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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lachine

Lachine, the home of Pierre and Marie Barbary dit Grandmaison and Pierre and Madeleine Jamme dit Carriere, was a center for the fur and alcohol trade. Located on the Island of Montreal it was a natural stopping point for ships. Further on, the ships would reach the unnavigable Lachine Rapids where they would have to transport their goods overland to reach calmer waters. Warehouses stood by the river's edge that stored the furs and alcohol, ready for transporting to their markets.

The Mohawk Indians, part of the Iroquois nation, brought furs to the warehouses to sell. At first, they were not overly concerned about the French fur traders in the area, as they benefited from their trade. But by the latter half of the 17th century, they became agitated as settlers moved into the area and cleared land that had been valuable hunting grounds. Relations between the settlers and the Mohawks became strained.

In 1687, two years before Pierre and Madeleine married, the governor of the area, M. Denonville, invited the local Indian tribes to a festival of games and feasts to be held at Cataraqui. As the tribes arrived, a number of tribal chieftans were seized and placed into captivity. Later, they were forced into hard labor and taken to France to be exhibited as curiosities. Needless to say, this added to the tension between the Mohawks and the settlers.

With their chieftans gone, it took some time for the the tribes to regroup, but when they did, they created a plan for revenge.

The night of August 4, 1689, was stormy with rains falling heavily as the settlers in Lachine went to bed. By then, there were 320 people living in this community of farms and homesteads. As they slept, 1000 to 1500 Iroquois paddled silently across the river in their canoes and set up a base camp to the west of Lachine. Then they moved swiftly through the wooded areas along the river and surrounded the farm houses and homesteads. At a signal, they attacked and slaughtered a good number of the settlers.

But some escaped. A doctor hid in the woods and returned later to offer help to those who were still alive. Anther man ran to the closest military camp of 200 soldiers only to discover that the commanding officer, Subercase, was at a dinner in Montreal with governor Denonville. The soldiers did not want to act without his command, so the man was sent on to Montreal to find Subercase.

When Subercase arrived back at the camp, he was angry to find that his soldiers had done nothing as they waited for his return. He quickly organized them, along with other residents in the area, to launch a counter-attack. His scouts reported that the Indians had broken ino the warehouses and had consummed much alcohol. Subercase realized he had a good opportunity to attack while his enemies were drunk, but orders arrived from the governor to hold a defensive position and not to attack.

Subercase and his soldiers watched helplessly as the Iroquois eventually left their base camp with over 100 prisoners and paddeled to the opposite shore. All night, torture fires could be seen burning along the river and the screams of the victims filled the dark hours.

But what happened to Pierre and Madeleine Jamme dit Carriere and the Barbary dit Grandmaison family?

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