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French Canadians also referred to as Franco-Canadians or Canadiens ; French: During the midth century, Canadian colonists born in French Canada expanded across North America and colonized various regions, cities, and towns;  the French Canadian settlers originated primarily from districts in the northwest of France, such as Normandy , Perche , Beauce , Maine , Anjou , Touraine , Poitou , Aunis , Angoumois , Saintonge and Gascony.
Today, French Canadians live across North America. Between and , roughly , French Canadians emigrated to the United States, mostly to the New England region. 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 , although there is a divide between those identifying as French Canadians and those simply identifying as French.
Not all francophone Canadians are of French Canadian descent or heritage, as the body of French language speakers in Canada also includes significant immigrant communities from other francophone countries such as Haiti , Cameroon , Algeria , Tunisia or Vietnam — and not all French Canadians are francophone, as a significant number of people of French Canadian ethnicity are English speakers.
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. From to the s, the French word Canadien had referred to the First Nations the French had encountered in the St.
Lawrence River valley at Stadacona and Hochelaga. French Canadians living in Canada express their cultural identity using a number of terms. The latter three were grouped together by Jantzen as "French New World" ancestries because they originate in Canada. Jantzen 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.
The English-speaking residents who arrived later from Great Britain were called "Anglais". This usage continued until Canadian Confederation in Those reporting "French New World" ancestries overwhelmingly had ancestors that went back at least four generations in Canada.
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.
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. 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.
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 midth century, French Canadian explorers and colonists colonized other parts of North America in what are today Louisiana called Louisianais , Mississippi , Missouri , Illinois , Wisconsin , Indiana , Ohio , far northern New York and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as well as around Detroit.
Louis and villages in the Mississippi Valley. French Canadians later emigrated in large numbers from Canada to the United States between the s and the s in search of economic opportunities in border communities and industrialized portions of New England.
There is also a significant community of French Canadians in South Florida , particularly Hollywood, Florida , especially during the winter months. 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. Rather, they identify culturally, historically, and ethnically with the culture that originated in Quebec that is differentiated from French culture. French Canadian identities are influenced by historical events that inform regional cultures.
People who today claim some French-Canadian ancestry or heritage number some 7 million in Canada and 2. 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 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 , 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.
In the United States, many cities were founded as colonial outposts of New France by French or French-Canadian explorers. They include Mobile Alabama , Coeur d'Alene Idaho , Vincennes Indiana , Belleville Illinois , Bourbonnais Illinois , Prairie du Rocher Illinois , Dubuque Iowa , Baton Rouge Louisiana , New Orleans Louisiana , Detroit Michigan , Biloxi Mississippi , Creve Coeur Missouri , St.
Louis Missouri , Pittsburgh Fort Duquesne, Pennsylvania , Provo Utah , Green Bay Wisconsin , La Crosse Wisconsin , Milwaukee Wisconsin or Prairie du Chien Wisconsin. 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 , Lynn , 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. Some Metis still speak Michif , a language influenced by French, and a mixture of other European and Native American tribal languages.
Canadian French is an umbrella term for the distinct varieties of French spoken by francophone Canadians: 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. 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. 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 , with the Official Languages Act , and under the Canadian Constitution since , protecting them from provincial governments that have historically been indifferent towards their presence. At the provincial level, New Brunswick formally designates French as a full official language , while other provinces vary in the level of French language services they offer.
All three of Canada's territories include French as an official language of the territory alongside English and local indigenous languages, although in practice French-language services are normally available only in the capital cities and not across the entire territory.
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 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 s, 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 s, however, the practice of Catholicism dropped drastically. 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. Canadiens have selected their own livestock over the centuries: Canadienne cattle , Canadian horse , Chantecler chicken , etc.
By agriculture changed toward an industrial agriculture. 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 and Quebec City in 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.
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 midth 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 , the Windsor-Detroit region and the Canadian prairies primarily Southern Manitoba.
After the British conquest of New France in the French and Indian War known as the Seven Years' War in Canada , the French-Canadian population remained important in the life of the colonies. The British gained Acadia by the Treaty of Utrecht in 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. The Legislative Assembly having no real power, the political situation degenerated into the Lower Canada Rebellions of —, 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 s.
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 and the Conscription Crisis of Between the s and the s, some , 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 , 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.