Explorers Project

Jacques Cartier

Birth date: 1491

Birth place: Saint-Malo, Brittany

Death date: 1557

Country Explored For

Jacques Cartier was authorized to explore by Francis I, King of France in 1534. He was commissioned to lead the voyage to the "northern lands." He explored for the country France.


1. Jacques Cartier's first North American voyage was to find a northern passage to Asia, through the New World. If no route was found he was instructed to collect riches such as gold and spices. He set sail with 2 ships and 61 men in April 1534. He explored the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the western coast of Newfoundland. Jacques Cartier is credited for the discovery of Atlantic Canada and giving Canada it's name. He used the Iroquois word Kanata meaning village or settlement. He named the entire region around (what is now) Quebec City as Kanata. While exploring he encountered 50 canoes filled with Micmac Natives and it was recorded as the first trading action between Europeans and Natives of the New World. Small items were exchanged until he fired cannons to scare them away because people were approaching the ship with unknown content. The kings hopes of discovering a new passage to the Orient was unsuccessful. On his first voyage he marked each new bay and the native people in each place. He brought back two captured Iroquois people (Domagaya and Taignoany) to the king. This voyage was considered a failure but was thought that it could lead to other possibilities.

2. Domagaya and Taignoany were brought back to France as evidence of the New World. All of the stories, from the first voyage, were told to convince Francis I it was worthwhile to go back to "Canada." The king sent him because he thought Jacques could colonize the new world and find riches like gold. So, a year later (1536) the king sent Jacques Cartier back across the Atlantic with 3 ships 110 men; including the two captives from the first voyage. They sailed across the Atlantic and headed up the St. Lawrence River as far as Quebec, where they set up a base camp. Jacques and all his men got stuck at the mouth of the St.Charles River because there was so much ice. The expedition got chaotic when 25 of the men dyed from scurvy, a disease resulting from a deficiency of Vitamin C.  Jacques Cartier gained a friendly relationship with the Iroquoians. The Iroquoians were settled in Stadacona (Quebec) and Hochelaga (Montreal). Domagaya and Taignoany helped guide the expedition, since they were Iroquois and knew the area. The purpose of his second voyage was to accurately map the area and to find groups of Aboriginal people. Even though he accomplished those things his second voyage was still considered a failure because he ended up deteriorating his relationship with the aboriginal people of Stadacona.

The photo above is of Cartiers two captives, Domagaya and Taignoagny. They were the two sons of Donnacona, the former chief of Stadacona.

3. The war in Europe delayed the third voyage until May of 1541. He set sail with 5 ships , 1000 people and instructions to colonize the region. Along side Jacques Cartier was Jean-Francois de la Rocque de Robertval, a military officer. He was responsible for recruitment, settlers, supplies and artillery. When he returned back to Stadacona, on the third voyage, he met the new Iroquoian chief Agona. Cartier and his men settled the new colony upstream of Quebec where the craftsmen and colonists built forts. He named the settlement Charlesbourg-Royal, which was the first french settlement in North America. The fort was abandoned 2 years later, after Jacques Cartier set out for France because he  believed he found a supply of gold and diamonds. The gold and diamonds turned out to be fake and it was decided that Canada offered nothing that could compensate the money spent for the voyages. After a huge fail the French exploration was canceled and Jacques Cartier retired.

Map Showing the Routes Explored

First Voyage
Second and Third Voyage (the same route)

Interactions with Natives

Jacques Cartier wanted to create a bond with the natives of the New World. He traded with the natives and found settlement around their land. Jacques Cartier interacted with Iroquoians and named the discovered land as a word from their language (Kanata). Jacques Cartier and his men first encountered a group of Iroquoians in the Bay of Gaspé, while they were on a fishing trip. He traded fur and food with the Natives and it was recorded as the first trading action between Europeans and Natives of the New World. The chief, Donnacona invited Jacques and his men into their camp at the site which is now around Quebec. Jacques Cartier captured Donnaconas two sons and brought them back to France as proof of the New World. Many natives became hostile towards the french when they understood they were trying to colonize the region. The struggle to establish peace between the Europeans and the Natives was quite a task. I think his interaction with natives was both positive and negative. He interacted poorly with the culture of Atlantic Canada becuase he was trying to demolish it so it could become a Frnch colony.

Natives Captured:




How did he impact Atlantic Canada

Jacques Cartier was the first European to explore the St.Lawerence River and the Quebec City/Montreal area. He also named Canada during the three voyages where he's objective was to claim Atlantic Canada for Francois I. Since Jacques Cartier was one of the first Europeans to visit Atlantic Canada he really contributed to the exploration of the area and the map drawing. If Jacques Cartier's goal to colonize the region wasn't destroyed by the Natives, then where we live today would be french. Places like Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland would all be french speaking places. Jacques Cartier's contribution to the three french voyages, to the northern land, definitely impacted the culture of Atlantic Canada.

Canada Hall of Fame

I think Jacques Cartier should be added to the Canada Hall of Fame becuase he had many great impacts on Canada. If I wasn't for Jacques Cartier and his three voyages to Canada, things like the name and the culture of our country would be totally different. Jacques contributed to the mapping and delveloping of Canada in 1534-1542. Although there were already Irouquois people in Canada, Jacques Cartier was the first European to start colonizing the region. His life goal was to help create a future for our country and I think without his help, our country could be what we know as Asia or Africa. He is very deserving of this acknowledgement/award.


"The Explorers." Jacques Cartier. Canada Museum of History, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2014.

"Jacques Cartier." Bio.com. A&E Network Television, n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.

"Jacques Cartier." Historica Canada. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.

"Jacques Cartier." The Canadian Encycolpedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 13. 2014.

"Jacques Cartier: Three Voyages to Canada."Sympatico. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2014

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