1902 Encyclopedia > Samuel de Champlain

Samuel de Champlain
French explorer

SAMUEL DE CHAMPLAIN (1567-1635), the governor of the first French settlers in Lower Canada, was born at Brouage, in 1567. His father was a sea-captain, and probably he was already skilled in navigation when, while still young, he entered the army of Henry IV. On the conclusion of the war he accompanied a Spanish fleet to Mexico and the West Indies, and on his return wrote an account of the expedition. In 1603, he made his first voyage to Canada, being sent out by De Chastes, on whom the king had bestowed some territory in that country. During 1604-1607 he was engaged, together with De Monts, to whom De Chastes's privileges had been transferred, in exploring the Canadian coast, in seeking a site for a new settlement, and in making surveys and maps. In 1608 he made his third voyage; and in this year he commenced the formation of a settlement at Quebec. But De Monts's influence was now waning ; he had been deprived of some of his privileges; and the merchants who had ventured in the affair were losing heart. Under these circumstances Champlain prevailed upon the Duc de Soissons to interest himself in the matter, and to seek the post of Governor and Lieutenant-General of New France. Under him, and under his successor the duke of Condé, Champlain held the office of lieutenant, which made him in reality governor of the colony. Owing, however, to quarrels with the Indians, the settlement seemed likely to fail ; but, under the viceroyalty of the Duc de Montmorenci, and still more under that of the Duc de Ventadour, it began to flourish. In 1629 it met with a reverse, Champlain being forced to surrender to an English fleet commanded by three brothers named Kirk. He was carried to England, but was restored to liberty in 1632. He returned to Canada in the next year, and died there two years afterwards (1635).
Champlain published several volumes containing accounts of his life work. In 1603 appeared his Des Sauvages ; in 1613 and 1619 Voyages, with valuable maps ; and in 1632 an abridgment of the first two voyages, with a continuation bringing down his stay to 1629, and appendices containing a treatise on seamanship, and specimens of the Huron and Montagnais languages. In 1870 the whole series of his works was published, with the exception of the very interest-ing account of his visit to Mexico and the West Indies, which was translated by Alice Wilmere from the MS. kept in the public library at Dieppe, and published by the Hakluyt Society in 1859.

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