João Álvares Fagundes

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João Álvares Fagundes
Fagundes commemorative beside Halifax Harbour, Nova Scotia.
Born c. 1460
Viana do Castelo, Kingdom of Portugal
Died December 1522
Viana do Castelo, Kingdom of Portugal
Occupation Explorer, ship-owner
Known for Expeditions to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia

João Álvares Fagundes (born c. 1460, Kingdom of Portugal, died 1522, Kingdom of Portugal), an explorer and ship owner from Viana do Castelo in Northern Portugal, organized several expeditions to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia around 1520-1521.

Fagundes, together with his vice-captain (Pêro de Barcelos or other navigator), and accompanied by colonists (mostly from the Azores and some of mainland Portugal), explored the islands of St Paul near Cape Breton, Sable Island, Penguin Island (now known as Funk Island), Burgeo, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon which he named the islands of Eleven Thousand Virgins in honor of Saint Ursula.[1]

Alvares Fagundes Monument Halifax Nova Scotia

King Manuel I of Portugal gave Fagundes exclusive rights and ownership of his discoveries on March 13, 1521.

In 1607, Samuel de Champlain identified the remains of a large cross ("an old cross, all covered with moss, and almost wholly rotted away") at what is now Advocate, Nova Scotia on the Minas Basin. Some historians have attributed the erection of the cross to Fagundes, whom he presumed to have visited the spot some eight decades earlier.[2]

The possible fishing colony of Cape Breton, in Nova Scotia[edit]

Captain Francisco de Souza (Feitor or governor of the king), from the captaincy of the island of Madeira, and natural of the same island, reported in 1570, that about 45 or 50 years before, from Viana, under the command of João Alvares Fagundes, some noblemen joined with the information that they had the New Land of the Codfish, they were determined to go settle some part of it., and with such purpose, they obtained license of the King Manuel, and led several families and couples, mostly from the Azores (especially from the island of Terceira, who were gathered on route). They reached North America with a nau and a caravel, and because they considered the coast of Newfoundland very cold, they sailed from east to west until they reach a new coast, arranged from northeast to southwest, and there they dwelt, and were they lose or run out of ships, (the colonists who settled there) and was not known nothing more of them, cut out of communications with the metropolis.

Only later, especially through Basque fishermen, who visited the region, came news of the fate of the colonists. The Basques brought information of the colony and from its inhabitants and descendants, and said that they were asked to say in Portugal about their situation in the land, to bring them priests, because the Gentile - possibly the Mi'kmaq people - are peaceful and docile, and from notorious men that are saling there. According to Souza, it was in the "Cape Britão (Cape Breton in old portuguese - already with that name in 1570 due to the expeditions of Jacques Cartier, among others), at the entrance of the north coast, in a beautiful bay, according to the chronicler, which had a setlement, with very precious things, and a lot of walnut, chestnut, grapes, and other fruits, where it seems to be the good land and so on this company were some couples from the Azores that they have taken as is notorious.

The governor of Madeira ended the reference to this colony with a prayer and a plea: May Our Lord in His mercy, pave the way to get them help, and my intention is to go to the said path of coastline when I reach the Island of São Francisco, which we can do on a single trip. This possible colony may have lasted at least until the 1570s, or until the end of the century.[3]

See also[edit]


  • SILVA, A. J. M. (2015), The fable of the cod and the promised sea. About portuguese traditions of bacalhau, in BARATA, F. T- and ROCHA, J. M. (eds.), Heritages and Memories from the Sea, Proceedings of the 1st International Conference of the UNESCO Chair in Intangible Heritage and Traditional Know-How: Linking Heritage, 14-16 January 2015. University of Evora, Évora, pp. 130-143. PDF version
  1. ^ Ganong, W. F., Crucial Maps in the Early Cartography and Place-Nomenclature of the Atlantic Coast of Canada, with an introduction, commentary and map notes by Theodore E. Layng (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1964), Chapter II: "João Àlvares Fagundes," 45-97.
  2. ^ Mount Allison University, Marshlands: Records of Life on the Tantramar: European Contact and Mapping, 2004
  3. ^ Tratado das ilhas novas e descombrimento dellas e outras couzas, 1570, Francisco de Souza, Typ. do Archivo dos Açores, 1884 - University of Harvard, Page 6 [1]

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