A History of Canada: - Vol. 1

By Gustave Lanctot; Josephine Hambleton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
THE FIRST ATTEMPT AT COLONIZATION UNDER ROBERVAL

Cartier's colonial programme. His appointment as Captain-General of the expedition. The King of Spain's opposition to the project. Roberval's commission. Power to recruit prisoners as colonists. The settlement of Cartier at Charlesbourg-Royal. Visit to Hochelaga. Discovery of gold and diamonds. Departure for France. Roberval en route with soldiers and prisoners. Meeting with Cartier at Newfoundland. Roberval settles at Charlesbourg. Attempts to reach the Saguenay. Cartier's minerals worthless. Roberval's recall to France.

Despite the excellent news Cartier brought with him on his return, it seems scarcely to have awakened any immediate reaction. Since the Royal Council insisted upon keeping his discovery of gold a guarded secret, it appeared to most that he had brought back much less than he had promised. Cartier let no word of his findings slip into his report, and indeed it was Francis I who divulged the matter in January 1540. But over and above all other considerations, Cartier could not have come back to France at a more unfortunate time: France had gone to war against Spain just two weeks before he docked. However, neither Cartier nor Canada slipped the King's memory. As soon as royal engagements permitted, he received the Breton navigator and Donnacona. The latter told over and over with all the assurance of the born liar that the Saguenay contained "numerous mines of gold and silver," and added for good measure that "abundance of cloves, nutmeg and pepper" were harvested there. Asiatic spices and American gold! The King was so delighted by this news that in May 1537 he made Cartier the magnificent gift of the Grande Hermine, complete with all rigging and gear. Finally, in September 1538, his financial burdens having been lightened by the truce of Nice,

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