Treaty of Paris (1763)

The Treaty of Paris ended the Seven Years’ War between France, Britain and Spain. It marked the end of that phase of European conflict in North America, and created the basis for the modern country of Canada.

The Seven Years' War

The Seven Years’ War was fought from 1756-63. The first war to span the globe, it was chiefly fought between Britain, Prussia and Hanover, against France, Austria, Sweden, Saxony, Russia and Spain.

France and Britain were especially hostile enemies, waging war on land and sea in Europe and in colonies around the world. Britain hoped to destroy France’s navy and merchant fleet, take possession of its colonies and remove France as a commercial rival.

Much of the fighting took place in North America, where the European powers clashed over possession of their colonies. The North American theatre is also known as the French and Indian War.

Dividing the Colonies

The Treaty of Paris was signed on 10 February 1763 by France, Britain and Spain.

Three years earlier, Governor Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil de Cavagnial, Marquis de Vaudreuil, surrendered New France (what is now Quebec, and other French territories in North America) to a British invasion force at Montréal by the Articles of Capitulation on 8 September 1760. Prior to this the Aboriginal allies of the French had reached an agreement with the British at Oswegatchie (25 August) and the Huron of Lorette had done likewise at Longueuil (5 September). New France was under military occupation and military rule until a definitive treaty of peace was negotiated.

By the terms of the treaty, Britain obtained the French possessions of Ile Royale (Cape Breton Island), Canada (Quebec), and the Great Lakes Basin and the east bank of the Mississippi River. Britain received Florida from Spain.

France retained fishing rights in Newfoundland and the Gulf of St Lawrence, acquired the small Gulf islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon as an unfortified fishing station, and had her lucrative West Indian possessions, trading centres in India and slaving station on the Île de Gorée (in present-day Senegal) restored.

In accordance with the conditional capitulation of 1760, Britain guaranteed French Canadians limited freedom of worship. Provisions were made for exchange of prisoners; French Canadians were given 18 months to emigrate if they wished; and government archives were preserved.

Britain had acquired a large empire and France was still able to challenge British naval supremacy, but Spain achieved none of her war aims.

Britain would later lose the southern North American colonies in the American Revolution. The northern colonies would become the modern country of Canada.

See also Royal Proclamation of 1763.