Encounter between John Guy and the Beothuk people in 1612, engraving by Theodore de Bry or Matthaus Merian, circa 1627-28



Before you begin to explore the ideas in this module you will do a "warm up" thinking activity. Click on the picture link below. You will go to a page containing eight  thinking activities. Choose three, copy the question and provide your answer. When you are done move onto the material below.



Fishing Settlements in Newfoundland

People with Different Ideas

Beothuk Hunter

English Settler

Farming Settlements in Acadia

Completing for Acadia

Settlers in New France

Return to Directory

France and England Compete for Canada

The Fall of New France

Lumber Settlements along the Ottawa River


Read through the material below. Be sure to go onto the links and read through parts of them.



            For many years, England and France took fish, furs, and other resources from the lands they had claimed. Then, they decided to build settlements to keep control of these areas. They began to build permanent settlements in three main areas.

            The English built fishing settlements in Newfoundland . The fishing settlements grew slowly. The English also built trading posts around Hudson Bay . However, settlers did not want to live at the trading posts because the climate was too harsh. These posts were built mainly for business.

            The French built settlements on Canada ís east coast. They called this area Acadia . They also built settlements along the St. Lawrence River and around the Great Lakes . This large area was known as New France .

            As the years progressed, the French and English competed with each other to control the settlements. In the end, England won control over all the European settlements in Canada .

            Most of the settlers were farmers. They obtained food by growing crops. Many settlers also worked in the fishing industry and in the fur trade. Some made a living in the lumber industry. The kind of settlements that grew in early Canada were linked to the land, climate, and resources in each area.



  Fishing Settlements in Newfoundland

            The French and English preserved fish in different ways. The French anchored their ships offshore. The crews fished for months. They salted the cod heavily and stored it on the ships. The crews rarely went ashore, except to get fresh water and firewood.

            The English did not have as much salt as the French. They cleaned and lightly salted the cod. Then they dried it in the sun on racks on the shore. The dried cod was packed in barrels. It did not spoil easily, so it could be shipped for sale to warmer countries. This drawing shows a fishing station on the shore.


            During the 1500s, many fishers from European countries sailed to the Grand Banks each summer to fish. Some English captains began to leave a few crew members on shore each winter to look after their fishing equipment and drying racks. Some people spent winter after winter in Newfoundland . They built houses and Newfoundland became their home.

            In 1610, John Guy came to Newfoundland to start a settlement. Thirty-nine people came with him. They intended to run the fishery. They built one of the first English settlements in Canada at Cuperís Cove on Conception Bay . The settlement grew quickly. After a year, there were sixty settlers. During the spring and summer, settlers salted and dried fish. They also planted vegetables, although Newfoundland was not suited for large farms. The fishers who did not live there scornfully called them ďplanters.Ē

            The English merchants did not want settlers year-round in Newfoundland . They wanted to earn all the profits from the fishery themselves. To scare the settlers away, they sent gangs to tear down their houses. Some of the settlers hid in coves. They built new homes without chimneys so smoke could not give their location away. In spite of the merchants, communities slowly grew along the coast of Newfoundland .



Next Activity:

Find out about the life style of the Acadians. Using the challenge pyramid  choose two different challenges that the Acadians experienced (challenges like finding food or transportation or building a home). Find facts from The Kids' Site of Canadian Settlement and primary sources that tell something about your challenge. Then draw a conclusion about the challenge (e.g.: The group ate a lot of different kinds of foods). Use the challenge pyramid to do this. You will create a pyramid for each challenge.


People with Different Ideas

The Beothuk were the Aboriginal people who lived in Newfoundland when fishers and settlers first visited the area. In the beginning, they had little contact with the Europeans, but there was conflict as European settlements grew.

From the Perspective of a Beothuk Hunter

I donít understand these newcomers. They arrive in ships every spring, but stay only a few months. They leave their equipment on the beach as if they donít want it. If I leave something on someone elseís land, it means I no longer need it or I am presenting it as a gift. When I take what they have left, they shoot at me with their cannons or their smaller guns. They do the same if I take some of their fish, even though they have more than they need to eat. My people always share food with anyone who needs it.

            Now some of these people are starting to build houses and stay all year. A few of them are on the northeast coast, my favorite summer hunting spot. Thatís where I hunt weals, gather birdsí eggs, and catch fish. There wonít be enough food for my family if I canít do these things. The caribou I kill inland in the winter wonít last all year long.



From the Perspective of an English Settler

            I donít understand the Beothuk people. When we leave fishing equipment on the shore for the winter, itís gone when we return in the spring. They even take the fish from our drying racks.

            Iíve decided to build a cabin, plant a garden, and live here all year round. But Iím afraid. The Beothuk donít look or dress the way we settlers do. I donít understand their behaviour. They mainly stay in the woods and donít live the way I do. Iím afraid they might hurt me and my family. Iíll be sure to be prepared in case they come to take our things or attach us.




