Life in New France

Life in New France  


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Let us proceed, with caution, into a small segment of French-Canadian history as it was in the early years of New France, or as our ancestors saw and lived it. However, a little warning pertaining to the genealogists that want to go back to the time of William the conqueror; the official parish records that exist do not go as far as that. For example, England begins in 1538, Austria 1542, France 1334 (scattered), United States (St-Augustine) 1594. The first marriage in Canada, 1618, was Joseph-Marie-Etienne Jonquest, of Normandy, married Anne Hebert, daughter of Louis Hebert, the first settler in Canada, and of Marie Rollet, in a little chapel erected in 1615 and was situated at what is known today as Petit-Champlain Street.

You should be proud of your ancestors because the life they led showed faith and courage, and it was a rugged one. Also, let’s remember that in those early years in Canada, our forefathers had only their wives and their rifles. Electricity, trains, cars, gas, etc, simply did not exist. Their only mode of travel was with the little canoe, as everyone lived along the river.

Mother was the one who pulled the plow as dad was busy pushing it with one hand while holding his rifle in the other. The treacherous Indians and packs of wolves were everywhere. Their days were long; in the evenings while mother was dipping little strings in the wax to make candles for the next day, and also spinning and weaving; dad was busy making his furniture, cutting wood for the next day to keep the fireplaces going; hunting the animals for their precious meats and skins badly needed to cover the windows and floors as a safeguard against the terrible winters that they had in the New World. Large families were a necessity as the children could help in the many tasks. Neighbors were almost nonexistent.

The preceding is an excerpt from the introduction to the publication Your Ancient Canadian Family Ties by Reginald L. Olivier, Genealogist, Sanford, Maine; published by The Everton Publishers, Inc., P.O. Box 368, Logan, Utah 84321

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