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Arrival in Canada

Eric Tolman
Years from 1450-1600 were Europe’s Age of Exploration, spearheaded by
Spanish and Portuguese monarchs who sought riches of the East
In 1492, and explorer named Christopher Columbus, hired by Spain, travelled to
San Salvador thinking he landed in India- this began a period of colonization in
Central and South America
France sent explorers westward in 1534 avoiding Spanish success in the south
and English success in the north and charted a course along the middle latitudes
France would find success in what is now eastern Canada and the resource rich
area would lead to an explosion in the fur trade
French success in the region was linked directly to the help they received from
first Nations who gave them access to ancient trading networks
French colonies would be established in the St Lawrence area called New
France and in the Maritimes called Acadia both becoming foundations of modern
Vikings came from Scandinavia and likely were the first explorers of Canada
1000 years ago
Vikings left their homeland for new opportunities and were very warlike
By the 11th century they had colonized Iceland, parts of Greenland and North
America as found in historical stories known as sagas
They told of Leif Erikson and his voyages to Helluland, Markland and Vinland
The discovery of artifacts and remains of settlements at L’Anse aux Meadows in
northern Newfoundland have convinced historians that this is Vinland
Vikings conflicted with local First Nations who grew hostile to their warlike and
violent tendencies
While a brief settlement, it marked the beginning of an era
By the end of the 15 th century, England was keen to get in on the action after Columbus’s
discovery of the America's in 1492
Italian explorer Giovanni Caboto wanted to cash in on Spanish and Portuguese gains in the
east by convincing Venetian merchants to fund his own voyage
Venetians showed little interest where he then went to Bristol to seek support
Not only was his trip paid for by the merchants of Bristol, but King Henry VII gave him a trade
monopoly and freedom from import taxes
Cabot left Bristol, May 2 nd 1497 on the 40 metre ship the Mathew with 19 men landing on what
would become Canadian soil 52 days later, planting a flag and calling it New Found Land
Strong winds brought him back in 15 days to Bristol
Cabot boasted of the abundance of Cod which he claimed were so plentiful, they slowed down
his ship
Cabot’s enthusiasm sparked the beginning of what would become centuries of British fishing off
the Grand Banks of Newfoundland
In 1534, King Francis of France commissioned Cartier to discover the wealth of the New World
20 days after leaving France spotted land and travelled up the Gulf of the St Lawrence
When he reached the Gaspe Peninsula he encountered some Iroquois who were hunting in the area
Contact was made and the Iroquois offered furs for knives and hatchets-while Cartier was not
interested in furs he recognized the advantages of forming alliances
Cartier kidnapped two sons of Chief Donnacona back to France and returned them safely a year later
where the two served as guides for the French
They stayed in that winter where 15 cm of ice coated the inside of their shelter -25 died of scurvy and
hypothermia but many saved by Iroquois healers who used white cedar bark to heal them
In the Spring Cartier kidnapped Donnacona to plead their case for another trip who died himself of
On Cartier’s third voyage in 1541 they returned but with strained relations with the Iroquois after the
abduction and death of their chief- French colonization had failed
The early French were more interested in trade than colonies, and furs became very
popular in France where Canada was abundant
The Native peoples were keen to get knives, hatchets, pots and beads for trade and the
French made massive profits in sale back home- for example 4 dollars of European
supplies would net 130 of profit
By 1610 the Dutch landed on the Hudson River, which Henry Hudson had explored on
behalf of the Dutch East India Company
Their colony, New Amsterdam, fell to the English 50 years later
The English were also searching the NW passage but explored the Arctic
Many were seadogs who had attacked Spanish treasure ships in South America following
the Spanish conquest of the Aztec and the Incas- they included Martin Frobisher, William
Baffin and John Davis
In 1583, Humphrey Gilbert claimed Newfoundland for England despite the presence of
Portuguese and Basque fishers
Samuel de Champlain was a soldier and navigator who had experience sailing
with the Spanish in the West Indies and fought in the French religious wars of
the Reformation
Champlain became as assistant to Sieur de Monts who was a French noble
