Died: September 1557
Birthplace: St. Malo, Brittany (now France)
Best known as: French discoverer of Canada's St. Lawrence River
Jacques Cartier was a navigator who made three voyages for France to the North American continent between 1534 and 1542. He explored the St. Lawrence River and gave Canada its name. Little is known of Cartier's early life, though it is believed he accompanied the Florentine explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524 on a trans-Atlantic voyage initiated by the king of France. In 1534 he was appointed by Francis I to explore North America, in an attempt to find a passage to the Pacific Ocean. On his first voyage he reached Newfoundland in 20 days, sighted the Magdalen Islands and Prince Edward Island (which he thought was the mainland) and found the St. Lawrence River. He made a second voyage in 1535 and explored the St. Lawrence up to what is now Montreal. On his third voyage (1541), Cartier was under the command of Jean-Francois de la Rocque de Roberval and part of an unsuccessful attempt to colonize the area. Upon Cartier's return to France in 1542, he settled in his hometown of St. Malo.
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