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).

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. Tasked with mapping the New World and finding a western route to the Orient—and building upon fellow explorer Jacques Cartier’s earlier achievements—Champlain made the first attempts at a permanent settlement in 1608, when he built a habitation that eventually became Québec.

From 1608-16, Champlain deepened trading relations with Québec’s local Indigenous people. As he began to explore the western interior with Indigenous 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 trying to improve the territory rather than simply exploring it.

On March 1, 1632, he was appointed New France’s governor—the first ever.

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

2014 CHAMPLAIN COIN

In 2014, the Royal Canadian Mint featured Champlain on the third coin of its Great Explorers series. The $200 pure gold Proof coin 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 pieces; a weight of 15.43 grams; and a 29-millimetre diameter.

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