Samuel de Champlain

(1567-1635)


Samuel de Champlain was born in Brouage, France in 1567 and died in 1635. His father was a sea captain and as a boy he learned seamanship and navigation. For a while he was in the army of King Henry IV and then in 1599 he become captain of a ship and for over two years explored the West Indies and Mexico and visited all the major ports. When he later wrote about his adventures on this trip he suggested the idea of making a canal across Central America to shorten the trip the the southern Pacific Ocean. Many years later other people had the same idea and built the Panama Canal.

Champlain made his first voyage to Canada in 1603 and explored the St. Lawrence River as far as where Montreal is located today. He was sent by a man named Aymar de Clermont who had been given the privilege to establish a fur trading company by the king of France. During his travels Samuel de Champlain made friends with the Indians and when he returned to France he wrote a book describing his experiences with the "savages.".

Aymar de Clermont died during this voyage so when de Champlain made his second voyage to Canada in 1604 he worked for Pierre du Guast, Sieur de Monts to whom the rights to the fur trade had been transferred. Champlain and Sieur de Monts explored the coast as far south as Cape Cod looking for a good place to build a settlement and mapping the area. They settled on an island near the mouth of the St. Croix River and then later at what is now Annapolis, Nova Scotia.

In 1608 Champlain founded a settlement at Quebec and spent time with the Algonquin and Huron Indians exploring the area. In 1610 he married Helene Boulle who was only 12 years old. She stayed in France for ten years after the marriage before she moved to Canada. In 1611 Champlain established a trading post at Mont Royal and later was appointed lieutenant-general in New France. In 1629 Quebec was captured by the English and Champlain was taken to England as a prisoner. When Canada was returned to France in 1633 he returned to his post and remained in Quebec until he died in 1635.