Ten years after Montreal was founded, its population was still only about 50 people. Many hired hands left after their contracts ended, the birth rate was almost zero, and recruitment was difficult. The situation was desperate. In exchange for a piece of land (the rear-fief of Nazareth), Jeanne Mance lent the funds she was given to found a hospital to Maisonneuve so that he could return to France and recruit one hundred people. When Maisonneuve came back to Montréal with the "Grande Recrue", or Great Recruitment, in 1653, it breathed new life into the colony. The newcomers were people with trades: settlers, labourers, carpenters, etc. Among the 95 people who arrived was Marguerite Bourgeoys. Maisonneuve granted land concessions to people with names such as Gadois, Desroches, Juillet, Barbier, Prudhomme, Tessier-Lavigne, Archambault, and Godé. A French community took hold and the colony was saved.
Ten years after Montreal was founded, its population was still only about 50 people. Many hired hands left after their contracts ended, the birth rate was almost zero, and recruitment was difficult. The situation was desperate. In exchange for a piece of land (the rear-fief of Nazareth), Jeanne Mance lent the funds she was given to found a hospital to Maisonneuve so that he could return to France and recruit one hundred people. When Maisonneuve came back to Montréal with the "Grande Recrue", or Great Recruitment, in 1653, it breathed new life into the colony. The newcomers were people with trades: settlers, labourers, carpenters, etc. Among the 95 people who arrived was Marguerite Bourgeoys. Maisonneuve granted land concessions to people with names such as Gadois, Desroches, Juillet, Barbier, Prudhomme, Tessier-Lavigne, Archambault, and Godé. A French community took hold and the colony was saved.

© Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Museum of Archaelogy and History 2006. All Rights Reserved.

Fort Ville-Marie was the first significant structure in Montréal. Some of the initial colonists, or "Montrealists," were recruited especially for their construction skills. The fort was built between 1643 and 1646. Surrounded by a wooden palisade and flanked by bastions, the fort was home to the governor's house, a chapel, an infirmary and lodging for the approximately 50 people who made up Ville-Marie. There was also a well and probably a vegetable garden. Built on the point formed by the junction of the Petite Rivière and the St. Lawrence, the fort afforded a good view of both land and water approaches. The first Montrealers needed such a strategic position. Of the 18 adult French people buried in the small cemetery at the end of the point, 14 were killed by the Iroquois.
Fort Ville-Marie was the first significant structure in Montréal. Some of the initial colonists, or "Montrealists," were recruited especially for their construction skills. The fort was built between 1643 and 1646. Surrounded by a wooden palisade and flanked by bastions, the fort was home to the governor's house, a chapel, an infirmary and lodging for the approximately 50 people who made up Ville-Marie. There was also a well and probably a vegetable garden. Built on the point formed by the junction of the Petite Rivière and the St. Lawrence, the fort afforded a good view of both land and water approaches. The first Montrealers needed such a strategic position. Of the 18 adult French people buried in the small cemetery at the end of the point, 14 were killed by the Iroquois.

© Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Museum of Archaelogy and History 2006. All Rights Reserved.

In 1684, Louis-Hector de Callière became the third governor of Montréal. He gave his name to the point by building his castle-like home there, where Fort Ville-Marie was located. A career soldier from a family of Normandy nobles, he was not always well-liked because he demanded the honour he believed was his due, but his leadership and skill were incontestable. Upon his arrival, he surrounded Montréal with a palisade and organized numerous raids against the Iroquois. He succeeded Frontenac as governor of New France in 1699, and making peace with the Aboriginal peoples became his primary goal. He signed the Great Peace of Montréal in 1701.
In 1684, Louis-Hector de Callière became the third governor of Montréal. He gave his name to the point by building his castle-like home there, where Fort Ville-Marie was located. A career soldier from a family of Normandy nobles, he was not always well-liked because he demanded the honour he believed was his due, but his leadership and skill were incontestable. Upon his arrival, he surrounded Montréal with a palisade and organized numerous raids against the Iroquois. He succeeded Frontenac as governor of New France in 1699, and making peace with the Aboriginal peoples became his primary goal. He signed the Great Peace of Montréal in 1701.

© Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Museum of Archaelogy and History 2006. All Rights Reserved.

Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry was credited with building many defensive systems, notably the fortifications in Montréal, Québec City , and the forts at Chambly , Niagara and Saint-Frédéric. For 40 years, this native of Toulon , France , was the King's chief engineer in New France . Originally having left for a temporary contract in 1716, Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry remained in the colony until his death. He drafted the plans and directed the work for many projects, including the Palais de l'intendant, the Château Saint-Louis, the naval yards, and the Québec City Cathedral, as well as the façade of Montréal's Notre-Dame church. He also studied the idea of building a canal between Lachine and Montréal. He wrote an extensive treatise on fortification, in which he advocated the adaptation of fortifications to the characteristics of the terrain, which is how he designed Montréal's fortifications. In 1744, 26 years after work on the fortifications was begun, the wall surrounding Montréal was completed.
Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry was credited with building many defensive systems, notably the fortifications in Montréal, Québec City , and the forts at Chambly , Niagara and Saint-Frédéric. For 40 years, this native of Toulon , France , was the King's chief engineer in New France . Originally having left for a temporary contract in 1716, Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry remained in the colony until his death. He drafted the plans and directed the work for many projects, including the Palais de l'intendant, the Château Saint-Louis, the naval yards, and the Québec City Cathedral, as well as the façade of Montréal's Notre-Dame church. He also studied the idea of building a canal between Lachine and Montréal. He wrote an extensive treatise on fortification, in which he advocated the adaptation of fortifications to the characteristics of the terrain, which is how he designed Montréal's fortifications. In 1744, 26 years after work on the fortifications was begun, the wall surrounding Montréal was completed.

© Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Museum of Archaelogy and History 2006. All Rights Reserved.

Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry

Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry

Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Museum of Archaelogy and History

© Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Museum of Archaelogy and History 2006. All Rights Reserved.


Paul de Chomedey, sieur de Maisonneuve, a 30-year-old young noble from the Champagne region of France and a career officer, was chosen to found Montréal independently from the rest of New France. Initially the colony's commander, he became governor in 1644. A wise and prudent man, but also a determined soldier, Maisonneuve managed the colony with care and benevolence. He acted as civic leader, soldier and judge. By 1648, he was joined by a syndic, a fiscal agent and a clerk, who fulfilled the roles of court clerk, surveyor, and notary. He remained head of the colony until 1665, when he was recalled to France .
Paul de Chomedey, sieur de Maisonneuve, a 30-year-old young noble from the Champagne region of France and a career officer, was chosen to found Montréal independently from the rest of New France. Initially the colony's commander, he became governor in 1644. A wise and prudent man, but also a determined soldier, Maisonneuve managed the colony with care and benevolence. He acted as civic leader, soldier and judge. By 1648, he was joined by a syndic, a fiscal agent and a clerk, who fulfilled the roles of court clerk, surveyor, and notary. He remained head of the colony until 1665, when he was recalled to France .

© Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Museum of Archaelogy and History 2006. All Rights Reserved.

Paul de Chomedey, sieur de Maisonneuve

Paul de Chomedey, sieur de Maisonneuve (1621-1676)

Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Museum of Archaelogy and History

© Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Museum of Archaelogy and History 2006. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • explain the importance of the foundation of Montreal in New France from 1642 to 1763;
  • put into context the socio-economic cleavages specific to that time;
  • demonstrate the importance of Montreal as a hub for British North America.

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