Although Canadians did not have much time for art, there were still many forms of artistic expression in New France. There were few known artists, however, and few original creations. Canadian artists primarily reproduced the fashions of France, with certain adaptations.

Arts and the Church

The arts in New France were closely linked with the Church, especially when it came to painting, sculpture and silversmithing. In fact, most of the objects artists made were for churches, such as tabernacles, chalices and decorations. Churches also had many paintings, most of which were painted by priests. For example, Claude François, also known as Brother Luc, painted some 30 paintings for churches in the Québec region in 1670 and 1671.


Music was a part of daily life for Canadians. Music was played on many occasions, such as at weddings and during religious festivals. But there were few professional musicians in New France; instead the habitants played the music. The place where Canadians heard music the most often was at church. In 1661, the government purchased an organ on which Louis Joliet played, but it was not until 1724 that the first professional musician settled in New France. His name was Jean Girard and he was an organist, singing teacher and schoolmaster.

Did you know

The missionaries often used religious songs to try to convert Indigenous Peoples to Catholicism. With help, they translated several French songs into various Indigenous languages so that Indigenous people could understand their meaning.

Author: Alexandre Lanoix. Translations and adaptions by LEARN.

See also – Traces of the past:

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