(by ancestry, 2011 Census)
c. 10,000,000 (French-speaking Canadians)
|Regions with significant populations|
|Canada, especially Quebec, New Brunswick, and Ontario, smaller populations in New England, New York and Michigan.|
|Canadian French (native language), English (as a second language).|
|Related ethnic groups|
|French, Québécois, Acadians, Cajun, Métis, French-speaking Quebecer, Franco-Ontarian, Franco-Manitoban, French American, Brayon|
French Canadians (also Franco-Canadians) are a major North American ethnic group derived from the descendants of French colonists who arrived in New France (Canada) in the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, French Canadians constitute the main French-speaking population of Canada, accounted for about 22% of the total population of that country.
During the mid-18th century, Canadian colonists born in French Canada expanded across North America and colonized various regions, cities, and towns. Today, the majority of French Canadians live across North America, including the United States and Canada. The province of Quebec has the largest population of French Canadian descent, although smaller communities of French Canadians exist throughout Canada and in the American region of New England. Between 1840 and 1930, roughly 900,000 French Canadians emigrated to the United States, mostly to the New England region.
Other terms for French Canadians that continue to reside in the province of Quebec, are Quebecers or Québécois. The other major group of French Canadians are the Acadians (Acadiens) who reside in the Maritime Provinces. French Canadians (including those who are no longer French-speaking) constitute the second largest ethnic group in Canada, behind the English Canadians, and ahead of Scottish Canadians and Irish Canadians.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Identities
- 3 Population
- 4 Language
- 5 Religion
- 6 History
- 7 Modern usage
- 8 Organizations
- 9 French-Canadian flags
- 10 See also
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
- 13 External links
The French Canadians get their name from Canada, the most developed and densely populated region of New France during the period of French colonization in the 17th and 18th century. The original use of the term Canada referred to the land area along the St. Lawrence River, divided in three districts (Québec, Trois-Rivières, and Montréal), as well as to the Pays d'en Haut (Upper Countries), a vast and thinly settled territorial dependence north and west of Montreal which covered the whole of the Great Lakes area.
From 1535 to the 1690s, the French word Canadien had referred to the Aboriginal people the French had encountered in the St. Lawrence River valley at Stadacona and Hochelaga. At the end of the 17th century, Canadien became an ethnonym distinguishing the inhabitants of Canada from those of France.
French Canadians living in Canada express their cultural identity using a number of terms. The Ethnic Diversity Survey of the 2006 Canadian census found that French-speaking Canadians identified their ethnicity most often as French, French Canadians, Québécois, and Acadian. The latter three were grouped together by Jantzen (2006) as “French New World” ancestries because they originate in Canada.
Jantzen (2006) distinguishes the English Canadian, meaning "someone whose family has been in Canada for multiple generations", and the French Canadien, used to refer to descendants of the original settlers of New France in the 17th and 18th centuries.[clarification needed]
Those reporting “French New World” ancestries overwhelmingly had ancestors that went back at least four generations in Canada. Fourth generation Canadiens and Québécois showed considerable attachment to their ethno-cultural group, with 70% and 61%, respectively, reporting a strong sense of belonging.
The generational profile and strength of identity of French New World ancestries contrast with those of British or Canadian ancestries, which represent the largest ethnic identities in Canada. Although deeply rooted Canadians express a deep attachment to their ethnic identity, most English-speaking Canadians of British or Canadian ancestry generally cannot trace their ancestry as far back in Canada as French-speakers. As a result, their identification with their ethnicity is weaker: for example, only 50% of third generation "Canadians" strongly identify as such, bringing down the overall average. The survey report notes that 80% of Canadians whose families had been in Canada for three or more generations reported "Canadian and provincial or regional ethnic identities". These identities include French New World ancestries such as "Québécois" (37% of Quebec population), "Acadian" (6% of Atlantic provinces).
