The First Soldiers of New France

Fragile Colonies

Despite all their efforts to establish themselves in North America, the French could hardly feel that the results acheived by 1660 were satisfactory. The Relations des Jésuites, published in France, depicted Canada as a forbidding place. Descriptions of martyred missionaries were not likely to attract new colonists! Even though many soldiers were needed to protect a colony as exposed as this, the garrison remained skeletal. Acadia held little appeal, with its much coveted territories that eventually slipped through the fingers of the French into the hands of the English from Boston.

Nevertheless, despite all these misfortunes, New France did succeed in taking root in North America. It struggled to get by, remaining on a virtually perpetual war footing because no one was safe from the Iroquois. However, this was not the only colony to be established in North America. Around 1660, New Holland counted some 10,000 inhabitants and the English colonies some 90,000. New France, for its part, numbered a paltry 3,500 souls. Energetic steps needed to be taken if it was to prosper and expand over vast territories. Those that France did take were essentially military.