In addition to cartographic elements, descriptions of places and ethnographic observations, travel accounts often included a brief account of the flora and fauna. The earliest descriptions are approximate. Jacques Cartier often confused European and Canadian species. His particular interest in plants of economic value was shared by other explorers. They listed wood oils, plants with edible fruit or used by the Aboriginal population. All types of animals were of interest, but particularly those noted for their hides and pelts. Starting from the first voyages, specimens were brought back to Paris for the king's garden. In the 18th century, scientific knowledge was exchanged across the Atlantic: Michel Sarrazin, surgeon and naturalist, corresponded with the botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort; Jean-François Gaultier, king's doctor at Québec, corresponded with Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau. One of the Governors General of New France, Michel Barin de La Galissonière, was also a botanist and encouraged this type of research.

The Flora and Fauna
The great speckled loon from Newfoundland, 1735
CA ANC Peter Winkworth Collection R9266-2523