Samuel de Champlain

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Samuel de Champlain
Detail from "Deffaite des Yroquois au Lac de Champlain," Champlain Voyages (1613). This self-portrait is the only surviving contemporary likeness of the explorer. [1]
Samuel Champlain

August 13, 1567 [2]
Brouage or La Rochelle, France
DiedDecember 25, 1635(1635-12-25) (aged 61)
Other names"The Father Of New France"
Occupation Navigator, cartographer, soldier, explorer, administrator and chronicler of New France
Hélène Boullé (m. 1610)
Samuel de Champlain (signature).svg

Samuel de Champlain (French pronunciation:  [samyɛl də ʃɑ̃plɛ̃] ) (about August 13, 1567 [2] [Note 1] [Note 2] – December 25, 1635) was a French colonist, navigator, cartographer, draftsman, soldier, explorer, geographer, ethnologist, diplomat, and chronicler. He made between 21 and 29 trips across the Atlantic Ocean, [3] and founded New France and Quebec City, on July 3, 1608. An important figure in Canadian history, Champlain created the first accurate coastal map during his explorations, and founded various colonial settlements.

Quebec City Provincial capital city in Quebec, Canada

Quebec City, officially Québec, is the capital city of the Canadian province of Quebec. The city had a population estimate of 531,902 in July 2016, and the metropolitan area had a population of 800,296 in July 2016, making it the second largest city in Quebec after Montreal, and the seventh largest metropolitan area and eleventh largest city in the country.


Born into a family of mariners, Champlain began exploring North America in 1603, under the guidance of his uncle, François Gravé Du Pont. [4] [5] From 1604 to 1607, he participated in the exploration and settlement of the first permanent European settlement north of Florida, Port Royal, Acadia (1605), as well as the first European settlement that would become Saint John, New Brunswick (1604). In 1608, he established the French settlement that is now Quebec City, Canada. [Note 3] Champlain was the first European to describe the Great Lakes, and published maps of his journeys and accounts of what he learned from the natives and the French living among the Natives. He formed relationships with local Montagnais and Innu, and, later, with others farther west — tribes of the (Ottawa River, Lake Nipissing, and Georgian Bay), and with Algonquin and Wendat; he also agreed to provide assistance in the Beaver Wars against the Iroquois.

North America Continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere

North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.

François Gravé, said Du Pont, was a Breton navigator, an early fur trader and explorer in the New World.

Acadia colony of New France in northeastern North America

Acadia was a colony of New France in northeastern North America that included parts of eastern Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and modern-day Maine to the Kennebec River. During much of the 17th and early 18th centuries, Norridgewock on the Kennebec River and Castine at the end of the Penobscot River were the southernmost settlements of Acadia. The actual specification by the French government for the territory refers to lands bordering the Atlantic coast, roughly between the 40th and 46th parallels. Later, the territory was divided into the British colonies that became Canadian provinces and American states. The population of Acadia included the various indigenous First Nations peoples that comprised the Wabanaki Confederacy and descendants of emigrants from France. The two communities intermarried, which resulted in a significant portion of the population of Acadia being Métis.

In 1620, Louis XIII of France ordered Champlain to cease exploration, return to Quebec, and devote himself to the administration of the country. [Note 4] In every way but formal title, Samuel de Champlain served as Governor of New France, a title that may have been formally unavailable to him owing to his non-noble status. [Note 5] He established trading companies that sent goods, primarily fur, to France, and oversaw the growth of New France in the St. Lawrence River valley until his death, in 1635.

Louis XIII of France King of France and Navarra 1610-1643

Louis XIII was a monarch of the House of Bourbon who was King of France from 1610 to 1643 and King of Navarre from 1610 to 1620, when the crown of Navarre was merged with the French crown.

The Governor of New France was the viceroy of the King of France in North America. A French noble, he was appointed to govern the colonies of New France, which included Canada, Acadia and Louisiana. The residence of the Governor was at the Chateau St-Louis in the capital of Quebec City. Acadia, Louisiana, and the towns of Trois-Rivières and Montreal had their own particular governors.

Champlain is memorialized as the "Father of New France" and "Father of Acadia", with many places, streets, and structures in northeastern North America bearing his name, most notably Lake Champlain.

Lake Champlain lake in New York, Vermont and Quebec

Lake Champlain is a natural freshwater lake in North America mainly within the borders of the United States but partially situated across the Canada–U.S. border, in the Canadian province of Quebec.

