The Birth of New France


The Viking Contact
The Fishery
Early French explorations
The Birth of New France
Huron-Iroquois War




At first, the idea was to give trade monopolies to seigneurs who would organize settlements, like De Monts and Champlain. Later, in 1627, Richelieu created the Compagnie de la Nouvelle France (Compagnie des Cent Associés), on the model of the powerful British East Indian Company, to administer all the lands claimed by France in America. In return for the massive profit expected, the Companie had to establish a settlement of 4,000 people within 15 years and maintain a Catholic clergy.














Almost immediately, the company ran into trouble: the English seized the French establishments in Port Royal, Tadoussac, and Quebec. In 1633 the settlements were returned to the French and the company started laying out seigneuries along the St Lawrence.













In 1640 the settlement of Montreal began life as a society for  the conversion of Indians, a small community of pious lay men and women under Paul de Maisonneuve and Jeanne Mance. Although it was first a religious community, Montreal very quickly become the colony’s center for the fur trade.






Source: Canadian Historical Portraits, Ville de Montréal



Even after the end of the conflict with England, the Compagnie des Cent Associés could not meet its goal of settling the colony. It suffered from the lack of political and economic stability, as royal charters kept changing and returns from the fur trade remained erractic. In addition, it was not successful in attracting settlers to New France, either on the St Lawrence or in Acadia, maybe in part because of the ban on Protestant immigration.  By the mid-1640s the population in Canada and in Acadia was only between 300 and 400 people. Overall, between 1608 and 1659, only 5,000 migrants came to the St Lawrence Valley as opposed to 40,000 to the English colonies.


The colony's problems were made worse by the ongoing conflict with the Iroquois.