5 September

Pelican and Hampshire firing broadsides

France Claims Victory

France won her greatest naval victory against Britain on September 5, 1697, in an action fought off Hayes River, Hudson Bay.

At dawn on September 5, Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, who had been ordered by Louis XIV to clear the English out of Hudson Bay, saw three British ships tacking towards his anchorage in Hayes River. He had no wish to be left without room to manoeuver so he put out to sea at once, leaving some of his men on shore. Many of his crew were ill below decks, suffering from scurvy. Only 150 were left to man the Pelican's guns and sails. The three British ships, Hampshire, Deering and Hudson's Bay, had 124 guns and 600 men between them. Iberville had only 44 guns and 150 men. The odds seemed hopeless, but Iberville decided to fight.

The three British ships sailed towards him in battle formation, with the mighty Hampshire in the lead. Iberville pretended that he was trying to board the Hampshire, which veered off. Then he blasted the Deering and shot off her mainsails. Another fast manoeuvre enabled him to hit the Hudson's Bay.

The Hampshire, commanded by Captain Fletcher, poured heavy fire into the Pelican. There were many casualties on board. The battle continued for three hours, with Iberville preventing Fletcher from getting within range to take advantage of superior gun and manpower. Fletcher became impatient, and sailed close enough to shout to Iberville to surrender. In the courtly manner of the day, Fletcher called for wine and held up a glass in a toast to his valiant enemy. Iberville did the same on the bridge of the Pelican. As the Hampshire came round for the kill, it heeled over in a sudden gust of wind. Iberville then poured in a broadside that gashed the Hampshire's side, and it sank quickly, with Captain Fletcher going down with his ship. The Hudson's Bay and Deering, both damaged went aground on a shoal. Nevertheless, it was a great naval victory for Iberville.


5 September

-1534    Cartier returned to France after his first voyage.

-1755    Acadians were told officially that they were being deported.

-1854    Parliament met at Quebec.

-1883    Methodist churches in Canada were united.

-1906    The Grain Growers' Company was opened in Saskatchewan.

-1945    Igor Gottzenko left the Russian Embassy in Ottawa and passed on information that uncovered a Russian spy network in Canada and the United States.

-1962    Canada contributed $5 million to the "food bank," sponsored by Canada and the United States.