Jean Cadieux

Jean Cadieux, a “coureur des bois” founded a family with an Algonquian wife, named Marie Bourdon. He was born in Boucherville, March 12, 1671, with father Jean Cadieux and mother Marie Valade, where he was the youngest son. Hunter and trapper, he would trade with the natives and exchanged the furs for provisions and manufactured products, which permitted him to survive winter in his small cabin in the middle of the woods. On a beautiful day in May 1709, he went from Morisson Island to Montreal with a couple natives to sell some furs. During one of their stops at one of the seven falls at Grand Calumet Island, one of his companions, a young Algonquian, went out to do some scouting, and spotted a group of Iroquois warriors. They were setting up a trap for any unfortunate traveler so that they could steal their furs. In order to escape, they would have to go over impassable rapids and under a volley of arrows! In order to insure the safety of his men and family, Cadieux decided that he would, along with a young Algonquian, divert the Iroquois and attract them far from the rapids so that they could cross them in safety. All of them hid in the bottom of the canoes upriver, and waited on the appointed signal, which was a shot of the gun, in order to leave.

An hour later, Cadieux and his friend surprised the Iroquois and brought them away from the rapids. A shot was fired: it was the awaited signal that Cadieux’s companions were waiting for to affront the terrible rapids that awaited them. None of the Iroquois noticed them, for they were too busy trying to catch Cadieux and his companion. With an amazing dexterity, the Algonquian paddlers guided the frail bark canoes in the middle of the crashing waters, trying to stay away from the rocks, which would have ripped the fragile oak bark, and led the travelers to a certain death. For two days straight, they navigated the rough waters with a hellish pace and finally reached the Two Mountains Lake where they found refuge at the fort.

Not seeing him come back, three of his companions, after having put his family and the furs in security, left to try to find Cadieux. The Iroquois had left the island and the Algonquians found a small shelter made of branches near the seven falls portage. The Algonquian warriors left to find their companions, reading the tracks left by the aggressors and the fugitives like in a great book. The young Algonquian had been killed and, for three days, the Iroquois searched the island trying to find Cadieux who continued to wage war, as uncatchable as a ghost!

After two days of fruitless searches, having lost all hope of finding Cadieux, they discovered a wooden cross planted in the ground close to the shelter that they had found on their way up. And there, half dead, lay the body of Jean. He held in his hand a long piece of bark on which, before dying, he had written as if in complaint, his story.

He had managed to escape the Iroquois, but tired, and out of strength after three days of guerrilla and of deprivations, he had seen his companions arrive, but he couldn’t find the strength to call them. He prepared himself to die, digging his tomb, and sticking a cross in the ground after having written his complaint. Then, with his last bit of strength, he buried himself, waiting for death to come in a place called the Petit Rocher of the Haute Montagne.

One hundred and fifty years later, Jean-Charles Taché related that the legend of Cadieux was so long-lived that the “coureurs de bois” that passed on the Ottawa River would stop on his tomb to pray, touch the cross, and take a small piece of it for good luck. Some would even attach to a nearby tree a copy of the complaint written on a piece of oak bark. Taché re-wrote the complaint that was composed of eleven couplets and found a priest, Father Cadieux, who confided in him that Jean Cadieux was the grand-father of his grand-father.

In 1905, the workers that built the Town Hall in Bryson asked and got permission to build a stone monument to the memory of Cadieux, in the place of the wooden cross, which they did without any pay, with their only reason being in honor of the memory of Cadieux.

That’s when began the battle of the monument between Bryson and Grand Calumet Island, each claiming the right to own the monument for the memory of Cadieux. The monument was vandalized then destroyed by vandals. In order to protect it, the habitants of the island took the rest of the monument during the night and installed it in a park at the entrance of the village in order to watch over it.

Cadieux, Jean, legendary French Canadian VOYAGEUR of the 18th century who lived in the Ottawa River region. When his cabin was attacked by Indians, he sent his family down the rapids in his canoe and stayed behind to prevent pursuit. The Virgin Mary is supposed to have guided the canoe through the rapids, which were generally portaged. Pursued by the Indians through the forest, Cadieux gradually weakened; he dug his own grave, erected a cross above it and composed a ballad about his misfortune, which he wrote in blood on birchbark; it was found by those who came to look for him. The ballad is well known in French Canadian tradition.

