- Introductory Essays of the DCB/DBC
- The Indians of Northeastern North America
- The Northern Approaches to Canada
- The Atlantic Region
- New France, 1524—1713
- The Administration of New France
- The French Forces in North America during the Seven Years’ War
- The British Forces in North America during the Seven Years’ War
- The Acadians
- The Integration of the Province of Quebec into the British Empire, 1763—91
- The Colonial Office and British North America, 1801—50
- Provincial Justice: Upper Canadian Legal Portraits
New France, 1524–1713
What astonishes most a student of the first two centuries of New France is that this colony, which was so slow in deciding on its location and becoming settled, should have all at once expanded until it covered nearly three-quarters of the North American continent.
Of all the countries facing on the Atlantic, France, at the end of the 15th century, was the richest and most powerful; under normal conditions, she should have taken the initiative in the discovery and occupation of the New World. Instead, it was small countries, Spain and Portugal, which experienced a colonial expansion of such scope that they soon shared, from the North Pole to the South, the territories not yet occupied by Europeans. France, centred on the Mediterranean and much more interested in Italy than in the New World, took part only in 1524 in the Atlantic race, and even then it was merely to seek what Spain had already been seeking for a quarter of a century: a sea route that would lead straight to Asia. The “happy shores of Cathay” remained inaccessible to Verrazzano, but in 1524 he discovered the coastline joining Florida and Cape Breton, thus placing at the disposal of François I an American empire as vast as that of Charles V. New France was entering history.
François I wanted primarily to discover a way through the continental barrier that Verrazzano had run up against: beyond America, it was Asia that fascinated him. In 1534, behind Newfoundland, Cartier found a sea the shores of which he was the first to chart, and he established relations with natives from the interior. The following year, he discovered (and therein lies his finest claim to glory) one of the great rivers of the world, the Rivière de Canada (called 100 years later the River St. Lawrence), which was to become the indispensable axis of the French empire in America. Under the leadership of Jean François de La Rocque de Roberval and of Cartier, centred on the great waterway that was expected to open on to a fabulous Saguenay, the proposed colony seemed to offer hopes of a glittering destiny; North America promised to be as rich as Peru. The enterprise floundered in 1543: Roberval, whose first concern was with his European possessions, had no experience of America; Cartier, a good navigator but not necessarily a good colonizer, and convinced that he had found gold and diamonds, parted company with his superior. In addition, the rigorous climate of the St. Lawrence region was the sort of obstacle that is overcome only after a generation or so. France withdrew from the St. Lawrence for half a century.
But she did not withdraw from America, and did not abandon her colonizing policy; for some years this policy was to remain linked with the Protestant problem. The most thoroughgoing and persistent effort at French colonization in 16th century America was carried out in terms of Protestantism. A New France had become necessary chiefly so that the Huguenots, persecuted at home, might set up a society there, in keeping with their religious reforms. This formula, which to a large extent was responsible for the astonishing success of England in the 17th century, did not work with the France of the 16th century. Assuredly, the failure of a New France in Brazil and Florida was due to some immediate causes (an obvious encroachment upon the Portuguese and Spanish empires, a treasure hunt rather than cultivation and consolidation), but above all there was the failure of Protestantism in France: according to whether Coligny’s star rose or sank, Protestant colonial activity flourished or declined. The Massacre of St. Bartholomew brought an end to the Protestant leader’s career, and at the same time to the vast plans for French colonization in the 16th century.
After Coligny’s fall, colonization ceased for a long time to be the immediate concern of the state, which moreover was breaking up. Colonial activity had now perforce to be left to individuals. For the latter, however, this development took place at a propitious moment: American furs, which the cod-fishermen of Newfoundland had hitherto brought back only as extras, became, because of their abundance and quality, the prime reason for the Atlantic journeys. The state had no longer to stimulate the exploitation of America: the merchants had an interest in taking the initiative. A new formula for colonization therefore appeared; it consisted of guaranteeing an exclusive monopoly to a commercial enterprise, which in return would assume responsibility for settlement. There would be an attempt to make colonizers out of these merchants. But from 1588 on, obstacles arose which were to defer until the 17th century the establishment of a New France: on the one hand, those holding a monopoly were hardly likely to take kindly to colonization, always an extremely costly affair; on the other hand, those merchants who were denied this privilege would intervene, in the name of freedom of trade, in order to have the monopoly cancelled, or at least restricted in such a way that the slender margin of profits would render any colonization impossible.
