AUGUST 13, 1535


The word “Canada” was first heard off Anticosti Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on August 13, 1535, during Jacques Cartier’s second voyage of exploration.  Jesuit Pierre-Francois-Xavier de Charlevoix, early historian of New France, said it derived from the word “Kanata,” a Huron-Iroquois term for village.  Two Indigenous youths [Cartier brought them to France after his 1st exploration in 1534] recognized farniliar landmarks and pointed west across the waters, saying that this was the way to the chemin de kanata (route to the village).  They were pointing toward the St. Lawrence River, the route to the settlement of Stadacona ruled by Donnacona.  On August 17, Cartier noted his entrance to the great river: “The aforesaid [Indigenous youth] have assured us that this is the way to and the beginning of … the route to Canada.” He later named the area controlled Donnacona, “the Province of Canada” and called the St. Lawrence the “River of Canada.”  Stadacona was the site on which Quebec City would be built.

Source:  “Origin of the Name ‘Canada,’” Canadainfo.  Retrieved 6/9/2020,
Map:  Jon Platek, 10/24/2009.  Permissive Use.

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