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Samuel de Champlain's Voyages
Volume II, Part X
VI

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

This is the sixteenth 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 XVI.

RETURN FROM THE FOREGOING DISCOVERIES, AND WHAT TRANSPIRED DURING THE WINTER.

Upon our arrival, Lescarbot, who had remained at the settlement, assisted by the others who had stayed there, welcomed us with a humorous entertainment. [240]

Having landed and had time to take breath, each one began to make little gardens, I among the rest attending to mine, in order in the spring to sow several kinds of seeds which had been brought from France, and which grew very well in all the gardens.

Sieur de Poutrincourt, moreover, had a water-mill built nearly a league and a half from our settlement, near the point where grain had been planted. This mill [241] was built at a fall, on a little river which is not navigable on account of the large number of rocks in it, and which falls into a small lake. In this place, there is such an abundance of herring in their season that shallops could be loaded with them, if one were to take the trouble to bring the requisite apparatus. The savages also of this region come here sometimes to fish. A quantity of charcoal was made by us for our forge. During the winter, in order not to remain idle, I undertook the building of a road along the wood to a little, river or brook, which we named La Truitière, [242] there being many trout there. I asked Sieur de Poutrincourt for two or three men, which he gave me to assist in making this passage-way. I got along so well that in a little while I had the road through. It extends through to trout-brook, and measures nearly two thousand paces. It served us as a walk under the shelter of the trees, which I had left on both sides. This led Sieur de Poutrincourt to determine to make another through the woods, in order that we might go straight to the mouth of Port Royal, it being a distance of nearly three leagues and a half by land from our settlement. He had this commenced and continued for about half a league from La Truitière; but he did not finish it, as the undertaking was too laborious, and he was occupied by other things at the time more necessary. Some time after our arrival, we saw a shallop containing savages, who told us that a savage, who was one of our friends, had been killed by those belonging to the place whence they came, which was Norumbegue, in revenge for the killing of the men of Norumbegue and Quinibequy by Iouaniscou, also a savage, and his followers, as I have before related; and that some Etechemins had informed the savage Secondon, who was with us at that time.

The commander of the shallop was the savage named Ouagimou, who was on terms of friendship with Bessabez, chief of the river Norumbegue, of whom he asked the body of Panounias, [243] who had been killed. The latter granted it to him, begging him to tell his friends that he was very sorry for his death, and assuring him that it was without his knowledge that he had been killed, and that, inasmuch as it was not his fault, he begged him to tell them that he desired they might continue to live as friends. This Ouagimou promised to do upon his return. He said to us that he was very uneasy until he got away from them, whatever friendship they might show him, since they were liable to change; and he feared that they would treat him in the same manner as they had the one who had been killed. Accordingly, he did not tarry long after being dismissed. He took the body in his shallop from Norumbegue to our settlement, a distance of fifty leagues.

As soon as the body was brought on shore, his relatives and friends began to shout by his side, having painted their entire face with black, which is their mode of mourning. After lamenting much, they took a quantity of tobacco and two or three dogs and other things belonging to the deceased, and burned them some thousand paces from our settlement on the sea-shore. Their cries continued until they returned to their cabin.

The next day they took the body of the deceased and wrapped it in a red covering, which Mabretou, chief of this place, urgently implored me to give him, since it was handsome and large. He gave it to the relatives of the deceased, who thanked me very much for it. After thus; wrapping up the body, they decorated it with several kinds of _matachiats_; that is, strings of beads and bracelets of diverse colors. They painted the face, and put on the head many feathers and other things, the finest they had. Then they placed the body on its knees between two sticks, with another under the arms to sustain it. Around the body were the mother, wife, and others of the relatives and friends of the deceased, both women and girls, howling like dogs.

While the women and girls were shrieking, the savage named Mabretou made an address to his companions on the death of the deceased, urging all to take vengeance for the wickedness and treachery committed by the subjects of Bessabez, and to make war upon them as speedily as possible. All agreed to do so in the spring.

After the harangue was finished and the cries had ceased, they carried the body of the deceased to another cabin. After smoking tobacco together, they wrapped it in an elk-skin likewise; and, binding it very securely, they kept it until there should be a larger number of savages present, from each one of whom the brother of the deceased expected to receive presents, it being their custom to give them to those who have lost fathers, mothers, wives, brothers, or sisters.