There was no lack of serious efforts, but the means were not available. It was thought that the problem could be solved by choosing fresh sites: in 1597, Troilus de La Roche de Mesgouez decided in favour of the Île de Sable, from which he hoped to be able to keep watch on the entrance to the Gulf of St. Lawrence; he supplied food to his settlement each year, except in 1602, but in 1603, when he again sent help, there was disaster. In 1600, Pierre Chauvin de Tonnetuit established himself at Tadoussac, the arrival point for the Laurentian furs. The first winter season (calamitous like all first experiences of wintering in North America) discouraged hopes, and Tadoussac remained a summer factory; as for the Sieur Aymar de Chaste’s company, one gets the impression in reading the account of Champlain that in 1603 it would prefer Acadia to the shores of the St. Lawrence. But by changing location, the founders merely modified their problem without solving it. England, also, thought she could make things easier for herself by moving her colonies. Newfoundland, Plymouth Bay, Rhode Island Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Cape Hatteras: in all these places, in very different latitudes, she tried vainly for a quarter of a century to get a foothold.
By the end of 1603, there was not yet in America a New England or a New France. The aims (evangelization and civilization) proclaimed by France were still not being realized. The natives’ style of life had not been transformed into that of the French, and up to then the spiritual influence of France seemed to be non-existent. Despite the splendid religious declarations of 1540, France had not yet baptized a single native on North American soil, nor had any missionary laboured there.
The work of these 80 years does not represent a total loss: France had learned to know the continent; here and there she had scattered place-names, which was a minor form of taking possession; the four winter seasons in the Laurentians were a valuable experience; she had established firm relations with the natives, and had introduced her products into the very heart of the continent. It seemed more and more apparent that northeastern America was going to become France’s territory. After all these attempts, one problem had remained: was it France’s final intention to set up a colony or merely a fur-trading warehouse? Following a new survey made by François Gravé Du Pont and Samuel de Champlain in 1603, a new question presented itself: was France’s choice to be the St. Lawrence or Acadia?
She preferred Acadia. It was here that a site was sought which would combine the ideal conditions for colonization: nearness to the sea, the proximity of peaceable natives, an abundance of mines, a fertile soil, a mild climate, and possible access to the Western Sea. As a concomitant of his trade monopoly, the Protestant Du Gua de Monts obtained the viceroyalty of a country that stretched to the 40th degree of latitude; in 1604, he chose the Île Sainte-Croix as a temporary base, then Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal, N.S.), until he could find the exact spot offering all the ideal conditions. The search went on for three years, and was still going on in 1607, when news arrived that the monopoly was revoked. In the autumn of 1607 the French settlers in Acadia returned to France, leaving ruins at Sainte-Croix and abandoned buildings at Port-Royal, whilst close by, at the mouth of the Kinibeki (now Kennebec), an English settlement was entering upon its first winter season; and, in those southern regions where Pierre Du Gua de Monts and Jean de Biencourt de Poutrincourt would have liked to find the ideal place for colonization, the English colony of Virginia was beginning, at Jamestown, a history that was to continue without interruption.
The French sojourn in Acadia, from 1604 to 1607, made possible tremendous progress in our geographical knowledge of this part of America: a long strip of coastline, from Cape Breton to Cape Cod (Cap Blanc), was added to the maps, and subsequently received only trifling corrections; and this same coastline was copiously supplied with French place-names. In addition, close relations had been established with the natives, and would not be allowed to slacken. Thenceforth the three great families that occupied the country, from Acadia to the Cap Anne, were known: the Micmacs or Souriquois, whose habitat embraced Acadia, Cape Breton, and the Gaspé Peninsula; the Etchemins, also called Malecites or Penobscots, who stretched from the Saint John River to the Rivière Penobscot; and the Armouchiquois, who were to be found between the Rivière Penobscot and the Rivière Chouacouët (Saco). Finally, the French had at their disposal a territory rich in mines and furs. Lescarbot was to suggest enthusiastically that the surplus population of France should be deposited there. The Acadian experiment remained a valuable one, and was to contribute to the development of a New France; but for the moment, in the autumn of the year 1607, another set-back had to be recorded.
