Samuel de Champlain
Like no other city on earth, Québec City celebrates its founding father. In schools, on street signs, and on the monuments of town, Samuel de Champlain is fêted for putting a city here on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, at the base of Diamond Cape. He was not the first to set foot here, but he was the first to commit to a permanent establishment, devoting 27 years of his life to its success. His presence is strong in the collective memory of Quebecers.
Born in western France, during a tumultuous sixteenth century, Champlain was sent to the New World to protect his boss’ monopoly in the fur trade. The site of Québec was perfect for his purpose. Not only did it have natural defenses, but it also stood at the narrowing of the river; Champlain needed, above all else, a place from which he could survey river commerce closely. He built what he called his ‘habitation,’ a rustic, wooden structure that would serve as storehouse, lodging, and redoubt. Four hundred five years later, his remote trading center has become the thriving city of Québec, capital of the province and the capital of French civilization in North America. For this founding post of Québec and moi, it is certainly fitting to pay honor to the founder of the city – a city, by the way, that has welcomed me warmly.
More to come…