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Organization > National Defence

Subject > Politics and Society > Life on the Homefront

Resource Type > Document

Date > 1600

To the Sound of the Drummer's Beat

Type: Document

Fortified towns like Quebec, Montreal, Trois-Rivières and Louisbourg were all governed by military staffs. The lives of French soldiers and Canadian civilians alike were regulated by the different drum beatings of the garrison, from La Diane at dawn to La Retraite at sunset.

Site: National Defence

Twelve Hundred New Men

Type: Document

The addition of 1,200 new Frenchmen to a colony of only 3,200 made a big impact on the community. The Régiment Carignan-Salières was quickly deployed to fortifications along the Richelieu River.

Site: National Defence

Poor Officers and Food

Type: Document

Officers with no income beyond their military pay would have to live very frugal lives. All officers were provided with much the same rations as the common soldiers, with some extras. In some more remote posts, officers' wives were given rations as well.

Site: National Defence

Nutrition

Type: Document

When the calorie content of the basic military ration is calculated, it seems that soldiers were under-nourished. In practice, men made use of local resources (game, gardens) to obtain extra food. A Swedish traveller to Canada in 1749 found the men plump and in good health.

Site: National Defence

Table Manners

Type: Document

Officers in New France would eat with the manners of the upper classes. There were changes from the seventeenth to the eighteenth century, but every gentleman had to 'know how to behave at the table.'

Site: National Defence

One Big Family

Type: Document

There was a close liaison between the officers and the commercial class in New France. Marriage alliances cemented families together, and a kind of colonial military caste began to form in the colony in the eighteenth century.

Site: National Defence

Married Soldiers

Type: Document

Despite the regulations to the contrary, it seems many soldiers were part of unofficial marriages. Most sergeants were married, for instance. In the remote posts of the west, some men married Amerindian women - what was called 'marrying country style'.

Site: National Defence

Marriage and Colonization

Type: Document

Soldiers who finished there term of enlistment were often encouraged to marry and settle in New France, to increase the population of the colony. These men were an important source of new colonists, and were given land to start farms.

Site: National Defence

Chasing Women

Type: Document

The attraction of soldiers to young women was a fact of military life, and comment was made about the 'licentious' behaviour of the troops. In addition, the towns of New France had brothels and prostitutes that were popular with soldiers who had cash to spend.

Site: National Defence

Permission to Marry

Type: Document

Soldiers required the permission of the military authorities to marry, and this was rarely given in New France. At one stage during the early eighteenth century, the bishop of Quebec tried to overturn this practice, but the King of France eventually ruled against him.

Site: National Defence