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The Great Intendant by Thomas Chapais

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the civil on the spiritual power. The special rules of
a pious association in no way affected the safety of the
state or public order. If a number of ladies wished to
join its ranks and accept its discipline in order to
follow the path of Christian perfection and lead a more
exemplary life in the world, they should be free to do
so, and their directors should be free to remonstrate
with them if they were not faithful to their pledge. In
this incident the intendant was not at his best. He seems
to have sought an occasion of checking the bishop's
authority, and the occasion was not well chosen. It is
likely that M. de Tracy, still in the colony at the time,
intervened in the interests of peace, for the entry in
regard to Talon's complaint was erased from the register
of the Sovereign Council.

In a state paper by Talon for Colbert's information, in
1669, the intendant's Gallican views reveal themselves
fully. He complains of the excessive zeal of the bishop
and clergy which led them to interfere in matters of
police, thus trespassing upon the province of the civil
magistrate. He went on to say that too strict a moral
discipline of confessors and spiritual directors put a
constraint on consciences, and that, in order to
counterbalance the excessive claims to obedience of the
clergy then in charge, other priests should be sent to
Canada with full powers for administration of the
sacraments. It is more than probable that in writing
these lines Talon was thinking of the vexed question of
the liquor traffic, always a source of strife between
the civil and the spiritual authorities.

Talon and his colleagues, Tracy and Courcelle, had to
deal with the question of tithes. In 1663 tithes had been
fixed by royal edict at one-thirteenth of all that is
produced from the soil either naturally or by man's
labour. This edict was prompted by the erection of the
Quebec Seminary by Laval, and established in Canada the
tithes system for the benefit of the new clerical
institution, to which was entrusted the spiritual care
of the colonists. The latter, who previously had paid
nothing for the maintenance of the clergy, protested
against the charge, notwithstanding that it was in
conformity with the common practice of Christian nations.
Laval, taking into consideration the poverty of the colony
at the time, freely granted delays and exemptions, so
that in 1667 the question was still practically in
abeyance. In that year the bishop presented to Tracy a
petition for the publication of a decree in respect to
the tithes. The lieutenant-general, the governor, and
the intendant gave the matter their attention, and after
discussion an ordinance was passed for payment of tithes,
consisting of the twenty-sixth part of all that the soil
grows, naturally or by man's labour, for the benefit of
the priests who ministered to the spiritual wants of the
people. There was a proviso stating that the words 'by
man's labour' did not include manufactures or fisheries,
but only the products of the soil when cultivated and
fertilized by human industry. The assessment of
one-twenty-sixth was to be levied for a term of twenty
years only, after which the tithes were to be fixed
according to the needs of the time and the state of the
country. Later on, in 1679, a royal edict made perpetual
the rate of one-twenty-sixth. For years the practice
prevailed of levying tithes only on grain. But in 1705
two parish priests maintained that they should be levied
also on hemp, flax, tobacco, pumpkins, hay--on all that
is grown on cultivated land. A heated discussion in the
Sovereign Council took place, led by the attorney-general
Auteuil. The two priests contended that the ordinance of
Tracy, Courcelle, and Talon did not limit the tithes to
grain; it stated that they should be levied on all that
the soil grows naturally or by man's labour. Unfortunately
they had only a copy of the ordinance of 1667 to file in
support of their contention. The attorney-general maintained
that the original ordinance of 1663 limited the tithes
to grain, and that the constant practice was a confirmation
and an evidence of the rule. But, strange to say, he
could not put the original ordinance on record. It had
been lost. However, the practice was held to decide the
case, and the priests' contention was not sustained. From
that time the question was settled, definitely and for
ever; the tithes were levied only on grain, as they are
still levied in the province of Quebec, on all lands
owned by Catholics. But it is interesting to know as a
matter of history that the two litigant priests were
right. Had the original ordinance been before the council,
it would have been found to enact the levying of tithes
not on grain alone but on 'all that the soil grows
naturally or by man's labour.' An authentic copy of this
ordinance was discovered in our day, nearly two centuries
after the lawsuit of 1705, and it bears out the plea of
the two priests.

Another feature of Talon's relations with the clergy and
religious communities--and a pleasant one this time--was
his strong interest in the francisation (Frenchification)
of the Indians. It was Colbert's wish that efforts be
made to bring the Algonquins, Hurons, and other Indians
more closely within the fold of European civilization--to
make them alter their manners, learn the French tongue,
and become less Indian and more European in their way of
life. Talon was of the same mind and lost no opportunity
of impressing the idea on those who could best do the
work. Laval had already been active in the same direction,
and had founded the Quebec Seminary partly with this end
in view. The great bishop thought that one of the best
means of civilizing the Indians would be to bring up
Indian and French children together. So he withdrew from
the Jesuits' College a number of pupils whom he had
previously placed there and established them, with a few
young Indians, in a house bought for the purpose. Such
were the beginnings of the Quebec Seminary, opened on
October 9, 1663. The first class consisted of eight French
and six Indian children. The seminary trained them in
the practice of piety and morality. For ordinary instruction
they went to the Jesuits. The Jesuits' College had been
founded in 1635 and was of great service to the colony.
It was pronounced by Laval in 1661 almost equal in
educational advantages and standing to the Jesuits'
establishments in France; and according to a trustworthy
author it 'was a reproduction on a small scale of the
French colleges: classes in letters and arts, literary
and theatrical entertainments, were found there.' Some
of the public performances given at the Jesuits' College
were memorable, such as the reception to the Vicomte
d'Argenson when he entered upon the government of New
France, and the philosophical debate of July 2, 1666,
which was graced with the presence of Tracy, Courcelle,
and Talon. Two promising youths, Louis Jolliet and Pierre
de Francheville, won universal praise on that occasion;
and Talon himself, who had been accustomed in France to
such scholastic exercises, took part in it very pertinently,
to the great delight of all present.

