The name refers to the two main enemies of the British colonists: the royal French forces and the various indigenous forces allied with them. British and European historians use the term the Seven Years' War, as do many Canadians. Canadian historians avoid the term "French and Indian War", preferring to call it the Anglo-French rivalry. Canadian people descend from British and French settlers as well as indigenous aboriginal peoples. French Canadians call it La guerre de la Conquête ("The War of Conquest").
The war was fought primarily along the frontiers separating New France from the British colonies from Virginia to Nova Scotia. The French were greatly outnumbered, so they made heavy use of Indian allies. It began with a dispute over control of the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, called the Forks of the Ohio, and the site of the French Fort Duquesne and present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The dispute erupted into violence in the Battle of Jumonville Glen in May 1754, during which Virginia militiamen under the command of 22-year-old George Washington ambushed a French patrol. British operations in 1755, 1756 and 1757 in the frontier areas of Pennsylvania and New York all failed, due to a combination of poor management, internal divisions, and effective Canadian, French and Indian offense. The 1755 British capture of Fort Beauséjour on the border separating Nova Scotia from Acadia was followed by the expulsion of the Acadians. Orders for the deportation were given by William Shirley, Commander-in-Chief, North America, without consent from Great Britain. The Acadians, both those captured in arms and those who had sworn the oath to His Britannic Majesty, were expelled. Native Americans were likewise driven off