A Mari Usque Ad Mare: A History of Canada


"A beautiful country, for the taking."
- Jacques Cartier, 1547 voyage to Canada

"A small, unbearable island [Île Sainte-Croix]. We determined to settle elsewhere, forming our camp at Port-Royal."
- Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons, 1604

"The settlement in question shall be located at the large island south of the mouth of the Richelieu River, it shall be guarded profusely and form the anchor to our country's ambitions."
- Samuel de Champlain, 1623

"Pentagouet shall form the border of Acadia, bounded to the north and west only by Quebec, to the east by the waters of the Atlantic, and to the south by the English."
- Charles de Menou d'Aulnay, 1644

"Thus we resolve to establish a settlement at the confluence of these [Ohio, Monongahela and Allegheny] rivers, protected by a Fort, Beauharnois."
- Sovereign Council of New France, 1739

"His Most Christian Majesty renounces all pretensions which he has heretofore formed or might have formed to Nova Scotia or Acadia in all its parts, and guaranties the whole of it, and with all its dependencies, to the King of Great Britain: Moreover, his Most Christian Majesty cedes and guaranties to his said Britannick Majesty, in full right, Canada, with all its dependencies, as well as the island of Cape Breton, and all the other islands and coasts in the gulph and river of St. Lawrence, and in general, every thing that depends on the said countries, lands, islands, and coasts, with the sovereignty, property, possession, and all rights acquired by treaty, or otherwise, which the Most Christian King and the Crown of France have had till now over the said countries, lands, islands, places, coasts, and their inhabitants, so that the Most Christian King cedes and makes over the whole to the said King, and to the Crown of Great Britain, and that in the most ample manner and form, without restriction, and without any liberty to depart from the said cession and guaranty under any pretence, or to disturb Great Britain in the possessions above mentioned. His Britannick Majesty, on his side, agrees to grant the liberty of the Catholick religion to the inhabitants of Canada: he will, in consequence, give the most precise and most effectual orders, that his new Roman Catholic subjects may profess the worship of their religion according to the rites of the Romish church, as far as the laws of Great Britain permit."
- Article IV of the Treaty of Paris

"a vast Empire, on which the sun never sets"
- Sir George Macartney, 1773

"Quebec shall have her borders extend [...] to the south and west buffering against the rivers Canawagh [Kanawha], Ohio, and Illinois, up along the east bank of the river Des Plaines until such river turns to the north, henceforth the border shall be extended in a line to the lake Michigan. [...] to the east by the Appalachian mountains."
- Quebec Act, 1774

"Quebec shall be divided into the Provinces of Lower Canada [Quebec], Upper Canada [Ontario], and Southern Canada [Eire]..."
- Constitutional Act 1791

"Resolved, that all French land of Louisiana north of 31 degrees shall be ceded to the United States of America..."
- Louisiana Purchase, 1803

"The United States of America henceforth and hereafter does solely surrender all claims of land in Columbia [...] the borders of which shall be defined by joint-commission consisting of three British, two American, and one Canadian..."
- Treaty of London [Canada], 1848

"The United Kingdom and United Mexican States agree to the undersigned bordered, demarcated by a joint commission, resolving disputes between Columbia and Alta California..."
- Columbia Treaty, 1852

"Whereas the Provinces of the Three Canadas, Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, and Acadia have expressed their Desire to be federally united into One Dominion under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, with a Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom:

And whereas such a Union would conduce to the Welfare of the Provinces and promote the Interests of the British Empire:

And whereas on the Establishment of the Union by Authority of Parliament it is expedient, not only that the Constitution of the Legislative Authority in the Dominion be provided for, but also that the Nature of the Executive Government therein be declared:

And whereas it is expedient that Provision be made for the eventual Admission into the Union of other Parts of British North America"

- Preamble to the British North America Act, 1865


Hello, and welcome to my new timeline!

As you can tell by my opening sampler, this timeline will focus on a radically different Canada than what we know of today, starting from the absolute beginning of the French exploration of Canada. This timeline seeks to span hundreds of years, bringing it as far to the present as I can. Many of the lessons from my previous timelines will be brought over to this one, and this one shall be my main focus. I shall endeavour to produce updates on a timely basis, and shall have the first one at the most possible haste.


Curious. I wonder what the POD is. I also wonder, given you said the timeline diverges during or before French colonisation, whether this Canada is more French, or at least proportionally as French as OTL. Nonetheless, it sounds interesting, so I shall keep an eye on it.
I. A Beautiful Country, for the Taking


Much of the early exploration of Canada took place under the guise of passage to the Pacific. To the south, the Spanish had explored up and down the coasts, finding all little inlets and islands - populated and wealthy, to which they quickly laid claim to. An area such as vast as this new continent merited exploration. For all these explorers knew, the northern reaches of the continent were little more than a small isthmus, with the passageway to the Pacific just a short ways away over the small hills.

