400 Years of Jesuits in Canada

Jesuits arrived in Canada in 1611, and went on to shape significant parts of that nation’s history as missionaries, explorers, and educators.  To mark the 400th anniversary, Canada’s Catholic Register of Canada has published a 36-page supplement about the Jesuits and their history.  It’s fascinating reading.

I especially liked St. John de Brébeuf’s advice to his fellow Jesuits about getting along with the native Hurons.  Much of it is good advice today.

To conciliate the Huron, you must be careful never to make them wait for you in embarking.Tuck up your gowns so that they will not get wet and so that you will not carry either water or sand into the canoe.Be careful not to annoy anyone in the canoe with your hat; it would be better to take your night cap.You must provide yourself with a tinder box or with a burning mirror, or with both, to furnish them fire in the daytime to light their pipes, and in the evening when they have to encamp; these little services win their hearts.You must try to be, and to appear, always cheerful. You must so conduct yourself as not to be at all troublesome to even one of these Hurons.Do not undertake anything unless you desire to continue it; for example, do not begin to paddle unless you are inclined to continue paddling.Finally, understand that the Huron will retain the same opinion of you in their country that they will have formed on the way; and one who has passed for an irritable and troublesome person will have considerable difficulty afterwards in removing this opinion.

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Jim Manney
Jim Manney is the author of highly praised popular books on Ignatian spirituality, including A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer (about the Daily Examen) and God Finds Us (about the Spiritual Exercises). He is the compiler/editor of An Ignatian Book of Days. His latest book is What Matters Most and Why. He and his wife live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


  1. Thank you for including this very special anniversary of the Jesuits in Canada. The Jesuits had an incredible influence on the founding of our country and we owe a great deal to those early missionaries. On a personal note, I am certain that my conversion to Catholicism was the result of the influence of the Jesuits at Manresa Retreat Centre in Pickering, Ontario.

  2. I especially like this one, “To conciliate the Huron, you must be careful never to make them wait for you in embarking.” I always find that you can say a lot about a person with his decision about spending his time wisely.


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