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The Great Intendant by Thomas Chapais

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This etext was produced by Gardner Buchanan.

Edited by George M. Wrong and H. H. Langton
In thirty-two volumes

Volume 6

A Chronicle of Jean Talon in Canada 1665-1672





When the year 1665 began, the French colony on the shores
of the St Lawrence, founded by the valour and devotion
of Champlain, had been in existence for more than half
a century. Yet it was still in a pitiable state of weakness
and destitution. The care and maintenance of the settlement
had devolved upon trading companies, and their narrow-minded
mercantile selfishness had stifled its progress. From
other causes, also, there had been but little growth.
Cardinal Richelieu, the great French minister, had tried
at one time to infuse new life into the colony; [Footnote:
For the earlier history of New France the reader is
referred to three other volumes in this Series--The
Founder of New France, The Seigneurs of Old Canada, and
The Jesuit Missions.] but his first attempts had been
unlucky, and later on his powerful mind was diverted to
other plans and achievements and he became absorbed in
the wider field of European politics. To the shackles of
commercial greed, to forgetfulness on the part of the
mother country, had been added the curse of Indian wars.
During twenty-five years the daring and ferocious Iroquois
had been the constant scourge of the handful of settlers,
traders, and missionaries. Champlain's successors in the
office of governor, Montmagny, Ailleboust, Lauzon,
Argenson, Avaugour, had no military force adequate to
the task of meeting and crushing these formidable foes.
Year after year the wretched colony maintained its struggle
for existence amidst deadly perils, receiving almost no
help from France, and to all appearance doomed to
destruction. To make things worse, internal strife
exercised its disintegrating influence; there was contention
among the leaders in New France over the vexed question
of the liquor traffic. In the face of so many adverse
circumstances--complete lack of means, cessation of
immigration from the mother country, the perpetual menace
of the bloody Iroquois incursions, a dying trade, and a
stillborn agriculture--how could the colony be kept alive
at all? Spiritual and civil authorities, the governor
and the bishop, the Jesuits and the traders, all united
in petitioning for assistance. But the motherland was
far away, and European wars and rivalries were engrossing
all her attention.

Fortunately a change was at hand. The prolonged struggle
of the Thirty Years' War and of the war against Spain
had been ended by the treaty of Munster and Osnabruck in
1648 and by that of the Pyrenees in 1659. The civil
dissensions of the Fronde were over, thanks to the skilful
policy of Cardinal Mazarin, Richelieu's successor. After
the death of Mazarin in 1661, Louis XIV had taken into
his own hands the reins of administration. He was young,
painstaking, and ambitious; and he wanted to be not only
king but the real ruler of his kingdom. In Jean Baptiste
Colbert, the man who had been Mazarin's right hand, he
had the good fortune to find one of the best administrators
in all French history. Colbert soon won the king's
confidence. He was instrumental in detecting the
maladministration of Fouquet as superintendent of Finance,
and became a member of the council appointed to investigate
and report on all financial questions. Of this body he
was the leading spirit from the beginning. Although at
first without the title of minister, he was promptly
invested with a wide authority over the finances, trade,
agriculture, industry, and marine affairs. Within two
years he had shown his worth and had justified the king's
choice. Great and beneficial reforms had been accomplished
in almost every branch of the administration. The exhausted
treasury had been replenished, trade and industry were
encouraged, agriculture was protected, and a navy created.
Under a progressive government France seemed to awake to
new life.

The hour was auspicious for the entreaties of New France.
Petitions and statements were addressed to the king by
Mgr de Laval, the head of ecclesiastical affairs in the
colony, by the governor Avaugour, and by the Jesuit
fathers; and Pierre Boucher, governor of the district of
Three Rivers, was sent to France as a delegate to present
them. Louis and his minister studied the conditions of
the colony on the St Lawrence and decided in 1663 to give
it a new constitution. The charter of the One Hundred
Associates was cancelled and the old Council of
Quebec--formed in 1647--was reorganized under the name
of the Sovereign Council. This new governing body was to
be composed of the governor, the bishop, the intendant,
an attorney-general, a secretary, and five councillors.
It was invested with a general jurisdiction for the
administration of justice in civil and criminal matters.
It had also to deal with the questions of police, roads,
finance, and trade.

To establish a new and improved system of administration
was a good thing, but this alone would hardly avail if
powerful help were not forthcoming to rescue New France
from ruin, despondency, and actual extermination. The
colony was dying for lack of soldiers, settlers, and
labourers, as well as stores of food and munitions of
war for defence and maintenance. Louis XIV made up his
mind that help should be given. In 1664 three hundred
labourers were conveyed to Quebec at the king's expense,
and in the following year the colonists received the
welcome information that the king was also about to send
them a regiment of trained soldiers, a viceroy, a new
governor, a new intendant, settlers and labourers, and
all kinds of supplies. This royal pledge was adequately
fulfilled. On June 19, 1665, the Marquis de Tracy,
lieutenant-general of all the French dominions in America,
arrived from the West Indies, where he had successfully
discharged the first part of the mission entrusted to
him by his royal master. With him came four companies of
soldiers. During the whole summer ships were disembarking
their passengers and unloading their cargoes of ammunition
and provisions at Quebec in quick succession. It is easy
to imagine the rapture of the colonists at such a sight,
and the enthusiastic shouts that welcomed the first
detachment of the splendid regiment of Carignan-Salieres.
At length, on September 12, the cup of public joy was
filled to overflowing by the arrival of the ship Saint
Sebastien with two high officials on board, David de
Remy, Sieur de Courcelle, the governor appointed to
succeed the governor Mezy, who had died earlier in the
year, and Jean Talon, the intendant of justice, police,
and finance. The latter had been selected to replace the
Sieur Robert, who had been made intendant in 1663, but,
for some unknown reason, had never come to Canada to
perform the duties of his office. The triumvirate on whom
was imposed the noble task of saving and reviving New
France was thus complete. The Marquis de Tracy was an
able and clear-sighted commander, the Sieur de Courcelle
a fearless, straightforward official. But the part of
Jean Talon in the common task, though apparently less
brilliant, was to be in many respects the most important,
and his influence the most far-reaching in the destinies
of the colony.

Talon was born at Chalons-sur-Marne, in the province of
Champagne, about the year 1625. His family were kinsfolk
of the Parisian Talons, Omer and Denis, the celebrated
jurists and lawyers, who held in succession the high
office of attorney-general of France. Several of Jean
Talon's brothers were serving in the administration or
the army, and, after a course of study at the Jesuits'
College of Clermont, Jean was employed under one of them
in the commissariat. The young man's abilities soon became
apparent and attracted Mazarin's attention. In 1654 he
was appointed military commissary at Le Quesnoy in
connection with the operations of the army commanded by
the great Turenne. A year later, at the age of thirty,
he was promoted to be intendant for the province of
Hainault. For ten years he filled that office and won
the reputation of an administrator of the first rank.
Thus it came about that, when an intendant was needed to
infuse new blood into the veins of the feeble colony on
the St Lawrence, Colbert, always a good judge of men,
thought immediately of Jean Talon and recommended to the
king his appointment as intendant of New France. Talon's
commission is dated March 23, 1665.

The minister drafted for the intendant's guidance a long
letter of instructions. It dealt with the mutual relations
of Church and State, and set forth the Gallican principles
of the day; it discussed the question of assistance to
the recently created West India Company; the contemplated
war against the Iroquois and how it might successfully
be carried on; the Sovereign Council and the administration
of justice; the settlement of the colony and the
advisability of concentrating the population; the
importance of fostering trade and industry; the question
of tithes for the maintenance of the Church; the
establishment of shipbuilding yards and the encouragement
of agriculture. This document was signed by Louis XIV
at Paris on March 27, 1665.

On receiving his commission and his instructions, Talon
took leave of the king and the minister, and proceeded
to make preparations for his arduous mission and for the
long journey which it involved. By April 22 he was at La
Rochelle, to arrange for the embarkation of settlers,
working men, and supplies. He attended the review of the
troops that were bound for New France, and reported to
Colbert that the companies were at their full strength,
well equipped and in the best of spirits. During this
time he spared no pains to acquire information about the
new country where he was to work and live. Finally, by
May 24, everything was in readiness, and he wrote to

Since apparently I shall not have the honour of writing
you another letter from this place, for our ship awaits
only a favourable wind to sail, allow me to assure
you that I am leaving full of gratitude for all the
kindness and favours bestowed on me by the king and
yourself. Knowing that the best way to show my gratitude
is to do good service to His Majesty, and that the
best title to future benevolence lies in strenuous
effort for the successful execution of his wishes, I
shall do my utmost to attain that end in the charge
I am going to fill. I pray for your protection and
help, which will surely be needed, and if my endeavours
should not be crowned with success, at least it will
not be for want of zeal and fidelity.

A few hours after having written these farewell lines,
Talon, in company with M. de Courcelle, set sail on the
Saint Sebastien for Canada, where he was to make for
himself an imperishable name.



Let us take a glance over the colony at the time when
Courcelle and Talon landed at Quebec after an ocean
journey--there were no fast lines then--of one hundred
and seventeen days.

In 1665 Canada had only three settled districts: Quebec,
Three Rivers, and Ville-Marie or Montreal. Quebec, the
chief town, bore the proud title of the capital of New
France. Yet it contained barely seventy houses with about
five hundred and fifty inhabitants. Then, as now, it
consisted of a lower and an upper town. In the lower town
were to be found the king's stores and the merchants'
shops and residences. The public officials and the clergy
and members of the religious orders lived in the upper
town, where stood the principal buildings of the
capital--the Chateau Saint-Louis, the Bishop's Palace,
the Cathedral, the Jesuits' College and Chapel, and the
monasteries of the Ursulines and of the Hotel-Dieu sisters.

