Bougainville on the Canadiens

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Memoir on the State of New France during the time of the Seven Years' War

Translated excerpts of the Mémoire de Bougainville sur l'état de la Nouvelle-France à l'époque de la Guerre de Sept Ans (1757)

Mores and character of the Canadiens

The simple inhabitants would be scandalized to be called peasants. Indeed, they are of a better fabric, have more spirit, more education than those of France. It comes from the fact that they do not pay any tax, that they have the right to go to hunting, fishing, and that they live in a kind of independence. They are brave, their type of courage, as well as that of the savages, is to expose themselves little, to ambush; they are extremely good in the woods, skillful when shotting; they fight by dispersing themselves and covering themselves up behind large trees; it is because of this that at Belle-Rivière they defeated General Braddock. It should be convened that the savages are superior to them in this manner of fighting, and it is the affection which they have for us which until now preserved Canada. The Canadien is tall, glorious, pretentious, kind, gracious, honest, untiring for the hunt, races, voyages which they undertake in the Upper Countries, lazy for farming. Among these same Canadiens, one claims a great difference for war and voyages in Upper Countries between those of the government of Quebec and those of the government of Trois-Rivières and of Montreal, which win over the first, and those of Quebec are better for navigation; among these inhabitants, those who travel in the Upper Countries are reputed the most brave men.

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