Readings and Background
Champlain’s legacy is complicated. In general, historians have traditionally seen his efforts as instrumental in establishing France’s dominance in the New World and he has the title of the “Father of New France.” Anthropologist Bruce Trigger (1971) was one of the first modern scholars to question Champlain’s skill as an explorer and diplomat. He found Champlain arrogant and demonstrating little sensitivity for Indigenous culture and politics. More recently, David Hackett Fischer (2008) has argued the opposite; that Champlain was a humanist whose “dream” was to create a multi-ethic region where different peoples could live harmoniously.
Today, Champlain is often seen as a colonizer whose actions in establishing a French presence in North America mark the beginning of centuries of tumultuous settler-Indigenous relations. His raids against the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) are often provided as evidence of disrespectful and destructive behaviour. On the other hand, he was also a strong ally of the Anishinaabe (Algonquian), Wendat (Huron), and Tionontati (Petun) who entreated him to move into the interior where he joined them in their disputes against their enemies.
This list offers various scholarly perspectives on Champlain, his era, and his legacy.
Who was Samuel de Champlain?
The legacy of Samuel de Champlain (c. 1574-1635), like most historical figures, is complex. He has been remembered as an explorer, a diplomat, and a colonizer. Regardless, his legacy endures and continues to influence who we are as Canadians and as members of the Trent community some 400 years after first coming to North America.
History of Champlain College’s Name
The 1960s was a time of great tensions between French and English Canadians. A new university, in the heart of English Canada, choosing a renowned French explorer was hoped to be a symbolic act of reconciliation and an affirmation of the importance of good relations between French and English Canadians.