A History of Canada: - Vol. 1

By Gustave Lanctot; Josephine Hambleton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
JACQUES CARTIER DISCOVERS THE COUNTRY OF CANADA

Discovery and exploration of the Gulf in 1534. Cartier takes possession of the country. Seizure of two Indians. Cartier in Stadacona ( Quebec) and Hochelaga ( Montreal) in 1535. Enthusiastic welcome by Hochelagans. Description of the country and natives. Wintering and scurvy. First gold ingots from Canada in France. Seizure of Donnacona and several of his companions. Insularity of Newfoundland. Results of the voyage.

For thirty years, from 1497 to 1527, the sailors of Europe--Cabot, Fernandez, Corte Real, Verrazano, John Rut--had vainly sought a passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific. None had succeeded in crossing the barrier of the continent when, by royal order, the Breton Jacques Cartier put to sea from St. Malo in 1534. Ever since the Peace of Cambrai ( 1529), the memory of the gold nuggets of Verrazano and of his claim that an interoceanic strait probably did exist had haunted the French Royal Council. They had been searching constantly for new financial resources in order to continue the struggle against Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire. One of the members, Bishop Le Veneur, Grand Almoner of France and Abbé of Mont St. Michel, became absolutely convinced that such an arm of the sea could be found, after conversing with Cartier, a companion of Verrazano and a relative of the Bursar of the Abbey. Cartier was forty-three, an experienced mariner and cartographer. He was also extremely well informed about the trans-Atlantic expeditions, and had profited from the science of Verrazano, with whom he had sailed from Newfoundland to Brazil. Now it so happened, in August 1532, that Francis I made a pilgrimage to Mont St. Michel, and Le Veneur took the opportunity to introduce to him the navigator "as a man capable, in view of his trips to Brazil and Newfoundland, of leading ships to

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