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The Mapmakers: An Essay in Four Parts
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Samuel de Champlain (c. 1570 - 1635)

On July 3, 1608, Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec, which was the first permanent and continuous settlement in Canada, although colonies at both Port Royal and Tadoussac had been established earlier. Leaving his ships at Tadoussac, Champlain, second to Lieutenant General of Acadia Pierre du Gua de Monts, brought the first inhabitants to Quebec. The first "Habitation" he built consisted of three living quarters protected by a palisade and a ditch. Close by, Champlain prepared a garden and grew wheat. All this was promising. Nevertheless, the winter took a heavy toll and only a portion of the 25 men survived.

Image: Title page of Champlain's 1613 account Image: Page from Champlain's 1613 account

The founding of Quebec:
"Je fis continuer nostre logement, qui estoit de trois corps de logis à deux estages. [...] Le magazin six & trois de large, avec une belle cave de six pieds de haut. Tout autour de nos logemens je fis faire une galerie par dehors au second estage, qui estoit fort commode, avec des fossés de 15 pieds de large et six de profond. [...]"

(Champlain 1613, 184)

In spite of everything, the colony persisted because of the fur trade, which attracted clerks and craftsmen. Champlain also brought in Récollet priests in 1615. But Quebec only consisted of men and it was only in 1617 that the first European woman landed in Quebec. She was Marie Rollet, wife of Louis Hébert, a former apothecary from Paris, who settled on the heights of the cape. 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. Apart from the rigours of the climate, there was something else that explained this situation: although the fur trading companies had committed themselves to facilitating the bringing over of families, they did so unenthusiastically, and Champlain had trouble promoting his colonization project. In 1627, Cardinal Richelieu, Regent of France, took matters in hand and founded the Compagnie des Cent-Associés (Company of One Hundred Associates) to sponsor colonization. The first ships that the Company sent, with 400 immigrants on board, fell into the hands of the Kirke brothers in 1628. The following year, without the military forces required to defend it, or enough food for its inhabitants, Champlain capitulated the colony. Quebec was taken over by the English in 1629 and would remain so until 1632.

Image: Champlain's habitation

When he returned to Quebec in 1633, Champlain brought 200 people with him, primarily workmen. French colonization, slowed by four years of English presence, picked up again the following year due to exceptional recruiters  --  the surgeon Robert Giffard de Moncel and the Juchereau brothers  --  who continued Champlain's work in France. The new arrivals settled on the Beaupré shore and the island of Orleans on long bands of land perpendicular to the St. Lawrence River. For two and a half centuries, the place that Champlain chose to set his first colony would be the primary port of entry to Canada's interior. The cultural landscape of French implantation in North America initiated by Champlain can still be seen, not only along the St. Lawrence River, but in places as far away as the Red River in Manitoba. From the nucleus founded in Quebec, the country gradually grew.

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