16 April

Roberval's Shield

Roberval Sent to Canada

On January 15, the story was told of how King Francis I downgraded Jacques Cartier and made the Marquis de Roberval viceroy of New France. Roberval did not leave for Canada until April 16, 1542. He had three ships, and several hundred colonists, some of whom were useful, but most were hardened convicts who were taken on board in chains.

It was a terrible winter in Quebec. There was a scarcity of food and the convicts were difficult to control. There were fights and thefts, and Roberval had to hang one of the men, keep others in chains and even flog some of the women. Many of the party died of scurvy. Roberval went back to France soon after the ice broke in the river and he and Cartier had to appear before a court of enquiry. Eventually, the king forgave them for their quarrel.

There is a legend about Roberval's voyage to Canada that may be true. His niece, Marguerite, was in one of the ships and fell in love with one of the men. There was so much talk about their behaviour that Roberval put Marguerite ashore on an island off Newfoundland, called the Isle of Demons. It was avoided by ships because it was supposed to have been inhabited by evil spirits.

Roberval left Marguerite and her old nurse Bastienne on the island, with four muskets and a supply of gunpowder. Marguerite's lover jumped off the ship and swam ashore to join them. Eventually they had a baby, but all of them died except Marguerite who lived alone for two years. It is said that she shot three polar bears and was never afraid of the demons who screamed at her through the strong winds.

One day, a fishing vessel was brave enough to sail close to the island and its crew was amazed to see a woman waving to them. She was dressed in skins. They took her off the island and sailed back to France where she told her fantastic story.


16 April

-1739    La Vérendrye sent his sons to explore the rivers flowing into Lake Winnipeg. 1833 English-speaking residents of Quebec protested the proceedings in the Assembly.

-1853   Toronto Locomotive Works completed the Toronto, the first locomotive built in Canada.

-1856   Governor Douglas announced that gold had been discovered in British Columbia.

-1874   Louis Riel was expelled from the House of Commons by a vote of 123 to 68.

            The Guelph Agricultural College and Experimental Farm was opened.

-1903  Canada raised the tariff on imports from Germany in retaliation for a similar move by Germany.