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Britain's colonies to the south have 18 times as many settlers as New France. Britain has a wide-open policy on who can come to the colonies, meaning Brits from all walks of life are risking the perilous ocean voyage. France, on the other hand, has banned Protestants from going to New France. The British colonies have a farming-based economy, meaning men bring their wives over and have families, whereas the French settlers are mostly fur trappers and missionaries. That population gap is only getting wider.
Britain's colonies are growing, but in New France, which has only one woman for every six men, the population is stuck.
To help fix New France's gender imbalance, two men come up with an innovative idea: Jean Talon Intendant of the colony and King Louis XIV decide to import young women to the colony to marry male settlers. Almost all the women are poor. Many are orphans. One in 10 doesn't survive the voyage from France.
For the women who make it, France pays for the women's passage and provides a dowry of from the royal treasury. The women are also given a hope chest containing, among other things, a pair of hose, a pair of shoes, a bonnet, gloves, a comb, a belt and various sewing supplies. Quebec lonely women Filles du Roi step off their boats into a foreign landscape. It Is a sparsely populated, heavily wooded wilderness. Many of them are from France's cities and are about to get a harsh introduction to the backbreaking world of 17th century farm labour.
Canadian winter will be unlike anything they've ever experienced. And in the coming years, many of them are going to be pregnant more often than not. As daunting as that sounds, all of the Filles du Roi come to New France Quebec lonely women. Even with the cold climate and hard toil, life in New France has advantages over the lives they left behind.
Unlike many women at the time, the Filles du Roi are allowed to choose their husbands. Admittedly, they're choosing from a very small pool — the population of New France is just over 3, and includes a disproportionately high of priests. Guyart would later be canonized as St. Marie of the Incarnation. The women sail down the St. Lawrence, stopping first at Quebec City, then Trois-Rivieres, and eventually making their way to Montreal. At every stop, they have to make a choice; go with one of the men there, or see if there's a better husband waiting down river.
As poor women without dowries, finding a husband let alone one they likedwould have been nearly impossible in France. There are other advantages, too. Abundant food means that women in New France live longer than their peers in Europe. The population of New France more than doubles in a decade. Two-thirds of today's French-Canadians can trace their ancestry back to one of these women. Their influence was felt outside Quebec, as well. There are very few first-hand s of the lives of the Filles du Roi. Few of them could read or write. Their histories have largely been told by subsequent generations.
That said, one thing we know with absolute certainty: the Quebec we know today owes a lot to the fortitude of these incredibly tough women. Canada: The Story of Us premieres March 26 at 9 p. Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.
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We reserve the right to close comments at any time. the conversation Create. Already have an ? The Filles du Roi were poor women who were brought to North America to fix this imbalance and populate the colony. Social Sharing. It's New France has a population problem. To dominate the fur trade along the St. Lawrence River, New France needs people.
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