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 .
life; and in Paul de Chomedy, Sieur de Maisonneuve, a veteran of the wars in Holland, the ideal man was found.  No attempt was made at this time to secure teachers; there would be at first neither white nor red children to teach, for there were no Indians living on the island of Montreal, and the colonists would not at first bring their families to this wilderness post.  The funds collected and the leader found, the next step was to get permission from the Hundred Associates to settle on the island; and here was a difficulty.  The Associates had been liberal in land-grants to their own members; and Jean de Lauzon, the president, had received for himself large concessions, among them the entire island of Montreal.  However, he was persuaded, probably for a consideration, to part with a grant that brought him no return, and which he could visit only at the risk of his scalp.  Olier and Dauversiere and their associates secured the land, and Maisonneuve was appointed governor of the new colony.

The Jesuits had played an important part in this undertaking.  It was their Relations that had given the impulse, and the promoters of the colony had the able assistance of Father Charles Lalemant, whom we have already met as the first superior of the Jesuit order in New France.  It was he who persuaded Jean de Lauzon to consent to surrender his grant, and it was to him that Maisonneuve first came to seek advice as to how he could best consecrate his sword to the Church in Canada.  And it was largely on Lalemant’s recommendation that Maisonneuve received his appointment as leader of the colonists and governor of the colony.  To Lalemant, too, came Jeanne Mance when she first heard the clear call to the new mission.

The promoters of the ‘Society of Our Lady of Montreal’ now set to work to collect recruits for the mission, provide supplies, and prepare vessels to transport the colonists to New France.  All was ready about the middle of June 1641, and, while Dauversiere, Olier, and Fancamp remained in France to look after the interests of the colony there, Maisonneuve and Jeanne Mance, with three other women and about fifty men, set sail and arrived in Quebec before the end of August.  Here they did not find the enthusiastic welcome which they expected.  Maisonneuve had come with a special commission as governor of Montreal, and was coldly received by Montmagny, who was jealous of him, and who moreover believed, no doubt rightly, that a divided authority would not be in the best interests of struggling New France.  The Jesuits at Quebec tried to persuade Maisonneuve to abandon his enterprise.  There were, they said, no inhabitants on the island of Montreal, it was in the direct route of the Mohawks, who annually haunted the Ottawa and St Lawrence, and swift destruction would surely be the fate of the colony.  But Maisonneuve could not be moved from his fixed purpose; he would go to Montreal even ’if every tree on that island were to be changed to an Iroquois.’

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