One could not divide the thirty acres between all male children. One male child was expected to become a priest, but other male children needed land and could not move to Ontario. After Confederation, the population of Canada, except Quebec, had to be English and Protestant. Orangists prevented French-speaking Canadians from settling elsewhere. They could no longer be educated in French. That was a disaster.
In order to earn a living, many Québécois moved North and cleared land. They had to “faire de la terre,” make land. Some tried to settle in or near Sudbury, Ontario. The school question surfaced. However, some went to Abitibi-Témiscamingue. This area was located in eastern Ontario, but it became part of Québec where the landless found land they could clear. The Church favoured “making land.” This is what le curé Labelle, an influential parish priest, suggested to the landless. It was the patriotic choice.
When people are hungry, they look for a place where they can earn a living. Quebec had very few skilled businessmen. In the early days of the colony, New France had a business class consisting of Huguenots mainly. Champlain was a Huguenot. They left Quebec in 1685, when Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes (1598). They had to leave New France because Cardinal Richelieu started building absolutism. In Richelieu’s opinion, the requirements for absolutism were one King, one language and one religion. He established la Compagnie des Cent-Associés, the Company of One Hundred Associates.
The Seigneurial System
The Seigneurial System had not been truly abolished in 1854. The habitants who had not bought their thirty acres had to pay rent à perpétuité, permanently. This was a form of slavery: debt bondage. In 1935, the Québec government created the Syndicat national du rachat des rentes seigneuriales, or SNRRS (National Commission for the Repurchase of Seigneurial Rentes). The SNRRS would pay the habitants‘ debt in part.
Louis-Alexandre Taschereau is credited with helping eradicate the habitants‘ debt. Payments were required when Duplessis was premier of Quebec.
I will end this post as I have difficulty writing it.
Love to everyone 💕
© Micheline Walker
22 August 2020