Daily Life in New France


Life in Forts and Trading Posts

Scene of daily life at Fort Beauséjour, around 1753

Caption: Scene of daily life at Fort Beauséjour, around 1753

Lodgings were evidently more rudimentary in distant forts and posts. In 1695, some forts still contained "huts made of stakes covered with bark and planks" 89 to lodge soldiers. However, this difficulty was less pressing than those faced in towns, because these forts and posts had only very small garrisons. They usually contained quarters for the commandant and his officers, other quarters for the soldiers and voyageurs, a guardhouse, and a storehouse. This could vary enormously, however, from one place to another. In Michilimackinac, for example, there was one lodging for the commandant, another for the lower officers, and another for the sergeants, but no distinct lodgings for the soldiers. Some of them were probably quartered in the guardhouse of this large fur-trading post, and others with civilians. In the West, Fort La Reine (today Portage la Prairie, Manitoba) also had a guardhouse and accommodation for the commandant. On the other hand, little Fort Puskoya (today The Pas, Manitoba) consisted of little more than a palisade surrounding a log building, divided into three rooms. One room served as a storehouse for trade goods, another for storing furs, and the last as quarters for everyone, including the commandant.

The situation improved over the years. The larger forts, especially those built in the eighteenth century, such as Forts Saint-Frédéric, Niagara and Chambly, contained accommodation for the troops and barracks equipment.