Discovery and First Contact by Europeans


1492 is famous for Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America while he was in the employ of the Spanish king and queen. In the following ten years, it is believed, about 80 more voyages by different explorers and nations were made, searching for the elusive short route to the Far East, and all its riches. No one had any idea of the size of the North and South American continents. In the end, except for an always optimistic hope for a Northwest Passage, a realistic route to the East was abandoned in favour of robbing the Meso- and South American aboriginal cultures of their amazing riches.

There was a great deal of concentration in exploring Central and South America for a variety of reasons – economic, religious, the possibilities of colonies and of course, the passage to the East. France and England took part in this mad race and as early as 1508 Giovanni da Verrazano (1485–1528) an Italian explorer, originally from Florence, set off to explore the coast of North  America. He most certainly would have been involved in cod fishing (Gadus morhua), which was soon to become the greatest fishing industry ever known.

Here is a fine map from the internet showing the extent of the North Atlantic cod fishery. I had never realised that the whole of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence was part of the large area exploited by fishermen of various nations. It raises all sorts of questions about protected Island ports being used as seasonal fishing bases, perhaps for a very long time.

Fish was a staple of Catholic European diet which frequently, but especially in Lent, by the devotion of fasting, prohibited the faithful from eating meat.

This detail from a huge map engraved in 1715 for Lord Sommers by Hermann Moll has become the classic illustration for information about a typical fishing outpost in the New World. Although late for the context of this post, the appearance of clothing and processing shacks must not have changed significantly over the centuries.

In 1524, King Francis 1 of France contracted Verrazano to explore the upper part of North America, which had not received a great deal of attention in the years since Columbus. He became the first European to explore the coast of North America between Florida and New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. A manuscript map in the Ambrosiana Museum in Milan, attributed to Verrazano or those closest to him, shows a summary of his voyages from Florida (at the top right) and Labrador (bottom left). In early maps North was occasionally at the bottom of the sheet. As well, early maps made by explorers contained only fragments of coastline. They were called portolans, drawn on parchment, and were meant for use by pilots and navigators. It was the great mapmakers of Europe who ardently collected and collated all these scraps in attempts to produce what we would eventually see as the shape of the Americas.

It is not known whether he saw our little island, which, in several generations, would be called the Island of Saint John in the various languages of Europe. In honour of the French king Verrazano named all the new lands he had explored north of the Cape Cod area as Francisca. He died on his third and last voyage and was presumed eaten by the Carib natives of Guadeloupe in 1528. Many of his portolans survived and were vital in creating the first map of the Americas.

The Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries saw the birth of a huge map-making industry that capitalised on the great interest shown in the New World, or Terra Nova, as it was called in Latin. By 1552 Sebastian Münster, a great mapmaker from Basle in Switzerland, had gathered enough information to produce a woodcut that is considered to be the first map of the continents of the Americas. Over the years, the woodblock went from printer to printer who, for new audiences, gave it a new title in another language and in time made slight changes to the information on the map itself. A number of copies of it in its various stages survive. In the earliest version of 1552 (below) it is possible to make out a great deal of the geography of Central and South America, but North America is still a blob called Francisca. Soon it would be called New France.


The real exploration of North America began in 1534 when King Francis of France, once again ambitious to explore and take for France as many of the undiscovered territories as possible, discover a Northwest Passage to the Far East, and control as much of the cod-fishing industry as possible, hired a well-travelled explorer from Saint Malo in Brittany named Jacques Cartier (1491-1557). He would make three voyages to what is now the Eastern Canadian region of the New World and gain immortality as the discoverer of Canada and the person who sailed down the Saint Lawrence River to claim Quebec and Montreal for France.

In Cartier’s first voyage in 1534 he landed in several places on Prince Edward Island, and described in rapturous language the climate, landscape and plants he found there. He identified North Cape, which he called appropriately Cap Sauvage, saw aboriginals and tried to meet with them, and spent a considerable time, it seems, exploring Cascumpec Bay and even going ashore with longboats in the area of what is now Alberton. Cartier did not know he had landed on an island, believing it to be part of a greater land mass. It would only be near the end of the century that more surveys tried to map this irregular shape.

