This first intendant of NEW FRANCE was to convert a small, weak, fur-trading and missionary outpost under company rule into a profitable, well-populated royal province, capable of defending itself. To diversify the economy, Talon had the mineral and timber resources evaluated; encouraged commercial farming, domestic crafts, shipbuilding and the fishery; and established a brewery and fostered trade with the French West Indies. Almost 2000 immigrants and disbanded soldiers were settled on the land. It was assumed that the population would increase through intermarriage with Indians instructed in the religion and ways of the French, but few natives abandoned their culture. Talon relied on penalties against bachelors and rewards for early marriage and large families among the French for population growth.
When his dream of a territorial empire conflicted with Colbert's desire for a compact, defensible colony, Talon obediently encouraged continuous settlement in the St Lawrence Valley and founded 3 villages. Talon had accepted the post in Canada as a route to promotion, and in 1671 asked the king's permission to return to France in view of "my obedience in leaving Europe for America, exposing my life to the different perils of sea and sickness ... and my labours in a land as rough as this was in its beginnings." He returned in 1672 and was appointed secretary to the king, member of the royal household and was named Count d'Orsainville. In New France, Talon's industries, commercial agriculture and trade with the West Indies failed; for 3 years there was no intendant and the Crown would no longer invest large sums of money in colonial development. Talon is remembered as an industrial entrepreneur and originator of the family allowance, but his enduring legacy was the centralized, royal administrative and legal framework.
Author PETER N. MOOGK