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Title: Canadian Scenery Vol. 1 of 2

Date of first publication: 1842

Author: N.P. (Nathaniel Parker) Willis (1806-1867)

Date first posted: Nov. 28, 2014

Date last updated: Nov. 28, 2014

Faded Page eBook #20141127

This ebook was produced by: Marcia Brooks, Cindy Beyer & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at http://www.pgdpcanada.net

The Chaudière Falls, near Quebec.






















I. Canadian Scenery.

II. The Discovery and Settlement of Canada.

III. Later Events in Canada.

IV. Conditions of the Inhabitants of Canada.

V. Impressions of Canada on Travellers.



The Map


A Forest Scene

Canoe-building at Papper’s Island

View across the Boundary Line, from the Sugar Loaf

The Squaw’s Grave

Port Hope

The Whirlpool on the Niagara

Aylmer, Upper Canada

Long Sault Rapid, on the St. Lawrence

Quebec, from the opposite shore of the St. Lawrence

Montmorency Cove

Monument to Wolfe and Montcalm, Quebec

The Plains of Abraham, near Quebec

Les Marches Naturelles, near Quebec


General Brock’s Monument, above Queenston

Citadel of Kingston

View from the Citadel of Kingston

Copp’s Ferry, near Georgeville

March on Lake Chaudière

The Chaudière, near Bytown

Lake of the Two Mountains

St. John's, Richlieu River

Fort Chambly


Fish Market, Toronto

Navy Island

The Banks of the River Niagara


Village of Lorette, near Quebec

Junction of the St. Francis and Magog Rivers

Hallowell, Bay of Quinté

Scene in the Bay of Quinté

St. Regis, Indian Village

Burial-Place of the Voyageurs

Scene among the Thousand Isles

Rapids, on the approach to the Village of Cedars

Prescott, from Ogdensburg Harbour

Village of Cedars, River St. Lawrence

Nelson’s Pillar, Montreal

Montreal, from the St. Lawrence

The St. Lawrence at Montreal

Raft in a Squall on Lake St. Peter

The Three Rivers, River St. Lawrence

Bridge near Quebec

The Chaudière Bridge, near Quebec

The Chaudière Falls, near Quebec

Raft on the St. Lawrence, Cape Sante

Scene from the Summit of the Fall of Montmorency

Montmorency Bridge

Prescott Gate, Quebec

View from the Citadel, Quebec

Wolfe’s Cove

The Map


The name of this magnificent link in the colonial chain with which England has encircled the world, is a matter of considerable doubt.[1] It has been dignified with some research and ingenuity, however, and we can record the result, leaving the choice of solutions to the reader. Hennepin thus unfolds his idea of its origin:—“Les Espagnols ont fait la première découverte du Canada. Ayant mis pied à terre, ils n’y trouvèrent rien de considérable. Cette raison les obligea d’abandonner ce pays, qu’ils appellèrent il Capo di Nada, c’est-à-dire le Cap de Rien (or Cape Nothing), d’où est venu par corruption le nom de Canada.”

La Potherie corroborates this statement, with this difference, that he attributes the Spaniards’ idea of the nothingness of the country to its being covered with snow. He says also that the Indians, on the arrival of Jacques Cartier, frequently pronounced these words: Aca nada (nothing here), which is a very plausible derivation. The words were taught them probably by the Spaniards, who had visited the Baie des Chaleurs, and pronounced them because they found no gold or silver mines.

Our own opinion, however, is, that the word Canada is derived from the word Kanata, which, in Iroquois, signifies a collection of huts. By so unpromising an appellation, is known a province containing upwards of 350,000 square miles, which offer to the agriculturist almost measureless fields of pasture and tillage—to the manufacturer, an incalculable extension of the home market for the disposal of his wares—to the merchant and mariner, vast marts for profitable traffic in every product with which nature has bounteously enriched the earth—to the capitalist, an almost interminable extent for the profitable investment of funds—and to the industrious, skilful, and intelligent emigrant, a field where every species of mental ingenuity and manual labour may be developed and brought into action with advantage to the whole family of man.

The first query that occurs to the reader’s mind in taking up any book on Canada, is, What was the real character of the aboriginal inhabitant, and how far and in what manner has he receded before the advancing step of the white man? Before touching on the history of the civilization of the country, the condition of its savage owners should be well understood.

In their physical character, the American savage is considered by Blumenbach as forming a particular variety in the human species, differing, though not very widely, from the Mongolian. Believing that the New World was peopled from the Old, and considering that the Mongol race was situated nearest the point where Asia and America come almost into contact, we are inclined to ascribe these variations merely to a change of circumstances. The face is broad and flat, with high cheek bones; more rounded and arched, however, than in the allied type, without having the visage expanded to the same breadth. The forehead is generally low; the eyes deep, small, and black; the nose rather diminutive, but prominent, with wide nostrils; and the mouth large, with somewhat thick lips. The stature, which varies remarkably throughout the continent, is, in the quarter of which we treat, generally above the middle size. This property, however, is confined to the men, the females being usually below that standard—a fact which may be confidently ascribed to the oppressive drudgery they are compelled to undergo. The limbs, in both sexes, are well proportioned, and few instances of deformity ever occur.

The colour of the skin in the American is generally described as red, or copper-coloured; or, according to Mr. Lawrence’s more precise definition, “it is an obscure orange or rusty-iron colour, not unlike the bark of the cinnamon tree.” Although we believe that climate is the chief cause of the diversities in human colour, yet it is certain that all savages are dark-tinted. This peculiarity may be accounted for by their constant exposure to the inclemency of the seasons, to sun, air, and tempests; and the same cause, in civilized countries, produces a similar effect on sailors, as well as on those who work constantly in the fields. In the Old World, the intermediate tints between white and black are generally varieties of brown and yellow. The red tint is considered characteristic of the New World. We must, however, observe that the traveller Adair, who lived upwards of thirty years among the Indians, positively asserts that it is produced artificially; that in the oil, grease, and other unctuous substances with which they keep their skin constantly smeared, there is dissolved the juice of a root which gradually tinges it of this colour. He states that a white man, who spent some years with the natives and adorned himself in their manner, completely acquired it. Charlevoix seems also to lean to the same opinion. Weld, though rather inclined to dissent from it, admits that such a notion was adopted by missionaries and others who had resided long in the country. It is certain that the inhabitants glory in this colour, and regard Europeans who have it not as nondescript beings, not fully entitled to the name of men. It may be noticed also, that this tint is by no means so universal as is commonly supposed. Humboldt declares that the idea of its general prevalence could never have arisen in equinoctial America, or been suggested by the view of the natives in that region; yet these provinces include by far the larger part of the aboriginal population. The people of Nootka Sound and other districts of the north-western coast are nearly as white as Europeans; which may be ascribed, we think, to their ample clothing and spacious habitations. Thus the red nations appear limited to the eastern tribes of North America, among whom generally prevails the custom of painting or smearing the skin with that favourite colour. We are not prepared to express a decided opinion on this subject; but it obviously requires a closer investigation than it has yet received.

The hair is another particular in which the races of mankind remarkably differ. The ruder classes are generally defective, either in the abundance or quality of that graceful appendage; and the hair of the Americans, like that of their allied type the Mongols, is coarse, black, thin, but strong, and growing to a great length. Like the latter also, by a curious coincidence, most of them remove it from every part of the head with the exception of a tuft on the crown, which they cherish with much care. The circumstance, however, which has excited the greatest attention, is the absence of beard, apparently entire among all the people of the New World. The early travellers viewed it as a natural deficiency; whence Robertson and other eminent writers have even inferred the existence of something peculiarly feeble in their whole frame. But the assertion, with all the inferences founded upon it, so far as relates to the North American tribes, has been completely refuted by recent observation. The original growth has been found nearly, if not wholly, as ample as that of the Europeans; but the moment it appears, every trace is studiously obliterated. This is effected by the aged females, originally with a species of clam-shell, but now by means of spiral pieces of brass wire supplied by the traders. With these an old squaw will, in a few minutes, reduce the chin to a state of complete smoothness; and slight applications during the year, clear away such straggling hairs as happen to sprout. It is only among old men, who become careless of their appearance, that the beard begins to be perceptible. A late English traveller strongly recommends to his countrymen a practice, which, though scarcely accordant with our ideas of manly dignity, would, at the expense of a few minutes’ pain, save them much daily trouble. The Indians have probably adopted this usage, as it removes an obstacle to the fantastic painting of the face, which they value so highly. A full beard, at all events, when it was first seen on their French visitors, is said to have been viewed with peculiar antipathy, and to have greatly enhanced the pleasure with which they killed these foreigners.

The comparative physical strength of savage and civilized nations has been a subject of controversy. A general impression has obtained that the former, inured to simple and active habits, acquire a decided superiority; but experience appears to have proved that this conclusion is ill-founded. On the field of battle, when a struggle takes place between man and man, the savage is usually worsted. In sportive exercises, such as wrestling, he is most frequently thrown, and in leaping comes short of his antagonist. Even in walking or running, if for a short distance, he is left behind; but in these last movements, he possesses a power of perseverance and continued exertion to which there is scarcely any parallel. An individual has been known to travel nearly eighty miles a day, and arrive at his destination without any symptoms of fatigue. These long journeys, also, are frequently performed without any refreshment, and even having their shoulders loaded with heavy burdens, their power of supporting which is truly wonderful. For about twelve miles, indeed, a strong European will keep a-head of the Indian, but then he begins to flag; while the other, proceeding with unaltered speed, outstrips him considerably. Even powerful animals cannot equal them in this respect. Many of their civilized adversaries, when overcome in war, and fleeing before them on swift horses, have, after a long chase, been overtaken and scalped.

Having thus given a view of the persons of the American Aborigines, we may proceed to consider the manner in which they are clothed and ornamented. This last object might have been expected to have been a very secondary one, among tribes whose means of subsistence are so very scanty and precarious; but so far is this from being the case, that there is scarcely any pursuit which occupies so much of their time and regard. They have availed themselves of European intercourse to procure each a small mirror, in which, from time to time, they view their personal decorations, taking care that every thing shall be in the most perfect order.

Embellishment, however, is not much expended on actual clothing, which is simple, and chiefly arranged with a view to convenience. Instead of shoes they wear what are termed moccasins, consisting of one strip of soft leather wrapped round the foot, and fastened in front and behind. Europeans, walking over hard roads, soon knock these to pieces; but the Indian, tripping over snow or grass, finds them a light and agreeable chaussure. Upwards, to the middle of the thigh, a piece of leather or cloth, tightly fitted to the limb, serves instead of pantaloons, stockings, and boots; it is sometimes sewed on so close as never to be taken off. To a string or girdle round the waist are fastened two aprons, one before and the other at the back, each somewhat more than a foot square; and these are connected by a piece of cloth like a truss, often used also as a capacious pocket. The use of breeches they have always repelled with contempt, as cumbrous and effeminate. As an article of female dress, they would consider them less objectionable; but that the limbs of a warrior should be thus manacled, appears to them utterly preposterous. They were particularly scandalized at seeing an officer have them fastened over the shoulder by braces, and never after gave him any name but Tied-Breech.

The garments now enumerated form the whole of their permanent dress. On occasions of ceremony, indeed, or when exposed to cold, they put over it a short shirt, fastened at the neck and wrists, and above it a long loose robe closed or held together in front. For this purpose they now generally prefer an English blanket. All these articles were originally fabricated from the skins of wild animals; but at present, unless for the moccasins, and sometimes the leggings, European stuffs are preferred. The dress of the female scarcely differs from that of the male, except that the apron reaches down to the knees; and even this is said to have been adopted since their acquaintance with civilized nations. The early French writers relate an amusing anecdote to prove how little dress was considered as making a distinction between the sexes. The Ursuline Nuns, having educated a Huron girl, presented her, on her marriage to one of her countrymen, with a complete and handsome suit of clothes in the Parisian style. They were much surprised, some days after, to see the husband, who had ungenerously seized on the whole of the bride’s attire and arrayed himself in it, parading back and forward in front of the convent, and betraying every symptom of the most extravagant exultation. This was further heightened, when he observed the ladies crowding to the window to see him, and a universal smile spread over their countenances.

These vestments, as already observed, are simple, and adapted only for use. To gratify his passionate love of ornament, the Indian seeks chiefly to load his person with certain glittering appendages. Before the arrival of Europeans, shells and feathers took the lead; but since that period, these commodities have been nearly supplanted by beads, rings, bracelets, and similar toys, which are inserted profusely into various parts of his apparel, particularly the little apron in front. The chiefs usually wear a breastplate ornamented with them; and among all classes, it is an object of the greatest ambition to have the largest possible number suspended from the ear. That organ therefore is not bored, but slit to such an extent that a stick of wax may be passed through the aperture, which is then loaded with all the baubles that can be mustered; and if the weight of these gradually draw down the yielding flap till it rest on the shoulder, and the ornaments themselves cover the breast, the Indian has reached the utmost height of his finery. This, however, is a precarious splendour; the ear becomes more and more unfit to support the burden, when at length some accident, the branch of a tree, or even a twitch by a waggish comrade, lays at his feet all his decorations, with the portion of the flesh to which they were attached. Weld saw very few who had preserved this organ through life. The adjustment of the hair, again, is an object of especial study. As already observed, the greater part is generally eradicated, leaving only a tuft, varying in shape and place according to taste and national custom, but usually encircling the crown. This lock is stuck full of feathers, wings of birds, shells, and every kind of fantastic ornament. The women wear theirs long and flowing, and contrive to collect a considerable number of ornaments for it, as well as for their ears and dress.

But it is upon his skin that the American warrior chiefly lavishes his powers of embellishment. His taste in doing so is very different from ours. “While the European,” says Creuxius, “studies to keep his skin clean, and free from every extraneous substance, the Indian’s aim is that his, by the accumulation of oil, grease, and paint, may shine like that of a roasted pig. Soot scraped from the bottoms of kettles, the juices of herbs having a green, yellow, and above all, a vermilion tint, rendered adhesive by combination with oil and grease, are lavishly employed to adorn his person—or, according to our idea, to render it hideous. Black and red, alternating with stripes, are the favourite tints. Some blacken the face, leaving in the middle a red circle, including the upper lip and tip of the nose; others have a red spot on each ear, or one eye black and the other of a red colour. In war, the black tint is profusely laid on, the others being only employed to heighten its effect, and give to the countenance a terrific expression. M. De Tracy, when Governor of Canada, was told by his Indian allies, that, with his good-humoured face, he would never inspire his enemies with any degree of awe: they besought him to place himself under their brush, when they would soon make him such, that his very aspect would strike terror. The breast, arms, and legs are the seat of more permanent impressions, analogous to the tattooing of the South Sea Islanders. The colours are rather elaborately rubbed in, or fixed by slight incisions with needles and sharp-pointed bones. His guardian spirit, and the animal that forms the symbol of his tribe, are the first objects delineated. After this, every memorable exploit, and particularly the enemies whom he has slain and scalped, are diligently graven on some part of his figure; so that the body of an aged warrior contains the history of his life.

The means of procuring subsistence must always form an important branch of national economy. Writers taking a superficial view of savage life, and seeing how scanty the articles of food are, while the demand is naturally urgent, have assumed that the efforts to attain them must absorb his whole mind, and scarcely leave room for any other thought. But, on the contrary, these are to him very subordinate objects. To perform a round of daily labour, even though insuring the most ample provision for his wants, would be equally contrary to his inclination and supposed dignity. He will not deign to follow any pursuit which does not, at the same time, include enterprise, adventure, and excitement. Hunting, which the higher classes in the civilised parts of the world pursue for mere recreation, is almost the only occupation considered of sufficient importance to engage his attention. It is peculiarly endeared by its resemblance to war, being carried on with the same weapons, and nearly in the same manner. In his native state, the arrow was the favourite and almost exclusive instrument for assailing distant objects; but now the gun has nearly superseded it. The great hunts are rendered more animating, as well as more effectual, from being carried on in large parties, and even by whole tribes. The men are prepared for these by fasting, dreaming, and other superstitious observances, similar to those which we find employed in the anticipation of war. In such expeditions, too, contrivance and skill, as well as boldness and enterprise, are largely employed. Sometimes a circle is formed, when all the animals surrounded by it are pressed closer and closer till they are collected in the centre, and fall under the accumulated weight of weapons. On other occasions, they are driven to the margin of a lake or river, in which if they attempt to take refuge, canoes are ready to intercept them. Elsewhere a space is enclosed by stakes, only a narrow opening being left, which, by clamour and shouts, the game are compelled to enter, and thereby secured. In autumn and spring, when the ice is newly formed and slight, they are pushed upon it, and their legs breaking through, they are easily caught. In winter, when the snow begins to fall, traps are set, in which planks are so arranged, that the animal, in snatching at the bait, is crushed to death. Originally the deer, both for food and clothing, was the most valuable object of chase; but since the trade with Europeans has given such a prominent importance to furs, the beaver has in some degree supplanted it. In attacking this animal, great care is taken to prevent his escape into the water, on which his habitation always borders; and with this view, various kinds of nets and springes are employed. On some occasions, the Indians place themselves on the dyke which encloses his amphibious village. They then make an opening in it, when the inmates, alarmed by seeing the water flowing out, hasten to this barrier, where they encounter their enemies armed with all the instruments of destruction. At other times, when ice covers the surface of the pond, a hole is made, at which the animal comes to respire; he is then drawn out and secured.

The boar is a formidable enemy, which must be assailed by the combined force of the hunters, who are ranged in two rows, armed with bows or muskets: one of them advances and wounds him, and on being furiously pursued, he retreats between the files, followed in the same line by the animal, which is then overwhelmed by their united onset. In killing these quadrupeds, the natives seem to feel a sort of kindness and sympathy for their victim. On vanquishing a beaver or a bear, they celebrate its praises in a song; recounting those good qualities which it will never more be able to display, yet consoling themselves with the useful purposes to which its flesh and skin will be applied.

Of the animals usually tamed and rendered subservient to useful purposes, the Americans have only the dog, that faithful friend to man. Though his services in hunting are valuable, he is treated with no tenderness; but is left to roam about the dwelling, very sparingly supplied with food and shelter. A missionary who resided in a Huron village, represents his life as having been rendered miserable by these animals. At night they laid themselves on his person, for the benefit of the warmth; and whenever his scanty meal was set down, their snouts were always first in the dish. Dog’s flesh is eaten, and has even a peculiar sanctity attached to it: on all solemn festivals it is the principal meat, the use of which on such occasions seems to import some high and mysterious meaning.

But besides the cheering avocations of the chase, other means must be used to ensure the comfort and subsistence of the Indian’s family; all of which, however, are most ungenerously devolved upon the weaker sex. Women, according to Creuxius, serve them as domestics, as tailors, as peasants, and as oxen; and Long does not conceive that any other purposes of their existence are recognised, except those of bearing children and performing hard work. They till the ground, carry wood and water, build huts, make canoes, and fish; in which latter processes, however, and in reaping the harvest, their lords deign to give occasional aid. So habituated are they to such occupations, that when one of them saw a party of English soldiers collecting wood, she exclaimed that it was a shame to see men doing women’s work; and began herself to carry a load.

Through the services of this enslaved portion of the tribe, these savages are enabled to combine, in a certain degree, the agricultural with the hunting state, without any mixture of the pastoral, usually considered as intermediate. Cultivation, however, is limited to small spots in the immediate vicinity of the villages; and these being usually at the distance of sixteen or seventeen miles from each other, it scarcely makes any impression on the immense extent of forest.


The women, in the beginning of summer, after having burnt the stubble of the preceding crop, rudely stir the ground with a long crooked piece of wood; they then throw in grain, which is chiefly the coarse but productive species of maize peculiar to the continent. The nations in the south have a considerable variety of fruits; whereas those of Canada appear to have raised only “turnsoles, watermelons, and pompions.” Tobacco used to be grown largely; but that imported by Europeans is now universally preferred, and has become a regular object of trade. The grain, after harvest (which is celebrated by a festival), is lodged in large subterraneous stores lined with bark, where it keeps extremely well. Previous to being placed in these, it is sometimes thrashed; on other occasions, merely the ears are cut off and thrown in.

When first discovered by settlers from Europe, the degrees of culture were found to vary in different tribes. The Algonquins, who were the ruling people previous to the arrival of the French, wholly despised it, and branded as plebeian their neighbours by whom it was practised. In general, the northern clans, and those near the mouth of the St. Lawrence, depended almost solely on hunting and fishing; and when these failed, they were reduced to dreadful extremities, being often obliged to depend on the miserable resource of that species of lichen called tripe de roche.

The maize, when thrashed, is occasionally toasted on the coals, and sometimes made into a coarse kind of unleavened cake. But the most favourite preparation is that called sagamity, a species of pap formed after it has been roasted, bruised, and separated from the husk. It is insipid by itself, but when thrown into the pot along with the produce of the chase, it enriches the soup or stew, one of the principal dishes at their feasts. They never eat victuals raw, but rather over-boiled; nor have they yet been brought to endure French ragouts, salt, pepper, or indeed any species of condiment. A chief, admitted to the Governor’s table, seeing the general use of mustard, was led by curiosity to take a spoonful and put it in his mouth. On feeling its violent effects, he made incredible efforts to conceal them, and escape the ridicule of the company; but severe sneezings, and the tears starting to his eyes, soon betrayed him, and raised a general laugh. He was then shown the manner in which it should be used; but nothing could ever induce him to allow the “boiling yellow,” as he termed it, to enter his lips.

The Indians are capable of extraordinary abstinence from food, in which they can persevere for successive days without complaint or apparent suffering. They even take a pride in long fasts, by which they prepare themselves for any great undertaking. Yet when once set down to a feast, their gluttony is described as enormous, and the capacity of their stomachs almost incredible. They will go from feast to feast, doing honour to each in succession. The chief giving the entertainment does not partake, but with his own hands distributes portions among the guests. On solemn occasions, it is the rule that every thing shall be eaten; nor does this obligation seem to be felt as either burdensome or unpleasant. In their native state, they were not acquainted with any species of intoxicating liquors; their love of ardent spirits being entirely consequent on their intercourse with Europeans.

The habitations of the Indians receive much less attention than the attire, or at least embellishment of their persons. Our countrymen, by common consent, give to them no better appellation than “cabins.” The bark of trees is the chief material both for the houses and boats; they peel it off with considerable skill, sometimes stripping a whole tree in one piece. This coating, spread, not unskilfully, over a framework of poles, and fastened to them by strips of tough rind, forms their dwellings. The shape, according to the owner’s fancy, resembles a tub, a cone, or a cart-shed, the mixture of which gives to the village a confused and chaotic appearance. Light and heat are admitted only by an aperture at the top, through which also the smoke escapes, after filling all the upper part of the mansion. Little inconvenience is felt from this by the natives, who, within doors, never think of any position except sitting or lying; but to Europeans, who must occasionally stand or walk, the abode is thereby rendered almost intolerable; and matters become much worse when rain or snow makes it necessary to close the roof. These structures are sometimes upwards of a hundred feet long; four of them occasionally compose a quadrangle, each open on the inside, and having a common fire in the centre. Formerly, the Iroquois had houses somewhat superior, adorned even with some rude carving; but these were burnt down by the French in successive expeditions, and have never been rebuilt in the same style. The Canadians in this respect seem to be surpassed by the Choktaws, Chickasaws, and other tribes in the south, and even by Sauks in the west, whose mansions Carver describes as constructed of well-hewn planks, neatly jointed, and each capable of containing several families.

In their expeditions, whether for war or hunting, which often lead them through desolate forests, several miles from home, the Indians have the art of rearing, with great expedition, temporary abodes. On arriving at their evening station, a few poles, meeting at top in form of a cone, are in half an hour covered with bark; and having spread a few pine branches within, by way of mattress, they sleep as on beds of down. Like the Esquimaux, they also understand how to convert snow into a material for building; and find it, in the depth of winter, the warmest and most comfortable. A few twigs, plaited together, secure the roof. Europeans in their Indian campaigns, have, in cases of necessity, used with advantage this species of bivouac.

A Forest Scene.

Canoe-building at Papper’s Island.

The furniture in these native huts is exceedingly simple. The chief articles are two or three pots or kettles for boiling their food, with a few wooden plates or spoons. The former, in the absence of metal, with which the inhabitants were unacquainted, were made of coarse earthenware that resisted the fire, and sometimes of a species of soft stone, which could be excavated with their rude hatchets. Nay, in some cases, their kitchen utensils were of wood, and the water made to boil by throwing in heated stones. Since their acquaintance with Europeans, the superiority of iron vessels has been found so decided, that they are now universally preferred. The great kettle or cauldron, employed only on high festivals associated with religion, war, or hunting, attracts even a kind of veneration, and potent chiefs have assumed its name as a title of honour.

Canoes, another fabric which the Indians construct very rudely, are yet adapted with considerable skill to their purpose. These are usually framed of the bark of a single tree, strengthened at the centre with ribs of tough wood. The ends are of bark only; but being curved upwards, are always above water, and thus remain perfectly tight. Our sailors can scarcely believe such nut-shells safe even on the smoothest waters, and see with surprise the natives guiding them amid stormy waves, when their very lightness and buoyancy preserve them from sinking. They have another quality of great advantage in the devious pursuits of the owners; being so extremely light, that they can be easily conveyed on the shoulder from one river or branch of a lake to another. One man, it is said, can carry on his back a canoe in which twelve persons can navigate with safety.

Having taken this minute survey of the physical condition of the Indians, we shall proceed to an examination of their social condition. The fundamental principle of their polity is, the complete independence of every individual, his right to do whatever he pleases, be it good or bad, nay, even though criminal or destructive. When any one announces an intention which is disagreeable to his neighbours, they dare not attempt to check him by reproach or coercion; these would only rivet his determination more strongly. Their only resource is to soothe him, like a spoiled child, by kind words, and especially by gifts. If, notwithstanding, he proceeds to wound or murder any one, the public look on without concern, though revenge is eagerly sought by the kindred of the injured person.

Notwithstanding this impunity, which in countries under the bonds of law, would be followed by the most dreadful consequences, it is somewhat mortifying to the pride of European civilization to learn, that there reigns a degree of tranquillity greater than the strictest police can preserve with us. The Indians are divided into a number of little nations or tribes, fiercely hostile to each other but whose members are bound among themselves by the strictest union. The honour and welfare of the clan supply their ruling principle, and are cherished with an ardour not surpassed in the most brilliant eras of Greek or Roman patriotism.

This national attachment forms a social tie, linking the members to each other, and rendering exceedingly rare, not only deeds of violence, but even personal quarrels; and banishing entirely that coarse and abusive language which is so prevalent among the vulgar in more enlightened communities. This feeling, added to the sentiment of dignity and self-command considered suitable to the character of a warrior, renders their deportment exceedingly pleasing. They are completely free from that false shame which is termed mauvaise honte. When seated at table with Europeans of the highest rank, they retain the most thorough self-possession; and at the same time, by carefully observing the proceedings of the other guests, they avoid all awkwardness in their manners.

The generosity of the Indian in relieving the necessities of others of the tribe, scarcely knows any bounds, and only stops short of an absolute community of goods. No member of a tribe can be in the least danger of starving, if the rest have wherewithal to supply him. Children rendered orphans by the casualties to which savage life is subject, are immediately taken in charge by the nearest relative, and supplied with every thing needful, as abundantly as if they were his own. Nothing gives them a more unfavourable opinion of the French and English, than to see one portion revelling in abundance while the other suffers the extremity of want; but when they are told that for want of these accommodations, men are seized by their fellow-creatures and immured in dungeons, such a degree of barbarism appears to them almost incredible. Whole tribes, when obliged by the vicissitudes of war to seek refuge among their neighbours, are received with unbounded hospitality; habitations and lands are assigned to them, and they are treated by their new friends, in every respect, as part of themselves. It may, however, be observed, that as such an accession of numbers augments the military strength of the tribe, there may be a mixture of policy in this cordial reception.

In consequence of this spirit of order and internal union, the unbounded personal freedom which marks their social condition seldom breaks out into such crimes as would disturb the public peace. Its greatest evil, of which we shall see repeated instances, is, that individuals, actuated by a spirit of revenge or daring enterprise, think themselves justified in surprising and murdering a hated adversary. From this cause, every treaty between the tribes is rendered precarious; though, as each is aware of these lawless propensities, room is left for mutual explanation, so that particular outrages may not involve a general war. This circumstance leads us to notice, that the favourable aspect presented by the interior of these communities can by no means warrant any conclusion as to the superiority of savage life, when compared with civilized man. On the contrary, the most perfect form of government devised by the human being in the state of nature has never been exempted from those feelings of relentless enmity and continual fear with which bordering nations regard each other. These, as will appear in the sequel, often compel to the most direful crimes; but, at present, we shall proceed with our survey of their domestic usages.

Some writers have denied that there exists among the Indians any thing that can properly be termed a matrimonial union. This, however, seems only a prejudice, in consequence of there not being any regular ceremony, as with us. The man, it appears, after having made an arrangement with the parent of his bride, takes her home, and they live in every respect as husband and wife. The mode of courtship among several of the tribes is singular:—the wooer, attended often by several comrades, repairs at midnight to his fair one’s apartment, and there twitches her nose. If she be inclined to listen to his suit, she rises; otherwise she must depart. Though this visit be so very unseasonable, it is said to be rarely accompanied with any impropriety. The missionaries, however, did not think it right to sanction such freedoms in their converts.

The preliminary step is in this manner taken with the lady, but the decision still rests with the father, to whom the suitor now applies. Long has given no unpleasing specimen of the address:—“Father, I love your daughter; will you give her to me, that the small roots of her heart may entangle with mine, so that the strongest wind that blows may never separate them?” He offers at the same time a handsome present, the acceptance of which is considered as sealing the union. Considerable discrepancy prevails in the descriptions, and apparently in the practice, as applied to different tribes; yet, on the whole, great reserve and propriety seem to mark this intercourse.

The young men of the Five Nations valued themselves highly for their correct conduct toward the other sex. Of numerous female captives who fell into their hands during a long series of wars, though some were possessed of great personal beauty, no one had to complain that her honour was exposed to the slightest danger. The girls themselves are not always quite so exemplary; but their failures are viewed with indulgence, and form no obstacle to marriage. Once united by that tie, however, a strict fidelity is expected, and commonly observed. The husband, generally speaking, is not jealous, except when intoxicated; but when his suspicions are really excited regarding the conduct of his partner, he is very indignant, beats her, bites off her nose, and dismisses her in disgrace.

There are occasional instances of a divorce being inflicted without any assigned reason; but such arbitrary proceeding is by no means frequent. As the wife performs the whole of the labour, and furnishes a great part of the subsistence, she is usually considered too valuable a possession to be rashly parted with. In some cases, the domestic drudges become even an object of dispute and competition. A missionary mentions a woman, who, during the absence of her husband, formed a new connexion. Her first partner having returned, without being agitated by any delicate sensibilities, demanded her back. The question was referred to a chief, who could contrive no better scheme than that of placing her at a certain distance from both, and decreeing that he who should first reach her should have her. “Thus,” says he, “the wife fell to him who had the best legs.”

With regard to polygamy, the usual liberty is claimed; and by the chiefs in the west and the south it is indulged to a considerable extent, but among the tribes on the lakes the practice is rare and limited. When it does occur, the man very commonly marries his wife’s sister, and even her whole family, we may suppose, that the household may be thereby rendered more harmonious. The Indian is said never to betray the slightest tenderness towards his wife or children. If he meets them on his return from a distant expedition, he proceeds, without taking the slightest notice, and seats himself in his cabin as if he had not been a day absent. Yet his exertions for their welfare, and the eagerness with which he avenges their wrongs, testify that this apparent apathy springs only from pride, and a fancied sense of decorum. It is equally displayed with regard to his most urgent wants. Though he may have been without food during several days, and enters a neighbour’s house, nothing can make him stoop to ask for a morsel.

The rearing (for it cannot be called the education) of children is chiefly arranged so that it may cost the parents the least possible trouble, in addition to the labour of procuring them subsistence. The father is either engrossed by war and hunting, or resigned to total indolence; while the mother, oppressed by various toils, cannot devote much time to the cares of nurture. The infant, therefore, being fastened with pieces of skin to a board spread with soft moss, is laid on the ground, or suspended to a branch of a tree, where it swings, as in a cradle—an expedient which is so carefully adopted as scarcely ever to be attended with accident. As soon as the creatures are able to crawl on hands and feet, they are allowed to move about every part of the house and vicinity, like a cat or dog. Their favourite resort is the border of the river or lake, to which an Indian village is usually adjacent, and where, in summer, they are seen all day long sporting like fishes. As reason dawns, they enjoy, in the most ample degree, that independence which is held the birthright of the tribe; for, whatever extravagances they may indulge in, the parents never take any steps to restrain or chastise them. The mother only ventures to give her daughter some delicate reproach, or throws water in her face, which is said to produce a powerful effect. The youths, however, without any express instructions, soon imbibe the spirit of their forefathers. Every thing they see, the tales which they hear, inspire them with the ardent desire to become great hunters and warriors. Their first study, their favourite sport, is to bend the bow, to wield the hatchet, and practise all those exercises which are to be their glory in after life. As manhood approaches, they spontaneously assume that serious character, that studied and stately gravity, of which the example has been set by their elders.

The intellectual character of the American savage presents some striking peculiarities. Considering his unfavourable condition, he, of all other human beings, might seem doomed to make the nearest approach to the brute; while, in point of fact, without any aid from letters or study, many of the higher faculties of his mind are developed in a very remarkable degree. He displays a decided superiority over the uninstructed labourer in a civilized community, whose mental energies are benumbed amid the daily round of mechanical occupation. The former spends a great part of his life in arduous enterprises, where much contrivance is requisite, and whence he must often extricate himself by presence of mind and ingenuity. His senses, particularly those of seeing and smelling, have acquired, by practice, an almost preternatural acuteness. He can trace an animal or a foe by indications which, to a European eye, would be wholly imperceptible; and in his wanderings he gathers a minute acquaintance with the geography of the countries which he traverses. He can even draw a rude outline of them, by applying a mixture of charcoal and grease to prepared skins; and on seeing a regular map, he soon understands its construction, and readily finds out places. His facility in discovering the most direct way to spots situated at the distance of hundreds of miles, and known, perhaps, only by the report of his countrymen, is truly astonishing. It has been ascribed by some to a mysterious and supernatural instinct, but it appears to be achieved by merely observing the different aspect of the trees or shrubs, when exposed to the north or south; as also the position of the sun, which he can point out, although hidden by clouds. Even where there is a beaten track, if at all circuitous, he strikes directly through the woods, and reaches his destination by the nearest possible line.

Other faculties of a higher order are developed by the scenes amid which the life of savages is spent. They are divided into a number of little communities, between which are actively carried on all the relations of war, negotiation, treaty, and alliance. As mighty revolutions, observes an eloquent writer, take place in these kingdoms of wood and cities of bark, as in the most powerful civilized states. To increase the influence and extend the possessions of their own tribe—to humble, and, if possible, destroy those hostile to them—are the constant aims of every member of those little commonwealths. For these ends, not only deeds of daring valour are achieved, but schemes are deeply laid, and pursued with the most accurate calculation. There is scarcely a refinement in European diplomacy to which they are strangers. The French once made an attempt to crush the confederacy of the Five Nations, by attacking each in succession; but as they were on their march against the first tribe, they were met by the deputies of the other, who offered their mediation, intimating, that if it were rejected, they would make common cause with the one threatened. That association, also, showed that they completely understood how to employ the hostility, which prevailed between their enemy and the English, for promoting their own aggrandizement. Embassies, announced by the calumet of peace, are constantly passing from one tribe to another.

The same political circumstances develop, in an extraordinary degree, the powers of oratory; for nothing of any importance is transacted without a speech. On every emergency a council of the tribe is called, when the aged and wise hold long deliberations for the public weal. The functions of orator among the Five Nations, had even become a separate profession, held in equal or higher honour than that of the warrior; and each clan appointed the most eloquent of their number to speak for them in the public council. Nay, there was a general orator for the whole confederacy, who could say to the French governor, “Ononthio, lend thine ear—I am the mouth of all the country; you hear all the Iroquois in hearing my word.” Decanesora, their speaker, at a later period, was greatly admired by the English, and his bust was thought to resemble that of Cicero. In their diplomatic discourses, each proposition is prefaced by the delivery of a belt of wampum, of which what follows is understood to be the explanation, and which is to be preserved as a record of the conference. The orator does not express his proposals in words only, but gives to every sentence its appropriate action. If he threatens war, he wildly brandishes the tomahawk; if he solicits alliance, he twines his arms closely with those of the chief whom he addresses; and if he invites friendly intercourse, he assumes all the attitudes of one who is forming a road in the Indian manner, by cutting down the trees, clearing them away, and carefully removing the leaves and branches. To a French writer, who witnessed the delivery of a solemn embassy, it suggested the idea of a company of actors performing on a stage. So expressive are their gestures, that negotiations have been conducted, and alliances concluded between petty states and communities, who understood nothing of one another’s language.

