Museum of Civilization
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Beginning of a colony
Health professions were similar
to those in France.Â Surgeons, the most numerous, worked as general
practitionners.Â They bled, purged, treated wounds and tumours, extracted teeth
and performed amputations.Â Doctors, with a university education, were few in
number.Â They examined and issued prescriptions to wealthier patients.Â
Apothecaries (pharmacists) worked mainly in hospitals.Â Midwives handled most
Nuns from the nursing orders (Hospitaliѐres) looked after people from all levels of society in the two
types of institutions they operated.Â General hospitals were managed as
charitable institutions for the disabled, the elderly, prostitutes, the
mentally ill and abandoned childre.Â Hà´tels-Dieu, on
the other hand, were real medical hospitals were nuns provided both physical
and spiritual healing.
The Hà´tel-Dieu de Québec
was founded in 1639 from donations received from Marie Vignerod, the Duchess of
Aiguillon and niece of the powerful Cardinal Richelieu.Â Portrait of the Duchess of Aiguillon painted on canvas by
Because of the harsh climate,
chronic ailments and discomforts such as chilblains, rheumatism and respiratory
problems were more common than in France.Â But acute diseases were the same as in Europe, the most
deadly being measles, typhus and smallpox.
Physical illness was viewed as
divine punishment, but according to an ancient theory, was also thought to be
caused by an imbalance in bodily fluids.Â Bleeding, enemas and an arsenal of
medicines were used to purge the body and restore Â«balance Â». If
all else failed, there was always prayer.
Illustration showing Aztec Indians with smallpox around 1577.
I swear and promise to
Godâ€¦that I will assist women who are giving birth, and will never cause any
harm to the mother or the child, and when I see thar there is imminent danger,
I will call upon the advice and assistance of doctors, surgeons and other women
I know to have experienceâ€¦I also promise not to reveal the secrets of the
families and the people I will assist, and not to use any illicit means, or
superstitionâ€¦but to do everything I possibly can to ensure the physical and
spiritual hearth of both the mother and the child. Â Â Extract from Rituel du diocѐse de Québec, by Monsignor de
The Catholic Church undertook
major initiatives to reassert its religious leadership and compete against the
growth of Protestantism in Europe.Â Education and religious instruction for the entire
population were important pillars in its efforts.
In New France, the
Church assigned this mission to the religious orders, which established small
schools in the towns and sent missionaries and lay teachers to rural parishes.
These schools generally focused
more on teaching religious and moral principles than on reading, writing and
arithmetic.Â All children were taught the catechism in preparation for their
first communion, as well as the values of good citizens: respect for authority,
integrity and a sense of right and wrong.
A way of acting, thinking,
behaving?Â A set of values, beliefs, behaviors, customs and symbols that
characterize a community? Culture is all this and more.
In its broadest sense, culture
is everywhere and all members of a society, regardless of their place in the
hierarchy, shape it continuously.
Whether in sound (music and
song), in visual production (painting and sculpture) or in writing (books and
documents), the various forms of cultural expression presented here are
evidence of colonial societies that ere becoming more sophisticated.Â
They reflect, to some degree,
French cultural traditions, the influence of the Catholic Church and a capacity
to adapt to a new land and a new social environment.
The fall of Montreal in 1760
marked the end of France’s empire in North
America.Â The Treaty of Paris, signed in
1763, marked the beginning of British rule.
Since that time, developments in
North American society could have wiped out this French heritage, but this did
not happen.Â Today, in Canada, we celebrated French culture.Â It is a pillar of our
society and its foundations were laid 400 years ago.
The Church ensured that religion
was present everywhere: Sundays, religious holidays, numerous days of fasting
and ceremonies that celebrated rites of passage (baptism, marriage and death).Â
The Church also encouraged the observance of the sacraments, especially penance
and the Eucharist, as well as various forms of prayer: novenas, devotions,
processions and participation in religious organizations.
It is difficult to say whether
people participated in these religious rites because of authentic spiritual
feelings or the threat of divine punishment.Â This was a threat the Church did
not hesitate to make.
In the New
France era, Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré
was already a popular site for pilgrimages.Â Its first church was built in
1658.Â Sainte Anne was the patron of navigators, who felt safe when they
reached the coast of Beaupré after a
long crossing.Â People who were ill sent there hoping to be healed, as they
still do today.
Third church of
Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, built in 1676 and demolished in 1876.
In response to the growing
popularity of Protestantism in Europe, the Catholic Church of the 17th century saw
the need to reform.Â It wanted to strengthen the faith of Catholics and also to
convert Aboriginal peoples.Â It wanted religion to permeate every aspect of
Under the direction of a bishop
and with the help of the colonial government, New
France was organized into parishes.Â
Priests were sent to distant places in Acadia and Louisiana.Â This gave the Church greater control over the
practices and values of tis parishioners.Â The Church also encouraged
missionaries to travel throughout its territory and preach the Good Word to
The Church’s message to
everyone, Europeans as well as Aboriginals, focused on a God who is the master
of life and death and on the fear of eternal damnation.
The Jesuits.Â In 1639,
Jérà´me Lalemant, a Jesuit priest, initiated
the construction of a fortified mission near Georgian Bay.Â Sainte-Marie among
the Huron was the first European settlement in the Canadian hinterland.Â The
mission had a chapel, a hospital, stables and accommodation for the French and
the Huron converts.
The Jesuits were intellectuals
with a background in theology and science.Â They had difficulty converting the
Huron and were often bewildered and horrified by their customs.Â Placing
themselves in the hands of God, the Jesuits faced cruel wars, devastating
epidemics and the violence generated by the clash of two civilizations.
The Huron became the main
partners of the French in the fur trade.Â However, the Jesuits and their
assistants unwittingly spread new diseases against which the Huron had no
immunity.Â Smallpox and measles decimated the Aboriginal population.
From 1645 to 1655, the powerful
Five Nations Iroquois confederacy waged a war that destroyed rival Iroquoian
nations.Â Weakened by disease and torn apart by internal strife, the Huron were
defeated in 1648 and 1649.Â The conflict soon reached the French colonies in
the St. Lawrence Valley.
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Beginning of a colony
the New France
Road to the U.S
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