To return to the francisation of Indians: the Ursulines
were also enlisted in the cause. Since their arrival in
Canada in 1639 it had been for them a labour of love. In
the convent and school founded by Mother Marie de
l'Incarnation and Madame de la Peltrie, both French and
Indian girls received instruction in various subjects.
Seven nuns attended daily to the classes. The Indian
girls had special classes and teachers, but they were
lodged and boarded along with the French children. Some
of these Indian pupils of the Ursulines afterwards married
Frenchmen and became excellent wives and mothers. Special
mention. is made of one of the girls as being able to
read and write both French and Huron remarkably well.
From her speech it was hard to believe that she was born
an Indian. Talon was so delighted with this instance of
successful francisation that he asked her to write
something in Huron and French that he might send it to
France. This, however, was but an exceptional case. Mother
Mary declared in one of her letters that it was very
difficult, if not impossible, to civilize the Indian

During this period the Ursulines had on an average from
twenty to thirty resident pupils. The French girls were
supposed to pay one hundred and twenty livres. Indian
girls paid nothing. The Ursuline sisters and Mother Mary,
their head, did a noble work for Canada; the same must
be said of the venerable Mother Marguerite Bourgeoys and
the ladies of the Congregation of Notre-Dame founded in
1659 at Montreal. At first this school was open to both
boys and girls. But in 1668 M. Souart, a Sulpician, took
the boys under his care, and thenceforth the education
of the male portion of the youth of Ville-Marie was in
the hands of the priests of Saint-Sulpice. At this time
the Sulpicians of Montreal were receiving welcome accessions
to their number; the Abbes Trouve and de Fenelon arrived
in 1667, and the Abbes Queylus, d'Allet, de Galinee, and
d'Urfe in 1668. In the latter year Fenelon and Trouve
were authorized by Laval to establish a new missionary
station. for a tribe of Cayugas as far west as the bay
of Quinte on the north shore of Lake Ontario. The progress
of mission work was now most encouraging. Peace prevailed
and the Iroquois country was open to the heralds of the
Gospel. Fathers Fremin and Pierron were living among the
Mohawks; Father Bruyas with the Oneidas. In 1668 Father
Fremin was sent to the Senecas, Father Milet to the
Onondagas, and Father de Carheil to the Cayugas. The
bloody Iroquois, who had tortured and slain so many
missionaries, were now asking for preachers of the
Christian faith, and receiving them with due honour. It
is true that the hard task of conversion remained, and
that Indian vices and superstitions were not easily
overcome. But at least the savages were ready to listen
to Christian teaching. Some of them had courage enough
to reform their lives. Children and women were baptized.
Many received when dying the sacraments of the Church.
Moreover, the sublime courage and self-devotion of the
missionaries inspired the Indian mind with a profound
respect for Christianity and added very greatly to the
influence and prestige of the French name among the

On the whole the situation in Canada at the end of 1668,
three years after Talon's arrival, was most satisfactory.
Peace and security were restored; hope had replaced
despondency; colonization, agriculture, and trade were
making progress; population was increasing yearly. In
this short space of time New France had been saved from
destruction and was now full of new vigour. Every one in
the colony knew that the great intendant had been the
soul of the revival, the leader in all this progress. It
may therefore be easily imagined what was the state of
popular feeling when the news came that Talon was to
leave Canada. He had twice asked for his recall. The
climate was severe, his health was not good, and family
matters called for his presence in France; moreover, he
was worried by his difficulties with the governor and
the spiritual authorities. Louis XIV gave him leave to
return to France and appointed Claude de Bouteroue in
his stead.

Talon left Quebec in November 1668. Expressions of deep
regret were heard on all sides. Mother Marie de
l'Incarnation wrote: 'M. Talon is leaving us and goes
back to France. It is a great loss to Canada and a great
sorrow for all. For, during his term here as intendant,
this country has developed more and progressed more than
it had done before from the time of the first settlement
by the French.' The annalist of the Hotel-Dieu was not
less sympathetic, but there was hope in her utterance:
'M. Talon,' she said, 'left for France this year. He
comforted us in our grief by leading us to expect his
return.' Perhaps these last words show that Talon even
then intended to come back to Canada if such should be
the wish of the king and his minister.



