p. 893 C
FIRST PERIOD: FROM THE TREATY OF PARIS, 1763, TO THE QUEBEC ACT, 1774.
GENERAL MURRAY'S REPORT
OF THE STATE OF THE GOVERNMENT OF QUEBEC IN CANADA,
5 JUNE, 1762.¹
CONST. DOCS. (1759-1791), 2nd edition, p. 47, CAN. ARCH.
LORD,—In obedience to his
Majesty's Commands signified in Your Lordship's dispatch to Sr. Jeffrey Amherst of the 12th December last I have the
honor to transmit the following account of His Majesty's Government of Quebec and dependancies thereof; however,
deficient it may prove Your Lordship may be assured it has been my earnest desire, as it is my constant study to fulfil
my Royal Masters intentions.
The better to effect the same, and in order to state the
several interesting matters of this Report in the clearest light, I shall divide the whole under the following
1st—Return of His Majesty's Forces in His
Quebec and dependancies thereof.
2nd—State of the Fortifications
3rd—State of the Government under the French Administration.
4th—The Revenues and Expenses.
7th—Nature of the
Soil and its produce.
[¹ In the
despatch of Lord Egremont to Sir Jeffrey Amherst of 12th Dec., 1761, in which the King approves of the system of military government established in the districts of Quebec, Three Rivers, and Montreal, he instructs him to send, for His Majesty's information, a full account of the newly acquired countries. In response to this command communicated to Murray, we have this Report, which was transmitted to the Government by Sir Jeffrey Amherst. This Report was among the documents submitted to the Board of Trade for their information in preparing a plan of government for the territories ceded to Britain by the Treaty of Paris of 1763.]
10th—Character of the People.
I shall subjoin some remarks pointing out the Errors of the Ancient System, and wherein by my own observations and the best information I have
been able to procure, there is room for alterations or amendments.
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4. REVENUES AND EXPENCE OF THE GOVERNMENT UNDER THE
Tho' I should properly give a state of the Revenues and expense of the Government of Quebec only, yet the whole under the French administration was so blended together it does not appear practicable to separate the same, and have therefore collected here all that has come to my knowledge on this head, without distinction of Governments. lst—Five ports, (a) part of the Kings domaine which were under the immediate management of the director General of it; He
furnished them at the Kings expense with the Merchandize and effects proper for the Indian Trade or Fisheries which were carried on at these several ports and received from thence likewise on the Kings account the Furs, Oil, Fish or other produce of the same.
They had been farmed but the Lease expired in 1756, they were advertised and no one bidding for
them on account of the War, the Intendant lest the Indians should quit their usual haunts, ordered them under the foregoing management, which continued untill our arrival, tho' the expense far
exceeded the produce.
* * *
1st I had the
Honor to inform the Lords of the Treasury very fully of the state of the Kings ports, in a Letter to
Mr Martin their Secretary, of the 7th November last, at the same time that I transmitted all accounts
relative thereto by Mr Ainslie whom I intrusted with the management of them until I could receive
instructions from home, I am thoroughly persuaded the proposal I therein made to their Lordships of selling
them to the highest bidder, for a Term of Years, is the surest expedient to make them profitable to His
INDIAN NATIONS RESIDING
WITHIN THE GOVERNMENT.
In order to discuss this point more clearly I shall first take notice of the Savages on the North shore of the River St Laurence from the Ocean upwards,
and then of such as inhabit the South side of the same River, as far as the present limits of the Government extend on either side of it.
1st The Savages on
the North shore. The first to be met with on this side are the Esquimaux, these are the wildest and most
untamable of any, and are emphatically stilled by the other Nations, Savages. They never dress their food but
eat fish rotted in the Sun and drink the oil it produces. Travellers represent them hardy, active and
expert navigators: In the summer they come with their whole Families in Chaloups to fish in the streights of
Belisle, these they leave in the Bays, and go out themselves to a considerable distance in Canoes made of skins
wherein they sew themselves up. Their clothes and sails of their Vessels are made of the skins of wild beasts;
They are reckoned treacherous, and have had many encounters with the French and Canadians employ'd on the fisheries
in those parts. Their Language is not understood but a few words they make use of nearly resemble the dialect of
some of the most northern European Nations. A few here have trafficked with them and made a considerable advantage
by it, but they never agreed well together; any trade with the Esquimaux however must be precarious; The Coast is
rocky and difficult of access, the season for navigation short, and the risks too great to entice adventurers; they
have never been known to come on this side of La Forteau.
2d The Montagnais or
Monsonies inhabit a vast tract of Country from Labrador to the Saguenay; they are again distinguished into those
who live in the inland parts called Nascapies, and the inhabitants of the water side, for this reason stilled
Chuchouxlapishouets. They take as many different names as they have Villages but are all the same people, and speak
the same language. As in the interior parts of the Country there are many Lakes and Rivers which communicate with
Hudson's bay, the former often trade on that side, which the latter also would have been obliged to do, if the
interruption caused by the War, had continued for any time, tho' from the more convenient situation, they would
have ever reverted to those who were Masters of the River St Laurence, those are the mildest and most tractable of all
Savages and never enter into War. Tho' their country is extensive their number is inconsiderable; From Labrador to
Mingan the Traders do not reckon more than from Eighty to one Hundred Families, and of those who resort to the King's
Posts, there may be about 220 Families in all, but as their habitations are easily moved they are ever changing and
shifting from one place to another.
