Everyday Life in New France. Habitants. The habitants of New France spent more time clearing and cultivating their land than they did hunting and trapping. They built log homes on the banks of rivers. They had to be self-sufficient in order to survive.
Towns and cities expanded as businesses thrived. In general, town life was more sophisticated and comfortable and habitants used them to sell their produce.
In 1742, a visitor to New France remarked that it looked like a village strung out along the river. The houses were close to one another and the fields strung out behind them. When the river lots filled up, a second row was created.
Grant them farms.
Promise habitants the right to stay on the land if they honored their contract.
Provide protection for them.
Build a mill for grinding wheat into flour.
Provide land for a church and help build it.
Promise to build a house and clear the land.
Pay annual taxes, which could be goods such as pigs, sacks of wheat, or a few chickens.
Work 3 days each year for the seigneur.
Promise to take their grain to the seigneur’s mill and pay him 1/14th of any grain they grind.
Give the seigneur a portion of any fish they catch.
Pay a commission if they sell their land.
Promise to help build a church and pay the priest.
Honor the seigneur with a special pew in the local church.
Important festivals revolved around the church. For example, on Christmas Eve, children went to bed early. They would be awakened around 11 p.m. and bundled up in the sleigh . With bells jingling, the family would head to church for midnight mass followed by a huge feast and dancing. Gifts were not exchanged until New Year’s Day.