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Samuel de Champlain's Voyages
Volume II, Part XXIV, Chapter VII
The Voyages to the great river St. Lawrence...

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

This is the twenty-fourth 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.

The voyages to the great river St. Lawrence, 
made by Sieur de Champlain,
Captain in ordinary to the King in the Marine, 
from the year 1608 to that of 1612



With this purpose, I set out on the 18th of the month. Here the river begins to widen, in some places to the breadth of a league or a league and a half. The country becomes more and more beautiful. There are hills along the river in part, and in part it is a level country, with but few rocks. The river itself is dangerous in many places, in consequence of its banks and rocks; and it is not safe sailing without keeping the lead in hand. The river is very abundant in many kinds of fish, not only such as we have here, but others which we have not. The country is thickly covered with massive and lofty forests, of the same kind of trees as we have about our habitation. There are also many vines and nut-trees on the bank of the river, and many small brooks and streams which are only navigable with canoes. We passed near Point St. Croix, which many maintain, as I have said elsewhere, is the place where Jacques Cartier spent the winter. This point is sandy, extending some distance out into the river, and exposed to the north-west wind, which beats upon it. There are some meadows, covered however every full tide, which falls nearly two fathoms and a half. This passage is very dangerous on account of the large number of rocks stretching across the river, although there is a good but very winding channel, where the river runs like a race, rendering it necessary to take the proper time for passing. This place has deceived many, who thought they could only pass at high tide from there being no channel: but we have now found the contrary to be true, for one can go down at low tide; but it would be difficult to ascend, in consequence of the strong current, unless there were a good wind. It is consequently necessary to wait until the tide is a third flood, in order to pass, when the current in the channel is six, eight, ten, twelve, and fifteen fathoms deep.

Continuing our course, we reached a very pleasant river, nine leagues distant from St. Croix and twenty-four from Quebec. This we named St. Mary's River. [325] The river all the way from St. Croix is very pleasant.

Pursuing our route, I met some two or three hundred savages, who were encamped in huts near a little island called St. Éloi, [326] a league and a half distant from St. Mary. We made a reconnoissance, and found that they were tribes of savages, called Ochateguins and Algonquins, [327] on their way to Quebec, to assist us in exploring the territory of the Iroquois, with whom they are in deadly hostility, sparing nothing belonging to their enemies.

After reconnoitring, I went on shore to see them, and inquired who their chief was. They told me there were two, one named Yroquet, and the other Ochasteguin, whom they pointed out to me. I went to their cabin, where they gave me a cordial reception, as is their custom.

I proceeded to inform them of the object of my voyage, with which they were greatly pleased. After some talk, I withdrew. Some time after, they came to my shallop, and presented me with some peltry, exhibiting many tokens of pleasure. Then they returned to the shore.

The next day, the two chiefs came to see me, when they remained some time without saying a word, meditating and smoking all the while. After due reflection, they began to harangue in a loud voice all their companions who were on the bank of the river, with their arms in their hands, and listening very attentively to what their chiefs said to them, which was as follows: that nearly ten moons ago, according to their mode of reckoning, the son of Yroquet had seen me, and that I had given him a good reception, and declared that Pont Gravé and I desired to assist them against their enemies, with whom they had for a long time been at warfare, on account of many cruel acts committed by them against their tribe, under color of friendship; that, having ever since longed for vengeance, they had solicited all the savages, whom I saw on the bank of the river, to come and make an alliance with us, and that their never having seen Christians also impelled them to come and visit us; that I should do with them and their companions as I wished; that they had no children with them, but men versed in war and full of courage, acquainted with the country and rivers in the land of the Iroquois; that now they entreated me to return to our settlement, that they might see our houses, and that, after three days, we should all together come back to engage in the war; that, as a token of firm friendship and joy, I should have muskets and arquebuses fired, at which they would be greatly pleased. This I did, when they uttered great cries of astonishment, especially those who had never heard nor seen the like.

After hearing them, I replied that, if they desired, I should be very glad to return to our settlement, to gratify them still more; and that they might conclude that I had no other purpose than to engage in the war, since we carried with us nothing but arms, and not merchandise for barter, as they had been given to understand; and that my only desire was to fulfill what I had promised them; and that, if I had known of any who had made evil reports to them, I should regard them as enemies more than they did themselves. They told me that they believed nothing of them, and that they never had heard any one speak thus. But the contrary was the case; for there were some savages who told it to ours. I contented myself with waiting for an opportunity to show them in fact something more than they could have expected from me.


325. This river is now called the Sainte Anne.

326. A small island near Batiscan, not on the charts.

327. Hurons and Algonquins.

This is the conclusion of Volume II, Part XXIV, Chapter 7 of Voyages
Click here for Voyages, Volume II, Part XXV, Chapter 8


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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