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Subject > Armed Forces > Naval Forces and Merchant Navy

Date > 1600

Compagnies franches de la Marine (Warships)

Type: Document

The names of troops raised by the French Ministry of Marine often confuse people. There were separate units of Compagnies franches de la Marine to serve aboard warships. These troops had nothing to do with the Compagnies franches found in Canada.

Site: National Defence

Quebec batteries firing on Phips' ships during October 1690

Type: Image

Part of Quebec's defences is shown firing upon the invaders’ ships during October 1690. The upper town was protected by a good wall with intermittent batteries. There were more defensive works up towards the Chateau Saint-Louis near Cape Diamond. In the lower town, facing the harbour, there were two strong French shore batteries armed with heavy 18 and 24-pounder naval cannon. Inland, a line of earthworks punctuated with 11 redoubts enclosed the city from the western side. This 19th century print is inaccurate in some details (for instance, the Château Saint-Louis which only had one storey in 1690) but gives a good sense of the general action. (Library and Archives Canada, C-006022)

Site: National Defence

The French And British Navies

Type: Document

Both Britain and France needed strong navies to protect their coasts, fishing fleets and colonies. The peak of French naval power was during the 1690s, when it dominated the coasts of England. Defeated in 1692, the French navy declined in quality and strength from that point on.

Site: National Defence

A Garrison at Placentia

Type: Document

A small garrison of Troupes de la Marine arrived in Newfoundland in 1687, where fortifications were gradually established. The garrison suffered from desertion, and was attacked by pirates, English privateers and the English Royal Navy.

Site: National Defence

Sir William Phips before Quebec in October 1690

Type: Image

Sir William Phips (1650-1694) is shown on the deck of one of the ships hired on credit by the New England colonies to carry an army of Massachusetts militia to Quebec. It is probably when they arrived in October 1690 that Phips and his officers realized what a formidable natural fortress Quebec really was.

Site: National Defence

Sailors, Marine royale française, circa 1690

Type: Image

These French sailors are working on the running rigging of a warship. During the 17th century, the common sailors of the Marine royale française did not wear uniforms.

Site: National Defence

Voyages Of Discovery

Type: Document

Many European expeditions were sent to explore North America during the sixteenth century. The explorers were armed, and their ocean-going ships were a revolutionary technology.

Site: National Defence

Sixteenth-century galleon

Type: Image

The crewmen of this 16th century galleon are using several devices to discover their position. Tools like the arbalete and nocturlabe were used at night to measure the position of the stars in the sky. Based on these measurements, navigators could determine where they were on the globe. (National Library of Canada 18025)

Site: National Defence

Acadia

Type: Document

When restored to France in 1667, Acadia also benefited from King Louis XIV's policy of strengthening his colonies. Royal troops were sent to the colony, but were soon disbanded. When France declared war on the Netherlands in 1672, poorly defended Acadia suffered badly at the hands of Dutch privateers.

Site: National Defence

The Royal Navy

Type: Document

As an island state, Britain gave priority to its navy. The Admiralty (the appointed committee of admirals which made all strategic decisions) governed hundreds of ships worldwide. The Royal Navy used its bases in Canada to help control the Northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Site: National Defence