The Conquest

The Fate of the Canadian Officers

Something surprising and revealing about this period has to do with the officers in the Compagnies franches de la Marine and the canonniers-bombardiers companies. Among the 63 officers in Montreal at the time of the surrender, 44 chose to return to France. Others were to leave the following year - some perishing in the wreck of the Auguste.

The basic difference between these officers and the other officers in the French regiments is that the Canadians were not "returning" to France - because they had never been there. Descended from gentry that had settled in New France in the seventeenth century, most had been born in Canada. Not only did these officers act as defenders of Canadian society, they were also its leaders; because of their family connections they also had a significant impact on the economy of the colony.

Under these conditions, one may well ask why they left their native land. The fact is simply that some of them found it impossible to live in Canada in anything other than military service. Others could not conceive of withdrawing to their family seigneuries to be governed by the British while awaiting peace between France and England. And, last but not least, these men were all soldiers in the service of their King, and wished to continue their careers in the armed forces and to fight for France - and war continued elsewhere.