3. Marguerite de la Rocque: The French Noblewoman Abandoned on Canadian Isle of Demons
At nineteen years old, Marguerite de La Rocque was the Co-Seigneuress of Pontpoint and the ruler of lands in PÃ©rigord and Languedoc. However, in 1542, her relative, a French explorer named Jean-Francois de la Rocque de Roberval persuaded Marguerite to join him on an expedition to Newfoundland. De Roberval was also Marguerite’s co-ruler in Pontpoint. So it could be his motive in inviting Marguerite was the hope she would meet with an accident and leave him in sole control of Pontpoint. As it happened, Marguerite played straight into his hands.
The crossing was long, and Marguerite was young- and unmarried. So, she took a fellow passenger as her lover. De Roberval either felt- or feigned- moral outrage. At his insistence, the crew abandoned Marguerite, her serving maid, Damienne and her lover on a small island near modern-day Quebec. Today, that island is known as Harrington Island. However, then it was known as the Isle of Demons. The island was well named. It was remote, numbingly cold and populated by wolves and bears.
The trio was left with some basic supplies including muskets and ammunition and abandoned to survive the best they could. They began well, building a shelter and fending off predators with the occasional musket shot and rocks. However, matters became more complicated when they discovered Marguerite was pregnant. Incredibly, mother and child survived the birth. However, eight months later, Marguerite’s found herself alone when her lover and servant, followed by her child died of sickness and malnutrition.
For the next seven months, Marguerite survived on the Isle of Demons, hunting game using the rest of the ammunition. Finally, in 1544, she was rescued by fishermen and made her way back to her lands in France- no doubt to the extreme displeasure of De Roberval and any other relatives hoping to profit from her death. Marguerite is last recorded as being in Nontron in France, where, after dictating the account of her adventures to the French writer Andre Thevet, she disappeared into the pages of history.