Cartier’s Second Voyage and more!

02 Oct

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)
Jacques Cartier

Portrait of Jacques Cartier by Théophile Hamel, ca. 1844.

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!


Posted by on October 2, 2014 in Canadian-related Links


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15 responses to “Cartier’s Second Voyage and more!

  1. Mark Armstrong

    December 17, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    Tree Bark Tea for Vitamin C, and The Twilight Zone– I got a double kick outta this one, TK!! Great stuff, and you always come up with such wonderful details– thanks!! : )

    • tkmorin

      December 17, 2014 at 10:20 pm

      Double double … famous here with Tim Horton. 🙂 thanks for the praise, Mark!

  2. The Canadian Cats

    October 22, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Very interesting….I haven’t thought of Cartier since school.


  3. crossties2010

    October 12, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    Thanks for the look at my blog!

    • tkmorin

      October 12, 2014 at 7:22 pm

      It was my pleasure! 🙂

  4. avwalters

    October 2, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    I had also heard the pine needle tea remedy–from school as a kid. I always wondered about it, as the boiling itself would reduce the available Vitamin C. I figured that if I was caught in some scurvy-ridden winter, I would chew the pine needles. (As a kid I also carried ketchup packets–to make soup in the event I fell into an open mine.)

    • tkmorin

      October 2, 2014 at 2:32 pm

      How enterprising of you! 🙂

  5. Amy

    October 2, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Thank you for sharing the historic information!

    • tkmorin

      October 2, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      Thank you, Amy! I’m really happy you liked it. And I just checked your blog, and wow, such beautiful photos!! 🙂

      • Amy

        October 2, 2014 at 2:36 pm

        Thank you for letting me know you like these photos. 🙂

  6. L. Marie

    October 2, 2014 at 10:00 am

    I’m always amazed at the fortitude of explorers. So glad they discovered that cure.

    • tkmorin

      October 2, 2014 at 10:06 am

      They certainly did have more stamina than most people I know! 🙂

  7. Maurice A. Barry

    October 2, 2014 at 9:01 am

    There’s some speculation that Cartier may have visited the area several times prior to making his voyages of discovery. While the documentation is still scanty and scattered there are indications of significant fishery efforts that pre-dated those documented in the popular press. The Basque, for example frequented the area in search of whales and certainly did not wish to spread that discoveries around much. It may be the case that Cartier was a crew member on several fishing expeditions prior to rising to his rose of leader and may have been somewhat familiar with the region based on past experience. Who knows? I live in hope that solid evidence of this will come to light in my time 🙂

  8. onepageeveryday.

    October 2, 2014 at 8:06 am

    I’d read somewhere that they were able to get vitamin C from boiling pine needles, and avoiding/treating scurvy that way. But maybe it was bark.

    • tkmorin

      October 2, 2014 at 9:00 am

      Now that you mention it, I remember something about that, but can’t quite remember the details. I’ll try finding it again … 🙂


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