October 2 has had significant events through the years. A notable few are:
- 1869 – Birth of Mahatma Gandhi, Indian activist and philosopher (d. 1948)
- 1949 – Birth of Annie Leibovitz, American photographer
- 1959 – The anthology series The Twilight Zone premieres on CBS television. <– VERY cool!
- 1975 – Birth of Michel Trudeau, son of Canadian PM Pierre Trudeau (d. 1998)
But for today, let’s concentrate on Jacques Cartier who set sail for a second voyage with three ships, 110 men, and his two Iroquoian captives. Reaching the St. Lawrence, he sailed up-river for the first time, and reached the Iroquoian capital of Stadacona, where Chief Donnacona ruled. Jacques Cartier left his main ships in a harbour close to Stadacona, and used his smallest ship to continue on to Hochelaga (now Montreal), arriving on October 2, 1535.
After spending two days among the people of Hochelaga, Cartier returned to Stadacona on October 11. It is not known exactly when he decided to spend the winter of 1535–1536 in Stadacona, and it was by then too late to return to France. Cartier and his men prepared for the winter by strengthening their fort, stacking firewood, and salting down game and fish.
From mid-November 1535 to mid-April 1536, the French fleet lay frozen solid at the mouth of the St. Charles River, under the Rock of Quebec. Ice was over a fathom (1.8 m) thick on the river, with snow four feet (1.2 m) deep ashore. To add to the misery, scurvy broke out – first among the Iroquoians, and then among the French. Cartier estimated the number of dead Iroquoians at 50. On a visit by Domagaya to the French fort, Cartier inquired and learned from him that a concoction made from a tree known as annedda (probably arbor vitae) would cure scurvy. This remedy likely saved the expedition from destruction, allowing 85 Frenchmen to survive the winter. In his journal, Cartier states that by mid-February, “out of 110 that we were, not ten were well enough to help the others, a pitiful thing to see”. The Frenchmen used up the bark of an entire tree in a week on the cure, and the dramatic results prompted Cartier to proclaim it a Godsend, and a miracle.
Ready to return to France in early May 1536, Cartier decided to take Chief Donnacona to France, so that he might personally tell the tale of a country further north, called the “Kingdom of Saguenay”, said to be full of gold, rubies and other treasures.
No permanent European settlements were made in Canada before 1605, when Samuel Champlain founded Port Royal in present day Victoria Beach just outside of Annapolis Royal.
Now that, my friends, is another reason to recognize October 2!