Gaspar Corte-Real

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Gaspar Corte-Real
Gaspar Côrte-Real - Padrão dos Descobrimentos.png
Statue of Gaspar Corte-Real in the Monument of the Discoveries, in Lisbon, Portugal.

CitizenshipKingdom of Portugal
OccupationNavigator and explorer
Known forExploring the North American coast

Gaspar Corte-Real (1450 – 1501) was a Portuguese explorer who alongside his father João Vaz Corte-Real (c. 1420-1496) and brother Miguel, participated in various exploratory voyages sponsored by the Portuguese Crown. These voyages are said to have been some of the first to reach Newfoundland and possibly other parts of eastern Canada.

Early life[edit]

He was the youngest of three sons of João Vaz Corte-Real, also a Portuguese explorer, and had accompanied his father on his expeditions to North America. His brothers were also explorers.[1]


In 1500, King Manuel I of Portugal sent Gaspar to discover lands and search for a Northwest Passage to Asia.

He reached Greenland, believing it to be east Asia, but chose not to land. He set out on a second voyage to Greenland in 1501, with his brother Miguel Corte-Real[2] and three caravels. Encountering frozen sea, they changed course to the south and reached land, believed to be Labrador and Newfoundland. There they captured 57 native men, who would later be sold as slaves. Gaspar then sent his brother and two ships back to Portugal before continuing southwards.


Nothing more was heard of Gaspar Corte-Real after 1501. His brother Miguel attempted to find him in 1502, but he too never returned.


A statue of Gaspar Corte-Real, located in the city of St. John's, Newfoundland.

There is a statue of Gaspar Corte-Real located in front of the Confederation Building in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.[3] It was donated by the Canadian Portuguese Fisheries Organisation in 1965 in recognition of the hospitality of Newfoundlanders towards Portuguese Grand Banks fishermen. In early 1999 a car, apparently chauffeured by a speeding tourist, slammed into the pedestal that supports the statue. The statue itself was unscathed, but its base was mangled. Later that year Ottawa bronze restoration specialist Craig Johnson subcontracted local foundry Sculptures to undertake the repairs while Johnson himself repainted the statue. According to local sculptor Will Gill, who did some of the work, no scars remain from the accident and Corte-Real was returned to his original condition.[4] A street in Mount Pearl is named for Corte-Real.

There is a building at Memorial University of Newfoundland's St. John's campus named after Corte Real. In December 2019, the Board of Regents voted to change its name to the Global Learning Centre, after the Internationalization Office that the building presently houses.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Postie, Two Blokes with a. "History Atlas". Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  2. ^ "Student Resources in Context - Document". Retrieved 2017-02-13.
  3. ^ James McLeod (Aug 25, 2017). "N.L. indigenous leaders say Corte-Real statue is an insulting relic". Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Gaspar Corte-Real Statue - The Scope Archive". May 24, 2007. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  5. ^ Batten, Jennifer (2020-02-03). "Building renamed". Gazette - Memorial University of Newfoundland. Retrieved 2020-02-11.

External links[edit]