France-Canada 1604-2004

by E.B. Lapointe

In May of 2003, the then Prime Minister of Canada, Jean Chrétien, said that “We are proud to join France in commemorating the 400th Anniversary of the first French settlement in North America.”

And so, in 1604, Samuel de Champlain established a settlement on Saint Croix, an island at the mouth of the St. Croix River in New Brunswick. It had houses, storehouses, a chapel, and a fortified stockade. A year later, in 1605, the settlement moved across the Bay of Fundy, and was then known as Port Royal. Later, all of the land was declared a colony of France, and known thereafter as Acadie.

On November 6, 2003, the two countries launched the Nouvelle-France (New France) Archives Portal at <> where the “digitization of the historical archives of Nouvelle-France and Canada will become the first two countries in the world to have a database of their shared history entirely available online.”

Currently, there are 600,000 documentary images online and 1,000 cartographic images. By 2005, there will be more than 2,000,000 such images. They cover Canada, Acadia, Newfoundland, the Great Lakes Region of Canada, and the United States, including Louisiana.

The name of the database is “New France: New Horizons on French Soil in America” which is downloaded by Adobe SVG Viewer, along with Internet Explorer.

The genealogy part of the database will be called the Research Program on French Emigration to Nouvelle-France, or the PREFEN Project.

On the Internet, as well as at the Maison de l’emingration francaise en Canada (The House of the Emigration of the French to Canada), there will be a database of 14,000 French citizens who emigrated to Canada before 1760, followed by an in-depth study of the Perche Region of France, which will involve going through the archives of Tourouvre, Mortagne-au-Perche, and Belleme, and some 330,000 notarial acts, as well as 200,000 baptisms, marriages, and burials.

It is to be noted that the Maison is located at Tourouvre, in the Perche Region of Normandy, where many of the French left for Nouvelle-France, such as the Tremblays, the Drouins, and the Pelletiers. It is to opened in May of 2005, and will include an Interpretation Centre, an Exhibition Room, and, of course, a genealogical database.

In July of 2004, work will begin on the Maison Champlain (The Champlain House) in the village of Brouage on the coast of Normandy. It was where Samuel de Champlain was born, and is now a protected historic site.

There will be an Interpretative Centre which will cover nine areas of Champlain’s life and they are -
  1. The Beginnings of New France;
  2. Brouage, Exploring the Seas and Champlain’s Origin;
  3. The Work of Samuel de Champlain;
  4. The Role of Pierre Dugas de Monts;
  5. Champlain: A Skillful Diplomant?;
  6. Navigating in Champlain’s Day;
  7. The Pioneers from Saintonge and Arenis;
  8. Plants, Wildlife of New France; and
  9. Popular Opinion of Champlain Over the Centuries
In June of this year, there will also be the Congrès mondial acadien 2004 <>  and Acadia's 400th anniversary <>. Be sure to re-read my two columns on this website on Acadian history, "The Acadians of Atlantic Canada" at <> and "The Acadian Diaspora" at  <>.

On 26 June, 2004, Canada Post will unveil its Canada-France stamp at  St. Croix, and the Royal Mint in Canada has already officially unveiled its 2004 Silver Dollar commemorating the 400th Anniversary of the first French settlement in North America, which is Saint Croix in New Brunswick.

Designed by Canadian artist Robert-Ralph Carmichael, the coins shows a 17th century ship and Champlain’s drawing of the island settlement. For more information, visit the mint’s location on the Internet at <>.

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    "A former newspaper reporter in Canada's capital, Ottawa, I became interested in writing about genealogy when researching my own ancestor, Andrew Barclay, an American Loyalist from Boston, Massachusetts, early in 1990. Quickly, my interest spread beyond my own family, and by 1994, I was editing a genealogy newsletter and by 1997, I was editing the Sourcing Canada series of books. Since then, I have gone on to write "My Ancestor Was French Canadian" and a series of booklets on Canadian genealogy. I love to travel the Canadian and American countryside looking for interesting people and places to photograph and to write about." - E.B. Lapointe

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