Champlain’s Voyages Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

Champlain explored Canada and New England, claiming land for New France and founding Quebec. He secured investors in the new colony and encouraged French settlers to immigrate to the Americas. By forging alliances with some Native American tribes against others, he fundamentally shaped the history of French, British, and American Indian relations for the next century.

Summary of Event

At the end of the sixteenth century, distracted by civil war, France had not made any significant attempt to develop its claims in the New World for more than six decades. In March, 1603, with the help of funds from King Henry IV Henry IV (king of France) of France, Samuel de Champlain traveled as an observer to eastern Canada with François Gravé du Pont Gravé du Pont, François . Champlain previously had traveled to the West Indies and Mexico as passenger on his uncle’s ship. In May, 1603, Champlain and Gravé du Pont landed in Tadoussac, Canada, and sailed up the Saint Lawrence River to explore the surrounding areas. [kw]Champlain’s Voyages (Mar. 15, 1603-Dec. 25, 1635) [kw]Voyages, Champlain’s (Mar. 15, 1603-Dec. 25, 1635) Exploration and discovery;Mar. 15, 1603-Dec. 25, 1635: Champlain’s Voyages[0320] Colonization;Mar. 15, 1603-Dec. 25, 1635: Champlain’s Voyages[0320] Expansion and land acquisition;Mar. 15, 1603-Dec. 25, 1635: Champlain’s Voyages[0320] Diplomacy and international relations;Mar. 15, 1603-Dec. 25, 1635: Champlain’s Voyages[0320] American Colonies;Mar. 15, 1603-Dec. 25, 1635: Champlain’s Voyages[0320] Canada;Mar. 15, 1603-Dec. 25, 1635: Champlain’s Voyages[0320] Exploration;France of Canada Canada;French exploration of Exploration;France of New England Champlain, Samuel de New England;French exploration of Champlain, Samuel de Monts, Pierre du Gua, sieur de Henry IV (of Navarre) Gravé du Pont, François

In June, Champlain passed the future site of the city of Quebec Quebec . He was immediately impressed with the location, because it was well suited for shipping and military defense; its close proximity to friendly Canadian Indians was another advantage. He later suggested the area as a site for the first permanent settlement in Canada. Champlain and Gravé du Pont also explored the Richelieu River area, where they were met by Anadabajin Anadabajin , leader of the Montagnais Montagnais Indians. The French became friends and trading partners with the Montagnais, trading with them for furs and cured fish before starting home in August, 1603. Furs, trade in

Champlain returned to France with fish, furs, and descriptions of the lands and wildlife he had seen. He wrote about the voyage in Des Sauvages: Ou, Voyage de Samuel Champlain, de Brouage Sauvages, Des (Champlain) (1603). In it, he described the Native Americans, lands, and rivers he had seen in Canada. His talents for drawing and cartography were demonstrated in intricate maps of the regions he had explored and pictures of the indigenous people and culture he had witnessed. Champlain’s descriptions of the Montagnais were the first detailed information Europeans had received of Montagnais dress, tools, religious ceremonies, hunting practices, and dance.

Champlain returned to the New World as a geographer in April, 1604. This voyage was under the command of Pierre du Guast, sieur de Monts, Monts, sieur de who also financed the expedition. In May, the party landed in Nova Scotia. Champlain traveled up and down the Atlantic coastline, drawing maps and searching for possible sites for a permanent settlement. Champlain explored the Bay of Fundy to Saint Croix Island and southward along the coast of New England to the Penobscot River, Cape Cod, and Boston Harbor.

In 1608, Champlain returned to Canada from France to establish a permanent settlement. On July 3, he planted the French flag in the soil of the site of Quebec, Canada, which became Canada’s first successful permanent settlement. Champlain and his men set about felling trees, clearing ground, and building storehouses and cellars. He made friends and allies with the Huron Hurons and Algonquian Algonquians Indians in the area. The Huron, Algonquian, and Montagnais tribes all had a common enemy in the Five Tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy Iroquois Confederacy . The three tribes asked Champlain and his men to demonstrate their loyalty by accompanying them in a campaign against the Iroquois. Champlain agreed, and so it was with a war party of sixty Indians that he reached the lake named after him, Lake Champlain, in July of 1609. Champlain shot two Mohawk Mohawks chiefs on this victorious campaign, thus making enemies of the large and powerful Iroquois Confederacy, who would later side with the British against the French. The Hurons, Algonquians, and Montagnais continued to assist the French in trade and friendship.

Champlain returned to the New World in the spring of 1611, under the leadership of Captain Gravé du Pont. Finding the Quebec settlement progressing well, he traveled up the Saint Lambert River, past the La Chine rapids, and explored the surrounding area. Champlain made plans to establish another permanent settlement at Montreal; however, his plans were not carried out until 1642, seven years after his death. It was after this voyage that Champlain wrote Les Voyages du Sieur de Champlain Xaintongeois Voyages du Sieur de Champlain Xaintongeois, Les (Champlain) (1613), in which he shared his discoveries with the world in an attempt to encourage future investment, settlement, and exploration.

