on this day in history. in Canada.

kingsdaughters

On April 2, 1667, in Quebec, Quebec, Jean Talon, an Intendant of New France, established the Code Civil and first civil courts of law in the name of King Louis XlV of France.   New France was an area colonized by France in North America during the period that began with Jacques Cartier’s exploration of the Saint Lawrence River in 1534.  At the time the territory was divided into five colonies, each with its own administration; Canada, Acadia, Hudson Bay, Newfoundland and Louisiana.  At its peak, the territory of New France extended from Newfoundland to the Rocky Mountains, and from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico.  During Talon’s tenure as Intendant of Justice, Public Order and Finances in Canada, Acadia and Newfoundland (two terms; 1665 to 1668 and 1670 to 1672), he proposed to Louis XIV that in order to strengthen the colony and make it the centre of France’s colonial empire, the government should actively recruit single women to settle in New France.  The effort, of course, was designed to boost the Canadian colony’s population by both encouraging male immigrants to settle there and to promote marriage which leads to the birth of children.  800 single women between the ages of 15 and 30 were [lured] sent to New France as a result of Talon’s suggestion to Louis XIV.  It is said that these women came by their own free will, and that their passages were paid for and dowries were provided to them by the government.  They were referred to as the King’s Daughters or, en Francaise, les filles du roi.  It should be noted that the King’s Daughters were of common descent [a nice way of saying the very poor, homeless and orphans] who could not make favourable marriages in the aristocratic social hierarchy in France.  In other words, underprivileged, poor women with little hope were provided [seduced with] an opportunity for a better life, if they agreed to accept a little money, leave their homeland and their families [those who were not homeless and orphans] behind, journey across the ocean to a foreign, wild, new colony, in the hopes that they would be able to woo [compete for] one of a similarly small number of single [also marginalized from France] menfolk already established there.  Despite the seemingly reprehensible technique, it would appear that Talon’s endeavour to boost the population of the colony was a success, as by 1672 the population of New France had over doubled in fewer than ten years; going from 3,200 to 6,700.

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