This was the headquarters of the Jesuits in North America.
Previously in The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century.
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The fortified work which enclosed the buildings was in the form of a parallelogram, about a hundred and seventy-five feet long, and from eighty to ninety wide. It lay parallel with the river, and somewhat more than a hundred feet distant from it. On two sides it was a continuous wall of masonry,  flanked with square bastions, adapted to musketry, and probably used as magazines, storehouses, or lodgings. The sides towards the river and the lake had no other defenses than a ditch and palisade, flanked, like the others, by bastions, over each of which was displayed a large cross.  The buildings within were, no doubt, of wood; and they included a church, a kitchen, a refectory, places of retreat for religious instruction and meditation,  and lodgings for at least sixty persons. Near the church, but outside the fortification, was a cemetery. Beyond the ditch or canal which opened on the river was a large area, still traceable, in the form of an irregular triangle, surrounded by a ditch, and apparently by palisades. It seems to have been meant for the protection of the Indian visitors who came in throngs to Sainte Marie, and who were lodged in a large house of bark, after the Huron manner.  Here, perhaps, was also the hospital, which was placed without the walls, in order that Indian women, as well as men, might be admitted into it. 
[1: It seems probable that the walls, of which the remains may still be traced, were foundations supporting a wooden superstructure. Ragueneau, in a letter to the General of the Jesuits, dated March 13, 1650, alludes to the defenses of Saint Marie as “une simple palissade.”]
[2: “Quatre grandes Croix qui sont aux quatre coins de nostre enclos.” — Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1648, 81.]
[3: It seems that these places, besides those for the priests, were of two kinds, — “vne retraite pour les pelerins (Indians), enfin vn lieu plus separé, oů les infideles, qui n’y sont admis que de iour au passage, y puissent tousiours receuoir quelque bon mot pour leur salut.” — Lalemant, Relation des Hurons, 1644, 74.]
[4: At least it was so in 1642. “Nous leur auons dressé vn Hospice ou Cabane d’écorce.” — Ibid., 1642, 57.]
[5: “Cet hospital est tellement separé de nostre demeure, que non seulement les hommes et enfans, mais les femmes y peuuent estre admises.” — Ibid., 1644, 74.]
No doubt the buildings of Sainte Marie were of the roughest, — rude walls of boards, windows without glass, vast chimneys of unhewn stone. All its riches were centered in the church, which, as Lalemant tells us, was regarded by the Indians as one of the wonders of the world, but which, he adds, would have made but a beggarly show in France. Yet one wonders, at first thought, how so much labor could have been accomplished here. Of late years, however, the number of men at the command of the mission had been considerable. Soldiers had been sent up from time to time, to escort the Fathers on their way, and defend them on their arrival. Thus, in 1644, Montmagny ordered twenty men of a reinforcement just arrived from France to escort Brébeuf, Garreau, and Chabanel to the Hurons, and remain there during the winter.  These soldiers lodged with the Jesuits, and lived at their table.  It was not, however, on detachments of troops that they mainly relied for labor or defense. Any inhabitant of Canada who chose to undertake so hard and dangerous a service was allowed to do so, receiving only his maintenance from the mission, without pay. In return, he was allowed to trade with the Indians, and sell the furs thus obtained at the magazine of the Company, at a fixed price. [Registres des Arręts du Conseil, extract in Faillon, II, 94.] Many availed themselves of this permission; and all whose services were accepted by the Jesuits seem to have been men to whom they had communicated no small portion of their own zeal, and who were enthusiastically attached to their Order and their cause. There is abundant evidence that a large proportion of them acted from motives wholly disinterested. They were, in fact, donnés of the mission,  — given, heart and hand, to its service. There is probability in the conjecture, that the profits of their trade with the Indians were reaped, not for their own behoof, but for that of the mission.  It is difficult otherwise to explain the confidence with which the Father Superior, in a letter to the General of the Jesuits at Rome, speaks of its resources. He says, “Though our number is greatly increased, and though we still hope for more men, and especially for more priests of our Society, it is not necessary to increase the pecuniary aid given us.” 
