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Organization > National Defence

Subject > Soldiers, Warriors and Leaders > Population Groups > First Nations

Date > 1600

Champlain's famous fight on 30 July 1609 against the Iroquois Indians as interpreted in a late 19th century print

Type: Image

When Champlain took part in a 1609 Huron expedition against the Iroquois, he began a contest between two ways of warfare that lasted centuries. The combination of armour and firearms was rapidly understood and used to advantage by early French soldiers in Canada. By contrast, the Amerindians evolved furtive tactics and rapid movements which eventually proved to be the best in a wilderness environment.

Site: National Defence

The battle of Long-Sault, in May 1660

Type: Image

This early-20th century engraving shows the climax of the legendary 1660 defence of Long-Sault against the Iroquois by Adam Dollard des Ormeaux and his men. One of the French defenders is shown holding a keg of gunpowder above his head. This makeshift bomb would fall back inside the fort and kill much of the garrison.

Site: National Defence

Treatment Of Prisoners

Type: Document

One problem of raid warfare was the treatment of prisoners - they were often brutally tortured, as was the custom of the Amerindians. This was ironic, as the Canadians themselves had suffered badly this way from the Iroquois.

Site: National Defence

Canada's First Warriors

Type: Interactive ResourceDocument

A slide show presentation of Native American dress from the 16th to mid-18th century.

Site: National Defence

Another Round Of Iroquois Wars

Type: Document

The Iroquois pressed their advantage, raiding and spreading fear among the colonists. A French attempt to force a pitched battle was unsuccessful.

Site: National Defence

Iroquois warriors lurking near French settlements during the 1650s

Type: Image

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.

Site: National Defence

Training in a New School

Type: Document

Once established, the tactics of Canadian warfare would persist as long as the French regime. Refinements were made as the regular soldiers of the Compagnies franches de la Marine grew more experienced in the new methods.

Site: National Defence

The European Failure

Type: Document

Unlike the Spanish Central America, Europeans were unable to successfully colonize North America in the 16th Century. Amerindian guerrilla tactics combined with a cold and hostile land to frustrate the newcomers. Nevertheless, North America became a theatre of war for European conflicts.

Site: National Defence

Dollard's Expedition Surprised

Type: Document

A party of men under Dollard des Ormeaux, commander of the Montreal garrison, was surprised by a much larger group of Iroquois. Besieged at a disused Algonquin fort at Long-Sault on the Ottawa River, the Frenchmen and their Huron allies were wiped out.

Site: National Defence

La Salle claims Louisiana for France

Type: Image

Robert Cavelier de La Salle is shown taking part in a ceremony where he claimed Louisiana for France on 6 April 1682, after having descended the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. Even in the wilderness, the ceremony was done in full regalia with all the formalities.

Site: National Defence