Filles du Roi

Arrival of the Brides - Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale

The population of New France grew very slowly in the forty years after Champlain brought the first colonists to Quebec. There weren’t that many newcomers, and attacks by the Iroquois had taken its toll. As well, the fur trade was not increasing the welfare of the colony due to the company’s interest in itself rather than the colony. France also, had become caught up in other matters and had seemingly forgotten about New France.

However, when Louis XIV came into his 20’s and took control of the government, he began a reform of France and that included New France. He sent out soldiers, settlers, labourers, a new governor, an intendant, a viceroy, and supplies.

The soldiers were able to bring about peace between the Iroquois and New France which restored order and harmony in the little colony.

The new intendant was a man named Jean Talon. He realized that in order for the colony to grow, a shift had to take place from the fur trade to agriculture and industry. He also recognized that there was a need to bring more women over to increase the likelihood of the colony growing in the future.

He sent to France and between 1663 and 1673 about 850 young women were carefully selected, many being orphans from the King’s charitable institutions. They were given free passage and a hope chest full of items they would require in the new land. When they arrived, they were usually married immediately or put with families who would care for them until they were. These women were called “Filles du Roi” or The King’s Daughters.

It would have been difficult for many of them to adjust to their new life, as many of them were from cities and had little knowledge of manual farm work. But most of them did, and many of them in all likelihood, lived longer and better lives in the new colony than they would have at home.

To encourage marriage and the birth of children, various policies were put in place to provide extra money for those who married and an increasing amount with each child. And the methods worked well. In ten years, the population of New France doubled and continued to grow from then onwards.

lostinthesnowIf you are able to find this at your library or have it at home, read “Lost in the Snow” in the Canadian Flyer series by Frieda Wishinsky.

Notebook Page: Filles du Roi

Activity: The women who came to New France would have had to know or find out how to do most things by themselves such as making clothing, looking after farm animals, decorating and cleaning their homes, and growing their own food and preparing it, etc. Today we take it for granted that we can buy most everything we need, already prepared from a store. So, for this week, there are a few choices:

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