Wednesday, October 13, 2010

So was his name Brûlé or Brusle?

Like many "facts" in history there are many interpretations of the truth.
As to the names of many of our historic figures there are many understandings as to the correct spelling of their names - Brûlé (as I refer to him) is no exception. The important thing is that we are clear as to whom we are referring.
The following article appeared in the Midland Free Press last week (thanks to Jamie Hunter) and refers to Huronia's first European visitor as Brusle. While it is clear to the historian as to whom we are talking about - is it clear to the public - does it matter?

History set to come to life



Posted 7 days ago
In the fall of 1610, Etienne Brusle arrived in the Huronia from France through a fateful exchange' that impacted the history of the area. In the years to come he became well known to the Huron people of the area and across the region.
On Sunday, Oct, 17 Huronia Museum in Midland is hosting a celebration of this historically significant Frenchman, who was the first tourist to Huronia.
Between 1:30 -4 p.m. interpreter/ actor High Barnett will portray Brusle in a special presentation that will last one hour, sharing the story of his life and times as an explorer, communicator and adventurer 400 years ago. The story is a well known one to residents, historians and scholars of the area.
"This is actually the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first European tourist," said museum curator Jamie Hunter.
"Brusle is the 18-year-old boy that Champlain exchanged for Savignon' a native boy representing the Huron and Ojibway people to take back to France. Eitenne Brusle eventually became a truchemont' or company man, whose responsibility was to encourage all of the Huron and Ojibway from the upper country to trade exclusively with Champlain and his various trading partners.
"This was because they knew there would be competition at Quebec and Tadoussac to trade with French and European trading companies," said Hunter.
"Champlain wanted to cover the market allowing no one else in. This formed a relationship with Brusle that lasted 22 years before he was murdered by Huron for establishing connections with other Indian groups in the Great Lakes to which the Huron had obtained a monopoly for European trade goods."
Hunter said some say Brusle was murdered because of his sexual indiscretion with native women but that it seems unlikely since that was never been a reason for murder of anyone in the past.
"Brusle worked for anyone who would pay him the same money and this really upset Champlain even through Champlain was not always in control of the fur trade from the European perspective or the native perspective," said Hunter.
"Brusle's life among the Huron was extremely important and we are going to honour his presence with this presentation at the museum."
Brusle had learned Huron language and their customs which helped the colonists learn to understand their Huron neighbours.
He was an excellent scout, or pathfinder having gone on many expeditions for Champlain and the fur traders.
Brusle explored the land west of Quebec travelling through uncharted wilderness and learned how to survive from the First Nations peoples.
When he arrived in Huronia, little did Brusle know he would lead the way for millions to follow.
Over the years, the beautiful North Simcoe site has become a sought-after vacation destination' for people around the world and a place where day-trippers escape from the city.
Also taking place at Huronia Museum on Sunday, Oct. 17 between 2 -4 p.m. will be three book signings.
On hand that day will be Bill Northcott author of Thunder Bay Beach & Islands, Gary French author of Axes of Ontario and author Heather Roberson who wrote Toronto Carrying Place.
Each author will give a 10 to 12-minute summary of their book, its research and how it may be useful to people who are interested in local history.
"The authors are all local and will be happy to sign books which would make excellent Christmas gifts," said Hunter.
For more information on these events email: or call the museum at 526-2844.

Article ID# 2787583


Gibson, William said...

I must confess when I read the article and its reference to Brusle, I ahd two thoughts run thruogh my brain. How many people would understand Brusle is Brule in the common historical parlance. The second thought is how many people share Jamie Hunter's conviction that Estienne Brusle is the correct form of the explorer's name? In addition the name of John Cabot, Giovanni Caboto, pick another variation crossed my mind as well.

It will be impossible to know if this choice of historical name accuracy (?) will help or hurt attendance at the event.

Gibson, William said...

a quick search via google of Estienne Brusle reveals:

Ghost brothers: adoption of a French tribe by bereaved native ... - Google Books Result
Rony Blum - 2005 - History - 448 pages
He travelled with thirty-four-year-old Estienne Brusle.. Presented to the British as the son of the king of Canada, he was baptised in the Rouen cathedral ...
"Huronia Chapter of the Ontario Archaeological Society": So was ...
13 Oct 2010 ... In the fall of 1610, Etienne Brusle arrived in the Huronia from France through a fateful exchange' that impacted the history of the area. ...
Get more results from the past 24 hours
The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents Volume 14
Our Savages imagine that it is the sister of the late Estienne Bruslé, who is avenging her brother's death. This Sorcerer added that we, even we ourselves, ... - Cached
The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents Volume 10
Some thereupon, trying to outdo him, said perhaps we cherished resentment ... - Cached
Nicolas Marsolet de Saint-Aignan
- [ Translate this page ]
... entre autres l'un appelé Estienne Bruslé, de Champigny, truchement des Hurons, le second Nicolas Marsolet de Roüen, truchement des Montagnais, ... - Cached - Similar

Unknown said...

Brusle is the same as Brule, since the modern French circonflex accent in French is a stand-in for the older "s" in the Medieval & Renaissance era "s."
Rony Blum

Unknown said...

Ghost Brothers is often misquoted because it is written in very dense prose: Amantacha, a Wendat youth, was presented to Recollet Father Joseph Le Caron. When he and Brusle were together, he was presented to the British, by Brusle, as the son of the king of Canada.
Thus, it was not Brusle, but Amantacha.
Next time will write more simply.
Cheers, Rony Blum