In 1534, Francois 1, the king of France, sent Jacques Cartier on a voyage of exploration.
Francois ordered Cartier to find two things: a shipping route to the orient to allow French traders to import silk and other fine product to Europe. Precious gems and metals such as gold to make France rich.
Within 3 weeks, Cartier had arrived off Newfoundland, which was already known to explorers. Cartier went farther and explored the region of Prince Edward Island and the Baie de Chaleur. In late July, Cartier set up a large cross at Pointe Penouille on the Gaspe Peninsula to show France's claim to this "new" world.
Chief Donnacona recognized the importance of this crossand went to Cartier's ship with his brother and sons to protest.The French convinced Donnacona to let Cartier take two of hissons, Domagaya and Taignoagny, back to France to show the king.When they returned a year later, their stories of being treated wellhelped to establish a positive relationship between Cartier and the St. Lawrence Iroquois
In 1535-1536, Cartier explored the St. Lawrence River, stillsearching for a passage to the Orient. Donnacona told him of afaraway land, the Kingdom of Saguenay, where he would findprecious metals. These stories, handed down through oral tradition,refer to golden-haired people who possessed these metals.Donnacona told these and other stories in an effort to stop Cartierfrom travelling toward Hochelaga
There were divisions and conflicts among the Iroquois, also called Haudenosaunee. Donnacona wanted to control trade between France and New France. If Cartier made friends with the well-established St.Lawrence Iroquois community at Hochelaga, that might threaten Donnacona's influence.Eventually, against Donnacona's wishes, Cartier passed Stadacona (Quebec City) and went as far as Hochelaga (Montreal).Donnacona refused to allow his two sons, who by now spoke French, to accompany Cartier
Eventually, against Donnacona's wishes, Cartier passedStadacona (Quebec City) and went as far as Hochelaga (Montreal).Donnacona refused to allow his two sons, who by now spokeFrench, to accompany Cartier. Hampered by Cartier's inability tocommunicate effectively, the visit to Hochelaga was not assuccessful as it might have been. He believed that China was not far away.Cartier spent the winter near Stadacona, but almost all of the 110crew became sick with scurvy a disease caused by lack of vitamin C). Through the Iroquois, Cartier learned that drinking a tea made fromthe leaves of the northern white cedar tree would cure scurvy. In thisway all but 25 of the French company survived the long winter.In the spring, Cartier prepared to sail back to France. Heneeded to show his king that it was worth the effort to exploreCanada, so he captured Donnacona, his sons, and several otherIroquois and took them back with him. There, Cartier hoped,Donnacona would retell his stories of riches and gold.Cartier's final voyage took place in 1541-1542. Donnaconaand all but one of the Iroquois captives had died. Relations withthe First Nations people had suffered since Cartier's previoustrip, when he had ignored Donnacona's wishes and explored theSt. Lawrence. This time, Cartier found what he thought werediamonds, and loaded his boats with rock. Back in France, hediscovered that it was quartz-not diamonds-that caused therocks to sparkle. Cartier had failed both to find riches for theCrown and the route to the Orient. He never again exploredfor France.