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´╗┐Title: The Dawn of Canadian History : A Chronicle of Aboriginal Canada
Author: Leacock, Stephen, 1869-1944
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Dawn of Canadian History : A Chronicle of Aboriginal Canada" ***

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Edited by George M. Wrong and H. H. Langton

In thirty-two volumes

Part I

The First European Visitors


A Chronicle of Aboriginal Canada








We always speak of Canada as a new country. In one sense, of course,
this is true. The settlement of Europeans on Canadian soil dates back
only three hundred years. Civilization in Canada is but a thing of
yesterday, and its written history, when placed beside the long
millenniums of the recorded annals of European and Eastern peoples,
seems but a little span.

But there is another sense in which the Dominion of Canada, or at least
part of it, is perhaps the oldest country in the world. According to
the Nebular Theory the whole of our planet was once a fiery molten mass
gradually cooling and hardening itself into the globe we know. On its
surface moved and swayed a liquid sea glowing with such a terrific heat
that we can form no real idea of its intensity. As the mass cooled,
vast layers of vapour, great beds of cloud, miles and miles in
thickness, were formed and hung over the face of the globe, obscuring
from its darkened surface the piercing beams of the sun. Slowly the
earth cooled, until great masses of solid matter, rock as we call it,
still penetrated with intense heat, rose to the surface of the boiling
sea. Forces of inconceivable magnitude moved through the mass. The
outer surface of the globe as it cooled ripped and shrivelled like a
withering orange.  Great ridges, the mountain chains of to-day, were
furrowed on its skin. Here in the darkness of the prehistoric night
there arose as the oldest part of the surface of the earth the great
rock bed that lies in a huge crescent round the shores of Hudson Bay,
from Labrador to the unknown wilderness of the barren lands of the
Coppermine basin touching the Arctic sea. The wanderer who stands
to-day in the desolate country of James Bay or Ungava is among the
oldest monuments of the world. The rugged rock which here and there
breaks through the thin soil of the infertile north has lain on the
spot from the very dawn of time. Millions of years have probably
elapsed since the cooling of the outer crust of the globe produced the
solid basis of our continents.

The ancient formation which thus marks the beginnings of the solid
surface of the globe is commonly called by geologists the Archaean
rock, and the myriads of uncounted years during which it slowly took
shape are called the Archaean age. But the word 'Archaean' itself tells
us nothing, being merely a Greek term meaning 'very old.' This Archaean
or original rock must necessarily have extended all over the surface of
our sphere as it cooled from its molten form and contracted into the
earth on which we live. But in most places this rock lies deep under
the waters of the oceans, or buried below the heaped up strata of the
formations which the hand of time piled thickly upon it. Only here and
there can it still be seen as surface rock or as rock that lies but a
little distance below the soil. In Canada, more than anywhere else in
the world, is this Archaean formation seen. On a geological map it is
marked as extending all round the basin of Hudson Bay, from Labrador to
the shores of the Arctic. It covers the whole of the country which we
call New Ontario, and also the upper part of the province of Quebec.
Outside of this territory there was at the dawn of time no other 'land'
where North America now is, except a long island of rock that marks the
backbone of what are now the Selkirk Mountains and a long ridge that is
now the mountain chain of the Alleghanies beside the Atlantic slope.

Books on geology trace out for us the long successive periods during
which the earth's surface was formed. Even in the Archaean age
something in the form of life may have appeared. Perhaps vast masses of
dank seaweed germinated as the earliest of plants in the steaming
oceans. The water warred against the land, tearing and breaking at its
rock formation and distributing it in new strata, each buried beneath
the next and holding fast within it the fossilized remains that form
the record of its history. Huge fern plants spread their giant fronds
in the dank sunless atmospheres, to be buried later in vast beds of
decaying vegetation that form the coal-fields of to-day.

Animal life began first, like the plants, in the bosom of the ocean.
From the slimy depths of the water life crawled hideous to the land.
Great reptiles dragged their sluggish length through the tangled
vegetation of the jungle of giant ferns.

Through countless thousands of years, perhaps, this gradual process
went on. Nature, shifting its huge scenery, depressed the ocean beds
and piled up the dry land of the continents. In place of the vast
'Continental Sea,' which once filled the interior of North America,
there arose the great plateau or elevated plain that now runs from the
Mackenzie basin to the Gulf of Mexico. Instead of the rushing waters of
the inland sea, these waters have narrowed into great rivers--the
Mackenzie, the Saskatchewan, the Mississippi--that swept the face of
the plateau and wore down the surface of the rock and mountain slopes
to spread their powdered fragments on the broad level soil of the
prairies of the west. With each stage in the evolution of the land the
forms of life appear to have reached a higher development. In place of
the seaweed and the giant ferns of the dawn of time there arose the
maples, the beeches, and other waving trees that we now see in the
Canadian woods. The huge reptiles in the jungle of the Carboniferous
era passed out of existence. In place of them came the birds, the
mammals,--the varied types of animal life which we now know. Last in
the scale of time and highest in point of evolution, there appeared man.

We must not speak of the continents as having been made once and for
all in their present form. No doubt in the countless centuries of
geological evolution various parts of the earth were alternately raised
and depressed. Great forests grew, and by some convulsion were buried
beneath the ocean, covered deep as they lay there with a sediment of
earth and rock, and at length raised again as the waters retreated. The
coal-beds of Cape Breton are the remains of a forest buried beneath the
sea. Below the soil of Alberta is a vast jungle of vegetation, a dense
mass of giant fern trees. The Great Lakes were once part of a much
vaster body of water, far greater in extent than they now are. The
ancient shore-line of Lake Superior may be traced five hundred feet
above its present level.

In that early period the continents and islands which we now see wholly
separated were joined together at various points. The British islands
formed a connected part of Europe. The Thames and the Rhine were one
and the same river, flowing towards the Arctic ocean over a plain that
is now the shallow sunken bed of the North Sea. It is probable that
during the last great age, the Quaternary, as geologists call it, the
upheaval of what is now the region of Siberia and Alaska, made a
continuous chain of land from Asia to America. As the land was
depressed again it left behind it the islands in the Bering Sea, like
stepping-stones from shore to shore. In the same way, there was perhaps
a solid causeway of land from Canada to Europe reaching out across the
Northern Atlantic. Baffin Island and other islands of the Canadian
North Sea, the great sub-continent of Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe
Islands, and the British Isles, all formed part of this continuous

As the last of the great changes, there came the Ice Age, which
profoundly affected the climate and soil of Canada, and, when the ice
retreated, left its surface much as we see it now. During this period
the whole of Canada from the Atlantic to the Rocky Mountains lay buried
under a vast sheet of ice. Heaped up in immense masses over the frozen
surface of the Hudson Bay country, the ice, from its own dead weight,
slid sidewise to the south. As it went it ground down the surface of
the land into deep furrows and channels; it cut into the solid rock
like a moving plough, and carried with it enormous masses of loose
stone and boulders which it threw broadcast over the face of the
country. These stones and boulders were thus carried forty and fifty,
and in some cases many hundred miles before they were finally loosed
and dropped from the sheet of moving ice. In Ontario and Quebec and New
England great stones of the glacial drift are found which weigh from
one thousand to seven thousand tons. They are deposited in some cases
on what is now the summit of hills and mountains, showing how deep the
sheet of ice must have been that could thus cover the entire surface of
the country, burying alike the valleys and the hills. The mass of ice
that moved slowly, century by century, across the face of Southern
Canada to New England is estimated to have been in places a mile thick.
The limit to which it was carried went far south of the boundaries of
Canada. The path of the glacial drift is traced by geologists as far
down the Atlantic coast as the present site of New York, and in the
central plain of the continent it extended to what is now the state of

Facts seem to support the theory that before the Great Ice Age the
climate of the northern part of Canada was very different from what it
is now. It is very probable that a warm if not a torrid climate
extended for hundreds of miles northward of the now habitable limits of
the Dominion. The frozen islands of the Arctic seas were once the seat
of luxurious vegetation and teemed with life. On Bathurst Island, which
lies in the latitude of 76 degrees, and is thus six hundred miles north
of the Arctic Circle, there have been found the bones of huge lizards
that could only have lived in the jungles of an almost tropical climate.

We cannot tell with any certainty just how and why these great changes
came about. But geologists have connected them with the alternating
rise and fall of the surface of the northern continent and its altitude
at various times above the level of the sea. Thus it seems probable
that the glacial period with the ice sheet of which we have spoken was
brought about by a great elevation of the land, accompanied by a change
to intense cold. This led to the formation of enormous masses of ice
heaped up so high that they presently collapsed and moved of their own
weight from the elevated land of the north where they had been formed.
Later on, the northern continent subsided again and the ice sheet
disappeared, but left behind it an entirely different level and a
different climate from those of the earlier ages. The evidence of the
later movements of the land surface, and its rise and fall after the
close of the glacial epoch, may still easily be traced. At a certain
time after the Ice Age, the surface sank so low that land which has
since been lifted up again to a considerable height was once the beach
of the ancient ocean. These beaches are readily distinguished by the
great quantities of sea shells that lie about, often far distant from
the present sea. Thus at Nachvak in Labrador there is a beach fifteen
hundred feet above the ocean. Probably in this period after the Ice Age
the shores of Eastern Canada had sunk so low that the St Lawrence was
not a river at all, but a great gulf or arm of the sea. The ancient
shore can still be traced beside the mountain at Montreal and on the
hillsides round Lake Ontario. Later on again the land rose, the ocean
retreated, and the rushing waters from the shrunken lakes made their
own path to the sea. In their foaming course to the lower level they
tore out the great gorge of Niagara, and tossed and buffeted themselves
over the unyielding ledges of Lachine.

Mighty forces such as these made and fashioned the continent on which
we live.



It was necessary to form some idea, if only in outline, of the
magnitude and extent of the great geological changes of which we have
just spoken, in order to judge properly the question of the antiquity
and origin of man in America.

When the Europeans came to this continent at the end of the fifteenth
century they found it already inhabited by races of men very different
from themselves. These people, whom they took to calling 'Indians,'
were spread out, though very thinly, from one end of the continent to
the other. Who were these nations, and how was their presence to be
accounted for?

To the first discoverers of America, or rather to the discoverers of
the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (Columbus and his successors),
the origin of the Indians presented no difficulty. To them America was
supposed to be simply an outlying part of Eastern Asia, which had been
known by repute and by tradition for centuries past. Finding,
therefore, the tropical islands of the Caribbean sea with a climate and
plants and animals such as they imagined those of Asia and the Indian
ocean to be, and inhabited by men of dusky colour and strange speech,
they naturally thought the place to be part of Asia, or the Indies. The
name 'Indians,' given to the aborigines of North America, records for
us this historical misunderstanding.

But a new view became necessary after Balboa had crossed the isthmus of
Panama and looked out upon the endless waters of the Pacific, and after
Magellan and his Spanish comrades had sailed round the foot of the
continent, and then pressed on across the Pacific to the real Indies.
It was now clear that America was a different region from Asia. Even
then the old error died hard. Long after the Europeans realized that,
at the south, America and Asia were separated by a great sea, they
imagined that these continents were joined together at the north. The
European ideas of distance and of the form of the globe were still
confused and inexact. A party of early explorers in Virginia carried a
letter of introduction with them from the King of England to the Khan
of Tartary: they expected to find him at the head waters of the
Chickahominy. Jacques Cartier, nearly half a century after Columbus,
was expecting that the Gulf of St Lawrence would open out into a
passage leading to China. But after the discovery of the North Pacific
ocean and Bering Strait the idea that America was part of Asia, that
the natives were 'Indians' in the old sense, was seen to be absurd. It
was clear that America was, in a large sense, an island, an island cut
off from every other continent. It then became necessary to find some
explanation for the seemingly isolated position of a portion of mankind
separated from their fellows by boundless oceans.

The earlier theories were certainly naive enough. Since no known human
agency could have transported the Indians across the Atlantic or the
Pacific, their presence in America was accounted for by certain of the
old writers as a particular work of the devil. Thus Cotton Mather, the
famous Puritan clergyman of early New England, maintained in all
seriousness that the devil had inveigled the Indians to America to get
them 'beyond the tinkle of the gospel bells.' Others thought that they
were a washed-up remnant of the great flood. Roger Williams, the
founder of Rhode Island, wrote: 'From Adam and Noah that they spring,
it is granted on all hands.' Even more fantastic views were advanced.
As late as in 1828 a London clergyman wrote a book which he called 'A
View of the American Indians,' which was intended to 'show them to be
the descendants of the ten tribes of Israel.'

