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The French in North America

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1 The French in North America
Chapter 2 The French in North America

2 In Section 1 you’ll investigate questions like these and look at the
society created by French colonists in Canada hundreds of years ago. As you complete the work in Section 1 you’ll • learn why and how France colonized parts of North America • investigate how the newcomers interacted with First Peoples • come to understand the economic system of the French colonies • watch the expansion of French influence in North America • develop your skills in working with thematic maps

3 Europe “Discovers” the Americas
You’ve probably heard all your life that Christopher Columbus “discovered” the Americas, but this isn’t exactly true for two reasons. One reason is that at least some people from Europe had known about North America for hundreds of years before Columbus. The Norse, sailing from Scandinavia, had actually settled in parts of what’s today Canada about 500 years before Columbus’s first voyage. Eventually, though, they abandoned their settlements. At an unknown point after that, it seems likely that some people in Europe discovered the astounding fish stocks in Newfoundland’s Grand Banks. There’s evidence that they started coming in the summers to fish—though they kept secret about just where the fish were coming from. These fishers likely set up summer camps on land, but they never attempted to settle. But the second—and more important—reason why the Columbus story isn’t accurate is that when he and other Europeans arrived, people, as you know, had been living here for thousands of years. Columbus “discovered” America in the same way that you might be said to “discover” a town you’d never before visited by driving down a highway for the first time.

4 In the United States, people get a holiday each October on Columbus Day in honour of the “discovery” of the Americas. Many Aboriginal Americans, however, see Columbus Day as a time to mourn rather than celebrate. Explain why they might feel this way. This question is all about point of view. People can often have extremely different points of view on an issue depending on who they are and how they relate to it. To most Americans(and Canadians) of European ancestry, the discovery of the Americas by Europeans was a beginning. It was the beginning of a wonderful new age of exploration, colonization, trade,and commerce that created the modern world as we know it today. However, for First Nations people, this same discovery was the end of their world as they knew it. Europeans brought with them disease, guns, and an unquenchable thirst for land. They arrived with a belief that non-Europeans were savages who had virtually no rights and whose cultures, languages, spirituality, and ways of life were of no particular value

5 Christopher Columbus, who was leading a Spanish expedition, may
be generally credited with the fifteenth-century rediscovery of the Americas. However, Columbus landed much farther south than Canada—in what is today Cuba. It was the French who first explored and settled in parts of North America that later became Canada. This is why the Francophone influence is so strong in Canada today. But what brought them here? More importantly, what kind of society did they create when they arrived—and why? To begin your investigation, read pages 30 and 31 in Voices and Visions, being sure to study the Imperialism diagram on page 31 carefully

6 Colonies, Empires, and Imperialism
A colony, as you’ve read, is an area of land controlled by another country. By around the beginning of the seventeenth century, France was trying to set up colonies in the northern part of what used to be called the New World—the Americas. This was all part of a process whereby countries in Europe were establishing empires for themselves. These empires were networks of colonies all controlled by the “home country” (or “mother country”) back in Europe. This process of establishing empires is called imperialism. In this section you’ll be investigating the reasons why France and other European countries set about establishing empires. For the moment, though, think about what the First Nations people in North America would have thought about the whole business. Try this: Imagine that one day aliens from another planet arrive in your neighbourhood or town or farm. Imagine that they look like us physically but are almost incomprehensibly different in their customs, laws, and behaviour. Next, imagine that they instantly claim the land as their own and start building homes and landing pads—and that they generally do whatever they want with almost no regard to the interests of the people who live there. Perhaps these aliens offer you and your neighbours a few useful items in trade, but imagine that more and more of them keep landing in their spaceships. You have no idea where they’re coming from or how many there are or why they’re here. The feelings you’d have in that situation are probably very much like those of the First Nations people who witnessed the European colonization of North America hundreds of years ago.

7 Pretend that you’re witnessing the arrival of aliens as described above. Write a diary entry explaining how you’d feel. What questions would you be wondering about? What fears would you have? How would you respond to the aliens? In friendship? In anger? In hopes of making new friends—or in dread of being pushed out of your home?

8 Imperialism, as you’ve seen, was a system whereby the home country
sent people out to settle in other parts of the world. The settlers would farm the land, mill the flour, build the houses, care for the sick, teach the young, and perform all the other day-to-day tasks the colony needed done. And these people generally expected to stay in their new home, have children, and develop the colony. But there would also be people sent from the home country to govern the colony along with soldiers to protect it. Look again at the Imperialism diagram on page 31 of Voices and Visions. Establishing colonies cost European countries a lot of money, so they must have had good reasons for creating them. According to the diagram, what economic benefit did the home country get from having a colony? The home country received raw materials from their colonies—that is, materials that came straight from the land like fish, furs, metal, and timber. These products were much cheaper to obtain this way than through trade with other countries. Of course, there were other reasons for establishing colonies—as you’ll see soon.