Champlain returned to Canada in March, 1613. He checked on the settlers at Quebec and traveled up the Ottawa River, through numerous rapids, to explore the Muskrat and Lower Allumette Lakes. Back in France in September of that year, Champlain wrote La Quatrième Voyage du Sieur de Champlain Quatrième Voyage du Sieur de Champlain, La (Champlain) (1613), in which he described his trip up the Ottawa River. He used his writings to encourage new investors in the New World. Investors were given exclusive rights to the fur trade in the Saint Lawrence River area for eleven years. In return, Champlain received a salary. Each investor would arrange for six families to move to Canada to begin a permanent population there. Champlain also agreed to take four Franciscan priests with him to the New World in an attempt to convert the Native Americans to Catholicism. Native Americans;Christianity and

In 1615, Champlain again moved up the Ottawa River to Lower Allumette Lake and the mouth of the Mattawa River to Lake Nipissing. He traveled up the French River into Lake Huron. He later landed near Penetanguishene, where he discovered numerous Huron Indian settlements. He went from village to village, meeting and gathering tribesmen for a war party against the Iroquois. With several hundred Hurons in his party, Champlain traveled west to Lake Ontario. They then moved southward to Lake Oneida, where the party came upon the Onondaga Onondagas tribe at an Iroquois fortress.

Champlain and the Huron chiefs immediately attacked the fortification and laid siege to the stronghold. However, they were unable to take it, and Champlain was wounded in the leg and knee in the battle. On their journey homeward to Quebec, the Huron Indians stopped for a month to hunt deer. Champlain later described the intricacies of their deer hunt and other experiences in Voyages et descouvertures faites en la Nouvelle France Voyages et descouvertures faites en la Nouvelle France (Champlain) (1619). During the winter of 1615-1616, Champlain spent four months with the Huron tribe. By the time he returned to Quebec, Champlain had explored large undiscovered regions of interior lands surrounding the Great Lakes.

French friars were finding it impossible to convert the Native American populations to Catholicism Catholicism;Native Americans and . Champlain contended that a permanent French population of at least three hundred families was needed to demonstrate the benefits of French civilization to the Canadian Indians. He encouraged the building of more trading posts in Canada, the development of fisheries, and the exploitation of Canada’s mineral wealth of iron, lead, and silver. Champlain warned that failure to develop these areas might mean losing French holdings in the New World to the English or Dutch.





On successive trips to the New World, Champlain monitored the progress of the habitation at Quebec and encouraged improvements. He brought cattle, oxen, seeds, building materials, and necessary annual provisions. He encouraged settlers to till their own fields instead of depending on unreliable annual shipments for their survival. Champlain also was called upon to settle disputes among the tribal allies, the French, and the Iroquois. In 1632, Champlain published Les Voyages en la Nouvelle France Occidentale Voyages en la Nouvelle France Occidentale, Les (Champlain) , detailing his most recent travels and experiences.


Champlain returned to Canada for the last time in 1633. His significance to the history of New France New France can be seen encapsulated in the many achievements of that final visit: He brought permanent colonists and saw to the rebuilding of Quebec, which had been burned down during an English attack. He reestablished trade with the Montagnais and Algonquians, who had been trading with the English, and built trading posts on Richelieu Island and Saint Croix Island. He helped, then, to rejuvenate an entire nascent culture and to reestablish ties with other vital cultures of Canada. Champlain did not merely find and found Quebec; in a very real sense, he was the spirit of the colonial community.

Champlain died in Canada on Christmas Day in 1635. His contributions remained in the settlement of the territories he explored and the many descriptions of Canadian lands and Native American culture that he left.

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Biggar, Henry P., ed. The Works of Samuel de Champlain. Toronto: The Champlain Society, 1922-1936. An eight-volume English translation of Champlain’s works.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Grant, W. L., ed. Voyages of Samuel de Champlain, 1604-1618. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1959. An English translation of Champlain’s Voyages.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Heidenreich, Conrad E. “The Beginning of French Exploration out of the Saint Lawrence Valley: Motives, Methods, and Changing Attitudes Towards Native People.” In Decentring the Renassiance: Canada and Europe in Multidisciplinary Perspective, 1500-1700, edited by Germaine Warkentin and Carolyn Podruchy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001. Compares Champlain’s exploration of Canada to exploration by Jacques Cartier and Jean-François de la Rocque, sieur de Roberval.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Lanctot, Gustave. A History of Canada. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1963. Canadian history from a French historian. Focuses on the last ten years of Champlain’s work.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Morison, Samuel Eliot. Samuel de Champlain: Father of New France. Boston: Little, Brown, 1972. Focuses on Champlain’s voyages and personal life.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Parkman, Francis. Pioneers of France in the New World. Vol. 1 in France and England in North America. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1983. Canadian history by an English historian noted for his narrative style.
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