mission and to endow a home for Christian Indians. Le Jeune chose a site on the bank of the St Lawrence, four miles above Quebec; and in 1637 the Sillery establishment was erected there, consisting of a chapel, a mission-house, and an infirmary, all within strong palisades.
About the same time two wealthy enthusiasts, the Duchesse d’Aiguillon, a niece of Cardinal Richelieu, and Madame de la Peltrie, were likewise inspired by the Relations to undertake charitable work in New France. These ladies founded, respectively, the Hotel-Dieu of Quebec and the Ursuline Convent. In 1639 Madame de la Peltrie, who had given herself as well as her purse to the work, arrived in Quebec, accompanied by Mother Marie de I’Incarnation and two other Ursulines and three Augustinian nuns. The Ursulines at once began their labours as teachers with six Indian pupils. But a plague of small-pox was raging in the colony, and for the first year or two after their arrival these heroic women had to aid the sisters of the Hotel-Dieu in fighting the pest.