Too many men returned to France at the end of their contracted period. Among the reasons was the lack of women to marry. While some intrepid souls, known as les Filles à marier, made the move earlier without assistance, the need for wives far outstripped the supply. The addition of several hundred soldiers sent to protect the community only exacerbated the problem. The king's interest in the situation was his need to strengthen the colony to maintain a foothold in the region, and for that he needed settlers.
For about a ten year period beginning in 1663 King Louis XIV sponsored young women, aged 16 to 40, by providing them with a dowry of 50 livres tournois or additional goods, and paying about 100 livres in expenses to recruit and transport them across the Atlantic. They received a chest equipped with two caps (coiffe), one of taffeta and one of gauze, a bonnet, gloves, shoes and stockings, belt, shoelaces, a comb, some ribbon, fine cloth and lace. Sewing supplies included white and grey thread, 100 needles, pins, a thimble, scissors and two knives. For their part, the women had to provide references proving their good moral character, as well as birth certificates as proof of age.
The Jesuit Relations notes the arrivals in some of its writings. On 2 October 1665, "The ship from Normandy arrived with 82 girls and women--among others 50 from a charitable institution in Paris, where they have been well taught...", and in 1669-70, "His Majesty... has taken care to send over, a few (eight) months ago, 150 girls, in order that the Soldiers settling in New France may have families here, cultivate the lands, and defend the colony."
Once in Québec the girls were housed together under the supervision and tutelage of a chaperone. Savvy men understood the need for someone who could adapt to the rigors of the life they were to lead and soon showed a decided preference for country girls over city girls. For the most part the program attracted those of limited means, but did include members of the petty nobility who hoped to marry military officers.
A number of our grandmothers took advantage of this opportunity. They are listed below with their year of arrival.
Family of Narcisse Petelle:
- Marie Faucon of Saintonge (1663).
- Esther Coindriau of LaRochelle (1665).
- Marie DeBure of Normandie (1665).
- Barbe Ménard of LaRochelle (1669).
- Anne Lagou of Maine (1670).
- Georgette Richer of Bourgogne (1670).
- Catherine Ducharme of Paris (1671).
- Anne Leper (1673).
Family of Edesse Mondou:
- Lost in Canada, p 85