At the beginning of the colony, the commercial monopolies were responsible for its defence. No records are known to exist.
New France was constantly threatened by the Iroquois Nation and unable to adequately defend itself. In 1665, the King of France sent the Carignan-Salières Regiment, consisting of 1,200 men. Once the danger of conflict had passed, the soldiers were encouraged to settle in the colony. About one third of them elected to remain as settlers.
After the recall of the Carignan-Salières Regiment, the defence of the colony was left to the local militias, which were organized in 1669. Each parish had to provide a company. Every able-bodied man between the ages of 15 and 60 was eligible to serve. Few records have survived.
The first permanent troops, the Compagnies franches de la marine, were organized in 1683. They were infantrymen and it was these troops who were responsible for defending all of France's North American colonies. The colonial officer corps in Canada was gradually staffed by men born in the colony, so that by 1755 nearly all the officers were Canadian. By 1757, there were 40 companies in Canada.
The regular army in North America, the Troupes de terre, staffed by French officers and men, was always very small. Seven of these regiments, along with 40 of the Compagnies franches de la marine, participated at the battle on the Plains of Abraham in 1759.
It should be noted that throughout the years, soldiers who served in North America were encouraged to settle in the colonies when discharged.
Research at Library and Archives Canada
Few records relating to military service in New France have survived. The following sources may contain a few nominal rolls of soldiers, but most lists relate only to officers. They may give:
The Carignan-Salières Regiment (1665-1669)
A Thematic Guide (MSS1943) lists manuscript sources and contains an extensive bibliography.
Many soldiers took up residence in New France. A List of 403 names can be seen on the New France-New Horizons Web site [www.champlain2004.org/html/11/03_e.html]. That list has also been published in:
Compagnies franches de la marine
Troupes de terre
While it appears that muster rolls were sometimes kept, few such lists have survived:
Search the ARCHIVED - Private Archives and Colonial Records database for more references.
Keywords: name of a regiment, a place or a person or a subject such as "milice," "soldats," "officiers"
Research in Published Sources
Consult our Bibliography for further information on this topic.