A History of Canada - Vol. 2

By Gustave Lanctot; Margaret M. Cameron | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY
REVIEW: CANADA'S POPULATION—CANADIAN SOCIETY
1663-1713

Versailles' colonial policy. Growth of the colony's population. The three orders. Clergy: bishops, resources, virtues, influence. Nobility, seigneurs, officers and public servants. Political importance and military functions. Third estate: judges, syndics and notables. Accession to seigniories. Prosperity and independence of the freeholder. Education. Hospitals and hospices. Troops and militia. Failure of the attempt to assimilate the natives. Formation of a social élite. Evolution towards an egalitarian and distinctively Canadian society.

In the course of this period ( 1663-1713), while Placentia and Acadia just managed to exist, Canada acquired inhabitants and developed on every front. From a simple trading factory, it grew into an agricultural and commercial colony. This growth resulted from Colbert's policy of expansion through strong colonies, but one principle of this policy was that colonial establishments must never be allowed to develop at the expense of the mother country's trade or industry. In fact, according to the official doctrine, the only reason for the existence of such colonies was to supply the mother country with the raw materials which it required and to provide a market for its products. These two axioms determined all decisions throughout the period of royal administration in New France. 1

In this period the essential fact is the growth in the colony's population. In 1663 New France had only 2,500 inhabitants, but the census of 1713 showed a population of 18,179. It had increased sevenfold in fifty years. 2 Between 1663 and 1673, the population was swelled by three categories of immigrants: settlers, two thousand; soldiers, one thousand; unmarried girls, one thousand; a total of four thousand. More than half of these four thousand recruits came from the five provinces of Normandy, Poitou, the Ilede-France, Aunis and Saintonge. These provinces contributed the

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