Catholic Encyclopedia, Author NANCY SCHMITZ,

The Passing of Cadieux

THAT man is brave who at the nod of fate
Will lay his life a willing offering down,
That they who loved him may know length of days;
May stay awhile upon this pleasant earth
Drinking its gladness and its vigour in,
Though he himself lie silent evermore,
Dead to the gentle calling of the Spring,
Dead to the warmth of Summer; wrapt in dream
So deep, so far, that never dreamer yet
Has waked to tell his dream. Men there may be
Who, careless of its worth, toss life away,
A counter in some feverish game of chance,
Or, stranger yet, will sell it day by day
For toys to play with; but a man who knows
The love of life and holds it dear and good,
Prizing each moment, yet will let it go
That others still may keep the precious thing–
He is the truly brave !
This did Cadieux,
A man who loved the wild and held each day

A gift from Le Bon Dieu to fill with joy
And offer back again to Him who gave
(See, now, Messieurs, his grave!) We hold it dear
The story you have heard–but no? 'Tis strange,
For we all know the story of Cadieux !
He was a Frenchman born. One of an age
That glitters like a gem in history yet,
The Golden Age of France ! 'Twould seem, Messieurs,
That every country has a Golden Age?
Ah well, ah well !–

But this Cadieux, he came
No one knew whence, nor cared, indeed, to know.
His simple coming seemed to bring the day,
So strong was he, so gallant and so gay–
A maker of sweet songs; with voice so clear
'Twas like the call of early-soaring bird
Hymning the sunrise; so at least 'twould seem
Mehwatta thought–the slim Algonquin girl
Whose shy black eyes the singer loved to praise.
She taught him all the soft full-throated words
With which the Indian-warriors woo their brides,
And he taught her the dainty phrase of France
And made her little songs of love, like this:

'Fresh is love in May
When the Spring is yearning,
Life is but a lay,
Love is quick in learning.

'Sweet is love in June:
All the roses blowing
Whisper 'neath the moon
Secrets for love's knowing.

'Sweet is love alway
When life burns to embers,
Hearts keep warm for aye
With what love remembers !'

Their wigwam rose beside the Calumet
Where the great waters thunder day and night
And dawn chased dawn away in gay content.

Then it so chanced, when many moons were spent,
The brave Cadieux and his brown brothers rose
To gather up their wealth of furs for trade;
And in that moment Fate upraised her hand
And, wantonly, loosed Death upon the trail,
Red death and terrible–the Iroquois!
(Oh, the long cry that rent the startled dawn!)
One way alone remained, if they would live–
The Calumet, the cataract–perchance
The good Saint Anne might help!

'In God's name, go !
Push off the great canoe, Mehwatta, go!–
Adieu, petite Mehwatta! Keep good cheer.
Say thou a prayer; beseech the good Saint Anne!–
For two must stay behind to hold the way,
And shall thy husband fail in time of need?
And would Mehwatta's eyes behold him shamed?–
Adieu!'–Oh, swift the waters bear them on!
Now the good God be merciful! ....

They stayed,
Cadieux and one Algonquin, and they played
With a bewildered foe, as children play,
Crying 'Lo, here am I!' and then 'Lo, here!' 'Lo, there!'
Their muskets spoke from everywhere at once–
So swift they ran behind the friendly trees,
They seemed a host with Death for General–
And the fierce foe fell back.

But ere they went
Their wingèd vengeance found the Algonquin's heart.
Cadieux was left alone!

Ah, now, brave soul,
Began the harder part! To wander through
The waking woods, stern hunger for a guide;
To see new life and know that he must die;
To hear the Spring and know she breathed 'Adieu' ! ...
One wonders what strange songs the forest heard,
What poignant cry rose to the lonely skies
To die in music somewhere far above

Or fall in sweetness back upon the earth–
The requiem of that singer of sweet songs!
They found him–so–with cross upon his heart,
His cold hand fast upon this last Complaint–

'Ends the long trail–at sunset I must die !
I sing no more–O little bird, sing on
And flash bright wing against a brighter sky!

'Sing to my Dear, as once I used to sing;
Say that I guarded love and kept the faith–
Fly to her, little bird, on swifter wing.

'The world slips by, the sun drops down to-night–
Sweet Mary, comfort me, and let it be
Thy arms that hold me when I wake to light!'

