A History of Growth - Part 1

In Volume 2 we took a walk through Canada's complicated history with cannabis. The research was originally assembled by Nina Barbosa, a Master's student in Ottawa focused on cannabis research.

Below is the first part of that walkthrough when the French began to annex parts of North America along with the rest of the colonial powers at the time. All of them depended on hemp for essential tools in the age of sail: things like clothing, sails and rope.

In today's plastic economy its worth spreading this kind of classic knowledge. Does anyone out there know of any Canadian companies getting into hemp-based textile manufacturing? Let us know in the comments.



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French botanist Louis Hebert travels with explorer Samuel de Champlain and plants North America’s first hemp crop in Port Royal, Nova Scotia. Cannabis is a valuable commodity to all European colonists and explorers. Its fibre is used to make the ropes and sails of ships traversing the Atlantic and its seeds and flowers are used for food and medicine.

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Back in France, King Louis XIV is desperate for this essential commodity. He pressures his personal representative Jean Talon to take extreme measures. Talon resorts to extortion and seizes all the thread he can find in Lower Canada. Reporting to the King, Talon states he “will only distribute it to those who agree to return a stated quantity of hemp”.

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As the beaver trade begins to collapse hemp is used to support the Canadian economy. French official Michel Began incentivizes farmers by offering 60 livres per 100 pounds of cannabis and soon even women and children are recruited to help prepare hemp fibres. With all resources committed to cannabis, the Catholic Church begins to lose income. The Bishop of Quebec writes to King Louis X requesting he stop the production of cannabis. King Louis ignores him.

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