Cartier’s lovely description of what he saw – just a few words – is powerfully evocative:

All this coast is low and flat but the finest land one can see, and full of beautiful trees and meadows. Yet we could find along it no harbour, for the shore is low and skirted all along with sandbanks, and the water is shallow. We went ashore in our longboats at several places, and among others of a fine river of little depth, where we caught sight of some savages in their canoes who were crossing the river. On that account we named this river Canoe River [Cascumpec Bay]. But we had no further acquaintance with the savages as the wind came up off the sea, and drove upon the shore, so that we deemed it advisable to go back with our longboats to the ships. We headed northeast until the next morning [Wednesday], the first day of July, at sunrise, at which hour came up fog with overcast sky, and we lowered the sails until about ten o’clock, when it brightened up and we had sight of Cape Orleans [Cape Kildare] and of another cape that lay about seven leagues north, one quarter northeast of it, which we named Cape Savage [North Cape]. To the northeast of this cape, for about half a league, there is a very dangerous shoal and rocky bar [North Cape Reef]. At this cape a man came in sight who ran after our longboats along the coast, making frequent signs to us to return towards the said point. And seeing these signs we began to row towards him, but when he saw that we were returning, he started to run away and to flee before us. We landed opposite to him and placed a knife and a woollen girdle on a branch; and then returned to our ships. That day [1 July] we coasted this shore  some nine or ten leagues [between the Tignish River and Cape Kildare] to try and find a harbour, but could not do so, for, as I have already mentioned, the shore is low and the water shallow. We landed that day in four places to see the trees which are wonderfully beautiful and very fragrant. We discovered that there were cedars, yew-trees, pines, white elms, ash trees, willows, and others, many of them unknown to us and all trees without fruit. The soil where there are no trees is also very rich and is covered with pease [now spelled as peas], white and red gooseberry bushes, strawberries, raspberries, and wild oats like rye, which one would say had been sown there and tilled. It is the best-tempered region one can possibly see and the heat is considerable. There are many turtle-doves, wood-pigeons, and other birds. Nothing is wanting but harbours. (from Ramsay Cook, The Voyages of Jacques Cartier, pp. 16-18.)

Cartier, elsewhere in his narrative, hints that Basque fishermen were already in the region by noting, when he communicated with the aboriginals, that they were using Spanish words to describe various things. There is evidence that the Basque set up a half aboriginal/half Basque language in order to communicate with the native people they frequently encountered. Since he was claiming this new land for France Cartier could not make an issue of this sensitive fact (Loewen and Goya p 145).



There is a large amount of flint ballast that has been found at Bury Head, near Alberton, which a group of geologists (see below) have associated with Cartier.

What is flint ballast?

You may be interested in finding out more about the nature of flint and its use as ballast in boats, from Antiquity to the 19th Century. Flint is a stone whose origins are not clear. It is said to occur when chemical changes take place in compressed sedimentary rock formations. It appears as nodules or masses, in some places quite large, in chalk deposits. The irregular shape of the nodules is accounted for by gelatinous materials filling in cavities in the sediment left by the activities of sea life such as crustaceans or mollusks. Silica rich sponges or other sea life could seep into these cavities and in time solidify into flint. Microscopic examination of thin slices of the material sometime reveal the presence of microcrustaceans and other foreign material. Ancient flint mines have been discovered in Britain.  The flint on the right, with a piece flaked off, shows the lovely grey silica of the flint itself encased by the white calcium carbonate shell or test.

Flint nodules were used in boats in order to provide stability at sea by filling the bilge with as much weight as was needed to keep the boat upright. This drawing from the internet shows exactly how they were used. The mass of stone formed a bed on which cargo, like these barrels, could be stored.

Some of the beaches of England and France are covered with flints shaped into pebbles and cobbles by the action of the sea through the ages. It was easy to pick up any amount of these smooth rocks and fill the bilge as needed. Fine adjustments to the ballast could me made in this manner. If you ran aground and needed to lighten the ship, you simply emptied  overboard as much flint as was necessary to refloat the boat. That is why there is foreign flint on beaches of countries that do not have any native flint. Prince Edward Island is one of those.

Geologists take note of a local find.

