The Man Who Named Canada

We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” 
 Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods


Anyone who studies Canadian history will know the name Jacques Cartier.

Jacques Cartier was a Breton who was known for his expertise in navigation and cartography.  He had a grand aspiration to find the legendary North-West passage, the sea route around North American that would enable Europeans to trade directly with China.   His persuasive skills convinced King Francis I of France to agree to his ambitious plan.  In April 1534, Jacques Cartier left the port of St. Malo, his hometown, on what was the first of three voyages.   Twenty days later, he sighted Newfoundland, which was the beginning of his detailed exploration of the coastline of what is now known as the Gulf of the St. Lawrence.

The next year, on the second voyage Jacque Cartier entered the river on August 10, the feast of St. Lawrence. He named it, fleuve Saint-Laurent.  To the Tuscarora nation the river was Kahnawáʼkye; and to the Mohawk nation it was Kaniatarowanenneh, names that signified “big waterway.”  The St. Lawrence River is 1,197 kilometres in length with a basin of 1,344,200 square kilometres. It is the outflow for the entire Great Lakes system, which holds approximately 20% of the world’s fresh water.  The river’s extensive coastal wetlands provide a paradise for wildlife.

Jacque Cartier may not have found the North-West passage, but his carefully planned and mapped exploration gave a clear understanding of the land complexities of eastern Canada.  He gave names to Quebec City, Montreal and the Lachine Rapids.  And he named the land “The Country of Canadas,” originating from a First Nations word kanata for “village.”

“Our hopes are high. Our faith in the people is great. Our courage is strong. And our dreams for this beautiful country will never die.”
Pierre Trudeau

Published by Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

22 thoughts on “The Man Who Named Canada

    1. The enthusiasm of youth is what gives strength to our generation. I love seeing them in action and am confident in their ability to take over from us. I enjoy applauding and encouraging from the sidelines. We are leaving our world in good hands!


  1. Cartier never found the North-West Passage. but he gave us a good look at early Canadian exploration of “the new world”. Were he to travel to northern Canada now, he would see a different place–in fact due to global warming he could see traces of the passage he wanted to discover.


    1. Indeed, he could!! What happens in one part of the world affects all other parts. We are in this together – our very survival depends upon our actions and decisions. Thank you so much for your comments.


  2. Terrific capsule version of Canada’s post native Kanata land, and Jacques Cartier’s discovery of it, that would eventually became our present day Canada. Thank you Rebecca, for this awakening of our to often forgotten origins. Jean-Jacques


    1. When I was reading up on Jacques Cartier, I came across his quotes: “I am inclined to believe that this is the land God gave to Cain” I rather like living in “Cain’s land.” I just went out on the Vancouver Sea Wall today and felt the cool breeze coming off the ocean with that special scent. We live in a beautiful world. Have a wonderful day, Jean-Jacques…


    1. I love the enthusiasm of youth!! I used to live up in Northern Manitoba. When I was 18, I worked on an archaeology “dig” sponsored by the University of Winnipeg. We lived in the wilderness without access to the outside world except by a float plane that came every two weeks. It was an extraordinary experience – scientists are very detailed in their notes so I learned to be precise in measurements and diagrams. 🙂


    1. I agree – these young scientists remind me that there is so much more to discover!

      “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
      ― Carl Sagan


      1. Ah!… what a beautifully interesting being… so much passion. What a great touch you have. Worked on an archaeological dig you say… well the mystery is solved as to your expertise and ability in constantly seeking out just the right author for the right quote.
        JJ, aka Jean-Jacques .


      2. I find the stories of the past help me to understand our present world and how I can participate within the timeline that has been given. Every generation thinks they are facing the most difficult circumstances, but humanity has never experienced a time without cares or concerns. I remember when I came across the following quote – I laughed out-loud.

        “Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.”
        ― Marcus Tullius Cicero


  3. Yes, absolutely, I can almost hear my great grandfather saying that times we bad. I surely remember having heard grandfather and father saying that times were bad, one reminiscing about the 1st world war, and father about depression, followed by the 2nd world war. It never stops, and it seems man, judging by our current crop of leaders is hell bent to keep it going.

    It truly is time, correction, past time for women to take over, because men have convincingly proven throughout the ages up to and including present times, that they are incapable of putting their self-serving mind to the good of all creatures. Our own country being just as good an example as the rest of the so-called have countries. JJ


    1. When I was reading about the suffragette movement, I was amazed by the many men who stood firm with their wives, mothers, sisters, daughters. You would have been with those who gave their full support, my dear friend. So glad that we connected over the blogger miles.

      “The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton


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