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Resource Type > Image

Subject > Weapons, Equipment and Fortifications

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

French artillery, 1640s

Type: Image

Artillery installed in the early forts defending the towns of New France was usually mounted on this type of carriage. A gunner is shown clearing the vent with a thin spike. The forked pike carried by one of the gunners was used to hold a slow match to ignite the powder in the gun's vent. This caused the ignition of the powder charge in the barrel and the firing of the cannonball.

Site: National Defence

Quebec batteries firing on Phips' ships during October 1690

Type: Image

Part of Quebec's defences is shown firing upon the invaders’ ships during October 1690. The upper town was protected by a good wall with intermittent batteries. There were more defensive works up towards the Chateau Saint-Louis near Cape Diamond. In the lower town, facing the harbour, there were two strong French shore batteries armed with heavy 18 and 24-pounder naval cannon. Inland, a line of earthworks punctuated with 11 redoubts enclosed the city from the western side. This 19th century print is inaccurate in some details (for instance, the Château Saint-Louis which only had one storey in 1690) but gives a good sense of the general action. (Library and Archives Canada, C-006022)

Site: National Defence

French soldiers of the early 17th century

Type: Image

These French soldiers wear a style of clothing common through much of Western Europe in the early seventeenth century. Note the musket rest carried by the man at left, and the pike carried by the man in the background. Mid-19th century engraving after a drawing by Alfred de Marbot.

Site: National Defence

Matchlock musket, circa 1665

Type: Image

This is the sort of weapon that the men of the régiment de Carignan-Salières carried during their service in Canada. Squeezing the trigger lever (seen sticking out below the weapon) made the serpentine (the curved metal arm at right) snap downwards. Attached to the top of the serpentine (but not seen here) would be a slowly-burning piece of string called a 'slow match'. When the serpentine snapped down, the burning match would drop into the priming pan (at centre). In this small depression sat a small amount of gunpowder. This would explode when the match hit it, and the explosion would carry inside the matchlock's barrel, setting off a second charge of gunpowder. This final explosion would fire a bullet down the barrel (part of which is seen at right). This process could go wrong in a number of ways, but was very noisy and impressive when it worked. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

French pikeman, circa 1635

Type: Image

Pikemen’s armour and pikes were sent to Quebec during the 1620s. The armour appears to have been worn by some soldiers until the later 1630s although it seems the pikes were hardly ever used. In Europe, pikemen were still seen in battlefields, albeit in decreasing numbers, right until the end of the 17th century. In America, pikes or halberds might have been used by a few ceremonial guards and sergeants but were not otherwise carried.

Site: National Defence

Officer and soldiers, régiment de Carignan-Salières, 1665-1668

Type: Image

This reconstruction shows an officer and men of the régiment de Carignan-Salières during their service in New France. The common soldiers at left and right carry muskets. Hanging from their shoulder belts are the powder flasks known as 'the Twelve Apostles'. The officer (centre) carries a half-pike and wears the white sash of a French officer around his waist. Reconstruction by Francis Back. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

Sir William Phips before Quebec in October 1690

Type: Image

Sir William Phips (1650-1694) is shown on the deck of one of the ships hired on credit by the New England colonies to carry an army of Massachusetts militia to Quebec. It is probably when they arrived in October 1690 that Phips and his officers realized what a formidable natural fortress Quebec really was.

Site: National Defence

The first Fort Chambly built in 1665

Type: Image

This model represents the original Fort Chambly. The original wooden log structure was built in 1665 and was typical of the early forts in Canada.

Site: National Defence

'Cat of nine tails' whip

Type: Image

The ‘cat of nine tails’ was a whip used to flog soldiers. This one was used in the British 83rd Regiment of Foot. The length of the wooden stick was 43cm (1' 5"), its tails 53cm (1' 9"), and it weighed 141,75 g. (5 ounces). (Library of the Canadian Department of National Defence)

Site: National Defence