Territory explored. Territory settled. Three posts: Quebec, Three Rivers, Montreal. Origins and circumstances of the people. The moral character of the immigrants. The different classes and social life. Occupations and economic enterprises. Political structure and administration. The land-ownership system. Living conditions.
The first major period in the history of Canada, an era which opened with the discovery of the new country, closed in 1663 when the French Crown abolished the Company of New France. That year marks a high point from which a retrospective glance may be cast upon the efforts made to develop the colonies over the course of the preceding years and the results achieved by the middle of the seventeenth century.
At that time the territory explored by France was of immense extent, covering one fifth of the North American continent, from Cape Breton to the Mississippi and from Labrador to Lake Erie. The wondrous St. Lawrence water system allowed penetration by its tributary the Ottawa to the Great Lakes and the Far West, by the Saguenay and the St. Maurice routes to the boundless north, and by the Richelieu and the Chaudière routes south to Anglo- Iroquois territory. The population was confined, however, to the St. Lawrence valley between the Saguenay and Sault St. Louis. It amounted to a bare 2,500 souls concentrated at the three posts-- Quebec, Three Rivers and Montreal--all isolated from one another by endless stretches of dense, towering forests.
Tadoussac was the gateway to New France. Since large ships could pass the narrowing in the river only at a risk, Tadoussac harbour rapidly became a busy port of call and a trans-shipment point used by travellers anxious to return speedily to France. During the fur-trade season, the boats from Quebec made it their