Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Champlain, Samuel De

(1570?-1635) led an expedition to the Gulf of Maine and along the Maine coast in 1604 seeking a better location for the French colony at St. Croix.

He named Mount Desert Island “the island of desert-like mountains,” writing that the island “is very high, notched in places, so that there is the appearance to one at sea, as of seven or eight mountains extending along near each other. The summit of most of them is destitute of trees, as there are only rocks on them. The woods consist of pines, firs, and birches only. I name it Isles des Mounts Deserts.”

Champlain also gave names to Petit Manan and Isle au Haut during the 1604 voyage. In 1605 and 1606 he made similar trips along the coast, each time probing further south to Cape Cod.

As a young man, Champlain joined the French army where he served as an officer during France’s religious wars. At the end of these, King Henry IV rewarded him by supporting his voyages to North America.

In 1608 he founded the first permanent settlement in New France – Quebec. After enduring a hard winter, Champlain befriended the local Algonquian and Huron Indians by helping them in a raid on the rival Iroquois.

The English captured Quebec in 1628 and returned Champlain to France. The settlement was returned to France by treaty and he sailed back in 1633 where he remained until his death. His reports and accounts of his voyages provide valuable insights about Maine and Canada during the early seventeenth century.

Additional resources

Brown, John Marshall. Coasting Voyages in the Gulf of Maine: Made in the Years 1604, 5 and 6 by Samuel Champlain: a paper read at the winter meeting of the Maine Historical Society in Portland, Feb. 18, 1875. 1875. Bath, Me. Printed by E. Upton & Son.

Champlain, Samuel de, 1567-1635. The Voyages and Explorations of Samuel de Champlain (1604-1616) narrated by himself. New York, A. S. Barnes & Company. 1906.

Ganong, William F. Champlain’s Island: An Expanded Edition of Ste. Croix (Dochet) Island. Saint John, N.B. New Brunswick Museum = Musée du Nouveau-Brunswick. c2003.

Heidenreich, Conrad. Explorations and Mapping of Samuel de Champlain, 1603-1632. Toronto. B. V. Gutsell. 1976.

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This entry was last modified: March 10, 2013 09:55 PM

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