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Date > 1600

Subject > Weapons, Equipment and Fortifications

Compagnies franches de la Marine (Warships)

Type: Document

The names of troops raised by the French Ministry of Marine often confuse people. There were separate units of Compagnies franches de la Marine to serve aboard warships. These troops had nothing to do with the Compagnies franches found in Canada.

Site: National Defence

Champlain's famous fight on 30 July 1609 against the Iroquois Indians as interpreted in a late 19th century print

Type: Image

When Champlain took part in a 1609 Huron expedition against the Iroquois, he began a contest between two ways of warfare that lasted centuries. The combination of armour and firearms was rapidly understood and used to advantage by early French soldiers in Canada. By contrast, the Amerindians evolved furtive tactics and rapid movements which eventually proved to be the best in a wilderness environment.

Site: National Defence

French artillery, 1640s

Type: Image

Artillery installed in the early forts defending the towns of New France was usually mounted on this type of carriage. A gunner is shown clearing the vent with a thin spike. The forked pike carried by one of the gunners was used to hold a slow match to ignite the powder in the gun's vent. This caused the ignition of the powder charge in the barrel and the firing of the cannonball.

Site: National Defence

Quebec batteries firing on Phips' ships during October 1690

Type: Image

Part of Quebec's defences is shown firing upon the invaders’ ships during October 1690. The upper town was protected by a good wall with intermittent batteries. There were more defensive works up towards the Chateau Saint-Louis near Cape Diamond. In the lower town, facing the harbour, there were two strong French shore batteries armed with heavy 18 and 24-pounder naval cannon. Inland, a line of earthworks punctuated with 11 redoubts enclosed the city from the western side. This 19th century print is inaccurate in some details (for instance, the Château Saint-Louis which only had one storey in 1690) but gives a good sense of the general action. (Library and Archives Canada, C-006022)

Site: National Defence

To the Sound of the Drummer's Beat

Type: Document

Fortified towns like Quebec, Montreal, Trois-Rivières and Louisbourg were all governed by military staffs. The lives of French soldiers and Canadian civilians alike were regulated by the different drum beatings of the garrison, from La Diane at dawn to La Retraite at sunset.

Site: National Defence

The Budding Explorer: Samuel de Champlain: Activity

Type: Interactive Resource

Help the ghost of Samuel de Champlain regain his memory of Canada`s national historic sites in an interactive game for younger children.

Site: Parks Canada

Fort Anne National Historic Site of Canada

Type: Document

Fort Anne, Canada's oldest National Historic Site, is a present-day reminder of a time when conflict between Europe's empire builders was acted out on the shores of the Annapolis River. Includes visitor information and links to related sites.

Site: Parks Canada

Another Round Of Iroquois Wars

Type: Document

The Iroquois pressed their advantage, raiding and spreading fear among the colonists. A French attempt to force a pitched battle was unsuccessful.

Site: National Defence

French soldiers of the early 17th century

Type: Image

These French soldiers wear a style of clothing common through much of Western Europe in the early seventeenth century. Note the musket rest carried by the man at left, and the pike carried by the man in the background. Mid-19th century engraving after a drawing by Alfred de Marbot.

Site: National Defence

Matchlock musket, circa 1665

Type: Image

This is the sort of weapon that the men of the régiment de Carignan-Salières carried during their service in Canada. Squeezing the trigger lever (seen sticking out below the weapon) made the serpentine (the curved metal arm at right) snap downwards. Attached to the top of the serpentine (but not seen here) would be a slowly-burning piece of string called a 'slow match'. When the serpentine snapped down, the burning match would drop into the priming pan (at centre). In this small depression sat a small amount of gunpowder. This would explode when the match hit it, and the explosion would carry inside the matchlock's barrel, setting off a second charge of gunpowder. This final explosion would fire a bullet down the barrel (part of which is seen at right). This process could go wrong in a number of ways, but was very noisy and impressive when it worked. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence