Register Sunday | June 16 | 2019

First Description of the Island of Montreal in the Year 1637

the island where there was the big village

On October 4 we left Three Rivers and we were only some four or five leagues away when we saw a moose walking along by the edge of the woods as we sailed smoothly down the centre of the great river in the beauty of a golden day. When the Governor saw the great animal he had all sails lowered immediately and cautioned everybody to keep still, while two or three Frenchmen in our company quietly went off in a small canoe bent on getting the great beast to jump into the river, or on shooting it if it started to turn into the woods. Hearing the noise, it leapt into the water and the Governor immediately saw to it that a boat was manned and rowed quickly to the scene. The poor animal did not know which way to turn. On land it saw guns and on the water a boat was coming straight towards it. In the end it was killed and brought on deck. If all trips in New France were as pleasant as this one they would be too alluring and the body might well benefit more than the spirit. There was never any lack of game: moose meat and sometimes beaver and fish. May God be praised by all his angels for his gifts to mankind. To conclude, we reached Quebec on the seventh day of October.

Jesuit Relations in New France,
Vol. 1 (Quebec, 1858)

Of all the islands that we saw, there are only two or three that are worthy of note. The rest are small and under water, I imagine, in the spring. This is how the islands lie: the great St. Lawrence River washes the shore of land belonging to one of our gentlemen on the south and, cutting through to the north, makes two islands, one of them perhaps one and a half leagues in length, but very narrow; the other, the large island, called Mont-Réal. This island appears to be cut through the middle by two mountains that seem to lie across it. To the right of these mountains are the Saint-Louis rapids in the St. Lawrence River. I am given to understand that the natives of the island cleared it at one time and built a big village under the mountain, but left it because they were too often molested by their enemies. They still call this place “the island where there was the big village.”

Jesuit Relations in New France,
Vol 1 (Quebec, 1858)