OTD: Jacques Cartier reaches Kanata

On today’s date in 1535, Jacques Cartier reached the Iroquois village of Kanata near “Kebec” on his second voyage up the St. Lawrence River.

It was there that he met Donnacona, chief of the 16th-century village of Stadacona (present-day Quebec City). That year, Cartier built a fort at the site, where he stayed for about a year, claiming the area for France and calling it “Canada”, which was an alteration of the Iroquois word “kanata,” meaning village or settlement.

In 2013, the Royal Canadian Mint struck a $200 gold coin as the second of six issues in its Great Explorers series. With a limited mintage of 2,000 – 1,000 coins less than the first gold coin in the Great Explorers series – the coin has a weight of 15.43 grams, a diameter of 29 mm and features a serrated edge. Designed by artist Laurie McGaw, the coin’s reverse features a full-length portrait of the famous explorer standing atop a riverbank and surveying the land. Cartier is flanked by French soldiers and an aboriginal guide, with surrounding inscriptions reading “CANADA”, the year-date “2013” and face value of “200 DOLLARS”.

Quebec City (or “Ville de Quebec” in French) is named after the St. Lawrence River promontory near which it’s located. In fact, “Kebec” is an Algonquin word meaning “where the river narrows.”

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