[6: Vimont, Relation, 1644, 49. He adds, that some of these soldiers, though they had once been “assez mauvais garçons,” had shown great zeal and devotion in behalf of the mission.]
[7: Journal des Supérieurs des Jésuites, MS. In 1648, a small cannon was sent to Sainte Marie in the Huron canoes. — Ibid.]
[8: See ante, chapter 16 (page 214), “donnés”. Garnier calls them “séculiers d’habit, mais religieux de cœur.” — Lettres, MSS.]
[9: The Jesuits, even at this early period, were often and loudly charged with sharing in the fur-trade. It is certain that this charge was not wholly without foundation. Le Jeune, in the Relation of 1657, speaking of the wampum, guns, powder, lead, hatchets, kettles, and other articles which the missionaries were obliged to give to the Indians, at councils and elsewhere, says that these must be bought from the traders with beaver-skins, which are the money of the country; and he adds, “Que si vn Iesuite en reçoit ou en recueille quelques-vns pour ayder aux frais immenses qu’il faut faire dans ces Missions si éloignées, et pour gagner ces peuples ŕ Iesus-Christ et les porter ŕ la paix, il seroit ŕ souhaiter que ceux-lŕ mesme qui deuroient faire ces despenses pour la conseruation du pays, ne fussent pas du moins les premiers ŕ condamner le zele de ces Peres, et ŕ les rendre par leurs discours plus noirs que leurs robes.” — Relation, 1657, 16.
In the same year, Chaumonot, addressing a council of the Iroquois during a period of truce, said, “Keep your beaver-skins, if you choose, for the Dutch. Even such of them as may fall into our possession will be employed for your service.” — Ibid., 17.
In 1636, La Jeune thought it necessary to write a long letter of defense against the charge; and in 1643, a declaration, appended to the Relation of that year, and certifying that the Jesuits took no part in the fur-trade, was drawn up and signed by twelve members of the company of New France. Its only meaning is, that the Jesuits were neither partners nor rivals of the Company’s monopoly. They certainly bought supplies from its magazines with furs which they obtained from the Indians.
Their object evidently was to make the mission partially self-supporting. To impute mercenary motives to Garnier, Jogues, and their co-laborers, is manifestly idle; but, even in the highest flights of his enthusiasm, the Jesuit never forgot his worldly wisdom.]
[10: Lettre du P. Paul Ragueneau au T. R. P. Vincent Carafa, Général de la Compagnie de Jésus ŕ Rome, Sainte Marie aux Hurons, 1 Mars, 1649 (Carayon).]
Much of this prosperity was no doubt due to the excellent management of their resources, and a very successful agriculture. While the Indians around them were starving, they raised maize in such quantities, that, in the spring of 1649, the Father Superior thought that their stock of provisions might suffice for three years. “Hunting and fishing,” he says, “are better than heretofore”; and he adds, that they had fowls, swine, and even cattle.  How they could have brought these last to Sainte Marie it is difficult to conceive. The feat, under the circumstances, is truly astonishing. Everything indicates a fixed resolve on the part of the Fathers to build up a solid and permanent establishment.
[11: Lettre du P. Paul Ragueneau au T. R. P. Vincent Carafa, Général de la Compagnie de Jésus ŕ Rome, Sainte Marie aux Hurons, 1 Mars, 1649 (Carayon).]
It is by no means to be inferred that the household fared sumptuously. Their ordinary food was maize, pounded and boiled, and seasoned, in the absence of salt, which was regarded as a luxury, with morsels of smoked fish. [Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1648, 48.]
In March, 1649, there were in the Huron country and its neighborhood eighteen Jesuit priests, four lay brothers, twenty-three men serving without pay, seven hired men, four boys, and eight soldiers.  Of this number, fifteen priests were engaged in the various missions, while all the rest were retained permanently at Sainte Marie. All was method, discipline, and subordination. Some of the men were assigned to household work, and some to the hospital; while the rest labored at the fortifications, tilled the fields, and stood ready, in case of need, to fight the Iroquois. The Father Superior, with two other priests as assistants, controlled and guided all. The remaining Jesuits, undisturbed by temporal cares, were devoted exclusively to the charge of their respective missions. Two or three times in the year, they all, or nearly all, assembled at Sainte Marie, to take counsel together and determine their future action. Hither, also, they came at intervals for a period of meditation and prayer, to nerve themselves and gain new inspiration for their stern task.
