Source : Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation



Emigrating to New France


Future settlers of New France leave villages of Northern and Western France. They leave alone, with their family or in small groups. They are mostly natives of the Poitou, of Charente, Normandie, the Perche, the Aunis or l’àŽle de France.

The Harbour of Saint-Malo watched Jacques Cartier and the fishermen of the 16th century leaving, Honfleur hailed the departure of Samuel de Champlain, but in the 17th century, it is La Rochelle and Dieppe which see the future settlers embarking for New France. Most of them are soldiers, workmen or servants who have signed contracts with recruiters, shipowners or merchants, and have agreed to experience life in the new colony. They are the hired hands (engagés).

Year after year, big companies bring only a few dozen settlers. Between 1663 and 1673, Louis XIV personally contributes to the recruitment of several hundred filles du roy. They are destined to marry settlers in the colony where there are very few women of marriageable age. The population grows when in 1665 soldiers from the régiment de Carignan-Saliѐres are sent in because of Iroquois attacks. Of the thousand soldiers who disembarked at that time, nearly four hundred accept the land or the allowances issued to encourage them to establish themselves in the colony and start families.

Aside from these two groups of emigrants given these unusual bonuses, and the first Montrealers who were partial to the Ville-Marie project, the ordinary settler chooses to come to New France because he sees other personal advantages. He may have been recruited by agents, seigneurs, or other settlers who guaranteed him a decent salary. Once the social substructure had been laid and the population had grown, the family influenced the migration process. More than half of the new settlers are accompanied by a relation and many join relatives already settled in Canada.


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