Young Jacques Cartier, fishing the Grand Banks of Newfoundland with his father, was curious about the land he saw westward, but no one else was interested. They just wanted to catch cod and go home.
When Cartier grew up and became captain on his own ship, he no longer wanted to fish in the cold North Atlantic. Instead, he headed to Brazil to make his fortune. He made very little money, but word of his excellent seamanship reached the ears of Count Brion-Chabot, High Admiral of France.
Brion-Chabot was looking for someone to explore the new world for France, and Cartier seemed an excellent choice. So, in 1534, Jacques Cartier dusted off his old dream and sailed across the ocean, past the old fishing grounds, with two sixty-ton schooners. His goal was to find a waterway across the new world and to report on the land he explored.
In three separate voyages, Cartier mapped the St. Lawrence, got to know the Indians, and learned how to survive harsh winters. He made great discoveries and enormous mistakes, claimed the land that became Canada for France, and was eventually rewarded with a pension by King Francis I.
This well-written, appealingly-illustrated book is best for grades 4-8. I read it aloud to my girls (11 and 13) as part of our Canadian History studies and it was as well-received as a novel. We have enjoyed every Ronald Syme history book we’ve read; if you find one at a second hand sale, it is probably worth getting.
This is one of the books we use in our multi-year, literature-based Canadian History course.
Other resources about this time, with links to my blog posts:
- John Calvin by Simonetta Carr
- And Tomorrow the Stars: The Story of John Cabot by Kay Hill
- Martin Luther, the DVD
- Salt in His Blood: The Life of Michael de Ruyter
- The Sistine Chapel
- This was John Calvin by Thea van Halsema
Disclosure: We found this book at a used book sale and I am not compensated for writing this review.