Alberta’s Francophone Mosaic

When Alberta became a province in 1905, Francophones had been using this land for at least 127 years. In fact, they were the first to arrive and had dominated its fur trade since 1778. The history of the European settlers primarily begins in northern Alberta, where the highest-quality and most abundant...

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British Colombia

From low profile to enthusiasm: French and Francophones in British Columbia

For a long time, the French language and Francophones went unnoticed in British Columbia. French-Canadian and Francophone Métis founding pioneers, who constituted the majority for the first 50 years of European colonization but were not in leadership roles,...

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The Francophones of Manitoba, pioneers in Western Canada

In 1738, Pierre Gaultier de La Vérendrye reached the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, where the Indigenous nations had been meeting for centuries. He built a first fort on the site of what is now the City of Winnipeg. The close collaboration between the Indigenous...

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New Brunswick

New Brunswick, the heart of today’s Acadia

Today, the largest Acadian community lives in New Brunswick, in the only Canadian province that is officially bilingual. Some 233,000 people whose mother tongue is French—the great majority of whom are Acadians—represent one third of the province’s population. It is also in New...

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Newfoundland and Labrador

An ancient Francophone presence in Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland was the first region of the North American continent to be visited by Francophone fishermen at the beginning the 16th century. Their presence was only seasonal, limited to the summer months. They came ashore and constructed modest facilities to salt and dry their...

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Northwest Territories

The ancient and recent Francophone community of the Northwest Territories

A little over 1,000 Francophones live in the Northwest Territories, primarily in Yellowknife. They represent around 2.7% of the total population. French is one of the 11 official languages of the Northwest Territories, along with English and 9 Indigenous...

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Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia, Acadia’s native land

The French founded the first permanent colony on what is now Canadian territory in 1604, on the shores of the Bay of Fundy, in Nova Scotia. These pioneers came to be known as the “défricheurs d’eau.” Instead of encroaching on the forest to develop agriculture, they invented an ingenious system...

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Nunavut’s Francophone Community: Small, Highly Active and Well Integrated

Nunavut is a vast Northern region that separated from the Northwest Territories in 1999 to give more autonomy to the Inuit who make up 85% of the population. Nunavut’s francophone community consists of some 500 people, mainly in the capital Iqaluit. However,...

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Ontario’s diverse Francophone community

Ontario has the largest number of Francophones outside Quebec, somewhere between 500,000 and 600,000, depending on whether mother tongue or first official language spoken is used as the criterion to estimate their numbers. They represent approximately 4% of the province’s total...

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Prince Edward Island

The Acadians of Prince Edward Island

Picturesque Prince Edward Island is the smallest but the most densely populated province in Canada. At the time of the 2016 census, it had 141,015 residents, 2,910 (2.1% of the population) of whom reported speaking French regularly at home. Yet the number of French speakers (Francophones and...

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Quebec, pillar of Canada’s Francophone community

The Province of Quebec is the hub of French culture in Canada and North America. Quebec’s six million or so French speakers represent 80% of the province’s population. They control their destiny by voting, in Quebec’s National Assembly, on laws and budgets that promote the...

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The Métis Francophone community of Saskatchewan

Before European fur traders arrived in what is now Saskatchewan, many Indigenous nations roamed around this territory. They were the Chippewyan, the Cree, the Assiniboine, the Saulteaux, the Blood Tribe and the Blackfoot, all looking for berries, fish and small and large game, in...

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Yukon’s Francophone Community: A Golden Presence

Yukon, whose francophone community has grown in recent years, is today home to some 1,500 native French speakers. Most live in the capital, Whitehorse, which has a wide range of French-language services. The territory’s Francophones, 9 in 10 of whom are from other countries or other...

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canadian flag in the windFrancophone Canada

Immigrants from France were the first Europeans to permanently settle in what is now Canadian territory. The French practised cod fishing in Newfoundland’s fish-rich waters, and the fur trade in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the St. Lawrence Valley with the Indigenous populations, which facilitated settlement in those regions.
The French descendants quickly named themselves Acadians and Canadians, to distinguish themselves from the French from France. They first lived in the Maritime Provinces. They then settled in the St. Lawrence Valley, but quickly spread out in small groups into the Great Lakes region, the Prairies, and all along the Mississippi Valley, down to the Gulf of Mexico. In 1763, the French colonies passed into the hands of the British.

The Francophone communities throughout Canada would preserve their heritage and identity over the next two centuries, often in difficult conditions. In the second half of the 20th century, they made important gains, which today allow them to benefit from favourable conditions in a country where the French language and culture are now considered an asset.

According to the 2016 census, there are over seven million French-mother-tongue Canadians in Canada (21.4% of the population). They are spread throughout all regions, but concentrated in Quebec, where they number over six million and form the province’s majority population (79.1%). These descendants of the French pioneers are considered a founding people. That is why French is one of Canada’s two official languages.