Two good friends die. What do we do?

Paul Barry


What do we do?


Several weeks ago, a friend died. His name was Paul Barry. He was 83 and had been suffering from throat cancer for ten years.
He worked in the theater in New York, Los Angeles, Sydney, Australia and Cape May, New Jersey, where he and his wife, Ellen, founded and managed the New Jersey Shakespeare festival for many years beginning in 1963.
It’s now called the Shakespeare festival of New Jersey.
He was an actor too but primarily a director. He  was the last of three stage directors in the world (a British director and a Japanese man were the otherImage two) who had directed all of Shakespeare’s plays professionally.
In the world, three people. An amazing accomplishment. His book is A Lifetime with Shakespeare.
and it’s on Amazon here.
I met him through his wife, the former Ellen Reiss, an actress and producer, whom I met when I was teaching in Northwestern University’s department of theater In Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.
Ellen, Paul’s wife of 45 years, first met him as an acting intern and assistant at the festival and went on to become producing director. She described his devotion to the stage and to his specialty as “fierce.””He was Irish to the core,”she said. “He was mercurial…but he had a great deal of charm, he was literate, always questioning, great sense of humor, he always made me laugh, even when I was furious with him.”​​
Interested? Read more biographical information on Paul Barry.

The funeral mass was held at St. Malachy’s Catholic Church, The Actor’s Chapel, 239 W. 49th Street in New York on Sept. 24.
Is there another city in the world  with a (functioning) chapel for actors?
I’ve been there and it is  small but splendid.
Look at this:

Weekend Mass Schedule 

(Saturday Evening)

5:00 PM and 11:00 PM (Post-Theater)

(Eleven o’clock on Saturday night. Every week.

For actors, other theater people and theatregoers.)

I love that.

It’s for real people in real jobs in real life.


Two days ago, an email came saying that another good friend had died.

His name was Jim Streeter. He had ALS–Lou Gehrig’s disease. I didn’t know. I hadn’t talked with him since March. He lost his voice in the summer, his weight over the last eight months and his life this week.
I’m going to the funeral Mass today, Tuesday, Nov 11th.
Remembrance Day.Image
ALS often takes years before it takes the victim. This was fast. Maybe a good thing. He was a special man: funny, honest, loyal, kind, a great teacher and a good friend.

How do we react? How do we cope?

My daughter, Rachel, asked how we  cope with people being taken from us suddenly.
“What are we supposed to do?” she asked.
“What about later…do we get to see him later?
“Do I get to see you later?”
She meant after I die.
“Yes, ” I said.
No response.
“I assure you!” I said.
“Good,” she replied.
It reminded me of Rachel when she was four. I was a stay-at-home husband and father. I always made lunch. One day she said:
‘Daddy, are you old?
“No,” I said.
​”Are you going to die?””
“No,” I said, “Why do you ask?”
“Well, “she said, “I was just wondering…if you died, who would make my lunch”?
So you know why you’re needed. Sobering.
I believe what I said to Rachel. We will see each other after we die. I can’t prove it but I believe it. That’s why they call it faith, not fact.
I’ll see her after I die and her sister, Regan, and all my family and friends. Jim Streeter and Paul Barry too. I will miss them both but we go on. What else can we do?
We are a long time dead, though.
We can’t waste a minute here.
If you feel you are losing time to be the best person you can be, I  can help you at Self-Knowledge College.
Before we both run out of time.
Email me : Or call: 905-584-0617
I’ll be with you.

In the Sweet Kitchen.


In the Sweet Kitchen

Baker Heaven!

Regan Daley

Regan Daley: In the Sweet Kitchen

Regan Daley


Regan head on

Are you a baker or want to be? Read on.

Cartoon: Sign in bakery window in a small town.

             “Pies like your mother made: $8.00.

Pies like your mother thought she made: $23.00″

Regan Daley is my daughter.  She wrote this book, In The Sweet Kitchen, which became the No 1 cookbook in the world at the time.

Most hardcover books go to paper with 18 months of publication.

This one took ten years.

Why? Because it never went out of print and sold so well.

She got a $100,000 contract  and a 23 city US and Canada book tour.

This is one fine book. When we’re all dead, people will still be using it.

These desserts are like the store’s above.

Only better.

  • Utensils
  • Recipies (tested and perfected by Regan)
  • Ingredient substitutes
  • Detailed instructions for each recipe
  • Chemistry
  • Fine, elegant writing
  • Desserts to kill for.
  • Pictures, in case you have no imagination.

In the Sweet Kitchen

Note: this links to

Every time I try to link to they send me here.

‘Cus I live in Canada, eh?

But  in the States, just go to the regular site.

You will be famous in your circle of friends.

Oh, and your circle will grow.


Here are some reviews.

“Regan Daley’s grasp of which flavours complement each other, and which methods show them to their best advantage, is amazing.”— Alison Fryer, The Cookbook Store

“[Regan Daley’s] goal was to compile a definitive guide to all the baker’s ingredients and tools…And oh my, does she succeed! Blowtorches, kumquats, dental floss (unflavoured, please for cutting cheesecake), gas ranges, butter, eggs, flours, ice-cream makers, Chartreuse, knives, partridgeberries — you name it, it’s here. Daley…has written a baker’s encyclopedia that is so arrestingly comprehensive that it redefines definitive with regard to baking cookbooks. And…that is only the book’s first half. The second half, the recipe half, is where Daley really shines. Page after page, Daley’s brilliant recipes…make one want to run to the kitchen to raid that Platonic pantry of the book’s first half….Profuse with information, clearly written, wholly unaffected and masterfully artistic, In the Sweet Kitchen will almost undoubtedly become an instant classic. Like Julia Child’s Baking with Julia and Rose Levy Berenbaum’s The Cake Bible, no cookbook shelf will be complete without it.” — Quill & Quire (starred review)

“Don’t be fooled by her sweet expression. Regan Daley is very serious when it comes to recipe writing and educating people about how to bake…In the Sweet Kitchen is destined to become a baking classic.” — Homemaker’s

“This whopping cookbook is one of the best investments anyone interested in baking could make. From tools for the baker, to key ingredient guidelines, this book is packed with ideas from this pastry chef, along with pages upon pages of her favourite recipes.” — Calgary Sun

“Daley knows and cherishes ingredients the way grammarians know and cherish language… In the Sweet Kitchen has the makings of a classic.” — Georgia Straight

“The book is an outstanding reference, packed with tips and recipes, for both novice home cooks and professional bakers…Daley’s no-nonsense approach is easy and entertaining to read.” — Edmonton Sun

“Dessert lovers take note: Regan Daley’s In the Sweet Kitchen will send your senses into overdrive. An insistence on the finest ingredients, careful instructions and an exuberant love of food add up to a cookbook that’s inspiring, not intimidating. You do want to know how to make the World’s Sexiest Sundae, don’t you?” — Chatelaine

“In the Sweet Kitchen is a complete baking guide full of yummy recipes.” — Bonnie Stern, National Post

“[I]t’s the utter thoroughness with which [Daley] covers every aspect of the pastry kitchen that makes this book the ultimate reference volume for the dedicated baker. Aspiring pastry chefs and professionals could well choose this to be their Bible — full of invaluable tables of ingredient substitutions, sugar cookery stages and troubleshooting charts…Daley’s grasp of which flavours belong together…is astounding…these are downright sensual desserts which live up to their enticing names….Daley has assembled a wonderful, definitive and delicious work that deserves to stay in print for decades.” — Canadian Living (Editors’ Choice)

“In her excellent ‘guide to the baker’s pantry’…Regan Daley devotes four dense pages to the various types of vanilla, where they’re grown, the pitfalls in shopping for them and the joys of finding supple ones full of aromatic beans. Her hardcover is titled In the Sweet Kitchen, and in my view, worth every cent of its cover price, especially if you’re a sweet-tooth.” — Vancouver Sun

“With such traditional baked sweets as angel-food cake surfacing on the menus of cutting-edge restaurants alongside rosemary crème brûlée, Daley’s book seems well-timed for a back-to-basics revival. The 692-page volume is crammed with rules, tips and secrets. Besides detailing the behaviour of flours, the temperament of sugars and the many facets of fats, Daley’s book provides just the information and creative inspiration bakers need.” — Globe and Mail

“In the Sweet Kitchen contains everything a person could ever want to know about baking. Daley walks the reader through section after section of accurate and useful information…then Daley tops it off with a section of more than 140 sweet recipes. This fabulous book is an essential reference to be treasured by anyone who bakes.” — Edmonton Journal

There are more like this on the site.

Your soul needs this book.

Just get the book.

If you don’t bake, you’ll start.

If you don’t start, give it to a friend. Eat at her place.




1. Texas hospital gets a man from Liberia who is sick. Liberia has Ebola. They send him home. He comes back. He’s dead now. Reports indicate he lied about his contact with Ebola (He might have carried a sick woman.) He lied becauase he thought he wouldn’t get into the U.S. otherwise. But after getting in, his best chance was to tell the truth and get help.But no end of stupidity here. The hospital had him, saw him ill but sent him home. Why? Because he lied or because they didn’t check further?

2. The Secret Service and Homeland Security (and oh, White House general security)
Man jumps the fence, eludes dozens of guards, enters the White House, goes into several rooms, maybe used the bathroom, for all we know.
Only non-stupid thing: they didn’t kill him. He’s a decorated war vet with PTSD.

3. A little annoyed at  the Hyundai ad running with the Guardian Angel alerting a car driver to break so he doesn’t crash into a truck ahead of him. The guy has a new car, two small daughters in the back seat. He’s looking out the window, not really paying attention to driving and he is stopped just in time. He turns around, sees the girls’ GA.

Angel says, “I’m not late, am I?”

Driver says something like “Little bit.”


Whole point of the GA is to help when you are in danger. There’s no rule about the GA having to be there 10 min early.

If you are going to use a device such as Deus Ex Machina in an ad campaign (or otherwise), use it correctly, not in a stupid way.

4. Is anyone else tired of the Dodge Ram truck ads: Deep, deep-voiced guy says “Guts, Glory”  etc. For a  truck. Right. And the ad runs ALLL the time.

5. Are we not getting reaaaaly tired of the Home Hardware ads and the sappy music?

6. And the Trivago travel guy. He’s getting a lot of flack because he needs a shave and a belt, his pants are baggy, his shirt doesn’t fit and his hair is messy.  So many people have yelled at Trivago that they are going to do a whole new ad campaign to source the guy up.  Getting attention, though, which is the main point of advertising.

7. Note on the new TV season. How to Get Away with Murder.

Yikes. This is produced by the woman who does Scandal which is basically “allo, Police!?” on TV. (That’s  a Quebec scandal sheet–or it used to be! Great name, right?)

