This Week in History
The Capitulation of New France
For the week of Monday September 4, 2000
On September 8, 1760, French rule came to an end in North America when, in Montréal, New France capitulated to the British army.
Initially, efforts to take New France resulted in failure due to poor military leadership. But by 1758, the tide shifted as the British adopted a multi-pronged attack. The British Royal Navy blockaded the coast of France, effectively cutting off supplies to New France. In July 1758, the British fleet, under the command of General James Wolfe, bombarded Louisbourg and forced the fort to surrender. As Louisbourg was positioned at the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River, this laid open the way to Québec, the capital city of New France.
General Wolfe delayed his advance until the following spring. In June 1759, he led his men and some Aboriginal allies in an attack against Québec. It took them several months to overcome the Marquis de Montcalm's army, which included French troops, Canadians and Aboriginals, but in the days following Montcalm's defeat in the battle on the Plains of Abraham on September 13, 1759, Québec surrendered to the British. Though its capital was taken, New France survived. The French army abandoned Québec and regrouped around Montréal.
With the approach of winter, both armies awaited the thaw to renew the war. In the spring of 1760, a large British fleet set sail for Montréal and surrounded the island. After several months of attack, Governor Vaudreuil signed the Articles of Capitulation. French authority ceased to exist in North America; the territory was now under British military rule.
France and Great Britain eventually signed a peace treaty in 1763. Though the Treaty of Paris officially relinquished New France to Great Britain, the colony had ceased to exist three years earlier. In 1952, the Capitulation of New France in Montréal was designated an event of national historic significance.
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