Since the 1960s, French Canadians in Quebec have generally used Québécois (masculine) or Québécoise (feminine) to express their cultural and national identity, rather than Canadien français and Canadienne française. Francophones who self-identify as Québécois and do not have French-Canadian ancestry may not identify as "French Canadian" (Canadien or Canadien français). Those who do have French or French-Canadian ancestry, but who support Quebec sovereignty, often find Canadien français to be archaic or even pejorative. This is a reflection of the strong social, cultural, and political ties that most Quebeckers of French-Canadian origin, who constitute a majority of francophone Quebecers, maintain within Quebec. It has given Québécois an ambiguous meaning which has often played out in political issues, as all public institutions attached to the provincial government refer to all Quebec citizens, regardless of their language or their cultural heritage, as Québécois.
Elsewhere in Canada
The emphasis on the French language and Quebec autonomy means that French-speakers across Canada may now self-identify as québécois(e), acadien(ne), or Franco-canadien(ne), or as provincial linguistic minorities such as Franco-manitobain(e), Franco-ontarien(ne) or fransaskois(e). Education, health and social services are provided by provincial institutions, so that provincial identities are often used to identify French-language institutions:
- Franco-Newfoundlanders, province of Newfoundland and Labrador, also known as Terre-Neuvien(ne).
- Franco-Ontarians, province of Ontario, also referred to as Ontarien(ne).
- Franco-Manitobans, province of Manitoba, also referred to as Manitobain(e).
- Fransaskois, province of Saskatchewan, also referred to Saskois(e).
- Franco-Albertans, province of Alberta, also referred to Albertain(e).
- Franco-Columbians, province of British Columbia mostly live in the Vancouver metro area. Also referred to as Franco-Colombien(ne)
- Franco-Yukonnais, territory of Yukon, also referred to as Yukonais(e).
- Franco-Ténois, territory of Northwest Territories, also referred to as Ténois(e).
- Franco-Nunavois, territory of Nunavut, also referred to as Nunavois(e).
Acadians residing in the provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia represent a distinct francophone culture. This group's culture and history evolved separately from the French Canadian culture of Quebec, at a time when the Maritime Provinces were not part of what was referred to as Canada, and are consequently considered a distinct culture from French Canadians.
Brayons in Madawaska County, New Brunswick and Aroostook County, Maine may be identified with either the Acadians or the Québécois, or considered a distinct group in their own right, by different sources.
French Canadians outside Quebec are more likely to self-identify as "French Canadian". Identification with provincial groupings varies from province to province, with Franco-Ontarians, for example, using their provincial label far more frequently than Franco-Columbians do. Some identify only with the provincial groupings, explicitly rejecting "French Canadian" as an identity label.
During the mid-18th century, French explorers and Canadiens born in French Canada colonized other parts of North America in what are today Louisiana (called Louisianais), Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as well as around Detroit.  They also founded such cities as New Orleans and St. Louis and villages in the Mississippi Valley. French Canadians latter emigrated in large numbers from Canada to the United States between the 1840s and the 1930s in search of economic opportunities in border communities and industrialized portions of New England. French-Canadian communities remain along the Quebec border in northern Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire as well as further south in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and southern New Hampshire. The wealth of Catholic churches named after St. Louis throughout New England is indicative of the French immigration to the area. They came to identify as Franco-American, especially those who were born American.
Distinctions between French Canadian, natives of France, and other New World French identities is more blurred in the U.S. than in Canada. In L'avenir du français aux États-Unis, Calvin Veltman finds that since the French language has been so widely abandoned in the United States, the term "French Canadian" is there understood in ethnic rather than linguistic terms.
People who today claim some French-Canadian ancestry or heritage number some 7 million in Canada and 2.4 million people in the United States. (An additional 8.4 million Americans claim French ancestry; they are treated as a separate ethnic group by the U.S. Census Bureau.)
Distribution in Canada
In Canada, 85% of French Canadians reside in Quebec where they constitute the majority of the population in all regions except the far North. Most cities and villages in this province were built and settled by the French or French Canadians during the French colonial rule.