There are so many  bad things about this show that it  would take  two hours to point them out. Just one:
Woman is a lawyer and  teaches law at university. She asks her class what is the most important thing in a muder trial. Everybody offers an opinion and she bats them all down and gives her answer.


She teaches this course every semester. Nobody has heard this question?
Nobody knows anybody who took her class before and can get the answer and  make a good impression?

She HIRES the people who make a good impressions.
They ALL want to make good impressions.
They are law students so presumably would have the brains to do this.  (Let’s not go there. Conventional wisdom.)

This in the first five minutes. Lost me after that.
Is the audience THAT stupid?
As stupid as the students?
As stupid as the writers?
As stupid as the writers THINK the audience is?


8. The CTV National  News sting. Just before the anchor speaks there is this volcanic, triumphalist music sting. I have to mute it. I get that it’s an identifier and all, but change the thing occasionally or tone down the drama!

Anything stupid bugging you?

Drop me a line and I’ll add it to the next Stupid File Rant!


skc aw

Long Sault Battle. Ch. 9: Second Departure from Montreal.


Chapter 9: April 20th, 1660. Second departure

The Battle of the Long Sault

Chapter 9: April 20th, 1660. Second departure.

At eight o’clock on the evening of the 20th of April, 1660, the canoes prepared to leave Montreal again.

This this time the faces of the men were fixed and determined. This time, too, Simon Grenet showed up and took his assigned place. All welcomed him with the same jeering, sarcastic banter they tossed at one another all the time. There were comments about people being late for their own funerals.

Father Chaumonot stood at the shore with Pierre de Belestre. The priest was talkative, excited:

“What of the land those men have under cultivation?”

“What of it?” replied de Belestre.”

“There are many profit-minded citizens who might take advantage of their absence, said the priest.

“Well, I shall be vigilant, “said de Belestre. “I will watch over their land and possessions and, anyway, the duties each man had were given to others until the group returns.”

“Of course, of course. Still, it is dangerous out there. Do you think they mean to return?”


“I wonder,” said the priest. “It may be that they seek the kingdom of heaven. It may be that they will be martyrs for Christ. That they offer their souls to heaven for god’s work.”

“They all intend to return,” said de Belestre, irritably shaking his head. “They are far more concerned with their lives than their deaths.”

“I hope so. But how can you be so sure, commander de Belestre?”

“Because I know them. I know Dollard.” He paused, looking out over the canoes. “There are seventeen in those canoes. At home In France, we all make wills whenever we leave our own province, yes? If we fear we will not return, that we might die?”

“It reflects the French fear of leaving home I suppose. And the dangers of travel.”

“True. Do you know how many of the seventeen made wills?”

“No,” said the priest.

“Two.” He turned away.

The priest shook his head. Although the men were Catholic and some were modestly religious, they were soldiers at heart, soldiers of fortune really. They were young and not given to think of death except insofar as they might mete it out to someone else.

de belestre watched the men on the water as they waved a somber goodbye to the fort and its people on the shore.

This morning the wind was hard, the water rough, and the temperature so low their fingers nearly froze on the paddles. It would take an hour before their hands warmed from friction.

The travellers tried to act as a unit but most were in experienced. They knew what they had to do but good technique wasn’t always at their command.

They kept in pairs of canoes, Cognac-Valets-Tavernier in the lead with Delestre-Dollard-Tiblement, so that the new water could be sighted and met with something approaching confidence and Dollard could keep his eyes open. The number three and four canoes, the Jurie-Augier-Grenet and the Hebert-Martin, stayed forty meters back, and the other two canoes were about sixty meters behind them, watching so that in case of trouble ahead they could better react.

The men fell silent and apprehensive as they passed Nun’s Island. They looked hard at the shoreline and saw nothing, but continued to look until long after they had passed the drowning site near the island.

They passed small marshes and islands in water which would have been smooth and enjoyable in summer. With the spring break-up the river was bloated and surging, running over mounds it would later swirl around placidly. Still, the paddling wasn’t too difficult here. It was made awkward more by the lack of sleep of last night. It was also the first canoe work of the year even for the experienced canoeists and after only a few hours their backs, knees, legs and arms were aching.

Dollard motioned the group to the shore. The previous, aborted, departure was celebratory and so they had left much later than usual.

This second leaving was also abnormal, however, partly because of having had to deal with the aftermath of the deaths at Nun’s island. But also because of the recent Iroquois attacks and the killing at Nun’s Island, Dollard had added another adjustment. He decided to travel at night to better escape detection and so the normal starting time was changed from three a.m. to eight p.m. Doing this this would result in a ten hour paddling day ending at around six a.m. when there would be just enough light to see.

For the first few days they managed this, although it was impossible to stop every two hours. They hugged the shore and stopped when a spot was suitable.

Canoeists customarily paddled for about two hours then pulled in to shore and took a rest. They judged the distances by the number of pipes smoked because familiar landmarks had a way of becoming unfamiliar along the rivers. Even Indians, who hid food along a canoe route for the return journey, frequently could not find the stuff again.

Several things conspired to hold them up. First, of course, was their paddling technique; then the water was savage in spots with some ice still floating by, which could tip a canoe in an instant if a large piece should strike; and the cold hampered them.

It was not the ideal way to ‘climb’ the Ottawa, and climb they must, beginning with the rapids at Lachine, which were so formidable that Etienne Brule was the only white man to go down them alone in a canoe. Going up, portage was the only response to the boulders churning the white water.

“God, I’m tired,” said Cognac as he threw himself on the ground after the first portage on that exhausting fist day. Unused muscles were burning.

“Too tired to help with the stuff here?” Forges said as he and Valets pulled the canoe out of the water.

“No, no, I’ll get some wood,” said Cognac, who was already hauling himself off the earth.

“Put that sail in a dry spot, will you? I don’t want my ass freezing off tonight!”

“Just get the wood,” said Valets, exhausted, his voice trailing off, barely able utter rthe words.

He pulled a sail which all the canoes were equipped with, but which were not to be used as such this trip, and began spreading it out on a patch of earth before erecting it as a tent. Forges was taking the supplies out of the canoe.

Both men worked steadily for thirty minutes and Cognac arrived. He walked with his arms behind him, pulling his musket perpendicular to his body as if he were pulling a sleigh. Two branches were hooked over the musket, one on the stock and one on the barrel. The branches trailed four feet behind Cognac on the ground. Piled across the two, long, trailing branches and resting on them, was a load of firewood.

The men used saplings to pry the sail sheet up as the back of the tent, then they tossed fir branches on the ground underneath and finally threw their packs into the makeshift tent.

“Go over to the left a bit — just follow my trail there and you’ll get lots of wood,” said Cognac to some others who were starting their search.

“Here, take these branches. They make a good traverse — save you some time.”

Dollard sent Pilote and Robin into the bush as scouts. They were gone briefly, reappeared and reported no activity in the forest and no ground signs of Indians. The French were far more likely to leave tell-tale signs of having been in a place with broken branches and footprints than the Iroquois. Two guards were posted and changed every two hours. Josselin and Lecompte stood the first watch.

Dollard figured a fire wouldn’t be unwise this first day and so they made a large one after their food was cooked and sat around it.

‘What do you figure we can get in pelts, Dollard?” asked Louis Martin.

“I don’t know.”

“Ten to fifteen thousand?”

“I haven’t any idea. The price is high in France now, the highest it’s ever been. Fifteen livres a pelt. Figure three to four thousand pelts a canoe, well, who knows how many canoes we’ll get.”

“Maybe none,” said Tiblement.

“That’s right, maybe none,” said Dollard. “Maybe we will only get Iroquois. I don’t really care. The best result is many dead enemy and lots of pelts. But I’m not going back to Montreal without one or the other.”

“There’s no danger of that,” said Pilote. “I have a personal total of at five.”

“You’ll have to get somebody to count them for you,” said Forges.

“Up yours, Forges!”

They went to sleep at four in the afternoon this first day and awoke at midnight. They ate and loaded the canoes. Within hours they were at the foot of the Lachine rapids. The sound of the rapids in the dark was like a hundred rolling thunders, all beginning separately and endless. The sound was magnified in the night, next to the water. It came out of nowhere, filling the dark, wintry air with a roar that surrounded and threatened to engulf the small band. Carefully they paddled to the shore and began the arduous task of the portage.

The birch bark canoes were light enough to be carried by one man but because of the treacherous footing or the chance of having a branch go through the side of a canoe, on these portages generally two men took each craft. Their labor made more laborious by the dark, they unloaded their canoes, some hauling supplies, and others, in pairs, carrying an upturned craft on their shoulders. They stumbled uphill past the white flashing water.

The supply carrier, walking ahead, had to guide the canoe porters by holding the bow of the craft and instructing the others where to put their feet.

It was a class in ineptitude. The darkness, the weight of supplies, the unfamiliarity with the shore, the snow, the cold, everything worked against them. They fell, cursing, almost as many times as they made safe steps; they couldn’t see each other or the trail; those underneath the canoes could only see snow and earth and that only if the light was exactly right. The sound of the rapids never left them. It seemed to be howling with delight at their predicament. It made the calling of directions impossible to hear, especially if one’s head was buried in an upside-down canoe.

“Goddamn rapids,” said Cognac.

“Goddam snow, goddamn cold, goddamn dark,” echoed Pilote. “It’s not enough we have to portage — ‘Let’s go at night! For God’s sake, Dollard, this is idiotic!”

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Long Sault Battle. Ch. 8: Attack on Nun’s Island. Departure delayed.


Chapter 8: Attack at Nun’s Island; Departure Delayed. April 20, 1660.

The Battle of the Long Sault

Chapter 8: Attack at Nun’s Island; Departure Delayed. April 20, 1660.

On the morning of the twentieth of April, the chapel of the Hotel Dieu was filled to capacity with well-wishers for the special mass of departure. Father Jean-Marie Chaumonot celebrated the mass and gave a short sermon, which was surprisingly felicitous, on the character of Christian courage.

He began by quoting Isiah 41:6.

“They helped everyone his neighbor; and every one said to his brother, be of good courage.”

He spoke of martyrs and Montreal, of Brebeuf and Lalement, of Frenchmen and their God. He said he knew that courage filled the men of this mission and as he spoke everyone looked upon those men with respect and pride and some with a measure of envy. He blessed them and after hearing their confessions he gave them Holy Communion.

Even Cognac received it. He said it couldn’t hurt and besides, what if the Jesuits were right?

Bells were rung when Mass was over and the people side-stepped out of the church slapping backs and heads and shoulders and shouting encouraging remarks. The whole procession — it became so, being led by Father Chaumonot, who had a flair for the dramatic–moved down to the shore where the six canoes were waiting, fully packed.

Robert Jurie supervised the places of the men as he had done with the supplies earlier. He decided that there should be six canoes, five to carry three men and one to take two.

