Pierre Dugua de Mons tirelessly supported Quebec City’s founding. Without his perseverance in the face of adversity, Quebec City would not have come into being in 1608. From his first voyage in 1599, he never stopped believing in his dream. He felt trade was the best way to create a New France that would serve the Motherland. In 1612, he lost Acadia to the Marquise of Guercheville and Jean de Biencourt, a former rival. Throughout all his difficulties, he persisted without ever relinquishing his Calvinist faith. He continued to carry out the mission he had given himself to the best of his abilities until 1622.
Jean Talon was Intendant of New France for only two short periods: from 1665 to 1668, and from 1670 to 1672. In just five years, he built the colony’s economy, trade and production to such a level that it cast New France into a true golden age. How did he do it? I invite you to discover with me seven historical videos that will let you discover Jean Talon’s heritage to New France.
Marie Rollet is a real pioneer of New France, though she is less well known than her famous husband, Louis Hébert. But her role in developing and sustaining the all-new colony of Quebec was just as critical. By teaching reading and writing to young girls and Indigenous people, by caring for the sick, by providing bread and a roof to many in difficult circumstances, Marie Rollet instilled a profoundly caring aspect to life in New France.
This educated woman, widowed three times, was a steadfast ally of Samuel de Champlain during the occupation of Quebec by the Kirke brothers. Her life was a rich one and a tragic one that is fascinating to discover. Her life story gives a glimpse into several aspects of the colony’s earliest history, including housing, education, food and medical care.
Olivier Le Jeune was the first Black slave in Canada. This boy, from either Madagascar or Guinea, was brought to Quebec in 1629 as the slave of David Kirke. During the three years of the occupation, Olivier remained in Quebec, though we sadly do not know what his day-to-day life was like. When Kirke left Quebec, he sold Olivier for 50 écus, or the equivalent of six months’ salary, to Olivier Le Baillif, a French clerk who served the English. In 1632, Le Baillif gave Olivier to Guillaume Couillard, the son-in-law of Louis Hébert and Marie Rollet. Olivier lived in the Couillard-Hébert home, whose ruins can still be seen in the inner yard of the Seminary of Quebec.
Taking advantage of muddy soil to make pottery, getting a land grant right under the nose of her powerful rival (the Receiver of the King’s Domain) and taking away the Tadoussac farm from him, standing up to the King and the equally powerful Jesuits and forcing them to honour their contracts with her, rising from the ashes and reinventing herself after the fall of Quebec: all this and more Marie-Anne Barbel, the Widow Fornel, accomplished. She is a formidable example of what a businesswoman in New France could accomplish.
Kondiaronk belonged to the Turtle Clan and had as an animal totem the “ondathra,” or muskrat. Because of this, he was given the nickname “The Rat” by the French. His family also called him “Adario,” which means great and noble friend.
Kondiaronk (Adario) was both the war chief and council chief for the Wendat. Everyone who knew him, even those who liked him less, recognized his subtle political skills and lively spirit, which made him stand out everywhere he went, even among the European elite.
At the time of the European discovery of North America, Donnacona was the first Indigenous chief and diplomat mentioned in the accounts of explorer Jacques Cartier. Donnacona was the Iroquoian chief of the village of Stadaconé, which used to be at the mouth of the Kiawenrahk River (now known as the St. Charles River). This great chief was around 50 years old when he met Cartier on a peninsula in Gaspé, where Cartier erected a cross against Donnacona’s wishes.