In 1615, soon after Champlain’s arrival with the four Recollects, he took three of the priests into the country of the Hurons on Georgian Bay going through the Peterborough area. With his native guides he explored further up the Ottawa River and reached Lake Nipissing (photo).
[Recollet Rapids, French River, Ontario]
[French River, Ontario]
He then followed the French River (photos) until he reached the fresh-water sea he called Lac Attigouautau (now Lake Huron) (photo). Champlain continued to work to improve relations with the natives promising to help them in their struggles against the Iroquois.
[Lake Huron is shaded area]
At this time the conflict grew between the Iroquois and the Huron who were supported by the French over the fur trade and other trade goods.
The people known as Hurons by the French called themselves the Wendat which means "Dwellers of the Peninsula" or "Islanders", because the Wendat homeland was bordered on three sides by the waters of Georgian Bay and Lake Simcoe.** The name Huron comes either from the French huron ("ruffian", "rustic"), or from hure ("boar's head"), because, according to tradition, French sailors thought that the bristly hairstyle of Wendat men resembled that of a boar.**
Lake Simcoe is a remnant of a much bigger, prehistoric lake known as Lake Algonquin.
Later that summer, at Cahiagué (on Lake Simcoe) Champlain joined a Huron raiding party. The party passed Lake Ontario at its eastern tip where they hid their canoes and continued their journey by land. They followed the Oneida River (photo) until they found themselves at an Onondaga fort. Pressured by the Hurons to attack prematurely, the assault failed. Champlain was wounded twice in the leg by arrows, one in his knee. The attack lasted three hours until they were forced to flee. Champlain was carried back to a town of the Hurons, and due to the severity of the wounds was forced to spend the winter with them.*
During his stay Champlain set off with them in their great deer hunt, during which he became lost and was forced to wander for three days living off game and sleeping under trees until he met up with a band of Indians by chance. He spent the rest of the winter learning "their country, their manners, customs, modes of life". On May 22, 1616, he left the Huron country and was back in Quebec on July 11 before heading back to France on July 2.*
Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_de_Champlain *http://www.samueldechamplain.com The Penguin History of Canada by Robert Bothwell, pp. 32. The Illustrated History of Canada, edited by Craig Brown pp. 101. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_and_Iroquois_Wars http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huron **Trigger, Bruce G. The Children of Aataentsic: A History of the Huron People to 1660. Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. 1987. ISBN 0-7735-0627-6