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Celebrating Champlain: The Tercentenary Celebrations on Lake Champlain


In 2009 the region celebrated the 400th anniversary of the discovery of Lake Champlain by Samuel de  Champlain. 100 years earlier, Vermont, New York and Quebec invited the world to come see and celebrate what the intrepid French Explorer had found— a rich and beautiful place which had been inhabited by native peoples for generations before. This is the story of those festivities.

By James P. Millard

Souvenir Tercentenary Medallion. Courtesy of Tom Allen, Ticonderoga, NY
Souvenir Tercentenary Medallion
 Courtesy of Tom Allen

On Sunday, July 4, 1909 several communities began celebrations the likes of which had never before been seen along historic Lake Champlain. The previous day had brought festivities at historic Swanton and Vergennes. July 4th, however, designated Champlain Sunday, marked the beginning of a week-long series of events along the lake. Celebrations were held up and down the waterway commemorating all that took place here, beginning with discovery of Lake Champlain by the French explorer three hundred years earlier.

Three years later there was another series of celebrations as notables from far and near returned to Champlain's lake. In this series America's Historic Lakes will take you, through contemporary photos and text, to that special time...


Sunday July 4, 1909

Mrs. George Fuller Tuttle, in her "THREE CENTURIES IN THE CHAMPLAIN VALLEY" [1909]1 set the tone for us when she described the first day's observances:

"Sunday, throughout the Champlain Valley was celebrated with appropriate religious services the Tercentenary of the discovery of this incomparable lake... At... Plattsburgh...the pastor preached... on the subject "Three Centuries of Divine Providence in the Champlain Valley."... at Cliff Haven, under the blue canopy of heaven, in a "forest cathedral" Pontifical High Mass was celebrated. On Isle La Motte, also, High Mass was celebrated in the open air chapel, erected at the shrine of St. Anne, built 1666.

In the evening, Governor and Mrs. Hughes arrived at Hotel Champlain from their camp at Saranac Inn in anticipation of Monday's celebration."

 

 

 

Official Medal presented to guests of the State of New York.
 

The Report of the New York Lake Champlain Tercentenary Commission [1911]2, tells us more of the celebrations on the Vermont side of the lake:

"Nowhere did the observance of the day present a more impressive spectacle than at Burlington, where an assemblage estimated above five thousand gathered in the open air at the lake front and shared in a vesper service arranged in honor of Champlain."

In keeping with the sense of propriety of the times, Sunday July 4 was mostly reserved for religious events. The celebrations in earnest began Monday in historic Crown Point.

 Continued here...  


Our thanks to Tom and Judy Allen of Ticonderoga, New York for the photo of the Champlain Tercentenary Medallion.  

1 THREE CENTURIES IN THE CHAMPLAIN VALLEY: A COLLECTION OF HISTORICAL FACTS AND INCIDENTS- TERCENTENARY EDITION. 1909: Compiled and Edited by Mrs. George Fuller Tuttle. Saranac Chapter, D.A.R. Plattsburgh, NY.

2 The Champlain Tercentenary: Report of the New York Lake Champlain Tercentenary Commission.1911:Prepared by Henry Wayland Hill, LL.D., Secretary of the Commission. Albany: J.B. Lyon Company, State Printers.

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