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A FORGOTTEN HERO.
HE name of Jacques Cartier, first explorer of the St. Lawrence, remains to this day in Canada an honoured name and very little more-in France it is almost entirely forgotten-in England almost entirely unknown. Yet, born in a time of great possibilities and of great deeds, the man who bore that name was well worthy of remembrance, not only because he was in his own person a true hero, brave, honest, and God-fearing, but also because he gave to France a territory larger than all Europe, and laid for England the first foundation of a colony which is almost an empire.
Of a family long settled and well known in the busy town of St. Malo, Jacques Cartier was born at that place on December 31, 1494. Scarcely anything is known of his boyhood, but since the port was full of seafaring men his first recollections were, no doubt, associated with marvellous stories of the newly discovered Western India, and of the mysterious northern seas, ice-laden and fog-veiled, through which there must surely be somewhere the passage to Cathay. While he was still a child, fishermen from St. Malo had begun to go with those of Dieppe and other ports to fish for cod, sailing boldly out into the still almost unknown ocean in frail little barks built only for coasting voyages. As he grew up he joined some of these expeditions, and evidently prospered, for at twenty-five we find him a person of some consequence, master of a little Manoir of Lemoïlou, and husband of the Demoiselle Catherine des Granches.
It was not, however, until 1534, when Cartier was forty years of age, that his first great enterprise was undertaken. At that time he boldly presented himself to Philippe de Chabot-Brion, Admiral of France, proposing to go and explore, in the King's name, and for his Majesty's benefit, the shores of Terre-Neuve. This name seems to have been given, rather vaguely, to the coast of North America from Labrador to the south of Cape Breton, and Cartier thought that a coast so broken, and hitherto so little known, might perhaps conceal that passage to India, to discover which would be fame indeed. De Chabot was one of the King's oldest and most intimate friends; to obtain his patronage was almost to secure the permission needed. The time of the proposal, too, was fortunate. The Treaty of Cambrai had left Francis at leisure to think of the affairs of his kingdom, and by his defeat and imprisonment he was sufficiently exasperated against Spain to feel a lively jealousy of her achievements in the new world. He had already sent out one expedition under Verazano, but with no satisfactory results. He seems at
once to have received the idea favourably, and agreed to furnish the Malouin captain with two ships and all that was necessary for his voyage.
On April 20, 1534, Cartier sailed from St. Malo. We cannot follow the course of his voyage here, though his own narrative, simple, direct, full of every kind of useful detail, and empty of all selfglorification, is exceedingly tempting. He followed in the track of John Cabot, until on May 11 he reached Newfoundland (or Terre Neuffue, as he writes it), and from thence explored the coasts north and south of that island. So discouraging, however, was the result of this exploration that he writes in his journal: It ought not to be called a new land, but a mass of rocks and stones, terrible and roughly piled together. . . . In fact, I am much inclined to think that this is the land God gave to Cain.' Still he could not consider his labour lost, since those inhospitable rocks might yet hide the wished-for Western passage.
It was near the end of June when the two small ships discovered pleasanter regions and safe harbours. From that moment Cartier changed his opinion of the new country, and his pages are full of accounts of its beauty and fertility. He made the acquaintance of some friendly Indians, and persuaded them to entrust to him two boys (apparently of their chief's family) to be taken to France. He erected a great wooden cross with much solemnity on Cape Gaspé, and then, winter approaching, and the navigation again becoming difficult, he turned homewards, and reached St. Malo safe and well on September 5.
So well satisfied was King Francis with what had been done on this first voyage that he at once resolved to send out another expedition in the following year, and to place the command in the same capable hands. Cartier received the title of Capitaine Général et Pilote du Roy,' and was provided with three ships, each with its captain and crew, and permitted to take with him a number of volunteers, many of them young men of good family. The two Indian boys were also on board the ships, which sailed from St. Malo on May 19, 1535.