Birth year, location and family

Inauthentic depiction of Champlain,
by Theophile Hamel (1870),
after the one by Ducornet (d. 1856),
based on a portrait of Michel Particelli d'Emery (d. 1650)
by Balthasar Moncornet (d. 1668).
-- No authentic portrait of Champlain is known to exist. Samuel-de-champlain-s.jpg
Inauthentic depiction of Champlain,
by Théophile Hamel (1870),
after the one by Ducornet (d.  1856),
based on a portrait of Michel Particelli d'Emery (d. 1650)
by Balthasar Moncornet (d.  1668).
— No authentic portrait of Champlain is known to exist.

Champlain was born to Antoine Champlain (also written "Anthoine Chappelain" in some records) and Marguerite Le Roy, in either Hiers-Brouage, or the port city of La Rochelle, in the French province of Aunis. He was born on or before August 13, 1574, according to a recent baptism record found by Jean-Marie Germe, French genealogist. [2] [Note 1] [7] Although in 1870, the Canadian Catholic priest Laverdière, in the first chapter of his Œuvres de Champlain, accepted Pierre-Damien Rainguet's [8] estimate and tried to justify it, his calculations were based on assumptions now believed, or proven, to be incorrect. Although Léopold Delayant (member, secretary, then president of l'Académie des belles-lettres, sciences et arts de La Rochelle) wrote as early as 1867 that Rainguet's estimate was wrong, the books of Rainguet and Laverdière have had a significant influence. The 1567 date was carved on numerous monuments dedicated to Champlain and is widely regarded as accurate. In the first half of the 20th century, some authors disagreed, choosing 1570 or 1575 instead of 1567. In 1978 Jean Liebel published groundbreaking research about these estimates of Champlain's birth year and concluded, "Samuel Champlain was born about 1580 in Brouage, France." [9] Liebel asserts that some authors, including the Catholic priests Rainguet and Laverdière, preferred years when Brouage was under Catholic control (which include 1567, 1570, and 1575). [10] Champlain claimed to be from Brouage in the title of his 1603 book and to be Saintongeois in the title of his second book (1613). He belonged to either a Protestant family, or a tolerant Roman Catholic one, since Brouage was most of the time a Catholic city in a Protestant region, and his Old Testament first name (Samuel) was not usually given to Catholic children. [Note 6] [Note 7] The exact location of his birth is thus also not known with certainty, but at the time of his birth his parents were living in Brouage. [Note 8]

Hiers-Brouage Part of Marennes-Hiers-Brouage in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Hiers-Brouage is a former commune in the Charente-Maritime department in southwestern France. On 1 January 2019, it was merged into the new commune Marennes-Hiers-Brouage.

La Rochelle Prefecture and commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

La Rochelle is a city in western France and a seaport on the Bay of Biscay, a part of the Atlantic Ocean. It is the capital of the Charente-Maritime department.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.0 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Sir Sandford Fleming Park, Halifax, Nova Scotia - Stone from Samuel de Champlain's birthplace in Brouage, France (1574) ChamplianStoneDingleTowerHalifaxNovaScotia.jpg
Sir Sandford Fleming Park, Halifax, Nova Scotia – Stone from Samuel de Champlain's birthplace in Brouage, France (1574)

Born into a family of mariners (both his father and uncle-in-law were sailors, or navigators), Samuel Champlain learned to navigate, draw, make nautical charts, and write practical reports. His education did not include Ancient Greek or Latin, so he did not read or learn from any ancient literature. As each French fleet had to assure its own defense at sea, Champlain sought to learn to fight with the firearms of his time: he acquired this practical knowledge when serving with the army of King Henry IV during the later stages of France's religious wars in Brittany from 1594 or 1595 to 1598, beginning as a quartermaster responsible for the feeding and care of horses. During this time he claimed to go on a "certain secret voyage" for the king, [11] and saw combat (including maybe the Siege of Fort Crozon, at the end of 1594). [12] By 1597 he was a "capitaine d'une compagnie" serving in a garrison near Quimper. [12]

Nautical chart topographic map of a maritime area and adjacent coastal regions

A nautical chart is a graphic representation of a sea area and adjacent coastal regions. Depending on the scale of the chart, it may show depths of water and heights of land, natural features of the seabed, details of the coastline, navigational hazards, locations of natural and human-made aids to navigation, information on tides and currents, local details of the Earth's magnetic field, and human-made structures such as harbours, buildings and bridges. Nautical charts are essential tools for marine navigation; many countries require vessels, especially commercial ships, to carry them. Nautical charting may take the form of charts printed on paper or computerized electronic navigational charts. Recent technologies have made available paper charts which are printed "on demand" with cartographic data that has been downloaded to the commercial printing company as recently as the night before printing. With each daily download, critical data such as Local Notices to Mariners are added to the on-demand chart files so that these charts are up to date at the time of printing.

