By water

Rivers were the main transportation routes in 1645. The St. Lawrence River was the most important transportation route. The trading posts of Tadoussac, Québec, Trois-Rivières and Montréal were all located along its banks. From there, people could take other rivers and lakes to reach the territory’s interior. The biggest constraint? These routes could not be used during the winter! People had to wait for the ice to thaw in the spring. Sometimes rivers also had dangerous rapids. When this was the case, people would have to remove their boats from the water and carry their belongs around to the other side of the rapids.

By land

On dry land, trails were appearing in and around the first settlements. Some of these trails would one day become streets and highways. But the first towns were still very small. Québec was the only settlement to have a network of roads connecting the different parts of town and its surrounding parishes. However, there was only one way getting around on land: by foot! There were still no horses in New France in 1645. If the colonists had to tow loads or a cart, they could use cattle, but these animals were mostly used for ploughing the fields for farming.

Did you know?

The first horse arrived in New France in 1647. It was a gift to Governor Montmagny. It was not until 1665 that the inhabitants finally got horses for ploughing or getting around.


Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social

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