The composition of the Indian orators is studied and elaborate. The language of the Iroquois is even held to be susceptible of an Attic elegance, which few can attain so fully as to escape all criticism. It is figurative in the highest degree, every notion being expressed by images addressed to the senses. Thus, to throw up the hatchet, or to put on the great cauldron, is to begin a war; to throw the hatchet to the sky, is to wage open and terrible war; to take off the cauldron, or to bury the hatchet, is to make peace; to plant the tree of peace on the highest mountain of the earth, is to make a general pacification. To throw a prisoner into the cauldron, is to devote him to torture and death; to take him out, is to pardon and receive him as a member of the community. Ambassadors coming to propose a full and general treaty, say, “We rend the clouds asunder, and drive away all darkness from the heavens, that the sun of peace may shine with brightness over us all.” On another occasion, referring to their own violent conduct, they said, “We are glad that Assarigoa will bury in the pit what is past; let the earth be trodden hard over it; or rather let a strong stream run under the pit to wash away the evil.” They afterwards added, “We now plant a tree, whose top will reach the sun, and its branches spread far abroad; and we shall shelter ourselves under it, and live in peace.” To send the collar underground, is to carry on a secret negotiation; but when expressing a desire that there might be no duplicity or concealment between them and the French, they said, that “they wished to fix the sun in the top of the heaven, immediately above that pole, that it might beat directly down, and leave nothing in obscurity.” In pledging themselves to a firm and steady peace, they declared that they would not only throw down the great war cauldron, and cause all the water to flow out, but would break it in pieces. This disposition to represent every thing by a sensible object extends to matters the most important. One powerful people assumed the appellation of Foxes, while another gloried in that of Cats. Even when the entire nation bore a different appellation, separate fraternities distinguished themselves as the tribe of the Bear, the Tortoise, and the Wolf. They did not disdain a reference even to inanimate things. The Black Cauldron was at one time the chief warrior of the Five Nations; and Red Shoes was a person of distinction, well known to Long the traveller. When the chiefs concluded treaties with Europeans, their signature consisted in a picture, often tolerably well executed, of the beast or object after which they chose to be named.

The absence, among these tribes, of any written or even pictorial mode of recording events, was supplied by the memories of their old men, which were so retentive, that a certain writer calls them living books. Their only remembrancer consisted in the wampum belts, of which one was appropriated to each division of a speech or treaty, and had, seemingly, a powerful effect in calling it to recollection. On the close of the transaction, these were deposited as public documents, to be drawn forth on great occasions, when the orators, and even the old women, could repeat verbatim the passage to which each referred. Europeans were thus enabled to collect information concerning the revolutions of different tribes, for several ages preceding their own arrival.

The earliest visitors of the New World, on seeing among the Indians neither priests, temples, idols, nor sacrifices, represented them as a people wholly destitute of religious opinions. Closer inquiry, however, showed that a belief in the spiritual world, however imperfect, had a commanding influence over almost all their actions. Their creed includes even some lofty and pure conceptions. Under the title of the Great Spirit, the Master of Life, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, they distinctly recognise a supreme ruler of the universe, and an arbiter of their destiny. A party of them, when informed by the missionaries of the existence of a being of infinite power, who had created the heavens and the earth, with one consent exclaimed, “Atahocan! Atahocan!” that being the name of their principal deity. According to Long, the Indians among whom he resided ascribe every event, propitious or unfortunate, to the favour or anger of the Master of Life. They address him for their daily subsistence; they believe him to convey to them presence of mind in battle; and amid tortures, they thank him for inspiring them with courage. Yet, though this one elevated and just conception is deeply graven on their minds, it is combined with others which show all the imperfection of unassisted reason in attempting to think rightly on this great subject. It may even be observed, that the term, rendered into our language, “Great Spirit” does not really convey the idea of an immaterial nature. It imports with them merely some being possessed of lofty and mysterious powers, and in this sense is applied to men, and even to animals. The brute creation, which occupies a prominent place in all their ideas, is often viewed by them as invested, to a great extent, with supernatural powers—an extreme absurdity, which, however, they share with the civilized creeds of Egypt and India.

When the missionaries, on their first arrival, attempted to form an idea of the Indian mythology, it appeared to them extremely complicated, more especially because those who attempted to explain it had no fixed opinions. Each man differed from his neighbour, and at another time from himself; and when the discrepancies were pointed out, no attempt was made to reconcile them. The southern tribes, who had a more settled faith, are described by Adair as intoxicated with spiritual pride, and denouncing even their European allies as “the accursed people.” The native Canadian, on the contrary, is said to have been so little tenacious, that he would at any time renounce all his theological errors for a pipe of tobacco, though, as soon as it was smoked, he immediately relapsed. An idea was found prevalent respecting a certain mystical animal called Meson, or Messessagen, who, when the earth was buried in water, had drawn it up and restored it. Others spoke of a contest between the hare, the fox, the beaver, and the seal, for the empire of the world. Among the principal nations of Canada, the hare is thought to have attained a decided preeminence, and hence the Great Spirit and the Great Hare are sometimes used as synonymous terms. What should have raised this creature to such distinction seems rather unaccountable, unless it were that its extreme swiftness might appear something supernatural. Among the Ottawas alone the heavenly bodies become an object of veneration: the sun appears to rank as their supreme deity.

To dive into the abyss of futurity has always been a favourite object of superstition. It has been attempted by various means, but the Indian seeks it chiefly through his dreams, which always bear with him a sacred character. Before engaging in any high undertaking, especially in hunting or war, the dreams of the principal chiefs are carefully watched, and studiously examined; and according to the interpretation their conduct is guided. A whole nation has been set in motion by the sleeping fancies of a single man. Sometimes a person imagines in his sleep that he has been presented with an article of value by another, who then cannot, without impropriety, leave the omen unfulfilled. When Sir William Johnson, during the American war, was negotiating an alliance with a friendly tribe, the chief confidentially disclosed, that, during his slumbers, he had been favoured with a vision of Sir William bestowing upon him the rich laced coat which formed his full dress. The fulfilment of this revelation was very inconvenient; yet, on being assured that it positively occurred, the English commander found it advisable to resign his uniform. Soon after, however, he unfolded to the Indian a dream with which he had himself been favoured, and in which the former was seen presenting him with a large tract of fertile land, most commodiously situated. The native ruler admitted that, since the vision had been vouchsafed, it must be realized, yet earnestly proposed to cease this mutual dreaming, which he found had turned much to his own disadvantage.

The manitou is an object of peculiar veneration; and the fixing upon this guardian power is not only the most important event in the history of a youth, but even constitutes his initiation into active life. As a preliminary, his face is painted black, and he undergoes a severe fast, which is, if possible, prolonged for eight days. This is preparatory to the dream in which he is to behold the idol destined ever after to afford him aid and protection. In this state of excited expectation, and while every nocturnal vision is carefully watched, there seldom fails to occur to his mind something which, as it makes a deep impression, is pronounced his manitou. Most commonly it is a trifling and even fantastic article; the head, beak, or claw of a bird, the hoof of a cow, or even a piece of wood. However, having undergone a thorough perspiration in one of their vapour-baths, he is laid on his back, and a picture of it is drawn upon his breast by needles of fish-bone dipt in vermilion. A good specimen of the original being produced, it is carefully treasured up; and to it he applies in every emergency, hoping that it will inspire his dreams, and secure to him every kind of good fortune. When, however, notwithstanding every means of propitiating its favour, misfortunes befall him, the manitou is considered as having exposed itself to just and serious reproach. He begins with remonstrances, representing all that has been done for it, the disgrace it incurs by not protecting its votary, and finally, the danger that in case of repeated neglect, it may be discarded for another. Nor is this considered merely as an empty threat; for if the manitou is judged incorrigible, it is thrown away, and by means of a fresh course of fasting, dreaming, sweating, and painting, another is installed, from whom better success may be hoped.

The absence of temples, worship, sacrifices, and all the observances to which superstition prompts the untutored mind, is a remarkable circumstance, and, as we have already remarked, led the early visitors to believe that the Indians were strangers to all religious ideas; yet the missionaries found room to suspect that some of their great feasts, in which every thing presented must be eaten, bore an idolatrous character, and were held in honour of the Great Hare. The Ottawas, whose mythological system seems to have been the most complicated, were wont to keep a regular festival to celebrate the beneficence of the sun; on which occasion, the luminary was told that this service was in return for the good hunting he had procured for his people, and as an encouragement to persevere in his friendly cares. They were also observed to erect an idol in the middle of their town, and sacrifice to it; but such ceremonies were by no means general. On first witnessing christian worship, the only idea suggested by it was that of their asking some temporal good, which was either granted or refused. The missionaries mention two Hurons, who arrived from the woods soon after the congregation had assembled. Standing without, they began to speculate what it was the white men were asking, and then whether they were getting it. As the service continued beyond expectation, it was concluded they were not getting it; and as the devotional duties still proceeded, they admired the perseverance with which this rejected suit was urged. At length, when the vesper hymn began, one of the savages observed to the other—“Listen to them now in despair, crying with all their might.”

The grand doctrine of a life beyond the grave, was, among all the tribes of America, most deeply cherished, and most sincerely believed. They had even formed a distinct idea of the region whither they hoped to be transported, and of the new and happier mode of existence, free from those wars, tortures, and cruelties, which throw so dark a shade over their lot upon earth; yet their conceptions on this subject were by no means either exalted or spiritualized. They expected simply a prolongation of their present life, and enjoyments under more favourable circumstances, and with the same objects, furnishing greater choice and abundance. In that brighter land the sun ever shines unclouded, the forests abound with deer, the lakes and rivers with fish—benefits which are farther enhanced in their imagination by a faithful wife and dutiful children. They do not reach it however, till after a journey of several months, and encountering various obstacles—a broad river, a chain of lofty mountains, and the attack of a furious dog. This favoured country lies far in the west, at the remotest boundary of the earth, which is supposed to terminate in a steep precipice, with the ocean rolling beneath. Sometimes, in the too eager pursuit of game, the spirits fall over, and are converted into fishes. The local position of their paradise appears connected with certain obscure intimations received from their wandering neighbours of the Mississippi, the Rocky Mountains, and the distant shores of the Pacific. This system of belief labours under a great defect, inasmuch as it scarcely connects felicity in the future world with virtuous conduct in the present. The one is held to be simply a continuation of the other; and under this impression, the arms, ornaments, and every thing that had contributed to the welfare of the deceased, are interred along with him. This supposed assurance of a future life, so conformable to their gross habits and conceptions, was found by the missionaries a serious obstacle, when they attempted to allure them by the hope of a destiny, purer and higher, indeed, but less accordant with their untutored conceptions. Upon being told that, in the promised world, they would neither hunt, eat, drink, nor marry a wife, many of them declared that, far from endeavouring to reach such an abode, they would consider their arrival there as the greatest calamity. Mention is made of a Huron girl, whom one of the christian ministers was endeavouring to instruct, and whose first question was, what she would find to eat? The answer being “nothing,” she then asked what she would see? and being informed that she would see the Maker of heaven and earth, she expressed herself much at a loss what she could have to say to him. Many not only reject this destiny for themselves, but were indignant at the efforts made to decoy their children after death into so dreary and comfortless a region.

Another sentiment, congenial with that now described, is most deeply rooted in the mind of the Indians—this is reverence for the dead; with which Chateaubriand, though, perhaps, somewhat hastily, considers them more deeply imbued than any other people. During life they are by no means lavish of their expressions of tenderness; but on the approach of the hour of final separation, it is displayed with extraordinary force. When any member of a family becomes seriously ill, all the resources of magic and medicine are exhausted in order to procure his recovery. When the fatal moment arrives, all the kindred burst into loud lamentations, which continue till some person, possessing the requisite authority, desires them to cease. These expressions of grief, however, are renewed for a considerable time, at sunrise and sunset. After three days the funeral takes place, when all the provisions which the family can procure are expended in a feast, to which the neighbours are generally invited; and, although on all solemn occasions it is required that every thing should be eaten, the relations do not partake. These last cut off their hair, cover their heads, paint their faces of a black colour, and continue long to deny themselves every species of amusement. The deceased is then interred with his arms and ornaments, his face painted, and his person attired in the richest robes which they can furnish. It was the opinion of one of the early missionaries, that the chief object of the Hurons, in their traffic with the French, was to procure materials for honouring their dead; and as a proof of this, many of them have been seen shivering, half naked, in the cold, while their hut contained rich robes to be wrapped round them after their decease. The body is placed in the tomb in an upright posture; and skins are carefully spread round it, so that no part may touch the earth. This, however, is by no means the final ceremony, being followed by another far more solemn and singular. Every eighth, tenth, or twelfth year, according to the custom of the different nations, is celebrated the festival of the dead; and, till then, the souls are supposed to hover round their former tenement, and not to depart for their final abode in the west. On this occasion the people march in procession to the places of interment, open the tombs, and, on beholding the mortal remains of their friends, continue sometime fixed in mournful silence. The women then break out into loud cries, and the party begin to collect the bones, removing every remnant of flesh; the remains are then wrapped in fresh and valuable robes, and conveyed, amid continued lamentation, to the family cabin. A feast is then given, followed during several days by dances, games, and prize combats, to which strangers often repair from a great distance. This mode of celebration certainly accords very ill with the sad occasion; yet the Greek and Roman obsequies were solemnized in a similar manner—nay, in many parts of Scotland, till very recently, they were accompanied by festival, and often by revelry. The relics are then carried to the council-house of the nation, where they are hung for exhibition along the walls, with fresh presents destined to be interred along with them. Sometimes they are even displayed from village to village. At length, being deposited in a pit, previously dug in the earth, and lined with the richest furs, they are finally entombed. Tears and lamentations are again lavished, and during a few days, food is brought to the place. The bones of their fathers are considered by the Indians the strongest ties to their native soil; and when calamity forces them to quit it, these mouldering fragments are, if possible, conveyed along with them.

Under the head of religious rites we may include medicine, which is almost entirely within the domain of superstition. The great warmth of affection which, amid their apparent apathy, the natives cherish for each other, urges them, when their friends are seriously ill, to seek with the utmost eagerness for a remedy; an order of men has thus arisen, entirely different from the rest of society, uniting the characters of priests, physicians, sorcerers, and sages. Nor are they quite strangers to some branches of the healing art: in external hurts or wounds, the cause of which is obvious, they apply various simples of considerable power, chiefly drawn from the vegetable world. Chateaubriand enumerates the ginseng of the Chinese, the sassafras, the three-leaved hedisaron, and a tall shrub called bellis, with decoctions from which they cure wounds and ulcers in a surprising manner. With sharp-pointed bones they scarify inflamed or rheumatic parts; and shells of gourds, filled with combustible matters, serve instead of cupping-glasses. They learned the art of bleeding from the French, but employed it sometimes rashly and fatally, by opening the vein in the forehead. They now understand it better; but their favourite specific in all internal complaints is the vapour-bath. To procure this, a small hut or shed is framed of bark, or branches of trees, covered with skins, and made completely tight on every side, leaving only a small hole through which the patient is admitted. By throwing red hot stones into a pot of water, it is made to boil, and thus emit a warm steam, which, filling the hut, throws the patient into a most profuse perspiration. When he is completely bathed in it, he rushes out, even should it be in the depth of winter, and throws himself into the nearest pond or river; and this exercise, which we should be apt to think sufficient to produce death, is proved by their example, as well as that of the Russians, to be safe and salutary. As a very large proportion of their maladies arise from cold and obstructed perspiration, this remedy is by no means ill chosen. They attach to it, however, a supernatural influence, calling it the sorcerer’s bath, and employ it not only in the cure of diseases, but in opening their minds whenever they are to hold a council on great affairs, or to engage in any important undertaking.

All cases of internal malady, or of obscure origin, are ascribed, without hesitation, to the secret agency of malignant powers, or spirits. The physician, therefore, must then invest himself with his mystic character, and direct all his efforts against these invisible enemies. His proceedings are various, and prompted, seemingly, by a mixture of delusion and imposture. On his first arrival, he begins to sing and dance round the patient, invoking his god with loud cries. Then, pretending to search out the seat of the enchantment, he feels his body all over, till cries seem to indicate the bewitched spot. He then rushes upon it like a madman, or an enraged dog, tears it with his teeth, and often pretends to show a small bone, or other object, which he has extracted, and in which the evil power had been lodged. His disciples, next day, renew the process, and the whole family join in the chorus; so that, setting aside the disease, a frame of iron would appear necessary to withstand the remedies. Another contrivance is, to surround the cabin with men of straw, and wooden masks of the most frightful shapes, in hopes of scaring away the mysterious tormentor. Sometimes a painted image is formed, which the doctor pierces with an arrow, pretending that he has thereby vanquished the evil spirit. On other occasions, he professes to discover a mysterious desire, which exists in the patient unknown to himself, for some particular object; and this, however distant or difficult of attainment, the poor family strain all their efforts to procure. It is alleged, that when the malady appears hopeless, he fixes upon something completely beyond reach, the want of which is then represented as the cause of death. The deep faith reposed in these preposterous remedies caused to the missionaries much difficulty, even with their most intelligent converts. When a mother found one of her children dangerously ill, her pagan neighbours came round, and assured her that if she would allow it to be blown upon, and danced, and howled round in the genuine Indian manner, there would be no doubt of a speedy recovery. They exhorted her to take it into the woods, where the black-robes, as they called the Christian priests, would not be able to find her. The latter could not fully undeceive their disciples, because in that less enlightened age, they themselves were impressed with the notion that the magicians communicated with, and derived aid from the prince of darkness; all they could do, therefore, was to exhort them resolutely to sacrifice any benefit that might be derived from so unholy a source. This, however, was a hard duty; and they record with pride the example of a Huron wife, who, though much attached to her husband, and apparently convinced that he could be cured by this impious process, chose rather to lose him. In other respects, the missionaries suffered from the superstitious creed of the natives, who, even when unconverted, believed them to possess supernatural powers, which it was suspected they sometimes employed to introduce the epidemic diseases with which the country was from time to time afflicted. They exclaimed, it was not the demons that made so many die—it was prayer, images, and baptism; and when a severe pestilential disorder followed the murder of a Frenchman, who fell by their hands, they imagined that the priests were thus avenging the death of their countryman.

We have still to describe the most prominent object of the Indian’s passions and pursuits—his warfare. It is that which presents him under the darkest aspect, effacing almost all his fine qualities, and assimilating his nature to that of fiends. While the most cordial union reigns between the members of each tribe, they have neighbours whom they regard with the deepest enmity, and for whose extermination they continually thirst. The intense excitement which war affords, and the glory which rewards its achievements, probably give the primary impulse; but after hostilities have begun, the feeling which keeps them alive is revenge. Every Indian who falls into the power of an enemy, and suffers the dreadful fate to which the vanquished are doomed, must have his ghost appeased by a victim from that hostile race. Thus every contest generates another, and a more deeply embittered one. Nor are they strangers to those more refined motives which urge civilized nations to take arms—the extension of their boundaries, an object pursued with ardent zeal, and the power of their tribe, which last they seek to promote by incorporating in its ranks the defeated bands of their antagonists. Personal dislike and the love of distinction often impel individuals to make inroads into a hostile territory, even contrary to the general wish; but when war is to be waged by the whole nation, more enlarged views, connected with its interest and aggrandizement, guide the decision. To most savages, however, long-continued peace becomes irksome and unpopular; and the prudence of the aged can with difficulty restrain the fire of the young, who thirst for adventure.

As soon as the determination has been formed, the war-chief, to whom the voice of the nation assigns the supremacy, enters on a course of solemn preparation. This consists not, however, in providing arms or supplies for the campaign; for these are comprised in the personal resources of each individual: he devotes himself to observances which are meant to propitiate or learn the will of the Great Spirit, who, when considered as presiding over the destinies of war, is named Areskoui. He begins by marching three times round his winter-house, spreading the great bloody flag, variegated with deep tints of black. As soon as the young warriors see this signal of death, they crowd around, listening to the oration by which he summons them to the field. “Comrades!” he exclaims, “the blood of our countrymen is yet unavenged; their bones lie uncovered; their spirits cry to us from the tomb. Youths, arise! anoint your hair, paint your faces, let your songs resound through the forest, and console the dead with the assurance that they shall be avenged. Youths! follow me, while I march through the war-path to surprise our enemies, to eat their flesh, drink their blood, and tear them limb from limb! We shall return triumphant; or, should we fall, this belt will record our valour!” The wampum, that grand symbol of Indian policy, is then thrown on the ground. Many desire to lift it, but this privilege is reserved for some chief of high reputation, judged worthy to fill the post of second in command. The leader now commences his series of mystic observances. He is painted all over black, and enters on a strict fast, never eating, or even sitting down, till after sunset. From time to time he drinks a decoction of consecrated herbs, with a view of giving vivacity to his dreams, which are carefully noted, and submitted to the deliberation of the sages and old men. When a warlike spirit is in the ascendant, it is understood that either their tenor or their interpretation betokens success. The powerful influence of the vapour-bath is also employed. After these solemn preliminaries, a copious application of warm water removes the deep black coating, and he is painted afresh in bright and varied colours, among which red predominates. A huge fire is kindled, whereon is placed the great war cauldron, into which every one present throws something; and if any allies, invited by a belt of wampum and bloody hatchet to devour the flesh and drink the blood of the enemy, have accepted the summons, they send some ingredients to be also cast in. The chief then announces the enterprise by singing a war-song, never sounded but on such occasions; and his example is followed by all the warriors, who join in the military dance, recounting their former exploits, and dilating on those they hope to achieve. They now proceed to arm, suspending the bow and quiver, or more frequently the musket, from the shoulder, the hatchet or tomahawk from the hand, while the scalping-knife is stuck in the girdle. A portion of parched corn, or sagamity, prepared for the purpose, is received from the women, who frequently bear it to a considerable distance. But the most important operation is the collection of the manitous, or guardian spirits, to be placed in a common box, which, like the Hebrew ark, is looked up to as a protecting power.

The females, during these preparations, have been busily negotiating for a supply of captives, on whom to wreak their vengeance, and appease the shades of their fallen kindred; sometimes, also, with the more merciful view of supplying their places. Tenderer feelings arise as the moment approaches when the warriors must depart—perhaps to return no more! and, it may be, to endure the same dreadful fate which they are imprecating on others. The leader having made a short harangue, commences the march, singing his war-song, while the others follow, at intervals sounding the war-whoop. The women accompany them some distance, and when they must separate, they exchange endearing names, and express the most ardent wishes for a triumphant return; while each party receives and gives some object which has been long worn by the other, as a memorial of this tender parting.

As long as the warriors continue in their own country, they straggle in small parties for the convenience of hunting, still holding communication by shouts, in which they imitate the cries of certain birds and beasts. When arrived at the frontier, they all unite and hold another great festival, followed by solemn dreaming, the tenor of which is carefully examined. If found inauspicious, room is still left to return; and those whose courage shrinks, are, on such occasions, supplied with an apology for relinquishing the undertaking; but such an issue is rare. On entering the hostile territory, deep silence is enjoined; the chase is discontinued; they crawl on all fours; step on the trunks of fallen trees, or through swamps. Sometimes they fasten on their feet the hoof of the buffalo, or the paw of the bear, and run in an irregular track like those animals. Equally earnest and skilful are they in tracing through the woods the haunts of the enemy. The slightest indications, such as would wholly escape the notice of a European, enables them to thread their course through the vast depths of the western forests. They boast of being able to discern the impression of steps even on the yielding grass, and of knowing, by inspection, the nation or tribe by whom it has been made. Various and ingenious artifices are employed to entrap their foe. From the recesses of the wood they send forth the cries of the animals which are most eagerly sought by the rival hunters. Their grand object, however, is to surprise a village, and if possible the principal one belonging to the hated tribe. Thither all their steps tend, as they steal like silent ghosts through the lonely forest. On approaching it, they cast hasty glances from the tops of trees or of hillocks, and then retreat into the thickest covert; but in total disregard of the most disastrous experience, the obvious precaution of placing nightly sentinels has never been adopted. Even when aware of danger, they content themselves with exploring the vicinity two or three miles around, when, if nothing is discovered, they go to sleep without dread.

This supineness is much fostered by a delusive confidence in the manitous enclosed in the holy ark. If during the day the assailants have reached unperceived a covert spot in the neighbourhood of the devoted village, they expect the satisfaction of finding its inhabitants buried in the deepest slumber in the course of the ensuing night. They keep close watch till immediately before day-break, when silence and security are usually the most complete; then, flat on their faces, and carefully suppressing the slightest sound, they creep slowly towards the scene of action. Having reached it undiscovered, the chief by a shrill cry gives the signal, which is instantly followed by a discharge of arrows or musketry; after which they rush in with the war-club and the tomahawk. The air echoes with the sound of the death-whoop, and of arms. The savage aspect of the combatants; their faces painted black and red, and some streaming with blood, and their frightful yells, make them appear like demons risen from the world beneath. The victims, too late aroused, spring from their fatal slumber, and foreseeing the dreadful fate which awaits them if taken prisoners, make almost superhuman struggles for deliverance. The contest rages with all the fury of revenge and despair, but it is usually short. The unhappy wretches, surprised and bewildered, can seldom rally or resist; they seek safety by fleeing into the depths of forests or marshes, whither they are hotly pursued. The main study of the victorious party is to take the fugitives alive, in order to subject them to the horrible punishments which will be presently described. Should this be impracticable, the tomahawk or the hatchet dispatches them on the spot; and the scalp is then carried off as a trophy. Placing a foot on the neck of his fallen enemy, and twisting a hand in the hair, the warrior draws out a long sharp-pointed knife, specially formed for this operation; then cutting a circle round the crown of the head, by a few skilful scoops he detaches the hair and skin, lodges the whole in his bag, and returns in triumph.

At the close of the expedition, the warriors repair to their village, and, even in approaching, announce its result by various signals well understood among their families. According to the most approved custom, the evil tidings are thus communicated. A herald advances before the troop, and for every kinsman who has fallen sounds the death-whoop,—a shrill lengthened note ending in an elevated key. An interval is then allowed, during which the burst of grief excited by these tidings may be in some degree exhausted. Then rises the loud and inspiring sound of the war-whoop, which by its successive repetitions expresses the number of captives brought home as the fruits of the victory. The barbarous joy thus kindled banishes for the moment all trace of lamentation. The women and children form two rows, through which the prisoner is led, having his face painted, and crowned with flowers as for a festival. Then begins the darkest of all the scenes by which savage life is deformed. A series of studied and elaborate torture commences, in which ingenuity is tasked to the utmost to inflict the intensest agony that can be endured without actually extinguishing life. The first caress, as the French call it, is to tear the nails from the fingers, the flesh is then pierced to the bone, and fire in various forms applied to the extremities. Blows are also given to the last degree that nature can sustain; and sometimes an amusement is found in tossing, for a long time, the victim like a ball from one to the other. Other contrivances, peculiar to infuriated savages, are sometimes resorted to. One missionary, for example, being made to lie on his back, had his stomach covered with sagamity, on which hungry dogs were set to feed, which tore his flesh with their teeth. The unhappy wretch is occasionally paraded from village to village, kept for weeks in this state of suffering, fed on the coarsest refuse, and allowed only a neglected corner of the cabin to sleep in. At length a grand council is held to decide his fate, or in other words, to determine whether all the furies of vengeance shall be let loose upon him, and his life be taken away amid the most frightful tortures, or whether he shall be saluted as one of themselves, and treated as a brother. The decision is influenced by various considerations. If he be a youth, or new to the field, a lenient course may probably be adopted; but a veteran warrior, who has been the terror of the nation, and on whose skin is painted a record of triumphs, has to dread a sterner sentence. The women have much influence, according as they either demand revenge for the loss of a husband or brother, or solicit that the captive may supply the vacancy. The Iroquois, though the fiercest of these barbarians, being the deepest politicians, were always anxious to augment their numbers; hence, though they prolonged and heightened the preliminary torture, they usually ended it by adoption. This was carried so far that they are described as having at length become less a single nation than an aggregate of all the surrounding tribes. The stranger being received into one of the families as a husband, brother, or son, is treated with the utmost tenderness; and she, who perhaps immediately before exhausted all her ingenuity in tormenting him, now nurses the wounds she has made, and loads him with caresses. He becomes completely one of the clan, and goes with them to war, even against his former countrymen; and so far is the point of honour carried, that to return into their ranks would be branded as an act of baseness. There are, however, many occasions in which the more inhuman resolution is taken, and a fearful display is then made of the darkest passions that can agitate the human breast. The captive is informed of his fate by being invested with moccasins of black bear-skin, and having placed over his head a flaming torch, the sure indication of his doom. Before the fatal scene begins, however, he is allowed a short interval to sing his death song, which he performs in a triumphant tone. He proclaims the joy with which he goes to the land of souls, where he will meet his brave ancestors who taught him the great lesson to fight and to suffer. He recounts his warlike exploits, particularly those performed against the kindred of his tormentors; and if there was any one of them whom he vanquished and caused to expire amid tortures, he loudly proclaims it. He declares his inextinguishable desire to eat their flesh, and to drink their blood to the last drop. This scene is considered, even when compared with the field of battle, as the great theatre of Indian glory. When two prisoners were about to be tortured by the French at Quebec, a charitable hand privately supplied a weapon with which one of them killed himself; but the other derided his effeminacy, and proudly prepared himself for his fiery trial. In this direful work the women take the lead, and seem transformed into raging furies. She, to glut whose vengeance the doom has been specially pronounced, invokes the spirit of her husband, her brother, or her son, who has fallen in battle or died amid torture, bidding him come now and be appeased, a feast is prepared for him, a warrior is to be thrown into the great cauldron; his blood will be poured out; his flesh torn from the bones: let the injured spirit then cease to complain. A game begins between the torturers and the tortured—one to inflict the most intense suffering, the other to bear it with proud insensibility. That there may be some appearance of open contest, he is not chained, but merely tied to a post, and a certain range allowed, within which, while the brand, the hatchet, and every engine of torture are applied, he can do something to repel his assailants, and even attack in his turn. He struggles fiercely in the unequal strife, and while his frame is consuming in agony, still defies his tormentors, and outbraves death itself. Some even deride the feeble efforts of their executioners, boasting how much more effectively they themselves had applied torture to individuals of their tribe. Yet there are instances where the murderers at last triumph; the sufferer exclaims, “Fire is strong, and too powerful;” he even utters loud shrieks, which are responded to by exulting shouts of savage laughter. Some few have been known by almost incredible efforts to break loose, and by rapid flight effect their escape. The general result, however, is death, after protracted suffering; when the scalp, if still entire, is taken off, and deposited among the military trophies.

It has been made a question whether the Indian can be justly charged with cannibalism. It is certain that all the terms by which they designate their inhuman mode of putting a prisoner to death bear reference to this horrid practice. The expressions are,—to throw him into the cauldron—to devour him—to eat soup made of his flesh. It has hence been plausibly inferred that this enormity really prevailed in early times, but was changed, we can scarcely say mitigated, into the present system of torture. Yet, as every action is described by them in terms highly figurative, those now quoted may have been used as expressing most fully the complete gratification of their revenge. Of this charge they cannot now be either condemned or wholly acquitted. In the excited fury of their passions, portions of the flesh are often seized, roasted, and eaten, and draughts taken of the blood. To eat an enemy’s heart is considered a peculiar enjoyment. Long mentions a gentleman who came upon a party who were busy broiling a human heart, when he with difficulty prevailed upon them to desist. There is little hesitation amongst them, in periods of scarcity, to relieve hunger with the flesh of their captives; and during one war, this fate is said to have befallen many French soldiers who fell into the hands of the Five Nations. Colonel Schuyler told Colden, that having entered the cabin of a chief who had some rich soup before him, he was invited to partake. Being hungry and tired, he readily agreed; till the ladle, being put into the great cauldron, brought up a human hand, the sight of which put an immediate end to his appetite and meal. Although war may be considered as the ordinary state of those tribes, yet, after having for a considerable time experienced its destructive effects, there usually arises a desire for an interval of tranquillity. To procure this, a regular form is observed. The nation which resolves to make the overture, despatches several individuals, usually of some note, as ambassadors, with at least one orator. They bear before them the calumet of peace, which renders their character sacred, and secures them from violence. They carry also a certain number of belts of wampum, with which are respectively connected the several motives and terms of the proposed treaty. The orator having obtained an audience of the chiefs on the other side, expounds the belts, dancing and singing in unison, and by actions expressing the peaceful purpose of his mission. If the opposite party be favourably inclined, they accept the offered symbols, and next day present others of a similar import. He then smokes in the calumet, and the contract is sealed by burying a hatchet; if there be any allies, one is deposited for each. This agreement is often accompanied with professions, at the moment perhaps sincere, of maintaining the sun always in the heavens, and never again digging up the hatchet; but the turbulence of individuals, and the satiety of long peace, to which the whole nation is subject, usually rekindle hostilities at no distant period.

Some notice may, finally, be expected of Indian amusements; the most favourite of which are smoking, music, and dancing. These, however, are viewed in a much higher light than mere pastime; being ranked among the most serious occupations, and esteemed quite indispensable in the conduct of every important affair. Without them a council cannot be held, a negotiation carried on, peace or war proclaimed, nor any public or private contract entered into; for not one of these transactions is accounted valid, till it has been smoked over, and sung and danced to. The calumet is the grand instrument of their policy. No important affair can be taken into consideration without the pipe in their mouths; and hence, to call an assembly of the chiefs is said to be lighting the council fire. This tube accompanies and is the guardian of every embassy, and to smoke together is the chief cement of national union.

Music and dancing, accompanying each other, are equally indispensable to every solemn celebration. Yet the instruments and performance are alike simple and rude; for their song, though often continued for a long period, consists merely in the perpetual reiteration of a few wild melancholy notes. The words are usually of the minstrel’s own composition, and record his exploits in war or hunting, and sometimes the praises of the animals which he has killed in the chase. The song is accompanied by performance on the drum, and on the chichikoue or pipe. The former is merely a hollowed piece of wood covered with skin; the latter is formed of a thick cane, upwards of two feet in length, with eight or nine holes, and a mouthpiece not unlike that of a common whistle. Those who know how to stop the holes, and bring out a sound, consider themselves performers; yet they cannot play upon it even those simple airs which they execute with the voice, though they will often continue for hours drawing out wild irregular notes.

The dances of the Indians, even those at common festivals, are on an extensive scale; requiring to a complete performance forty or fifty persons, who execute their evolutions by following each other round a great fire kindled in the centre. Their movements, monotonous but violent, consist in stamping furiously on the ground, and often brandishing their arms in a manner compared by an able writer to a baker converting flour into dough. They keep good time; but the music is so exceedingly simple, that this implies little merit. They conclude with a long shout or howl, which echoes frightfully through the woods. The dances in celebration of particular events are of a more varied character, and often form a very expressive pantomime. The war-dance is the most favourite and frequent. In this extraordinary performance, a complete image is given of the terrible reality; the war-whoop is sounded with the most frightful yells, the tomahawk is wildly brandished, and the enemy are surprised, seized, and scalped, or carried off for torture. The calumet-dance, which celebrates peace between nations, and the marriage-dance, which represents domestic life, are much more pleasing. Some mention is made of a mystic-dance, carried on by the jugglers or doctors, with strange superstitious ceremonies, and in which a supernatural personage, termed by some the devil, rises and performs; but it does not seem to have been witnessed by any European, and is said to be now in a great measure disused.

There are, moreover, games to which the Indians are fondly attached, which, though they be only ranked under the head of amusement, are yet conducted in the same serious manner as their other transactions. Their great parties are said to be collected by supernatural authority, communicated by the jugglers, and they are preceded, like their wars and hunts, by a course of fasting, dreaming, and other means of propitiating fortune. The favourite game is that of the bone, in which small pieces of that substance, resembling dice, and painted of different colours, are thrown in the air, and according to the manner in which they fall the game is decided. Only two persons can play: but a numerous party, and sometimes whole villages, embrace one side or the other, and look on with intense interest. At each throw, especially if it be decisive, tremendous shouts are raised; the players and spectators equally resemble persons possessed; the air rings with invocations to the bones, and to the manitous. Their eagerness sometimes leads to quarreling and even fighting, which on no other occasion ever disturb the interior of these societies. To such a pitch are they occasionally worked up, that they stake successively all they possess, and even their personal liberty; but this description must apply only to the more southern nations, as slavery was unknown among the Canadian Indians.

