Daily life in New France was subject to the hardships of a harsh climate, which decimated the first settlers, and to the insecurity of the constant threat of armed conflict with the English and the Aboriginal peoples. The population was composed initially of small, isolated groups of men travelling throughout the country. An organized society did not take shape until the creation of the royal colony in 1663, with the establishment of an administration by the Church and the monarchy, the arrival of new immigrants (who brought with them the traditions of various provinces of western France), and the development of urban communities centred around hospitals and educational establishments. To some degree, this early social structure mirrored that of France under the Ancien Régime. The elite consisted of nobles, which included military officers and government officials, and merchants. The hierarchy was strict, and all were obliged to respect the differences between groups and individuals. Signs of distinction such as manners, attire and education were instant indicators of a person's social status, and the regulations governing everyday life were designed to ensure that these were maintained. The social structure in the colony was less rigid than in France, and before long, individual status became less a matter of birth than of merit, talent and usefulness. The spectrum of social positions narrowed, and the population gradually integrated characteristics that reflected the influence of the land, the climate, and contact with the Aboriginal peoples. During the 18th century, most of the colony's inhabitants defined themselves as Acadians or Canadians

A view of the Orphan's or Urseline Nunnery, taken from the Ramparts by Richard Short, September 1, 1761
CA ANC C-000358
Daily Life
The Population
The Nobility
The Important Stages of Life
The Canadians and Their
The Regulation of
Everyday Life
Medical Care
Taverns and Inns