Where Was New France?

Quebec City was founded in 1608.

New France refers to the North American region colonized by France. The territory stretched from Newfoundland to the Canadian prairies as well as from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. The French desired to control North American territories for economic and religious purposes and sought to establish bonds with aboriginal peoples.


In 1523, Giovanni da Verrazzano and a team of 50 men crossed the Atlantic and began exploration on the coast of what is presently known as the Carolinas. A northward journey led the caravel to New York Bay. Verrazzano named the site Nouvelle-Angoulême after the king. Verrazzano further convinced the king to create a colony in the discovered area and named the territory between English Newfoundland and New Spain as Francesca and Nova Gallia. Jacques Cartier mounted a cross in the Gaspé Peninsula in 1534 which became the initial province of New France. French fishing fleets sailed further into St Lawrence River from the Atlantic Coast and established alliances with First Nations along their path. Early attempts of the French settling in North America proved unsuccessful.

Founding of Quebec City

Samuel de Champlain, in collaboration with Pierre Dugua Sieur de Mons, led a team of 28 men to establish Quebec City in 1608. The expedition was sponsored by Henry IV. The early settlers succumbed to diseases and harsh weather which made colonization attempts difficult. Champlain established critical alliances with Huron and Algonquin communities by helping them to fight the Iroquois. Champlain further encouraged young French men to assimilate into North American life by learning the native tongues and living with the Indigenous people. The French colony, however, fell short to the southern English colonies which were wealthier and more populous. Cardinal Richelieu aimed at making the French colonies more prosperous and created the Company of One Hundred Associates to facilitate investment in New France. Richelieu further restricted the settling of non-Roman Catholics in the colony. Quebec City was captured by the British in 1629 to 1632. In 1634, Trois Rivières became the second city to be established in New France.

Development and Economy

New France thrived under the rule of Louis XIV who made the region a province of France. Royal rule triggered emigration to New France by granting incentives such as catering for the transport fee. The Carignan-Salières Regiment, upon arrival in New France in 1665, attacked Iroquois settlements and built forts. The King further sent out many young women to the colony to facilitate population growth through childbirth. The colony’s administration was also reformed. The farming, fishing, and shipping industries prospered after the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 and the population grew. The French expanded their territory further to Louisiana where they built forts. Further exploration by the French created colonies in Acadia and Newfoundland. The fur trade also flourished as the French traded with Indigenous communities. Ville-Marie, situated in present-day Montreal, was founded as a trading post for the fur trade. The trade facilitated the growth of Montreal into a city. Administration in New France was entrusted to a Gouverneur, Intendant, and the Sovereign Council.


Colonization of New France by the French ended in 1763 after the colony was ceded to Great Britain and Spain. The French left a cultural, political, and historical print in the territory. The French colonial population remained, and subsequent generations have established the French language as the primary tongue in present day regions such as Quebec. Names of places given by French explorers and settlers are still in use. Monuments of founding figures such as Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons have also been mounted.


More in Society