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 .
needed the self-sacrificing Jesuits, but for whom it would soon undoubtedly have been cast off by the mother country as a worthless burden.  To them Canada, indeed, owed its life; for when the king grew weary of spending treasure on this unprofitable colony, the stirring appeals of the Relations [Footnote:  It was a rule of the Society of Jesus that each of its missionaries should write a report of his work.  These reports, known as Relations, were generally printed and sold by the booksellers of Paris.  About forty volumes of the Relations from the missions of Canada were published between 1632 and 1672 and widely read in France.] moved both king and people to sustain it until the time arrived when New France was valued as a barrier against New England.

Scarcely had the Jesuits made themselves at home in the convent of the Recollets when they began planning for the mission.  It was decided that Lalemant and Masse should remain at Quebec; but Brebeuf, believing, like the Recollets, that little of permanent value could be done among the ever-shifting Algonquins, desired to start at once for the populous towns of Huronia.  In July, in company with the Recollet La Roche de Daillon, Brebeuf set out for Three Rivers.  The Indians—­Hurons, Algonquins, and Ottawas—­had gathered at Cape Victory, a promontory in Lake St Peter near the point where the lake narrows again into the St Lawrence.  There, too, stood French vessels laden with goods for barter; and thither went the two missionaries to make friends with the Indians and to lay in a store of goods for the voyage to Huronia and for use at the mission.  The captains of the vessels appeared friendly and supplied the priests with coloured beads, knives, kettles, and other articles.  All was going well for the journey, when, on the eve of departure, a runner arrived from Montreal bringing evil news.

For a year the Recollet Nicolas Viel had remained in Huronia.  Early in 1624 he had written to Father Piat hoping that he might live and die in his Huron mission at Carhagouha.  There is no record of his sojourn in Huronia during the winter 1624-25.  Alone among the savages, with a scant knowledge of their language, his spirit must have been oppressed with a burden almost too great to be borne; he must have longed for the companionship of men of his own language and faith.  At any rate, in the early summer of 1625 he had set out for Quebec with a party of trading Hurons for the purpose of spending some time in retreat at the residence on the banks of the St Charles.  He was never to reach his destination.  On arriving at the Riviere des Prairies, his Indian conductors, instead of portaging their canoes past the treacherous rapids in this river, had attempted to run them, and a disaster had followed.  The canoe bearing Father Viel and a young Huron convert named Ahaustic (the Little Fish) had been overturned and both had been drowned.

[Footnote:  This rapid has since been known as Sault au Recollet and a village near by bears the name of Ahuntsic, a corruption of the young convert’s name.  Father A. E. Jones, S. J., in his ‘Old Huronia’ (Ontario Archives), points out that no such word as Ahuntsic could find a place in a Huron vocabulary.]

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