Timeline Description: Samuel de Champlain (1574 - 1635) was a French explorer, diplomat, and cartographer. He is best known for founding Quebec City in 1608 and for consolidating French colonies in the New World. He also discovered Lake Champlain (named after him) and explored regions of northern New York, the eastern Great Lakes, and the Ottawa River.
|August 13, 1574||Samuel de Champlain is born.
Samuel de Champlain is born on August 13, 1574 (although this date is disputed) in the fortified town of Brouage, France. His father, Antoine de Champlain, is a captain in the French marine, and Brouage is a key manufacturing center and port for salt shipping. Little is known about Champlain's upbringing, but he studies navigation and cartography.
|1599||Champlain sails with his uncle in the Caribbean.(Early 1599)
Between 1599 and 1601, Champlain sails with his uncle on a large French ship chartered by the Spanish government. They travel extensively in the Caribbean and visit several Spanish ports in the New World. Champlain gains a reputation as a strong navigator, and he eventually plans to become a geographer, like his uncle.
|1601||Champlain is named royal geographer in the court of King Henry IV.
In 1601, Champlain is named royal geographer in the court of King Henry IV. He serves in this position until 1603. As part of his duties, he travels to French ports, where he learns about North America from fishermen who have worked along the coastline.
|March 15, 1603||Champlain makes his first voyage to North America.
Champlain joins Captain François Gravé du Pont's fur-trading expedition to North America, which departs France on March 15, 1603. He serves as unofficial geographer and cartographer on this journey. The ship arrives at the summer trading post of Tadoussac on May 26, and explores the St. Lawrence and Saguenay rivers. Champlain proves his usefulness at understanding the local geography.
|November 1603||Champlain publishes Des Sauvages.
The du Pont expedition returns to France in September 1603, and in November, Champlain publishes Des Sauvages, ou Voyage de Samuel de Champlain, De Brouage. This account of his voyage encourages King Henry to see New France's great potential for trade and settlement.
|May 1604||Champlain arrives in Acadia.
After his usefulness on the 1603 voyage to New France, Champlain serves as geographer on an expedition to Acadia led by Lieutenant-General Pierre Du Gua de Monts. The group arrives in what is now Novia Scotia in May 1604, and Champlain explores the Bay of Fundy and St. John River. As the group plans to establish a colony, he recommends settling at the mouth of the St. Croix River, but the brutal winter and malnutrition kill many of the settlers.
|May 1607||Champlain abandons Acadia.
Champlain spends the next three years exploring the region surrounding Acadia as he looks for suitable locations for a colony. After several years of trying to establish a foothold in Acadia, de Monts' trade monopoly fails and the French settlers are forced to abandon the colony. Champlain leaves the colony to return to France, but he intends to return and focus on the St. Lawrence Valley.
|July 3, 1608||Champlain founds Quebec City.
Eager to return to the St. Lawrence Valley, Champlain is named lieutenant to de Monts, and they set out on a new colonization expedition in 1608. On July 3, 1608, Champlain begins work on a fort that becomes the foundation of Quebec City. He intends for the fort to be a focal point in the growing French fur trade.
|July 30, 1609||Champlain cements an alliance with his Aboriginal colleagues.
In 1609, Champlain leaves Quebec City to explore the neighboring regions with allies from the Huron and Montagnais tribes. On July 30, Champlain helps his allies defeat an Iroquois raiding party on Lake Champlain. This cements the French alliance with their Aboriginal colleagues, and the French fur trade increases.
|December 30, 1610||Champlain marries Hélène Boullé.
After the assassination of Henry IV, the French court enters a period of uncertainty, and Champlain focuses on renewing the court's interest in developing New France. Partially to encourage this interest, he marries twelve-year-old Hélène Boullé, the daughter of the secretary to the king's chamber, on December 30, 1610. They agree not to consummate the relationship for two years.
|September 1, 1615||Champlain sets off on a military expedition with the Hurons.
On September 1, 1615, Champlain accompanies the Hurons into the interior of Canada on a military expedition. Champlain and his French colleagues help the Hurons attack the Iroquois, but they lose the battle and Champlain is wounded. He reluctantly spends the winter with the Hurons, during which he writes a detailed account of Native American life.
|March 1620||Champlain is instituted as lieutenant of New France.
Embroiled in lawsuits and political upheaval at the French court, Champlain is unable to return to Quebec until 1620. In March of that year he is instituted as lieutenant of New France, and King Louis XIII insists that he focus his efforts on administrative tasks rather than exploration. He returns to New France, though the colony continues to struggle.
|July 19, 1629||Champlain surrenders to the English.
During a war between England and France, Charles I of England sends an expedition to remove the French from the profitable fur trade in New France. The English attack the fort at Quebec City and seize supply ships, which effectively cuts off the colony. Champlain surrenders to the English on July 19, 1629, and returns to France. The colony is returned to France in 1632.
|May 22, 1633||Champlain returns to Quebec for the final time.
After a four-year absence, Champlain returns to Quebec for the final time on May 22, 1633. Cardinal Richelieu names him Lieutenant General of New France, but many colonists and Indians treat him as the governor. Champlain devotes his time to rebuilding the city and its fortifications, and constructing new settlements.
|December 25, 1635||Champlain dies.
Champlain suffers a severe stroke in October 1635, and he dies on December 25 of that year. His will gives bequests to his wife Hélène, with significant donations to Catholic missions. He is buried in Quebec, although the exact location of his remains is unknown.