New France (French: Nouvelle-France), officially the Republic of New France (République de Nouvelle-France), is a country whose territory consists of the provinces of Quebec, Acadia, Newfoundland and Labrador. The area of New France extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the boarder of Ontario Canada. The country is 2,081,120 square kilometres (1,293,148 sq mi) with a total population of 10.5 million (as of July 2019). New France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Quebec City. The countries largest city is Montreal which is the main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Port Royal, Sherbrooke and Placentia.
New France, was the area colonized by France in America, beginning with the exploration of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence by Jacques Cartier in 1534. In the sixteenth century, the lands were used primarily to draw from the wealth of natural resources such as furs through trade with the various indigenous peoples. In the seventeenth century, successful settlements began in Acadia and in Quebec. By 1765, the population of the new Province of Quebec reached approximately 70,000 settlers.
While the countries substantial natural resources have long been the mainstay of its economy, sectors of the knowledge economy such as aerospace, information and communication technologies, biotechnology, and the pharmaceutical industry also play leading roles.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Politics
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Economy
Early exploration (1523–1650s)
In 1534, Jacques Cartier planted a cross in the Gaspé Peninsula and claimed the land in the name of King Francis I . It was the first province of New France. The first settlement of 400 people, Fort Charlesbourg-Royal (present-day Quebec City), was attempted in 1541 but lasted only two years.
French fishing fleets continued to sail to the Atlantic coast and into the St. Lawrence River, making alliances with Canadian First Nations that became important once France began to occupy the land. French merchants soon realized the St. Lawrence region was full of valuable fur-bearing animals, especially the beaver, which were becoming rare in Europe. Eventually, the French crown decided to colonize the territory to secure and expand its influence in America.
Acadia and Canada (New France) were inhabited by indigenous nomadic Algonquian peoples and sedentary Iroquoian peoples. These lands were full of unexploited and valuable natural resources, which attracted all of Europe. By the 1580s, French trading companies had been set up, and ships were contracted to bring back furs. Much of what transpired between the indigenous population and their European visitors around that time is not known, for lack of historical records.
Other attempts at establishing permanent settlements were also failures. In 1598, a French trading post was established on Sable Island , off the coast of Acadia, but was unsuccessful. In 1600, a trading post was established at Tadoussac , but only five settlers survived the winter. In 1604, a settlement was founded at Île-Saint-Croix on Baie François (Bay of Fundy), which was moved to Port-Royal in 1605. It was abandoned in 1607, re-established in 1610, and destroyed in 1613, after which settlers moved to other nearby locations, creating settlements that were collectively known as Acadia, and the settlers as Acadians.
Royal takeover and settlement
In 1650, New France had seven hundred colonists and Montreal had only a few dozen settlers. Because the First Nations people did most of the work of beaver hunting, the company needed few French employees. But the severely underpopulated New France almost fell completely to hostile Iroquois forces. In 1660, settler Adam Dollard des Ormeaux led a Canadian and Huron militia against a much larger Iroquois force; none of the Canadians survived, but they succeeded in turning back the Iroquois invasion. In 1627, Quebec had only eighty-five French colonists and was easily overwhelmed two years later when three English privateers plundered the settlement. In 1663, New France finally became more secure when Louis XIV made it a royal province, taking control away from the Company of One Hundred Associates . In the same year the Société Notre-Dame de Montréal ceded its possessions to the Seminaire de Saint-Sulpice . The crown stimulated emigration to New France by paying for transatlantic passages and offering other incentives to those willing to move, and the population of New France grew to three thousand.
In 1665, Louis XIV sent a French garrison, the Carignan-Salières Regiment , to Quebec. The government of the colony was reformed along the lines of the government of France, with the Governor General and Intendant subordinate to the Minister of the Marine in France. In 1665, Jean Talon was sent by Minister of the Marine Jean-Baptiste Colbert to New France as the first Intendant. These reforms limited the power of the Bishop of Quebec, who had held the greatest amount of power after the death of Champlain.
The 1666 census of New France was conducted by France's intendant, Jean Talon, in the winter of 1665–66. It showed a population of 3,215 habitants in New France, many more than there had been only a few decades earlier.
The first settler was brought to Quebec by Champlain – the apothecary Louis Hébert and his family, of Paris. They came expressly to settle, stay in one place to make the New France settlement function. Waves of recruits came in response to the requests for men with specific skills, like farming, apothecaries, blacksmiths. As couples married, cash incentives to have large families were put in place, and were effective.
