Thursday, March 24, 2005

Modern History Sourcebook: The Foundation of Quebec, 1608

Modern History Sourcebook: The Foundation of Quebec, 1608. Excerpt from Champlain's journal relates one of the explorer's greatest accomplishments. Translated into English.

From the site:

I had the work of our quarters continued, which was composed of three buildings of two stories. Each one was three fathoms long, and two and a half wide, with a fine cellar six feet deep. I had a gallery made all around our buildings, on the outside, at the second story, which proved very convenient. There were also ditches, fifteen feet wide and six deep. On the other side of the ditches I constructed several spurs, which enclosed a part of the dwelling, at the points where we placed our cannon. Before the habitation there is a place four fathoms wide and six or seven long, looking out upon the riverbank. Surrounding the habitation are very good gardens, and a place on the north side some hundred or hundred and twenty paces long and fifty or sixty wide. Moreover, near Quebec, there is a little river, coming from a lake in the interior, distant six or seven leagues from our settlement. I am of the opinion that this river, which is north a quarter north-west from our settlement, is the place where Jacques Cartier wintered, since there are still, a league up the river, remains of what seems to have been a chimney, the foundation of which has been found, and indications of there having been ditches surrounding their dwelling, which was small. We found, also, large pieces of hewn, worm-eaten timber, and some three or four cannon-balls. All these things show clearly that there was a settlement there founded by Christians; and what leads me to say and believe that it was that of Jacques Cartier is the fact that there is no evidence whatever that any one wintered and built a house in these places except Jacques Cartier, at the time of his discoveries.

This place, as I think, must have been called St. Croix, as he named it, which name has since been transferred to another place fifteen leagues west of our settlement. But there is no evidence of his having wintered in the place now called St. Croix, nor in any other there, since in this direction there is no river or other place large enough for vessels except the main river or that of which I spoke above; here there is a half a fathom of water at low tide, many rocks, and a bank at the mouth, for vessels, if kept in the main river, where there are strong currents and tides, and ice in the winter, drifting along, would run the risk of being lost; especially as there is a sandy point extending out into the river, and filled with rocks, between which we have found, within the last three years, a passage not before discovered; but one must go through cautiously, in consequence of the dangerous points there. This place is exposed to the north-west winds; and the river runs as if it were a fall, the tide ebbing two and a half fathoms. There are no signs of buildings here, nor any indications that a man of judgment would settle in this place, there being many other better ones, in case one were obliged to make a permanent stay. I have been desirous of speaking at length on this point, since many believe that the abode of Jacques Cartier was here, which I do not believe, for the reasons here given; for Cartier would have left to posterity a narrative of the matter, as he did in the case of all he saw and discovered; and I maintain that my opinion is the true one, as can be shown by the history which he has left in writing.

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