appointed by the king of France to set up trading posts in Canada and given a
monopoly on the fur trade in exchange for establishing a French colony
The two would set a colony in Port Royal (Nova Scotia) but it was abandoned in
1607. Those that stayed became the nucleus of Acadia and agreed to farm, not
engage in the fur trade
Champlain headed north in 1608 and established a colony at Quebec where
towering cliffs provided an almost impregnable natural fort
There Champlain allied with Algonquians and Montagnais (who agreed not to
trade furs with the English) against the Iroquois and also met Hurons from the
west who told them about areas with furs
The Huron were great navigators and Champlain hope to benefit from their
trading connections
The Huron occupied territory with great farming and fishing on the southern
shore of Georgian Bay which Champlain wanted to exploit
The Huron were primarily farmers who supplemented their diet with fish- meat
made up less than 10% of their diet
They lived in communities of 800-1600 and their total population was roughly 20
Huron woman directed the farming of corn which was traded with neighbouring
tribes who lived north of the Canadian Shield
The Algonquians and Montagnais people resented French links with the Huron
Champlain was making great profits in beaver furs and in 1613, became a
partner in a trading company with a monopoly in Canada and with the help of the
Huron, business was thriving
Champlain began to hire young men, courier de bois, to explore the great lake
regions, live with Native peoples, learn the language and marry into their
Couriers like Etienne Brule travelled far into the interior and with Champlain
learned much about Huron culture
Both France and Champlain had little desire of building a colony fearing
competition to the fur trade
The introduction of Christian missionaries who travelled with traders aggressively
try to convert the Huron and others to Catholicism
Champlain would return to Quebec and realize the need for a colony to prevent
and English presence and would die in his 60’s on x-mas day
By Champlain’s death, competition amongst the French, Dutch and English for
colonial possession in NA was fierce
The Company of a 100 Associates was a French monopoly which was required
to bring settlers to Canada and establish seignueries-feudal style manors
Jesuits had close ties with this company and French leaders were keen to
convert natives
Jesuits were willing to integrate and adopt to native customs which made it
easier for them to convert Huron peoples but many resisted
Learning the Huron languages was very difficult for the missionaries and their
aggressive tactics were becoming divisive- those that converted to Christianity
received benefits and privileges in the fur trade which would eventually split the
Huron nation making it more vulnerable to attack
• CDB would often work independently and could easily break monopoly rules
as they travelled far into the great lake regions- the Iroquois and other had
effectively blocked groups from bringing furs to the St. Lawrence
• Travelling in birch bark canoes, groups of traders called fur brigades opened
up the west to the fur trade
• Brothers in law Pierre Radisson and Medart de Groseilliers were famous for
their discovery of the rich fur areas of the Hudson’s Bay tried to interest
France but failed leading them to England where Charles II sponsored the
creation of the HBC soon to be New France’s number one enemy
• By 1740 explorers like the Verendrye family had crossed the prairies and
established trading forts-likely the first Europeans to see the Rockies
By Champlain’s death in 1635 New France had very few settlers and the fur trade was
falling further into control of the Iroquois
In 1661 New France appealed to France for support and got it from Louis XIV and his
marine minister Jean Baptist Colbert who were determined to make the colony strong and
Quebec could ship fish, timber and staves to the West Indies where they would help with
sugar production and then sent back to France- part of the mercantile ideas of the
triangular trade
1100 French soldiers were sent to the colony which double the population of New France
and help wrestle the fur trade back for the Iroquois who went elsewhere as France
expanded West
In 1663 France made New France a Royal Colony with an appointed governor and a
strong military and missionary presence
New France would mimic France with a seigneurial system, ensuring the colony's
aristocrats would control the land where French peasants would till
• Jean Talon was New France’s first intendent who sought settlers, a good
defence and basic industries- he had woman brought in, most orphans and
many who had the least to gain by staying France
