Champlain Revisited: Celebrating the Foundation of Quebec 1608.
Quebec City, the first enduring settlement in Canada, was founded on July 3rd, 1608, by Samuel de Champlain. An intrepid navigator and explorer of the New World, Champlain crossed the ocean from France twenty-five times, beginning in 1603, when he first saw what was to become New France. Champlain was responsible for the exploration and settlement in the Maritime Provinces, the navigation of the Gulf of the Saint Lawrence, the settlement at Quebec, the exploration of the interior regions towards the Great Lakes, the upper part of the state of New York and the shores of Lake Champlain.
Champlain's voyages are recounted through his own published works containing some of the most valuable iconography and cartography of early New France. There was much to be gained by a settlement at Quebec. Dedicated to sustained colonisation in New France, Champlain returned one last time as Governor in 1633. There he died in 1635, after thirty-two years of strenuous effort. Quebec City was still little more than an outpost, numbering a few hundred souls.
From such humble beginnings, Quebec City became an important capital and vibrant city. Its importance was proclaimed through the Tercentenary celebrations, a splendid series of events which took place from July 19th to July 30th, 1908. Recognising the significance of the foundation of Quebec in 1608, the Canadian and Quebec governments planned a schedule of events including a Procession of Champlain through the City of Quebec, a Military Review on the Plains of Abraham, a Regatta in the harbour and a spectacular Pageant, performed in the open illustrating the key historical events that shaped the future of the nation from the time of Champlain to the British Conquest. The celebrations were presided over by the Prince of Wales and attended by dignitaries from the British, French, United States and Canadian governments.
The Tercentenary was a magnificent testimony of Canada's gratitude to those heroic figures who had contributed to its history. It promoted a notion of common heritage among the population and stimulated patriotic interest in the country. All the events were meant to be both an educational and an inspirational experience. A lasting reminder of these celebrations is to be found in the documents and colourful special supplements, souvenir booklets, albums and post cards on display.
Material for this exhibition is drawn from Rare Books and Special Collections, McGill University Library.