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CHAPTER I

PIONEER SOLDIERS OF CANADA

 

FROM the time when Jacques Cartier entered the St. Lawrence in 1535, trading vessels—English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish—had been visiting the great waterway to the heart of the North American Continent. These vessels were content to gather fish, seal oil, and furs, and to return each year rejoicing to Europe with their rich cargoes. Until the opening decade of the 17th century, the region now known as Canada was a No Man's Land. France, it is true, laid claim to the northern part of the continent by right of the discoveries of Jacques Cartier and had made several abortive at-tempts at settlement. England had a shadowy claim through the work of the Cabots, but she did nothing to substantiate her pretensions—the colonizing spirit not yet having taken possession of the nation. France had therefore a free field when, about 1600, she set seriously to work to establish trading posts in North America.

After several attempts to found trading stations in Acadia and on the Lower St. Lawrence, Samuel Champlain and Francois Grave, Sieur du Pont, lieutenants of Sieur de Monts, who had been granted a monopoly of trade in New France, built, in 1608, a rudely fortified post under the shadow of the rock on which now stands the citadel of Quebec. In this little fortress, in which begins the military story of Canada, Champlain and his twenty-seven men, soldiers and traders, laid the foundation of New France, with visions of Empire before them. They were but a handful of men among a host of savages. North America, as Champlain found it, was a region of vast forest stretches drained by mighty rivers. Lakes and streams abounded, and by their banks nestled in-numerable villages of savage tribes. The Indians, with

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