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Known as the "Father of New France", Samuel de Champlain (1574 - 1635) was born in the French seaport town of Brouage. His skills as navigator, cartographer, soldier, explorer and administrator were highly useful when he first began exploring North America in 1603 and later when he founded New France and succeeded in establishing a new settlement at Quebec in 1608. He was the first European to explore and describe the Great Lakes and recorded his journeys and accounts of his friendly relations with Indigenous peoples including the Innu, the Montagnais, the Huron Wendat, and the Algonquin, and his support in their wars against the Iroquois. In 1632, he was re-appointed to govern the colonies of New France - a post which he held until his death on Christmas Day 1635. While Champlain's grave has never been found, there are many memorials and sites that have been named in his honour. Shown in the photograph is the Champlain monument at Chouchiching Beach Park, Orillia, Ontario where 10,000 people gathered at its unveiling on 1 July 1925 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Champlain with fifteen companions who travelled through Huronia in the summer of 1615 and spent time with the Wendat people in the Orillia area. Considered one of the finest examples of bronze statuary in Canada, it was the winning design by English sculptor Vernon March (1891 - 1930) among twenty-two submissions made in a 1912 competition. While the initial target date for completion was August 1915, the project was delayed by a decade due to the Great War. It was this statue of Champlain that likely helped him win in January 1926 the international design competition for a National War Memorial to be built in Ottawa.
On this day, 25 December 2017, we commemorate the 382nd anniversary of the death of Samuel de Champlain - the "Father of New France" - and mark the 402nd anniversary of his travels through Huronia.