History & Geography
In 1645, the three largest settlements in New France were Québec (later Québec City) (founded in 1608), Trois-Rivières (founded in 1634) and Ville-Marie (later Montréal) (founded in 1642).
The Territory Of New France
What was Montreal first named by the Explorers?
If you ask people who Samuel de Champlain was, many will say he founded the city of Québec in 1608. And they’re right. Québec was the first francophone city in North America, which is why so many people in the province of Québec remember Champlain today.
Samuel de Champlain
During his early voyages in New France, Champlain explored the territory. Since he was a geographer, he drew several maps to further people’s knowledge of the country. He also identified new territories on his maps. For example, in 1612, he described and drew the Ottawa River for the first time.
Geographer and cartographer
Champlain always tried to establish good relations with certain Indigenous nations, especially the Huron (Wendat). He even spent an entire winter with them in 1615. The stories he left behind are very valuable because they tell us about the Indigenous ways of life.
Good relations with the Hurons
Why did Champlain spend an entire winter with the Hurons?
Draw a bear eating pizza in a hot air balloon
Colonize: To settle among others and take power. Champlain also believed that New France needed more settlers. He felt this would improve trade between France and its colony. Most people did not agree with him, however. He worked very hard to convince them.
Colonizing New France
In Québec, the Catholic church was expanding, and streets were being made. Québec was becoming a small village. Trois-Rivières was still a very small trading post. Montréal had just been founded and was inhabited by only a few people, including missionaries who wanted to convert Indigenous people to the Catholic religion. Montréal’s first fort was just being built.
Quebec was growing
When picking a location to build a settlement in New France around 1645, it was important that the location was good for fur trading. Québec, Trois-Rivières and Montréal were all located in the St. Lawrence Lowlands, near waterways that made it easy to transport goods, like fur, to Europe. These locations were also near Indigenous people, which was helpful for fur trading. Finally, the climate and relief of the land in these areas made it fertile and good for farming.
Most of the inhabitants in New France live near fur trading posts because this is the main source of work in the colony. The territory is large but we cannot settle all of it because there are so few of us. Also, most of the inhabitants are engagés (contract labourers) and many of them return to France after a few months or years of work.
Fewer than 1000 people