Your RDA of Irony

How France Lost Canada

I know how eager you are to learn more details about the Huguenots and French colonial policies. How can I refuse you….

Protestants were prohibited in the French colonies. In fact, it seems that no one was allowed in New France. France and England began colonizing North America at the same time, in the early 1600s. One hundred fifty years later, at the start of the French & Indian War, New France encompassed most of Canada, from the Atlantic to west of Lake Superior, as well as the Ohio Valley and the Mississippi Valley down to the Gulf of Mexico. The total population was approximately 100,000. By contrast the British colonies, wedged between the Atlantic and Appalachian Mountains, had a population of 2.5 million.

Britain had allowed anyone to migrate: paupers, minor criminals, superfluous sons and religious loonies. By contrast, France had a suffocatingly restrictive immigration policy. No one could just book a ticket to Quebec or New Orleans. The royal adminstrators had to approve of each and every applicant. If Quebec did not need an extra baker that year–or decade– that baker was staying in France. There was a shortage of women in the French colonies, and few female applicants. To alleviate this situation, the French government did ship arrested prostitutes to New France.

The sparse population of New France was a strategic disadvantage against the teeming populace of the British colonies. However, it did make many of the native American tribes more inclined to ally with France. Consider the tribes’ choice: put yourself in their place. On one side, there are 2.5 million British colonists who want to steal your land and kill you. On the other side, there are 100,000 French who only complain about your eating buffalo with white wine.

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