Posts Tagged ‘Jacques Cartier’


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.


Who discovered what today?

June 9, 2012

On this day in 1534, Jacques Cartier is purported to be the first European explorer to set eyes on the St. Lawrence River.

I thought this depiction of the locks and ports along the St. Lawrence Seaway was interesting.   I read that before the lock system was built, the St. Lawrence was navigable only as far as the Lachine Rapids near Montreal.  The St. Lawrence Seaway system was actually not completed (for use by modern ocean-going vessels) until 1959.  So up to this point, people could not leave the Great Lakes! ; )

This text is from

French navigator Jacques Cartier becomes the first European explorer to discover the St. Lawrence River in present-day Quebec, Canada.

In 1534, Cartier was commissioned by King Francis I of France to explore the northern American lands in search of riches and the rumored Northwest Passage to Asia. That year, Cartier entered the Gulf of St. Lawrence by the Strait of Belle Isle, explored its barren north coast for a distance, and then traveled down the west shore of Newfoundland to Cape Anguille. From there, he discovered Magdalen and Prince Edward islands, explored Chaleur Bay, and claimed Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula for France. He then discovered the inlet of the St. Lawrence River, sailed north to Anticosti Island, and then returned to Europe.

Previously thought to be a barren and inhospitable region, Cartier’s discoveries of the warm and fertile lands around the Gulf of St. Lawrence inspired Francis I to dispatch him on a second expedition in 1535. On this voyage, he ascended the St. Lawrence to the native village of Hochelaga, site of the modern-day city of Montreal. On his return voyage to France, he explored Cabot Strait along the southern coast of Newfoundland. Cartier led a final expedition to the region in 1541, as part of an unsuccessful colonization effort. His extensive geographical discoveries formed the basis of France’s claims to the rich St. Lawrence Valley in the 17th century.

This photo is of Vieux Montreal.  It is really quite a sight to see a freighter traversing the canal from the vantage point of Montreal.  Like a building moving sideways.

I put in this satellite photo of currents on an ice-covered St. Lawrence because it was so beautiful graphically.