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Natives going to meet the Spanish navy schooners Sutil and Mexicana in 1792

Type: Image

This painting shows an encounter on 11 June 1792 between native canoes and the Spanish navy schooners Sutil and Mexicana. Mount Baker can be seen in the background. On this date in Guemes Channel (near present day Anacortes, Washington), a Spanish expedition paused to make astronomical observations that would correctly fix their longitude. Their mission was to chart the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and search for the Northwest Passage. The painting is the work of José Cardero, the expedition's official artist. (Museo Naval, Madrid)

Site: National Defence

Meeting of General Brock and Grand Chief Tecumseh at Fort Malden on 13 Aug 1812

Type: Image

Captain Glegg, who met Tecumseh at Fort Malden, left this description of the Shawnee chief: ‘Tecumseh was very prepossessing, his figure light and finely proportioned, his age I imagined to be about five-and-thirty, his height five feet nine or ten inches, his complexion light copper, his countenance oval, with bright hazel eyes beaming cheerfulness, energy and decision. Three small crowns or coronets were suspended from the lower cartilage of his aquiline nose, and a large silver medallion of George the Third, which I believe his ancestor received from Lord Dorchester when governor-general of Canada, was attached to a mixed coloured wampum string which hung round his neck. His dress consisted of a plain, neat uniform, a tanned deer-skin jacket with long trousers of the same material, the seams of both being covered with neatly cut fringe, and he had on his feet leather moccasins much ornamented with work made from the dyed quills of the porcupine.’

Site: National Defence

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

Map of the battle of Châteauguay, 26 October 1813

Type: Image

The battle of Châteauguay took place along the east and west banks of the Châteauguay river. There was a narrow cleared area on the west bank (towards the top of this map published in 1815), and it was here that the Canadian defenders manned their abbatis (barricades made of felled trees) on 26 October 1813. Most of the fighting took place on the west bank, but an American attempt to outflank the abbatis led to fierce and confused fighting on the east bank as well. The broken terrain helped the defenders by keeping the invaders from realizing that they outnumbered the Canadians ten to one.

Site: National Defence

Laura Secord discovered by British Amerindian allies, 22 June 1813

Type: Image

Laura Secord (1775-1868) walked into a camp of Amerindians towards the end of her famous 30 kilometre trek on 22 June 1813. The group were allies of the British, and they led Secord to a detachment of British troops stationed at the DeCew house, on the Niagara Escarpment near present-day St. Catherines, Ontario. There, she was able to pass on her warning of an impending American attack. This print gives a rather romanticized view of the heroine. At the time of her exploit, Secord was 38, rather older than suggested here. Nevertheless, a contemporary eyewitness account describes her 'slender frame and delicate appearance'.

Site: National Defence

Scene of daily life at Fort Beauséjour, around 1753

Type: Image

This view of the interior of Fort Beauséjour shows some of the activities that took place there just before the Seven Years' War. In the foreground, men are moving supplies. In the centre, an officer talks with a missionary who accompanies a pair of Abenakis. A left, a detachment of French soldiers escorts an English deserter. Reconstruction by Lewis Parker. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

Grand Chief Tecumseh of the Shawnee, circa 1807

Type: Image

Tecumseh (circa 1768 – 1813) had an impressive bearing and a charismatic personality. Canadian militia officer Thomas Vercheres de Boucherville described the Shawnee chief at a diner in 1813: ‘Tecumseh was seated at my left with his pistols on either side of his plate and his big hunting knife in front of him. He wore a red cloak, trousers of deerskin, and a printed calico shirt, the whole outfit a present of the English. His bearing was irreproachable for a man of the woods as he was, much better than some so-called gentlemen.’ It is uncertain that this widely published 19th century print is an actual likeness of Tecumseh. It is reputedly based on a pencil sketch made from life in 1807 at Vincennes, Indiana by Canadian fur trader Pierre Le Dru.

Site: National Defence

Micmac chief, circa 1740

Type: Image

This Micmac leader wears a mixture of Amerindian and European dress. Gifts of military clothing equipment were often made by the French colonial authories to allied leaders. Note the gorget around this man's neck - this small piece of armour was the symbol of an officer in European military fashion. Reconstruction by Francis Back. (Parks Canada)

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