"Quebec City - The City of Lights" Quebec by deadites
Quebec Travel Guide: 1,534 reviews and 3,300 photos
A Brief History of the City of Québec
In the Days of Stadacona (1535-1543)
In September 1535, Jacques Cartier dropped anchor at the mouth of a river he named Sainte-Croix (today the Saint-Charles). He was exploring this northern part of the continent on behalf of the King of France, François I, looking for riches and a new route to the Orient.
On the present-day site of Parc Cartier-Brébeuf, the captain from Saint-Malo had a fort constructed out of wooden posts. Nearby was the village of Stadacona, which had "the best possible land and bountiful too." Some five hundred Iroquois lived there in longhouses. Aside from the spoils of hunting and fishing, they lived off the land, cultivating corn, squash, and beans.
For the Europeans, their first Laurentian winter was a tragedy. Ill-equipped to affront the cold, the snow, hunger, and especially scurvy, which wiped out a part of the crew, Cartier's men were saved at the last minute by annedda, a tea made from white cedar. In May 1536, the survivors returned to France after kidnapping several inhabitants of Stadacona and the village chief, Donnaconna. The captives would never see North America again.
Cartier returned to found a colony in 1541 under the orders of lieutenant general Jean-François de La Rocque de Roberval. He arrived in Stadacona in August with five ships and elected to settle at the mouth of a river that would later be called Cap-Rouge. He had crops planted and two forts built, one on the beach and the other at the top of the hill. The winter was hard; scurvy set in and the now hostile natives harassed the settlers, spurring Cartier to return to France. He took back a load of pyrite and quartz, mistaking them for gold and diamonds. On his way, he crossed paths with Sieur de Roberval, who would make a second attempt to settle on the site, only to face the ravages of scurvy himself. In June 1543, the colonists returned home, ending France's first attempt to settle North America.
When Samuel de Champlain arrived in Québec in 1608, the village of Stadacona no longer existed. The Iroquois had deserted the St. Lawrence Valley for the Great Lakes region. A number of hypotheses have been advanced to explain their departure: disease, a cooling of the climate, but most probably wars between native nations.
In the early 17th century, the present-day site of the City of Québec was frequented by nomadic Algonquins, who came to fish for eel and to barter.
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