Called the "Father of New France"
Samuel du Champlain founded Quebec, the first permanent French settlement in North America. He also kept the struggling community alive during its early years. He explored Canada as far west as Lake Huron and also discovered the lake in New York that bears his name.
Samuel du Champlain was born in 1567 in Brouage, a small French seaport on the Bay of Biscay. Little is known of Champlain's family background. However it is known that Champlain learned the ways of the sea from his uncle. His father was a sea captain, and young Samuel was trained in seamanship, navigation, and mapmaking.
Champlain's first voyage was to Spain with his uncle. This voyage led him to be on a charted French vessel that went to the West Indies and New Spain with the annual fleet. On his return to France two years later, the 32-year-old Champlain was to go with Francis Grave, Sieur du Pont a merchant and fur trader and citizen of St.
Malo. In 1603 they voyaged up the "riviere du Canada." Du Pont's business was at the trading post, which had been established at Tadoussac; and Champlain was a royal geographer. Champlain left du Pont to his business and explored. Champlain gathered information from the Montagnais on the geography of the northeastern section of the continent. He used this information to draw a remarkably accurate map with a large bay to the north (Hudson Bay) and water to the west, which he later discovered was the Great Lakes. He went 12 leagues up the Saguenay; and then further up the St. Lawrence as far as Hochelaga (Montreal) passing on his way a place which in time he was to spend most all of his life (Quebec). Before...