Some Missing Pages: The Black Community in the History of Quebec and Canada
Unit 1: Exploring and Opening The New World
Mathieu DaCosta
(Mathieu DaCosta)
From: the Roy States Collection, McLennan Library, McGill University

MATTHEW DA COSTA (    -1607)

Linguist, Interpreter, Explorer and Pioneer.

Matthew Da Costa was aboard Jonas which left La Rochelle on May 13, 1606, for Canada (Acadia). Among the intrepid crew was Samuel Champlain, the "Father of Canada".

Da Costa's importance to the venture was partly a result of his linguistic skill, because he spoke and understood the languages used by the Indians in the Maritimes; as a consequence, he acted as Chaplain's interpreter. The fact that he could speak these tongues suggests most strongly that he must have been in Canada before this occasion.

He was a "well-educated and baptized Christian" as well as a charter member of Canada's oldest club, "The Order of Good Cheer."

Da Costa died during the winter of 1606-1607 in the little habitation which he helped to construct at Port Royal. Just as in the case of Jacques Cartier and Champlain, to take two examples, no one knows what Da Costa really looked like.


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