De Monts weathered the storm that swept away his Acadian settlement; on the advice of Champlain, the man who had publicized Acadia so much, he did, however, turn towards another region, the St. Lawrence River. Since no locality combined all the ideal conditions for colonization (at any rate those sought by De Monts), one might as well choose a river that offered hope of access to the Asian Sea, a place where lands appeared fertile, and where the natives were friendly in their behaviour; where above all it would perhaps be easier to protect his trade. Champlain therefore went back up the St. Lawrence in 1608, and, at a narrows called Quebec, established a depot. France was returning to where she had begun in 1535; this time, the establishment was to be permanent.
It is true that Quebec, for several years, continued to be only a storehouse for furs, around which gravitated the employees of the fur trade and the natives, a storehouse 140 miles distant from its maritime base of Tadoussac. Until 1615, Quebec consisted in reality only of a “habitation” and a warehouse; trade was the settlement’s sole reason for existence. Then, thanks to Champlain, some Recollets came along, the first proper missionaries of the St. Lawrence valley; they built a chapel and a convent, and undertook to preach the gospel to the natives. The strictly commercial appearance of Quebec was changed. When Louis Hébert established himself permanently, the first immigrant to settle on the St. Lawrence, and when the Jesuits came in 1625 to give a new impetus to religious life, the French colony began to assume the pattern of a civilized country.
Yet how frail was its existence! It could still support itself only by means of a commercial company, and that company required an exclusive monopoly. Yet the merchants of France were doggedly opposed to the formation of a monopoly, and when that monopoly was constituted the company remained powerless to protect its interests. In the “early spring” began the race to make contact with the native fur-traders, who were quickly put off by the same odious practices that certain Frenchmen had employed in Acadia. For the majority of merchants, the St. Lawrence valley was merely the source of a supply of furs; in their minds there was no question of building for permanence.
But gradually Champlain became a colonizer. His explorations in 1609 and 1613, his winter season in the Huron country in 1615–16, and the evidence of the other European settlements, convinced him of the rich potentiality of a vast empire; instead of a storehouse to be emptied in the spring with no further concern for the country, Champlain would have liked to make Quebec the centre of a French New World. One after the other, the companies that employed him bridled; they refused to establish settlers, because they well knew that those settlers would become a threat to the fur trade; they even attempted to jettison Champlain. But the latter acquired protection in high places, and gradually rose in dignity: the representative of a fur-trading company soon became the representative of viceregal, then of royal, authority. As he rose, he maintained his colonizing programme against all comers.
Champlain gave a detailed explanation of this programme in 1618, in his reports to the king and to the Chamber of Commerce: it was to set up a completely organized colony, of which not only the furs but also all the abundant and varied resources would be exploited; to the profits that it would yield would be added the customs duties, since (as there was then every reason to expect) Quebec would become the unavoidable port on the route to Asia. It was a programme on a vast scale, which was to be matched only under Talon.
Fortunately, Champlain’s persistence in maintaining the Quebec post in order to make of it a commercial settlement instead of a mere factory finally received approval from France: Richelieu wanted to raise up an empire in America, following the English and Dutch examples. It would really be starting from the ground up: in Acadia, the French, dispersed by the Virginians in 1613, had reappeared only in insignificant numbers; the Quebec settlement, after 20 years of existence, still consisted of about 70 persons only; a single family was permanently set up there, and the ground was as yet unturned by the plough.
To reverse this state of affairs, a ridiculous one by comparison with what the English and the Dutch were accomplishing in America, Richelieu founded in 1627 a large-scale company, which he put on a financial footing that was deemed very sound at the time. Bringing together important people (among them Richelieu himself and Champlain) and bourgeois who were each required to contribute 3,000 livres, the Compagnie des Cent-Associés, constructed on the model of the great English and Dutch companies, seemed to possess the guarantees necessary for success in its three fundamental aims: to populate the country with native-born Frenchmen, develop the American trade, and lead the Indians to the Christian religion and a civilized way of life. To this end, precise measures were decided upon: in 15 years the company was to establish 4,000 settlers (between 200 and 300 not later than 1628), all of them Catholics; in order to encourage the recruitment of workmen, they were promised, after merely six years of residence, the mastership that was so hard to acquire in France; nobles and ecclesiastics would have the right to engage in trade, without loss of status; as for the natives, in order to make it easy for them to take their places in civil life, they had only to receive baptism to enjoy the same privileges as native-born Frenchmen. The company had very extensive responsibilities to bear, but it received an immense seigneury – the whole of North America, from Florida to the North Pole; it was guaranteed a monopoly of the fur trade in perpetuity, and a monopoly of all trade for 15 years; moreover, it would have no taxes to pay on any merchandise that it might manufacture in the colony if this were imported into France. Never up to then had such a powerful commercial company taken over the destiny of New France; there could be no further doubt about the success of the undertaking, and in 1628, at a cost of 400,000 livres, the company embarked a contingent of 400 immigrants.
