On today’s date in 1536, French explorer Jacques Cartier returned to St. Malo, France, following his second voyage to the New World and an absence of 14 months.
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”.
Cartier, born in 1491, discovered and mapped the Gulf of Saint Lawrence as well as the shores of the Saint Lawrence River. His explorations laid the foundation for the European colonization of Canada, which, until he became the first to document the name in the early part of the 16th century, was simply considered the New World.
Cartier’s second voyage ended with a return trip home. He left in May, following the Newfoundland coast to discover the strait that bears the name of explorer Giovanni Caboto. Two months later, Cartier was back in St. Malo.