Education was almost exclusively the responsibility of the Church. In the cities and towns (Montréal, Québec, Louisbourg and Trois-Rivières), instruction was provided by religious orders such as the Ursulines, the Charron Brothers, the Sulpicians and the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame. Primary schools were created to teach reading, writing and arithmetic, and by 1760, there were about 30 schools for boys and 15 schools for girls. The schoolteachers, who were sometimes itinerant, came under the control of the parish priests. There were also two trade schools, one in Saint-Joachim and one in Montréal, where young men could learn a profession or craft. New France's only institution of higher learning was the Jesuit College in Québec, where there was a chair in hydrography and professors who taught law, chemistry, physics, geometry and the art of navigation. Education was accessible to a minority of the population, and very few people were able to sign their name. Only a few members of the elite possessed a library.

Concession of land by the Compagnie de la Nouvelle-France to the Jesuits for the building of a college in Québec, March 18, 1637