The expedition made its way directly and without special adventures (except the encountering some bad weather) to the coast of Labrador. Here, apparently at Mingan (Cartier called it St. Nicolas), they set up a great wooden cross, the position of which is carefully described for the benefit of future voyagers. Leaving this place, they met with a terrible storm, from which they thankfully took refuge in a beautiful bay full of islands. To this place, and not to 'the great river of Canada,' Cartier gave the name of St. Laurent. It seems to have been at the month of the river St. John, Labrador; but it is impossible to say when or why the name, originally attached to this harbour of refuge, was applied to the whole magnificent stream and gulf which now bear it.
Carefully exploring the coasts as he went on, the captain, always anxiously mindful of that perfection '-the passage to Cathay
-which more than all else would reward his toils, led his little fleet along the northern shores of the gulf, past the dangerous island of Anticosti, and the innumerable smaller ones lying higher up, until he reached the country of Saguenay' and the great river which still bears that name. Here he was not only pleased with the beauty of richly wooded and watered lands, and with the report of the Indians that copper was found in the neighbourhood, but also saw some creatures not more wonderful to his eyes than his description of them is to our ears. 'Here we saw,' he says, 'some fishes such as no man had seen or heard of. They were the size of porpoises, with heads like greyhounds, well made and white as snow, without spot. The Indians called them "adhothings," and said they were good to eat.'
Sailing on past Ile aux Cendres (which still retains the name he gave it), and other small islands, he anchored at last, one fair September evening, near the north shore at the lower end of the Ile d'Orléans. Here,' he says, 'began the land and province of Canada,' and here he allowed his men to go ashore, and to accept freely the presents of fruit, maize and fish brought to them by the Indians.
The boys, Taignoagny and Domagaya, who had been in France, were received with the greatest joy by their countrymen, and there seems to have been a tremendous uproar of welcome about the ships all that evening and night. Next day the lord of Canada, who was called Donacona by name, and Agouhanna as his title,' came in state to visit the strangers. Standing up in his canoe, he addressed the captain in 'une predication et preschement,' with gestures d'une merveilleuse sorte,' expressive of confidence and friendship, and was easily persuaded to taste the bread and wine presented to him.
The difference between the conventional Indian of romance, and the real and perfectly unsophisticated Indians of this true narrative, is very wonderful. Not only Donacona and his people, but all the other tribes whom Cartier met with, seem to have been simple, almost childish sauvages, wild men, friendly, hospitable, confiding; and cunning only in the clumsiest and most transparent fashion. Like children, they show themselves sometimes wilful and unreasonable; but the worst complaint Cartier makes of them is that they were marvellous thieves,' while they certainly seem to have been quite as ready to give as to take.
After a little delay the ships left their anchorage and, passing below the beautiful fall of Montmorenci with its veil of silver mist, coasted the green north shore, drawing near with wonder to the grand cliffs that rose majestically, towering above the broad waters, as if Nature had made her citadel there and bade the strangers stand back from her impregnable ramparts. At the foot of the rock fortress they again dropped their anchors; sheltering themselves at the mouth of a stream which flowed quietly into the great river from the north. To this smaller stream they gave the name of Ste. Croix, which it retained for less than a hundred years, till in 1617 the Recollet Fathers of Quebec rechristened it the St. Charles.
In the whole of Cartier's story there is no trace of any origin for the name by which the place he had now reached is known to us. He calls it simply Stadacona, and it is evident that he never attempted to give it any other appellation. The story of his sailors crying out Quel bec!' and their exclamation being repeated until it came be used as the name of the cliffs which caused it, is never hinted at. Indeed, after many attempts to find a Canadian origin for the name of Quebec, one is obliged to confess that the question remains as much unanswered as ever. Charlevoix says that the word is Algonquin. Les Abenaquis, dont la langue est une dialecte Algonquine, le nomment Quelibec, qui veut dire ce qui est fermé, parceque de l'entrée de la petite rivière de la Chaudière par où ces sauvages venaient à Quebec, le port de Quebec ne paroit qu'une grande barge.' But, on the other hand, when we remember that Quebec is an old form of the word Caudebec, it seems probable that the French did really give the name, though after the time of Cartier. The Earl of Suffolk of Henry VI.'s reign bore the titles of Domine de Hamburg et de Quebec. He was a powerful seigneur in Normandy, and the same place may easily have given him his title and the gem of La Nouvelle France its name. In the time of Cartier, however, the Quebec of to-day was certainly called Stadacona, and was a populous and prosperous Indian town.
