Yet if this development recalls an aspect of old

This preview shows page 10 - 12 out of 23 pages.

Yet, if this development recalls an aspect of Old World enclosure, fences andhedges seem to have been rather rare in the emergent countryside of seventeenth-century Canada. Here, as in New England, cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats shared theland with grain crops, although in the absence of any substantial market for livestockproducts, herds were never large. Custom consecrated by colonial “police” regula-tions required only that hay meadows be fenced. Otherwise, it was up to the ownersof livestock to keep their animals supervised and confined to common pastures dur-ing the growing season.36After the crops were harvested, the custom ofvaine paˆtureprevailed, meaning that animals could roam across the fields, grazing on the stubbleand dropping their manure. Fences were incompatible withvaine paˆture. The seasonof open grazing was short, however, as the onset of deep snow usually forced thehabitants to resort to stall feeding through most of the winter. Then, with the comingof the spring thaw, plowing and sowing became urgent priorities, and animals wereofficially banned from the fields. In some localities, it was the seigneur who an-nounced the dates on which animals could be turned loose in the harvested fieldsand when they needed to be confined. After the grain had been sown in the spring,however, it was up to the owners of livestock to keep their animals under controland out of the planted fields.37While French Canada generally parted company with the British colonies in re-quiring the owners of livestock to control their beasts rather than placing the onuson farmers to protect their fields with fences, there was some ambiguity in practice.Even though they had the right to impound marauding cattle and shoot pigs on theirproperty, farmers began erecting fences across the fronts of their narrow farms toprevent incursions from the roadway. In 1725, the colonial administration called for35Donahue,The Great Meadow, 117–127.36“Reglements de police,” May 11, 1676, in Pierre Georges Roy, ed.,Ordonnances, commissions, etc.,etc., des gouverneurs et intendants de la Nouvelle-France, 1639–1706, 2 vols. (Beauceville, Quebec, 1924),1: 197. Similar arrangements prevailed across much ofancien re´gimeFrance; Bloch,French Rural History,46–47.37Louise Decheˆne,Habitants and Merchants in Seventeenth-Century Montreal(Montreal, 1992), 175–177.374Allan GreerAMERICANHISTORICALREVIEWAPRIL2012
habitants to fence their fields, although livestock owners remained liable for damageseven on unenclosed lands.38More and more fields were fenced, but many lands re-mained unenclosed at the time of the British conquest of Canada.39Common pastures were a basic feature of stock-raising in many areas of NewFrance. Commons were typically located in the marshy, low-lying areas adjacent tothe river or on the many islands that dotted the St. Lawrence; the latter were par-ticularly convenient, as the water helped keep the animals confined and safe frompredators. Commons in Canada operated somewhat like those of colonial New Eng-land, except that here they were subject to seigneurial controls and exactions. Access

Upload your study docs or become a

Course Hero member to access this document

Upload your study docs or become a

Course Hero member to access this document

End of preview. Want to read all 23 pages?

Upload your study docs or become a

Course Hero member to access this document

Term
Fall
Professor
MALAVIS
Tags
predators Commons

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture