Who discovered what today?

June 9, 2014

cartier stamp

Cartier discovers St. Lawrence River

Four hundred-eighty years ago, on June 9, 1534, Jacques Cartier’s party sailed into the St. Lawrence River.  This excursion began in France in April of 1534.  Cartier’s mission was to find gold and spices, and passage by water from Europe to Asia.  While he failed in his mission to find a water route to China, Cartier had discovered an important water route into what would become Canada and the United States.  In fact Canada was named by Cartier.  He met with Iroquois people who gave him directions upriver to a town or settlement.  “Kanata” signifies a village in the Huron-Iroquois tongue.  The word has come to be the name for an entire nation.

 cartier's shipCartier’s ship Grand Hermine



While Cartier recognized the North American continent for what it was – a separate land mass from Europe and Asia, he hoped that the St. Lawrence would furnish passage to China.  That is why the rapids near Montreal are named the Lachine Rapids.


The Lachine Rapids are a series of rapids on the Saint Lawrence River, between the Island of Montreal and the south shore. They are located near the former city of Lachine. The Lachine Rapids contain large standing waves because the water volume and current do not change with respect to the permanent features in the riverbed, namely its shelf-like drops. Seasonal variation in the water flow does not change the position of the waves, although it does change their size and shape. The rapids are about 3 miles (4.8 km) in length. In the past these represented a considerable barrier to maritime traffic. Until the construction of the Lachine Canal through Montreal, the rapids had to be portaged.

Refs.  America’s Library, Wikipedia.


  1. We complained like nobody’s business when we had to portage a canoe and gear a couple of hundred yards. I’m not going to say what we’d have said at portaging 3 miles.

    When you think about the Northwest passage, it wasn’t going to be practical when the ships left Europe in the 16th century and it would be too cold after the beginning of the 17th century. It is only possible again now because the mini ice age ended about 1870. It’s an interesting route. http://www.eh-resources.org/timeline/timeline_lia.html

    • The portages endured do not bear thinking. Thanks for the reminder about the Little Ice Age. We really don’t know understand all that is involved with our home climate.

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