By 1712 New France had reached its territorial peak, comprising five colonies: Canada, Hudson’s Bay, Acadia, Newfoundland and Louisiana. North America was dominated by France and Britain. After the French and British had negotiated the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), France relinquished its claims to Acadia, Hudson Bay and Newfoundland to Britain and established the colony of Île Royale (Cape Breton). There was a period of comparative tranquillity when French ships, no longer harried by the British navy, were able to transport growing consignments of fur from Canada to the French homeland. As a result the colony prospered, and its population slowly expanded, reaching just 24,954 by 1720. By contrast, the British colonies to the south were constantly replenished by large numbers of new colonists and their populations grew accordingly. In 1718 The Compagnie des Indes was founded ; it was a merchant association that regulated the increasingly important fur trade. In 1720 the French embarked on an ambitious programme to fortify New France, commissioning Sieur de Verville to construct a stone fortress at Louisbourg on Cape Breton to protect its fishing zones and commerce. Eighty percent of the colony’s budget was dedicated to military preparations, such as building forts – far more than was ever expended on building relations with native peoples.
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