Daily Life in New France



The soldiers' basic diet was very plain. It was heavy and monotonous, of questionable quality at times, but on the whole acceptable. Food was provided in return for a fixed deduction from the soldiers' pay, whatever its true cost. Soldiers were therefore protected against increases in food prices.

At the end of the seventeenth century, the basic daily rations in New France were a pound and a half (735 g) of bread, a quarter of a pound (122 g) of salted bacon or half a pound (244 g) of salted beef, and a quarter of a pound (122 g) of dried peas. The meat was replaced by fish on the days of abstinence prescribed by the Church.

This diet varied somewhat in the different colonies and over the years. On Île Royale, for example, 16 g of butter a day and molasses were added to the basic rations so that soldiers could make beer. In Canada, peas were eliminated in the 1730s but introduced again around 1750 because some troops were quartered in barracks. At the same time, 16 g of butter were added to the daily rations. Bread was made from Canadian wheat, which soldiers wanted because it tasted better. During the 1730s, flour was even exported to make bread for soldiers on Île Royale and in Martinique.

When soldiers were on a campaign, their normal rations of salted bacon and peas did not change, but they received 612 g of biscuits a day instead of bread, and in Canada, they were given "a little brandy and tobacco." 90 Around 1750, it was decided that this diet was insufficient, in view of the energy expended by soldiers. The bread ration was increased to 972 g and the meat ration to 244 g of salted bacon or 489 g of salted beef. The ration of peas remained unchanged, and the rations of brandy and tobacco were also maintained.