Historical Significance:

The inquiry question I posed for this investigation was, “How important were Cartier’s contributions to the creation of New France?”. Jacques Cartier was a French explorer who claimed what is now called Canada for France. Cartier was instrumental in the growth of European knowledge of Canada and its people. On Cartier’s first voyage, he was sent by King Francis I to find a passage to the Pacific Ocean around Newfoundland. This lead Cartier to explore the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where he came in contact with the Iroquois Confederacy (also known as the Haudenosaunee Confederacy). Cartier caused some tension when he planted a cross to claim the land for France. Understandably, the Iroquoians were not too happy with Cartier claiming their land. To make matters worse, Cartier kidnapped the two sons of the Iroquoian captain and he was going to take them back to France. Eventually, the captain agreed that his sons could be taken, as long as they returned with European goods. When the Europeans returned, the natives “…began to run away and would not come near, until our two [guides] had spoken to them…” (excerpt from Jacques Cartier’s journal). Cartier then gave the Iroquoians some small European goods. The trade of goods was a common theme in encounters between the Europeans and Iroquoians. The Iroquoians would trade fur pelts, and Cartier and the Europeans would bring tools and liquor. This constant trading made the Iroquoians the dominant “Canadian” trade force for around 75 years. The Iroquois trade cartier-and-iroquoisdominance is important because years later, Samuel de Champlain reached an agreement with the Wendat Confederacy to help defeat the Iroquois. In return, the Wendat Confederacy helped Champlain to establish a vast trade network and create New France.


Cause and Consequence:

There were a lot of factors that caused Jacques Cartier to sail to Canada, and many events that occurred because of his sail. Jacques Cartier was commissioned by King Francis I to try and find a west passage to Asia. The Asian market was wealthy thanks to cotton and silk found in India and China respectively. Cartier was tasked to look for the passage near Newfoundland, which had been discovered by John Cabot. This quest for a passage to Asia led Cartier to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Chaleur Bay, where he met the Iroquois and Mi’kmaq. These encounters gave the Europeans a chance to see the life of the aboriginal peoples of Canada, but more importantly to Cartier, they got to see the goods that they have. Once Cartier returned to France, he spoke to the king about the riches that he saw in this new land called Canada. This caused the King to allow Cartier to return to Canada with more men and ships. These voyages to Canada contributed very heavily to the creation of New France. The same way John Cabot’s exploration around Canada helped Cartier with his exploration, Cartier’s exploration helped with Samuel de Champlain’s colonization. Cartier travelled the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the St. Lawrence River, which cartier_first_voyage_map_1was where New France started. Cartier also grew the fur trade for the Iroquois Confederacy. One of the reasons New France succeeded was because the Europeans made a deal with the Wendat Confederacy to take down the Iroquois. Jacques Cartier’s exploration throughout Canada happened for these reasons among others, and the consequences of Cartier’s exploration contributed to the creation of New France.


            Historical Perspective:

Jacques Carter’s contributions to the creation of New France were viewed in a positive and negative way at the time. King Francis I liked what Jacques Cartier had found on his voyages. This was because Cartier told of great riches in Canada, which is what the king wanted Cartier to find in the first place. Cartier thought that he had found Asia, and when he reported that back to his king, the king was very pleased. King Francis I and Jacques Cartier thought they had succeeded in their mission to find Asia, even though we know now that they didn’t. We know that the king was pleased with Cartier because he sent Cartier back to Canada with more ships, and more men. Although Cartier was hailed as a hero in France, he wasn’t a hero to all. When Cartier first arrived in Iroquois and Mi’kmaq settlements, someiroquois-hiawatha-6people were eager to see the Frenchmen as they saw an opportunity to trade. Others were frightened by the appearance of Cartier and his men as shown in the journal excerpt from earlier. The natives got more upset with the Europeans as time went on. Cartier claimed Iroquoian land as French, refusing to eat Iroquoian food, and kidnapping two Iroquoians. These acts were understandably very disrespectful to the Iroquois Confederacy. Cartier’s actions were heroic to some, but despicable to others.


            Social Studies Inquiry Process:

            After conducting research, I am able to draw some conclusions about my inquiry question: “How important were Cartier’s contributions to the creation of New France?”. Over Jacques Cartier’s three voyages to Canada, he was able to expand the European’s knowledge of the “new world”.  Cartier had travelled around Newfoundland, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the St. Lawrence River. These areas proved vital in the creation of New France, whether as land for settlements or trade routes. Cartier also expanded communication and trade with the aboriginal peoples of Canada. Although many aboriginal peoples were already familiar with the concept of European trade, Cartier had gone into areas that no European had gone before. Some people that he met had never had any contact with Europeans. This expansion of trade resulted in the Iroquois becoming the dominant fur-trading-library-of-congress-770x470trade confederacy. Part of the success of New France was due to the Europeans aiding the Wendat Confederacy in defeating the Iroquois. Without Cartier giving the Iroquois trading power, the Wendat Confederacy may not have needed the Samuel de Champlain’s help. With what Cartier had done in Canada, he had generated interest from the French in colonizing Canada. This interest eventually led to Samuel de Champlain and his quest to form New France. Jacques Cartier had increased the knowledge of Canada, grew the fur trade, and generated interest in colonizing Canada. These accomplishments by Cartier were essential to the creation of New France.




Crossroads A Meeting of Nations (Second Edition)





DOL: #3, Independent Canadian Inquiry