free of duty. In return the company was to take to New France 300 colonists a year; only French Catholics might go; and for each settlement the company was to provide three priests. Until 1663 this company controlled New France.
It was an era of missionary zeal in the Roman Catholic church, and Canada became the favourite mission. The Society of Jesus was only one of several orders—Franciscans (Recollets), Sulpicians, Ursulines, &c.—who worked in New France. The Jesuits have attracted chief attention, not merely on account of their superior zeal and numbers, but also because of the tragic fate of some of their missionaries in Canada. In the voluminous Relations of their doings the story has been preserved. Among the Huron Indians, whose settlements bordered on the lake of that name, they secured a great influence. But there was relentless war between the Hurons and the Iroquois occupying the southern shore of Lake Ontario, and when in 1649 the Iroquois ruined and almost completely destroyed the Hurons, the Jesuit missionaries also fell victims to the conquerors’ rage. Missionaries to the Iroquois themselves met with a similar fate and the missions failed. Commercial life also languished. The company planned by Richelieu was not a success. It did little to colonize New France, and in 1660, after more than thirty years of its monopoly, there were not more than 2000 French in the whole country. In 1663 the charter of the company was revoked. No longer was a trading company to discharge the duties of a sovereign. New France now became a royal province, with governor, intendant, &c., on the model of the provinces of France.
In 1664 a new “Company of the West Indies” (Compagnie des Indes Occidentales) was organized to control French trade and colonization not only in Canada but also in West Africa, South America and the West Indies. At first it promised well. In 1665 some 2000 emigrants were sent to Canada; the European population was soon doubled, and Louis XIV. began to take a personal interest in the colony. But once more, in contrast with English experience, the great trading company proved a failure in French hands as a colonizing agent, and in 1674 its charter was summarily revoked by Louis XIV. Henceforth in name, if not in fact, monopoly is ended in Canada.
By this time French explorers were pressing forward to unravel the mystery of the interior. By 1659 two Frenchmen, Radisson and Groseillers, had penetrated beyond the great lakes to the prairies of the far West; they were probably the first Europeans to see the Mississippi. By 1666 a French mission was established on the shores of Lake Superior, and in 1673 Joliet and Marquette, explorers from Canada, reached and for some distance descended the Mississippi. Five years later Cavelier de la Salle was making his toilsome way westward from Quebec to discover the true character of the great river and to perform the feat, perilous in view of the probable hostility of the natives, of descending it to the sea. In 1682 he accomplished his task, took possession of the valley of the Mississippi in the name of Louis XIV. and called it Louisiana. Thus from Canada as her basis was France reaching out to grasp a continent.
There was a keen rivalry between church and state for dominance in this new empire. In 1659 arrived at Quebec a young prelate of noble birth, Francois Xavier de Laval-Montmorency, who had come to rule the church in Canada. An ascetic, who practised the whole cycle of medieval austerities, he was determined that Canada should be ruled by the church, and he desired for New France a Puritanism as strict as that of New England. His especial zeal was directed towards the welfare of the Indians. These people showed, to their own ruin, a reckless liking for the brandy of the white man. Laval insisted that the traders should not supply brandy to the natives. He declared excommunicate any one who did so and for a time he triumphed. More than once he drove from Canada governors who tried to thwart him. In 1663 he was actually invited to choose a governor after his own mind and did so, but with no cessation of the old disputes. In 1672 Louis de Buade, comte de Frontenac (q.v.), was named governor of New France, and in him the church found her match. Yet not at once; for, after a bitter struggle, he was recalled in 1682. But Canada needed him. He knew how to control the ferocious Iroquois, who had cut off France from access to Lake Ontario; to check them he had built a fort where now stands the city of Kingston. With Frontenac gone, these savages almost strangled the colony. On a stormy August night in 1689 1500 Iroquois burst in on the village of Lachine near Montreal, butchered 200 of its people, and carried off more than 100 to be tortured to death at their leisure. Then the strong man Frontenac was recalled to face the crisis.
It was a critical era. James II. had fallen in England, and William III. was organizing Europe against French aggression. France’s plan for a great empire in America was now taking shape and there, as in Europe, a deadly
England. struggle with England was inevitable. Frontenac planned attacks upon New England and encouraged a ruthless border warfare that involved many horrors. Him, in return, the English attacked. Sir William Phips sailed from Boston in 1690, conquered Acadia, now Nova Scotia, and then hazarded the greater task of leading a fleet up the St Lawrence against Quebec. On the 16th of October 1690 thirty-four English ships, some of them only fishing craft, appeared in its basin and demanded the surrender of the town. When Frontenac answered defiantly, Phips attacked the place; but he was repulsed and in the end sailed away unsuccessful.
Each side had now begun to see that the vital point was control of the interior, which time was to prove the most extensive fertile area in the world. La Salle’s expedition had aroused the French to the importance of the Mississippi, and they soon had a bold plan to occupy it, to close in from the rear on the English on the Atlantic coast, seize their colonies and even deport the colonists. The plan was audacious, for the English in America outnumbered the French by twenty to one. But their colonies were democracies, disunited because each was pursuing its own special interests, while the French were united under despotic leadership. Frontenac attacked the Iroquois mercilessly in 1696 and forced these proud savages to sue for peace. But in the next year was made the treaty of Ryswick, which brought a pause in the conflict, and in 1698 Frontenac died.
After Frontenac the Iroquois, though still hostile to France, are formidable no more, and the struggle for the continent is frankly between the English and the French. The peace of Ryswick proved but a truce, and when in 1701, on the death of the exiled James II., Louis XIV. flouted the claims of William III. to the throne of England by proclaiming as king James’s son, renewed war was inevitable. In Europe it saw the brilliant victories of Marlborough; in America it was less decisive, but France lost heavily. Though the English, led by Sir Hovenden Walker, made in 1711 an effort to take Quebec which proved abortive, they seized Nova Scotia; and when the treaty of Utrecht was made in 1713, France admitted defeat in America by yielding to Britain her claims to Hudson Bay, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. But she still held the shores of the St Lawrence, and she retained, too, the island of Cape Breton to command its mouth. There she built speedily the fortress of Louisbourg, and prepared once more to challenge British supremacy in America. With a sound instinct that looked to future greatness, France still aimed, more and more, at the control of the interior of the Continent. The danger from the Iroquois on Lake Ontario had long cut her off from the most direct access to the West, and from the occupation of the Ohio valley leading to the Mississippi, but now free from this savage scourge she could go where she would. In 1701 she founded Detroit, commanding the route from Lake Erie to Lake Huron. Her missionaries and leaders were already at Sault Ste Marie commanding the approach to Lake Superior, and at Michilimackinac commanding that to Lake Michigan. They had also penetrated to what is now the Canadian West, and it was a French Canadian, La Vérendrye, who, by the route leading past the point where now stands the city of Winnipeg,