Francois de Laval de Montmorency, bishop of Petraea and
vicar apostolic for Canada, was the spiritual head of
the colony. He had arrived from France six years earlier,
in 1659, and was destined to spend the remainder of his
life, nearly half a century, in the service of the Church
in Canada. Because of his noble character and many virtues,
his strong intellect, and his devotion to the public
weal, he will ever rank as one of the greatest figures
in Canadian history. His vicar-general was Henri de
Bernieres, who was also parish priest of Quebec and
superior of the seminary founded by the bishop in 1663.
The superior of the Jesuits was Father Le Mercier. The
saintly Marie de l'Incarnation was mother superior of
the Ursulines, and Mother Saint Bonaventure of the

It may be interesting to recall the names of some of the
notable citizens of Quebec at that time, other than the
high officials. There were Michel Filion and Pierre
Duquet, notaries; Jean Madry, surgeon to the king's
majesty; Jean Le Mire, the future syndic des habitants;
Madame d'Ailleboust, widow of a former governor; Madame
Couillard, widow of Guillaume Couillard and daughter of
Louis Hebert, the first tiller of the soil; Madame de
Repentigny, widow of 'Admiral' de Repentigny, to use the
grandiloquent expression of old chroniclers; Nicolas
Marsollet, Louis Couillard de l'Espinay, Charles Roger
de Colombiers, Francois Bissot, Charles Amiot, Le Gardeur
de Repentigny, Dupont de Neuville, Pierre Denis de la
Ronde, all men of high standing. The chief merchants were
Charles Basire, Jacques Loyer de Latour, Claude Charron,
Jean Maheut, Eustache Lambert, Bertrand Chesnay de la
Garenne, Guillaume Feniou. Charles Aubert de la Chesnaye,
the stalwart Quebec trader of the day, was then in France.

In the neighbourhood of Quebec were a few settlements.
According to the census of the following year there were
452 persons on the Island of Orleans, 533 at the Cote
Beaupre, 185 at Beauport, 140 at Sillery, and 112 at
Charlesbourg and Notre-Dame-des-Anges on the St Charles

Three Rivers was a small port with a population of 455,
including that of the adjoining settlements. The governor
in charge of the local administration was Pierre Boucher,
already mentioned as a delegate to France in 1661. The
Jesuits had a residence there and a chapel which was the
only place of public worship, for the colonists had not
as yet the means to erect a parish church. In the vicinity
there were the beginnings of settlement at Cap-de-la-
Magdeleine, Batiscan, and Champlain. Among the important
families of Three Rivers were those of Godefroy, Hertel,
Le Neuf, Crevier, Boucher, Poulin, Volant, Lemaitre,
Rivard, and Ameau. Michel Le Neuf du Herisson was juge
royal, and Severin Ameau was notary and registrar of the

Montreal or Ville-Marie was scarcely more important than
Three Rivers. The population of the whole district numbered
only 625. A fort built by Maisonneuve and Ailleboust at
Pointe-a-Callieres; the house of the Sulpicians at the
foot of the present Saint-Sulpice Street; the Hotel-Dieu
on the other side of that street; the convent of the
Congregation sisters facing the Hotel-Dieu; a few houses
scattered along the road called 'de la Commune,' now
Saint-Paul Street; and on the rising ground towards the
Place d'Armes of later years a few more dwellings--these
constituted the Montreal of primitive days. On the top
of the hill called 'Coteau Saint-Louis' was erected an
intrenched mill--'Moulin du Coteau'--which could be used
as a redoubt to protect the inhabitants. The Sulpicians'
house, the Hotel-Dieu, the convent of the Congregation,
and the houses of the Place d'Armes and of 'la Commune'
were connected with the fort by footpaths. Before 1672
there were no streets laid out. The only place of public
worship was the Hotel-Dieu chapel, fifty feet in length
by thirty in width. The superior of the Sulpicians was
Abbe Souart. Mother Mace was superioress of the Hotel-Dieu,
but the mainstay of the institution was the well-known
Mademoiselle Mance, who, by the aid of Madame de Bullion's
benefactions, had founded it in 1643. The illustrious
Sister Marguerite Bourgeoys was at the head of the
Congregation, which owed its existence to her pious zeal
and devotion to the education of the young. Among the
'Montrealistes' of note the following should be specially
mentioned: Zacharie Dupuy, major of the island; Charles
d'Ailleboust, seigneurial judge; J. B. Migeon de Bransac,
fiscal attorney; Louis Artus Sailly, who had been for
some time juge royal; Benigne Basset, at once registrar
of the seigneurial court, notary, and surveyor; Charles
Le Moyne, king's treasurer, interpreter, soldier, settler,
who was later to be ennobled and receive the title of
Baron de Longueuil; Etienne Bouchard, surgeon; Pierre
Picote de Belestre, a valiant militia officer; Claude de
Robutel, Sieur de Saint-Andre; Jacques Leber, a merchant
who controlled almost the whole trade of Ville-Marie.

Altogether the white population of Canada, including the
settlers and labourers arriving during the summer of
1665, numbered only 3215. Yet the colony had been in
existence for fifty-seven years! It was certainly time
for a new effort on the part of the mother country to
infuse life into her feeble offspring. This was a task
calling for the earnest care and the most energetic
activity of Tracy, Courcelle, and Talon.

One of the first matters to receive their attention was
the reorganization of the Canadian administration. We
have seen that in 1663 the Sovereign Council had been
created, to consist of the high officials of the colony
and five councillors. At this time, September 1665, the
five councillors were Mathieu Damours, Le Gardeur de
Tilly, and three others who had been irregularly appointed
by Mezy, the preceding governor, to take the places of
three councillors whom he had arbitrarily dismissed--Rouer
de Villeray, Juchereau de la Ferte, and Ruette d'Auteuil.
The same governor had also dismissed Jean Bourdon, the
attorney-general, and had replaced him by Chartier de
Lotbiniere. These summary dismissals and appointments
had arisen out of a quarrel between the governor and the
bishop, in which the former appears to have been influenced
by petty motives. At any rate Mezy had been recalled by
the king; and Tracy, Courcelle, and Talon had been
instructed to try him for improper conduct in office.
But before their arrival at Quebec, Mezy had obeyed the
summons of another King than the king of France. He had
been taken ill in the spring of the year and had died on
May 6. Mezy being dead, it was wisely thought unnecessary
to recall unhappy memories of his errors and misdeeds.
Sufficient would be done if the grievances due to his
rashness were redressed. Accordingly the dismissed
officials were reinstated, and on September 23, 1665, a
solemn sitting of the Sovereign Council was held, at
which Tracy, Courcelle, Laval, and Talon were present,
together with the Sieur Le Barroys, general agent of the
West India Company, and the Sieurs de Villeray, de la
Ferte, d'Auteuil, de Tilly, Damours--all the councillors
in office before Mezy's dismissals--Jean Bourdon, the
attorney-general, and J. B. Peuvret, secretary of the
council. The letters patent of Courcelle and Talon as
well as the commission and credentials of the Sieur Le
Barroys were duly read and registered; the letters patent
of the Marquis de Tracy had been registered previously.
With these formalities the new administration of Canada
was inaugurated.

The next proceeding of the rulers of New France was to
prepare for a decisive blow against the daring Iroquois.
Tracy and the soldiers, as we have seen, had arrived in
June and three forts were in course of building on the
Richelieu river, or 'riviere des Iroquois,' so called
because for a long period it had been the most direct
highway leading from the villages of these bloody warriors
to the heart of the colony. During the summer and autumn
of 1665 the Carignan soldiers were kept busy with the
construction of these necessary defensive works. The
first fort was erected at the mouth of the river, under
the direction of Captain de Sorel; the second fifty miles
higher, under Captain de Chambly; and the third about
nine miles farther up, under Colonel de Salieres. The
first two retained the names of the officers in charge
of their construction, and the third received the name
of Sainte-Therese because it was finished on the day
dedicated to that saint. During the following year two
other forts were built--St John, a few miles distant from
Sainte-Therese, and Sainte-Anne, on an island at the head
of Lake Champlain. Both Tracy and Courcelle went to
inspect the work personally and encourage the garrisons.

In the meantime Talon was in no way idle. He had to
organize the means of conveying provisions, ammunition,
tools, and supplies of every description for the maintenance
of the troops and the furtherance of the work. Under his
supervision a flotilla of over fifty boats plied between
Quebec and the river Richelieu. It was also his business
to take care of the incoming soldiers and labourers and
to see that those who had contracted disease during their
journey across the ocean received proper nursing and
medical attendance.

From the moment of his arrival he had lost no opportunity
of acquiring information on the situation in the colony.
There is a curious anecdote that illustrates the manner
in which he sometimes contrived to gain knowledge by
concealing his identity. On the very day of his landing
he went alone to the Hotel-Dieu, and asking for the
superioress, introduced himself as the valet de chambre
of the intendant, pretending to be sent by his master to
assure the good ladies of the hospital of M. Talon's
kindly disposition and desire to bestow on them every
favour in his gift. One of the sisters present at the
interview--Mere de la Nativite, a very bright and clever
woman--was struck by the extreme distinction of manner
and speech of the so-called valet, and, with a meaning
glance at the superioress, told the visitor that unless
she was mistaken he was more than he pretended to be. On
his asking what could convey to her that impression, she
replied that by his bearing and language she could not
but feel that the intendant himself was honouring the
Hotel-Dieu with a visit. Talon could do no less than
confess that she was right, showing at the same time that
he appreciated the delicate compliment thus paid to him.
From that day he was a devoted and most generous friend
to the Hotel-Dieu of Quebec.

One of the first problems with which the intendant had
to deal in discharging the duties of his office was the
dualism of administrative authority. It has been mentioned
that Colbert had founded a new trading company, known as
the West India Company. This corporation had been granted
wide privileges over all the French possessions in America,
including feudal ownership and authority to administer
justice and levy war. The company was thus invested with
the right of appointing judicial officers, magistrates,
and sovereign councils, and of naming, subject to the
king's sanction governors and other functionaries; it
had full power to sell the land or make grants in feudal
tenure, to receive all seigneurial dues, to build forts,
raise troops, and equip war-ships. The company's charter
had been granted in 1664, and of course Canada, as well
as the other French colonies in the New World, was included
in its jurisdiction. The situation of this colony was
therefore very peculiar. In 1663 the king had cancelled
the charter of the One Hundred Associates and had taken
back the fief of Canada; but a year later he had granted
it again to a new company. At the same time he showed
clearly that he intended to keep the administration in
his own hands. Thus Canada seemed to have two masters.
In accordance with its charter, the company held the
ownership and government of the country de jure. But in
point of fact the king wielded the government, thus taking
back with one hand what he had given with the other. By
right the company controlled the administration of justice;
it could, and actually did, establish courts. But, in
fact, the king appointed the intendant supreme judge in
civil cases, and made the Sovereign Council a tribunal
of superior jurisdiction. By right, to the company belonged
the power of granting land and seigneuries. In fact, the
governor or the intendant, the king's officers, made the
grants at their pleasure. This strange situation, which
lasted ten years--until the West India Company's charter
was revoked in 1674--is often confusing to the student
of the period.

