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Document Number: AJ-115
Author: Champlain, Samuel de, 1567-1635.
Title: Voyage of Samuel de Champlain, 1604-1608
Source: Champlain, Samuel de. Voyages of Samuel de Champlain. Translated from the French by Charles Pomeroy Otis. With Historical Illustrations, and a Memoir by the Rev. Edmund F. Slafter. (Boston: Prince Society, 1878). Volume 2, pages 1-157.
Pages/Illustrations: 175 / 16
Citable URL: www.americanjourneys.org/aj-115/

Author Note

Samuel de Champlain (1567-1635) first became known when his reports of his travels to the West Indies and Central America with a Spanish expedition in 1598 caught the attention of the French King, Henri IV. In 1603, Champlain made his first trip to North America, to the St. Lawrence River to explore and establish a French colony. In 1604, he returned to northeastern Canada, and over the next four years became the first to map the North Atlantic Coast. Between 1604 and 1608, Champlain led several expeditions south as far as Cape Cod, often aided by Indian interpreters. He documented the European discovery of the Kennebec, Penobscot, and Saco rivers and Mt. Desert Island in Maine, and Plymouth Harbor and Cape Cod in Massachusetts fifteen years before the English established their own colony there.

Champlain recommended further exploration and settlement of St. Lawrence area to allow the French to take advantage of the river for the valuable fur trade. He founded Quebec in 1608, and made his famous explorations in present-day New York State and on Lake Huron and Lake Ontario in 1615. From 1620-1624 he remained in Canada, was in France from 1629-1633, and then returned to Quebec. He sent his protégé Jean Nicolet to explore further west in 1634 (see AJ-043) and died on Christmas Day 1634, having learned of the existence of Lake Michigan and Green Bay.

Expeditions of 1604-1608

In 1604 Champlain was directed by his superiors to establish a colony near modern Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. From this base he made three exploring voyages south through the Canadian maritime provinces and along the New England coast. In 1604 he went as far as Mount Desert Island and the Penobscot River near present-day Bangor, Maine. In the second, in 1605, he went further south, sighting New Hampshire’s White Mountains from Casco Bay, Maine, passing Cape Ann and entering Plymouth Harbor in Massachusetts Bay, and then skirting the outer arm of Cape Cod as far as Nauset. On his third trip he followed the route of 1605, but was repulsed by Indians at modern Stage Harbor on Vineyard Sound, and returned to Nova Scotia.

Document Note

Champlain published various short accounts of his discoveries soon after they happened, and spent part of the years 1629-1632 writing up a seven hundred-page composite narrative published as Les Voyages de la Nouvelle France occidentale dicte Canada faits par le Sr de Champlain ... : & toutes les descouvertes qu'il a faites en ce païs depuis l'an 1603 jusques en l'an 1629 ... : ensemble une carte generalle [sic] de la description dudit pays ... : avec ce qui s'est passé en ladite Nouvelle France en l'année 1631. (Paris: Claude Collet, 1632). The standard English-language edition of all his works was translated by H. P. Biggar in seven volumes in 1922.

Other Internet and Reference Sources

Page images of the full text from which we have excerpted the 1604-1608 voyages is available online from the Early Canadiana Online project at www.canadiana.org and a digital text of them all is at www.gutenberg.org

Biographical information, maps and additional leads can be found at the “Virtual Museum of New France”:
http://www.civilization.ca/vmnf/explor/champ_e1.html

See also the Library of Congress reproduction of a map created by Champlain in 1607: http://lcweb.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/trr009.html

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