Canadian Military History Gateway
Date > 1600 > 1650-1659
Resource Type > Image > Art
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.
This employee of the Hundred Associates carries a flintlock musket (or 'fusil'), a type of weapon that first appeared in the colony during the late 1640s. The fusil was lighter than the older matchlock musket and its firing system was more trustworthy. This made it an ideal weapon for Canada. The Iroquois' acquisition of firearms changed the military tactics in New France. Helmets and breastplates became useless, and French soldiers simply wore their usual clothing. This man's clothing follows contemporary civilian fashions in France. Hanging from a belt around his chest, our soldier carries individual charges of gunpowder in flasks jokingly known as 'the Twelve Apostles'. Reconstruction by Michel Pétard. (Canadian Department of National Defence)
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.