In May of 1535, Cartier set sail from France with 3 ships, 110 men, Chief Donnacona's 2 sons Dom Agaya and Taignoagny (who Cartier had kidnapped the previous year), and instructions to find the Iroquoian villages of Stadacona and Hochelaga.
The route to Stadacona led Cartier into the St. Lawrence River, which would come to be Cartier's most significant discovery.
On September 7, Cartier arrived at l'Île d'Orléans near Stadacona (present-day Quebec). He was met by Chief Donnacona, who was relieved to see his sons, but the gifts from the French King were not enough to erase the reservations he felt following his sons' kidnappings.
With the chief's sons translating, Cartier asked about Hochelaga, but suspected the translations. It appeared as though Donnacona were discouraging any westward travel and was told that his sons would not be allowed to go unless Cartier left hostages. Shamans warned Cartier of the dangers and the 'devils' which lived to the west, but Cartier was not to be dissuaded. He assigned some men to remain and build a fort and continued to Hochelaga without native guides.
On October 2, 1535, Cartier landed on a large island which resembled that described by Chief Donnacona's sons, Dom Agaya and Taignoagny. Rowing to shore, Cartier soon found that the land had been cultivated with corn which, he had learned, would not grow in the wild. Nearby, at the base of a mountain, Cartier discovered the Iroquoian village of Hochelaga (present-day Montreal).
The Iroquoians were eager to meet with Cartier. Gifts were exchanged and a feast was arranged. During their discussions, Cartier was introduced to a cultivated plant which, when dried and pounded into small pieces, was then packed into 'pipes' and set alight. Cartier had discovered tobacco. He also found the natives accepting of Christianity and he felt that they could easily be converted.
Before returning to Stadacona, Cartier climbed the mountain which he named Mount Réal (Mount Royal), although it is unknown whether the name was given in honour of the King of France or from the sheer majesty of the mountain. From its summit, Cartier noted that he could see the land and river for many kilometres. He immediately realized that no enemy could approach without being seen. With such a view and potential defensibility, the mountain would be an ideal spot for settlement.
However, he could also see the impassable rapids at Lachine and realized that his hoped-for route to the Pacific had come to a disappointing end.
Jacques Cartier's second voyage almost came to a disappointing end when he became winter-bound in the New World.
First Voyage 1534 - First Encounters & Chief Donnacona
* Second Voyage 1535 - Stadacona & Hochelaga *
Second Voyage 1535 - Winter & Scurvy
Third Voyage 1541 - Settlement of Charlesbourg-Royal
Third Voyage 1541 - Failure, Retirement & Suspension