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Pierre Dugua de Mons

Henri IV of France

In 1599, Pierre Dugua de Mons, Pierre de Chauvin de Tonnenuit and Samuel de Champlain traveled to North America on behalf of Henri IV, King of France and Navarre, also called le bon roi (the good King). Henri IV wanted France to harvest the rich pelts it could find in Northeastern America. Henri also asked Du Gua de Mons to create a settlement in what are now the Maritime provinces of Canada. Officially, Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal) is the first French settlement in North America. It was settled in 1604, four years before Champlain settled Quebec City. However, to be precise, Tonnetuit’s trading post was the first French settlement in North America, and it was located in the present-day Québec, one of the two provinces of New France. The other was Acadie. Henri IV had been a Protestant, a Huguenot, and so were the above-mentioned explorers.  

Louis XIV in 1643, prior to becoming king, by Claude Deruet

Huguenots, a popular term used since 1560 to designate French Protestants, some of whom became involved in the Newfoundland fishery and Canadian fur trade, and in abortive colonization attempts in Canada (1541-42), Brazil (1555) and the Carolinas (1562-64).

Huguenots, The Canadian Encyclopedia

Champlain was a secretive Huguenot, but Pierre Dugua de Mon(t)s wasn’t. As for Pierre de Chauvin de Tonnetuit, his occupation, fur trading, was that of a Huguenot. So, if his trading post was the first French settlement in the Americas, the very first French settlement in the Americas was a Huguenot settlement. In fact, although Champlain did not reveal his religious affiliation, he founded Quebec-City in New France’s Huguenot times. But matters changed in 1627. New France was governed by the Company of One Hundred Associates and its first shareholder was Cardinal Richelieu.

More permanent was the fur-trade. The French in Canada tended to their thirty acres, but many had to go to the countries above, les pays d’en haut. They were voyageurs or coureurs des bois. Coureurs des bois did not have a licence, so if caught, the pelts they had harvested were confiscated.

I love Pierre Chauvin’s trading post. New France would have its legendary voyageurs. They would be Catholics. But Pierre Chauvin’s trading post was a Huguenot settlement.

When Pierre de Chauvin de Tonnentuit returned to France, he left sixteen (16) men at Tadoussac. It was a settlement. Only six (6) survived.

Love to everyone 💕

Lucie Therrien chante À Saint-Malo

© Micheline Walker
4 September 2020