DANIEL, CHARLES, sea captain, member of the Compagnie des Cent-Associés, founder of Fort Sainte-Anne on Cape Breton, second son of Antoine Daniel, a Dieppe merchant, and Marguerite Martin; d. 1661.
He was a brother of the Jesuit, Antoine Daniel. His older brother André, a doctor, and one of his younger brothers, François, were also sea captains. In 1626 Charles Daniel, who already had experience in sailing to New France, was in partnership with Guillaume de Caën in the Compagnie de Ventadour and was engaged in fishing off Cape Breton. He had several skirmishes with the Basques, which resulted in some loss of life.
At the time that the Compagnie des Cent-Associés was being set up, he and his brother André became members of it. In 1629 he hired out two of his ships to the company and was to join at La Rochelle Razilly’s fleet, which had the mission of coming to Champlain’s aid at Quebec. However, as peace had been restored, Razilly was picked to go to Morocco, André Daniel was sent to London to demand the return of Quebec and Acadia, while Charles Daniel received command of the flotilla of four ships and a bark which were sent to Canada.
A gale scattered these ships off the Newfoundland Banks and Daniel reached Cape Breton alone. There he learned of the capture of Quebec and of the settlement which a Scottish lord, James Stewart, Lord Ochiltree, had established at Port de la Baleine, from which he was holding fishing boats to ransom. Daniel went there, besieged and captured Fort Rosemar, demolished it, then returned to Cibou (Bras d’Or Bay), where he built Fort Sainte-Anne, with a dwelling, a chapel, and a magazine. There he left two missionaries, one of whom was Father Vimont, and a garrison of 40 men, and took back to France James Stewart and 17 prisoners after leaving the others, including Capt. Ferrar, in England. For four years, using Fort Sainte-Anne as his base of operations, he traded in the Gulf, as far as Miscou and Tadoussac, sharing expenses and receipts equally with the Compagnie de la Nouvelle-France.
In the autumn of 1632 the Cent-Associés, who had regained possession of Canada but who were half-ruined, organized a private company to continue their operations in the St. Lawrence and sold Cape Breton Island to Pierre Desportes de Lignères. Daniel then dropped his interest in the parent company, which still owed him money for the construction of Fort Sainte-Anne, and sold his share to a merchant from Paris, Nicolas Libert. Shortly afterwards, however, he joined a private company, along with Desportes and Libert, for the development of Cape Breton. At that time he returned to Canada and entered into relations with Charles de Saint-Étienne de La Tour and David Lomeron for the purchase of furs. He ceased to have an interest in this company when it passed into Jean Tuffet’s hands in 1636, but until 1639 he kept up business relations with Libert and La Tour.
About this time Richelieu called Capt. Daniel to take command of a warship. Under the Comte d’Harcourt’s orders Daniel took part in a naval expedition against Spain, raided Sardinia and the islands, and was wounded in the neck by a shot from an arquebus. From that time on he was almost constantly on official service. In 1638 he commanded eight ships which had the responsibility of assuring freedom of trade for the French in the English Channel. In 1641 he was captain in command of the port of La Rochelle and inspector of the fleet. He had acquired the noble properties of Mesnil-Gaillard and Du Verger, and in 1648 he received letters of nobility. In 1659 he was the senior captain on the pay-roll. He died at the beginning of 1661, after frequenting Canadian waters for about 10 years and serving for nearly 40 years in the navy. His posterity was assured through his grand-daughter.
[For the French and English versions of the capture of the Scottish fort, see also Malapart and Stewart.]
Voyage à la Nouvelle-France du Capitaine Charles Daniel de Dieppe, 1629, éd. J. Félix (Rouen, 1881): the chief source. Champlain’s voyages in Champlain, Œuvres (Laverdière). JR (Thwaites). PRO, CSP, Col., 1574–1660, 104, 105, 106, 112.
Biggar, Early trading companies, 271–73. Robert Le Blant, “Les compagnies du Cap-Breton, 1629–1647,” RHAF, XVI (1962–63), 81–94.