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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Hochelaga

Hail Bravehearts

It’s a fabulous notion, to start anew, with fresh ideas, community, land and skills. Exciting and enticing, to feel the fresh air, to feel freedom, adventure to call this land your home. The tingling sensation of anticipation and joy. At last, a home. It’s a long way to voyage, to come to Canada, to serve in the conquest of a voyage so rare. To build it, so live it, the adventure of the century, to dwell in the new colony, to be history.

Now venture along the St. Lawrence, with it’s turbulent waters. See the sweet little town called Quebec, but travel, just a little bit further. Another 255 kilometers to the new city of Montreal. A fabulous place, built with the dedication of the colonialist. A fine mind set on conquering a new frontier. Another test of strength and courage, but also negotiation, acceptance and peace. A chance for a new home, a new life, but sharing. To share the land with strangers who will be your neighbors, who will, in their own way, help to make the nation and the colony survive. An unusual friendship, the European and the aboriginal, but so it will be, in the commerce of trade and in the harmony of the land. Peace be with us.

From the voyages of Jacques Cartier, to the new settlers of the land, the joy of adventure is with us.

Jacques Cartier. A voyage of discovery in Canada, the search for a new land. Fabulous! To travel so far, to strive so diligently, to be courageous and educated is such fine arts as navigation, weather, geography, negotiation and more. It’s the skills of human intelligence that wins this fine race across the Atlantic Ocean.

A daring adventure filled with the unknown. A curiosity that must be resolved, the question of what’s out there? Bring back gold, riches and spices. Find a way to the orient! Adventure, oh braves ones, out to the sea, into the winter and to the dangers that it brings. Rest in the camp, die in the land, but bring back gold, riches and spices. Find the path to Asia! Be fantastic, be noble, be brave, be successful be obedient. Bring back gold!

It’s a brave new world, filled with brave new people who must be met and communicated with. It is with hard work and toil, that this endevour pays off so well. The people are kind. Joy be with us! Good luck and good fortune have found the explorers as they land on these shores among strangers who are congenial, or intended to be.

October 2, 1535 was a grand day, for a great nation. The expedition lands in Hochelaga an Iroquois village which will become part of the modern city of Montreal. Share the joy, share the harvest, share the land, meet the people, be our friends. Come, Jacques Cartier, eat with us, talk to us. Don’t be strangers. But the discourse lasted only a few hours before the Europeans returned to the camp upstream, after naming the hill behind Hochelaga, Mont Royal.

Foiled again! The wintry blasts of icy cold are too much of a burden to bear. By more good fortune, the camping party is saved from scurvy, which did claim 25 lives during the winter.

Come, oh fine humans, drink the Iroquois tea of white pine needles, to cure your scurvy and to save your lives. Drink to your good health, literally.

When spring finally came, in the merry month of May, the beleagured group of adventurers return to France with positive reports of a river to the west. The pathway to Asia, to riches, spices and gold, lay through the continent, in the land called Canada.

written by Dr. Louise Hayes

December 17, 2019