[In the early days there came to the region of the Upper Ottawa –to Allumette and Calumet–a voyager by the name of Cadieux. He was more than an ordinary adventurer, for not only could he fight and hunt with the most expert, but he could make sweet songs, words and music, and sing them, too, in a way that was good to hear. So thought, at any rate, a pretty Indian maiden of the Algonquin Ottawas, whom he won for his wife. Their wigwam stood near to the Great Fall of the Calumet. After the season's hunting, Cadieux and his Indian friends were preparing to go to Montreal with their accumulation of furs, when, of a sudden, the alarm was given of the approach, through the woods, of a war party of their deadly enemies, the Iroquois. There was but one means of escape. The canoe was to be committed to the cataract, while someone remained to hold the Iroquois at bay. Cadieux and a single Algonquin remained. The Iroquois finally withdrew, but not before the Algonquin was killed. Cadieux, left alone, wandered for a time in the woods until he became exhausted. Returning at last to Petit-Rocher, and feeling his end approach, he made for himself a grave, and set up a rustic cross to sanctify his departure. His friends, returning to search for him, found him in his grave, partly covered with leaves and branches, the cross beside him, and his hands closed on his last song, "La Complainte-de Cadieux."

The Lament is still sung by the French-Canadians, and the grave of Cadieux is still an object of veneration.–Author's Note.]

The original French Poem can be found at

La légende de Cadieux

Pour le compte des marchands de Montréal et de Québec, Cadieux se retrouvait souvent dans la région de la rivière des Outaouais, afin de négocier des échanges pour des pelleteries. Il y rencontrait les Indiens qu'il connaissait bien ayant épouser une des leurs, une Kichisipirini, une Algonquine de la Grande-Nation. Installé avec sa famille au petit rocher de la haute montagne, en plein milieu du portage des Sept-Chutes, en bas de l'île du grand Calumet avec d'autres familles algonquines, il préparait son canoë quand un jeune algonquin accourt vers le campement essouflé, inquiet et excité. Les Iroquois arrivent! Cadieux n'est pas surpris. Les Iroquois profitent souvent du passage de voyageurs chargés de fourrures pour les attaquer, les piller et ensuite disparaître.

Cadieux et les Algonquins n'ont pas le choix; il faut sauter les Sept-Chutes ou affronter la troupe ennemie. Les cabanes se vident, les canoës se remplissent. Cadieux expliquent à ses amis algonquins qu'il ira, avec son ami Bessouat, à la rencontre des Iroquois, histoire de faire diversion.
- Quand vous aurez entendu deux coups de fusil venant du portage, foncez vers les rapides. Prenez bien soin de ma femme!

Et les deux hommes partent vers le portage pendant que les Algonquins attendent immobiles, silencieux, avirons à la main. Un premier coup de fusil retentit, puis un deuxième, c'est le signal du départ. Les embarcations des Algonquins foncent en plein coeur des chutes où des montagnes de rocs et les flots tumultueux voudraient arrêter les fragiles canoës d'écorce. Mais les pagayeurs sont habiles: pilote et navigateur coordonnent leurs mouvements à chaque bout du canoë; ils contournent les dangereuses pointes cachées sous l'écume, se glissent entre les rochers, surveillent le courant. Ils arriveront à bon port deux jours plus tard pour y attendre Cadieux et son ami Bessouat.

Le premier coup de fusil avait été pour Cadieux, plus qu'un signal à ses amis; c'était un geste de défense. les Iroquois sont là et les ont aperçus. Bessouat est rapidement encerclé. Cadieux ne peut plus risquer une plus longue attente. Il s'enfonce dans le bois en prenant soin de ne pas laisser de traces derrière lui. Il replace les feuilles, les branches, revient sur ses pas pour brouiller les pistes. Cadieux connaît bien la route du lac des Deux-Montagnes mais non pas la forêt. Il n'ose donc pas s'éloigner afin de retrouver son canoë pour y rejoindre ses amis algonquins et sa femme. Il se construit un abri, se nourrit de fruits sauvages, évite de faire du feu. Il ne sait pas que les Iroquois ont rebroussé chemin. Connaissant l'habileté des Algonquins, les Iroquois ont rapidement deviné que ceux-ci ont sauté les rapides des Sept-Chutes.

Treize jours plus tard, inquiets de ne pas voir arriver les deux hommes, les Algonquins décident d'envoyer des hommes au partage. Ils découvrent le corps de Bessouat, scalpé, abandonné. Ils remontent jusqu'à l'abri de Cadieux. Personne! Revenant par un sentier d'où ils étaient venus, ils aperçoivent une croix de bois qu'ils n'avaient pas remarquée en arrivant la veille. Une fosse était creusé et le corps, encore chaud de Cadieux y reposait. Les mains sur la poitrine, il serrait une feuille d'écorce de bouleau couverte d'écriture. Ils comprirent que Cadieux était vivant la veille, qu'ils les avaient reconnus, mais une trop grande faiblesse ou l'émotion de la joie l'ont empêché de crier sa présence. Il avait donc écrit sa complainte, son chant de mort sur un feuillet d'écorce et s'endormit pour ne plus jamais se réveiller.