A temporary interval of wild licence, of emancipation from all the restraints of dignity and decorum, seems to afford an enjoyment highly prized in all rude societies. Corresponding with the saturnalia and bacchanals of antiquity, the Americans have their festival of dreams, which during fifteen days enlivens the inaction of the coldest season. Laying aside all their usual order and gravity, they run about, frightfully disguised, and committing every imaginable extravagance. He who meets another, demands an explanation of his visions, and if not satisfied, imposes some fantastic penalty. He throws upon him cold water, hot ashes, or filth; sometimes rushing into his cabin he breaks and destroys the furniture. Although everything appears wild and unpremeditated, it is alleged that opportunities are often taken to give vent to old and secret resentments. The period having elapsed, a feast is given, order is restored, and the damages done are carefully repaired.

View across the Boundary Line, from the Sugar Loaf.

On the first settlement of Europeans in Canada, that territory was chiefly divided between three great nations,—the Algonquins, the Hurons, and the Iroquois or Five Nations. The first held an extensive domain along the northern bank of the St. Lawrence, about a hundred leagues above Trois-Rivières. Shortly before, they had been the most powerful of all these tribes, and considered even in some degree as masters over this part of America. They are described also as having the mildest aspect, and most polished manners of any. They subsisted entirely by hunting, and looked with proud disdain on their neighbours who consented to bestow on the soil even the smallest cultivation. The Hurons were a numerous people, whose very extensive territory reached from the Algonquin frontier to the borders of the great lake bearing their name. They were also more industrious, and derived an abundant subsistence from the fine territory of Upper Canada. But they were at the same time more effeminate and voluptuous, and had less of the proud independence of savage life, having chiefs hereditary in the female line, to whom they paid considerable deference.

The Iroquois, destined to act the most conspicuous part among all the native tribes, occupied a long range of territory on the southern border of the St. Lawrence, from Lake Champlain to the western extremity of Lake Ontario. They were thus beyond the limits of what is now considered Canada; yet, as all their transactions were completely connected with the interests of that country, we cannot at present avoid considering them as belonging to it.

This people were divided into five cantons, each of which was considered as an independant nation. They were united, however, by the closest alliance; are never found waging war with each other, nor did they often fail to combine their forces when attacked by neighbouring tribes. The following are the names given to them by English and French authors.


We add to these general remarks on the habits and character of the natives of North America, a few anecdotes which were collected by a distinguished soldier in Canada, and which we copy literally from his MS. The first is a legend of the Falls of Shawenagam, river St. Maurice.

Shortly after the Hurons established themselves in the part of the Lower Province to the N. E. of the St. Maurice, that rapid river was fixed as the boundary between this nation and the Algonquins. In one of the many fierce rencontres that took place between these two warlike tribes, the following circumstance occurred, too descriptive of the Indian character to pass unnoticed. A party of Hurons had been hunting on the shores of the St. Maurice, and were returning in loaded canoes down the stream, when, on approaching the head of these falls, they suddenly heard a signal, and on looking up descried a large party of Algonquins half hidden among the thick foliage in the tops of trees. The Hurons had advanced too far to recede; to pull back against the stream was totally impossible, and to land at the head of the falls was only throwing themselves into the hands of the host of enemies waiting to bear their scalps in triumph to their nation. The mind, like the eye, of an Indian is quick and determined. The chieftain in the leading canoe cast one hurried glance on his enemies, and setting up a yell of defiance, steered his frail bark to the edge of the foaming precipice: in this resolute action he was followed by his people, and the whole party were hurried down the dreadful abyss mingled in one mass of wreck and destruction. Scarcely a vestige of these brave men was washed ashore to gratify the vengeance of the disappointed Algonquins.

Tête-de-Bules.—The Indians frequenting the Fur Post of Wemontashingur in the St. Maurice, latitude 47° 55' 58" N. are not numerous, and generally speaking are a very inoffensive people, although some actions of a horrid nature, committed by individuals of the tribe, have come to our knowledge. They are ignorant and superstitious, influenced in all their actions by dreams, which they imagine are sent to them for a good purpose by the Great Spirit: under this cloak they oftentimes commit great barbarities. They are likewise much addicted to ardent spirits.

That cannibalism is occasionally practised to a great extent among the aborigines inhabiting these dreary regions, the many accounts which have reached our ears would lead us to believe; but as these things are generally exaggerated, we know not what degree of credence they deserve. Among the anecdotes of this nature related to us, are the following, which, if true, show to what a degraded state of mind these miserable people are reduced. An Indian Montagnier, whose name is Mocontagan, or Crooked Knife, in a drunken fit confessed having in the course of his life killed and eaten several Indians and Metifs, or half-breeds. When sober, he attempted to deny it; but upon being closely pressed he acknowledged the fact, but said starvation drove him to kill and eat the first man, and that he slew and ate the others from a decided preference of that to any other kind of flesh; and finished his statement by declaring that he would kill any Metif, and eat him, that he should meet alone. He is much feared by the other Indians, who are inclined to believe him to be an evil spirit. He is described as a powerful man, six feet high, and strong built, and possessing what is termed “a bad countenance.” Upon one occasion, about six years since, at Wemontashingur, the Algonquins took courage and rose upon him: he fled for protection to Mr. Hyslop, the resident clerk of the Post, who with Mr. Le Blanc, now at Rat River, advised him to leave the place, as they could not be answerable for his life. This man is still living, much dreaded by the Indians frequenting the St. Maurice.

Another instance was related to us by Mr. Vassal, belonging to the King’s Post company. One day, during the winter, as he was travelling among the mountains, he saw an Indian stretched on the snow. Vassal approached him, and demanded what was the matter. The Indian replied he was sick, doubtless imagining Vassal would be alarmed by the thoughts of fever, and quit the place without entering the cabin: but Vassal, anxious to collect furs, attempted to go in, the Indian pulled him back by the leg; Vassal made another attempt, and succeeded in entering. A fire was burning, and a large kettle was on it, which, to his horror, he found contained a portion of a very young child. The savage acknowledged that it was his grandson, and that hunger had driven him to eat it. This, Vassal says, could not be possible, as there were remains of musk-rats about the place.

With respect to “bad dreams,” there is a Tête-de-Bule belonging to Wemontashingur at present labouring under the delusion. He imagines he shall fail in every undertaking until he has slain some person; and once he actually fired at his brother, but fortunately missed him. He is much feared by the tribe, as they imagine him possessed of an evil spirit, which will not depart until he has spilt blood.

The Indians navigating the St. Maurice have a notion that in a large cavern at the back of the Upper Caribonif Mountain, are a species of wood demons, and that when encamped near the place, they can distinctly hear the screams of children, but where the children come from in these desolate and unpeopled regions, our informant could not tell. The place is certainly very gloomy, but it being our encamping time, we made ourselves comfortable for the night in spite of the wood demons. Before morning, we ascertained the screams of the children to be the hooting and screeching of the owls and night hawks, so numerous in this part of the country.

In one of the deep bays of Lake Kempt, we saw three Indian graves, built in the usual long narrow shape adopted by the Indians, and well defended from wild beasts by an outer covering of split wood, bound together with branches. Within this outer mausoleum was one made of birch bark, and under this rested the body, covered over with the fine white sand forming the shores of the Lake. Opposite one of the graves was a cross. From the information we received, it appears that one of these graves belonged to Menesino’s mother, the second contained the body of his wife, and the third that of his infant child.

We were assured that the mother met with her death from the hands of her daughter, in a quarrel which took place a few years since in one of the sandy bays of Lake Malawin. The wife was slain by Menesino in a fit of jealousy, by striking his axe between her shoulders while she was in the act of stooping. How the infant came to its end, we did not hear. This man Menesino also slew another wife, and shot a Canadian who went to take him. For these murders, and others of which he was accused, Menesino was once taken and conveyed handcuffed to within a short distance of Three-Rivers. His guards being excessively fatigued, fell asleep, which Menesino took advantage of, and plunged into the river. In spite of his handcuffs he succeeded in gaining the opposite shore, whence crossing many large lakes,—God knows how,—and travelling a vast extent of forest covered with thick underwood, he regained his own country, and has never since been taken. Indeed, he is such a powerful man, and in the prime of life, that few would like to make the attempt, although we have since heard that a party are in pursuit of him. He is said to possess unbounded influence, occasioned by fear, over the male part of his tribe; but the female part, as may easily be supposed, have a great repugnance to living with him.

M. Le Blanc, when at Wemontashingur, was compelled to stand all night over an Indian woman whom Menesino wanted to carry off with him into the woods. He is described as a good looking man, and, what is unusual among the Indians, not at all addicted to ardent spirits. From all we heard, it would appear that he is constantly on his guard, fearful of some stratagem; living entirely alone, the sole inhabitant of these dreary waters.

On arriving at the point of the graves in Lake Nemeashingur, we landed to examine them. They were three in number, and similar in construction to those we had seen on Lake Kempt, except that they were more ornamented according to the pagan rites of Indians. Near the principal grave was a pile of wood, a paddle, snow shoes, and a snow shovel, for the use of the departed during his journey to the hunting grounds in the next world. In addition to these articles, on one of the mausoleums was a sword, the emblem of a chieftain. At the foot of this grave was a rude wooden cross. We had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the history of the parties who were buried here, of which the following is a slight sketch:—

Near the graves are the remains of a log-hut, which had been erected as a temporary receiving place for furs, until a sufficient quantity had been collected to send into the Post at Wemontashingur. This hut was in charge of a man named Tefu, a Bois-Brulé, who was married to a woman belonging to the tribe inhabiting the lake of the two mountains. One day in the year 1816, while Tefu was absent, a brother of Menesino named Kenecabannishcum, accompanied by his wife and mother, went to the hut and demanded of Tefu’s wife some provisions, which she refused. He insisted upon having some, a scuffle ensued, and the villain shot the woman dead upon the spot. They then departed, taking with them a young boy who was living with Tefu. The mother observed, that if the boy met any of the half-breeds who were in the habit of going round to collect furs, he would certainly tell them, in French, of the murder. Kenecabannishcum replied, he would soon settle that, and steered his canoe to the rocky point of an island directly opposite. On his arrival at the point, the ruffian seized the child by his legs, and dashed his brains out against the rock. The murderer’s mother returned to the hut and buried the body of the unfortunate infant. This is the woman who afterwards met her death on Lake Malawin from the hands of her daughter-in-law, and lies buried on Lake Kempt. Some time after the murders had been committed, a quarrel ensued between Kenecabannishcum and his wife and mother; in consequence of this, the two women repaired to the cabin of the wife’s father, a chieftain named Meshenawash, and acquainted him with the crimes of her husband: when this reached the murderer’s ears he vowed vengeance against the old chieftain, who consequently was compelled to secrete himself until the day of his death, which took place a short time after, for he was no match for such a powerful man as his son-in-law. The grave with the sword upon it was this chieftain’s.

The Squaw’s Grave
(Ottawa River.)

In the year 1824, this man came to his end in the following manner. An Algonquin, named Michel, was married to a very handsome woman, whom Kenecabannishcum endeavoured more than once to carry off by force. In the scuffles which ensued, Michel, who was not possessed with the strength of his opponent, was glad to make his escape, and in one instance, he was obliged to swim across a rapid stream, and dive repeatedly to avoid being shot. In the last encounter, which took place in the year above mentioned, each man was armed with an axe, when a fierce conflict ensued. Michel by a lucky blow struck off the nose of his adversary, and the next stroke took off his ear. These wounds so bewildered Kenecabannishcum, that he lost all presence of mind, and before he could recover, Michel struck his axe so deep into his enemy’s skull, that he was under the necessity of placing his foot on the neck of the fallen man to withdraw it. Thus fell this noted character: his body was buried by his brother Menesino on the point near the log-hut, close by his father-in-law and the infant whom he had murdered eight years before in cold blood. The body of Tefu’s wife was never found. Michel was obliged to fly that part of the country, fearful of the vengeance of Menesino, and is now resident at the post on Lac des Sables.

We have to acknowledge our obligations for most valuable information in the following pages, first, to our distinguished friend Col. Cockburn, of the Royal Artillery, long resident in Canada; next, to Hugh Murray, Esq., F.R.S.E. for extracts from his most admirable work on that country; to the Author of “Backwoods of America,” and to many writers, both old and modern, including Charlevoix, Adair, Colden, La Potherie, Rogers, Champlain, Heriot, McGregor, Raynal, Talbot, Hall, and others. From the inconvenience of making these acknowledgments in every instance, we return our thanks simply in this note, and embody the information simply as it comes, without further mark or comment.



Having given, from the best authority, the condition and characteristics of the aboriginal tribes of America, we go on briefly to enumerate the prominent events in the first stage of discovery and civilization. Those who read the curious picture we have been enabled to present, in the foregoing pages, of a nation almost, we may say, recently sprung to light, and who now look into the singular events of the first civilized history of the land they possessed, will have materials for a comparison between these and the lovely pictures on the other pages of the work, such as, for force of contrast and interest, is not often presented.

The Italian adventurers, John, and his sons Sebastian, Louis, and Sanchez Cabot, who received a commission on the 5th of March, 1495, from Henry VII. of England, to discover what Columbus was in search of, a north-west passage to the East Indies or China, (or, as the latter named country was then called, Cathay,) claim the honour of having been the first discoverers of Canada. The adventurers sailed in 1497 with six ships, and early in June of the same year, discovered Newfoundland; whence continuing a westerly course, they reached the continent of North America, which the Cabots coasted (after exploring the gulf of St. Lawrence) as far north as 67° 50' N. lat. They returned to England in August, 1497, but although Sebastian subsequently performed three voyages to the New World, no settlement was effected on its shores.

Port Hope.

In 1500, Gaspar Cortereal, a Portuguese gentleman, visited the coast, and pursued the track of Sir John Cabot (who was knighted by our sovereign); but Cortereal and his brothers accomplished nothing further than the kidnapping of several of the natives, whom they employed and sold as slaves. In 1502 Hugh Elliot and Thomas Ashurst, merchants of Bristol, with two other gentlemen, obtained a patent from Henry VIII. to establish colonies in the countries lately discovered by Cabot: but the result of the permission granted is not known. In 1527 an expedition was fitted out by Henry VIII. by the advice of Robert Thorne, a merchant of Bristol, for the purpose of discovering a north-west passage to the East Indies; one of the ships attempting which was lost.

Francis I. of France, piqued at the discoveries of Spain and Portugal, and having his ambition roused by the monopolizing pretensions of these two powers to the possessions in the New World, authorized the fitting out of an expedition, the command of which he gave to Verrazzano, a Florentine, who on his second voyage discovered Florida, and thence sailing back along the American coast to the 50° of lat. took formal possession of it for his royal master, and called it La Nouvelle France. On Verrazzano’s return to Europe in 1525, without gold or silver or valuable merchandize, he was at first coldly received, but, it is said, subsequently sent out with more particular instructions and directions to open a communication with the natives; in endeavouring to fulfil which, he lost his life in a fray with the Indians. This, however, is denied; and it is asserted that the capture of Francis I. at the battle of Pavia in 1525, prevented him from further exploring the coast, and that he returned to his native country and died in obscurity.

When the government ceased to follow up the result of Verrazzano’s formal acquisition of Canada, the Frenchmen of St. Maloes commenced a successful fishery at Newfoundland, which so early as 1517 had fifty ships, belonging to the English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese, employed in the cod-fishery on its banks. Jacques Cartier, a native of St. Maloes, engaged in the Newfoundland fishery, took the lead in exploring at his own risk the northern coasts of the new hemisphere.

This bold and experienced navigator at last received a commission from his sovereign, Francis I., and left St. Maloes on the 20th of April, 1534, with two vessels of sixty tons each; arrived at Newfoundland on the 10th of May, remained there ten days, and then sailed to the northward, passing through the straits of Bellisle; changed his course somewhat to the southward, traversed the great gulf of St. Lawrence, (already known to Europeans,) and, in the month of July, arrived in the Bay of Chaleurs, which he so named on account of its heat. On the 24th of July, Cartier was at Gaspé, where he erected a cross, surmounted by a fleur-de-lis, and on the 25th of July sailed for France with two native Indians.

The enterprising character of his royal master induced him to despatch Cartier in the following year with three larger vessels, and a number of young gentlemen as volunteers. The ships rendezvoused at Newfoundland, and in August sailed up the St. Lawrence, so called from its being discovered on the 10th day of that month, being the festival of the saint of that name.

Cartier anchored off Quebec, then called Stadaconna, and the abode of an Indian chief called Donnaconna. After leaving his ships secure, he pursued his route in the pinnace and two boats, until, on the third of October, he reached an island in the river, with a lofty mountain, which he named Mont Royal, now called Montreal. After losing many of his followers by scurvy, during his wintering at Stadaconna, which he named St. Croix, Cartier returned to France in 1536, carrying off by force Donnaconna, two other chiefs, and eight natives. The French court, finding there was no gold and silver to be had, paid no further attention to La Nouvelle France, or Canada, until the year 1540, when Cartier, after much exertion, succeeded in getting a royal expedition fitted out under the command of François de la Roque, Seigneur de Roberval, who was commissioned by Francis I. as viceroy and lieutenant-general in Canada, Hochelaga, or Montreal.

Roberval despatched Cartier to form a settlement, which he did at St. Croix harbour on the 23d of August, 1541, but suddenly left it early in the ensuing year. The viceroy himself arrived in Canada in July, 1542, where he built a fort, and wintered about four leagues above the Isle of Orleans (first called the Isle of Bacchus); but for want of any settled plans, in consequence of the scurvy, and the insurrections and deadly hostility of the Indians, owing to Cartier’s having carried off Donnaconna and his attendants (who had all perished in France), little was accomplished.[2]

Roberval’s attention was soon after called from Canada, to serve his sovereign in the struggle for power so long waged with Charles V. of Spain; and Jacques Cartier, ruined in health and fortune, died in France soon after his arrival there. Roberval on the death of Francis I. embarked again for Canada in 1549, with his gallant brother Achille, and a numerous train of enterprising young men; but having never afterwards been heard of, they are supposed to have perished at sea.

In 1576, Martin Frobisher was sent out by Queen Elizabeth with three ships on discovery, when Elizabeth’s Foreland, and the Straits which bear his own name, were discovered. Frobisher mistaking mica or talc for gold ore, brought quantities of it to England, and was despatched by some merchants with three ships in the following year, to seek for gold, and to explore the coast of Labrador and Greenland, with the view of discovering a north-west passage to India. He returned without any other success than 200 tons of the supposed gold ore, and an Indian man, woman, and child.

The Whirlpool on the Niagara.

In 1578 Martin Frobisher again sailed for the American continent with no fewer than fifteen ships in search of gold, to the ruin of many adventurers, who received nothing but mica instead of gold ore; the fact, however, shows the speculative avidity of mercantile adventurers at that period.

For fifty years France paid no attention to Canada, and the few settlers or their descendants left by Cartier or Roberval were unheeded and unsuccoured; but in 1598 the taste for colonial adventure revived, and Henry IV. appointed the Marquis de la Roche his lieutenant-general in Canada, with power to partition discovered lands into seigniories and fiefs, to be held under feudal tenure, and as a compensation for military services when required. La Roche fitted out but one vessel, and unfortunately reinforced his crew with forty malefactors from the prisons. It is sufficient here to state that Sable Island, a barren sand bank, and a rude part of Acadia (now called Nova Scotia), were first settled on and afterwards abandoned; and that to private enterprise, rather than to royal decree, the French nation were at last indebted for a permanent and profitable colonisation in Canada. M. Pontgrave, a merchant of St. Malo, who had distinguished himself by making several profitable fur voyages to Tadoussac, at the mouth of the Saguenay river, engaged as an associate M. Chauvin, a naval officer who obtained from Henry IV. in 1600 a commission, granting him an exclusive trade with Canada, and other privileges. Chauvin associated other persons with him in his enterprise, and made two successful trading voyages to Tadoussac, where the Indians gave the most valuable furs in exchange for mere trifles. Chauvin died in 1603, but Commander De Chatte, or De Chaste, governor of Dieppe, founded a company of merchants at Rouen, to carry on the fur trade on an extensive scale; an armament was equipped under Pontgrave, and a distinguished naval officer named Samuel Champlain, who sailed up the St. Lawrence as far as Sault St. Louis in 1603. On the death of Chauvin, which happened in the ensuing year, Pierre Dugast Sieur de Monts, a Calvinist and gentleman of the bedchamber to Henry IV. received a patent conferring on him the exclusive trade and government of the territories situate between 40° and 54° of lat.; and although of the reformed religion, the Sieur was enjoined to convert the native Indians to the Roman Catholic tenets. De Monts continued the Company founded by his predecessors, and fitted out an expedition in 1604 of four vessels, two of which were destined for Acadia, then an object of attraction. Suffice it to say, that trading ports were established at several places: the fur trade prosperously carried on; the Acadian colony neglected; and Quebec made the capital of the future New France, founded by Samuel Champlain on the 3d July, 1608. The various Indian tribes contiguous to the new settlement, namely, the Algonquins, the Hurons, &c. who were at war with the Iroquois, or Five Nations, solicited and obtained the aid of the French. Champlain taught them the use of fire-arms, which the Iroquois also acquired from their English friends in the adjacent territory; and hence began the ruinous wars, which have ended in the nearly total extermination of the Indians of the North American continent, wherever they have come in contact with the Europeans and their descendants. But little success attended the first colonization on the banks of the St. Lawrence; in 1622, fourteen years after its establishment, Quebec had not a population exceeding fifty souls.[3] The mischievous policy of making religion (and that of the Jesuit caste) a part of the colonial policy, long hampered the French settlers; and to remedy the distressed condition of the colony, the commerce of Canada, heretofore vested in the hands of one or two individuals, was transferred in 1627 to a powerful association, called the Company of a hundred Partners, composed of clergy and laity, under the special management of the celebrated Cardinal Richelieu. The primary object of the Company was the conversion of the Indians to the Catholic faith, by means of zealous Jesuits; the secondary, an extension of the fur trade, of commerce generally, and the discovery of a route to the Pacific Ocean and to China, through the great rivers and lakes of New France.

This Company held Canada or New France, with the extensive privileges of a feudal seigniory under the king, to whom were owing fealty and homage, and the presentation of a crown of gold at every new accession to the throne. With the right of soil, a monopoly of trade was granted, the king reserving for the benefit of all his subjects only the cod and whale fisheries in the gulf and coast of St. Lawrence; and to such colonists as might not be servants of the Company, was secured the right of trading with the Indians for peltries (skins), it being understood that on pain of confiscation they should bring all their beaver skins to the factors of the Company, who were bound to purchase them at 40 sous a-piece. Under the new system, “protestants and other heretics,” as well as Jews, were entirely excluded from the colony, and a Jesuit corps was to be supported by the Company. Thus monopoly and bigotry went hand in hand, and no auspicious Providence attended the efforts of such a selfish and fanatic project.

The very first vessels despatched by the new religio-commercial-company for Quebec, were captured by the English. In 1628, a squadron of English vessels, under the command of Sir David Kertk, a French refugee, visited Tadoussac, and destroyed the houses and cattle about Cape Tourmente; Kertk and his little band next proceeded to Gaspé bay, where he met M. de Roquemont, one of the hundred partners, commanding a squadron of vessels, freighted with emigrant families, and all kinds of provisions. Roquemont was provoked to a battle, and lost the whole of his fleet, provisions, &c.; and the last hope of the colony of Quebec was blasted by the shipwreck of two Jesuit missionaries, on the coast of Nova Scotia, in a vessel laden with provisions for the starving colonists, who were now reduced to an allowance of five ounces of bread per day. Kertk, reinforced by some more English vessels, commanded by his two brothers, sent them up the St. Lawrence, when they easily captured Quebec on the 20th July, 1629: and, on the 20th October, Champlain arrived at Plymouth, on his return to France, most of his countrymen having, however, remained in Canada. While Quebec was being captured by Kertk and his English squadron, peace was under ratification between England and France; and, in 1632, (the latter power having previously opened a negotiation with England,) Quebec, Acadia, (Nova Scotia,) and Isle Royal, (Cape Breton,) were ceded to France, and Champlain resumed the government of Canada. The Jesuits, with their accustomed zeal, commenced anew their efforts; and from this period to the final British conquest in 1760, a rivalship and growing hostility, partly religious and partly commercial, took place between the French and English settlers in North America, which were evinced by mutual aggressions, while profound peace existed between their respective sovereigns in Europe.

A minute detail of local occurrences would be out of place in a work of this nature; it may be sufficient to say, that from this period, (1674,) when the population, embracing converted Indians, did not exceed eight thousand, the French settlement in Canada continued to increase, and as it rose in power, and assumed offensive operations on the New England frontier, the jealousy of the British colonists became roused, and both parties, aided alternately by the Indians, carried on a destructive and harassing border warfare. And here it may not be amiss to observe, how much the progress of the British colonists in New York, New England, &c., and the prosperity of the French in Canada, were influenced during successive years by the strength and moral character of their respective sovereigns. I may allude, for instance, to the licentious reign of Louis XV., and the vigorous administration of William III., during whose governments the progress of their respective colonies was retarded or advanced by the example or stimulus afforded by the mother country; thus demonstrating how much, under a monarchy, the character and happiness of nations are influenced by the principles and habits of their rulers.

For many years the French in Canada made head against the assaults of their less skilful, but more persevering neighbours, owing to the active cooperation and support which the Canadians received from their Indian allies, whom the British were by nature less adapted for conciliating; but at length the latter, seeing the necessity for native cooperation, conciliated the favour of the aborigines, and turned the tide of success in their own favour. The hostilities waged by the Indians were dreadful. Setting little value on life, they fought with desperation, and gave no quarter; protected by the natural fastnesses of their country, they chose in security their own time for action, and when they had enclosed their enemies in a defile, or amidst the intricacies of the forest, the war-whoop of the victor and the death-shriek of the vanquished were almost simultaneously heard; and while the bodies of the slain served for food to the savage, the scalped head of the white man was a trophy of glory, and a booty of no inconsiderable value to its possessor. The Canadians themselves sometimes experienced the remorseless fury of their Indian forces. On the 26th of July, 1688, Le Rat, a chief of the Huron tribe, mortified by the attempt of the French commanders to negotiate a peace with the Iroquois, or Five Nations, without consulting the wishes of their Huron allies, urged his countrymen, and even stimulated the Iroquois, to aid him in an attack on Montreal. The colonists were taken by surprise, a thousand of them slain, and the houses, crops, and cattle on the island destroyed. Charlevais, in his history of La Nouvelle France, says of the Indians, “Ils ouvrirent le sein des femmes enceintes pour en arracher le fruit qu’elles portoient; ils mirent des enfans tous vivant à la broche, et contraignirent les mères de les tourner pour les faire rôtir!” The French, reinforced from Europe, sent a strong force in February, 1690, who massacred the greater part of the unresisting inhabitants of Shenectaday. According to Colden, (p. 78,) the Indians whom the French took prisoners in the battle at Shenectaday, were cut into pieces and boiled to make soups for the Indian allies who accompanied the French! Such were the desolating effects of European colonization on the continent of America, equalling, in fact, as regards the destruction of human life, the miseries inflicted by the Spaniards on the more peaceful and feeble Indians of the West India islands.

The massacre of the Indians at Shenectaday by the French had the effect of inducing the Iroquois and other nations to become more closely attached to the English, and the French were compelled to act on the defensive, and keep within their own territory. Our countrymen at Albany were at first so much alarmed at the determined hostility of the French, that they prepared to abandon the territory; but, at this crisis, the New England colonists came to an understanding, and formed a coalition for their mutual defence. Commissioners were sent to New York, and a mission despatched to London, explaining their views, and soliciting aid towards the successful completion of the naval and military expedition which was planned against the French settlements in Canada, in 1690.

Aylmer, Upper Canada.

What a signal change had taken place in the views and relative position of the parties, when, but a few years after, those very colonists sent to France, whose dominion in Canada they had been the chief instruments in annihilating, for succour and support in their war of independence against Great Britain!

The plan of attack on Canada by the New England colonists, which they fitted out at an expense of £150,000 (a heavy one to them at this period), was twofold—1st, by land, and inland navigation on the southern frontier of the French; and 2d, by a fleet, under Sir W. Phipps, with a small army on board, which was sent round by sea from Boston to attack Quebec. The force of the English was undisciplined; it consisted of colonists who were stimulated by deadly resentment to avenge the murder of their numerous relatives and friends, who had been slain by the French and their Indian allies. Quebec was formally summoned by Sir W. Phipps to surrender, and bravely defended by the Sieur de Frontenac, who compelled his foes to return to Boston with considerable loss in ships and men, owing to the delay and bad management of the commander, who, had he persevered in his efforts, would undoubtedly have starved out the garrison. The attack on Quebec by land had, without waiting for cooperating with the fleet, previously failed; so that the French were thus enabled to meet and defeat their enemies in detail, a policy which a good general, when assailed by superior numbers, will usually adopt.

The French, feeling secure in their dominions, pushed forward their outposts with vigour by means of the fur-traders, and more than ever alarmed the contiguous English colonists, who now became daily convinced of the impossibility of both nations remaining as rivals on the same continent; the French seeking dominion by military power and conquest, the English by an extension of the arts of peace, aided by a liberal spirit. The latter, therefore, resolved on using every possible means for the total expulsion of their Gallic neighbours from Canada, who refused the offer made to them to remain pacific while the mother countries were at war. The main object of Frontenac was to take possession of every point calculated to extend the dominion of France, to cut off the English from the fur-trade, and, finally, to hem them in between the Highlands of Nova Scotia and the Alleghany mountains. He began by checking the incursions of the Iroquois, whom he weakened so much by destructive warfare, and hemmed so closely in by a judicious distribution of military stations or forts, as to prevent them ever after from making an impression on Canada, such as they had been wont to produce. Frontenac’s next step was the preparation, in 1697, of a large armament to cooperate with a strong force from France, which was destined for the conquest of New York; but while the brave and active Canadian Governor was preparing to take the field, the news arrived of the treaty of peace between France and England, concluded at Ryswick, 11th of September, 1697, much to the dissatisfaction of Frontenac.

The renewal of the war between Great Britain and France in May, 1702, soon led to acrimony and hostility in America; and the cruel persecutions of the Protestants in France caused a religious animosity to be superadded to the hatred entertained by the New Englanders towards their neighbours, whose numbers had now increased to about 15,000. In 1708 the Marquis de Vandreuil carried his operations into the British frontier settlements, having previously negotiated for the neutrality of the Iroquois, who were flattered by being treated as an independent power; but the destruction of the village of Haverhill, and the massacre of some of its inhabitants, compelled the Canadians again to assume a defensive position. The New Englanders made every preparation for an attack on Montreal by land; but the English forces destined for the cooperation by the St. Lawrence river were required for Portugal, and thus the Marquis de Vandreuil had time to make better preparations for defence. The ensuing year (1709) was spent by the English in reducing Acadia, now Nova Scotia; and when the combined land and sea expedition against Canada took place in 1711, it was so ill-managed, and the British fleet, owing to tempestuous weather and ignorance of the coast, met with so many disasters,—losing by shipwreck in one day (the 22d of August) eight transports, 884 officers, soldiers, and seamen—that the expedition returned to Boston, and the restoration of peace between France and England by the treaty of Utrecht, in 1713, left the former yet a little longer to harass and molest the British colonists along the Canadian frontier. The Marquis de Vandreuil availed himself of the peace to strengthen the fortifications of Quebec and Montreal; the training of the military, amounting to 5,000 in a population of 25,000, was carefully attended to; barracks were constructed; and a direct assessment levied on the inhabitants for the support of the troops and the erection of fortifications. During ten years of foreign and internal tranquillity, the trade and property of Canada made rapid progress: in 1723 nineteen vessels cleared from Quebec, laden with peltries, lumber, stones, tar, tobacco, flour, pease, pork, &c.; and six merchant ships and two men-of-war were built in the colony.

Long Sault Rapid, on the St. Lawrence.

The death of the Marquis de Vandreuil in October, 1725, was deservedly lamented by the Canadians. He was succeeded in 1726 by the Marquis de Beauharnois, (a natural son of Louis XIV.) whose ambitious administration excited yet more the alarm and jealousy of the English colonists of New York and New England; while the intrigues of the Jesuits with the Indians, contributed not a little to bring about the final struggle for dominion on the American continent, between the two most powerful nations of Europe. The war between Great Britain and France in 1745, led to the reduction in that year of Cape Breton, by a British naval and military force, combined with the provincial troops of the New England colonies; but the successful battle of Fontenoy roused the martial spirit of the Canadians to attempt the re-conquest of Nova Scotia in 1746 and 1747, in which they failed, and the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 suspended further hostilities. Commissioners were then appointed to settle a boundary line between the British and French territories in North America. The object of the French was to confine the English within the boundary of the Alleghany mountains, and prevent their approach to the Lakes, the St. Lawrence, the Mississippi, (where the former were now establishing themselves,) and their tributary streams. The Canadian Government, without any authority from home, and accompanied by a display of military pomp, calculated to impress on the minds of the Indians the idea that France would assert her territorial right to the limits marked, proceeded to survey the projected line of demarcation between the possessions of France and those which the Canadian Governor was pleased, in his liberality, to assign to England: leaden plates, bearing the royal arms of France, were sunk at proper distances, and the whole ceremony was concluded with much formality. Such an imprudent step, it may be imagined, seriously alarmed the Indians, as well as the English, and terminated in their active cooperation for the utter expulsion of the French from North America.

In pursuance of the line of policy marked out by the French consuls at home and in Canada, the Jesuits were employed to intrigue with the Acadians, or descendants of the early French inhabitants, with the view of prevailing on them to quit Nova Scotia, and resort to a military post now established beyond its frontier, on the Canada side, where a new colony was to be formed, in aid of which the royal sanction was granted for an appropriation of 800,000 livres. Cornwallis, the governor of Nova Scotia, soon convinced the French that he was aware of their proceedings; he caused a fort to be erected opposite the French, near the bay of Fundy, on the side of the river Beauhassin; and placed it under the command of Major Laurence, and caused to be captured at the mouth of the St. John river, a vessel laden with supplies for the French. While these measures were in progress, the French commenced enforcing their power along the line of demarcation they had marked out; three individuals, who had licenses to trade from their respective English governors, with the Indians on the Ohio, were seized by the French, and carried prisoners to Montreal, whence, after severe treatment and strict examination, they were at length liberated, with injunctions not to trespass on the French territories.

The intrigues of the Jesuits with the Iroquois, to detach them from the English, were so far successful, that the Indians permitted the French to erect the Fort La Presentation near their border; and but for the perseverance and extraordinary influence of Sir William Johnston, the wily character of the Canadians would have gone far to frustrate the confederacy forming between the English and the Indians, for the expulsion of the French; whose downfall was ultimately occasioned by the corruption that prevailed within the colony, and the scandalous jobs that the very highest authorities not only winked at, but profited by. The arrival of the Marquis du Quesne de Menneville, in 1752, as Governor of Canada, Louisiana, Cape Breton, St. John’s, and their dependencies, gave indications that hostilities might soon be expected in Europe; and the activity of the marquis was displayed in training and organizing the militia for internal defence: detachments of regulars, militia, and Indians, were despatched to the Ohio; Fort du Quesne (actually within the Virginian territory) and other posts were erected, with a view of keeping the English within the Apalachian or Alleghany mountains; and from Ticonderoga, Crown Point, and Fort Niagara, the most ferocious attacks were made on the peaceable English settlers, notwithstanding the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 1748. The British, though still acting on the defensive, were not idle; a fort was built in the vicinity of Du Quesne, quaintly termed Necessity, and a garrison was despatched from Virginia, under the command of George Washington, whose name has since become so illustrious, and who then held a Lieutenant-colonel’s commission. Washington, on his march to assume the command of Fort Necessity, was met by a reconnoitring party from Du Quesne fort, under M. de Jumouville, who peremptorily forbad the English to proceed further. This mandate was answered by a burst of indignation, and a volley of musquetry, which killed Jumouville and several of his men. The French commandant at Du Quesne, Monsieur Contrecœur, quickly commenced offensive hostilities, invested Fort Necessity, and obliged Washington to capitulate. England at that time was preparing for an open war with France, which the ambition of Frederick of Prussia, and the state of Europe soon rendered general. A strong fleet, with troops and warlike munition, was despatched to reinforce Quebec; an English fleet pursued it, but succeeded in capturing only two frigates, with the engineers and troops on board, on the banks of Newfoundland.

from the opposite shore of the St. Lawrence.

