CARTIER'S OWN ACCOUNT1
Vpon Thursday being the eight of the moneth, because the winde was not good to go out with our ships, we set our boates in a readinesse to goe to discouer the said Bay,2 and that day wee went 25 leagues within it. The next day the wind and weather being faire, we sailed vntil noone, in which time we had notice of a great part of the said Bay, and how that ouer the low lands, there were other lands with high mountaines: but seeing that there was no passage at all, wee began to turne back againe, taking our way along the coast and sayling, we saw certaine wilde men . . . . and by and by in clusters they came to the shore where we were, with their, boates, bringing with them skinnes and other such things as they had, to haue of our wares . . . . til they had nothing but their naked bodies; for they gaue vs all whatsoeuer they had, and that was but of small value. We perceiued that this people might very easily be conuerted to our Religion. They goe from place to place. They liue onely with fishing. They haue an ordinarie time to fish for their prouision. The countrey is hotter than the countrey of Spaine, and the fairest that can possibly be found, altogether smooth, and leuel. There is no place be it neuer so little, but it hath some trees (yea albeit it be sandie) or else is full of wilde corne, that hath an eare like vnto Rie: the corne is like oates, and smal peason as thicke as if they had bene sowen and plowed, white and red Roses, with many other flouers of very sweet and pleasant smell. There be also many goodly medowes full of grasse, and lakes wherein great plentie of salmons be. They call a hatchet in their tongue Cochi, and a knife Bacon: we named it The bay of heat. . . .
The Saturday following, being the first of August, by Sunne rising, wee had certaine other landes, lying North and Northeast, that were very high and craggie, and seemed to be mountaines: betweene which were other low lands with woods and riuers: wee went about the sayd lands, as well on the one side as on the other, still bending Northwest, to see if it were either a gulfe, or a passage, vntill the fift of the moneth. The distance from one land to the other is about fifteene leagues. The middle between them both is 50 degrees and a terce in latitude. We had much adoe to go fiue miles farther, the winds were so great and the tide against vs. And at fiue miles end, we might plainely see and perceiue land on both sides, which there beginneth to spread it selfe. . . .
After we had sailed along the sayd coast, for the space of two houres, behold, the tide began to turne against vs, with so swift and raging a course, that it was not possible for vs with 13 oares to row or get one stones cast farther, so that we were constrained to leaue our boates with some of our men to guard them, and 10 or 12 men went ashore to the sayd Cape, where we found that the land beginneth to bend Southwest, which hauing seene, we came to our boats againe, and so to our ships, which were stil ready vnder saile, hoping to go forward; but for all that, they were fallen more then four leagues to leeward from the place where we had left them, where so soone as we came, wee assembled together all our Captaines, Masters, and Mariners, to haue their aduice and opinion what was best to be done; and after that euery one had said, considering that the Easterly winds began to beare away, and blow, and that the flood was so great, that we did but fall, and that there was nothing to be gotten, and that stormes and tempests began to reigne in Newfoundland, and that we were so farre from home, not knowing the perils and dangers that were behind, for either we must agree to returne home againe, or els to stay there all the yeere. More ouer, we did consider, that if the Northerne winds did take vs, it were not possible for vs to depart thence. All which opinions being heard and considered, we altogether determined to addresse our selues homeward. Nowe because vpon Saint Peters day wee entred into the sayd Streite, we named it Saint Peters Streite. . . .
In the yeere of our Lord 1535, vpon Whitsunday, being the 16. of May, by the commandement of our Captaine Iames Cartier, and with a common accord, in the Cathedrall Church of S. Malo we deuoutly each one confessed our selues, and receiued the Sacrament: and all entring into the Quier of the sayd Church, wee presented our selues before the Reuerend Father in Christ, the Lord Bishop of S. Malo, who blessed vs all, being in his Bishops roabes. The Wednesday following, being the 19. of May, there arose a good gale of wind, and therefore we hoysed seyle with three ships. . . . We staied and rested our selues in the sayd hauen, vntill the seuenth of August being Sonday: on which day we hoysed sayle, and came toward land on the South side toward Cape Robast, distant from the sayd hauen about twentie leagues Northnortheast, and Southsouthwest: but the next day there rose a stormie and a contrary winde, and because we could find no hauen there toward the South, thence we went coasting along toward the North, beyond the abouesayd hauen about ten leagues, where we found a goodly great gulfe, full of Islands, passages, and entrances, toward what wind soeuer you please to bend: for the knowledge of this gulfe there is a great Island that is like to a Cape of lande, stretching somewhat further foorth than the others, and about two leagues within the land, there is an hill fashioned as it were an heape of corne. We named the sayd gulfe Saint Laurence his bay. The twelfth of the sayd moneth wee went from the sayd Saint Laurence his Bay, or gulfe, sayling Westward, and discouered a Cape of land toward the South, that runneth West and by South, distant from the sayd Saint Laurence his Bay, about fiue and twenty leagues. . . .
