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Exploring the Explorers

Welcome to “Exploring the Explorers.” We are pleased to offer teachers and students these free educational resources, which are based on the biographies of the explorers Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography/Dictionnaire biographique du Canada. We hope that this material will be useful as you prepare lessons and activities for classes in history and social science, as well as for other subjects, such as geography, language arts, French as a second language, visual arts, music, health and physical education, science, and mathematics.

“Exploring the Explorers” is intended to teach students to think critically, to examine and interpret facts about people and events in Canadian history, and to learn the difference between primary and secondary sources. The DCB/DBC is grateful to Mairi Cowan, a faculty member in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Toronto Mississauga, who developed these resources with the assistance of undergraduate history students Manisha Brahma and Shameran Zaya. We also thank Scott Pollock, a history teacher at St Mildred’s-Lightbourn School in Oakville, Ont., for reviewing a draft of the materials.

In consultation with the DCB/DBC, Dr Cowan and her student assistants did a study of curriculum expectations in all provinces and territories. Because lessons on explorers are taught at various levels in Canadian schools, a range of age-appropriate exercises and projects is suggested; they can be tailored by teachers as needed. Optional extensions based on the lives of these explorers and life in early Canada are also included for teachers of subjects other than history and social science.

For instructions and to access the materials, please click on the links below:

Exploring the Explorers: Jacques Cartier

Exploring the Explorers: Samuel de Champlain (new version forthcoming)


We value your feedback about ways to improve these materials. We therefore invite you to complete our brief survey; your answers will be greatly appreciated. If you prefer, please send an e-mail to dcb.admin@utoronto.ca (subject line: Exploring the Explorers) with your comments and suggestions.

We wish you and your students happy exploring!


Réal Bélanger                                                                          David A. Wilson

Directeur général adjoint                                                   General Editor