There are various urban and small centres in Canada outside of Quebec that have long-standing populations of French Canadians, going back to the late 19th century. Eastern and Northern Ontario have large populations of francophones in communities such as Ottawa, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Sudbury, Welland, Timmins and Windsor. Many also pioneered the Canadian Prairies in the late 18th century, founding the towns of Saint Boniface, Manitoba and in Alberta's Peace Country, including the region of Grande Prairie.
The following table shows the population of Canada's that is of French ancestry. The data is from Statistics Canada.
It is important to understand that the French-speaking population have massively chosen the "Canadian" ("Canadien") ethnic group since the government made it possible (1986), which has made the current statistics misleading. The term Canadien historically referred only to a French-speaker, though today it is used in French to describe any Canadian citizen.
It is estimated that roughly 70%-75% of Quebec's population descend from the French pioneers of the 17th and 18th century.
|Province or territory||%||Total
|Canada — Total||15.8%||5,174,050|
|Quebec||30.38%||2 906 475|
|New Brunswick||30.1% (including Acadians)||220,000|
|Prince Edward Island||23.1%||31,381|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||5.5%||27,800|
Comparative table for the 2011 Canadian census
|Province or territory||%||Total
|Canada — Total||16.07%||5 380 500|
|British Columbia||8.5%||374 515|
|Ontario||10.7%||1 385 200|
|Quebec||31.31%||2 474 025|
|New Brunswick||31%||232 915|
|Nova Scotia||18.9%||174 850|
|Prince Edward Island||23.4%||32 760|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||5.5%||29 355|
Distribution in United States
In the United States, many cities were founded as colonial outposts of New France by French or French-Canadian explorers. They include New Orleans, Louisiana; Mobile, Alabama; Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; Prairie du Rocher and Belleville in Illinois; Dubuque, Iowa; Detroit, Michigan; Biloxi, Mississippi; St. Louis, Missouri; Creve Coeur, Missouri; La Baye, Prairie du Chien, La Crosse, and Milwaukee in Wisconsin, Bourbonnais, Illinois, and Provo, Utah.
The majority of the French-Canadian population in the United States is found in the New England area, although there is also a large French-Canadian presence in Plattsburgh, New York, across Lake Champlain from Burlington, Vermont. Quebec and Acadian emigrants settled in industrial cities like Fitchburg, Leominster, Worcester, Waltham, Lowell, Lawrence, Chicopee, Fall River, and New Bedford in Massachusetts; Woonsocket in Rhode Island; Manchester and Nashua in New Hampshire; Bristol in Connecticut; throughout the state of Vermont, particularly in Burlington, St. Albans, and Barre; and Biddeford and Lewiston in Maine. Smaller groups of French Canadians settled in the Midwest, notably in the states of Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin,Nebraska,Iowa, Missouri, and Minnesota. French-Canadians also settled in central North Dakota, largely in Rolette and Bottineau counties, and in South Dakota.
Canadian French is an umbrella term for the distinct varieties of French spoken by francophone Canadians: Québécois (Quebec French), Acadian French, Métis French, and Newfoundland French. Unlike Acadian French and Newfoundland French, the French of Ontario, the Canadian West, and New England all originate from what is now Quebec French and do not constitute distinct varieties from it, though there are some regional differences. French Canadians may also speak either Canadian English or American English, especially if they live in overwhelmingly English-speaking Canadian provinces or in the United States.
In Quebec, about six million French Canadians are native French speakers. 599,225 (7.7% of population) are English-speaking, Anglophones or English-speaking Quebecers, and others are Allophones (literally "other-speakers", meaning, in practice, immigrants who speak neither French nor English at home). In the United States, assimilation to the English language was more significant and very few Americans of French-Canadian ancestry or heritage speak French today.
Six million of Canada's native French speakers, of all origins, are found in the province of Quebec, where they constitute the majority language group, and another one million are distributed throughout the rest of Canada. Roughly 31% of Canadian citizens are French-speaking and 25% are of French-Canadian descent. Not all French speakers are of French descent, and not all people of French-Canadian heritage are exclusively or primarily French-speaking.
Francophones living in Canadian provinces other than Quebec have enjoyed minority language rights under Canadian law since at least 1969, with the Official Languages Act, and under the Canadian Constitution since 1982, protecting them from provincial governments that have historically been indifferent towards their presence.
