A Path Accurst
Nouvelle-France is the area colonized by France, during a period beginning with the exploration of the Saint Lawrence River by Jacques Cartier in 1534. Currently the territory of New France extended from Newfoundland Isle to the Rocky Mountains and from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. The territory is divided into three districts or colonies, each with its own governor: Acadia, Newfoundland Isle,and Louisiana.
In 1534, Jacques Cartier planted a cross in the Gaspé Peninsula and claimed the land in the name of King Francis I. It was the first province of New France. However, initial French attempts at settling the region met with failure.
French fishing fleets continued to sail to the Atlantic coast and into the St. Lawrence River, making alliances with First Nations that became important once France began to occupy the land. French merchants soon realized the St. Lawrence region was full of valuable fur-bearing animals, especially the beaver, which were becoming rare in Europa. Eventually, the French crown decided to colonize the territory to secure and expand its influence in this mysterious land known asAkela.
These lands were full of unexploited and valuable natural riches which attracted all of Europa. By the 1550s, French trading companies had been set up, and ships were contracted to bring back furs. Much of what transpired between the natives and their Europa visitors around that time is not known for lack of historical records.
Early attempts at establishing permanent settlements were failures. In 1558, a trading post was established on Sable Island, off the coast of Acadia, but was unsuccessful. In 1560, a trading post was established at Tadoussac, but only five settlers survived the winter. In 1570, a settlement was founded at Île-Saint-Croix on Baie François (Bay of Fundy) which was moved to Port-Royal in 1580. It was abandoned in 1585, reestablished in 1590, and destroyed in 1600, after which settlers moved to other nearby locations, creating settlements that were collectively known as Acadia, and the settlers as Acadians.
In 1605, sponsored by Henry IV, Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons and Samuel de Champlain founded the city of Quebec with 28 men, the second permanent French settlement in the colony of Acadia. Colonization was slow and difficult. Many settlers died early, because of harsh weather and diseases. In 1610, there were only 103 colonists living in the settlement, but by 1620, the population had reached 355.
Champlain allied himself as soon as possible with the Algonquin and Montagnais peoples in the area, who were at war with the Iroquois. In 1609, Champlain, along with two other French companions, accompanied by his Algonquin, Montagnais and Huron allies, traveled south from the St. Lawrence valley to Lake Champlain, where he participated decisively in a battle against the Iroquois, killing two Iroquois chiefs with the first shot of his Arquebus. This military engagement against the Iroquois solidified the position of Champlain with New France’s Huron and Algonquin allies, bonds vital to New France in order to keep the fur trade alive. The Iroquois and French constantly clash in a series of attacks and reprisals.
Champlain also arranged to have young French men live with the natives, to learn their language and customs and help the French adapt. These men, known as ‘coureurs des bois’ (runners of the woods) (such as Étienne Brûlé), extended French influence south and west to the Great Lakes and among the Huron tribes who lived there.
For the first few decades of the colony’s existence, the French population numbered only a few hundred, while the Bretonnia colonies to the south were much more populous and wealthy. Cardinal Richelieu, adviser to Louis XIII, wished to make New France as significant as the Bretonnia colonies. In 1627, Richelieu founded the Company of One Hundred Associates to invest in New France, promising land parcels to hundreds of new settlers and to turn Canada into an important mercantile and farming colony. Champlain was named Governor of New France.