Talon returned to France in an auspicious hour. It was
perhaps the happiest and brightest period of the reign
of Louis XIV. France had emerged victorious from two
campaigns, and the king had just signed a treaty which
added to his realm a part of the province of Flanders.
The kingdom enjoyed peace, and its prosperity had never
been so great. Thanks to Colbert, the exchequer was full.
In all departments the French government was displaying
intelligent activity. Trade and commerce, agriculture
and manufacture, were encouraged and protected. With
ample means at their disposal and perfect freedom of
action, Louis XIV and Colbert could not but be in a
favourable mood to receive Talon's reports and proposals.
Talon acted as if he were still the intendant of New
France; and though for the time being he was not, he was
surely the most powerful agent or advocate that the colony
could have. The king and his minister readily acquiesced
in his schemes for strengthening the Canadian colony. It
was decided to dispatch six companies of soldiers to
reinforce the four already there, and ultimately, upon
being disbanded, to aid in settling the country. Many
hundred labourers and unmarried women and a new stock of
domestic animals were also to be sent. Colbert had never
been so much in earnest concerning New France. He attended
personally to details, gave orders for the levy of troops
and for the shipping of the men and supplies, and urged
on the officials in charge so that everything should be
ready early in the spring. To M. de Courcelle he wrote
these welcome tidings:

His Majesty has appropriated over 200,000 livres to
do what he deems necessary for the colony. One hundred
and fifty girls are going thither to be married; six
companies complete with fifty good men in each and
thirty officers or noblemen, who wish to settle there,
and more than two hundred other persons are also going.
Such an effort shows how greatly interested in Canada
His Majesty feels, and to what extent he will appreciate
all that may be done to help its progress.

That the minister was not actuated merely by a passing
mood, but by a set purpose, may be seen from a passage
of a letter to Terron, the intendant at Rochefort: 'I am
very glad,' Colbert wrote, 'that you have not gone beyond
the funds appropriated for the passage of the men and
girls to Canada. You know how important it is to keep
within the limits, especially in an outlay which will
have to be repeated every year.'

In the meantime Talon was pleading the cause of Canada
in another direction. Always intent on freeing New France
from the commercial monopoly of the West India Company,
he renewed his assault against that corporation, and at
last he was successful. This signal victory showed plainly
his great influence with the minister. Colbert conveyed
the gratifying information to Courcelle:

His Majesty has granted freedom of trade to Canada,
so that the colony may hereafter receive more easily
the provisions and supplies needed. It will now be
necessary to inform the colonists that they must
provide cargoes agreeable to the French, who will
supply them with necessities, and so make a profitable
exchange of goods. For there is now a great supply
of furs in this kingdom, and if there were no other
goods available as a return cargo perhaps the French
ships would not go there.

The spring of 1669 was memorable for Canada. Nearly all
that Talon asked for New France was granted. But one
thing which he did not ask was desired by Louis and
Colbert. It is probable that Talon intended to go back
to Canada, but he did not expect or wish to return
immediately. Yet this was what the king and the minister
deemed advisable and even essential. It was very well to
send troops, labourers, women, settlers, and supplies;
but, in order that all should yield their maximum of
efficiency, it was necessary that the business affairs
of the colony should again be placed in the hands of the
intendant, who had already worked wonders by his sagacity
and skilful management. There was no man who knew so well
the weak and strong points, the requirements and
possibilities of Canada. True, only a few months had
elapsed since the king had given him permission to leave
Canada, and had appointed in his stead another intendant
who, naturally enough, would expect to be in charge for
at least two years. But, on the other hand, the king's
service and the public good demanded his reappointment.
Talon had to acquiesce. He had reached Paris at the end
of December. Three months later he was again intendant
of New France, and on April Louis XIV wrote to the
intendant Bouteroue at Quebec informing him of Talon's
reinstatement. To leave France so soon must have been
for Talon a great sacrifice, but it was a high compliment
that Louis and Colbert were paying to his talents and
administrative abilities. On May 10, 1669, the king signed
his new commission, and on the 17th he received his
instructions, a document much shorter than the one framed
for his direction in 1665. No minute advice was needed
this time, for Talon was himself the best authority on
all matters relating to Canada.

Talon sailed from La Rochelle on July 15. He was accompanied
by Captain Francois Marie Perrot, one of the six commanders
of the companies sent to Canada; by Fathers Romuald
Papillion, Hilarion Guesnin, Cesaire Herveau, and Brother
Cosme Graveran. Perrot was married to the niece of the
intendant. The friars belonged to the Franciscan order
and to the particular branch of it known under the name
of Recollets. It had been thought good to reintroduce
into Canada the religious society whose priests had been
the first to preach the Gospel there. The intendant's
former voyage from France to Canada had lasted one hundred
and seventeen days, so that, allowing for all probable
delays, he might expect to reach Quebec by the end of
October at the latest. But it was decreed that he was
not to see New France this year. His ship was assailed
by a series of storms and hurricanes and driven far from
her right course. After three months of exertion and
suffering the captain was obliged to make for the port
of Lisbon. There the ship was revictualled; but, having
sailed again, she struck upon a rocky shoal at a distance
of three leagues from Lisbon and was totally wrecked.
Talon and his companions were fortunately saved, and
found themselves back in France at the beginning of the
year 1670.

In the meantime what was going on in Canada? Talon's
successor, M. de Bouteroue, was upright and intelligent,
but without Talon's masterly gifts and activity. He
attended principally to the administration of justice.
At the judicial sittings of the Sovereign Council he was
almost always present; he himself heard many cases, and
often acted as judge-advocate. On his advice the council
gave out an ordinance fixing the price of wheat. There
had been complaints that sometimes creditors refused to
accept wheat in payment, or accepted it only at a price
unreasonably low. So it was enacted that for three months
after the promulgation of the decree debtors should be
at liberty to pay their creditors in wheat of good quality
at the price of four livres per bushel.

