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Manoir Dionne, Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière

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.

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 Quebec, 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 a patriotic choice.


When people are hungry, they look for a place to earn a living. In the colony’s early days, New France had a business class consisting mainly of Huguenots. Champlain was a Huguenot. Quebec had very few skilled businessmen. 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 French 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 genuinely 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 seigneurial, or SNRRS (National Commission for the Repurchase of Seigneurial Rentes). The SNRRS would pay the habitants‘ debt in part.

Louis-Alexandre Taschereau, the 14th Premier of Québec

Louis-Alexandre Taschereau is credited with helping eradicate the habitants‘ debt. Payments were required when Duplessis was the premier of Quebec.

Love to everyone 💕

Clarence Gagnon: Quebec and elsewhere

© Micheline Walker
22 August 2020