No sooner were his ships safely anchored than the captain went on shore to return the visit he had received from the Indian chief. 'Near the river,' he says, 'there is a people of whom Donacona is chief, and their dwelling is called Stadacona, which is as beautiful a place as it is possible to see, and very fertile-full of fine trees the same as in France, such as oaks, elms, ashes, walnuts, maples, vines, whitethorns which bear fruit as large as damsons, and other trees; under which grows fine hemp as good as that of France, without any cultivation.' Kindly received by the Indians, and guided up steep pathways to the rugged heights where the citadel now stands, Cartier, first of Europeans, looked down upon one of the most magnificent landscapes in the world. That grand panorama is Nature's own, and must have been in its outlines the same to his eyes as it is to ours. At his feet the cliffs, sharply cut by some long past convulsion, formed a precipitous wall 200 feet high, at whose base clung the narrow strip of beach, then green and fertile, but now covered by Champlain Street, and the wharves and warehouses of the Lower Town. Beyond this line of beach stretched the glorious waters of the great river,' cradling the green Ile d'Orléans, with its abundant foliage, where perhaps the golden touches of autumn had already given their first splendour to the vines. On his right, parted from him by the broad current, rose the broken Point Levi shore, a wild wooded solitude, 'very fair,' but seemingly undisturbed by man. On his left the shallower stream of the Ste. Croix flowed peacefully out from a channel already far too wide for its waters, and there his ships, with the royal arms of France displayed, lay safely—a little stronghold of European power and civilisation in the midst of the primitive region.
Beyond the ships a grassy and level shore extended, until, rising gradually, it grew into those steep cliffs fringed with clinging bushes, over which, six miles off, the Montmorenci flung itself, marking its descent by a cloud of glimmering whiteness. Further on and further back from the river the land still rose, richly wooded and beautiful, but all solitary, where in later days Wolff's little army was to have its encampment, and where now scattered villages lie, stretching mile after mile past the place where the white houses and glittering spire of Les Anges Gardiens nestle among the green slopes of the hills.
It must have been a day never to be forgotten when Cartiersurely for a moment unconscious that his voyage needed any other perfecting-climbed the heights of Stadacona, and looked down upon this picture. He was to grow familiar with it, to see it daily through times of difficulty, danger, and almost despair; but for all the suffering that might come to be associated with it, it would keep its place in his memory as something to be recalled in the peaceful years to come with all a lover's admiration and a discoverer's pride.
A short time was spent in exploring the neighbourhood of Stadacona and the Ile d'Orléans (on which, from its abundant vines, the name of Ile de Bacchus was bestowed) and in taking measures for the safety of the ships; but the captain's mind was now resolutely bent on a voyage up the great river,' to visit an important Indian settlement of which reports had reached him. The chief and people of Stadacona were for some reason opposed to this expedition, and not only contrived causes of delay, but finally managed so that the French were obliged to do without the guides and interpreters on whose help they had counted. Cartier, however, was not to be discouraged; and on September 19 started up the river with the Emerillon,' the smallest of his three small vessels, and two boats. They stopped at a place called Ochelay, which seems to have been at or near Richelieu, and were hospitably received by the Indians there. When they reached Lake St. Peter their journey began to be troublesome and dangerous, and they were obliged to leave the Emerillon' in charge of a small party, and only take on the boats, manned by twenty sailors, four gentlemen volunteers, and the two masters Marc Jalobert and Guillaume le Breton. They had heard from so many quarters a report of the importance of Hochelaga, whither they were bound, that it must have been with no little eagerness that they pushed their way on through the islands at the head of the lake, and at last, on October 2, came in sight of their destination.
The news of their approach had gone before them, and there was an excited crowd waiting as their boats drew up to the beach. More than a thousand persons, Cartier says, were assembled, dancing and singing tumultuously, and throwing cakes made of maize into their boats, in such abundance that you would have thought they were rained down from heaven.' As soon as the strangers landed, they found a great feast prepared for them, the whole town apparently constituting themselves their entertainers; but that day there was no state reception, nor did they visit the town itself, contenting themselves with