Even when such ideas as these were set aside, historians endeavoured to
find evidence, or at least probability, of a migration of the Indians
from the known continents across one or the other of the oceans. It
must be admitted that, even if we supposed the form and extent of the
continents to have been always the same as they are now, such a
migration would have been entirely possible. It is quite likely that
under the influence of exceptional weather--winds blowing week after
week from the same point of the compass--even a primitive craft of
prehistoric times might have been driven across the Atlantic or the
Pacific, and might have landed its occupants still alive and well on
the shores of America. To prove this we need only remember that history
records many such voyages. It has often happened that Japanese junks
have been blown clear across the Pacific. In 1833 a ship of this sort
was driven in a great storm from Japan to the shores of the Queen
Charlotte Islands off the coast of British Columbia. In the same way a
fishing smack from Formosa, which lies off the east coast of China, was
once carried in safety across the ocean to the Sandwich Islands.
Similar long voyages have been made by the natives of the South Seas
against their will, under the influence of strong and continuous winds,
and in craft no better than their open canoes. Captain Beechey of the
Royal Navy relates that in one of his voyages in the Pacific he picked
up a canoe filled with natives from Tahiti who had been driven by a
gale of westerly wind six hundred miles from their own island. It has
happened, too, from time to time, since the discovery of America, that
ships have been forcibly carried all the way across the Atlantic. A
glance at the map of the world shows us that the eastern coast of
Brazil juts out into the South Atlantic so far that it is only fifteen
hundred miles distant from the similar projection of Africa towards the
west. The direction of the trade winds in the South Atlantic is such
that it has often been the practice of sailing vessels bound from
England to South Africa to run clear across the ocean on a long stretch
till within sight of the coast of Brazil before turning towards the
Cape of Good Hope. All, however, that we can deduce from accidental
voyages, like that of the Spaniard, Alvarez de Cabral, across the ocean
is that even if there had been no other way for mankind to reach
America they could have landed there by ship from the Old World. In
such a case, of course, the coming of man to the American continent
would have been an extremely recent event in the long history of the
world. It could not have occurred until mankind had progressed far
enough to make vessels, or at least boats of a simple kind.

But there is evidence that man had appeared on the earth long before
the shaping of the continents had taken place. Both in Europe and
America the buried traces of primitive man are vast in antiquity, and
carry us much further back in time than the final changes of earth and
ocean which made the continents as they are; and, when we remember
this, it is easy to see how mankind could have passed from Asia or
Europe to America. The connection of the land surface of the globe was
different in early times from what it is to-day. Even still, Siberia
and Alaska are separated only by the narrow Bering Strait. From the
shore of Asia the continent of North America is plainly visible; the
islands which lie in and below the strait still look like
stepping-stones from continent to continent. And, apart from this, it
may well have been that farther south, where now is the Pacific ocean,
there was formerly direct land connection between Southern Asia and
South America. The continuous chain of islands that runs from the New
Hebrides across the South Pacific to within two thousand four hundred
miles of the coast of Chile is perhaps the remains of a sunken
continent. In the most easterly of these, Easter Island, have been
found ruined temples and remains of great earthworks on a scale so vast
that to believe them the work of a small community of islanders is
difficult. The fact that they bear some resemblance to the buildings
and works of the ancient inhabitants of Chile and Peru has suggested
that perhaps South America was once merely a part of a great Pacific
continent. Or again, turning to the other side of the continent, it may
be argued with some show of evidence that America and Africa were once
connected by land, and that a sunken continent is to be traced between
Brazil and the Guinea coast.

Nevertheless, it appears to be impossible to say whether or not an
early branch of the human race ever 'migrated' to America. Conceivably
the race may have originated there. Some authorities suppose that the
evolution of mankind occurred at the same time and in the same fashion
in two or more distinct quarters of the globe. Others again think that
mankind evolved and spread over the surface of the world just as did
the various kinds of plants and animals. Of course, the higher
endowment of men enabled them to move with greater ease from place to
place than could beings of lesser faculties. Most writers of to-day,
however, consider this unlikely, and think it more probable that man
originated first in some one region, and spread from it throughout the
earth. But where this region was, they cannot tell. We always think of
the races of Europe as having come westward from some original home in
Asia. This is, of course, perfectly true, since nearly all the peoples
of Europe can be traced by descent from the original stock of the Aryan
family, which certainly made such a migration. But we know also that
races of men were dwelling in Europe ages before the Aryan migration.
What particular part of the globe was the first home of mankind is a
question on which we can only speculate.

Of one thing we may be certain. If there was a migration, there must
have been long ages of separation between mankind in America and
mankind in the Old World; otherwise we should still find some trace of
kinship in language which would join the natives of America to the
great racial families of Europe, Asia, and Africa. But not the
slightest vestige of such kinship has yet been found. Everybody knows
in a general way how the prehistoric relationships among the peoples of
Europe and Asia are still to be seen in the languages of to-day. The
French and Italian languages are so alike that, if we did not know it
already, we could easily guess for them a common origin. We speak of
these languages, along with others, as Romance languages, to show that
they are derived from Latin, in contrast with the closely related
tongues of the English, Dutch, and German peoples, which came from
another common stock, the Teutonic. But even the Teutonic and the
Romance languages are not entirely different. The similarity in both
groups of old root words, like the numbers from one to ten, point again
to a common origin still more remote. In this way we may trace a whole
family of languages, and with it a kinship of descent, from Hindustan
to Ireland. Similarly, another great group of tongues--Arabic, Hebrew,
etc.--shows a branch of the human family spread out from Palestine and
Egypt to Morocco.

Now when we come to inquire into the languages of the American Indians
for evidence of their relationship to other peoples we are struck with
this fact: we cannot connect the languages of America with those of any
other part of the world. This is a very notable circumstance. The
languages of Europe and Asia are, as it were, dovetailed together, and
run far and wide into Africa. From Asia eastward, through the Malay
tongues, a connection may be traced even with the speech of the Maori
of New Zealand, and with that of the remotest islanders of the Pacific.
But similar attempts to connect American languages with the outside
world break down. There are found in North America, from the Arctic to
Mexico, some fifty-five groups of languages still existing or recently
extinct. Throughout these we may trace the same affinities and
relationships that run through the languages of Europe and Asia. We can
also easily connect the speech of the natives of North America with
that of natives of Central and of South America. Even if we had not the
similarities of physical appearance, of tribal customs, and of general
manners to argue from, we should be able to say with certainty that the
various families of American Indians all belonged to one race. The
Eskimos of Northern Canada are not Indians, and are perhaps an
exception; it is possible that a connection may be traced between them
and the prehistoric cave-men of Northern Europe. But the Indians belong
to one great race, and show no connection in language or customs with
the outside world. They belong to the American continent, it has been
said, as strictly as its opossums and its armadillos, its maize and its
golden rod, or any other of its aboriginal animals and plants.

But, here again, we must not conclude too much from the fact that the
languages of America have no relation to those of Europe and Asia. This
does not show that men originated separately on this continent. For
even in Europe and Asia, where no one supposes that different races
sprung from wholly separate beginnings, we find languages isolated in
the same way. The speech of the Basques in the Pyrenees has nothing in
common with the European families of languages.

We may, however, regard the natives of America as an aboriginal race,
if any portion of mankind can be viewed as such. So far as we know,
they are not an offshoot, or a migration, from any people of what is
called the Old World, although they are, like the people of the other
continents, the descendants of a primitive human stock.

We may turn to geology to find how long mankind has lived on this
continent. In a number of places in North and South America are found
traces of human beings and their work so old that in comparison the
beginning of the world's written history becomes a thing of yesterday.
Perhaps there were men in Canada long before the shores of its lakes
had assumed their present form; long before nature had begun to hollow
out the great gorge of the Niagara river or to lay down the outline of
the present Lake Ontario. Let us look at some of the notable evidence
in respect to the age of man in America. In Nicaragua, in Central
America, the imprints of human feet have been found, deeply buried over
twenty feet below the present surface of the soil, under repeated
deposits of volcanic rock. These impressions must have been made in
soft muddy soil which was then covered by some geological convulsion
occurring long ages ago. Even more striking discoveries have been made
along the Pacific coast of South America. Near the mouth of the
Esmeraldas river in Ecuador, over a stretch of some sixty miles, the
surface soil of the coast covers a bed of marine clay. This clay is
about eight feet thick. Underneath it is a stratum of sand and loam
such as might once have itself been surface soil. In this lower bed
there are found rude implements of stone, ornaments made of gold, and
bits of broken pottery. Again, if we turn to the northern part of the
continent we find remains of the same kind, chipped implements of stone
and broken fragments of quartz buried in the drift of the Mississippi
and Missouri valleys. These have sometimes been found lying beside or
under the bones of elephants and animals unknown in North America since
the period of the Great Ice. Not many years ago, some men engaged in
digging a well on a hillside that was once part of the beach of Lake
Ontario, came across the remains of a primitive hearth buried under the
accumulated soil. From its situation we can only conclude that the men
who set together the stones of the hearth, and lighted on it their
fires, did so when the vast wall of the northern glacier was only
beginning to retreat, and long before the gorge of Niagara had begun to
be furrowed out of the rock.

Many things point to the conclusion that there were men in North and
South America during the remote changes of the Great Ice Age. But how
far the antiquity of man on this continent reaches back into the
preceding ages we cannot say.



Of the uncounted centuries of the history of the red man in America
before the coming of the Europeans we know very little indeed. Very few
of the tribes possessed even a primitive art of writing. It is true
that the Aztecs of Mexico, and the ancient Toltecs who preceded them,
understood how to write in pictures, and that, by this means, they
preserved some record of their rulers and of the great events of their
past. The same is true of the Mayas of Central America, whose ruined
temples are still to be traced in the tangled forests of Yucatan and
Guatemala. The ancient Peruvians also had a system, not exactly of
writing, but of record by means of QUIPUS or twisted woollen cords of
different colours: it is through such records that we have some
knowledge of Peruvian history during about a hundred years before the
coming of the Spaniards, and some traditions reaching still further
back. But nowhere was the art of writing sufficiently developed in
America to give us a real history of the thoughts and deeds of its
people before the arrival of Columbus.

This is especially true of those families of the great red race which
inhabited what is now Canada. They spent a primitive existence, living
thinly scattered along the sea-coast, and in the forests and open
glades of the district of the Great Lakes, or wandering over the
prairies of the west. In hardly any case had they any settled abode or
fixed dwelling-places. The Iroquois and some Algonquins built Long
Houses of wood and made stockade forts of heavy timber. But not even
these tribes, who represented the furthest advance towards civilization
among the savages of North America, made settlements in the real sense.
They knew nothing of the use of the metals. Such poor weapons and tools
as they had were made of stone, of wood, and of bone. It is true that
ages ago prehistoric men had dug out copper from the mines that lie
beside Lake Superior, for the traces of their operations there are
still found. But the art of working metals probably progressed but a
little way and then was lost,--overwhelmed perhaps in some ancient
savage conquest. The Indians found by Cartier and Champlain knew
nothing of the melting of metals for the manufacture of tools. Nor had
they anything but the most elementary form of agriculture. They planted
corn in the openings of the forest, but they did not fell trees to make
a clearing or plough the ground. The harvest provided by nature and the
products of the chase were their sole sources of supply, and in their
search for this food so casually offered they moved to and fro in the
depths of the forest or roved endlessly upon the plains. One great
advance, and only one, they had been led to make. The waterways of
North America are nature's highway through the forest. The bark canoe
in which the Indians floated over the surface of the Canadian lakes and
rivers is a marvel of construction and wonderfully adapted to its
purpose: This was their great invention. In nearly all other respects
the Indians of Canada had not emerged even from savagery to that stage
half way to civilization which is called barbarism.

These Canadian aborigines seem to have been few in number. It is
probable that, when the continent was discovered, Canada, from the
Atlantic to the Pacific, contained about 220,000 natives--about half as
many people as are now found in Toronto. They were divided into tribes
or clans, among which we may distinguish certain family groups spread
out over great areas.

Most northerly of all was the great tribe of the Eskimos, who were
found all the way from Greenland to Northern Siberia. The name Eskimo
was not given by these people to themselves. It was used by the Abnaki
Indians in describing to the whites the dwellers of the far north, and
it means 'the people who eat raw meat.' The Eskimo called and still
call themselves the Innuit, which means 'the people.'

The exact relation of the Eskimo to the other races of the continent is
hard to define. From the fact that the race was found on both sides of
the Bering Sea, and that its members have dark hair and dark eyes, it
was often argued that they were akin to the Mongolians of China. This
theory, however, is now abandoned. The resemblance in height and colour
is only superficial, and a more careful view of the physical make-up of
the Eskimo shows him to resemble the other races of America far more
closely than he resembles those of Asia. A distinguished American
historian, John Fiske, believed that the Eskimos are the last remnants
of the ancient cave-men who in the Stone Age inhabited all the northern
parts of Europe. Fiske's theory is that at this remote period
continuous land stretched by way of Iceland and Greenland from Europe
to America, and that by this means the race of cave-men was able to
extend itself all the way from Norway and Sweden to the northern coasts
of America. In support of this view he points to the strangely
ingenious and artistic drawings of the Eskimos. These drawings are made
on ivory and bone, and are so like the ancient bone-pictures found
among the relics of the cave-men of Europe that they can scarcely be

The theory is only a conjecture. It is certain that at one time the
Eskimo race extended much farther south than it did when the white men
came to America; in earlier days there were Eskimos far south of Hudson
Bay, and perhaps even south of the Great Lakes.

