By Gordon Stewart, Victor Howard, Joseph T. Jockel
Publication by means of Stewart, Gordon, Howard, Victor, Jockel, Joseph T.
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Extra info for History of Canada Before 1867 (Acsus Papers)
Indeed, the French empire was so successful that as late as the 1740s and 1750s it seemed entirely possible that the French could hold the interior regions and keep the British hemmed in to the strip between the Appalachians and the Atlantic. Exploration and Settlement, 1534-1663 When the French first penetrated the St. Lawrence Valley with the Cartier expeditions between 1534 and 1543, they found a variety of Iroquoian-speaking people living there, including the Hochelagans and the Stadaconans.
The fact that the militia captain in each parish was a habitant is another sign that these people were not a cowed peasant population. By the end of the French period, almost 85 percent of the population lived in the countryside within the seigneurial system. It is important to appreciate the scale of this settled and fairly prosperous rural community, for it is easy to be Page 16 misled by the drama of the fur trade into thinking that most Canadians were directly connected to that single great undertaking.
As a result of these imaginative and energetic measures, the population reached 8,000 by 1675. Compared with the progress made in the first half-century of the colony's existence, this was a remarkable turnaround. This initial burst of effective intervention was not sustained, partly because it was difficult to attract and keep officials of Talon's caliber in Canada, but also because Louis XIV and his ministers became preoccupied with affairs in Europe. Still, this period of demographic consolidation was vital for the survival of the colony and, indeed, for the entire subsequent history of French people in North America.