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Samuel de Champlain's Voyages
Volume II, Part XI

The Journals of the intrepid French explorer who was the first European to discover Lake Champlain
 

This is the eleventh in a continuing series of entries from the Voyages of Samuel de Champlain, first published in 1613. To view Part I, click here. For Champlain's account of the discovery of the lake that bears his name, click here...

Original translation from the French by Charles Pomeroy Otis, Ph.D. Republished by the Prince Society, Boston: 1878.

MEMOIR OF SAMUEL DE CHAMPLAIN
Volume II
1604-1610

CHAPTER XI

WHAT TOOK PLACE AFTER THE DEPARTURE OF SIEUR DE MONTS, UNTIL, NO TIDINGS OF WHAT HE HAD PROMISED BEING RECEIVED, WE DEPARTED FROM PORT ROYAL TO RETURN TO FRANCE.

As soon as Sieur de Monts had departed, a portion of the forty or forty-five who remained began to make gardens. I, also, for the sake of occupying my time, made one, which was surrounded with ditches full of water, in which I placed some fine trout, and into which flowed three brooks of very fine running water, from which the greater part of our settlement was supplied. I made also a little sluice-way towards the shore, in order to draw off the water when I wished. This spot was entirely surrounded by meadows, where I constructed a summer-house, with some fine trees, as a resort for enjoying the fresh air. I made there, also, a little reservoir for holding salt-water fish, which we took out as we wanted them. I took especial pleasure in it, and planted there some seeds which turned out well. But much work had to be laid out in preparation. We resorted often to this place as a pastime; and it seemed as if the little birds round about took pleasure in it, for they gathered there in large numbers, warbling and chirping so pleasantly that I think I never heard the like.

The plan of the settlement was ten fathoms long and eight wide, making the distance round thirty-six. On the eastern side is a store-house, occupying the width of it, and a very fine cellar from five to six feet deep. On the northern side are the quarters of Sieur de Monts, handsomely finished. About the back yard are the dwellings of the workmen. At a corner of the western side is a platform, where four cannon were placed; and at the other corner, towards the east, is a palisade shaped like a platform, as can be seen from the accompanying illustration.
 * * * * *

CHAMPLAIN'S EXPLANATION OF THE ACCOMPANYING MAP.

L'ABITASION DU PORT ROYAL.

_The figures indicate fathoms of water_.

_A_. Dwelling of the artisans.
_B_. Platform where the cannon were placed.
_C_. The store-house.
_D_. Dwelling of Sieur de Pont Gravé and Champlain.
_E_. The blacksmith's shop.
_F_. Palisade of pickets.
_G_. The bakery.
_H_. The kitchen.
_O_. Small house where the equipment of our barques was stored. This Sieur de Poutrincourt afterwards had rebuilt, and Sieur Boulay dwelt there when Sieur de Pont Gravé returned to France.
_P_. Gate to our habitation.
_Q_. The Cemetery.
_R_. The River.

NOTES. The habitation of Port Royal was on the present site of the hamlet of Lower Granville in Nova Scotia. _I_. Points to the garden-plots. _K_. Takes the place of _Q_, which is wanting on the map, and marks the place of the cemetery, where may be seen the crucifix, the death's-head, and cross-bones. _L_. Takes the place of _R_, which is wanting, to indicate the river. _M_. Indicates the moat on the north side of the dwelling. _N_. Probably indicates the dwelling of the gentlemen, De Monts and others.

* * * * *

Some days after the buildings were completed, I went to the river St. John to find the savage named Secondon, the same that conducted Prevert's party to the copper mine, which I had already gone in search of with Sieur de Monts, when we were at the Port of Mines, though without success. [181] Having found him, I begged him to go there with us, which he very readily consented to do, and proceeded to show it to us. We found there some little pieces of copper of the thickness of a sou, and others still thicker imbedded in grayish and red rocks. The miner accompanying us, whose name was Master Jacques, a native of Sclavonia, a man very skilful in searching for minerals, made the entire circuit of the hills to see if he could find any gangue, [182] but without success. Yet he found, some steps from where we had taken the pieces of copper before mentioned, something like a mine, which, however, was far from being one. He said that, from the appearance of the soil, it might prove to be good, if it were worked; and that it was not probable that there could be pure copper on the surface of the earth, without there being a large quantity of it underneath. The truth is that, if the water did not cover the mines twice a day, and if they did not lie in such hard rocks, something might be expected from them.

