The Black Robes

Many missionaries arrived in New France during Canada's early history. They wore simple, unadorned black robes which covered them from collar to toes. They came to be known to the natives as 'Black Robes'. Although their intention was to convert the natives to Christianity, they would have an enormous impact on the early exploration of Canada's interior.

Often, these missionaries would set out under direction of religious officials to complete their missions. They would live among the natives and administer to those who would listen to them. When there were enough converts, they would build a mission. Others remained in the colonies in order to see to the religious needs of the colonists.

The Black Robes filled out journals noting minute details of their daily lives, and they would fill out reports, meticulously detailing each conversion or recant. These reports were sent out of the 'Upper Country' and back to France where they generated continuing interest in and funding for their exploits. But they did more than that. The maps they drew and the stories they learned from the Natives were invaluable in the formation of future explorations into the interior. Through their reports and journals, the language and culture of various Indian Nations became known. They recorded territory and habits, Native governments and rituals. Their reports would spawn excitement in Europe and, ultimately, funding for further evangelism and colonization.

Three religious 'communities' participated in the evangalism of the Natives of Canada - the Recollets, the Jesuits, and the Suplicians. Because of the undying dedication and efforts of the Black Robes, much of Canada's early Native and colonial history is known today.

* The Black Robes *
The Jesuits
The Récollets
The Suplicians
The Jesuits - Bones of Contention