The greatest trial the Recollets had to bear was the opposition of the Company of St Malo and Rouen, which was composed largely of Huguenots, and had a monopoly of the trade of New France. Many of the traders were actively antagonistic to the spread of the Catholic religion and they all viewed the work of the Recollets with hostility. It was the aim of the missionaries to induce the Indians to settle near the trading-posts in order that they might the more easily be reached with the Gospel message. The traders had but one thought—the profits of the fur trade; and, desiring to keep the Indians nomadic hunters of furs, they opposed bringing them into fixed abodes and put every possible obstacle in the way of the friars. Trained interpreters in the employ of the company for both the Hurons and the various Algonquin tribes were ordered not to assist the missionaries in acquiring a knowledge of the native languages. The company was pledged to support six missionaries, but the support was given with an unwilling, niggardly hand.
At length, in 1621, as a result of the complaints of Champlain and the Recollets, before the authorities in France, the Company of St Malo and Rouen lost its charter, and the trading privileges were given to William and Emery de Caen, uncle and nephew. But these men also were Huguenots, and the unhappy condition of affairs continued in an intensified form. Champlain, though the nominal head of the colony, was unable to provide a remedy, for the real power was in the hands of the Caens, who had in their employment practically the entire population.
Yet, in spite of all the obstacles put in their way, the Recollets continued their self-sacrificing labours. By the beginning of 1621 they had a comfortable residence on the bank of the St Charles, on the spot where now stands the General Hospital. Here they had been granted two hundred acres of land, and they cultivated the soil, raising meagre crops of rye, barley, maize, and wheat, and tending a few pigs, cows, asses, and fowls. There were from time to time accessions to their ranks. Between the years 1616 and 1623 the fathers Guillaume Poullain, Georges le Baillif, Paul Huet, Jacques de la Foyer, Nicolas Viel, and several lay brothers, the most noted among whom was Gabriel Sagard-Theodat, laboured in New France. They made attempts to christianize the Micmacs of Acadia, the Abnaki of the upper St John, the Algonquin tribes of the lower St Lawrence, and the Nipissings of the upper Ottawa. But the work among these roving bands proved most disheartening, and once more the grey-robed friars turned to the Hurons.