In 1755, the Marquis du Quesne having resigned, he was succeeded, in July, by the last French governor in Canada, the Marquis de Vandreuil de Cavagnal, whose administration was auspiciously opened by the defeat of the brave but rash General Braddock, on the 29th July, 1755, in one of the defiles of the Alleghany mountains. Braddock, accustomed to European, rather than to Indian warfare, neglected every precaution of scouts and advanced posts, and refused to make any preparations against the French and their Indian allies, who, when the enemy had entered a gorge, where retreat was almost impossible, poured from their ambuscades on the devoted British a deadly fire, under which the soldiers of the unfortunate Braddock fell rapidly, without even the satisfaction of seeing or meeting their foes. The death of their leader was the signal that further advance was hopeless; and to the credit of George Washington, the second in command, he succeeded in rescuing the remainder of the British army, who were afterwards joined by 6,000 provincial troops, under General Johnston and Governor Shirley. Johnston, with the intention of investing Crown Point, joined General Lyman near Lake George, where they were attacked by 3,000 French, commanded by Baron Dieskau. After a battle of four hours’ duration, the French retreated to Crown Point, with the loss of 1,000 men, and the capture of their leader, who was severely wounded. This success restored the drooping spirits of the British army, and helped to train the provincials (who were brigaded along with the regular troops,) for those contests which they were soon to wage for their independence with the very men by whose side they now fought hand to hand against the French—their subsequent allies. Little did Washington then contemplate the destiny that awaited him.

The campaign of 1755 was closed in October, by the British retiring to Albany, after reinforcing the garrison of Oswego, but without any attack on Crown Point. France, fully aware of the importance of Canada, sent out early in the ensuing year a large body of chosen troops, under the command of the gallant and experienced Major-General the Marquis de Montcalm, who soon invested Fort Oswego, and compelled the garrison to surrender. In the next year’s campaign (1757), success still signalized the progress of the French arms; Fort George was invested and captured; and the English prisoners, amounting to nearly 2,000 regular troops of His Majesty’s service, were brutally massacred while on their march to Fort Edward, by the Indian allies of the French—the latter asserting, or pretending that they were, through inability or neglect, incapacitated from preventing the perpetration of this horrid slaughter. The feelings with which the news of this monstrous deed was received in England, and throughout British America, may well be conceived; it helped to hasten the downfall of the French dominion in Canada, the deepest abhorrence being excited against those who permitted or sanctioned such a diabolical act. The elder Pitt (afterwards Earl of Chatham) then at the head of affairs, and in the full blaze of his eloquence, infused a noble spirit into His Majesty’s counsels, and so wielded the resources and energies of the nation, that the effects were speedily felt in America.

France reinforced her Canadian garrisons; and England opened the campaign of 1759 with a plan of combined operations by sea and land, somewhat, if not mainly, formed on the plan adopted in 1690, and already detailed. The invasion of Canada was to take place at three different points, under three generals of high talent; that destined for Quebec being considered the chief. The forces for the latter place were under the command of the heroic General Wolfe, and amounted to about 8,000 men, chiefly drawn from the army which, under the same commander, had taken Fort Louisberg in Cape Breton, and subdued the whole island in the preceding year. Wolfe’s army was conveyed to the vicinity of Quebec by a fleet of vessels of war and transports, commanded by Admiral Saunders, and was landed in two divisions off the island of Orleans, 27th June, 1759. The Marquis de Montcalm made vigorous preparations for defending Quebec; his armed force consisted of about 13,000 men, of whom six battalions were regulars, and the remainder well disciplined Canadian militia, with some cavalry and Indians; and his army was ranged from the river St. Lawrence to the Falls of Montmorency, with the view of opposing the landing of the British forces. A few ships of war, including fire ships, assisted De Montcalm. The skilful disposition of the French commander was shown in the failure of the British attack on the intrenchments at Montmorency, where the British lost 182 killed and 450 wounded, including 11 officers killed and 46 wounded. In consequence of this repulse, Wolfe sent despatches to England, stating that he had doubts of being able to reduce Quebec during that campaign.

Montmorency Cove.

Monument to Wolfe and Montcalm
(near Quebec.)

Prudence and foresight are the characteristics of a good general, as well as of an able statesman. Wolfe called a council of war—he showed that the fire of his ships of war, which had passed and repassed Quebec, had done little damage to the citadel, though the lower town had been nearly destroyed—that further attacks on the Montmorency intrenchments were useless: it was therefore proposed, as the only hope of success, to gain the heights of Abraham behind and above the city, commanding the weakest point of the fortress. The council, composed of the principal naval and military commanders, acceded to this daring proposal; and their heroic leader, although suffering severely from sickness, commenced his operations on the memorable morning of the 13th of September, 1759, with an address, secrecy and silence, that have perhaps never been equalled; indeed, so difficult was the ascent of the narrow pass where the troops landed, that the soldiers had to climb the precipice, by the aid of the branches of shrubs and roots of trees growing among the rocks. De Montcalm found all his vigilance unavailing to guard this important pass—he lost his usual prudence and forbearance, and finding his opponent had gained so much by hazarding all, he, with an infatuation for which it is difficult to account, resolved to meet the British in battle array on the plains of Abraham. The French sallied forth from a strong fortress without field artillery—without even waiting for the return of a large force of 2,000 men, detached as a corps of observation under De Bougainville against the British fleet—and with a heat and precipitation as remarkable as were the coolness of the British. The eagle eye of Wolfe saw that to him retreat was almost impossible; but, while directing his main attention to the steady advance of his right division, he skilfully covered his flanks, and endeavoured to preserve their communication with the shore. Both armies may be said to have been without artillery, the French having only two guns, and the English a light cannon, which the sailors dragged up the heights with ropes; the sabre and the bayonet accordingly decided the day, and never was the nervous strength of the British arm better wielded. The agile Scotch Highlanders, with their stout claymores, served the purpose of cavalry, and the steady fire of the English fusileers compensated in some degree for the want of artillery. The French fought with a desperation heightened by the fanaticism to which their priests had excited them against the English heretics, while the heroism of De Montcalm was as conspicuous as that of his illustrious opponent; both headed their men—both rushed with eagerness wherever the battle raged most fiercely, and often by their personal prowess and example changed the fortune of the moment;—both were repeatedly wounded, but still fought with an enthusiasm which those only who have mixed in the heady current of battle can conceive; in fine, both those gallant commanders fell mortally wounded, while advancing on the last deadly charge, at the head of their respective columns. Wolfe, faint with the loss of blood, reeled, and leant against the shoulder of one of his officers—the purple stream of life was ebbing—the eye that but a few moments before beamed bright with glory, waxed dim, and he was sinking to the earth, when the cry of “They run!—they run!” arrested his fleeting spirit. “Who run?” exclaimed the dying hero. “The French,” returned his supporter. “Then I die contented!” were the last words of a Briton who expired in the arms of victory. The chivalrous Montcalm also perished—rejoicing in his last moments that he should not live to witness the surrender of Quebec—and both the conquerors and the conquered joined in deploring their national loss.

The battle may be said to have decided the fate of the French dominion in Canada; five days after, the citadel of Quebec was surrendered, and occupied by General Murray with a force of 5,000 men, and the British fleet sailed for England. The contemplated junction of the invading British forces took place at Montreal in September 1760; and by the treaty between France and England, in 1763, the former resigned all further pretensions to Canada and Nova Scotia,—thus losing at one blow every acre of her North American dominions.

The population of Canada, on its conquest by the British, was about 65,000, inhabiting a narrow strip of land on the banks of the St. Lawrence, and chiefly employed in agriculture. No people ever had juster cause of gratitude for the cession of the country to Great Britain than the Canadians. Bigot, the Intendant, or King’s financier, and his creatures, plundered the colonists in every direction; a paper currency, termed card-money, founded on the responsibility of the King of France, for the general support of the civil and military establishments of the colony, and which, from having been faithfully redeemed during a period of thirty years, enjoyed unlimited credit, enabled Bigot to conceal for a long time his waste and peculations; and while the British were capturing Canada by force of arms, the French monarch was destroying the commerce and prospects of his subjects by dishonouring the bills of exchange of the Intendant, to whom he had granted absolute power; thus involving in ruin not only the holders of 12,000 livres (£500,000 sterling) but also those who possessed any paper currency, which at the conquest amounted to £4,000,000 sterling, and the only compensation received for which was four per cent. on the original value.

Civil and religious liberty was granted to the Canadians; and in the words of the writer of the Political Annals of Canada, “previous history affords no example of such forbearance and generosity on the part of the conquerors towards the conquered—forming such a new era in civilized warfare, that an admiring world admitted the claim of Great Britain to the glory of conquering a people, less from views of ambition and the security of her other colonies, than from the hope of improving their situation, and endowing them with the privileges of freedom.”

After the more stirring and scientific discoveries of civilized navigators and adventurers, it will not be uninteresting to present the simple story of an Indian chief, who crossed the continent without compass or chart, and with no resources but his courage and native talent for expedient; and in this rude way, made discoveries which would thrill the bosom of the most romantic navigator. The story was told by the chief himself (through an interpreter), to the gentleman who reported it, in the following words, to the Historical Society of Quebec:—

“I had lost my wife, and all the children whom I had by her, when I undertook my journey towards the sun-rising. I set out from my village, contrary to the inclination of all my relations, and went first to the Chicasaws, our friends and neighbours. I continued among them several days, to inform myself whether they knew whence we all came,—they, who were our elders; since from them came the language of the country. As they could not inform me, I proceeded on my journey. I reached the country of the Chasuanous, and afterwards went up the Wabash, or Ohio, almost to its source, which is in the country of the Iroquois, or Five Nations. I left them, however, towards the north; and during the winter, which in that country is very severe, and very long, I lived in a village of the Abenaquis, where I contracted an acquaintance with a man somewhat older than myself, who promised to conduct me, the following spring, to the Great Water. Accordingly, when the snows were melted, and the weather was settled, we proceeded eastward; and, after several days’ journey, I at length saw the Great Water, which filled me with such joy and admiration that I could not speak. Night drawing on, we took up our lodging on a high bank above the water, which was sorely vexed by the wind, and made so great a noise that I could not sleep. Next day, the ebbing and flowing of the water filled me with great apprehension; but my companion quieted my fears, by assuring me that the water observed certain bounds, both in advancing and retiring. Having satisfied our curiosity in viewing the Great Water, we turned to the village of the Abenaquis, where I continued the following winter; and after the snows were melted, my companion and I went and viewed the great fall of the river St. Lawrence, at Niagara, which was distant from the village several days’ journey. The view of this great fall at first made my hair stand on end, and my heart almost leap out of its place; but afterwards, before I left it, I had the courage to walk under it. Next day we took the shortest road to the Ohio; and my companion and I cutting down a tree on the banks of the river, we formed it into a pettiauger, which served to conduct me down the Ohio and the Mississippi; after which, with much difficulty, I went up our small river, and at length arrived safe among my relations, who were rejoiced to see me in good health.

The Plains of Abraham, near Quebec.
(The spot where General Wolfe fell.)

“This journey, instead of satisfying, only served to excite my curiosity. Our old men, for several years, had told me that the ancient speech informed them that the Red-men of the north came originally much higher and much farther than the source of the river Missouri; and as I had longed to see, with my own eyes, the land from whence our first fathers came, I took my precautions for my journey westwards. Having provided a small quantity of corn, I proceeded up along the eastern bank of the river Mississippi, till I came to the Ohio. I went up along the bank of this last river, about the fourth part of a day’s journey, that I might be able to cross it without being carried into the Mississippi. There I formed a cayeux, or raft of canes, by the assistance of which I passed over the river; and next day meeting with a herd of buffaloes in the meadows, I killed a fat one, and took from it the fillets, the bunch, and the tongue. Soon after I arrived among the Tamaroos, a village of the nation of the Illinois, where I rested several days, and then proceeded northwards to the mouth of the Missouri, which, after it enters the great river, runs for a considerable time without intermixing its muddy waters with the clear stream of the other. Having crossed the Mississippi, I went up the Missouri, along its northern bank; and after several days journey, I arrived at the nation of the Missouris, where I staid a long time, to learn the language that is spoken beyond them. In going along the Missouri, I passed through meadows a whole day’s journey in length, which were quite covered with buffaloes.

“When the cold was past, and the snows were melted, I continued my journey up along the Missouri, till I came to the nation of the West, or the Canzas. Afterwards, in consequence of directions from them, I proceeded in the same course near thirty days; and at length I met with some of the nation of the Otters, who were hunting in that neighbourhood, and were surprised to see me alone. I continued with the hunters two or three days, and then accompanied one of them, and his wife, who was near her time of lying in, to their village, which lay far off, betwixt the north and west. We continued our journey along the Missouri for nine days, and then we marched directly northwards for five days more, through the country of the Otters, who received me with as much kindness as if I had been of their own nation. A few days after we came to the Fine River, which runs westward in a direction contrary to that of the Missouri. We proceeded down this river a whole day, and then arrived at the village. A party of the Otters were going to carry a calumet of peace to a nation beyond them, and we embarked in a pettiauger, and went down the river for eighteen days, landing now and then, to supply ourselves with provisions. When I arrived at the nation, who were at peace with the Otters, I staid with them till the cold was past, that I might learn their language, which was common to most of the nations that lived beyond them.

“The cold was hardly gone, when I again embarked on the Fine River; and in my course I met with several nations, with whom I generally staid but one night, till I arrived at the nation that is but one day’s journey from the Great Water on the West. This nation live in the woods, about the distance of a league from the river, from their apprehension of bearded men, who come upon their coasts in floating villages, and carry off their children to make slaves of them. These men were described to be white, with long black beards that came down to their breasts. They were thick and short, had large heads, which were covered with cloth;—they were always dressed, even in the greatest heats; their clothes fell down to the middle of their legs, which with their feet were covered with red or yellow stuff. Their arms made a great fire and a great noise; and when they saw themselves outnumbered by Red-men, they retired on board their large pettiauger—their number sometimes amounting to thirty, but never more.

“Those strangers came from the sun-setting, in search of a yellow stinking wood, which dyes a fine yellow colour; but the people of this nation, that they might not be tempted to visit them, had destroyed all those kind of trees. Two other nations in their neighbourhood, however, having no other wood, could not destroy the trees, and were still visited by the strangers; and being greatly incommoded by them, had invited their allies to assist them in making an attack upon them the next time they should return. The following summer I accordingly joined in this expedition; and after travelling five long days’ journey, we came to the place where the bearded men usually landed, where we waited seventeen days for their arrival. The Red-men, by my advice, placed themselves in ambuscade to surprise the strangers; and accordingly, when they landed to cut the wood, we were so successful as to kill eleven of them, the rest immediately escaping on board two large pettiaugers, and flying westward upon the Great Water.

“Upon examining those whom we had killed, we found them much smaller than ourselves, and very white: they had a large head, and in the middle of the crown the hair was very long. Their head was wrapped in a great many folds of stuff, and their clothes seemed to be made neither of wool nor silk: they were very soft, and of different colours. Two only, of the eleven who were slain, had fire arms, with powder and ball. I tried their pieces, and found that they were much heavier than ours, and did not kill at so great a distance.

“After this expedition I thought of nothing but proceeding on my journey, and with that design I let the Red-men return home, and joined myself to those who inhabited more westward on the coast, with whom I travelled along the shore of the Great Water, which bends directly betwixt the north and the sun-setting. When I arrived at the villages of my fellow-travellers, where I found the days very long, and the nights very short, I was advised by the old men to give over all thoughts of continuing my journey. They told me that the land extended still a long way in a direction between the north and sun-setting, after which it ran directly west, and at length was cut by the Great Water from north to south. One of them added, that when he was young, he knew a very old man who had seen that distant land before it was eat away by the Great Water, and that when the Great Water was low, many rocks still appeared in those parts. Finding it, therefore, impracticable to proceed much further on account of the severity of the climate, and the want of game, I returned by the same route by which I had set out; and reducing my whole travels westward to day’s journeys, I compute that they would have employed me thirty-six moons; but on account of my frequent delays, it was five years before I returned to my relations among the Yazous.”

The remarkable difference between the Natches, including in that name the nations whom they treat as brethren, and the other people of Louisiana, made me extremely desirous to know whence both of them might originally come. We had not then that full information which we have since received from the voyages and discoveries of M. De Lisle, in the eastern parts of the Russian empire. I therefore applied myself one day to put the keeper of the temple in good humour; and having succeeded in that without much difficulty, I then told him, that from the little resemblance I observed between the Natches and the neighbouring nations, I was inclined to believe that they were not originally from the same country which they then inhabited; and if the ancient speech taught him any thing on that subject, he would do me a great pleasure to inform me of it. At these words he leaned his head on his two hands, with which he covered his eyes; and having remained in that posture about a quarter of an hour, as if to recollect himself, he answered to the following effect:—

“Before we came into this land we lived yonder, under the sun, (pointing with his finger nearly south-west, by which I understood he meant Mexico); we lived in a fine country, where the earth is always pleasant; there our sons had their abode, and our nation maintained itself for a long time against the ancients of the country, who conquered some of our villages in the plains, but never could force us from the mountains. Our nation extended itself along the Great Water where this large river loses itself; but as our enemies were become very numerous, and very wicked, our Suns sent some of our subjects who live near this river, to examine whether we could retire into the country through which it flowed. The country on the east side of the river being found extremely pleasant, the Great Sun, upon the return of those who had examined it, ordered all his subjects who lived in the plains, and who still defended themselves against the ancients of the country, to remove into this land, here to build a temple, and to preserve the eternal fire.

“A great part of our nation accordingly settled here, where they lived in peace and abundance for several generations; the Great Sun, and those who had remained with him, never thought of joining us, being tempted to continue where they were by the pleasantness of the country, which was very warm, and by the weakness of their enemies, who had fallen into civil dissensions in consequence of the ambition of one of their chiefs, who wanted to raise himself from a state of equality with the other chiefs of the villages, and to treat all the people of his nation as slaves. During those discords among our enemies, some of them even entered into an alliance with the Great Sun, who still remained in our old country, that he might conveniently assist other brethren who had settled on the banks of the Great Water to the east of the large river, and extended themselves so far on the coast, and among the isles, that the Great Sun did not hear of them sometimes for five or six years together.

“It was not till after many generations that the Great Suns came and joined us in this country, when, from the fine climate and the peace we had enjoyed, we had multiplied like the leaves of the trees. Warriors of fire, who made the earth to tremble, had arrived in our old country, and having entered into an alliance with our brethren, conquered our ancient enemies; but attempting afterwards to make slaves of our sons, they, rather than submit to them, left our brethren, who refused to follow them, and came hither attended only by their slaves.”

Upon my asking him who those warriors of fire were, he replied, “that they were bearded white men, somewhat of a brownish colour, who carried arms that darted out fire with a great noise, and killed at a distance; that they had likewise heavy arms which killed a great many men at once, and like thunder made the earth tremble; and that they came from the sun-rising in floating villages.”

“The ancients of the country,” he said, “were very numerous, and inhabited from the western coast of the Great Water to the northern countries on this side the sun, and very far up on the same coast beyond the sun. They had a great number of large and small villages, which were all built of stone, and in which there were houses large enough to lodge a whole village. Their temples were built with great labour and art, and they made beautiful works of all kinds of materials.”

“But ye yourselves,” said I, “whence are ye come?” “The ancient speech,” he replied, “does not say from what land we came; all that we know is, that our fathers, to come hither, followed the sun, and came with him from the place where he rises; that they were a long time on their journey, were all on the point of perishing, and were brought into this country without seeking it.”

Les Marches Naturelles,
near Quebec.

Moncacht-apé, after giving me an account of his travels, spent four or five days visiting among the Natches, and then returned to take leave of me, when I made him a present of several wares of no great value, among which was a concave mirror, about two inches and a half diameter, which had cost me about three half-pence. As this magnified the face to four or five times the natural size, he was wonderfully delighted with it, and would not have exchanged it for the best mirror in France. After expressing his regret at parting with me, he returned highly satisfied to his own nation.

Moncacht-apé’s account of the junction of America with the eastern parts of Asia, seems confirmed by the following remarkable fact. “Some years ago the skeletons of two large elephants and two small ones were discovered in a marsh near the Ohio; and as they were not much consumed, it is supposed that the elephants came from Asia not many years before. If we also consider the form of government, and the manner of living among the northern nations of America, there will appear a great resemblance betwixt them and the Tartars in the north-east part of Asia.”

Indians who have never seen the ebbing and flowing of the tide are wonderfully struck with this phenomenon. Many of the inhabitants of Quebec must still remember that the great deputation of Indian chiefs, from the interior, and from the Mississippi, which came to Quebec during the administration of Sir George Prevost, and had in their company the sister of Tecumseh, were often to be seen sitting in a row upon a wharf in the Lower Town of Quebec, contemplating in silence, and evidently under the deepest impression of awe, the rising and falling of the waters of the St. Lawrence.

The white men here described correspond in every particular with the Chinese, who, there is reason to believe, held commercial intercourse with the south of Africa long before Vasco de Gama discovered and doubled the Cape of Good Hope. The Chinese are rather smaller than we are, and have the palest complexion indigenous to Asia. Their muskets are match-locks, and heavier than ours; their powder is inferior in quality.

The stinking wood mentioned by the Indian chief is probably fustic, yielding a yellow dye, which is the prevailing colour of the garments of the superior classes in China.

The narrative of these proceedings must be received with due allowance, as there is considerable discrepancy between the different historians. The statements of Hakluyt are here generally followed.

The first child born in Quebec of French parents was the son of Abraham Martin and Margaret L'Angelois: it was christened Eustache on the 24th of October, 1621.



Having presented the first two phases of the history of Canada—its last period under the rule of the savage, and its first under that of civilized man; we pass to the next, which brings us to our own time—its rule by the government of England.

The war commenced by the United States against Britain in 1812, produced a formidable crisis in the history of Canada, especially of the upper province.[4] It is not proposed to enter into any discussion of the grounds or merits of the hostile resolution adopted by Congress. Doubtless, however, as Britain then stood with her whole disposable force engaged against Napoleon, they calculated with full confidence on obtaining possession of the Canadas, and, indeed, of all British America. Dr. Eustis, secretary at war, said in Congress, “We can take the Canadas without soldiers; we have only to send officers into the provinces, and the people disaffected towards their own government will rally round our standard.” Mr. Clay added: “It is absurd, to suppose we shall not succeed in our enterprise against the enemy’s provinces. We have the Canadas as much under our command as Great Britain has the ocean. We must take the continent from them. I wish never to see a peace till we do.” A similar impression prevailed in the colony itself, defended then by only 4,500 troops, of whom not more than 1,450 were in the upper province, though the most exposed, and presenting the most extended frontier. Not a few were inclined, on the first alarm, to pack up and quit the country; but Sir George Prevost, seconded by the majority of the inhabitants, adopted a more spirited resolution. The militia were called out; Quebec was garrisoned by the citizens; and the frontier placed in a state of defence.

The States, though they had plunged into hostilities so eagerly, and with such sanguine anticipations, were, by no means, in a forward state of preparation. Few of the officers who had distinguished themselves in the war of independence, survived the lapse of nearly thirty years. General Hull, however, one of these veterans, was sent with a force of 2,500 men to open the campaign on the western frontier of Upper Canada. On the 5th of July, 1812, he arrived at Detroit; and on the 12th crossed the river, and took possession of Sandwich, whence he issued a proclamation, inviting the colonists to join him, or at least to remain neutral. He announced that no quarter would be given to a white man fighting by the side of an Indian, though this is said never to have been acted upon. Having no cannon mounted, he did not think it practicable to attack Fort Malden, which covered Amherstburg, where Lieut.-Colonel St. George, with his small force, was posted. Hull, however, pushed forward detachments into the country, which gained some advantages, and induced a few of the inhabitants to join them. But his prospects were soon clouded. Capt. Roberts, with a small detachment, had early reduced the fort of Michillimakinac, which “opened upon him the northern hive of Indians.” Almost the whole of that race, indignant at the encroachments of the Americans upon their territory, eagerly espoused the British cause, and poured in from every quarter to support it. Meantime, General Brock, having embarked all the troops that could be spared from the Niagara frontier, arrived on the 12th of August at Amherstburg, where he mustered about 320 regulars, 400 militia, and 600 Indians. Hull, whose force, weakened by sickness and by sending away two detachments, is said not to have exceeded 800 effective men, retreated across the river, withdrawing the cannon prepared for the siege of Amherstburg, and shut himself up in Detroit. General Brock instantly crossed, advanced upon the fort, and prepared for an immediate assault; but a white flag then appeared from the walls, and a capitulation was quickly signed, by which the whole American force, including the detachments, were surrendered prisoners of war. The Canadian citizens, who had despondingly anticipated speedy conquest, were not a little surprised to see in less than three months the whole army destined for that object marched in as captives. Loud complaints were made by the Americans against the conduct of Hull, who was afterwards tried and condemned to be shot, though spared on account of his age and former services.

The Americans made great efforts to obtain a more fortunate result on the Niagara frontier. Though the New England States, disapproving of the war, withheld their militia, yet early in September more than 6,000 men were brought to the banks of the river, with the view of crossing it, and penetrating into Canada. They were encouraged by the exploit of two row-boats, which captured the same number of British gun-brigs, with valuable cargoes, as they were passing Fort Erie. The troops are represented as filled with enthusiastic confidence, urging, and almost compelling General Van Rensselaer, their commander, to commence active operations. Accordingly, after one abortive attempt, he succeeded, on the morning of the 13th of October, in pushing across to Queenston a detachment, which, being well reinforced, gained possession of the heights. General Brock, having come up, resolved to check their progress, but, making his advance with too small a force, he was repulsed and killed, closing his brilliant career by a glorious death. Meantime, General Sheaffe, having brought up the main force of the British from Fort George, and being joined by a body of Indians, with a detachment from Chippeway, attacked the enemy, and, after a sharp contest of half an hour, compelled the whole, amounting to above 900, to surrender at discretion.

The Americans made yet another attempt to retrieve this unfortunate campaign. General Smyth, who succeeded Van Rensselaer, had assembled, on the 27th of November, 4,500 men in the vicinity of Black Rock. Early on the following morning two detachments succeeded in crossing, and, after a long confused fight in the dark, drove in with loss the British outposts; but when day broke, and Lieut.-Colonel Bisshop had collected about 600 regulars and militia, they hastily retired to the other side, leaving a party of thirty to fall into the hands of the English. Another division began to cross, but some rounds of musketry and artillery induced them to return. In the course of the day, after a vain summons to surrender Fort Erie, nearly half the force was embarked, though in the afternoon the postponement of the enterprise was announced. After several days of uncertain councils, it was finally decided that the expedition should be abandoned for the season.


General Brock’s Monument,
above Queenston.

The severity of the season caused a suspension of operations, scarcely interrupted, unless by an attack on Ogdensburg by Captain McDonnell, who, crossing the St. Lawrence on the ice, drove out the garrison, and obtained possession of eleven pieces of cannon, and a considerable quantity of stores. The Americans meantime were making extraordinary exertions to open the new campaign under better auspices. At Sackett’s Harbour, on the southern shore of Ontario, a naval armament was equipped, which gave them for some time the control of that fine lake. A large force had been assembled, and placed under a new commander, General Dearborn. The plan of this campaign was limited to the conquest of Upper Canada; the achievement of which, as that country was defended by only 2,100 troops, was considered beyond the reach of chance. On the 25th of April, 1813, the general, with Commodore Chauncey, embarked about 2,000 men, and sailed to York (Toronto), the rising capital of the province. It was then very ill prepared for resistance, scarcely at all fortified, and defended by General Sheaffe with only about 600 men. On the morning of the 27th they reached the place, and succeeded in landing, when, after a brave defence, protracted till two o’clock, the English were obliged to abandon the town. The invaders suffered chiefly by the explosion of a mine, which killed or wounded about 260, including among the former General Pike, a young officer of distinguished merit, who had planned and conducted the attack. After burning all the public buildings, they carried off the artillery and naval stores, and by the 1st of May evacuated the place.

The next enterprise was still more important, being directed against Fort George, near Newark, at the entrance of the Niagara channel, considered the chief military position in the country. Nearly the whole force was employed, a small part only being left to defend Sackett’s Harbour. Brigadier-General Vincent, on the other hand, had only a British detachment of about 1,000 regulars, and 300 militia; and Newark had been exposed to so severe a fire from the American fort on the opposite side, that it was no longer defensible. The enemy, therefore, could be resisted only by opposing his landing, or by beating him afterwards in the field. When Commodore Chauncey, on the 27th of May, disembarked 4,000 men, under Dearborn and Lewis, both these operations were attempted; but, after a long and severe contest, were rendered unavailing by the superior numbers of the invaders. Vincent was obliged, after calling in the garrisons of Chippeway and Fort Erie, to retreat, first to the Beaver Dams, and then to Burlington Heights, near the western extremity of Lake Ontario. The victors could not intercept his retreat, but they established for the first time a regular lodgement in Canada.

Meantime, a respectable naval force having been organised at Kingston by Sir James Yeo, Sir George Prevost, the governor, was prevailed upon to employ it in the attack of Sackett’s Harbour, defended only by a small party, while the main body of the enemy was employed against Fort George. He sailed on the 27th of May, with about 750 men, but on approaching showed considerable hesitation, and even gave orders for a return to Kingston, till, encouraged by the success of the Indians in capturing twelve boats with seventy dragoons, he succeeded in effecting a landing on the morning of the 29th. Notwithstanding the difficulties of the ground, he drove the enemy before him, till they took shelter in a log-barrack and stockaded fort: thence they kept up such a destructive fire, that General Prevost, considering it impossible to force the position, and panic-struck, it is said, by a false alarm raised by General Brown in his rear, ordered a retreat. Much difference of opinion, however, prevailed among the officers. Major Drummond is reported to have said, “A few minutes, Sir, and I will put you in possession of the place.” He was ordered to obey; upon which, discontent and a want of confidence in the Commander-in-Chief became general, and had a most injurious effect on the subsequent operations.

Fortune, so favourable to the Americans at the opening of the campaign, did not continue so throughout. Extraordinary exertions were made in the western States, particularly Kentucky. Two corps were formed, and despatched under Generals Winchester and Harrison, to march in different lines through Michigan; then to unite, and cooperate in recovering Detroit, and invading the adjoining districts. Winchester, suspected of a desire to achieve something before yielding the command to his coadjutor, advanced with about 1,000 men to French Town, within twenty-six miles of Detroit. Colonel Proctor, justly appreciating the importance of attacking him before the junction, hastily collected all the force within his reach, amounting to about 500 whites, and 450 Indians. With these, on the 22d of January, 1813, he succeeded in bringing the enemy to action. They made an obstinate resistance, and, being posted in houses and inclosures, caused considerable loss to the assailants; but they were ultimately overpowered, and nearly all made prisoners. The general himself was among the number, having fallen into the hands of a Wyandot Indian, who stripped off his uniform, adorned his own person with it, and could not without great difficulty be induced to make restitution.

General Harrison, on receiving intelligence of this disaster, took up a position near the rapids of the Miami, to await reinforcements. Colonel Proctor felt equally the importance of attacking him before their arrival. Having assembled about 1,000 regulars and militia, and 1,200 Indians, he embarked them at Amherstburg on the 23d of April, then sailed across Lake Erie, and up the Miami. Many delays, however, occurred, by which the enemy was enabled so to strengthen his position, that the attack made on the 1st of May had very little effect. The Americans were then encouraged to assume the offensive, which they did with large bodies of troops, partly landed from the river, partly sallying from the fort. At first they gained possession of the British batteries, but they were then attacked at different points with such decisive success, that upwards of a thousand were killed or taken, and the rest with difficulty found refuge within the entrenchments. These Proctor found himself still unable to storm; but he had so weakened the enemy’s force, as to remove all immediate danger of invasion.

Citadel of Kingston
(from the St. Lawrence.)

View from the Citadel of Kingston.

Let us now return to the main theatre of operations on the Niagara frontier, where we have seen the British driven before the enemy to Burlington Heights. Dearborn immediately sent forward Generals Chandler and Winder with 4,000 men, to destroy if possible this shattered remnant; a success which would have been followed by the conquest of all the western provinces. On the 5th of June they took post at Stoney Creek, to prepare for operations on the following day. In this critical situation, Lieut.-Colonel Harvey, having carefully reconnoitred the enemy’s position, suggested a night attack, to which General Vincent readily assented. It was made with 700 chosen troops, and being favoured by deep darkness, was completely successful; the Americans fled in every direction, and the two commanders, with seven officers and 116 men, were made prisoners. The British at day-light withdrew their small force. The enemy’s loss, indeed, had not been great; yet such was the panic inspired by the events of this night, that before eleven next morning they had abandoned their camp, and commenced a retreat to Forty-mile Creek, eleven miles distant. Here they received a reinforcement, but, being threatened by Sir James Yeo, who had come with a squadron and a small body of troops to support General Vincent, they determined on retreating to Niagara. Nor did their disgrace stop here. Intelligence being received that the English had a small advanced post at Beaver-dam, Lieut.-Colonel Boerstler, with about 700 men, was sent to attack it. That officer, however, being unexpectedly assailed, first by a party of Indians, and soon afterwards by a small body of regulars, conceived himself to be surrounded, and, on being summoned by Lieut. Fitzgibbon, surrendered his whole corps prisoners of war. The Americans now held nothing on the right bank of the river beyond Fort George. The British even made incursions on the opposite shore; in one of which Col. Bisshop gained possession of Black Rock, where he destroyed or carried off the arms and stores; but being unfortunately attacked while re-embarking, by a superior force, his party suffered some loss, and he himself received three wounds which proved mortal.

The British at this time gained some advantages on Lake Champlain, taking several vessels, and destroying the enemy’s magazines at Plattsburg and Swanton. They were now, however, destined to experience some severe reverses, and that too on the theatre of their most brilliant triumphs.

The Americans made extraordinary exertions to retrieve their affairs on the western frontier; volunteers crowded from Kentucky, a territory of fierce and war-like habits; and by September they had succeeded in augmenting General Harrison’s army to upwards of 5,000 men. They had formed another fortified station on Sandusky River, which Major-General Proctor, without success, attempted to reduce. A squadron of nine vessels, mounting fifty-six guns, had been equipped by them on Lake Erie, and it was with great difficulty that one at all able to contend with it could be fitted out by the British, under Captain Barclay. An engagement took place, which was maintained with the utmost obstinacy, and the American commodore’s ship had even struck her flag; but fortune afterwards turned, and the conflict ended in the defeat and entire surrender of the English squadron. The event reduced General Proctor to extreme distress, depriving him of access to supplies and reinforcements, while his stock of provisions had become quite inadequate for his own troops, and the numerous Indians who had joined his standard. On the arrival, therefore, in the end of September, of General Harrison at Detroit, he did not attempt to maintain his position at Amherstburg, but retreated up the river Thames. The other pursued him closely with 3,500 troops, while Proctor was deserted by most of his Indians, of whom he had now only about 500, with 800 whites. At the Moravian town, on the 5th of October, he took up a strong position, flanked by the river on one side, and a wood on the other, where he hoped to render unavailing the superior numbers of the enemy. Harrison, however, had with him a body of combatants yet unknown in warfare, the Kentucky mounted riflemen, accustomed to ride through the woods, using their weapon with almost preternatural skill. Their very novelty he justly hoped would make a strong impression. Following his instructions, they received the fire of their opponents, then galloped forward, and in a few minutes completely broke the British ranks, spreading among them a general confusion. The severest conflict was with the Indians, who lost their chief, Tecumseh, one of the bravest of the brave, stamped a hero by the hand of nature, and equally distinguished by policy and eloquence. The main object of his life had been to unite his followers in a grand confederacy against American encroachment. In enmity to them he had warmly attached himself to the cause of the British, and aided them in successive victories. He was shot through the head by Col. Johnson, a member of Congress. General Proctor retreated to Ancaster, where he could rally only 200 men, with whom he joined the Niagara army. Harrison, also, having thus recovered Michigan, and conquered the western districts, marched to reinforce his countrymen in that quarter.

The Americans now formed a plan of operations on a grander scale, directed against Montreal, the success of which would have placed in their hands the whole of Upper Canada. In this enterprise two armies were destined to cooperate; one, consisting of nearly 6,000 men, under Major-General Hampton, from Lake Champlain; the other, amounting to 8,800, under Major-General Wilkinson, from Grenadier Island, near Sackett’s Harbour, on Lake Ontario. As the city was defended by a very small proportion of the regular soldiers, who were chiefly employed in the upper province, Hampton hoped, by pushing vigorously forward, to capture the place with little difficulty. But having passed the frontier in the end of October, he found on the banks of the river Chateauguay the advanced corps of 800 British, with 172 Indians, commanded by Lieut.-Colonels De Salaberry and McDonnell. These officers posted their troops so judiciously amid woods, and so skilfully concealed the smallness of their number, that the Americans, though they made several brisk attacks, were always repulsed; and Hampton, believing himself opposed by a large force, determined to retreat.

Copp’s Ferry,
near Georgeville.

