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Fort Charlesbourg Royal
Drawing of Charlesbourg Royal (1542)
Location On the north shore of the St. Lawrence River at the tip of present day Cap-Rouge
Coordinates 46°45′15.3″N 71°34′15.9″W / 46.754250°N 71.571083°W / 46.754250; -71.571083Coordinates: 46°45′15.3″N 71°34′15.9″W / 46.754250°N 71.571083°W / 46.754250; -71.571083
Area 1 hectare (2.5 acres)
Built summer 1541
Abandoned September 1542
Charlesbourg-Royal is located in Quebec
Location of Fort Charlesbourg Royal in Quebec

In the summer of 1541, after arriving on his third and final voyage, Jacques Cartier established a French colony of 400 people at present-day Cap-Rouge named Fort Charlesbourg Royal. It consisted of an upper fort, and lower fort located near the mouth of Cap-Rouge river. The upper fort, constructed at an elevation of 40 metres, offered a strategic defensive position, while the lower fort provided a potential anchorage for ships. The two forts had three towers. Charlesbourg Royal was named after Charles II, Duke of Orleans, third son of King Francis I of France.

During the first winter, 35 of Cartier’s men perished.[1] Fort Charlesbourg Royal was abandoned in September 1543 due to the harsh weather, scurvy, and attacks from neighbouring Iroquoians of Stadacona and other villages.[1]

In August 2006, Quebec Premier Jean Charest and Canadian archaeologists under Yves Chretien announced the discovery of this long-lost settlement. Chretien identified its location from fragments of a decorated c.1540-1550 Italian style ceramic plate and six wood timber samples dated to the mid-16th century by a United States laboratory.[2]


  1. ^ a b Conrad Heidenreich; K. Janet Ritch (2010). Samuel de Champlain Before 1604: Des Sauvages and Other Documents Related to the Period. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. pp. 43–44. ISBN 978-0-7735-3757-6. 
  2. ^ Canwest News Service (August 22, 2006). "Pottery shard unearths North America's first French settlement". Retrieved May 3, 2012.