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The European Failure

Type: Document

Unlike the Spanish Central America, Europeans were unable to successfully colonize North America in the 16th Century. Amerindian guerrilla tactics combined with a cold and hostile land to frustrate the newcomers. Nevertheless, North America became a theatre of war for European conflicts.

Site: National Defence

Jacques Cartier ordered cannon firings to impress the Indians

Type: Image

The Iroquois were surprised and fearful at first of Cartier's cannon, but their awe did not last very long.

Site: National Defence

Soldiers Of The Canadian Expeditions

Type: Document

The soldiers accompanying early expeditions worked for private businesses, not for the state. Many were veterans of European wars, or gentlemen seeking land or gold.

Site: National Defence

Difficult Relations

Type: Document

Cartier's expedition got along poorly with the Iroquois at Quebec. Discovery of what was falsely thought to be gold led to discord between Roberval and Cartier. Eventually, the fortified settlement was abandoned.

Site: National Defence

16th century ‘rondelle’

Type: Image

Some 200 ‘rondelles’ - round shields carried by infantry swordsmen, more commonly called ‘rondaches’ - formed part of the armament sent to Canada in 1541. Swordsmen still formed an important part of infantry contingents in mid-16th century European armies.

Site: National Defence

War and the Foundation of Canada - Permanent European Settlement

Type: Document

During the 16th century, European fishermen, whalers, traders, adventurers, and explorers visited the eastern seaboard of North America and established a lucrative fur trade by the early 1600s. While fishermen and whalers had generally co-operated with First Peoples in exchanging goods, permanent European settlement and involvement in the fur trade with Hurons and Algonkians soon led the French to join these nations in their war with the Iroquois Confederacy.

Site: Canadian War Museum

An Increasing Military Presence

Type: Document

During Cartier's three expeditions to Canada, there were more and more soldiers among his men. The later expeditions were very well armed.

Site: National Defence

Officier wearing armour, 16th century

Type: Image

Armour was worn by senior officers during the 16th century and would have been brought by those in the 1541 Roberval expedition.

Site: National Defence

The First Uniform Worn in Canada

Type: Document

Cartier's men wore the livery of Brittany, the French province from which they sailed.

Site: National Defence

Roberval and his soldiers in New France in 1542

Type: Image

The men of Roberval's 1542 expedition are shown in several spots on this 1546 map of New France by Pierre Descelliers. (Library and Archives Canada NMC 40461)

Site: National Defence