The Iroquois of Hochelaga

Hail! You awesome human. We meet and we are joyous. It is with gladness that we greet the newcomers to our great land. Come, eat, fill your bellies from our larder, you will not starve among us. We feed you, we accept you, friend, speak with us. We will teach you and help you, friend, come to our village, for conversation and peace among us.

You, oh lofty European, with your fine boat, your interesting garment, your unusual style. How intriguing that you should come here to meet us. Tell us about yourselves, your passage, your ways, your reason for being here.

And so, the dialogue occurs. A conversation on the island of Montreal, between the explore Jacques Cartier and the Iroquois of Hochelaga.

The kindness of the  people, the curiosity, goodwill, companionship and generosity all marked in the captains log.  A fine people of bravery and fellowship, standing at the gateway to the interior of Canada.  A brave new land.  A people of skills and craftsmanship who built a fortress of wood with a village of longhouses inside it.  A people who farmed the land, planted crops, fished in the waters of the St. Lawrence River.  A people with some invention, with tools and self sufficiency, that were able to rely on their wits and toil for their survival.

https://www.canadashistory.ca/explore/french-canada/the-mystery-village

These are the  people who are lost to us, only six years had passed and they are gone.  Where did you vanish to, you kind and courageous people?  Where did you go, when we needed your stories?  Your kinship is important to us, yet you vanish into history.  A people of fame, marked in the year 1535 and gone 6 years later in 1541.  Man the builder.  A fortress of wood, with longhouses inside it.  A village to protect the 1500 occupants.  The historical significance of this site is immense, since the builder has tools and a method of construction which was unique to them.  They also had social order which helped them to live congenially in such a confined space.  But where did you go,  oh fine human?  A human of intellect and high aptitudes, of compassion and caring, vanishing into the unknown in such a few short years.  

The mystery of Hochelaga still haunts us, as we excavate Montreal.  Although the people vanished, the message survived.  Come, friend, speak with us.  The exploration of Canada and later the fur trade.

written by Dr. Louise Hayes

February 1, 2020

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Jacques Cartier

Hail Brave Hearts

Still to adventure, still to explore, still to choose the path to discovery. Plan and chart a path, wander and investigate. Choose to follow the dreams of new life. The traveler follows the stars to a new world. Unbelievable! To find a new nation rising up out of the ocean. Forests and land, new people and a new world. The space travelers of the 1500’s.

France was determined to be first. Find the riches, find the gold, find the new waterway to the orient. Make us rich, make us bold, let us gloat at our prosperity. Give me riches, give me wine, give me life and leisure. Give me money, give me wealth, give me land, give me power, give me the great gift of jealousy. I am fine, I am regal, I am cultured, I am powerful. Support my dream, support my quest, make me the champion ruler of the west. Pave a pathway from East to West. Give me the Orient, fulfill my request.

Depart again, on a voyage of discovery. Take these vessels, take these men, find the route before you return again. These are your orders, do your part, I am the ruler, the wise one, the mighty. Do your duty, find the way, give me what I want, of course, I’ll pay. I am smug, I am strong, I am the mightiest. Do your duty. I am never wrong.

So again, Jacques Cartier sets sai for Canada and for the conquest of the new land. The instructions are simple. Give us a colony, give us peace, find the passage to Asia.

The hardworking set sail. The earnest keep striving. The determined keep focused. Yes, the oceans will be crossed, the sea will roll us from one continent to another, the stormy battles with nature will be won. Fear will subside, dismay will vanish, the distraught will be quieted and apprehension will soon leave. Relief will follow with the sight of land.

A colony is imperative, since that’s what our lives are. Cut from the cloth of a settlers life. Give me strength, give me courage, give me shelter, food and clothing. I am the castaway, looking for safety, with instructions so simple, build a home and survive. Survive in the spring, when our rations are plentiful and build your straw houses for shelter and warmth. Survive in summer when the lands gives us plenty, the harsh work of building a colony for all of us. Survive in the autumn when the fruit is ripe and when gathering the crop for storage is a necessity. Survive in the winter when the wind is cold and howling and when the fire burns through the fuel that was so carefully stored. Survive when it’s freezing and the snow piles high, but the instructions were so simple; build a home and survive.

Quarreling and adversary fills the air. What about our lives? This is not a life, this is despair! So with great sadness and futility, the plan is abandoned. Cast aside your hopes, your dream, your plans, this adventure in living is by far too grand. Home to France, back to civilization. Back to the home and the hearth that we know. Back to France where our hearts lie dearly. Forget this foolish scheme of misery. The idea of a colony in Canada is now squashed until the next century.

written by Dr. Louise Hayes

December 21, 2019