Jacques Cartier

French Explorer

Who is he and why is he so important?

Jacques Cartier was a french explorer who is widely known for exploring the St. Lawrence River and giving Canada its name.
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Biographical Info -

Birth: December 31, 1491, Saint-Malo, France

Death: September 1, 1557, Kingdom of France

Career: Explorer

Nationality: French

Homeland: France

Where did he go? Who financed the trip?

Cartier was sent to the New World, specifically Newfoundland, by King Francis I in 1534. King Francis I also financed the voyages.
Jacques Cartier - Mini Biography

What makes him so historically significant?

Jacques Cartier was sent to the New World in 1534 to find money, gold, spices, and a new route to Asia. He made 3 voyages over a span of 8 years.
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Voyage 1 (1534)

Jacques Cartier left France for Newfoundland in 1534 with 2 ships and 61 men. They made a 20 day voyage leaving Friday, April 20 and arriving Thursday May 10. They arrived on the west coast of Newfoundland, discovered Prince Edward Island, and sailed through the Gulf of St. Lawrence (past Anticosti Island). They then turned back to France.

Voyage 2 (1535-1536)

King Francis I was impressed with Cartier's report on what he had seen. Jacques Cartier left in May with 3 ships and 110 men.Two Native Americans, Taignoagna and Domagaya (sons of Chief Donnacona of the Iroquois), he had captures previously, served as guides. Cartier and his men navigated the St. Lawrence River as far as Quebec and built a base. In September, they sailed down to Montreal and met the Iroquois who controlled the area. The Iroquois them about other rivers west that contained gold, silver, copper and spices. Harsh winter blew in and impassable rapids grew in the river. Cartier and his men angered the Iroquois. Spring came and the ice melted. Jacques Cartier captured some Iroquois chiefs and fled to France. He reported to the king of the untold riches and of a great river (said to be 2,000 miles long) that could possibly have led to Asia.

Voyage 3 (1541-1542)

Jacques Cartier left France the May if 1541 with 5 ships. He was 49 years old at the time. He was sent to establish a settlement along the St. Lawrence River on behalf of France, A group of colonists were a few months behind Cartier. He and his men fund a lot of what they thought were an abundance of gold and diamonds. Cartier abandoned the base and sailed for France without waiting for the colonists. They encountered the colonists in Newfoundland and the leader of the group told Cartier to return to Quebec. Jacques sneaked away at night and left anyway. The "gold" and "diamonds" turned out to be fools' gold and quartz crystals, worthless.

The abandoned colonists returned to France after the first bitter winter in the New World. France had no interest in these lands for half a century. Jacques Cartier was no longer a state-funded explorer. Cartier was credited with the exploration of the St. Lawrence region, but developed a bad reputation for his dealing with the Iroquois, his abandonment of the colonists, and fleeing the New World.


"Canada" came from the Huron-Iroquois word "kanata," meaning village or settlement. Jacques Cartier used this word t describe the village of Stadacona (present-day Quebec City) in 1535. It was then used to describe all French settlement. Maps as early as 1547 labeled the area north of the St. Lawrence River as "Canada."


In Memory of Jacques Cartier

There are many burial sites throughout France and Canada. Jacques Cartier died at age 65 on September 1, 1557 in the Kingdom of France. The cause of the famous explorer's death is unspecified...
French Explorer