Jacques Cartier Biography

Ever wonder how Canada was discovered? Who did it find? Answer: Jacques Cartier (1491-1557). Jacques Cartier, an explorer, sailed to France. Three voyages to Newfoundland (now Canada) were made by Cartier, each with a different story and purpose. His journeys included securing goods, colonization efforts, meeting Indians and finding rivers. Did you know that Jacques Cartier, now known as Mont Real (now Montreal), discovered the St. Lawrence River and Mont Real?

Jacques Cartier was just one year old when Christopher Columbus discovered America. There was more interest in exploring the vast, unknown land. France was a country that was looking for wealth and goods. Cartier was a naturalist and sailor, having grew up in an area that allowed for fishing and sailing. Cartier was an excellent sailor, leader and navigator, so King Francis II granted permission for Cartier to set out on an expedition to New World. Cartier received money, food, and people from King Francis I to help him on his expedition to the New World in 1534. Two ships and 61 crew members accompanied Cartier on his first trip to Newfoundland. He found many islands that he named after France and a bay that he called ‘Chaleur Bay. To show his power, he met the Micmac Indians from there. To show their friendship, the Indians began to gift animals pelts. Cartier returned knives and other gifts to Indians.

He continued his voyage and met the Iroquoians. Jacques made friends quickly with the Iroquoians by offering them inexpensive goods such as bells and combs. Cartier planted a cross made of wood with French writing, shouting “long live King France!” and declaring the Gaspe Peninsula as the territory of King Francis. Cartier convinced the Indians to surrender to him, instead of trying to conquer them and fighting them, giving them French clothes and feasts and making them dizzy with wine. He convinced Chief Donnacona to allow him to take his sons to France. After a year, he promised to bring them home. Cartier wanted his sons to France in order to impress the king by showing off the’savages. Cartier wanted the two boys to learn French. This would allow him to explore Newfoundland’s New World. Jacques was informed that Stadacona by his father was called a kanata’. Now, it’s Canada.

Cartier would like to return to New World if the king allowed him to. Admiral Philippe de Brion Chabot, a companion to King Francis I, was a major influence when he asked the king about the second voyage for Cartier. King Francis I wanted to fulfill the “Great Commission” and spread Christianity. It was during France’s Protestantism’s rise, and King Francis I could trust Cartier (also a Catholic).

Cartier set sail on three boats during the second voyage. More than 100 people joined him on his voyage. The storms and terrible weather made it nearly two months longer than the previous voyage, which took them between 3 and 4 weeks. Cartier, while on his search for Stadacona’s village, discovered the St. Lawrence River. This was his most important discovery. Cartier searched for Hochelaga and heard the description from the chief’s sons. Chief Donnacona tried discourage Cartier’s search, telling him to stay with his two sons. The natives shared frightening stories about dangers and ‘devils’.

Jacques Cartier led his men without native guides. They found Hochelaga Iroquoian Village in 1535. Cartier was a popular visitor to the natives, and they arranged feasts. They introduced him and his family to tobacco. He also introduced Christianity to them, which they readily accepted. Before he went, he had climbed Mont Real/Montreal and felt that the location would be ideal for settlement. He was however disappointed to see the Lachine impassable rapids.

Jacques Cartier longed to return to New World, but it was difficult. France was about to enter a war against Spain. This would leave Cartier without money, men, or ships for his third long voyage. Admiral BrionChabot, who had fallen out of favor with the king, made it more difficult for Jacques and his court to convince him. Cartier decided to take a ship to Atlantic Ocean, thinking he wouldn’t be making another trip to New World. He became a privateer. He continued to fish for four years while capturing enemy ships.

Cartier was given permission to sail to Newfoundland on October 15, 1540 by King Jean-Francois de la Rocque (Sieur de Roberval). Cartier, however, was not the expedition leader this time. Instead, he was appointed captain-general by Jean-Francois de la Rocque. Cartier left May 23rd, 1541, with 5 boats, 2 years worth of food and the priests who would convert Native Americans into Christianity. Roberval skipped one year after Cartier as he was not yet ready for sailing.

Cartier settled at Cap Rouge. He built two forts rather than settling down with Iroquoians. This settlement was called the “Charlesbourg Royal”. Cartier decided to leave the Iroquoians. They were still mad at Cartier because of the kidnapping of Chief Donnacona and ten other natives during the second journey. Cartier heard rumors about native groups gathering together to plan an attack on Cartier. Although they didn’t launch a large attack, the natives conducted small raids almost every other day. More than 30 Cartier men were killed in raids.

1541 saw the spread of a deadly disease in the forts. The weather was extremely cold. Cartier was tired and decided to leave with his men. When they were returning to their ship, Roberval met them. Roberval demanded that Cartier return to him, despite Cartier’s protests. Roberval gave his order to Cartier and Cartier went on the seas with his ships.

France’s vision about North America was helped by Jacques Cartier and his expedition. France believed that North America’s value was only in its fisheries. Jacques said that North America’s grassland was great for cattle. It had fertile lands and excellent fishing. Jacques brought back a supply corn (or maize) from his return trip. This was the first European crop of this type. Jacques Cartier found no gold (but iron pyrite or fool’s golden), but he did uncover natural resources. This was a significant and valuable discovery. Cartier’s discovery at Newfoundland made it possible to trade animal skins. This was very important in Europe.

French leaders decided not to send costly sailors to the New World following King Francis I. The New World’s real wealth was created by fishermen and sailors who caught cod schools and traded fur for animal skins in the Grand Banks. After Jacques Cartier discovered the importance of fisheries, the French government decided later to send expeditions into Canada to colonize east Canada. Canada was colonized. This became the ‘New France.

Because Jacques Cartier found Canada, it is an important discovery for the world. Canada plays an important part in the world’s affairs in many ways. It is important geographically because Canada boasts large territories. Canada’s natural resources are also exported around the globe. It was an important discovery, especially for Canadians. It was Jacques Cartier’s discoveries that a city is called ‘Montreal’, a river is named St. Lawrence and a country is called ‘Canada. His discoveries are crucial for the Canadian history.

Jacques Cartier’s discovery paved way for many more expeditions that still have an impact today. Samuel Champlain, a French explorer and historian, was inspired by Jacques Cartier’s mission to colonize Canada. New France emerged, which had a significant impact on Canada’s culture, history, and language.


  • spencerknight

    I'm Spencer Knight, a 29-year-old educational blogger and teacher. I write about a variety of topics related to education, from teaching strategies to student success stories. I hope to help others achieve their educational goals and help them develop a lifelong love of learning.



I'm Spencer Knight, a 29-year-old educational blogger and teacher. I write about a variety of topics related to education, from teaching strategies to student success stories. I hope to help others achieve their educational goals and help them develop a lifelong love of learning.

You may also like...