OTD: Champlain defeats Iroquois on Richelieu River

On today’s date in 1610, Samuel de Champlain and his Huron and Algonquin allies defeated an Iroquois party on Québec’s Richelieu River (formerly known as the Iroquois River and the Chambly River).

In 2014, the Royal Canadian Mint featured Champlain on the third coin of its Great Explorers series. The pure gold Proof coin with a face value of $200 features the French explorer alongside a First Nations guide as they disembark from canoes on the Ontario shoreline. The coin was designed by Glen Green and has a mintage of 2,000. It has a weight of 15.43 grams and a 29-mm diameter.

Born into a family of French mariners in 1574, Champlain began exploring North America in 1603 and eventually climbed to the top of society on this side of the pond. Initially, he was charged with mapping the New World and finding a western route to the Orient. Building upon Jacques Cartier’s achievements from 1535, Champlain made the first attempts at a permanent settlement, and in 1608, he built a habitation that eventually became Québec.

From 1608 to 1616, Champlain deepened trading relations with First Nations people. As he began to explore the western interior with Aboriginal guides, his quest for new territory was slowed by demands for permanent settlement and by his growing role as Lieutenant General of New France. He went to New France in 1620 and spent the rest of his life improving the territory rather than simply exploring it. On March 1, 1632, he was appointed New France’s governor—the first ever.

He died on Christmas Day 1635 in Quebec City. By the time of his death, the first Québécois settlers were beginning to arrive.

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