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Charles Huault de Montmagny



The second French Governor of Canada, born in France towards the end of the sixteenth century, of Charles Huault and Antoinette du Drac; died in the Antilles after 1651. Educated by the Jesuits, he joined the Order of Malta in 1622, and fought against the Moslems and the corsairs of Africa. Appointed to replace Champlain before the announcement of the latter's death, he reached Quebec on 15 June, 1636. He rebuilt Fort St-Louis, and traced the plan of the city, giving to its four primitive streets the names they still bear in honour of King Louis, of the queen-mother, and the patron saints of Paris, and of his order. With him had come several noble families destined to contribute to the country's development and renown. During his administration were built the Jesuit College (founded 1635), the Ursuline monastery, and Hôtel-Dieu (1639). Isle Jésus, lying parallel to Montreal, was first called by the Jesuit Lejeune Isle Montmagny in his honour. From the outset, he was ardent for the conversion of the aborigines. In 1636 was begun the reduction of Sillery, where Montmagny strove to have the Indians instructed. When Maisonneuve, in the autumn of 1641, came with forty colonists to found Montreal, Montmagny kept them for the winter, and in the spring personally escorted them to their destination. He built Fort Richelieu (now Sorel) at the mouth of the river of the same name, where he victoriously repulsed the onslaught of 700 Iroquois. At the expiration of a third term of office, he was replaced by Daillebout (1648), and departed sincerely regretted by all and leaving behind him an undying reputation for prudence and wisdom. He had efficaciously aided in the progress of the colony by the concession of twenty large domains to the enterprising heads of as many noble families. Shortly after his return to France, he was sent to St. Christopher in the Antilles, a possession of his order, where he died. He lies buried in the church of Basseterre. Parkman accuses him of being a tool in the hands of the Jesuits, but his refusal to develop actively their missions in the region of the Great Lakes, to the detriment of the interests of Quebec, gives ample proof of his independent government. Awed by his imposing stature and dignity, the aborigines called him Ononthio or "High Mountain" (a translation of his name, Montmagny, Mons magnus). He was withal mild, courteous, and affectionate, winning the attachment of both Indians and whites. He was charitable and sincerely pious, free alike from bigotry and dissimulation.

FERLAND, Cours d'Histoire du Canada (Quebec, 1882); ROY, L'Ordre de Malte en Amérique (Quebec, 1888); IDEM in Nouvelle France (March, April, 1906); ALEXIS in Nouvelle France (Oct., Nov., Dec., 1908).

LIONEL LINDSAY.








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