Between France and England a state of war had been in existence for a year. The Kirke brothers, serving with an English company that claimed Acadia and the St. Lawrence, captured the first shipment sent by the Cent-Associés, and then prevented any help from getting through to Quebec. In 1629 Champlain capitulated, and returned to Europe with all the missionaries and his own people, except for the Couillard family and a few interpreters. The capitulation actually occurred at a time when international peace had been restored, but three long years of negotiation were necessary before the country again became a French possession.
The enthusiasm that had spurred forward the Compagnie des Cent-Associés had been blunted by these events: the company had lost its first convoy in 1628; the furs from the St. Lawrence poured wealth into English coffers until 1632; then, the company had to leave fur-trading to the de Caën family until 1632, at the same time sustaining an endless lawsuit against them. After these first reverses, from which it was never to recover, it can be said that the company began its work only in 1633. It did send settlers, but recruiting in this period was much more the work of religious communities or of certain enterprising seigneurs, like Robert Giffard. In fact, the role of the Compagnie des Cent-Associés came to an end in 1645: after spending more than 1,000,000 livres, and at a moment when it was about to realize great profits, it was forced to hand over the exploitation of the Laurentian region to a junior company, the Communauté des Habitants.
With this company a new development occurred: for the first time, Frenchmen already settled in Canada were going to try to direct the exploitation of the St. Lawrence for their own benefit. These businessmen, from whose stock came the French régime’s great landowners and the bourgeois who were to be its great fur-trading figures, were, from 1645 on, to infuse life into trade in New France and to play a leading role in the government of the colony. Yet the Communauté des Habitants, whose beginnings were auspicious, was destined to decline rapidly, because war paralysed the fur market. In the end, it ceased to pay what it owed to the Cent-Associés; it neglected its obligations with respect to population and defence; dissensions, favouritism, and intrigues were soon to disrupt the country. Nevertheless, in the period extending from 1633 to 1663 the Communauté des Habitants was the only secular foundation of any importance.
For the great undertakings of that age were those of the Church. From it came those remarkable foundations that were to guide New France’s destiny. This was the period that has rightly been called a mystical one: it was because of these foundations that New France was then labelled a mission colony, for it was a colony that seemed, because of the predominating influence of the Church, to exist far more for religious ends than for secular ones.
The first in the series of these foundations was a Jesuit college, established in 1635 at Quebec “to educate the children of the ever growing families.” Until the conquest it was to be the only college in New France. The education of the young and preparation for professional tasks were thenceforth ensured, within a religious framework. There were also the natives to be considered; in order to give them a better grounding in religion, it was thought desirable to civilize them according to the European conception, that is, to settle them permanently and accustom them to live after the French fashion. This problem was from the outset one of the missionaries’ preoccupations. Hence came the French dream of setting up the natives on pieces of land that they would gradually be persuaded to cultivate. This was the object of the Sillery reserve in 1637, where at great expense ground was cleared and houses built, so that on their arrival the natives would find everything prepared. For the first time in North America, an attempt was made to acculturate natives, by transforming them first from nomads into settled people, and then into European farmers. Half a century later the Sillery venture was to be written off as a complete failure. All that could be done in the future was to regroup the Hurons at Lorette, where, without becoming agriculturists, they would live a sedentary life on the edge of the great forest.
The Jesuits had undertaken the education of boys at the same time as they tried to acculturate the natives; likewise, the Ursuline nuns who came in 1639 took charge of the education of girls, and also attempted to acculturate the Indian girls by exposing them to the same programme. The second part of this programme was to prove less felicitous than the first, for according to Marie de l’Incarnation (see Guyart), a Frenchman more readily became a savage than a savage a Frenchman … Together with the Ursulines, Religious Hospitallers had landed, intending to devote themselves to the creation of an Hôtel‑Dieu. Thus at the same moment, thanks to the Church, education and hospital care were set up: the essential needs of the community were fully met.
