New France

No further efforts at colonization were undertaken until about 1540, when Francis de la Roque, Lord of Roberval, was commissioned by the king of France with vice-royal powers to establish a colony in New France. The king’s authorization of power conferred upon De la Roque the governorship of an immense extent of territory, shadowy if not illimitable in boundary, but extending in all directions from the St. Lawrence and including in its compass all of what is now New England and much of New York. In 1541 he caused to be fitted out a fleet of vessels, which sailed from St. Malo with Cartier as captain-general and pilot. When, late in August, they arrived at Stadacona, the Indians were overjoyed at their arrival, and poured on board the ships to welcome their chief, whose return they expected, relying on Cartier’s promise to bring him back. They put no faith in the tale told them that he and his companions were dead; and even when shown the Huron maiden, who was to be returned to her friends, they incredulously shook their heads, and their peaceful attitude and hospitality hour by hour changed to moroseness and gradually to hostility. The first breach of faith had occurred, never to be entirely healed.

Cartier made a visit to Hochelaga, and returned thence to Stadacona. On the Isle of Orleans he erected a fort for protection during the approaching winter. Patiently waiting and watching for De la Roque, who had promised to follow him early in the season, they saw the arrival of winter and the closing of the river by ice without the vision of the hoped-for vessels.

In the spring following (1542) Cartier departed for France. He ran into the harbor of St. Johns and there met De la Roque, who was on his way to the St. Lawrence. From Cartier the viceroy heard the most discouraging accounts of the country, with details of the sufferings he and his men had endured during the preceding winter, both from the climate and the hostility of the Indians, followed by the navigator’s advice that the whole expedition return to France, or sail to some other portion of the continent. This De la Roque declined to do, and ordered Cartier to return to the St. Lawrence. Cartier disobeyed this order and sailed for France. This was his last voyage; he died in 1555.

De la Roque, after his separation from Cartier, pushed on and ascended the river to above the site of Quebec, where he constructed a fort in which he spent the succeeding winter, undergoing extreme suffering from the climate. In the autumn of 1543 De la Roque returned to France, having accomplished nothing towards colonization, and learning but little of the country not already known.

This was the final breaking up of French attempts at colonization at that time, and nothing more was done by that nation towards settling in the new country for nearly fifty years. De la Roque, however, in 1549, with his brothers and a number of adventurers, again sailed for the St. Lawrence, but as they were never heard of afterwards, it was supposed they were lost at sea.

From 1600 and on for a few years, one M. Chauvin, having obtained a broad patent which formed the basis of a trade monopoly, carried on an extensive fur trade with the natives, resulting in establishing numerous small but thrifty settlements; but the death of the organizer caused their abandonment.


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