The four best canoeists – Cognac, Doussin, Robin, and Alonie Delestre, to take the sterns along with Hebert, and himself, the best of the average canoeists.

In the middle, he put Valets, Josselin, Pilote, Augier and Dollard. The first four were practically hopeless at paddling and Dollard he estimated as average. But Dollard wanted to be free to watch at all times anyway.

In the bows: Forges, Lecompte, Brassier, Tiblement, Simon Grenet and Louis Martin.
Jurie looked around as the men climbed into their canoes. Simon Grenet was missing.

“Where the hell is Grenet? It’s time to leave.”

“Has anybody seen Grenet?”

“Is Simon with you?”

“I haven’t seen him. He wasn’t at Mass.”

The youths bantered and Louis Martin offered to go and get him.

“No,” said Dollard. “He knew what time we were going. If he isn’t here when we leave, we go without him.”

“We should leave now,” said Robert Jurie.

“Fine — let’s push off,” said Dollard.

Robert Jurie looked ruefully at his canoe. He was to be stern for Grenet’s bow while Augier sat in the middle. He couldn’t give Augier a paddle. Jean Valets saw the dilemma.

“I’ll take the front, Robert,” said Valets, getting out of the Boisseau-Forges canoe.

“Thank God,” said Christophe Augier. “I thought I was going to have to steer this thing.”

“Right, and the journey would be over in ten minutes,” replied Jean Valets as he settled himself in the bow. “It’s too cold for swimming, thanks. I’ll take it.”

“Good,” said Augier, “I’ll sleep.”

Dollard thanked governor Maisonneuve, stepped into his canoe and the frail flotilla moved out into the river.

Shouts of cheer from le Moyne, de Belestre, Closse and all the people from the church urged the little band on into the chill April wind. In the canoes everyone was in grand spirits and the waving, shouting and laughing continued until the crafts turned with the bend of the river and were swept out of view.

The St. Lawrence River, which takes its water from the Great Lakes and flushes it into the Atlantic, and the Ottawa River, a turbulent tributary which begins up in the north lands and fights its way down to Montreal, sometimes peaceful and calm, at others raging with rapids and cataracts, converge at Montreal.

When the Ottawa finally gives up its identity it throws itself outward like the prongs of a twisted fork trying to run in many directions as if trying to scatter its flood and die rather than surrender itself to the St. Lawrence. It capitulates by thrashing out a group of islands. Montreal sits at the base of a small mountain on the largest of these islands, about thirty miles long.

The flotilla had hardly completed that first bend in the river when the Frenchmen heard sounds of screaming from Nun’s Island to their left.

A party of Iroquois was attacking.

Dollard ordered the canoes to the island and swiftly they began cutting through the water.

There were five Iroquois, one on the ground. A Frenchman was grappling with two braves on the shore.

An upturned canoe floated some feet offshore and two men were struggling in the water.

The Robin-Pilote-Brassier canoe headed for the men in the water. As they started for the spot one man disappeared under the water. The other was desperately trying to reach the upturned canoe but it was drifting away quickly.

Several middle men in the canoes began firing and although their aim was inaccurate because of the movement of the canoes, the shots frightened two Iroquois away.

Dollard tried one shot, missed, then shouted an order to Tiblement in front of him.

“Rejean, bend down over the bow.”

Tiblement thrust himself forward, bracing his head in the prow of the canoe and holding his arms on the gunwales. Delestre braked the canoe with the flat of his paddle.

“Stay steady, Rejean,” said Dollard, and Tiblement, doubled over, his elbow at a right angle to the gunwale, provided a rest for Dollard’s musket. He put it on Tiblement’s shoulder, steadied the gun and fired. An Iroquois with the Frenchman fell but as he did the other brave clubbed the settler on the head and the Frenchman slumped to the ground.

The wounded Iroquois struggled to his feet and with the help of his companion they ran for the forest after the others.

The other one’s going under,” shouted Robin, “Faster!”

Robin’s canoe was cutting swiftly through the water but when it was still sixty yards away the second man slipped under the water of the St. Lawrence River.

“God, he’s going…faster, faster!”

They were too late. The water was black as a starless night. The men could see nothing in the depths.

Two canoes took off around the bend after the escaping Iroquois.

Cognac and Forges had by now reached the shore. They beached the canoe and while Forges ran to the fallen settler, Cognac kneeled and fired at the escaping Iroquois pair. One, wounded, flung his hands up, shot in the back. The other ran on without a backward glance. Forges approached the enemy Dollard had shot but while he was alive he looked bad. Forges finished him with a musket stock to the side of the head.

The Robin-Pilote-Boisseau canoe meanwhile pulled alongside the overturned canoe down river, righted it, and towed it into shore.

The Frenchman on the shore– Nicholas Duval–was dead. His two companions, later discovered to be Blaise Juilliet and Mathurin Soulard, had drowned in the icy waters attempting to flee from the Iroquois war party.

Doussin’s and Hebert’s canoes veered left around the first point and saw two Iroquois running along the shore. They were in moccasins so, although they could cover ground well, there was really no place to go. They could turn into the island but the snow was still deep there and they would get bogged down fast. Hebert wondered what the Iroquois thought they were doing.

“Do they think they can outrun our canoes?” he asked Martin, his eyes wide in disbelief.

Within minutes they were within firing range of the Iroquois who had only one musket to the Frenchmen’s firepower. Hebert braked, the canoe slowed. He turned it slightly and Martin had a good shot. The winter practice paid off. He fired and wounded one brave and the other turned around, threw down his weapon and surrendered.

Suddenly from around a bend the lone escapee from the beach came upon them. He stopped, stumbled, and Hebert trained his musket on him. He raised his hands in surrender. They bound the Indians’ hands behind them and Martin, marched them back to the place of the attack while Hebert paddled close by in the canoe.

They took the body of Duval and their captives and returned to Montreal. There the Iroquois were beaten and questioned. They said they were a small advance party clearing the way for the main war party to come. Their duty was to harass and kill as many small groups of French as they could, to terrorize before the onslaught.

Montrealers had heard this story before many times and were inclined to disbelieve it. Still, because of the deaths at Nun’s island and similar recent incidents, the captives, instead of being killed, were locked away, kept in case required for an exchange of prisoners at some future time.

Maisonneuve ordered this and wondered to himself if that future time was coming shortly.

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Long Sault Battle. Ch. 7: Departure’s Eve.


Chapter 7: Departure’s Eve. Montreal, April 19. 1660.

The Battle of the Long Sault

Chapter 7: Departure’s Eve. Montreal, April 19. 1660.

To Robert Jurie fell the task of administering the venture.

He had been working as a store-keeper with Charles le Moyne and was businesslike, politely badgering members of the expedition to report to him on the acquisition of this or that object.

Jurie was even-tempered, solicitous of people’s likes and dislikes, aware of an individual’s strengths and weaknesses. He would explain that so and so was being given a task because ‘it suits him’ or ‘he works well at that job’ or ‘he enjoys that task’. In this way they all developed a respect for each other and the tasks took on an egalitarian quality. Jurie said that packing the canoe was every bit as important as guiding it through the rapids, for the navigator depended on a well-balanced canoe, and the packer depended on the canoeist to get him through safely. In this way the enterprise, which was already fastened by common purpose, became stronger and each man took pride in the work of others.

He acted as treasurer and chief purchasing agent — and accounted for the provisions, kettles, ammunition, rifles, hatchets, daggers, knives, flints, everything, in fact, that did not personally belong to each person and which was deemed necessary for the expedition.

This was not much variety because it was no pleasure trip; Jurie pared non-essentials. Guns and ammunition, took most of the room and weight in the canoes.


Maisonneuve had given his consent to Dollard partly because it was a decade since Montreal had experienced a truly remarkable victory. The question of Montreal’s future weighed on Maisonneuve’s mind in April, 1660. On the night before the venture, he walked on the palisade wall, looking at the river and thinking of the fort’s beginning.

He had been sought out in Paris in 1640 by a man two religious laymen men in France who, inspired by The Jesuit Relations, letters  the missionaries sent to France to raise money. They searched for a governor who had to be a soldier, an administrator and to have the same spirit of religious dedication that the benefactors shared. Maisonneuve was their choice.

He had mixed emotions as he reflected on this chilly April night. The winters here were like no other on earth in their severity, the summer heat brought mosquitoes and black flies that were the equal of anything north of the fetid swamps of the tropics, and the Iroquois made life a perpetual hell.

Yet these French hung on tenaciously, praising God, building a new land. But he was also often saddened by the slow growth of the settlement and he was bitterly disappointed and disillusioned at the lack of assistance from far away France.

This tactical change instituted by young Dollard des Ormeaux might work brilliantly he thought. “I hope so,” he muttered into the wind, “because I’m running out of money, ideas and time.”


Dollard had called a final meeting at eight p.m. on April nineteenth, the night before the expedition was to embark. The men had gathered at the large warehouse owned by Charles le Moyne where Jurie had worked up to a week ago when he had turned his attention full time to the operation.

Quiet,” Then, with only the briefest pause, Robert Jurie continued. “Now we have only a few things to discuss, but since we are leaving in the morning it would be good if we all got to bed early, so I’d like to check these points quickly.”

Jurie used this trick often. He had seen Moliere use in it in Paris in his own plays. If he hadn’t succeeded in getting attention Jurie would raise his voice but always in a fashion that bespoke necessity. He rarely expressed irritation but rather went on with his statement as if he had their attention from the beginning.

He began his speech with a phrase which, if first missed by the talkers, would be caught shortly when since he repeated it. This had the virtue of never causing resentment, and it gradually sent the youths into silence. In the theater Jurie had seen the technique used by actors in comedies who, after saying a line that the audience might have missed through laughter, simply repeated the line or gave the essence of it before going on. It had a curious salutary effect on the listeners because it gave the impression that he had been interrupted and a wave of slight guilt and courteous feeling swept the group. They never thought to retaliate against Jurie and he never lost his authority when he required it.

His handling of the youths was more astute than some others’ and it affected the group’s discipline. At these meetings the men talked when it was a subject in their province and listened when it was not. So it was that an exemplary combination of respect, discipline and camaraderie which had begun in the freedom of different imaginations during the winter planning turned out in practice to be strengthened.

Jurie discussed the preparations assuring himself that each soldier was properly prepared. Then he asked Jean Valets to see him after the meeting to arrange for the packing of the canoes. The silence Jurie had won stayed in the group when Dollard spoke.

“My friends, we are almost ready to leave. For once, the Iroquois will be surprised to see us, and we’ll make sure it is an unpleasant surprise. We’ll return in a few weeks with the river open, many Mohawks dead and, I hope, with enough Iroquois pelts to make all of us financially … ahhh… healthy.”

There was a loud cheer at the mention of the pelts.