As a result of their situation the Eskimos led a very different life
from that of the Indians to the south. They must rely on fishing and
hunting for food. In that almost treeless north they had no wood to
build boats or houses, and no vegetables or plants to supply them
either with food or with the materials of industry. But the very rigour
of their surroundings called forth in them a marvellous ingenuity. They
made boats of seal skins stretched tight over walrus bones, and clothes
of furs and of the skins and feathers of birds. They built winter
houses with great blocks of snow put together in the form of a bowl
turned upside down. They heated their houses by burning blubber or fat
in dish-like lamps chipped out of stones. They had, of course, no
written literature. They were, however, not devoid of art. They had
legends and folk-songs, handed down from generation to generation with
the utmost accuracy. In the long night of the Arctic winter they
gathered in their huts to hear strange monotonous singing by their
bards: a kind of low chanting, very strange to European ears, and
intended to imitate the sounds of nature, the murmur of running waters
and the sobbing of the sea. The Eskimos believed in spirits and
monsters whom they must appease with gifts and incantations. They
thought that after death the soul either goes below the earth to a
place always warm and comfortable, or that it is taken up into the cold
forbidding brightness of the polar sky. When the aurora borealis, or
Northern Lights, streamed across the heavens, the Eskimos thought it
the gleam of the souls of the dead visible in their new home.

Farthest east of all the British North American Indians were the
Beothuks. Their abode was chiefly Newfoundland, though they wandered
also in the neighbourhood of the Strait of Belle Isle and along the
north shore of the Gulf of St Lawrence. They were in the lowest stage
of human existence and lived entirely by hunting and fishing. Unlike
the Eskimos they had no dogs, and so stern were the conditions of their
life that they maintained with difficulty the fight against the rigour
of nature. The early explorers found them on the rocky coasts of Belle
Isle, wild and half clad. They smeared their bodies with red ochre,
bright in colour, and this earned for them the name of Red Indians.
From the first, they had no friendly relations with the Europeans who
came to their shores, but lived in a state of perpetual war with them.
The Newfoundland fishermen and settlers hunted down the Red Indians as
if they were wild beasts, and killed them at sight. Now and again, a
few members of this unhappy race were carried home to England to be
exhibited at country fairs before a crowd of grinning yokels who paid a
penny apiece to look at the 'wild men.'

Living on the mainland, next to the red men of Newfoundland lay the
great race of the Algonquins, spread over a huge tract of country, from
the Atlantic coast to the head of the Great Lakes, and even farther
west. The Algonquins were divided into a great many tribes, some of
whose names are still familiar among the Indians of to-day. The Micmacs
of Nova Scotia, the Malecite of New Brunswick, the Naskapi of Quebec,
the Chippewa of Ontario, and the Crees of the prairie, are of this
stock. It is even held that the Algonquins are to be considered typical
specimens of the American race. They were of fine stature, and in
strength and muscular development were quite on a par with the races of
the Old World. Their skin was copper-coloured, their lips and noses
were thin, and their hair in nearly all cases was straight and black.
When the Europeans first saw the Algonquins they had already made some
advance towards industrial civilization. They built huts of woven
boughs, and for defence sometimes surrounded a group of huts with a
palisade of stakes set up on end. They had no agriculture in the true
sense, but they cultivated Indian corn and pumpkins in the openings of
the forests, and also the tobacco plant, with the virtues of which they
were well acquainted. They made for themselves heavy and clumsy pottery
and utensils of wood, they wove mats out of rushes for their houses,
and they made clothes from the skin of the deer, and head-dresses from
the bright feathers of birds. Of the metals they knew, at the time of
the discovery of America, hardly anything. They made some use of
copper, which they chipped and hammered into rude tools and weapons.
But they knew nothing of melting the metals, and their arrow-heads and
spear-points were made, for the most part, not of metals, but of stone.
Like other Indians, they showed great ingenuity in fashioning bark
canoes of wonderful lightness.

We must remember, however, that with nearly all the aborigines of
America, at least north of Mexico, the attempt to utilize the materials
and forces supplied by nature had made only slight and painful
progress. We are apt to think that it was the mere laziness of the
Indians which prevented more rapid advance. It may be that we do not
realize their difficulties. When the white men first came these rude
peoples were so backward and so little trained in using their faculties
that any advance towards art and industry was inevitably slow and
difficult. This was also true, no doubt, of the peoples who, long
centuries before, had been in the same degree of development in Europe,
and had begun the intricate tasks which a growth towards civilization
involved. The historian Robertson describes in a vivid passage the
backward state of the savage tribes of America. 'The most simple
operation,' he says, 'was to them an undertaking of immense difficulty
and labour. To fell a tree with no other implements than hatchets of
stone was employment for a month. ...Their operations in agriculture
were equally slow and defective. In a country covered with woods of the
hardest timber, the clearing of a small field destined for culture
required the united efforts of a tribe, and was a work of much time and
great toil.'

The religion of the Algonquin Indians seems to have been a rude nature
worship. The Sun, as the great giver of warmth and light, was the
object of their adoration; to a lesser degree, they looked upon fire as
a superhuman thing, worthy of worship. The four winds of heaven,
bringing storm and rain from the unknown boundaries of the world, were
regarded as spirits. Each Indian clan or section of a tribe chose for
its special devotion an animal, the name of which became the
distinctive symbol of the clan. This is what is meant by the 'totems'
of the different branches of a tribe.

The Algonquins knew nothing of the art of writing, beyond rude pictures
scratched or painted on wood. The Algonquin tribes, as we have seen,
roamed far to the west. One branch frequented the upper Saskatchewan
river. Here the ashes of the prairie fires discoloured their moccasins
and turned them black, and, in consequence, they were called the
Blackfeet Indians. Even when they moved to other parts of the country,
the name was still applied to them.

Occupying the stretch of country to the south of the Algonquins was the
famous race known as the Iroquoian Family. We generally read of the
Hurons and the Iroquois as separate tribes. They really belonged,
however, to one family, though during the period of Canadian history in
which they were prominent they had become deadly enemies. When Cartier
discovered the St Lawrence and made his way to the island of Montreal,
Huron Indians inhabited all that part of the country. When Champlain
came, two generations later, they had vanished from that region, but
they still occupied a part of Ontario around Lake Simcoe and south and
east of Georgian Bay. We always connect the name Iroquois with that
part of the stock which included the allied Five Nations--the Mohawks,
Onondagas, Senecas, Oneidas, and Cayugas,--and which occupied the
country between the Hudson river and Lake Ontario. This proved to be
the strongest strategical position in North America. It lies in the gap
or break of the Alleghany ridge, the one place south of the St Lawrence
where an easy and ready access is afforded from the sea-coast to the
interior of the continent. Any one who casts a glance at the map of the
present Eastern states will realize this, and will see why it is that
New York, at the mouth of the Hudson, has become the greatest city of
North America. Now, the same reason which has created New York gave to
the position of the Five Nations its great importance in Canadian
history. But in reality the racial stock of the Iroquois extended much
farther than this, both west and south. It took in the well-known tribe
of the Eries, and also the Indians of Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac.
It included even the Tuscaroras of the Roanoke in North Carolina, who
afterwards moved north and changed the five nations into six.

The Iroquois were originally natives of the plain, connected very
probably with the Dakotas of the west. But they moved eastwards from
the Mississippi valley towards Niagara, conquering as they went. No
other tribe could compare with them in either bravery or ferocity. They
possessed in a high degree both the virtues and the vices of Indian
character--the unflinching courage and the diabolical cruelty which
have made the Indian an object of mingled admiration and contempt. In
bodily strength and physical endurance they were unsurpassed. Even in
modern days the enervating influence of civilization has not entirely
removed the original vigour of the strain. During the American Civil
War of fifty years ago the five companies of Iroquois Indians recruited
in Canada and in the state of New York were superior in height and
measurement to any other body of five hundred men in the northern

When the Iroquoian Family migrated, the Hurons settled in the western
peninsula of Ontario. The name of Lake Huron still recalls their abode.
But a part of the race kept moving eastward. Before the coming of the
whites, they had fought their way almost to the sea. But they were able
to hold their new settlements only by hard fighting. The great stockade
which Cartier saw at Hochelaga, with its palisades and fighting
platforms, bore witness to the ferocity of the struggle. At that place
Cartier and his companions were entertained with gruesome tales of
Indian fighting and of wholesale massacres. Seventy years later, in
Champlain's time, the Hochelaga stockade had vanished, and the Hurons
had been driven back into the interior. But for nearly two centuries
after Champlain the Iroquois retained their hold on the territory from
Lake Ontario to the Hudson. The conquests and wars of extermination of
these savages, and the terror which they inspired, have been summed up
by General Francis Walker in the saying: 'They were the scourge of God
upon the aborigines of the continent.'

The Iroquois were in some respects superior to most of the Indians of
the continent. Though they had a limited agriculture, and though they
made hardly any use of metals, they had advanced further in other
directions than most savages. They built of logs, houses long enough to
be divided into several compartments, with a family in each
compartment. By setting a group of houses together, and surrounding
them with a palisade of stakes and trees set on end, the settlement was
turned into a kind of fort, and could bid defiance to the limited means
of attack possessed by their enemies. Inside their houses they kept a
good store of corn, pumpkins and dried meat, which belonged not to each
man singly but to the whole group in common. This was the type of
settlement seen at Quebec and at Hochelaga, and, later on, among the
Five Nations. Indeed, the Five Nations gave to themselves the
picturesque name of the Long House, for their confederation resembled,
as it were, the long wooden houses that held the families together.

All this shows that the superiority of the Iroquois over their enemies
lay in organization. In this they were superior even to their kinsmen
the Hurons. All Indian tribes kept women in a condition which we should
think degrading. The Indian women were drudges; they carried the
burdens, and did the rude manual toil of the tribe. Among the Iroquois,
however, women were not wholly despised; sometimes, if of forceful
character, they had great influence in the councils of the tribe. Among
the Hurons, on the other hand, women were treated with contempt or
brutal indifference. The Huron woman, worn out with arduous toil,
rapidly lost the brightness of her youth. At an age when the women of a
higher culture are still at the height of their charm and
attractiveness the woman of the Hurons had degenerated into a
shrivelled hag, horrible to the eye and often despicable in character.
The inborn gentleness of womanhood had been driven from her breast by
ill-treatment. Not even the cruelest of the warriors surpassed the
unhallowed fiendishness of the withered squaw in preparing the torments
of the stake and in shrieking her toothless exultation beside the
torture fire.

Where women are on such a footing as this it is always ill with the
community at large. The Hurons were among the most despicable of the
Indians in their manners. They were hideous gluttons, gorging
themselves when occasion offered with the rapacity of vultures.
Gambling and theft flourished among them. Except, indeed, for the
tradition of courage in fight and of endurance under pain we can find
scarcely anything in them to admire.

North and west from the Algonquins and Huron-Iroquois were the family
of tribes belonging to the Athapascan stock. The general names of
Chipewyan and Tinne are also applied to the same great branch of the
Indian race. In a variety of groups and tribes, the Athapascans spread
out from the Arctic to Mexico. Their name has since become connected
with the geography of Canada alone, but in reality a number of the
tribes of the plains, like the well-known Apaches, as well as the Hupas
of California and the Navahos, belong to the Athapascans. In Canada,
the Athapascans roamed over the country that lay between Hudson Bay and
the Rocky Mountains. They were found in the basin of the Mackenzie
river towards the Arctic sea, and along the valley of the Fraser to the
valley of the Chilcotin. Their language was broken into a great number
of dialects which differed so widely that only the kindred groups could
understand one another's speech. But the same general resemblance ran
through the various branches of the Athapascans. They were a tall,
strong race, great in endurance, during their prime, though they had
little of the peculiar stamina that makes for long life and vigorous
old age. Their descendants of to-day still show the same facial
characteristics--the low forehead with prominent ridge bones, and the
eyes set somewhat obliquely so as to suggest, though probably without
reason, a kinship with Oriental peoples.

The Athapascans stood low in the scale of civilization. Most of them
lived in a prairie country where a luxuriant soil, not encumbered with
trees, would have responded to the slightest labour. But the
Athapascans, in Canada at least, knew nothing of agriculture. With
alternations of starvation and rude plenty, they lived upon the unaided
bounty of tribes of the far north, degraded by want and indolence, were
often addicted to cannibalism.

The Indians beyond the mountains, between the Rockies and the sea, were
for the most part quite distinct from those of the plains. Some tribes
of the Athapascans, as we have seen, penetrated into British Columbia,
but the greater part of the natives in that region were of wholly
different races. Of course, we know hardly anything of these Indians
during the first two centuries of European settlement in America. Not
until the eighteenth century, when Russian traders began to frequent
the Pacific coast and the Spanish and English pushed their voyages into
the North Pacific,--the Tlingit of the far north, the Salish,
Tsimshian, Haida, Kwakiutl-Nootka and Kutenai. It is thought, however,
that nearly all the Pacific Indians belong to one kindred stock. There
are, it is true, many distinct languages between California and Alaska,
but the physical appearance and characteristics of the natives show a
similarity throughout.

