The King's Soldiers

Military Colonization

The king had another assignment for his troops in Canada - one that had been conceived before their departure but kept secret until the end of hostilities. New France was only thinly populated. In order to rectify this situation, the king hoped to encourage the soldiers of the 24 companies "to remain in the country" by providing them with the means "to establish themselves there." 45 Accordingly, the officers were offered seigneuries. This was most attractive, because to own a tract of land, that is, to become a seigneur, was almost impossible in France. Some 30 officers therefore took up this offer in 1667 and 1668. The titles to most of the new seigneuries were officially turned over to the new proprietors five years later. Some bore the names of their new title holders. Thus the present towns of Berthier, Chambly, Contrecoeur, Boisbriand, Saint-Ours and Sorel commemorate the first seigneurs of those localities, former captains in the Carignan-Salières Regiment. Lavaltrie, Soulanges and Varennes bear the names of former lieutenants, while Brucy and Verchères were ensigns who also left their mark on place names in Quebec.

Ordinary soldiers were also given numerous inducements to stay. Instead of returning to France, possibly to live as serfs, they could own land and establish themselves on it with substantial state assistance in the form of livestock and food. What could be more appealing? Four hundred and four soldiers and 12 sergeants allowed themselves to be persuaded. In France itself, the feeling of confidence engendered by the vigorous action of the king's soldiers certainly seems to have encouraged emigration, for, at about this time, more than 2,000 people decided to leave for Canada. With this considerable influx, the population of New France doubled between 1665 and 1672, rising to 7,000.

These steps did not result in the complete dissolution of the Carignan-Salières Regiment. The two colonels' companies returned to France with Colonel de Salières in June 1668, and the regiment again began recruitment there. 46