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Subject > Politics and Society > Life on the Homefront

Date > 1600

To the Sound of the Drummer's Beat

Type: Document

Fortified towns like Quebec, Montreal, Trois-Rivières and Louisbourg were all governed by military staffs. The lives of French soldiers and Canadian civilians alike were regulated by the different drum beatings of the garrison, from La Diane at dawn to La Retraite at sunset.

Site: National Defence

Twelve Hundred New Men

Type: Document

The addition of 1,200 new Frenchmen to a colony of only 3,200 made a big impact on the community. The Régiment Carignan-Salières was quickly deployed to fortifications along the Richelieu River.

Site: National Defence

Iroquois warriors lurking near French settlements during the 1650s

Type: Image

Until the 1660s, especially in the Montreal area, no one in the French settlements really felt quite safe from surprise attacks by hostile Iroquois warriors. Many Canadian settlers, including women, learned to handle firearms during the 1650s.

Site: National Defence

Warning bell, 1660s

Type: Image

Because of the constant Iroquois surprise attacks on settlers at Montreal between 1660 and 1665, the nursing nuns at the hospital also kept a lookout and would ring their bell to give the alarm whenever they spotted something suspicious.

Site: National Defence

Poor Officers and Food

Type: Document

Officers with no income beyond their military pay would have to live very frugal lives. All officers were provided with much the same rations as the common soldiers, with some extras. In some more remote posts, officers' wives were given rations as well.

Site: National Defence

Madeleine

Type: Image

A worthy representative of 17th-century women in New France, who were neither fragile nor passive, Marie-Madeleine Jarret de Verchères (1678-1747) conducted an exemplary defence of Fort Verchères against an Iroquois attack in 1692, just as her mother had done two years earlier. Her sober account of 1699, often romanticized in late-19th century versions, made her a heroine of our history of everyday life. Like most women in the colony, she knew how to handle arms by the time she was 14 years old. Her contemporary, Bacqueville de la Potherie, said of her that no 'Canadian or officer [could] shoot more accurately'.

Site: National Defence

Nutrition

Type: Document

When the calorie content of the basic military ration is calculated, it seems that soldiers were under-nourished. In practice, men made use of local resources (game, gardens) to obtain extra food. A Swedish traveller to Canada in 1749 found the men plump and in good health.

Site: National Defence

Table Manners

Type: Document

Officers in New France would eat with the manners of the upper classes. There were changes from the seventeenth to the eighteenth century, but every gentleman had to 'know how to behave at the table.'

Site: National Defence

One Big Family

Type: Document

There was a close liaison between the officers and the commercial class in New France. Marriage alliances cemented families together, and a kind of colonial military caste began to form in the colony in the eighteenth century.

Site: National Defence

Model of the second habitation at Quebec, circa 1625

Type: Image

Construction of this building started in May 1624. The model shows the stone structure with its two corner turrets as it was circa 1625. The habitation was abandoned in 1633 following a fire.

Site: National Defence