Virtual museum of New France

Colonies and Empires

Wars and Imperial Rivalries

New France was a disputed territory, an issue of conflict with Aboriginal peoples and strong rivalries between the European powers. The outcome of competition between empires is well known: in 1763, at the conclusion of the Seven Years’ War, France signed the Treaty of Paris by which it relinquished Canada and its interior to Great Britain; the vast territories of Louisiana west of the Mississippi were ceded to Spain. The wars prior to the fall of New France were no less fundamental to its development.

Mortar from Louisbourg, cast c.1750-1756

Mortar from Louisbourg, cast c.1750-1756

This section examines the conflictual aspects of the French presence in North America. The European wars played a major role in the development of the colonies. After the civil wars, which curbed the first attempts at settlement, followed the battle between France and Great Britain. In the early 18th century, this imperial power struggle would become one of the main drivers of colonial development. New France would become a real imperial stronghold.

At the same time, the opposition of Aboriginal peoples to expanding networks of French alliances would bring about multiple conflicts. The Iroquois would long oppose, and with success, the colonists of the St. Lawrence Valley. In the interior of the continent, the Fox, the Natchez and the Chickasaws would prove to be equally fierce opponents. Recounting the story of the development and the consequences of these numerous conflicts reveals a portrait of the soldiers, the militiamen and the indispensable Aboriginal allies on which the defence of the colony depended.