Hochelaga (village)

Hochelaga ( " beaver dam " ) was a fortified village of the St. Lawrence Iroquois in the 16th century. It was located near the Mont Royal, the mountain of today's Canadian city of Montreal. The French navigator Jacques Cartier discovered the village of the year in 1535. When Samuel de Champlain followed in 1603 Cartier traces, the village was gone. The exact location of the village is not known. A stone marker that was installed in 1925 on the grounds of McGill University is intended to indicate the former location Hochelagas.


A detailed description of the village with approximate location on can be found in the report Bref récit et succincte narration de la navigation faite en 1535 et 1536 ( " Short report and concise narrative of the 1535 and 1536 journey undertaken " ), by Jacques Cartier in 1545 King Francis I presented. . Hochelaga was surrounded by a wooden palisade and involved some fifty houses made ​​of wood and bark, mostly rectangular, rounded longhouses. The village is said to have numbered about 1,500 inhabitants. Cartier returned in 1541 on the Ile de Montréal back. In his report he mentioned two villages, but only one, Tutonaguy, even by name.

When Samuel de Champlain 1603 Cartier went tracks, the St. Lawrence Iroquois and their settlements were now entirely disappeared, for which there are several theories: conflicts with neighboring tribes, the effects of entrained by Europeans epidemics or migration in the direction of the Great lakes. Archaeological evidence and the historical context suggest most likely to armed conflict with Iroquois out, especially with the Mohawk. The few survivors appear to have been assimilated by them or by the Algonquian.

The habit of the St. Lawrence Iroquois, to dismantle their villages in decline of soil fertility and rebuild it in another place, is a possible explanation for why the exact location of Hochelaga to date is unclear. Several hypotheses assume that the village was located in the Mont Royal. 1860 met with workers on the grounds of McGill University on the remains of a village. John William Dawson, the Rector of the University, then was one of the first rescue excavations in the history of Canadian archeology perform. The site is named after him Dawson goes back to the period 1500-1550. However, the village does not seem to be identical to Hochelaga, since it does not coincide with Cartier's description, was too small and a stockade was missing.


Jacques Cartier's voyages of discovery in North America also met in Venice on interest, especially when Giovan Battista Ramusio. He published a book series named Navigationi et Viaggi, a collection of travel reports from various explorers. In the third volume, which appeared in 1556, an illustration by Giacomo Gastaldi is included on the village of Hochelaga is shown. The regular arrangement of the houses, surrounded by a circular palisade equivalent, but hardly Cartier records. Gastaldi was probably, influenced by the Italian Renaissance, guided by the principle of an ideal city, which has little to do with reality. A reproduction of this figure, drawn by Paul -Émile Borduas, adorns the walls of the Chalet du Mont -Royal.