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HOW A BRETON SAILOR CAME TO CANADA
 YEARS passed on. England did little more than plant her flag in the New World, as the lands beyond the seas came to
be called. Now and again indeed the English tried to found colonies. But the settlers sickened and died, and
the attempts failed. Sir Humphrey Gilbert, half-brother of the famous Raleigh, was among the gallant captains
who sailed the seas and claimed strange lands in the name of the great Queen Elizabeth. He landed upon the
shores of New-found-land—the island which is still called by that name to-day. There he set up the royal
arms of England, and, with solemn ceremony, taking a handful of soil in his hand. Sir Humphrey declared the
land to be the possession of Elizabeth, Queen by the Grace of God.
So Newfoundland became a British possession, and thus claims to be the oldest of all our colonies.
Meanwhile Spain and Portugal were busy gathering wealth and glory in the New World. But the King of France
thought that he too should have a share. He sent a message to the King of Spain asking him if it was true that
he and the King of Portugal meant to divide all the world between them without allowing him a share as a
brother. "I would fain see in father Adam's will where he made you the sole heirs to so vast an inheritance,"
he added. "Until I do see that, I shall
seize as mine whatever my good ships may happen to
find upon the ocean."
So the French King sent men to explore America. And all that they explored he called New France, taking little
heed to the fact that the flag of England had already been planted there.
Many daring men sailed forth with the French King's orders, but Jacques Cartier, a Breton sailor, is perhaps
the most famous. He made four voyages to the New World, and brought back many wonderful tales of the things he
had seen there. He told how he had met with wild and savage folk with dark skins. They painted their bodies
in strange fashions, and their only clothes were the skins of beasts. Their black hair was drawn up on the top
of the head and tied there like a wisp of hay, and decorated with bright feathers sticking out in all
These men were the Red Indians of North America. They are not really Indians at all. But when the first people
found America they thought that they had reached India by sailing west, and they called the natives Indians.
We have called them so ever since.
Cartier told too of great beasts like oxen which had two teeth like the tusks of elephants and which went in
the sea. Strange fish he saw, "of which it is not in the manner of man to have seen," some with the head of a
greyhound and as white as snow, some that had the shape of horses and did go by day on land and by night in
Besides these tales of strange beasts and men, Cartier told of a fairy city of which he had heard. This city
was called Norumbega. The Indians believed that somewhere beyond the rivers and the mountains it lay full of
untold wealth and splendid with starry turrets and
glittering gem-strewn streets. There the
sun shone for ever golden, the air was sweet with the scent of richest spices through which rang, all day
long, the song of birds. And when they heard of it, many left their homes and sailed away to seek this city of
Delight. Cartier himself sailed many a league. He went where no white man had been before. But he never found
the Golden City.
The wild people were not unfriendly. They looked in wonder at the strange men with pale faces who came to
their country in winged boats. For although the Indians had canoes made of birch bark, in which they
travelled up and down their rivers and great lakes, they had never before seen a boat with sails.
It was while Cartier was exploring that Canada received the name by which we know it.
"Cannata," said the Indians pointing to their village of huts.
Cartier thought that they meant that the country was called Cannata. So he called it Cannata or Canada. But
the Indians had only meant to show the pale face their village, and the word in the Indian language really
means a village.
Upon the shores of the Bay of Gaspe, where Cartier landed, he raised a great cross of thirty feet in height.
To the cross-bar he nailed a shield on which were carved three fleurs-de-lis, the emblem of France.
Above the shield, in large letters, were carved the words, "Long live the King of France." When the cross was
planted in the ground Cartier and his men joined hands, and, kneeling round it in a circle, prayed. About them
stood the astonished, wondering Indians. They were a little ill-pleased that these pale strangers should raise
this unknown sign upon their land without leave. But they
could not guess that in years to
come, before the sign of the cross, before the foot of the white man, the red man should vanish away as snow
before the sun.
Cartier was kind to the Indians. They grew to love him, and when, upon his second voyage, they heard that he
meant to leave them and explore inland they were very sorry. Perhaps, too, they did not want any other Indians
to have the beads and ribbons and pretty things which Cartier gave them in exchange for their furs. So they
did all they could to prevent him from going. They even tried to frighten him. Three Indians dressed
themselves as evil spirits. They painted their faces black, stuck great horns a yard long upon their heads,
and covered themselves with black and white dogskins. Then in a war canoe they came paddling down the river,
howling dismally all the time. When they came in sight the other Indians began to shriek and howl too. They
ran to Cartier and told him that these were spirits which had been sent by their god to warn him not to go up
the river as he intended. "If you go, O Pale Face, fearful things will come upon you," they said. "Wind and
storms, ice and snow, will bar your way. None will return alive. Our god will lead you into the spirit land."
But Cartier was not at all afraid. He laughed at the Indians. "Your god is powerless," he said. "My God is
all powerful. He Himself has spoken to me, and He has promised to keep me safe through every danger."
So Cartier started on his journey and travelled up the river, now called the St. Lawrence, to an Indian
village named Hochelaga. There he climbed a hill and looked around upon the fair country. As far as the eye
could reach land rolled before him. Over dark forest and wild prairie, over lake and hill and valley swept his
gaze. He followed the grand and shining river, as it wound its way along, until it
was lost in the dim distance. It was not indeed the fairy land of which he had heard, but it was very
splendid. "It is Mount Royal," he said. And to-day it is still called Mount Royal, for that little Indian
village has grown into the great city of Montreal.
When Cartier returned to France after his first voyage to Canada, he took with him two Red Indians, sons of a
great Indian chief. This he did so that they might learn French and be able, on their return, to translate for
him all that was said.
Many times Cartier sailed to Canada. With him he brought men and women, so that they might settle in the land,
and making their homes there, form a New France over the seas. But few people wanted to leave their
comfortable homes and go to live in a far and unknown land. So, to get men enough, Cartier was obliged to take
them out of the prisons. As might have been expected, people who had been put in prison for their evil deeds
did not make good colonists. They met besides with many troubles. They suffered from sickness, cold and
hunger. Many of them died, and at last those who were left sailed back again to France. And so Cartier's
attempt at making a colony ended.
Awake, my country, the hour of dreams is done!
Doubt not, nor dread the greatness of thy fate.
Tho' faint souls fear the keen confronting sun,
And fain would bid the morn of splendour wait;
Tho' dreamers, rapt in starry visions, cry
"Lo, yon thy future, yon thy faith, thy fame!"
And stretch vain hands to stars, thy fame is nigh,
Here in Canadian hearth, and home, and name,
This name which yet shall grow
Till all the nations know
Us for a patriot people, heart and hand
Loyal to our native earth, our own Canadian land!
O strong hearts, guarding the birthright of our glory,
Worth your best blood the heritage that ye guard!
These mighty streams resplendent with our story,
These iron coasts by rage of seas unjarred,—
What fields of peace these bulwarks well secure!
What vales of plenty those calm floods supply!
Shall not our love this rough, sweet land make sure,
Her bounds preserve inviolate, though we die?
O strong hearts of the North,
Let flame your loyalty forth,
And put the craven and base to an open shame
Till earth shall know the Child of Nations by her name!
C. G. D. ROBERTS.