Like many early explorers to North and South America, Jacques Cartier was looking for two things – gold, and a passageway to Asia. And like so many other explorers, he went home with neither. Cartier was born in France in 1491. He made several voyages to South America, and in particular, Brazil.
The king of France, King Francis I, sent him to explore the northern parts of North America, in which, he discovered Canada. On Cartier’s first trip, he sailed up the St. Lawrence River to what is now Quebec. He sailed back to France to report to the King on his findings. Jacques Cartier made two more trips to North America and gave Canada its name. He also gave France the right to lay claim to the area.
Fun Facts About Jacques Cartier for Kids
- On Jacques Cartier’s second voyage, he sailed all the way up the St. Lawrence River to what is now Montreal. Here, he met Iroquois Indians who told him about a great river further west. They also told him about gold and riches.
- Cartier wanted to travel further west, but the harsh winter weather stopped him. He stayed in Montreal with the Indians. He kidnapped two Indians in the spring as he left to return back to France.
- Cartier made a third trip to Canada. A group of colonists were supposed to follow him. He waited several months for them and when they did not arrive, he sailed back to France. On the way, he met the colonists. Their captain asked him to stay, but he sneaked away in the middle of the night. The King was unhappy with Cartier for abandoning the colonists.
Jacques Cartier Vocabulary
- Passageway: route, channel, road
- Claim: declare ownership
- Harsh: fierce, rough
- Colonist: early settlers
All About Jacques Cartier Video for Kids
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Jacques Cartier Q&A
Question: Was Jacques Cartier a good guy or a bad guy?
Answer: Cartier grew up in France and enjoyed mild, warm weather. His journeys to Canada must have been miserable because he wasn’t accustomed to cold weather. He seems a bit of a coward for sneaking out and abandoning the colonists, but he knew how severe the winters in Canada were. He was probably neither a good guy nor a bad guy, but simply a man who became tired and discouraged.
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