New France, New Home

In this lesson students will learn about the significance of the filles du roi.

Created by Carol White Governor General's History Awards Winner 2002 recipient of the Governor General's Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History

Posted July 11, 2010

Lesson Overview

In this lesson, students will learn about the significance of the filles du roi. Students will read a story about two young women and their journey to the colony of New France. As a culminating activity, students will play the role of the filles du roi or a bachelor and write a postcard home to France, explaining their life and adventures.  

Time Required

2 – 3 class periods

Historical Thinking Concept(s)

This lesson plan uses the following historical thinking concepts: establish historical significance and take historical perspectives.

Learning Outcomes

Student will:

  •  Exercise historical empathy and discover historical perspective as they read about the filles du roi.
  •  Learn the historical significance of the filles du roi in the growth of New France.

  • Extend their understanding of the text by connecting the ideas in it to their own knowledge, experience, and insights and to the world around them.

  • Make predictions, draw inferences and construct meaning in the text. 

Background Information

New France in the late seventeenth century needed more people. Almost all of the 3,400 living there were men. To grow the population they needed women. The King of France took steps to help. King Louis XIV offered dowries for young girls called filles du roi to travel to New France to become brides.

The Lesson Activity


  • Before the lesson, make sure the class is familiar with the vocabulary they will encounter in the story. New vocabulary from this lesson includes: bachelor, chaperone, dowry, nunnery, orphanage, and scurvy.

  • Introduce or review what the setting of a story is and how the setting affects the characters and plot of a story. Use simple examples to show the effects (e.g. riding a bus to school versus walking, living in the city versus living on a farm, visiting Canada versus visiting the Caribbean during the winter months, living in 1600 versus living today).
    • Have the students read the first section of the "New France, New Home" story to find out when and where the first part of this story took place and how the time and place affected the characters.
    • Discuss with the class what they have learned so far. Teacher prompts might include:  What characters have you met so far?  When is this story happening? Where are they? Where are they going? Why are they going there?
    • Establish how the setting affected the lives of the characters. Teacher prompts might include: How did living in 1671 affect the lives of Marie and Eloise? (e.g. New France needed women so they were given the chance to go there). How did traveling across the ocean by boat affect the characters and their story (e.g. rough seas, seasickness, difficult voyage). 


  • Introduce the concept of Historical Significance and Historical Perspective. Emphasize that some events have a very large impact on people, communities and even countries and can change them forever. Identify the coming of the filles du roi as one such event. Have the students read the insert on page 20 to learn more about the filles du roi or give the students more detail yourself.  In discussion afterwards a teacher prompt might be: After learning more about the filles du roi do you agree that their coming to New France was an historically significant event? Why? 
  • Before they continue reading have the students make predictions about what will happen in the rest of the story by completing the first section of the Anticipation Guide. When the students complete their predictions have them read the rest of the story. After they read have them go back to the Anticipation Guide to confirm or change their predictions and add proof from the story to provide supporting evidence.


  • Ask the students to imagine themselves living the life of the filles du roi or one of the bachelors. Have them write a postcard home to their families telling them what their life is like in the colony of New France. Emphasize that in historical writing it is important to make sure the details they share could have really happened. The reader of their postcard should learn about the event or time period and be able to share the feelings of the people in the story. Students should use and describe specific artifacts, vocabulary and events from the story or from their own research.
  • Once they complete their draft and revisions, have the students complete their good copy in the form of a postcard. They can include an address and a seal (used in place of stamps in New France). On the flip side of their good copy or on another piece of same size paper that can be glued back to back to the first, have the students create a piece of art that depicts a scene from their story. 
  • A creative story, poem, song or dramatic performance could replace the postcard as the creative product produced.


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