The total number of the original Indian population of the continent can
be a matter of conjecture only. There is every reason, however, to
think that it was far less than the absurdly exaggerated figures given
by early European writers. Whenever the first explorers found a
considerable body of savages they concluded that the people they saw
were only a fraction of some large nation. The result was that the
Spaniards estimated the inhabitants of Peru at thirty millions. Las
Casas, the Spanish historian, said that Hispaniola, the present Hayti,
had a population of three millions; a more exact estimate, made about
twenty years after the discovery of the island, brought the population
down to fourteen thousand! In the same way Montezuma was said to have
commanded three million Mexican warriors--an obvious absurdity. The
early Jesuits reckoned the numbers of the Iroquois at about a hundred
thousand; in reality there seem to have been, in the days of Wolfe and
Montcalm, about twelve thousand. At the opening of the twentieth
century there were in America north of Mexico about 403,000 Indians, of
whom 108,000 were in Canada. Some writers go so far as to say that the
numbers of the natives were probably never much greater than they are
to-day. But even if we accept the more general opinion that the Indian
population has declined, there is no evidence to show that the
population was ever more than a thin scattering of wanderers over the
face of a vast country. Mooney estimates that at the coming of the
white man there were only about 846,000 aborigines in the United
States, 220,000 in British America, 72,000 in Alaska, and 10,000 in
Greenland, a total native population of 1,148,000 from the Mississippi
to the Atlantic.

The limited means of support possessed by the natives, their primitive
agriculture, their habitual disinclination to settled life and
industry, their constant wars and the epidemic diseases which, even as
early as the time of Jacques Cartier, worked havoc among them, must
always have prevented the growth of a numerous population. The explorer
might wander for days in the depths of the American forest without
encountering any trace of human life. The continent was, in truth, one
vast silence, broken only by the roar of the waterfall or the cry of
the beasts and birds of the forest.



There are many stories of the coming of white men to the coasts of
America and of their settlements in America long before the voyage of
Christopher Columbus. Even in the time of the Greeks and Romans there
were traditions and legends of sailors who had gone out into the 'Sea
of Darkness' beyond the Pillars of Hercules--the ancient name for the
Strait of Gibraltar--and far to the west had found inhabited lands.
Aristotle thought that there must be land out beyond the Atlantic, and
Plato tells us that once upon a time a vast island lay off the coasts
of Africa; he calls it Atlantis, and it was, he says, sunk below the
sea by an earthquake. The Phoenicians were wonderful sailors; their
ships had gone out of the Mediterranean into the other sea, and had
reached the British Isles, and in all probability they sailed as far
west as the Canaries. We find, indeed, in classical literature many
references to supposed islands and countries out beyond the Atlantic.
The ancients called these places the Islands of the Blessed and the
Fortunate Isles. It is, perhaps, not unnatural that in the earlier
writers the existence of these remote and mysterious regions should be
linked with the ideas of the Elysian Fields and of the abodes of the
dead. But the later writers, such as Pliny, and Strabo, the geographer,
talked of them as actual places, and tried to estimate how many Roman
miles they must be distant from the coast of Spain.

There were similar legends among the Irish, legends preserved in
written form at least five hundred years before Columbus. They recount
wonderful voyages out into the Atlantic and the discovery of new land.
But all these tales are mixed up with obvious fable, with accounts of
places where there was never any illness or infirmity, and people lived
for ever, and drank delicious wine and laughed all day, and we cannot
certify to an atom of historic truth in them.

Still more interesting, if only for curiosity's sake, are weird stories
that have been unearthed among the early records of the Chinese. These
are older than the Irish legends, and date back to about the sixth
century. According to the Chinese story, a certain Hoei-Sin sailed out
into the Pacific until he was four thousand miles east of Japan. There
he found a new continent, which the Chinese records called Fusang,
because of a certain tree--the fusang tree,--out of the fibres of which
the inhabitants made, not only clothes, but paper, and even food. Here
was truly a land of wonders. There were strange animals with branching
horns on their heads, there were men who could not speak Chinese but
barked like dogs, and other men with bodies painted in strange colours.
Some people have endeavoured to prove by these legends that the Chinese
must have landed in British Columbia, or have seen moose or reindeer,
since extinct, in the country far to the north. But the whole account
is so mixed up with the miraculous, and with descriptions of things
which certainly never existed on the Pacific coast of America, that we
can place no reliance whatever upon it.

The only importance that we can attach to such traditions of the
discovery of unknown lands and peoples on a new continent is their
bearing as a whole, their accumulated effect, on the likelihood of such
discovery before the time of Columbus. They at least make us ready to
attach due weight to the circumstantial and credible records of the
voyages of the Norsemen. These stand upon ground altogether different
from that of the dim and confused traditions of the classical writers
and of the Irish and Chinese legends. In fact, many scholars are now
convinced that the eastern coast of Canada was known and visited by the
Norsemen five hundred years before Columbus.

From time immemorial the Norsemen were among the most daring and
skilful mariners ever known. They built great wooden boats with tall,
sweeping bows and sterns. These ships, though open and without decks,
were yet stout and seaworthy. Their remains have been found, at times
lying deeply buried under the sand and preserved almost intact. One
such vessel, discovered on the shore of Denmark, measured 72 feet in
length. Another Viking ship, which was dug up in Norway, and which is
preserved in the museum at Christiania, was 78 feet long and 17 feet
wide. One of the old Norse sagas, or stories, tells how King Olaf
Tryggvesson built a ship, the keel of which, as it lay on the grass,
was 74 ells long; in modern measure, it would be a vessel of about 942
tons burden. Even if we make allowance for the exaggeration or
ignorance of the writer of the saga, there is still a vast contrast
between this vessel and the little ship Centurion in which Anson sailed
round the world.

It is needless, however, to prove that the Norsemen could have reached
America in their ships. The voyages from Iceland to Greenland which we
know they made continually for four hundred years were just as arduous
as a further voyage from Greenland to the coast of Canada.

The story of the Norsemen runs thus. Towards the end of the ninth
century, or nearly two hundred years before the Norman conquest, there
was a great exodus or outswarming of the Norsemen from their original
home in Norway. A certain King Harold had succeeded in making himself
supreme in Norway, and great numbers of the lesser chiefs or jarls
preferred to seek new homes across the seas rather than submit to his
rule. So they embarked with their seafaring followers--Vikings, as we
still call them--often, indeed, with their wives and families, in great
open ships, and sailed away, some to the coast of England, others to
France, and others even to the Mediterranean, where they took service
under the Byzantine emperors. But still others, loving the cold rough
seas of the north, struck westward across the North Sea and beyond the
coasts of Scotland till they reached Iceland. This was in the year 874.
Here they made a settlement that presently grew to a population of
fifty thousand people, having flocks and herds, solid houses of stone,
and a fine trade in fish and oil with the countries of Northern Europe.
These settlers in Iceland attained to a high standard of civilization.
They had many books, and were fond of tales and stories, as are all
these northern peoples who spend long winter evenings round the
fireside. Some of the sagas, or stories, which they told were true
accounts of the voyages and adventures of their forefathers; others
were fanciful stories, like our modern romances, created by the
imagination; others, again, were a mixture of the two. Thus it is
sometimes hard to distinguish fact and fancy in these early tales of
the Norsemen. We have, however, means of testing the stories. Among the
books written in Iceland there was one called the 'National Name-Book,'
in which all the names of the people were written down, with an account
of their forefathers and of any notable things which they had done.

It is from this book and from the old sagas that we learn how the
Norsemen came to the coast of America. It seems that about 900 a
certain man called Gunnbjorn was driven westward in a great storm and
thrown on the rocky shore of an ice-bound country, where he spent the
winter. Gunnbjorn reached home safely, and never tried again to find
this new land; but, long after his death, the story that there was land
farther west still lingered among the settlers in Iceland and the
Orkneys, and in other homes of the Norsemen. Some time after
Gunnbjorn's voyage it happened that a very bold and determined man
called Eric the Red, who lived in the Orkneys, was made an outlaw for
having killed several men in a quarrel. Eric fled westward over the
seas about the year 980, and he came to a new country with great rocky
bays and fjords as in Norway. There were no trees, but the slopes of
the hillsides were bright with grass, so he called the country
Greenland, as it is called to this day. Eric and his men lived in
Greenland for three years, and the ruins of their rough stone houses
are still to be seen, hard by one of the little Danish settlements of
to-day. When Eric and his followers went back to Iceland they told of
what they had seen, and soon he led a new expedition to Greenland. The
adventurers went in twenty-five ships; more than half were lost on the
way, but eleven ships landed safely and founded a colony in Greenland.
Other settlers came, and this Greenland colony had at one time a
population of about two thousand people. Its inhabitants embraced
Christianity when their kinsfolk in other places did so, and the ruins
of their stone churches still exist. The settlers raised cattle and
sheep, and sent ox hides and seal skins and walrus ivory to Europe in
trade for supplies. But as there was no timber in Greenland they could
not build ships, and thus their communication with the outside world
was more or less precarious. In spite of this, the colony lasted for
about four hundred years. It seems to have come to an end at about the
beginning of the fifteenth century. The scanty records of its history
can be traced no later than the year 1409. What happened to terminate
its existence is not known. Some writers, misled by the name
'Greenland,' have thought that there must have been a change of climate
by which the country lost its original warmth and verdure and turned
into an arctic region. There is no ground for this belief. The name
'Greenland' did not imply a country of trees and luxuriant vegetation,
but only referred to the bright carpet of grass still seen in the short
Greenland summer in the warmer hollows of the hillsides. It may have
been that the settlement, never strong in numbers, was overwhelmed by
the Eskimos, who are known to have often attacked the colony: very
likely, too, it suffered from the great plague, the Black Death, that
swept over all Europe in the fourteenth century. Whatever the cause,
the colony came to an end, and centuries elapsed before Greenland was
again known to Europe.

This whole story of the Greenland settlement is historical fact which
cannot be doubted. Partly by accident and partly by design, the
Norsemen had been carried from Norway to the Orkneys and the Hebrides
and Iceland, and from there to Greenland. This having happened, it was
natural that their ships should go beyond Greenland itself. During the
four hundred years in which the Norse ships went from Europe to
Greenland, their navigators had neither chart nor compass, and they
sailed huge open boats, carrying only a great square sail. It is
evident that in stress of weather and in fog they must again and again
have been driven past the foot of Greenland, and must have landed
somewhere in what is now Labrador. It would be inconceivable that in
four centuries of voyages this never happened. In most cases, no doubt,
the storm-tossed and battered ships, like the fourteen vessels that
Eric lost, were never heard of again. But in other cases survivors must
have returned to Greenland or Iceland to tell of what they had seen.

This is exactly what happened to a bold sailor called Bjarne, the son
of Herjulf, a few years after the Greenland colony was founded. In 986
he put out from Iceland to join his father, who was in Greenland, the
purpose being that, after the good old Norse custom, they might drink
their Christmas ale together. Neither Bjarne nor his men had ever
sailed the Greenland sea before, but, like bold mariners, they relied
upon their seafaring instinct to guide them to its coast. As Bjarne's
ship was driven westward, great mists fell upon the face of the waters.
There was neither sun nor stars, but day after day only the thick wet
fog that clung to the cold surface of the heaving sea. To-day
travellers even on a palatial steamship, who spend a few hours
shuddering in the chill grey fog of the North Atlantic, chafing at
delay, may form some idea of voyages such as that of Bjarne Herjulf and
his men. These Vikings went on undaunted towards the west. At last,
after many days, they saw land, but when they drew near they saw that
it was not a rugged treeless region, such as they knew Greenland to be,
but a country covered with forests, a country of low coasts rising
inland to small hills, and with no mountains in sight. Accordingly,
Bjarne said that this was not Greenland, and he would not stop, but
turned the vessel to the north. After two days they sighted land again,
still on the left side, and again it was flat and thick with trees. The
sea had fallen calm, and Bjarne's men desired to land and see this new
country, and take wood and water into the ship. But Bjarne would not.
So they held on their course, and presently a wind from the south-west
carried them onward for three days and three nights. Then again they
saw land, but this time it was high and mountainous, with great shining
caps of snow. And again Bjarne said, 'This is not the land I seek.'
They did not go ashore, but sailing close to the coast they presently
found that the land was an island. When they stood out to sea again,
the south wind rose to a gale that swept them towards the north, with
sail reefed down and with their ship leaping through the foaming
surges. Three days and nights they ran before the gale. On the fourth
day land rose before them, and this time it was Greenland. There Bjarne
found his father, and there, when not at sea, he settled for the rest
of his days.