At the very period when the Ursulines and Hospitallers were starting upon a venture that was to assume a permanent form, another religious foundation was appearing that was to have an amazing future: Ville‑Marie (Montreal). Since at least 1611, an establishment had been planned at the Sault-Saint-Louis (Lachine Rapids), not only to serve as a stage in the opening up of the continent, but also (since the rapids necessarily impeded navigation) to constitute a permanent meeting-place for French and native fur-traders. The settlement’s meagre resources, the Iroquois forays that were always so easy at a point so far inland, the opposition of the inhabitants of Quebec, who foresaw correctly that an establishment at the rapids would eventually corner the entire fur trade – all these rendered the project unattainable. It was an official from La Flèche, the tax-collector Jérôme Le Royer de La Dauversière, who in 1631 conceived the notion of establishing at Montreal a sort of mystical city. This project, unrealistic at first sight both because of its nature and because of the obstacles to be overcome, was characterized at each step by religious manifestations, and it came to fruition. The Société de Notre‑Dame de Montréal founded Ville‑Marie in 1642, in order to “labour there solely to bring about the glory of God and the salvation of the Indians.” In 1657, the Sulpicians came to assume the spiritual direction, and in 1668 the teaching, of the “little schools”; the following year, Marguerite Bourgeoys organized a congregation of women, who applied themselves to the education of girls. In 1659 Jeanne Mance, who since 1642 had been providing hospital service there, brought in some Hospitallers to open the Hôtel‑Dieu. Thus, as at Quebec, the essential needs of the Montreal community, education and hospital care, were provided for by the good works of the Church. But above all, thanks to the action of a group of mystics, a post was being created, the most remote post of the Laurentian colony, and it was rapidly to become as important as the capital itself.
The consummation of the religious organization of this colony was finally achieved in 1659, with the arrival of a vicar apostolic, François de
But, while the colony was experiencing its loftiest manifestation of mysticism, it was also living through the most painful hours of its history. Garneau has reproached New France for devoting itself to the construction of religious houses at a time when New England was building ships to trade with every nation. But the Church should not be held responsible for the material weakness of the State in comparison with its flourishing religious life. The Church at that time was dynamic, it had resources at its disposal, and it played its part fully; it was not because of the Church that the State did not achieve its ends, one of which was to protect the population against the Iroquois.
Since 1609, the colony had been subjected to more or less continuous warfare. In 1645 it was thought that a lasting peace had been concluded with the Iroquois, but war broke out again immediately, with more violence than before. All the efforts of the Iroquois were directed first against the Huron country. Established just north of the Iroquois, the Hurons had become the principal suppliers of furs, to the advantage of the French; by their control of the hunting-grounds in the north, they constituted a fundamental obstacle for the Iroquois, who supplied the Dutch: with the Huron country destroyed, the Iroquois tribes would be in a position to control the great hunting regions and obtain the most advantageous terms from the French or the Dutch. First the Hurons must be liquidated. These Indians, already decimated by diseases contracted from the whites, rotted by alcohol, and accustomed to rely on French military assistance, were no more than a decadent ethnic group. The Iroquois speedily annihilated them. In 1648 they destroyed the village of Saint‑Joseph (Teanaostaiaë), killing 700 persons there; in the spring of 1649, the village of Saint‑Ignace (Taenhatentaron) likewise disappeared, with the loss of 400 persons; in the following autumn, the Iroquois attacked the village of Saint‑Jean‑Baptiste (Cahiagué), and massacred some 500 families there. The Hurons who survived tried to regroup on the Île Saint-Joseph (Christian Island), but illness and hunger finally struck them down. Those who remained came seeking refuge as far as the Île d’Orléans, east of Quebec. Under the governor’s very nose, the Iroquois ferreted them out even in this distant sanctuary. The last survivors of the Huron nation were finally to put themselves under the immediate protection of Fort Saint-Louis, in a fortified place in the Upper Town of Quebec.
