History of Canada

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1497 Jun 24

Cabot discovers Newfoundland

Cape Bonavista, Newfoundland a

Under letters patent from King Henry VII of England, the Genoese navigator John Cabot became the first European known to have landed in Canada after the Viking Age claiming the land for England by the Doctrine of discovery. Records indicate that on June 24, 1497, he sighted land at a northern location believed to be somewhere in the Atlantic provinces. Official tradition deemed the first landing site to be at Cape Bonavista, Newfoundland, although other locations are possible. After 1497 Cabot and his son Sebastian Cabot continued to make other voyages to find the Northwest Passage, and other explorers continued to sail out of England to the New World, although the details of these voyages are not well recorded.

Cabot is reported to have landed only once during the expedition and did not advance "beyond the shooting distance of a crossbow". Pasqualigo and Day both state that the expedition made no contact with any native people; the crew found the remains of a fire, a human trail, nets, and a wooden tool. The crew appeared to have remained on land just long enough to take on fresh water; they also raised the Venetian and Papal banners, claiming the land for the King of England and recognising the religious authority of the Roman Catholic Church. After this landing, Cabot spent some weeks "discovering the coast", with most "discovered after turning back".

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Last Updated: Sun Jan 28 2024