Ancient Greek Version of the Greek language used from roughly the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE

The Ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, and Hellenistic period. It is antedated in the second millennium BCE by Mycenaean Greek and succeeded by medieval Greek.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Early travels

Champlain and guide in Isle La Motte, Vermont, at the site Champlain is said to have first set foot in Vermont (and encamped) in 1609. Lake Champlain is in the background. (Sculptor E.L.Weber, 1967; Photo by Matt Wills, 2009) SamuelDeChamplainStatueILMVT.JPG
Champlain and guide in Isle La Motte, Vermont, at the site Champlain is said to have first set foot in Vermont (and encamped) in 1609. Lake Champlain is in the background. (Sculptor E.L.Weber, 1967; Photo by Matt Wills, 2009)

In 1598, his uncle-in-law, a navigator whose ship Saint-Julien was chartered to transport Spanish troops to Cádiz pursuant to the Treaty of Vervins, gave Champlain the opportunity to accompany him. After a difficult passage, he spent some time in Cadiz before his uncle, whose ship was then chartered to accompany a large Spanish fleet to the West Indies, again offered him a place on the ship. His uncle, who gave command of the ship to Jeronimo de Valaebrera, instructed the young Champlain to watch over the ship. [14] This journey lasted two years, and gave Champlain the opportunity to see or hear about Spanish holdings from the Caribbean to Mexico City. Along the way he took detailed notes, and wrote an illustrated report on what he learned on this trip, and gave this secret report to King Henry, [Note 9] who rewarded Champlain with an annual pension. This report was published for the first time in 1870, by Laverdière, as Brief Discours des Choses plus remarquables que Sammuel Champlain de Brouage a reconneues aux Indes Occidentalles au voiage qu'il en a faict en icettes en l'année 1599 et en l'année 1601, comme ensuite (and in English as Narrative of a Voyage to the West Indies and Mexico 1599–1602). The authenticity of this account as a work written by Champlain has frequently been questioned, due to inaccuracies and discrepancies with other sources on a number of points; however, recent scholarship indicates that the work probably was authored by Champlain. [Note 10]

On Champlain's return to Cadiz in August 1600, his uncle, who had fallen ill, asked him to look after his business affairs. This Champlain did, and when his uncle died in June 1601, Champlain inherited his substantial estate. It included an estate near La Rochelle, commercial properties in Spain, and a 150-ton merchant ship. [15] This inheritance, combined with the king's annual pension, gave the young explorer a great deal of independence, as he was not dependent on the financial backing of merchants and other investors. [16] From 1601 to 1603 Champlain served as a geographer in the court of King Henry IV. As part of his duties he traveled to French ports and learned much about North America from the fishermen that seasonally traveled to coastal areas from Nantucket to Newfoundland to capitalize on the rich fishing grounds there. He also made a study of previous French failures at colonization in the area, including that of Pierre de Chauvin at Tadoussac. [17] When Chauvin forfeited his monopoly on fur trade in North America in 1602, responsibility for renewing the trade was given to Aymar de Chaste. Champlain approached de Chaste about a position on the first voyage, which he received with the king's assent. [18]

Champlain's first trip to North America was as an observer on a fur-trading expedition led by François Gravé Du Pont. Du Pont was a navigator and merchant who had been a ship's captain on Chauvin's expedition, and with whom Champlain established a firm lifelong friendship. He educated Champlain about navigation in North America, including the Saint Lawrence River, and in dealing with the natives there (and in Acadia after). [4] The Bonne-Renommée (the Good Fame) arrived at Tadoussac on March 15, 1603. Champlain was anxious to see for himself all of the places that Jacques Cartier had seen and described about sixty years earlier, and wanted to go even further than Cartier, if possible. Champlain created a map of the Saint Lawrence on this trip and, after his return to France on September 20, published an account as Des Sauvages: ou voyage de Samuel Champlain, de Brouages, faite en la France nouvelle l'an 1603 ("Concerning the Savages: or travels of Samuel Champlain of Brouages, made in New France in the year 1603"). [Note 11] Included in his account were meetings with Begourat, a chief of the Montagnais at Tadoussac, in which positive relationships were established between the French and the many Montagnais gathered there, with some Algonquin friends.

