French-CanadianFrench-Canadian is a term that refers to a Francophone inhabitant of Canada. French-Canadians may be found across Canada, although the largest concentration of French speakers is to be found in Quebec. Roughly 25% of Canadians are of French descent.
The French were the first Europeans to colonize Canada. (See French colonization of the Americas.) Their colony of New France stretched across what today are the Maritime provinces and southern Quebec and Ontario, as well as the entire Mississippi River Valley. The first permanent European settlement in Canada was at Quebec City.
After the British conquest of Canada in the French and Indian Wars, the French population remained important in the life of the colonies. Although the British deported the French population of Acadia in the Maritime region to Louisiana after it conquered the area in Queen Anne's War, Lord Dorchester ensured freedom of language and religion as well as the continuity of the seigneurial and French legal system in Lower Canada.
French-Canadian contributions were essential in securing responsible government for the Canadas and in undertaking Canadian Confederation. However, over the course of the late 19th and 20th centuries, French-Canadians' discontent grew with their place in Canada. (See Quebec, History of Canada and Politics of Canada for information.)
A number of distinct groups of French-Canadians may be identified. The largest is the Quebecois. Others include:
and smaller populations in every province and territory.
The dialects of French spoken in Canada are quite distinctive compared to those of France. See Canadian French.