On the night of the 26th of December, there was a southeast wind, which blew down several trees. On the last day of December, it began to snow, which continued until the morning of the next day. On the both of January following, 1607, Sieur de Poutrincourt, desiring to ascend the river Équille, [244] found it at a distance of some two leagues from our settlement sealed with ice, which caused him to return, not being able to advance any farther. On the 8th of February, some pieces of ice began to flow down from the upper part of the river into the harbor, which only freezes along the shore. On the both of May following, it snowed all night; and, towards the end of the month, there were heavy hoar-frosts, which lasted until the 10th or 12th of June, when all the trees were covered with leaves, except the oaks, which do not leaf out until about the 15th. The winter was not so severe as on the preceding years, nor did the snow continue so long on the ground. It rained very often, so that the savages suffered a severe famine, owing to the small quantity of snow. Sieur de Poutrincourt supported a part of them who were with us; namely, Mabretou, his wife and children, and some others.

We spent this winter very pleasantly, and fared generously by means of the ORDRE DE BON TEMPS, which I introduced. This all found useful for their health, and more advantageous than all the medicines that could have been used. By the rules of the order, a chain was put, with some little ceremonies, on the neck of one of our company, commissioning him for the day to go a hunting. The next day it was conferred upon another, and thus in succession. All exerted themselves to the utmost to see who would do the best and bring home the finest game. We found this a very good arrangement, as did also the savages who were with us. [245]

There were some cases of _mal de la terre_ among us, which was, however, not so violent as in the previous years. Nevertheless, seven died from it, and another from an arrow wound, which he had received from the savages at Port Fortuné. [246]

Our surgeon, named Master Estienne, opened some of the bodies, as we did the previous years, and found almost all the interior parts affected. Eight or ten of the sick got well by spring.

At the beginning of March and of April, all began to prepare gardens, so as to plant seeds in May, which is the proper time for it. They grew as well as in France, but were somewhat later. I think France is at least a month and a half more forward. As I have stated, the time to plant is in May, although one can sometimes do so in April; yet the seeds planted then do not come forward any faster than those planted in May, when the cold can no longer damage the plants except those which are very tender, since there are many which cannot endure the hoar-frosts, unless great care and attention be exercised.

On the 24th of May, we perceived a small barque [247] of six or seven tons' burthen, which we sent men to reconnoitre; and it was found to be a young man from St. Malo, named Chevalier, who brought letters from Sieur de Monts to Sieur de Poutrincourt, by which he directed him to bring back his company to France. [248] He also announced to us the birth of Monseigneur, the Duke of Orleans, to our delight, in honor of which event we made bonfires and chanted the _Te Deum_. [249]

Between the beginning and the 20th of June, some thirty or forty savages assembled in this place in order to make war upon the Almouchiquois, and revenge the death of Panounias, who was interred by the savages according to their custom, who gave afterwards a quantity of peltry to a brother of his.[250] The presents being made, all of them set out from this place on the 29th of June for Choüacoet, which is the country of the Almouchiquois, to engage in the war.

Some days after the arrival of the above Chevalier, Sieur de Poutrincourt sent him to the rivers St. John [251] and St. Croix [252] to trade for furs. But he did not permit him to go without men to bring back the barque, since some had reported that he desired to return to France with the vessel in which he had come, and leave us in our settlement. Lescarbot was one of those who accompanied him, who up to this time had not left Port Royal. This is the farthest he went, only fourteen or fifteen leagues beyond Port Royal.

While awaiting the return of Chevalier, Sieur de Poutrincourt went to the head of Baye Françoise in a shallop with seven or eight men. Leaving the harbor and heading northeast a quarter east for some twenty-five leagues along the coast, we arrived at a cape where Sieur de Poutrincourt desired to ascend a cliff more than thirty fathoms high, in doing which he came near losing his life. For, having reached the top of the rock which is very narrow, and which he had ascended with much difficulty, the summit trembled beneath him. The reason was that, in course of time, moss had gathered there four or five feet in thickness, and, not being solid, trembled when one was on top of it, and very often when one stepped on a stone three or four others fell down. Accordingly, having gone up with difficulty, he experienced still greater in coming down, although some sailors, men very dexterous in climbing, carried him a hawser, a rope of medium size, by means of which he descended, This place was named Cap de Poutrincourt, [253] and is in latitude 45° 40'.

We went as far as the head of this bay, but saw nothing but certain white stones suitable for making lime, yet they are found only in small quantities. We saw also on some islands a great number of gulls. We captured as many of them as we wished. We made the tour of the bay, in order to go to the Port aux Mines where I had previously been, [254] and whither I conducted Sieur de Poutrincourt, who collected some little pieces of copper with great difficulty. All this bay has a circuit of perhaps twenty leagues, with a little river at its head, which is very sluggish and contains but little water. There are many other little brooks, and some places where there are good harbors at high tide, which rises here five fathoms. In one of these harbors three or four leagues north of Cap de Poutrincourt, we found a very old cross all covered with moss and almost all rotten, a plain indication that before this there had been Christians there. All of this country is covered with dense forests, and with some exceptions is not very attractive. [255]

From the Port aux Mines [256] we returned to our settlement. In this bay there are strong tidal currents running in a south-westerly direction.