Promising to King Henry to report on further discoveries, Champlain joined a second expedition to New France in the spring of 1604. This trip, once again an exploratory journey without women and children, lasted several years, and focused on areas south of the St. Lawrence River, in what later became known as Acadia. It was led by Pierre Dugua de Mons, a noble and Protestant merchant who had been given a fur trading monopoly in New France by the king. Dugua asked Champlain to find a site for winter settlement. After exploring possible sites in the Bay of Fundy, Champlain selected Saint Croix Island in the St. Croix River as the site of the expedition's first winter settlement. After enduring a harsh winter on the island the settlement was relocated across the bay where they established Port Royal. Until 1607, Champlain used that site as his base, while he explored the Atlantic coast. Dugua was forced to leave the settlement for France in September 1605, because he learned that his monopoly was at risk. His monopoly was rescinded by the king in July 1607 under pressure from other merchants and proponents of free trade, leading to the abandonment of the settlement.

In 1605 and 1606, Champlain explored the North American coast as far south as Cape Cod, searching for sites for a permanent settlement. Minor skirmishes with the resident Nausets dissuaded him from the idea of establishing one near present-day Chatham, Massachusetts. He named the area Mallebar ("bad bar"). [19] [20]

Founding of Quebec City

Plaque in Honfleur commemorating Champlain's departures Plaque commemorative samuel de champlain honfleur.jpg
Plaque in Honfleur commemorating Champlain's departures
Painting by George Agnew Reid, done for the third centennial (1908), showing the arrival of Samuel de Champlain on the site of Quebec City. Samuel de Champlain arrive a Quebec - George Agnew Reid - 1909.jpg
Painting by George Agnew Reid, done for the third centennial (1908), showing the arrival of Samuel de Champlain on the site of Quebec City.

In the spring of 1608, Dugua wanted Champlain to start a new French colony and fur trading center on the shores of the St. Lawrence. Dugua equipped, at his own expense, a fleet of three ships with workers, that left the French port of Honfleur. The main ship, called the Don-de-Dieu (French for the Gift of God), was commanded by Champlain. Another ship, the Lévrier (the Hunt Dog), was commanded by his friend Du Pont. The small group of male settlers arrived at Tadoussac on the lower St. Lawrence in June. Because of the dangerous strength of the Saguenay River ending there, they left the ships and continued up the "Big River" in small boats bringing the men and the materials. [Note 12] [ citation needed ]

On July 3, 1608, Champlain landed at the "point of Quebec" and set about fortifying the area by the erection of three main wooden buildings, each two stories tall, that he collectively called the "Habitation", with a wooden stockade and a moat 12 feet (4 m) wide surrounding them. This was the very beginning of Quebec City. Gardening, exploring, and fortifying this place became great passions of Champlain for the rest of his life.[ citation needed ]

In the 1620s, the Habitation at Quebec was mainly a store for the Compagnie des Marchands (Traders Company), and Champlain lived in the wooden Fort Saint Louis newly built up the hill (south from the present-day Château Frontenac hotel), near the only two houses built by the two settler families (the ones of Louis Hébert and Guillaume Couillard, his son-in-law).[ citation needed ]


One route Champlain may have chosen to improve his access to the court of the regent was his decision to enter into marriage with the twelve-year-old Hélène Boullé. She was the daughter of Nicolas Boullé, a man charged with carrying out royal decisions at court. The marriage contract was signed on December 27, 1610 in presence of Dugua, who had dealt with the father, and the couple was married three days later. The terms of the contract called for the marriage to be consummated two years later. [21]

Champlain's marriage was initially quite troubled, as Hélène rallied against joining him in August 1613. Their relationship, while it apparently lacked any physical connection, recovered and was apparently good for many years. [22] Hélène lived in Quebec for several years, [23] but returned to Paris and eventually decided to enter a convent. The couple had no children, although Champlain did adopt three Montagnais girls named Faith, Hope, and Charity in the winter of 1627–28. [24]

Relations and war with Native Americans

Engraving based on a drawing by Champlain of his 1609 voyage. It depicts a battle between Iroquois and Algonquian tribes near Lake Champlain DefeatOfIroquoisByChamplain.jpeg
Engraving based on a drawing by Champlain of his 1609 voyage. It depicts a battle between Iroquois and Algonquian tribes near Lake Champlain

During the summer of 1609, Champlain attempted to form better relations with the local native tribes. He made alliances with the Wendat (derogatorily called Huron by the French) and with the Algonquin, the Montagnais and the Etchemin, who lived in the area of the St. Lawrence River. These tribes demanded that Champlain help them in their war against the Iroquois, who lived farther south. Champlain set off with nine French soldiers and 300 natives to explore the Rivière des Iroquois (now known as the Richelieu River), and became the first European to map Lake Champlain. Having had no encounters with the Haudenosaunee at this point many of the men headed back, leaving Champlain with only 2 Frenchmen and 60 natives.

