A Blupete Biography Page


Pierre Du Gua de Monts "STUCK IN A FRAME"
(c1558-1628): -- CLICK HERE --

Not much can be said about de Monts' earlier years. He "distinguished himself fighting in the cause of Henri IV during the religious wars in France." (DCB.) He thus had developed good connections at court and was able to secure an exclusive trading licence in respect to North American fur. The fur trade was one in which it was thought money could be made, since, during these times, the European smart set wished to be decked out in furs. These furs, as the returning fishermen could show, were obtainable by trading with the natives of North America.

In 1604, De Monts formed a company whose members consisted mainly of merchants who conducted their business over a very wide area on the eastern coasts of France at such centres as Rouen, St. Malo and La Rochelle. I should say, however, not all the merchants were included in de Monts company; and so, jealousies sprung up, not only among the middle men but those in Paris who converted the furs into the finished product, such as the Parisian hatters.

In pursuit of the fur trade, as our history shows, De Monts personally led an exhibition to Acadia in 1604. It seems, that in exchange for exclusive trading rights De Monts undertook to establish French colonists and to maintain them. Thus, it was, that De Monts came ashore at Lehave, Nova Scotia, together with a number of Frenchmen, extending to 75, Champlain and Poutrincourt included; and went on, a year later, to establish the first permanent European settlement at Port Royal.

Because De Monts was unable to enforce his rights along the coast of Acadia against "Basque interlopers"; and further because of court intrigues brought on by jealous merchants back home, De Monts was unable to financially continue. So, the decision, in 1607, to give up the establishment at Port Royal had to be made.

Those who were not part of the De Monts company and who had no such monopoly argued successfully that the fur trade should be thrown open. Though such an open trade would not support colonization, it nonetheless came about at around the end of 1608. De Monts continued with his support of the fur trade which included supporting the infant French colony which Champlain started at Quebec in 1608; which support was to continue for a number of years.

George MacBeath, in his sketch on de Mont, as contained in the DCB, wrote that while Champlain may have been styled as the father of Canada, and rightfully so; Champlain could not have continued without De Monts' support:

"Here is the man [de Mont] who made possible so much of what Champlain accomplished. ... He assembled a collection of animals and birds, portraits of Indians, artifacts, and other curiosities ... his descriptions are among the earliest we have concerning certain of the birds and animals of North America. The energetic direction, support, and encouragement de Monts gave to exploration which was subsequently reported in the writings of Champlain and Lescarbot represents a contribution of inestimable value."
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Peter Landry
(1997-8)