Christianity is the predominant religion of French Canadians, with Roman Catholicism the chief denomination. The kingdom of France forbade non-Catholic settlement in New France from 1629 onward and thus, almost all French settlers of Canada were Catholic. In the United States, some families of French-Canadian origin have converted to Protestantism. Until the 1960s, religion was a central component of French-Canadian national identity. The Church parish was the focal point of civic life in French-Canadian society, and religious orders ran French-Canadian schools, hospitals and orphanages and were very influential in everyday life in general. During the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s, however, the practice of Catholicism dropped drastically. Church attendance in Quebec currently remains low. Rates of religious observance among French Canadians outside Quebec tend to vary by region, and by age. In general, however, those in Quebec are the least observant, while those in the United States of America and other places away from Quebec tend to be the most observant.
The French were the first Europeans to permanently colonize what is now Quebec, parts of Ontario, Acadia, and select areas of Western Canada, all in Canada (See French colonization of the Americas.) Their colonies of New France (also commonly called Canada) stretched across what today are the Maritime provinces, southern Quebec and Ontario, as well as the entire Mississippi River Valley.
The first permanent European settlements in Canada were at Port Royal in 1605 and Quebec City in 1608 as fur trading posts. The territories of New France were Canada, Acadia (later renamed Nova Scotia), and Louisiana. The inhabitants of Canada called themselves the Canadiens, and came mostly from northwestern France. The early inhabitants of Acadia, or Acadiens, came mostly but not exclusively from the Southwestern region of France. Canadien explorers and fur traders would come to be known as coureurs des bois, while those who settled on farms in Canada would come to be known as habitants. Many French Canadians are the descendants of the King's Daughters of this era. Many also are the descendants of mixed French and Algonquin marriages.
During the mid-18th century, French explorers and Canadiens born in French Canada colonized other parts of North America in what are today the states of Louisiana (called Louisianais), Mississippi; Missouri; Illinois; Vincennes, Indiana; Louisville, Kentucky; the Windsor-Detroit region and the Canadian prairies (primarily Southern Manitoba).
The British gained Acadia by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. In 1755, the beginning of the French and Indian War, the British—actually British Americans from Massachusetts—committed what historian John Mack Faragher calls the first genocide by devastating Acadia, deporting 75% of the Acadian population to other British colonies and France in a massive diaspora. Those Acadians deported to Southern colonies close to French Louisiana migrated there, creating "Cajun" culture. Beyond Acadia, French Canadians escaped this fate in part because of the capitulation act that made them British subjects. It took the 1774 Quebec Act for them to regain the French civil law system, and in 1791 French Canadians in Lower Canada were introduced to the British parliamentary system when an elected Legislative Assembly was created.
The Legislative Assembly having no real power, the political situation degenerated into the Lower Canada Rebellions of 1837–1838, after which Lower Canada and Upper Canada were unified. Some of the motivations for the union was to limit French-Canadian political power and at the same time transferring a large part of the Upper Canadian debt to the debt-free Lower Canada. After many decades of British immigration, the Canadiens became a minority in the Province of Canada in the 1850s.
French-Canadian contributions were essential in securing responsible government for The Canadas and in undertaking Canadian Confederation. However, over the course of the late 19th and 20th centuries, French Canadians' discontent grew with their place in Canada because of a series of events, including the execution of Louis Riel, the elimination of official bilingualism in Manitoba, Canada's participation in the Second Boer War, Regulation 17 which banned French-language schools in Ontario, the Conscription Crisis of 1917 and the Conscription Crisis of 1944.
Between the 1840s and the 1930s, some 900,000 French Canadians emigrated to the New England region. About half of them returned home. The generations born in the United States would eventually come to see themselves as Franco-Americans. During the same period of time, numerous French Canadians also emigrated and settled in Eastern and Northern Ontario. The descendants of those Quebec immigrants constitute the bulk of today's Franco-Ontarian community.