On July 29, somewhere in the area near Ticonderoga and Crown Point, New York (historians are not sure which of these two places, but Fort Ticonderoga historians claim that it occurred near its site), Champlain and his party encountered a group of Haudenosaunee. In a battle that began the next day, two hundred and fifty Haudenosaunee advanced on Champlain's position, and one of his guides pointed out the three chiefs. In his account of the battle, Champlain recounts firing his arquebus and killing two of them with a single shot, after which one of his men killed the third. The Haudenosaunee turned and fled. This action set the tone for poor French-Iroquois relations for the rest of the century. [Note 13]

The Battle of Sorel occurred on June 19, 1610, with Samuel de Champlain supported by the Kingdom of France and his allies, the Wendat people, Algonquin people and Innu people against the Mohawk people in New France at present-day Sorel-Tracy, Quebec. Champlain's forces armed with the arquebus engaged and slaughtered or captured nearly all of the Mohawks. The battle ended major hostilities with the Mohawks for twenty years. [25]

Exploration of New France

Chaleur Bay and Gulf of Saint Lawrence -- extract of Champlain 1612 map Baie des Chaleurs 1612.PNG
Chaleur Bay and Gulf of Saint Lawrence — extract of Champlain 1612 map

On March 29, 1613, arriving back in New France, he first ensured that his new royal commission be proclaimed. Champlain set out on May 27 to continue his exploration of the Huron country and in hopes of finding the "northern sea" he had heard about (probably Hudson Bay). He traveled the Ottawa River, later giving the first description of this area. [Note 14] Along the way, he apparently dropped or left behind a cache of silver cups, copper kettles, and a brass astrolabe dated 1603 (Champlain's Astrolabe), which was later found by a farm boy named Edward Lee near Cobden, Ontario. [26] It was in June that he met with Tessouat, the Algonquin chief of Allumettes Island, and offered to build the tribe a fort if they were to move from the area they occupied, with its poor soil, to the locality of the Lachine Rapids. [20]

By August 26, Champlain was back in Saint-Malo. There, he wrote an account of his life from 1604 to 1612 and his journey up the Ottawa river, his Voyages [27] and published another map of New France. In 1614, he formed the "Compagnie des Marchands de Rouen et de Saint-Malo" and "Compagnie de Champlain", which bound the Rouen and Saint-Malo merchants for eleven years. He returned to New France in the spring of 1615 with four Recollects in order to further religious life in the new colony. The Roman Catholic Church was eventually given en seigneurie large and valuable tracts of land, estimated at nearly 30% of all the lands granted by the French Crown in New France. [28]

In 1615, Champlain reunited with Étienne Brûlé, his capable interpreter, following separate four-year explorations. There, Brûlé reported North American explorations, including that he had been joined by another French interpreter named Grenolle with whom he had travelled along the north shore of la mer douce (the calm sea), now known as Lake Huron, to the great rapids of Sault Ste. Marie, where Lake Superior enters Lake Huron, some of which was recorded by Champlain. [29] [30]

Champlain continued to work to improve relations with the natives, promising to help them in their struggles against the Iroquois. With his native guides, he explored further up the Ottawa River and reached Lake Nipissing. He then followed the French River until he reached Lake Huron. [31]

In 1615, Champlain was escorted through the area that is now Peterborough, Ontario by a group of Wendat. He used the ancient portage between Chemong Lake and Little Lake (now Chemong Road) and stayed for a short period of time near what is now Bridgenorth. [32]

Military expedition

Samuel de Champlain, Nepean Point, Ottawa by Hamilton MacCarthy Champlain statue, Nepean Point, Ottawa.jpg
Samuel de Champlain, Nepean Point, Ottawa by Hamilton MacCarthy

On September 1, 1615, at Cahiagué (a Wendat community on what is now called Lake Simcoe), he and the northern tribes started a military expedition against the Iroquois. The party passed Lake Ontario at its eastern tip where they hid their canoes and continued their journey by land. They followed the Oneida River until they arrived at the main Onondaga fort on October 10. The exact location of this place is still a matter of debate. Although the traditional location, Nichols Pond, is regularly disproved by professional and amateur archaeologists, many still claim that Nichols Pond is the location of the battle. 10 miles (16 km) south of Canastota, New York. [33] Champlain attacked the stockaded Oneida village. He was accompanied by 10 Frenchmen and 300 Wendat. Pressured by the Huron Wendat to attack prematurely, the assault failed. Champlain was wounded twice in the leg by arrows, one in his knee. The conflict ended on October 16 when the French Wendat were forced to flee.[ citation needed ]

