New France was often at war. At various times, the colony had to fight the Iroquois, the English, and the Fox (an Indigenous tribe from the Great Lakes).

In 1665, during the first Iroquois wars, the King sent over the Carignan-Salières Regiment, which was made up of regular and well-trained soldiers. One-third of these officers and soldiers would eventually choose to stay in New France.

When war broke out anew with the Iroquois in 1684, the King sent over his Troupes de la Marine (Navy Troops). These soldiers, who guarded seaports and ships, were posted in the towns and at the trading posts. In peacetime, the soldiers found work with artisans in the towns or among the peasants in the countryside. Soldiers were recruited in France. Many of them were discharged so that they could marry and settle in Canada. The officers, meanwhile, were chosen from noble families in Canada.

Canadians also helped to defend the colony. All men between the ages of 16 and 60 were members of the militia. Each parish had its own captain of the militia who ensured his men were trained. The militia helped the regular soldiers during battles and transported materials. In the countryside, the militia was also in charge of catching criminals and taking them to the town.

New France also had indispensable allies who came to its defence: its Indigenous trading partners. They took part in the attacks against the English colonies and in the battles against enemy armies.

The territory of New France was vast. To defend it, the soldiers, militiamen and Indigenous warriors had to work together to fight the enemies. 

The Appalachian mountains were also a natural defence against the English threat. The relief of the territory in this region made it more difficult for the military to attack.

Author: Léon Robichaud. Translation and adaptation by LEARN.

See also – Traces of the past: 

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