|The Awakening of Europe|
|by M. B. Synge|
|Book III of the Story of the World series. Covers the reformation in Germany, the Netherlands, France, and England, as well as the settlement of colonies in America. The rise of England and the Netherlands as sea powers, and the corresponding fall of Spain, as well as the rise of Russia, Austria, and the German states are also presented. Ages 11-18 |
THE FOUNDING OF QUEBEC
"Row, brothers, row, the stream runs fast,
The Rapids are near, and the daylight's past."
—T. MOORE, Canadian Boat Song.
WHILE Henry Hudson was sailing up his newly discovered river, and the little colony of Virginia was growing daily
stronger under Captain John Smith, other countries were busy colonising on the shores of the New World. If
there was a New England and a New Holland over the seas, there was also a New France.
Some sixty years before this time, when the spirit of discovery was abroad and all eyes were turned towards the
golden East, a French sailor called Jacques Cartier left his native shores to try and find a new passage to
India by way of America. His home was at St Malo, a seaport in Brittany—the nursery of hardy mariners such
 as himself. In the town hall there to-day hangs his portrait, the keen eyes ever searching something beyond
the seas that dashed against the shores of his native town.
He left France in the summer of 1534 with three small ships, and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to the
storm-beaten shores of Labrador, already discovered by Cabot. Passing through the narrow straits between that
coast and Newfoundland, he came to a great expanse of water, which he named the Bay of St Lawrence, a name he
gave later to the great river which flows into this mighty bay. Undaunted by the dangers of the unknown,
Jacques Cartier, with two young natives, made his way up the river St Lawrence till he came to some great
cliffs standing high above the surging current below. Little did he think, as he looked at those silent
heights, that here should be the site of the busy city of Quebec
in Canada, now full of heroic memories. At this time only a cluster of rude huts crowned the summit of the
rock. But this little native village was not the capital of the forest state, so the Indians told the French
On the banks of the river, some days' journey hence, stood the great native town called Hochelaga. In a little
boat, with fifty sailors, Cartier set out for the mysterious city. Forests with trees thickly hung with grapes
lined the shores
 of the river up which they now rowed, the water was alive with wildfowl, the air rang with the song of
blackbird and thrush. As they neared the city, Indians thronged the shore. Wild with delight, dancing, singing,
crowding round the strangers, they threw into the boat presents of fish and maize. As it grew dark, fires were
lit, and the Frenchmen could see the excited natives still leaping and dancing by the blaze. When day dawned
Cartier followed his guides by a forest path to Hochelaga. Beneath the oaks of the forest the ground was
thickly strewn with acorns. Before him rose a great mountain, at the foot of which lay the Indian town. Swarms
of natives now rushed round the white men, touching their beards and feeling their faces.
"We will call the mountain here Mont Royal," said Jacques Cartier, and the name survives in Montreal, to-day
one of the busiest cities in Canada.
It would take too long to tell of Jacques Cartier's return down the river, how winter came on him suddenly and
hemmed him in until the river itself froze over and the whole earth was deeply wrapped in snow. He returned to
France in course of time, with his account of the two native villages built on the river St Lawrence.
Cartier had discovered. It was for another man to build and colonise. This man was Champlain, known as the
"Father of New France." And he
 did more than build, he sailed farther up the river and discovered Lake Ontario
and the famous rapids, now known as the Falls of Niagara (Thunder of Waters.)
In the year 1603 Champlain found himself at the mouth of the St Lawrence river, anxious to examine the native
villages of which Cartier had brought such glowing reports. For some unknown reason all was now silent and
deserted. He passed under the bare rock of Quebec and made his way to the once populous village of Hochelaga.
But all signs of life were gone since the days of Jacques Cartier. As he rowed back, the rugged charm of the
place seized his fancy. He saw the broad river, the good seaport, the thick forests in their varying hues, and
the idea of building cities on the native sites appealed strongly to him. Five years later he was ready, and
sailed from France with men, arms, and stores for a colony on the banks of the river St Lawrence.
On a level piece of land between the summit of the cliffs and the river, where a cluster of native huts had
once stood, Champlain chose his site. The woodmen were soon engaged in making a clearing, and in a few weeks a
pile of wooden buildings had arisen just where the busy city of Quebec now stands. Very soon winter was upon
them. They must stand by their colony, though building should be impossible through the frost and snow. With
twenty-eight men Champlain
 prepared to hold the settlement. Sadly he watched the many-tinted autumn leaves fall from the forest trees; the
sunshine of October faded, and November brought a bare waste of country. The river froze over, and soon a heavy
blanket of snow buried the earth. The winters of Canada are very long, and it was May before anything further
could be done. By this time twenty men out of twenty-eight were dead, and the others were all suffering from
illness, when a welcome sail appeared on the river below with help and food. Champlain was now free to found
another trading station at the Mont Royal of Cartier—the Montreal of to-day.
For twenty-seven years he toiled ceaselessly to build up the New France beyond the seas, and the early history
of Canada is centred in the life-story of Champlain, the Father of New France. Quebec and Montreal were active
centres of French trade, until they passed into English hands; and it is but a few years ago that an Englishman
unveiled a statue of Champlain in the very heart of the city he had founded nearly three hundred years ago.
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