Sociology Index

New France

New France was an area in North America colonized by France. Royal New France or The French North American Empire, extended from Newfoundland to the Rocky Mountains and from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. New France was absorbed within the United States and Canada, with the only vestige remaining under French rule being the tiny islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

In the United States, the legacy of New France includes numerous placenames as well as small pockets of French-speaking communities.

In Canada, institutional bilingualism and strong Francophone identities are more enduring legacy of New France. New France was divided into five colonies, Canada, Acadia, Hudson Bay, Newfoundland and Louisiana, each with its own administration.

The Treaty of Utrecht resulted in the relinquishing of French claims to mainland Acadia, the Hudson Bay and Newfoundland, and the establishment of the colony of Iles du Salut - Ile Royale - or Devil's Island as the successor to Acadia.

Acadia and New France were inhabited by indigenous nomadic Algonquian peoples and sedentary Iroquoian peoples. These lands were full of unexploited and valuable natural resources, which attracted all of Europe. France ceded the rest of New France, except the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, to Great Britain and Spain at the Treaty of Paris.

Britain received the lands east of the Mississippi River, including Canada, Acadia, and parts of Louisiana, while Spain received the territory to the west which was the larger portion of Louisiana, though it returned it to France in 1800 under the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso and French leader Napoleon Bonaparte sold it to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

In the beginning, New France attracted only a handful of people to the colony. There was no economic incentive. French colonies in the Caribbean, which were warmer, were more appealing for people. In New France there were harsh winters many died of scurvy and exposure to cold weather.