“Now we will make our oath of allegiance and fidelity together. I pledge to support and defend the members of this voyage with all my strength and heart and will for the glory of Jesus Christ, for the sake of New France and for the safety of the group. “I pledge an oath of allegiance of honor to every member of the expedition and promise not to abandon, betray or in any way forswear my companions, so help me God. “I further pledge to accept no quarter in battle and to give none. Do you all so pledge and swear?” asked Dollard.

“We do,” said the sixteen.

“Goodnight, my friends. Until morning.”

The meeting broke up with a cheer that alarmed the sentries on the walls.

Several of the young men just walked through the town for an hour after that, rehearsing the run on the river. Finally, all said goodnight and Dollard returned to the officers’ barracks.

All the other young men were trying to sleep save the three who had girls in the colony.
One of these was Robert Jurie, who, between the late walk, the time with Claudette Mayer, his personal pack to prepare and the early call he had arranged for the canoe packers, did not sleep more than one hour.

Etienne Robin saw Celine Duprey after the meeting, but he could find little to say to her. Robin was a doer and except for expletives, exclamations and jokes he found little to say to anybody. The time with Celine Duprey was gently but rather desultorily spent. She asked if it would be dangerous and when would he return and he replied that it was certainly dangerous for the Iroquois but hardly for himself, and that he would return when he appeared and that he would most likely have enough pelts to permit marriage and did she think that was a good idea.

Celine Duprey lost no time in describing her feelings about the latter subject and after an expression of love, Celine returned to dream of a wedding night and Etienne Robin stepped out into the cold and was struck with the thought of the fabulous day ahead.

Jean Lecompte’s girl was a maid at the Hotel Dieu hospital on night duty so they spent only a few moments together. She cried and he reassured her and vowed he would certainly not be a patient in her hospital. Then he recited a particularly ghastly poem which she thought sweet. They kissed, a bell rang and she quickly embraced him and raced to the sound of a sick man’s call.

The men who had no girls did not miss them that night. If they thought of them at all it was to wish they had one to celebrate their return on the shore in a few weeks’ time. But then, they reasoned, their return would certainly be a propitious time to impress the young ladies of Montreal. With their canoes full of furs they could have their pick of the ladies.

Undressing in his quarters and satisfied at last that the trip was in his grasp Dollard permitted exhaustion to submerge him and he slept.

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Long Sault Battle. Ch. 6: Quebec, April, 1660.


Chapter 6: Quebec, April, 1660.

The Battle of the Long Sault

Chapter 6: Quebec, April, 1660.

Four days after the Martine Messier attack. After learning of the reports of a massive impending attack on Quebec from the captured Iroquois who had tried to abduct Martine Messier, Quebec Governor D’Argenson sent runners to call in residents of the near-by farms.

The nuns of the Hotel Dieu hospital barricaded their residence; visiting Hurons came into the fort for security; the Ursuline convent, strong and well-situated, was used as a redoubt and occupied by two dozen soldiers; the streets of the lower town were barricaded and sentries increased.

A comet was seen in the sky near Quebec and the habitants, hurrying to the safety of the fort, were amazed and reported it as a burning canoe across the sky. The peasant farmers swore they heard lamentations and cries from sources they could not identify. Thunder and lightening followed the comet and the people knew in their hearts that these portents were meant for them.

Several days passed and no attacks were made. Still, no one left the fort. Finally, after four days, D’Argenson decided the Iroquois was either mistaken, or lied in order to make a case for sending him as a peace emissary, the better to save his own life.

The people returned to their homes outside the fort and discounted the scare as only a rumor, one of many that frightened the town regularly even when no attacks were made. It was just this sort of thing, D’Argenson realized, that drained energy, kept the state of tension so high here, and made life so terrifying.

Of the families returning to their farms was one led by a woman, Agate Giroux, who with  her daughter, Cecile, her son-in-law, Rejean Proulx, and their four small children, lived on a farm on a grand seigneury, some twenty miles below Quebec. They returned there by boat and when they arrived, the grandmother and Rejean Proulx went immediately to the fields while Cecile walked on to the house with the children.

Waiting in the house were eight Mohawks who captured  them all and escaped to the river.

When the others returned from the fields for dinner, the broken dishes and some beads torn from one of the Mohawk’s deerskin vests told the story.

Proulx leapt into a canoe, and paddled speedily to the fort, stopping only once to alert the inhabitants of a nearby farm near the river. En route, he passed the Mohawks who were concealed along the river with their gagged captives.

They saw him. He did not see them.

D’Argenson acted immediately, sending soldiers both upstream and down, not knowing which way the enemy would go but knowing they would travel in darkness and soon.

The captors could not delay with so many children for fear of being discovered so, that night, they put their captives in the bottoms of their canoes and hugged the shore near Levis, the small village directly across from the fort. They knew, moon or no, they would be detected in the middle of the river.

It didn’t take long for the vigilant to see them. The soldiers fired a volley first and then swarmed into the river and overcame the Iroquois easily. They captured five of the enemy; the others were shot.

Father Lamont  told of all this in his ‘Relations’ letter home.

This all took place on a Saturday, the day of the Virgin, and the woman, Cecile, had great faith in the Virgin. She prayed for aid feeling a full conviction that, passing before Quebec on this Saturday, she would be delivered by the power of this Queen of Heaven. The Virgin answered the prayer of her votary, Cecile, although it true and sad to relate that in the volley she suffered a mortal wound and the same shot struck the infant in her arms. Nevertheless, three children were saved, a victory was struck, and the ensuring baptism of fire of the Mohawks, delivered five pagan souls to the Lord.

The fate that befell the Mohawks was the same as that the Algonquins had arranged for the Wolf, but this time the torture was more cruel. The enemy died in the fire expressing surprise that the town was still alive, because, they said, the whole of the Iroquois had gathered on the Ottawa for the attack on the French.

Their story confirmed the Wolf’s in every respect save for numbers of men. Did the Mohawks lie at the moment of their deaths? If so, to what purpose?

No, the French believed their enemies and called on the people to the fort once again. Again nothing happened and again the settlers returned to their farms.

Governor D’Argenson paced the parapet of the fort at Quebec and looked out over the river on a chilly night in April. Martine Messier was safe with her husband. For now. The grandmother, Agate Giroux, and her son-in-law Proulx, and two of those children were safe. For now. But the mother and two children were killed. They would never grow up. This would not happen in France. At least not this kind of butchery, he thought.

Where were the Iroquois? He spent a lot of time trying to separate rumor from fact. It was hard knowing things for certain. The Iroquois traded with the Dutch at Fort Orange and the Algonquin and the Huron were French allies  but sometimes he thought that was all he knew.

The Iroquois had five nations, stretching from the south side of Lake Ontario reaching  to Lake Erie. He knew they called their confederation the Longhouse because the extension of tribes across the land resembled the long house that twenty or more families lived in when in their settlements.

He knew that although they lived in this rough social and political association, that any one of these nations could  sue for peace with the French while the others were at war with them. Or they could all band together for a common purpose.

He had been in this country two years and he still wasn’t close to figuring out how it worked. The best he could figure was that the Iroquois had this system as a device to stymie the French, that it was part of a design, that they were just duplicitous devils.

The Messier attempted abduction had bothered him. On the one hand that sort of thing was frequent but still, it frightened the population and a woman alone, my God, how would her husband have dealt with it has she been killed or taken and raped and burned? He could hardly stand thinking about it.

And he knew the Jesuits were writing home about every incident. The people in France would read and it and action would be taken.

Perhaps. The Jesuits hoped the action would be in the form of more priests, more funding for the mission. D’Argenson saw the value of that but first he wanted more settlers, more soldiers, else this place would be destroyed. He thought that people would get terrified with so many reports of deaths, rapes, burnings and scalping murders, injuries, kidnaps and the constant threat of all of these and more,  never mind the weather, and the black flies and the cold and the mud and the…just tallying the forms of affliction took long enough without telling of each separate incident. People would read all this and decide firmly not to even come here. Why would they? The only way tom reduce the reports of disasters was to reduce the disasters. The Black Robes could then concentrate on positive things in their reports to France.

A student of history, D’Argenson told himself how conquerors or explorers had insinuated themselves into countries before. Sometimes the infiltrating nations knew something about the culture and customs of the people they were encroaching upon. But in this place the French met a stone age people. The French had no knowledge  of them at all. When they arrived.

Now, the governor knew they were sophisticated in trading and self-government, brave and intelligent. They were also being pushed to their limit, although D’Argenson didn’t realize that. The French, on the other hand, were usually outnumbered, frequently out-maneuvered, and always outside the immediate help and the general understanding of a mother country most of whose members didn’t know anything about New France and could care less.

D’Argenson didn’t know whether the rumors of imminent attack were true or false but he couldn’t take a chance.

He called for the garrison commander and prepared a warning to be taken to the commander at Trois-Rivieres and  to Governor Maisonneuve in Montreal.

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Long Sault Battle. Ch. 5: Prud’homme’s Tavern. Montreal.


Prud’homme’s Tavern. Montreal. March 20

The Battle of the Long Sault

Chapter 5: Prud’homme’s Tavern. Montreal. March 20: Later that night.

Dollard left the interrogation meeting quickly and let out a yelp that was heard inside the governor’s house. He began to run, but slipped on the ice, slammed into the side of a building, fell to the ground and began laughing.

He was about to get up immediately but he stopped, deciding to savor the moment before seeing his friends at the tavern  He rose, and leaned against the building, his feet in the snow, his head slamming back against a large log house.

He thought at last he would have a chance to prove himself. He would return an accomplished commander and, he hoped, with enough furs to start him on his fortune. He could think of nothing better than to be a wealthy soldier, to be like Closse and le Moyne.

He put off heading for the tavern. Instead, he thought of his friends, recruitedlast autumn, and others approached later, such as Roland Hebert and some of them were on duty.

He walked to the watchtower in the evening chill. He had been there last November and first beheld the rigid back of Roland Hebert. Hebert took life too seriously. His tone was black and his comic remarks often failed to make others laugh because they were snide. He spent a great deal of time mumbling to himself about things. Cognac said he was deranged.

“Roland,” Dollard had said, “how are you?”

“I’m on duty.” The remark was a reproof.

“You can stay on your watch,” said Dollard, who outranked Hebert.

“What else would you have me do?” He looked down from his height of six feet at Dollard some four inches shorter. Sometimes his attitude affronted people; after a time they decided that was his way and let it go. But they didn’t seek out his company.

When Dollard told him his idea, Hebert changed completely and said, “Where do I sign?” All traces of condescension had disappeared from his voice. He was like a boy, enthusiastic, willing and eager to begin. He was always this way at the prospect of an adventure, especially a military one. It was as if he consciously contained himself, was barely civil, while doing the routine chores of a settler and only became himself when asked to fight. Dollard understood the feeling but he still wondered at the abrupt change in attitude.