Since 1968, French has been one of Canada's two official languages. It is the sole official language of Quebec and one of the official languages of New Brunswick, Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. The province of Ontario has no official languages defined in law, although the provincial government provides French language services in many parts of the province under the French Language Services Act.
In English usage, the terms for provincial subgroups, if used at all, are usually defined solely by province of residence, with all of the terms being strictly interchangeable with French Canadian. Although this remains the more common usage in English, it is considered outdated to many Canadians of French descent, especially in Quebec. Most francophone Canadians who use the provincial labels identify with their province of origin, even if it is not the province in which they currently reside; for example, a Québécois who moved to Manitoba would not change his own self-identification to Franco-Manitoban.
Increasingly, provincial labels are used to stress the linguistic and cultural, as opposed to ethnic and religious, nature of French-speaking institutions and organizations. The term "French Canadian" is still used in historical and cultural contexts, or when it is necessary to refer to Canadians of French-Canadian collectively, such as in the name and mandate of a national organizations which serve minority francophone communities across Canada. Francophone Canadians of non-French-Canadian origin such as immigrants from francophone countries are not usually designated by the term "French Canadian"; the more general term "francophones" is used for French-speaking Canadians across all ethnic origins.
- Fédération culturelle canadienne-française (French Canadian Cultural Federation)
- Association francophone pour le savoir
- Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française (French Canadian Youth Federation)
- English Canadian
- Speak White
- French American
- French Australian
- French people
- French in the United States
- French diaspora
- Pure laine
- Quebec diaspora
- List of francophone communities in Ontario
- Statistics Canada. "2011 National Household Survey: Data tables". Retrieved 8 March 2014.
- "Quick Facts about Canada's Francophonie; Retrieved 2013-10-02". ocol-clo.gc.ca. 2013-03-21. Retrieved 2013-10-02.
- Historical Atlas of Canada: The land transformed, 1800-1891 Google Books'.' Retrieved 2010-2-1.
- French Canadian Emigration to the United States, 1840-1930 Marianopolis College'.' Retrieved 2010-2-1.
- "Top 25 Ethnic Origins in Canada (1), Showing Single and Multiple Responses, 1996 Census (20% Sample Data) Canada ''Statistics Canada'' Retrieved 2010-2-1". Statcan.gc.ca. 2001-12-18. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- "Gervais Carpin, Histoire d'un mot". Celat.ulaval.ca. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- Jantzen, Lorna (2003). "THE ADVANTAGES OF ANALYZING ETHNIC ATTITUDES ACROSS GENERATIONS—RESULTS FROM THE ETHNIC DIVERSITY SURVEY". CANADIAN AND FRENCH PERSPECTIVES ON DIVERSITY: 103–118. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- "Ethnic Origin (247), Single and Multiple Ethnic Origin Responses (3) and Sex (3) for the Population". The Daily. Statistics Canada. 2006. Retrieved 2008-03-17.
- "Ethnic Diversity Survey: portrait of a multicultural society" (PDF). Statistics Canada. 2003. Retrieved 2008-04-25.
- Statistics Canada (April 2002). "Ethnic Diversity Survey: Questionnaire" (PDF). Department of Canadian Heritage. Retrieved 2008-04-25. "The survey, based on interviews, asked the following questions: "1) I would now like to ask you about your ethnic ancestry, heritage or background. What were the ethnic or cultural origins of your ancestors? 2) In addition to “Canadian”, what were the other ethnic or cultural origins of your ancestors on first coming to North America?"
- Jantzen (2006) Footnote 9: "These will be called “French New World” ancestries since the majority of respondents in these ethnic categories are Francophones."
- Jantzen (2006) Footnote 5: "Note that Canadian and Canadien have been separated since the two terms mean different things. In English, it usually means someone whose family has been in Canada for multiple generations. In French it is referring to "Les Habitants", settlers of New France during the 17th and 18th centuries who earned their living primarily from agricultural labour."
- Jantzen (2006): "The reporting of French New World ancestries (Canadien, Québécois, and French-Canadian) is concentrated in the 4th+ generations; 79% of French- Canadian, 88% of Canadien and 90% of Québécois are in the 4th+generations category."