Farming Settlements in Acadia

            The first farming settlements in Canada were built by French settlers on the Atlantic coast. The French area, called Acadia, included the areas now known as Nova Scotia , Prince Edward Island , and New Brunswick , and part of the Gaspe Peninsula .

            Settlers began coming from France in the early 1600s. They wanted to trade furs with the Miíkmaq and Maliseet peoples. None of the trading posts made enough money to survive, but each time a trading post failed, a few settlers stayed in Acadia to start farms. French settlers arrived until the late 1600s.

            There was rich soil in many parts of Acadia . Fertile soil was contained in the marshlands that lay along the Bay of Fundy, Chignecto Bay , and the Minas Basin . The marshlands extended far inland along the rivers. There were plenty of forests on land and fish and shellfish in the ocean. Acadia was a land rich in resources.

            The new settlers started farms. They cleared fields and grew crops. They also fished and hunted. They made some money in the fur trade and began a lumber industry.

            The Acadians provided most of their own food. They grew vegetables such as peas, potatoes, turnips, carrots, and beans. They caught fish in the rivers and the ocean. The Miíkmaq people taught the first settlers how to hunt moose, deer, and bears. They also showed the Acadians how to trap smaller animals such as rabbits. They showed the settlers which wild plants and berries were safe to eat. In the marshlands, the Acadians grew hay and grain for dairy cattle. The Acadians used milk from the cattle to make cream, butter, and cheese.

            Everyday clothing was made from flax and wool. Acadian settlers bought cloth from the English settlers who lived to the south. They also wove some cloth themselves. They wore flat shoes they made from sealskins and moose hides. When ships came from France , Acadians bought goods from French merchants.

            Acadians often settled near the ocean because it was a means of transportation and a source of food. The nearby forests provided trees for houses and firewood.



Completing for Acadia

France and England competed with each other to control Acadia . Control of the area passed back and forth between France and England many times during the 1600s and 1700s. Often, wars in Europe decided who controlled Acadia .

            In 1713, a peace treaty in Europe divided Acadia between the English and the French. The French kept present-day new Brunswick , Prince Edward Island , and Cape Breton Island, but the English took the area they had begun to call Nova Scotia .

            The English immediately demanded an oath of loyalty from the Acadians in Nova Scotia . However, the Acadians did not want to swear this oath. They would only agree to be neutral. The English accepted this for a time, but they were afraid the Acadians would help the French if war broke out again. In 1755, the English forced all the Acadians to leave their homes in Nova Scotia . Some Acadians scattered along the east coast. In later years, some of the Acadians returned to live in Nova Scotia .

            As English and Scottish settlers moved to Nova Scotia during the 1700s, they started new settlements along the coast. The settlers moved onto the land where the Miíkmaq people lived. As forests were cleared for farms, the Miíkmaq way of life changed. The settlers often built farms near the best fishing spots, where the Miíkmaq had to find other ways to live. Some began to make and sell birchbark baskets. Others went to work for the settlers. Some Miíkmaq worked in the fishing and lumber industries and others worked as guides.



Settlers in New France

Acadia was not the only location for French settlements. The French also built communities along the St. Lawrence River valley in New France . The soil was rich and the river served as a road. Many French settlers started their farms on the lowlands bordering the river.

            The king of France thought the resources of New France would be a source of wealth for France . The settlers would send raw materials to France and they would buy finished goods from French merchants. To help New France grow, the king sent soldiers to end the wars with the English and their trading partners, the Iroquois. He also sent more settlers to farm.

            Towns began to grow in the river valley. The two largest towns were Quebec and Montreal . Quebec started as a fur-trading post but it soon grew to a town of importance. The governors of New France and the Roman Catholic bishop lived there. Quebec was a port city. Furs were loaded onto ships and sent to France to be sold. Montreal became a fur-trading centre because other river routes joined the St. Lawrence River nearby. The fur traders and Aboriginal Peoples could easily bring their furs there.

            The king of France gave pieces of land to important people if they promised to be loyal to him. They had to pay taxes and find farmers to clear and settle the land. The people who owned the land were called seigneurs and this way of owning land was called the seigneurial system.

            Each seigneur divided his piece of land into small farms that were rented to settlers, or habitants. The farms were long and narrow. The land was divided so that each farm bordered the river. The farmers built their homes along the river, which was used as a transportation route. Since the houses were close together, the settlers felt they were part of a community.

            The habitants of New France grew most of their own food. They made most of their clothes and furniture. They built their own houses. They baked bread in outdoor clay ovens.

            Farmers grew wheat, barley, and oats. They paid a fee to grind these grains into flour at the seigneurís mill. Families sold extra grain in Montreal or Quebec . There they bought goods they could not produce. Most families bought molasses, cloth, spices, pots, and pans. Much cloth was hand-woven. Scraps of cloth and old clothing were made into quilts and rugs.

