Count Louis de Buade Frontenac
A governor of New France, b. at Paris, 1622; d. at Quebec, Nov. 28, 1698
Frontenac, COUNT LOUIS DE BUADE, a governor of New France, b. at Paris, 1622; d. at Quebec, November 28, 1698. His father was captain of the royal castle of St-Germain-en-laye; his mother, nee Phelypeaux, was the daughter of the king’s secretary of state; Louis XIII was his godfather. By his valor and skill he won the rank of marshal 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, preceded 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 honor 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 Msgr. 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.
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 Onnontagues 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 education 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.