The North American colonies had always attracted individuals in search of adventure and good business opportunities. Under both the French and British regimes, trade and business competition played a major role in relations between countries, as well as causing a number of conflicts. Money is often at the root of war.

So it is understandable that, in the midst of fierce commercial rivalries, it was not unusual for privateers—especially those who were adventurers above all—to change sides and betray their country!

John Outlaw

Some of these traitors, such as the privateers and explorers Pierre Esprit Radisson and Médard Chouart des Groseilliers, are famous to this day. Their defection from France to England, in the midst of the struggle to control Hudson Bay, was dramatic, and history has not always been kind to them.

But few remember that others, like John Outlaw, crossed over in the other direction, abandoning England to serve the King of France. John Outlaw was a naval officer employed by the Hudson's Bay Company when the fort he was occupying was captured by Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville in 1686. It was the third time he had been taken prisoner by the French in the space of a few years. This time, Outlaw requested, and was granted, the right to become a French subject.

From then on, he served France loyally as a privateer. The Governor of New France, Frontenac, even financed a ship under his command, christening it the Frontenac!
Musée maritime du Québec and Naval Museum of Québec

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