Such is the story of Bjarne Herjulf, as the Norsemen have it. To the
unprejudiced mind there is every reason to believe that his voyage had
carried him to America, to the coast of the Maritime Provinces, or of
Newfoundland or Labrador. More than this one cannot say. True, it is
hard to fit the 'two days' and the 'three days' of Bjarne's narrative
into the sailing distances. But every one who has read any primitive
literature, or even the Homeric poems, will remember how easily times
and distances and numbers that are not exactly known are expressed in
loose phrases not to be taken as literal.

The news of Bjarne's voyage and of his discovery of land seems to have
been carried presently to the Norsemen in Iceland and in Europe. In
fact, Bjarne himself made a voyage to Norway, and, on account of what
he had done, figured there as a person of some importance. But people
blamed Bjarne because he had not landed on the new coasts, and had
taken so little pains to find out more about the region of hills and
forests which lay to the south and west of Greenland. Naturally others
were tempted to follow the matter further. Among these was Leif, son of
Eric the Red. Leif went to Greenland, found Bjarne, bought his ship,
and manned it with a crew of thirty-five. Leif's father, Eric, now
lived in Greenland, and Leif asked him to take command of the
expedition. He thought, the saga says, that, since Eric had found
Greenland, he would bring good luck to the new venture. For the time,
Eric consented, but when all was ready, and he was riding down to the
shore to embark, his horse stumbled and he fell from the saddle and
hurt his foot. Eric took this as an omen of evil, and would not go; but
Leif and his crew of thirty-five set sail towards the south-west. This
was in the year 1000 A.D., or four hundred and ninety-two years before
Columbus landed in the West Indies.

Leif and his men sailed on, the saga tells us, till they came to the
last land which Bjarne had discovered. Here they cast anchor, lowered a
boat, and rowed ashore. They found no grass, but only a great field of
snow stretching from the sea to the mountains farther inland; and these
mountains, too, glistened with snow. It seemed to the Norsemen a
forbidding place, and Leif christened it Helluland, or the country of
slate or flat stones. They did not linger, but sailed away at once. The
description of the snow-covered hills, the great slabs of stone, and
the desolate aspect of the coast conveys at least a very strong
probability that the land was Labrador.

Leif and his men sailed away, and soon they discovered another land.
The chronicle does not say how many days they were at sea, so that we
cannot judge of the distance of this new country from the Land of
Stones. But evidently it was entirely different in aspect, and was
situated in a warmer climate. The coast was low, there were broad
beaches of white sand, and behind the beaches rose thick forests
spreading over the country. Again the Norsemen landed. Because of the
trees, they gave to this place the name of Markland, or the Country of
Forests. Some writers have thought that Markland must have been
Newfoundland, but the description also suggests Cape Breton or Nova
Scotia. The coast of Newfoundland is, indeed, for the most part, bold,
rugged, and inhospitable.

Leif put to sea once more. For two days the wind was from the
north-east. Then again they reached land. This new region was the
famous country which the Norsemen called Vineland, and of which every
schoolboy has read. There has been so much dispute as to whether
Vineland--this warm country where grapes grew wild--was Nova Scotia or
New England, or some other region, that it is worth while to read the
account of the Norse saga, literally translated:

   They came to an island, which lay on the north side
   of the land, where they disembarked to wait for good
   weather. There was dew upon the grass; and having
   accidentally got some of the dew upon their hands and
   put it to their mouths, they thought that they had
   never tasted anything so sweet. Then they went on
   board and sailed into a sound that was between the
   island and a point that went out northwards from the
   land, and sailed westward past the point. There was
   very shallow water and ebb tide, so that their ship
   lay dry; and there was a long way between their ship
   and the water. They were so desirous to get to the
   land that they would not wait till their ship floated,
   but ran to the land, to a place where a river comes
   out of a lake. As soon as their ship was afloat they
   took the boats, rowed to the ship, towed her up the
   river, and from thence into the lake, where they cast
   anchor, carried their beds out of the ship, and set
   up their tents.

   They resolved to put things in order for wintering
   there, and they erected a large house. They did not
   want for salmon, in both the river and the lake; and
   they thought the salmon larger than any they had ever
   seen before. The country appeared to them to be of so
   good a kind that it would not be necessary to gather
   fodder for the cattle for winter. There was no frost
   in winter, and the grass was not much withered. Day
   and night were more equal than in Greenland and

The chronicle goes on to tell how Leif and his men spent the winter in
this place. They explored the country round their encampment. They
found beautiful trees, trees big enough for use in building houses,
something vastly important to men from Greenland, where no trees grow.
Delighted with this, Leif and his men cut down some trees and loaded
their ship with the timber. One day a sailor, whose home had been in a
'south country,' where he had seen wine made from grapes, and who was
nicknamed the 'Turk,' found on the coast vines with grapes, growing
wild. He brought his companions to the spot, and they gathered grapes
sufficient to fill their ship's boat. It was on this account that Leif
called the country 'Vineland.' They found patches of supposed corn
which grew wild like the grapes and reseeded itself from year to year.
It is striking that the Norse chronicle should name these simple
things. Had it been a work of fancy, probably we should have heard, as
in the Chinese legends, of strange demons and other amazing creatures.
But we hear instead of the beautiful forest extending to the shore, the
mountains in the background, the tangled vines, and the bright patches
of wild grain of some kind ripening in the open glades-the very things
which caught the eye of Cartier when, five centuries later, he first
ascended the St Lawrence.

Where Vineland was we cannot tell. If the men really found wild grapes,
and not some kind of cranberry, Vineland must have been in the region
where grapes will grow. The vine grows as far north as Prince Edward
Island and Cape Breton, and, of course, is found in plenty on the
coasts of Nova Scotia and New England. The chronicle says that the
winter days were longer in Vineland than in Greenland, and names the
exact length of the shortest day. Unfortunately, however, the Norsemen
had no accurate system for measuring time; otherwise the length of the
shortest winter day would enable us to know at what exact spot Leif's
settlement was made.

Leif and his men stayed in Vineland all winter, and sailed home to
Greenland in the spring (1001 A.D.). As they brought timber, much
prized in the Greenland settlement, their voyage caused a great deal of
talk. Naturally others wished to rival Leif. In the next few years
several voyages to Vineland are briefly chronicled in the sagas.

First of all, Thorwald, Leif's brother, borrowed his ship, sailed away
to Vineland with thirty men, and spent two winters there. During his
first summer in Vineland, Thorwald sent some men in a boat westward
along the coast. They found a beautiful country with thick woods
reaching to the shore, and great stretches of white sand. They found a
kind of barn made of wood, and were startled by this first indication
of the presence of man. Thorwald had, indeed, startling adventures. In
a great storm his ship was wrecked on the coast, and he and his men had
to rebuild it. He selected for a settlement a point of land thickly
covered with forest. Before the men had built their houses they fell in
with some savages, whom they made prisoners. These savages had bows and
arrows, and used what the Norsemen called 'skin boats.' One of the
savages escaped and roused his tribe, and presently a great flock of
canoes came out of a large bay, surrounded the Viking ship, and
discharged a cloud of arrows. The Norsemen beat off the savages, but in
the fight Thorwald received a mortal wound. As he lay dying he told his
men to bury him there in Vineland, on the point where he had meant to
build his home. This was done. Thorwald's men remained there for the
winter. In the spring they returned to Greenland, with the sad news for
Leif of his brother's death.

Other voyages followed. A certain Thorfinn Karlsevne even tried to
found a permanent colony in Vineland. In the spring of 1007, he took
there a hundred and sixty men, some women, and many cattle. He and his
people remained in Vineland for nearly four years. They traded with the
savages, giving them cloth and trinkets for furs. Karlsevne's wife gave
birth there to a son, who was christened Snorre, and who was perhaps
the first white child born in America. The Vineland colony seems to
have prospered well enough, but unfortunately quarrels broke out
between the Norsemen and the savages, and so many of Karlsevne's people
were killed that the remainder were glad to sail back to Greenland.

The Norse chronicles contain a further story of how one of Karlsevne's
companions, Thorward, and his wife Freydis, who was a daughter of Eric
the Red, made a voyage to Vineland. This expedition ended in tragedy.
One night the Norsemen quarrelled in their winter quarters, there was a
tumult and a massacre. Freydis herself killed five women with an axe,
and the little colony was drenched in blood. The survivors returned to
Greenland, but were shunned by all from that hour.

After this story we have no detailed accounts of voyages to Vineland.
There are, however, references to it in Icelandic literature. There
does not seem any ground to believe that the Norsemen succeeded in
planting a lasting colony in Vineland. Some people have tried to claim
that certain ancient ruins on the New England coast--an old stone mill
at Newport, and so on--are evidences of such a settlement. But the
claim has no sufficient proof behind it.

On the whole, however, there seems every ground to conclude that again
and again the Norsemen landed on the Atlantic coast of America. We do
not know where they made their winter quarters, nor does this matter.
Very likely there were temporary settlements in both 'Markland,' with
its thick woods bordering on the sea, and in other less promising
regions. It should be added that some writers of authority refuse even
to admit that the Norsemen reached America. Others, like Nansen, the
famous Arctic explorer, while admitting the probability of the voyages,
believe that the sagas are merely a sort of folklore, such as may be
found in the primitive literature of all nations. On the other hand,
John Fiske, the American historian, who devoted much patient study to
the question, was convinced that what is now the Canadian coast, with,
probably, part of New England too, was discovered, visited, and
thoroughly well known by the Norse inhabitants of Greenland. For
several centuries they appear to have made summer voyages to and from
this 'Vineland the Good' as they called it, and to have brought back
timber and supplies not found in their own inhospitable country. It is
quite possible that further investigation may throw new light on the
Norse discoveries, and even that undeniable traces of the buildings or
implements of the settlers in Vineland may be found. Meanwhile the
subject, interesting though it is, remains shrouded in mystery.



The discoveries of the Norsemen did not lead to the opening of America
to the nations of Europe. For this the time was not yet ripe. As yet
European nations were backward, not only in navigation, but in the
industries and commerce which supply the real motive for occupying new
lands. In the days of Eric the Red Europe was only beginning to emerge
from a dark period. The might and splendour of the Roman Empire had
vanished, and the great kingdoms which we know were still to rise.

All this changed in the five hundred years between the foundation of
the Greenland colony and the voyage of Christopher Columbus. The
discovery of America took place as a direct result of the advancing
civilization and growing power of Europe. The event itself was, in a
sense, due to pure accident. Columbus was seeking Asia when he found
himself among the tropical islands of the West Indies. In another
sense, however, the discovery marks in world history a necessary stage,
for which the preceding centuries had already made the preparation. The
story of the voyages of Columbus forms no part of our present
narrative. But we cannot understand the background that lies behind the
history of Canada without knowing why such men as Christopher Columbus
and Vasco da Gama and the Cabots began the work of discovery.

First, we have to realize the peculiar relations between Europe,
ancient and mediaeval, and the great empires of Eastern Asia. The two
civilizations had never been in direct contact. Yet in a sense they
were always connected. The Greeks and the Romans had at least vague
reports of peoples who lived on the far eastern confines of the world,
beyond even the conquests of Alexander the Great in Hindustan. It is
certain, too, that Europe and Asia had always traded with one another
in a strange and unconscious fashion. The spices and silks of the
unknown East passed westward from trader to trader, from caravan to
caravan, until they reached the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and, at
last, the Mediterranean. The journey was so slow, so tedious, the goods
passed from hand to hand so often, that when the Phoenician, Greek, or
Roman merchants bought them their origin had been forgotten. For
century after century this trade continued. When Rome fell, other
peoples of the Mediterranean continued the Eastern trade. Genoa and
Venice rose to greatness by this trade. As wealth and culture revived
after the Gothic conquest which overthrew Rome, the beautiful silks and
the rare spices of the East were more and more prized in a world of
increasing luxury. The Crusades rediscovered Egypt, Syria, and the East
for Europe. Gold and jewels, diamond-hilted swords of Damascus steel,
carved ivory, and priceless gems,--all the treasures which the warriors
of the Cross brought home, helped to impress on the mind of Europe the
surpassing riches of the East.

Gradually a new interest was added. As time went on doubts increased
regarding the true shape of the earth. Early peoples had thought it a
great flat expanse, with the blue sky propped over it like a dome or
cover. This conception was giving way. The wise men who watched the sky
at night, who saw the sweeping circles of the fixed stars and the
wandering path of the strange luminous bodies called planets, began to
suspect a mighty secret,--that the observing eye saw only half the
heavens, and that the course of the stars and the earth itself rounded
out was below the darkness of the horizon. From this theory that the
earth was a great sphere floating in space followed the most
enthralling conclusions. If the earth was really a globe, it might be
possible to go round it and to reappear on the farther side of the
horizon. Then the East might be reached, not only across the deserts of
Persia and Tartary, but also by striking out into the boundless ocean
that lay beyond the Pillars of Hercules. For such an attempt an almost
superhuman courage was required. No man might say what awful seas, what
engulfing gloom, might lie across the familiar waters which washed the
shores of Europe. The most fearless who, at evening, upon the cliffs of
Spain or Portugal, watched black night settle upon the far-spreading
waters of the Atlantic, might well turn shuddering from any attempt to
sail into those unknown wastes.

