21 March

Jean Talon (1625-1694)

First Census Taken

One of the best moves France made in the development of Canada was to appoint Intendants to help the governors. They were really business managers and some of them were excellent. The best was Jean Talon; the worst was François Bigot. Their stories will be told later.

The first Intendant was appointed on March 21, 1663. He was Louis Robert, but he did not come to Canada at all! Talon's first term as Intendant began in 1665. He took the first census of Canada, also on March 21 the following year. The tabulation showed 3,000 people! English colonies to the south were growing far more quickly. The English (as they were until the Act of Union with Scotland made them British) brought their wives and children to Virginia and New England. Most of the French who came to Canada never had any intention of staying, and did not bring their families; they were great explorers and fur traders, but they wanted to return to their own homeland.

The English colonists who went to what is now the United States did so to escape restrictions at home. They set up their own governments and controlled their own affairs. When London tried to interfere they often disregarded its instructions.

On the other hand, Canada was ruled by the King of France. He appointed the governors and high officials and told them what to do. He even drew on his own funds to pay for the development of Canada. When the king lost interest, or money was tight owing to war, the development of Canada suffered. Eventually, when France lost Canada to Britain, Voltaire shrugged it off by saying: "The King must amuse himself and Canada was one of his playthings."

Even so, the 3,000 French who were in Canada in 1666 began to have good times. There were hardships and great danger from the Indians, but they evolved a way of life that made them better off than their counter parts in France.


21 March

-1629    Champlain was appointed Richelieu's lieutenant in Canada.

-1663    An ordinance was issued stating that all lands not cleared in three months must be returned to the Crown.

-1821    A medical school was incorporated at Montreal. The school later became Part of McGill University.

-1864    The Sandfield Macdonald-Sicotte government was replaced by the Taché-John A. Macdonald government.

-1896    A commission was appointed to try to settle the Manitoba separate schools problem.

-1911    The Duke of Connaught was made Governor-General of Canada.

-1918    Germany began an offensive that came near to victory in World War I.

-1955    Fire destroyed fifty-five buildings at Nicolet, Quebec.