French Canada Essay

New FranceQuestion 1According to Peter Moogk, why were voluntary emigrants reluctant to settle in Nouvelle France? In your opinion, which barriers to settlement were the most significant? Be as specific as possible, and provide supporting evidence.

Moogk, in his article ‘Reluctant Emigrant: Emigrants from France in Canada before 1760’ describes service in New France  as ‘a painful route’ to a good position back in France. He uses words such as ‘purgatory’ and ‘exile’( page 463). This dislike covered people from all ranks of society. 31% stayed, but the remainder returned to France at their first opportunity. Moogk claims that the pull of the new land was not met by an equal push form the old one. While many migrants were bought to Canada by Dutch ships, the French merchants preferred to carry goods and later slaves.

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They did not consider indentured servants worth the trouble involved.Few actually migrated. Moogk, ( page 464) cites lack of information about the colony especially with regard to the working classes. They relied on hear say for information and this was usually negative.  There was reluctance of ship owners to take them, the dangerous voyage, longer than to British colonies, during which many died. People could obtain land and independence, but there were also mosquitoes, the frozen winters, snakes and attacks from the natives. Also there was war for the first 150 years of the colony and few European women to make wives.

Moogk ( page 482) cites 12 men to every woman.Question 2Comparing the information presented in Noel and Mookg, what were the main differences between the lives of men and women settlers in Nouvelle France? Be as specific as possible, and provide supporting evidence.Women were as varied in their background as the men. Nuns for instance founded a hospital in 1639.

There were a number of aristocratic women as well as ‘filles de la roi’ – the former inhabitants of a hospice near Paris sent out as possible wives for migrants. Women were often left to fend for themselves while their men were off at war or on trading and hunting expeditions.Men often contracted what were referred to as ‘trading marriages’ with native women. This gave him the advantage of being able to trade with her people as well as her skills in living in this harsh land.

Noel  describes in the booklet, ‘French Women in New France’,( page 8) how noble women became traders and also became nuns serving the community. She also records how French women befriended the English and tried to demoralize them during war time( page 9). Official business in the colony took place in private homes( page 10) and women acted as hostesses, but even in large and luxurious houses it must have been a harder life than in France.Question 3Do you consider the engages and the filles du roi voluntary or involuntary exiles? Why?Be as specific as possible, and provide supporting evidence.

 The answer rather depends upon whether one considers it is voluntary when the situation in France was one of starvation after a bad harvest as happened often from 1660 to 1709.The indentured workers were promised great things such as land and comfort after a few years service, but poor conditions at home did not necessarily migration to North America. An engage was defined by one governor as ‘a man obliged to go everywhere and to do whatever his master commanded like a slave.’ Few able bodied people volunteered and  those who did go were mostly forced to d do because of poor circumstances.

The filles de roi came from a hospice near Paris in an effort to provide wives for migrants.( Mookg page 472). They tended to be women over 25 who had as yet no husband. They, unlike the engages were true migrants because they came in order to stay as the wives of colonists. However Mookg ( page 483) quotes an edict from the French king stating that no one is to return to France unless they  were firmly established and had a family in the colony, so in effect all those who went out were forced to stay in involuntary exile whether they were aware of this edit or not.

ReferencesNoel, Jan, Women in New France, Canadian Historical Association, Historical Booklet Number 59Electronic SourcesMoogk, P. Reluctant Emigrants: Emigrants from France in Canada before 1760, The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser. Vol. 46, num.

3, July 1989. pages 463 – 505 available from http// 


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