Talon saw at a glance the anomaly of the situation; but,
being a practical man, he was less displeased with the
falsity of the principle than apprehensive of the evil
that was likely to result. In a letter to Colbert, dated
October 4, 1665, he discussed the subject at length,
putting it in plain terms. If, when the grant was made,
it was the king's intention to benefit only the company--to
increase its profits and develop its trade--with no
ulterior consideration for the development of the colony,
then it would be well to leave to the company the sole
ownership of the country. But if His Majesty had thought
of making Canada one of the prosperous parts of his
kingdom, it was very doubtful whether he could attain
that end without keeping in his own hands the control of
lands and trade. The real aim of the West India Company,
as he had learned, was to enforce its commercial monopoly
to the utmost; and become the only trading medium between
the colony and the mother country. Such a policy could
have but one result; it would put an end to private
enterprise and discourage immigration.

In spite of the company's apparent overlordship, Talon
thought that, as the king's agent, he was bound to exercise
the powers appertaining to his office for the good of
the colony. By the end of the year 1665 he had planned
a new settlement in the vicinity of Quebec on lands
included in the limits of the seigneury of Notre-Dame-
des-Anges at Charlesbourg, which he had withdrawn from
the grant to the Jesuits, under the king's authority.
This was the occasion of some friction between the Jesuits
and the intendant. Talon gave the necessary orders for
the erection of about forty dwellings which should be
ready to receive new settlers during the following year.
These were to be grouped in three adjacent villages named
Bourg-Royal, Bourg-la-Reine, and Bourg-Talon. We shall
learn more of them in a following chapter.

Another enterprise of the intendant was numbering the
people. Under his personal supervision, during the winter
of 1666-67, a general census of the colony was taken--the
first Canadian census of which we have any record. The
count showed, as we have already said, a total population
of 3215 in Canada at that time--2034 males and 1181
females. The married people numbered 1109, and there were
528 families. Elderly people were but few in number, 95
only being from fifty-one to sixty years old, 43 from
sixty-one to seventy, 10 from seventy-one to eighty, and
4 from eighty-one to ninety. In regard to professions
and occupations, there were then in New France 3 notaries,
5 surgeons, 18 merchants, 4 bailiffs, 3 schoolmasters,
36 carpenters, 27 joiners, 30 tailors, 8 coopers, 5
bakers, 9 millers, 3 locksmiths. The census did not
include the king's troops, which formed a body of 1200
men. The clergy consisted of the bishop, 18 Priests and
aspirants to the priesthood, and 35 Jesuit fathers. There
were also 19 Ursulines, 23 Hospitalieres, and 4 Sisters
of the Congregation. The original record of this, the
first Canadian census, has been preserved and is without
question a most important historical document. It is
likewise full of living interest, for in it are recorded
the names of many families whose descendants are now to
be found all over Canada.



It was the special task of Tracy and Courcelle to rid
the colony of the Iroquois scourge. The Five Nations
[Footnote: The Iroquois league consisted of five tribes
or nations--the Mohawks, the Cayugas, the Senecas, the
Onondagas, and the Oneidas.] had heard with some disquietude
of the body of trained soldiers sent by the French king
to check their incursions and crush their confederacy.
At the beginning of December 1665, the Marquis de Tracy
received an embassy from the Onondagas. They desired to
enter into a peace negotiation, and one of the most noted
chiefs, Garakonthie, delivered on that occasion a long
and eloquent address to the viceroy. A treaty was signed
by them on behalf of their own and two of the other
tribes, the Senecas and the Oneidas. But meanwhile the
Oneidas did not cease from hostilities, and the Mohawks
also continued their bloody raids against the French
settlements. Courcelle therefore decided to march at once
against their villages beyond Lake Champlain, in what is
now New York state and to teach them a lesson. But he
did not know the nature of a winter expedition in this
northern climate. Leaving Quebec on January 9, he reached
Three Rivers on the 16th, and proceeded to Fort Saint-Louis
on the Richelieu, where he had fixed the rendezvous of
the troops. The cold was very severe, and many soldiers
were frozen at the outset. On January 29 the little band,
five or six hundred French and Canadians, left Fort
Saint-Louis, unfortunately without waiting for a party
of Algonquins who should have acted as scouts. It was a
distressing march. The soldiers had to walk through deep
snow, and the unfamiliar use of snowshoes was a great
trial to the Europeans. At night, no shelter! They had
to sleep in the open air, under the canopy of the sky
and the cold light of the glimmering stars. Having no
guides, Courcelle and his men lost their way in that
unknown country. After seventeen days of extreme toil
they found that, instead of reaching the Mohawk district,
they were near Corlaer in the New Netherlands, sixty
miles distant. The vanguard had a brush with two hundred
Iroquois, who slipped away after killing six French
soldiers and leaving four of their own number dead. The
governor could go no farther with his exhausted troops
and was forced to retrace his steps. The retreat was
worse than the forward march. The supply of provisions
failed, and to the suffering from cold was soon added
hunger. Many soldiers died of exposure and starvation.
In reading the account of the ill-fated expedition, one
is reminded of the disastrous retreat of Napoleon's army
in 1812 through the icy solitudes of Russia. By this sad
experience the military commanders of New France found
that they had something to learn of the art of making
war in North America, and must respect the peculiarities
of the climate and country. Nevertheless Courcelle's
winter expedition had made an impression on the minds of
the Iroquois and had even surprised the Dutch and the
English. The author of a narrative entitled Relation of
the March of the Governor of Canada into New York wrote:
'Surely so bold and hardy an attempt hath not happened
in any age.'

Apparently the Five Nations were somewhat uneasy, for in
March the Senecas sent ambassadors to the Marquis de
Tracy to ratify the treaty signed in December. In July
delegates came from the Oneida tribe; they presented a
letter written by the English authorities at Orange which
assured the viceroy that the Mohawks were well disposed
and wished for peace. A new treaty of ratification was
accordingly signed. But the lieutenant-general wanted
something more complete and decisive. He demanded of the
delegates a general treaty to include the whole of the
Five Nations, and stated that he would allow forty days
for all the Iroquois tribes to send their ambassadors to
Quebec. Moreover, he instructed Father Beschefer to go
to Orange with some of the Oneida delegates for the
purpose of meeting the ambassadors and escorting them to
Quebec. Unfortunately, a few days after the priest's
departure, news came that four Frenchmen on a hunting
expedition had been killed near Fort Sainte-Anne by a
party of Mohawks, and that three others had been taken
prisoners. One of the slain was a cousin of Tracy, and
one of the captives his nephew. Father Beschefer was at
once recalled and Captain de Sorel was ordered to march
with some two hundred Frenchmen and ninety Indians to
strike a blow at the raiders. Sorel lost no time and had
nearly reached the enemy's villages when he met Tracy's
nephew and the other prisoners under escort of an Iroquois
chief and three warriors, who were bound for Quebec to
make amends for the treacherous murder recently perpetrated
and to sue for peace. Under these circumstances Captain
de Sorel did not think it necessary to proceed farther,
and marched his men home again with the Iroquois and the
rescued prisoners. On August 31 a great meeting was held
at Quebec in the Jesuits' garden. The delegates of the
Five Nations were present, and speeches were made enlarging
on the desirability of peace. But it soon became apparent
that no peace could be lasting except after a successful
expedition against the Mohawks. Tracy, Courcelle, and
Talon held a consultation, and the intendant submitted
a well-prepared document in which he reviewed the reasons
for and against a continuance of the war. In Talon's mind
the arguments in favour of it had undoubtedly the greater
weight. Tracy and Courcelle concurred in this opinion.
Thirteen hundred men were drafted for an expedition--six
hundred regular soldiers, six hundred Canadians, and a
hundred Indians. All was soon ready, and on September
14, the day of the Exaltation of the Cross, Tracy and
Courcelle left Quebec, at the head of their troops. It
was a spectacle that did not fail to impress the Iroquois
chiefs detained in Quebec. One of them, deeply moved,
said to the viceroy: 'I see that we are lost, but you
will pay dearly for your victory; my nation will be
exterminated, but I tell you that many of your young men
will not return, for our young warriors will fight
desperately. I beg of you to save my wife and children.'
Many who witnessed that martial exit of Tracy and Courcelle
from the Chateau Saint-Louis, surrounded by a staff of
noble officers, must have realized that this was a
memorable day in the history of New France. At last a
crushing blow was to be struck at the ferocious foe who
for twenty-five years had been the curse and terror of
the wretched colony. What mighty cheers were shouted on
that day by the eager and enthusiastic spectators who
lined the streets of Quebec!

On September 28, the troops taking part in the expedition
were assembled at Fort Sainte-Anne. [Footnote: On isle
La Mothe at the northern end of Lake Champlain.] Charles
Le Moyne commanded the Montreal contingent, one hundred
and ten strong; the Quebec contingent marched under Le
Gardeur de Repentigny. Father Albanel and Father Raffeix,
Jesuit priests, the Abbe Dollier de Casson, a Sulpician,
and the Abbe Dubois, chaplain of the Carignan regiment,
accompanied the army. Three hundred light boats had been
launched for the crossing of Lakes Champlain and
Saint-Sacrement. Courcelle, always impetuous, was the
first to leave the fort; he led a vanguard of four hundred
men which included those from Montreal. The main body of
the army under Tracy set out on October 3. Captains
Chambly and Berthier were to follow four days later with
the rear-guard.

The journey by water was uneventful; but the portage
between the two lakes was hard and trying. Yet it was
nothing compared with the difficulties of the march beyond
Lake Saint-Sacrement. One hundred miles of forest,
mountains, rivers, and swamps lay between the troops and
the Iroquois villages. No roads existed, only narrow
footpaths interrupted by quagmires, bristling with stumps,
obstructed by the entanglement of fallen trees, or abruptly
cut by the foaming waters of swollen streams. Heavily
laden, with arms, provisions, and ammunition strapped on
their backs, French and Canadians slowly proceeded through
the great woods, whose autumnal glories were vanishing
fast under the influence of the chill winds of October.
Slipping over moist logs, sinking into unsuspected swamps,
climbing painfully over steep rocks, they went forward
with undaunted determination. At night they had to sleep
in the open on a bed of damp leaves. The crossing of
rivers was sometimes dangerous. Tracy, who unfortunately
had been seized with an attack of gout, was nearly drowned
in one rapid stream. A Swiss soldier had undertaken to
carry him across on his shoulders, but his strength
failed, and if a rock had not stood near, the viceroy's
career might have ended there. A Huron came to the rescue
and carried the helpless viceroy to the other side. The
sufferings of the army were increased by a scarcity of
food. The troops were famishing. Luckily they came upon
some chestnut-trees and stayed their hunger with the nuts.

