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Jacques Cartier made three trips to Canada.

1. 1534
2. 1535-1536
3. 1541 
These are his official trips.  European fishermen had long fished off the banks of Labrador and Newfoundland, so it is possible and even probable that Cartier had sailed across the Atlantic before 1534.

Jacques Cartier and Amerindians

France claims Nouvelle-France in 1534

However, his 1534 trip was an official trip.  He had sailed to the North-American continent on behalf of King Francis I.  His mission was a twofold endeavour.  The King of France wanted him, first, to bring back gold and, second, to find a route to China.  Cartier travelled accompanied by France’s Vice-Admiral, Charles de Mouy, Chevallier, seigneur de La Milleraye.  A cross was planted on North-American soil in the Gaspé area.  This is how France claimed Nouvelle-France.

Cartier did not find gold and although, upon his return to France, he felt he had reached an Asian land, he hadn’t.  In fact, when he attempted to enter the St Lawrence River, Amerindians blocked his way.  Yet, for the French, the trip was not a failure.  The land they had discovered was immense and it held riches.

the area Cartier explored in 1534

In 1534, Cartier entered the Golf of St Lawrence just north of Newfoundland and south of Labrador, saw Anticosti, an island, as well the Magdalen Islands, which he may have named “le jour de la Magdelaine” and part of the coast, from Gaspé to New Brunswick.  He then followed the Northwest coast of Newfoundland and re-entered the Atlantic Ocean travelling through the Strait of Belle-Isle.

(please click on the maps to enlarge them)

Cartier's First Voyage: 1534

In other words, in 1534, Cartier explored the Golf of the St Lawrence River and the above-mentioned cross was planted indicating ownership of Nouvelle-France by France.  As well, he captured Amerindian chief Donnacona’s two sons:  Taignoagny and Dom Agaya.

Jacques Cartier’s three ships were named the Grande Hermine, la Petite Hermine and l’Émérillon.

Cartier's Second Voyage: 1535-1536

Cartier’s second voyage: the St Lawrence River

In 1635-1636, Cartier returned his sons to Amerindian chief Donnacona and he was able to travel up the St Lawrence River, but the river became narrower and his ships could not go further west because of the Lachine Rapids.  So the China he discovered was not the China he had hoped to reach.

Hochelaga, and Iroquoian word, would not be settled until 1642, when it was renamed Ville-Marie, by Jérôme le Royer de la Dauversière who succeeded in founding the Société de Mont-Royal. The island belonged to Jean de Lauson (1583 – 16 February 1666), the fourth Governor of New France, from 1651 to 1657, who hesitated parting with his property.

Ville-Marie: Jeanne Mance & Marguerite Bourgeois

At first, Ville-Marie was mostly a mission.  In Quebec City Ursuline Nuns had opened a hospital, but Jérome Lallemant secured the services of Jeanne Mance who founded a hospital in Montreal.  Later, in 1653, Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, the new governor of Ville-Marie, would return from a trip to France with Marguerite Bourgeois and one hundred men.  Marguerite Bourgeois (17 April 1620 – 12 January 1700) founded the Congrégation de Notre-Dame.  She was already a nun and had entered a cloistered convent of the French Congrégation de Notre-Dame.  In Nouvelle-France, the sisters of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame would not be cloistered.  They would be teachers and still are.

Scurvy: The Amerindians Help Cartier

Let’s go back to 1535-1536.  That year, Cartier spent the winter in Nouvelle-France.  Many of his men fell ill because of a lack of Vitamin C.  Amerindians were not happy to see their land invaded, but despite a degree of resentment, Dom Agaya made an infusion with the leaves of a white cedar tree, the Thuja occidentalis.  It was the appropriate remedy.

Cartier’s third voyage to Canada

Although most people believe Cartier did not attempt to bring settlers to New France, he did.  He founded Charlesbourg-Royal, but hostility on the part of the Iroquois forced him away from the settlement.  On his way back to France, Cartier encountered Jean-François de La Rocque de Roberval (c. 1500–1560) who had been named Lieutenant General of New France and was the first to hold this rank.  Roberval ordered Cartier to return to the Saguenay settlement.  Cartier fled under cover of darkness.

(please click on the picture to enlarge it)

~ Jacques Cartier, issue of 1934 ~

Roberval, who had come with 200 colonists, renamed the settlement France-Roy, but was forced to abandon it because of the rigours of winter, scurvy and attacks by hostile Amerindians.

So, Cartier discovered Canada, named it Canada (from Kanata) and named other places, but he alienated Amerindians by kidnapping Donnacona’s sons.  He did take diamonds back to the King, but they were not diamonds.  He therefore returned to Saint-Malo and lived in his nearby estate.  He died during an epidemics of what may have been typhus.  On August 18, 2006, Canadian archaeologists discovered “the precise location of Cartier’s lost first colony of Charlesbourg-Royal.” (Wikipedia)

As for Roberval, a Huguenot, in 1560, he and companions were murdered by a group of Catholics leaving a Calvinist meeting, in Paris.

À Saint-Malo (please click on the title to hear the music)

March 17, 2012