            Farmers in New France usually built their homes from trees cut on their farms. Some families built thick-walled houses with stones they had picked out of their fields. The steep roofs were covered with wooden shingles. A window was built into the roof to give some light to the attic bedroom where the children often slept.

            The king of France allowed only Roman Catholics to settle in New France . Each family paid a tax, called a tithe, to the church. The tithe was usually one-tenth of a familyís income. It was often paid in grain or food.

            Farm life in New France was peaceful. The people lived in small communities. Everyone knew everyone else, and many families were related by marriage. The priest or seigneur tried to settle disputes by talking to the people involved. In larger settlements, the seigneur set up a court. If a problem could not be solved to everyoneís satisfaction, an appeal was made to the higher court in the town of Quebec .



France and England Compete for Canada

            By the middle of the 1700s, France and England had had a series of wars with each other. The two countries had been rivals in  Europe long before they fought to control North America . The two countries often competed with each other to control settlements in different parts of the world.

            England and France had competed over North America for almost a century. Both countries wanted to expand their in North America . There were many battles between the French and English. Some parts of Canada , such as the settlement at Port-Royal, changed hands several times.

            By 1750, there were about 70,000 French people living along the St. Lawrence River . French fur traders had also explored the land west and south of the Great Lakes . They claimed that area for France and built forts and trading posts along lakes and rivers to defend it.

            Most of the English settlers lived along the Atlantic coast of North America, south of Acadia. The two million English settlers wanted more land to build new settlements. They wanted to move west and north to find more farmland. These areas were claimed  by the French, however, and the English found their way blocked by the French forts.


The Fall of New France

            The final struggle for North America began in 1755. Soldiers from English settlements attached four French forts. They were only able to capture one, Fort Beausejour. In 1756, the English attacked again. Once more they were beaten by the French. In 1756, the Seven Yearsí War had started in Europe, and this added to the conflict in North America.

            Although the French were winning at first, they had problems. They had few soldiers and not enough supplies. Fighting took people away from their farms, so food became scarce. The French government sent the Marquis of Montcalm to help, but he argued with local officials at Quebec.

            In 1758, the English began to win victories. England had a powerful navy and sent many troops to North America. They captured Louisbourg and Fort Frontenac, which opened the way up the St. Lawrence. In the summer of 1759, a large English force sailed up the river. They landed near Quebec but could not enter the city because of Montcalmís defenses. On September 13, they discovered a secret path up the cliffs near Quebec. All through the night, the English soldiers quietly moved along this path. When the sun rose, the English army was lined up just outside the walls of the city on the Plains of Abraham.

            Montcalm quickly organized his men and marched out to fight, but his best soldiers could not be found in time. The French fought bravely, but many were killed, including Montcalm. Those left alive retreated to the city and surrendered. Soon after, the other French settlements surrendered to the English. The Seven Yearsí War ended in 1763. The Treaty of Paris was signed, and France gave up its claim to land in Canada.


Lumber Settlements Along the Ottawa River

            In the late 1700s, many English-speaking settlers arrived in Canada. All the farmland along the St. Lawrence River was settled, so the new settlers had to find land somewhere else.

            Some of the newcomers settled in the Ottawa River valley. These settlers found large forests of pine and oak near Chaudiere Falls on the Ottawa River. Philemon Wright started the lumber industry there. He took the first raft of timbers, called the Colombo, down the Ottawa River to Montreal to sell in 1806. By 1820, 1000 people worked in the lumber industry at Wrightstown. People came from Scotland, Ireland, and the United States. There were also French Canadians. All had come to work in the forests and sawmills, and the new settlements that grew.

            Each year, a timber drive began when the ice melted. First, logs cut in the forest were pushed into the river. They plunged down the river to the sawmill. The loggers ran along the banks with long poles, pushing the logs out into the river current to keep them moving.

            At the sawmill, logs were collected and then cut into timbers. To take these timbers down river to sell, they were lashed together into small rafts called cribs. The cribs were joined together to form a huge raft. On the raft, the loggers built bunkhouses and a fire pit for cooking. Long oars were attached to the sides to steer the raft. Sails were used when the wind was blowing down river.

            To get the raft through the rapids, it was taken apart and each crib was guided through on its own. Sometimes the loggers built wooden chutes, like slides, over rapids or falls. Then they did not have to separate the cribs. They could send the whole raft over the rapids.

            When the rafts reached the markets at Montreal or Quebec, the loggers were paid. They went back to their homes or farms until the next logging season.

            Life in a logging camp was not easy. Meals were almost always the same. Loggers ate beans, bread, and strong tea, even for breakfast. Their clothing was warm and hard-wearing. It had to last the winter, because there was no place to buy more. The loggersí winter home was often a large log cabin or shanty. Shanties were put up quickly and were used for only one season. Inside the shanty, bunks were built around the walls. The beds were made of spruce boughs.