At last, on October 15, the scouts reported that the
Mohawk settlements were near at hand. It was late in the
day, darkness was setting in, and a storm of wind and
rain was raging. But Tracy decided to push on. They
marched all night, and in the morning, emerging from the
woods, saw before them the first of the Mohawk towns or
villages. Without allowing a moment's pause, the viceroy
ordered an advance. The roll of the drums seemed to give
the troops new strength and ardour; French, Canadians,
and Indians ran forward to the assault. The Mohawks,
apprised of the coming attack, had determined beforehand
to make a stand and had sent their women and children to
another village. But, at the sight of the advancing army,
whose numbers appeared to them three times as great as
they really were, and at the sound of the drums, like
the voice of demons, they fled panic-stricken. The first
village was taken without striking a blow. The viceroy
immediately ordered a march against the second, which
was also found abandoned. Evidently the Iroquois were
terrified, for a third village was taken in the same way,
without a show of defence. It was thought that the
invaders' task was finished, when an Algonquin squaw,
once a captive of the Iroquois, informed Courcelle that
there were two other villages. The soldiers pushed forward,
and the fourth settlement of the ever-vanishing enemy
fell undefended into the hands of the French. The sun
was setting; the exertions of the day and of the night
before had been arduous, and it seemed impossible to go
farther. But the squaw, seizing a pistol and grasping
Courcelle's hand, said, 'Come on, I will show you the
straight path.' And she led the way to the town and fort
of Andaraque, the most important stronghold of the Mohawks.
It was surrounded with a triple palisade twenty feet high
and flanked by four bastions. Vessels of bark full of
water were distributed on the platforms behind the palisade
ready for use against fire. The Iroquois might have made
a desperate stand there, and such had been their intention.
But their courage failed them at the fearful beating of
the drums and the appearance of that mighty army, and
they sought safety in flight.

The victory was now complete, and the army could go to
rest after nearly twenty-four hours of continuous exertion.
Next morning the French were astonished at the sight of
Andaraque in the light of the rising sun. instead of a
collection of miserable wigwams, they saw a fine Indian
town, with wooden houses, some of them a hundred and
twenty feet long and with lodging for eight or nine
families. These houses were well supplied with provisions,
tools, and utensils. An immense quantity of Indian corn
and other necessaries was stored in Andaraque-'food enough
to feed Canada for ten years'--and in the surrounding
fields a plentiful crop was ready for harvest. All this
was to be destroyed; but first an impressive ceremony
had to be performed. The army was drawn up in battle
array. A French officer, Jean-Baptiste Dubois, commander
of the artillery, advanced, sword in hand, to the front,
and in the presence of Tracy and Courcelle, declared that
he was directed by M. Jean Talon, king's counsellor and
intendant of justice, police, and finance for New France,
to take possession of Andaraque, and of all the country
of the Mohawks, in the name of the king. A cross was
solemnly planted alongside a post bearing the king's coat
of arms. Mass was celebrated and the Te Deum sung. Then
the work of destruction began. The palisades, the dwellings,
the bastions, the stores of grain and provisions, except
what was needed by the invaders, the standing crops-all
were set on fire; and when night fell the glaring
illumination of that tremendous blaze told the savages
that at last New France had asserted her power, and that
the soldiers of the great king had come far enough through
forest and over mountain and stream to chastise in their
own country the bloodthirsty tribes who for a quarter of
a century had been the terror of the growing settlements
on the St Lawrence.

On their return march the troops suffered great hardships.
A storm on Lake Champlain upset two boats and eight men
were drowned. Tracy reached Quebec on November 5. The
expedition had lasted seven weeks, during which time he
had covered nine hundred miles. The news of his success
had been received with joy. Since the first days of
October the whole colony had been praying for victory.
As soon as the destruction of the Iroquois towns was
known, prayers were changed to thanksgiving. The Te Deum
was solemnly chanted, and on November 14 a mass was said
in the church of Notre-Dame-de-Quebec, followed by a
procession in gratiarum actionem. New France might well
rejoice. A great result had been attained. True it was
that the Mohawks, panic-stricken, had not been met and
crushed. in a set encounter. None the less they had had
their lesson. They had learned that distance and natural
impediments were no protection against the French. Their
towns were a heap of ashes, their fields were despoiled,
their country was ruined. The fruit of that expedition
was to be eighteen years of peace for New France. Eighteen
years of peace after twenty-five years of murderous
incursions! Was not that worth a Te Deum?

After his return Tracy ordered one of the Iroquois detained
at Quebec to be hanged as a penalty for his share in the
murder of the French hunters. He then directed three
other prisoners, the Flemish Batard [Footnote: A half-breed
Mohawk leader.] and two Oneida chiefs, to go and inform
their respective tribes that he would give them four
months to send hostages and make peace; otherwise he
would lead against them another expedition more calamitous
for their country than the first one. At length, in the
month of July of the following year, ambassadors of the
Iroquois nations arrived at Quebec with a number of
Iroquois families who were to remain as hostages in the
colony. The chiefs asked that missionaries be sent to
reside among their tribes. This petition was granted.
New France could now breathe freely. The hatchet was



Tracy had led a successful expedition against the Iroquois
and coerced them into a lasting peace. He had seen order
and harmony restored in the government of the colony.
His mission was over and he left Canada on August 28,
1667, Courcelle remaining as governor and Talon as
intendant. From that moment the latter, though second in
rank, became really the first official of New France, if
we consider his work in its relation to the future welfare
of the colony.

We have already seen something of his views for the
administration of New France. He would have it emancipated
from the jurisdiction of the West India Company; he tried
also to impress on the king and his minister the
advisability of augmenting the population in order to
develop the resources of the colony--in a word, he sought
to lay the foundations of a flourishing state. Undoubtedly
Colbert wished to help and strengthen New France, but he
seemed to think that Talon's aim was too ambitious. In
one of his letters the intendant had gone the length of
submitting a plan f or the acquisition of New Netherlands,
which had been conquered by the English in 1664. He
suggested that, in the negotiations for peace between
France, England, and Holland, Louis XIV might stipulate
for the restoration to Holland of its colony, and in the
meantime come to an understanding with the States-General
for its cession to France. Annexation to Canada would
follow. But Colbert thought that Talon was too bold. The
intendant had spoken of New France as likely to become
a great kingdom. In answer, the minister said that the
king saw many obstacles to the fulfilment of these
expectations. To create on the shores of the St Lawrence
an important state would require much emigration from
France, and it would not be wise to draw so many people
from the kingdom--to 'unpeople France for the purpose of
peopling Canada.' Moreover if too many colonists came to
Canada in one season, the area already under cultivation
would not produce enough to feed the increased population,
and great hardship would follow. Evidently Colbert did
not here display his usual insight. Talon never had in
mind the unpeopling of France. He meant simply that if
the home government would undertake to send out a few
hundred settlers every year, the result would be the
creation of a strong and prosperous nation on the shores
of the St Lawrence. The addition of five hundred immigrants
annually during the whole period of Louis XIV's reign
would have given Canada in 1700 a population of five
hundred thousand. It was thought that the mother country
could not spare so many; and yet the cost in men to France
of a single battle, the bloody victory of Senef in 1674,
was eight thousand French soldiers. The wars of Louis
XIV killed ten times more men than the systematic
colonization of Canada would have taken from the mother
country. The second objection raised by Colbert was no
better founded than the first. Talon did not ask for the
immigration of more colonists than the country could
feed. But he rightly thought that with peace assured the
colony could produce food enough for a very numerous
population, and that increase in production would speedily
follow increase in numbers.

It must not be supposed that Colbert was indifferent to
the development of New France. No other minister of the
French king did more for Canada. It was under his
administration that the strength which enabled the colony
so long to survive its subsequent trials was acquired.
But Colbert was entangled in the intricacies of European
politics. Obliged to co-operate in ventures which in his
heart he condemned, and which disturbed him in his work
of financial and administrative reform, he yielded
sometimes to the fear of weakening the trunk of the old
tree by encouraging the growth of the young shoots.

Talon had to give in. But he did so in such a way as to
gain his point in part. He wrote that he would speak no
more of the great establishment he had thought possible,
since the minister was of opinion that France had no
excess of population which could be used for the peopling
of Canada. At the same time he insisted on the necessity
of helping the colony, and assured Colbert that, could
he himself see Canada, he would be disposed to do his
utmost for it, knowing that a new country cannot make
its own way without being helped effectively at the
outset. Talon's tact and firmness of purpose had their
reward, for the next year Colbert gave ample proof that
he understood Canada's situation and requirements.

On the question of the West India Company also there was
some divergence of view between the minister and the
intendant. As we have seen in a preceding chapter, Talon
had expressed his apprehension of the evils likely to
spring from the wide privileges exercised by the company.
But this trading association was Colbert's creation. He
had contended that the failure of the One Hundred Associates
was due to inherent weakness. The new one was stronger
and could do better. Perhaps difficulties might arise in
the beginning on account of the inexperience and greed
of some of the company's agents, but with time the
situation would improve. It was not surprising that
Colbert should defend the company he had organized.
Nevertheless, on that point as on the other, Colbert
contrived to meet Talon half-way. The Indian trade, he
said, would be opened to the colonists, and for one year
the company would grant freedom of trade generally to
all the people of New France.

