French-Canadian Culture, Heritage, and Traditions
While some people prefer to study the history of their ancestors and their culture working backwards in time, we feel that if you study the history of New France starting with the 17th century you will have a greater understanding of not only our shared history but of the historical events that greatly influenced our evolving culture. The lives lived by our ancestors was also influenced by where they lived at a particular period of time as well as their occupations. In other words, if you focus too much on the stories about French-Canadian culture or Native culture learned from your parents, grandparents, or great grandparents without reading about their history, you may make assumptions about their culture that are not supported by historical records.
Cultural Métissage: From the founding of New France by Champlain, the French immigrants began to borrow cultural practices from Native Americans. Likewise, the Native Americans began to borrow cultural practices from the French immigrants. See the following PDFs which provide you with examples from primary records and memoires which document cultural métissage, especially the practices in present-day Michigan and the Mississippi Valley from the 17th through the early 19th centuries.
Kent, Timothy J. Ft. Pontchartrain at Detroit: A Guide to the Daily Lives of Fur Trade and Military Personnel, Settlers, and Missionaries at French Posts, Volumes I and II (Ossineke, Michigan: Silver Fox Enterprises, 2001). FCHSM member Timothy Kent’s two volumes about the early history of Detroit provide unparalleled detail about what life was like in the French Posts.
The two-volume set includes the following chapters: Introduction; Historical Overview; Canoe Transportation; Provisions, Cooking, and Eating; Hunting and Warfare, Trapping and Fishing; Buildings, Hardware, and Furnishings; Furnishings of the Church, Vestments, and Activities of the Priest; Woodworking, Metalworking, and Masonryworking; Farming and Gardening; Clothing; Sewing, Laundry, and Cleaning; Grooming and Medical Treatments; Recreation; Trade and Commerce. The appendices contain translations of 32 documents related to life and trade at Detroit. Finally, Kent has illustrated the book with drawings, maps, and photographs.
Websites with mini articles about cultural topics in New France:
Loraine DiCerbo’s Photo of the Chevalier House at Colonial Michilimackinac
Download the PDF Brief Bibliography for researching French-Canadian Housing and Furniture above for an explanation of the building styles used at the Great Lake’s Posts and Forts
During the French Regime (through 1760), the largest canoes were manned by eight-man crews and were introduced in 1730.