The Jesuit Missions : A chronicle of the cross in the wilderness eBook

Thomas Guthrie Marquis
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 100 pages of information about The Jesuit Missions .

Panic reigned throughout Huronia.  After burning fifteen villages, lest they should serve as a shelter for the Iroquois, the Hurons scattered far and wide.  Some fled to Ste Marie, some toiled through the snows of spring to the villages of the Petuns, some fled to the Neutrals and Eries, some to the Algonquin tribes of the north and west, and some even sought adoption among the Iroquois.  Ste Marie stood alone, like a shepherd without sheep:  mission villages, chapels, residences, flocks—­all were gone.  The work of over twenty years was destroyed.  Sick at heart, Ragueneau looked about him for a new situation, a spot that might serve as a centre for his band of devoted missionaries as they toiled among the wanderers by lake and river and in the depths of the northern forest.

He first thought of Isle Ste Marie (Manitoulin Island) as the safest place for the headquarters of a new mission, but finally decided to go to Isle St Joseph (Christian Island), just off Huronia to the north.  There, on the bay that indents the south-east corner of the island, he directed that land should be cleared for the building.  The work of evacuating Ste Marie began early in May, and on the 15th of the month the buildings were set on fire.  The valuables of the mission were placed in a large boat and on rafts; and, with heavy hearts, the fathers and their helpers went aboard for the journey to their new home twenty miles away.

The new Ste Marie which the Jesuits built on Isle St Joseph was in the nature of a strong fort.  Its walls were of stone and cement, fourteen feet high and loopholed.  At each corner there was a protecting bastion, and the entire structure was surrounded by a deep moat.  It was practically impregnable against Indian attack, for it could not be undermined, set on fire, or taken by assault.  A handful of men could hold it against a host of Iroquois.

About the sheltering walls of Ste Marie the Indians gathered, to the number of seven or eight thousand by the autumn of 1649.  Here the missionaries continued the good work.  The only outposts now were among the Algonquins along the shore of Georgian Bay, and the Petun missions of St Mathias, St Matthieu, and St Jean.  But the Petuns were presently to share the fate of the Hurons; and Garnier and Chabanel, who were stationed at St Jean, were to perish as had Daniel, Brebeuf, and Lalemant.

During the autumn Ragueneau learned that a large body of Iroquois were working their way westward towards St Jean.  He sent runners to the threatened town, and ordered Chabanel to return to Ste Marie and warned Garnier to be on his guard.  On the 5th of December Chabanel set out for Ste Marie with some Petun Hurons, and Garnier was left alone at St Jean.  Two days later, while the warriors were out searching for their elusive foes, a band of Senecas and Mohawks swept upon the town, broke through the defences, and proceeded to butcher the inhabitants.  Garnier fell with

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The Jesuit Missions : A chronicle of the cross in the wilderness from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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