Early Montreal History Series: II – Samuel de Champlain

Samuel de Champlain & Place Royalle

Good looking dude


Although Samuel de Champlain is not credited to have founded the city of Montreal like he did Quebec City, he is the one that is known for having chosen the site for what would eventually become the city of Montreal.  It was in 1611 that he inspected a Montreal island site that he would deem a perfect location for habitation.  The land he chose was the western point in Montreal before the start of the Lachine rapids.  This location is in Old Montreal where Pointe-a-Callière, an excellent Montreal history museum, is located.  As a quick aside, at this museum you will literally see the developments of Old Montreal over the years.  With what I am learning now, I really have to go back for another visit at some point this year.  It was about 3 years ago that I went to the museum but without the sense of adventure and exploration that I am now experiencing with this blog and research.  Anyhow, for the purpose of this blog, the importance of this fact lies in:


1) the name Champlain chose for the location; and


2) The further geographical significance of the Lachine rapids and how it helped shape the location choice of Montreal. 


As for the name, he chose “Place Royalle” (the second “L” is not a typo) which in my mind must be an ode to Jacque Cartier’s naming of Mont Royal.  As for the geographical significance of the Lachine rapids, nature had a big impact, as earlier discussed, on the decision of where to begin this city.  Both Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain could not safely go further and yet nature also made them realize how central this location was in the New World (multiple rivers and streams to explore from here and history would show how this would be of importance for Canada from both a fur trading perspective and also linking Europe with New France and later to the rest of Canada for further shipping and trading).  I honestly wish I could explore this subject more in this blog but I feel I am digressing too much.  If you wish to know more about this subject, please do have a look at the book “Montréal en Évolution” and here you will learn the details that helped impact the decision to build Montreal in its chosen location, including favorable climate conditions compared to the North and South shores of the island.


Finally, Champlain’s projects for Place Royalle did not work out and the site was abandoned but his exploration work was not wasted nor forgotten as the area’s importance and central location would soon be revisited.


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