4 June

Pontiac in Council

Pontiac Plays Deadly Game of Lacrosse

During the World Series, Stanley Cup, and football playoffs, sport commentators often describe a certain game as being "crucial." Perhaps the most crucial game ever played in Canada was one of lacrosse, which took place on June 4, 1763 at Michilimackinac.

Indian Chief Pontiac had vowed to wipe the British off the face of the earth. Many tribes resented Britain's taking over Canada from France by the Treaty of Paris in 1763 many of them had never even seen British redcoats until after the fall of Montreal, when General Amherst sent troops to take over Detroit and Michilimackinac. (Michilimackinac was an important fort at the junction of Lakes Huron and Michigan. It has been preserved as a historic site near one of the longest bridges in the world.)

June 4 was the birthday of King George III, and the Indians arranged to play a game of lacrosse outside the fort. A great many squaws who were there as spectators were hiding tomahawks and knives under their blankets.

The gate of the fort was open and nearly all the members of the garrison were watching the game. The Indians worked the play closer and closer to the gate, and suddenly took their weapons from the squaws and began the massacre. The troops were taken completely by surprise, probably not having heard about Pontiac's treachery at Detroit on May 7. While some of the Indians killed the soldiers outside the gate, others dashed inside and massacred the people there. Few escaped.

It was part of what the distinguished historian, Francis Parkman called, "the conspiracy of Pontiac." Before it was brought under control, 2,000 British, including women and children, were killed along the frontier.

Britain decided to send an army to North America to protect the colonies. The catch was that King George and his ministers demanded that the colonists should bear the cost! This led to the imposition of the Stamp Act, the duty on tea and other forms of taxation. The American Revolutionary War was the result. Britain put down the Indians for the time being, but lost the United States!

The game of lacrosse at Michilimackinac was certainly more "crucial" than any game in the Stanley Cup or World Series!


4 June

-1613    Champlain reached the site of the present city of Ottawa during his expedition to find a route to the Pacific (see May 27).

-1760    Twenty-two ships with New England planters aboard arrived in Nova Scotia to replace the Acadians.

-1843    Victoria, British Columbia, was founded.

-1866    Fenians raided Quebec from St. Albans, Vermont; they retreated after causing considerable damage.

-1917    Prime Minister Borden told Sir Wilfrid Laurier he could choose the members of the cabinet if he joined a Union government (see May 25).