In connection with the rights of this company another
question, affecting the finances, was soon to arise. By
its charter the company was entitled to collect the
revenues of the colony; that is to say, the taxes levied
on the sale of beaver and moose skins. The tax on beaver
skins was twenty-five per cent, called le droit du quart;
the tax on moose skins was two sous per pound, le droit
du dixieme. There was also the revenue obtained from the
sale or farming out of the trading privileges at Tadoussac,
la traite de Tadoussac. All these formed what was called
le fonds du pays, the public fund, out of which were paid
the emoluments of the governor and the public officers,
the costs of the garrisons at Quebec, Montreal, and Three
Rivers, the grants to religious communities, and other
permanent yearly disbursements. The company had the right
to collect the taxes, but was obliged to pay the public

Writing to Colbert, Talon said he would have been greatly
pleased if, in addition to these rights, the king had
retained the fiscal powers of the crown. He declared that
the taxes were productive, yet the company's agent seemed
very reluctant to pay the public charges. Colbert, of
course, decided that the company, in accordance with its
charter, was entitled to enjoy the fiscal rights upon
condition of defraying annually the ordinary public
expenditure of the country, as the company which preceded
it had done. Immediately another point was raised. What
should be the amount of the public expenditure, or rather,
to what figure should the company be allowed to reduce
it? Talon maintained that the public charges defrayed by
the former company amounted to 48,950 livres. [Footnote:
The livre was equivalent to the later franc, about twenty
cents of modern Canadian currency.] The company's agent
contended that they amounted only to 29,200 livres and
that the sum of 48,950 livres was exorbitant, as it
exceeded by 4000 livres the highest sum ever received
from farming out the revenue. [Footnote: It was the
custom in New France to sell or farm out the revenues.
Instead of collecting direct the fur taxes and the proceeds
of the Tadoussac trade, the government granted the rights
to a corporation or a private individual in return for
a fixed sum annually.] To this the intendant replied by
submitting evidence that the rights were farmed out for
50,000 livres in 1660 and in 1663; moreover, the rights
were more valuable now, for with the conclusion of peace
trade would prosper. In the end Colbert decided that the
sum payable by the company should be 36,000 livres
annually. The ordinary revenue of New France was thus
fixed, and remained at that sum for many years.

It must not be supposed that this revenue was sufficient
to meet all the expenses connected with the defence and
development of the colony. There was an extraordinary
fund provided by the king's treasury and devoted to the
movement and maintenance of the troops, the payment of
certain special emoluments, the transport of new settlers,
horses, and sheep, the construction of forts, the purchase
and shipment of supplies. In 1665 this extraordinary
budget amounted to 358,000 livres.

Talon's energetic action on the question of the revenue
was inspired by his knowledge of the public needs. He
knew that many things requiring money had to be done. A
new country like Canada could not be opened up for
settlement without expense, and he thought that the
traders who reaped the benefit of their monopoly should
pay their due share of the outlay.

We have already seen that Talon had begun the establishment
of three villages in the vicinity of Quebec. Let us
briefly enumerate the principles which guided him in
erecting these settlements. First of all, in deference
to the king's instructions relative to concentration, he
contrived to plant the new villages as near as possible
to the capital, and evolved a plan which would group the
settlers about a central point and thus provide for their
mutual help and defence. In pursuance of this plan he
made all his Charlesbourg land grants triangular, narrow
at the head, wide at the base, so that the houses erected
at the head were near each other and formed a square in
the centre of the settlement. In this arrangement there
was originality and good sense. After more than two
centuries, Talon's idea remains stamped on the soil; and
the plans of the Charlesbourg villages as surveyed in
our own days show distinctly the form of settlement
adopted by the intendant.

Proper dwellings were made ready to receive the new-comers.
Then Talon proceeded with the establishment of settlers.
To his great joy some soldiers applied for grants. He
made point of having skilled workmen, some, if possible,
in each village--carpenters, shoemakers, masons, or other
artisans, whose services would be useful to all. He tried
also to induce habitants of earlier date to join the new
settlements, where their experience would be a guide and
their methods an object-lesson to beginners.

The grants were made on very generous terms, The soldiers
and habitants, on taking possession of their land, received
a substantial supply of food and the tools necessary for
their work. They were to be paid for clearing and tilling
the first two acres. In return each was bound by his deed
to clear and prepare for cultivation during the three or
four following years another two acres, which could
afterwards be allotted to an incoming settler. Talon
proposed also that they should be bound to military
service. For each new-comer the king assumed the total
expense of clearing two acres, erecting a house, preparing
and sowing the ground, and providing flour until a crop
was reaped--all on condition that the occupant should
clear and cultivate two additional acres within three or
four years, presumably for allotment to the next new-comer.

Such were the broad lines of Talon's colonization policy.
But to his mind it was not enough that he should make
regulations and issue orders; he would set up a model
farm himself and thus be an example in his own person.
He bought land in the neighbourhood of the St Charles
river and had the ground cleared at his own expense. He
erected thereon a large house, a barn, and other buildings;
and, in course of time, his fine property, comprising
cultivated fields, meadows, and gardens, and well stocked
with domestic animals, became a source of pride to him.

Under Talon's wise direction and encouragement, the
settlement of the country progressed rapidly. Now that
they could work in safety, the colonists set themselves
to the task of clearing new farms. In his Relation of
1668 Father Le Mercier wrote: 'It is fine to see new
settlements on each side of the St Lawrence for a distance
of eighty leagues... The fear of aggression no longer
prevents our farmers from encroaching on the forest and
harvesting all kinds of grain, which the soil here grows
as well as in France.' In the district of Montreal there
was great activity. It was during this period that the
lands of Longue-Pointe, of Pointe-aux-Trembles, and of
Lachine were first cultivated. At the same time, along
the river Richelieu, in the vicinity of Forts Chambly
and Sorel, officers and soldiers of the Carignan-Salieres
regiment were beginning to settle. 'These worthy gentlemen,'
wrote Mother Marie de l'Incarnation, 'are at work, with
the king's permission, establishing new French colonies.
They live on their farm produce, for they have oxen,
cows, and poultry.' A census taken in 1668 gave very
satisfactory figures. A year before there had been 11,448
acres under cultivation. That year there were 15,649,
and wheat production amounted to 130,979 bushels. Such
results were encouraging. What a change in three years!

One of the commodities most needed in the colony was
hemp, for making coarse cloth. Talon accordingly caused
several acres to be sown with hemp. The seed was gathered
and distributed among a number of farmers, on the
understanding that they would bring back an equal quantity
of seed next year. Then he took a very energetic step.
He seized all the thread in the shops and gave notice
that nobody could procure thread except in exchange for
hemp. In a word, he created a monopoly of thread to
promote the production of hemp; and the policy was
successful. In many other ways the intendant's activity
and zeal for the public good manifested themselves. He
favoured the development of the St Lawrence fisheries
and encouraged some of the colonists to devote their
labour to them. Cod-fishing was attempted with good
results. Shipbuilding was another industry of his
introduction. In 1666, always desirous of setting an
example, he built a small craft of one hundred and twenty
tons. Later, he had the gratification of informing Colbert
that a Canadian merchant was building a vessel for the
purpose of fishing in the lower St Lawrence. During the
following year six or seven ships were built at Quebec.
The Relation of 1667 states that Talon 'took pains to
find wood fit for shipbuilding, which has been begun by
the construction of a barge found very useful and of a
big ship ready to float.'

In building and causing ships to be built the intendant
had in view the extension of the colony's trade. One of
his schemes was to establish regular commercial intercourse
between Canada, the West Indies, and France. The ships
of La Rochelle, Dieppe, and Havre, after unloading at
Quebec, would carry Canadian products to the French West
Indies, where they would load cargoes of sugar for France.
The intendant, always ready to show the way, entered into
partnership with a merchant and shipped to the West Indies
salmon, eels, salt and dried cod, peas, staves, fish-oil,
planks, and small masts much needed in the islands. The
establishment of commercial relations between Canada and
the West Indies was an event of no small moment. During
the following years this trade proved important. In 1670
three ships built at Quebec were sent to the islands with
cargoes of fish, oil, peas, planks, barley, and flour.
In 1672 two ships made the same voyage; and in 1681
Talon's successor, the intendant Duchesneau, wrote to
the minister that every year since his arrival two vessels
at least (in one year four) had left Quebec for the West
Indies with Canadian products.

The intendant was a busy man. The scope of his activity
included the discovery and development of mines. There
had been reports of finding lead at Gaspe, and the West
India Company had made an unsuccessful search there. At
Baie Saint-Paul below Quebec iron ore was discovered,
and it was thought that copper and silver also would be
found at the same place. In 1667 Father Allouez returned
from the upper Ottawa, bringing fragments of copper which
he had detached from stones on the shores of Lake Huron.
Engineers sent by the intendant reported favourably of
the coal-mines in Cape Breton; the specimens tested were
deemed to be of very good quality. In this connection
may be mentioned a mysterious allusion in Talon's
correspondence to the existence of coal where none is
now to be found. In 1667 he wrote to Colbert that a
coal-mine had been discovered at the foot of the Quebec
rock. 'This coal,' he said, 'is good enough for the forge.
If the test is satisfactory, I shall see that our vessels
take loads of it to serve as ballast. It would be a great
help in our naval construction; we could then do without
the English coal.' Next year the intendant wrote again:
'The coal-mine opened at Quebec, which originated in the
cellar of a lower-town resident and is continued through
the cape under the Chateau Saint-Louis, could not be
worked, I fear, without imperilling the stability of the
chateau. However, I shall try to follow another direction;
for, notwithstanding the excellent mine at Cape Breton,
it would be a capital thing for the ships landing at
Quebec to find coal here.' Is there actually a coal-mine
at Quebec hidden in the depth of the rock which bears
now on its summit Dufferin Terrace and the Chateau
Frontenac? We have before us Talon's official report. He
asserts positively that coal was found there--coal which
was tested, which burned well in the forge. What has
become of the mine, and where is that coal? Nobody at
the present day has ever heard of a coal-mine at Quebec,
and the story seems incredible. But Talon's letter is
explicit. No satisfactory explanation has yet been
suggested, and we confess inability to offer one here.

While reviewing the great intendant's activities, we must
not fail to mention the brewing industry in which he took
the lead. In 1668 he erected a brewery near the river St
Charles, on the spot at the foot of the hill where stood
in later years the intendant's palace. He meant in this
way to help the grain-growers by taking part of their
surplus product, and also to do something to check the
increasing importation of spirits which caused so much
trouble and disorder. However questionable the efficacy
of beer in promoting temperance, Talon's object is worthy
of applause. Three years later the intendant wrote that
his brewery was capable of turning out two thousand
hogsheads of beer for exportation to the West Indies and
two thousand more for home consumption. To do this it
would require over twelve thousand bushels of grain
annually, and would be a great support to the farmers.
In the mean-time he had planted hops on his farm and was
raising good crops.

