There are exceedingly few official documents for the period covering the discovery of Canada to the Royal Régime. The Scandinavian sagas, some legends and a few royal decisions constitute the only references available with regard to discoveries and explorations. None of the commercial companies that owned the territory handed down its records. Except for a few letters, the documents of the governors have also vanished. Finally, the records of the Community of Habitants and of the Council of Quebec were destroyed by fire. Research is bringing to light numerous isolated documents scattered among the archives of Canada, France, England and the United States, and these provide interesting and valuable information.
It is therefore necessary to rely for the most part upon documents in private hands. These are scarce and, generally speaking, limited to the particular interests involved, as in the case of notaries' files and the archives of religious bodies. The publications of Champlain, the Relations of the Jesuits and the letters by Mère Marie de l'Incarnation are the most important sources in this category.
The lack of documentary sources makes it extremely difficult to trace the economic and social progress of the country and of its people. This frequently reduces sociometric studies of New France during this period to a minimum.
With regard to general subjects, the bibliography is limited to publications that are of use, rather than extended to cover an endless list of works of secondary importance.
There are duplicates and photostatic copies of almost all the following series and collections of documents at the National Archives in Ottawa.
|Série E.||Conseils du Roi I. Conseil des Finances.|
|Série F3.||Collection Moreau de Saint-Méry.|
|Série G7.||Contrôle général des Finances.|
|Série J.||Trésor des Chartres.|
|Série K.||Section historique.|
|Série V6.||Grande Chancellerie et Conseil.|
|Série Z.||Juridictions spéciales et ordinaires.|