Cumberland Academy

Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France

The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents in New France 1610—1791


“The story of New France is also, in part, the story of much of New England, and of States whose shores are washed by the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. It may truly be said that the History of every one of our northern tier of commonwealths, from Maine to Minnesota, has its roots in the French regime.

With heroic fortitude, often with marvelous enterprise, they pierced our wilderness while still there were rut Indian trails to connect far-distant villages of semi-naked aborigines. They saw North America and the North Americans practically in the primitive stage.”

“In 1615, Champlain thought the time ripe for the institution of Indian missions upon the St. Lawrence, and introduced to Québec four members of the fraternity of Récollets, the most austere of the three orders of Franciscans . . .

To d‘Olbeau was assigned the conversion of the Montagnais of the Lower St. Lawrence; Le Caron went to the Hurons, or Wyandots, in the vast stretch of forested wilderness west of the Ottawa River, and before the coming of autumn had established a bark chapel in their midst;

Jamay and Du Plessis remained in the neighborhood of Québec, ministering to the colonists and the wandering savages who came to the little settlement for purposes of trade or sociability’, or through fear of scalp-hunting Iroquois. . .For ten years did these gray friars practice the rites of the church in the Canadian woods, all the way from the fishing and trading outpost of Tadoussac to the western Lake of the Nipissings.

In 1600-1603, Chauvin and Pontgravé made successful trading voyages to the St. Lawrence. Samuel de Champlain was one of the party which, in the latter year, followed in Cartier’s track to Montréal. The same season, a Calvinist, named De Monts, was given the vice-royalty and fur-trade monopoly of Acadia, and in 1604 he landed a strangely-assorted company of vagabonds and gentlemen on St. Croix Island, near the present boundary between Maine and New Brunswick; but in the spring following they settled at Port Royal, near where is now Annapolis, Nova Scotia, thus planting the first French agricultural settlement in America. Five years later, Champlain reared a permanent post on the rock of Québec.

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