Search for "New France"

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Company of One Hundred Associates

The Company of New France, or Company of One Hundred Associates (Compagnie des Cent-Associés) as it was more commonly known, was formed in France in 1627. Its purpose was to increase New France’s population while enjoying a monopoly on almost all colonial trade. It took bold steps but suffered many setbacks. The company folded in 1663. It earned little return on its investment, though it helped establish New France as a viable colony.

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Moravian Missions in Labrador

In 1771, Moravian missionaries were the first Europeans to settle in Labrador. Over a 133-year period, they established a series of eight missions along the coast which became the focus of religious, social and economic activities for the Inuit who gradually came to settle near the communities. Moravians had a huge impact on the life and culture of Labrador Inuit. What emerged was a unique culture rooted in Inuit traditions with indigenized European practices. The last Moravian missionary left Labrador in 2005, but the Moravian church, its customs and traditions are still very much alive in Labrador.

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Great Peace of Montreal, 1701

On 4 August 1701, the French concluded a peace agreement with the Five Nations Haudenosaunee (Iroquois). This brought to an end almost a century of hostilities marked by atrocities on both sides. The Haudenosaunee were permitted to trade freely and to obtain goods from the French at a reduced cost. In exchange, they pledged to allow French settlement at Detroit and to remain neutral in the event of a war between England and France. The accord assured New France superiority in dealing with issues related to the region’s First Nations. It also gave the French the freedom to expand militarily over the next half century.

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Collège classique

Unique to French-speaking Canada, the collège classique (classical college) has over the centuries prepared Québec's social and intellectual elite for higher education. The first classical college was COLLÈGE DES JÉSUITES, established in New France by Jesuit missionaries in 1635.

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Missions and Missionaries

In New France as elsewhere the christianization of the Indigenous population was an ostensible motive for European occupation, and trading companies and governors were under official pressure to provide it. The actual work was left largely to religious orders and societies.

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Voyageurs

Voyageurs were independent contractors, workers or minor partners in companies involved in the fur trade. They were licensed to transport goods to trading posts and were usually forbidden to do any trading of their own. The fur trade changed over the years, as did the groups of men working in it. In the 17th century, voyageurs were often coureurs des bois — unlicensed traders responsible for delivering trade goods from suppliers to Indigenous peoples. The implementation of the trading licence system in 1681 set voyageurs apart from coureurs des bois, who were then considered outlaws of sorts. Today, the word voyageur, like the term coureur des bois, evokes the romantic image of men canoeing across the continent in search of furs. Their life was full of perilous adventure, gruelling work and cheerful camaraderie.

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Missionaries in the 17th Century

The presence of Roman Catholic priests, lay brothers, and nuns among the first settlers in New France was an important factor in the development of the colony. The prime object was to convert the Indigenous people but the missionaries also looked after the spiritual needs of the colonists.

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Coureurs des bois

Coureurs des bois were itinerant, unlicenced fur traders from New France. They were known as “wood-runners” to the English on Hudson Bay and “bush-lopers” to the Anglo-Dutch of New York. Unlike voyageurs, who were licensed to transport goods to trading posts, coureurs des bois were considered outlaws of sorts because they did not have permits from colonial authorities. The independent coureurs des bois played an important role in the European exploration of the continent. They were also vital in establishing trading contacts with Indigenous peoples.

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Thanksgiving in Canada

The first official, annual Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated on 6 November 1879, though Indigenous peoples in Canada have a history of celebrating the fall harvest that predates the arrival of European settlers. Sir Martin Frobisher  and his crew are credited as the first Europeans to celebrate a Thanksgiving ceremony in North America, in 1578. They were followed by the inhabitants of New France under Samuel de Champlain in 1606. The celebration featuring the uniquely North American turkey, squash and pumpkin was introduced to Nova Scotia in the 1750s and became common across Canada by the 1870s. In 1957, Thanksgiving was proclaimed an annual event to occur on the second Monday of October. It is an official statutory holiday in all provinces and territories except Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

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Fleur-de-lys

The fleur-de-lys, a symbol of the French presence in North America, has featured on the Québec flag since 1948 and appears on the flags of a number of other French-speaking communities in Canada and the United States.

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Hospitallers of St Joseph

Various movements arose in the 20th century to unite the nuns who could trace their origins to La Flèche: in 1953 the American and Canadian convents became one congregation, which the French congregations then joined in 1965. The generalate is in Montréal.

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Church Silver

In the 17th century, religious silver was brought to the colonies by missionaries, or sent from patrons in France. The Huron of Lorette, Qué, have an important French reliquary presented to the mission in 1679 and a monstrance of 1664 that originally belonged to the Jesuits.

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Collège des Jésuites

An estimated 1700 students attended the Collège des Jésuites, more than half of them being students from the Petit Séminaire. These pupils were drawn much more from the Québec than from the Montréal region. Louis JOLLIET is one of the most famous alumni of the college.

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Jesuit Relations

Jesuit Relations (Relations des jésuites), the voluminous annual documents sent from the Canadian mission of the Society of Jesus to its Paris office, 1632-72, compiled by missionaries in the field, edited by their Québec superior, and printed in France by Sébastien Cramoisy.

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French Immigration in Canada

After New France was ceded to Great Britain in 1763, the migration of French colonists slowed considerably. A trickle of clergy members, farmers and professionals settled during the 19th century. However, after the Second World War, French immigration — which was then politically favoured — resumed with renewed vigour. This effort was geared towards recruiting francophone professionals and entrepreneurs, who settled in Canada’s big cities. The French spawned many cultural associations and had a large presence in French-Canadian schools.

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Jansenism

Jansenism, a theological doctrine which urged greater personal holiness, espoused predestination and was linked to some extent with GALLICANISM.

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Black Enslavement in Canada

In early Canada, the enslavement of African peoples was a legal instrument that helped fuel colonial economic enterprise. The buying, selling and enslavement of Black people was practiced by European traders and colonists in New France in the early 1600s, and lasted until it was abolished throughout British North America in 1834. During that two-century period, settlers in what would eventually become Canada were involved in the transatlantic slave trade. Canada is further linked to the institution of enslavement through its history of international trade. Products such as salted cod and timber were exchanged for slave-produced goods such as rum, molasses, tobacco and sugar from slaveholding colonies in the Caribbean. 

This is the full-length entry about Black enslavement in Canada. For a plain language summary, please see Black Enslavement in Canada (Plain Language Summary).

(See also Olivier Le Jeune; Sir David KirkeChloe Cooley and the Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada; Underground Railroad; Fugitive Slave Act of 1850; Slavery Abolition Act, 1833Slavery of Indigenous People in Canada.)

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French Language in Canada

French is one of Canada’s two official languages. Although every province in Canada has people whose mother tongue is French, Québec is the only province where speakers of French are in the majority. In 2011, 7,054,975 people in Canada (21 per cent of the country’s population) had French as their mother tongue.

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