Canadian Military History Gateway
Organization > National Defence
Subject > Soldiers, Warriors and Leaders > Population Groups > First Nations > Huron
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.
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.
The Amerindian peoples first encountered by the Europeans wore leather clothing. They decorated themselves and their clothes for religious and traditional reasons, and also to impress their enemies.
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.
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.
Some cultures lived as settled nations, depending on agriculture and building strong fortifications. These included the Iroquois group and various peoples on the Pacific coast
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 Iroquois and Hurons were locked in a brutal struggle. Although both were ravaged by epidemics and armed by European colonists, it was the Huron nation that was effectively destroyed.