| The Heath Anthology of
American Literature, Fifth Edition
Samuel de Champlain
Champlain first explored North America as Royal Geographer on an
expedition in 1603 intended to repeat Jacques Cartier’s famous trip up the St.
Lawrence in 1534–1535. He returned a year later as part of a Huguenot
expedition led by de Monts and participated in exploration, fur trade, and
settlement projects for several decades. In addition to discovering the lake
that bears his name and founding Quebec, the second permanent European city
north of Mexico, he escalated the French alliance with the Hurons into
an active role in their war against the Iroquois. This decision, dictated
by necessity, turned the Iroquois into relentless enemies of the French. The
first selection shows Champlain’s curiosity about the landscape through which
he is traveling, one oriented toward observations about the exploitable
potential of the wilderness. In the context of his affiliation with the fur
trade, his comment on the abundance of beaver assumes commercial significance.
His introduction of firearms into native warfare, with awesome impact,
coincides with Villagrá’s description of a similar application of European
technology in New Mexico. Around this time the Dutch began supplying their
native allies with arms and powder. Native warfare, and thus their societies,
were forever altered.
The second selection
seems to be simply another story of the European lost in the American landscape
which turns out to be familiar home territory to the native. Yet more
significant is the ending in which the natives of the area admit, perhaps
unknowingly, that they no longer really control their world, for Champlain is
its new center. If he dies their mobility would be curtailed, so they must keep
him alive, guard, and guide him. The European has assumed central value here.
Just as in the first selection, the introduction of the European element
changes Native American life.
University of California at Irvine
Pennsylvania State University
In the Heath Anthology
The Voyages of Samuel de Champlain
from The Voyages of 1615
from The Voyages of the Great River St. Lawrence, 1608-1612
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de Champlain: Geographer and Builder of a Colony
Site offers information about de Champlain's place in early Canadian history.
Historical Biographies: Nova Scotia
Biography, photo and links.
Samuel de Champlain's 1607 Map
This primary source is part of the Library of Congress' Treasures page and shows early pictoral representation of New England and Canada.
W.J. Eccles, France in America, 1990
Marcel Trudel, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, v. 1, 1966