Meantime, the larger expedition, under General Wilkinson, having crossed Lake Ontario, entered the river St. Lawrence. At Williamsburg, two considerable detachments were landed, in order at once to clear the banks and to lighten the boats while descending the rapids. On the 11th of November, one of these, under Major-General Boyd, encountered Lieut.-Colonel Morrison, with an inferior British force. A very obstinate conflict ensued, in which both parties claimed the victory. The English seemed to have gained the chief honour; but their success was not so decisive as to prevent the enemy from continuing to descend the river towards Montreal. Near Cornwall, the commander received despatches from General Hampton, intimating that he declined the expected cooperation, and intended to fall back upon Lake Champlain. Wilkinson then conceived it necessary to give up for this season any attempt upon Montreal, especially as he found the population altogether hostile to the States, and attached to the British government. He therefore placed his army in winter quarters, near French-mills, on the Salmon river, where he formed a plan for attacking Prescott and Kingston; but finding himself much straitened for provisions, was induced to fall upon Plattsburg.

Meantime, the employment of the main army of the Americans in this abortive expedition, enabled their opponents to resume the offensive on the Niagara frontier. On the first intelligence of the disasters sustained in the west, General Vincent had been ordered to fall back upon Kingston; but he considered that circumstances now justified him in maintaining his position. The enemy’s force in this quarter was not only reduced, but was under the command, it was said, of an officer of little spirit or enterprise. On the advance of a strong detachment under Colonel Murray, he first fell back upon Fort George, then abandoned that post, previously to which he reduced the adjoining town of Newark to ashes. Murray was not content with driving him beyond the river; he crossed it, surprised and stormed Fort Niagara, taking above 400 prisoners, with a large quantity of arms and stores. The English afterwards surprised and plundered the villages of Lewiston, Black Rock, and Buffalo, where they retaliated, not very considerately, the outrages of this officer at Fort George.

Operations were recommenced early in the spring of 1814. Lieut.-Colonel Williams, with 1,500 British, having taken post at La Colle, on the river Richelieu. Wilkinson, who had upwards of 4,000 men at Plattsburg, determined to attack them. On the 30th of March, he completely invested a large mill, which the British had converted into a fortress. All his attempts to carry it were, however, fruitless. Major Handcock even made two attacks on the artillery posted in a wood, though without success. The American general finally gave up the undertaking, and fell back upon Plattsburg. In the beginning of May the British gained another advantage, carrying, though with some loss, the fort of Oswego, where they captured a considerable quantity of ammunition and stores.

The main effort of the Americans during this campaign was made on the Niagara frontier, where about 5,000 men were placed under Major-General Brown, an officer who had distinguished himself on several occasions. On the 3d of July, he crossed and summoned Fort Erie, which, with its garrison of 170, immediately surrendered. He then marched towards Chippeway, and beat at Street’s Creek the advanced guard of Major-General Riall, which had endeavoured to stop his progress. The English general was then obliged to retreat to Fort George, and thence in the direction of Burlington Heights. Brown hereupon laid siege to the fort, but finding it stronger than he expected, and being disappointed of assistance from Sackett’s Harbour, he fell back upon Chippeway. General Riall, on his part, having received some reinforcements, advanced; the armies came close to each other, and on the 25th the republicans commenced the attack. The battle of Lundy’s Lane was fought long, obstinately, and with various fortune; a great part of it amid thick darkness, which caused several strange mistakes. The American general and his second in command were wounded; and Riall, on the other side, was taken prisoner. By a singular accident, in the midst of the conflict, Lieut.-General Drummond arrived with a reinforcement from York, which restored the battle. Both sides claim a dearly-bought victory; but the real issue seems clearly indicated by the retreat of the Americans to Fort Erie. On the night of the 14th of August, Drummond made an attack on the place in two divisions; but his men, in both cases, were repulsed with very severe loss.

Meantime, another part of Canada became the theatre of important operations. After the successes of the allied powers in Europe, the capture of Paris, and the abdication of Napoleon, Britain was enabled to turn her whole strength against the United States, over whom a full triumph was then anticipated. A strong detachment from the south of France arrived in Canada, and enabled Sir George Prevost to place himself at the head of 11,000 men, with whom he undertook to carry the war into the enemy’s country. He proceeded to the attack of Plattsburg on Lake Champlain, defended only by 1,500 troops, the rest having been sent to the upper province. Macomb, the American commander, on being pressed by this superior force, fell back on his main position, which he strongly fortified. Sir George, on the 11th of September, arrived in front of it; but a flotilla, under Capt. Downie, destined to cooperate with him, was attacked by the enemy, and, under his very eye, completely defeated and captured. Conceiving, after this disaster, that any success in storming the enemy’s position would be fruitless, as to ulterior objects, and a useless sacrifice of men, he immediately withdrew his army. This course was not approved by all; and the general result, so contrary to expectation, gave rise to much discontent and recrimination.

The Americans were still strong in Upper Canada. On the 17th, General Brown sallied from Fort Erie, and, though driven back, caused a severe loss to the British, who soon after raised the siege. Being pressed by a large additional force under Izard, General Drummond retreated to the old position at Burlington Heights; but receiving a reinforcement, consisting of a detachment of the troops newly arrived from Europe, he again advanced. Izard evacuated Fort Erie, and took up winter quarters on the opposite side of the river. During this autumn the republicans gained some advantages on Lake Erie, but were repulsed with considerable loss in an attempt to recover Fort Michillimakinac.

The war, meantime, in other parts of America was productive of important events. The British obtained possession of Washington, where they destroyed the public edifices and property; but they were defeated in their attacks upon Baltimore and New Orleans. Thus, while one party felt itself engaged in an unequal contest, the other had not reaped the expected advantages from its superior means. Both became inclined for peace, which was concluded at Ghent on the 24th of December, 1814, upon terms, which, after this long and chequered contest, brought back the two powers to exactly the same position as when they had commenced.

Sir George Prevost was succeeded in April, 1815, by Sir George Gordon Drummond, under whom some discontents began again to appear. These referred chiefly to the conduct of the judges, whom the Assembly viewed with such jealousy, that they had impeached at one time the heads of the court both at Quebec and Montreal. In 1816, Sir John Coape Sherbrooke went out as Governor-General; and under his administration, at once vigorous and conciliatory, harmony was little interrupted. In 1818, he was instructed by Earl Bathurst to accept the offer formerly made, to pay the whole civil list out of the funds of the province; and he applied, not for a permanent settlement, but merely for the sum necessary to meet the current expenses. This was readily granted; and, in order to raise it, new taxes were imposed, of which, however, the Assembly reserved to themselves the appropriation. Sir John, being obliged by severe illness to return to England, was succeeded in 1818 by the Duke of Richmond. This amiable nobleman, though personally popular, introduced an innovation, which led to the long and serious conflict between the Crown and the Assembly. Instead of submitting, like his predecessors, a detailed estimate of every object of expenditure, he divided the whole into chapters, each comprehending a head or branch, the entire amount of which was alone specified. The Assembly refused to sanction such a change, and passed a vote according to the estimate of the former governor, stating each payment in detail. The legislative council, however, withheld their concurrence from this resolution; and the Duke, expressing his displeasure with the Lower House, had recourse to the irregular measure of drawing upon the receiver-general for the sum which he had demanded.

In September, 1819, his Grace’s life and government were suddenly terminated by an attack of hydrophobia. After short intervals, under the Hon. James Monk and Sir Peregrine Maitland, the Earl of Dalhousie, in 1820, was removed from Nova Scotia to Canada. This nobleman, possessing a high military reputation, and an amiable disposition, had been very popular in his former station; yet, sharing with his advisers, it is probable, those extreme monarchical ideas which had hitherto prevailed in the colonies, he was ill-fitted to meet the new crisis that had arisen. Having estimated 22,000l. as the amount necessary for the public service, in addition to the revenues vested in the crown, he solicited this sum as a permanent grant; but the Assembly refused to pass more than an annual bill of supply, in which they specified every item. The council again rejected their vote, with the entire concurrence of the governor, who hesitated not to draw upon the treasurer for even a larger amount than had been asked from the Assembly.

Earl Bathurst, on receiving notice of these proceedings, did not disapprove of Lord Dalhousie’s conduct, but strongly recommended economy. He directed also that two estimates should be presented; one, embracing the government expenses, to be defrayed by funds of which the crown claimed the entire disposal; the other to be employed on popular objects, in regard to which the members might be left uncontrolled. At the same time it was enjoined, that both of these should be given in full detail. This arrangement was well received, the required sum was voted, and the session terminated amid mutual courtesies.

In the year 1823, the popular cause was strengthened by the insolvency of the receiver-general, Sir John Caldwell; an inquiry into whose accounts had been vainly demanded by the Assembly, and who proved to be indebted to the public nearly 100,000l. When, in the following year, the governor presented his estimates, the representatives assumed a high tone; disputing the right of the crown to select the objects on which to employ its revenue; condemning the unlawful appropriation of public money; and materially reducing the amount of the sum demanded. These proceedings drew forth a strong expression of displeasure from Lord Dalhousie.

In 1825, the government, during his lordship’s temporary absence, was administered by Sir Francis Burton. This officer, anxious to conciliate the Lower House, yielded nearly all the points in dispute. He sanctioned a bill of supply, in which no distinction was made between the government and the popular expenditure; an annual grant being made, with considerable reductions, so that a virtual control over the whole revenue was thereby conceded to the members. Accordingly, they now openly claimed the right to appropriate all that was raised within the province, denying the privilege hitherto exercised by government—of the uncontrolled disposal of certain branches. These were the produce of duties on imports, imposed by act of parliament in 1774, and yielding annually about 34,000l., with some of smaller amount, arising from the sale of land, timber, and other casual sources. Earl Bathurst strongly disapproved of the concessions made by Burton; and Lord Dalhousie, having resumed office in 1826, disallowed a bill in which the above claim was incorporated.

Lord Goderich, who, in 1827, received the seals of the Colonial Office, though he maintained the right of government to dispose of the disputed revenue, yet directed that an offer should be made of resigning it to the Assembly, on their granting an annual civil list of 36,000l. On the meeting of that body, however, M. Papineau was elected speaker—an appointment which, on account of his violent opposition to the measures of administration, Lord Dalhousie refused to sanction. The consequence was, that no session of either house was held in the winter of 1827-1828.

Discontent had now risen to an alarming height; and in the latter year a petition was presented to the king, signed by 87,000 inhabitants, complaining of the conduct of successive governors, particularly of the Earl of Dalhousie, and urging a compliance with the demands of the Assembly. Mr. Huskisson, who had become Colonial Minister, moved that this petition should be referred to a committee of the House of Commons. One was accordingly named, composed, in a great degree, of members attached to liberal principles; who, after a very elaborate investigation, gave in a report, in which they strongly condemned the practice of appropriating large sums, taken from the public revenue, without the sanction of the representatives of the people. With regard to the main portion of the disputed income, being that produced by the duties of 1774, its disposal appeared, from the report of his Majesty’s law officers, to be vested in the crown; yet the committee judged, that the real interests of the province would be best promoted by placing the whole under the control of the Assembly. At the same time, they distinctly expressed their opinion that the governor, the judges, and the executive council, should be made independent of the annual votes of that body. They recommended that a more liberal character should be assigned in a more beneficial manner. Generally admitting that the grievances complained of were more or less well-founded, they advised a thorough and effectual redress.

This report appears to have given very decided satisfaction in the colony, and the Assembly ordered it to be printed, and 400 copies distributed. In a series of resolutions, passed on the 19th of March, 1830, they seem to limit their demands to the complete fulfilment of its provisions. Sir James Kempt, who was sent out in 1828, had been furnished with instructions to carry the recommendations of the committee into effect with as little delay as possible, and generally to follow a conciliatory system. He appears to have proceeded with zeal and efficiency in the prescribed course. Three new members were added to the legislative council, who are said to have been agreeable to the popular party. The judges, with the exception of the Chief Justice, whose advice on legal questions was considered desirable, were requested, with some earnestness, to resign their places in that body. They declined compliance, but agreed to take no share in its deliberations, and did not afterwards attend its sittings. New members were also added to the executive council, in which seats were even offered to Neilson and Papineau, the leaders of the opposition. The act, transferring to the Assembly the revenue in dispute, could not be obtained immediately, but it was promised on the first meeting of parliament. The Assembly, however, in voting the supplies of 1829, had proceeded on the supposition of having the whole at their disposal, and cut off several thousand pounds from the governor’s estimates; but as the vote did not appear to involve any absolute recognition of their claim, and as it seemed inexpedient to dispute a point virtually given up, Sir James yielded his assent. This step, though not approved by Sir George Murray, was not, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, positively disallowed. The governor is said to have treated the ruling party in the Assembly with a courtesy of manners to which they had not been accustomed; and on his departure, in 1830, addresses were presented to him by the most respectable inhabitants of Quebec and Montreal, which were signed by Papineau and other popular leaders.

Lord Aylmer immediately succeeded to the government. His communications with the Assembly were of the most friendly description; and though circumstances, consequent on the death of George IV., had still prevented the passing of the proposed act, it was promised with all practicable speed. Lord Goderich, who now presided in the Colonial Office, directed that the items, which had been again rejected in 1830, and amounting now to 7,500l., should not be longer pressed, but a compensation be requested for several individuals who had been thereby deprived of their income. On the 24th of December, his lordship sent two despatches, intimating his intention to bring in a bill, which should empower his Majesty to place the proceeds of the duties in question at the disposal of the Assembly. In return, that body was expected to make a permanent provision for the judges, as well as for the principal officers of government. The demand was fixed, according to a very moderate estimate, at 19,100l., which, by a grant of 5,000l., made in 1795, for the support of the civil government, would be reduced to 14,100l. It was intimated, however, that the casual and territorial revenues, arising from the sale of land, the cutting of timber, and other sources, were still to be considered as belonging to the king. They had amounted in the previous year to 11,231l., but were reduced, by expenses of collection and other deductions, to about 7,500l. This sum it was proposed to employ chiefly in paying the stipends of the clergy of the established church, hitherto drawn, not very appropriately, out of the army extraordinaries. It was urged, that these funds belonged legally and constitutionally to his Majesty, whose employment of them upon objects, not of mere patronage, but closely connected with the interests of the province, could not be reasonably objected to.

Lord Aylmer was well aware that this last reservation would be deemed very unsatisfactory; but he considered it most prudent to lay before the Assembly a full and frank statement of the views of government. That body, after inquiring into the mode of collection and amount of these revenues, passed a resolution, that, “under no circumstances, and upon no consideration whatever, they would abandon or compromise their claim to control over the whole public revenue.” Particular objection was also intimated to the support of exclusive religious establishments; doubtless, more strongly felt from the circumstance, that the church to be endowed was different from that of the ruling party. They determined, therefore, for the present, not to grant any permanent supply; and on the 8th of March, 1831, drew up, on the motion of Mr. Neilson, a pretty long list of grievances, which was presented to the governor. He expressed in return an earnest wish to know if these comprised the whole of their complaints; giving them to understand that silence would be construed into an admission of their being so. They were accordingly silent; passed a bill of annual supply; and showed, on the whole, a more favourable tone and temper.

His lordship transmitted the list of complaints, with an admission that many of them were well founded; at the same time eulogising the loyal disposition of the people of Canada. Lord Goderich, in a long reply, dated July 7, 1831, declared that there was scarcely a point which government were not ready to concede; and expressed his satisfaction at the prospect thus afforded of a termination to this long and harassing contest. This despatch was laid before the house, who, in a series of resolutions, declared their gratitude for the expressions of his Majesty’s paternal regard—the proofs of a just and liberal policy—and the feelings of kindness and good-will manifested in it. The different points to which it related were referred to separate committees.

Soon after, a despatch from the Colonial Secretary made known that the act for transferring the funds in dispute had passed the houses of parliament, and received the royal assent. Whether from extreme liberality or total inadvertence, it was so worded as to preclude the imperial treasury from ever exercising any control over them, leaving thus no room for negotiation with the Assembly. Lord Aylmer was instructed, however, to demand in return a grant of permanent salaries to the judges, who were also, according to the Assembly’s desire, to be made independent of the crown; and a similar provision was asked for the governor, and a few of the chief executive officers. This matter being referred to the Assembly, they began, on the 20th of January, 1832, with the first particular. On providing that the judges should be independent of the crown, and, with the exception of the Chief Justice, should not sit in the executive or legislative councils, it was determined that permanent salaries should be paid to them. But, at the same time, a motion of Mr. Neilson was carried by a large majority, that these should be drawn in the first instance from the casual and territorial revenues, which Lord Goderich had expressly reserved to the crown. Lord Aylmer considered it, therefore, necessary to send home the bill, yet with an advice to accept the terms, as the best there was any likelihood of obtaining. It was rejected, however, on two grounds: first, that it did not render the judges really independent of the Assembly, but left an annual vote still necessary. We cannot help suspecting that there was an unhappy misconception. The terms of the bill are, “that the salaries shall be secured to them in a fixed and permanent manner;” and “shall be taken and paid out of the proceeds of the casual and territorial revenue now appropriated by acts of the provincial parliament, for defraying the charges of the administration of justice, and the support of the civil government, and out of any other public revenue of the province which may be or come into the hands of the receiver-general.” It would appear that, according to the plain meaning of language, these terms involved a full warrant for payment. Probably Lord Goderich had legal advice, and some technical terms, usual in British acts, might be wanting; but a provincial legislature could scarcely be expected to be fully aware of these niceties. The legislative body, the governor, and we doubt not also the Assembly, had considered this as a permanent settlement; the latter, had it been so acted on, probably would not, and certainly could not reasonably have objected. The other ground was the encroachment upon the casual and territorial revenue, which, in this indirect manner, was considered peculiarly offensive, though Lord Goderich had been fully apprised of their determination against any agreement in which this article was not included.

The next question which came before the Assembly was—the demand of a permanent provision for the governor, and a certain number of the leading executive officers. After a long debate, however, it was carried by a large majority in the negative. This decision placed the Assembly completely at issue with the crown, and has been represented as a breach of faith on their part. They had not, it is true, come under any formal engagement; yet the report of the committee of 1828, which decidedly connected this arrangement with the cession of the disputed revenues, had always been referred to by them as embracing almost every thing desired; and to this part of it they had never hinted any objection. On the 6th of December, 1830, they had passed resolutions, insisting, indeed, on the control of the entire revenue; but expressing an intention, were this gained, to grant the permanent provision now demanded. That preliminary claim certainly embraced also the casual and territorial branches still withheld; yet these were not of great amount, and the present bill, like that relating to the judges, might have been so framed as to be inoperative without these funds being embraced by it. No reason was assigned; but the view of the Assembly is stated to have been, that the executive, not being dependent on them for a naval and military establishment, would, in case of such a permanent settlement, have been entirely free from that control which they sought to exercise over it. They passed, however, a vote of annual supply, which Lord Goderich, though much dissatisfied with the tenor of their proceedings, thought it expedient to sanction.

Next year (1833) the Assembly still granted only an annual bill, in which, according to a requisition of Lord Goderich, they stated the purposes to which each particular sum was to be applied. They added, without its being asked or wished, the individuals to whom it was to be paid; and appended a number of conditions, chiefly bearing, that such persons should not hold any other situation, and should not be members of the executive or legislative councils. This was considered objectionable, because public officers were thus suddenly deprived of situations which they had long held, without any consideration of their claims to compensation; also, because those regulations ought not to have been tacked to a money bill, but made the subject of a separate enactment. On these grounds this bill was negatived by the Legislative Council; and Lord Stanley, who had been placed at the head of the Colonial Office, intimated that, had it reached him, he could not have advised his Majesty to assent to it. In the same session, a measure was introduced for securing independence and permanent provision to the judges, in a form calculated to obviate Lord Goderich’s chief objections; but on the motion of M. Papineau it was rejected, and the speeches of the leaders of the Assembly are said to have implied, that it was no longer considered advisable to exempt these functionaries from their control.

The breach now continually widened. Lord Stanley, considering the conduct of the Canadians as manifesting a resolution to engross the whole power of the state, directed the funds, not yet made over by parliament, to be employed in the partial payment of the civil officers; and he is said to have determined to bring in a bill for repealing the act by which the concession had been made. Meantime the Assembly had raised, and placed in the front of their demands, a new article, which almost entirely precluded all hope of accommodation; namely, the abolition of the present Legislative Council, and the substitution of one elected like themselves by the body of the people. Such an arrangement was without example in any British colony; and the existing state of political feeling in the mother country would have rendered it scarcely possible for ministers to propose it in parliament. It had been first started in March, 1831, when Lord Aylmer had just gone out, with the announced intention of acting upon the report of 1828, and redressing, if possible, every grievance hitherto complained of. There seemed, therefore, room to suspect that the conciliatory disposition shown, instead of producing final satisfaction, had only prompted to higher demands, through the belief that by perseverance they would finally obtain whatever they chose to ask. Yet, though a resolution of the committee to that effect was approved by the members, it was not expressly included in the list of grievances then presented. But on the 20th of March, 1833, a petition to the King, signed by M. Papineau, speaker of the House of Assembly, strenuously urged this measure, and the calling of a body of delegates to arrange the conditions. The leading ones proposed were, a qualification in the electors of £10 in the country, and of £20 in towns; a certain income to qualify the councillor, and the duration of his functions for six years. Lord Stanley, in reply, said this was an object to which, deeming it altogether inconsistent with the very existence of monarchical institutions, he could never advise his Majesty to consent; and he particularly objected to the proposed mode of effecting it, by what he termed “a national convention.” A counter address, however, by the Legislative Council, was censured as intemperate in its language, and appearing to ascribe generally to his Majesty’s subjects, of one origin, views inconsistent with their allegiance. In conclusion, he alluded to “the possibility that events might unhappily force upon parliament the exercise of its supreme authority to compose the internal dissensions of the colonies, and which might lead to a modification of the charter of the Canadas.”

This despatch was submitted to the Assembly, and its entire tenor, particularly the implied threat at the close, excited the highest indignation in that body. They declined this year (1834) to pass any bill of supply whatever, and employed the session in preparing another long list of grievances. They complained that, while those formerly urged were still unredressed, there had been added the partial payment of the civil officers without their consent. They made a preparatory demand of the elective Legislative Council, without which nothing would be accepted as satisfactory. Lord Aylmer’s conduct was reprobated as violent, unconstitutional, and contemptuous, and his recall urgently demanded. The published correspondence assuredly does not bear out this charge. His addresses to the Assembly are particularly courteous; and he recommends generally to the government at home concessions so extensive, that Lord Goderich, himself considered liberal towards the colonies, refused to accede to them. The petition, however, was presented to parliament, and a committee appointed for its consideration.

Meantime, Lord Stanley retired from power, and was succeeded in the colonial department by Mr. Spring Rice. This gentleman renounced the design entertained by his predecessor, of recalling the revenues yielded to the Assembly, and gave intimation, it is said, that he would follow a more conciliatory course. He only asked a little time, till he could make himself master of the subject; and thus the popular leaders were induced to delay taking any strong measures. They bitterly complained, however, that the administration was carried on as before. Lord Aylmer was continued in the government; and, though the Canadian funds were not intrenched upon, a sum of £31,000 was advanced from the military chest for payment of the civil servants, by which their responsibility to the Assembly was equally evaded. Before Mr. Rice had matured his plan, he was removed from office by the accession of Sir Robert Peel to power. He stated that he had it completed, and was ready to submit it to the cabinet on the very day when this change occurred; an assertion which Mr. Roebuck treats with evident scepticism, though seemingly without any adequate ground.

Sir Robert, on assuming the reins of office, early directed his attention to the disturbed state of Canada. After some deliberation, he determined to send out a commissioner, with power to examine on the spot, and redress without delay, every real grievance which should be proved to exist. Even the casual and territorial revenues were to be surrendered, on condition of the settlement of a civil list for at least seven years. The elective Legislative Council, however, and the entire management of the public lands could not be conceded. Viscount Canterbury, the late speaker, was first invited to fill this important appointment; and, on his declining, it was conferred on Earl Amherst. This arrangement, however, was nullified by the vote which led to the resignation of Sir Robert, and the return of Lord Melbourne to power.

The restored ministry followed up, with certain modifications, the plan of their predecessors. A commission was sent out for inquiry only, and without the power of decision, composed of the following individuals: the Earl of Gosford, Sir Charles Edward Grey, and Sir George Gipps. The first, an Irish nobleman, professing principles decidedly liberal, succeeded Lord Aylmer as governor. Lord Glenelg, now the Colonial Secretary, drew up for their guidance a series of instructions, in which he considered the claim to the disposal of the entire revenue somewhat exorbitant, and not warranted by British example; yet was willing, for the sake of peace, to consent to it on certain conditions. These were—an independent provision for the judges, and salaries for the civil officers, fixed for a certain number of years; ten being mentioned as particularly suitable. With regard to the uncleared lands, the whole proceeds arising from their sale were to be placed at the disposal of the Assembly; but government could not consent to part with the management of them, or annul the contract made with the Land Company, though they would be ready to guard against all abuses, and even to receive any suggestions on the subject. The existing pensions were also to be retained, but the future power of granting them would be surrendered. In regard to the critical question of the elective legislative council, it was said: “The King is most unwilling to admit as open to debate, the question—whether one of the vital principles of the provincial government shall undergo alteration?” The right of petition, however, was fully recognized; and his Majesty would not “absolutely close the avenue to inquiry,” even where, “for the present, he saw no reasonable ground of doubt.”

“The Earl of Gosford, having arrived in Canada, lost no time in calling a meeting of the legislature, who were convoked on the 27th of October, 1835; and, in his opening speeches, he professed the most conciliatory views, particularly towards the French, or popular party. He avowed the opinion, that “to be acceptable to the great body of the people, is one of the most essential elements of fitness for public station.” He intimated his readiness to place the whole revenue at the disposal of the Assembly, on the conditions formerly stated. All the other grievances were to be carefully examined and redressed; and allusion was made to “still graver matters,” respecting which the commissioners “were not precluded from entering into an inquiry.”

The Legislative Council returned an answer, which, in all respects, was extremely moderate. They generally concurred in the sentiments of the speech, deprecated the idea that difference of origin should affect political rights, which ought to be equal to all his Majesty’s subjects. But the House of Assembly, while holding conciliatory language, advanced much more lofty pretensions. The change in the Legislative Council was repeatedly pressed, as absolutely essential to the tranquillity and contentment of the province. The entire control of the public revenue was referred to, not as a boon, but an incontestable and essential right; and, while they stated their readiness to consider attentively any measure tending to facilitate the exercise of this right, they avoided all mention of conditions to be performed in return. Notwithstanding the high ground thus taken, the intercourse between the popular leaders and the governor was extremely friendly. He admitted them to his table and his intimacy, and treated them on every occasion with much kindness. They were understood to represent the great body of the people, whom he had expressed his desire to conciliate; and he professed liberal views to those who would understand that term in its widest sense. So decided was the impression produced, that the opposite party loaded him with the bitterest invectives, and even threw out menaces of insurrection; while the leaders of the Assembly went so far as to intimate, that they would relieve the immediate financial embarrassments by granting the three years arrears, and a half year in advance. They attached to the grant somewhat hard conditions, which, however, were not rejected; and, on the remark being made, that these would ensure its rejection by the Legislative Council, an intimation is said to have been given, that it would be accepted directly by address, without being liable to the veto of that body.

This good understanding was suddenly interrupted. The governor’s language above cited, in regard to the Elective Council, had been very different from that of his instructions; not pledging him, indeed, to the measure, yet such as, combined with his other conduct, conveyed to both parties the idea that it was determined upon. This course is defended as the only one by which the supplies, so urgently wanted, could be obtained; and it was hoped, that, by a continued conciliatory course, the Assembly might, when the real intention of the cabinet could no longer be concealed, be induced to waive their demand. Any degree of duplicity in a government, however, must, when discovered, lower its dignity, irritate the deceived parties, and, at the same time, give them an impression of their strength, which had driven those in authority to such an expedient. Unhappily, all these effects followed before any of the expected fruits had been reaped. Sir Francis Bond Head had, at the same time, been sent out to Upper Canada; and, being a very straightforward person, and seemingly unapprized of Lord Gosford’s intentions, had made public a part of his instructions, including that momentous passage already quoted, relative to the Legislative Council. It was such as, though not wholly precluding discussion on the object, left to the popular leaders scarcely a hope of its attainment. Their rage knew no bounds; they complained, not only of disappointment in their favourite object, but of a deception by which they had been nearly misled. It was now determined not to grant the three years’ arrears, but merely a supply for the current half year, allowing only that short period to comply with their demands. This slender boon, too, was clogged with conditions, which, as had been foreseen, induced the upper house to reject it; so that the session, in all respects very stormy, passed over without any provision whatever being made for the public service. The Legislative Council felt naturally indignant at the violent attempts meditated for its overthrow; and instead of studying to show these to be unmerited, the members vented their resentment by rejecting almost every bill sent up from the Assembly. Among these was the vote, continuing the funds for national education, which were thus entirely withdrawn. All the political elements were disturbed, and in violent collision with each other.

The commissioners, in March 1836, viewing this state of things, and seeing no prospect of obtaining money to carry on the government, without immediately yielding to every demand of the lower house, considered it indispensable to obtain it without their consent. This, they thought, would be best accomplished by parliament repealing the act passed on the motion of Lord Goderich, by which funds to the amount of £38,000 had been made over to the Assembly. This would, indeed, excite bitter resentment; but, with the other reserved revenues, it would, at least, enable the government to proceed without any grants from that body. Lord Glenelg was not forward to act on this recommendation. He wrote to the Earl of Gosford, expressing a hope, on grounds which do not very distinctly appear, that the violent resolution complained of had been induced by the partial and imperfect knowledge of the instructions, and that a communication of the whole might lead to more favourable views. He expressed a wish, therefore, that the provincial parliament should be again called, and an opportunity afforded for retracting before recourse was had to extreme measures. The meeting was accordingly held on the 22d of September, 1838; but the majority soon presented an address to the governor, denying that, according to the apprehension expressed in his speech, they laboured under any kind of misconception; they saw nothing to make them change their views, or prevent them from insisting on the same demands, particularly that of the Elective Council. They adverted in an indignant manner to certain pretended authorities, as they termed the commission, and maintained that they themselves were the legitimate and authorized organ of all classes of inhabitants; that they had used their power in such a manner as ought to have secured confidence; and to them, not to a few strangers, ought to have been committed the fate of the country. They declared it their imperative duty to adhere to the contents of their last address—“and to them do we adhere.” They finally expressed a resolution not only to do nothing more in regard to supply, but to adjourn their deliberations altogether, unless government should commence the great work of justice and reform, particularly in regard to the second branch of the legislature.

Matters had now reached an extremity, which seemed to render it no longer possible to delay an interposition. The stoppage of the supplies, like the granting of them, was no doubt a right inherent in a representative assembly. Yet it is one, the exercise of which is attended with such formidable evils, that the Commons of England, during more than a century, had merely kept it in the back ground as a last resort, and never brought it into actual operation. The constitutional character of the measure became still more questionable, when employed, not to control the abuses of the executive, but to overthrow a separate and co-ordinate branch of the legislature, deriving its existence from the same source with the Assembly itself. This was a mighty change, amounting to a kind of revolution, and to be effected only with the utmost deliberation. The stopping the whole machine of government, and not allowing even an interval of time to effect it, was a measure of extreme violence. Had the popular leaders listened to the dictates of prudence and moderation, they might, availing themselves of the conciliatory disposition shown by the new governor, have obtained all their substantial objects. They would have gained the chief control in the executive, after which the Legislative Council, whom they continually reproached with subserviency to the latter branch, were not likely to persevere in unavailing opposition.

Ministers now determined no longer to delay measures for counteracting the proceedings of the violent party, and placing the executive government in a state of regular action. Parliament having assembled, and the reports of the commissioners laid on the table, Lord John Russell, on the 6th of March, 1837, moved a series of resolutions, on which acts were to be founded. After a statement of the actual posture of affairs, it was proposed that the sum of £142,000 should be taken out of the provincial funds locked up by the Assembly, and applied to the payment of the judges and other civil officers, down to the 10th of April. It was afterwards agreed, not, as the commissioners had recommended, to resume any part of the ceded monies, but, by a strict economy, to carry on the government from that date with the casual and territorial revenues, which circumstances had now raised to about £28,000. The elective Legislative Council, and the direct responsibility of the executive one to the Assembly, were both declared inexpedient; though it was stated as desirable, that considerable improvements should be made in the composition of both. These suggestions gave occasion to very warm debates. The Tories, while they supported the proposals of government, accused them of an imprudent indulgence and want of energy, which had emboldened the factious party to proceed to extremities. On the other hand, a small but active section of the popular leaders justified all the claims and proceedings of the Canadian Assembly, denounced the resolutions as unconstitutional and tyrannical, and predicted as their result civil war and the loss of the colonies. The motion of Mr. Leader, however, in favour of an Elective Council, was negatived by 318 to 56, and the cabinet measures were carried by overwhelming majorities;—but the death of William IV. intervened before they could be embodied in acts of parliament. The necessity of a dissolution, and the unwillingness to begin the government of a young and popular Queen by a scheme of coercion, induced ministers to substitute the expedient of advancing the amount by way of loan from the British revenue, in the prospect of being ultimately reimbursed from the provincial funds.

As an interval was to elapse between the passing of the resolutions and their being acted on, Lord Gosford was instructed to make a last trial of the Assembly, in hopes that, seeing such a vast majority in parliament against them, they might be induced of themselves to vote the money, and thus save the necessity of any unwonted interference. Already, however, several violent demonstrations had taken place. Meetings were held in the counties of Montreal and Richelieu, in which it was affirmed, that the votes of the Commons had put an end to all hopes of justice; and that no further attempts should be made to obtain redress from the imperial parliament. They considered the government as now only one of force, to be submitted to from necessity during their present weakness; and in order to reduce as far as possible its power, they declared that all consumption of British manufactures, and of all articles paying taxes, ought to be discontinued; and, finally, that a general convention should be held, to consider what further measures were advisable.

Lord Glenelg, in consequence of this state of things in Canada, had resolved to send out two additional regiments; but afterwards, finding this to be inconvenient, he gave authority to apply to Sir Colin Campbell for such force as could be spared from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. On the 6th of May, the governor replied, that he had not the least expectation of anything serious, though, in case of a dissolution, he admitted that “there might be some broken heads.” On the 10th of June, however, upon learning that a system of organization was carrying on under the influence of Papineau, he applied to Sir Colin for a regiment, which arrived early in July. He had already issued a proclamation, warning the people against all attempts to seduce them from their allegiance. Meetings, numerously attended, were held in Montreal and Quebec, condemning the violent conduct of the House of Assembly, declaring attachment to British connexion, and deprecating any breach of the public peace.

On the 18th of August, Lord Gosford again called the provincial parliament. The resolutions were laid before the Assembly, with the expression of a hope that its proceedings would supersede the necessity of their being acted on. The changes in the constitution of the councils had been unfortunately delayed by difficulties as to certain appointments; but these improvements were solemnly promised. Warm debates ensued. Mr. Andrew Stuart, one of the members for Quebec, proposed a compliance with the request of government, which was negatived by 63 to 13. An address was then moved by M. Taschereau, a representative of the county of Beance, expressing a willingness to give a trial to the means proposed for amending the Legislative Council, but declining any grant till they were brought into operation. Another address, breathing the most determined hostility, was then moved, and carried by 46 to 31. It denounced the step now taken as an absolute destruction of the representative government in the province,—a total refusal of all the reforms and improvements demanded. If these resolutions were carried into effect, the colony, it was said, would no longer be attached to the mother country by feelings of duty, of affection, and mutual interest, but solely by physical force. In this conjuncture, they could see no motive for the slightest departure from their intention to withhold the supplies; and they adhered in every respect to their resolutions of 30th of September, 1836. Lord Gosford, in reply, gave utterance to his deep regret at measures which he considered a virtual annihilation of the constitution, and immediately prorogued the Assembly.

March on Lake Chaudière.

The Chaudière,
near Bytown.

The popular leaders seem now to have formed the resolution of having recourse to arms. They, as well as their organs in this country, had often asserted, and seem at length to have believed, that only an effort was required to sever the colonies from the mother country. This was a most hasty and inconsiderate conclusion. The example of the American colonies was referred to; but they were much stronger than the Canadians are now, while the power of Britain, on the other hand, was considerably smaller. Yet it was only after a long and calamitous contest of eight years, that they established their independence; and their success would have been doubtful, had they not been aided by a most powerful European confederacy. The aid of the United States was, indeed, held forth; but the latter had been so little disposed to intermeddle on such occasions, that they remained neutral during the long contest between Spain and her colonies, although her situation gave them little to dread from her resentment. It was therefore very unlikely that they should now engage single-handed in a contest with the whole power of Britain.