The evil consequences of the previous action of the
council in freeing the brandy traffic were already
manifest. The scourge of the coureurs de bois, later to
prove so damaging to the colony, was beginning to be
felt. A new ordinance now prohibited the practice of
going into the woods with liquor to meet the Indians and
trade with them. This ordinance also enjoined sobriety
upon the Indians and held them responsible for the
drunkenness of their squaws, while the French were
forbidden to drink with them. Hunting in the forest was
only allowed by leave of the commandant of the district
or the nearest judge, to whose inspection all luggage
and goods for trade must be submitted. Brandy might be
taken on these expeditions, but no more than one pot per
man for eight days. The penalty for violating any of
these provisions of the law was confiscation, with a fine
of fifty livres for a first offence and corporal punishment
for a second. Thus, but in vain, did the leaders of New
France attempt to stay the progress of Indian debauchery.

During the summer of 1669 a renewal of the war between
the French and the Iroquois was threatened. Three French
soldiers had killed six Oneidas, after making them drunk
for the purpose of stealing their furs; three other
soldiers had treacherously murdered a Seneca chief for
the same purpose. The Outaouais also, who were in alliance
with the French, attacked a party of Iroquois, killing
and capturing many. Incensed at these acts of hostility,
the Iroquois threatened to unbury the tomahawk. Courcelle
at once set himself to the task of averting the danger.
He went to Montreal, where many hundred Indians had
gathered for the annual fair, to which they always came
in great numbers for the purpose of exchanging their furs
for goods. He convened a large meeting and made an address
of great vigour and cleverness, his speech being accompanied
by appropriate gifts. He then proceeded to carry out the
sentence of the law upon the murderers of the Seneca
chief, who were shot on the spot in the presence of the
assembly. The Iroquois were placated; three men killed
for the death of one convinced them that French justice
was neither slow nor faltering. In the meantime the
Outaouais had brought back three of their prisoners and
pledged themselves for the surrender of twelve others.
in this way war was averted and peace maintained.

The first ships coming from France that summer brought
letters from Colbert to Courcelle and Bouteroue intimating
that Talon was returning to resume his charge. Bouteroue
was probably surprised to learn that he was to be superseded
so soon, and the governor may have been disappointed to
hear of the early arrival of a man whose authority and
prestige made him somewhat uneasy. But in the colony the
rejoicing was general. Mother Marie de l'Incarnation
wrote: 'We expect daily M. Talon whom the king sends back
to settle everything according to His Majesty's views.
He brings with him five hundred men. ...If God favours
his journey and brings him happily to port he will find
new means of increasing the country's wealth.' Several
weeks elapsed, and Talon's ship did not appear. Some
anxiety was felt. Mother Marie wrote again: 'M. Talon
has not arrived; in his ship alone there were five hundred
men. We are greatly concerned at the delay. They may have
landed again in France, or have been lost in the storms
which have proved to be so dreadful.' The autumn of 1669
had been a stormy season. Fearful hurricanes swept over
Quebec. The lower town was flooded to an incredible
height, many buildings were destroyed, and the havoc
amounted to 100,000 livres. All this was painfully
disquieting. To quote Mother Marie again: 'If M. Talon
has been wrecked, it will be an irretrievable loss to
the colony, for, the king having given him a free hand,
he could undertake great things without minding the
outlay.' In the meantime M. Patoulet, Talon's secretary,
who had left France on another ship and had reached Quebec
safely, wrote to Colbert: 'If he is dead, His Majesty
will have lost a good subject, yourself, Monseigneur, a
faithful servant, Canada an affectionate father, and
myself a good master.'

Fortunately, as we have already seen, Talon was not lost.
At the very time when these letters were written he was
on his way back to France, where he spent the winter hard
at work with Colbert--preparing for the dispatch of
settlers and soldiers in the spring. The minister displayed
the same zeal as the year before. He appropriated ample
funds, gave urgent orders, and seemed to make the Canadian
reinforcements his personal affair. Talon sailed from La
Rochelle about the middle of May 1670. He was accompanied
by Perrot again, and also by six Recollets, four fathers
and two brothers. After three months at sea he was nearly
shipwrecked once more, this time near Tadoussac, almost
at the end of his journey. On August 18, after an absence
from Canada of one year and nine months, he landed once
more at Quebec.



When Talon arrived at Quebec, New France had again just
escaped an Indian war. A party of Iroquois hunting near
the country of the Outaouais met two men of their nation
who had been prisoners of the Outaouais and had succeeded
in escaping. These informed their fellow-tribesmen that
the Outaouais village was undefended, almost every warrior
being absent. The Iroquois then attacked the village,
destroyed it, and brought with them as prisoners about
one hundred women and children. The Outaouais warriors,
when apprised of the raid, started in pursuit, but did
not succeed in overtaking the raiders. However, receiving
a reinforcement of another party of allied Indians, they
invaded the Senecas' territory. These hostilities aroused
the temper of the Iroquois, and a general Indian war
threatened, into which the French would unavoidably be
drawn. At that moment Garakonthie, the Iroquois chief
who had always been friendly to the French, advised the
Five Nations to send an embassy to the governor of Canada
asking him to compose these differences. The Five Nations
agreed, and Iroquois and Outaouais delegates, many hundreds
in number, came to Quebec. A great council was held
lasting three days, and Courcelle succeeded in bringing
about an understanding between the rival tribes. After
the meetings Garakonthie asked to be baptized, and Laval
himself performed the ceremony.

