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Jacques Cartier: New Land for the French King


Jacques Cartier
Born 1491, died 1557
Portrait: Jacques Cartier

Jacques Cartier went to Canada three times, in 1534, 1535 and 1541. He is credited with being the first European discoverer of the St. Lawrence River and the first European to make a map of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. He gave Canada its name, after he mistook the Mohawk word for village (kana:ta') as the name of the whole land.

Canada -- a Mistake!
We owe the name of our country to a misunderstanding. When Jacques Cartier heard the Iroquoian word "kanata", which means town or village, he thought it was the name used for the country. The name began appearing on European maps.

Another Mistake!
Jacques Cartier also made a mistake with naming Sept-Iles (Seven-Islands). There are actually only 6 islands; the seventh was really a jutting peninsula.

Want to Trade?
According to Cartier, the Mi'kmaq loved to trade. His accounts say the Native people "showed a marvelously great pleasure in possessing and obtaining these iron wares and other commodities, dancing and going through many ceremonies…"

The Illustrated History of Canada. Edited by Craig Brown. Toronto: Lester Pub., ©1991, 1987, p. 74.


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