He had climbed down the ladder from the parapet and walked over to the forge where Jean Tavernier was pumping bellows shooting the flames toward an iron grate. Tavernier then dropped the bellows and seized a hammer and began  banging a piece of metal with force but not enthusiasm.

“Hey, Forges!”

“How is it going, Dollard?”

“Good. Got a minute?”

“I’m not going anywhere.” He said it as if he meant his life.

Jean Tavernier, “Forges,” because of his occupation, usually looked sure and self-confident as he hammered. He always looked so at the forge or at games, but when he just stood and talked, his posture sagged, almost as if he were embarrassed at his great height.

“Like to kill some Iroquois and get some beaver?” said Dollard.

“You say it like it was a choice of desserts.”

“Almost. If I get the right people, I think I can get the authority.”

Forges stopped hammering, wiped his wrist on his forehead and his hands on his leather apron.

“Are you sure?”

He always asked this question. He wasn’t sure of himself so he had to be sure of other people. Forges, who was so strong, had eyes that rarely remained still and this gave a constant appearance of nervousness that was out of joint with his heroically cast physique. His eyes darted from Dollard’s right eye to his left as if to detect uncertainty in his friend. He saw none.

“Nothing’s sure, here, but I’m confident.”

“That’s the difference between you and me.” said Forges, getting up and retrieving his metal piece, “You’ve got confidence.” Forges became confdent only after he decided some one ese’s plan was solid.

“I have confidence in you.”

Forges snorted. His face had an appearance of uncertainty despite a strong jaw, a high, flat forehead and narrow cheekbones. By themselves, motionless, his face and physique would hardly fail to give off an aura of strength and determination. However, determination was what Forges lacked, and that was nothing more than a lack of confidence. Now his brow furrowed. No one could understand the dichotomy between the face and figure of Forges.

“When do you want to go?”

“In April. It’s only November. We have all winter to got ready.”

“I can do a lot with this over the winter,” he said, hitting the forge with the newly soldered piece of metal.”

During an evening of relaxation at Prud’homme’s Tavern in December, five months ago,  Dollard had found other willing young men:

Alonie Delestre, at thirty-one, the eldest recrit, Christophe Augier, an indolent, practically slothful individual, whose reedy body was often seen persuading a shovel to hold him semi-erect; Robert Jurie, a business-like, courteous youth who would later administer the expedition; Francois Crusson, volatile, known as Pilote, who had a tracking nose like an Algonquin hunter and Nicholas Josselin, a hypochondriac, and a fanatic about insignificant data and detail. He could be boring in a tavern, but he might know something that could save your life in the forest.

He had signed them all.

After Mass at Christmas, Dollard  had also spoken with Simon Grenet, a cautious but likeable surgeon’s assistant of twenty-two.

“Ahh, Dollard. I’d like to go but….” Grenet’s voice dropped.

“But what?”

“It’s just that my duties in the hospital…”

“Don’t worry about it. You’re not the surgeon, you’re the assistant. The surgeon will make sure nobody dies while you’re away.”

‘But he probably won’t let me go,” said Grenet.

“He won’t have anything to say about it, I promise you. If we don’t go it won’t be because the surgeon vetoed the plan. All right?”

“All right.”

“Good. I’ ll see you later,” said Dollard and he had walked away thinking of Grenet’s habit of trying to consider all sides of a question. Normally that was a virtue in a man but somehow Grenet used it as a method of putting obstacles in the way of actually doing something he thought he should do.

The same day. the sound of musket fire had drawn Dollard to an area behind the munitions store-house. There was a hill of earth near a wall that the men used for target practice. When he rounded the corner he saw Jacques Brassier looking down the barrel of a musket.

“Boom.” said Dollard quietly. “You are working Christmas Day.”

“Everybody else is too, replied Brassier. ” This one has a warped barrel” said Brassier,olding a musket. “It shoots up to the left.”

“Aim for the trees.” Suggested Dollard laughing.

“Good idea. I’ll just ask the Iroquois to climb up and pose. ‘A little to the left, please.  Thank you.’ Bang!”

“I hope you’ll have it fixed by the spring,” laughed Dollard.

“I’ll have it fixed today or I’ll take it to Forges,” he said, ramming the rod down the barrel.”Why, what’s happening in the spring?”

Dollard told him.

“God, I can’t wait to shoot some of those brutes. It gives me satisfaction.”

“What a way for a man to talk who almost became a priest,” said Dollard in mock astonishment.

“I think I would’ve been a priest, you know, except that I like shooting these savages more than saving their souls. It’s a flaw in my character.  Say Dollard, have you spoken to Rejean Tiblement? He’d kill you if he thought you were planning something like this without including him.”

“I have no intention of forgetting him,” laughed Dollard. “See you.”

The fifteenth youth, Rejean Tiblement, a locksmith, gunsmith and engineer who could fix anything from a ruptured canoe to a hole in a moccasin, or from a leaky copper pot to the imported, gilded armoire in Maisonneuve’s large house. He was skeptical, resourceful, tireless.  Dollard enlisted him when they were patrolling near a farm where an Iroquois had been sighted.

The sixteenth approached Dollard one day in January.

“I have heard you are to fight the Iroquois,” said Louis Martin.

“Perhaps,” said Dollard.

When the youth saw that Dollard was waiting, he continued.

“I overheard some plans when I was cleaning a barn last night.”

Dollardthought about that carelessness and wondered who was overheard.

“Who was talking?”

“Simon Grenet and another, I don’t know who.”

Dollard resolved to speak to Grenet.

“Can I go too? I can fight.”

Dollard laughed. “How old are you?”

“Twenty-one … you are only twenty-five and when you were twenty-one you were a soldier in France.”

“And you are twenty-one and a cow-herd in Montreal,” said Dollard.

“And I mean to change my station,” said the youth bitterly. “If not with you, then on my own. You must be thirty before they trust you here.”

Dollard snorted. “Can you shoot?”

“’Very well. I have been practicing with ammunition I …ahh…found.”

“From the munitions?”

The youth shrugged.

“Show me,” said Dollard.

“Over on that fence I have three stones. I’ll shoot them off,” Martin said.

Dollard looked and saw the three stones about thirty yards away. The largest would not be difficult to hit — in fact, if Martin missed it on the first shot Dollard instantly decided he would not let him come –but the middle stone was harder and the smallest one was a difficult shot.

Martin raised his musket and fired. The largest stone sprang from the fence. Dollard said nothing while Martin reloaded. He shot again and the middle stone jumped off the fence.

Dollard said out loud, “This is the test.”

Martin fired and missed.

“Wait, that was a mistake. Let me shoot again.”

Dollard said “Miss again and you’re out.”

Martin reloaded, raised the musket to his shoulder, aimed, fired, and the small stone zipped off into the snow.

“A mistake like that could mean your death instead of a Mohawk’s. He looked at Martin evenly. You can join us.”

The youth had let out a yelp of joy and, calling back his gratitude, raced off.

Most of these men who had pledged to go on the venture now waited anxiously at

Prud’homme’s Tavern to hear from him.


At the tavern, the men had begun drinking beer provided by the ample-bellied and amply-stored brewer and tavern keeper, Louis Prud’homme.

“Hey Louis, more beer, here!” said Pilote.

“Coming, coming…”

“I don’t know if you can make it…you’re fat and fifty at least!” Pilote was only half-kidding. He was exuberant but he could be mean. His remark might have passed, given that the drinkers were under thirty, but Prud’homme didn’t let it.

“Listen,” said Prud’homme, putting the drinks on the table. He grabbed Pilote’s shoulder and squeezed hard. “I may be older than you but I’m stronger and smarter. I’ve killed more savages too. I’ve been here since the beginning and I still outrank you.”

“All right, Louis, you’re right, said Pilote, rubbing his shoulder. The older man was strong.“If we go, you can come with us!”

Hebert, sitting with Pilote said, “What are our chances?”

“Not good, I guess,” said Pilote turning around to see if anyone saw Prud’homme grab his shoulder.  He was still massaging it. “But Dollard can be persuasive. What do you think?”

“I don’t know him well. They say he came here because he killed somebody in France. Maybe he’s running away from the authorities,” said Hebert.

“That’s ridiculous. Maisonneuve would not tolerate that.”

“It’s just what I heard.” said Hebert.

“Not possible. Lambert Closse made him godfather of his child and he’s always asked to witness oaths!” Said Pilote.

Hebert shrugged. “I don’t know him, as I say, but he’s a soldier right? So why isn’t he at the Court in France?  You know, Pilote, most people come here to better themselves but some come for darker reasons.”

“Darker reasons!  Jeez, Hebert, you’re full of it! There are soldiers in France and soldiers here.” said Pilote scornfully downing his drink.

Eleven were at the tavern drinking, the others having taken the late shift on the palisade. At ten in the evening, when they had gathered, they had been voluble, but now, at midnight, they were subdued. Some were getting morose, worried that the plan would be rejected. Others argued it was only the details of the plan that was delaying their friend and not some discovered weakness that would scuttle the trip. But privately they feared things were going badly.

Dollard appeared in the doorway. He composed himself then he pushed open the tavern door with a heavy hand and a heavier expression of regretful resignation. Eleven heads turned together and just as uniformly stopped when they saw him.

But he could contain his enthusiasm no longer than an instant, and seeing the disappointment that flew over their faces reflected from his, his cheeks cracked, a smile began and before he could stand back and laugh eleven pairs of hands were on him, sending him crashing to the floor where he was immediately doused with beer and called the worst actor in New France.

Louis Prud’homme’s tavern sold more beer and cognac in the next four hours to twelve men than had been consumed by the whole town for the previous week. That night was also the first time in Montreal the ‘no drinking on duty’ ban was broken as Dollard himself slipped out and took a cup of brandy to his friends on the wall.

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Long Sault Battle. Ch. 4: Attack Plan Evaluation.


Chapter 4: Attack Plan Evaluation. Montreal, April, 1660

The Battle of the Long Sault

Chapter 4: Attack Plan Evaluation.  Montreal, April, 1660

The group of Montrealers that confronted Dollard des Ormeaux on the evening of March 20, 1660 for the investigation of his military plan comprised Governor de Maisonneuve, Lambert Closse, Charles le Moyne, and Dollard’s friends Claude de Brigeac, and Pierre de Belestre, Dollard’s co-commander of the garrison of Montreal.

Dollard arrived at the appointed hour of 9:30 p.m. and was admitted by Claude de Brigeac.


“Claude — how does it look?”

“I don’t know –Maisonneuve wouldn’t permit Pierre or me in there with them… they’ve been here over two hours.” Unless it was an emergency, most of the town’s meetings, whether about supplies or military matters, took place at night. The daylight hours were too valuable, especially in spring and summer, to hold them during the day.

