Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Samuel de Champlain - Part 5


It was in 1617 that Marie Rollet, the first European woman, came to Quebec. She was the wife of Louis Hébert, a former apothecary in Paris, and they and their children became the first true habitant (permanent settler supporting his family from the soil).

Champlain returned to New France with his wife in 1620, spending the winter building Fort Saint-Louis on top of Cap Diamant. (She remained with him until 1624 despite being forced to submit to great hardships.) In mid-May, 1621, he learned the fur trade had been handed over to another company led by the Caen brothers. Negotiations ensued with the outcome of a merger between the two companies. Champlain worked on his relationship with the Indians and was able to impose on them a chief of his choice, and to create a peace treaty with the Iroquois tribes.

Champlain laid the first stone on May 6, 1624 on the improvement of his fortification around what later became Quebec City. On August 15th he returned to France, with his wife, where he was encouraged to continue his work and look for a passage to China. By July 5th, 1625 he was back in Quebec where he continued to expand the city. His wife remained in France.

In 1627, there were 80 people in Quebec (including five women and six little girls), half of this number still living in the Habitation. This was a very small population compared to Virginia, which, founded one year earlier, had a population of 2,000. The fur trading companies were reluctant to bring over families which prevented Champlain from promoting his colonization project.

[2] Cardinal Richelieu, Regent of France, (photo) founded the Compagnie des Cent-Associés (Company of One Hundred Associates) to sponsor colonization. On the first ships sent by the Company were 400 immigrants, who were detained by Sir David Kirke and his brothers, English merchants, in 1628. Champlain refused to deal with them, and in response, the English cut off supplies from going to the city. By spring of 1629, supplies were dangerously low and Champlain sent people to Gaspé to conserve rations. On July 19th, the Kirke brothers arrived and without military forces, Champlain capitulated the colony. By October 29th, Champlain was in London as a prisoner. Quebec was taken over by the English in 1629 and would remain that way until 1632.

The Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1632 between Great Britain and France stipulated that Canada with Acadia and Cape Breton were to be restored to France and on March 1, 1633 Champlain returned to his role as commander of New France on behalf of Richelieu. This made him a lesser rank of the nobility and enabled him to add “de” to his name, a frequent occurrence at the time. He returned to Quebec on May 22, 1633 after an absence of four years with three well equipped ships and 200 immigrants, primarily workmen. On August 18, 1634, he sent a report to Richelieu that he had rebuilt on the ruins of Quebec, enlarged its fortifications, constructed another habitation 15 leagues upstream and another at Trois-Rivières. As well, he had begun an offensive against the Iroquois Indians that he wanted them wiped out or “brought to reason”.

By October 1634, Champlain had a stroke and died on December 25, 1635 leaving no immediate heirs. Jesuit records state he died in the hands of his friend, Charles Lallemant, who also heard his last confession. He was buried temporarily in the church while construction was completed on the chapel of Monsieur le Gouverneur. This small building among many others, were destroyed by a large fire in 1640. Although it was immediately rebuilt nothing is known of it after and the exact burial site of Champlain is unknown.

[3 - click to enlarge] This statue of Samuel de Champlain is at the Place d'Armes, next to the Chateau Frontenac. This location is where Champlain's first fortifications were built.

[4 - click to enlarge]
The Promenade Dufferin is immediately infront of Champlain's statue which overlooks the St. Lawrence River.

Library and Archives Canada =
The Penguin History of Canada by Robert Bothwell, pp. 29.

Photo credits: [1][2], [3][4]-Djof CC=nc-sa-flickr.


Cloudia said...

"In 1627, there were 80 people in Quebec (including five women and six little girls)"


Unknown said...

Pretty informative post and beautiful choice of images

Joshua said...

great post as per ususal

Eleanor said...

I remember learning about de Champlain at school and the settling of Quebec. Good to read this. I always think of the wives. I cannot imagine showing that kind of stoicism and the sheer physical discomfort of unsettled places. The history of South African settlement is similar. I wanted to contact you earlier this week but there were problems with word verification. Ants in the jam and gremlins on the net!

I see the movie Slumdog Millionaire based on that novel I told you about got the Oscar(s)!!!

J. L. Krueger said...

Another great history lesson.

When you think about it, the early settlers were more cut off than if we put settlers on the moon.

In the current age, we can communicate within seconds.

Those early settlers were truly alone.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

This was so very interesting! Thank you!

Barbara Martin said...

Cloudia, that was a nice piece of information the research material provided.

Thomas, thank you.

Eleanor, the wives decided they were going with their husbands rather than staying at home. I imagine some would have a similar sense of adventure as their spouses.

If you need to contact me in the future send an email.

Frank Baron said...

I think the last time I read about Champlain was about 1959 in grade 5. Thanks for the review. :)

Anonymous said...

I have been investigating historical portraiture Barbara, so was intruiged with Cardinal Richelieu's portrait.Would you look at the metres and metres of fabric! I know people needed to record themselves for prosterity,or have a likeness for matromonial links but there are so many canvases laden with images of the rich and not-so-famous in my searches! The money that would have been spent.Vanity gobbled up the money just as much then as it does today! Thanks for another interesting post.

BernardL said...

It seems Champlain knew very few moments of peace in his life. When he left Quebec for France with his wife, he probably should have called it a day and stayed with her. His luck was at an end.

Neil Bytes said...

Beautiful pictures.

Barbara Martin said...

J.L., true and they were aware the ocean voyages could be dangerous in storms.

Pamela, you're welcome.

Frank, some of my readers asked about more Canadian history and I'm setting up the background as to why the aboriginals reacted the way they did during the War of 1812.

Barbara Martin said...

Pam, the Catholic Church paid for that material. Vanity remains in all forms.

Bernard, after his first voyage he decided on heading up the colonization of New France. He came from a seafaring family, and by working his way up the social ladder to lesser nobility he did quite well for himself. His wife tried living in the wilds of Canada, but found it too much to bear (and who could blame her).

Neil, they are.