After being named a missionary to Canada in 1623, Recollect priest Nicolas Viel settled among the Hurons. He lived with the community for about two years, looking to study their language and, at the behest of Father Le Caron, create a comprehensive dictionary.
After spending two years on Huron soil, Nicolas Viel and his young travelling companion reached a tragic end on June 25, 1625. The missionary was heading to Québec City and caught a ride with a Huron canoe that was travelling that way as well. Once the vessel reached the Rivière-des-Prairies, known today as Sault-de-Récollet, the canoe was engulfed in rapids, and all travellers aboard drowned.
While the identity of Viel’s travelling companion was never confirmed, many suspected it was a young Huron man named Auhaistic, pronounced Ahuntsic in modern times; in the Huron language, the name means “small and frisky”. In 1942, it was discovered that, contrary to popular belief, Viel’s travelling partner was actually French, just like the missionary himself. The young man likely stayed by his side throughout his time with the Huron people.
The deaths of Nicolas Viel and his companion remain a real mystery; at the time, canoes were the most effective way to travel.
That said, many conspiracy-like theories surrounding their deaths persist to this day; some believe that, while drowning is certainly plausible, the death might not have been an accident. Could it have been murder?
In 1897, the name of the village of Black Rivers, situated in the suburbs of Montréal, was changed to Ahuntsic after Viel’s young companion. In 1910, the area was annexed to the city and called Ahuntsic-Cartierville.
Livre : Dictionnaire biographique des récollets missionnaires en Nouvelle-France …
Par Odoric-Marie Jouve
Crédit photo :
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