Jacques Cartier

By Natalie Byers

Jacques Cartier was a french navigator who was born in Saint Malo, Brittany, France, December 31st, 1491. He wanted to find wealth and a northwest route to Asia. During his three expeditions to North America, he faced many obstacles. He is best remembered for naming Canada and being the first to claim Canada’s land for France. Jacques Cartier was faced with many difficulties that had some unfortunate results which I will talk about, soon.

After his experience with Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524, France’s King Francis I was impressed with Jacques Cartier and commissioned him to his first expedition in April, 1534. He took 61 men and 2 ships with him as he crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 20 days. He landed in Newfoundland. While he was exploring the Gulf of the St Lawrence River, he landed on Anticosti and Prince Edward Islands. In Gaspe Bay, he met and kidnapped two native Iroquoi boys who he brought back to France. During this first voyage, Cartier thought that Canada was Asia.

Because Jacques Cartier did an acceptable job on his first trip, King Francis funded a second voyage the next year(1535). Cartier used the two Native Americans that were captured as guides on his second expedition. They returned to the St Lawrence River and made base camp in Stadacona (Quebec) with 110 men and 3 ships. Cartier and a smaller ship travelled 1000 miles further up the St Lawrence River to Hochelaga (Montreal). After two days, they returned to Stadacona where they spent the winter. Severe weather and scurvy took 25 lives. After annoying the Iroquois by possibly kidnapping their chief, Jacques Cartier headed back to Saint Malo, France in May 1536. The Iroquoian chief told “the tale of a country further north, called the Kingdom of Saguenay, said to be full of gold, rubies and other treasures.
On his third and final trip, Jacques Cartier went back to Quebec with 5 ships with thoughts of finding the riches. Jean-François de La Rocque de Roberval was in charge of the expedition and Cartier was the navigator. However, Cartier left France first and Roberval was a few months behind him. He was also charged with starting a new french settlement on the St Lawrence River. After a brutal winter, fighting with the natives and finding what he thought were gold and diamonds, he headed back to France. He stopped at Newfoundland on the way. There he found Roberval and he ordered Cartier to go back to Quebec with him, but instead of following this command, he snuck to France with "the riches" he had collected, hoping to make his fortune.
Jacques Cartier's explorations of Canada were considered to be failures. When he returned to France after his third trip, he learned that his "diamonds and gold" were actually worthless minerals. He failed to find a passage to Asia. He failed to establish new settlement camps. He foolishly kidnapped a few Native Americans, therefore damaging future relationships with the Iroquois. And scurvy took 25 members of his crew. Still he was considered a "famous" French navigator for naming Canada and paving the way for future explorers to North America. He passed away in 1557.
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Jacques Cartier - Mini Biography

The video says Jacques Cartier died in 1551, but he actually died in 1557.