Open main menu

Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/432

This page needs to be proofread.




near Montreal, wheneo they moved (1676) to Sault St. Louis, and then to Causlinawaga. One of the chief reasons for tliat migration was tlie prevailingexccsses, principally owing to the intoxicants dealt out by the Dutch. The French colony itself was not free from that greatest of curses for the American aborigine. But, in addition to the solenm promise to abstain therefrom which was exacted of all the newcomers into the model settlement, the stopping of the evil was more easy on t'anadian than on American (or, as it was then, English) soil. As a matter of fact, the missionaries of New France, and especially their valiant head, Bishop Laval, fought it with unflagging perseverance, appealing to the French authorities whenever their representatives on the St. Lawrence proved unwilling to stay the spread of this scourge. In their new home at Sault St. Louis the Iroquois Christians gave great consolations. Thus one of the Tarmer torturers of Father de Br^beuf, Garonhiagud by name, became one of the most zealous catechists of the new mission, and the war-chief Kryn shone by his virtues as much as by his courage. But the best known example of Christian efflorescence in that settlement was Catherine Tegakwitha, a native virgin surnamed the " Lily of the Mohawks", who died in 1678 after a short life passed in the practice of heroic virtues. About that time events shaped themselves in such a way as to further increase the extent of the missionary field in the East. The Abenakis, an Algonquin nation, ever a staimch ally of the French, though most of its tribes were considerably nearer to the English, were attracting the attention of Father Gabriel Druillettes, who visited them re- peatedly in their original homes. These natives were soon to swell the ranks of the Canadian Indians under the care of the Jesuits. After a series of hos- tilities in the course of which the English had at one time to agree to pay them tribute, the Abenakis were defeated on 3 Dec, 1679. Kather than re- main neighbours to the victors, most of them imme- diately made their way to Canada and Acadia, where they have since remained.

The following year (1680) two Jesuits, the brothers Vincent and Jacques Bigot, were appointed to watch over the spiritual interests of the newcomers. These, gathered at the village of Sillery, joined St. Joseph's Mission which in 1681 counted already some five hundred or six hundred inhabitants, as yet un- baptized, but animated by excellent dispositions. Their congeners in Acadia, having heard of the wel- come extended to them, asked for, and were granted, 1 July, 1683, a land concession of thirty-si.x square miles on the Chaudiere River, to which they flocked in large numbers. This was given the name of St. Francis' Mission. For over twenty years the Bigot brothers devoted their energies to the welfare of the Indians of both missions, and their zeal was rewarded by complete success. In 1708 other aborigines of the same stock were settled at Becan- court, with a view to serve as a rampart against the IrO(|Uois. They "were all Christians, and practised with much edification the precepts of Christianity" (Charlevoix, "Journal Hist.", V, p. 164). Twelve years later (1720) they numbered about five hundred souls. A .short time before (1716), the mission of Oka, or Lake of the Two Moimtains, was established, where Christianized Irofiuois and remnants of the Algonquin nation were gathered under the guidance of the Sulpicians. In these various foundations the sec\ilar authorities generously seconded the efforts of the missionaries by the grant of large tracts of land for the benefit of their charge.

Now that the French were more or less at peace with the Iroc|Uois, and friendly with the other tribes in the East, they dreamt of fresh conquests in the West. The "Western Sea" (Pacific Ocean) was especially the object of their ambition. They commissioned

the Sieur Pierre Oaulthier de Laverendrye to under- take an expedition in that direction, and in the sum- mer of 1735 I'ather Jean Pierre Aulneau, S.J., ac- companied him to the Lake of the Woods previous to attem|)(ing his ultimate mission, the conversion of the Maiiilans of the Upper Missouri. With a party of twenty Frenchmen, he was treacherously slain on an islanil of the same lake 1 )y the Sioux on 8 June of the following year. Fatlu^r Claude Godefroy Co(iuart, of the same ortler, took his place (1743) as chaplain of the exploring expedition, anil tlwelt a short tune at the present Portage la Prairie, but could accomplLsh nothing for the Western Indians. The mission of Michilimakinac, at the west entl of Lake Huron, was then the base of operations for such expeditions. Thence also the Jesuits scoured the woods in quest of souls to save, and Ross Cox says that the impression they made on their wayward wards was such that, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, the de- scendants of the latter had not forgotten " the good white fathers who, unlike other white men, never robbed or cheated them " (".\d ventures on the Colum- bia River", New York, p. 149). But, with the ex- ception of the reservations of the Abenakis and the Micmacs in the far East, all under the care of the Jesuits, most of the Catholic missions in Canada were along the St. Lawrence. Quite a few were at the various localities then called the Posts of the King, the Malbaie, Tadoussac, Mingan, Chicoutimi, and other places, concerning which Father Coquart addressed a memoir to the Intendant of New France under date 5 April, 1750.

Shortly before, a Sulpician, Father Francis Picquet, had started a movement among the aborigines, the results of which were most remarkal>le. In a village called Ogdensburg he established a reduction , the suc- cess of which soon attractetl widespread attention. In the space of four years he grouped over three thousand Indians and opened for their benefit the missions of La Presentation, La Galette, Sugatzi, L'lle au Galop, and L'lle Picquet, on the St. Lawrence. So great was his success and so considerable the extent of his operations that (1749) it took the Bishop of Quebec ten days to inspect his central establishment officially. Two years later Father Picquet visited the Indians on Lake Ontario, whence he repaired to the land of the Senecas. When Quebec was captured in 1759, that missionary had converted large numbers of heathens. Unfortunately, the ensuing unsettled state of the country put a stop to his activities, and in May, 1760, he had to leave Ogdensburg, never to return. An- other Sulpician, Father Jean Mathevet, after having mastered the language of the Abenakis, of which he compiled a dictionary, was then ministering to the mixed congregation of Oka (1746-81), together with Father Vincent Guichart,, whose missionary labours extended from 1754 to the time of his death in 1793. Perhaps the most famous Canadian missionary of that period was Father Jean-Baptiste Labrosse, a Jesuit, who exercised his ministry all through Lower Canada and New Brunswick during no less than thirty-five years, being with the Montagnais and the Malecit¬ęs from 1754-82, when he died regretted by all for his unremitting charity. Two events then conspired to interrupt the progress of the Catholic missions in Canada. These were the change of political masters, owing to which several members of the clergy re- turned to France, and the suppression, in 1773, of the Jesuit Order. By the fortieth clause of the Montreal capitulation England had granted religious liberty to the Indians as well as to the whites then in the colony. Yet some of the instructions soon after sent to her representatives on the banks of the St. Lawrence were openly against the spirit, if not the letter, of that treaty. The officials were told that "all missionaries among the Indians, whether established under the authority or appointed by the Jesuits, or by any other