BLTC Press Titles

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The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour

Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle

Knowledge of Higher Worlds and its Attainment

Rudolf Steiner

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A. Conan Doyle

Missionary labors of fathers Marquette, Menard and Allouez, in the Lake Superior region

by Chrysostom Verwyst


Towards the end of March, 1640, three vessels bound for Quebec left the harbor of Dieppe, France, and casting anchor within sight of the town, they awaited a favorable breeze for their westerly voyage. A terrible storm, however, broke out, which lasted from the 26th of March to the 28th of April. "I do not know," said Father Menard, who was aboard the flagship of the flotilla, the 'Esperance,' "I do not know whether the evil spirits foresaw some great good to be effected by our passage, but apparently they were determined to sink us in the very roadstead. They stirred up the whole ocean; they unchained the winds and excited tempests so frightful and continuous, that they came near destroying us within sight of Dieppe." On board the same vessel were another Jesuit Father and two lay-brothers, two Sisters of Mercy and two Ursuline Nuns, all of them determined to devote the rest of their lives to the service of the Catholic colonists and the pagan Indians of Canada, or, as it was then called, New France.

After a pleasant voyage of two months, they reached Tadoussac, June 1st, and in a few days later Quebec, which was then but a poor fort with a few log houses. In 1608, one year after the building ot Jamestown, Virginia, Cham plain built the first log cabin in Quebec. In 1629 it was burnt by a French party in the service of the English, but three years later, when Canada was restored to the French, it was rebuilt and from that time became the center whence Missionaries were sent in all directions.

About a year after his arrival, Father Menard was sent to the Hurons. This tribe occupied a small strip of territory on the southeastern shore of Georgian Bay and were then a large and prosperous tribe, numbering at least 30,000 souls, living in some twenty large settlements. Their deadly foes were the Iroquois, or Five Nations of New York, with whom they were continually in war and by whom they were well nigh exterminated in 1648-491. A small party, numbering about 500, after many wanderings through the wilds of Michigan and Wisconsin, came to reside on the shores of Chagaouamigong2 Bay and the Apostles Islands, where Father Allouez found them in 1665.

To give an idea of Father Menard's voyage to his Huron Mission, we will give the description given by another Missionary: "Of two difficulties regularly met with, the first is that of rapids and portages; for these abound in every river throughout those regions. When a person approaches such cataracts or rapids, he has to step ashore and carry on his back, through forests or over high, vexatious rocks, not only his baggage, but also the canoe. This is not accomplished without much labor; for there are portages of one, two and three leagues, each of them, besides, requiring several journeys, if one has ever so small a number of packages. At some places, where the rapids are not less swift than at the portages, but of easier access, the Indians, plunging into the water, drag their canoes and conduct them with their hands with utmost difficulty and danger; for sometimes they are up to their necks in the current, so that they have to let go their hold upon their canoes and save themselves as best they can from the rapidity of the water, that snatches the canoe out of their hands and carries it off I have computed the number of portages and find that we carried thirtyfive times and dragged at least fifty times. The second ordinary difficulty concerns food. A person is often obliged to fast, especially if he happens to lose the places where he stowed away provisions on his down-river course. Even

1. See "Historical and biographical notes," where a short sketch of the rise and downfall of the Huron mission is given.

2. Chagaouamigong, pronounced Sha-ga-wa-mi-gong. To pronounce Indian words, observe that

a is pronounced like a in father, far.

e is pronounced like a in way, say.

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