M u s e u m  C r e a t e d  L e s s o n

Lesson 1: The Territory

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Pointe-à-Callière, musée d'archéologie et d'histoire de Montréal, Montréal, Quebec

Map of the North America, circa 1701
Map of the North America, circa 1701
Map showing places of influence for the Great Peace of 1701. Convincing some thirty First Nations to come to Montréal to sign a lasting peace treaty was a tremendous challenge, especially since these nations were scattered across such an immense territory.

Catherine Trottier

© 2012, Pointe-à-Callière, musée d'archéologie et d'histoire de Montréal. All Rights Reserved.
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Learning Object Collection: The Great Peace of Montréal, 1701
Learning Object: The territory
- A computer
- An Internet connection, to consult the virtual exhibition The Great Peace of Montreal 1701, (
- A copy of an early map (1700 map by Guillaume Deslile/de l'Isle)
- A copy of a blank map
- Sheets of paper and pencils
Work method
As a class, in teams and individually

Note for teachers
By having the students interpret early and recent maps, this lesson focuses on SSC 2. The students will use the historical method (studying a map, locating certain elements) to help them figure out the geographic details and understand the issues involved in the Great Peace of Montréal. This lesson will also help the students grasp the impact of changes in place names and boundaries between countries and provinces over the centuries.
By the late 17th century, Europeans had already had close ties with the Native populations of North America for over a century. From the east coast, the French had moved inland along the St. Lawrence Valley, settling mainly in Montréal and Québec (today’s Quebec City). Farther south, after pushing out the Dutch, the British had settled along the Eastern seaboard.
Tell your students that the suggested lessons will roughly follow the different parts of the virtual exhibition, with lessons Nos. 1, 2 and 3 corresponding to Act 1 (setting the scene), lessons Nos. 4 and 5 corresponding to Act 2 (gathering in Montréal and signing the Great Peace treaty) and lessons Nos. 5 and 6 looking at the historical and modern-day impact of the Great Peace (Acts 2 and 3).
Step 1
Remind the students of the lesson 1 objectives:
a) to develop an interpretive method (how to read and draw a map);
b) to better understand the geography of eastern North America in the late 17th century; and
c) to compare this situation with that of modern-day Quebec.
Step 2
Use the 1700 map by Guillaume Deslile/de l’Isle.

Ask the students to individually find three specific geographic elements and to write them on a sheet of paper (possible answers include territories like Florida, the Mer du Nord, Canada and New France).

Ask two or three students to read what they wrote out loud to the rest of the class. Depending on their answers, point out to the students that there are various “elements” on the map, from place names to country names and the names of rivers and of various First Nations (Sioux de l’Ouest (western Sioux) or pays des Iroquois (Iroquois country), for instance, or, within the boundaries of modern-day Quebec, Papinachois, Betsiamites, etc.)
Step 3
Draw their special attention to the part of the map labelled “Canada ou Nouvelle France.” The objective here is to show them that the territory under French influence on the eve of the signing of the Great Peace of Montréal was much larger than that of modern-day Quebec. This will establish the first political references that will be further developed in lesson No. 2.
Step 4
Then go back to the site and have the students work in teams as they explore the interactive map in Act 1. Ask them to pinpoint the following places: Montréal, Québec, Onontagué (Onondaga), Michillimakinac, Niagara, Fort Orange (Albany).

Point out that some place names refer directly to the people who lived there. The objective here is to link this geography lesson with the historical event, the Great Peace, by very quickly introducing them to the main players, the French and their Native allies (the allied Great Lakes nations) vs the British and their Native allies (mainly the Iroquois).
Step 5
You can use the interactive map to take a closer look at the main nations and their chiefs.
A few examples:
- Onondaga was the site of the central fire (a sort of diplomatic capital) of the Five Nations Iroquois League, because it was located in the centre of their territory.
- Michillimakinac is a Native name, indicating that this centre was a Native community: in fact, it was the diplomatic capital of the western Great Lakes nations, allied with France.
- Montréal (the name comes from Mont-Royal, the King’s mountain) was named by the French and, along with Quebec, was one of the main towns in New France. Louis-Hector de Callière, Governor of New France, lived there at the time.
Step 6
Then ask the students, still working in teams, to mark these locations on the blank map.
Step 7
Then go to the 21st-century map at

Show the students how the two historical maps do not exactly match; Guillaume Delisle’s knowledge of geography in 1700 (especially of the northern territories) was much more limited than ours today.
Step 8
Have them use the modern-day map of Quebec, Ontario and part of the United States to find the modern-day names of the different centres, by comparing the 17th-century map with the 21st-century one. Then ask them, still working in teams, to write these modern-day names next to the place names they marked on their map earlier and to see whether these names have changed.

Have them use the modern-day map of Quebec, Ontario and part of the United States to find the name of the First Nation were use to burn the Grand Council's fire. The answer is Onondaga. Ask the students to name the four other Nations of the Iroquois Five Nations League. (Answer: Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida and Mohawk).
Step 9
Wrap up this lesson by asking the students to think about what these name changes mean. A number of answers are possible here.

Point out for example that Fort Orange is now Albany, that Pensilvanie has become Pennsylvanie, and Mariland has become Maryland.
A few examples to broden the analysis
1) these changes show that some names can change as history evolves: for instance, Fort Orange was the name given by the Dutch to the trading post they built in 1624; once the Dutch were defeated by the British, the name of Fort Orange was changed to Albany (another possible example: New France (or Nouvelle France) later became Quebec);

2) other names that were inherited from Native languages (like Quebec, which means where the river narrows) have been preserved right up until today, despite the arrival of the British, some sixty years after the Great Peace;

3) some names may also have changed their spelling or been shortened: the island of Montréal became just Montréal, Pensilvanie became Pennsylvania; and Mariland became Maryland. (Notice how Delisle “Francized” these names, although the English spelling has been retained in modern-day French).
Match up each of the two major European powers present in North America in the late 17th century with the names of a few of their First Nations allies. You can use the interactive exhibition website for help (especially the map in the Seeking Peace/ Alliances and Trade section).
Answer table
The answers shown here are not the only possible ones.

Great Lakes nations / Iroquois Five Nations League
Huron-Wendats / Onondagas
Algonquins / Senecas
Abenakis / Mohawks
Miamis / Cayugas
Illinois / Oneidas
Iroquois at Kahnawake /

Learning Objectives

This lesson is intended for secondary three and four students. Its objectives are to:
- familiarize the students with historical maps (17th to 21st century)
- have them learn about the geography of eastern North America on the eve of the Great Peace
- have them understand how place names change over the years

Subject-specific competencies developed (SSC)
SSC 1: Examine social phenomena from a historical perspective
SSC 2: Interpret social phenomena using the historical method

Estimated time: 25 minutes