Magazine article Teach

Roll a Coin through the Curriculum: Unit 1: New France

Magazine article Teach

Roll a Coin through the Curriculum: Unit 1: New France

Article excerpt


Before Europeans ventured across the Atlantic Ocean, Canada was an unnamed, sparsely populated region inhabited by aboriginal tribes. It was a vast landscape waiting to be settled. The arrival of early French explorers and the founding of New France set off a chain of activities that led to the creation of Canada. The new country's unusual character was forged from an uneasy union between two European cultures that coexisted for centuries.

General Outcomes/Expectations

Students will:

* understand the conditions under which new settlers and new settlements existed;

* gain insight into the day-to-day existence of settlers;

* See how the economy functioned and what part currency played in the local economy;

* conduct research using tools such as the Internet;

* hone critical assessment and evaluation skills; and

* work together in teams to accomplish tasks.

Key Concepts and Issues

Students will explore how valuable and important economic activity was to the political and social existence in New France.

This resource was produced for the Royal Canadian Mint by TEACH Magazine. For more information about this educational program, please visit or email us at

"One of the Famous Old Totem Poles of the North." -nd.

Photo from native/

Curriculum Links

Evaluation and Assessment


see above documents posted at http://teachmag. com/teach_ mint.html


junior (grades 4-6), intermediate (grades 7-9), and senior (grades 10-12)


New France: Currency in the New World


Two to three class periods

Equipment Required

pencils, markers, pens, paper, access to computers and the Internet

Outcomes / Expectations

Students will:

* gain insight into the history of New France;

* understand what it was like to live during that period;

* research New France's monetary system;

* create an effective presentation;

* develop critical thinking and analytical skills; and

* work together in teams.



Beginning with the founding of Quebec City in 1608, French settlements were established along the banks of the St. Lawrence River. Smaller communities, however, started earlier. Like any new enterprise, systems of government had to be set up from scratch. The lifeblood of any community is steeped in commerce and trade. And, although the barter system was in use for much of the trade that took place, hard currency was a neccessity. Merchants required payment for the goods they offered for sale. Members of the military who safeguarded early settlements needed to pay their troops with some form of currency.

For many of the early settlement years in New France, metal coins were a scarce commodity. These coins were transported from France. Once they were in circulation, a shortage developed. The settlements in New France were not capable or even allowed to produce their own currencies. Ships did sail back and forth to France, but did so infrequently. At times, the shortage of coins became so severe that an alternative was desperately needed. People who needed to be paid could not wait months, if not years, for ships to travel to France and back again.

The solution was both creative and innovative. In the absence of metal coins, playing cards were introduced as currency. Although a novel solution, the practice became widely accepted within the new colonies. When troops were to be paid, for example, senior officers would write the denomination on the back of the playing card, displaying its value. To the merchants and the general population in the settlements, the playing cards became accepted currency. …

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