Daily Life in New France


Married Soldiers

This incident shows that a considerable number of soldiers married despite the regulations forbidding them to do so. In particular, most sergeants were married. Other soldiers, already married, waited impatiently to be released from military service, a wish that was granted to them when a especially large crop of new recruits arrived from France. In 1747, one-third of the troops were either married or too old or infirm to serve, according to Governor General La Galissonnière. The bishop was certainly correct when he claimed that many soldiers were cohabiting with their female companions while awaiting permission to marry.

The soldiers posted to distant forts also need to be considered. It was doubtless their wives who were "necessary for services in the garrison" as "bakers, washerwomen, or other domestic servants." 107 In the most remote small forts, some soldiers apparently married Amerindian girls in accordance with Amerindian marital customs, a practice commonly called marrying "country style." It was thus evident that soldiers should be free to marry, and that is what La Galissonnière recommended in 1747.

Originally, the population of Louisbourg was composed primarily of soldiers who had become habitants. However, the situation evolved differently than in Canada because it was very difficult for ordinary soldiers to find girls to marry there. Although they were encouraged to stay, the vast majority of discharged soldiers on Île Royale therefore took advantage of their free passage back to France.