It was but a few days after these events that Talon
arrived, and, notwithstanding the improvement in the
situation, he does not seem to have deemed peace perfectly
secure, for he wrote to the king that it would be advisable
to send two hundred more soldiers. He added that the
Iroquois caused great injury to the trade of the colony
by hunting the beaver in the territories of the tribes
allied with the French, and selling the skins to Dutch
and English traders. In another letter Talon set forth
that these traders drew from the Iroquois 1,000,000
livres' worth of the best beaver, and he suggested the
construction of a small ship of the galley type to cruise
on Lake Ontario, and that two posts manned by one hundred
picked soldiers should be established, one on the north,
the other on the south shore of that lake. These measures
would ensure safe communication between the colony and
the Outaouais country, keep the Iroquois aloof, and favour
the opening of new roads to the south. It was a broad
and bold scheme. But could it be executed over the head
of M. de Courcelle? Talon had foreseen this objection
and had begged that the governor should be instructed to
give support and assistance. But once more the intendant
was going beyond his authority. Such an undertaking was
clearly within the governor's province. Talon was told
that he should lay his scheme before M. de Courcelle, so
that the governor might attend to its execution.

This incident sheds light upon the relations that existed
between Courcelle and Talon. The former was valiant,
energetic, and intelligent; but he felt that he was
outshone by the latter's promptness, celerity in design,
superior activity, wider and keener penetration, and he
could not conceal his displeasure.

After the great councils held at Quebec, the Senecas
again assumed a somewhat disquieting attitude. The
governor, they said, had been too hard on them. He had
threatened to chastise them in their own country if they
did not bring back their prisoners. Perhaps his arm was
not long enough to strike so far. Evidently they had
forgotten the expedition against the Mohawks five years
ago. They were convinced that distance and natural
impediments, such as rapids and torrents, protected them
from invasion in their remote country south of Lake
Ontario. Courcelle resolved to shake their confidence.
Early in the spring he went to Montreal and ordered the
construction of a flat-boat. In this he set out from
Lachine (June 3, 1671) with Perrot, governor of Montreal,
Captain de Laubia, Varennes, Le Moyne, La Valliere,
Normanville, Abbe Dollier de Casson, and about fifty good
men. Thirteen canoes accompanied the flat-boat. After
considerable exertion, the governor and his party passed
the rapids and continued up the St Lawrence; nine days
later they entered Lake Ontario, to the amazement of a
party of Iroquois whom they met there. The governor gave
these Indians a message for the Senecas and the other
nations, stating that he wished to keep the peace, but
that, if necessary, he could come and devastate their
country. The demonstration had the desired effect and
there was no further talk of war.

It will be inferred from Talon's proposals and schemes
already mentioned that his thoughts were now occupied
with the external affairs of the colony. This indeed was
to be the characteristic feature of his second
administration. When in Canada before he had concentrated
his attention chiefly upon judicial and political
organization, and had directed his efforts to promote
colonization, agriculture, industry, and trade--in a
word, the internal economy of New France. But now, without
neglecting any part of his duty, he seemed desirous of
widening his sphere of action by the extension of French
influence to the north, south, and west. On October 10,
1670, he wrote to the king: 'Since my arrival, I have
sent resolute men to explore farther than has ever been
done in Canada, some to the west and north-west, others
to the south-west and south. They will all on their return
write accounts of their expeditions and frame their
reports according to the instructions I have given them.
Everywhere they will take possession of the country,
erect posts bearing the king's arms, and draw up memoranda
of these proceedings to serve as title-deeds.'

Of these explorers one of the most noted was Cavelier de
la Salle. He had been born in 1643. After pursuing his
studies in a Jesuit college he came to Canada in 1666
and obtained from the Sulpicians a grant of land near
Montreal, named by him Saint-Sulpice, but ultimately
known under the name of Lachine. In 1669 Courcelle gave
him letters patent for an exploring journey towards the
Ohio and the Meschacebe, or Mississippi. By way of these
rivers he hoped to reach the Vermilion Sea, or Gulf of
California, and thus open a new road to China via the
Pacific ocean. At the same time the Abbes Dollier and de
Galinee, Sulpicians, had prepared for a remote mission
to the Outaouais. It was thought advisable to combine
the two expeditions. Thus it happened that La Salle and
the Sulpicians left Montreal in 1669 and journeyed together
as far as the western end of Lake Ontario. There they
parted. The Sulpicians wintered on the shores of Lake
Erie, and next spring passed the strait between Lakes
Erie and Huron, reached the Sault Sainte-Marie, and then
returned to Montreal by French river, Lake Nipissing,
and the Ottawa river. Their journey lasted from July 4,
1669, to June 18, 1670. In the meantime La Salle had
reached the Ohio and had followed it to the falls at
Louisville. He also returned in the summer of 1670. The
itinerary of his next expedition, undertaken in the same
year, is not very well known. According to an account of
doubtful authority, he went through Lakes Erie and Huron,
entered Lake Michigan, reached the Illinois river, and
even the Mississippi. But a careful study of contemporaneous
documents and evidence leads to the conclusion that the
Mississippi must be omitted from this itinerary. In our
opinion La Salle did not reach that river in 1671, as
has been asserted; he probably went as far as the Illinois