Although he did not want to, the Wendat insisted that Champlain spend the winter with them. During his stay, he set off with them in their great deer hunt, during which he became lost and was forced to wander for three days living off game and sleeping under trees until he met up with a band of First Nations people by chance. He spent the rest of the winter learning "their country, their manners, customs, modes of life". On May 22, 1616, he left the Wendat country and returned to Quebec before heading back to France on July 2.[ citation needed ]

Improving administration in New France

Map of New France (Champlain, 1612). A more precise map was drawn by Champlain in 1632. Samuel de Champlain Carte geographique de la Nouvelle France.jpg
Map of New France (Champlain, 1612). A more precise map was drawn by Champlain in 1632.
19th century artist's conception of Champlain by E. Ronjat. Samuel de Champlain by Ronjat.jpg
19th century artist's conception of Champlain by E. Ronjat.

Champlain returned to New France in 1620 and was to spend the rest of his life focusing on administration of the territory rather than exploration. Champlain spent the winter building Fort Saint-Louis on top of Cape Diamond. By mid-May, he learned that the fur trading monopoly had been handed over to another company led by the Caen brothers. After some tense negotiations, it was decided to merge the two companies under the direction of the Caens. Champlain continued to work on relations with the natives and managed to impose on them a chief of his choice. He also negotiated a peace treaty with the Iroquois.

Champlain continued to work on the fortifications of what became Quebec City, laying the first stone on May 6, 1624. On August 15 he once again returned to France where he was encouraged to continue his work as well as to continue looking for a passage to China, something widely believed to exist at the time. By July 5 he was back at Quebec and continued expanding the city.

In 1627 the Caen brothers' company lost its monopoly on the fur trade, and Cardinal Richelieu (who had joined the Royal Council in 1624 and rose rapidly to a position of dominance in French politics that he would hold until his death in 1642) formed the Compagnie des Cent-Associés (the Hundred Associates) to manage the fur trade. Champlain was one of the 100 investors, and its first fleet, loaded with colonists and supplies, set sail in April 1628. [35]

Champlain had overwintered in Quebec. Supplies were low, and English merchants pillaged Cap Tourmente in early July 1628. [36] A war had broken out between France and England, and Charles I of England had issued letters of marque that authorized the capture of French shipping and its colonies in North America. [37] Champlain received a summons to surrender on July 10 from some heavily armed, English based Scottish merchants, the Kirke brothers. Champlain refused to deal with them, misleading them to believe that Quebec's defenses were better than they actually were (Champlain had only 50 pounds of gunpowder to defend the community). Successfully bluffed, they withdrew, but encountered and captured the French supply fleet, cutting off that year's supplies to the colony. [38] By the spring of 1629 supplies were dangerously low and Champlain was forced to send people to Gaspé and into Indian communities to conserve rations. [39] On July 19, the Kirke brothers arrived before Quebec after intercepting Champlain's plea for help, and Champlain was forced to surrender the colony. [40] Many colonists were taken first to England and then to France by the Kirkes, but Champlain remained in London to begin the process of regaining the colony. A peace treaty had been signed in April 1629, three months before the surrender, and, under the terms of that treaty, Quebec and other prizes that were taken by the Kirkes after the treaty were to be returned. [41] It was not until the 1632 Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, however, that Quebec was formally given back to France. (David Kirke was rewarded when Charles I knighted him and gave him a charter for Newfoundland.) Champlain reclaimed his role as commander of New France on behalf of Richelieu on March 1, 1633, having served in the intervening years as commander in New France "in the absence of my Lord the Cardinal de Richelieu" from 1629 to 1635. [42] In 1632 Champlain published Voyages de la Nouvelle France, which was dedicated to Cardinal Richelieu, and Traitté de la marine et du devoir d'un bon marinier, a treatise on leadership, seamanship, and navigation. (Champlain made more than twenty-five round-trip crossings of the Atlantic in his lifetime, without losing a single ship.) [43]

Last return, and last years working in Quebec

Champlain returned to Quebec on May 22, 1633, after an absence of four years. Richelieu gave him a commission as Lieutenant General of New France, along with other titles and responsibilities, but not that of Governor. Despite this lack of formal status, many colonists, French merchants, and Indians treated him as if he had the title; writings survive in which he is referred to as "our governor". [44] On August 18, 1634, he sent a report to Richelieu stating that he had rebuilt on the ruins of Quebec, enlarged its fortifications, and established two more habitations. One was 15 leagues upstream, and the other was at Trois-Rivières. He also began an offensive against the Iroquois, reporting that he wanted them either wiped out or "brought to reason".[ citation needed ]