A Jesuit Missionary meets them at Tadousac when they come there for the trade and
he resides in the neighbourhood all the Year.
3d The most civilized
of all the Indians in this part of the World are the Hurons settled at a little Village called Jeune Lorette about 3
leagues from Quebec. These are called Roman Catholicks and are a decent well behaved people, it is now many
Years since they removed there from their ancient habitations about Lake Huron or Erie, are settled upon lands
belonging to the Jesuites, and live in much the same manner as the Canadians. They have excellent good Houses,
Cultivate their own lands and live upon the Produce: In the Hunting season they go into the woods and hunt themselves
or traffic with the more remote Indians for their
Pelletries. Some of the Elders have been so tenacious of their Mother tongue, they hardly speak a word of French, but
most of the Younger ones speak it tolerably well; indeed it has ever been the policy of the French Government to make
them retain that and as much of their ancient customs as possible, that they might prove of greater use to them in
case of war with other nations, at the same time they endeavour'd to attach them to their Interest by every tie.
A Missionary resides among them, they have a neat Chapel, where divine service is constantly performed at which all
the Savages assist with a punctuallity and decorum worthy of imitation by more enlightened people; They seem to be well
satisfied with the change of Masters, and were so particularly pleased at their Village having been spared during
the Winter 1759, tho' forced by the French to abandon it, that they never could prevail on them to act with any degree
of vigor against us. They have at present but 32 Warriors and the whole Village, Men, Women and Children are short of
100. Their number is decreased at least one half within these forty Years, and the Tribe would by this time have been
almost extinguished but for the supplies they got by captures in War, and the sale of unhappy infants whose Parents
chose to conceal their own shame at the expence of such iniquitous bargains.
* * *
The French bent their whole attention in this part of the World to the Fur Trade, they never enter'd heartily or with any spirit into the fisheries; most of what was done in this way was by adventurers from the ports of France; some Fish indeed Lumber and provisions were exported to the French islands. Had this trade been opened and agriculture promoted here with any degree of warmth, this branch of Commerce must have become both valuable and extensive but it was monopolized into the hands of a few, by the connivance and management of the Chiefs, the sole view of these being to enrich themselves by every means. The interest of the State could not fail to be sacrificed upon all occasions.
* * *
The provinces of New York and Philadelphia now share with Canada a great part of the Fur Trade formerly in the hands of the French, but that proportion if it, which the Quebec government enjoy'd must remain here unalterably.
The foregoing is an attempt to sketch the trade of Canada, while subject to French Government, but under the full enjoyment of His Majesty's mild and gentle administration, its commerce must flourish to a far greater extent.
1st A Most immense and extensive Cod Fishery can be established in the River and Gulph of St Laurence, and may in time prove an inexhaustible
source of wealth and power to Great Britain; Settlements may be formed in the neighbourhood of the best fishing places to which the industrious and intelligent in that branch may be invited and encouraged to repair; a rich tract of country on the South side of the Gulph will in consequence be settled and improved, a Port or Ports established and furnished with every material requisite to repair Ships, that have suffer'd by stress of weather or the difficulties attending navigation in such narrow seas, a point much wanted which will lessen the risks, and considerably increase the profits of the Commerce of this Colony.
It is further to be observed that the Fish caught upon these coasts and in the bays, far exceed the bank Cod and fetch an advanced price in foreign markets; The fishermen being on the spot will commence fishing the very instant the season permits and will continue to the very last of it whereby at least two Months will be gained to the trade, which are just now a heavy expence to it, without producing the least profit to it.
2d Next to the Cod in importance is the Whale fishery which can be carried on to the greatest advantage in the River St Laurence with less risk and expence than in any other seas, where the animals resort; Under this head may be placed the seal and sea-Cow fisheries of which there is a prodigious abundance, and an immense (sic) of oil and Whale-bone may be annually exported to Great Britain.
3d There are several small rivers on the Coast of Labrador abounding with vast quantities of salmon; this if followed with spirit and industry, might very soon become a considerable object to the British Trader.
* * *
5th Tho' as has been before observed, this province must now share the Fur Trade, which she formerly possessed under the French Government, with the neighbouring Colonies, Yet that which was carried on with the different nations inhabiting the northern Coast of Canada, must still remain with her; she may likewise hereafter regain a great part of that with the upper Country, on account of the more easy conveyance.
It is likewise probable that this very branch may be much farther extended, than ever it was under the French, by reason of the superior diligence and application of the British Traders.
It must be allowed the French were laudable in restraining the vent of Spiritous Liquors to the Savages beyond a certain quantity: by this means many broils were avoided, for they are fond to excess of everything strong and are all mad in their intoxication.
* * *
Before this report is closed it will not be Improper to observe to Your Lordship how impossible it is to ascertain exactly what part of North America, the French stiled Canada, no Chart or Map whatever having fallen into our hands or public record of any kind to chew what they understood by it.