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Review: Cartier Finder of the St. Lawrence by Ronald Syme

Cartier Finder of the St. Lawrence

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.

Cartier's Voyages

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:

Disclosure:  We found this book at a used book sale and I am not compensated for writing this review.

This post is linked to Finishing Strong and Trivium Tuesdays as well as the Carnival of Homeschooling.


  1. Carol says:

    We’ve got a couple. of the Syme books and think they’re very good also. I like having the maps included with the story & his books have decent ones that are easy to follow. Salt in His Blood is also one we’ve enjoyed.

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Yes, this is a good map. Henry Hudson, another book by Syme does not have any maps as I recall, and that is too bad.

      I loved Salt in His Blood and have read it aloud twice. The butter scene is so exciting!

  2. Amy says:

    Thanks for sharing this resource! I like how you linked to your other posts from this time period at the end. Very helpful.

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