Story Ideas

Celebrate Champlain’s 400th anniversary

French explorer charted Ottawa Valley in 1613

15 May 2013

You could call Samuel de Champlain one of the founding fathers of Canada. The French explorer helped found New France, the areas of North America settled by the French that included much of present Canada. In 1608, he founded Québec City. Throughout 1604-1615, he paddled into the New World’s hinterland using the watery “highways” of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers.

In 1613, accompanied by Anishinabe First Nations’guides, Champlain explored the Ottawa Valley in search of a trade passage to the West Indies. That year, he reached Allumettes Island in what is today’s still-spectacularly beautiful Pontiac region of the Outaouais.

Now, along the “Champlain Trail”, communities are celebrating his historic journey with dramatizations, lectures, canoe trips and exhibitions.

Cities of Ottawa/Gatineau: Franco-Ontarian Festival, Algonquin First Nations’ celebrations, lectures.

Champlain on the Ottawa: French explorer in an Anishinabe World, Ottawa: June to October. Panels of photos and maps on Plaza Bridge in Confederation Square celebrate Champlain’s journeys.

Champlain Trail Museum, Pembroke: June 13-16: Display of Champlain’s astrolabe, historic encampment and events with Ottawa River Canoe Brigade.

Savour the Pontiac, Quyon, QC: July 27-28: Visit a bustling 17th-century marketplace where artists such as Jelly Massee depict Champlain-related historical art, and where artisans, workshops, talks and voyageur canoes are on show. Local producers offer tempting fare.

Shawville Museum, Shawville, QC: July 1 – Sept. 2: Special exhibit of Cartography of the Ottawa Valley since Champlain’s time.

Défi Champlain, Gatineau, QC: July 26 – Aug. 5: Register for three- to 11-day canoe trips up the Ottawa River.

Tags: Ontario, Québec, outdoors, culture & arts
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