Thursday, July 03, 2008

Party like it's 1608

Today, July 3, is the 400th anniversary of... well, of Samuel de Champlain and a handful of men getting out of a small boat at the foot of Cap Diamant and preparing to stay. The whole thing rather grew in significance as time went on, you might say. To get the whole story, this is the little book you really need.

The petty squabbling generated by sovereigntists offended that Canada might be mentioned in the course of the celebrations actually has some historical precedent. Shortly after setting up at Quebec, Champlain had one of his workers, Jean Duval, executed and his head stuck on a post at the still-abuilding Habitation. Canadian politics was a rough sport even then.

Late update: Great to chat on the radio today with my new friend Rob Snow of CFRA in Ottawa, who came to Champlain and me not via my Champlain biography, but from reading The Illustrated History of Canada, where I wrote the chapter on New France -- and began with Champlain's death at Quebec in 1635.
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