Samuel de Champlain - The Fall of Quebec
Company of One Hundred Associates

Champlain had long realized that New France could not survive on only the trading posts of Tadoussac and Quebec. To gain the upper hand against the British, Spanish, Basque and Portuguese, France would have to advance into New France and set up colonies and trading posts deeper the interior.

In 1627, Champlain sailed to France where he met with Armand-Jean de Vignerot du Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu, Prime Minister of France. Champlain convinced Cardinal Richelieu of the vast resources available in Canada: lumber, minerals, furs, fish, farmland. Most importantly, though, was the fur trade. A single beaver fur was still more valuable than a human life in Europe, and to capitalize on it the French must make it as easy as possible for the western Natives to trade.

Cardinal Richelieu created the Compagnie des Cents-Associés (Company of One Hundred Associates) and began recruiting investors. Champlain was given the title Lieutenant to the Viceroy of Quebec and became the governor of the colony.

Under his commission, Champlain was required to establish a permanent colony in New France with a population of at least 4,000 before 1643. England's Kirke brothers would foil those plans the following year in 1628.

The Kirke Brothers

David, Louis and Thomas Kertk were French Huguenots (Protestants) whose father, Gaston, had escaped with his family to England in order to avoid religious persecution by the Catholics during the religious wars which plagued France. Receiving asylum in England, the Kertks Anglicized their names to 'Kirke' and almost single-handedly changed Britain's (and Canada's) future forever.

In 1627, after having been convinced by Samuel de Champlain of the riches available in France and of the necessity to expand colonization in New France, Armand-Jean de Vignerot du Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu, created the Company of One Hundred Associates. Through the new company, supplies and new colonists would be sent to Quebec in New France to join Champlain's growing settlement.

By 1628, four convoy ships and 20 transport ships, along with supplies and 400 colonists, set sail from France under the command of Admiral Rougement (also spelt Roquement) de Brison. As they neared Gaspé Bay, heavy storms forced the convoy to take refuge in the bay.

Meanwhile, 3 British ships approached the same harbour, ironically to escape the same storms.

A year earlier, William Alexander had created the Knights Baronet of Nova Scotia, a group of investors whose specific aim was to reclaim the land which had originally been claimed by John Cabot in 1497 - by force, if necessary. To this end, British merchants and investors contributed enough money to purchase and supply 3 warships, each of which was captained by one of the Kirke brothers - David, Louis, or Thomas. The Kirkes sailed to the New World to begin their recapture of English land. It was their ships which took refuge in Gaspé Bay to escape the storm.

Three British ships against 24 French ships - but the French were at an extreme disadvantage. The larger French convoy ships were unable to maneuver in the small bay, and even if they had been able to do so, Admiral Rougement had not anticipated a battle. In fact, most of the cannons had been lashed below decks.

The French ships were easily captured and sailed to England as spoils of war. The crew and colonists were prisoners.

A second fleet, unaware of the fate of the first, commanded by Emery de Caen, who was to deliver a message that a peace treaty had been signed, arrived in Tadoussac shortly afterward. His message would go undelivered. The Kirkes awaited them and the fleet fell to the same fate as Rougement's fleet. Quebec had effectively been cut off from France and any hope of supply or reinforcement.

One of the French ships had been piloted by Jacques Michel, a traitor. He joined the Kirkes and lead Louis and Thomas through the St. Lawrence to Quebec while David remained in Tadoussac in order to maintain British control. On reaching Quebec, the Kirkes demanded surrender, but Champlain refused. Over-estimating the fortifications at Quebec, the Kirkes felt overpowered and returned to England.

The Kirkes would return to Quebec the next year, and the outcome would be drastically different.

Champlain Surrenders Quebec to the British

On July 19, 1629, the Kirkes were back. This time, Champlain was in no condition to argue and offered surrender without a fight. With supply ships cut off, there was barely enough food left for supper let alone for a seige.

Samuel de Champlain left his beloved Quebec on September 14, 1629.

Champlain was given all the honours of war and taken to England as a prisoner. There, however, he learned that the war had been over when Quebec had been captured and he began a 3-year campaign to get the conquest overturned.

Quebec Returns to the French

Champlain's dilligence and determination finally paid off. In 1632, the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye reversed the conquest and surrender and Quebec was returned to French control. In return, French King Louis XIII was forced to pay a dowry of one million livres to England for Henriette, sister of King Louis and new wife to King Charles I of England.

Cardinal Richelieu sent Champlain back to Quebec with enough colonists, supplies and labourers to begin the rebuilding of the colony. The Kirkes had virtually razed Quebec and very little remained. Before his death in 1635, Champlain rebuilt Quebec into a prosperous colony and even succeeded in establishing a new trading post at Trois-Rivières.


First Voyage 1603 - The Path to Settlement
First Permanent Settlement in Canada
The Founding of Québec
The Battle of Ticonderoga
Champlain in Huronia
* Fall of Québec *

FIN