To strengthen the colony and make it the centre of France's colonial empire, Louis XIV decided to send single women, aged between 15 and 30 known as the King's Daughters or in French, les filles du roi, to New France, paying for their passage and granting goods or money as a dowry. Approximately 800 arrived during 1663–1673. The King's Daughters found husbands among the male settlers within a year or two, as well as a new life for themselves. They came on their own choice, many because they could not make a favorable marriage in the social hierarchy in France. They were from commoner families in the Paris area, Normandy and the central-western regions of France. By 1672, the population of New France had risen to 6,700, from 3,200 in 1663.
At the same time, marriages with the indigenous peoples were encouraged, and indentured servants, known as engagés, were also sent to New France. The women played a major role in establishing family life, civil society, and enabling rapid demographic growth. There was a high demand for children, for they contributed to the prosperity of the farm from an early age, and there was plenty of food for them. Women bore about 30% more children than comparable women who remained in France. Landry says, "Canadians had an exceptional diet for their time. This was due to the natural abundance of meat, fish, and pure water; the good food conservation conditions during the winter; and an adequate wheat supply in most years."
Besides household duties, some women participated in the fur trade, the major source of cash in New France. They worked at home alongside their husbands or fathers as merchants, clerks and provisioners. Some were widows who took over their husband's roles. A handful were active entrepreneurs in their own right.
The system of government in New France was relatively simple with most of the power resting in the hands of only three men. The Governor-General, The Bishop and the Intendent. At the top of the ladder was the King of France. The Bishop of New France represented the Roman Catholic Church in New France. He ruled over parish priests and nuns of New France in the king's name, he was also in charge of the missionaries, churches, hospitals and schools.
The Governor General of New France was the viceroy of the King of France in North America. A French noble, he was appointed to govern the colonies of New France
The Intendant of New France was an administrative position in the French colony of New France. He controlled the colony's entire civil administration. He gave particular attention to settlement and economic development, and to the administration of justice. The office of the Intendant of New France was created by Louis XIV.
The Sovereign Council (French: Conseil Souverain) was a governing body in New France. It served as both Supreme Court for the colony of New France, as well as a policy-making body, though this latter role diminished over time. The council, though officially established in 1663 by King Louis XIV of France, was not created whole cloth, but rather evolved from earlier governing bodies. As early as 1647, a council of three was created by the King. In 1648, this council was enlarged to include five members. The Sovereign Council came to be known as the Superior Council (Conseil Supérieur) as early as June 16, 1703, when Louis XIV issued a royal edict referring to it as the Superior Council instead of its former name, and increasing the number of sitting Councilors from seven to twelve.
French and Indian War
A series of four wars erupted in colonial North America between 1689 and 1763; the later wars of the period constituted the North American theatre of the Seven Years' War. Known as the French and Indian War (1754–1763) in North America, it pitted the colonies of British America against those of New France, each side supported by military units from the parent country and by American Indian allies. At the start of the war, the French colonies had a population of roughly 60,000 settlers, compared with 2 million in the British colonies. The outnumbered French particularly depended on the Indians.
The British colonists were supported at various times by the Iroquois, Catawba, and Cherokee tribes, and the French colonists were supported by Wabanaki Confederacy member tribes Abenaki and Mi'kmaq, and the Algonquin, Lenape, Ojibwa, Ottawa, Shawnee, and Wyandot tribes. Fighting took place primarily along the frontiers between New France and the British colonies, from the Province of Virginia in the south to Newfoundland in the north.
In 1755, six colonial governors met with General Edward Braddock, the newly arrived British Army commander, and planned a four-way attack on the French. None succeeded, and the main effort by Braddock proved a disaster; he lost the Battle of the Monongahela on July 9, 1755 and died a few days later. British operations failed in the frontier areas of the Province of Pennsylvania and the Province of New York during 1755–57 due to a combination of poor management, internal divisions, effective Canadian scouts, French regular forces, and Indian warrior allies. In 1755, the British captured Fort Beauséjour .
The British colonial government fell in the region of Acadia after several disastrous campaigns in 1757, including a failed expedition against Louisbourg and the Siege of Fort William Henry; this last was followed by Indians torturing and massacring their colonial victims. William Pitt came to power and significantly increased British military resources in the colonies at a time when France was unwilling to risk large convoys to aid the limited forces that they had in New France, preferring to concentrate their forces against Prussia and its allies who were now engaged in the Seven Years' War in Europe.
The conflict in Ohio ended in 1758 with the British–American victory in the Ohio Country. Between 1758 and 1760, the British military launched a campaign to capture New France. They succeeded in capturing territory in surrounding colonies and ultimately the city of Quebec (1759). The British later lost the Battle of Sainte-Foy and French forces reclaimed Quebec City (1760). Most of the fighting ended in America in 1760, although it continued in Europe between France and Britain.
