THE JESUIT MISSIONS IN CURRENT-DAY CANADA
Relation de ce qui s’est passé de plus remarquable és missions des Peres de la Compagnie de Iesus, en la Nouuelle France, es annees 1650 & 1651
Paris, Sebastien Cramoisy, et Gabriel Cramoisy, ruë S. Iacques, aux Cicognes, 1652.
FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp. (iv) 146, (ii). π² A-H⁸ I-K⁴ L². Roman letter, some Italic. Cramoisy’s woodcut device on title, woodcut initials and headpieces, typographical ornaments. Light age yellowing, some light browning and spotting. A very good clean, entirely unsophisticated copy in contemporary limp vellum.
Important and extremely rare first edition of this account by the Jesuit missionary Paul Ragueneau of the mission in Canada, including a highly important description of the mission and travels of Father Buteaux. After having been the subordinate of Jean de Brébeuf and Jérôme Lalemant for eight years, Father Ragueneau became superior of the Huron mission in 1645. We owe to him the “Relations des Hurons” for 1646, 1647, 1648, that of 1649 which recounts the destruction of the mission and the martyrdom of Fathers Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalemant, and that of 1650 which describes the ardours of the winter spent at Île Saint-Joseph (Christian Island) and the emigration and resettlement of the Hurons under the protection of the fort at Quebec.
This work is of particular importance as it records the state of the missions in New France after the defeat of the mission by the Iroquois nation. The second part is the journal of the travels of Father Buteaux to the Attikamegues. Buteaux was a French-born Jesuit who came to Canada in 1634 and was assigned to Trois-Rivières, where he ministered until his death in 1652. “The annihilation of the Huron missions in 1649 induced the missionary to reply to the pressing invitations extended by the Attikamegues who were established in the upper St. Maurice basin. “In all these regions,” wrote Buteux, “there are many other Tribes, – more than we can baptize, even if we had still forty years to live; and those people have no intercourse with us. It is from them that the Hurons, before their own country was desolated, obtained nearly all their Beavers, – the supply of which, being no longer diverted elsewhere, will now come to our French settlements, if the Iroquois do not disturb our repose.”
On 27 March 1651 Father Buteux, accompanied by two Frenchmen and some 40 Attikamegues, undertook the journey northward. The expedition lasted three months. The travellers reached regions inhabited by tribes who had had no contact with white men. Wishing to go as far as Hudson Bay the following year, Father Buteux had presents sent “to the Captains of some Tribes further to the North.” On 18 June 1651 he was back at Trois-Rivières. During July he set out on a mission in the direction of Tadoussac and Gaspé. At the end of the account of his journey to the source of the St. Maurice, the missionary had expressed his desire to push on further with his evangelizing explorations: “I hope next Spring to make the same journey, and to push still further toward the North Sea, to find there new tribes and entire new Nations wherein the light of the faith has never yet penetrated. Since that journey, the Iroquois have entered that country which seemed almost inaccessible” (Lake Kisagami). In a letter to Father Ragueneau he added: “I would never have thought that they could have found or reached that lake with their canoes. On the journey that I made to these regions, we walked about twenty days on the snow, before coming to it.” Dictionary of Canadian Biography. He died a few months after this account during his following mission journey. His party was attacked by a troop of Iroquois lying in ambush. He was shot and tomahawked.
An excellent copy of an exceptionally rare and important work.
BM STC Fr. C17th p. 269, J213. Sabin 67498 JFB. R13.