It was the start of deep involvement by the Algonquins with the French in the fur trade.
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Every fur trader, who hoped to be successful in exploring the interior of Canada, prepared for the journey by familiarizing himself with the Algonquin language, since it was recognized as the root language for many other Aboriginal languages. Today, the political boundary between Quebec and Ontario exists, but in those days, as today, Algonquins lived on both sides of the Ottawa River. In these early days, they were semi-nomadic, moving from one place to the next in search of food from hunting, trapping, fishing and gathering.
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Travel was by foot and by birch bark canoe in the summer months and toboggans and snowshoes in the winter. Clothing and tents were made from animal skins, though tents, also known as wigwams, were sometimes made of birch bark. During the summer months, groups gathered along the river to fish, hunt and socialize. When winter arrived, groups spread out into smaller hunting camps made up of large families.
The climate was harsh and starvation was not uncommon. Lawrence as far west as the Lachine Rapids. Champlain left for France shortly afterwards, but upon his return in , he immediately moved his fur trade upstream to a new post to shorten the distance that the Algonquins were required to travel for trade.
Champlain again encountered Algonquins in the land claim area in and when he travelled up the Ottawa River. Champlain again encountered Algonquins in the land claim area in and when he traveled up the Ottawa River. Champlain was anxious to conclude treaties with both the Algonquins and their Montagnais allies, both of whom were allied against the feared Iroquois Confederacy.
Champlain felt a treaty with the Algonquins would preclude competition from his European rivals, who were mainly the Dutch but also the English.
The Algonquins, Montagnais, and their Huron allies, were reluctant to commit themselves to the long, dangerous journey to trading posts north of the Ottawa River unless the French were willing to help them in their war against other members of the Iroquois Confederacy. In this, the French provided support and gained great commercial opportunities. Fur from the Great Lakes flowed down the Ottawa and St.
Lawrence Rivers to the French during the years that followed, and the Algonquins and their allies dominated the Ottawa and St. Lawrence valleys. However, the Iroquois remained a constant threat, and in winning the trade and friendship of the Algonquins, the French had made a dangerous enemy for themselves.
It did not take long for the focus of the fur trade to move farther west, because the French had already learned about the trapping areas to the west controlled by the Hurons, who were Algonquin allies against the Iroquois. The quantity and quality of the fur available from the Hurons could not be ignored, and in the French and Hurons signed a formal treaty of trade and alliance at Quebec. The following year, Champlain made his second journey up the Ottawa River to the Huron villages south of Georgian Bay.
While there, he participated in a Huron-Algonquin attack on the Oneida and Onondaga villages these tribes were part of the Iroquois Nation Confederacy , confirming in the minds of the Iroquois in case they still had doubts that the French were their enemies. The Iroquois, who had been displaced from the St.
Lawrence Valley by the Algonquins, Montagnais and Hurons before the French had come to North America, had never accepted their loss of this territory as permanent. The Iroquois by this time had exhausted the beaver in their traditional homeland and needed additional hunting territory to maintain their position with the Dutch, who at that time were transporting their purchases through modern day New York. Their inability to satisfy the demand for beaver was the very reason the Dutch had tried in to open trade with the Algonquins and Montagnais.
For the Iroquois, the obvious direction for expansion was north, but the alliance of the Hurons and Algonquins with the French made this impossible.
The Iroquois at first attempted diplomacy to gain permission, but the Hurons and Algonquins refused, and with no other solution available, the Iroquois resorted to force. By both the Algonquins and Montagnais needed French help to fight the invader, but this was not available. Germaine en Laye. These three years were a disaster for the French allies. Since their own trade with the Dutch was not affected, the Iroquois were able to reverse their losses of territory in the St. Lawrence Valley. They drove the Algonquins and Montagnais from the upper St.
When they returned to Quebec in , the French attempted to restore the previous balance of power along the St. Lawrence by providing firearms to their Algonquin and Montagnais allies. However, the initial sales were restricted to Christian converts which did not confer any real advantage to the Algonquin. The Dutch had reacted to the French arming their native allies with large sales of firearms to the Mohawks, who passed these weapons along to the other Iroquois, and the fur trade degenerated into an arms race.
After seven years of increasing violence, a peace was arranged in Weakened by the departure of Christian converts to Trois Rivieres and Sillery, the Algonquins could not stop the onslaught that followed. Iroquois offensives, during and , drove the Algonquins farther north into the upper Ottawa Valley and forced the Montagnais east towards Quebec. Only a smallpox epidemic, which began in New England during and then spread to New York and the St. Lawrence Valley, slowed the fighting. A real escalation in hostilities occurred in when British traders on the Connecticut River in western Massachusetts attempted to lure the Mohawks from the Dutch with offers of guns.
The Dutch responded to this by providing the Mohawks and thus the Iroquois with as many of the latest, high-quality firearms as they wanted. Some Algonquin tribesmen such as the Weskarini along the lower Ottawa River were forced to abandon their villages and move north and east. By the spring of , the Mohawks and their allies had succeeded in completely driving many groups of Algonquins and Montagnais from the upper St. To shorten the travel distance for Huron and Algonquin traders, the French in established a new post at Montreal Ville Marie.
Weakened by the departure of Christian converts to Trois Rivieres and Sillery, the Algonquins could not stop the onslaught that followed.