In 1968 K. O. Emery, C. A Kaye, D. H. Loring, D. J. G. Nota published an article in Science magazine called  “European Cretaceous Flints on the Coast of North America.” When I came across it in 1986 I was very intrigued and quite excited at a possible Cartier connection. Here is an extract from the article telling what they found:

In 1965 Lorin and Nota found many flint nodules on the intertidal part of a beach at Prince Edward Island — to the east of Cascumpeque Point, about 3 km south of Alberton [Bury Head]. About 100 kg of nodules 2-8 centimeters in diameter were noted among the local beach materials, which consist of fine to medium sand plus subangular pebbles of the local Triassic red sandstone. Flint is foreign to the region, and these  nodules are lithologically similar to many thousands of Upper Cretaceous ones that we had seen along the shores of England and France: gray to dark brown in color; nodule coated with a smooth opaque white crust; brittle; light brown inclusions; clean conchoidal fractures, with light-brown patina. Thin sections made from two of the nodules showed many small Foraminifera replaced with chalcedony, and abundant sponge spicules, replaced with quartz. Identification indicated that the planktonic Foraminifera, including heterohelix sp., are Late Cretaceous in age. The following information suggests that the nodules may have been left by Jacques Cartier who left Saint-Malo, France, with two ships each of 60-ton burden. Entering the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, he discovered Prince Edward Island on 30 June 1534 and explored the northern and northeastern shores. He had difficulty getting ashore in the Alberton area: “We could find no harbour for the shore is low and skirted with sandbanks where the water is shallow … We went ashore in longboats at a river [Canoe River]. The name Canoe River was given by Cartier to what is now Cascumpeque Bay. Because of the shoals he may well have unloaded some of the ballast from Saint-Malo to enable his ships to enter over the sand banks. When this procedure failed, he “lowered sails and lay to,” and went ashore in longboats.

Emery et al – European Cretacious Flints on the Coast of North America 1968

Here are some of those Bury Head flints which the geologists suggest might have come from one of Cartier’s ships. I collected them on June 17 1986. Am I holding a handful of the Saint Malo beach? Or is it flint from the Bay of Biscay?

My friend Earle Lockerby, who has a deep interest in the early history of PEI, suggested (personal communication September 1, 2019) that the flint could easily have come from a Basque ship and  sent me an article on the 1677 book of Piarres Detcheverry, a Basque adventurer who was in our region in the late 17th Century.


Who are the Basque People?

The Basque people emerged about 35,000 years ago during the Aurignacian period when Cro-Magnon man was displacing or blending with the Neanderthals. They may have been Celtic in origin but that is a topic actively discussed by scholars. They settled at the juncture of what is now France and Spain in the Bay of Biscay – which was named after them by the English. This is the area they now occupy after partial independence from Spain in 1978.


The Bay is noted for its violent winter storms and also as a haven for dolphins and whales. There seems to be evidence that whales were hunted as early as the Dark Ages. North Atlantic Right Wales were once plentiful there but were hunted nearly to extinction by the 1850s. The Bay is also famous for a number of famous sea battles over the ages.

The countryside quickly rises from the sea to higher regions where the capital is located today. The shore is rocky but there are sandy inlets and coves where rivers drain into the sea, providing ideal conditions for a maritime existence. This tourist photo from the internet gives an idea of the Atlantic landscape.

The Basques are typical of that part of Europe in that they experienced just about every major historical process that took place in that part of the world. Their prehistoric archaeology has evidence that they experienced the Gravettian, Solutrean and Magdalenian cultures and, along with the typical stone tools and weapons of these cultures they also produced cave art. They went on to experience the Copper, Bronze and Iron Ages and even were part of the Megalithic culture that produced huge stone monuments like Stonehenge, but more like what was found in France than Britain. In time they would be invaded by the Romans, Christianity would barely become established, and they would be invaded by the Muslims.

Charlemagne would include them in his Holy Roman Empire and before they were finally absorbed by the Spanish, they had an episode in the Middle Ages with the emerging French state.