9 You’re about to take a closer look at the colonies France set up in what is today Canada. In Chapter 1 you used different sorts of organizers as you read your textbook, and the Think Ahead box on page 31 suggests yet another sort of organizer. This one has the advantage that it makes you ask questions (the “Wonder” column) that will focus your reading and start you thinking about things you would like to know. Set up a chart like the one on page 31 of Voices and Visions. It doesn’t have to be long; just think about some of the things you’d like to learn about the French exploration and colonization of North America and write them in the “Wonder” column of your chart. For example, you might wonder why anyone in France would leave his or her home forever to move to the wilds of the New World.

10 European Imperialism one reason why Europeans came to the Americas was to look for raw materials, but there were other reasons too. Maybe comparing the interest in exploring space today can help us understand how Europeans were thinking in the late fifteenth century, when exploration of the unknown parts of the world really began. So far human beings have only managed to get as far as the moon, but there’s always talk about exploring Mars and other planets; and we’ve sent unpiloted probes deep into our solar system. Take a few minutes to list as many reasons as you can why governments today are willing to spend huge amounts of money—and why some people are willing to take enormous risks with their lives—to explore space. curiosity—a desire to expand their knowledge • adventure • just because space is there • military power and national security • prestige • the fear that others will get there first and take control • the possibility of obtaining raw materials—like minerals • the possibility of encountering intelligent life forms • the possession of the technological ability to go into space

11 The reasons why Europeans began exploring the globe beginning in the late fifteenth century were much (though not entirely) like those for space exploration today. Curiosity was a big reason. So was the desire for military power and prestige. There was also the thirst for adventure and that human desire to do things no one (well, no European) had done before. And just as our technology today is allowing us to take a few little steps into space exploration, the European sailing ships of the time—along with navigation devices—were allowing people to head off into the unknown with some degree of confidence. The main reason why some countries in Western Europe sent explorers off into the oceans when they did was a desire for trade and the wealth it brought. For centuries these nations had traded with countries in Asia for things like spices, silk, and china, but there were problems with the routes the traders used. If you were living in Western Europe in the 1400s and you wanted to find a new, cheaper, and safer route to Asia, what possibilities might you think of? Use the map on page 33 of Voices and Visions to help suggest a few. One possibility would be to travel south from Europe all the way around the southern tip of Africa and then up into the Indian Ocean. This is, in fact, what the Portuguese did. Another way might be to go north around Scandinavia and Russia, but ice and freezing cold would make this route impossible.

12 a. Portugal isn’t shown on the map on page 33 of your textbook.
As you’ve seen, countries like Portugal and Spain were looking primarily for routes to Asia. But once the Americas had been discovered, it didn’t take people too long to figure out that even if they weren’t the fabled Far East, they had riches of their own. To European eyes, the Americas were basically empty spaces there for the taking. Turn back to page 33 and read up to the top of page 35. Then answer the questions that follow. You’ve read that before Columbus, who was sailing for Spain, headed west across the Atlantic on a quest for a new route to Asia, the Portuguese had explored a different route. a. Portugal isn’t shown on the map on page 33 of your textbook. b. What route did the Portuguese travel to get to Asia?

13 Answers a. Portugal is to the west of Spain on the Iberian Peninsula. In case you had problems locating it, you can see it on the map on page 35 of Voices and Visions—the lightgreen country next to Spain. b. The Portuguese sailed south all the way to the southern tip of Africa. They went around the tip and up the east side of Africa—and then over to India.

14 Four main reasons why countries in Western Europe suddenly began expanding their empires:
• economic gain • competition for power and prestige • a desire to bring the Christian religion to non-Christian people • curiosity Of these reasons, the desire to convert people to Christianity is the only one we haven’t talked about yet. What does this desire tell you about the beliefs and attitudes of Europeans of the time? Like many people of a variety of religious faiths, most Christian Europeans of the time believed that theirs was the one true religion. On the one hand, it might be argued that this belief reveals a sense of superiority and a hatred for other faiths. But on the other hand, the fact that these people felt it their duty to convert other people also demonstrates concern for those people. They truly believed that they had to do what they could to bring the truth to people whom they saw as less fortunate than themselves.


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