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Who was Samuel de Champlain?

Updated on December 3, 2016

Samuel de Champlain (1567-1635) was a French explorer and first Governor of French Canada, served in the army of Henry IV and made a voyage to Central America before making his first expedition to Canada in 1603. At once he made friends with the Indians and explored part of the St Lawrence river. In 1608 he chose the site for Quebec and gave the city its name; then, with the Algonquin and Huron Indians, he discovered the lake that bears his name and helped his friends to defeat the Iroquois.

Encouraged by his royal patron, he continued his explorations, ascended the Ottawa River and mapped Lake Huron and Lake Ontario. Later he sent younger men to continue his work and to learn Indian ways and languages. Each year he returned to France to seek help for the colony, but in 1629 Quebec was taken by the British and Champlain was sent as a prisoner to England. When Canada was restored to the French in 1633, he returned to Quebec and died there two years later. In addition to his achievements as a pioneer and an explorer, Champlain was an accomplished writer, whose descriptions of his adventures were published after his death in six volumes.


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