• Talon established a lumber mill, a tannery and a brewery to make the colony
as self sufficient as possible. Small ship building was encouraged
• Frontenac became NF first governor who clashed with the Church and the
home government – he wanted to expand the fur trade and resented Jesuits
who tried to limit the trade of alcohol
• His territorial expansion led to a conflict with the Iroquois who were
concerned with French expansion in the region even though Frontenac
agreed to a business alliance with them
By 1663 there 104 seigneuries divided into more than 13 million square arpents
spread over 320 kms on both sides of the St Lawrence
Seigneurs had to build and live in a manor house, hold court to settle disputes,
attract settlers, and build a mill
The habitants paid rent, provided days of service and served in the militia
Habitants worked on the farms including the woman who usually had many
children and their lives were based on the cycle of the farm
In the spring crops were planted, sugar harvested from maples and the fishing
season began; in the summer they cultivated and weeded fields, cut wood and
cleared wasteland; in the fall they gathered crops and slaughtered animals and
goods preserved for the winter
They ate well by raising chickens, pigs, geese, ducks and cows for milk, butter
and cheese- Peas were important for soup and fish was common
• Largest towns in NF were Quebec and Montreal with Quebec being the
oldest and most fortified but Canada had only 18 000 Europeans in the early
• Towns had small industries, schools, hospitals and were more diverse places
than the seigneurs while Montreal was bustling with fur brigades arriving via
the Ottawa River, an active church and visitors came and went
• Fist females tended to be nuns sent to educate and coverts FNs and in 1668
the Ursuline order of nun was formed establishing a long service in NF
• While having few rights, most married woman were active in the family
business and were key when husbands were off working in the fur trade
• As widows, woman brought their skills to help the community running lumber
mills, flour mills and tanneries
The French not only fought the Iroquois and other FNs but also the British and
her American colonies who competed over territory and often infringed on each
others claimed domains
FNs groups all sided with either the British or the French depending on who they
thought would be more beneficial to side with
Colonial wars were usually offshoots of European conflicts and there were four
major wars fought between Britain and France in North America
King William’s War was fought to block Louis XIV’s ambitions to expand territory
in Canada- the French leader Frontenac made incursions into the 13 colonies
with native allies-Treaty of Ryswick returned on all gains
Queen Anne’s war or The War of Austrian Succession, which began in 1703 and
ended in 1713, saw Acadia captured again by the English but Quebec was not
captured- concluded with the Treaty of Utrecht
Unlike previous wars, this one had origins in North America
Growing US colonies resented treaties that prevented them expanding westward
into the Ohio River Valley past the Allegheny mountains
in an early battle, British troops led by George Washington would see defeat by
the French in Ohio and in the north, British and Mohawks fought the French and
their native allies
It was clear that a major conflict was brewing, so the British sent more troops
and in 1755 the Acadians were forcibly removed from their homes because they
had refused to sign a loyalty oath to Britain even though their territory fell into
British hands in 1713
New Englanders settled into abandoned farm lands in Acadia although many
Acadians returned after years in exile and others moved to Louisiana
In 1758 British general Wolfe captured Louisburg-gateway to the St. Lawrence,
made possible because England made the capture of Canada a top priority
New France’s military commander was the Marquis de Montcalm whose conflict
with CDN born Governor Vaudreuil made for a disunited front and helped bring
about the fall of Quebec
Despite some French victories, the loss of Louisburg was a major defeat and
because French farmers were fighting the British, supplies and crops fell short
In 1759 British ships sailed up the St. Lawrence and Montcalm hoped to hold
them back until the winter freeze came on
Wolfe put in orders that unattended farms would be burned-orders that helped to
weaken the French
At night British troops scaled cliffs and in the morning 4500 troops stretched
across the Plains of Abraham- Montcalm engaged but the British were victoriousboth Wolfe and Montcalm would die but New France was declared a British
possession in 1763 with the Treaty of Paris
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