The road to founding Montréal was not always smooth. From the beginning of colonization, conflicts arose, setting off a long period of hostility between the French and First Nations.
To put an end to the animosity, an alliance had to be made with the First Nations communities who claimed the land for their own long before the French. One such example was the Great Peace of Montréal in 1701. It’s important to understand just how intense the conflicts between these two groups was before the treaty was finally negotiated.
As you likely know, one of industries that had the biggest economic impact in the time of New France was the fur trade. The conflict began in 1609, after Champlain decided to make an alliance with the Algonquin, Innu and Huron tribes against the Iroquois Five Nations. This alliance was created in an attempt to give the French a monopoly on the fur trade.
Because of this, English and Dutch colonists supported the Iroquois, and soon after, a war broke out. Champlain decided to support his allies by attacking the Iroquois, who wasted no time in fighting back. What followed was a series of atrocities committed by partisans on both sides.
Many tragic events took place throughout the 17th century, with the exception of a few rare moments of truce. The Ryswick treaty of 1697 would change everything, putting an end to the hostilities between the English and the French. Louis Hector de Callière, the governor of Montréal at the time, would propose a peace treaty. He would be backed by other artisans of peace that included Kondiaronk (Chief of the Huron-Wyandot), Meskouadoue, (Abenaki), Onanguicié, (Potawatomi) Teganissorens (Iroquois) and Governor Frontenac.
In July of 1701, four of the Five Iroquois Nations, the Mohawk people were absent (the Agniers were present following treaty ratification) as well as the French-allied First Nations communities gathered in Montréal to initiate the process with Governor Callière. Two weeks later, on August 4, 1701, over 30 nations decided to sign the treaty in the interest of putting an end to this war. These nations were now considered allies, and the fur trade could continue without turmoil.
And with that, the Great Peace of Montréal finally put an end to a century of hostility between the French and the Iroquois.
Livre : Brève histoire de Montréal – Paul-André Linteau
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