A most important characteristic of the Basques is that they never seemed to dream of conquest and empire, like the rest of Europe. Of course they had an aristocracy and were ruled by the local nobility and generally, ruled long distance by greater powers. They seemed to have turned their face to the sea in the earliest times, and instead of empire building they concentrated on fishing cod and hunting whales. In early Mediaeval times they were already sending boats to the coasts of Ireland and Scotland and even beyond. Their empire was one based on fish and its sale to a Catholic fish-hungry Europe to feed their population on the great number of fasting days that dotted the liturgical year. They also provided huge quantities of the new commodity of whale oil, so useful for burning in lamps. This Wikipedia article gives a very nice summary of Basque whaling activities from earliest times to its decline.

The Basques became skilled at extracting and processing iron and early on they became great shipbuilders in those sandy inlets. They are even credited with having invented the rudder so that heavy sailing ships could be steered easily. They went farther and farther afield and it is possible that they reached the Gulf of Saint Lawrence hundreds of years before their presence is documented there. By the time Jacques Cartier claimed what is now Canada for France in 1534 the Basques had already had so much contact with the aboriginals that they had set up, working with them, a sort of new language so that they could communicate more easily. Cartier was surprised to hear what he was sure were Spanish words in the speech of the aboriginals he met. It was not the sort of thing he would want to report to the French king as he presented him with this new land – Terra Nova.

This map from the internet shows the extent of Basque fishing in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence in the 16th and 17th Centuries. It is based on a map by Gérard Galliene illustrating Les Basques dans l’estuaire du Saint-Laurent  by René Belanger, 1971, and no better copy is at present available.

Basque fishing stations have been discovered and excavated in Quebec and Newfoundland.  Archaeological finds have indicated that there were at least ten fishing stations in the Gulf. In Quebec there was Middle Bay and Blanc-Sablon and in Southern Labrador there are sites at Schooner Cove, West St. Modeste, East St. Modeste, Carrol Cove, Red Bay, Chateau Bay, Pleasure Harbour and Cape Charles.

Evidence for tryworks – the furnaces in which large iron pots called trypots were placed to reduce the whale oil – has been found and a major archaeological excavation by Judith A. Logan and James A. Tuck was conducted with valuable finds. It was published in the APT Bulletin, Vol. 22, No. 3 in 1990 as A Sixteenth Century Basque Whaling Port in Southern Labrador. It was the site of a 16th Century whaling port called “Butus”, now known as Red Bay in the Strait of Belle Isle in Labrador. It was possible to build a model of a tryworks from the rich evidence that was found in the boggy ground and this illustration is taken from the article.

A large cemetery was also found with several dozen well-preserved bodies and even colourful woolen clothing survived in the acidic ground. Here is a pdf file of the highly readable article.

Logan and Tuck – Basque

There have been other excavations that produced material that supported these findings and which, in all, has given us a very detailed view of what life in Basque fishing stations in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence was like. While there is a large body of legal documentary evidence in the Basque country about that aspect of the whaling industry, there is little physical evidence of what actually took place across the Atlantic. The Newfoundland finds have been of the greatest use and interest to Basque scholars.

An extraordinary find in a Basque archives has given us the first will made in Canada by a foreigner. On May 15, 1563, Domingo de Luca made a will while in Canada indicating that he wished to be buried in a Basque burial site in Placentia. It is a fascinating story and another instance of the intimacy with which we are able to relate to these travellers of so long ago with their highly-developed exploitation of the whale and all its parts in the waters of Canada.

While no archaeological finds relating to the Basques have been made on Prince Edward Island, we know that they were here in the 16th and 17th Centuries and probably had processing stations in Cascumpeque Bay, Malpeque Bay, New London Bay and Rustico. The following story tells a significant part of it.


Piarres Detcheverry and his Voyages to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence Cod Fisheries.

Earle Lockerby brought an article to my attention that was written by Laval scholar Brad Loewen and Miren Egaña Goya, and is called Le routier de Piarres Detcheverry, 1677. Un aperçu de la presence basque dans la baie des Chaleurs au XVIIe siècle.  Here is a pdf file of it.

Loewen and Goya – Routier de Piarres Detcheverry, 1677

The article, written in French, contains little information on Detcheverry and when I searched the internet for more I could find almost nothing except this Wikipedia article in the Basque language from which I extracted this information.

