350 Years of History

1653-1699: “The Colonists who Saved Montreal” - A Precarious World

When Marguerite Bourgeoys arrived in Québec in September 1653, she was part of a group known as the “Great Recruitment”, the “colonists who saved Montreal.” Many of the founders of 1642 had left or died. The entire French population of New France had been estimated at about 700 persons. Along the Saint Lawrence, these were to be found at Québec, established in 1608, Trois-Rivières, established in 1634, and Ville-Marie (Montreal). While certain native tribes, the Algonquins and the Abenaquies, had become allies of the French, the French were most often at war with others, especially the tribes of the powerful Iroquois Confederacy. Marguerite Bourgeoys reached Ville-Marie in mid-November after staying in Quebec to care for the men who had become ill during the ocean crossing. The colonists of 1653 with whom Marguerite arrived more than doubled the population of Montreal whose continued existence had been called into serious doubt by its exposed position and its dwindling population. Like most of the Montreal population at this dangerous time, she took up residence in the fort.