Celebrating Champlain

As we celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec city and of the discovery of Lake Champlain by Samuel de Champlain, a lot is being written and discussed on this subject: conferences, movies and documentaries, books…

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Illustration: Defeat of the Iroquois by Champlain (Lake Champlain, 1609)

At 7 pm tonight, October 24th, at the Vergennes Opera House, is the film premiere of “Champlain – the Lake Between” by filmmaker Caro Thompson. Samuel de Champlain seems to be quite a celebrity these days here in Vermont but also in Quebec and in New York State. 400 years ago, when he traveled these regions, he probably did not imagine he would be so popular centuries later…

As Quebec celebrates the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec city by Samuel de Champlain and as New York and Vermont prepare to celebrate the anniversary of the discovery of Lake Champlain by the French explorer next year, a lot is being written and discussed on this subject: conferences, movies, and documentaries, books…

Tonight, Caro Thompson explores Samuel de Champlain’s legacy, the relationships between Natives and Europeans (the fur trade was essential to both the French and the Natives), and the history of the military forts (Lake Champlain was indeed a very strategic region at the time of New France). “The lake between” is the name native Americans had given to the lake… There will be a discussion with the filmmaker and reception. The documentary will also be broadcasted on Vermont Public Television, with a broadcast premiere on December 3, 2008, at 8 pm.

More information at Vergennes Opera House – Film premiere of “Champlain – The Lake Between”

In the past few weeks, there have been other events of interests, a recent conference in Vergennes on first contacts between Europeans and Natives, a presentation at Champlain College by the historian Willard Sterne Randall, TV programs on Quebec television, articles in Quebec newspapers, and the New York Times… but if you missed them, you still have a chance to be part of this discovery experience.

Here are a few events to watch for:

  • October 30 in Albany, Pulitzer prize winner David Hackett Fischer is presenting his new book: Champlain’s Dream”. A superb book!
  • July 2-5, 2009: Champlain College is organizing an international symposium called: “When the French were here”.
  • And we are organizing a summer 2009 historic tour “When this land was called New France”,  6 days of historic exploration of this beautiful region (Quebec, Vermont and New York State)… Samuel de Champlain’s explorations, the way French settlers lived here, the forts and military actions… in English or in French… In partnership with Ipswich Tours and History Traveler, the official travel organization of the History Channel, and one of the events of the Quadricentennial of Lake Champlain.
  • Update: We actually could not finalize the “When this land was called New France” historic tour, but we ended up in charge of a very similar project, which took a group of students on the trace of Samuel de Champlain in France! You can read some of the stories on this blog.
    Read: Harmonie en héritage (in French.)

Related articles:

  • Middlebury College’s professor Christopher Shaw has canoed the path taken by Samuel de Champlain this summer.
    Read his September 26 article in the New York Times: Champlain’s Shores
  • In the Boston Globe, March 9, 2008: “Champlain was here” … on the exploration of the coast of New England, all the way down to Cape Cod
  • In the Times Argus, March 16, 2008: “A bold arrival, an obscure end for French in Vermont
  • “Champlain names his lake”, a presentation by historian Willard Sterne Randall, from the Champlain College will air soon on Channel 17 Town Meeting in streaming video.
  • He also did a presentation on Jacques Cartier and French explorers titled: “Jacques Cartier and fool’s gold
  • The documentary “Facing Champlain, A Work in 3 Dimensions” by award-winning Quebec filmmaker Jean-François Pouliot can be seen at the Centre d’interprétation de Place-Royale in Quebec city
    Details at: Centre d’interprétation de Place-Royale
  • Map of Samuel de Champlain’s voyages
  • Lake Champlain… New France
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  1. Hello Loretta,
    It’s Saturday morning, the day after the film premiere. It was a wonderful evening. Vergennes Opera House was packed and they had to turn people away!
    The documentary is very interesting. And like Elsa Gilbertson said: “it is a wonderful discovery process to learn about the history of our State before Ethan Allen and the Green Mountains Boys… because we don’t know much about it”.
    The documentary indeed focuses on the time of first contacts between Europeans (the French in this case) and the various Native American tribes.
    I am afraid you won’t be able to see it though before December 3 – Vermont Public Television broadcast premiere – if you missed the event in Vergennes yesterday night. It will also be available as a DVD with extra material!

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