CHAMPLAIN, Samuel de (1567-1635)
[Gloucester, Massachusetts] le Beau port.
Paris: Chez Pierre Le-Mur, 1613. Engraved map of Gloucester, Massachusetts, from 'Les Voyages dv Sievr de Champlain', in excellent condition, map size: 6 x 9 1/2 inches, sheet size: 8 1/4 x 10 inches.
A highly important map by Samuel de Champlain, one of a series of the very first printed sea charts of North America
This is a highly important map of what is now known as Stage Harbor, near Chatham, on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Philip Burden describes it as "one of the finest in the series" of what were the very first printed sea charts of North America, devised by the great explorer Samuel de Champlain. It is also the earliest map of this region. From 1605 to 1606, Champlain explored the Massachusetts coast in search of a location to build a settlement that might be even better than the existing French base of Port Royal, that was established in the spring of 1605 in Nova Scotia.
Champlain's pinnace sailed into what later became known as Gloucester Harbor in September, 1606. The party stayed in the port for a few days, and found the location to be physically most agreeable for a potential settlement. However, they soon found the disposition of the indigenous peoples to be remarkably hostile, a problem that would ultimately drive the Frenchman away from the region all together.
The harbour dominates the centre of the map, which is protected by a long narrow peninsula. Champlain's ship is shown anchored in the middle of the bay, at the head of a trail of depth soundings that lead to the mouth of the bay, where the map is adorned with an elegant compass rose. Numerous finely engraved fish decorate the scene, and the forested countryside is shown to be densely populated with native villages. A detailed legend is printed beneath that explains the various details marked by letters on the map. Perhaps the most curious aspect of the composition is the figure of an agitated man marked with the symbol 'V', to which the key explains, in translation, that this is an impression of Champlain himself "throwing his limbs about," as if to warn his comrades of the dangers posed by the natives.
Samuel de Champlain was one of the greatest explorers and cartographers of his era, and the founding father of what would one day become Canada. Inspired by the voyages of his countryman, Jacques Cartier, he made his first voyage to Canada in 1603. Upon his return to France, his reports encouraged Henry IV to finance a colonizing expedition, and specifically the company was given a royal monopoly on all settlement and fur trading rights between the 40th and 45th parallels. In 1604, Champlain joined the venture as second in command to Sieur Dugua, Sieur de Monts, and it was on this voyage that Champlain explored the Massachusetts coast.
In 1608, Champlain founded Quebec on an impressive promontory overlooking the St.Lawrence River. Having overcome much initial adversity, this settlement proved to be successful, eventually becoming the capital of a vast French domain that eventually extended down to the Gulf of Mexico and over to the Rockies.
Champlain, passionately dedicated to the mission of securing the permanence of New France, had to return to France frequently to raise funds and encourage new settlers to join the enterprise. This map was published in 1613 as part of his greatest work, Les Voyages dv Sievr de Champlain , a detailed narrative of the founding of New France, intended to raise the profile of his venture. Champlain later became the governor of New France, and by the time he died on Christmas Day in 1635, he knew that he had succeeded in his mission.
Burden Mapping of North America I 168; Morison, Samuel de Champlain, Father of New France , pp.79-81.