History of “la pointe claire“
In 1663, the Sulpicians were made seigneurs of the whole island of Montreal. The rationale for the colonial venture in New France was not solely economic; it was also religious, to bring the Gospel to the native people. Converting the natives was of great moment to French governments throughout the French regime. That is why the religious orders, both male and female, played such an important part in the colony.
However, they had to carry out their mission within a legal and administrative framework imported straight from France. The seigneurial regime, rooted in the Custom of Paris, regulated life in society and dictated the social relations between settlers, seigneurs, ecclesiastics and administrators. The seigneury was an economic, political and even judicial unit, at the head of which was the seigneur. He was expected by the authorities in Paris to make the colony prosper by settling the seigneury he had been granted. The seigneur’s obligation was to concede land to his tenants and provide them with a grist mill. In the seigneurial regime, the tenant or habitant had to have his grain ground at the seigneur’s mill, known as the communal mill, under the right of banality, which was bestowed on the seigneur with the royal grant of his seigneury.
Economic activity started in Pointe-Claire with the building of the communal mill. In 1698, Dollier de Casson, the superior of the Sulpicians, reserved the point as the ideal site for a fortified mill. It must be remembered that from the second half of the 17th century the Montreal area had to contend with raids by the Iroquois. They did not look kindly on their land being settled by colonists and the irrevocable disruption of their way of life. They were also allied with the British and active in New England. This lucrative co-operation could only last if the Iroquois controlled the main commercial routes. The habitants‘ terror of the Indians is clear from the many contemporary accounts describing the barbaric customs of the Indian tribes.
The fragile peace which Governor Courcelles and Intendant Talon had succeeded in concluding with the Iroquois Confederacy in 1667 threatened to collapse under the weight of Governor LaBarre’s blunders. His successor, Denonville, and Intendant Champigny helped further stoke the resentment of the Iroquois by seizing 80 Onondaga in 1687 and sending 40 of them as galley slaves to France. Seven Frenchmen were also killed in 1687 in an Iroquois raid on Baie d’Urfé. Two years later, the War of the League of Augsburg spilled over into the North American colonies as King William’s War between France and Britain. The Iroquois, allied with the British, carried out another famous raid on Lachine (the côte de Pointe-Claire was one of the areas affected by the massacre) in which colonists were killed and others captured and taken off into captivity.