Carving Up the Continent
The Spanish, French, Dutch, British and the Russians began exploring and establishing colonies on the North American Continent. While the Spanish found silver and gold in South America, the other European powers continued to search for a passage through the continent to the Pacific Ocean and China.
The French colonized northern part of the continent from Newfoundland to the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi valley to the Gulf of Mexico. Canada was one of the six French colonies that made up New France.
When the first Intendant (administrator) of New France, Jean Talon, heard reports of a great river running through the heart of the continent, he hoped it would be the fabled “Northwest Passage”. In 1673 he ordered a young fur trader to explore the river.