Piarres Detcheverry was a writer who wrote in the èuscar Basque dialect and was the first to publish a technical book in this language in 1677.

Little is known about his life. According to La Roncière (who wrote in 1904) he came from a family of ship outfitters from the fishing town of Donibane Lohizune (Saint-Jean-de-Luz) in the French-administered North Basque region of Iparralde.

His book was called Liburu Hau Da Ixasocoa Nabigacionecoa which translates as Book of Maritime Navigation and was printed at Bayonne in 1677. In it are precise descriptions of how to navigate the Basque coastline to Newfoundland by following the traditional routes of Basque fishermen in the cod fishery.

Detcheverry does not seem to mention the Island at all in his book. However it is the maps associated with his book at a later date that tell us he knew the Island well. Associated with his publication were two almost identical maps produced in 1689 and which are in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. In Version 1 of this map, shown here, the Island is identified as La terre de Bauchymicq and not as Ile Saint Jean.

Here is a detail of the Island with the various fishing posts clearly labelled.

c: doest – North Cape

caiscoupet – Cascumpeque

marpet – Malpeque

quymuybuecq – New London

bauchimicq – Rustico

la terre de bauchymicq – Ile St. Jean

It is interesting to note that bauchimicq/Rustico gives it name to the whole island.


Here is Version 2 from the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris which identifies four separate fishing stations on the North Shore of the Island. They are the same as in Version 1.

Detcheverry map 1689 – Bibl. Nat.

The Island is very clearly delineated in a crescent shape with a series of deeply-indented ports on the north shore. Four of the ports, and what may be North Cape, are clearly identified. Caiscoupec is Cascumpeque; Marpec is Malpecque; Guymuybuec is Petit-Havre, now New London Bay and Bauchimicq is Rustico.

In Version 1 of the map the Island is labelled as La terre de Bauchymicq, presumably an aboriginal name like the others on the map. For some reason bauchimicq/Rustico gives it name to the whole island. This name is curious in the light of the other aboriginal name we now believe to be the Island’s original name – Abegweit derived from Abahquit, meaning “parallel with the land,” or, more romantically, “cradled in the waves” (Rayburn, p 15). Were the aboriginals who named the Island Bauchymicq perhaps not Mi’kmaq? Obviously something has been lost along the way.

Loewen and Goya (p 141) say that that possibly these ports were fortified by the Basques following tensions with the French in 1623. This suggests a fairly long-term occupation of the Island by the Basque fishermen and maybe, if they have not long ago been eroded into the sea, there might be archaeological remains to be discovered. The Basque presence in Cascumpec Bay could account for some or all of the flint ballast in Bury Head.

Evidence for the tension with the Basques is to be found in this account by Samuel de Champlain who wrote of an incident on 16 July 1623:

On the same day [23 July 1623] also the pilot Doublet arrived [at the mouth of the Richelieu River in Canada] with five other men in a double pinnace, which came to St. John’s Island and Miscou, where the Sieur de la Ralde was engaged in fishing. He (Doublet) informed the Sieur de Caen that some Basques had retired to Saint John’s island, in order to put themselves in a condition of defence in case they were attacked, not being willing to recognise the commissions issued by his Majesty; and that they had seized a middling-sized vessel on which was one named Guers [Guérard?], who, the year before, had come to Tadoussac as I had mentioned above. They contented themselves with taking his trading goods, and let him go with his munitions and bronze cannons. (Champlain, p 101)

In the 1670s there was a lot of European activity in the vicinity of Prince Edward Island and Nicolas Denys provides us with an interesting description of the Island in his 1772 book, The Description and Natural History of the Coasts of North America (Acadia), which is full of useful information on the human and natural history of Acadia in the 17th Century.