[12: See the report of the Father Superior to the General, above cited. The number was greatly increased within the year. In April, 1648, Ragueneau reports but forty-two French in all, including priests. Before the end of the summer a large reinforcement came up in the Huron canoes.]
Besides being the citadel and the magazine of the mission, Sainte Marie was the scene of a bountiful hospitality. On every alternate Saturday, as well as on feast-days, the converts came in crowds from the farthest villages. They were entertained during Saturday, Sunday, and a part of Monday; and the rites of the Church were celebrated before them with all possible solemnity and pomp. They were welcomed also at other times, and entertained, usually with three meals to each. In these latter years the prevailing famine drove them to Sainte Marie in swarms. In the course of 1647 three thousand were lodged and fed here; and in the following year the number was doubled.  Heathen Indians were also received and supplied with food, but were not permitted to remain at night. There was provision for the soul as well as the body; and, Christian or heathen, few left Sainte Marie without a word of instruction or exhortation. Charity was an instrument of conversion.
[13: Compare Ragueneau in Relation des Hurons, 1648, 48, and in his report to the General in 1649.]
Such, so far as we can reconstruct it from the scattered hints remaining, was this singular establishment, at once military, monastic, and patriarchal. The missions of which it was the basis were now eleven in number. To those among the Hurons already mentioned another had lately been added, — that of Sainte Madeleine; and two others, called St. Jean and St. Matthias, had been established in the neighboring Tobacco Nation.  The three remaining missions were all among tribes speaking the Algonquin languages. Every winter, bands of these savages, driven by famine and fear of the Iroquois, sought harborage in the Huron country, and the mission of Sainte Elisabeth was established for their benefit. The next Algonquin mission was that of Saint Esprit, embracing the Nipissings and other tribes east and north-east of Lake Huron; and, lastly, the mission of St. Pierre included the tribes at the outlet of Lake Superior, and throughout a vast extent of surrounding wilderness. 
[14: The mission of the Neutral Nation had been abandoned for the time, from the want of missionaries. The Jesuits had resolved on concentration, and on the thorough conversion of the Hurons, as a preliminary to more extended efforts.]
[15: Besides these tribes, the Jesuits had become more or less acquainted with many others, also Algonquin on the west and south of Lake Huron; as well as with the Puans, or Winnebagoes, a Dacotah tribe between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi.
The Mission of Sault Sainte Marie, at the outlet of Lake Superior, was established at a later period. Modern writers have confounded it with Sainte Marie of the Hurons.
By the Relation of 1649 it appears that another mission had lately been begun at the Grand Manitoulin Island, which the Jesuits also christened Isle Sainte Marie.]
– The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century, Chapter 25 by Francis Parkman
The below is from Francis Parkman’s Introduction.
If, at times, it may seem that range has been allowed to fancy, it is so in appearance only; since the minutest details of narrative or description rest on authentic documents or on personal observation.
Faithfulness to the truth of history involves far more than a research, however patient and scrupulous, into special facts. Such facts may be detailed with the most minute exactness, and yet the narrative, taken as a whole, may be unmeaning or untrue. The narrator must seek to imbue himself with the life and spirit of the time. He must study events in their bearings near and remote; in the character, habits, and manners of those who took part in them, he must himself be, as it were, a sharer or a spectator of the action he describes.
With respect to that special research which, if inadequate, is still in the most emphatic sense indispensable, it has been the writer’s aim to exhaust the existing material of every subject treated. While it would be folly to claim success in such an attempt, he has reason to hope that, so far at least as relates to the present volume, nothing of much importance has escaped him. With respect to the general preparation just alluded to, he has long been too fond of his theme to neglect any means within his reach of making his conception of it distinct and true.