- Jantzen (2005): "According to Table 3, the 4th+ generations are highest because of a strong sense of belonging to their ethnic or cultural group among those respondents reporting the New World ancestries of Canadien and Québécois."
- Jantzen (2006): For respondents of French and New World ancestries the pattern is different. Where generational data is available, it is possible to see that not all respondents reporting these ancestries report a high sense of belonging to their ethnic or cultural group. The high proportions are focused among those respondents that are in the 4th+ generations, and unlike with the British Isles example, the difference between the 2nd and 3rd generations to the 4th+ generation is more pronounced. Since these ancestries are concentrated in the 4th+ generations, their high proportions of sense of belonging to ethnic or cultural group push up the 4th+ generational results."
- Jantzen (2006): "As shown on Graph 3, over 30% of respondents reporting Canadian, British Isles or French ancestries are distributed across all four generational categories."
- Jantzen (2006): Table 3: Percentage of Selected Ancestries Reporting that Respondents have a Strong* Sense of Belonging to the Ethnic and Cultural Groups, by Generational Status, 2002 EDS".
- See p. 14 of the report.
- Bédard, Guy; Adrienne Shadd and Carl E. James, Editors (2001). "Québécitude: An Ambiguous Identity". Talking about Identity: Encounters in Race, Ethnicity and Language. Toronto: Between the Lines. pp. 28–32. ISBN 1-896357-36-9.
- "House passes motion recognizing Québécois as nation". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2006-11-27. Retrieved 2006-12-21.
- Churchill, Stacy (2003). "Language Education, Canadian Civic Identity, and the Identity of Canadians" (PDF). Council of Europe, Language Policy Division. pp. 8–11. "French speakers usually refer to their own identities with adjectives such as québécoise, acadienne, or franco-canadienne, or by some term referring to a provincial linguistic minority such as franco-manitobaine, franco-ontarienne or fransaskoise."
- Balesi, Charles J. (2005). "French and French Canadians". The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- Belanger, Damien-Claude; Belanger, Claude (2000-08-23). "French Canadian Emigration to the United States, 1840-1930". Quebec History. Marianapolis College CEGEP. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- Claude Bélenger (2000-08-23). "The Quiet Revolution". Retrieved 2011-03-02.
- "G. E. Marquis, Louis Allen, The French Canadians in the Province of Quebec". Links.jstor.org. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- Geyh, Patricia Keeney (2002). French Canadian sources: a guide for genealogists. Ancestry Pub. ISBN 1-931279-01-2
- Map displaying the percentage of the US population claiming French Canadian ancestry by county, United States Census Bureau, Census 2000
- Allan, Greer (1997). The People of New France. (Themes in Canadian History Series). University of Toronto Press. pp. 137 pages. ISBN 0-8020-7816-8.
- Marquis, G. E.; Louis Allen (May 1923). "The French Canadians in the Province of Quebec". Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 107 (Social and Economic Conditions in The Dominion of Canada): 7–12. doi:10.1177/000271622310700103.
- Brault, Gerard J. (March 15, 1986). The French-Canadian Heritage in New England. University Press of New England. pp. 312 pages. ISBN 0-87451-359-6.
- Doty, C. Stewart (1985). The First Franco-Americans: New England Life Histories from the Federal Writers' Project, 1938-1939. University of Maine at Orono Press.
- Faragher, John Mack (2005). A Great and Noble Scheme: The Tragic Story of the Expulsion of the French Acadians from Their American Homeland. W. W. Norton.
- Parker, James Hill (1983). Ethnic Identity: The Case of the French Americans. University Press of America.
- Louder, Dean R.; Eric Waddell, translated by Franklin Philip (1993). French America: Mobility, Identity, and Minority Experience across the Continent. Louisiana State University Press.
- Silver, A. I (1997). The French-Canadian idea of Confederation, 1864-1900. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-7928-8
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to French Canadians.|
|Look up french canadian in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Multicultural Canada website includes seven full-text searchable French Canadian newspapers from Ontario and Quebec