The end of August 1623 saw Le Caron, Viel, and Sagard in Huronia. Until October they seem to have laboured in different settlements, Viel at Toanche, a short distance from Penetanguishene Bay, Sagard at Ossossane, near Dault’s Bay, an indentation of Nottawasaga Bay, and Le Caron at Carhagouha. It does not appear that they were able to make much of an impression on the savages, though they had the satisfaction of some baptisms. During the winter Sagard studied Indian habits and ideas, and with Le Caron’s assistance compiled a dictionary of the Huron language. [Footnote: Sagard’s observations were afterwards given to the world in his ’Histoire du Canada et Voyages des Peres Recollects en la Nouvelle-France.’] Then, an June 1624, Le Caron and Sagard accompanied the annual canoe-fleet to Quebec, and Viel was left alone in Huronia.
The Recollets were discouraged. They saw that the field was too large and that the difficulties were too great for them. And, after invoking ’the light of the Holy Spirit,’ they decided, according to Sagard, ’to send one of their members to France to lay the proposition before the Jesuit fathers, whom they deemed the most suitable for the work of establishing and extending the Faith in Canada.’ So Father Irenaeus Piat and Brother Gabriel Sagard were sent to entreat to the rescue of the Canadian mission the greatest of all the missionary orders—an order which ’had filled the whole world with memorials of great things done and suffered for the Faith’—the militant and powerful Society of Jesus.
THE JESUITS AT QUEBEC
The 15th of June 1625 was a significant day for the colony of New France. On that morning a blunt-prowed, high-pooped vessel cast anchor before the little trading village that clustered about the base of the great cliff at Quebec. It was a ship belonging to the Caens, and it came laden to the hatches with supplies for the colonists and goods for trade with the Indians. But, what was more important, it had as passengers the Jesuits who had been sent to the aid of the Recollets, the first of the followers of Loyola to enter the St Lawrence—Fathers Charles Lalemant, Ennemond Masse, Jean de Brebeuf, and two lay brothers of the Society. These black-robed priests were the forerunners of an army of men who, bearing the Cross instead of the sword and labouring at their arduous tasks in humility and obedience but with dauntless courage and unflagging zeal, were to make their influence felt from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico, and from the sea-girt shores of Cape Breton to the wind-swept plains of the Great West. They were the vanguard of an army of true soldiers, of whom the words
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die,
might fittingly have been written. The Jesuit missionary in North America had no thought of worldly profit or renown, but, with his mind fixed on eternity, he performed his task ad majorem Dei gloriam, for the greater glory of God.