Durant plusieurs années, les Algonquins revinrent à cet endroit. Leur chef déposait alors un nouveau feuillet de bouleau sur lequel il avait recopié la Complainte de Cadieux et fixait celui-ci sur une croix de bois placé à la tête de la fosse.

English Translation:

The legend of Cadieux

On behalf of the merchants of Montreal and Quebec, Cadieux was often found in the area of the river of Outaouais, in order to negotiate exchanges for fur skins. It met there the Indians whom it knew well having to marry one as of their, Kichisipirini, Algonquine of the Large-Nation.

Installed with its family with the small rock of the high mountain, right in the middle of the bearing of Seven-Fall, bellow of the island of the large Peace pipe with other families algonquines, it prepared her canoe when a young person algonquin runs towards the essouflé camping, anxious and excited. Iroquois arrive! Cadieux is not surprised. Iroquois often benefit from the passage of travellers charged with furs to attack them, plunder them and then disappear. Cadieux and Algonquins does not have the choice; it is necessary to jump Seven-Fall or to face the enemy troop. The huts are emptied, the canoes fill. Cadieux explain to his/her friends algonquins that it will go, with his friend Bessouat, with the meeting of Iroquois, history to make diversion.
- When you hear two blows of rifle coming from the bearing, sink towards the rapids. Take care of my wife well!

And the two men leave towards the bearing while Algonquins wait motionless, quiet, oars with the hand. A first blow of rifle resounds, then a second, it is the signal of the departure. The boats of Algonquins sink in full heart of the falls where mountains of rocks and the floods tumultuous would like to stop the fragile canoes of bark. But the paddlers are skilful: pilot and navigator coordinate their movements with each end of the canoe; they circumvent the dangerous points hidden under scum, slip between the rocks, supervise the current. They will be able at good port two days to await Cadieux and his/her friend Bessouat there later.

The first blow of rifle had been for Cadieux, more than one signal with his/her friends; it was a gesture of defense Iroquois are there and saw them. Bessouat is quickly encircled. Cadieux cannot risk one more long waiting any more. It is inserted in wood by taking care not to leave traces behind him. It replaces the sheets, the branches, reconsiders its steps to scramble the tracks. Cadieux knows well the road of the lake of the Two-Mountains but not the forest. It thus does not dare to move away in order to find its canoe to join there his friends algonquins and his wife. It builds a shelter, nourishes wild fruits, avoids making fire. It does not know that Iroquois turned back. Knowing the skill of Algonquins, Iroquois quickly guessed that those jumped the rapids of Seven-Fall.

Thirteen days, anxious not to later see arriving the two men, Algonquins decide to send men to the division. They discover the body of Bessouat, scalpé, given up. They go up to the shelter of Cadieux. Nobody! Returning by a path from where they had come, they see a wood cross which they had not noticed while arriving the day before. A pit was dug and the body, still hot of Cadieux rested there. The hands on the chest, it tightened a sheet of bark of birch covered with writing. They understood that Cadieux was living the day before, that they had recognized them, but a too great weakness or the emotion of the joy prevented it from shouting its presence. It had thus written its lament, its song of died on a layer of bark and fell asleep to awake never again.

During several years, Algonquins returned to this place. Their head then deposited a new layer of birch on which it had recopied the Lament of Cadieux and fixed this one on a wood cross placed at the head of the pit.

Située sur la rivière des Outaouais, l'île du Grand Calumet fut très longtemps un important lieu de rencontre pour le peuple Algonquin.

Pendant le Régime français, la rivière Outaouais était la route pour rejoindre la Baie Georgienne, les Grands Lacs (via la rivière Mattawa, le lac Nipissing et la rivière Française) et vers cet Ouest encore inconnu. Les missionnaires, les marchands de fourrures et les soldats qui utilisaient la route de l'Ouest faisaient portage à l'île du Grand Calumet pour éviter les sections les plus difficiles de l'Outaouais.
En 1613, Champlain se rendit à l'île Morrison, domaine de Tessouat, chef des Algonquins. Le sentier de portage à l'île du Grand Calumet est l'objet de la légende d'un coureur de bois, Cadieux, qui donna sa vie pour sauver sa famille. Il existe d'ailleurs un monument dédié à Cadieux à l'entrée du village.
L'île du Grand Calumet est devenue une municipalité en 1846, avec F. X. Bastien comme maire. La première chapelle a été construite en 1843, suivie d'une église en 1847, bâtie par le Père Groulx. Cette église a été remplacée en 1869 par la présente église de pierre. La paroisse Ste-Anne est sans doute la plus ancienne du Pontiac.
Des dépôts de plomb et zinc ont été découverts en 1893 et l'ouverture de New Calumet Mines a eu lieu en 1943. Le rendement maximal de 840 tonnes par jour a été atteint au début de 1953. On y comptait alors 435 employés. La mine fut fermée en 1968.
De nos jours, les sections de rivière que les explorateurs évitaient soigneusement font la joie des touristes. Trois compagnies de descente en rivière, Equinox Adventures, Esprit Rafting et Aventures Outaouais amènent les touristes vers les rapides du Rocher Fendu, réputé comme l'un des meilleurs endroits dans l'est de l'Amérique du Nord pour la pratique des sports d'eaux vives comme le kayak ou le rafting.