Another of Talon's resolute explorers was Simon Francois
Daumont de Saint-Lusson. Accompanied by Nicolas Perrot,
the well-known interpreter, he left Quebec in September
1670, and wintered with an Outaouais tribe near Lake
Superior. Perrot sent word to the neighbouring nations
that they should meet next spring at Sault Sainte-Marie
a delegate of the great French Ononthio. [Footnote: This
was the name given by the Indians to the king of France;
the governor was called by them Ononthio, which means
'great mountain,' because that was the translation of
Montmagny--mons magnus in Latin--the name of Champlain's
first successor. From M. de Montmagny the name had passed
to the other governors, and the king had become the 'great
Ononthio.'] On June 14 representatives of fourteen nations
were gathered at the Sault. The Jesuit fathers Dablon,
Dreuillettes, Allouez, and Andre were present. A great
council was held on a height. Saint-Lusson had a cross
erected with a post bearing the king's arms. The Vexilla
Regis and the Exaudiat were sung. The intendant's delegates
took possession of the country in the name of their
monarch. There was firing of guns and shouts of 'Vive le
roi!' Then Father Allouez and Saint-Lusson made speeches
suitable to the occasion and the audience. At night the
blaze of an immense bonfire illuminated with its fitful
light the dark trees and foaming rapids. The singing of
the Te Deum crowned that memorable day.

The intendant was pleased with the result of Saint-Lusson's
expedition. He wrote to the king: 'There is every reason
to believe that from the point reached by this explorer
to the Vermilion Sea is a distance of not more than three
hundred leagues. The Western Sea [the Pacific ocean] does
not seem more distant. According to calculation based on
the Indians' reports and on the charts, there should not
be more than fifteen hundred leagues of navigation to
reach Tartary, China, and Japan.'

Talon showed his high appreciation of Saint-Lusson's
services by immediately giving him another mission--this
time to Acadia, for the purpose of finding and reporting
as to the best road to that colony. In 1670 Grandfontaine
had taken possession of Acadia, which had been restored
to France by the treaty of Breda. He had received from
Sir Richard Walker the keys of Fort Pentagouet, at the
mouth of the Penobscot river, and had sent Joybert de
Soulanges to hoist the French flag over Jemsek and Port
Royal. It was therefore incumbent on the intendant to
see to the opening of a road between Quebec and Pentagouet.
His letters and those of Colbert written in 1671 are full
of this project. A fund of thirty thousand livres was
appropriated for the purpose. The intendant's plan was
to erect about twenty houses well provided with stores
along the proposed route at intervals of sixty leagues.
He also had in mind the establishment of settlements
along the rivers Penobscot and Kennebec, to form a barrier
between New France and New England. With the object of
establishing trade relations between Canada and Acadia,
he sent to the French Bay (Bay of Fundy) a barge loaded
with clothes and supplies, and was extremely pleased to
receive in return a cargo of six thousand pounds of salt
meat. In 1671, for Colbert's information, he drew up a
census of Acadia. [Footnote: The figures were--Port
Royal, 359; Poboncoup, 11; Cap Negre, 3; Pentagouet, 6
and 25 soldiers; Mouskadabouet, 13; Saint-Pierre, 7.
Total 399, or, including the soldiers, 424. There were
429 cultivated acres, 866 head of cattle, 407 sheep and
36 goats.] But, as we shall see, the great intendant was
not to remain in Canada long enough to bring his Acadian
undertaking to full fruition.

Let us follow him in another direction. He had tried to
extend the sphere of French influence towards the west
and south, and was doing his best to strengthen Canada
on the New England border by promoting the development
of Acadia. His next attempt was to bring the northern
tribes into the French alliance and to open to the colony
the trade of the wide area extending from Lake St John
to Lake Mistassini and thence to Hudson Bay. For an
expedition to Hudson Bay he chose Father Albanel, a
Jesuit, and M. de Saint-Simon. They left Quebec for
Tadoussac in August 1671, and ascended the Saguenay to
Lake St John where they wintered. In June 1672 they
continued their journey, reaching Lake Mistassini on the
18th of the same month and James Bay on the 28th. After
formally taking possession of the country in the name of
France, they returned by the same route to Quebec, where
on July 23 they laid their report before the intendant.

One of the last but not the least of the explorations
made under Talon's auspices was that which he entrusted
to Louis Jolliet, and which resulted in the discovery of
the upper Mississippi. Jolliet left Montreal in the autumn
of 1672 and wintered at Michilimackinac, where he joined
Father Marquette. Next spring they set out together, and
by way of Lake Michigan, Green Bay, Fox river, and the
Wisconsin they reached the giant river, the mighty
Mississippi, which they followed down as far as latitude
33 degrees. Thus was discovered the highway through the
interior of the continent to the Gulf of Mexico. One
result of the discovery was the birth of Louisiana a few
years later.

