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Ancient map of New France


New France is a gigantic territory that covers the most part of North America. This territory is divided into three major regions; le Canada (the actual provinces of Québec and Ontario), la Louisiane (that covered most of the American Midwest) and l'Acadie (today renamed New-Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince-Edward-Island). Here are the origins of these words.

QUÉBEC: Two possibilities regarding the origin of the word. The first is that it comes from the Iroquois language and means «Là où le fleuve se rétrécit» (where the river becomes narrower). The second possibility is that it actually comes from the Montagnais word «képak» which means «débarquez» (come ashore). So Champlain would have assumed that the invitation to come ashore was actually the name of the geographic site. Québec was only used as the name of the city, the capital of New France, until the British conquest. The Saint-Laurent valley was then renamed "Province of Québec". (Thank you Shayna for helping me with the translation).

CANADA: This word is of Iroquois origin, precisely from the word «kanata» which signifies « village ». Jacques Cartier, in his efforts to translate, thought it was the name of the entire region. It is important to remember that the name «Canadien» will only be used by the francophone population of the St-Laurent valley, until our anglophone compatriots adopt it as their own towards the end of the XVIII th century. As they felt it was important to have a distinct nomination, the ancestors became «Canadiens Français» (French Canadians) and finally, «Québécois» in the nineteen-sixties.

ACADIE: This word comes either from Arcadia (the fabled Greek province) or from La Cadie (a French adaptation of a Micmac word meaning "fertile place"). In 1755, many Acadiens are deported and will seek refuge in Louisiana to become the first Cajuns (click here for the history of Acadie).




Click here for a portrait of canadian francophonie

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