On June 9, 1534, French navigator, Jacques Cartier is the first European explorer to discover the St. Lawrence River which is in present-day Quebec, Canada.
King Francis I of France commissioned Cartier to explore the northern American lands in search of riches and a Northwest Passage to Asia. Cartier entered the Gulf of St. Lawrence by the Strait of Belle Isle, explored its barren north coast for a distance, and then traveled down the west shore of Newfoundland to Cape Anguille. From there, he discovered Magdalen and Prince Edward islands, explored Chaleur Bay, and claimed Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula for France. He then discovered the inlet of the St. Lawrence River, sailed north to Anticosti Island, and then returned to Europe.