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Colony of New France
1534 – 1763

Flag of Canada


Location of Canada
Map of New France around 1750.
Capital Quebec
 - Established 1534
 - Ceded to Britain 10 February 1763
Political Subdivisions District of Quebec
District of Montreal
District of Trois-Rivières

Canada was the name of the French colony that once stretched along the St. Lawrence River; the other colonies of New France were Acadia, Louisiana and Newfoundland.[1] Canada, the most developed colony of New France, was divided into three districts, each with its own government: Québec, Trois-Rivières, and Montréal. The governor of the district of Québec was also the governor-general of all of New France.[1]

Because of the level of development of Canada compared to the other colonies, the terms "Canada" and "New France" were often used interchangeably. After the Treaty of Paris of 1763, when France ceded Canada and its dependencies to Great Britain, the colony was renamed the Province of Quebec.[2]


Settled country

A 1740 survey of the population of the St. Lawrence River valley counted about 44,000 colonists, the majority born in Canada. Of those, 18,000 lived under the government of Québec, 4,000 under the government of Trois-Rivières and 22,000 under the government of Montréal. The population was mostly rural; Quebec had 4,600 inhabitants; Trois-Rivières had 378; and Montreal had 4,200 inhabitants. Also, Ile Royale had 4,000 inhabitants (of which 1,500 were in Louisbourg), and Ile Saint-Jean had 500 inhabitants. Acadia had 8,000 inhabitants.[3]

Pays d'en Haut

Dependent upon Canada were the Pays d'en Haut (upper countries), a vast territory north and west of Montreal, covering the whole of the Great Lakes and stretching as far into the North American continent as the French had explored.[1] North of the Great Lakes, a mission, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, was established in 1639. Following the destruction of the Huron homeland in 1649, the French destroyed the mission themselves and left the area. In what are today Ontario and the western prairies, various trading posts and forts were built such as Fort Kaministiquia (1679), Fort Frontenac (1673), Fort St. Pierre (1731), Fort St. Charles (1732) and Fort Rouillé (1750).

The only French settlements in the Pays d'en Haut were south of the Great Lakes, around the Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit (1701), Fort Michilimackinac (1715), Fort de Chartres (1720) and Fort Ticonderoga (1755). That part of the Pays d'en Haut, named the Pays des Illinois (Illinois countries), was eventually annexed to Louisiana around 1717.

Today, the term Les Pays-d'en-Haut refers to a regional county municipality in the Laurentides region of Quebec, north of Montreal.

In its civil law, customs and the cultural aspects of the great majority of its population, the modern successor to the French colony of Canada is the Province of Quebec. This may create confusion because of the use of the same term to denote the modern Canadian federation created in 1867, or the historical Province of Canada, a British colony whose territory included the area that is now southern Ontario and southern Quebec (referred to respectively as Upper Canada and Lower Canada when they were themselves separate British colonies.) For Quebecers, preserving their distinctiveness from English Canada has been historically important, particularly since the rise of contemporary Quebec nationalism dating from the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s. Quebecers will therefore often use the term "New France" (Nouvelle-France) when referring to Canada, New France, and the term Canadien, at one time used to refer to the French-speaking populations of colonial Canada, was replaced by the term Canadien-français (French-Canadian), and more recently by Québécois. Descendants of the original French-speaking Canadien population of Canada, New France now living outside of Quebec are now often referred to by reference to their current province of residence, such as Franco-Ontarien. Francophone populations in the Maritime provinces apart from northwestern New Brunswick are, however, more likely to be descended from the settlers of the French colony of Acadia.


  1. ^ a b c MCC. "Le territoire", in La Nouvelle-France. Ressources françaises, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication (France), 1998, retrieved 2 August 2008
  2. ^ "His Most Christian Majesty cedes and guaranties to his said Britannick Majesty, in full right, Canada, with all its dependencies, as well as the island of Cape Breton, and all the other islands and coasts in the gulph and river of St. Lawrence, and in general, every thing that depends on the said countries, lands, islands, and coasts" Treaty of Paris, 1763
  3. ^ NRC. "New France circa 1740", in The Atlas of Canada, Natural Resources Canada, 2003-10-06, retrieved 13 December 2009

See also



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