In unprecedented detail, Leslie Choquette narrates the peopling of French Canada across the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the lesser known colonial phase of French migration. Drawing on French and Canadian archives, she carefully traces the precise origins of individual immigrants, describing them by gender, class, occupation, region, religion, age, and date of departure. Her archival work is impressive: of the more than 30,000 emigrants who embarked for Quebec and the Maritimes during the French Regime, nearly 16,000 are chronicled here.
In considering the pattern of emigration in the context of migration history, Choquette shows that, in many ways, the movement toward Canada occurred as a byproduct of other, perennial movements, such as the rural exodus or interurban labor migrations. Overall, emigrants to Canada belonged to an outwardly turned and mobile sector of French society, and their migration took place during a phase of vigorous Atlantic expansion. They crossed the ocean to establish a subsistence economy and peasant society, traces of which lingered on into the twentieth century.
Because Choquette looks at the entire history of French migration to Canada—its social and economic aspects as well as its place in the larger history of migration—her work makes a remarkable contribution in the field of immigration history.
A solid and original migration study.
The historiography of French Canada places the greatest emphasis on those who settled definitively in the colony, especially the 8527 or so who are the ancestors of over six million French-Canadians today. Leslie Choquette redresses the balance in this useful study of the migrants as a while, revealing their origins in the mobile, urban trading centres of the French Atlantic ports… By placing the peopling of French North America in a broader metropolitan context, this study is a welcome addition to the historiography.
Choquette’s research is impressive; she mined every available source on both sides of the Atlantic. Canadian sources include ecclesiastical records such as marriage contracts, lists of patients at the Hotel-Dieu of Québec, ‘testimonials of freedom at marriage’, intended to avoid bigamy, for example, among soldiers fighting in the Seven Years War, censuses and criminal records and official correspondence. She discusses the sources themselves (and certain problems in using them) with admirable precision… The goal of the study is ‘to situate emigration to Canada within the broad context of social, economic, cultural, and political life under the Ancien Régime’. This she accomplishes well.
Choquette’s book fits squarely into a growing body of writing on geographical mobility in early modern history, especially on the peopling process of North America, and contributes significantly to that major field. The socioeconomic, regional, age, and gender analyses are significant, and establish new patterns. The regional mapping and distance analysis are also impressive. The analysis throughout is careful and elaborate, and the subject important… A notable monograph.
A superbly detailed study that offers the most complete, sweeping view of the peopling of French Canada now available and constitutes a model for careful yet imaginative investigations of emigration to all New World societies.
- 409 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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