Towards the end of July, 1534, (some historians proposing the precise date as July 24, 1534), 1534, Jacques Cartier, landed at what would soon become known as la Nouvelle France, later lower Canada and now the province of Québec. The location of this landing is now known as Gaspé Bay, at the very end of the South Shore of the St. Lawrence River. There, apparently in spite of what appeared to be protests from a elderly Indian chieftain, Cartier erected a 30 foot tall cross/flagpole with flag of France blowing in the wind at the top of it; the point being to declare this new land for France. In fact, the cross for the inscription "Vive le Roi de France".

Cartier hd received his expedition orders from  King Francoys ("Francois" or "Francis") I, born 1494, died in 1547; his formal reign as king being from 1515 to 1547. The point of the expedition was to find land, if any, suitable for colonization

Caritier Continued his progress down the St. Lawrence River and is credited with first using the name to describe the territory, it being a derivative of Iroquois place names:"Canada".

International law was in its very infancy and even where formally recognize, often disregarded by more powerful states.

In France, poor decisions by the monarchy stifled colonization in Canada. In 1540, the French king chose an aristocrat Francois de la Roque to be the governor of Canada with powers to assemble a small army to effectively occupy the territory. Cartier was unable to work with de la Roque and possibly envious, and in any event returned to France in 1542. Roberval quit soon thereafter.

Back in FRance, François I had became involved in European wars especially one against the holy Roman Emperor Charles V, all of which puts any interest in the new colonies across the Atlantic Ocean far from his mind. It was not until his son Henry (formsally Henry III), became king that the French renewed interest in land across the Atlantic. Even though his own country was plagued by religious discord and he had to clean up the mess created by his father in terms of relationships with other European powers, he still managed to create a flotilla of 500 vessels which he sent to Canada.      

References and Citations

  • Lareau, Edmond, l'Histoire du Droit Français Depuis les Origines de la Colonie jusqu'auu'a Nos JOurs (Montreal: A. Periard, Libraire-EDiteur, 1888), p. 105