The meetings, in pursuance of these views, were not held on so great a scale, or in the same public and ostentatious manner, as formerly. They were numerous, however, and breathed the most hostile spirit, renouncing all hope of redress from the parent state, and pointing directly to a separation. A central committee was formed at Montreal, whose proceedings were, in a great measure, secret; and preparations were understood to be making for a general convention. It was nearly vain to attempt repressing the most violent demonstrations against the government, since no petty jury could be found to convict; and in two instances, when the evidence was considered perfectly conclusive, the bills were ignored by the grand jury. The governor, however, learning that numerous individuals, holding her Majesty’s commission, had taken a share in those meetings, caused letters to be written to them demanding an explanation. On receiving none that was satisfactory, he dismissed eighteen magistrates and thirty-five militia officers. Among the latter was Papineau, whose answer was couched in the most defying and contemptuous terms. He, it is observed, had now gone such lengths, as made it impossible for him to recede without losing all his influence—he must either be put down, or allowed to put down the government. In the beginning of October, the new arrangement of the two councils was carried into effect, at least to a great extent; but it excited little interest, and was rejected by the violent leaders as wholly unsatisfactory.

The malcontent party became every day bolder. An association was formed, under the title of “The Sons of Liberty,” who, without committing violence, paraded the streets of Montreal in a hostile and threatening manner. They emitted a proclamation, containing the most violent expressions. “The wicked designs,” said they, “of British authorities have severed all ties of sympathy for an unfeeling mother country.”—“A glorious destiny awaits the young men of these colonies;” and this was explained to be, “to disfranchise our beloved country from all human authority, except that of the bold democracy residing within its bosom.” They alluded to “the struggle for life and liberty, in which the day of glory arrives that will see us emerge from a long dark bondage to the splendour of light and freedom.” At the same time, in the county of Two Mountains, the people determined not to obey the magistrates appointed in the room of those displaced; an organization was formed of pacificator justices, to compose differences without recourse to the constituted authorities, and in whose decisions all true patriots were required to acquiesce. Meanwhile, the militia in that district were organized in a new form, under officers of their own selection, including those recently dismissed; and an active training was carried on. All loyal and neutral residents were, by violent measures, compelled either to join the malcontents or quit the territory, throughout which British authority entirely ceased.

No long time passed before this course of proceeding was imitated in the more populous portion of the Montreal territory, lying southward of the St. Lawrence. On the 23d of October, a meeting was held of the five counties on the Richelieu and the Yamaska, when a petition was presented from L’Acadie, to be admitted as a sixth. The petitioners used the most intemperate language, declaring themselves prepared to sacrifice every thing most dear to them in this world, to emancipate from a vile slavery the land that gave them birth. They renounced all principles but those of the purest democracy, and desired to place themselves under the guidance and behind the buckler of L. J. Papineau. At the meeting of the six counties, the numbers attending were variously estimated from 1,500 to 5,000, of whom a proportion were armed. Their resolutions, without absolutely announcing rebellion, went to place everything in preparation for it. The recent appointments to the two councils were declared wholly unsatisfactory, while the introduction of an armed force into the province was stigmatized as a new and enormous grievance. The magistrates and militia were to be organized after the model of those of the Two Mountains; and the example of the Sons of Liberty was also recommended, “that they might be prepared to support each other with promptitude and effect, should circumstances require them to protect and defend their threatened liberties.” A similar address was drawn up on the following day, and circulated through the province. The same course was followed, of compelling, by violence and threats, the officers to resign their situations or leave the country.

Lake of the Two Mountains.

St. John's, Richlieu River.

Government could not remain passive while its authority was openly set at nought, and insurrection matured under its very eye. Applications were made to Sir Colin Campbell for two additional regiments, and likewise for what force could be spared from the upper province. The zealous offers of the loyal inhabitants to place themselves in arms, which had been long declined from motives of prudence, were now accepted, and volunteer corps were zealously and rapidly organized. The catholic clergy took a decided part in the support of order and peace; and an address was published by the Bishop of Montreal, exhorting his flock against the violent and illegal proceedings now in progress. This, among a religious people, though it did not stop the career of those who had so deeply committed themselves, had probably a powerful effect in arresting the spread of the disorder, and keeping it confined, as it still was, to Montreal district.

The first blow was struck at the town now mentioned, between the Sons of Liberty, and a loyal association formed in opposition to them. The former were completely worsted, and pursued through the streets; none were killed, but several severely hurt, particularly Brown, from New York, who had assumed the title of their general. Papineau’s house, which the victors attempted to burn, was saved, but the office of the Vindicator newspaper was destroyed. Exaggerated reports of this affair being spread throughout the country heightened the general ferment; and it was announced from various quarters that resistance was daily extending, and assuming a more organized form.

It was now obvious that, unless some decisive steps were taken, the malcontent cause must continually gain new strength, and the connexion of the colonies with the mother country become seriously endangered.

The course deemed most effectual, was immediately to arrest the most active leaders. A warrant was accordingly issued at Montreal against twenty-six, of whom seven were members of Assembly, including Papineau and Viger. Nine were apprehended; but the arch-agitator himself had disappeared, and doubts were even entertained if he were still in the province. This step necessarily led to a crisis, especially as some of the warrants were against persons residing in the heart of the disturbed territory. Two being in the vicinity of St. John's, on the Richelieu, a party of eighteen volunteer militia were despatched thither to apprehend them. An oversight seems to have been committed in sending so small a force, not regular, into the midst of a hostile country. They succeeded, however, in capturing the parties; and an armed body of thirty, who appeared near Chambly, made no attempt to intercept them. Near Longueuil, however, they found a field on the right of the road occupied by 300 well-armed men, protected by a high fence. From this assemblage a fire was immediately opened upon the detachment, which, from its position, could not be returned with effect. Several were wounded, the rest retreated, and the two prisoners were rescued by the insurgents.

The standard of insurrection having been thus openly raised, it became necessary to act with the utmost promptitude. Information was received that Papineau, Brown, and Neilson were at the villages of St. Denis and St. Charles, on the Richelieu, which had been occupied by the armed inhabitants; and accordingly Sir John Colborne, the commander-in-chief, sent strong detachments under Colonels Gore and Wetherall, to attack these places. The former, on the 22d of November, having conveyed his force in a steamer to Sorel, proceeded up the river against St. Denis; but being obliged to take a circuitous route, through tracks which, from the previous rain, were knee-deep, the troops arrived in a very jaded state. Though the whole country was in arms, no serious resistance was encountered till they reached the village, the entrance to which was defended by a large stone house strongly fortified, from which, as well as from others on each side, a heavy fire was opened. A howitzer was brought up against it, whence round shot was fired, with a view to batter it down, but without effect. Captain Markham, with the advance, had gallantly cleared the way, and taken an adjoining house, but was then severely wounded, and obliged to quit the field. Finding that no impression could be made on the main barrier, that his ammunition was nearly exhausted, and that the troops were overpowered with fatigue, Gore considered a retreat unavoidable. It was effected without serious inconvenience, though it became necessary to leave a cannon on the road, while his loss was six killed, ten wounded, and six missing. No blame seems to have been attached to the colonel, whose means, especially in ammunition, were scarcely adequate; but this second advantage, gained by the rebel cause at the opening of the contest, was a most unfortunate circumstance, and, unless counteracted, might have spread disaffection to an alarming extent.

Fort Chambly.

Meantime, Colonel Wetherall, with his detachment, proceeded by way of Chambly to St. Charles, a point higher up the river. He was delayed in a similar manner by the badness of the roads; and, on reaching St. Hilaire, found it necessary to procure another company from Chambly, and even to send a messenger to Montreal, we presume, for further aid. Having reason, however, to consider his communications with that place intercepted, he determined, on the 26th, to advance to the attack. About 1,500 insurgents, under the command of Brown, had posted themselves in the village, and surrounded it with a strong stockade. The English commander, on his arrival, drew up his force at a short distance, in the hope of producing some defection; but none taking place, and a heavy fire being opened upon him, he pushed forward to the assault. In about an hour the intrenchment was carried, the fortified houses and palisades were set on fire, the troops were masters of the town, and the rebels fled in every direction. The carnage was great; the entire loss of the malcontents being about 300. Charges have been made of severe and vindictive proceedings, which we should hope are exaggerated. Another body took up its position in his rear, with the view of cutting off his return to Chambly; but when he approached them, on the 28th, they broke and dispersed at the first onset.

The affair of St. Charles decided the fate of the contest. A general panic spread among the peasantry, and they began to consider themselves betrayed by leaders, who did not show the courage expected of them in the hour of trial. Colonel Gore, strongly reinforced, again advanced upon St. Denis, which he entered without resistance on the 2d of December, Neilson and Brown having quitted it on the preceding evening. He then marched upon St. Hyacinth, but found it also undefended, and made a vain search for Papineau. The chiefs, renouncing their hopes, were already seeking safety in the territory of the United States. Brown reached it with great difficulty—through many perils; Neilson was taken in a barn, conveyed to Montreal, and thrown into prison. Papineau could not be traced; nor is there any record of his having compromised his personal safety in a contest which he had been the main instrument in exciting.

Attempts, however, were made to support the cause from a quarter which, under certain circumstances, might have proved very formidable. The United States contained many individuals disposed to sympathize deeply with the Canadians, and many restless spirits were inclined to join them, allured by the promise of large lots of confiscated land. Even in the present hopeless circumstances, 200 passed the frontier; but before Sir John Colborne could send a force against them, a party of the volunteers of Missiqui county, under the command of Capt. Kemp, took arms, and drove them back with some loss. Thus, the whole of the six counties, so lately in open rebellion, were in a fortnight reduced to perfect tranquillity.

There remained still the districts of Two Mountains and Terrebonne, north of Montreal, where insurrection had been first organized, and still wore its most determined aspect. Sir John Colborne had judiciously postponed operations against this quarter, till, the south being completely tranquillized, he could direct thither his whole force. On the 14th of December, he marched in person, with about 1,300 regular and volunteer troops, against the large village of St. Eustache. The disasters of their brethren elsewhere had spread a well-founded alarm; and the greater number of the men and their leaders, including Girod, the supposed commander-in-chief, fled precipitately. About 400 of the most desperate, however, continued to occupy a church and adjoining buildings, which had been carefully fortified; and here so obstinate a stand was made, that a British detachment was at one point made to recede. But fire having reached the adjacent edifices, soon spread to the church itself, the defenders of which were thereby speedily dislodged; while the troops, being protected by the houses, did not lose more than one killed and nine wounded.

Colonel Maitland now marched towards St. Benoit, the chief village of the Grand Brulé district, which had been the focus of insurrection; but on his way he met a deputation, tendering the most humble submission, and he entered the place without resistance. Unfortunately, the loyal inhabitants, who had been plundered and driven out of the country, could not be restrained from acts of violence, and a considerable portion of the houses were reduced to ashes. Maitland, after occupying St. Scholastique, returned to Montreal, leaving the district in a state of perfect tranquillity. The people, complaining that their chiefs, after instigating them to revolt, had deserted them, seemed determined not to be again seduced into such a course. Several of the leaders were taken; Girod himself, being surrounded, so that he could not escape, committed suicide.

Upper Canada, meantime, had become the theatre of important events. For a considerable time, especially since the residence there of M. Gourlay, a party had existed supporting extreme political opinions. These, it is true, were not embittered by any feelings arising from difference of race; but many of the inhabitants had emigrated from the United States, to whose institutions they were naturally partial. They gained over a number of the British residents, influenced by the usual motives, and who complained especially of the favouritism shown in the granting of land. These grounds of discontent were carefully investigated by the committee of 1828, and instructions issued by Lord Goderich, which here, as in the lower province, gave general satisfaction. The discontented party, however, proceeded from one step to another, till Mackenzie, Duncombe, and other leaders, scarcely made any secret of their desire to separate from Britain and join the American Union. In 1834, this party, for the first time, obtained a majority in the Assembly; and though they had hitherto confined themselves to complaints on particular subjects, they now commenced a general opposition to the royal government; and at length, as in the other province, came into violent collision with the Legislative Council. They transmitted to the King a long and elaborate list of grievances, complaining that the officers in the colony were too numerous, too highly paid, and the holders removable at the pleasure of the crown; that support had been unduly given to particular religious establishments; and that Lord Goderich’s recommendations had been by no means fully acted upon. They also urged, with the same vehemence as in the sister colony, the demand for an elective legislative council.


This union of the two provinces, pushing with equal zeal the most extreme measures, brought affairs into a somewhat hazardous position. When Lord Gosford and the commissioners were sent to Lower Canada, the ministry placed the upper province under Sir Francis Head, a man of literary talent, and of peculiar firmness, shrewdness, and energy of character. Having arrived early in 1836, as already related, he took the straightforward course of at once publishing the extent and limits of his instructions; at the same time assuring the people of his most zealous efforts to remove every practical grievance. The Assembly, however, were by no means satisfied; and another ground of contest soon arose. Sir Francis added to the executive three members, whose appointment was highly satisfactory to the popular party; but, as several weeks elapsed without their having been consulted on any subject, they stated in a letter that they considered themselves thus rendered responsible for measures in which they were allowed no share, and therefore tendered their resignation. While accepting it with regret, he maintained that he lay under no obligation to consult them on every measure; but was at perfect liberty to judge of the occasions on which the public interest might require their aid. The House of Assembly immediately took up the affair, and having, agreeably to request, been furnished with a copy of the correspondence, drew up a report, and afterwards a long address to the King, strenuously controverting the governor’s doctrine; and, in the course of it, broadly charging him with “deviations from truth and candour.” Proceeding in the same hostile spirit, they, for the first time, stopped the supplies; in consequence of which Sir Francis reserved all their money bills for his Majesty’s decision, and rejected the application for payment of their incidental expenses.

All hopes of accommodation being thus closed, he determined, on the 28th of May, to make an appeal to the people by a new election. It was contested by an extraordinary ardour; and a war of manifestos, proclamations, and addresses was forthwith waged between the parties. Perhaps no ruler ever effected more by writing than Sir Francis. The frank, energetic, and popular style in which his addresses were penned, produced an extraordinary effect; and already the peaceable inhabitants had begun to shrink from the extremes into which the popular leaders were hurrying them. These several causes produced the important result, that, in the new Assembly, a decided majority supported the constitutional side. The demagogues complained to the ministry that this effect had been produced by illegal means—by extraordinary grants of land, and even by violence and bribery. The Assembly, however, after strict inquiry by a committee, declared these allegations to be utterly false, expressing, at the same time, the strongest attachment to the mother country and to the governor.

During this tranquil and satisfactory state of Upper Canada, insurrection broke out in the lower province; and Sir Francis being requested to state what force he could spare, his answer was, “All.” He considered it not only practicable, but desirable, that every soldier should be removed out of his district, and a full display thus made of its loyal and peaceful condition. He caused the arms to be deposited in the city-hall of Toronto, under charge of the mayor, declining even to place a guard over them to prevent sudden capture. In this state of things, Mackenzie determined to make an attempt upon the capital. Having a number of small detached parties throughout the province, who were ready to obey his mandate, and had even been trained to the use of weapons, he ordered them to assemble on the 4th of December, on the great road, called Yonge-street, leading to Lake Simcoe. Hurrying by cross-paths through the forest, they mustered at Montgomerie’s Tavern, about four miles from Toronto. Their numbers, at first estimated at 3,000, are not supposed to have exceeded 500. With the view of effecting a surprise, they attacked every one going to the city; among whom, Col. Moodie, a distinguished officer, was wounded, and died in a few hours. Alderman Powell, however, having shot one of his assailants, escaped, roused the governor, and gave the alarm; upon which Sir Francis ran to the town-hall, where he found the chief-justice with a musket on his shoulder, surrounded by a band of brave men, who had hastily assembled. The arms being unpacked and placed in their hands, they posted themselves in a defensive attitude at the windows of the building, and of others flanking it. But Mackenzie, presuming that Powell would instantly give notice, did not venture to advance—a pusillanimous resolution, assuredly, since he could never again expect so favourable an opportunity. By morning 300 royalists were mustered; and in the course of the day Mr. Allan McNab, speaker of the House of Assembly, arrived with sixty from the Gore District, and others from different quarters raised the number to 500. On the 6th, the force was considered sufficient for offensive operations; but the governor, anxious to avoid the effusion of blood, sent a message to the insurgents, inviting them to lay down their arms. Mackenzie offered to comply, on condition that a national convention should be called, allowing till two o’clock for the answer; but as no reply could be given to this proposition, arrangements were immediately made for an attack on the following day.

On the 7th of December, at noon, the whole force marched out. In this civic array, principal commands were held by Col. McNab, the present, and Mr. Justice McLean, the late speaker of the Assembly; while the clerk of the House officiated as adjutant-general. The rebels had occupied an elevated position in the front of the tavern, where, being in some degree protected by houses, they endeavoured to make a stand; but the militia advancing to the charge, with the utmost enthusiasm, soon broke the whole corps, which dispersed in every direction, Mackenzie himself escaping with extreme precipitation. They were pursued four miles; two of the chiefs were taken; the tavern was burnt to the ground; and the revolt was so completely quashed, that Sir Francis considered he might safely exercise the attribute of mercy, by dismissing the greater part of the misguided prisoners.

Fish Market, Toronto.

The militia, meantime, had been marching toward Toronto in vast numbers; 2,600 from the Newcastle district; and in all upwards of 10,000. Immediate notice was now issued, that they might return to their homes; and those of the eastern districts were authorized to give their aid to Lower Canada. As it was understood, however, that Duncombe had assembled a corps in the London district, which had been a main seat of faction, Col. McNab was sent thither with a sufficient force. On its approach, the chiefs disappeared, and about 300 of their followers laid down their arms, expressing deep regret, and even a readiness to serve in the royal army.

The insurrection had thus been entirely put down, and Upper Canada was everywhere completely tranquil, when a sudden danger arose, which threatened to become very serious. Mackenzie fled to the town of Buffalo, in which he held crowded meetings, and kindled a considerable enthusiasm in his cause. Besides the prevalent democratic feeling, commercial distress had thrown numbers out of employment, who were ready to engage in any desperate enterprise. Some of a more opulent class furnished resources; while Van Rensselaer, Sutherland, and other individuals acquainted with military service, presented themselves as leaders of the armament. Thus, a small corps was quickly assembled, which took possession of Navy Island, situated in the Niagara channel, between Grand Island and the British shore, which they fortified with thirteen pieces of cannon. Hence Mackenzie issued a proclamation, in the assumed name of the Provisional Government of Upper Canada. Volunteers were invited from that country, and from the States; being assured, that out of the ten millions of acres which victory would place at their disposal, each should receive 300 in full property. There was to be no more dependence on Downing-street; the Assembly, council, governor, and officers were all to be elected by the people. Trade was to be freed from all restraints; and, in a strain of rhodomontade, it was added, that the largest vessels would be able to ascend to Lake Superior. Recruits continued flocking to this post, till their numbers amounted to about a thousand. Col. McNab soon arrived with double that number of militia; but he wanted materials for crossing the channel, and forcing the strong position held by the rebels.

All eyes were now turned to the government of the United States, on which the question of peace or war evidently depended. As soon as the first notice was received, there was displayed the most sincere determination to maintain a strict neutrality. Van Buren, the president, issued two successive proclamations, warning the people of the penalties to which they would become liable by engaging in hostilities with a friendly power; and the debates in congress displayed the most complete unanimity against any measure which might commit the American government in such a contest. Clay, Davis, Benton, Calhoun, leaders of opposite parties, united with one voice in this sentiment. The last of these declared, that, “of all calamities which could befall the civilized world, a war with Great Britain would, at this moment, be the most to be deplored.” There was scarcely time for a legislative enactment; but the president appointed General Scott, a veteran officer of energetic and decisive character, to take the command of the disturbed frontier.

Meantime, an event occurred, which, while it weakened the insurgents, excited a strong fermentation among their adherents. A small steamer, named the Caroline, had been purchased, or at least was regularly employed by them, between Fort Schlosser, on the American shore, and Navy Island, conveying to the latter troops and stores. Capt. Drew was instructed by Col. McNab to intercept her return. He did not succeed; but seeing her in the channel, moored to the American shore, determined to attack her. He approached undiscovered to within twenty yards; and being then asked the countersign, promised to show it when on deck. The Caroline immediately opened a fire, but the British boarded, and in two minutes were masters of her. Those who resisted were killed or made prisoners; while others, who appeared to be peaceable citizens, were put on shore. The vessel itself, which the strength of the current made it inconvenient to tow across, was set on fire and abandoned, when the stream hurried it rapidly to the brink of the great cataract, down which the flaming mass was precipitated. The wild and picturesque character of this scene acted strongly on the imagination, and the Americans resolutely, though, it would appear, without reason, asserted that unoffending persons had been involved in the massacre, and several even hurried down the awful abyss.

The loss of the Caroline was soon followed by the arrival of General Scott, who took vigorous and effective measures to prevent any supplies or recruits from reaching Navy Island. Meantime, the force of the assailants was continually augmented; two companies of regulars, with a train of artillery, had been sent from Lower Canada, and a tremendous cannonade was commenced. The insurgents, seeing their position become every day more desperate, determined to evacuate it—an object which they effected on the 14th of January. Van Rensselaer and Mackenzie were arrested by the American authorities, but admitted to bail.

Sutherland, with a party of the fugitives, hastened to the extreme west, where, being reinforced by some adventurers in that quarter, they attempted an establishment on Bois Blanc, an island in the Detroit channel. A body of troops, however, was soon despatched against them; and a vessel, containing not only supplies, but several chiefs dignified with high military titles, was captured. Finding it impossible to maintain themselves there, they sought an asylum on Sugar Island, which belongs to the United States. General Scott, meanwhile, was hastening to the place; but Mason, the local commander, addressed the refugees, and by mere dint of remonstrance prevailed upon them to disperse. Attempts were made at other points to form tumultuary assemblages for invading Canada; but, under the altered circumstances, these did not excite any serious alarm.

Navy Island
(from the Canada side.)

Meantime, intelligence of the first insurrectionary movements reached Britain, where it excited the strongest sensation. A few of the popular leaders exulted in the event itself, and in the anticipation of its triumphant issue; but the nation, in general, by no means shared this sentiment. The Tories, though they accused government of having, by want of energy, prepared this convulsion, expressed their cordial concurrence in all the means suggested for its suppression. As the house was about to rise for the Christmas holidays, ministers proposed, that, instead of postponing their meeting, as usual, till the beginning of February, they should fix it for the 16th of January, when, according to the course of events, suitable resolutions might be adopted.

Parliament had no sooner reassembled, than information arrived, which left no room to doubt that the rebellion would be suppressed without having assumed any formidable character. The aims of the government were therefore directed towards reorganizing the executive on such a footing as, without suppressing Canadian liberty, might secure future tranquillity. But it was considered indispensable, for the present at least, to suspend the constitution of the lower province. A council was to be named by the Queen, which, with the governor, might exercise the functions now performed by the two legislative bodies; but their powers were not to last beyond the 1st of November, 1840, nor were any of their enactments, unless continued by the proper authority, to be valid beyond the 1st of November, 1842.

Sir John Colborne, then acting as provisional governor of Lower Canada, was instructed to carry these measures into immediate execution. The ministry, however, had determined upon a farther step, with a view to the ultimate settlement of the province. The Earl of Durham was solicited and prevailed upon to undertake its government, as well as that of all British America; and also to turn his attention towards an improved plan for its future management. His lordship’s high reputation as a statesman, and the liberality of his views on political subjects, seemed to afford a security that he would act with vigour, and at the same time with a strict regard to national freedom. He was empowered to form a species of representative council, composed of thirteen members from each province, but to use them merely as advisers, and to call and dismiss them at pleasure.

On the 29th of May, 1838, his lordship arrived at Quebec, where he was received in the most cordial manner, for all parties seemed to unite in expecting from him a settlement of those dissensions which had so greatly distracted the country. In his subsequent progress to other districts, and to Upper Canada, as far as Niagara, he met similar expressions of confidence and congratulation. He was soon, however, called to decide upon a delicate and difficult question, which Sir John Colborne had thought it expedient to reserve for his determination. Wolfred, Neilson, Bouchette, Viger, and other individuals of some distinction, were lying in the jail of Montreal, charged with high treason. Some strong punishment was necessary to mark their crime, and deter from its repetition; yet an impartial jury could not be expected for their trial, which besides would have reopened all those party animosities which it was the object of his lordship to appease. Under this view, he adopted the following course: the prisoners, having been induced to make a confession of guilt, were sentenced to be deported to Bermuda, and to be there kept in strict surveillance. If they should ever return to Canada, without leave from the governor, they were to suffer the penalty of death. The same was awarded to Papineau and others implicated in the late rebellion, but who, after its disastrous issue, had fled the country.

As soon as this ordinance was known in Britain, it created an unusual excitement in the legislature. Lord Brougham, in the House of Peers, made a motion, declaring it illegal, as condemning to death without trial, and to transportation to a colony which was not within the jurisdiction of the governor-general; but, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, he proposed a grant of indemnity. This vote, though strenuously opposed by Lord Melbourne, was carried in the Upper House by a considerable majority. Ministers then, having received from the law-officers of the crown an unfavourable report, at least as to the last particular, considered it impossible to make any farther resistance. They annulled the ordinance, but at the same time conveyed to Lord Durham expressions of their regret, of their general approbation of his measures, and of the unaltered confidence with which they regarded his administration.

His lordship, however, was not of a character to brook this interposition. He had, it is true, passed the limits of strict law; but he maintained that these were scarcely applicable in the critical and convulsed state of the province; that the sentence was lenient; and, on the principle of volenti nulla fit injuria, the parties concerned could not be wronged by a decision in which they had cheerfully acquiesced. In short, there being no substantial injustice inflicted, Lord Durham thought he had reason to complain that his scheme was not allowed a fair trial. He had, perhaps, an equal ground of dissatisfaction in reference to the hostile interference of the opposition lords, and more especially because the ministers, his employers, did not resist it to the utmost. Yet it would certainly have been more magnanimous on his part, had he endeavoured, under every discouragement, to have done his best to accomplish his undertaking. He yielded too far to passion and pride, when, even before receiving the official accounts, he publicly announced his intention of throwing up the administration. He did not even follow the established course, of requesting her Majesty’s permission to resign, and waiting till he received it. In announcing, too, the disallowance of the ordinance, he commented on the decision with a severity which was considered irregular, and tending to compromise the royal authority. On the 1st of November his lordship set sail from Quebec, and on the 26th arrived at Plymouth.

Meantime, a fresh storm of rebellion brooded over the province. In the course of the summer, even amid apparent quiet, the burning of a steam-vessel, called the Sir Robert Peel, in the St. Lawrence, and the acquittal of the murderers of Chartraud in the face of the clearest evidence, showed that the spirit of disaffection was still deeply cherished. By the beginning of winter, arrangements had been made for a general rising of the habitans, supported by a numerous body of American citizens, who, under the title of sympathizers, had vehemently espoused their cause. Arms and ammunition had been clandestinely introduced; and a species of association, bound by secret oaths and signs, had been formed along the whole frontier. Lord Durham imputes this movement to the proceedings at home, which had shaken the confidence in his authority, and raised the hopes of the disaffected; but Sir John Colborne considers that those preparations had been actively pursued ever since the preceding June. The government of the United States, though they had no adequate power to prevent the part taken by their subjects, showed a good disposition, by giving the first intimation of what was going on to Mr. Fox, the British ambassador at Washington. The tidings were soon confirmed from other quarters; and Sir John Colborne lost no time in putting the province in a state of defence, and procuring an additional force from Nova Scotia.

On the night of the 3d of November, a concerted rising took place in all the southern counties of Montreal District; but, owing to some failure of arrangement, the stations along the Richelieu were not found supplied with arms according to appointment, so that most of the inhabitants there dispersed and returned to their homes. The chief seat of insurrection was now farther west, between that river and the St. Lawrence. There three arch-rebels, Dr. Robert Nelson, Côte, and Gagnon, had collected about 4,000 men, and established their head-quarters at Napierville. Their first object was to open a communication with their friends in the States, for which purpose 400 men were detached to the frontier. There a body of British volunteers, as brave as loyal, had stationed themselves, by whom the rebels were attacked, and obliged to retreat with great loss. To retrieve this disaster, Dr. Nelson, with upwards of 900 men, marched against the loyalists. The latter, only 200 strong, took post in Odelltown chapel, on which the enemy commenced a brisk attack; but, after two hours and a half, were obliged to retreat, with the loss of one hundred killed and wounded. The defenders had an officer and five men killed, and nine wounded.

Meantime, Major-General Sir James McDonnell, under orders from the governor, with seven regiments of the line, crossed the St. Lawrence, and marched upon Napierville. The rebels, discouraged by former losses, after a vain attempt to unite their forces, dispersed in every direction without firing a shot. They still retained a post at Beauharnois; but Col. Carmichael, with a detachment of regulars, and 1,000 Glengary militia, drove them out, though with the loss of two men killed and the same number wounded. Mr. Ellice, and a party of friends, who had been made prisoners by them at the outset, were allowed to return to Montreal. On the 11th, a week only after the first movement, McDonnell could announce that the insurrection was completely at an end, without the rebels having been able to open any communication with their supporters beyond the frontier.

We must now turn to Upper Canada, where, even before the former outbreak, Sir Francis Head had resigned. The immediate cause was the disapprobation expressed by Lord Glenelg for his removing Judge Ridout, on account of his democratical principles, and his refusing to obey an order to raise to the bench Mr. Bidwell, late speaker of the Assembly, and an opposition leader. He at the same time, in no measured terms, condemned the system of conciliation hitherto pursued in the Colonial Office, whose members he even branded as republicans; insisting that a stern uncompromising maintenance of the monarchical principle, and the exclusion from office of all opposed to it, was the only basis on which Canada could be governed. Ministers unwillingly accepted his resignation; while the loyal inhabitants, among whom he had rendered himself highly popular, expressed on the occasion deep regret and disgust. Col. Sir George Arthur, who had previously held a similar situation in Van Dieman’s Land, was appointed to succeed him.

The new governor soon found himself involved in difficult circumstances; for, early in June, bands to the number of 1,000 or 1,200 Americans crossed the Niagara channel, and endeavoured to excite the people to insurrection. They attacked a party of fourteen lancers posted in an inn, and, by setting it on fire, obliged them to surrender. But no sooner did they learn that Sir George had arrived at Niagara, and that the country was rising against them, than they hastily recrossed the frontier, leaving about forty prisoners, among whom were Morrow and Waite, the first and second in command. In the end of June, a smaller party passed the St. Clair, and invaded the Western District; but finding themselves unsupported, and the militia advancing, they returned, after losing a few of their number, who fell into the hands of the pursuers.

The Banks of the River Niagara
(below the falls.)


The summer now passed in comparative quietness, though the great movement at the beginning of November continued to be deeply felt along the upper frontier. Almost simultaneously with the rising in Montreal District, a body of about 400 sailed from the vicinity of Sackett’s Harbour, and landed at Prescott. On the 13th, Col. Young, with what force he could muster, and aided by Capt. Sandom, with an armed steamer, compelled a large proportion of them to disperse, while the rest took refuge in a windmill and an adjacent house built of stone, whence they could not be dislodged. Eighteen British were here killed and wounded. In the course of the day, Colonel Dundas arrived with four companies from Kingston, but considered the buildings, the walls of which were three or four feet thick, too strong to be reduced without cannon. A few guns and some additional troops being brought up, an attack was commenced on the 16th, when the party within the stone building, after some stand, sought to escape among the brushwood, but were all captured; upon which those in the mill displayed a white flag, and surrendered at discretion. The whole number of prisoners was 159. The militia, among whom some lukewarmness had been suspected, showed the utmost zeal, and mustered to the extent of 5,000.

The Niagara frontier was found by the enemy so well guarded, that no attempt was made there. But early in the morning of the 4th of December, about 350 organized at Detroit landed near Sandwich, set fire to a steamer and to the barracks, and killed several individuals in cold blood. Being as cowardly as cruel, they were no sooner attacked by a party of militia, than they fled either to the woods or to the American shore, leaving twenty-six killed and twenty-five prisoners.

The captives, on the former occasion, had been treated with extraordinary lenity; but this forbearance not having produced its due effect, and being loudly complained of by the inhabitants, it was judged necessary to exercise greater rigour on the present occasion. A considerable number of the ringleaders were accordingly put to death, and the rest condemned to severe or ignominious punishments.

I extract the chief part of this resumée of Canadian history from the very clever work before mentioned, written for the Edinburgh Cabinet Library, by Hugh Murray, Esq. F.R.S.E. It is on the whole the best work on the subject that I can find, though, as the reader will doubtless see, it is written with a very strong national bias. With the reserve of my own opinion as to his colouring, I take the liberty to make use of the statements of Mr. Murray with little alteration, quite sure that no where else is to be found so able and enlarged a view of the period of history in question.



We have now brought the historical part of our labours to a close, and proceed to what is more interesting to the general reader—the social and moral condition of this interesting people.

The inhabitants of Canada are divided into three classes, among which no complete amalgamation has yet been formed. These are, the original French colonists, commonly called habitans, the British settlers, and the Indian tribes.

The habitans, at the time of the conquest, formed almost the whole of the European population. They had occupied the best lands along the banks of the St. Lawrence, between Quebec and Montreal; a considerable extent of those upon the Richelieu; and a small space on the Chaudière, the Yamaska, the St. Maurice, and other tributaries of the great river, as well as a detached settlement on the fertile shores of the Detroit. These tracts had been granted to persons of distinction and to favourites, usually in large blocks, which, as already stated, they held under the title of seigneurs. But it accorded not with their habits to clear and cultivate for themselves grounds covered with an unbroken forest; nor would the task be undertaken by farmers on the terms of an ordinary lease. The proprietors were therefore obliged to make them over, in small lots, under the feudal title of fiefs, to hardworking men, who, on receiving this permanent interest, were willing to encounter the toil. The annual payment, or quit-rent, is in general exceedingly small, amounting, on some properties, only to 10s. a-year, with a bushel of wheat and two fowls. The seigneur has, besides, certain feudal claims—a tithe on fish, mill-dues, and, more especially, payments on sale or transference, which in some cases amount to a fifth of the purchase-money.

The occupants of these fiefs or farms, under the burdens now specified, are virtual proprietors of the soil, which they cultivate with their own hands, aided by their families. They are described as a particularly contented, industrious, and amiable race of people; and the lots, though much subdivided in the course of succession, are still sufficient to maintain them in simple plenty. They till their land with diligence, though without skill, having scarcely adopted any of the modern improvements. Their study is to produce from the farm every thing they need; not only the whole of their food, but their candles, soap, and even sugar. From flax of their own raising, too, and the wool of their own sheep, they are enabled to manufacture almost every article of clothing. Their houses, though generally built of wood, and only one story high, are whitewashed, and tolerably commodious. A partition in the middle separates the kitchen from the principal apartment, at one end of which are the bed-rooms. There is a garden, which, though in a somewhat rude and straggling state, and cultivated by the females only, yields a comfortable supply of the more common fruits and vegetables.

The personal appearance of the habitans is peculiar. They are tall, thin, and, from exposure to the climate, almost as dark as the Indians. They have thin lips, and often aquiline noses, with small, dark, and lively eyes. Many of the girls are pretty oval-faced brunettes, with fine eyes, good teeth, and glossy locks. The dress is nearly after the old fashion of the French peasantry. The men wear the capot, a large grey coat or surtout, covering nearly the whole body, and tied with a girdle of brilliant colours. On the legs they have moccasins, and on the head a straw hat in summer, and a red bonnet in winter. The hair is still tied in a long queue behind. The women wear short jackets or bed-gowns (mantelets), with petticoats distinct, and sometimes of a different colour, and caps instead of bonnets—a mode of dress formerly common in Scotland, and not yet wholly disused. They have long waists, and sometimes the hair tied behind in a large club. At church, or other occasions of full dress, they adopt the English fashion, but display a much greater variety of showy colours. Hair-powder is sometimes worn, and beetroot employed as rouge; but both in their dress and houses they are perfectly clean.

The habitans are frugal and moderate in their ordinary diet, which mostly consists of different kinds of soup. They have, however, their jours gras, or great feast-days, particularly before and after Lent, when large companies assemble, and the board is spread with every delicacy which their larder can afford. The table groans beneath immense turkey pies, huge joints of beef, mutton, and pork, followed by a profusion of fruit puddings. Extraordinary justice is said to be done to these viands, as well as to the rum which follows; but the younger members of the company are soon roused by the sound of the violin, and the dancing, of which they are passionately fond, engages them till a late hour. Weddings, above all, are celebrated by a mighty concourse of friends and acquaintances. Twenty or thirty of the country carriages bring in parties to witness the ceremony, which is followed by feasts and dances, not unfrequently prolonged for several days. The young people, however, have a somewhat rude method of expressing their opinion of an unequal union, especially if arising from the relative age of the parties. They assemble at night in large bodies, sounding various discordant instruments—horns, drums, bells, kettles, accompanied by loud shouts; and a contribution to the church, or some charitable purpose, is indispensable to obtain a respite from this jocular persecution. The short summer is necessarily spent in almost unremitting labour; but when ice and snow have covered the ground the gay season begins, and in their carioles or little chaises, on steel runners, which pass swiftly over the frozen surface, they visit their neighbours, and spend much time in social intercourse.

