13 April

Mme. La Tour valiantly defends the garrison

Charnisay Attacks Rival Fort La Tour

Someone should write an opera about the rivalry in Acadia between Charles La Tour and D'Aulnay de Charnisay. It would have a dramatic and surprising finale.

Charles La Tour was one of the first Europeans to settle in Acadia. He was such a diplomat or villain (It depended on who was describing him!), that he was given a monopoly of the fur trade along the Saint John River by the King of France, and was made a Baronet of Nova Scotia by the King of England. Nobody could be sure which side he was on.

D'Aulnay de Charnisay, a close relative of Cardinal Richelieu, was given Port Royal, while also controlling a good deal of Nova Scotia. He used his influence at court to try to have La Tour put out of business, but was unsuccessful.

On April 13, 1645, while La Tour was away, Charnisay attacked Fort La Tour. Mme. La Tour was in charge of the fort and organized a heroic defense. She was described as being "an Amazon of a woman" but very beautiful. Although there were only fifty men to defend the fort, they held back the much larger Charnisay force until a traitor let Charnisay's men into the enclosure.

There was a fierce battle but Mme. La Tour finally surrendered on a promise by Charnisay that the lives of the garrison would be spared. Instead, he spared only one, a man who volunteered to act as the executioner of his comrades. Mme. La Tour was forced to stand with a halter around her neck and watch the execution of her men, one by one. She died of a broken heart soon after.

Charnisay then had his date with destiny. He was drowned when his canoe overturned. There is a story (unconfirmed), that one of the Indians made sure he drowned by holding his head under water!

Then followed the amazing finale. Charles La Tour sailed across the bay to Port Royal and married Charnisay's widow. Of course, it was a good business arrangement. It ended the dispute over property rights, and, in the words of the marriage contract "served to restore the peace and tranquility of the country, and concord and unity between the two families."


13 April

-1608    Champlain sailed to Canada for the third time.

-1713    The Iroquois were joined by the Tuscaroras to become Six Nations.

-1859    The University of New Brunswick was incorporated.

-1870    Donald A. Smith reported to the federal government at Ottawa on the negotiations with Louis Riel at Fort Garry.

-1961    His Excellency, Constantine Caramanalis of Greece visited Ottawa.