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History of Toronto and County of York in Ontario
Part I: Chapter IX. Champlain Governor of Canada

THE last years of the heroic founder of New France closed with a picture of dignity and happiness pleasant to contemplate. Cardinal Richelieu saw further into the future than the short-sighted sneerers at the arpents of snow and the handful of half-frozen settlers on the rock of Quebec. He saw that France should not be without a share in the vast inheritance which the other maritime powers of Christendom were portioning out for themselves in the New- World. Intercourse with Canada would prove an in-, valuable school for the French marine. And the fact that he, the Cardinal Duke de Richelieu, w as at the head of the company whose possessions had been seized by foreign pirates, gave the ruler of France the strongest personal motive for dispossessing the intruders. He knew of one man only who deserved the trust of ruling the new colony. By order of the King, Champlain was commissioned as Viceroy and Governor-General of New-France. Amid the pealing of the cannon from the fort, and the salutes of pikermen and musketeers, Champlain received the keys of the citadel from the crest-fallen De Caen.

For two peaceful years his rule continued. It will have been seen that Champlain's nature had always a strong tinge of asceticism. In his last days the tires of military ardour and of adventurous exploration seem to have died out. The stern, practical soldier spirit was purified and calmed. His main care henceforward was for the religious and moral interests of his colony. In this he was well seconded by the Fathers of the Jesuit missions whose history will be given in another chapter. Under Champlain's rule Quebec became like a convent. Religious services were held at each one of the nine canonical hours from prune to compline. The traffic with the Indians for fire water was no longer permitted. Indeed it is a noteworthy fact to the credit of the Roman Catholic Church in Canada that they have from the first done all they could to suppress this iniquity. But the Indians were encouraged to visit the fort, and when they did so they were kindly received, and encouraged by every means to enter the Christian fold. As the bells of the church which the Governor had built were ringing for mass on Christmas Day, 1635, the spirit of Samuel de Champlain passed quietly away. So, after many hardships, battles and wanderings, the life of one of the greatest men of his generation closed in peace and honour, and with every consolation of the faith he loved. The entire colony of New France attended his funeral. The funeral oration, in adequate terms of affection and respect, was pronounced over his remains by the Jesuit Father Le Jeune ; and over the spot where he was buried a fitting monument was raised. So passed away from French history the type of soldier, half hero, half saint—a type which another ten years was to display iu Puritan England.


Champlain was generally thought to have been buried in the Governor's Chapel. This is a mistake. He was buried in a brick vault in the church built by the Recollet Friars m 16x5. The site of this church was in Little Champlain Street, in the Lower Town of Quebec. Some years ago a public officer caused an excavation to be made in the street referred to. lie found a brick vault at the foot of "Break-neck Stairs'' It contained a coffin with the remains, apparently, of some very distinguished man. The coffin and relics were handed over to the Cathedral authorities. The Archbishop of Quebec ordered it to be buried in the churchyard of the Cathedral, and record to be kept of its location. This unfortunately was neglected. But on examination of the vault, an inscription could be traced: Samuel de Champlain. Champlain's wife survived him, and became an Ursaline nun, in a convent founded by herself.

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