The Canadian French, like their forefathers, profess the Roman Catholic religion with much zeal, and in a manner which occasionally approaches superstition. The roads are marked by crosses erected at the side; their houses are filled with little pictures of the Madonna and child, waxen images of saints, and of the crucifixion; and there is a profuse expenditure of holy water and candles. They reluctantly establish their dwelling beyond hearing of the church bells, and on Sundays the attendance is crowded. They have, however, those inadequate notions as to the sanctity of that day, which are general in catholic countries. When worship is over the remainder is devoted, without reserve, to amusements. “Sunday,” it is said, “is to them their day of gaiety; there is then an assemblage of friends and relations; the parish church collects together all whom they know, and with whom they have relations of business or pleasure; the young and old, men and women, clad in their best garments, riding their best horses, driving in their gayest calèches, meet there for purposes of business, love, and pleasure. The young habitant, decked out in his most splendid finery, makes his court to the maiden, whom he has singled out as the object of his affections; the maiden, exhibiting in her adornment every colour of the rainbow, there hopes to meet her chevalier; the bold rider descants upon and gives evidence of the merits of his unrivalled pacer; and in winter the powers of the various horses are tried in sleigh or cariole racing; in short, Sunday is the grand fête.” Even the violin and the dance in the evening are not considered unsuitable. Notwithstanding these customs, the religious spirit of the Canadians appears sincere, and is attended with great benefits. Their general conduct is inoffensive and praiseworthy. Crimes of an atrocious description, as murder and violent assaults upon the person, scarcely ever occur. Property is perfectly safe, both from the thief and the robber; the doors of the houses stand open, and all sorts of goods are exposed without any precaution. They scarcely ever engage in those furious personal conflicts which, among the Americans of English descent, are often carried on with such violence; they know neither duelling, boxing, or gouging. On the contrary, they mutually treat each other with all the ceremonious politeness of the French school. One of the first things taught to a child is to speak decorously, to bow or curtsey to its elders or to strangers. This politeness is not accompanied with any degree of insincerity or servility, above which last they are completely raised by their independent situation. They are said to be generous in relieving those in distress—liberal and courteous to all who have any claim on their hospitality. The custom of parents and children living together, often to the third generation, in the same house, marks a mild and friendly temper. The only form under which hostile passions are vented is that of litigation, to which they are immoderately addicted, being favoured by the comparative cheapness of law. M. Bouchette defends this as securing them from violent and turbulent modes of terminating their differences.

The habitans are not a stirring, enterprizing, or improving race. They tread in the steps of their forefathers, following the same routine, and with difficulty adopting the most obvious improvements of modern husbandry. Although extensive tracts lie in their immediate neighbourhood unoccupied, they resign them to the English and Americans, and have scarcely at all extended the range of their original settlement. Even their amiable qualities tend to retain them in this stationary condition; to which we may add their social disposition, their attachment to their kindred, their church, and the rites of their religion. They feel as if in leaving these things they would leave all. Their range of information has hitherto been very limited; and their priests, it has been alleged, by no means favour the diffusion among them even of the first elements of education; so that the majority of the adults cannot even read or write. But the legislature have lately made great exertions to improve them in this respect; and it is hoped that the rising generation will be more enlightened.

The society in Upper Canada, with the exception of the small French settlement at Detroit, presents a very different aspect. A great majority of the inhabitants consists of emigrants recently arrived from Ireland, Scotland, and England, who have not yet made much change in their original ideas and habits. Those established at successive periods during the previous half century, are not represented by Mr. Howison, Mr. Talbot, and other writers, under a very favourable light. The tone, especially in the western districts, appears to have been in a great measure given by such Americans as came, not from the civilised portions of the Union, but from the back-wood tracks, breathing rather the spirit of Kentucky than of New England. Disbanded soldiers and sailors were not well calculated to improve the breed; and even the voluntary emigrants were not always composed of the respectable classes, who, under the pressure of the times, have lately embraced this resource. The removal of the ordinary restraints of society, and the absence of religious ordinances and ministration, concurred in giving to them a reckless and unprincipled character. Intoxication, encouraged by the cheapness of spirits, is indulged to a lamentable degree, and is often productive of general ill conduct and ruin. Little regard is paid to the sabbath and other sacred institutions; and the ear of the stranger is wounded, not only by abusive language, but by swearing to an odious and disgusting degree. Pugilistic contests are carried on with a violence rivalling those of Kentucky, and have not always been unaccompanied by the savage practice of gouging. Mr. Talbot, though he admits that he met with many respectable females, charges a large proportion of the sex with a disregard and even insensibility to their first duties. Although a spry lass, as she is termed, is certain of repeated offers, and is sure of being early united in the bonds of matrimony, she may frequently before that event have given birth to one or two children. Our author was in company with a lady, who volunteered to the company the information, that “her Betty” had been two years old at her marriage. The correcter feelings, on this subject, of females from the old country are contemned as ridiculous. Nay, where so little delicacy prevails, and the children are so valuable a possession, the bringing two or three into the world in this irregular manner, instead of being a bar to marriage, proves, it is said, an additional attraction, by making the young lady a species of heiress. After marriage, she makes an active and industrious wife, but expects from her husband much deference, and even that he should wink at occasional frailties. These faults are described by Mr. Gourlay as rapidly disappearing, though Mr. Talbot, and even Mr. Shirreff, found them still too prevalent; but the increased means of instruction, and the example of respectable emigrants, will, it may be hoped, gradually effect a thorough reform.

No people in the world live better than the inhabitants of Upper Canada. The abundance of produce, and the low price at which it can be sold, naturally inclines them to take the full use of it. Three copious meals, often of twelve or fourteen dishes each, are daily served up, called breakfast, dinner, and supper, but consisting generally of the same component parts; among which are specially enumerated green tea, fried pork, honeycomb, salted salmon, pound-cake, pickled cucumbers, stewed chickens, apple tarts, maple-molasses, pease-pudding, gingerbread, and sour crout. They are not very social in their daily habits, to which, indeed, the almost impassable state of the roads opposes great obstacles; but they are fond of large parties, and, in a favourable season, five or six families often unite, and, without any notice, drive to visit another at the distance of ten or twelve miles. Such an arrival would not always be very opportune in an English household; but, “in this land of plenty,” the flour-barrel, the pork-tub, and the fowl house, afford at all times materials for meeting such an emergency, and the board is soon spread with a plentiful meal. The dance is an amusement of which they are passionately fond. No inn is considered worthy of the name, unless it be provided with a spacious ballroom, which is called into requisition as often as convenience will permit. Intellectual recreations have not hitherto attracted all the attention which they merit. Mr. Talbot, during a residence of five years, never saw above two individuals with books in their hands; and, in one case, it was a medical treatise consulted for health. The sources of improvement already enumerated, however, have already made a great impression, and will, we doubt not, ere long wipe off this reproach from the Canadian people.

There remains yet undescribed a small but interesting portion—the remnant of the Indian nations. It has appeared mysterious how tribes, once so powerful, without war or bloodshed should have silently disappeared, and only a handful survive. The occupation of their hunting grounds by European settlers, the introduction of destructive diseases, particularly small-pox, and the free use of intoxicating liquors, have no doubt materially thinned their numbers. Our researches, however, have led us to suspect that the diminution has not been nearly so great as is supposed; in other words, that the original numbers were much exaggerated. We have had occasion to observe, that the Iroquois, the most powerful people in America, and occupying a territory extending several hundred miles in every direction, were not estimated by the French to include more than 3,000 warriors. Yet they enjoyed a better climate, and were not so entirely ignorant of cultivation as the tribes northward of the St. Lawrence.

The Indians, under British protection, are dispersed in small villages and settlements in different parts of Upper and Lower Canada. The charge made by Mr. McGregor, that they have not been kindly treated by our government, seems scarcely well founded, for not only do they remain peaceably under her sway, but they have repeatedly taken up arms in her cause against the “Big Knives,” as they term the Americans. In consideration of their services, and in compensation for the encroachments made on their domain, each individual, on repairing to a fixed station, receives a certain amount of goods as an annual present; and this grant affords the means of estimating the number residing within the provinces. In Lower Canada, in 1828, it amounted to 2,922, exclusive of about 450 Micmacs, or wandering tribes, from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The number in Upper Canada to whom, about the same time, donations were made, was 12,919; making in the two provinces 15,841. The estimate thus obtained, however, is not quite so accurate as could be wished. Several thousands came from beyond the western frontier, a distance in some cases of four or five hundred miles, and even from the territory of the United States; but in consequence of the signal services rendered by them during the last war, pledges had been given, which Britain must now fulfil. On the other hand, in the immense forest territory which the hand of cultivation has not yet approached, there are doubtless very considerable numbers who retain their wild independence, and hold no relation whatever with Europeans. We may notice, in particular, the vast tracts to the east and north of Quebec, whence no mention is made of any resort to the stations of distribution.

The Indians of Lower Canada have been converted to the catholic religion, and their spiritual concerns are superintended by five missionaries, who receive salaries of from 40l. to 70l. per annum. They appear much attached to these instructors, and show a deep sense of their religious duties; yet they have admitted scarcely any change in their original habits, or made any progress in industry. Their husbandry, as formerly, is on a small scale, of the rudest description, and carried on entirely by women and old men. “The Indian tribes,” said the late Lord Dalhousie, “continue to be warlike in their ideas and recollections. Insignificant as are some of the tribes now in Lower Canada, civilized and accustomed to social life, there is not one of them that does not boast of the warlike days of their chiefs and warriors; even now, the word warrior is assumed by every young man; he is trained up to it, and has a higher idea of the approbation of his chief, or the consideration of white men in that character of an active hunter or warrior, than he has of any other object or use of his existence.” The missionaries, though they execute their spiritual functions with zeal and diligence, not only take no pains to instruct them in reading or writing, but effectually oppose any efforts for that purpose, at least when made by protestant teachers. We even suspect that they indulge rather than check the warlike spirit of their flocks; since it appears, that, on the annual religious festival called the grand fête de Dieu, the Indians are in the habit of marching to church in military order, headed by their chiefs, bearing arms, and amid the music of drums and fifes.

Village of Lorette, near Quebec.
(Church of the Annunciation.)

Junction of the St. Francis and Magog Rivers

A few miles northward from Quebec is the Huron settlement of Loretto, consisting of sixty-seven men, sixty-five women, and forty-seven children. This poor remnant of a race once so powerful, holding only forty acres of land, derive a precarious subsistence from hunting, fishing, and some trifling articles made by their females. They recently preferred a claim to the fief of Sillery, a fine tract extending a league along the St. Lawrence, near Quebec, in virtue of a grant made to their ancestors in 1651. The case being brought before the courts, it was argued by the crown lawyers that the grant had been made to the Jesuits in general terms, for the purpose “of assembling the wandering nations of New France, and instructing them in the christian religion;” that, in 1699, these missionaries, representing that the Indians had quitted the spot on account of the soil being exhausted, requested and obtained a grant of it for themselves; and that it remained in their possession till the extinction of their order in 1800, when it devolved on the British government. On these grounds the judges decided against the Hurons. We cannot help referring, however, to certain facts in our historical narrative, founded on authorities which we incline to believe were unknown to either party in this contest. It there appears that the grant immediately followed the destruction of the Huron nation by the Iroquois, when the Jesuits, as the only means of saving the remnant of the tribe, removed to Quebec. The date, and the name of the principal settlement, seem to show, that, however general the terms may have been, the grant was made virtually for the benefit of these unfortunate fugitives, and to the Jesuits only as their trustees. If this be admitted, we know not how far their quitting it at one time for another spot, without any formal relinquishment, could be considered as vacating their title. On the loss of their cause, they sent two deputies to London, who very earnestly solicited an interview with their great father. Sir George Murray evaded this demand, but received them kindly; and though he could not reopen a legal decision, offered them grants of crown lands in other quarters; but they replied, that an arrangement which would separate them, and require a complete change in their mode of life, could not be felt by them as any real advantage.

In the vicinity of Three Rivers are 82 Algonquins, and near St. Francis and Beçancour, on the opposite side, 359 Abenaquis. These tribes inhabit rude villages, composed of very poor bark huts, though somewhat better than the ordinary wigwams. They once possessed a considerable extent of land, the greater part of which has been wrested from them under various pretences by designing individuals; and to prevent such frauds, it is proposed that no alienation of property by these untaught tribes shall be held valid until it has been sanctioned by government. Farther down the river are three settlements of Iroquois, one at Sault St. Louis and Caughnawaga, amounting to 967; another at St. Regis of 348; and a third, of 282, at the Lake of the Two Mountains. This tribe, once powerful, and even intelligent, are now indolent, wretched, and despised by their own countrymen. Those of Sault St. Louis possess some land, though, from mismanagement, it produces little; and a late claim for an addition, founded on minute boundary questions, was fruitless, though they also sent two deputies to London to enforce it. At the Lake of the Two Mountains are likewise 355 Algonquins and 250 Nipissings. These have no land to cultivate, but by their activity in hunting, and supplying Europeans with furs, they have placed themselves in a more comfortable condition than any other Indians in Lower Canada. They complain much, however, of the extended colonization on the Ottawa, by which their hunting grounds are greatly narrowed.

In Upper Canada, along the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario, the Mississaguas are the leading tribe. Those of Kingston and Gananoqui, only 82 in number, are described as worthless and depraved; but such as dwell on the Bay of Quinté and Rice Lake, amounting respectively to 143 and 317, have been converted to Christianity, and are much improved. On the Bay are also 319 Mohawks, many of whom have applied themselves to agriculture, and even adopted in some degree the European dress, though mixed in a grotesque manner with their native attire. On the river Credit, which falls into the western part of Ontario, are 180 of the same nation, who have been greatly civilized by their conversion. Around Lake Simcoe and its vicinity, about 550 Chippeways reside under their chief, Yellow-head. These also have expressed a strong desire for instruction and the knowledge of religion, but have not yet experienced those benefits in an equal degree. The banks of the Grand River, which falls into Lake Erie, to the extent of six miles on each side, were, by a proclamation of General Haldimand, set apart for the Mohawks and Six Nations, who occupy it to the amount of about 2,000. Some part of these lands has been sold with the consent of government, and the proceeds lodged in the British funds, yielding an annual revenue of 1,500l., which is distributed among them in goods. They still hold 260,000 acres of an excellent soil, over which they have spread themselves in small villages, and many of them attempt the simpler modes of farming. Farther west are the Munseys on the Thames, 445 in number, and 309 Hurons, connected with the French settlement on the Detroit, and converts to the Catholic form of worship.

Hallowell, Bay of Quinté.

Scene in the Bay of Quinté.

With the last exception, all the tribes in Upper Canada, till within these few years, remained in their primitive state of rudeness and ignorance. They are now, however, willing converts to the Christian faith, receiving instruction in reading and writing. Their morals are greatly improved; and, in short, the way is paved for their adopting generally the habits of civilized life. This good work has been almost entirely accomplished by teachers from the United States, belonging to the “Canada Conference Missionary Society,” auxiliary to that of the Methodist Church of New York. The Indians have always shown themselves desirous to be instructed. In 1827, the tribes, when receiving presents at the remote station of Drummond Island, intimated to the agent that there was at Michillimakinac a school or place where the natives were taught to live as the whites do, “to mark their thoughts on paper, and to think the news from books (read and write).” It was in their power to send their children thither “to get sense;” but not being partial to the Big Knives, and hearing that their great father at York was teaching their brethren to “cut up the ground, and be beloved of the Great Spirit,” they would rather be instructed by him. In the same year the Chippeways at Gwillimburg, through their chief, Yellow-head, delivered successive strings of wampum, importing that they wished to be settled together, to pursue agriculture, and “to worship that God which is known to the whites in the good book.”

The work of conversion and civilization was already proceeding, through the exertions of the New York missionaries. Their first success was on the River Credit, in the Home district, where they were greatly aided by Mr. Peter Jones, alias Kakkewaquonaby, the son of a Welsh father by an Indian mother, and thoroughly acquainted with their customs and language. They formed themselves into a village, where Sir Peregrine Maitland built for them twenty houses; they added fifteen for themselves, with a mill; and the Methodist Society aided them in erecting a chapel, schoolhouse, and workshop. They now renounced the “firewaters” (spirits), the effects of which had been so pernicious; and, without giving up hunting, combined with it the culture of the ground and the rearing of cattle. According to the report of the Rev. Mr. Magrath, they had, in March 1828, brought thirty-five acres into cultivation, and possessed nine yoke of oxen, twelve cows, and six horses. The adults were taught to get by heart the most essential doctrines of religion; but for the children of both sexes schools were established, attended by thirty-five boys and thirty-six girls. The Mississaguas, near Belleville, soon followed the example of their brethren; and, with the aid of the Society, formed a village on Grape Island, in the Bay of Quinté. Finding this position too limited, they applied for more land, and were allowed to select the requisite number of vacant lots in the Midland district. This salutary process was soon afterwards extended to the Mississaguas on the borders of Rice Lake and of Mud Lake, northward of Cobourg. They occupied, by right, the islands on the former; and, on the petition of their teachers, were allowed besides 1,200 acres of waste land. Improvement was next extended to the Chippeways, near Lake Simcoe. They were entitled to three islands; but Sir John Colborne thought it more for their benefit that they should be located on its north-western shore, and on the road to Lake Huron. In these objects about 3,000l. were spent, chiefly saved out of the annual presents. Another establishment has been formed at Munseytown, on the river Thames; and it appears that much has been done among the Six Nations, particularly the Mohawks, on the Grand River. In short, there seems no room to doubt that the whole of this savage race will soon be brought within the pale of Christianity and civilization.

Vehement objections have been taken against the religious body by whom this change has been effected. They are accused of propagating the political creed of their own country, accompanied with sentiments of hostility to the established church. It does not appear, however, that any disloyal or turbulent proceedings have resulted; and when they are doing so much good, it would certainly be very inexpedient to obstruct their operations, until some efficient substitute shall be found. Sir John Colborne expressly says, “that the established clergy have not effected any Indian conversions;” and the worthy bishop of Quebec candidly observes that, whoever were the instruments, the effect must be a source of satisfaction; and that the hand of God seems to be visible in it. The Society allow 40l. or 50l. a-year to their missionaries, and maintain ten schools, attended by 251 pupils.

The Indians, as already observed, have certain fixed stations, to which they resort for the purpose of receiving their annual presents. These are, in Lower Canada, Quebec, to which, in 1827, there came 652; St. Francis, 541; Caughnawaga, 967; Lake of Two Mountains, 887; and St. Regis, 348. In Upper Canada, they are, Kingston, 859; York, 781; Fort George (Niagara), 1857; Amherstburg, 5906; and Drummond Island, 3516. The expense became very large during the war, when their services were so valuable. Between 1813 and 1816, it averaged 150,000l. a-year. Since that time it has been reduced to about 16,000l., which, with 4,400l. for management, raises the Indian department to 20,400l. a-year. This, in Upper Canada, is estimated at 18s. 9d. to each individual, for which slender remuneration some travel 500 miles. References have been made from the Colonial Office, to ascertain whether this sum might not be still further reduced, and paid in money, by which the estimates could be formed with greater precision. To the first point, it has been replied by the governors, that the donation is one to which we are bound by the faith of treaties, made in return for important services; and its discontinuance would excite the deepest indignation, and provoke an hostility which might be attended with disastrous consequences. Probably like all rude nations, the Indians, instead of viewing these gifts as in any degree humiliating, pride themselves upon them as testimonies of respect, perhaps even as a species of tribute. As to the payment in money, it was deprecated in the strongest terms by almost all the chiefs, and those interested in their welfare; because the immediate consequence would be its conversion into spirits, thereby causing a serious injury instead of a benefit. The principle articles presented to them in 1832, were 35,700 yards of different kinds of cloth, the prime cost varying from 1s. 1d. to 3s. 4d.; 4,200 yards of linen; 33,800 yards of cotton and calico, 7d. to 1s. 7d.; 84,500 yards of gartering, of scarlet, green, and fancy colours, ¾d. per yard; 20,000 yards of blanketing, 1s. 11d. to 5s. 9d.; 9,260 pairs of combs; 6,700 shoemaker’s awls; 8,740 butcher’s knives; 870 kettles; 18,160 sewing needles; 240 guns, 12s. 9d. to 30s.; 16,200 lbs. of lead ball; 46,300 lbs. of shot; 20,000 flints; 3,450 lbs. of carrot tobacco, 17l. 10s. per cwt.

St. Regis, Indian Village.
(St. Lawrence.)

Since the diffusion of civilization, many of the Indians have consented, and even desired, to exchange these presents for houses, implements of agriculture, and other useful objects. A considerable number have even begun to wish for money, which happily they no longer abuse as formerly, but rather find the most convenient instrument in procuring whatever they may happen to want. Asance, a chief, said that at York, “he found it convenient when hungry to be able to put his hand into his pocket, and find something jingling there for which he could get bread.” It may be observed, that the Indians in Upper Canada are entitled to the annual pay of 5,107l. current (4,426l. sterling), for land ceded by them to government, who give the value in goods. As the crown obtained in exchange nearly 5,000,000 acres of fertile land, we do think that this slender annuity ought not to exhaust the kindness of the British ministry towards this unfortunate race. They receive also 1,267l. sterling for property sold to private individuals, the greater part of which is lodged in the funds. This sum is paid in money to the chiefs.

The Indians, as formerly observed, retain in general their original fashion of dress; but instead of composing it entirely of the skins of wild animals, they have adopted, as more commodious, materials of English manufacture. For the outer covering or great coat, a blanket is decidedly preferred; the shirt beneath is chiefly of calico or printed cotton; the leggings and pouches of common cloths. The gartering, of gaudy colours, serves for binding and ornamental borders. The moccasins only, an article so extremely suited to their habits, cannot be composed of any better material than their own deer-skin. When, however, any particular piece of finery strikes their fancy, they eagerly seek to procure it, and combine it, often fantastically, with their old habiliments. The vicinity of Europeans, where it does not induce the destructive habit of intoxication, affords them various means for bettering their condition. A ready sale for venison, wild ducks, and other feathered game, and for the fish which they spear, is found among settlers who have themselves little leisure for angling or the chase. The skins and furs also of the animals caught by them are readily bought by the merchants. The women make baskets, trays, and other utensils, of birch-bark, and sometimes of the inner rind of the bass-wood and white ash, which, when ornamented with porcupine quills, dyed in beautiful colours, form elegant articles of furniture. Their moccasins, similarly adorned, are often purchased by Europeans for winter use. They cannot, however, be depended upon for making or procuring any article to order. They produce and bring their commodities to market when it suits their own convenience; and they are disposed to drive a pretty hard bargain, especially the females, on whom that task usually devolves. The converted Indians are said to display a simple, fervent, and sincere devotion. They pay a particular regard to the sanctity of the sabbath; and while singing hymns on the evening of that day, their rich soft voices, rising on the still air, are extremely sweet. This principle of piety, having produced the valuable fruit of inducing them to renounce the ruinous habit of intoxication, has made a most happy change in their condition; and since the evils incident to the savage have thus been removed, perhaps the admirer of the picturesque in human life may not feel impatient for that thorough amalgamation with Europeans, which some of their friends ardently desire. They may be willing that some trace should still survive of the peculiar costume, aspect, and occupations of this remarkable aboriginal race.

Burial-Place of the Voyageurs.

The means of religious instruction in Lower Canada have long existed on a liberal scale. The great majority of the inhabitants, as formerly observed, are French Roman Catholics. They support their clergy by a contribution of a twenty-sixth part of the produce of their lands, which does not, however, as has been sometimes represented, form a compulsory assessment, since Protestant converts may discontinue payment. This affords to upwards of 200 vicaires and curés an average income of 300l. per annum, which, in Canada, is very liberal. They are described as respectable in character and attainments, very attentive to their parishioners, and extremely beloved by them. They have been accused as hostile to the diffusion of knowledge, yet no mention is made of any opposition made by them to the late remarkable spread of elementary schools. The bishop, who has under him two coadjutors and four vicars-general, receives from government a stipend of 1,000l. a-year. There are also monastic establishments, containing upwards of 300 monks and nuns. The English church has assigned for its support a seventh of all the lands unoccupied by the habitans, and formed into townships. This proportion appears large, and has even been complained of as such, yet it has not hitherto produced any great revenue. The clergy of this church are at present forty in number, at the head of whom is the bishop of Quebec, with a stipend of 1,000l. a-year. There are fourteen Presbyterian ministers connected with the church of Scotland, partly paid by government; and also twelve Methodists of the Wesleyan persuasion.

Upper Canada, as already hinted, was long miserably destitute of the means of religious instruction. In 1800, according to Mr. Talbot, there were only three clergymen in the country; in 1819 they had increased to ten; and in 1824 were still only sixteen. Since that time effective measures have been taken to supply this great deficiency. There are now forty-three clergymen belonging to the English established church; and two archdeacons, at Toronto and Kingston, subject to the bishop of Quebec, have each 300l. a-year. The remainder of the clergy received, in 1835, an income of 6,784l. 11s. 8d., of which 5,484l. 18s. was defrayed from the proceeds of the ecclesiastical reserves, which, as in Lower Canada, consist of one-seventh of the uncultivated lands; the rest was paid out of the crown revenue. The Catholics have twenty-four priests, of whom the bishop, bearing the title of Regiopolis, has 500l.; the rest receive 1,000l. annually, divided among them, out of the public purse. From the same fund were paid, in 1835, to the ministers of the church of Scotland, 1,586l.; to those of the Presbyterian synod of Upper Canada 700l.; 171l. was granted to the fund for building Catholic churches; 550l. was given for the same purpose to the Scottish church; and 550l. to the Wesleyan Methodists. From this fund was also allowed 2,344l. 11s. 8d. for missionaries of the Church of England. There are said to be also twenty-eight Methodist and forty or fifty Baptist churches, which appear to be supported by the congregations.

The means even of the most common education were long extremely deficient in Canada. This want was equally felt in the lower province, where the Catholic clergy, though diligent in their religious ministrations, either opposed or did nothing to forward elementary instruction. They particularly interfered to prevent attendance on the schools organized in 1817, by what was termed the Royal Institution, as being chiefly under the management of Church of England clergymen. In 1829, however, the legislature voted for this object 6,439l., which was gradually increased to upwards of 20,000l. In that year the number of scholars was 14,753, of whom only about a third paid fees. In 1835, the number of free scholars had risen to 72,498, of those paying to 25,160; showing thus a wonderful increase both in the gross number and in the proportion of those who defrayed their own charges. In 1836, however, the vote of the House of Assembly for this patriotic purpose was negatived by the Legislative Council, a step which seems not unworthy of the severe animadversions made on it by the popular leaders. The council stated that their motive was to induce the people to contribute more towards the education of their families. This was admitted to be desirable as an ultimate object; but it could not justify the abrupt withdrawal of the means by which nearly 40,000 children were educated, without allowing time or even legal authority to substitute any other.

In Upper Canada, also, the government is making great exertions to remove that cloud of ignorance in which the country was once involved. A college at Toronto is supported on a liberal footing. There are also grammar schools in every district, to the teachers of which 100l. yearly is allowed by the legislature. The scholars attending them amount in all to about 350. The sum of 7,380l. also was granted in 1835 for the support of common schools, estimated to amount to several hundreds, and to educate about 20,000 children. In the same year, the legislature voted 180l. and 90l. to the Mechanics’ Institutes at Toronto and Kingston.



Among the various books on Canada, there is none which seems to us written with a more friendly, fair, and philanthropic spirit than that of Mr. Hodgson, who was there in 1822. A great part of his large volume is occupied with his rambles in the United States; but from that which is strictly Canadian, we extract the following interesting letters:—

Scene among the Thousand Isles.

Rapids, on the approach to the Village of Cedars.

“Soon after I had finished my letter on board the steam-boat, we stopped near the mouth of the Genessee river, to give us the opportunity of seeing Rochester and its vicinity. Stages had been previously sent for, in which we proceeded to Rochester, nine miles distant. On our way we stopped to see the lower falls of the Genessee river, and Carthage bridge. This wooden bridge is now in ruins. When perfect, it must have been extremely beautiful. It was a single arch, whose span was about 350 feet wide, and its extreme height above the surface of the river 196 feet. It gave way from the slightness of its materials, immediately after two children had crossed it. A short distance above it are the falls of the Genessee, which appeared to me to bear a strong resemblance to those of the Clyde. At Rochester we found a handsome mill, and every symptom of a thriving town. Instead of ‘cash store’ being painted over the shops, as in most towns of the United States, to tell the customers that the shopkeepers sell only for cash, while they may almost be induced to sell even a thimble on credit; ‘here cash given for wheat,’ ‘cash given for, &c. &c.’ was the usual motto. We learnt also, that the town was blessed by the absence of a bank, while in the smallest American town I had been accustomed to find banks the first objects which presented themselves—the Farmer’s Bank, the Merchant’s Bank, the Planter’s Bank, the Mechanic’s Bank, the Franklin Bank, the Patriotic Bank, &c. &c. with their various combinations, had met my eye more or less in every village. We embarked again about two o’clock, and in the morning by day-light found ourselves at Sacket’s Harbour, of which we heard so much during the war. It is a noble natural harbour, and the place where the American ships employed on the lakes were built so rapidly. Many of them are now rotting under wooden covers. There is one half finished, said to be longer than our largest ship of the line, covered with a wooden shade, which itself, our conductor told us, cost 7,000l. This immense vessel, so far inland, on the banks of a lake, was a singular sight, and excited some incongruous ideas.

Prescott, from Ogdensburg Harbour.

“We sailed again soon after breakfast, and in the morning (9th) found ourselves at Ogdensburgh, about 260 miles from Niagara, which we had left on the 6th. The preceding afternoon we had entered the St. Lawrence, and I had been much delighted with our sail through that expanse of it which is called the Lake of the Thousand Islands. In reality, there are more than 2,000, of every size and form, and a lovely afternoon exhibited them in all their beauty. As we glided past them, on the smooth surface of the St. Lawrence, I thought I had never beheld a scene which so nearly realized my ideas of enchantment. The banks of the river as we proceeded were rather less wild and interesting than I had expected.

“At Ogdensburgh, which is said to belong principally to Mr. Parish, who is endeavouring to settle a tract of land in the vicinity, we breakfasted at a large stone tavern, which he has built, and then prepared in high spirits to descend the Rapids. For this purpose we hired a long boat, which would accommodate the whole party, and which, with 25 people on board and their baggage, and 25 barrels of flour for ballast, was said to draw only eight inches of water. We set sail about ten o’clock, and in four hours and a few minutes had been carried 48 miles down the stream, in the course of which we had passed the first three rapids, one of which was half a mile, another two, and another about nine miles long. We always discerned them at a great distance, the dashing of the white foam resembling the tossing of the ocean; and as we approached them our velocity gradually increased, till we were carried by the stream at the rate of 14 or 15 miles an hour. When we got into the middle of the surges, our velocity, though still great, was checked by the eddies and by waves which frequently struck the bottom of the boat with great force; and from the appearance of the troubled waters, it seemed difficult for a boat to live. The confidence of the boatmen, however, checked our apprehensions, and our ladies behaved extremely well. The most alarming appearance was that of pointed rocks, which, from the transparency of the water, seemed to rise almost to the surface, and to threaten inevitable destruction. As I stood on the bow, I saw combinations of rocks, towards which we were hurried with impetuosity, and which it seemed impossible our boat could pass without striking. In some of the Rapids there were channels, called lost channels, from the accidents which had happened in them, and into which our boatmen had to guard against our being carried. The river varies from three-fourths of a mile to two miles in width; and although there are no mountains near, (the green mountains of Vermont were often in sight at a distance,) the white pine and cedar gave a picturesque appearance to its banks, and a resemblance to the river views in Norway or Sweden. One of the most singular sensations we experienced, was that of sailing many miles perceptibly down hill. Soon after passing the third rapid, the St. Lawrence expanded into a wide lake—the Lake of St. Francis. There we lost our wind and stream, and were obliged to have recourse to our oars. The evening was now closing in, and a violent thunder-storm brought on a premature darkness; but the ladies enlivened us by singing the Canadian Boat-Song, ‘Row, brothers, row, &c.’ which transported me to ——, where I have so often heard it.

Village of Cedars, River St. Lawrence.

Nelson’s Pillar,

“About ten o’clock, we made towards a light which we saw on the shore, and landed a committee of inquiry, who reported so unfavourably of the miserable cabin from which it issued, that we determined to proceed, tired as the ladies were. Our scouts informed us, that they had found in the cabin four or five Canadians, dancing to a sleeping fiddler, whose music ceased as soon as they awoke him. A mile or two further, we found a better house, where we called the family up, and, with the help of our well-bred and efficient ladies, some gunpowder tea they had with them, some milk that was obtained from a cow that was awakened for the purpose, and the services of my servant, we sat down, a party of twenty, to a tolerably comfortable meal. When the ladies were about to retire, they found there was no door to their chamber, but they supplied the deficiency with a sheet. The gentlemen lay on blankets, in a sort of barrack room; but I found the fleas so annoying, that I got up and sat at the door of the house. I should have enjoyed the clear night after the storm, and the placid lake, if I had been less tired and sleepy; but wearied as I was, I was very glad to see the day break. Our gunpowder tea made its appearance again at five o’clock; after which we embarked, passing the remaining rapids, (the Cedars, the Split Rock, and the Cascades, as they are called,) and the mouth of the Ottawa River; and, being becalmed in the fine lake, St. Louis, we arrived at night at La Chine, about 150 miles from Ogdensburgh, which we had left the preceding morning. As we approached La Chine, the houses and villages on the banks of the river and lake assumed a much more comfortable appearance; but of the Canadians in my next letter.

“Some of our party staid all night at La Chine, but several of my friends and myself proceeded to Montreal in a wretched vehicle, for which I was obliged to apologize to my American companions, by reminding them that it was only a colonial, and that there were parts of our colonial system which none of us attempted to defend. We met some miserable calèches, of which I was ashamed even as colonials; and I was compelled to repress the rising smiles of the party, by suggesting to their recollection, that, after all, we were still in America and not in England. After riding nine miles, almost in the dark, we entered the faubourg of Montreal, and jolted along a narrow street a mile long, which my companions, accustomed to the spacious streets in America, supposed to be an alley, though it is the principal street. At the end of it we stopped at the Mansion-house, a very fine inn; and here I was not ashamed to welcome my companions to the dominions of his Britannic Majesty.

“The Mansion-house is situated on the banks of the St. Lawrence, which its handsome apartments overlook, and which is here almost two and a half miles broad. The windows of our room open upon a fine terrace, from which there is a charming and extensive view of the distant country. In the evening this is a very favourite promenade with the inmates of the house.

“I am delighted to sit down once more under the British flag, which is waving over us, for Lord Dalhousie, the governor, is staying in the house; and I am gratified by the sight of our own red coats, who have mounted guard.”

Montreal, 23d August, 1822.

“I have just received your letter of the 19th ult. The uncommon cold of the last winter, and the unusual heat of the present summer, appear, in some degree, to have extended to you. Individually, I am not sorry to have the opportunity of experiencing, in the course of the year I have passed in America, a range of temperature beyond even the ordinary limits of the country. The great and sudden changes, however, continue to strike me more than even extremes of cold and heat, so much beyond those we experience in England. After a week of the hottest weather they have had here this summer, (the other morning the thermometer was currently reported, and I believe correctly, to be 98° of Fahrenheit in the shade,) thin clothes of every description have disappeared; and last night, when I sat down to write to you, I found it too cold to proceed. The oppressive heat of the summer here, and in the United States, is alleviated, in some degree, by the liberal use of ice. We see it in every form, and use it with the utmost profusion. The butter regularly comes to table with a fine thick transparent piece of ice upon it; large pieces are generally floating in the water jugs at dinner, or in your chambers; and it is often handed round on plates, in small pieces, to be used at dinner. The plan of preserving ice in this country, and the United States, is much more simple than with us, and, I have no doubt, more judicious, as, notwithstanding the superior heat of the climate, it is so much more cheap and plentiful. Almost every farmer has his ice-house.

