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…