November 28 – Count Louis de Baude Frontenac

November 27, 2014

Count Louis de Baude Frontenac

A governor of New France, born at Paris, 1662; died at Quebec, 28 Nov., 1698.

Statue of Frontenac at the National Assembly of Québec.

Statue of Frontenac at the National Assembly of Québec.

His father was captain of the royal castle of St-Germain-en-laye; his mother, née Phelypeaux, was the daughter of the king’s secretary of state; Louis XIII was his godfather. By his valour and skill he won the rank of marshall of the king’s camps and armies. He served in Holland, France, Italy and Germany, and also in Candia where Turenne had sent him to command a contingent against the Turks. A brilliant military reputation, therefore, preceeded him to Canada. During his first administration (1672-1682) he built a fort at Cataracouy (now Kingston) to awe the Iroquois and facilitate communications with the West. To explore the course of the Mississippi, previously discovered by Joliet and Marquette, he sent Cavelier de La Salle, who named the country watered by that river Louisiana, in honour of Louis XIV. Although intelligent and magnanimous, brave and unflinching in peril, he was proud, imperious, and ready to sacrifice all to personal animosity. He quarrelled with most of the officials of the colony over petty questions: with his councillors, with the intendant (Duchesneau), with the Governor of Montreal (Perrot), and with Mgr de Laval, whose prohibition of the liquor-traffic with the Indians he judged harmful to commercial interests. The king, after vainly trying to curb his haughtiness, recalled him in 1682.

Frontenac receiving the envoy of Sir William Phipps demanding the surrender of Quebec, 1690

Frontenac receiving the envoy of Sir William Phipps demanding the surrender of Quebec, 1690

In 1689, when the uprising of the Iroquois and the Lachine massacre, in retaliation of Governor Denonville’s treacherous dealing, threatened the existence of the colony, Frontenac was sent to the rescue and was hailed as a deliverer. He had to fight the allied Iroquois and English; but his bravery and ability were equal to the task. After d’Iberville’s brilliant exploits in Hudson Bay, Frontenac divided his forces into three corps, which captured Corlar (Schenectady), Salmon Falls (N.H.) and Casco (Me.). When, to avenge these disasters, Boston sent a fleet against Quebec (1690), Frontenac’s response to the summons of Phipps’s envoy was: “Go tell your master that we shall answer him by the mouths of our guns” – a threat which was made good by the enemy’s defeat. In 1696 Frontenac wisely disregarded the instructions of France to evacuate the upper country, which would have ruined the colony, and merely observed a defensive attitude. He dealt the Iroquois power a severe blow, burned the villages of the Onnontagués and Onneyouts, and devastated their country. By his orders d’Iberville razed Fort Pemquid in Acadia, captured St. John’s, Newfoundland, and nearly the entire island, and took possession of all Hudson Bay Territory. Frontenac died sincerely regretted by the whole colony which he had saved from ruin. His character was a mixture of good and bad qualities. The latter were less evident during his second administration and his talents rendered eminent services. He found Canada weakened and attacked on all sides; he left it in peace, enlarged, and respected. He has been justly called “saver of the country”. In spite of his Jansenistic educataion and prejudices against the bishop, the Jesuits, and even the Sulpicians, he possessed a rich fund of faith and piety. He was a faithful friend of the Recollects, and was buried in their church.


HOPKINS, “Canada, An Encyclopedia of the Country” (Toronto, 1890); GARNEAU, “Histoire du Canada”(Montreal, 1882); FERLAND, “Cours d’histoire du Canada” (Quebec, 1882); ROCHEMONTEIX, “Les Jésuites et la Nouvelle-France” (Paris, 1896); CHAPAIS, “Jean Talon” (Quebec, 1904); GAUTHIER, “Histoire du Canada” (Quebec, 1876).

LIONEL LINDSAY (Catholic Encyclopedia)


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