It was the stern logic of events which compelled the enterprise.
Barbarous Turks swept westward. Arabia, Syria, the Isles of Greece,
and, at last, in 1453, Constantinople itself, fell into their hands.
The Eastern Empire, the last survival of the Empire of the Romans,
perished beneath the sword of Mahomet. Then the pathway by land to
Asia, to the fabled empires of Cathay and Cipango, was blocked by the
Turkish conquest. Commerce, however, remained alert and enterprising,
and men's minds soon turned to the hopes of a western passage which
should provide a new route to the Indies.

All the world knows the story of Christopher Columbus, his long years
of hardship and discouragement; the supreme conviction which sustained
him in his adversity; the final triumph which crowned his efforts. It
is no detraction from the glory of Columbus to say that he was only one
of many eager spirits occupied with new problems of discovery across
the sea. Not the least of these were John and Sebastian Cabot, father
and son. John Cabot, like Columbus, was a Genoese by birth; a long
residence in Venice, however, earned for him in 1476 the citizenship of
that republic. Like many in his time, he seems to have been both a
scientific geographer and a practical sea-captain. At one time he made
charts and maps for his livelihood. Seized with the fever for
discovery, he is said to have begged in vain from the sovereigns of
Spain and Portugal for help in a voyage to the West. About the time of
the great discovery of Columbus in 1492, John Cabot arrived in Bristol.
It may be that he took part in some of the voyages of the Bristol
merchants, before the achievements of Columbus began to startle the

At the close of the fifteenth century the town of Bristol enjoyed a
pre-eminence which it has since lost. It stood second only to London as
a British port. A group of wealthy merchants carried on from Bristol a
lively trade with Iceland and the northern ports of Europe. The town
was the chief centre for an important trade in codfish. Days of fasting
were generally observed at that time; on these the eating of meat was
forbidden by the church, and fish was consequently in great demand. The
merchants of Bristol were keen traders, and were always seeking the
further extension of their trade. Christopher Columbus himself is said
to have made a voyage for the Bristol merchants to Iceland in 1477.
There is even a tale that, before Columbus was known to fame, an
expedition was equipped there in 1480 to seek the 'fabulous islands' of
the Western Sea. Certain it is that the Spanish ambassador in England,
whose business it was to keep his royal master informed of all that was
being done by his rivals, wrote home in 1498: 'It is seven years since
those of Bristol used to send out, every year, a fleet of two, three,
or four caravels to go and search for the Isle of Brazil and the Seven
Cities, according to the fancy of the Genoese.'

We can therefore realize that when Master John Cabot came among the
merchants of this busy town with his plans he found a ready hearing.
Cabot was soon brought to the notice of his august majesty Henry VII of
England. The king had been shortsighted enough to reject overtures made
to him by Bartholomew Columbus, brother of Christopher, and no doubt he
regretted his mistake. Now he was eager enough to act as the patron of
a new voyage. Accordingly, on March 5, 1496, he granted a royal licence
in the form of what was called Letters Patent, authorizing John Cabot
and his sons Lewis, Sebastian and Sancius to make a voyage of discovery
in the name of the king of England. The Cabots were to sail 'with five
ships or vessels of whatever burden or quality soever they be, and with
as many marines or men as they will have with them in the said ships
upon their own proper costs and charges.' It will be seen that Henry
VII, the most parsimonious of kings, had no mind to pay the expense of
the voyage. The expedition was 'to seek out, discover and find
whatsoever islands, countries, regions and provinces of the heathens or
infidels, in whatever part of the world they be, which before this time
have been unknown to all Christians.' It was to sail only 'to the seas
of the east and west and north,' for the king did not wish to lay any
claim to the lands discovered by the Spaniards and Portuguese. The
discoverers, however, were to raise the English flag over any new lands
that they found, to conquer and possess them, and to acquire 'for us
dominion, title, and jurisdiction over those towns, castles, islands,
and mainlands so discovered.' One-fifth of the profits from the
anticipated voyages to the new land was to fall to the king, but the
Cabots were to have a monopoly of trade, and Bristol was to enjoy the
right of being the sole port of entry for the ships engaged in this

Not until the next year, 1497, did John Cabot set out. Then he embarked
from Bristol with a single ship, called in an old history the Matthew,
and a crew of eighteen men. First, he sailed round the south of
Ireland, and from there struck out westward into the unknown sea. The
appliances of navigation were then very imperfect. Sailors could reckon
the latitude by looking up at the North Star, and noting how high it
was above the horizon. Since the North Star stands in the sky due
north, and the axis on which the earth spins points always towards it,
it will appear to an observer in the northern hemisphere to be as many
degrees above the horizon as he himself is distant from the pole or top
of the earth. The old navigators, therefore, could always tell how far
north or south they were. Moreover, as long as the weather was clear
they could, by this means, strike, at night at least, a course due east
or west. But when the weather was not favourable for observations they
had to rely on the compass alone. Now the compass in actual fact does
not always and everywhere point due north. It is subject to variation,
and in different times and places points either considerably east of
north or west of it. In the path where Cabot sailed, the compass
pointed west of north; and hence, though he thought he was sailing
straight west from Ireland, he was really pursuing a curved path bent
round a little towards the south. This fact will become of importance
when we consider where it was that Cabot landed. For finding distance
east and west the navigators of the fifteenth century had no such
appliances as our modern chronometer and instruments of observation.
They could tell how far they had sailed only by 'dead reckoning'; this
means that if their ship was going at such and such a speed, it was
supposed to have made such and such a distance in a given time. But
when ships were being driven to and fro, and buffeted by adverse winds,
this reckoning became extremely uncertain.

John Cabot and his men mere tossed about considerably in their little
ship. Though they seem to have set out early in May of 1497, it was not
until June 24 that they sighted land. What the land was like, and what
they thought of it, we know from letters written in England by various
persons after their return. Thus we learn that it was a 'very good and
temperate country,' and that 'Brazil wood and silks grow there.' 'The
sea,' they reported, 'is covered with fishes, which are caught not only
with the net, but with baskets, a stone being tied to them in order
that the baskets may sink in the water.' Henceforth, it was said,
England would have no more need to buy fish from Iceland, for the
waters of the new land abounded in fish. Cabot and his men saw no
savages, but they found proof that the land was inhabited. Here and
there in the forest they saw trees which had been felled, and also
snares of a rude kind set to catch game. They were enthusiastic over
their success. They reported that the new land must certainly be
connected with Cipango, from which all the spices and precious stones
of the world originated. Only a scanty stock of provisions, they
declared, prevented them from sailing along the coast as far as Cathay
and Cipango. As it was they planted on the land a great cross with the
flag of England and also the banner of St Mark, the patron saint of
Cabot's city of Venice.

The older histories used always to speak as if John Cabot had landed
somewhere on the coast of Labrador, and had at best gone no farther
south than Newfoundland. Even if this were the whole truth about the
voyage, to Cabot and his men would belong the signal honour of having
been the first Europeans, since the Norsemen, to set foot on the
mainland of North America. Without doubt they were the first to unfurl
the flag of England, and to erect the cross upon soil which afterwards
became part of British North America. But this is not all. It is likely
that Cabot reached a point far south of Labrador. His supposed sailing
westward carried him in reality south of the latitude of Ireland. He
makes no mention of the icebergs which any voyager must meet on the
Labrador coast from June to August. His account of a temperate climate
suitable for growing dye-wood, of forest trees, and of a country so
fair that it seemed the gateway of the enchanted lands of the East, is
quite unsuited to the bare and forbidding aspect of Labrador. Cape
Breton island was probably the place of Cabot's landing. Its balmy
summer climate, the abundant fish of its waters, fit in with Cabot's
experiences. The evidence from maps, one of which was made by Cabot's
son Sebastian, points also to Cape Breton as the first landing-place of
English sailors in America.

There is no doubt of the stir made by Cabot's discovery on his safe
return to England. He was in London by August of 1497, and he became at
once the object of eager curiosity and interest. 'He is styled the
Great Admiral,' wrote a Venetian resident in London, 'and vast honour
is paid to him. He dresses in silk, and the English run after him like
mad people.' The sunlight of royal favour broke over him in a flood:
even Henry VII proved generous. The royal accounts show that, on August
10, 1497, the king gave ten pounds 'to him that found the new isle.' A
few months later the king granted to his 'well-beloved John Cabot, of
the parts of Venice, an annuity of twenty pounds sterling,' to be paid
out of the customs of the port of Bristol. The king, too, was lavish in
his promises of help for a new expedition. Henry's imagination had
evidently been fired with the idea of an Oriental empire. A
contemporary writer tells us that Cabot was to have ten armed ships. At
Cabot's request, the king conceded to him all the prisoners needed to
man this fleet, saving only persons condemned for high treason. It is
one of the ironies of history that on the first pages of its annals the
beautiful new world is offered to the criminals of Europe.

During the winter that followed, John Cabot was the hero of the hour.
Busy preparations went on for a new voyage. Letters patent were issued
giving Cabot power to take any six ships that he liked from the ports
of the kingdom, paying to their owners the same price only as if taken
for the king's service. The 'Grand Admiral' became a person of high
importance. On one friend he conferred the sovereignty of an island; to
others he made lavish promises; certain poor friars who offered to
embark on his coming voyage were to be bishops over the heathen of the
new land. Even the merchants of London ventured to send out goods for
trade, and brought to Cabot 'coarse cloth, caps, laces, points, and
other trifles.'

The second expedition sailed from the port of Bristol in May of 1498.
John Cabot and his son Sebastian were in command; of the younger
brothers we hear no more. But the high hopes of the voyagers were
doomed to disappointment. On arriving at the coast of America Cabot's
ships seem first to have turned towards the north. The fatal idea, that
the empires of Asia might be reached through the northern seas already
asserted its sway. The search for a north-west passage, that
will-o'-the-wisp of three centuries, had already begun. Many years
later Sebastian Cabot related to a friend at Seville some details
regarding this unfortunate attempt of his father to reach the spice
islands of the East. The fleet, he said, with its three hundred men,
first directed its course so far to the north that, even in the month
of July, monstrous heaps of ice were found floating on the sea. 'There
was,' so Sebastian told his friend, 'in a manner, continual daylight.'
The forbidding aspect of the coast, the bitter cold of the northern
seas, and the boundless extent of the silent drifting ice, chilled the
hopes of the explorers. They turned towards the south. Day after day,
week after week, they skirted the coast of North America. If we may
believe Sebastian's friend, they reached a point as far south as
Gibraltar in Europe. No more was there ice. The cold of Labrador
changed to soft breezes from the sanded coast of Carolina and from the
mild waters of the Gulf Stream. But of the fabled empires of Cathay and
Cipango, and the 'towns and castles' over which the Great Admiral was
to have dominion, they saw no trace. Reluctantly the expedition turned
again towards Europe, and with its turning ends our knowledge of what
happened on the voyage.

That the ships came home either as a fleet, or at least in part, we
have certain proof. We know that John Cabot returned to Bristol, for
the ancient accounts of the port show that he lived to draw at least
one or two instalments of his pension. But the sunlight of royal favour
no longer illumined his path. In the annals of English history the name
of John Cabot is never found again.

The son Sebastian survived to continue a life of maritime adventure, to
be counted one of the great sea-captains of the day, and to enjoy an
honourable old age. In the year 1512 we hear of him in the service of
Ferdinand of Spain. He seems to have won great renown as a maker of
maps and charts. He still cherished the idea of reaching Asia by way of
the northern seas of America. A north-west expedition with Sebastian in
command had been decided upon, it is said, by Ferdinand, when the death
of that illustrious sovereign prevented the realization of the project.
After Ferdinand's death, Cabot fell out with the grandees of the
Spanish court, left Madrid, and returned for some time to England. Some
have it that he made a new voyage in the service of Henry VIII, and
sailed through Hudson Strait, but this is probably only a confused
reminiscence, handed down by hearsay, of the earlier voyages. Cabot
served Spain again under Charles V, and made a voyage to Brazil and the
La Plata river. He reappears later in England, and was made Inspector
of the King's Ships by Edward VI. He was a leading spirit of the
Merchant Adventurers who, in Edward's reign, first opened up trade by
sea with Russia.

The voyages of the Bristol traders and the enterprise of England by no
means ended with the exploits of the Cabots. Though our ordinary
history books tell us nothing more of English voyages until we come to
the days of the great Elizabethan navigators, Drake, Frobisher,
Hawkins, and to the planting of Virginia, as a matter of fact many
voyages were made under Henry VII and Henry VIII. Both sovereigns seem
to have been anxious to continue the exploration of the western seas,
but they had not the good fortune again to secure such master-pilots as
John and Sebastian Cabot.