Moreouer, I beleeue that there were neuer so many Whales seen as we saw that day about the sayd Cape. The next day after being aur Ladie day of August the fifteenth of the moneth, hauing passed the Straight, we had notice of certaine lands that wee left toward the South, which landes are full of uery great and high hilles, and this Cape wee named The Island of the Assumption, and perceuived to be higher than the Southerly, more then thirty leagues in length. We trended the sayd landes about toward the South: from the sayd day vntill Tewesday noone following, the winde came West, and therefore wee bended toward the North, purposing to goe and see the land that we before had spied. Being arriued there, we found the sayd landes as it were ioyned together, and low toward the Sea. And the Northerly mountaines that are vpon the sayd low lands stretch East, and West, and a quarter of the South. Our wild men told vs that there was the beginning of Saguenay, and that it was land inhabited, and that thence commeth the red Copper, of them named Caignetdaze.
There is between the Southerly lands, and the Northerly about thirty leagues distance, and more then two hundredth fadome depth. The sayd men did moreouer certifie vnto vs, that there was the way and beginning of the great riuer of Hochelaga and ready way to Canada, which riuer the further it went the narrower it came, euen vnto Canada, and that then there was fresh water, which went so farre vpwards, that they had neuer heard of any man who had gone to the head of it, and that there is no other passage but with small boates. . . . Vpon the first of September we departed out of the said hauen, purposing to go toward Canada; and about 15 leagues from it toward the West, and Westsouthwest, amidst the riuer, there are three Islands, ouer against the which there is a riuer which runneth swift, and is of great depth, and it is that which leadeth, and runneth into the countrey and kingdome of Saguenay, as by the two wild men of Canada it was told vs. This riuer passeth and runneth along very high and steepe hills of bare stone, where uery little earth is, and notwithstanding there is a great quantity of sundry sorts of trees that grow in the said bare stones, euen as vpon good and fertile ground, in such sort that we haue seene some so great as wel would suffise to make a mast for a ship of 30 tunne burden, and as greene as possibly can be, growing in a stony rocke without any earth at all. . . .
The seuenth of the moneth being our Ladies euen, after seruice we went from that Iland to go vp higher into the riuer, and came to 14 Ilands seuen or eight leagues from the Iland of Filberds, where the countrey of Canada beginneth, one of which Ilands is ten leagues in length, and fiue in bredth, greatly inhabited of such men as onely liue by fishing of such sorts of fishes as the riuer affordeth, according to the season of them. . . . The next day following, the Lord of Canada (whose proper name was Donnacona, but by the name of Lord they call him Agouhanna) with twelue boats came to our ships, accompanied with many people, who causing ten of his boates to goe backe with the other two, approched vnto vs with sixteene men. . . Our Captaine then caused our boates to be set in order, that with the next tide he might goe vp higher into the riuer, to find some safe harborough for our ships: and we passed vp the riuer against the streame about tenne leagues, coasting the said Land, at the end whereof, we found a goodly and pleasant sound, where is a little riuer and hauen, where by reason of the flood there is about three fadome water. This place seemed to us very fit and commodious to harbour our ships therein, and so we did very safely, we named it the holy Crosse, for on that day we came thither. Neere vnto it, there is a village, whereof Donnacona is Lord, and there he keepeth his abode: it is called Stadacona [Quebec] as goodly a plot of ground as possibly may be seene.
Hauing considered the place, and finding it fit for our purpose, our Captaine withdrew himselfe on purpose to returne to our ships. After we were come with our boats vnto our ships againe, our Captaine cause our barks to be made readie to goe on land in the said Iland, to note the trees that in shew seemed so faire, and to consider the nature and qualitie of it: which things we did, and found it full of goodly trees like to ours. Also we saw many goodly Vines, a thing not before of vs seene in those countries, and therefore we named it Bacchus Iland. It is in length about twelue leagues, in sight very pleasant, but full of woods, no part of it manured, vnless it be in certaine places, where a few cottages be for Fishers dwellings as before we haue said. . . .
The next day being the 19 of September we hoysed saile, and with our Pinnesse and two boates departed to goe vp the riuer with the flood, where on both shores of it we beganne to see as goodly a countrey as possibly can with eye seene, all replenished with very goodly trees, and Vines laden as full of grapes as could be all along the riuer, which rather seemed to haue bin planted by mans hand than otherwise. True it is, that because they are not dressed and wrought as they should be, their bunches of grapes are not so great nor sweete as ours: . . . From the nineteenth vntill the eight and twentieth of September, we sailed vp along the saide riuer, neuer losing one houre of time, all which time we saw as goodly and pleasant a countrey as possibly can be wished for. . . .
The next day our Captaine seeing for that time it was not possible for our Pinesse to goe on any further, he caused our boates to be made readie, and as much munition and victuals to be put in them, as they could well beare: he departed with them, accompanyed with many Gentlemen, that is to say, Claudius of Ponte Briand, Cup-bearer to the Lorde Dolphin of France, Charles of Pommeraye, Iohn Gouion, Iohn Powlet, with twentie and eight Mariners: and Mace Iallobert, and William Briton, who had the charge vnder the Captaine of the other two ships, to goe vp as farre as they could into that riuer: we sayled with good and prosperous weather vntill the second of October, on which day we came to the towne of Hochelaga, [Montreal] distant from the place where we had left our Pinnesse fiue and fortie leagues.
1From a letter by Cartier, of which a translation exists in Halluyt's "Principal Navigations," etc. Printed in Hart's "American History Told by Contemporaries."
2The Gulf of St. Lawrence.