Conquest of 1760

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The Conquest (French La Conquête) is the term used in reference to the acquisition of parts of New France by Britain during the French and Indian War, otherwise referred to as part of the Seven Years' War. The conquest was undertaken by the British as a campaign in 1758, with the acquisition of Canada made official in the Treaty of Paris that concluded the Seven Years' War.


The British campaign to conquer Canada began in 1758 starting with the capture of the port of Louisburg, part of a surrounding colony, which was followed by the significant victory at Quebec in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in September of 1759.[1] Despite the British defeat in the significantly-bloodier Battle of Sainte-Foy at Quebec the following year in April of 1760, the campaign was completed with the surrender of Montreal in 1760 and the possession of the lands taken by the British during The Conquest were secured during the Treaty of Paris in 1763 at the conclusion of the war. Under the Treaty, Canada was ceded to the British in exchange for the return of Guadeloupe (which had rich sugar resources)[2] and the right to retain the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon off the coast of Newfoundland (access to the lucrative Atlantic fisheries).[3] This has traditionally been interpreted by scholars as an indication of diverging ideologies concerning empire, with the British focusing further on land holding and colonization whereas the French focused more on mercantile interests, although some recent scholarship questions or tries to complicate this idea.[4]


On 8 September 1760, Governor General Pierre, Marquis de Vaudreuil-Cavagnal, surrendered the French colony known as Canada. Britain assured the 60,000 to 70,000 Francophone inhabitants[5] freedom from deportation and from confiscation of property, freedom of religion, the right to migrate to France, and equal treatment in the fur trade (backbone of the local economy).[6] The Treaty of Paris made the northern portion of New France (including Canada and some additional lands to the south and west) officially a British colony.[6] The Quebec Act of 1774 confirmed the previous agreement.


The Conquest has always been a central and contested theme of Canadian memory--as exemplified by an episode in 2009 when re-enactors were prevented from restaging the decisive 1759 battles in Quebec. Cornelius Jaenen argues, "The Conquest has remained a difficult subject for French-Canadian historians" as they split between a large group that see it as a highly negative economic, political and ideological disaster that threatened a way of life with materialism and Protestantism.[7] Historians of the 1950s tried to explain the economic inferiority of the French-Canadians by arguing the Conquest

"destroyed an integral society and decapitated the commercial class; leadership of the conquered people fell to the Church; and, because commercial activity came to be monopolized by British merchants, national survival concentrated on agriculture."[8]

At the other pole are those Francophone historians who see the positive benefit of enabling the preservation of language, and religion and traditional customs under British rule.[9] French Canadian debates have escalated since the 1960s, as the Conquest is seen as a pivotal moment in the history of Québec's nationalism. Historian Jocelyn Létourneau suggested in the 21st century, "1759 does not belong primarily to a past that we might wish to study and understand, but, rather, to a present and a future that we might wish to shape and control."[10]

"The Monument des Braves", begun in Quebec in 1863, commemorated the Battle of Sainte-Foy, the last victory won by the French in Canada during the Seven Years' War. It began a wave Of commemorations that took place across Canada between 1850 and 1930. They were designed to create memories and left out the harshness of the British conquest and bring Anglophones and Francophones closer together.[11]

Anglophone historians, in sharp contrast, typically celebrated the Conquest as a victory for British military, political, and economic superiority that was a permanent benefit to the French.[12]



  1. Phillip Buckner and John G. Reid, ed. Revisiting 1759: The Conquest of Canada in Historical Perspective,( Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012), vii, 1.
  2. Helen Dewar, "Canada or Guadeloupe? : French and British Perceptions of Empire, 1760–63," Canadian Historical Review 91 (2010), 637,641. doi: 10.3138/chr.91.4.637
  3. Phillip Buckner and John G. Reid, ed. Revisiting 1759: The Conquest of Canada in Historical Perspective,( Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012), 7.
  4. Helen Dewar, "Canada or Guadeloupe? : French and British Perceptions of Empire, 1760–63," Canadian Historical Review 91 (2010), 638–40.
  5. Miquelon, Dale. "Conquest", in The Canadian Encyclopedia (Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 1988), Volume 1, p. 491
  6. 6.0 6.1 Miquelon, p.491.
  7. Jaenen, Cornelius J. "Canada during the French regime", in D.A. Muise, ed. A Reader's Guide to Canadian History: 1: Beginnings to Confederation (1982), p.40.
  8. Carl Berger (1986). The writing of Canadian history: aspects of English-Canadian historical writing since 1900. U of Toronto Press. pp. 185–86.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Jaenen, p.40.
  10. Phillip Buckner and John G. Reid, eds., Remembering 1759: The Conquest of Canada in Historical Memory (U of Toronto Press, 2012), p.279.
  11. Patrice Groulx, "La Commemoration de la Bataille de Sainte-Foy: du discours de la Loyaute a la 'Fusion des Races'", ["Commemoration of the Battle of Sainte-Foy: from the discourse of loyalty to the "fusion of the races"] in Revue d'histoire de L'Amerique francaise (2001), 55#1 pp.45-83.
  12. Jaenen, p.40


  • Buckner, Phillip and John G. Reid, editors. Revisiting 1759: The Conquest of Canada in Historical Perspectiv.Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012.
  • Dewar,Helen. "Canada or Guadeloupe? : French and British Perceptions of Empire, 1760–63." Canadian Historical Review 91 (2010).doi: 10.3138/chr.91.4.637
  • Miquelon, Dale. "Conquest", in The Canadian Encyclopedia, Volume 1, pp. 491–2. Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 1988.