Canadian Military History Gateway
Organization > National Defence
Subject > Politics and Society
Date > 1600 > 1640-1649
Artillery installed in the early forts defending the towns of New France was usually mounted on this type of carriage. A gunner is shown clearing the vent with a thin spike. The forked pike carried by one of the gunners was used to hold a slow match to ignite the powder in the gun's vent. This caused the ignition of the powder charge in the barrel and the firing of the cannonball.
Both Britain and France needed strong navies to protect their coasts, fishing fleets and colonies. The peak of French naval power was during the 1690s, when it dominated the coasts of England. Defeated in 1692, the French navy declined in quality and strength from that point on.
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 new settlement was begun, westwards of Quebec in Iroquois territory at Ville-Marie (later Montreal) in 1642. Another big development for the colony was the arrival of 60 soldiers paid for by the Queen of France.
Under Governor Montmagny, relations with the Iroquois soured further. Outright war broke out in 1641.
Wherever they were from, soldiers would often be found playing cards, whether in an inn as shown, or in the field using a drum as a card table. Gambling was often part of the game. Soldiers in Canada were no different than anywhere else although they would not have worn the boots with spurs seen in this illustration of soldiers in France.
In the 1640s, the French settlements in Acadia were subject to a bitter feudal conflict between Charles Menou d’Aulnay and Charles de Saint-Etienne de La Tour, the two noblemen who claimed sole authority over the colony. While de La Tour was absent in April 1645, Menou d’Aulnay attacked his fort on the St. John River (now at St. John, NB) with 200 men and artillery. Mme. Françoise-Marie Jacquelin de La Tour (1602-1645) rose to the occasion and led the fort’s small garrison of about 45 men for three days. The fourth day, the fort finally fell by treason. Mme de La Tour was spared the massacre that followed, but died three weeks later of unknown but probably natural causes. This brave and determined woman was one of Canada’s first heroines as well as the first European woman to raise a family in present-day New Brunswick. There is no known portrait of her. This idealised illustration is from a Second World War recruiting poster by Adam Sherriff-Scott. (Library of the Canadian Department of National Defence)
Father Isaac Jogues, Friar Jean de Lanlande and a number of Huron converts were attacked by Mohawk warriors on the Richelieu River in October 1646. Captured and taken to an Iroquois town, they were killed on October 18. The Iroquois made travel on most waterways a very dangerous endeavour at this time; the small French garrison had no effective way to counter this.
The population of Acadia was not militarized in the way French colonists in Canada were. Relations with the local Amerindians were good, while internal social conflict and long periods of English occupation discouraged the development of a strong militia.
Work on the fort started in 1642, and it stood until demolished in 1672. While details are lacking, the fort is known to have been built on a square plan with bastions at each corner. This 19th century drawing shows its possible appearance.