And thus, the first main thrust of exploration by the French and the English began. The land was hostile, brutal, and barren. Cold and flush with high winds. It was, as Jacques Cartier noted, "the land God gave to Cain." The land, it was deemed, held no value whatsoever by advisers to the Spanish monarch Carlos I. It was on this advice that the King acted, allowing the French nearly uncontested leadership in the exploration of these northern reaches.

While Carlos I was sensible for allowing this to pass besides him, in Paris, many felt this was already a profitable venture. Cold and hostile as it was, cod off the coast of Newfoundland was plentiful. The fishermen, eager to diversify their diets with meat, went ashore and hunted animals, and chopped down trees for repairs or firewood. From this meat spawned the furs of the animals they hunted, which was brought back to Europe as little more than an odd quirk of an overseas enterprise. This quirk quickly became an expensive quirk, as it's usage exploded among the wealthiest of Europeans. The North American beaver, an uninspiring creature that it was, formed the impetuses by which European settlement of North America began.

Like other parts of the continent, there were those who already lived on the land. They would form the crux of the upcoming fur trade, being the ones that went and gathered the furs to trade to the Europeans, no so eager to move away from the shoreline. The natives, called Indians on the mistaken belief the land found was India, were very interested in European trade goods, most of which were cheap and inexpensive to make and transport. And so the highly profitable and lucrative fur trade was established.

Jacques Cartier was the first Frenchmen to discover and mount expeditions to Canada, traveling a total of four times. The first was in 1545, the second from 1535 to 1536, the third from 1541 to 1542, and the fourth from 1547 to 1548. His voyages served to open up the Saint Lawrence Seaway to European eyes, and his actions whilst in the seaway cemented the French claim to the territory. Cartier's settlement on the Saint Lawrence River was abandoned shortly after his fourth voyage departed, having been able to sustain itself for around six years. It's ability to survive in such a harsh climate allowed for the future settlement of Canada is be encouraged further.

But, in order to settle the territory, the settlers had to be motivated. In France, this was not the case until 1598, long after Cartier had died. The Wars of Religion had burned throughout Europe and France, and it was only in this year when Henri IV was on the throne, were both religions tolerated in France. With this nuisance out of the way, French interest in America spiked tremendously, despite the limited amount of resources they had to work with.

In 1604, the first expedition led by Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mon was outfitted. They were focused on a region known as the Bay of Fundy, between what is now Nova Scotia and Acadia. The objective was simple, attempt to find a location to withstand the winter months, then expand the settlement further. The first attempt was on an island off the shore, named Saint Croix. Even during the early summer they had found it to be unbearable. They had decided to decamp from the island, and moved to a better location more to the south - known as Port Royal.

Leadership of the small colony was placed under the command of Samuel de Champlain. Under his leadership, Port Royal was abandoned in favour of another colony, this time located along the Saint Lawrence River. His settlement, at the time it had no name, grew today to be Quebec City. From its establishment in 1607, Champlain consolidated his rule and the city itself, dominated by the communication and supplies from France - the river would freeze during the winter months. By the summer of 1609, Champlain's true ambitions, exploration of the interior, began.

Champlain's party consisted mostly of native Algonquins and Hurons. Traveling south, to the shores of what is now Lake Champlain, his party met the Five-Nations Iroquois and prevailed, mostly due to his usage of his firearm, which impressed and intimidated the Iroquois more than it harmed them.

His early explorations were reported back to France in 1609-1610, where he met with King Herni VI several times, lobbying for yet another expedition into the region. He was very successful, gaining rich backers in the nobility, as well as highly influential political figures. A new king, Louis XIII, replaced the old, who agreed to continue to fund his little colony, giving more than he had expected.

Champlain's expeditions pushed further and further into the interior in the years after his report to France. He mapped the Ottawa River and most of the Great Lakes basin. He also made regular trips back to France, ensuring he stayed in the right camp when he needed to be, finding new backers as they rose and fell. He seemed to be as good, if not better, at navigating French politics than he was the Canadian landscape. All throughout this, Champlain remained the faithful lieutenant of New France.

New France's fortunes not only rested with the favour of Paris. While the cold climate was indeed an invitation for scurvy, it also warded off other diseases from the settlers. It's population was very small, but it was working in conjunction with its natives neighbours, and was spared the disastrous native raids and pillages that befell the English colonies to the south. The colony was also fortuitous in that an English ship, sailing up the St. Lawrence in 1629 to assault the settlement, struck rocks and froze in place a month after. (England and France had gone to war in 1627.) Champlain had captured the ship, took the crew captive, and helped to ward off any further attacks on his territory.

