From 1653 to 1659, the Société de Notre-Dame sent nearly 200 immigrants to Montréal, including couples and single women, who quickly received marriage proposals. For the first time, the birth rate became a significant factor in population growth.
The arrival of priests from the Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice de Paris made it possible to create a parish. Sisters from the Religious Hospitallers of Saint Joseph came to assist Jeanne Mance at the Hôtel-Dieu. Another young woman named Marguerite Bourgeoys opened the first school and, with a few companions, founded the Congregation of Notre-Dame. The Société de Notre-Dame granted choice parcels of land to these institutions; the income these plots generated would finance their charitable works.
The city was taking shape. Houses lined Rue Saint-Paul. A strip of land along the St. Lawrence River was used as a common. Immediately adjacent to the land reserve set aside for the city, Maisonneuve granted settlers long rectangular strips of land facing the St. Lawrence or its tributaries. The seigneural mill processed wheat, the main local crop.
Montréal began to participate in the fur trade, and a few merchants, including Charles Le Moyne and Jacques Le Ber, prospered quickly thanks to the new strategy of sending French traders to purchase furs from the Amerindians of the Great Lakes.
The colony began to generate its own economic activities. A social structure was established. First came the habitants, or residents, who included farmers, craftsmen, merchants and a few members of the nobility. Then came men under contract with the Société de Notre-Dame, journeymen craftsmen and servants.
After 1663, management of New France was taken over by the French royal administration, which limited the autonomy the settlement previously enjoyed. Among other changes, the seigneury of the Island of Montréal was transferred to the Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice de Paris.
The new French administration sent troops in 1665. Their counterattacks in Iroquois territory brought peace to the region. That same year, Maisonneuve was recalled to France, rather abruptly and without explanation, by the King’s representative.
This signalled the end of the founding era. Montréal was now well-established, thanks to substantial efforts by the Société de Notre-Dame, and to the courage and tenacity of its residents, especially Maisonneuve and Jeanne Mance.
Nuns from the Hôtel-Dieu
Establishment of the Jesuits