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CHAPTER 5: The Compagnies Franches de la Marine of Canada

Canadian Officers (2 pages)

A Canadian Military Elite is Born

A sort of Canadian military elite was therefore emerging. In 1683, all the officers were French; by 1690, however, about a quarter were born in Canada. This proportion rose to about half in the 1720s and finally to three-quarters in the early 1750s. In addition, those officers who were born in France generally remained in the colony, thereby swelling the numbers of this military elite.

Their place of birth is, in fact, a less than perfect criterion for judging the "Canadianization" of the officer corps. Should one really consider as foreigners those French officers who came to Canada, established roots here, had families and adopted the customs of the country, before finally being buried in the land where they had spent so much of their lives? This seems illogical when one considers that their own sons, born in the colony, made up most of those who bolstered the official numbers of Canadians in comparison with French. The "Canadianization" of French officers proceeded in another way as well. By the end of the seventeenth century, they were clearly learning and adapting very well, as their years of service increased, to the art of war as practised in Canada. Thus, it could easily be argued that the officer corps was almost entirely Canadian by the 1720s, in essence if not by birth.