Baby Bonus in 1669?

Trois-Rivieres, Québec
Trois-Rivieres, Québec (Photo credit: Dougtone)

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There were many jokes in Canada when the system of “baby bonuses” was introduced in 1944. Nevertheless, it wasn’t the first time it had happened in Canada.  Louis XIV inaugurated baby bonuses on April 5, 1669!  A family with ten children received a pension of 300 livres a year, while twelve children were worth 400 livres.

There weren’t many French people who were willing to settle in Canada.  Most of those who came hoped to make some money and then return to their homeland.  Louis XIV, his First Minister Colbert, and the great Intendant Talon realized that the population of Canada must be increased.

One of the first steps was to send out “King’s Girls” to marry the bachelors in Canada.  They were carefully chosen, mostly from the provinces of Normandy, Brittany and Picardy.  City girls were apt to be lazy.  Thomas B. Costain in White and the Gold says: “The sturdy young inhabitants had no desire for wives of that type (city girls), even though they might be prettier and trimmer than the broad-beamed candidates from the farms.”

The King’s Girls arrived in shiploads of one hundred or more, carefully chaperoned.  They were displayed in halls while the bachelors looked them over.  The girls could also question the men who were interested in them and find out about their homes, habits, and possessions.  The bachelors in Trois Rivières and Montreal complained a good deal because the Quebec boys got the first choice and they were left with the culls!

As soon as a boy and girl agreed to be married, the wedding ceremony took place.  They were given an ox, cow, two pigs, a pair of chickens, two barrels of salted meat and a purse of eleven crowns.

There was no escape for the bachelors.  Parents were fined if their sons were not married by the time they were twenty and their daughters when they were sixteen.  They were hauled into court every six months until their children were married!

I’ve posted a few articles about the King’s Girls.  Click HERE to get the articles all on one page.

To learn more about King’s Girls, a good place to start is at CBC History. To learn more about Jean Colbert, a great place to look is at Britannica Encyclopedia.

28 comments

  1. I wish I was born during the 40’s and produce a dozen or more. I’ll be rich. This history is very interesting. I wonder what happened to the Canadian women?

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  2. 10 kids!!!! 😉 I felt so dumb, it took me a while to realize what you were meaning by ‘The King’s Girls’, I’d never heard that term before and I’ve studied a lot of Canadian history. In Quebec we always say ‘Les Filles du Roi’, even when we’re talking in English. Crazy how after all these years I realize that there’s actually an English term too!

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  3. Fascinating read, as are all of your posts. I laughed when I read the part about the fine. Can you imagine the back-lash over something like that these days? 😀

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  4. I’m fascinated and repelled by the notion of King’s Girls. What a compelling time in history though. I wonder if a novelist has written a book about one of these young women.

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    • There are two novels based on this, but apparently only one good book, in English, but I can’t find one that is less than a few hundred dollars! It’s too bad. Most of what is found on the Internet mostly deals with genealogy. Pity!

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