After making this observation, we returned to our settlement, where we found some of our company sick with the _mal de la terre_, but not so seriously as at the Island of St. Croix; although, out of our number of forty-five, twelve died, including the miner, and five were sick, who recovered the following spring. Our surgeon, named Des Champs, from Honfleur, skilful in his profession, opened some of the bodies, to see whether he might be more successful in discovering the cause of the maladies that our surgeons had been the year before. He found the parts of the body affected in the same manner as those opened at the Island of St. Croix, but could discover no means of curing them, any more than the other surgeons.

On the 20th of December, it began to snow, and some ice passed along before our Settlement. The winter was not so sharp as the year before, nor the snow so deep, or of so long duration. Among other incidents, the wind was so violent on the 20th of February, 1605, [183] that it blew over a large number of trees, roots and all, and broke off many others. It was a remarkable sight. The rains were very frequent; which was the cause of the mild winter in comparison with the past one, although it is only twenty-five leagues from Port Royal to St. Croix.

On the first day of March, Pont Gravé ordered a barque of seventeen or eighteen tons to be fitted up, which was ready, on the 15th, in order to go on a voyage of discovery along the coast of Florida. [184] With this view, we set out on the 16th following, but were obliged to put in at an island to the south of Manan, having gone that day eighteen leagues. We anchored in a sandy cove, exposed to the sea and the south wind. [185] The latter increased, during the night, to such an impetuosity that we could not stand by our anchor, and were compelled, without choice, to go ashore, at the mercy of God and the waves. The latter were so heavy and furious that while we were attaching the buoy to the anchor, so as to cut the cable at the hawse-hole, it did not give us time, but broke straightway of itself. The wind and the sea cast us as the wave receded upon a little rock, and we awaited only the moment to see our barque break up, and to save ourselves, if possible, upon its fragments. In these desperate straits, after we had received several waves, there came one so large and fortunate for us that it carried us over the rock, and threw us on to a little sandy beach, which insured us for this time from shipwreck.

The barque being on shore, we began at once to unload what there was in her, in order to ascertain where the damage was, which was not so great as we expected. She was speedily repaired by the diligence of Champdoré, her master. Having been put in order, she was reloaded; and we waited for fair weather and until the fury of the sea should abate, which was not until the end of four days, namely, the 21st of March, when we set out from this miserable place, and proceeded to Port aux Coquilles, [186] seven or eight leagues distant. The latter is at the mouth of the river St. Croix, where there was a large quantity of snow. We stayed there until the 29th of the month, in consequence of the fogs and contrary winds, which are usual at this season, when Pont Gravé determined to put back to Port Royal, to see in what condition our companions were, whom we had left there sick. Having arrived there, Pont Gravé was attacked with illness, which delayed us until the 8th of April.

On the 9th of the month he embarked, although still indisposed, from his desire to see the coast of Florida, and in the belief that a change of air would restore his health. The same day we anchored and passed the night at the mouth of the harbor, two leagues distant from our settlement.

The next morning before day, Champdoré came to ask Pont Gravé if he wished to have the anchor raised, who replied in the affirmative, if he deemed the weather favorable for setting out. Upon this, Champdoré had the anchor raised at once, and the sail spread to the wind, which was north-north-east, according to his report. The weather was thick and rainy, and the air full of fog, with indications of foul rather than fair weather.

While going out of the mouth of the harbor, [187] we were suddenly carried by the tide out of the passage, and, before perceiving them, were driven upon the rocks on the east-north-east coast. [188] Pont Gravé and I, who were asleep, were awaked by hearing the sailors shouting and exclaiming, "We are lost!" which brought me quickly to my feet, to see what was the matter. Pont Gravé was still ill, which prevented him from rising as quickly as he wished. I was scarcely on deck, when the barque was thrown upon the coast; and the wind, which was north, drove us upon a point. We unfurled the mainsail, turned it to the wind, and hauled it up as high as we could, that it might drive us up as far as possible on the rocks, for fear that the reflux of the sea, which fortunately was falling, would draw us in, when it would have been impossible to save ourselves. At the first blow of our boat upon the rocks, the rudder broke, a part of the keel and three or four planks were smashed, and some ribs stove in, which frightened us, for our barque filled immediately; and all that we could do was to wait until the sea fell, so that we might get ashore. For, otherwise, we were in danger of our lives, in consequence of the swell, which was very high and furious about us. The sea having fallen, we went on shore amid the storm, when the barque was speedily unloaded, and we saved a large portion of the provisions in her, with the help of the savage, Captain Secondon and his companions, who came to us with their canoes, to carry to our habitation what we had saved from our barque, which, all shattered as she was, went to pieces at the return of the tide. But we, most happy at having saved our lives, returned to our settlement with our poor savages, who stayed there a large part of the winter; and we praised God for having rescued us from this shipwreck, from which we had not expected to escape so easily.

