Samuel de Champlain

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Samuel de Champlain
Samuel Champlain
BirthplaceBrouage or La Rochelle, Aunis, France
navigator, cartographer, soldier, explorer, administrator and chronicler of New France
Known for exploration of New France, foundation of Quebec City, Canada, being called The Father of New France

Champlain, Samuel de

(shămplān`, Fr. sämüĕl` də shäNplăN`), 1567–1635, French explorer, the chief founder of New France.

After serving in France under Henry of Navarre (King Henry IV) in the religious wars, Champlain was given command of a Spanish fleet sailing to the West Indies, Mexico, and the Isthmus of Panama. He described this three-year tour to the French king in Bref Discours (1859). In 1603 he made his first voyage to New France as a member of a fur-trading expedition. He explored the St. Lawrence River as far as the rapids at Lachine and described his voyage in Des Sauvages (1603).

With the sieur de MontsMonts, Pierre du Gua, sieur de
, c.1560–c.1630, French colonizer in North America. A wealthy Huguenot and a favorite of Henry IV, he was the holder of a trade monopoly in New France and the patron of Samuel de Champlain. Monts had visited the St. Lawrence by 1603.
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, who had a monopoly of the trade of the region, Champlain returned in 1604 to found a colony, which was landed at the mouth of the St. Croix River. In 1605 the colony moved across the Bay of Fundy to Port Royal (now Annapolis Royal, N.S.), and in the next three years Champlain explored the New England coast south to Martha's Vineyard, discovering Mt. Desert Island and most of the larger rivers of Maine and making the first detailed charts of the coast. After the sieur de Monts's privileges had been revoked, the colony had to be abandoned, and through the efforts of Champlain a new one was established on the St. Lawrence River.

In 1608 in the ship Le Don de Dieu, he brought his colonists to the site of Quebec. In the spring of 1609, accompanying a war party of Huron against the Iroquois, Champlain discovered the lake that bears his name, and near Crown Point, N.Y., the Iroquois were met and routed by French troops. The incident is believed to be largely responsible for the later hatred of the French by the Iroquois.

In 1612 Champlain returned to France, where he received a new grant of the fur-trade monopoly. Returning in 1613, he set off on a journey to the western lakes. He reached only Allumette Island in the Ottawa River that year, but in 1615 he went with Étienne Brulé and a party of Huron to Georgian Bay on Lake Huron, returning southeastward by way of Lake Ontario. Accompanying another Huron war party to an attack on an Onondaga village in present-day New York, Champlain was wounded and forced to spend the winter with the Huron.

Thereafter Champlain devoted his time to the welfare of the colony, of which he was the virtual governor. He helped to persuade Richelieu to found the Company of One Hundred Associates, which was to take over the interests of the colony. In 1629 Quebec was suddenly captured by the English, and Champlain was carried away to four years of exile in England; there he prepared the third edition of his Voyages de la Nouvelle France (1632). When New France was restored to France in 1632, Champlain returned. In 1634 he sent Jean NicoletNicolet, Jean
, 1598?–1642, French explorer in the Old Northwest. He came to New France with Samuel de Champlain in 1618. In 1634, under the direction of Champlain, he took a notable voyage west in search of the Northwest Passage, exploring Lake Michigan, Green Bay, and
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 into the West, thus extending the French explorations and claims as far as Wisconsin. He died on Christmas Day, 1635, and was buried in Quebec.


Champlain's works were issued by the Champlain Society (1922–36) with English and French texts. See also biographies by N. E. Dionne (1905, repr. 1963), S. E. Morison (1972), and D. H. Fischer (2008).

Champlain, Samuel de


Born 1567 in Brouage, near Rochefort; died Dec. 25, 1635, in Quebec. French hydrographer. Explorer of Canada and the northeastern USA.

Champlain made a journey along the St. Lawrence and Saguenay rivers in 1603. Between 1604 and 1606 he explored various parts of the Atlantic coast of North America, including the peninsulas of Nova Scotia and Cape Cod, the Bay of Fundy, and Massachusetts Bay; he discovered the island of Nantucket. In 1608 he founded the city of Quebec near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River.

Champlain explored the Richelieu River, a right tributary of the St. Lawrence, in 1609. On that trip he discovered the Adirondacks, the Green Mountains, and the lake that was later named for him. Between 1609 and 1615 he undertook trips in search of a water route to the Pacific Ocean. In 1615 and 1616, Champlain journeyed by way of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers and Lake Nipissing to Lake Huron deep within the North American continent.


Oeuvres de Champlain, 2nd ed, 6 vols. Paris, 1870.


Magidovich, I. P. Istoriia otkrytiia i issledovaniia Severnoi Ameriki. Moscow, 1962.