At first, the idea was to give trade monopolies to seigneurs who
would organize settlements, like De Monts and Champlain. Later,
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
In 1640 the settlement of Montreal began life as a society
for the conversion of Indians, a small community of pious lay
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.
Historical Portraits, Ville de Montréal
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.
colony's problems were made worse by the ongoing conflict with