The journey of France to Gallia Nova or New France saw the natural bounties of North America going completely metamorphosed. France flirted with the New World for years, which led to the French settlement sticking to the Canadian colony as well. Between the 16th and 18th centuries, French pioneers triumphed in taming a lush and untamed terrain of Canada, moulding it into a formidable colonial bastion. This transposed Canada, its history, and its culture.
New France has become the cradle of Canada. The land became home to fur traders, state-sponsored brides, soldiers—and the indigenous people who had been there for thousands of years.
What is New Canada with a taste of French culture like? You’ll get a glimpse into the territory’s history and culture by focusing on its most populous and economically powerful colony. Despite its relatively brief existence from 1608 to 1763, the Canadian colony forged a unique language, culture, and history that resonates even today in the contemporary nation of Canada.
Let’s take you on a drive back to the colony’s early days. Living in Canada was difficult. The harsh winters and undeveloped land of the area were a problem for the French colonists. Canada was heavily reliant on agriculture and the fur trade, which caused tensions with the native populations whose land the colonists had claimed for France.
The French and their native trading partners prospered from the fur trade. But, it also fueled decades of conflicts, violence and all-out war as the fur trade altered the environment, the economy and the traditional lifestyles of indigenous communities of Canada.
After being governed for 55 years by trading firms, New France came under regal control in 1663. By increasing his investments in Canada, New France’s most promising province, Louis XIV attempted to turn around its fortunes. The monarchy funded the immigration of its inhabitants to New France, which led to an increase in the country’s population and ultimately led to the division of Canada into three provinces: Quebec, Trois-Rivières, and Montreal.
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But the population still foundered, in part due to a gender imbalance between the colony’s 3,000 men—including soldiers, woodsmen, fur traders, and merchants—and its few women. In 1663, there was just one woman for every six men in New France. To fix the imbalance, increase the colony’s population and induce French men to stay in New France, the crown paid for nearly 800 women to travel to New France as state-sponsored brides.
At home, the filles du roi would have faced uncertain fates with low or nonexistent dowries, poverty, and a reliance on male family members to select their partners. Just by surviving the passage to New France, the filles du roi found themselves with more power and higher chances of prosperity than they would have had in Europe. Armed with hope chests and a promising future, they boarded ships to Canada.New France lasted a century and a half before the British. During that time, it shaped the geography of Canada in important ways. The descendants of French settlers form one of Canada’s major ethnic groups today. Almost a quarter of present-day Canadians are of French ancestry. This has deeply affected Canada’s culture and politics.
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Manufactured goods from France and other countries in Europe became the main imports to New France. French missionaries tried to convert native people to Christianity. Some did become Christians, while others held to their traditional beliefs.
Since the 1960s, interest in preserving French Canadian culture and traditions has grown. French Canadians share many common cultural practices: most are Roman Catholic, most enjoy food, art, music, and activities that began with their French ancestors. In 1974, French was recognized as the official language of Quebec, although English is the official language elsewhere in Canada.
The French-Canadian Church was able to expand the number of French-Catholic hospitals, orphanages, co-ops, schools, and associations thanks to the entrance of these religious settlers. The Church’s substantial organisational structure also allowed for an increase in Canadian recruitment. There were 650 francophone nuns in Canada in 1850; by 1920, there were 13,579 of them. There would be 6,536 more priests and brothers than the current 788.
The Church was responsible for the establishment of modern institutions in Quebec and other French-Canadian migratory destinations in North America. Most of the universities and hospitals that served French Canadians were founded and operated by religious colonists between the middle of the 19th and the middle of the 20th century.
Religious settlers had a significant influence on religious practice in French Canada, as well as on the traditionalism of its secular elite. They also contributed to renewing ties with France, developing French-Canadian literature and advancing literacy, which leapt from 26 per cent to 87 per cent between 1840 and 1910.
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Though the French tended to mix with French Canadians in Montreal, they sometimes founded independent communities in the Prairies, while still associating with French Canadians.
Some of the best food items introduced by the french in Canada are Butter Tarts, French Pea Soup, Tarte au Sucre (Sugar Pie) and Pudding au Chomeur (Poor Man’s Pudding).
The French also played a fundamental role in creating the first French-language newspapers (such as the Patriote de l’Ouest), theatres (the Cercle Molière) and radio stations. In Saskatchewan, the Charentais Raymond Denis worked in the Franco-Canadian Catholic Association of Saskatchewan (1912) to recruit francophone teachers and oppose the restrictions on teaching in French that had been announced.
Canada has been in a habit of welcoming the French for decades. The French spread their roots in Canadian soil by promoting French culture in schools and colleges particularly. In contemporary pedagogy, the student is viewed as an intermediary between their parents and the history, culture and political demands of the community which helped the Francophone community. Traces of French colonisation are found everywhere throughout Canada, especially the eastern region.
So, this was a story of how the French influence on food and culture shaped the modern-day Canada.
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