Samuel de Champlain was a French colonist, navigator, cartographer, draftsman, soldier, explorer, geographer, ethnologist, diplomat, and chronicler. He made between 21 and 29 trips across the Atlantic Ocean, and founded New France and Quebec City, on July 3, 1608. An important figure in Canadian history, Champlain created the first accurate coastal map during his explorations, and founded various colonial settlements.
Champlain explored the Massachusetts coast in search of a location to build a settlement that might be even better than the existing French base of Port Royal, that was established in the spring of 1605 in Nova Scotia.
Champlain’s pinnace sailed into what later became known as Gloucester Harbor in September, 1606. The party stayed in the port for a few days, and found the location to be physically most agreeable for a potential settlement. However, they soon found the disposition of the indigenous peoples to be remarkably hostile, a problem that would ultimately drive the Frenchman away from the region all together.
The harbour dominates the centre of the map, which is protected by a long narrow peninsula. Champlain’s ship is shown anchored in the middle of the bay, at the head of a trail of depth soundings that lead to the mouth of the bay, where the map is adorned with an elegant compass rose. Numerous finely engraved fish decorate the scene, and the forested countryside is shown to be densely populated with native villages. A detailed legend is printed beneath that explains the various details marked by letters on the map. Perhaps the most curious aspect of the composition is the figure of an agitated man marked with the symbol ‘V’, to which the key explains, in translation, that this is an impression of Champlain himself “throwing his limbs about,” as if to warn his comrades of the dangers posed by the natives.
Below is a highly important map by Samuel de Champlain, one of a series of the very first printed sea charts of North America
Other great articles on Samuel Champlain:
Champlain was here— By Ted Widmer, Boston.com, March 9, 2008
America’s founding myth tells of the Puritans landing in wild, uncharted lands. Yet a French explorer had already mapped the territory in exquisite detail.
Cape Ann Museum, History of Cape Ann