Talon's buoyant reports and his incessant entreaties for
a strong and active colonial policy could not fail to
enlist the sympathy of two such statesmen as Louis XIV
and Colbert. This is perhaps the only period in earlier
Canadian history during which the home government steadily
followed a wise and energetic policy of developing and
strengthening the colony. We have seen that Colbert
hesitated at first to encourage emigration, but he had
yielded somewhat before Talon's urgent representations,
and from 1665 to 1671 there was an uninterrupted influx
of Canadian settlers. It is recorded in a document written
by Talon himself that in 1665 the West India Company
brought to Canada for the king's account 429 men and 100
young women, and 184 men and 92 women in 1667. During
these seven years there were in all 1828 state-aided
immigrants to Canada. The young women were carefully
selected, and it was the king's wish that they should
marry promptly, in order that the greatest possible number
of new families should be founded. As a matter of fact,
the event was in accordance with the king's wish. In 1665
Mother Marie de l'Incarnation wrote that the hundred
girls arrived that year were nearly all provided with
husbands. In 1667 she wrote again: 'This pear ninety-two
girls came from France and they are already married to
soldiers and labourers.' In 1670 one hundred and fifty
girls arrived, and Talon wrote on November 10: 'All the
girls who came this year are married, except fifteen whom
I have placed in well-known families to await the time
when the soldiers who sought them for their wives are
established and able to maintain them.' It was indeed a
matrimonial period, and it is not surprising that marriage
was the order of the day. Every incentive to that end
was brought to bear. The intendant gave fifty livres in
household supplies and some provisions to each young
woman who contracted marriage. According to the king's
decree, each youth who married at or before the age of
twenty was entitled to a gift of twenty livres, called
'the king's gift.' The same decree imposed a penalty upon
all fathers who had not married their sons at twenty and
their daughters at sixteen. In the same spirit, it enacted
also that all Canadians having ten children living should
be entitled to a pension of three hundred livres annually;
four hundred livres was the reward for twelve. 'Marry
early' was the royal mandate. Colbert, writing to Talon
in 1668, says: 'I pray you to commend it to the
consideration of the whole people, that their prosperity,
their subsistence, and all that is dear to them, depend
on a general resolution, never to be departed from, to
marry youths at eighteen or nineteen years and girls at
fourteen or fifteen; since abundance can never come to
them except through the abundance of men.' And this was
not enough; Colbert went on: 'Those who may seem to have
absolutely renounced marriage should be made to bear
additional burdens, and be excluded from all honours; it
would be well even to add some mark of infamy.' The
unfortunate bachelor seems to have been treated somewhat
as a public malefactor. Talon issued an order forbidding
unmarried volontaires to hunt with the Indians or go into
the woods, if they did not marry fifteen days after the
arrival of the ships from France. And a case is recorded
of one Francois Lenoir, of Montreal, who was brought
before the judge because, being unmarried, he had gone
to trade with the Indians. He pleaded guilty, and pledged
himself to marry next year after the arrival of the ships,
or failing that, to give one hundred and fifty livres to
the church of Montreal and a like sum to the hospital.
He kept his money and married within the term.

The matrimonial zeal of Colbert and Talon did not slight
the noblemen and officers. Captain de la Mothe, marrying
and taking up his abode in the country, received sixteen
hundred livres. During the years 1665-68 six thousand
livres were expended to aid the marriage of young
gentlewomen without means, and six thousand to enable
four captains, three lieutenants, five ensigns, and a
few minor officers to settle and marry in the colony.

A word must be said as to the character of the young
women. Some writers have cast unfair aspersions upon the
girls sent out from France to marry in Canada. After a
serious study of the question, we are in a position to
state that these girls were most carefully selected. Some
of them were orphans reared in charitable institutions
under the king's protection; they were called les filles
du roi. The rest belonged to honest families, and their
parents, overburdened with children, were willing to send
them to a new country where they would be well provided
for. In 1670 Colbert wrote to the archbishop of Rouen:
'As in the parishes about Rouen fifty or sixty girls
might be found who would be very glad to go to Canada to
be married, I beg you to employ your credit and authority
with the cures of thirty or forty of these parishes, to
try to find in each of them one or two girls disposed to
go voluntarily for the sake of settlement in life.' Such
was the quality of the female emigration to Canada. The
girls were drawn from reputable institutions, or from
good peasant families, under the auspices of the cures.
During their journey to Canada they were under the care
and direction of persons highly respected for their
virtues and piety, such as Madame Bourdon, widow of the
late attorney-general of New France, or Mademoiselle
Etienne, who was appointed governess of the girls leaving
for Canada by the directors of the general hospital of
Paris. When young women arrived in Canada, they were
either immediately married or placed for a time in good

The paternal policy of the minister and the intendant
was favoured by the disbanding of the Carignan companies.
In 1668 the regiment was recalled to France; four companies
only were left in Canada to garrison the forts. The
officers and soldiers of the companies withdrawn were
entreated to remain as settlers, and about four hundred
decided to make their home in Canada. They were generously
subsidized. Each soldier electing to settle in the colony
received one hundred livres, or fifty livres with provisions
for one year, at his choice. Each sergeant received one
hundred and fifty livres, or one hundred livres with one
year's provisions. The officers also were given liberal
endowments. Among them were: Captains de Contrecoeur, de
Saint-Ours, de Sorel, Dugue de Boisbriant, Lieutenants
Gaultier de Varennes and Margane de la Valtrie; Ensigns
Paul Dupuis, Becard de Grandville, Pierre Monet de Moras,
Francois Jarret de Vercheres.

The strenuous efforts of Colbert and Talon could not but
give a great impulse to population. The increase was
noticeable. In November 1671 Talon wrote:

His Majesty will see by the extracts of the registers
of baptisms that the number of children this year is
six or seven hundred; and in the coming years we may
hope for a substantial increase. There is some reason
to believe that, without any further female immigration,
the country will see more than one hundred marriages
next year. I consider it unnecessary to send girls
next year; the better to give the habitants a chance
to marry their own girls to soldiers desirous of
settling. Neither will it be necessary to send young
ladies, as we received last year fifteen, instead of
the four who were needed for wives of officers and

In a former chapter the population of Canada in 1665 was
given as 3215 souls, and the number of families 533. In
1668 the number of families was 1139 and the population
6282. In three years the population had nearly doubled
and the number of families had more than doubled.

Other statistics may fittingly be given here. During the
period under consideration, the West India Company sent
to Canada for the king's account many horses and sheep.
These were badly needed in the colony. Since its first
settlement there had been seen in New France only a single
horse, one which had been presented by the Company of
One Hundred Associates to M. de Montmagny, the governor
who succeeded Champlain. But from 1665 to 1668 forty-one
mares and stallions and eighty sheep were brought from
France. Domestic animals continued to be introduced until
1672. Fourteen horses and fifty sheep were sent in 1669,
thirteen horses in 1670, the same number of horses and
a few asses in 1671. So that during these seven years
Canada received from France about eighty horses. Twenty
years afterwards, in 1692, there were four hundred horses
in the colony. In 1698 there were six hundred and
eighty-four; and in 1709 the number had so increased that
the intendant Raudot issued an ordinance to restrain the
multiplication of these animals.

From what has been said it will be seen that this period
of Canadian history was one of great progress. What
Colbert was to France Talon was to New France. While the
great minister, in the full light of European publicity,
was gaining fame as a financial reformer and the reviver
of trade and industry, the sagacious and painstaking
intendant in his remote corner of the globe was laying
the foundations of an economic and political system, and
opening to the young country the road of commercial,
industrial, and maritime progress. Talon was a colonial
Colbert. What the latter did in a wide sphere and with
ample means, the former was trying to do on a small scale
and with limited resources. Both have deserved a place
of honour in Canadian annals.



In the preceding chapter a sketch has been given of
Talon's endeavours to promote colonization, agriculture,
shipbuilding, and commerce, to increase the population,
and to foster generally the prosperity of New France.
Let us now see how he provided for the good administration
and internal order of the colony.

In 1666 he had prepared and submitted to Tracy and
Courcelle a series of rules and enactments relating to
various important matters, one of which was the
administration of justice. Talon wished to simplify the
procedure; to make justice speedy, accessible to all,
and inexpensive. In each parish he proposed to establish
judges having the power to hear and decide in the first
instance all civil cases involving not more than ten
livres. In addition, there would be four judges at Quebec,
and appeals might be taken before three of them from all
decisions given by the local judges--'unless,' Talon
added, 'it be thought more advisable to maintain the
Sieur Chartier in his charge of lieutenant-general, to
which he has been appointed by the West India Company.'
It was decided that M. Chartier (de Lotbiniere) should
be so maintained, and he was duly confirmed as lieutenant
civil et criminel on January 10, 1667. He had jurisdiction
in the first instance over all cases civil and criminal
in the Quebec district and in appeal from the judgments
of the local or seigneurial judges. The Sovereign Council
acted as a court of appeal in the last resort, except in
cases where the parties made a supreme appeal to the
King's Council of State in France. In 1669 Talon wrote
a memorandum in which we find these words: 'Justice is
administered in the first instance by judges in the
seigneuries; then by a lieutenant civil and criminal
appointed by the company in each of the jurisdictions of
Quebec and Three Rivers; and above all by the Sovereign
Council, which in the last instance decides all cases
where an appeal lies.' At Montreal there was a lieutenant
civil and criminal appointed by the Sulpicians, seigneurs
of the island. In 1667 there were seigneurial judges in
the seigneuries of Beaupre, Beauport, Notre-Dame-des-Anges,

It is interesting to find that Talon attempted to establish
a method of settlement out of court, the principle of
which was accepted by the legislature of the province of
Quebec more than two centuries later. What was called
the amiable composition of the French intendant may be
regarded as a first edition of the law passed at Quebec
in 1899, which provides for conciliation or arbitration
proceedings before a lawsuit is begun. [Footnote: 62
Vict. cap. 54, p. 271.] Talon also introduced an equitable
system of land registration.

