Samuel de Champlain

French Explorer who founded Quebec

Born: 1567

Died: 1635

Champlain sailed for Canada for the first time in 1603 and spent time in Acadia (now Maine), searching for a site for colonization. His explorations led him down the coast to Massachusetts Bay, which he mapped in detail. Amongst all of the explorers, he was one of the best cartographers, and a keen observer of Native Americans and their lives.

Heading an expedition that left France in 1608, Champlain founded the first European settlement at Quebec. He made an alliance with the local natives that continued for the duration of France’s claim to the colony.

In 1609, Champlain discovered the lake bordering New York and Vermont, which bears his name (Lake Champlain). He built a trading post at Montreal, explored northern New York State, the Ottawa River and the eastern Great Lakes. In 1611, he was appointed as governor of New France. He later returned to France to gather support for the struggling colony in Quebec. In 1615, Champlain returned to New France. He later accompanied Etienne Brulé to the area of Lake Ontario, where they made an alliance with the Huron Indians against the Iroquois. Champlain was wounded in battle and spent the winter of 1615-1616 with the Huron recuperating.

For the next 13 years, Champlain governed the French settlement. In 1629, English raiders, aided by Champlain’s former associate Brulé, seized the settlement and took Champlain as a prisoner to England, where he was held until 1632, when the colony was restored to France. That year Champlain returned to the new world and served again as governor of New France until his death in 1635. By then the colony extended along both shores of the St. Lawrence River.

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