Canadian Military History Gateway
Organization > National Defence
Subject > Politics and Society
Date > 1600 > 1610-1619
These French soldiers wear a style of clothing common through much of Western Europe in the early seventeenth century. Note the musket rest carried by the man at left, and the pike carried by the man in the background. Mid-19th century engraving after a drawing by Alfred de Marbot.
Introduction by W.A.B. Douglas, Director Directorate of History, Program Chairman. Articles in a variety of languages including: English, German, French, Italian, Portugese, Spanish, Russian, Greek.
A second colony at Quebec, led by Champlain, saw much struggle. It changed hands, first to the English, then to a new French trading company. Attempts were made to fortify and strengthen the settlement.
This reconstruction shows one of the rare soldiers found in New France during the first decades of the French Regime. Sent to the colony by one of the trading companies that obtained commercial monopolies, this man's costume and harquebus date him between 1610 and 1620. In 1609-1610, Champlain campaigned with a group of French soldiers who each wore a 'pikeman's corselet' for protection against the arrows of the Amerindians. This armour was normally worn only by pikemen in Europe. In Canada, between 1610 and 1630, French soldiers used harquebuses or muskets, and they always wore armour for protection. Reconstruction by Michel Pétard. (Canadian Department of National Defence)
Champlain's 1613 map shows Newfoundland ('terreneuve'), Acadia ('Acadye') and Labrador among other locations. Notice the label 'Canadas' on the north shore of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.
Champlain with his five French companions (at left) and Indian allies attacks a small Iroquois fort at the mouth of the Richelieu River in June 1610. Such Amerindian field fortifications could offer stiff resistance. In spite of the French firearms which had impressed them the previous year, the outnumbered Iroquois (probably Mohawk) warriors resisted stubbornly and Champlain was wounded at the ear and neck by an arrow. Finally, the place was carried by an assault ‘with sword in hand’.
The first permanent French colony was in Acadia. It had good relations with the local Amerindians, but suffered from struggles with England.
This reconstruction of Champlain's 1605 Habitation was opened in 1941. It is now a National Historic Site run by Parks Canada.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the European wars that had touched the eastern coasts of North and South America left the Pacific untroubled. From the European point of view, the region was largely unexplored, despite being bordered by Spanish colonies.
This fortified dwelling was built by Samuel de Champlain and his men in 1605. This was a replacement for an earlier structure at Saint-Croix, and was intended to take advantage of a slightly milder climate after a winter that had seen 35 of the 80 colonists die of scurvy. The building was destroyed in 1613 by English colonists from Virginia. (Library and Archives Canada, NL8760).