Giovanni Caboto

Also known as "John Cabot"

Giovanni Caboto was born in Genoa, Italy, way back in 1450. That's 564 years ago! He was taught map making and navigational skills while living in Venice as a young man. He moved to England in 1495 and changed his name to the more commonly known, John Cabot. He was then hired by King Henry VII to search for a Northwest passage across North America to Asia, and to find natural resources that England could use. On June 24th, 1497, when he was 47 years old, he set out on his voyage.

He landed in North America aboard his ship, "The Matthew", with his 18 crew members. They thought that they had arrived in Asia. Nobody is exactly sure when or where he did end up. Some historians believe he landed in Newfoundland, others believe Cape Breton. Some even believe he landed in mainland Nova Scotia or as far south as Maine. The records have been lost and the only evidence of the trip are some letters from the crew members to their families back home.

Another thing historians are unsure about is what he did while in North America. It is believed that he explored the area his ship landed at for approximately a month then travelled back to England. Evidence suggests that during this time he saw signs of human life, but nothing suggests that he actually met any native people. He claimed the Newfoundland coastline for England, although he was not the first to land there, and the vikings were, approximately 500 years earlier.

After Cabot arrived back home, he made plans to return on a voyage the next year. He had believed that he had already found the shortcut to Asia, so now he was seeking out the natural resources. Christopher Columbus, hired by Spain, was also setting a voyage to find a shortcut to Asia, but proved unsuccessful.

In May 1498, John Cabot set sail for one last time, commanding 5 ships. One of the five was damaged in a storm and turned back to England. Nobody heard from the other four ever again. Many theories are believed about what happened to him and his crew. Some speculate that his ships crashed on the shores of Newfoundland, only to be killed by Beothuk Natives. A more recent theory speculates that he stayed in North America for two years and returned to England in the early 1500's, only to die four months later.

Although he believed to have found a shortcut to Asia, we can prove he did not, but he did help prove to other explorers that a large mass of land stood between Europe and Asia.  

John Cabot: Hall of Famer


I believe John Cabot should be in the Explorers of Atlantic Canada Hall of Fame because he provided a basis to the discovery and claim of North America. His voyages, and claiming land in Atlantic Canada, sparked interest in future explorers about exploring this part of the world. Without Cabot, who knows how long it would have taken for somebody to want to explore the west?


"Bill Colgate as John Cabot, CRB Heritage Minute." YouTube. YouTube,  Web. 12 Nov. 2014. .

"John Cabot: Explorer -" John Cabot: Explorer - Web. 12 Nov. 2014.

"John Cabot: Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage." John Cabot: Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.

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