Toronto Public Library Homepage

This page has been archived and is no longer updated.

« Previous | Main | Next »

Snapshots in History: June 28: Remembering Samuel de Champlain

June 28, 2013 | John P. | Comments (0)

(TVO’s Allan Gregg interviewing David Hackett Fischer, the author of Champlain’s Dream)

On June 28 and beyond, take a moment to remember explorer Samuel de Champlain (Born: circa 1570? at Brouage, Saintonge, France; Died: December 25, 1635 at Québec, New France). Why remember Champlain on June 28? For it was on June 28, 1609 that Champlain departed with a mixed party of Frenchmen and aboriginal people from the Algonkin, Huron, and Montagnais nations to explore the territory of the Iroquois nation. Roughly one month later, on July 29, 1609, Champlain’s party encountered the Iroquois at Ticonderoga (Crown Point, N.Y.) with an ensuing battle occurring the following day. This action marked Champlain’s first military foray in New France and environs. Champlain fired his arquebus and killed two Iroquois chiefs, leading to panic in the Iroquois ranks. Prior to this encounter, Champlain followed the Iroquois (now Richelieu) River into a lake on July 14, 1609 which now bears the name Lake Champlain in upper New York State. In later years, Champlain’s primary focus was the settlement of Québec (now Québec City). Following its temporary capture by the Kirke brothers from England in 1629, Champlain returned to France but returned to the New World on May 22, 1633. As of his death on Christmas Day in 1635, 150 French-speaking individuals resided in the colony at Québec.

Consider the following titles for loan from Toronto Public Library collections:

Champlain the birth of French America

Champlain: the birth of French America / edited by Raymonde Litalien and Denis Vaugeois; translated by Käthe Roth, 2004. Book. Adult Non-Fiction.

This essay collection examined the origins and development of L’Acadie, looked at problems associated with colonization, showcased France during Champlain’s lifetime, and how Champlain has been remembered in recent times. Enjoy the reproduction of 32 maps attributed to Champlain as well as some of his drawings, documents and rare artifacts.

Champlain's dream

Champlain’s dream / David Hackett Fischer, 2008. Book. Adult Non-Fiction.

Historian Fischer strived to deliver a balanced, realistic biography of Samuel de Champlain by focusing on early influences, personal characteristics, and the reasons for the establishment of New France. Fischer also tackled differences of opinion over Champlain’s birth date, the extent of his exploration, his policy towards aboriginal people, and whether Champlain was deserving of being referred to as the “Founder of Québec” and the “Father of New France”. Watch Allan Gregg’s interview with the author above.

Also available in Audiobook CD and Talking Book (Restricted to Print Disabled Patrons) formats.

God's mercies rivalry and betrayal in the age of discovery

God's mercies: rivalry and betrayal in the age of discovery / Doug Hunter, 2007. Book. Adult Non-Fiction.

Compare and contrast two explorers of the late 1500s/early 1600s – Frenchman Samuel de Champlain and Englishman Henry Hudson. Both wished to secure a northern route to the Orient. Hudson would see this turned against him when mutineers put him, his sons, and loyal crewmembers in a small boat during the summer of 1611, never to be seen or heard from again. Champlain initiated an expedition up the Ottawa River in May 1613 after learning of the survival of a young Englishman, the only survivor from a shipwreck. 


Samuel de Champlain father of New France 

Samuel de Champlain: father of New France / Francine Legaré and Jonathan Kaplansky (translator), 2004. Book. Adult Non-Fiction.

Champlain, a renowned cartographer and navigator, focused on the New World in conjunction with reaching India with its different spices and other riches. New France became Champlain’s primary focus and he lobbied the mother country to protect and develop the colony. Arguably, Champlain’s perseverance toward New France led to the Canada that is known today.

Also available in eBook format.  


Would you rather watch and listen (than read) about Champlain? Then try the following documentary on DVD:

The mystery of Champlain [Doc Zone] [DVD] / Ann-Marie MacDonald et al., 2008. DVD. Documentary. Adult Non-Fiction.

This CBC Doc Zone documentary hosted by Ann-Marie MacDonald attempted to fill in some of the blank spots in the life of Samuel de Champlain.


Do you prefer reading fiction to non-fiction? Then consider the following historical/21st century fiction hybrid novel:

The order of good cheer: a novel / Bill Gaston, 2008. Book. Adult Fiction.

Author Bill Gaston demonstrated his adeptness at carrying two storylines within one novel: During the fall of 1607, Samuel de Champlain faced the challenges of keeping his Annapolis Royal (currently in Nova Scotia) colony healthy by combating both scurvy and boredom amongst the colonists. Champlain came up with a moveable feast, “an order of good cheer”, whereby the men could enjoy good food, wine, and comradeship. Contrast the historical plotline with one 400 years into the future where worker Andy Winslow and his friends are immersed in an urban setting suffering from encroaching economic and environmental disaster. What is the 2007 solution? Read the book and find out.  


The Albert Campbell District Blog is an online resource and place where you can access information related to the Albert Campbell, Eglinton Square, McGregor Park, and Kennedy Eglinton branches. It will feature reading recommendations, information on new titles and resources in the branches, special events and programs, as well as other information of interest to you. We encourage you to make this blog an interactive space by replying and commenting on posts and by subscribing to the RSS feature which allows you to receive blog updates without having to search for them.