History, Language & Culture Saint Pierre and Miquelon

歴史、言語と文化 Saint Pierre and Miquelon

Archaeological evidence indicates that native peoples, such as the Beothuk, visited St Pierre and Miquelon, but it is not thought that they settled on the islands permanently.


The Portuguese explorer Joao Alvares Fagundes is thought to be the first European to have landed on the islands; he visited them on 21 October 1520 and named the St. Pierre island group the 'Eleven Thousand Virgins', as the day marked the feast day of St. Ursula and her virgin companions.They were made a French possession in 1536 by Jacques Cartier on behalf of the King of France.Though already frequented by Mi'kmaq people and Basque and Breton fishermen, the islands were not permanently settled until the end of the 17th century: four permanent inhabitants were counted in 1670, and 22 in 1691.


In 1670, during Jean Talon's tenure as Intendant of New France, a French officer annexed the islands when he found a dozen French fishermen camped there. The British Royal Navy soon began to harass the French settlers, pillaging their camps and ships. By the early 1700s, the islands were again uninhabited, and were ceded to the British by the Treaty of Utrecht which ended the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713.The British renamed St Pierre to 'St Peter', and small numbers of British and American settlers began arriving.


Under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (1763), which put an end to the Seven Years' War, France ceded all its North American possessions, but Saint-Pierre and Miquelon were returned to France. France also maintained fishing rights on the coasts of Newfoundland (French Shore).


With France being allied with the Americans during the American Revolutionary War, Britain invaded and razed the colony in 1778, sending the entire population of 2,000 back to France. In 1793 the British landed in Saint-Pierre and, the following year, again expelled the French population, and tried to install British settlers.The British colony was in turn sacked by French troops in 1796. The Treaty of Amiens of 1802 returned the islands to France, but Britain reoccupied them when hostilities recommenced the next year.


The Treaty of Paris (1814) gave the islands back to France, though Britain occupied them yet again during the Hundred Days War. France then reclaimed the now uninhabited islands in which all structures and buildings had been destroyed or fallen into disrepair.The islands were resettled in 1816. The settlers were mostly Basques, Bretons and Normans, who were joined by various other peoples, particularly from the nearby island of Newfoundland. Only around the middle of the century did increased fishing bring a certain prosperity to the little colony.


In 1903 the colony toyed with the idea of joining the United States, but in the end nothing came of the idea. During the early 1910s the colony suffered severely as a result of unprofitable fisheries, and large numbers of its people emigrated to Nova Scotia and Quebec.The draft imposed on all male inhabitants of conscript age after the beginning of World War I crippled the fisheries, which could not be processed by the older men or the women and children. About 400 men from the colony served in the French military during World War I, 25% of whom died. The increase in the adoption of steam trawlers in the fisheries also contributed to the reduction in employment opportunities.


During World War II, despite opposition from Canada, Britain, and the United States, Charles de Gaulle seized the archipelago from Vichy France, to which the local government had pledged its allegiance. In a referendum on December 26, 1941, the population endorsed the takeover by Free France by a vote of 63 for Free France with three ballots voided. After the 1958 French constitutional referendum, Saint Pierre and Miquelon was asked to choose one of the three options of becoming fully integrated with France, becoming a self-governing state within the French Community, or preserving the status of overseas territory; it decided to remain a territory


Official languages French

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