… At eight or ten leagues therefrom (Brion and the Magdalen Islands) one meets with the Island Saint Jean, upon the route to Ile Percée. One passes in view of it [or not] according to the direction of the winds. It is necessary not to approach near to it, for all the coast on this side of the Bay is nothing but sand, which forms flats for more than a league out to sea.  This island has all of twenty-five or thirty leagues of length, and one league of breadth in the middle. It is almost the shape of a crescent, and pointed at the two ends. The side which is opposite the mainland is bordered with rocks. There are two coves, through which two rivers pass to discharge into the sea [Hillsborough Bay and Bedeque Bay]. Longboats are able to enter, for within are a kind of small harbours. On this side the woods are very fine. Such land as it has seems rather good. This island is covered with almost nothing but Firs mingled with some Beeches and Birches. On the side which faces the Great Bay there are also two harbours [probably Cascumpec and Richmond Bays], from which issue two little streams, but the entrances are very shallow, [though] there is water enough within. I once entered that which is nearest to the point of Micscou [Cascumpec Harbour]. I have seen there three large Basque vessels, but, in order to enter, it was necessary to discharge them of everything in the roadstead [nautical term for a temporary safe harbour], to carry everything on shore, and to leave only the ballast to sustain the vessel. Then it was necessary to lay her upon her side as though she was careened, then to tow her inside with the boats. They came out in the same manner, after which all the fish were taken to the roadstead for loading. One can no more go there at present, its entrances being closed up, and the risk too great. That which induced them to go there was the abundance of fish which exists on this coast … (pp. 207-208).

As a matter of interest Earle Lockerby also pointed out that years of activity in the Bury Head/Alberton area by settlers of the British Colonial period should be considered as another possible source for the Bury Head flint deposits. The story is no longer a simple romantic one, but a narrative involving several nations over hundreds of years.


The Island emerges as a Geographical Entity 

Cartier did not recognise us as an island, but others followed him and before the end of the Sixteenth Century maps were being produced that show us a reasonable image of Eastern Canada. This map of the Saint Lawrence river region made in Spain in the 16th century, perhaps in 1541 a few years before Cartier’s death, and preserved today at the Real Academia de la Historia, shows us, in the damaged lower right corner, what may be the first representation of Prince Edward Island ever. Ironically it is called (in Spanish Isola di Santiago) the Island of Saint James!

This detail shows you what is probably Prince Edward Island.


Champlain’s Maps

There are two engraved maps associated with the various editions of Champlain’s works. They are very finely done, as up to date as was possible at the time and full of human and natural history information. The one from 1612 is full of detail showing the appearance of some of the aboriginals and some beautiful examples of plants, seeds, and even a frog! The sea is filled with the customary creatures that had become a convention in earlier maps but there are no longer any sea monsters, but cod and animals seen in the region. It discards earlier verbal tradition fantasy and replaces it with actual observation.

It is so full of fascinating detail that I insert this pdf of a quite large photo of the map so you can study it at your pleasure.

Champlain – 1612 Map

You will no doubt have been shocked to see that in all this wealth of detail that strives to be based on real observation, the Island has been left out entirely!!! I have no idea how this happened. However in his later map of 1632 this has been rectified and the Island is where it should be.

It is a fine achievement for the times and provides much information of what was now known as New France. Ile Saint Jean is now present and we are gratified by this kind condescension. Here is a detail of it.

We are there, looking more or less as we should, but we are of such little interest to Champlain’s mapmaker that not a single place on the Island is identified!


French Missionaries and their Visions

There is another interesting map that I want to include in this collection, and it is by a French Recollet missionary, Emmanuel Jumeau. It is illustrated in the article by Loewen and Goya and appears to have been first published by Ganong in his 1897 A Monograph of the Cartography of the Province of New Brunswick. The map dates from 1685 and is rich with the kind of detail that would appeal to a priest with a Catholic focus, not that of an adventurer or coloniser. For example, the cartouche of the map contains an excited description of how Saint Croix Island was the site of a pre-European contact by God Himself who directed the aboriginals to erect wooden crosses all over the place. Even so, the map is filled with fascinating detail.

It is worth including a detail of the Island as he knew it, named almost exclusively with saints names which have not survived.


As we near the end of the 17th Century we see that the Island has clearly emerged as a geographical entity with a variety of place names given by individuals with particular nationalistic or religious interests. Most of these names would not survive. The detail on this very fine Venetian map by Coronelli – America Settentrionale Colle Nuove Scoperte fin all’ Anno 1688, which attempts to summarise all new discoveries made up to that date, has come a very long way in the past couple of generations of map-making.

