The Jesuits first set foot in what is now Canada, at Port Royal, Nova Scotia in 1611. At Ste-Marie, now Midland, Ontario, in 1639, the Jesuits built “a house of prayer and a home of peace,” (St. John Paul II) a community where aboriginal and non-aboriginal people were to dwell together in harmony, where the rites and traditions of both Europeans and Hurons could be strengthened and enriched by the values of the Gospel. But their plans got caught up in tribal warfare, in the intrigues of the French and English courts, in the politics of the fur and brandy trades resulting in the death of eight Jesuits along with many of the Huron people with whom they were ministering.
These eight Jesuits have been canonized: Jean de Brébeuf, Isaac Jogues, Gabriel Lalement, Antoine Daniel, Charles Garnier, Noel Chabanel, Réne Goupil, and Jean de laLande and are commonly referred to as the Canadian Martyrs.
After being suppressed for nearly 70 years, the Jesuits returned to Canada in 1842. Like their predecessors two centuries earlier, they came from France. After establishing themselves in Montreal they were called on to minister to the First Nation’s Peoples starting in Sandwich, Canada West, then on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron.