First Encounter with the Iroquois. —Champlain has been much blamed for allowing himself to be drawn into the Indian wars. Apparently there was no help for it. If he would have the friendship of the Algonquins of the Ottawa, up which he meant to pursue his westward search, he had to take up their quarrel with the Iroquois. So it came that, in 1609, Champlain with some of his men accompanied a party of Hurons and Algonquins up the Richelieu River and out into the lake which ever since that time has borne his name. On its western shore, near the site of the future fort Ticonderoga, the Frenchmen met for the first time the fierce warriors of the confederacy. These came on bravely; but the French arquebus spouted death and inspired such dismay that Champlain and his dusky allies gained a complete victory.
A Trip up the Ottawa.—In 1610 Henry Hudson sailed into the great bay which bears his name. A young man, who had been sent to spend a winter with some of Champlain's Indian friends up the Ottawa, came back with a lying tale of a trip he had taken from the Upper Ottawa through to Hudson Bay, and of an English wreck he had seen there. Champlain hastened up the Ottawa (1613), to Allumette Island, only to find that the rascally youth had taken no such journey, and that the Indians knew not of any passage through to Hudson Bay. On this, his first trip up the Ottawa, Champlain lost the astrolabe which, in 1867, was turned up by the plough near Muskrat Lake in Renfrew County.
Early Missions.—In 1615 the Recollet fathers arrived in Canada with a royal patent for the mission of New France. It is said that one of them, on his journeys among the savages of the Saguenay, reached the Esquimaux. Another joined a party of Hurons at Montreal and returned with them to the Huron country by their well-known route—up the Ottawa, across to Lake Nipissing. down French River to the Georgian Bay ; then southward through the labyrinth of rock-ribbed islands that stud its eastern shore they paddled to the landing place in Thunder Bay. . Champlain with another party followed shortly after, arriving in time to take part in the first celebration of the mass in a Huron village.
A Raid on the Iroquois.—Champlain had promised to lead another expedition against the Iroquois, and soon the Huron braves and their French leader were on their way over Lake Simcoe (1615).