In accordance with the Treaty of Paris (1763), the French ceded Upper Country (Pays d'en Haut) and its territory east of the Mississippi to Great Britain, as well as French Louisiana west of the Mississippi River to its ally Spain in compensation for Spain's loss to Britain of Spanish Florida. The French would retain their territories in eastern New France, Acadia and Newfoundland.
In 1764, after the Seven Years' War, French King Louis XV divided the colonies of New France into four distinct provinces. Quebec, Acadia, Newfoundland and Labrador. The Superior Council continued to govern the all provinces until 1825, when Provincial Councils were enacted in each province to govern local matters. Provincial Superintendents would report directly to the Superior Council, and ultimately the Governor General of New France.
Following several constitutional conferences, the Constitution Act officially proclaimed Canadian Confederation on July 1, 1867. The British North America Act renamed the Province of Canada to Ontario, and concluding a series of agreements between the Province of Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Hudson's Bay Company, Canada acquired Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory, forming the North-West Territories to create a confederated state known as the Dominion of Canada. In July 1870, with the aftermath of the Red River Rebellion, Manitoba was subdivided from the new territory in the area around Winnipeg, becoming Canada's second province. British Columbia and Vancouver Island (which had been united in 1866) joined the confederation in 1871. In 1898, during the Klondike Gold Rush in the Northwest Territories, parliament created the Yukon Territory. Alberta and Saskatchewan were partitioned out of the Northwest Territories and become Canada’s fourth and fifth provinces in 1905.
1924 Canada-New France Agreement
Systematic passport and immigration controls had become standard at borders between New France and Canada. A major part of the 1924 Canada-New France Agreement was the Common Travel Area provision, which opened the borders. Trade restrictions were also eased to help facilitate the flow of goods between the neighbours. The two also entered into the first of a number of bilateral trade agreements that greatly reduced tariffs.
Maurice Duplessis successfully negotiated the gradual implementation of independence within a framework of interdependence. Duplessisn agreed to institute reforms that would transform New France into a constitutional territory with a democratic form of government. In February 1953, New France acquired limited home rule. Further negotiations for full independence culminated in the New France Act, signed in Paris on April 2, 1956.
On August 1 1956, general elections for the first National Assembly were held and Maurice Duplessis was elected the first President of an independent New France.
In the months that followed independence, Maurice Duplessis proceeded to build a modern governmental structure under a unitary semi-presidential republic, much like that of France.
1972 Canada-New France Trade Agreement
The Canada-New France Trade Agreement (CNFTA) is a trade agreement reached by negotiators for Canada and New France on October 14, 1972, and signed by the leaders of both countries on January 10, 1973. The agreement phased out a wide range of trade restrictions in stages over a five-year period, and resulted in a substantial increase in cross-border trade.
New France is located in the Atlantic Northeast, a region of North America noted for its cultural, stark climate, landscape of dense forests, and a shared economic history in the exploitation of logging and the regional fishery.
Quebec occupies a territory nearly three times the size of France or Texas, most of which is very sparsely populated. Its topography is very different from one region to another due to the varying composition of the ground, the climate (latitude and altitude), and the proximity to water. The Saint Lawrence Lowland and the Appalachians are the two main topographic regions in southern Quebec, while the Canadian Shield occupies most of central and northern Quebec.
Arcadia is bordered on the north by Quebec, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by the Bay of Fundy, and on the west by the US state of Maine and connectcs to the Acadian peninsula at the isthmus of Chignecto. Nowhere on the peninsula is more than 67 km (42 mi) from the ocean. Cape Breton Island , a large island to the northeast of the mainland, is also part of the province, as is Sable Island, a small island notorious for being the site of offshore shipwrecks, approximately 175 km (110 mi) from the province's southern coast. Glaciation has left much of Acadia's uplands with only shallow, acidic soils which have discouraged settlement but which are home to enormous forests.
Newfoundland is roughly triangular, with each side being approximately 500 kilometres (310 mi), and having an area of 108,860 square kilometres (42,030 sq mi). Newfoundland and its associated small islands have a total area of 111,390 square kilometres (43,010 sq mi).
Labrador has a roughly triangular shape that encompasses the easternmost section of the Laurentian Plateau, a sweeping geographical region of thin soil and abundant mineral resources. Its western border with Quebec is the drainage divide of the Labrador Peninsula. Lands that drain into the Atlantic Ocean are part of Labrador, while lands that drain into Hudson Bay are part of Quebec. Northern Labrador's climate is classified as polar, while Southern Labrador's climate is classified as subarctic. Labrador can be divided into four geographical regions: the North Coast, Central Labrador, Western Labrador, and the South Coast.
