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"Early History and French-British Rivalry"
Early History and French-British Rivalry
Author:
Angelia Holliday
Prior to the arrival of Europeans in Canada, the area was inhabited by various peoples who came from Asia via the Bering Strait more than 10,000 years ago. The Vikings landed in Canada c.AD 1000. Their arrival is described in Icelandic sagas and confirmed by archaeological discoveries in Newfoundland. John Cabot , sailing under English auspices, touched the east coast in 1497. In 1534, the Frenchman Jacques Cartier planted a cross on the Gaspé Peninsula. These and many other voyages to the Canadian coast were in search of a northwest passage to Asia. Subsequently, French-English rivalry dominated Canadian history until 1763.


The first permanent European settlement in Canada was founded in 1605 by the sieur de Monts and Samuel de Champlain at Port Royal (now Annapolis Royal , N.S.) in Acadia . A trading post was established in Quebec in 1608. Meanwhile the English, moving to support their claims under Cabot's discoveries, attacked Port Royal (1614) and captured Quebec (1629). However, the French regained Quebec (1632), and through the Company of New France (Company of One Hundred Associates), began to exploit the fur trade and establish new settlements. The French were primarily interested in fur trading. Between 1608 and 1640, fewer than 300 settlers arrived. The sparse French settlements sharply contrasted with the relatively dense English settlements along the Atlantic coast to the south. Under a policy initiated by Champlain, the French supported the Huron in their warfare against the Iroquois; later in the 17th cent., when the Iroquois crushed the Huron, the French colony came near extinction. Exploration, however, continued.


In 1663, the Company of New France was disbanded by the French government, and the colony was placed under the rule of a royal governor, an intendant, and a bishop. The power exercised by these authorities may be seen in the...

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