Massacre of Lachine

The Massacre of Lachine is one of the most macabre episodes of the long war between the French settlers and the Iroquois.

In 1688, the Iroquois decided to launch a large-scale attack against Montreal, to take revenge for some wrongs, suffered by them at the hands of the French (well, the both sides were to blame for many arbitrary actions during that 100-year war). Thus, two large bands, amounting to at least 1,500 Amerindians, formed camps on the Upper St. Lawrence.

The first encampment was established near Frontenac (present-day Kingston), the other was located farther down, on St. Francis Lake. In August, 1689, the inhabitants of Lachine saw a number of Indian canoes darting across the St. Louis Lake. The night of the 4th of August, 1689, was rainy. Profiting of the weather, hundreds of Iroquois crossed over to Lachine and landed near the present entry point of Lachine Canal. From the landing place the Indians spread right and left. They surround every house and every hamlet. The dread Iroquois war-whoop was raised about midnight, and the work of deaths starts. Within the space of one hour, the village of Lachine in destroyed. Over two hundred inhabitants fall victims to the tomahawks and scalping knives.

The raid is a complete success! The morning of the 5th of August, 1689, witnesses the silence of death. Not one living soul was left in Lachine to tell the tale of the past night. All who remained on place were dead. Children were massacred as well and no dogs were spared. Still, more than one hundred people were taken prisoners (shall we say “hostages of a terrorist attack”, using present-day terms?). Some of them died in captivity, but most of them were exchanged for Iroquois prisoners and for goods. Well, those times were very cruel, so we can judge those people. Let’s say than twelve years later, in 1701, the Peace Treaty was signed in Montreal between the Iroquois Nations and the French, and the two great side became partners.

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