Talon's patriotic enthusiasm was justified when he wrote
to Louis XIV: 'I am no courtier and it is not to please
the king or without reason that I say this portion of
the French monarchy is going to become something great.
What I see now enables me to make such a prediction. The
foreign colonies established on the adjoining shores of
the ocean are already uneasy at what His Majesty has done
here during the last seven years.' This confidence was
probably not shared by the king and his minister, for,
in a letter to Frontenac some time later, Colbert
remonstrated against long journeys to the upper St Lawrence
and outlying settlements, and expressed his disapproval
of discoveries far away in the interior of the continent
where the French could never settle or remain. Undoubtedly
it was wise to advise concentration, and Talon himself
would not have differed on that score from the minister.
He was too sagacious not to see that Canada with a small
population should abstain from remote establishments.
His policy of exploration and discovery did not aim at
the immediate foundation of new colonies, but was only
directed towards increasing the prestige of the French
name, developing trade, and thus preparing the way for
the future greatness of Canada. It was a far-sighted
policy, not seeking impossible achievements for to-day,
but gaining a foot-hold for those of to-morrow. That the
political fabric of France in America was doomed to fall
in no way dims the fame of the great intendant. Under
his powerful direction New France, through her missionaries,
explorers, and traders, stamped her mark over three-quarters
of the territory then known as North America. Her moral,
political, and commercial influence was felt beyond her
boundaries--west, north, and south. She had hoisted the
cross and the fleurs-de-lis from the sunny banks of the
Arkansas to the icy shores of Hudson Bay, and from the
surges of the Atlantic to the remotest limits of the
Great Lakes. Her unceasing activity and daring enterprise,
supplementing inferior numbers and wealth, gave her an
undisputed superiority over the industrious English
colonies confined to their narrow strip between the
Alleghanies and the sea; and her name inspired awe and
respect in a hundred Indian tribes.

What was Courcelle's attitude towards the extraordinary
activity displayed by Talon? Evidently the intendant
often acted the part of the governor; and the real
governor, out-shone, could not conceal his ill-humour,
and tried to assert his authority. There were several
clashes between the two high officials. The governor
frequently lost his temper, while Talon complained of
Courcelle's jealousy and harshness. It must be admitted
that the great intendant, in his fervid zeal for the
public good and his passion for action, was not always
careful or tactful in his behaviour to the governor.



In the survey of Talon's first term of office mention
was made of the many enterprises he set on foot for the
internal progress of the colony. One of these was
shipbuilding. During his second term a stronger impulse
was given to this industry. One of the intendant's first
official acts after his arrival in 1670 was to issue a
decree for the conservation of the forests suitable for
shipbuilding purposes--to prohibit the felling of oak,
elm, beech, and cherry trees until the skilled carpenters
sent by the king should have inspected them and made
their choice. It is interesting, too, to find that in
all grants of land Talon inserted a clause reserving
these trees. Shipbuilding in Canada was to be encouraged
and promoted. Had not Colbert given forty thousand livres
for the purpose? A shipyard was set up on the banks of
the St Charles river. Many ships were built there; at
first only small ones, but the industry gradually developed.
In 1672 a ship of over four hundred tons was launched,
and preparations had been made for another of eight
hundred tons. Seven years earlier only nineteen out of
2378 vessels in the French mercantile marine had exceeded
four hundred tons. The infant shipyard at Quebec was
doing well.

Agriculture and industry were flourishing in New France.
Hemp was being grown successfully, and a larger quantity
of wool was made available by increasing flocks of sheep.
The intendant insisted that women and girls should be
taught to spin. He distributed looms to encourage the
practice of weaving, and after a time the colony had
home-made carpets and table-covers of drugget, and serges
and buntings. The great number of cattle ensured an
abundance of raw hides. Accordingly the intendant
established a tannery, and this in turn led to the
preparation of leather and the making of shoes; so that
in 1671 Talon could write to the king: 'I am now clothed
from foot to head with home-made articles.' Tobacco was
grown to some extent, but Colbert did not wish to encourage
its cultivation by the Canadian farmers. The minister
was better pleased when the intendant wrote concerning
potash and tar. A Sieur Nicolas Follin undertook to make
potash out of wood ashes, and was granted a privilege
with a bounty of ten sous per ton and free entry into
France for his product. The potash proved excellent. In
the meantime an expert on tar named Arnould Alix came
from France and found that the Canadian trees were
eminently fit for the production of that article, so
necessary in shipbuilding; indeed at this time Colbert
was doing his best to manufacture it in France so that
the shipyards of the kingdom might use French tar instead
of the foreign product. The news that it could be made
in Canada was very welcome to the minister.

The intendant continued his search for mines, but without
substantial results. There had been much talk of iron
ore at Baie Saint-Paul and also in the region of Three
Rivers. The Sieur de la Potardiere was sent to examine
these ores; but, although his report was favourable and
Colbert seemed highly interested and began to speak of
casting cannon on the shores of the Saint-Maurice, for
some reason nothing was done, and sixty years were to
elapse before the establishment of the Saint-Maurice

In another chapter we saw that Talon was always ready to
help the religious institutions and that he was very
friendly towards the Hotel-Dieu at Quebec. This hospital
had become too small for the requirements of the growing
population. At his own expense the intendant had a
substantial wing erected, superintending the work himself
and at the same time securing for the institution an
abundant supply of water. The Ursulines also received
ample evidence of his goodwill and friendship. He was
greatly pleased with their Seminaire Sauvage (Indian
seminary), where they displayed an unceasing zeal for
the instruction and civilization of the little red-skinned
girls. The Jesuit Relation of 1671 mentions the baptism
of an Indian girl with her mother. Talon wished to be
godfather and asked Madame d'Ailleboust to act as godmother.
Laval officiated. In 1671 the Ursulines had fifty Indian
girls in their Seminaire Sauvage, and in Montreal the
Sulpicians and the Sisters of the Congregation, as already
narrated, were devoting themselves to the Indian children.
In this good work the intendant was greatly interested.
He rejoiced in educational progress, as is shown by the
following from one of his letters to the king:

The Canadian youth are improving their knowledge. They
take to schools for sciences, arts, handicrafts, and
especially navigation; and if the movement is sustained
there is every reason to hope that this country will
produce mariners, fishermen, seamen, and skilled
workmen; for the youth here are naturally inclined to
these pursuits. The Sieur de Saint-Martin (a lay
brother at the Jesuits), who knows enough mathematics,
is going to give lessons at my request.

