16th century in Canada

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Events from the 16th century in Canada.


  • c. 1500: European diseases begin killing native North Americans, who have no immunity to them.
  • 1523-24: Giovanni da Verrazzano, sailing for France, explores the Atlantic coast, encountering Wampanoag, Narragansett, and Delaware Indians.
  • c. 1530-50: The French explorer Jacques Cartier sails up the St. Lawrence River, claiming the land for France. His failure to find a northwest passage - or gold, as the Spanish had in Peru - discourages further exploration. France was also too preoccupied with domestic religious wars to make any substantial commitment. The discovery of Canada was important, however, to English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese fishing fleets, all of which regularly fish the Grand Banks off the coast of Newfoundland.
  • 1534-41: Jacques Cartier of France explores the St. Lawrence River area in three voyages, making contact with Iroquoian speaking tribes.
  • 1534: French explorer Jacques Cartier visits the Strait of Belle Isle (Newfoundland), enters and charts Gulf of St. Lawrence River, landing in Gaspé, July 14. His ship becomes icebound, men suffering from scurvy aided by Iroquoian native, who feed them vitamin C in boiled spruce. He takes two Iroquoians with him back to France.
  • 1541: Jacques Cartier and Sieur de Roberval attempt to colonize Quebec, founding the first French settlement in America, Charlesbourg-Royal, at the mouth of the Cap Rouge River.
  • 1542: Charlesbourg-Royal is abandoned. Cartier meets the sieur de Roberval, who was officially part of the same expedition, in Newfoundland.
  • 1564-65: Rene de Laudonniere heads French colony on St. Johns River in Florida until expelled by Spanish. French artist Jacques le Moyne paints first known European depiction of Indians.
  • c. 1575: Martin Frobisher continues the fruitless search for a passage to Asia.
  • 1576-78: Martin Frobisher, seeking a Northwest Passage to the Pacific, encounters various Inuit.
  • 1585: Sir Walter Raleigh founds colony on Roanoke Island in what will become Virginia.
  • 1588: English fishing fleet delays sailing to Newfoundland to participate in the defeat of Spanish Armada.
  • 1591: Gov. John White returns to the colony on Roanoke Island from a trip to England to find that the colonists have vanished.

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