Cartier (1491-1557) was a French explorer who led three expeditions to
Canada, in 1534, 1535, and 1541. He was looking for a route to the Pacific
through North America (a Northwest Passage) but did not find one.
Instead he discovered the St. Lawrence River. The St. Lawrence River ended
much sooner than Cartier expected. It ended on a high hill which Cartier
named Mont Real or King's Mountain in honor of the King of France. Mont
Real later became Montreal. He paved the way for the French to build fur
trading forts along the river. He cooperated with the Iroquois Indians
and received corn to take back to Europe. The French traded knives,
hatchets, and beads for the beaver furs the Indians gave them. Cartier
named the area New France and claimed it in the name of the King of France.
He also tried to start a settlement in Quebec (in 1541), but it was abandoned after a terribly cold winter. Cartier named Canada; "Kanata" means village or settlement in the Huron-Iroquois language. Cartier was given directions by Huron-Iroquois Indians for the route to "kanata," a village near what is now Quebec, but Cartier later named the entire region Canada.