Gentlemen and Jesuits: Quests for Glory and Adventure in the Early Days of New France


293 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-2594-3




Reviewed by Terry A. Crowley

Terry A. Crowley is a professor of history at the University of Guelph,
and the author of Agnes Macphail and the Politics of Equality.


Travel the shores of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Maine as they were four centuries ago in this epic tale of the attempts to establish a French colony in Acadia between 1604 and 1613. Through a richly textured narrative, writer and translator Elizabeth Jones transports her readers back to the days of tall ships and quixotic adventurers as they pitted themselves against the rigours of an unfamiliar continent and unknown peoples. Champlain, de Monts, Poutrincourt, and Biencourt are among the better known characters whose wanderings and vicissitudes Jones charts in meticulous detail. The drama surrounding the commercial enterprise that inspired the original initiatives in Acadia contrasts with the intrigues concerning the first Jesuit attempts to convert the Amerindians to Christianity, especially those of the truculent Father Pierre Biard. Sensitive to the conflicts that emerged between religion and business, the author is equally judicious in her portrayal of the Indians in their early encounters with Europeans.

Gentlemen and Jesuits is readable history in the old style which is written from a fresh contemporary perspective based on sound though unimposing erudition. The author leads us effortlessly through the trials, tribulations, quarrels, and loss of life that eventually amounted to naught when the French settlements were ravaged by English marauder Samuel Argall in 1613. Here is history accessible to all. It is highly recommended.


Jones, Elizabeth, “Gentlemen and Jesuits: Quests for Glory and Adventure in the Early Days of New France,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 12, 2024,