As legend would have it, or at least how the story goes from Marie Caroline Watson Hamlin's 1884 book, Legends of Le Détroit
, on the evening of the 10th of March, 1701, a lively banquet took place in the castle of St. Louis, Quebec. The celebratory dinner host was the governor of "New France," Hector Louis de Callière. The guest of honor was Monsieur Antoine La Mothe Cadillac, Sieur de Douaguet, and Mont Désert, who had just been granted a commission of Commandant along with 15 square acres to locate a colony and build a fort wherever he saw fit at "le Détroit," or "The Straits." At the height of the merriment, the dinner party received a strange and mysterious visitor. A peculiar-looking woman called "Mère Minique, La Sorcière" offered to read the guests' fortunes. She would astound the officials with details of their lives she could not possibly know, yet La Mothe Cadillac remained skeptical, and against the advice of Mère Minique, bade her tell him of his future. She told him he would found a great city, but his policies and pride would cause his ruin, and his colony would be the scene of strife and bloodshed. Above all, she warned, to appease the Nain Rouge, beware of offending him! It would be six years of profitable growth for the settlement before Cadillac would be able to temp his fate. While on an evening stroll with his wife, the red devilish imp crossed their path as prophesied. And it takes no sibyl to guess that Cadillac let his impetuous temper get the better of him, and he lashed out at the goblin with a curse and his cane. The rest, it is said, is history, but certainly, history mixed with fact and folklore. So was the Nain Rouge nothing more than a cautionary tale of greed and undue ambition? Maybe an imagined scapegoat for the woes of this famed city or a tulpa-like harbinger of doom? Could it be that the Nain Rouge was, and is, an actual supernatural entity as possibly described in First Nations legends? If one is entertaining this last option, or when in doubt, perhaps it's always best to respect the specter, yet remember that our fate is always in our own hands.
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