The Huron country no longer existed: a couple of years had sufficed for its disappearance. The Iroquois were able thenceforth to control the supply of furs, and, as necessity arose, to concentrate all their attacks against the French colony. The settlers were then harassed by continuous warfare, carried on by surprises and ambushes; those who left the stockades risked their lives; each of the three establishments (Quebec, Trois‑Rivières, and Ville‑Marie) lived withdrawn into itself, in a state of perpetual alarm. In 1660 Dollard Des Ormeaux, by the battle he fought at the Long Sault, saved the country from a general invasion (which he had not, however, foreseen), but the Iroquois forays were resumed in 1661, with a relentlessness hitherto unsurpassed.
The losses in manpower, which it has never been possible to estimate, were high: an allied nation, which had played an essential part in the fur trade, had vanished, and with it great missionaries who had acquired a thorough knowledge of the natives’ mentality and territory; numerous Canadians, heads of families, had been killed. Deprived of effective protection, colonization was limited to the immediate confines of fortified places; rural cultivation had not begun. The civil administration was paralysed by internal quarrels. The fur trade, so prosperous in 1645 when the Communauté des Habitants had taken it over, was non-existent; around 1660, the merchants spoke of abandoning the country, and this, according to Marie de l’Incarnation, would have resulted in the general departure of the 2,000 or so inhabitants.
In Acadia, the colonial venture had become worthless. Razilly had undertaken, in 1632, to revive the Acadian settlement, and had given it La Hève (near Bridgewater, N.S.) as its capital. When he died in 1635, La Hève was abandoned for Port-Royal, and civil war soon broke out between Charles de Menou d’Aulnay and Charles de Saint‑Ètienne de La Tour, to be continued between the latter and Emmanuel Le Borgne; it was still going on when, in 1654, the English began rapidly to occupy Acadia. Of the French settlement nothing remained except Nicolas Denys’s establishment at Cape Breton; the Acadian peninsula had become an English possession.
The only alternatives were either to abandon everything or to found New France a second time. Governor Pierre Dubois Davaugour requested the king to intervene personally in the colony’s affairs; Bishop Laval and Pierre
Louis XIV first required the Compagnie des Cent-Associés to give up its American seigneury, and at the same time the Communauté des Habitants disappeared. The mother country was putting some order into the seigneurial régime: the large landowners who had not concerned themselves with populating their fiefs lost their titles in favour of seigneurs who were better disposed; the Island of Montreal, which from the administrative point of view had previously had an almost autonomous existence, was linked up with the government of the colony, a development which was to bring about the departure of Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve.
Upon this unified colony, the king imposed a new form of administration that was to endure until the conquest. As in the French provinces where opposite the military governor was an intendant responsible for civil affairs, New France received in 1663 a government having two heads: the governor, upon whom devolved control of the army and external relations; and the intendant, for the maintenance of justice, order, and sound finance, on whom the internal administration depended. Both, by their respective jurisdictions, counterbalanced each other, and thus lessened the absoluteness of authority; both were better prepared for their own functions, and it was expected that a military governor would concern himself less and less with civil functions. Of course these new institutions were slow to adapt themselves. It had been thought that the replacement of a Dubois Davagour by a Mézy (see Saffray) chosen by Bishop Laval would end the conflicts between church and state. But the first intendant, Robert, appointed in 1663, did not come, and Talon arrived only in 1665; prolonged rivalries, especially under Governor Buade de Frontenac, were to hamper the smooth functioning of the new system. It had been forgotten that any form of administration is only as good as the men in it. Beginning with the 18th century, everything would finally be settled: the governor and the intendant would learn to confine themselves to their respective tasks.
In addition to dividing up control of the colony between two functionaries, the king suppressed the seneschal’s court (a seigneurial court of justice established by the Cent‑Associés), and introduced a new organization, the Conseil Souverain. This body was, in its first quarter-century, to have the role of an executive and legislative council and also of a supreme court, later rapidly becoming restricted to the role of a court of justice to which the lay and ecclesiastical tribunals of New France were answerable. The establishment of this Conseil Souverain brought in, in 1664, the use and custom of Paris, to the exclusion of the other provincial customs: the colony’s laws and weights and measures were therefore to be those of Paris. In view of the wide variety of laws and weights and measures which had to be taken into account in France from one province to another, it was decided not to transplant into New France the complications of Old France; a timely simplification was preferred.
Modifications were also made in the economic structure. Since the Cent‑Associés were no longer involved, the king, in 1664, again granted the country, as a fief and seigneury, to the Compagnie des Indes occidentales, but this time the situation was not at all the same as in 1627: the company was not required to concern itself with civil or military administration. Although it was the seigneur of the country, and in this capacity was responsible for settlers, it was the state that would intervene, and build up the population by a dynamic policy. Indeed, from 1674 on, New France was never again to be the seigneury of a commercial company, and now came under the authority of the king and of the minister of marine, Colbert.
