Women of Early Canada

The female immigrants of New France were categorized into two
groups.Thefirst group were the religious figures that came to enhance the
religious aspects of new settlers.These women began to arrive in 1639 and
continued on into the 18th century.The second group were the devotes and
the filles du roi, brought over to marry the settlers and increase the population
of the newly developing nation.They arrived in New France between 1663
to 1673.The lives of these women differed greatly to that of the women in
the old country.It is said that the women in New France had many privileges
that didn’t exist in Old France.Jan Noel’s article, “New France:Les Femmes
Favorisees”and Jacques Mathieu’s article, “New France:The French in
North America, XVI-XVIIITH Century,” discuss the role of women in New
France and how privileged their lives were.
“Many a man, observing the women of New France, was struck by the
advantages they possessed in education, cultivation and that quality called
esprit or wit.”1Historians have found documents that describe the way
women in New France were seen by men of Old France.”A young woman
had lost her understanding and reason because she had given herself for
reading and writing, and written many books,” Winthrop said, “If she had
kept her place and had attended to household affairs, or such things as
belongs to women; and not gone out of her way, and calling to meddle in such
things as are proper for men, whose minds are stronger, etc., she had kept her
wits, and might have improved them usefully and honourably in the place
God had sent her.”2 This quote found in John Withrop’s journal, often is used
to encapsulate the male attitude toward women in New France.When the
men of France came to New France as visitors or traders, they were quite
uncomfortable and openly disapproved of the women and their role in society.
Women in New France w…

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