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Samuel de Champlain's Voyages
Volume II, Part XII

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

This is the twelfth 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.

Volume II



On the 17th of the month, in accordance with the resolution we had formed, we set out from the mouth of Port Royal with two barques, one of eighteen tons, the other of seven or eight, with the view of pursuing the voyage to Cape Breton or Canseau. We anchored in the strait of Long Island,[191] where during the night our cable broke, and we came near being lost, owing to the violent tides which strike upon several rocky points in and about this place. But, through the diligent exertions of all, we were saved, and escaped once more.

On the 21st of the month there was a violent wind, which broke the irons of our rudder between Long Island and Cape Fourchu, and reduced us to such extremities that we were at a loss what to do. For the fury of the sea did not permit us to land, since the breakers ran mountain high along the coast, so that we resolved to perish in the sea rather than to land, hoping that the wind and tempest would abate, so that, with the wind astern, we might go ashore on some sandy beach. As each one thought by himself what might be done for our preservation, a sailor said that a quantity of cordage attached to the stern of our barque, and dragging in the water, might serve in some measure to steer our vessel. But this was of no avail; and we saw that, unless God should aid us by other means, this would not preserve us from shipwreck. As we were thinking what could be done for our safety, Champdoré, who had been again handcuffed, said to some of us that, if Pont Gravé desired it, he would find means to steer our barque. This we reported to Pont Gravé, who did not refuse this offer, and the rest of us still less. He accordingly had his handcuffs taken off the second time, and at once taking a rope, he cut it and fastened the rudder with it in such a skilful manner that it would steer the ship as well as ever. In this way, he made amends for the mistakes he had made leading to the loss of the previous barque, and was discharged from his accusation through our entreaties to Pont Gravé who, although Somewhat reluctantly, acceded to it.

The same day we anchored near La Baye Courante, [192] two leagues from Cape Fourchu, and there our barque was repaired.  On the 23d of July, we proceeded near to Cape Sable.

On the 24th of the month, at two o'clock in the afternoon, we perceived a shallop, near Cormorant Island, coming from Cape Sable. Some thought it was savages going away from Cape Breton or the Island of Canseau. Others said it might be shallops sent from Canseau to get news of us. Finally, as we approached nearer, we saw that they were Frenchmen, which delighted us greatly. When it had almost reached us, we recognized Ralleau, the Secretary of Sieur de Monts, which redoubled our joy. He informed us that Sieur de Monts had despatched a vessel of a hundred and twenty tons, commanded by Sieur de Poutrincourt, who had come with fifty men to act as Lieutenant-General, and live in the country; that he had landed at Canseau, whence the above-mentioned vessel had gone out to sea, in order, if possible, to find us, while he, meanwhile, was proceeding along the coast in a shallop, in order to meet us in case we should have set out, supposing we had departed from Port Royal, as was in fact the case: in so doing, they acted very wisely. All this intelligence caused us to turn back; and we arrived at Port Royal on the 25th of the month, where we found the above-mentioned vessel and Sieur de Poutrincourt, and were greatly delighted to see realized what we had given up in despair. [193] He told us that his delay had been caused by an accident which happened to the ship in leaving the boom at Rochelle, where he had taken his departure, and that he had been hindered by bad weather on his voyage. [194]

The next day, Sieur de Poutrincourt proceeded to set forth his views as to what should be done; and, in accordance with the opinion of all, he resolved to stay at Port Royal this year, inasmuch as no discovery had been made since the departure of Sieur de Monts, and the period of four months before winter was not long enough to search out a site and construct another settlement, especially in a large vessel, unlike a barque which draws little water, searches everywhere, and finds places to one's mind for effecting settlements. But he decided that, during this period, nothing more should be done than to try to find some place better adapted for our abode. [195]

