Champlain's Plans to Establish Montreal

After Jacques Cartier visited the Island of Montreal for the first time, in 1535, the French perceived the island’s strategic location at the junction of navigable waterways, where fur trader’s convoys could converge before travelling downriver to the St. Lawrence Gulf.

More than seventy years after, in July 1603, Samuel de Champlain undertook an initial voyage of exploration up to the Lachine Rapids and named the site Sault (Waterfalls or Rapids), after the falls that prevented him from continuing the trip. He explored the lands beyond the rapids up to Lake Huron.

Champlain returned to the island in May 1611. He decided to establish a trading post in order to deal with Algonquians and Huron (a pact of alliance had been concluded between these peoples and the French), as well as to start ploughing the land.

Champlain informs the Algonquin chief Tessouat of his plans to build an establishment that would serve both as a refuge for the Indians in case of a war against the Iroquois and a trading post for the French.

Champlain’s projects to found a new village however never amounted to more than good intention. Nevertheless, only thirty years later, the town of Ville-Marie, a mission town conceived in France by people harbouring apostolic ideas, took shape on the island.

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