I'm currently staying at the Cité International des Arts in the CHAMPLAIN studio, courtesy of the Canada Council for the Arts. Thinking someone may ask about the namesake, I thought I'd better brush up on my Canadian history. Who knew such a swashbuckling character lurked in the dry lessons of grade 7.
Samuel de Champlain's birthday is under debate, but recently found documents point to August 13, 1574, making him a Leo. Born in France to a seafaring man, Samuel was passionate about exploration, navigation and cartography, and by the age of 20 had sailed to South America and back. Around 1602 King Henry IV of France made him hydrographer royal (mapmaker) and he was asked to join an expedition to New France to find the perfect spot for a fur trading post.
The adventures that followed lead to Champlain's title as "Father of New France". He travelled the Atlantic coast from Halifax to Cape Cod and created the first accurate maps, he navigated the St. Lawrence seaway and settled Quebec City (which incidentally is an Algonquin name meaning "where the river narrows"), he explored the Richelieu river and the lake that now bears his name. He eventually made it as far as Lake Huron on his travels, all of which would have been impossible without the assistance of the Huron, Algonquin and Montaignais people. In later years he worked tirelessly for the success of New France as both soldier and diplomat, dying in 1635 with 150 French citizens firmly settled on what was to become Canadian soil.