Iroquois offensives, during and , drove the Algonquins farther north into the upper Ottawa Valley and forced the Montagnais east towards Quebec. Only a smallpox epidemic, which began in New England during and then spread to New York and the St. Lawrence Valley, slowed the fighting.
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A real escalation in hostilities occurred in when British traders on the Connecticut River in western Massachusetts attempted to lure the Mohawks from the Dutch with offers of guns. The Dutch responded to this by providing the Mohawks and thus the Iroquois with as many of the latest, high-quality firearms as they wanted. Some Algonquin tribesmen such as the Weskarini along the lower Ottawa River were forced to abandon their villages and move north and east.
By the spring of , the Mohawks and their allies had succeeded in completely driving many groups of Algonquins and Montagnais from the upper St. To shorten the travel distance for Huron and Algonquin traders, the French in established a new post at Montreal Ville Marie. However, this only seemed to make matters worse.
The Iroquois soon sent war parties north into the Ottawa Valley to attack the Huron and Algonquin canoe fleets transporting fur to Montreal and Quebec. Montmagmy eventually agreed to a treaty permitting the French to resume their fur trade but it contained a secret agreement requiring French neutrality in future wars between their Algonquin and Huron allies and the Iroquois. This agreement was in exchange for a Mohawk promise to refrain from attacks on the Algonquin and Montagnais villages where the Jesuits had missions. There was a pause in the fighting during which Huron and Algonquin furs flowed east to Quebec in unprecedented amounts, while the Iroquois renewed efforts to gain the permission of the Hurons to hunt north of the St.
Refused after two years of failed diplomacy, the Iroquois resorted to total war, but this time with the assurance that the French would remain neutral. The Mohawks chose to ignore the distinction between Christian and non-Christian Algonquins and almost exterminated a group near Trois Rivieres in The Iroquois overran and completely destroyed the Hurons. During , the remaining Algonquins in the upper Ottawa Valley were attacked and overrun.
There is evidence that some Algonquins remained in the headwaters of the tributary rivers.
During the following years, the French tried to continue their fur trade by asking native traders to bring their furs to Montreal. Iroquois war parties roamed the length of the Ottawa River during the s and 60s, making travel extremely dangerous for anyone not part of large, heavily-armed convoys. By , the French had decided they had endured enough of living in constant fear of the Iroquois. The arrival of regular French troops in Quebec that year and their subsequent attacks on villages in the Iroquois homeland brought a lasting peace in This not only allowed French traders and missionaries to travel to the western Great Lakes, but permitted many of the other Algonquins to begin a gradual return to the Ottawa Valley.
During the next fifty years the French established trading posts for the Algonquins at Abitibi and Temiscamingue at the north end of the Ottawa Valley. Missions were also built at Ile aux Tourtes and St. For the most part, the Algonquin converts remained at Oka only during the summer and spent their winters at their traditional hunting territories in the upper Ottawa Valley.
This arrangement served the French well, since the Algonquin converts at Oka maintained close ties with the northern bands and could call upon the inland warriors to join them in case of war with the British and Iroquois League. All of the Algonquin converts were committed to the French cause through a formal alliance known as the Seven Nations of Canada, or the Seven Fires of Caughnawaga. Regis Mohawk.
By the summer of , the British had captured Quebec and were close to taking the last French stronghold at Montreal. In mid-August, the Algonquins and eight other former French allies met with the British representative, Sir William Johnson, and signed a treaty in which they agreed to remain neutral in futures wars between the British and French.
This sealed the fate of the French at Montreal and North America. After the war, Johnson used his influence with the Iroquois to merge the Iroquois League and the Seven Nations of Canada into a single alliance in the British interest. The sheer size of this group was an important reason the British were able to crush the Pontiac Rebellion around the Upper Great Lakes in and quell the unrest created by the encroachment of white settlers in the Ohio Country during the years which followed. Johnson died suddenly in , but his legacy lived on, and the Algonquins fought alongside the British during the American Revolution participating in St.
The Algonquin homeland was supposed to be protected from settlement by the Proclamation of , but after the revolution ended in a rebel victory, thousands of British Loyalists Tories left the new United States and settled in Upper Canada. To provide land for these newcomers, the British government in chose to ignore the Algonquins in the lower Ottawa Valley and purchased parts of eastern Ontario from Mynass, a Mississauga Ojibwe chief. Despite this, Algonquin warriors fought beside the British during the War of and helped defeat the Americans at the Battle of Chateauguay.
Their reward for this service was the continued loss of their land to individual land sales and encroachment by British immigrants moving into the valley. The worse blow occurred when the British in were able to induce the Mississauga near Kingston on Lake Ontario to sell most of what remained of the traditional Algonquin land in the Ottawa Valley.
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And for a second time, no one bothered to consult the Algonquin who had never surrendered their claim to the area but still received nothing from its sale. Further losses occurred during the s as lumber interests moved into the Upper Ottawa Valley. Legislation in and purchases by the Canadian government eventually established nine reserves in Quebec. These reserves only secured a tiny portion of what once had been the original homeland of the Algonquins.
Algonquins continue to live on the Ottawa River and its tributaries. Learn more about the Algonquins in present day Ontario here. The following historical documents are available for you to view and download:.