Canadian Military History Gateway
Organization > National Defence
Subject > Politics and Society
Date > 1600 > 1650-1659 > 1654
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.
The Iroquois pressed their advantage, raiding and spreading fear among the colonists. A French attempt to force a pitched battle was unsuccessful.
Until the 1660s, especially in the Montreal area, no one in the French settlements really felt quite safe from surprise attacks by hostile Iroquois warriors. Many Canadian settlers, including women, learned to handle firearms during the 1650s.
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.
With Huronia destroyed and Fort Richelieu burnt, the centre of the French colony started to suffer badly from Iroquois raids. Attempts to strengthen the garrison, and also to found a mission among the Iroquois were failures.
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.
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.
Both Great Britain (in 1651 at St. John's) and France (in 1660 at Placentia) established naval bases in Newfoundland to support their fishing fleets on the Grand Banks. The French garrison mutinied, and the base was virtually ungarrisoned until 1687.
This print shows a classic European vision of scalping. The process was widespread amongst both the forest and plains Amerindians, and dates back to at least the early 16th century. Scalps were viewed as trophies of war, part of a ritual act of retribution on an enemy.
During the 18th century, the British colonies in what is now Atlantic Canada were very different from their counterparts further south in New England. The northern colonies had a strong military presence, relatively small civilian populations, and no strong militia.