Arriving in Quebec, Canada, Samuel De Champlain decided to cultivate the seeds which he carried from his homeland, France. Chris Parsons, a History Professor at the Northeastern University details instances of these French colonists and their journey in Quebec in his new book, ‘A Not-so-new World: Empire and Environment in French Colonial North America’.
These French colonists made their mission of agriculture pleasing to the higher officials of Europe. According to Parsons, the complicated relationship between agriculture and French colonialism was based on the theory and the word ‘sauvage’. When a plant, fruit or vegetable was regarded as sauvage, Champlain indicated that it was not completely ready for it to be used or consumed as French vegetables were properly domesticated. These men could succeed in their work of agriculture as the Americans did not pay quite an attention to the cultivation of their own lands. This, in turn, increased their chances of knowing and identifying the land they cultivated and the people who inhabited it. Though, due to the Frenchmen, Quebec was called the ‘New France’, neither was it new nor was it France. Quebec was a curated landscape which had a scope of agriculture. It can be called as ‘Economic Rehabilitation’ where Quebec had good land but it needed an improvement and the French were the ones to do it.
Colonialism gave a belief amongst the French that things will take place in their favour. They were confident about it but the story turned out to be a bit different. They tried hard to cultivate and produce grapes of the same quality as France (their homeland) but failed in their attempts as these grapes couldn’t yield the same taste of French wine. Thus, Parsons in his book says, “If history can teach us anything, I think (it’s) less specific lessons and more in terms of humility”. Though the French thought they would be successful in their endeavours, it was not so. It can be called as a successful attempt but the results obtained were close contrary.