CHAPTER IV. THE SECOND VOYAGE - THE ST LAWRENCE
The expedition moved westward up the St Lawrence, the first week's sail bringing them as far as the Saguenay. On the way Cartier put in at Bic Islands, and christened them in honour of St John. Finding here but scanty shelter and a poor anchorage, he went on without further delay to the Saguenay, the mouth of which he reached on September 1. Here this great tributary river, fed from the streams and springs of the distant north, pours its mighty waters between majestic cliffs into the St Lawrence - truly an impressive sight. So vast is the flood that the great stream in its wider reaches shows a breadth of three miles, and in places the waters are charted as being more than eight hundred and seventy feet deep. Narrowing at its mouth, it enters the St Lawrence in an angry flood, shortly after passing the vast and frowning rocks of Cape Eternity and Cape Trinity, rising to a height of fifteen hundred feet. High up on the face of the cliffs, Cartier saw growing huge pine-trees that clung, earthless, to the naked rock. Four canoes danced in the foaming water at the river mouth: one of them made bold to approach the ships, and the words of Cartier's Indian interpreters so encouraged its occupants that they came on board. The canoes, so these Indians explained to Cartier, had come down from Canada to fish.
Cartier did not remain long at the Saguenay. On the next day, September 2, the ships resumed their ascent of the St Lawrence. The navigation at this point was by no means easy. The river here feels the full force of the tide, whose current twists and eddies among the great rocks that lie near the surface of the water. The ships lay at anchor that night off Hare Island. As they left their moorings, at dawn of the following day, they fell in with a great school of white whales disporting themselves in the river. Strange fish, indeed, these seemed to Cartier. 'They were headed like greyhounds,' he wrote, 'and were as white as snow, and were never before of any man seen or known.'
Four days more brought the voyagers to an island, a 'goodly and fertile spot covered with fine trees,' and among them so many filbert-trees that Cartier gave it the name Isle-aux-Coudres (the Isle of Filberts), which it still bears. On September 7 the vessels sailed about thirty miles beyond Isle-aux-Coudres, and came to a group of islands, one of which, extending for about twenty miles up the river, appeared so fertile and so densely covered with wild grapes hanging to the river's edge, that Cartier named it the Isle of Bacchus. He himself, however, afterwards altered the name to the Island of Orleans. These islands, so the savages said, marked the beginning of the country known as Canada.