Samuel De Champlain Lesson for Kids: Facts & Biography

Instructor: Jenny Homer

Jenny has masters' degrees in public health and public administration.

This lesson is about Samuel de Champlain, an explorer from France who settled part of Canada. Find out about his life, his travels, and his maps, which were some of the first of this part of the world.

Who Was Samuel de Champlain?

Today, you can find a map of just about any place you want. Our maps come from information that has been collected for many years, from pictures from outer space, and from computers. Things were very different 500 years ago when people hadn't even found many parts of the world yet!

Samuel de Champlain explored Canada in the early 1600s for France when very few Europeans had traveled there. Champlain was a cartographer, a person who draws maps. He drew the first real maps of Canada and became known as the 'Father of New France.' Champlain also helped start the city of Quebec in Eastern Canada and discovered several lakes and rivers nearby.

Samuel De Champlain

Early Travels

Samuel de Champlain was born in 1567 in France. His father and uncle were sailors, and Champlain went on trips to Central America and the West Indies.

Around this time, French explorers found land where Canada is today, but they didn't stay for long. Once the French found out they could get valuable furs by trading with the native people, they decided to start a colony (an area far from a country but under its control) in Canada.

It was at this point that Champlain first traveled to Canada. In 1603, he was asked to be the cartographer on a trip around the St. Lawrence River and to see whether the area was a good place to settle. For the next few years, Champlain and a group tried to live in Canada. But the winters were freezing and many men died from disease.

Map by Champlain

Success in Quebec

In 1608, Champlain was the first person to discover the city of Quebec and started a colony there with a small group of settlers. Many people died during the winter, but new settlers came the next year. Quebec and the area near the St. Lawrence River came to be called New France.

The French and Champlain got along well and traded fur with some native tribes but fought with others. Champlain was hurt in one battle. Life was hard, but Champlain tried to find ways to get people to want to come live in Quebec by helping to manage the fur trade and becoming friendly with the Native American tribes who lived in the area.

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