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Jacques Cartier

Jacques Cartier

b. 1491 St. Malo, France d. 1557 St. Malo


In 1531, Francis I ordered Cartier to look for the Northwest Passage, the route to the Pacific that the seasoned John Cabot  could not find in 1497. Given two small ships and a crew of 61, Cartier left St. Malo in April.  In less than three weeks he was riding the night-swell through Canada's Straight of Belle Isle. He continued along the west coast of Newfoundland to Cape Anguille, discovering the Magdalen Islands and Prince Edward Island, then crossed to the Gaspe' Peninsula and took possession for France before sailing home. Unfortunately, he had mistaken the huge mouth of the St. Lawrence  for a bay and didn't go check it out.
Cartier's descriptions of the lands he visited interested many young French nobles to look for their fortune in the New World. In 1535 he was sent out by the king again - only this time, when he was sailing up the St. Lawrence , he recognized it for what it was. He continued on past Hochelaga, and the hill that he named "Mont Real," until he was stopped by the Lachine Rapids. That winter he spent at Stadacona, an Indian village near Quebec, and saw 25 of his men die of scurvy ( a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C that makes your gums real spongy, your teeth to fall out and bleeding into the skin). The Hurons were generous to him , but he repaid them with betrayal. He tricked 12 of them, including their chief, Donnaconna, onto his ship and took them straight to  France.  He kidnapped them to find out the location of gold mines, that never existed.
Cartier's third expedition, in 1541, was put together to help Jean Francois Roberval start a colony. Failing to round up enough French migrants willing to give up their comforts of home for the uncivilized New World, Roberval asked his government for help, which they did by freeing, anyone willing to join the expedition, from prison. While Cartier went ahead, Roberval waited for his recruits. He finally arrived on a supply ship in June 1542, only to find that Cartier, hating not being in command of the mission, had secretly slipped back to France. This left Roberval stranded in New France with a colony made up of robbers, swindlers and murders. 
Cartier never did find the Northwest Passage; for him it remained the lost dream. But his explorations served as the basis for French claims to the rich St. Lawrence valley.

 Click on the maps to enlarge routes


Below are some links and sites for more information on Jacques Cartier . 


Jacques Cartier

Jacques Cartier

Cartier, Jacques

Jacques Cartier Links

Discovers' Web: Jacques Cartier






This site was last updated 08/04/2004 08:08 PM -0400