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Canada's first official statistician was Jean Talon, who was born in 1625 in Champagne, France. Talon arrived in North America in 1665 on a mission from King Louis XIV and his finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert. France had taken back control of the colony from the private Company of One Hundred Associates in 1663, and Louis now wanted to measure the progress made in his colony.
As Intendant of Justice, Police, and Finance, Talon's tasks were to stimulate the economic expansion of New France, increase the colony's self-sufficiency and bring order to its financial administration. He was a man of enthusiasm and vision, and although he ranked below the Governor, he soon became the real manager of the colony. Talon served two terms: from 1665 to 1668, then from 1670 to 1672.
On his arrival in the colony, Talon faced challenges. Scurvy, smallpox, and other diseases were killing many European settlers. Confrontations were common between European settlers and aboriginal peoples, some of whom saw the newcomers as intruders. And the harsh climate could make even basic survival a struggle. Yet during Talon's time in the colony, the population of New France climbed from 3,200 to 7,600.
Talon began his administrative appointment by taking stock of the colony. This included a systematic census in the winter of 1665–66.
He conducted his census by counting people where they normally reside. And he did much of the enumeration himself, going door-to-door. Talon's census recorded everyone in the colony by name and included age, occupation, marital status, and relationship to the head of the family in which they lived. The census also measured the wealth of industry and agriculture, the value of local lumber and mineral resources, and the number of domestic animals, seigneuries, government buildings and churches.
The census enumerated 3,215 inhabitants of European descent — 2,034 men and 1,181 women. Among these were 3 notaries, 3 schoolmasters, 3 locksmiths, 4 bailiffs, 5 surgeons, 5 bakers, 8 barrel makers, 9 millers, 18 merchants, 27 joiners, and 36 carpenters. The colony consisted of 3 major settlements, inhabited by 528 families. Québec had a population of more than 2,100 people, Montréal had 635, and Trois-Rivières had 455.
After collecting his statistics, Talon put them to work. He was responsible for everything from taxes and health, to bridge building and chimney sweeping. His influence touched every facet of government and of the day-to-day lives of colonists. He used knowledge gained from the census to develop the colony in many directions.
You are Jean Talon, it is 1666 and you have just completed a Census of the settlement in New France. Review the table assigned to your group and prepare a presentation for the King of France. Your presentation should cover the following items:
The King of France, Louis XIV, is always pressed for time. Keep your presentation under 10 minutes, using graphs and images to emphasize the important points of your presentation.