“I have already given you some account of our sail down the Rapids. It was extremely pleasant; and although we were becalmed for many hours, we descended on the St. Lawrence in less than two days, a distance which the boatmen seldom reascend in less than nine or ten, even with the occasional assistance of locks at the side of the river. I am surprised we hear so little of this noble river. It is computed, I do not know with what accuracy, to discharge one-half more water than the Mississippi. Its depth between Ogdensburgh and La Chine (130 miles) seldom varies more than three feet in the course of a year; while the Mississippi was falling one foot each day when I ascended it. The St. Lawrence is much clearer than the Mississippi, and its current much more rapid; so rapid, indeed, that the Lake Erie steam-boat, which has been in operation for three years, has not been able to ascend from Black Rock to Lake Erie more than twice without twelve oxen. The banks of the St. Lawrence do not present the rich and beautiful cultivation which adorns the banks of the Mississippi in Louisiana; but if they do not exhibit extensive and highly-dressed plantations of sugar and cotton, or the magnificent forest trees peculiar to the south and west, the prospect is never blackened by a range of miserable slave-cabins, or gangs of negroes working like cattle in the field. I cannot describe to you the pleasure I derived from contrasting the various scenes through which I am passing with each other, they have so many peculiar features, and all so highly interesting.

“It is remarkable, that, rising from the same table-land, and so intimately connected by intersecting branches, which occasionally flow into each other during periods of inundation, the Mississippi and the St. Lawrence present the most striking contrast in their general features. Many of these are mentioned in the observations I will copy for you from Darby; but others, not much less interesting, might be added.

Montreal, from the St. Lawrence.

The St. Lawrence at Montreal.

“‘The Mississippi is turbid, in many parts to muddiness; the St. Lawrence unusually limpid. One river is composed of almost an unbroken chain of lakes; the other, in all its vast expanse, has no lakes that strictly deserve the name. Annually the Mississippi overleaps its bed, and overwhelms the adjacent shores to a great extent; an accidental rise of three feet, in the course of fifty years, is considered an extraordinary swell of the waters of St. Lawrence; this circumstance has occurred the present season for the first time within the lapse of forty years past. The Mississippi, flowing from north to south, passes through innumerable climes; whilst its rival, winding from its source, in a south-east direction, to near north latitude 41°, turns gradually north-east, and again flows into its original climate of ice and snow. The Mississippi, before its final discharge into the Gulf of Mexico, divides into a number of branches, having their separate egress; the St. Lawrence imperceptibly expands to a wide bay, which finally opens into the gulf of the same name. The banks of the Mississippi present a level, scarce rising above the superior surface of that stream; those of St. Lawrence, by a gentle acclivity, exhibit the opposing sides of an elegant basin. Much of the surface watered by the Mississippi is a region of grass, where few shrubs or trees rise to break the monotony of the face of the earth; the shores that bound the St. Lawrence, when in a state of nature, are covered with an almost continuous and impervious forest. And, lastly, though rather an accidental than a natural distinction, the Mississippi rolls its mighty volume, swelled by more than a thousand rivers, through one empire; and is, as I once before observed, the largest stream on this globe, whose entire course lies within one sovereignty. The St. Lawrence is, for more than 1,300 miles, a national limit, and, as such, marked with the sanguinary points which distinguish the bounds of rival power.’

“We arrived here on the 10th, as you would learn from my last letter. On the 11th, I was awakened by the matin-bells of the different catholic churches; and while my steam-boat companions went to see the Lions, I set out to deliver my letters of introduction, and soon found that the mornings of the ensuing week would be entirely occupied by commercial engagements, and the evenings with dinner-parties; for the merchants are very hospitable. On the 12th, I was left alone, all the party at the Mansion-house, with whom I was intimate, having proceeded to Quebec. On their return, in a few days, I was a little more at leisure, and accompanied them to the nunneries. The ‘Grey Sisters’ admitted us; but the ‘Black Sisters’ expressed their regret, in the politest French, that their devotional engagements would prevent them from seeing us till the following Thursday.

“On the 17th, there was a grand levée held here, (in a spacious room in our inn,) as Lord and Lady Dalhousie, with their suite, were paying a short visit to Montreal. I attended, and was duly presented. The Governor and Countess gave great satisfaction; but I hear many apprehensions expressed, that his lordship will not incur the responsibility which the Duke of Richmond is said never to have hesitated to assume, in acting first and sending for instructions afterwards. It was about this time last year that the Duke left this house, a few days before his melancholy death up the country. I was told, that on the day he had fixed for his return he was brought into the house a corpse; and on the subsequent day, which had been appointed for his levée, a large concourse of the gentlemen of Montreal attended his coffin to the vessel which carried him away. His loss is deeply regretted. Sir Peregrine Maitland, his son-in-law, the Governor of Upper Canada, and Lady Maitland, are much respected; and, I understand, are doing much for the promotion of religion in the newly settled districts in their neighbourhood.

“The bishop of Canada preached at the church I attended on Sunday; and, as I was returning home, a veteran soldier of General Wolfe’s army was pointed out, in his scarlet uniform.

“I have had a few rides into the country in the neighbourhood, which is very beautiful. I have also met most of the principal merchants at dinner during my stay. On these occasions I am always gratified by the allusions I continually hear to home. ‘At home, we do so and so;’ ‘Mr. ——’s carriage is just arrived from home;’ ‘Here are some biscuits from home; fresh from Threadneedle-street, where I always get them.’

“In the streets, however, there were many peculiarities to remind us that we were not at home. More than three-fourths of the inhabitants are said to be catholics; and the bells of the cathedral are never at rest. The priests, who are the seigniors of the island, are very rich; but they are said to be charitable, moral, and by no means luxurious. Our young friends would be amused by the numerous dog-carts, the dogs in gig or tandem harness, in every part of the town, and by the calèches of the last century, which would serve as a foil for a north of England shandan. A considerable number of Indians are usually walking the streets with moccasins for sale; and I saw several on the river-side, a mile distant, in wigwams, of which their birch canoe formed a principal part. The town is most agreeably situated, and there is an air of industry and animation in the inhabitants; and yet, occasionally, the narrow streets and iron window-shutters excite a sensation of gloominess, of which I cannot readily divest myself till I return to our cheerful inn, where the arrival and departure of steam-boats occasion a constant succession of guests. Our party at table, which dwindled to six, rose, two days since, suddenly to sixty, all fugitives, as those who are not on business seldom allot above two days to this part of their tour. As the friends with whom I am most intimate have been detained since their return from Quebec, by the want of a steam-boat, I have been very well off, having access to their three drawing-rooms, with an agreeable female party in each. Our host, although a Londoner, and adopting London hours, accommodates himself by pursuing the American plan of compelling us to eat at a common table; but the style of the house is admirable, and we can obtain private sitting-rooms. One of those occupied by our party is that which Lord Selkirk usually occupied while here, and often recalls him to my recollection. All I hear, and I have conversed with many of both parties on the subject, has only served to confirm my previous impressions with respect to the treatment which he received; in some instances, too, in quarters where it was least excusable, and at the hands of those from whom every British subject was entitled to demand impartiality. In an hour we are going on board the Swiftsure steam-boat for Quebec, and I am glad to find that several of my acquaintances will be of the party.”

Raft in a Squall on Lake St. Peter.

The Three Rivers, River St. Lawrence.

“Steam-boat, on the St. Lawrence, August 28th, 1820.

“I began this letter at Montreal, on board the Swiftsure steam-boat. This is probably the finest steam-boat which has been built, and I was proud to see her under the British flag; the Americans readily conceded her superior claims. The style of living and attendance is more like that of a good hotel, at the west end of London, than any thing I have seen on this side of the Atlantic, notwithstanding the handsome style of some of the American hotels, and the comfort of some of the boarding-houses. There is an ice-house on board, and the owner supplies her table with grapes and peaches from his own garden.

“I often feel a strange sensation, when gliding down the American rivers, in these floating palaces; and have sometimes turned away almost ashamed, when bearing down in all this ostentatious luxury on the poor half-naked Indians, in their birch canoes, struggling to reach the shores on which their fathers roamed fearless and independent.

“We left Montreal about noon on the 22d, and for sixty miles averaged thirteen miles an hour. The banks of the river, which is from one and a half to three miles broad, though too flat to be romantic, till you approach within thirty miles of Quebec, are interesting, from the white cottages, which seem to form one continued village, and the neat churches, of which two or three are often in sight at once; the spires are usually covered with tin, and have a very dazzling appearance.

“The cottages have originally been placed at equal distances from each other, the farms having been laid off, with a front of a given length to the river; but the Canadian custom of dividing the farm between the children of the deceased (more congenial with their indolence than striking deeper into the woods) has broken uniformity by repeated and often inconvenient subdivisions. A mass of deep woods usually bounds the farms, at the distance of a few acres from the river.

“The navigation on Lake St. Peter is so difficult, that we were obliged to lie at anchor all night. On the 23d, we passed the Three Rivers, a handsome town, on the three mouths of a respectable river; and at five o’clock in the evening arrived at Quebec, 180 miles from Montreal. As we approached the town we passed close under the plains of Abraham, and the precipitous rocks which our gallant hero scaled; and after straining our eyes to reach the fortifications, which seem to frown destruction to any hostile force which might have the temerity to approach, we were pleased, on looking round us, to find ourselves in the middle of British shipping. I cannot tell you with what satisfaction I renewed my acquaintance with old Cumberland brigs, which in England I should not condescend to notice. As soon as we landed, an English friend and I procured a calèche, and drove off to the Falls of Montmorency, nine miles distant, which we reached just at sunset. Our beautiful summer evening closed in upon us before we had seen the Falls from the most favourable situation. The full moon, however, soon rose, and threw her light upon the broken torrent, which precipitates itself from a height of 220 feet, while the dark shadows of the rocks and trees, which overhang the waters below, contributed greatly to heighten the grandeur of the scene. Our conductor was an interesting little peasant girl, nine years of age, whose pretty French was most agreeable. The ride home was delightful, the full moon ‘walking in brightness,’ and throwing her horizontal rays across the river as she rose. The fortresses of Quebec were constantly in sight, and did, indeed, seem impregnable by human force. It would be difficult even to imagine a more commanding site, and I could not help admiring the skill with which the French had chosen their northern post, which they evidently intended to connect with New Orleans, by a series of intermediate forts, which might confine the British within a narrow strip on the Atlantic. Reflections on their system of policy were the more interesting to me, from having so lately visited the southern extremity of their trans-Atlantic dominions, and having in the interval passed through so many of the immense forests which lie between them. We stopped at Malhrot’s, the best inn in Quebec; but an unwillingness to intrude on the present occupiers of my bed decided me to prefer a chair, in which I sat till after three o’clock, looking on the beautiful moonlight prospect before me. At five o’clock we set out in a calèche on our way to Loretto, an Indian village of the Hurons, nine miles from Quebec. They have a neat catholic church, and speak French; but, from what I could gather from the chief, they have no land, and support themselves by fishing and hunting. In that case they are not so well off as my friends the Choctaws and Cherokees, or the Caughnawagas, whom we saw nine miles from Montreal, who have a handsome catholic church, and cultivate the land.

“In the course of our ride we were often reminded of home by the rich little meadows and thickly settled country on every side. The distant mountains were very fine. We reached our inn at nine o’clock, having accomplished, after six o’clock the preceding night, what usually occupies two days. After breakfast I devoted myself to business; and, declining an invitation from Judge —— to accompany him to the ‘military mess’ to dinner, I set off to the Falls of the Chaudière, seven miles distant, intending to drink tea on our return with a gentleman who lives on the way. It was so dark, however, when we reached his house, five or six miles from Quebec, and had begun to rain so heavily, that we thankfully accepted his offer of a bed. The Falls of the Chaudière were highly interesting, even after Niagara. In the deep seclusion of a thick wood, the river, nearly 250 yards wide, precipitates itself a hundred feet into a rocky channel, which appears to have been rent asunder by some dreadful convulsion of nature, by which the rock has been broken into huge masses, that combine with the surrounding objects to impart an air of most magnificent wildness to this extraordinary scene. On our return we had several fine views of Quebec down the river.

Bridge near Quebec.

The Chaudière Bridge,
near Quebec.

“The next day we went into town early, and I was again engaged in business till afternoon, when I walked round the fortifications with my old military friend and his wife. At five o’clock I went to dine at Judge ——’s, where I met several gentlemen, and where I staid till it was nearly time to embark in the steam-boat, which was to set sail at midnight for Montreal.

“I think you will be amused by the following extract from the journal of one of my fellow-travellers, who left me at Montreal to visit Quebec, and on his return found on board the steam-boat one of the Indian chiefs, belonging to the village of Loretto, to which I have alluded.

“‘We have on board one of the Indian chiefs who walked in the procession at Loretto, and his daughter, a genteel young woman. He speaks the English language. He said he knew General Washington, and had dined with him twice; and that the general had made him a present of a very good horse. ‘I told General Washington,’ said he, ‘that your horse; he tell me to call one of his aids, and he say, Col. Trumbull, write order for Vincent, (that my name,) for that horse; so I keep him. He very good horse.’ The story of the horse was thus explained. Vincent commanded a body of Indians at the capture of Burgoyne, and was made a prisoner with that general. The horse had been taken by him from the Americans; and hence he called him not his own, but Washington’s. This information I obtained from others on board. Taking me aside, he said, ‘I saw you Loretto.’ C. ‘I was there, and saw you walking at the head of the procession.’ V. ‘Yes, I walk.’ C. ‘What was that the priest carried?’ V. ‘What religion you?’ C. ‘I am a protestant.’ V. ‘Then you very good man; priest carry image Virgin Mary. This is all nonsense. He tell us poor Indians we must believe, or be condemned, that Virgin Mary was taken up into heaven—soul and body; you believe that?’ C. ‘I do not understand it: what is your opinion?’ V. ‘I do not believe; I do not read that in Scripture. Priest tell us poor ignorant Indians that we must worship her, and saints, and images. I do not find that in Scripture neither; but I read, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou worship. Thou shalt make no graven image, nor worship them: that my belief. I think it wicked to worship images; but God is merciful. Priest tell us ignorant Indians we must have mass; fetch out purgatory our fathers, dead hundred years ago; and we pay sometimes one, sometimes two dollars each mass. Brother, you believe there is a purgatory?’ C. ‘I have no knowledge of such a place. What is your opinion?’ V. ‘I don’t believe; and tell you my opinion. I believe if our heart be not purge in this life, it never will purge.’ On my assenting to his doctrine, he asked, ‘Where do you think is hell?’ I told him I did not know. Then added he, ‘I’ll tell you where I think it is: it is in the sun.’ I felt some surprise at all this; and, asking him where he had been educated, he replied at Hampshire. He then asked me to drink a glass of grog; and on my declining, he bid me good bye, and walked to the forecastle to sip it by himself. On observing a young Indian on board very attentive to the chief’s daughter, I told Vincent I supposed this man was courting her; on which he replied with much warmth, ‘No; him Mohawk.’

“I do not know why he regarded a connexion with the Mohawks as degrading, for they were members of the celebrated confederation of the Six Nations—the Iroquois Confederation. The other members were the Oneidas, the Onondagas, the Cayugas, the Senecas, and the Tuscaroras.”

The Chaudière Falls,
near Quebec.

It is our wish to assemble pictures of Canada by as many different classes of observers, and during as many different seasons, as is possible. Here are some winter sketches, which are not unentertaining.

“Nothing could be more Siberian than the aspect of the Canadian frontier; a narrow road, choked with snow, led them through a wood, in which patches were occasionally cleared on either side to admit the construction of a few log-huts, round which a brood of ragged children, a starved pig, and a few half-broken rustic implements, formed an accompaniment more suited to an Irish landscape, than to the thriving scenes we had just quitted. The Canadian peasant is still the same unsophisticated animal whom we may suppose to have been imported by Jacques Carrier. The sharp unchangeable lineaments of the French countenance, set off with a blue or red night-cap, over which is drawn the hood of a grey capote, fashioned like a monk’s cowl, a red worsted girdle, hair tied in a greasy leather queue, brown moccasins of undressed hide, and a short pipe in his mouth, give undeniable testimony of the presence of Jean Baptiste. His horse seems to have been equally solicitous to shame neither his progenitors nor his owner, by any mixture with a foreign race, but exhibits the same relationship to the horses, as his rider to the subjects of Louis XIII. Now, too, the frequent cross by the road side, thick-studded with all the implements of crucifixional torture, begins to indicate a catholic country: distorted virgins and ghastly saints decorate each inn room, while the light spires of the parish church, covered with plates of tin, glitter across the snowy plain.

Raft on the St. Lawrence, Cape Sante.

“At La Prairie we crossed the ice to Montreal, whose isolated mountain forms a conspicuous object at the distance of some leagues. From thence to Quebec, the road follows the course of the St. Lawrence, whose banks present a succession of villages, many of them delightfully situated; but all form and feature were absorbed in the snowy deluge, which now deepened every league; add to which, the sleigh-track, by frequently running on the bed of the river, placed us below prospect of every kind. We found the inns neat, and the people attentive; French politesse began to be contrasted with American bluntness. It is curious to observe that this characteristic of the Americans, which so frequently offends the polished feelings of English travellers, is exactly what was formerly objected by the French to ourselves. The ‘rudesse’ of the English character was long a standing jest with our refined neighbours; but we have now, it seems, so far shaken off this odious remnant of uncourtly habits, as to regard it with true French horror in our trans-Atlantic cousins.

“It was Sunday when we arrived at St. Anne’s; mass was just finished, and above a hundred sleighs were rapidly dispersing themselves up the neighbouring heights, and across the bed of the river, to the adjacent villages. The common country sleigh is a clumsy box-shaped machine, raised at both ends, perhaps not greatly unlike the old heroic car. It holds two persons, with the driver, who stands before them. One horse is commonly sufficient, but two are used in posting, when the leader is attached by cords, tandem-wise, and left to use his own discretion, without the restraint of rein, or impulse of whip. Should, however, the latter stimulus become indispensable, the driver jumps from the sleigh, runs forward, applies his pack-thread lash, and regains his seat without any hazard from extraordinary increase of impetus. The runners of these sleighs are formed of two slips of wood, so low that the shafts collect the snow into a succession of wavy hillocks, properly christened ‘cahots,’ for they almost dislocate your limbs five thousand times in a day’s journey. An attempt was once made to correct this evil, by prohibiting all low runners, as they are called, from coming within a certain distance of Quebec; meaning thereby to force the country people into the use of high runners in the American fashion. Jean Baptiste, however, sturdily and effectually resisted this heretical innovation, by halting with his produce without the limits, and thus compelling the townspeople to come to him to make their purchases.

“The markets, both of Montreal and Quebec, exhibit several hundred market sleighs daily. They differ from the pleasure or travelling sleigh, in having no sides; that is, they consist merely of a plank bottom, with a kind of railing. Hay and wood seem the staple commodities at this season, both of which are immoderately dear, especially at Quebec; even through the States, the common charge for one horse’s hay for a night was a dollar. Provisions are brought to market frozen, in which state they are preserved during the winter; cod-fish is brought from Boston, a land-carriage of 500 miles, and then sells at a reasonable rate, the American commonly speculating on a cargo of smuggled goods back, to make up his profit; a kind of trade extremely brisk betwixt the frontier and Montreal.

“As we approached Quebec, snow lay to the depth of six feet; from the heights of Abraham, the eye rested upon what seemed an immense lake of milk; all smaller irregularities of ground, fences, boundaries, and copse woods, had disappeared; the tops of villages, and scattered farm-houses, with here and there dark lines of pine-wood, and occasionally the mast of some ice-locked schooner, marking the bed of the Charles river, were the only objects peering about it. A range of mountains, sweeping round from west to north, until it meets the St. Lawrence, bounds the horizon; no herald of spring had yet approached this dreary outpost of civilization; we had observed a few blue thrushes in the neighbourhood of Albany, but none had yet reached Canada; two only of the feathered tribe brave the winter of this inclement region—the cosmopolite crow, and the snow-bird, a small white bird, reported to feed upon snow, because it is not very clear what else it can find.

“It would be acting unfairly to Quebec, to describe it as I found it on my arrival, choked with ice and snow, which one day flooded the streets with a profusion of dirty kennels, and the next cased them with a sheet of glass. Cloth or carpet boots, galoshes, with spikes to their heels, iron pointed walking sticks, are the defensive weapons perpetually in employ on these occasions. The direction of the streets too, which are most of them built up a precipice, greatly facilitates any inclination one may entertain for tumbling or neck-breaking.

“The Falls of Montmorency are formed by a little river of that name, near its junction with the St. Lawrence, about five miles north of Quebec. They have a peculiar interest in winter, from the immense cone of ice formed at their foot, which was unimpaired when I visited them, in the second week of April. After winding up a short but steep ascent, the road crosses a wooden bridge, beneath which the Montmorency rushes betwixt its dark grey rocks, and precipitates itself in a broken torrent down a wooded glen on the right. It is not until you have wound round the edge of this glen, which is done by quitting the road at the bridge-foot, that you obtain a view of the Falls; nor was their effect lessened by this approach. A partial thaw, succeeded by a frost, had spread a silvery brightness over the waste of snow. Every twig and branch of the surrounding pine-trees, every waving shrub and briar, was encased in crystal, and glittering to the sun-beams like the diamond forest of some northern elf-land. You are now on the edge of a precipice, to which the Fall itself, a perpendicular of 220 feet, seems diminutive; it is not until you descend, and approach its foot, that the whole majesty of the scene becomes apparent. The breadth of the torrent is about fifty feet; the waters, from their prodigious descent, seem snowy-white with foam, and enveloped in a light drapery of gauzy mist. The cone appears about a hundred feet in height, mathematically regular in shape, with its base extending nearly all across the stream; its sides are not so steep, but that ladies have ascended to the top of it; the interior is hollow. I regret to add that a mill is constructing on this river, which will, by diverting the stream, destroy this imperial sport of nature; or, at least, reduce it to the degradation of submitting to be played off at the miller’s discretion, like a Versailles fountain.

Scene from the Summit of the Fall of Montmorency.

Montmorency Bridge.

“Towards the end of April, the townspeople begin, according to a law of the province, to break up the ice and snow from before their doors; and by the first week in May the streets are tolerably clear. The intermediate state, as may be supposed, is a perfect chaos, through which the stumbling pedestrian, like the arch-fiend of old—

                ‘Pursues his way,

And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps.’

Meanwhile, the landscape begins to exchange its snowy mantle for a russet brown. A few wild-fowl and woodcocks, with some small birds, cautiously make their appearance; the sheltered bottoms of the pine-woods throw out the earliest flowers; the St. Lawrence and Charles rivers become gradually disburthened of ice, and enlivened by the gliding sail; still, however, the foot of spring seems lingering; the mists, exhaled by the warmth of the sun, frequently encounter the keen north-west, and are again precipitated in heavy snow showers; snow still blocks up the roads, and fills the dells and ditches, sheltered from the influence of the sun, thus preserving the gloomy aspect of winter through the month of May.

“The town, or rather city, of Quebec, is built on the northern extremity of a narrow strip of high land, which follows the course of the St. Lawrence, for several miles, to its confluence with the Charles. The basis of this height is a dark slate rock, of which most of the buildings in the town are constructed. Cape Diamond terminates the promontory, with a bold precipice towards the St. Lawrence, to which it is nearly perpendicular, at the height of 320 feet. It derives its name from the crystals of quartz found in it, which are so abundant, that, after a shower, the ground glitters with them. The lower town is built round the foot of these heights, without the fortifications, which, with the upper town, occupy their crest in bleak preeminence: the former, snug and dirty, is the abode of thriving commerce, and of most of the lower classes employed about the navy; the latter, cold and lofty, is the seat of government, and principal residence of the military; and claims, in consequence, that kind of superiority which some heads have been said to assert over the inglorious belly. To speak the truth, neither has much to boast on the score either of beauty or convenience.

“Among the principal buildings, the government-house, or Castle of St. Louis, may take precedence, being a thin blue building, which seems quivering, like a theatrical side-scene, on the verge of the precipice, towards the St. Lawrence; its front resembles that of a respectable gentleman’s house in England; the interior contains comfortable family apartments. For occasions of public festivity there is another building, on the opposite side of the court-yard, much resembling a decayed gaol. The furniture is inherited and paid for by each successive governor. The grand entrance to the chateau is flanked on one side by this grim mouldering pile, and on the other by the stables, with their appropriate dunghills. There is a small garden on the bank of the river, commanding, as does the chateau itself, an interesting view of the opposite shores of the St. Lawrence. These rise boldly precipitous, clothed with pine and cedar groves, and studded with white villages and detached farms; beyond which the eye reposes on successive chains of wooded mountains, fading blue in the distant horizon; meanwhile, the river below is spreading broadly towards the north, until it meets and divides round the Isle of Orleans.

“In front of the chateau is an open space of ground, with great capabilities of being converted into a handsome square; but at this season, a formidable barrier of bog-land is all that it presents to the bewildered pedestrian, who endeavours vainly to steer for the castle gate. On one side of it stands the protestant cathedral church, an unfinished building, much more than large enough for the congregation usually assembled in it. In style and arrangement it resembles a London parochial church, and has nothing about it reproachable with earthly beauty. There is a good organ, but mute for want of an organist; and as there is no choir, the heavy flatness of the service amply secures the English church from all danger of being crowded with the overflowings of its neighbour, the catholic cathedral, in which are still displayed, with no inconsiderable degree of splendour, the enticing ceremonies of the Roman worship. I was present at the service on Easter Sunday; a train of not less than fifty stoled priests and choristers surrounded the tapered altar; the bishop officiated in plenis pontificalibus, nor lacked the mitre, ‘precious and aurophrygiate;’ while the pealing organ, incense rolling from silver censers, and kneeling crowds thronging the triple aisles, presented a spectacle on which few are rigid enough, either in belief or unbelief, to look with absolute indifference. A lofty pile of gingerbread cakes, ornamented with tinsel, was carried to the bishop to receive his blessing, and a sprinkling of holy water, after which they were distributed among the people, who received them with most devout eagerness. These cakes I understood to be the pious offering of some devotee, more rich than wise, who certainly adopted a somewhat ludicrous expedient—

‘To bribe the rage of ill-requited heaven,’

with gingerbread.

Prescott Gate, Quebec.

View from the Citadel,

“In catholic countries there are few public buildings, either for use or ornament, but are in some way connected with religion, and most frequently with charity. There are several charitable catholic institutions in Quebec: the principal of these is the Hôtel-Dieu, founded in 1637 by the Duchess d’Aiguillon, (sister to Cardinal Richelieu,) for the poor sick. The establishment consists of a superior and thirty-six nuns. The General Hospital is a similar institution, consisting of a superior and forty-three nuns, founded by St. Vallier, bishop of Quebec, in 1693, for “Poor Sick Mendicants.” It stands about a mile from the town, in a pleasant meadow, watered by the Charles. The style of building is simple, and well suited to the purposes of the establishment, consisting only of “such plain roofs as piety could raise.” The present superior is a lady of Irish extraction, her age apparently bordering on thirty. In this conventual seclusion, (devoted to what might well seem to the mind of a delicate female the most disgusting duties of humanity) she exhibits that easy elegance, and softened cheerfulness of manner, so often affected and rarely attained by the many votaries who dress their looks and carriage in “the glass of fashion.” She conducted us, with the greatest politeness, through every part of the building, which, as well as the “Hôtel Dieu,” in point of order, neatness, and arrangement, seems singularly adapted to the comfort and recovery of the unfortunate beings to whose reception they are consecrated. Their funds I understood to be small, and managed with strict economy. They receive a small sum annually from government, in addition to the revenue arising from their domain lands. There is no distinction in the admission of catholic or protestant; the hand of charity has spread a couch for each in his infirmities. Both houses have a small pharmacopœia in charge of a sister instructed in medicine. The several duties of tending the sick by night, cooking, &c. are distributed by rotation. Employment is thus equally secured to all, and the first evil of cankering thought effectually prevented. Good humour and contented cheerfulness seem to be no strangers to these “veiled votaresses;” seem! nay, perhaps are; for, without ascribing any miraculous effect to the devotion of a cloister, it is no unreasonable supposition, that in an establishment of this kind, the duties and occupations of which prevent seclusion “from stagnating into apathy, or thought from fretting itself into peevishness,” a greater degree of tranquillity, (and this is happiness,) may possibly be obtained, than commonly falls to the lot of those who drudge through the ordinary callings, or weary themselves with the common enjoyments of society. Grave men have doubted whether the purposes of these institutions might not be better answered by our common hospital establishments; and have even indulged themselves in a sneer at the idea of young men being attended in sickness by nuns! On the question, generally, it may be observed, that few (who have any knowledge of the system of common hospitals) can be at a loss to appreciate the difference betwixt the tender solicitude with which charity smooths, for conscience’ sake, the bed of suffering, and the heartless grudging attendance which hospital nurses usually inflict upon their victims. If the action of the mind produce a sensible effect on the frame, particularly in sickness, this is no immaterial circumstance in a medical point of view. Even when the hour of human aid is past, it is, perhaps, still something that the last earthly object should be a face of sympathy, and the last duties of humanity be paid with a semblance of affection. For those who dedicate themselves to this ministry, some apology may be urged to such as admit motives as, at least, an extenuating circumstance in the consideration of error. The moral critics, perhaps, who are foremost to condemn their practice as superstitious, revolt less from the superstition, than from the self-sacrifice it requires. Let the lash of satire fall mercilessly on mere bigots, wherever they are found: but against the spirit, which, abjuring the pleasures, devotes itself to the most painful duties of life, what argument can be directed which may not be left for its refutation to the prayers and blessings of the poor? The most objectionable part of the institution seems to be the committing of insane persons, of both sexes, to the charge of females: the answer is, that there is no other asylum for them; the blame therefore attaches to the police of the country; for it is evident, that women are very inadequate to the charge of such patients as require coercive treatment, particularly men.”

The Ursuline Convent, founded by Madame de la Peltrie, in 1639, for the education of female children, stands within the city. It has, both in its interior decoration, and the dress of its inhabitants, a greater appearance of wealth than the “General Hospital,” and “Hôtel Dieu.” Among the ornaments of the chapel, we were particularly directed to the skull and bones of a missionary, who had been murdered by the savages for attempting their conversion; it is perhaps doubtful, considering the general indifference of the Indians on matters of religious controversy, whether this was the real and sole offence by which he won the crown of martyrdom. These nuns have generally about 200 little girls under their care; but I was sorry to observe their education bought with their health—not one of them but had a pallid, sickly appearance, arising probably from much confinement, during a long winter, in an atmosphere highly heated with stoves, joined to the salt unwholesome diet, generally used by the Canadians.

Wolfe’s Cove.

The Seminary is a collegiate institution, for the gratuitous instruction of the catholic youth of Canada. The number of scholars is commonly about 200. The expenses of professors, teaching, &c. are defrayed by the revenue arising from the seignorial domains belonging to the establishment. The course of studies here qualifies for ordination. There is a small museum, or “cabinet de physique,” which seems in a growing condition; it contains, besides natural curiosities, electrical apparatus, telescopes, and other instruments of science. The library is somewhat too theological; there is a small hall attached to it, in which I perceived our Common Prayer Books, Testaments, &c. in company with many divines, as well catholic as protestant, Bayle, and a few travellers and philosophers, but the greater part theologians. The old palace, besides the chambers for the Council, and House of Assembly, contains a good public library; the nature of the collection may be defined generally as the reverse of that of the seminary library. There is a good assortment of historical works, of a standard quality, and of travels; but no classics, probably because none of the inhabitants affect to read them. A library is also on the eve of being established by the officers of the staff and garrison; but the society of Quebec is generally on too limited a scale, and too exclusively military or commercial, to foster any considerable spirit of literature or science. An attempt was made, during Sir G. Prevost’s administration, to establish a society on the plan of the Royal Institution, but it fell to the ground for want of a sufficiency of efficient members, eleven being the supposed necessary quantum to begin with; nor is this seeming scarcity surprising, when we consider that the short Canadian summer is appropriated to business, and that during the tedious winter, the men are never tired of dinners, nor the ladies of dancing.

There are some peculiar and interesting features in the neighbourhood of Quebec. The lofty banks of the St. Lawrence, from Cape Diamond to Cape Rouge, are composed of clay-slate, generally of a dark colour, sometimes of a dull red, whence the name of “Cape Rouge.” The bed of the river is of the same crumbling stone; and being triturated by time and the elements, gives its sands a close resemblance, both in colour and consistency, to smith’s filings. Bare, however, as they are of soil, these perpendicular cliffs are everywhere clothed with a luxuriant verdure of shrubs and trees, whose roots, wreathing themselves round barren rocks, seem to woo from the charity of the heavens the nutriment denied them by a niggard parent.

About two miles above Quebec, a break in the magnificent line of cliffs forms the little recess, called Wolfe’s Cove; a steep pathway leads up the heights to the Plains of Abraham; traces of field-works are still visible on the turf, and the stone is pointed out on which the hero expired. The cove is at present appropriated to the reception of lumber, which comes down the river from the States and Upper Province, in rafts, which frequently cover the surface of half an acre; when the wind is favourable they spread ten or twelve square sails, at other times they are polled down; the men who navigate them build small wooden houses on them, and thus, transported with their families, poultry, and frequently cattle, form a complete floating village. A great proportion of the timber is brought from Lake Champlain, and the trade is almost wholly in the hands of the Americans.

A second crescent-like recess, about a mile from Wolfe’s Cove, conceals the little village of Sillori. Nothing can be more romantic than the seclusion of this charming spot. The river road to it turns round the foot of gigantic cliffs, which seem interposed betwixt it and the world’s turmoil. The heights which encircle it are deeply wooded to their summits, and retire sufficiently from the river to leave a pleasant meadow and hop-ground round the village, consisting of about half-a-dozen neat white houses, one of which is an inn. On the river’s edge stands the ruin of an old religious house, built by French missionaries, for the purpose of preaching to the Huron tribes, who then inhabited this neighbourhood. There is now no trace of these missionaries, or of their labours, except in the little village of Loretto, which contains the only surviving relics of the once powerful Huron nation; so efficaciously have disease and gunpowder seconded the converting zeal of Europeans. Besides the road which winds under the cliffs, Sillori has two leading to Quebec through the woods. These woods cover the greater part of the country betwixt the St. Foi road and the river, offering all the luxury of shade and sylvan loveliness to the few disposed to accept it. I say the few, for the fashionables of Quebec commonly prefer making a kind of Rotten-row of the Plains of Abraham, round which they parade with the periodical uniformity of blind horses in a mill.

Lake Charles is generally talked of as one of the pleasantest spots round Quebec, and instances have been known of parties of pleasure reaching it. It is about three miles in length, and perhaps one at its greatest breadth. Towards the middle of it, two rocky points shoot out so as to form, properly speaking, two lakes, connected by a narrow channel. A scattered hamlet, taking its name from the lake, is seen with its meadows and tufted orchards, along the right bank of the outward basin. Wooded heights rise on the opposite shore, and surround the whole of the interior lake, descending everywhere to the water’s edge; the whole forming a scene of lovely loneliness, scarcely intruded on by the canoe of the silent angler. There is more in the whole landscape to feel than to talk about, so that it is little wonderful that an excursion to Lake Charles should be more frequently talked about than made.

The Huron village of Loretto stands on the left bank of the Charles, about four miles below the lake, (eight from Quebec). The river, immediately on passing the bridge, below the village, rushes down its broken bed of granite, with a descent of about seventy feet, and buries itself in the windings of the deeply-shadowed glen below. A part of the fall is diverted to turn a mill, which seems fearfully suspended above the foaming torrent. The village covers a plot of ground very much in the manner of an English barrack, and altogether the reverse of the straggling Canadian method; it is, in fact, the method of their ancestors. I found the children amusing themselves with little bows and arrows. The houses had generally an air of poverty and slovenliness; that, however, of their principal chief, whom I visited, was neat and comfortable. One of their old men gave me a long account of the manner in which the Jesuits had contrived to trick them out of their seignorial rights, and possession of the grant of land made them by the king of France, which consisted originally of four leagues by one in breadth, from Sillori north. Two leagues of this, which were taken from them by the French government, upon promise of an equivalent, they give up, he said, as lost; but as the property of the Jesuits is at present in the hands of commissioners appointed by our government, they were in hopes of recovering the remainder, which it never could be proved that their ancestor either gave, sold, lent, or in any way alienated.



Spelling maintained as written except where obvious errors or omissions. Multiple spellings of words and names were adopted consistent with Volume II as follows: General Wolf to Wolfe; General Van Ranssellaer or Van Renssellaer to Van Rensselaer; Montmorenci to Montmorency; St. Laurence (river) to St. Lawrence (river); St. John for river and town in New Brunswick; St. John's for Newfoundland and Quebec early settlement on the Richelieu River; Abram to Abraham; and moccassins or mocassins to moccasins.

Punctuation maintained except where obvious omissions or printer errors occurred.

Engravings have been enhanced and some engravings have been relocated to coincide with the text.


[The end of Canadian Scenery Vol. 1 of 2 by N.P. (Nathaniel Parker) Willis]