The loss of our barque caused us great regret, since we found ourselves, through want of a vessel, deprived of the prospect of being able to accomplish the voyage we had undertaken. And we were unable to build another; for time was pressing, and although there was another barque on the stocks, yet it would have required too long to get it ready, and we could scarcely have made use of it before the return from France of the vessels we were daily expecting.

This was a great misfortune, and owing to the lack of foresight on the part of the master, who was obstinate, but little acquainted with seamanship, and trusting only his own head. He was a good carpenter, skilful in building vessels, and careful in provisioning them with all necessaries, but in no wise adapted to sailing them.

Pont Gravé, having arrived at the settlement, received the evidence against Champdoré, who was accused of having run the barque on shore with evil intent. Upon such information, he was imprisoned and handcuffed, with the intention of taking him to France and handing him over to Sieur de Monts, to be treated as justice might direct.

On the 15th of June, Pont Gravé, finding that the vessels did not return from France, had the handcuffs taken off from Champdoré, that he might finish the barque which was on the stocks, which service he discharged very well.

On the 16th of July, the time when we were to leave, in case the vessels had not returned, as was provided in the commission which Sieur de Monts had given to Pont Gravé, we set out from our settlement to go to Cape Breton or to Gaspé in search of means of returning to France, since we had received no intelligence from there.

Two of our men remained, of their own accord, to take care of the provisions which were left at the settlement, to each of whom Pont Gravé promised fifty crowns in money, and fifty more which he agreed to estimate their pay at when he should come to get them the following year. [189]

There was a captain of the savages named Mabretou, [190] who promised to take care of them, and that they should be treated as kindly as his own children. We found him a friendly savage all the time we were there, although he had the name of being the worst and most traitorous man of his tribe.

ENDNOTES:

181. _Vide antea_, pp. 25, 26.

182. _La gangue_. This is the technical word for the matrix, or substance containing the ore of metals.

183. For 1605, read 1606.

184. Florida, as then known, extended from the peninsula indefinitely to the north.

185. Seal Cove, which makes up between the south-west end of the Grand Manan and Wood Island, the latter being South of Manan and is plainly the island referred to in the text. This cove is open to the South wind and the sea in a storm. Wood Island has a sandy shore with occasional rocks.

186. _Port aux Coquilles_, the harbor of shells. This port was near the northeastern extremity of Campobello Island, and was probably Head Harbor, which affords a good harbor of refuge.--_Vide_ Champlain's Map of 1612, reference 9.

187. By "harbor" is here meant Annapolis Bay. This wreck of the barque took place on the Granville side of Digby Strait, where the tides rise from twenty-three to twenty-Seven feet.

188. North-east. The text has _norouest_, clearly a misprint for _nordest_.

189. These two men were M. La Taille and Miquelet, of whom Lescarbot speaks in terms of enthusiastic praise for their patriotic courage in voluntarily risking their lives for the good of New France. _Vide Histoire Nouvelle France_, Paris, 1612, pp. 545, 546.

190. _Mabretou_, by Lescarbot written Membertou.

This is the conclusion of Chapter 11 of Voyages
Click here for Chapter 12

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Sources/Notes:

Samuel de Champlain. 1567-1635. "Voyages of Samuel de Champlain" Edited by Edmund F. Slafter, (Boston: Prince Society 1878)

Samuel de Champlain image: Warwick Stevens Carpenter. The Summer Paradise in History. Albany: General Passenger Department, The Delaware and Hudson Company. 1914. Courtesy of John and Barbara Gallagher.

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