System of Companies

In 1542-1542, Jean Francois de La Rocque, Sieur de Roverval, tried to establish a French colony at the foot of Cap Rouge, upstream from Stadacona, and called the settlement France-Roy. But, despite all his efforts, he did not succeed. After that, there were no serious attempts to set up a colony on the banks of the St. Lawrence for a long time.

It was not until the early seventeenth century that Europeans were again seen in Canada. While fishermen visited the banks of Newfoundland and Basques hunted whales in the St. Lawrence estuary, mostly near the Saguenay, the French Kings hesitated to use their royal coffers for settling a colony in Canada, or New France as the land was called.

Instead, their Christian Majesties used a system of privileges. So, in exchange for the exclusive right to engage in the fur trade in Canada, companies made a commitment to bring to New France missionaries to evangelize native peoples and settlers to reinforce the presence of France in America.

Shrewd as this policy appeared, it led only to disappointment. In 1663, after many years of implementation of this system, Louis XIV, at the instigation of his minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert, decided to end the power of the companies and to take colony under his direct rule. All this time, however, the French still explored New France and founded Tadoussac, Quebec, Trois-Rivieres, Montreal, and a few other posts.

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