Because the Indigenous peoples in our region did not have writing, we know almost nothing about the personal history of individuals around 1500.

The name of one man has been passed down to us, however, through the written testimony of French explorer, Jacques Cartier, who met him in 1534. This man was Donnacona. He was the chief of Stadacona (today Québec City), a village of about 500 people. He allowed two of his sons, Domagaya and Taignoagny, to accompany Jacques Cartier back to France.

Jacques Cartier brought back Donnacona’s two sons during his second voyage to New France in 1535, and spent the winter near Stadacona. Cartier and some of his crew were saved from scurvy thanks to the chief, who knew of a remedy.

But this did not stop Jacques Cartier from capturing Chief Donnacona, his two sons and six other Iroquoians, and taking them back to France. There, Donnacona met King Francis I and told him of the riches of his country. His words encouraged the French to pursue their explorations. But the chief would never return to Stadacona. He died in France around 1539.

If you look at a map, you will see that there is a town near Québec City called Donnacona.

Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social

See also:
The voyages of Jacques Cartier: 1534 – 1542


Important concepts and big ideas:

Chief – Chef
Social Structure
Power structure


*Stadacona – Name given to Quebec City at the time of Jacque Cartier
– A sickness caused by not enough vitamin C and not eating fresh foods.