Coronelli Map – Venice 1688

The maps of the 18th Century would continue to repeat forms and names from the past, and play havoc with the real shape of Ile Saint Jean until the great survey of Samuel Holland in 1764-65, when a new combination of latitude and longitude readings would produce the first accurate maps in the history of cartography. But that was still to come.

For the most part the early 18th Century mapmakers concentrated on illustrating the new shapes and boundaries of the Americas as explorers reported their findings based on more accurate astronomical observations, and included these more accurate measurements in their work.

I will conclude with this fine  map  by Edward Wells called A New Map of North America Shewing its Principal Divisions, Chief Cities, Townes, Rivers, Mountains &c. Dedicated to His Highness William Duke of Glocester [sic], published at Oxford in 1701. Wells prepared this map for geography scholars and incorporated all the up-to-date information about the New World he could find in the published works of the great European map-makers.

Except for California there was still no West Coast.

Edward Wells map – Oxford 1701

But finally we exist in a geographical context that we recognise!




I had never thought much about the Basque and had no idea that they had built, perhaps throughout many years, structures to accommodate the whale and cod fishery on the Island and to provide shelter to the generations of fisherman who worked on our shores. I am most grateful to Earle Lockerby who made me aware of this chapter in our history – a chapter much longer than I had realised.



Bakker P., “Basque Pidgin Vocabulary in European-Algonquian Trade Contacts,” Papers of the Nineteenth Algonquian Conference, ed. William Cowan, Carleton University, Ottawa, 1988.

Baxter, James Phinney, A Memoir of Jacques Cartier, Sieur de Limoilou, Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, 1906.

Cartier, Jacques, with a foreword by Ramsay Cook, The Voyages of Jacques Cartier, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1993.

Champlain, Samuel de, The Works of Samuel de Champlain, Volume 5, The Champlain Society, reprinted by the University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1971.

Denys, Nicolas, The Description and Natural History of the Coasts of North America (Acadia), 1672, Translated and edited with a memoir of the author, collateral documents, and a reprint of the original, by William F. Ganong Ph.D., The Champlain Society, Toronto, 1908.

Douglas, R., Place Names of Prince Edward Island with Meanings, F. C. Acland, Printer to the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, Ottawa, 1925.

Emery,K. O., C. A Kaye, D. H. Loring, D. J. G. Nota, “European Cretaceous Flints on the Coast of North America,” Science, June 14 1968, Vol. 160, pages 1225-1228.

Ganong, William F., A Monograph of the Cartography of the Province of New Brunswick, Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, Second Series 1897-98, Volume II, Section II, Ottawa, 1897.

Ganong, W. F., Crucial Maps in the Early Cartography and Place Nomenclature of the Atlantic Coast of Canada, University of Toronto Press and the Royal Society of Canada, Toronto, 1964, reprinted 2017.

Groulx, Abbé Lionel, La Découverte du Canada: Jacques Cartier, Librairie Granger Frères Limitée, Montréal, 1934.

Kershaw, Kenneth A., Early Printed Maps of Canada, Vol., 1 – 1540-1703, Kershaw Publishing, Star Communications, Hamilton, Ontario, 1993.

Loewen, Brad and Goya, Miren Egaña, “Le routier de Piarres Detcheverry, 1677. Un aperçu de la presence basque dans la baie des Chaleurs au XVIIe siècle,” Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française, Volume 68, Number 1-2, Summer–Fall 2014.

Rayburn, Alan, Geographical Names of Prince Edward Island, Surveys and Mapping Branch, Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, Ottawa, 1973.

Swift, Historical Maps of Canada, Prospero Books, 2001.

Thomson, Don W., Men and Meridians: The History of Surveying and Mapping in Canada, Volume 1 Prior to 1867, The Queen’s Printer, Ottawa, 1966.

Verrazzano, Giovanni da; translated by Joseph G. Cogswell, The Voyages of John de Verazzano along the Coast of North America, from Carolina to Newfoundland A.D. 1524, Cosimo Classics, New York, 2010.

Vincent, François, Les Voyages de Jacques Cartier: à la Découverte du Canada, Edled, Paris, 2006.

Wikipedia – Basque Country (autonomous community)

Wikipedia – History of the Basques

Wikipedia – History of Basque Whaling