On the 12th of July, Ralleau, secretary of Sieur de Monts, arrived with three others in a shallop from a place called Niganis, [257] distant from Port Royal some hundred and sixty or hundred and seventy leagues, confirming the report which Chevalier had brought to Sieur de Poutrincourt.

On the 3d of July, [258] three barques were fitted out to send the men and supplies, which were at our settlement, to Canseau, distant one hundred and fifteen leagues from our settlement, and in latitude 45° 20', where the vessel [259] was engaged in fishing, which was to carry us back to France.

Sieur de Poutrincourt sent back all his companions, but remained with eight others at the settlement, so as to carry to France some grain not yet quite ripe. [260]

On the 10th of August, Mabretou arrived from the war, who told us that he had been at Choüacoet, and had killed twenty savages and wounded ten or twelve; also that Onemechin, chief of that place, Marchin, and one other, had been killed by Sasinou, chief of the river of Quinibequy, who was afterwards killed by the companions of Onemechin and Marchin. All this war was simply on account of the savage Panounias, one of our friends who, as I have said above, had been killed at Norumbegue by the followers of Onemechin and Marchin. At present, the chiefs in place of Onemechin, Marchin, and Sasinou are their sons: namely, for Sasinou, Pememen; Abriou for his father, Marchin; and for Onemechin, Queconsicq. The two latter were wounded by the followers of Mabretou, who seized them under pretence of friendship, as is their fashion, something which both sides have to guard against. [261]

ENDNOTES:

240. Lescarbot, the author of a History of New France often referred to in our notes, published a volume entitled "LES MUSES DE LA NOUVELLE FRANCE," in which may be found the play entitled LE THEATRE DE NEPTUNE, which he composed to celebrate the return of this expedition.

241. The mill is represented on Champlain's map of Port Royal as situated on the stream which he calls _Rivière du Moulin_, the River of the Mill. This is Allen River; and the site of the mill was a short distance south-east of the "point where corn had been planted," which was on the spot now occupied by the village of Annapolis.

242. _Vide antea_, note 212. see also the map of Port Royal, where the road is delineated, p. 24.

243. This Indian Panounias and his wife had accompanied De Monts in 1605, on his expedition to Cape Cod.--_Vide_ antea, p. 55.

244. Now the Annapolis River.

245. The conceit of this novel order was a happy one, as it served to dispel the gloom of a long winter in the forests of La Cadie, as well as to improve the quality and variety of their diet. The _noblesse_, or gentlemen of the party, were fifteen, who served in turn and for a single day as caterer or steward, the turn of each recurring once in fifteen days. It was their duty to add to the ordinary fare such delicate fish or game as could be captured or secured by each for his particular day. They always had some delicacy at breakfast; but the dinner was the great banquet, when the most imposing ceremony was observed.

246. Champlain does not inform us how many of Poutrincourt's party were killed in the affray at Chatham. He mentions one as killed on the spot. He speaks of carrying away the "dead bodies" for burial. He also says they made a "deadly assault" upon "five or six of our company;" and another appears to have died of his wounds after their return to Port Royal, as stated in the text.

247. _Une petite barque_. The French barque was a small vessel or large boat, rigged with two masts; and those employed by De Monts along our coast varied from six to eighteen tons burden, and must not be confounded with our modern bark, which is generally much larger.

The _vaisseau_, often mentioned by Champlain, included all large vessels, those used for fishing, the fur-trade, and the transportation of men and supplies for the colony.

The _chaloupe_ was a row-boat of convenient size for penetrating shallow places, was dragged behind the barque in the explorations of our coast, and used for minor investigations of rivers and estuaries.

The _patache_, an advice-boat, is rarely used by Champlain, and then in the place of the shallop.

248. It Seems that young Chevalier had come out in the "Jonas," the same ship that had brought out Poutrincourt, Lescarbot, and others, the year before. It had stopped at Canseau to fish for cod. It brought the unwelcome news that the company of De Monts had been broken up; that the Hollanders, conducted by a "French traitor named La Jeunesse," had destroyed the fur-trading establishments on the St. Lawrence, which rendered it impracticable to sustain, as heretofore, the expenses of the company. The monopoly of the fur-trade, granted to De Monts for ten years, had been rescinded by the King's Council. "We were very sad," says Lescarbot, "to see so fine and holy an undertaking broken off, and that so many labors and perils endured had resulted in nothing: and that the hope of establishing there the name of God and the Catholic Faith had disappeared. Notwithstanding, after M. de Poutrincourt had a long while mused hereupon, he said that, although he should have none to come with him, except his family, he would not forsake the enterprise."--_His. Nou. France_, par M. Lescarbot. Paris, 1612. pp. 591-2.

