Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB
July 21, 1892


Contributions to the History of Charlotte County and the Border Towns.


[Champlain’s narrative, with notes by W. F. Ganong, M. A.]

6.-The Indians of the River.

‘The savages who dwell here are few in number.  During the winter in the deepest snows they hunt elks1 and other animals on which they live most of the time.  And unless the snow is very deep they scarcely get rewarded for their pains, since they cannot capture anything except by a very great effort, which is the reason of their enduring and suffering much.  When they do not hunt they live on the shell fish called the cockle.2  They clothe themselves in winter with good furs of beaver and elk.  The women make all of the garments, but not so exactly but that you can see the flesh under the arm-pits, because they have not ingenuity enough to fit them better.  When they go a hunting, they use a kind of snowshoe twice as large as those hereabouts, which they attach to the soles of their feet and walk thus over the snow without sinking in-the women and children as well as the men.  They search for the track of animals, which, having found, they follow until they get sight of the creature, when they shoot at it with bows, or kill it by means of daggers attached to the end of a short pike, which is very easily done, as the animals cannot walk on the snow without sinking in.  Then the women and children come up, erect a hut, and they give themselves to feasting.  Afterwards they return in search of other animals, and thus they pass the winter.  In the month of March following, some savages came and gave us a portion of their game in exchange for bread and other things which we gave them.  This is the mode of life of these people in winter, which seems to me a very miserable one.’

7.-The Spring, and the Abandonment of the Settlement.

‘We looked for our vessels at the end of April; but as this passed without their arriving, all began to have an ill boding, fearing that some accident had befallen them.  For this reason, on the 15th of May, Sieur de Monts decided to have a barque of 15 tons and another of 7 fitted up so that we might go at the end of the month of June to Gaspe in quest of vessels in which to return to France, in case our own should not meanwhile arrive.  But God helped us better than we hoped, for on the 15th of June, ensuing, while on guard about 11 o’clock at night, Pont Grave, captain of one of the vessels of Sieur de Monts, arriving in a shallop, informed us that his ship was anchored 6 leagues from our settlement, and he was welcomed amid the great joy of all.  The next day the vessel arrived and anchored near our habitation.  Pont Grave informed us that a vessel from St. Malo, called the St. Estienne, was following him, bringing us provisions and supplies.

On the 17th of the month, Sieur de Monts decided to go in quest of a place better adapted for an abode, and with a better temperature than our own.  With this view he had the barque made ready, in which he had proposed to go to Gaspe.’

Before going to Gaspe, however, they went southward again and carefully explored the coast as far as Cape Cod, but found no place which was thought suitable for a settlement.  Accordingly they returned, and on the 3rd of August they again reached St. Croix island.  Immediately the buildings were torn down and their timbers with other baggage were removed to Port Royal, now Annapolis Basin, where a new settlement was formed.  They subsequently visited the island and found some of their grains and vegetables growing well, but never again did they attempt to settle upon it.

Thus ended the first attempt by the French to colonize Charlotte county.  The settlement at Port Royal flourished and languished alternately, but was never, except for a short time, entirely abandoned.  Champlain soon after became the explorer of the St. Lawrence, and henceforth had no connection with Acadia.


2The clam.