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Women of New France

Painting of a family sitting around a table with bread and wine in the 18th century.

Women of New France

Women of New France

New France was a French colony in North America from 1534 to 1763. At its height, New France controlled large areas of the continent.

New France was established, in part, to use natural resources for commercial purposes. The most popular resource was the beaver, whose fur was felted to make hats. The fur trade soon became the colony’s main commercial activity. At a time of intense international competition between European powers, the colony was founded and expanded for military, economic and political reasons.
In 1663, the settler population of New France was overwhelmingly male. To encourage settlement, the French government granted large plots of land to prominent citizens, who in turn could rent portions of their lands to settlers known as habitants.

Between 1663 and 1673, the French king sponsored around 800 young women — known as “Filles du roi” or “King’s daughters” — to immigrate to New France, to marry and start families. The descendants of these settlers became known as Canadiens.
As a result of these settlement initiatives, many different types of people lived in New France. In this package, you will meet some extraordinary women from this period.