The vast territory of New France was divided into Pays d’en Haut, Hudson’s Bay, Acadia and Newfoundland. By the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, mainland Acadia, Newfoundland and Hudson’s Bay were ceded to Britain, but France established the new colony of Ile Royale. Throughout its existence, New France would be lightly settled compared to the rival English colonies. In part, this was due to the remote and inhospitable territory, deep in the continent’s interior and beset by often hostile Indian tribes. Another key factor was the dominance of the fur trade. Furs, because of their high value and portability, were a highly attractive commodity, very investible, and the mainstay of the New France economy. However, this preoccupation inhibited the development of a stable programme of agrarian settlement. Instead French influence throughout much of its territory was either through missionaries or the nomadic coureurs du bois (fur-trappers).
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