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Explorers Heroes

Samuel de Champlain

by Will from Williamsville

Not every hero has to have super strength or the ability to fly. Some people some people are recognized because of contributions they have made to have made to society that require no more powers than the ability to act courageously and compassionately , something everyone can do and Samuel de Champlain is a perfect example of that.

Samuel de Champlain started exploring young. He was born in Brouage, France some time around 1567 and was quickly caught up in the wars of religion in 1586 when he was roughly nineteen years old. Those twelve years he spent in the wars were not wasted on him. He learned skills that would greatly help him in his later journeys in to the wilderness of North America. When the wars had finally ended, he travelled to the coast of Brittany, France and convinced his uncle, a ship master working for some displaced Spanish people who had decide to go back to Spain to get him a spot on their ship, the Saint Julien. From there, he somehow gained permission to continue his expeditions with the Saint Julien and accompany them to "The New World". In spring of 1598, he finally arrived at what is now San Juan, Puerto Rico. Samuel enjoyed taking notes about his experiences in words and in colorful drawings portraying plants, animals, and even the native people who feared the new arrivals. After he decided to leave Puerto Rico he visited Mexico and was amazed by the Aztec temples, even though they had been greatly damaged by Hernando Cortes, who brought his army and defeated the Aztecs. He felt very sorry for the surviving Natives, who were treated as prisoners and were forced to convert to Catholicism

Even for a professional sailor, he had some very substantial problems that almost ended his career. When he returned to France, he tried to convince King Henry to fund his expeditions to Canada that were sure to come. The king was very impressed with Samuel's notes and drawings, so impressed in fact, that he not only earned a small salary, he also gained the title 'de', marking him as a noble person. Now that he was employed by the King, he was paired up with explorer Francois Grave [who was known as Pontagrave] and sent to explore North America, but after that, not much went well for him. After a while, the king lost interest and left Champlain to look for another sponsor, which took a long time, and the new employer wanted him to camp at one of the worst possible places- a island off the coast of Canada and search for a waterway that went all the through Canada, although it almost certainly didn't exist. On top of all that, he met quite a few unfriendly Natives who almost stopped him from continuing into Canada but he didn't give up no matter what. Champlain was very determined to keep doing what he was doing, and not even a ship full of British soldiers could stop him.

Samuel's drive to find and settle more parts of North America ended up helping many people. Some of the first people he assisted were the Algonquin Indians, who he helped by fighting the Iroquois however he changed the lives of many people he never even lived to see. Think of all the people living in Montreal and Quebec, Canada. Some people he helped by not doing something. He avoided violence whenever possible, but sometimes he was forced to it. Although he was never really committed to charities or community service, he ended up being very helpful to settlers and other explorers. His actions all had consequences, but most of them were positive and helped a lot of people.

Although in his time he was not very popular back then, he has gained more recognition in modern times. One of the only awards he acquired in his day was when he was made one of the 100 Associates, who were the leaders of all of Canada. Apart from that he has a statue in Motte, Vermont, very near Lake Champlain, which he named after himself on its discovery, and a plaque in Honfleur, France. In my opinion, he did not get all of the awards he deserved for his discoveries. Samuel worked very hard and got very little acknowledgement.

Sam had several very apparent character traits. The first you'll notice is how brave he was. He would explore places people had never seen before without the slightest hint of hesitation. One day, there was a battle between the Iroquois and the explorers who came with Champlain who were helping the Algonquians and he walked out with one other person assisting him and scared the Iroquois away. The second trait that helped him keep going on his explorations was his perseverance. During another intense fight against the Iroquois, they were soundly beaten and Samuel was struck in both legs with poisoned arrows but he didn't leave Canada. He continued to live in Canada for most of his life. One trait that he had and used very much was his accepting different cultures. He lived in close contact with the Natives and grew to respect them very much even though they had very different traditions, some of which disgusted Champlain, like eating their enemies' dead bodies but he always was kind to them. In conclusion Samuel was brave, persevering and accepting.

There are several lessons that people could learn from Samuel de Champlain. One important lesson anybody could learn from him is that people who are different than them they should always be treated with respect.

Page created on 12/16/2011 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 12/16/2011 12:00:00 AM

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