Jean Talon was the first intendant of New France, and an experienced administrator. He was sent to Québec in 1665 to set up the royal government and help develop the colony.

On the administrative side, he had to manage the colony‘s budget, ensure soldiers were properly fed and equipped, and set rules to maintain order. To increase the colony‘s population, he invited soldiers to stay in Canada, and then brought over French girls (les Filles du roi, or the “king’s daughters”), so that they could marry and start families. He managed to bring over 1500 people over a five-year period.

Talon also wanted to develop the economy. He built a brewery to encourage colonists to grow hops. He also encouraged people to raise livestock. To keep the habitants busy during the winter months, he encouraged them to grow hemp and flax. He had trees cut down in the forest and exported to the West Indies. In short, Talon did everything he could to ensure that Canada participated in the triangular trade.

When the king went to war in 1672, Talon returned to France. The money that had helped develop the colony was now being used for the army, and many of Talon’s economic projects fell into oblivion. Despite this, Jean Talon gave a boost to the development of New France.

Author:  Léon Robichaud

See also – Traces of the past:

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