Along with the Hurons and the Iroquois, the St. Lawrence Iroquoians were members of the large Iroquoian linguistic family. They were sedentary and subsisted mostly on agriculture, trading corn with Algonquin hunter-gatherers in exchange for furs and meat.
Women were the heads of families and clans in this society. They grew corn, beans, squash and tobacco, and made pottery decorated with distinctive motifs.
Surrounded by palisades, their villages housed populations that sometimes surpassed one thousand. Their longhouses, made of bark over timber frames, were home to several families of the same clan. The villages were surrounded by cultivated fields. When soil fertility declined, the Iroquoians simply moved their village to another location.
Cartier’s description of Hochelaga village resembles this general portrait.
By 1603, when Champlain explored the St. Lawrence River, the Iroquoians had disappeared. Had they been forced to move? Had diseases brought over by the French decimated their villages? Had they been attacked by other Amerindians looking for a share in the new fur trade with the French? Their disappearance was probably due to a combination of these factors. It is also likely some survivors were assimilated into other Amerindian tribes.