Fondation of Port Royal

In 1610, Jean de Biencourt, Sieur de Poutrincourt, comes to the shores of North America, primarily for the establishment of a fur trading post, but with a very definite commitment of converting the Indians and of bringing in settlers.

With Poutrincourt came his son, Charles de Biencourt, Claude de La Tour and his son Charles, and 1'abbe Jesse Fleche. Later came Louis Hebert, the apothecary of Paris, destined to become the first farmer in Acadia and then, in Quebec.

The new colony had the blessing of the King of France and the monopoly of the fur trade, but no firm financial backing from the court, but Poutrincourt found financial backers, two Huguenot merchants, Duquesne and Desjardins, who would share in the profits of the monopoly on the conditions that Poutrincourt would have to bring two Jesuit missionaries to convert the natives to Christianity, which in this case would mean the Catholic Faith. The Huguenot merchants threatened to withdraw their support if the Jesuits were a party to the expedition; however, they accepted 1'Abbe Fleche, a secular priest.

L’abbe Fleche succeeded beyond all expectations. Soon after his arrival he baptized Chief Membertou and twenty members of his family. Soon many other Indian families sought baptism, so that from his arrival in the colony in the summer of 1610 to his departure in 1611, 1'Abbe Fleche had baptized more than 130 Indians.

In the summer of 1611, Charles de Biencourt returned to France bringing a shipload of furs and a good report concerning the work of christianizing the native people. This news report greatly impressed Antoinette du Pons, Madame de Guercheville, a lady-in-waiting to the Queen and a very devout person. On the advice of her spiritual counselors, the Jesuit, Father Coton, she bought out the shares of the Huguenot merchants and gave them to the Jesuits, and also furnished the necessary capital to maintain the colony of Port Royal for another year. Two Jesuit priests, Biard and Masse, sailed thus with Biencourt and Louis Hebert for Port Royal on the "Grace de Dieu" arriving during the Summer of l611.

Meanwhile Poutrincourt was trying to get other backers for Port Royal, but without success, and so was unable to send a supply ship in the Fall of l612. The colonists spent a miserable winter in the Habitation, subsisting on their own meager resources and with some help from the Indians.

In the spring the eager watchers saw a ship coming up the basin. They rejoiced when they could see the name "Fleur de Mai". But their rejoicing was short-lived, for this was the ship sent by Madame de Guercheville with colonists and supplies to establish Saint Sauveur. The Fleur de Mai under the command of Captain Le Coq, Sieur de la Sausaye, sailed on to the site of Saint Sauveur.

The Kingdom of France had other more pressing preoccupations at home. King Henry IV had been assassinated in 1610, to be succeeded by his nine year old son. It was a period of unrest within the kingdom, beset with uprisings by the Protestants within, and engaged in the Thirty Years War on its eastern frontier.

The conditions were, therefore, ripe for the other claimant to the North American continent, the king of Great Britain, James I, to push his claim. Consequently, in 1621 by Royal Charter, Acadia became the British possession of Nova Scotia and was granted to Sir William Alexander.

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