Baby Bonus in 1669?

05 Apr
Trois-Rivieres, Québec

Trois-Rivieres, Québec (Photo credit: Dougtone)


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.


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28 responses to “Baby Bonus in 1669?

  1. Michelle Bennetts Heumann

    April 6, 2013 at 11:01 am

    This one is definitely a kid’s book, but it’s very well-written and quite historically accurate. It’s part of a great series from Scholastic about girls in Canadian history.

    • tkmorin

      April 6, 2013 at 11:35 am

      Wow, what a great site! I love it, thank you. And the book looks like a real gem! I’m a happy camper! 🙂

      • Michelle Bennetts Heumann

        April 6, 2013 at 11:39 am

        You’re welcome! I’m happy when my very random bits of knowledge come in handy. 🙂

  2. seeker

    April 6, 2013 at 12:05 am

    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?

    • tkmorin

      April 6, 2013 at 11:40 am

      They went on well, apparently. American Hillary Clinton and a handful of others are descendants of these women! Kinda cool, actually, eh? 🙂

      • seeker

        April 6, 2013 at 1:30 pm

        Should you trace your genecology, I wouldln’t be surprised you are one of them. That is cool! Eh, 😛

        • tkmorin

          April 6, 2013 at 3:55 pm

          Heehee, thanks! 🙂

  3. History Kicks Ass

    April 5, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    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!

    • tkmorin

      April 5, 2013 at 10:20 pm

      I’m bilingual and I often make the same sort of “thinking”. It’s almost embarrassing, eh? Don’t feel bad, it’ll be our secret. 🙂

  4. pishnguyen

    April 5, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    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? 😀

    • tkmorin

      April 5, 2013 at 5:53 pm

      Heehee … I’m sure it wouldn’t go well at all. Difficult to imagine that there really was such a law, eh? 🙂

    • tkmorin

      April 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm

      Thank you for the link! 🙂

    • Shelli@How'sitgoingeh?

      April 6, 2013 at 12:03 am

      Hey! Nice one, Michelle!!!

      • Michelle Bennetts Heumann

        April 6, 2013 at 10:57 am

        It’s a great little book – I’ll lend it to you if you want to read it! It’s really a written for older kids, but it’s good enough for an adult to enjoy.
        And thanks for the referral to this blog… 🙂

        • Shelli@How'sitgoingeh?

          April 6, 2013 at 2:55 pm

          Woohoo! Yay I’ll read it when I’m in my country condo of Black Diamond! Yay for Canadian history!

    • tkmorin

      May 3, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      I just finished reading this book a few days ago, Michelle; I want to thank you for your comment and suggesting the book. It was very good, I totally enjoyed it!! Thanks. 🙂

  5. tylersat99

    April 5, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Very interesting way of increasing the population!

    • tkmorin

      April 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      Yeah, it is, isn’t it? Try doing the same today … 🙂

  6. afterthekidsleave

    April 5, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Something similar happened in Victoria in 1862–fascinating but foreign to us now.

    • tkmorin

      April 5, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      Are you saying Victoria, B.C.?

      • afterthekidsleave

        April 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm

        I am. The bride ships arrived there in 1862–the idea being to “bring womanly civilization” to the men there. My great-great grandmother arrived that way, from Scotland.

        • tkmorin

          April 5, 2013 at 4:26 pm

          Wow! I hadn’t heard of that! Thank you. 🙂

          • afterthekidsleave

            April 5, 2013 at 4:29 pm

            Peter Wilton Johnson wrote quite a good book on it — “Voyages of Hope–The saga of the bride-ships.” Well worth a read.

          • tkmorin

            April 5, 2013 at 5:50 pm

            Thanks. I’ll certainly check it out! 🙂

  7. L. Marie

    April 5, 2013 at 10:22 am

    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.

    • tkmorin

      April 5, 2013 at 10:58 am

      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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