European Exploration of America

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How did European explorers discover Canada?

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The land now known as "Canada" has had a long history of foreign exploration and attempted colonization. The Vikings are recorded as having attempted to settle areas of Canada in the 11th century. In the 14th century, Norwegian explorers sailed up areas of the Hudson Bay and later into Nova Scotia. In 1497, John Cabot sailed to Cape Breton island. In 1534, French explorer, Jacques Cartier, was leading a French expedition down a river through a land that became know as "Canada".

The French king, Francis I, was determined to also become a strong imperialist power within North America. He was interested in setting up an economic monopoly within the far northern reaches of North America. As such, he sent the well-known mariner, Jacques Cartier, to explore the inlands of the northern areas of North America and to stake a claim there (regardless of how indigenous people of those regions felt, of course). As other colonists had before him, Cartier kidnapped indigenous people to arrogantly display them, as one would display an object, back in Europe. Cartier heard one of the Iroquois men he had kidnapped refer to a specific destination (within the area now known as Quebec) as "Kanata". This word means "village", and yet colonists turned it into the name for the entire region non-indigenous people now call "Canada".

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