In the proceedings of the Sovereign Council, of which
Talon at this time was the inspiring mind, we may see
reflected the condition and internal life of the colony.
Decrees for the regulation of trade were frequent.
Commercial freedom was unknown. Under the administration
of the governor Avaugour (1661-63) a tariff of prices
had been published, which the merchants were compelled
to observe. Again, in 1664 the council had decided that
the merchants might charge fifty-five per cent above cost
price on dry goods, one hundred per cent on the more
expensive wines and spirits, and one hundred and twenty
per cent on the cheaper, the cost price in France being
determined by the invoice-bills. In 1666 a new tariff
was enacted by the council, in which the price of one
hogshead of Bordeaux wine was fixed at eighty livres,
and that of Brazil tobacco at forty sous a pound. In 1667
again changes took place: on dry goods the merchants were
allowed seventy per cent above cost; on spirits and wines,
one hundred or one hundred and twenty per cent as in
1664. The merchants did not accept these rulings without
protest. In 1664 the most important Quebec trader, Charles
Aubert de la Chesnaye, was prosecuted for contravention,
and made this bold declaration in favour of commercial
freedom: 'I have always deemed that I had a right to the
free disposal of my own, especially when I consider that
I spend in the colony what I earn therein.' Prosecutions
for violating the law were frequent. During the month of
June 1667, at a sitting of the Sovereign Council, Tracy,
Courcelle, Talon, and Laval being present, the attorney-
general Bourdon made out a case against Jacques de la
Mothe, a merchant, for having sold wines and tobacco at
higher prices than those of the tariff. The defendant
acknowledged that he had sold his wine at one hundred
livres and his tobacco at sixty sous, but alleged that
his wine was the best Bordeaux, that his hogsheads had
a capacity of fully one hundred and twenty pots, that
care, risk, and leakage should be taken into consideration,
that two hogsheads had been spoiled, and that the price
of those remaining should be higher to compensate him
for their loss. As to the tobacco, it was of the Maragnan
quality, and he had always deemed it impossible to sell
it for less than sixty sous. After hearing the case, the
council decided that two of its members, Messieurs Damours
and de la Tesserie, should make an inspection at La
Mothe's store, in order to taste his wine and tobacco
and gauge his hogsheads. Away they went; and afterwards
they made their report. Finally La Mothe was condemned
to a fine of twenty-two livres, payable to the Hotel-Dieu.
It may be remarked here that very often the fines had a
similar destination; in that way justice helped charity.

The magistrates were vigilant, but the merchants were
cunning and often succeeded in evading the tariff. In
July 1667, the habitants' syndic appeared before the
council to complain of the various devices resorted to
by merchants to extort higher prices from the settlers
than were allowed by law. So the council made a ruling
that all merchandise should be stamped, in the presence
of the syndic, according to the prices of each kind and
quality, and ordered samples duly stamped in this way to
be delivered to commissioners specially appointed for
the purpose. It will be seen that these regulations were
minute and severe. Trade was thus submitted to stern
restrictions which would seem strange and unbearable in
these days of freedom. What an outcry there would be if
parliament should attempt now to dictate to our merchants
the selling price of their merchandise! But in the
seventeenth century such a thing was common enough. It
was a time of extreme official interference in private
affairs and transactions.

We have mentioned the syndic of the inhabitants--syndic
des habitants. A word about this officer will be in place
here. He was the spokesman of the community when complaints
had to be made or petitions presented to the governor or
the Sovereign Council. At that time in Canada there was
no municipal government. True, an unlucky experiment had
been made in 1663, under the governor Mezy, when a mayor
and two aldermen were elected at Quebec. But their
enjoyment of office was of brief duration; in a few weeks
the election was declared void, It was then determined
to nominate a syndic to represent the inhabitants, and
on August 3 Claude Charron, a merchant, was elected to
the office; but, as the habitants often had difficulties
to settle with members of the commercial class, objection
was taken to him on the ground that he was a tradesman,
and he retired. On September 17 a new election took place,
and Jean Le Mire, a carpenter, was elected. Later on,
during the troubles of the Mezy regime, the office seems
to have been practically abolished; but when the government
was reorganized, it was thought advisable to revive it.
The council decreed another election, and on March 20,
1667, Jean Le Mire was again chosen as syndic. Le Mire
continued to hold the office for many years.

To the colony of that day the Sovereign Council was,
broadly speaking, what the legislatures, the executives,
the courts of justice, and the various commissions--all
combined--are to modern Canada. But, as we have seen, it
had arbitrary powers that these modern bodies are not
permitted to exercise. Its long arm reached into every
concern of the inhabitants. In 1667, for example, the
habitants asked for a regulation to fix the millers'
fee--the amount of the toll to which they would be entitled
for grinding the grain. The owners of the flour-mills
represented that the construction, repair, and maintenance
of their mills were two or three times more costly in
Canada than in France, and that they should have a
proportionate fee; still, they would be willing to accept
the bare remuneration usually allowed in the kingdom.
The toll was fixed at one-fourteenth of the grain. Highways
were also under the care of the council. When the residents
of a locality presented a petition for opening a road,
the council named two of its members to make an inspection
and report. On receipt of the report, an order would be
issued for opening a road along certain lines and of a
specified width (it was often eighteen feet), and for
pulling stumps and filling up hollows. There was an
official called the grand-voyer, or general overseer of
roads. The office had been established in 1657, when Rene
Robineau de Becancourt was appointed grand-voyer by the
Company of One Hundred Associates. But in the wretched
state of the colony at that time M. de Becancourt had
not much work to do. In later years, however, the usefulness
of a grand-voyer had become more apparent, and Becancourt
asked for a confirmation of his appointment. On the
suggestion of Talon, the council reinstated him and
ordered that his commission be registered. During the
whole French regime there were but five general overseers
of roads or grands-voyers: Rene Robineau de Becancourt
(1657-99); Pierre Robineau de Becancourt (1699-1729); E.
Lanoullier de Boisclerc (1731-51); M. de la Gorgendiere
(1751-59); M. de Lino (1759-60).

Guardianship of public morality and the maintenance of
public order were the chief cares of the council. It was
ever intent on the suppression of vice. On August 20,
1667, in the presence of Tracy, Courcelle, Talon, and
Laval, the attorney-general submitted information of
scandalous conduct on the part of some women and girls,
and represented that a severe punishment would be a
wholesome warning to all evil-doers; he also suggested
that the wife of Sebastien Langelier, being one of the
most disorderly, should be singled out for an exemplary
penalty. A councillor was immediately appointed to
investigate the case. What was done in this particular
instance is not recorded, but there is evidence to show
that licentious conduct was often severely dealt with.
Crimes and misdemeanours were ruthlessly pursued. For a
theft committed at night in the Hotel-Dieu garden, the
intendant condemned a man to be marked with the
fleur-de-lis, to be exposed for four hours in the pillory,
and to serve three years in the galleys. Another culprit
convicted of larceny was sentenced to be publicly whipped
and to serve three years in the galleys. Both these
prisoners escaped and returned to their former practices.
They were recaptured and sentenced, the first to be
hanged, the second to be whipped, marked with the
fleur-de-lis, and kept in irons until further order. Rape
in the colony was unhappily frequent. A man convicted of
this crime was condemned to death and executed two days
later. Another was whipped till the blood flowed and
condemned to serve nine years in the galleys.

Let us now turn to activities of another order. One of
the most important ordinances enacted by the Sovereign
Council under Talon's direction was that which concerned
the importation of spirits and the establishment in the
colony of the brewing industry. It was stated in this
decree that the great quantity of brandies and wines
imported from France was a cause of debauchery. Many were
diverted from productive work, their health was ruined,
they were induced to squander their money, and prevented
from buying necessaries and supplies useful for the
development of the colony. Talon, as we have read in
another chapter, thought that one of the best means of
combating the immoderate use of spirits was the setting
up of breweries; at the same time he intended that this
industry should help agriculture. The Sovereign Council
entered into these views and enacted that as soon as
breweries should be in operation in Canada all importation
of wines and spirits should be prohibited, except by
special permission and subject to a tax of five hundred
livres, payable one-third to the seigneurs of the country,
one-third to the Hotel-Dieu, and one-third to the person
who had set up the first brewery after the date of the
enactment. Under no circumstances should the yearly
importation exceed eight hundred hogsheads of wine and
four hundred of brandy. When this amount had been reached,
no further licences to import would be issued. The council
begged Talon to take the necessary steps for the
construction and equipment of one or more breweries. The
owners of these were to have, during ten years, the
exclusive privilege of brewing for trading purposes. The
price of beer was fixed beforehand at twenty livres per
hogshead and six sous per pot so long as barley was priced
at three livres per bushel or less; if the price of barley
went higher, the price of beer should be raised

In 1667 the Sovereign Council--inspired by Talon--had to
discuss a very important question. This was the formation
of a company of Canadians to secure the exclusive privilege
of trading. By its charter, the West India Company had
been granted the commercial monopoly. Under pressure from
Talon it had somewhat abated its pretensions and had
allowed freedom of trade for a time. But again it was
urging its rights. The council asked the intendant to
support with his influence at court the plan for a Canadian
company, which he did. Colbert did not say no; neither
did he seem in a hurry to grant the request. In 1668 the
council sent the minister a letter praying for freedom
of trade. This year the company had enforced its monopoly
and the people had suffered from the lack of necessaries,
which could not be found in the company's stores; moreover,
prices were exceedingly high. Such a state of things was
detrimental to the colony. The council begged that, if
Colbert were not disposed to grant freedom of trade, he
would favourably consider the scheme for a trading company
composed of Canadians, which had been submitted to him
the year before. We shall see, later on, what came of
this agitation against the West India Company.

The good understanding between the intendant and the
Sovereign Council was absolute. The council had shown
unequivocal confidence in Talon's ability and respect
for his person and authority. A few days before the
Marquis de Tracy had left the colony the council had
ordered that all petitions to enter lawsuits should be
presented to the intendant, who should assign them to
the council or to the lieutenant civil and criminal, or
try them himself, at his discretion. This was treating
Talon as the supreme magistrate and acknowledging him as
the dispenser of justice. M. de Courcelle, who was
beginning to feel some uneasiness at Talon's great
authority and prestige, refused to sign the proceedings
of that day, inscribing these lines in the council's
register: 'This decree being against the governor's
authority and the public good, I did not wish to sign
it.' At the beginning of the following year Talon, whose
attention perhaps had not been called to Courcelle's
written protest, requested the adoption of a similar
decree; and the council did not hesitate to confirm its
previous decision, notwithstanding the governor's former
opposition, which he reiterated in the same terms.
Courcelle was certainly mistaken in supposing that the
council's decision was an encroachment on his authority.
The superior jurisdiction in judicial matters belonged
to the intendant. Under his commission he had the right
to 'judge alone and with full jurisdiction in civil
matters,' to 'hear all cases of crimes and misdemeanours,
abuse and malversation, by whomsoever committed,' to
'proceed against all persons guilty of any crime, whatever
might be their quality or condition, to pursue the
proceedings until final completion, judgment and execution
thereof.' Nevertheless, in practice and with due regard
to the good administration of justice, the council's
decree went perhaps too far. The question remained in
abeyance and was not settled until four years afterwards,
at the end of Talon's second term in Canada. He had
written to Colbert on the subject stating that he would
be glad to be discharged of the judicial responsibility,
and to see the question of initiating lawsuits referred
to the Sovereign Council.

