Previously published in Examiner
Part 5 of the Samuel de Champlain series
To learn more about Canadian or Quebec politics, both McGill University and Concordia University in Montreal offer wonderful political science degrees, that you may want to look into.
For further reading, Montreal’s Concordia University has a wonderful women’s studies program at the Simone do Beauvoir Institute
We now are setting the tone for the three female Governor Generals of Canada, two of which were from Montreal Quebec.
A history of the evolution of Canada is important to the understanding of the role of a governor general. We will look at three male governors at three different periods of Quebec and Canadian history. They mark the stage for governor generals. These men made decisions primarily on behalf of men. Women’s issues were really not considered with any semblance of respect before the 20th century. The actions of these governors affected the lives of women and that is why they are chosen as a preamble before our women governor generals will be discussed.
The fur trappers,were lonely without any women around, married the Native women of the area in the early days. This is way so many french people even today are mixed with first nation people as they are called today. The actual term for native and french is called Metis.
17th Century New France
Women would later come from France to the colony when a real settlement was needed. The fur trappers were called “les couriers du bois,” the name given to them by the Native people, meaning runners of the woods.
The women were Les femmes favorises meaning the King’s special or favorite women. They would come over in the middle to late 1600’s. These women were middle class women and very courageous to travel to a new continent and to a struggling colony; not knowing what terrible conditions they would have to endure. They knew they were commissioned to serve the King, marry the woodsmen and populate the new colony.
On the other hand, les filles du roi, “the king’s girls,” were often poor or widowed and looking to start a new life in a new land. All women, rich or poor, Native or Caucasian were instrumental in developing this new land. Though woman had no rights under the law at this time, the colonies would never survive without the help of women. Even Samuel de Champlain had a wife.