249. On the 16th of April, 1607, was born the second son of Henry IV. by Marie de Medicis, who received the title, Le Duc d'Orléans. In France, public rejoicings were universal. On the 22d of the month, he was invested with the insignia of the Order of St. Michael and the Holy Ghost with great pomp, on which occasion a banquet was given by the King in the great hall at Fontainebleau, and in the evening the park was illuminated by bonfires and a pyrotechnic display, which was witnessed by a vast concourse of people. The young prince was baptized privately by the Cardinal de Gondy, but the state ceremonies of his christening were delayed, and appear never to have taken place: he died in the fifth year of his age, never having received any Christian name.--_Vide the Life of Marie de Medicis_, by Miss Pardoe, London, 1852, Vol. I. p. 416; _Memoirs of the Duke of Sully_, Lennox, trans., Phila., 1817, Vol. IV. p. 140. In New France, the little colony at Port Royal attested their loyalty by suitable manifestations of joy. "As the day declined," Says Lescarbot, "we made bonfires to celebrate the birth of Monseigneur le Duc d'Orléans, and caused our cannon and falconets to thunder forth again, accompanied with plenty of musket-shots, having before for this purpose chanted a _Te Deum_." --_Vide His. Nou. France_, Paris, 1612, p.594.

250. Lescarbot says that about four hundred set out for the war against the Almouchiquois, at Choüacoet, or Saco. The savages were nearly two months in assembling themselves together. Mabretou had sent out his two sons, Actaudin and Actaudinech, to summon them to come to Port Royal as a rendezvous. They came from the river St. John, and from the region of Gaspé. Their purpose was accomplished, as will appear in the sequel.

251. At St. John, they visited the cabin of Secondon, the Sagamore, with whom they bartered for some furs. Lescarbot, who was in the expedition, says, "The town of Ouïgoudy was a great enclosure upon a hill, compassed about with high and small trees, tied one against another; and within it many cabins, great and small, one of which was as large as a market-hall, wherein many households resided." In the cabin of Secondon. they saw some eighty or a hundred savages, all nearly naked. They were celebrating a feast which they call _Tabagie_. Their chief made his warriors pass in review before his guests.--_Vide His. Nou. France_, par M. Lescarbot. Paris, 1612. p. 598.

252. They found sack at St. Croix that had been left there by De Monts's colony three years before, of which they drank. Casks were still lying in the deserted court-yard: and others had been used as fuel by mariners, who had chanced to come there.

253. De Laet's map has C. de Poutrincourt; the map of the English and French Commissaries, C. Fendu or split Cape. Halliburton has Split Cape, so likewise has the Admiralty map of 1860.

It is situated at the entrance of the Basin of Mines, and about eight miles southwest of Parrsborough. The point of this cape is in latitude 45° 20'.

254. _Vide antea_, p. 26.

255. The author is here speaking of the country about the Basin of Mines. The river at the head of the bay is the Shubenacadie. It is not easy to determine where the moss-covered cross was found. The distance from Cap de Poutrincourt is indefinite, and the direction could not have been exactly north. There is too much uncertainty to warrant even a conjecture as to its locality.

256. The port aux Mines is Advocate's Harbor.--_Vide antea_, p. 26, and note 67.

257. Niganis is a small Bay in the Island of Cape Breton, south of Cape North: by De Laet called _Ninganis_; English, and French Commissaries, _Niganishe_; modern maps, _Niganish_.

258. The _3d of July_ was doubtless an error of the printer for the 30th, as appears from the later date in the preceding paragraph, and the statement of Lescarbot, that he left on the 30th of July. He says they had one large barque, two small ones, and a shallop. One of the small ones was sent before, while the other two followed on the 30th; and he adds that Poutrincourt remained eleven days longer to await the ripening of their grain, which agrees with Champlain's subsequent statement, that he left with Poutrincourt on the 11th of August.--_Vide His. Nou. France_, 1612, p. 603.

259. The "Jonas."--_Vide antea_, p. 146.

260. _Vide antea_, note 258.

261. The implacable character of the American Indian is well illustrated in this skirmish which took place at Saco. The old chief Mabretou, whose life had been prolonged through several generations, had inspired his allies to revenge, and had been present at the conflict. The Indian Panounias had been killed in an affray, the particular cause of which is not stated. To avenge his death, many lives were lost on both sides. The two chiefs of Saco were slain, and in turn the author of their death perished by the hand of their friends. Lescarbot informs us that Champdoré, under Poutrincourt, subsequently visited Saco, and concluded a formal peace between the belligerent parties, emphasizing its importance by impressive forms, and ceremonies.

This is the conclusion of Chapter 16 of Voyages
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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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