Although the Vikings are credited as the first Europeans to land in Canada or North America, it was the french who were the first to set up a lasting settlement. Around 1000 AD, Leif Ericsson, the Norse explorer, landed at L’Anse Aux Meadows in the province of Newfoundland. People say that the Vikings went home after briefly setting up a settlement, but have you ever heard of a First Nations person with blond hair? My husband is a barber by trade. He was cutting a mans hair who appeared to be First Nations but had blond hair. He was looking for his dark roots and didn’t find any. He asked him if it was his real hair. He responded, yes, he was an Indian and it was his natural hair. ‘Must’ve been a viking in my ancestry, eh?’ He was from eastern Canada. hhhmmm
L’Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland
Four hundred years later the western countries of Europe started sending out explorers to find a passage to Asia. While Spain was busy with their lands in the Caribbean, England and France were sending their ships to the north. First to arrive was John Cabot in 1497, an Italian, sailing for Henry the VIII of England. He probably landed in Newfoundland and he reported back about loads of fish. Soon the Portuguese, Spaniards, French and Irish were there to fish cod. The Basque whalers were the first to open an industrial station at Red Bay in Labrador to process whale oil, which was in high demand in Europe. The next explorer to come to Canada was Jaques Cartier in 1534. He established a post at the Iroquois village of Stadacona, later to become Quebec City. In 1541 he attempted to start a new colony, but after a year of hardships the survivors returned to France.
In 1599 Nicholas Marsolet, my 8th great grandfather, became an interpreter for the court of King of France, Henry IV.
Around 1613 Nicholas went to Quebec and stayed at the trading post Tadoussac. He worked with the native Indian populations, such as the Montagnais and Iroquois and acted as interpreter for the Jesuits who were trying to evangelize them.
After many years working in Tadoussac, he settled in Quebec City, married, and had ten children. His daughter Louise Marsolet married Pierre Lemire and they are my great grandmother’s ancestors.
My father was born in Quebec in the eastern townships. These townships were mostly English speaking when he lived there in the 30s and 40s. They lived in Minton, Quebec near the city of Sherbrooke.
In 1946 they decided to go west. They packed everything into a big truck and drove non-stop to B.C. My grandmother’s sister had already moved to Summerland B.C. in the early 1900s. They were fairly early pioneers of the small community. I have to say I’m thankful my father made the trip to the west. I think Quebec is a great place, but I’m happy to be from B.C.
Here are some pictures from the Austin’s home and other areas of Summerland, B.C.
Links for further information on Quebec, Newfoundland, Nicholas Marsolet, Canada’s page for explorers, Jaques Cartier, old paddle wheeler ships, and Summerland.