A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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LOUIS HÉBERT: A Legacy of Tenacity
Immigration History
Obstacles and Beyond

Various political and military events hindered colonization efforts. The alliances formed by Champlain made enemies of the Iroquois. Between 1648 and 1652 they destroyed Huronia, a hub of French commercial and missionary activity. Attacks on the very heart of the colony demonstrated that the colony's survival was in doubt(7).

In 1663, Québec was an insecure commercial branch operation: the fur trade was opposed to agriculture, cross-cultural contact meant war and disease for the natives, the French population was small, and the administration of the colony by commercial exploiters was a disaster. The French monarchy took control of the colony away from the company. Under France's young king, Louis XIV, New France flourished somewhat. He made the colony a province of France, giving it a similar hierarchical administrative organization. He watched over its settlement, extended its territory and allowed its enterprises to multiply. Another priority was simply to guarantee the peace(8). Under the Marquis de Tracy, the French regiment of Carigan-Salieres built forts and ravaged Iroquois villages - all as demonstrations of French military power. The Iroquois made peace and 400 soldiers stayed in the colony as settlers. The king also had 850 young women sent out as brides-to-be, and quick marriages and families were encouraged. When the offspring of these "filles du roi," or King's Daughters, came of age 20 years later, the demographic situation had changed. In 1663 there had been one woman to every 6 men; now the sexes were roughly equal in number. The colony thereafter replenished 90% of its numbers through childbirth(9).

The imperialism of Louis XIV, the pacification of the Iroquois and the need to rebuild the network of fur-trade treaties led to renewed colonial explorations into the Great Lakes and Mississippi regions. But the Indian wars started again in 1682. At the same time economic factors, combined with political, military and missionary activity, created a great demand for furs from the aboriginals. Fur traders were being squeezed by increasingly tight regulations making it difficult to turn a profit, despite the fact that they provided the colony's only exports(10).

To add to the uncertainties of the colony of New France, there were ongoing difficulties with the alternating British and French regimes in Acadia. And in the St. Lawrence Valley, farmers were still arduously working to clear the land and craftsmen no longer had the support of major commercial enterprises to support their trades(11).

With all of these troubles and only moderate expansion, New France was described as a "colossus with feet of clay." The British American colonies were 20 times as populous. Through the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713, France gave up Newfoundland, the Acadian peninsula, Hudson Bay and supremacy in trade over the Iroquois, which all went to the English(12).

Endnotes:
7-12 - The 1998 Canadian & World Encyclopedia
(McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1998).

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