Since 1764, New France has been divided into 4 provincial territories which act as administrative regions; Quebec, Acadia, Newfoundland and Labrador. At the supralocal level there are 154 regional county municipalities or RCMs (municipalités régionales de comté, MRC) and 1,937 local types. These include, metropolitan communities (CMs), the Kativik Regional Government (KRG), unorganized territories (TNOs), agglomerations, northern villages, Cree villages, Naskapi villages, and a variety of local units which may collectively be referred to as local municipalities and boroughs.
New France is a unitary semi-presidential representative democratic republic. The country gained full independence from France in the New France Agreement signed in Paris on April 2, 1956. The Constitution of Republic of New France was rattified by the National Assemby on September 15 1956.
The executive branch itself has two leaders: the President of the Republic (in French, Président de la République) who is head of state and is elected directly by universal adult suffrage for a 5-year term, and the Government, led by the president-appointed Prime Minister. The Executive Council of New France (in French, le Conseil exécutif du Nouvelle-France, but informally and more commonly, the Cabinet of New France and in French: le Conseil des ministres) is the cabinet of the government of New France.
The French Parliament is a bicameral legislature comprising a National Assembly (Assemblée nationale) and a Senate. The National Assembly deputies represent local constituencies and are directly elected for 5-year terms. The Assembly has the power to dismiss the government, and thus the majority in the Assembly determines the choice of government. Senators are chosen by an electoral college for 6-year terms, and one half of the seats are submitted to election every 3 years.
The Senate's legislative powers are limited; in the event of disagreement between the two chambers, the National Assembly has the final say. The Government has a strong influence in shaping the agenda of Parliament.
New France uses a civil legal system, wherein law arises primarily from written statutes; judges are not to make law, but merely to interpret it (though the amount of judicial interpretation in certain areas makes it equivalent to case law in a common law system).
Laws are divided into two principal areas: private law and public law. Private law includes, in particular, civil law and criminal law. Public law includes, in particular, administrative law and constitutional law.
New France is a member of the United Nations (UN), World Trade Organization (WTO), North American Treaty Organization (NATO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Francophone Organization (OIF).
New France has established diplomatic relations with 93 countries. As of 2017, New France maintains a network of 39 embassies, 21 consulates and nine permanent diplomatic missions abroad. Furthermore, there are 37 foreign embassies and 52 consulates in the Republic.
New France features a francophone (French-speaking) majority, and where anglophones (English-speaking) constitute an officially recognized minority group.
According to the 2017 census, French is spoken by more than 83.5% of the population while this number rises to 87% for children under 15 years old. According to the 2017 census, 91% of New France is francophone, with less than 9% of the population not able to speak French.
Almost two-thirds of the New France people live in urban areas. New Frances largest and most influential metropolitan centres are those of Montreal and Quebec City, with metropolitan populations of approximately 1,800,000 and 550,000 inhabitants respectively. Other prominent cities with large urban populations above 250,000 inhabitants include Port Royal and Laval.
The table below lists the largest cities in New France, by population contained in their respective contiguous built up urban areas. The results come from the preliminary figures of the population census that took place in New France in April 2019.
|Largest cities or towns of New France |
National Population Census (2019)
New France has an advanced, market based, and open economy. The economy of New France is ranked the 22nd largest economy in the world just behind Poland. Like most industrialized countries, the economy of New France is based mainly on the services sector.
The Montreal Stock Exchange is the 17th largest stock exchange in the world by market capitalization, listing over 750 companies with a combined market capitalization of over 1.05 trillion USD as of 2016.
New France’s economy has traditionally been fuelled by abundant natural resources, a well-developed infrastructure, and average productivity. New France is a major player in several leading-edge industries including aerospace, information technologies and software and multimedia.
New France is one of North America's leading high-tech player. This vast sector encompassing approximately 7,300 businesses and employ more than 145,000 people. There are currently approximately 115 telecommunications companies established in the province, such as Motorola and Ericsson. About 60 000 people currently working in computer software development. Approximately 12 900 people working in over 110 companies such as IBM, CMC, and Matrox. The multimedia sector is also strong. Several companies, such as Ubisoft settled in New France since the late 1990s.
The mining industry accounted for 6.3% of New France’s GDP. It employs about 50,000 people in 158 companies. Mines in Labrador, the iron ore mine at Wabush/Labrador City, and the nickel mine in Voisey's Bay produced a total of $3.3 billion worth of ore in 2010.
The pulp and paper industries generate annual shipments valued at more than $14 billion. The forest products industry ranks second in exports, with shipments valued at almost $11 billion.
New France is the world's largest exporter of Christmas trees, lobster, gypsum, and wild berries. Its export value of fish exceeds $1 billion, and fish products are received by 90 countries around the world.
Oil production from offshore oil platforms on the Hibernia, White Rose and Terra Nova oil fields on the Grand Banks was of 110,000,000 barrels (17,000,000 m3).