Montreal’s First Months

The year 1642 was relatively quiet. Colonists settled in houses built within the stockade. Ships from France brought encouraging news. More men came to augment the initial contingent, and several artillery pieces consolidated the defence system of the palisades.

Actually, people needed a large dose of courage to settle in a place that was far away from the rest of the known world. Fortunately, the Iroquois were not aware of the outpost and left Ville-Marie in peace for many months. This was fortuitous since some of the men had stayed in Quebec to finish building the warehouse for good coming from Europe and destined for the new town, while others took car of shipping the equipment from Quebec to Montreal.

As a result, Maisonneuve could count on only several dozen men. Montreal’s fast rise has been due largely to the geographical position of the settlement. Indeed, Ville-Marie was founded at the foot of the turbulent rapids that prevented from any navigation farther upstream until canals were built.

The rivers were the only means of communication in the early days of the colony. Thus fur traders, missionaries and explorers took advantage of the place. Also in 1642, construction of a fort at the entrance of the Iroquois River began (today’s Richelieu River).

The fort had to protect both Ville-Marie and Trois-Riviers against the Iroquois, who were armed by the Dutch.

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