Although explorers such as John Cabot noted the gulf of the St. Lawrence River in the 15th century, the first European explorer to sail up the river itself was Jacques Cartier, with help from some local Iroquois. He misunderstood the Huron-Iroquois word for village, Kanata, and began to refer to the larger area north of the river as "Canada".
Explorers and fur traders opened up the territory. French settlements limited the westward expansion of the British, and before long they grew alarmed at the potential scope of French expansionism. The British and French clashed frequently in the colonies, and eventually the Seven Years' War broke out in 1755.