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CHAPTER VIII.

SOCIAL CONDITIONS UNDER THE
COMPANIES.

 

The Throughout this period, as we have seen, Population. nearly all the early attempts at settlement were made by trading companies. This plan was followed by other nations as well as by France. But the companies did not keep their promises to bring out settlers. Twenty years after the foundation of Quebec there were only two hundred white people in Canada. The Hundred Associates began well, but when the company was broken up, in 1663, the whole white population of Canada numbered only about 2.500, and could easily have found shelter in one small town.

At first only fur-traders and missionaries came to New France, but after a while a few families settled in the country. Most of the people belonged to the lower classes, but a few were untitled noblemen, who in France had many privileges. Some of these " gentilhommes " did good service as soldiers and explorers, but others were useless and idle. Many were exceedingly poor, but thought it beneath them to trade or work with their hands. At last the king gave them leave to open shops without losing their rank, and in time many ceased to pride themselves upon being noblemen.

Buildings.   During this period the few private houses

were small and mean. They were roofed with pine boards or thatched with grass, and were often surrounded with palisades as a defence against the

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