These were the voyages reserved for the privileged few; to sail across unknown seas to discover new, uncharted lands. Commissioned by kings, led by the learned and fueled by the brawn and courage of seafaring men, wooden vessels strikingly small and primitive compared to transportation modes of today, challenged the open seas in search of fortune and fame.
In 1534, Francois I commissioned Jacques Cartier to go to the New World to find gold and a passage to Asia; an expedition that was destined to write a milestone chapter in Canadian history.
Cartier was not the first. Others had come before, including Breton and Basque fishermen who were already frequenting the Gulf of St. Lawrence where Cartier was headed. But unlike his predecessors, Cartier engaged First Nations people extensively in trade, his journals providing the first detailed accounts of early encounters between these two vastly different worlds.
Cartier's trusted ships brought his expedition along the Labrador coast in the Strait of Belle Isle, down the western shore of Newfoundland to Miramichi and Chaleur Bays, and back to the Gaspe coast.
During his travels, Cartier interacted with the Micmac, Stadacona and Iroquois people. They were captivated by the knives, beads, combs and other iron goods the explorer traded, and the sheer size and seeming luxury of his floating fortresses must have left a powerful impression on the people Cartier welcomed aboard. Indeed, it was Cartier's voyage of 1534 that brought the first Iroquoian men across the Atlantic Ocean to experience the wonders of France first hand.
Item number: 108027
Face Value: 20 dollars
Composition: 99.99% pure silver
Weight (g): 31.39
Diameter (mm): 38
Its beautifully-crafted reverse design features a 16th-century Breton ship inspired by the Grande Hermine, Jacques Cartier's famous admiral ship that has come to symbolize his historic voyages.
Coin is encapsulated and presented in a maroon clamshell case lined with flock and protected by a black sleeve.