A House in New France

In New France, when immigrants coming from France settled in a new land, they usually tried to make their living conditions as much as possible like those they knew in their old country.

Along the old roads and the river-side of Quebec people might see the same kind of houses that were to be found in Normandy and Brittany, as well as in other parts of France from which the settlers came.

The earliest houses were often only rough shacks made of logs, but as the land was cleared and the farmers were able to make a little money, better houses were built, still simple, but stone and mortar of squared logs were used in their construction.

Sometimes the entire outside of the building was covered with a rough plaster, which received a coat of whitewash from time to time. The houses in New France were oblong, with sloping roofs, often made of thatch.

Sometimes the roof curved outwards to cover the veranda also. This was a good arrangement, because in winter the heavy show would slide off without blocking the door. House built in this way are still seen along some old roads. If a visitor entered one of these houses, he would find himself in a very large room – the parlour. At one end would be an open fireplace; at the other, a door leading to the bedroom. The parlour was the living-room of the house and served as dining-room and kitchen, as well as for social purposes. From the roof hung ears of yellow corn, and in a dry cupboard near the fireplace, was the family supply of maple syrup and sugar. Home-made furniture, such as tables, shelves, and chairs, would be found, with, sometimes, one or two pieces of better furniture or a clock brought from France.

In one corner of the room a polished spinning-wheel stood, which was rarely still, as all the thread woven into cloth for the family clothing had to be made in the home by hand. Upstairs was a large attic, usually scantily furnished. A heavily built loom stood by a window, and rough wooden cots for the children were set under the sloping caves.

The stairway leading the attic was steep. In the dooryard was the stone oven in which the bread was baked.

The oven was a stone chamber in which a fire was lighted and allowed to burn until the stones became very hot. The fire was then raked out, and the loaves were put in top bake by the heat of the rocks.

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