Dollard breathed a sigh of irritation.

“Two hours. They must be taking the plan apart.”

“Are you prepared Dollard?”

“I think so,” said Dollard.

“Where are the others?”

“Most are at Prud’homme’s drinking and eating, some are on the wall. How long have they been in there?”

“I just told you… two hours!”

“God! And you haven’t even been inside?”

“No. Just before we were to go in le Moyne whispered in his ear and Maisonneuve told us to stay out here. He said we could go in when you go in.”

“What the hell’s going on?”

“I think he wants to judge us as well as you.”

“What do you mean?”

“He doesn’t want us pushing for your plan because we’re friends, find out they were against it, and then watch us reverse our opinion and back off because we thought it prudent in front of our superiors.”

“Well, that’s not…” his voice rising.

“Dollard, you’d better relax. Maisonneuve wants a military decision from Pierre and me and not an emotional one. Whatever personal feelings we have must be put aside. You’ll have to convince us of the value of the plan on its own merits.”

“I want just want to kill a few Mohawks. Everybody’s making it the siege of Troy.”

“If you continue with the attitude you’re displaying now you won’t only not go on this expedition, you’ll be relieved of your command. I’m warning you.”

Dollard listened to his friend’s reproof and sighed.

“I haven’t spent fourteen hours a day with him for a year for nothing,” said de Brigeac.

“Fine. I’m ready. Where’s Pierre?”

“He just went to get some wood…thank God spring is coming.”

The side door opened and Pierre de Belestre entered with an armful of wood. Without turning, he kicked the door shut.

“Will you get the latch, somebody? Hey, Dollard…ready for the sausage grinder?”

“I hear you’re to be objective” laughed Dollard.

“Oh, hell yes,” he said, and, dropping his voice and mimicking Maisonneuve,

“Commander de Belestre, what do you think of des Ormeaux’s plan?” Belestre switched back to is own voice, “Well, Governor, considering the benefits that will accrue to me I think it’s a perfectly marvelous plan. Send him off with my blessings. I hope he gets adopted by the Mohawks. I hope they eat him.” He dropped the wood on the floor with a thumping clatter.

“What an indigestible meal that would be,” said de Brigeac.

They laughed nervously as Dollard and Claude helped Pierre stack the wood near the hearth. Suddenly, there was a noise at the door and all three men turned to face Lambert Closse.

“Gentlemen…”‘ said Closse. It was an order but softly couched and it was to set the tone of the discussion.

Closse returned through the door. de Belestre moved close to Dollard.

“For God’s sake, don’t tell him about all the money we’ll make from the furs.”


“He might think it’s your main objective!”

“What’s the matter with making some money?”

“Nothing. Just don’t make a big thing of it, will you?”

“All right,” growled Dollard, as he moved into the governor’s room.

There were two kinds of meetings at Montreal: the first was the usual late night tactical discussions of the day-to-day operation and defense of  the mission: how often should the guard be changed in the cold of winter; who could be entrusted with greater responsibility; who would accompany the Jesuits to the Indian missions; should the foundry prepare more shot, etc..

The other kind of meeting, the kind Dollard was to face now, dealt with critical questions, strategy rather than tactics. This was not the first time Dollard had been in one of these ‘sausage  grinders’ but before he had been on the examining side of the meetings, asking questions of other officers who had ideas for the defense of the town.

This was to be the first time one of his own ideas was scrutinized. In the past, being one of the junior officers, he had not even had much opportunity to interrogate people since the older soldiers, such as Closse and le Moyne, had such wide experience that their questions anticipated and obviated his. But Dollard had not spent his time in these meetings idly. He had observed, listened and learned.

As Dollard entered the room, he looked around quickly. Maisonneuve was behind his desk the eight-foot fireplace on the wall to his right. Flanking the fireplace, hidden behind sliding doors, as on some ships, were two-tiers of beds, to save space and ensure warmth. Also to his right was Charles le Moyne. The empty chair on the governor’s left was obviously for Closse, and two other chairs drawn alongside were for Claude de Brigeac and Pierre de Belestre. In front of Maisonneuve’s desk was a table with maps and paper, and in front of that a chair facing the committee, for Dollard.

It looks different from this side, thought Dollard.

The men took their places.

“Sit down please, Commander,” said Maisonneuve. “As in the past, we will proceed as follows: First, Commander des Ormeaux will outline his plan; second, he will justify it on military grounds; third, we will voice our objections, if any, and pose questions; fourth, he will rebut our objections and answer our questions; fifth, we shall ask the commander to leave us while we consider the matter; and finally, we shall deliver our verdict. Agreeable, gentlemen?”

A chorus of ‘Sirs’ responded.

“Commander, you may proceed,” said the governor, who settled back in his chair to listen.

“Governor Maisonneuve, gentlemen,” began Dollard “You know the history of Montreal far better than I, and the problems attendant to the lack of a good French regiment is well known. From whatever causes, militarily we are in an untenable position.”

“More than 500 people have come to Montreal since governor Maisonneuve first carried the cross up to Mount Royal in 1642. More, of course, have been born here. We are now, eighteen years later, reduced to three hundred and seventy persons, only fifty of whom are heads of families like M. Closse and M. le Moyne, and only one hundred and seventy of whom are able to fight under any circumstances.”

“Should the policy of neglect that is currently followed by those in authority in France continue, it is clear that Montreal will gradually see its citizens fall one by one to the Iroquois.”

Maisonneuve’s eyes held on Dollard but a slight twitch in his lip betrayed concern.

“Add to this the problem of safe passage on the rivers. The Ottawa River is hardly navigable anymore because of the vicious attacks by Iroquois warriors who not only make ordinary transportation difficult but make our fur trade practically impossible. Every time our traders go up the Ottawa it is a good bet they will not return.”

“What remains of our Huron allies? Most were massacred with Father Brebeauf in the Huron villages at Saint Marie about a decade ago. But what of the remaining ones, the ones who still have the courage to trade on the river? They have their canoes ambushed because they are too busy with the heavy craft and the currents to reply to the guns of the Iroquois thieves.”

“The Mohawks and Onondagas thrive on our helplessness; they attack our people and steal our furs. We get no revenue, we lose lives and the fear of the next expedition grows. Since we do not attack the Iroquois, they grow bolder: we have lost men who have simply opened their doors only to find a screaming Iroquois with a hatchet right in the center of our colony. The Iroquois no longer fear or even respect us. Militarily they are correct, for our tactics do not vary.”

“I do not question that these tactics were necessary before, but I submit that no change of military plan can only lead to our destruction.”

Maisonneuve sighed imperceptibly. He had heard all this before and he was annoyed at being reminded of his long-time military strategy. He, himself, had long wanted to attack but his supporters in Paris forbade it. Montreal was not supported by the government of France but by interested religious laymen who tried to raise money on their own. The gap between what he wanted to do and what he had been permitted to do produced a constant stress that was felt even by this calm and thoughtful leader. Being reminded of circumstances he couldn’t control was uncomfortable.

“My plan is not dangerous,” Dollard continued. “The idea is to go up the Ottawa River, select a spot the Iroquois are certain to pass — the Long Sault is perfect– set ourselves up in ambush and wait for the enemy. All of my men are volunteers, unmarried, and practically all are expert marksmen. And even those who aren’t expert will seem so when compared to the savages.”

No one spoke. Dollard took out a piece of paper from his jacket and unfolded it.

“Militarily my purposes are several.”

He looked down at the paper and began to read:

“‘This action is proposed, first, to eliminate the Iroquois blockade of the Ottawa River.”

He raised his head and spoke directly to Maisonneuve:

“We’ll throw the Iroquois off balance by this kind of petit guerre — even if we don’t repeat the tactic for some time, the Iroquois will live in fear that we might.”

His eyes returned to the paper.

“Second, to safeguard the return of Pierre Esprit Radisson and Menard Chouart de Groseilliers, our best and most experienced traders, who are expected in the spring following this winter’s expedition to the Nez-Perce Indians;”

“Third, to provide some relief for the men from the annoyance of military inactivity — or at least military activity initiated by ourselves;”

Dollard looked up again, found le Moyne’s face and continued:

“It is hard on the men to wonder whether the furs will get through — especially when they have no say in the matter.”

le Moyne’s eyes seemed to indicate to Dollard that he was sympathetic but the man’s face was expressionless.

Dollard swallowed and he returned to his paper.

“Fourth, to keep for ourselves the furs and profits from them should the Iroquois we encounter be hunters or stealers of furs.”

Dollard shot a quick look to de Brigeac who remained impassive. Dollard turned his gaze back to Maisonneuve. He stopped reading and spoke directly–

“We have had only a few canoes of furs in four years… it is intolerable. If the Mohawks do not kill us they will bankrupt us.”

“We know the Iroquois will be returning from the winter hunt…that they travel in small groups…and that they will be short of arms and supplies from the winter.”

“To this we add the difficulty they’ll have trying to maneuver their canoes through the rapids and we can’t fail. It is simply taking their tactic of attacking our canoes which has been so successful for them, and reversing it. This is the plan and the reasons for it.”

Dollard sat down. He looked at each of the men who said nothing; they were waiting for the governor to speak.

“Monsieur le Moyne, will you begin the appraisal ?” said Maisonneuve.

“I have to agree with the Commander’s assessment of our military position. I have bridled under its restrictions much longer than he has,” said le Moyne, smiling.

At thirty-four, le Moyne was not slowing down, nor would he until at sixty, when, worn out from a harsh life of work and battle, he would die leaving ten sons, one of whom would become the governor of New Orleans, a small fortune, and the seignory of Longueuil, a composite of areas which totaled a fabulous amount of land.

In 1646 he had come to Montreal and immediately began to distinguish himself. He learned the Indian mind, manners and language; he became a clerk, which experience was to aid him in his warehousing later. And he was a soldier even then in his teens; only weeks after his arrival he captured Iroquois prisoners. He was to do the same often, including in1655 when he and Lambert Closse took five braves and a chief.

In 1651, he miraculously escaped death during an Iroquois slaughter in which several others died. The only other survivor was Jean Chicot who had been scalped, disproving a common belief that scalping and killing were necessarily synonymous.

Once he was almost killed when he and others faced an attack by one hundred and sixty Iroquois. By some idiocy, none of the other settlers had taken their guns with them. This was a carelessness which occurred too often for the ferocity of life at the time and was reflective of either gross indifference to the situation, a reckless bravery, or stupidity of monumental proportions. le Moyne was completely alone with a musket against this force until a woman named Celles Duclos ran from the fort carrying enough weapons for him to repel the attack and escape capture. Duclos loading and le Moyne firing scattered the astonished Indians.