Death and burial

Champlain had a severe stroke in October 1635, and died on December 25, leaving no immediate heirs. Jesuit records state he died in the care of his friend and confessor Charles Lallemant.[ citation needed ]

Although his will (drafted in November 17, 1635) gave much of his French property to his wife Hélène, he made significant bequests to the Catholic missions and to individuals in the colony of Quebec. However, Marie Camaret, a cousin on his mother's side, challenged the will in Paris and had it overturned. It is unclear exactly what happened to his estate. [45] [46] [47]

Samuel de Champlain was temporarily buried in the church while a standalone chapel was built to hold his remains in the upper part of the city. Unfortunately, this small building, along with many others, was destroyed by a large fire in 1640. Though immediately rebuilt, no traces of it exist anymore: his exact burial site is still unknown, despite much research since about 1850, including several archaeological digs in the city. There is general agreement that the previous Champlain chapel site, and the remains of Champlain, should be somewhere near the Notre-Dame de Québec Cathedral. [48] [49]

The search for Champlain's remains supplies a key plot-line in the crime writer Louise Penny's 2010 novel, Bury Your Dead. [50]


Statue of Samuel de Champlain at sunrise (looking to the north-west; with a similar expressive face as traditionally Jacques Cartier's), by Paul-Romain Marie Leonce Chevre [fr
] (Paris, 1896-1898), as newly repaired for 2008, at Quebec City since 1898, near Chateau Frontenac grand hotel, on the Terrasse Dufferin. Samuel de Champlain (Quebec).jpg
Statue of Samuel de Champlain at sunrise (looking to the north-west; with a similar expressive face as traditionally Jacques Cartier's), by Paul-Romain Marie Léonce Chevré  [ fr ] (Paris, 1896–1898), as newly repaired for 2008, at Quebec City since 1898, near Château Frontenac grand hotel, on the Terrasse Dufferin .

Many sites and landmarks have been named to honour Champlain, who was a prominent figure in many parts of Acadia, Ontario, Quebec, New York, and Vermont. Memorialized as the "Father of New France" and "Father of Acadia", his historic significance endures in modern times. Lake Champlain, which straddles the border between northern New York and Vermont, extending slightly across the border into Canada, was named by him, in 1609, when he led an expedition along the Richelieu River, exploring a long, narrow lake situated between the Green Mountains of present-day Vermont and the Adirondack Mountains of present-day New York. The first European to map and describe it, Champlain claimed the lake as his namesake.

Memorials include:


These are works that were written by Champlain:

Notes and references


  1. 1 2 For a detailed analysis of his baptismal record, see Ritch
  2. The baptism act does not contain information about the age of Samuel, neither his birth date or his place of birth.
  3. Thanks to Pierre Dugua de Mons, who fully financed—at a loss—the first years of both French settlements in North America (first Acadia, then Quebec).
  4. According to Trudel (1979), Louis was 18 years old, an inexperienced minor, (when age of majority was 25), and Champlain was lieutenant to the Prince de Condé, the viceroy of New France since 1612, who, as Trudel writes, "was liberated [from jail, where he been for 3 years] in October 1619, and yielded his rights as viceroy to Henri II de Montmorency, admiral of France. The latter confirmed Champlain in his office [...]. On 7 May 1620, Louis XIII wrote to Champlain to enjoin him to maintain the country 'in obedience to me, making the people who are there live as closely in conformity with the laws of my kingdom as you can.' From that moment Champlain was to devote himself exclusively to the administration of the country; he was to undertake no further great voyages of discovery; his career as an explorer had ended."
  5. Some say that the King of France made him his "royal geographer", but it is unproven and may only come from Marc Lescarbot books: Champlain never used that title. The honorific "de" was only added to his name from 1610, when he was already well-known, right after his patron, King Henry IV, was murdered. This usage by a non-noble was tolerated so that he would continue to gain access to the court during the long regency of King Louis XIII (who was only eight years old at the death of his father). Champlain received the official title of "lieutenant" (adjunct representative) of whichever noble was designated as Viceroy of New France, the first being Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons. From 1629 Champlain was named "commandant" under the authority of the King Minister, Richelieu. It was Champlain's successor, Charles Jacques Huault de Montmagny, who was the first to be formally named as the governor of New France, when he moved to Quebec City in 1636 and became the first noble to live there in that century.
  6. According to many modern historians, including Alain Laberge, the 2008 Chair of the History Department at Quebec City's Laval University, a specialist in the history of New France, Champlain could have been born a Protestant. A guest on the February 6, 2008 CBC radio program, Sounds Like Canada , Professor Laberge said that the fact of Champlain's Protestantism would have been downplayed or omitted from educational materials in Quebec by the Roman Catholic Church, who controlled Quebec's education system from 1627 until 1962.
  7. However, Champlain was born in or near a time when the city was taken by Protestants, but Brouage became a royal fortress and its governor, from 1627 until his death in 1642, was Cardinal Richelieu, a strong anti-Protestant.
  8. His family lived in Brouage at the time of his birth; the exact place and date of his birth are
  9. Three different handwritten copies of this report still exist. One of them is at the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.
  10. For a detailed treatment of claims against Champlain's authorship, see the chapter by François-Marc Gagnon in Litalien (2004), pp. 84ff. Fischer (2008), pp. 586ff, also addresses these claims, and accepts Champlain's authorship.
  11. Champlain did not begin using the honorific de in his name until at least 1610, when he married, the year King Henry was murdered. A reprint of this book in 1612 was credited to "sieur de Champlain,
  12. 1 2 Only at his last arrival (in 1633), Champlain did not leave the ships at Tadoussac but sailed them directly to Quebec City.Trudel (1979)
  13. In 1701, The Great Peace Treaty was signed in Montreal, involving the French and every Indigenous nation coming or living on the shores of the Saint Lawrence River except maybe in wintertime.
  14. In 1953, a rock was found at a location now known as the Champlain lookout, which bore the inscription "Champlain juin 2, 1613". What about this finding?


