Jacques Cartier


Jacques Cartier was born in France in 1491. Not much is known about him until he was an adult and became a master sailor.

In 1534, when Cartier was 43 years old, King Francis I of France sent him to North America in order to find gold and riches and especially to colonize land for France. He was also told to find the secret Northwest Passage that would take sailors from the Atlantic Ocean to Asia and the Indies. Instead, Cartier’s ship landed on the coast of Canada near the gulf of the St. Lawrence River. He was the first European to land in Canada. He explored the islands nearby and then returned to France empty handed.

On Cartier’s second and third trips, he dealt with many obstacles. Because he sailed in the winter, his ships became trapped in ice for months. Many of his sailors became ill and nearly one quarter of them died! Cartier never did find the secret Northwest Passage, nor did he ever find gold and riches. Instead, he explored 1,600 miles of the St. Lawrence River and discovered a huge amount of forests, bays and indian tribes

Although Cartier did not accomplish what he set out to do, he played an important part in France’s exploration of the New World. Because of Jacques Cartier, France could now claim land and begin to colonize the New World.