This then was one of the men to judge the des Ormeaux plan: tough-minded, realistic and, in the true sense, heroic. These were extraordinary men; new Achilles come to life in the wilderness of the New World; soldiers, husbands, fathers, explorers, traders. All in the service of God and France, although it was true that the worse France treated them the higher the honor of God was rated.

So, when le Moyne said, ‘I have to agree with the Commander’s assessment of our  position.’ Dollard breathed easier. His heart beat faster, but his breathing, as if relieved of a great pressure, came easier.

“Of course there are problems,” said le Moyne almost immediately.

Dollard’s heart hit the pit of his stomach and he almost groaned from the contact.

“The first one is the question of manpower,” le Moyne continued. “Assuming for the moment the value of the plan, we are talking about taking seventeen men and removing them from the fort’s defense for perhaps two months.”

“Two months,” Dollard thought. “No, a few weeks at most.” But he did not speak.

“Major Closse, what is the strength of our force at the moment?” asked le Moyne.

“Roughly one hundred and thirty able bodied men, although not all in the town or all capable of fighting at any one time. I’d say one hundred and ten at the most,” answered Closse.

“Minus seventeen, leaves about ninety for the defense of Montreal,” said le Moyne.

Dollard blanched. He had estimated one hundred or more men left in town. One hundred seemed so many more than ninety that the difference appeared overwhelming.

“What do you say to the objection that the removal of seventeen men might seriously damage our ability to defend the town, Commander des Ormeaux?” asked le Moyne.

The tone in le Moyne’s voice let the young man know he must answer satisfactorily.

“The danger lies, I think, replied Dollard, “is not in the few men who are here, since we know our fort can be sentried by eight men and defended by forty. The danger lies in our everlasting policy of simply waiting for death to come for us. The Iroquois will keep it up unless we initiate attack. I do not delude myself that this plan is the answer to our problems. It is merely an ambush which will shake the Iroquois from their belief that they may attack us at will.

“As for the dangerous nature of the mission I think it not very: if the Iroquois we meet are warriors our surprise and good shooting will be sufficient; if they are hunters their weapons will be empty from the hunt and their canoes will be full. With this combination in the rapids they will certainly fall to us.”

Maisonneuve had been leaning his elbow on the arm of his chair and holding his index finger across his lips. He was turning his head slightly to the left and right creating with his finger the effect of a saw on his mouth. Now he drew his hand away and, pointing for emphasis, said:

“Have you considered the incident of 1644?”

Dollard turned to the governor.

“Yes sir, I have. I grant the validity of the event as a caution, but the two plans are hardly the same. You were under pressure from ill-trained, and apparently loose-thinking men. Unprepared, they fell into a trap. They were not prepared physically, mentally or even sartorially. Most had no snow-shoes for the fight, if I rightly recall the reports, My men will be prepared in every way.

“Also, you lacked the element of surprise since it was you who were first under attack. We will be doing the attacking this time.

“And we shall not merely have the tactical surprise that is so necessary in fighting these Indians, but we will have a cumulative surprise which has been building. The Iroquois have  observed our strategy and now frankly and factually tell their councils that the French never leave their fort to fight, never change strategy. To follow this policy forever can only lead to our deaths.

“For all of these reasons, sir, I feel our plan will be successful.”

Claude de Brigeac had been sitting quietly; now he moved as if to speak and with a wave of his hand Maisonneuve gave him leave.

“Commander des Ormeaux,” he said, taking the cue from le Moyne, “Do you see any weakness in the plan?”

“Well,” replied Dollard, “it is true my men do not have the vast experience of Messrs.Closse, le Moyne or Radisson, but many can handle themselves in the woods like any Mohawk.

The one area where we might have some difficulty is with the canoes. Not everyone in our group has great skill with these craft but enough of us do so that we can distribute the weaknesses in the center of the canoes and not have that fact harm us.”

Lambert Closse had said nothing since replying to le Moyne. He listened carefully and watched Dollard’s cool attitude. Finally, Maisonneuve called on him.

“Major Closse, have you anything to say?”

Whatever this man said it was going to be influential. Aside from the capture of Iroquois with le Moyne and the occasion when he took sixteen men to a two-hour defense of the Hotel Dieu, Lambert Closse filled the letters of the Jesuits as a brilliant soldier. He was the sergeant-major of the garrison which meant he was Dollard’s immediate superior.  Like most he supplemented his income by becoming a fur trader, partly out of his own desire and partly because he received menial wages like others in New France.

He was born in the Ardennes in 1618, where he received a liberal education at the hands of the Jesuits. Practically everything the man did carried with it a quality of the extraordinary. He could foresee and forestall most Iroquois ruses in battle. His will power was his most powerful quality: he could never countenance defeat and he was able to keep his soldiers at such a pitch of excitement that they seemed always ready, never surprised by a sudden attack.

Once, to a man who suggested as tactfully as possible that Closse would get himself killed by racing around the country and throwing himself into wars, he replied, “I came here only in order to die for the sake of God while serving him in the profession of arms. If I did not think to die here I would leave the country and go and serve against the Turks and not be deprived of that glory.”

His dedication to God, although exceptional in its intensity, was common to many in New France; he had once thought of becoming a Jesuit and refrained from doing so only because he felt his qualities better suited to serving God with a musket than with a cross.When he was finally killed in a fight with the Iroquois, the eulogy at his funeral spoke volumes:

‘He was a man whose piety was no whit inferior to his valor, and who possessed extraordinary presence of mind in the field of battle. He justly won the credit of saving Montreal both by his might and his reputation. It was deemed advisable to keep his death concealed from the enemy for fear they might take advantage of it. This eulogy we owed his memory since Montreal owed him its life.’

Dollard winced as he waited for Closse’s comments.

“Governor, I think the plan is a good one and I would like to go along.”

This sudden announcement brought a mixed feeling to Dollard: he was happy because if le Moyne agreed, Maisonneuve’s agreement to the plan was certain, but he was shaken by Closse’s expression of desire to join the force. That was complimentary but it meant one thing, surely: the command would go to Closse, not to himself.

“I would only ask that the venture be postponed until after seeding,” continued Closse.

“I agree” said le Moyne. “The plan is sound, not too ambitious, and seems well organized. I too would go if it were to be postponed. The seeding is paramount—the season here is not so long as in France and we need the harvest for sustenance. It is as simple as that.”

Dollard’s mind raced. From leading the expedition he was rapidly falling down the chain of command. He had a sudden incredible thought that the plan would go ahead, everybody inMontreal would go and he would be left to defend the nuns at the Hotel Dieu.

“Ahhh … as much as I would like Major Closse and M. le Moyne to accompany us…”

These two men burst out laughing. Even Dollard smiled.

“…I fear a delay would ruin the plan. If we wait until seeding is completed we have waited  too long: the Iroquois hunters will be back in their longhouses, their warriors will have already killed whatever Hurons might attempt the voyages.”

“Perhaps even Radisson and Grosseillers would be killed and their furs taken. They will have had time to return to the Dutch and will be well armed against us. They would then have the best spots on the river! We would not be able to dislodge them and unblock the river, and another summer of poverty would be upon us. Also, my men are ready now and we can be back, in two weeks or three, not two months as was suggested, and in any case probably in time for seeding, or at least the best part of it.”

As soon as he said it he regretted it since if the seeding argument was accepted, what was to prevent Closse and le Moyne from coming?

Maisonneuve faced the question bluntly.

“That is persuasive, but if you wait you can be commanded by a more experienced man.”Dollard did not flinch.

“I am a capable commander.”

The governor smiled. “Are there other questions?”

Lambert Closse had one: “If you see the enemy is much stronger than your company, what will you do?”

“I will not attack,” said Dollard, “unless that strength is simply in numbers which we will reduce or eliminate by our ambush.”

It was the right answer. As these soldiers had learned, New France warfare had its own rules and discretion was a major one. Surprise was absolutely necessary; courage and daring more so than in the field became more individual as every man ‘took up his tree’; patience was of the utmost importance. But if discretion was lacking, though all the other elements be right, this could lose the day and lives. Montreal could not afford to lose 17 men, ten per cent of the whole population.

“Commander des Ormeaux, will you absent yourself for a few moments, please?” asked Maisonneuve.

Dollard stood up, saluted and left the room, not daring to glance at Pierre de Belestre and Claude de Brigeac, who, in any case, avoided looking at their departing friend. After Dollard des Ormeaux had left the room, Maisonneuve asked each man his opinion.

“Let them go,” said Closse. ” There is truth in his reasoning to leave soon. I would go too but I must do the seeding. It is one thing to attack an enemy for an hour, quite another to miss the seeding for our families and our future.”

“That’s right,” said le Moyne. “Also, Lambert, if we go Dollard might as well not.” He winked at his friend and they laughed.

“I am in agreement,” said de Belestre.

“And I,” said de Brigeac. “In the face of our weakness some doubtless would call it an ‘absurd enterprise’ but I understand that has been said to our governor before.”

They all laughed.

When Maisonneuve told the governor of Quebec, De Montmagny, that he would establish Montreal, the governor had tried to dissuade him, partly because his own authority would then be dissipated but mainly because of the Iroquois wars. He told Maisonneuve that the enterprise would never succeed, and that it should be named the ‘absurd enterprise’ so that all might realize that this pious folly was in the hands of God.

For Maisonneuve that clinched it. “Agreed,” he said. “They can go.”

The news filled Dollard with joy and he could scarcely conceal his enthusiasm as they all toasted the venture moments later in Maisonneuve’s office. Before they had time to refill his glass he excused himself.

“With your permission, gentlemen, I must get to Prud’homme’s…my men are waiting word.”

They laughed and Maisonneuve said, “Well then, Adam Dollard Sieur des Ormeaux, to your companions!”

Dollard saluted, turned, walked two steps and then ran to the door, slamming it. The laughter inside covered the wild whoop that the runner emitted en route to the tavern.

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Long Sault Battle. Ch. 3: RECRUITMENT. Montreal.


Chapter 3: RECRUITMENT. Montreal, autumn, 1659.

The Battle of the Long Sault

Chapter 3: RECRUITMENT. Montreal, autumn, 1659.

Dollard clumped slowly through the snow back to the palisade from the meeting with the governor, his mouth drawn, his expression gloomy. Swearing to himself, he climbed the wooden steps fifteen feet up to the walkway next to the stone tower and met Pierre de Belestre.

He started fuming, walking rapidly up and down the palisade parapet, swearing under his breath.

De Belestre waited patiently. “Come,” he said, “walk with me on my circuit.” They walked slowly around the walls checking the six gates and passing another guard moving in the other direction. Whenever he came into view they lowered their voices.

“I didn’t mean to imply that it was his fault we hadn’t attacked the Iroquois!” said Dollard.

I don’t think he took it that way,” said de Belestre.