The "victory" over the English in 1629 bolstered the colony's fortunes. While in 1623, Champlain had attempted a second settlement deep in the interior located in Lake Champlain. It quickly faltered without proper backing. In 1630, the King authorised deeper funding, and the settlement was made permanent. It was located on the largest island in Lake Champlain, and was named Île Royale, or Royal Island. Île Royale was considered to be one of Canada's first fully sufficient settlements. It was wholly dependent on the initial lunge of supplies until it achieved it's own sufficiency. Supplies only very rarely came from Quebec.

The third settlement was founded upriver from Quebec, named Trois-Rivières, in 1634. These three settlements would be the largest in New France of any note until 1642, when Montreal was founded by the Sieur de Maisonneuve. It's purpose was to be a defensive city, protecting the rest of the downriver settlements from attacks against the hostile Iroquois. New France's governor, Charles Huault de Montmagny, authorised the construction of defensive fortifications in both Île Royale and Montreal. The Richelieu River became the first fully controlled by the French, with Île Royale protecting it on on side, and a new fort in 1641 protecting it at the confluence with the St. Lawrence.

Settlement from France was steady, and impressive. While unlike anything seen in the south in the English colonies, New France numbered around six thousand Frenchmen in all, all Catholic, by 1663. Much of these can be attributed to the pushes made by Champlaign and de Montmagny, both of whom saw greatness in the colony, and saw to it that it was achieved.

While the stories of New France's fortunes were impressive, they were not the only ones exploring the continent. The establishment of Île Royale was favourable, due to the relative close proximity of the Dutch settlements along the Hudson River. Île Royale's status as the frontier guardian of New France against the other Europeans offered it an increased standing in Europe. A party from Fort Orange along the Hudson had traveled to the outpost, surprised that they had found it.

Île Royale, and other French settlements that rested along the St. Lawrence, would soon face attacks. The Iroquois nations, through trade with the more friendly Dutch, had been able to acquire European firearms. Pre-existing rivalries prevailed, and the Iroquois systematically destroyed the Huron between 1649 and 1653, despite them being partially aided by the French. The French were willing to accept refugees, so long as they converted to Catholicism, and placed them near French settlements along the St. Lawrence, forming communities of "Praying Indians." These communities were not quite Catholic, but not quite native anymore either. The Huron refugees were joined by other natives that were displaced or destroyed by the Iroquois, forming lasting communities that survive to this day.

The destruction of the Huron was only the first shot in a sixty year long war between France and the bellicose Iroquois. Right after the fall of the Huron, the entire western reaches of New France were off limits to the Europeans, the Iroquois establishing a successful blockade of the entire territory. The flow of furs from the upper lakes was thus cut off. The resilience of the indigenous traders allowed them to break through near the end of the 1650s, reopening trade routes, but with risks attached to them. Ample supplies of French weaponry to their trading partners allowed the trade routes to flourish again by the early 1660s.

Increased profits and the ability for settlers to come to the territory allowed for a modest population increase to occur over the decade. Iroquois invasions occurred at every possible city, despite the attempts of Montreal and Île Royale to stop them. An expedition from New England had attempted to annex Acadia, but this was thwarted when French and native soldiers from Île Royale marched down and burned the settlement of Springfield. The English relented and returned Acadia to the French.

In 1663, King Louis XIV declared New France a royal province, taking ownership of it from the Hundred Associates. A Royal Governor was appointed, an advisory Sovereign Council was established. A full regiment of soldiers was ordered to Quebec City, all of which was promised to just be the beginning of the new imperial jurisdiction over New France.

It certainly was the beginning. Louis XIV's role in New France signaled the beginning of the end for the small colony. Prosperous as it was, European states were weak, and could not control and manage such a vast and distant territory. Private companies would be the primary movers of European exploration and colonisation during this time, government being far too inefficient to do so. New France was fortunate in that it's primary planner, Champlain, was enough of a forward thinker that the settlements he helped to create were located in defensible locations, offering good cover and the ability to survive in the future. These protections would do wonders to offset the damages caused from imperial control.


New France, and surrounding European claims to North America, 1663.​

Authors Note: Ah! I apologise for such a tardy update! It was my own fault, I started a timeline during finals week. :rolleyes: Regular updates shall flow from now on.
Bumping for more...

Looks like the automotive industry will be centered in ITTL's Canada; wonder how that will affect it...
Good update.

And good luck on your finals!!!

Thanks! I did pretty well on them all thankfully.

I like.

And seeing how Mexico gets to keep Alta California... I'm HOOKED!

They do indeed keep it. Or do they?

Bumping for more...

Looks like the automotive industry will be centered in ITTL's Canada; wonder how that will affect it...

I've been writing it, the holidays are always hectic. The next update shall be coming very soon!