In the first place, it seems that the fishermen of England, as well as
those of the Breton coast, followed close in the track of the Cabots.
As soon as the Atlantic passage to Newfoundland had been robbed of the
terrors of the unknown, it was not regarded as difficult. With strong
east winds a ship of the sixteenth century could make the run from
Bristol or St Malo to the Grand Banks in less than twenty days. Once a
ship was on the Banks, the fish were found in an abundance utterly
unknown in European waters, and the ships usually returned home with
great cargoes. During the early years of the sixteenth century English,
French, and Portuguese fishermen went from Europe to the Banks in great
numbers. They landed at various points in Newfoundland and Cape Breton,
and became well acquainted with the outline of the coast. It was no
surprise to Jacques Cartier, for instance, on his first voyage, to find
a French fishing vessel lying off the north shore of the Gulf of St
Lawrence. But these fishing crews thought nothing of exploration. The
harvest of the sea was their sole care, and beyond landing to cure fish
and to obtain wood and water they did nothing to claim or conquer the

There were, however, efforts from time to time to follow up the
discoveries of the Cabots. The merchants of Bristol do not seem to have
been disappointed with the result of the Cabot enterprises, for as
early as in 1501 they sent out a new expedition across the Atlantic.
The sanction of the king was again invoked, and Henry VII granted
letters patent to three men of Bristol--Richard Warde, Thomas
Ashehurst, and John Thomas--to explore the western seas. These names
have a homely English sound; but associated with them were three
Portuguese--John Gonzales, and two men called Fernandez, all of the
Azores, and probably of the class of master-pilots to which the Cabots
and Columbus belonged. We know nothing of the results of the
expedition, but it returned in safety in the same year, and the
parsimonious king was moved to pay out five pounds from his treasury
'to the men of Bristol that found the isle.'

Francis Fernandez and John Gonzales remained in the English service and
became subjects of King Henry. Again, in the summer of 1502, they were
sent out on another voyage from Bristol. In September they brought
their ships safely back, and, in proof of the strangeness of the new
lands they carried home 'three men brought out of an Iland forre beyond
Irelond, the which were clothed in Beestes Skynnes and ate raw fflesh
and were rude in their demeanure as Beestes.' From this description
(written in an old atlas of the time), it looks as if the Fernandez
expedition had turned north from the Great Banks and visited the coast
where the Eskimos were found, either in Labrador or Greenland. This
time Henry VII gave Fernandez and Gonzales a pension of ten pounds
each, and made them 'captains' of the New Found Land. A sum of twenty
pounds was given to the merchants of Bristol who had accompanied them.
We must remember that at this time the New Found Land was the general
name used for all the northern coast of America.

There is evidence that a further expedition went out from Bristol in
1503, and still another in 1504. Fernandez and Gonzales, with two
English associates, were again the leaders. They were to have a
monopoly of trade for forty years, but were cautioned not to interfere
with the territory of the king of Portugal. Of the fate of these
enterprises nothing is known.

By the time of Henry VIII, who began to reign in 1509, the annual
fishing fleet of the English which sailed to the American coast had
become important. As early as in 1522, a royal ship of war was sent to
the mouth of the English Channel to protect the 'coming home of the New
Found Island's fleet.' Henry VIII and his minister, Cardinal Wolsey,
were evidently anxious to go on with the work of the previous reign,
and especially to enlist the wealthy merchants and trade companies of
London in the cause of western exploration. In 1521 the cardinal
proposed to the Livery Companies of London--the name given to the trade
organizations of the merchants--that they should send out five ships on
a voyage into the New Found Land. When the merchants seemed disinclined
to make such a venture, the king 'spake sharply to the Mayor to see it
put in execution to the best of his power.' But, even with this
stimulus, several years passed before a London expedition was sent out.
At last, in 1527, two little ships called the Samson and the Mary of
Guildford set out from London with instructions to find their way to
Cathay and the Indies by means of the passage to the north. The two
ships left London on May 10, put into Plymouth, and finally sailed
therefrom on June 10, 1527. They followed Cabot's track, striking
westward from the coast of Ireland. For three weeks they kept together,
making good progress across the Atlantic. Then in a great storm that
arose the Samson was lost with all on board.

The Mary of Guildford pursued her way alone, and her crew had
adventures strange even for those days. Her course, set well to the
north, brought her into the drift ice and the giant icebergs which are
carried down the coast of America at this season (for the month was
July) from the polar seas. In fear of the moving ice, she turned to the
south, the sailors watching eagerly for the land, and sounding as they
went. Four days brought them to the coast of Labrador. They followed it
southward for some days. Presently they entered an inlet where they
found a good harbour, many small islands, and the mouth of a great
river of fresh water. The region was a wilderness, its mountains and
woods apparently untenanted by man. Near the shore they saw the
footmarks of divers great beasts, but, though they explored the country
for about thirty miles, they saw neither men nor animals. At the end of
July, they set sail again, and passed down the coast of Newfoundland to
the harbour of St John's, already a well-known rendezvous. Here they
found fourteen ships of the fishing fleet, mostly vessels from
Normandy. From Newfoundland the Mary of Guildford pursued her way
southward, and passed along the Atlantic coast of America. If she had
had any one on board capable of accurate observation, even after the
fashion of the time, or of making maps, the record of her voyage would
have added much to the general knowledge of the continent.
Unfortunately, the Italian pilot who directed the voyage was killed in
a skirmish with Indians during a temporary landing. Some have thought
that this pilot who perished on the Mary of Guildford may have been the
great navigator Verrazano, of whom we shall presently speak.

The little vessel sailed down the coast to the islands of the West
Indies. She reached Porto Rico in the middle of November, and from that
island she made sail for the new Spanish settlements of San Domingo.
Here, as she lay at her anchorage, the Mary of Guildford was fired upon
by the Spanish fort which commanded the river mouth. At once she put
out into the open sea, and, heading eastward across the Atlantic, she
arrived safely at her port of London.



We have seen that after the return of the second expedition of the
Cabots no voyages to the coasts of Canada of first-rate importance were
made by the English. This does not mean, however, that nothing was done
by other peoples to discover and explore the northern coasts of
America. The Portuguese were the first after the Cabots to continue the
search along the Canadian coast for the secret of the hidden East. At
this time, we must remember, the Portuguese were one of the leading
nations of Europe, and they were specially interested in maritime
enterprise. Thanks to Columbus, the Spaniards had, it is true, carried
off the grand prize of discovery. But the Portuguese had rendered
service not less useful. From their coasts, jutting far out into the
Atlantic, they had sailed southward and eastward, and had added much to
the knowledge of the globe. For generations, both before and after
Columbus, the pilots and sailors of Portugal were among the most
successful and daring in the world.

For nearly a hundred years before the discovery of America the
Portuguese had been endeavouring to find an ocean route to the spice
islands of the East and to the great Oriental empires which, tradition
said, lay far off on a distant ocean, and which Marco Polo and other
travellers had reached by years of painful land travel across the
interior of Asia. Prince Henry of Portugal was busy with these tasks at
the middle of the fifteenth century. Even before this, Portuguese
sailors had found their way to the Madeiras and the Canary Islands, and
to the Azores, which lie a thousand miles out in the Atlantic. But
under the lead of Prince Henry they began to grope their way down the
coast of Africa, braving the torrid heats and awful calms of that
equatorial region, where the blazing sun, poised overhead in a
cloudless sky, was reflected on the bosom of a stagnant and glistening
ocean. It was their constant hope that at some point the land would be
found to roll back and disclose an ocean pathway round Africa to the
East, the goal of their desire. Year after year they advanced farther,
until at last they achieved a momentous result. In 1487, Bartholomew
Diaz sailed round the southern point of Africa, which received the
significant name of the 'Cape of Good Hope,' and entered the Indian
Ocean. Henceforth a water pathway to the Far East was possible.
Following Diaz, Vasco da Gama, leaving Lisbon in 1497, sailed round the
south of Africa, and, reaching the ports of Hindustan, made the
maritime route to India a definite reality.

Thus at the moment when the Spaniards were taking possession of the
western world the Portuguese were establishing their trade in the
rediscovered East. The two nations agreed to divide between them these
worlds of the East and the West. They invoked the friendly offices of
the Pope as mediator, and, henceforth, an imaginary line drawn down the
Atlantic divided the realms. At first this arrangement seemed to give
Spain all the new regions in America, but the line of division was set
so far to the West that the discovery of Brazil, which juts out
eastward into the Atlantic, gave the Portuguese a vast territory in
South America. At the time of which we are now speaking, however, the
Portuguese were intent upon their interests in the Orient. Their great
aim was to pass beyond India, already reached by da Gama, to the
further empires of China and Japan. Like other navigators of the time,
they thought that these places might be reached not merely by southern
but also by the northern seas. Hence it came about that the Portuguese,
going far southward in Africa, went also far northward in America and
sailed along the coast of Canada.

We find, in consequence, that when King Manoel of Portugal was fitting
out a fleet of twenty ships for a new expedition under da Gama, which
was to sail to the Indies by way of Africa, another Portuguese
expedition, setting out with the same object, was sailing in the
opposite direction. At its head was Gaspar Corte-Real, a nobleman of
the Azores, who had followed with eager interest the discoveries of
Columbus, Diaz, and da Gama. Corte-Real sailed from Lisbon in the
summer of 1500 with a single ship. He touched at the Azores. It is
possible that a second vessel joined him there, but this is not clear.
From the Azores his path lay north and west, till presently he reached
a land described as a 'cool region with great woods.' Corte-Real called
it from its verdure 'the Green Land,' but the similarity of name with
the place that we call Greenland is only an accident. In reality the
Portuguese captain was on the coast of Newfoundland. He saw a number of
natives. They appeared to the Portuguese a barbarous people, who
dressed in skins, and lived in caves. They used bows and arrows, and
had wooden spears, the points of which they hardened with fire.

Corte-Real directed his course northward, until he found himself off
the coast of Greenland. He sailed for some distance along those rugged
and forbidding shores, a land of desolation, with jagged mountains and
furrowed cliffs, wrapped in snow and ice. No trace of the lost
civilization of the Norsemen met his eyes. The Portuguese pilot
considered Greenland at its southern point to be an outstanding
promontory of Asia, and he struggled hard to pass beyond it westward to
a more favoured region. But his path was blocked by 'enormous masses of
frozen snow floating on the sea, and moving under the influence of the
waves.' It is clear that he was met not merely by the field ice of the
Arctic ocean, but also by great icebergs moving slowly with the polar
current. The narrative tells how Corte-Real's crew obtained fresh water
from the icebergs. 'Owing to the heat of the sun, fresh and clear water
is melted on the summits, and, descending by small channels formed by
the water itself, it eats away the base where it falls. The boats were
sent in, and in that way as much was taken as was needed.'

Corte-Real made his way as far as a place (which was in latitude 60
degrees) where the sea about him seemed a flowing stream of snow, and
so he called it Rio Nevado, 'the river of snow.' Probably it was Hudson

Late in the same season, Corte-Real was back in Lisbon. He had
discovered nothing of immediate profit to the crown of Portugal, but
his survey of the coast of North America from Newfoundland to Hudson
Strait seems to have strengthened the belief that the best route to
India lay in this direction. In any case, on May 15, 1501, he was sent
out again with three ships. This time the Portuguese discovered a
region, so they said, which no one had before visited. The description
indicates that they were on the coast of Nova Scotia and the adjacent
part of New England. The land was wooded with fine straight timber, fit
for the masts of ships, and 'when they landed they found delicious
fruits of various kinds, and trees and pines of marvellous height and
thickness.' They saw many natives, occupied in hunting and fishing.
Following the custom of the time, they seized fifty or sixty natives,
and crowded these unhappy captives into the holds of their ships, to
carry home as evidence of the reality of their discoveries, and to be
sold as slaves. These savages are described by those who saw them in
Portugal as of shapely form and gentle manner, though uncouth and even
dirty in person. They wore otter skins, and their faces were marked
with lines. The description would answer to any of the Algonquin tribes
of the eastern coast. Among the natives seen on the coast there was a
boy who had in his ears two silver rings of Venetian make. The
circumstance led the Portuguese to suppose that they were on the coast
of Asia, and that a European ship had recently visited the same spot.
The true explanation, if the circumstance is correctly reported, would
seem to be that the rings were relics of Cabot's voyages and of his
trade in the trinkets supplied by the merchants.

Gaspar Corte-Real sent his consort ships home, promising to explore the
coast further, and to return later in the season. The vessels duly
reached Lisbon, bringing their captives and the news of the voyage.
Corte-Real, however, never returned, nor is anything known of his fate.

When a year had passed with no news of Gaspar Corte-Real, his brother
Miguel fitted out a new expedition of three ships and sailed westward
in search of him. On reaching the coast of Newfoundland, the ships of
Miguel Corte-Real separated in order to make a diligent search in all
directions for the missing Gaspar. They followed the deep indentations
of the island, noting its outstanding features. Here and there they
fell in with the natives and traded with them, but they found nothing
of value. To make matters worse, when the time came to assemble, as
agreed, in the harbour of St John's, only two ships arrived at the
rendezvous. That of Miguel was missing. After waiting some time the
other vessels returned without him to Portugal.

