During the 16th century, following the discovery of the rich fishing banks off Newfoundland, France became the first European nation active in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. In 1604, France created a permanent settlement there, laying the foundations of a country that would develop its own culture—a blend of French roots, Aboriginal customs, and adaptations to the new land. After 1763, under English rule, Canadians continued to maintain their customs, ensuring a French presence in North America.

To mark the 400th anniversary of the French presence in North America in 2004, France and Canada are re-creating their singular adventure and sparking new interest in their shared history, by putting documents online, reproduced in their entirety using the latest digitization technologies, and making them accessible to a broad public.

With enthusiasm and determination that reflect the scope of the project, the Direction des Archives de France, Library and Archives Canada, and the Canadian Embassy in Paris set up work teams, whose members ensured a constant and effective liaison between two continents. This portal provides access to a virtual exhibition and a database containing more than one million images. It will continue to grow and be enriched through contributions from national and local institutions that conserve archives related to the history of Canada.