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Known as the Father of Canada or the Father of New France, Samuel de Champlain was a major contributor to the development of a French presence in North America. Little else is known about his early years.Champlain served briefly in the French army before joining his uncle on a series of trading voyages to Panama, Mexico and the West Indies. King Henry IV was impressed by young Champlain and provided him with a small pension.In 1603, Champlain accompanied Francis Gravé, Sieur du Pont on a voyage to the Rivière de Canada (St. Lawrence as far as the rapids near what would become Montréal, an area visited nearly 70 years earlier by Jacques Cartier. Champlain viewed Niagara Falls and held to the belief that westward exploration would yield an opening to Asia.A second voyage began in 1604 and resulted in a small settlement on an island in the St. Lack of support from home led to widespread discouragement among the settlers; many accompanied Champlain back to France.In 1608, Champlain returned to North America with the Sieur de Monts, but on this voyage they hoped to find more hospitable conditions than those encountered on Acadia. Champlain eventually managed to forge tight bonds with the neighboring Algonquin and Huron. In 1609, he participated with them in a raid against their traditional enemy, the Iroquois. He then returned to France for supplies and reinforcements.Champlain returned to New France briefly in 1610. Pressing European affairs often diverted the attention of French officials and Champlain was forced to make his case for the colony repeatedly.Warfare erupted between England and France in 1626. Champlain returned to New France the following year, was warmly greeted and spent his remaining days strengthening the colony.More than any other factor, Champlain’s determination was responsible for the success of New France. He initiated a solid relationship with native tribes, particularly the Huron, and was a witness to the growing rivalry in North America between France and England.
See France in the Age of Exploration.
See also Indian Wars Time Table.