In 1763, following the Treaty of Paris, Quebec City officially became a major British garrison. As a result, there was a constant and substantial presence of Anglophone and Protestant young men, the majority of them single, in a city with a civilian population mostly French and Catholic. Over 600 of these military men married during their time in the city. However, previous historiography of the garrison of Quebec City has overlooked the women who became army wives.
Looking at the period 1763-1820, this study examines women’s experiences of marriage in the British garrison of Quebec City with particular considerations of the social divisions between officers and soldiers’ wives. Marriage in the British garrison of Quebec happened in a specific colonial context, in which military, religious and political factors played out on marriages. Focusing on the women who married British soldiers or officers reveals that the garrison remained a distinct entity in Quebec City with a dominant British culture; at the same time, it was a porous entity that mirrored the cultural and social diversity of the city. The close proximity in which the military and the civilian populations lived in the urban space resulted in a significant degree of integration between the two populations through marriage. This study thus aims to demonstrate that although army wives were a minority of the military population, they were an integral part of the garrison and contributed to shaping Quebec City’s social dynamic throughout the British regime.