    1. Fischer (2008), p. 3
    2. 1 2 3 Fichier Origine
    3. "Samuel de Champlain facts, information, pictures | articles about Samuel de Champlain". Retrieved 2018-01-30.
    4. 1 2 d'Avignon (2008)
    5. Vaugeois (2008)
    6. Bishop (1948), pp 6–7
    7. Germe, p. 2
    8. Rainguet (1851)
    9. Liebel (1978), p. 236
    10. Liebel (1978), pp. 229–237.
    11. Fischer (2008), p. 62
    12. 1 2 Fischer (2008), p. 65 Note: Fischer cites numerous other authorities in repeating this.
    13. Weber (1967)
    14. Litalien (2004), p. 87
    15. Fischer (2008), pp. 98–99
    16. Fischer (2008), p. 100
    17. Fischer (2008), pp. 100–117
    18. Fischer (2008), pp. 121–123
    19. NPS
    20. 1 2 Vermont Map
    21. Fischer (2008), pp. 287–288
    22. Fischer (2008), pp. 313–316
    23. Fischer (2008), pp. 374–5
    24. Fischer (2008), pp. 399–400
    25. Fischer (2008), pp. 577–578
    26. Brebner, John Bartlett (1966). The Explorers of North America, 1492–1806. Cleveland, Ohio: The World Publishing Company. p. 135.
    27. Champlain (1613)
    28. Dalton (1968)
    29. Butterfield, Consul Willshire (1898). History of Brulé's Discoveries and Explorations, 1610–1626. Cleveland, Ohio: Helman-Taylor. pp. 49–51.(online:, Library of Congress)
    30. "The Explorers Étienne Brûlé 1615-1621". Virtual Museum of New France. Canadian Museum of History. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
    31. "Samuel de Champlain | The Canadian Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2019-05-04.
    32. Williams, Doug (September 8, 2015). "A small man with a big gun". Peterborough Examiner. Retrieved 2018-02-20.
    33. Weiskotten (1998)
    34. Guizot, p. 190
    35. Fischer (2008), pp. 404–410
    36. Fischer (2008), pp. 410–412
    37. Fischer (2008), p. 409
    38. Fischer (2008), pp. 412–415
    39. Fischer (2008), pp. 418–420
    40. Fischer (2008), p. 421
    41. Fischer (2008), p. 428
    42. Trudel (1979)
    43. Fischer (2008), p. 447
    44. Fischer (2008), pp. 445–446
    45. Fischer (2008), p. 520
    46. Heidenreich
    47. Le Blant (1964), pp 425–437
    48. Champlain: Travels in the Canadian Francophonie
    49. La Chappelle
    50. Penny (2010)
    51. Acadia National Park
    52. Saint John Additional Information Archived September 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
    53. Gicker (2006)

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    Further reading

    Commons-logo.svg Media related to Samuel de Champlain at Wikimedia Commons

    Government offices
    Preceded by
    Cardinal Richelieu
    Lieutenant General of New France
    Succeeded by
    Charles de Montmagny as Governor of New France