As a matter of fact [he said], receiving the petitions
for entering lawsuits does not mean retaining them
before myself. I have not judged twenty cases, civil
or criminal, since I came here, having always tried
as much as I could to conciliate the opposing parties.
The reason why I speak now of this matter is that very
often, for twenty or thirty livres of principal, a
plaintiff goes before the judge of first instance--which
diverts the parties from the proper cultivation of
their farms--and later on, by way of an appeal, before
the Sovereign Council which likes to hear and judge

Colbert did not deem the decision of the council advisable.

It is contrary [he wrote] to the order of justice, in
virtue of which, leaving in their own sphere the
superior judges, the judges of first instance are
empowered to hear all cases within their jurisdiction,
and their judgments can be appealed from to the
Sovereign Council. Moreover it would be a burden for
the king's subjects living far from Quebec to go there
unnecessarily in order to ascertain before what tribunal
they should be heard.

We must now speak of a most important matter--the brandy
traffic. The sale of intoxicating liquor to the Indians
had always been prohibited in the colony. In 1657 a decree
of the King's State Council had ratified and renewed this
prohibition under pain of corporal punishment. Yet,
notwithstanding the decree, greedy traders broke the law
and, for the purpose of getting furs at a low price,
supplied the Indians with eau-de-feu, or firewater, which
made them like wild beasts. The most frightful disorders
were prevalent, the most heinous crimes committed, and
scandalous demoralization followed. In 1660 the evil was
so great that Mgr de Laval, exercising his pastoral
functions, decreed excommunication against all those
pursuing the brandy traffic in defiance of ordinances.
This might have stopped the progress of the evil had not
the governor Avaugour opened the door to renewed disorder
two years later by a most unfortunate policy. Thereupon
Laval crossed the ocean to France, obtained the governor's
recall, and succeeded, though with some difficulty, in
maintaining the former prohibition. In 1663 the Sovereign
Council enacted an ordinance strictly forbidding the
selling or giving of brandy to Indians directly or
indirectly, for any reason or pretence whatsoever. The
penalty for the offence was a fine of three hundred
livres, payable one-third to the informers, one-third to
the Hotel-Dieu, and one-third to the public treasury.
And for a second offence the punishment was whipping or
banishment. In 1667, after the Sovereign Council had been
finally reorganized, the prohibition was renewed, on a
motion of attorney-general Bourdon, under the same
penalties as before, and it devolved many times upon the
council to condemn transgressors of this ordinance to
fines, imprisonment, or corporal punishment. Talon was
present and concurred in these condemnations. But gradually
his mind changed. He was becoming daily more impressed
with the material benefits of the brandy traffic and less
convinced of its moral danger. He was besides displeased
with the bishop's excommunication. In his view it was an
encroachment of the spiritual upon the civil power. Under
the influence of these feelings he came to consider
prohibition of the liquor traffic as a mistake, damaging
to the trade and progress of the colony and to French
influence over the Indian tribes. These were the arguments
put forward by the supporters of the traffic. According
to them, to refuse brandy to the Indians was to let the
English monopolize the profitable fur trade, and therefore
to check the development of New France. The fur trade
provided an abundance of beaver skins, which formed a
most convenient medium of exchange. The possession of
these gave an impetus to trade, and brought to Canada a
number of merchants and others who were consumers of
natural products and money spenders. Moreover, in Canada
furs were the main article of exportation. Their abundance
swelled the public revenue and increased the number of
ships employed in the Canadian trade. And last, to use
an argument of a higher order, the brandy traffic, in
fostering trade with the Indian tribes, kept them in the
bonds of an alliance and strengthened the political
situation of France in North America.

The above fairly, we think, represents the substance of
the plea made by the supporters of the liquor traffic.
Such indeed were the arguments used by the traders,
finally accepted by Talon, developed in after years by
Frontenac, approved by Colbert on many occasions; such
was the political and commercial wisdom of those who
thought mainly of the material progress of New France.
To those arguments Laval, the clergy, and many enlightened
persons interested in the public welfare had a double
answer. First, there was at stake a question of principle
important enough to be the sole ground of a decision.
Was it right, for the sake of a material benefit, to
outrage natural and Christian morality? Was it morally
lawful, for the purpose of loading with furs the Quebec
stores and the Rochelle ships, to instil into the Indian
veins the accursed poison which inflamed them to theft,
rape, incest, murder, suicide--all the frightful frenzy
of bestial passion. As it was practised, the liquor
traffic could have no other result. A powerful consensus
of evidence established this truth above all discussion.
For the Indians brandy was then, as it is now, a murderous
poison. It is for this reason that at the present day
the government of Canada prohibits absolutely the sale
of intoxicating liquor in the territories where the
wretched remnants of the aborigines are gathered. The
strictness of the modern laws is a striking vindication
of Laval and those who stood by him.

Moreover the prohibition of the brandy traffic was not
as detrimental to the material development of the colony
as was contended. It was possible to trade with the
Outaouais, the Algonquins, the Iroquois, without the
allurement of brandy. The Indians themselves acknowledged
that strong liquor ruined them. The Abbe Dollier de
Casson, superior of the Montreal Sulpicians, was perfectly
right when he made the following statement:

We should have had all the Iroquois, if they had not
seen that there is as much disorder here as in their
country, and that we are even worse than the heretics.
The Indian drunkard does not resist the drinking craze
when brandy is at hand. But afterwards, when he sees
himself naked and disarmed, his nose gnawed, his body
maimed and bruised, he becomes mad with rage against
those who caused him to fall into such a state.

Some years later the governor Denonville answered those
who enlarged on the danger of throwing the Indians on
the friendship of the Dutch and English if they were
refused brandy. 'Those who maintain,' he said, 'that if
we refuse liquor to the Indians they will go to the
English, are not trustworthy, for the Indians are not
anxious to drink when they do not see the liquor; and
the most sensible of them wish that brandy had never
existed, because they ruin themselves in giving away
their furs and even their clothes for drink: Denonville's
opinion was the more justified in that at one time the
New England authorities proposed to the French a joint
prohibition of the sale of brandy to Indians, and actually
passed an ordinance to that effect.

There were many other articles besides brandy that were
needed by the Indians, and for which they were obliged
to exchange their furs. But even had the prohibition
caused a decrease in the fur trade, would the evil have
been so great? Fewer colonists would have been diverted
from agriculture. As it was, the exodus from the settlements
of bushrangers in search of furs was a source of weakness,
and the flower of Canadian youth disappeared every year
in the wilderness. Had this drain of national vitality
been avoided, the settlement of Canada would have been
more rapid. Even from the material point of view it can
be maintained that the opponents of the brandy traffic
understood better than its supporters the true interests
of New France.

For a long while this important question divided and
agitated the Canadian people. The religious authorities,
knowing the evil and crimes that resulted from the sale
of intoxicating liquor to the Indians, made strenuous
efforts to secure the most severe restriction if not the
prohibition of the deadly traffic. They spoke in the name
of public morality and national honour, of humanity and
divine love. The civil authorities, more interested in
the financial and political advantages than in the question
of principle, favoured toleration and even authorization
of the trade. Hence the conflicts and misunderstandings
which have enlivened, or rather saddened, the pages of
Canadian history.

It is to be regretted that the intendant Talon sided with
the supporters of free traffic in brandy. We have said
that at first he wavered. The rulings of the Sovereign
Council in 1667 seem to show it. But his earnest desire
for the prosperity of the colony--the development of her
trade, the increase of her population, the improvement
of her finances--his ambition for the economic progress
of New France, misled him and perverted his judgment.
This is the only excuse that can be offered for the
greatest error of his life. For he must be held responsible
for the ordinance passed by the Sovereign Council on
November 10, 1668. This ordinance, after setting forth
that in order to protect the Indians against the curse
of drunkenness it was better to have recourse to freedom
than to leave them a prey to the wily devices of
unscrupulous men, enacted that thereafter, with the king's
permission, all the residents of New France might sell
and deliver intoxicating liquor to the Indians willing
to trade with them. The gate was opened. It was in vain
that the ordinance went on to forbid the Indians to get
drunk under a penalty of two beavers and exposure in the
pillory. A fearful punishment indeed!

Talon's good faith was undeniable. On this occasion he
doubtless thought that he was still serving the cause of
public welfare. But, without questioning his intentions,
we cannot but admit that his life's record contains pages
more admirable than this one.



In the instructions which Talon had received from Louis
XIV on his departure from France in 1665 it was stated
that Mgr de Laval and the Jesuits exercised too strong
an authority and that the superiority of the civil power
should be cautiously asserted. The intendant was quite
ready to follow these directions. He had been reared in
the principles of the old parliamentarian school and was
thoroughly imbued with Gallican ideas. But at the same
time he was a sincere believer and faithful in the
performance of his religious duties. It is not surprising,
therefore, that he should be found ever earnest in his
endeavours to promote the extension of Christianity and
ready to protect the missionaries, as well as the charitable
and educational institutions, in their work. Neither is
it surprising that he should sometimes seem jealous of
ecclesiastical influence in matters where Church and
State were both concerned.

The following incident will show to what lengths he was
prepared to go when he thought that there was an
encroachment of the spiritual on the civil power. The
winter of 1667 was very gay at Quebec. Peace had been
secured, confidence in the future of the colony was
restored, and there manifested itself a general disposition
to indulge in social festivities. Indeed the first ball
ever given in Canada took place in February of this year
at M. Chartier de Lotbiniere's house, as is recorded in
the Journal des Jesuites. Now there was at this time in
Quebec a religious association for women called the
Association of the Holy Family. Laval himself had framed
their rules, one of which directed the members to abstain
from frivolous entertainments and to lead a pious and
edifying life amidst the distractions and dissipations
of the world. Seeing that many members of the association
had departed from the rules by taking part in these
pleasures, Laval threatened to suspend their meetings.
Naturally a strong impression was made on the public
mind. Talon resented what he deemed an undue interference.
He laid a complaint against the bishop's action before
the Sovereign Council and asked that two of their number
be directed to report on the social entertainments held
during the last carnival, in order to show that nothing
improper had taken place. When the report was made, it
declared that nothing deserving of condemnation had
occurred in these festivities, and that there was no
occasion to censure them. Evidently, if there was
encroachment upon this occasion, it was encroachment of

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