New France at this time was prosperous and happy. 'Peace
reigns within as well as without the colony,' wrote Talon
at the end of the year 1671. There was work and activity
on all sides. New settlements were opened, new families
were founded, new industries were born. No wonder that
Talon, when he reflected on what had been achieved in
seven years, should have written: 'This portion of the
French monarchy is going to become something great.'

Unfortunately his activities and service in Canada were
nearing their end. His health was breaking down. Louis
XIV had promised that he should be relieved from his
arduous task in two years. Talon reminded his royal master
of this promise, and on May 17, 1672, the king was pleased
to give him permission to come home. Courcelle had asked
for his own recall; his request was also granted and the
Comte de Frontenac was named in his stead. No intendant
was appointed to fill Talon's place. At the beginning of
September 1672, while Talon had still two months to serve,
Frontenac arrived in Quebec to take up his duties as the
sole executive head of the colony. [Footnote: Another
volume of this Series, The Fighting Governor, tells of
what happened in New France in Frontenac's time.]

One of Talon's last official acts was the allotment,
under authority of a decree of the King's Council of
State, of a large number of seigneuries--a matter of the
highest importance for the development of the colony. He
set himself to the task with his usual activity and
earnestness. From October 10 to November 8 he authorized
about sixty seigneurial concessions to officers and others
desirous of forming settlements. In one day alone (November
3) he made thirty-one grants. The autumn of 1672, during
which all these seigneuries were created, should be
remembered in the history of New France. Before Talon,
it is true, seigneurial grants had been made in Canada,
but only intermittently and without any preconceived plan
or well-defined object. Now it was quite different. The
grants made by Talon, and the way in which they were
made, show clearly the execution of a well thought-out
scheme. If Talon was not the founder he was the organizer
of the seigneurial institution in Canada. The object was
twofold--to protect and to colonize the country. By his
concessions to Sorel, Chambly, Varennes, Saint-Ours,
Contrecoeur--all officers of the Carignan regiment--he
created so many little military colonies whose population
would be composed chiefly of disbanded soldiers. These,
being warriors as well as farmers, would be a strong
barrier against possible Iroquois incursions. His second
object, to stimulate colonization in general, was
anticipated by a provision--inserted in each grant--that
the seigneurs should live on their domains, and that
their tenants should do the same; this would mean the
planting of many new settlements on both shores of the
St Lawrence. It was a sound policy. For over a century
the seigneurial system was to Canada a source of strength
and progress. [Footnote: This view is fully sustained
by Prof. W. B. Munro of Harvard University, who has made
an exhaustive study of the subject. The reader is referred
to the narrative of The Seigneurs of Old Canada in the
present Series, written by him.] Its organization was
the crowning work of the intendant Talon in New France.

Talon's task was over. He had happily fulfilled his
mission. He had set government and justice upon a foundation
which was to last until the fall of the old regime. He
had given a mighty impulse to agriculture, colonization,
trade, industry, naval construction. He had encouraged
educational and charitable institutions, created new
centres of population, strengthened the frontiers of
Canada, and, with admirable forethought, had prepared
the way for the future extension and growth of the colony.
He has had his critics. The word paternalism has been
used to describe the system carried out by him and by
Colbert. He has been accused of having too willingly
substituted governmental action for individual activity.
But, taking into consideration the time and circumstances,
such criticism is not justified. When Talon came to
Canada, the colony was dying. A policy of ensuring
protection, of liberal and continuous subvention, of
intelligent state initiative, was a necessity of the
hour. Everywhere ground had to be broken, and the government
alone could do it. The policy of Colbert and Talon saved
the colony.

The great intendant left Canada in November 1672. It was
a mournful day for New France. In recognition of his
services the king had made a barony of his estate, 'des
Islets,' and had created him Baron des Islets. Later on
he became Comte d'Orsainville. He had previously been
appointed Captain of the Mariemont Castle.

Talon never came back to Canada. Louis XIV and Colbert
received him with expressions of the greatest satisfaction.
After a time he became premier valet de la garde-robe du
roi (first valet of the king's wardrobe), and finally he
attained the coveted office of secretary of the king's
cabinet. He died on November 24, 1694, at the age of
about sixty-nine years, twenty-two years after his
departure from Canada.

Jean Talon is one of the great names in Canadian
history--the name of one of the makers of Canada.


The author's larger work, 'Jean Talon, Intendant de la
Nouvelle France', is the principal source of information
for the foregoing narrative. Consult also Parkman, 'The
Old Regime in Canada'; Colby, 'Canadian Types of the Old
Regime'; Kingsford, 'The History of Canada', vol. i.;
the chapters, 'The Colony in its Political Relations'
and 'The Colony in its Economic Relations,' by Adam Shortt
and Thomas Chapais, in 'Canada and its Provinces', vol. ii.


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