The country’s defence had to be reorganized as well: the ludicrous weakness of this defence during the years of woe had placed the country in its most critical position. Hitherto the colony had relied upon the goodwill of the settlers and a few paltry troops maintained by the companies. In 1663, at Montreal, a militia was created, and this organization was to be extended six years later to the whole colony. Above all, the king decided to dispatch a whole regiment, the Carignan-Salières, the only regiment to come in full strength to New France. Under the command of Prouville de Tracy, who had just been appointed lieutenant-general of America (with residence in the West Indies), and of a new governor, Daniel de Rémy de Courcelle, this regiment arrived in 1665, and promptly in the following year marched into the Iroquois country: the effect of this expedition, less decisive than punitive, was at least to demonstrate the colony’s new strength. The Iroquois thenceforth had to reckon with organized resistance, and the colony was about to experience some hours of peace. In addition, numerous members of the Carignan-Salières regiment were to settle down permanently: they founded those families of soldiers who were to save the country when great conflicts came.
The Canadian church played a part in this vast reorganization. It was already firmly installed, but as things turned out it was now to reach the peak of its political power. The vicar apostolic, Bishop Laval, had just succeeded in having the former governor recalled, and had had a governor of his own choosing appointed; the bishop shared, on the same footing as the new governor, in the appointment of members of the Conseil Souverain; on the political level, the church became as influential as the state. What the Canadian Church particularly lacked was cadres: Bishop Laval endeavoured to provide them. It was therefore planned to convert the office of vicar apostolic into a bishopric, but this project did not bear fruit until 1674. In order to form his clergy, Bishop Laval founded the Séminaire de Québec in 1663, which led in 1668 to the establishment of a petit séminaire, a house for training candidates for the priesthood. The upkeep of the priests had to be assured: in 1663 the tithe system was instituted. The colony was rapidly to cease being administered as a mission country. The Jesuit missionaries who were everywhere acting as parish priests gradually withdrew: at Montreal, they gave way to the Sulpicians in 1657, and then, shortly afterwards, they handed over Quebec to the secular clergy, in anticipation of doing the same at Trois‑Rivières, which they passed over to the Recollets in 1670. In 1664 the first properly organized parish was set up: Notre-Dame de Québec. Finally, for the spiritual training of the faithful, the Confrérie de la Sainte‑Famille was established.
However, an important part of New France did not benefit from this reorganization: Acadia. Always sparsely populated, torn by fratricidal strife, then having become an English possession, it had been restored to France in 1667. The actual reoccupation, delayed for three years because of animosities, was only a resumption of the former civil war. The mother country did not seem concerned with giving cadres to Acadia, but merely ensured its territorial integrity; Acadia was to develop very slowly, with private enterprise as its only spur, and without a clearly defined policy. Its abandonment dates from well before 1713. It was the Laurentian colony that remained Louis XIV’s main preoccupation.
Thus, for this colony, 1663 and the years immediately following meant a total reorganization in all domains: ecclesiastical, economic, civil, and military. It is in truth a new founding that we witness, a founding that thenceforth was to justify the most splendid hopes: it was the starting point of a surprising economic development, and of a territorial expansion that was to reach its height at the end of the century. This twofold progress was due to the impetus given by a minister like Colbert, whose responsibility the colonies were, and by a top-ranking intendant like Talon; unfortunately the latter was to stay in the country only five years. The gist of Talon’s programme can be expressed thus: to obtain a total yield from the colony, and to extend its frontiers to the limits of America.
To carry out this programme, there had first to be a rapid increase in population. An intensive policy of developing man-power was therefore put into operation, by bringing in filles de roi (“king’s daughters,” orphans raised at the expense of the state), and by forcing bachelors to get married; dowries were given to needy girls, wedding presents were distributed to those who married very young, and large families were assisted by gratuities. This policy of increasing the birth-rate did not apply to the European immigrants alone: marriages between French and Indians were also to be encouraged; it was Colbert’s desire that French and Indians should thenceforth be of one blood. The population was studied closely by means of annual name-counts: the minister scrutinized the returns, and manifested his satisfaction or disappointment accordingly as the figures showed an advance or a stagnation.
