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Champlain, Samuel de

Carte de la nouvelle France [westerly portion of Champlain's 1632 map of New France]

Publication information:
From his Les Voyages de la Nouvvelle France Occidentale, dicte Canada, 1632

Copperplate engraving, 53 x 87 cm.

New York (State)--Maps--Early works to 1800
New England--Maps--Early works to 1800
Canada--Maps--Early works to 1800

1. Scanned from facsimile in Justin Winsor, Narrative and Critical History of America, IV, p. 387.

Samuel de Champlain

Carte de la nouvelle France [western portion] , 1632

The French contribution to the discovery and mapping of New York tends to be overlooked, although the French arrived on the scene at approximately the same time as the Dutch. Their control of the St. Lawrence River gave them easy entry into northern New York, and they were quite active as traders, missionaries and soldiers in the areas north and west of the Dutch and British settlements. The French continued to be the dominant military power in the area until around 1760, towards the end of the French and Indian War.   They produced many high quality maps throughout this period.

Champlain is known as the founder of New France.  He was also an important explorer and an expert cartographer. In addition to discovering Lake Champlain, he explored much of Northern New York, including the area south of Lake Ontario.  He also made an important voyage of exploration along the coast of Northern New England as far south as the southern shore of Cape Cod.  His maps of New York and the New England coast had considerable influence on subsequent Dutch cartography.

The Champlain map of 1632 shows the extent to which the French had established themselves at an early date. In spite of its obvious distortions, the map shows many of the basic features of northern New York. Lake Champlain is a prominent feature, although it is displaced far to the east. Lake Ontario and Niagara Falls are clearly shown, although Lake Erie appears as a kind of channel connecting Lake Ontario with Lake Huron. The Hudson and Mohawk rivers are also shown, although the Mohawk is shown flowing to the north. Numerous villages, fields, and trails of the Iroquois and other Indians are illustrated. At least a hint of the Finger Lakes and the Adirondack Mountains can be seen. As one would expect, southern New York is shown in less detail, although the Dutch settlement at New Amsterdam is symbolized by a church. The Hudson is identified as "Riviere des Trettes," and Long Island is given the unusual name "Isle of the Ascension" (Isle de l’Ascension).


Burden, Mapping of North America , no. 237

Heidenreich, Explorations and Mapping of Samuel de Champlain

Morison, Samuel de Champlain

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Revised 3/21/03