Thus deciding, Sieur de Poutrincourt despatched at once some laborers to work on the land in a spot which he deemed suitable, up the river, a league and a half from the settlement of Port Royal, and where we had thought of making our abode. Here he ordered wheat, rye, hemp, and several other kinds of seeds to be sown, in order to ascertain how they would flourish. [196]

On the 22d of August, a small barque was seen approaching our settlement. It was that of Des Antons, of St. Malo, who had come from Canseau, where his vessel was engaged in fishing, to inform us that there were some vessels about Cape Breton engaged in the fur-trade; and that, if we would send our ship, we might capture them on the point of returning to France. It was determined to do so as soon as some supplies, which were in the ship, could be unloaded. [197]

This being done. Pont Gravé embarked, together with his companions, who had wintered with him at Port Royal, excepting Champdoré and Foulgeré de Vitré. I also stayed with De Poutrincourt, in order, with God's help, to complete the map of the coasts and countries which I had commenced. Every thing being put in order in the settlement. Sieur de Poutrincourt ordered provisions to be taken on board for our voyage along the coast of Florida.

On the 29th of August, we set out from Port Royal, as did also Pont Gravé and Des Antons, who were bound for Cape Breton and Canseau, to seize the vessels which were engaging in the fur-trade, as I have before stated. After getting out to sea, we were obliged to put back on account of bad weather. But the large vessel kept on her course, and we soon lost sight of her.


191. Petit Passage, leading into St. Mary's Bay.

192. _La Baye Courante_, the bay at the mouth of Argyl or Abuptic River, sometimes called Lobster Bay.--_Vide Campbell's Yarmouth County_. N.S., p. 13. The anchorage for the repair of the barque near this bay, two leagues from Cape Fourchu, was probably near Pinckney Point, or it may have been under the lee of one of the Tusquet Islands.

193. Lescarbot, who with De Poutrincourt was in this vessel, the "Jonas," gives a very elaborate account of their arrival and reception at Port Royal. It seems that, at Canseau, Poutrincourt, supposing that the colony at Port Royal, not receiving expected succors, had possibly already embarked for France, as was in fact the case, had despatched a small boat in charge of Ralleau to reconnoitre the coast, with the hope of meeting them, if they had already embarked. The "Jonas" passed them unobserved, perhaps while they were repairing their barque at Baye Courante. As Ralleau did not join the "Jonas" till after their arrival at Port Royal, Poutrincourt did not hear of the departure of the colony till his arrival. Champlain's dates do not agree with those of Lescarbot, and the latter is probably correct. According to Lescarbot, Poutrincourt arrived on the 27th, and Pont Gravé with Champlain on the 31st of July. _Vide His. Nou. France_, Paris, 1612, pp. 544, 547.

194. Lescarbot gives a graphic account of the accident which happened to their vessel in the harbor of Rochelle, delaying them more than a month: and the bad weather and the bad seamanship of Captain Foulques, who commanded the "Jonas," which kept them at sea more than two months and a half.--_Vide His. Nou. France_, Paris. 1612, p. 523, _et seq._

195. Before leaving France, Poutrincourt had received instructions from the patentee, De Monts to seek for a good harbor and more genial climate for the colony farther south than Mallebarre, as he was not satisfied either with St. Croix or Port Royal for a permanent abode.--_Vide Lescarbot's His. Nou. France_, Paris, 1612, p. 552.

196. By reference to Champlain's drawing of Port Royal, it will be seen that the place of this agricultural experiment was on the southern side of Annapolis River, near the mouth of Alien River, and on the identical soil where the village of Annapolis now stands.

197. It appears that this fur-trader was one Boyer, of Rouen, who had been delivered from prison at Rochelle by Poutrincourt's lenity, where he had been incarcerated probably for the same offence. They did not succeed in capturing him at Canseau.--_Vide His. Nou. France_, par Lescarbot, Paris, 1612, p. 553.

This is the conclusion of Chapter 12 of Voyages
Click here for Chapter 13

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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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