QUEBEC-RESEARCH-L ArchivesArchiver > QUEBEC-RESEARCH > 2007-11 > 1194756810
From: Mona Rainville <>
Subject: Re: [Q-R] Coming into US from Canada
Date: Sat, 10 Nov 2007 23:53:30 -0500
Of course, in the mid 1700's there was no US.
There was merely a thin line of British settlements, along a short
stretch of the Eastern seaboard, East of the Appalachians.
West of the Appalachian, and North of the British settlements spanned
New France. In the South, were the Spaniards.
Until most of the French colony was ceded to the Crown of England, in
1763, there were no restriction on travel, but residence required the
issuance of a passport - very different from today's passports -
allowing the foreigner to remain for a stated period of time and for a
stated activity, usually trading.
If the English subject wished to prolong his stay in French territory,
settle there, take a wife, and take root, two different issues had to be
dealt with. The first was, of course, religion. And if you look at the
register of abjurations (under Q, for Diocèse de Québec, in Drouin),
you'll find several foreigners who became catholics in order to remain
in New France. There were New Englanders, but also Irish, Scots,
English, Germans, and quite a variety of origins.
The term "foreigner" or "foreign", you might be interested to known,
comes from the French "forain", the French having inherited it from the
Roman's "forum". A "forain" was a traveling salesman, a merchant, who
would bring his ware for sale in remote areas markets, often very far
away from his home. The sovereign would ensure his safety and often
provide him with an escort. This was known as a "saufconduit", a safe
conduct, the ancestor of today's passport. This custom began during the
Middle Ages, and the "forains" would congregate at specific locations to
hold a market at a specific time of year. This usually gave rise to
festivities. We've all heard the song "Scarborough Fair", no? Well that
was just one of such markets. In New France, such markets were also
held, though in somewhat different and subdued circumstances. Montreal
had it's fur market, for example, which was held yearly in the Fall.
The second issued concerned fealty to the Crown. Although foreign
subjects were allowed to keep trading counters or act as agents for
outside merchants, it was at the pleasure of the King of France who
could revoke his permission as he saw fit. If one wanted to settle
permanently in New France, the procedure was to apply to be granted
letters of naturality, essentially citizenship (I'm over simplifying,
but that's the general gist of it). These letters, called "Lettres de
naturalité" were granted by the King also as he saw fit. But once the
King had accepted an applicant as his subject, this person became vested
with all the rights - and burdened with all the obligations - of a
Many of these letters have survived, and notably, a series of letters
issued in 1710 or there abouts, to New Englanders who had been made
captive years earlier and who had thus remained in the colony.
Those letters can be found at the BAnQ (Quebec archives).
Hope this helps you a bit.
PS: If you are interested to know how the thin line of small British
settlement became the US of A, I can recommend Denis Vaugeois's book
"America". A fascinating read.
> This is similar to questions I have. What about our ancestors who came to the US from Quebec in the early to mid 1700s? They didn't have to go through any type of immigration process since there was no USA yet, or did they? Is there any way of finding out how they got here and when? Did they need permission from Canada to come here? I know these questions sound dumb but I'd really like to know. Thanks.
> LFelixthekat wrote:
> I was wondering if someone can give me some help about coming into the US
> from Canada.
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|Re: [Q-R] Coming into US from Canada by Mona Rainville <>|