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Subject > Wars, Battles and Conflicts > Early History to 1603

Reconstructed earth and timber house at l’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland

Type: Image

This house was reconstructed in the style of those built by the Vikings at l’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland around the year 1000. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

The bay at l’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland

Type: Image

L’Anse aux Meadows was the site of a Viking settlement at around the year 1,000. The area is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

Mid-sixteenth century ship

Type: Image

This picture of a ship is engraved on a plank of the galleon San Juan, which sank in Red Bay, Labrador, in 1565. (Parks Canada)

Site: National Defence

Norman (or Viking) axeman, 10th century

Type: Image

This Norman (or Viking) axe man holds a Danish style battle axe. Vikings were also called ‘Norman’ — men of the north — by the Dark Ages French. A large group of Vikings occupied and settled on the north-western coast of France in what became Normandy. This is the region from which many of the French settlers to New France came in the 17th century. It is also where the Canadian Army landed on D-Day on 6 June 1944. Print after Viollet-Leduc from the Bayeux tapestry.

Site: National Defence

Viking ships, circa 1000

Type: Image

The sleek design of these ships made them the fastest, most seaworthy craft of their time. (Library of the Canadian Department of National Defence)

Site: National Defence

Spanish galleons in a North Atlantic storm, circa 1560s-1580s

Type: Image

The weather shown hitting these Spanish ships was encountered by the Basque whalers based in Labrador during the second half of the 16th century. Occasionally, ships were lost. One such was the San Juan, sunk in Red Bay, Labrador in 1565.

Site: National Defence

Jacques Cartier's ships at Brion, Iles-de-la-Madeleine, June 1534

Type: Image

The vessels of Cartier's expedition are dwarfed by the dramatic scenery at Brion, Iles-de-la-Madeleine.

Site: National Defence

Portuguese archer and, at left, a crossbowman, early 16th century

Type: Image

Archers and crossbowmen were commonly found on ships and in the early overseas settlements of the first half of the 16th century. Such soldiers were most likely part of the early Portuguese forays to Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island. (Museu de Arte Antiguo, Lisbon)

Site: National Defence

Jacques Cartier ordered cannon firings to impress the Indians

Type: Image

The Iroquois were surprised and fearful at first of Cartier's cannon, but their awe did not last very long.

Site: National Defence

Sir Humphrey Gilbert cutting the first sod in Newfoundland in August 1583

Type: Image

Sir Humphrey Gilbert's British colony on Newfoundland failed partially because the colonists were more anxious to find silver mines than to plant crops. On 5 August 1583, Sir Humphrey claimed the island in a ceremony that involved his holding a twig of a hazel tree and a sod of earth. That winter, the explorer sailed back to England and was lost at sea when his ship sank in a storm.

Site: National Defence