Two Corte-Reals were now lost. King Manoel transferred the rights of
Gaspar and Miguel to another brother, and in the ensuing years sent out
several Portuguese expeditions to search for the lost leaders, but
without success. The Portuguese gained only a knowledge of the
abundance of fish in the region of the Newfoundland coast. This was
important, and henceforth Portuguese ships joined with the Normans, the
Bretons, and the English in fishing on the Grand Banks. Of the
Corte-Reals nothing more was ever heard.

The next great voyage of discovery was that of Juan Verrazano, some
twenty years after the loss of the Corte-Reals. Like so many other
pilots of his time, Verrazano was an Italian. He had wandered much
about the world, had made his way to the East Indies by the new route
that the Portuguese had opened, and had also, so it is said, been a
member of a ship's company in one of the fishing voyages to
Newfoundland now made in every season.

The name of Juan Verrazano has a peculiar significance in Canadian
history. In more ways than one he was the forerunner of Jacques
Cartier, 'the discoverer of Canada.' Not only did he sail along the
coast of Canada, but did so in the service of the king of France, the
first representative of those rising ambitions which were presently to
result in the foundation of New France and the colonial empire of the
Bourbon monarchy. Francis I, the French king, was a vigorous and
ambitious prince. His exploits and rivalries occupy the foreground of
European history in the earlier part of the sixteenth century. It was
the object of Francis to continue the work of Louis XI by consolidating
his people into a single powerful state. His marriage with the heiress
of Brittany joined that independent duchy, rich at least in the
seafaring bravery of its people, to the crown of France. But Francis
aimed higher still. He wished to make himself the arbiter of Europe and
the over-lord of the European kings. Having been defeated by the
equally famous king of Spain, Charles V, in his effort to gain the
position and title of Holy Roman Emperor and the leadership of Europe,
he set himself to overthrow the rising greatness of Spain. The history
of Europe for a quarter of a century turns upon the opposing ambitions
of the two monarchs.

As a part of his great design, Francis I turned towards western
discovery and exploration, in order to rival if possible the
achievements of Columbus and Cortes and to possess himself of
territories abounding in gold and silver, in slaves and merchandise,
like the islands of Cuba and San Domingo and the newly conquered empire
of Montezuma, which Spain held. It was in this design that he sent out
Juan Verrazano; in further pursuit of it he sent Jacques Cartier ten
years later; and the result was that French dominion afterwards,
prevailed in the valley of the St Lawrence and seeds were planted from
which grew the present Dominion of Canada.

At the end of the year 1523 Juan Verrazano set out from the port of
Dieppe with four ships. Beaten about by adverse storms, they put into
harbour at Madeira, so badly strained by the rough weather that only a
single seaworthy ship remained. In this, the Dauphine, Verrazano set
forth on January 17, 1524, for his western discovery. The voyage was
prosperous, except for one awful tempest in mid-Atlantic, 'as
terrible,' wrote Verrazano, 'as ever any sailors suffered.' After seven
weeks of westward sailing Verrazano sighted a coast 'never before seen
of any man either ancient or modern.' This was the shore of North
Carolina. From this point the French captain made his way northward,
closely inspecting the coast, landing here and there, and taking note
of the appearance, the resources, and the natives of the country. The
voyage was chiefly along the coast of what is now the United States,
and does not therefore immediately concern the present narrative.
Verrazano's account of his discoveries, as he afterwards wrote it down,
is full of picturesque interest, and may now be found translated into
English in Hakluyt's Voyages. He tells of the savages who flocked to
the low sandy shore to see the French ship riding at anchor. They wore
skins about their loins and light feathers in their hair, and they were
'of colour russet, and not much unlike the Saracens.' Verrazano said
that these Indians were of 'cheerful and steady look, not strong of
body, yet sharp-witted, nimble, and exceeding great runners.' As he
sailed northward he was struck with the wonderful vegetation of the
American coast, the beautiful forest of pine and cypress and other
trees, unknown to him, covered with tangled vines as prolific as the
vines of Lombardy. Verrazano's voyage and his landings can be traced
all the way from Carolina to the northern part of New England. He noted
the wonderful harbour at the mouth of the Hudson, skirted the coast
eastward from that point, and then followed northward along the shores
of Massachusetts and Maine. Beyond this Verrazano seems to have made no
landings, but he followed the coast of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. He
sailed, so he says, as far as fifty degrees north, or almost to the
Strait of Belle Isle. Then he turned eastward, headed out into the
great ocean, and reached France in safety. Unfortunately, Verrazano did
not write a detailed account of that part of his voyage which related
to Canadian waters. But there is no doubt that his glowing descriptions
must have done much to stimulate the French to further effort.
Unhappily, at the moment of his return, his royal master was deeply
engaged in a disastrous invasion of Italy, where he shortly met the
crushing defeat at Pavia (1525) which left him a captive in the hands
of his Spanish rival. His absence crippled French enterprise, and
Verrazano's explorations were not followed up till a change of fortune
enabled Francis to send out the famous expedition of Jacques Cartier.

One other expedition to Canada deserves brief mention before we come to
Cartier's crowning discovery of the St Lawrence river. This is the
voyage of Stephen Gomez, who was sent out in the year 1524. by Charles
V, the rival of Francis I. He spent about ten months on the voyage,
following much the same course as Verrazano, but examining with far
greater care the coast of Nova Scotia and the territory about the
opening of the Gulf of St Lawrence. His course can be traced from the
Penobscot river in Maine to the island of Cape Breton. He entered the
Bay of Fundy, and probably went far enough to realize from its tides,
rising sometimes to a height of sixty or seventy feet, that its farther
end could not be free, and that it could not furnish an open passage to
the Western Sea. Running north-east along the shore of Nova Scotia,
Gomez sailed through the Gut of Canso, thus learning that Cape Breton
was an island. He named it the Island of St John-or, rather, he
transferred to it this name, which the map-makers had already used.
Hence it came about that the 'Island of St John' occasions great
confusion in the early geography of Canada. The first map-makers who
used it secured their information indirectly, we may suppose, from the
Cabot voyages and the fishermen who frequented the coast. They marked
it as an island lying in the 'Bay of the Bretons,' which had come to be
the name for the open mouth of the Gulf of St Lawrence. Gomez, however,
used the name for Cape Breton island. Later on, the name was applied to
what is now Prince Edward Island. All this is only typical of the
difficulties in understanding the accounts of the early voyages to
America. Gomez duly returned to the port of Corunna in June 1525.

We may thus form some idea of the general position of American
exploration and discovery at the time when Cartier made his momentous
voyages. The maritime nations of Europe, in searching for a passage to
the half-mythical empires of Asia, had stumbled on a great continent.
At first they thought it Asia itself. Gradually they were realizing
that this was not Asia, but an outlying land that lay between Europe
and Asia and that must be passed by the navigator before Cathay and
Cipango could rise upon the horizon. But the new continent was vast in
extent. It blocked the westward path from pole to pole. With each
voyage, too, the resources and the native beauty of the new land became
more apparent. The luxuriant islands of the West Indies, and the Aztec
empire of Mexico, were already bringing wealth and grandeur to the
monarchy of Spain. South of Mexico it had been already found that the
great barrier of the continent extended to the cold tempestuous seas of
the Antarctic region. Magellan's voyage (1519-22) had proved indeed
that by rounding South America the way was open to the spice islands of
the east. But the route was infinitely long and arduous. The hope of a
shorter passage by the north beckoned the explorer. Of this north
country nothing but its coast was known as yet. Cabot and the fishermen
had found a land of great forests, swept by the cold and leaden seas of
the Arctic, and holding its secret clasped in the iron grip of the
northern ice. The Corte-Reals, Verrazano, and Gomez had looked upon the
endless panorama of the Atlantic coast of North America--the glorious
forests draped with tangled vines extending to the sanded beaches of
the sea--the wide inlets round the mouths of mighty rivers moving
silent and mysterious from the heart of the unknown continent. Here and
there a painted savage showed the bright feathers of his headgear as he
lurked in the trees of the forest or stood, in fearless curiosity,
gazing from the shore at the white-winged ships of the strange
visitants from the sky. But for the most part all, save the sounds of
nature, was silence and mystery. The waves thundered upon the sanded
beach of Carolina and lashed in foam about the rocks of the iron coasts
of New England and the New Found Land. The forest mingled its murmurs
with the waves, and, as the sun sank behind the unknown hills, wafted
its perfume to the anchored ships that rode upon the placid bosom of
the evening sea. And beyond all this was mystery--the mystery of the
unknown East, the secret of the pathway that must lie somewhere hidden
in the bays and inlets of the continent of silent beauty, and above all
the mysterious sense of a great history still to come for this new land
itself--a sense of the murmuring of many voices caught as the undertone
of the rustling of the forest leaves, but rising at last to the mighty
sound of the vast civilization that in the centuries to come should
pour into the silent wildernesses of America.

To such a land--to such a mystery--sailed forth Jacques Cartier,
discoverer of Canada.


The Icelandic sagas contain legends of a discovery of America before
Columbus. Benjamin de Costa, in his 'Pre-Columbian Discovery of
America', has given translations of a number of these legends. Other
works bearing on this mythical period are: A. M. Reeves's 'The Finding
of Wineland the Good'; J. E. Olson's 'The Voyages of the Northmen' in
Vol. I of the 'Original Narrative of Early American History', edited by
J. F. Jameson; Fridtjof Nansen's 'In Northern Mists'; and John Fiske's
'The Discovery of America'. A number of general histories have chapters
bearing on pre-Columbian discovery; the most accessible of these are:
Justin Winsor's 'Narrative and Critical History of America';
Charlevoix's 'Histoire et description generale de la Nouvelle France'
(1744), translated with notes by J. G. Shea (1886); Henry Harrisse's
'Discovery of North America'; and the 'Conquest of Canada', by the
author of 'Hochelaga'.

There are numerous works in the Spanish, French, Italian, and English
languages dealing with Columbus and his time. Pre-eminent among the
latter are: Irving's 'Life of Columbus'; Winsor's 'Christopher Columbus
and how he Received and Imparted the Spirit of Discovery'; Helps's
'Life of Columbus'; Prescott's 'History of Ferdinand and Isabella';
Crompton's 'Life of Columbus'; St John's 'Life of Columbus'; and
Major's 'Select Letters of Columbus' (a Hakluyt Society publication).
Likewise in every important work which deals with the early history of
North or South America, Columbus and his voyages are discussed.

The literature dealing with the Cabots is quite as voluminous as that
bearing on Columbus. Henry Harrisse's 'John Cabot, the Discoverer of
North America and Sebastian, his Son; a Chapter of the Maritime History
of England under the Tudors, 1496-1557', is a most exhaustive work.
Other authoritative works on the Cabots are Nichols's 'Remarkable Life,
Adventures, and Discoveries of Sebastian Cabot', in which an effort is
made to give the chief glory of the discovery of America not to John
Cabot, but to his son Sebastian; Dawson's 'The Voyages of the Cabots,
1497 and 1498', 'The Voyages of the Cabots, a Sequel', and 'The Voyages
of the Cabots, Latest Phases of the Controversy', in 'Transactions
Royal Society of Canada'; Biddle's 'Memoir of Sebastian Cabot';
Beazley's 'John and Sebastian Cabot, The Discovery of North America';
and Weare's 'Cabot's Discovery of America'.

A number of European writers have made able studies of the work of
Verrazano, and two American scholars have contributed valuable works on
that explorer's life and achievements; these are, De Costa's 'Verrazano
the Explorer: a Vindication of his Letter and Voyage', and Murphy's
'The Voyage of Verrazano'.

In addition to the general histories already mentioned, the following
works contain much information on the voyages of the forerunners of
Jacques Cartier: Parkman's 'Pioneers of France'; Kohl's 'Discovery of
Maine'; Woodbury's 'Relation of the Fisheries to the Discovery of North
America' (in this work it is claimed that the Basques antedated the
Cabots); Dawson's 'The St Lawrence Basin and Its Borderlands'; Weise's
'The Discoveries of America'; 'The Journal of Christopher Columbus',
and 'Documents relating to the Voyages of John Cabot and Gaspar
Corte-Real', translated with Notes and an Introduction by Sir Clements
R. Markham; and Biggar's 'The Precursors of Jacques Cartier,
1497-1534'. This last work is essential to the student of the early
voyages to America. It contains documents, many published for the first
time, in Latin, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, and French dealing with
exploration. The notes are invaluable, and the documents, with the
exception of those in French, are carefully though freely translated.

For the native tribes of America the reader would do well to consult
the 'Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico', published by the
Bureau of American Ethnology, and the 'Handbook of Indians of Canada',
reprinted by the Canadian Government, with additions and minor
alterations, from the preceding work, under the direction of James
White, F.R.G.S.

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allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.