Early Canadian History Lesson 1 Early Exploration One thousand years ago, people who lived in one area knew very little about the rest of the world. The earliest European explorers were the Vikings. They lived in the part of Europe that is today called Scandinavia. The Vikings were known throughout northern Europe as great warriors and sailors. A Viking Sailing Ship Much of what we know today about their adventures comes from sagas. L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfound land Farm Under the Sand, Western Settlement, Greenland Historians have come to believe that the Vikings were the first Europeans to reach the Americas, about 1,000 years ago. A Viking named Eric the Red and his crew set sail from Iceland and landed on an island that he named Vinland. It was called Vinland because of the abundance of green vines found there. Twenty years later, Leif Ericson founded the island now called Newfoundland. Fierce battles took place between the Indians and the Vikings as a result of a land dispute. . . . The Vikings eventually abandoned their settlements in North America. Almost 500 years passed before Europeans took up an interest in sailing across the Atlantic. Three reasons: 1. Better ships 2. Better instruments 3. Desire to trade with Asia What was in Asia? Silk, spices, perfume, diamonds, spices, rubies, pearls, and spices! (Did we mention spices?) Traders knew of only two routes to Asia, both of which were very long and dangerous. Some people thought that if they sailed west, instead of east, they could also reach Asia. The first European to attempt this route was Christopher Columbus. (But he reached the Americas instead of Asia.) Later, other explorers began to hope that they could find an all-water route to Asia by traveling along the north coast of North America. Although none of them ever found this Northwest Passage, they were able to explore much of Canada. English Exploration (1497)John Cabot, an Italian, reached Vinland. He renamed it Newfoundland. French Exploration (1524) Giovanni da Verrazano established French claims to land in Canada. (1534) Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence River and founded the present-day city of Montreal. Lesson 2 Settlements and Colonies Many European fishing boats fished in the Grand Banks, an area near Newfoundland that was teaming with fish. Europeans living in Canada traded with the Indians knives and kettles for fur pelts. Hats made out of beaver fur were all the rage back home in Europe! The king of France sent Samuel de Champlain to start a colony in Canada in the early 1600’s. In 1608, Champlain established the settlement of Quebec. Quebec was the beginning of the first French colony in North America, which was called New France. Because of his hard work, Champlain became known as the “Father of New France”. The French would not allow anyone to move to Quebec that was not Roman Catholic. Also, people were not used to the area’s climate and farming was difficult. Champlain was the first European to see the Great Lakes. Most of the traders who ran the Canadian trading posts were French. The British formed the Hudson’s Bay Company, which spread quickly, establishing posts all along Hudson Bay. Some European trappers lived in the forests with the Indians. They were called coureurs de bois, “wood runners” These scouts learned from the Indians. They learned how to use birchbark canoes. The French voyageurs carried the traders’ goods from the forests. The strong voyageurs paddled down Canada’s swift rivers, carrying their canoes and cargo over each portage, or land route. In 1642, the colony of Montreal was founded. Montreal became the center for missionaries from France. The French hoped to convert the Indians to Christianity. Montreal served as a missionary center for many years. It also became an important base for fur traders and explorers. Lesson 3: Colonies in Conflict By the 1700’s, Canada was a land of many cultures. French British Huron Iroquois In the late 1600’s and early 1700’s the French and British frequently fought over land and competed for the fur trade. In 1754 war broke out in the Ohio River Valley, an area claimed by both France and Britain. The war became known as the rench and Indian War because the French and the Huron banded together against the British. British troops surrounded New France, using a blockade to keep food and other supplies from entering the colony. James Wolfe was one of the officers for the British army. General Louis de Montcalm was with the French army. The Battle of the Plains of Abraham is considered the most decisive in Canadian history. This battle lasted only ten minutes! By 1763, France had given up all of its claims to land in North America. In 1774, the British passed the Quebec Act, which guaranteed the French the right to maintain their own culture. Thousands of Frenchspeaking people were forced by British soldiers to leave Nova Scotia, then called Acadia. These Acadians refused to pledge loyalty to the British crown. Some Acadians went to the area around present-day Louisiana. Today, their descendants are called “Cajuns”. In 1776, the United States became independent of Great Britain. Loyalists, colonists who had remained loyal to Britain had often been forced by the rebels to leave their homes. Many loyalists migrated to Canada during and after the American Revolution. Many Loyalists did not want to live among French-speaking Canadians. Est-ce que vous parlez en Francais? Huh? Non, il a’ arrive’ a L’Angleterre. In 1791 Britain divided the former colony of New France into two colonies, Lower Canada and Upper Canada. Most English-speaking settlers lived in the western part of Upper Canada. Lower Canada, now Quebec, was home to many French-speaking settlers. Au contraire, mon frere! In the 1700’s Britain gained control over the vast area of Canada. However, Canada would have to struggle in order to survive as one nation.