The Mystics

An evangelical revival swept through Europe. The idea of converting the 'savages' in North America to Catholicism became 'all the rage' and a group of Catholic militants calling themselves 'Mystics' was created. Plans to flood New France with missionaries drew great interest and excitement in the group and, by 1641, the first venture would begin.

Funded privately by Jérôme le Royer de la Dauversière, the first group of Mystics arrived in New France and founded a Christian village which they named Ville Marie on the site of present-day Montreal. Le Royer led the group, accompanied by his wife and the commander of the group, Paul de Chomedey de Maissoneuve, a young soldier in his early 30's. Also in the group was a young 34-year-old nurse named Jeanne Mance.

The Society of Notre-Dame of Montreal for the Conversion of Savages of New France was created. Governor Montmagny felt the company was as ridiculous as its name: "The scheme of the new company is so absurd that it would be better to call it the foolhardy enterprise." He offered no support whatsoever. Nor did the Jesuits, who felt the Mystics were more interested in profit through the converted natives rather than in the conversion itself.

Within 10 years, le Royer was bankrupt and the Society collapsed in ruin. He returned to France penniless and destitute. De Maissoneuve was recalled to France. Only the nurse, Jeanne Mance, remained behind to watch Montreal grow into a successful colony.