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Early Colonization

What was the most significant contribution of church missionaries and of fur traders to the colonization in New France prior to 1663?

Outcomes References Related Resources

Suggested Activities

In this challenge, students explore the forces of colonization in New France by determining the most significant contributions that church missionaries and fur traders made to the development of pre-Confederation Canada. See Considering the Impact on Issues or Events (Modelling the Tools) for detailed instructions on teaching and assessing the tools for thoughtful analysis of this topic.

Activity 1
Present students with information about the territory inhabited by various First Nations people before significant colonization by the French. Ask students to represent this information on an outline map of New France. Consult a textbook or other print or electronic sources, such as an atlas of Canada, for a suitable map. Describe the establishment of French settlements in the period up to 1650 and ask students to add these sites to the map.

Activity 2
Introduce the efforts made by Europeans to colonize the area and describe the strategies used to bring about this effect; e.g., increase immigration population, control local economy, impose European-style institutions. Invite students to research the effects on colonial development of two significant forces at the time–the fur trade and missionary work. After researching and rating each group's colonizing efforts, ask students to decide which colonization strategy of the traders and which colonization strategy of the missionaries contributed most significantly to the colonization of what was to become New France.

Arrange for students to share their findings and explain their conclusions.

Invite students to explore the First Nations, Métis and Inuit perspectives in the fur trade by considering the following questions:

  • What was the most compelling reason for the Aboriginal peoples to become involved in the fur trade?
  • How did participating in the fur trade affect the livelihood of Aboriginal peoples?
  • To what extent did the involvement of Aboriginal peoples in the fur trade contribute to the colonization of New France?

You may wish to jigsaw the questions and encourage students to work in groups to research and prepare answers to their assigned questions. Where possible, invite Aboriginal Elders to share their perspectives on their ancestors' involvement in the fur trade.

Adapted from Early Contact and Settlement in New France, edited by Ruth Sandwell, Catriona Misfeldt and Roland Case. (Richmond, BC: The Critical Thinking Consortium, 2002, pp. 61–73 (ISBN 0–86491–242–0).

Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
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