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Political & Economic Organizations - Additional Reading

Economic Organization

Expansion West and North

In 1760, the Seven Years’ War between France and England ended with the defeat of France in Quebec on the Plains of Abraham.  This led to a significant shift in both the fur trade and First Nation – European relations in Canada.

Until that point, British settlement in Canada had been limited. In 1749, they established Chebucto (Halifax), their first major settlement.  It was not a promising start.  In the first winter, nearly 1000 of the 2500 settlers perished.  Those who survived faced increasing hostility from the Mi’kmaq, who were alarmed at the permanent settlement in their territory.

With the fall of New France, settlements grew rapidly.  Thousands of New Englanders arrived in Nova Scotia in the 1760s, followed by other immigrants from Ireland, England, and Scotland.  After the American War of Independence, waves of settlers who wished to remain in British territory flooded north.  About 20,000 of them settled in Nova Scotia in 1783 and 1784.

The British settlers were entirely different from the French fur traders.  They wanted land.  Agriculture needed a system of land ownership, fences, roads, railways, supplies, and towns.  Whereas the fur trade economy depended on the First Nations maintaining at least some parts of their traditional ways of life, such as their mobility, agriculture was completely opposed to this lifestyle.

It was a turning point in the history of First Nations and Europeans.  Once, by far the majority of the population, some First Nations found themselves increasingly in the minority.  In addition, disease drastically reduced their populations, weakening their ability to resist the changes overtaking their territories. Particularly in the east, where most of the settlers moved, many First Nations found themselves in conflict with settlements and sometimes were displaced from their traditional lands.