“Pierre, I can’t stand it here any longer like this! We’re dead men if we do nothing. Either we’ll die of boredom in this ice country or we’ll be killed by the savages! We’re like animals waiting to be killed at the whim of the hunter. Is this why we came to the New World, to die like rats?”

He turned, looked out over the spiked palisade wall and yelled: “Come and fight, you savages!’ He turned back to de Belestre, “But of course, they won’t; they’re not stupid. They know that if we fight them in the forest they win, and if they keep us here, they win! Either way, they win.”

De Belstre automatically looked out over the walls even as he listened to his friend. An attack could come at any time.

“I don’t know what we can do about it…it’s three more years until our  commission is up…no, we’ve got to do it the way you’ve suggested. This plan will break through Maisonneuve’s caution.”

“God, I hope so. Else I’ll go crazy. I could go crazy. That would be good. Then I wouldn’t know the difference. Or I wouldn’t care.”

“Well, at least they’re going to consider it,” said de Belestre. “Look, Maisonneuve has lots of battle experience against the Dutch. He’ll see the virtue of the plan.”

“I’ve tried Pierre. I’ve tried to do it his way. I worked all last summer on the land Maisonneuve gave me but I want to cut down Iroquois, not trees. Most who came here are settlers; we are soldiers. We fought the Dutch too.”

“Right. Lambert Closse and le Moyne are on their way to wealth and property by getting furs, not by growing vegetables,” said de Belestre.

“As garrison soldiers there’s no way we can get furs short of going out and taking pelts from the Iroquois, thereby making battle serve economy,” said Dollard. “Ever since Pierre Esprit Radisson suggested this idea, I’ve thought of nothing else.”

“He’s spent years with the savages,” said de Belestre. “He knows their ways.  “He told me he’s sick of running rapids and not knowing if he’s going to get shot.”

Dollard said. “Radisson says my plan will work for us and besides he needs the waterways clear so he can bring back furs. We’ve had, what three canoes in four years or something? Hardly worth putting on a ship to France when you think of the amount of franks it will bring. Damn it, Pierre, I still want you to come with me. It’ll be a hell of a fight!”

“Dollard, you know I want to go but I can’t…who will command the garrison?”

“Maisonneuve can get a replacement for a few weeks.”

“No. If we both go, he’ll appoint two replacements. And when we get back, nobody’s going to say, Oh, welcome back, here are your positions. Every man our age wants our commissions…if we give them up we won’t get them back.”

Dollard slumped against the palisade wall, careful to keep his head below he top.

“It’s only for two or three weeks, Pierre. How can they replace us like that?”

“Lord, you have a short memory, Dollard. You didn’t get promoted just because you killed those Onondagas attacking you neighbor, you know. We’ve all killed the enemy.”

Dollard made an expression of resignation. Yves Fournier had stayed away on a fur trading mission several days too long once too often and Maisonneuve had replaced him with Dollard.

“Well, if that’s it, how can I even go? Someone will take…. oh, to hell with it. If I do all right, I’ll be able to take charge of the forest attack patrol and I’ll be away from Montreal more than I’ll be here. If I’m not successful, I might be dead.”

“Dollard, why cut yourself off? It’s a good idea. You go and I’ll stay here. Even if you lead the forest patrol it’s purely defensive. You’ll just be going out to rescue someone, or reinforce one of the towers. It isn’t this good, it isn’t an attack. It’s not much better than what we’ve got now. In fact, on rotation, it’s exactly what we’ve got now. Look, I don’t trust anybody else to handle the garrison anyway.” He laughed. “While you’re gone I’ll train a replacement but I’ll take shifts too so he won’t get comfortable in it.”

“You conniver! You want the garrison command all to yourself!”

“Ahh — well, Dollard to be frank, yes. Actually I want Maisonneuve’s job but he won’t turn it over to me just yet.”

Dollard laughed, “You fox. ‘You go, Dollard and I’ll stay here.’ Sure!… never mind, Pierre, with me out in the forest, and you holding the fort, we’ve got a good thing.”

Pierre de Belestre had laughed. “Soon, Dollard, we’ll take over this place.”

With a rueful laugh, Dollard left for Prudhomme’s tavern. His mood had improved a little but he still didn’t relish the thought of telling his men they’d have to wait longer for a decision. it seemed that’s all anyone did in Montreal–wait.


Many young men had come to Montreal to escape the poverty of rural France. The main jobs were to clear the fields, engage in the fur trade, and fight the Iroquois. As for the original premise in the founding of Montreal–the conversion of men and the saving of souls — they relegated that to fourth position in importance and left it in the hands of the priests and men like Maisonneuve.

Dollard thought of his first approach to men as they worked the previous September in the fields. Because of erratic but pressing Iroquois raids on individual farmers or pairs, Maisonneuve had a team of men work a field, complete it, then move to the next one.

Rene Doussin, Jean Valets, and Etienne Robin were plowing, while Jean Lecompte and ‘Cognac’ Boisseau were on guard, their muskets held lightly in their hands as they patrolled. It seemed a waste of valuable labor since the town had so few people, but the alternative would lose more men; they would be picked off from the sides of fields by Iroquois. No, they needed the guards. Now there was even a law against working without your musket.

On a break, Dollard called them over under a broad maple. ‘Cognac’ arrived first having headed for the shade of the tree even as he whistled the break. He was followed by Rene Doussin, at thirty, among the oldest of the group.

“Hey, Cognac, How is it that you get to patrol the shady side of the field every time you’re on guard duty?” said Doussin.

“Actually, this side of the field is more dangerous — all those trees the Indians could hide in. I allow Lecompte over there, the lazy lout, to cover the hill. There he can see the Iroquois coming for miles.”

“So he can warn you and you can hide in the trees,” said Lecompte now within earshot.   Cognac just laughed. He had come over on the same ship as Dollard two years earlier. They had become close friends vomiting over the side together. He laughed then too.

Rene Doussin, who now sprawled on the ground, was a miller, although in Montreal everybody was a builder, farmer and soldier, no matter what trade they might have had. In France, Doussin had been an apprentice miller so he helped make the bread for the colony.  His baptism to the New World had been elaborate. He had been captured, tortured and released in an exchange of prisoners by the Iroquois. He was taciturn, tough, and a skillful gunsmith, a valued man in New France, where your musket literally went to bed with you.

“I have an idea to get out of here,” Dollard had said.

“Back to France?” said Doussin.

“No — out of the fort and into action with the Iroquois.”

“Count me in,” said Cognac, his enormous red beard flopping over his face. “As long as we can take some brandy to keep warm.”

“We’re dying of the heat here, you idiot!” said Doussin.”We’re all sweating!”

“Enough now,” said Dollard. “I want to get a group,  go up the river, and ambush some Iroquois.”

“Just like that?” said Lecompte.

“Sure. You could write a heroic poem about the adventure,” said Cognac.

Jean Lecompte came from Chamiere-en-Charmie in the province of Le Maine, which he believed was the most beautiful place on earth. He  wrote long, romantic and insufferable poetry out he place, which he read or recited under the slightest provocation. At five feet, six inches, he was slightly shorter than the average Frenchman, but his strong physique, blond hair, good features and blue eyes made heads turn at parties. His work was as a woodcutter and if you didn’t know that you could guess because his arms were like small tree trunks.

“My poetry is better than your drinking, Cognac.”

“All right, Jean. Ignore him,” said Etienne Robin.

Robin was the closest friend of Jean Lecompte. His strength was legendary, once having pulled a full grown cow out of a swamp with only a rope. Robin, like the others, was unmarried, although unlike many he had a girl — Claudine Mallotte. It was a mystery to the others how he kept her since he drank as much as Cognac and she was devout.

In seven years Robin had practically become an Indian. He loathed the French penchant for display and ceremony and had immersed himself in the Huron culture. He spoke Huron and was an expert canoeist and woodsman.

“How are you going to convince Maisonneuve to let you go?” said Rene Doussin.  “What’s the plan?”

“Simple,” said Dollard. Our Huron traders come down river loaded with furs. The Iroquois ambush them and steal the furs. This time we’ll hide. When the Iroquois come we’ll shoot them.”

“What if they’re warriors and not hunters?” asked Doussin.

“It doesn’t make any difference,” said Dollard. “Well, it makes one difference: if they’re hunters we take their furs and get the money by selling them, just like they do with ours.”

“And if they’re warriors?”

They’ll be dead anyway,” interrupted Cognac. “Do you understand?  We’ll shoot them first, then ask if they’re hunters or warriors.  Jesus!”

“That’s it,” said Dollard.”

“They won’t expect it,” said Robin. “We never go into the wild…then, ‘Blam!’”

“Well,” said Lecompte, “I’m tired of sitting on my ass waiting to get picked off. I’m for it.”

The reaction from the others was equally enthusiastic.

The other man in the field Dollard wanted to talk to, and characteristically, the last man to make his way across the field, was Jean Valets.

Valets was a ploughman. Stockily, but muscularly built, he was tall, phlegmatic, and good-natured. More educated than most, he had studied for the priesthood for a time. The others thought of him rather like a huge, friendly dog, since he had never been known to get angry although subjected to every sort of practical joke from snakes in the bed to having his canoe tipped, he was assured, by the giant turtle that the Indians believed held the world on his back.

“Glad you could make it, Valets,” said Cognac. “Sorry we haven’t got the carriage for you but they’re using it for the governor’s ball this afternoon.”

“Can’t you walk any faster?” said Lecompte.

“He’s probably learning a new language,” said Robin. “Talking to the grass: ‘Hello little piece of grass, how are you? And there’s a piece of cow-plop. What do you say, cow-plop?'” Much laughter and slapping of arms and knees.

Valets’ facility with languages was remarkable and to his friends inexplicable; he never seemed to work at it but he could speak Huron and Iroquois, which were similar, and Algonquin, which was entirely different.

“I was just taking my time so I wouldn’t have to spend so much of it in the company of you poor illiterates who can’t even speak French properly,” responded Valets with mock scorn. Cognac, for example, can hardly speak without swearing…”

“That’s a goddamn lie,” said Cognac.

“Witness. And the rest of you can barely sign your names for your salaries. If you didn’t have me the Indians would kill you. But I tell them to leave you alone because you are simpleminded and they think the simpleminded are favorites of God.”

“Sit down,” laughed Lecompte. “Dollard has a plan.”

They told him.

“First among you, me,” said Valets, “else you won’t be able to talk to the Indians.”

“We’re not gonna talk to them, we’re gonna shoot them!” said Cognac. “Christ, he’ll talk to them and Lecompte will recite poetry to them. You might as well send the Jesuits.”

Dollard smiled as he recalled the day. All these men and more who had pledged to go on the venture now waited anxiously to hear from Dollard at Prud’homme’s tavern. He regretted he had to tell them to be patient a few more days.

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