coureur de bois

indiennes et coureurs de bois

Jean Cadieux, coureur de bois, était né à Boucherville, le 12 mars 1671 de Jean Cadieux et de Marie Valade, dont il était le fils cadet. Chasseur et trappeur, il traitait avec les Indiens et échangeait des fourrures contre les provisions et les produits manufacturés qui lui permettaient de passer l'hiver encabané au fin fond des bois. Il avait pris une femme algonquine. Par un beau jour de mai 1709, il descendait avec quelques Indiens de l'île Morisson à Montréal pour aller vendre des fourrures. Lors d'une halte aux portages des sept chutes à l'Île-du-Grand-Calumet, l'un de ses compagnons, un jeune Algonquin parti en reconnaissance, repéra un groupe de guerriers iroquois venu tendre des embuscades aux voyageurs pour s'emparer des précieuses fourrures. Pour s'échapper, il fallait franchir des sauts infranchissables et cela, sous une nuée de flèches ! Afin d'augmenter les chances de survie de ses compagnons et de sa famille, Cadieux décida avec un jeune guerrier algonquin de faire diversion et d'attirer les Iroquois loin des rapides pour leur permettre de les franchir en toute quiétude. Tous se cachèrent au fond de leur canot en amont des rapides, prêts à partir au signal convenu, soit un coup de fusil.
Une heure plus tard, Cadieux et son compagnon prirent les Iroquois à revers et les attirèrent loin des rapides. Un échange de coups de feu s'ensuivit : c'était le signal qu'attendait les compagnons de Cadieux pour s'élancer dans les terribles rapides, sous l'œil médusé de quelques Iroquois qui n'en revenaient pas et qui étaient plus préoccupés à se protéger des assaillants que de tirer sur les fuyards. Avec une dextérité hors du commun, les canotiers algonquins conduisirent les frêles esquifs d'écorces au milieu des flots rugissants, évitant tout contact avec les rochers qui auraient pu déchirer les fragiles écorces de bouleaux, ce qui les auraient conduit à une mort certaine. Deux jours durant, ils naviguèrent à un rythme d'enfer et atteignirent le lac des Deux Montagnes où ils trouvèrent refuge au Fort.
Ne le voyant pas revenir, trois de ses compagnons, après avoir mis familles et fourrures en sécurité, partirent à la recherche de Cadieux. Les Iroquois avaient quitté l'île et les Algonquins trouvèrent un petit abri de branche vide près du portage des sept chutes. Les guerriers algonquins partirent à la recherche de leurs compagnons, lisant les traces laissées par les agresseurs et assaillants comme dans un grand livre. Le jeune algonquin avait été tué et, trois jours durant, les Iroquois avaient battu l'île à la recherche de Cadieux qui continuait à guerroyer, aussi insaisissable qu'une ombre !
Après deux jours de recherches infructueuses, ayant perdu tout espoir de retrouver Cadieux, ils découvrirent une croix de bois plantée en terre près de l'abri qu'ils avaient remarqué à leur arrivée. Et là, à demi enterré, gisait le corps de Jean. Il tenait entre ses mains une longue écorce de bouleau sur laquelle, avant de mourir, il avait transcrit sous forme d'une complainte, son épopée.
Il avait réussi à échapper aux Iroquois, mais épuisé, affaibli par trois jours de guérilla et de privations, il avait vu revenir ses compagnons, mais sans trouver la force de les héler. Il s'était préparé à la mort, creusant sa tombe et y plantant une croix après avoir composé sa complainte. Il s'était ensuite enseveli avec ses dernières forces, attendant la mort en un lieu dit le Petit Rocher de la Haute Montagne.

En 1905, les ouvriers qui construisaient le Palais de justice de Bryson demandèrent et obtinrent la permission de construire un monument de pierre à la mémoire de Cadieux à la place de la croix de bois, ce qu'ils firent sans aucune solde, par seul soucis d'honorer la mémoire de Cadieux.

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