As the population increased, the seigneurial domains were extended by attracting more seigneurs. In the eyes of the state, they were only settlement agents, for the fiefs were at first allotted only on a strictly enforced condition: that the holders should establish settlers on them. Many seigneuries had been neglected, and large empty spaces on the banks of the St. Lawrence, particularly in the Richelieu River area, constituted a breach that facilitated the Iroquois invasions. Talon recalled the neglectful seigneurs to their duties: he closed the Richelieu gap by settling former officers of the Carignan-Salières regiment there. In 1672 alone, the authorities granted 46 seigneuries, the highest annual total ever attained in the whole history of the seigneurial regime.
The immigrants settled on the land had to be given the necessary equipment. Talon fetched pure-bred livestock (horses, cows, sheep) from France, and they were acclimatized to the country; he tested seed grain, and carefully sought the kind that would be best suited to the conditions along the St. Lawrence. At no time during the French régime was such a rational agricultural policy to be implemented as under Talon’s intendancy.
But agriculture was only one of the intendant’s concerns, for he dreamed of the total exploitation of the country. Working under the orders of a minister concerned with manufactures, and encouraged by the presence of the skilled workers who constituted the bulk of the immigrants, Talon found himself in the most favourable circumstances for the development of industry. He ordered research to be done on the most varied resources, had an oak timber survey carried out and had borings made in various places to find metals; he oversaw the yield of the fisheries, and spared no effort in order to set people to work upon products and by-products. He encouraged commerce, being anxious to bring about regular trade between Acadia and Canada; he even attempted to trade with the far distant West Indies. He would have liked New France not only to be self-sufficient, but also to supply the mother country with raw materials and, better still, finished products.
This policy of total yield was, alas, to be only a beautiful dream. Talon’s stay was too short for him to make of New France an industrial colony. As for his successors, even if they had wished to carry on his work, they were held in check by the mother country: the factories that it was desired to set up were forbidden, because they might become a threat to those in France. In 1704, the minister was to put an end to all hope: a colony, he asserted, must exist only for the needs of the mother country that had established it. The colony had to return to the economic system obtaining before Talon’s time, to the one that had been the despair of Champlain: an economy based on the fur trade.
And it is here that the fundamental explanation of a rapid drop in immigration is to be found. It has been claimed that the Frenchman did not emigrate; he did, but to places where there was a future; he did not come into the St. Lawrence valley. To attract immigrants, a country must offer an agriculture that yields more than immediate subsistence, or else an economic life vitalized by prosperous industry. France herself was self-sufficient in agricultural products; the colony was forbidden to trade with non-French colonies; and the Laurentian population, which was in any case settled for the most part on the land, was not sufficiently large to make the internal exchange of agricultural products worthwhile. As for industry, apart from that of the small craftsman, it was forbidden in the 18th century. One heavy industry, that at the Forges Saint‑Maurice, was indeed allowed, but it was an industry for defence, and moreover, for want of small related industries, it always showed a deficit, even when the state assumed responsibility for it. An attempt was also made to start shipbuilding, but once more, because of the lack of secondary industries, a ship built at Quebec of Canadian wood cost more than a ship built in France from the same wood; like heavy industry, shipbuilding continued to show a loss, and was abandoned. What was left as exportable material? Unprocessed fur. If, at the least, it had required skilled labour, like tobacco-growing in Virginia, immigrants would have flocked in, but fur was the object of a mere transport trade: natives brought it to Montreal, and it had only to be loaded on to the ships. Local manpower sufficed. Under these conditions, New France did not attract immigrants, and hence it is not surprising that in the whole history of the French régime not more than 10,000 persons came to Canada. On this point Talon’s policy, in all respects similar to Champlain’s, ended in failure.
The second point in Talon’s programme was to extend New France to the frontiers of America, both in regions already occupied by the English or Dutch, and elsewhere. To the south of New France was New Holland, watered by a great river and enjoying the advantage of an ocean port open 12 months a year, whereas New France could use the St. Lawrence for only six months, being cut off from Europe for the rest of the year. Many times, the policy of expansion included the acquisition of New Holland, either by purchase or by conquest; and in 1689 Louis XIV instructed Frontenac to take possession of this colony, even if it meant then deporting the population, together or separately, to make room for a French colonizing venture.