New France

Lives Of Women

New France

New France was founded during the age of the great European discoveries in the 16th century. It is the French colony in North America from 1534 to 1760. On a voyage of exploration, Frenchman Jacques Cartier landed in North America and “discovered” the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The territory was already populated by indigenous peoples, who called the land “Canada.” In 1534 Cartier claimed Canada in the name of the king of France. The French presence in the North Atlantic grew quickly through the activities of whalers, cod fishermen, and fur traders. In the early 17th century, the first permanent settlements in New France were established. In 1608 Samuel de Champlain, considered the founder of New France, built a habitation in what would later become Québec City. Not long after, French colonists began to settle in the St. Lawrence Valley and Acadia. The population of New France began to rise very quickly.


How are lives of women in New France different from lives of women today?

Women In New France

A few French women arrived in New France beginning in the early 1600s. Their numbers remained small until 1663, when young women of marriageable age, known as Filles Du Roi, were given free passage to New France and provided with a dowry. The majority of women in the colony, including widows, were quickly married. Women in New France had to work very hard. They had to take care of the house and cook for her family. They also had to take care of the younger children. Sometimes women had 15 children or more. They made clothes for their family too, using cloth that she spun. Girls born in wealthy families are sent to school or have private tutors. On the other hand, girls from poorer families might be sent to school for a short time if their presence is not necessary at home to help their mothers. Very few girls are in fact sent to school at this time. European women living in the country actively participate on the farm. They work in the garden, help with the harvest and also with the animals. Women living in the city keep their households but have other possibilities open to them. They might, sometimes with their husband or alone, have their own business. They might keep taverns or hostels while the majority are servants or maids for wealthy families. Others might be seamstresses or cooks. Another field in which we find European women working for their community is the religious sector. Nuns play an important role in the life of New France. They are the ones who take care of the sick and act as nurses. They are also teachers for young children, mostly girls. Some women (mostly black or native girls) might be kept as slaves. They are bought by wealthy families to act as maids, cooks, or servants for their large households. Women were often put down and looked down upon.

Women Now

There have been huge changes for women in terms of employment in the past decades, with women moving into paid employment outside the home in ways that their grandmothers and even their mothers could only dream of. Today, women have proven they are equal to men. They have discarded their homely image and are making a meaningful contribution to the progress of the nation. Women are working in the labor industry side by side with man by doing hard work. Indera Gandhi was the first woman who became the prime minister of the biggest democratic country in the world, India, and Golda Meir, prime minister of Israel, also proved to the world that intelligence is not confined only to men.


There have been huge changes for women in terms of employment in the past decades, with women moving into paid employment outside the home in ways that their grandmothers and even their mothers could only dream of. Women in New France didn't have the right to education or choice of career. They were often treated unfairly just because of their gender. Now, women have more rights and freedom. We all the the right to education and we can pick our own career paths based on or interests. We have also seen more people standing up for women's rights. On the other hand, women in New France were limited to what they could do with their lives. So in conclusion, women now probably have better lives then women in New France since we have more opportunities. "We can not succeed when half of us are held back." -Malala Yousafzai
(NOTE: This information is only about Canada and Canadian Women)