Centuries Elapsed Before Champlain’s Accomplishments Were Acknowledged

December 3, 2015

Statue of Samuel de Champlain in Quebec City, near the Château Frontenac grand hotel.

Statue of Samuel de Champlain in Quebec City, near the Château Frontenac grand hotel.

Many, many years elapsed before either France or Canada fully appreciated the character and exploits of Samuel de Champlain. Not until the nineteenth century did anyone in authority call him the Father of New France, a highly appropriate posthumous title. For he had devoted the last thirty-two years of his life to Canada. He wrote four important books relating her early history and describing her native people and resources; books in which innate humility prevented him from blowing his own trumpet. He compiled the best maps hitherto made of North America, and the earliest harbor charts, and for posterity depicted Indian fights and fortresses, and the fish, fauna and flora of New France. He had faced almost incredible hardships and repeatedly risked his life to explore routes to Canada’s western wilderness. He not only fought for her, but pled, begged and intrigued for her in France, crossing the North Atlantic no fewer than twenty-three times. Champlain, with the aid of a few devoted priests like Père Le Jeune and laymen like Pont-Gravé, nursed struggling Quebec to sturdy life, and anticipated the noble future of Canada. No other European colony in America is so much the lengthened shadow of one man as Canada is of the valiant, wise and virtuous Samuel de Champlain, Xaintongeois.

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Samuel Eliot Morison, Samuel de Champlain: Father of New France (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1972), 226-7.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 503

 

 

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