For this most recent inquiry project that I completed, I asked “To what extent did the ‘Battle of the Plains of Abraham’ affect French settlement in Canada?” Through the process, I learnt a lot more about the actual battle, as well as French settlement. However, I’ve also become more attuned to the fact that the world as a whole, has decided to neglect Canadian history. While there weren’t quite as many deaths in total, I believe that the seven years war meets all other criteria, to truly be considered the first world war. According to all of the sources I have viewed, a world war is simply a war fought between many different countries, or a few of the most powerful and populated countries.
One of the defining moments in the seven years war, which lead to Quebec going onto the hands of the British, instead of the French, was the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. This battle was fought just north of Quebec, in what is called the Plains of Abraham. The British leader in the battle was James Wolfe respectfully, and his rival opponent representing the French, Louis-Joseph de Montcalm. James Wolfe and the British had been inhabiting a space a few kilometres north of the Plains of Abraham, but were blocked off from Quebec because of the large St. Lawrence River. They tried to get the French to initiate the fight, but were only succeeded in being a nuisance by cutting off their weapon supply. After many failed attempts, the British were finally able to cross the river, and tried to sneak up on the French without notice. However, Montcalm received word of the invasion, and set up his troops for battle. The armies met on the Plains of Abraham. The French began firing while they stood 120 metres away. As they advanced, the British, under direction of James Wolfe, held fire, confusing Montcalm. Finally, while they were a mere 40 metres away, and the French were out of materials, the British began rolling volleys. This was an extremely successful tactic, and led to the French retreating, not without giving Wolfe a shot which would prove fatal soon enough though. Without the direction of Montcalm, who was also killed in the battle, the French eventually handed Quebec to the British.
Once the British held power of Quebec, and really Canada, they tried to become a united front. Their goal was to stand as a country of British people, who all spoke English and followed the same traditions. However they struggled, especially with the Quebecois people.
When the French finally surrendered, they sent a capitulation proposal, requiring a variety of things, including “that the inhabitants shall be preserved in the possession of their houses, goods, effects, and privileges, upon their laying down their arms.” When the British agreed, it was decided that Canada would be a multicultural, bilingual country, on the terms of that agreement. The Quebecois people were still forced to bow down to the king, and were strongly persuaded to follow the same religion. Many rules were set to try and convince the Quebecois to morph into the British. For example, nuns who treated Quebecois peoples were not allowed to discuss their religion in front of them. However, the Quebecois nation still stands today, as a separate culture from those who descend from the British. They have preserved their rights to traditions, religion, and lifestyle.
After the French surrendered, the population of French-Canadians did not grow as fast as before. While newcomers were welcome, many did not wish to come to Canada once discovering what had happened. This lasted a few years, but once the Quebecois people had established themselves as a separate culture, more French people started moving to Canada, leading to our booming French-Canadian population today.
From this information, one may conclude that the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, directly influenced French settlement in Canada, because the French surrendered. However, if the French had not surrendered, they may have fought for the land and either won, or lost. Both of these outcomes would have led to a wildly different political climate from what we have today.
That being said, in todays world the Battle of the Plains of Abraham wouldn’t be considered out of the ordinary, besides the fact that it occurred in Canada. People have wars all over the world, fighting for land, wealth, and power. And the same standards that stand today, existed during James Wolfe’s time; if one is caught fighting, especially when it leads to death, they will be punished. Because of the capitulation proposal, no Quebecois people were punished for defending their land in the battle, but they easily could have been should the proposal have been denied. While our world has changed drastically since the late 1700’s, we do still hold some of the same values in regard to war and fighting.
Some awesome websites I used for research