is the twenty-fifth in a continuing series of entries from the Voyages
of Samuel de Champlain, first published in 1613. To view Part I,
click here. For Champlain's
account of the discovery of the lake that bears his name, click
translation from the French by Charles Pomeroy Otis, Ph.D.
Republished by the Prince Society, Boston: 1878.
The voyages to the great river St.
made by Sieur de Champlain,
Captain in ordinary to the King in the Marine,
from the year 1608 to that of 1612
RETURN TO QUEBEC. CONTINUATION AFTERWARDS WITH THE SAVAGES TO THE
FALL OF THE RIVER OF THE IROQUOIS.
next day, we set out all together for our settlement, where they
enjoyed themselves some five or six days, which were spent in dances
and festivities, on account of their eagerness for us to engage in
Pont Gravé came forthwith from Tadoussac with two little barques
full of men, in compliance with a letter, in which I I begged him to
come as speedily as possible.
The savages seeing him arrive rejoiced more than ever, inasmuch as I
told them that he had given some of his men to assist them, and that
perhaps we should go together.
On the 28th of the month,  we equipped some barques for
assisting these savages. Pont Gravé embarked on one and I on the
other, when we all set out together. The first of June,  we
arrived at St. Croix, distant fifteen leagues from Quebec, where
Pont Gravé and I concluded that, for certain reasons, I should go
with the savages, and he to our settlement and to Tadoussac. This
resolution being taken, I embarked in my shallop all that was
necessary, together with Des Marais and La Routte, our pilot, and
I set out from St. Croix on the 3d of June  with all the
savages. We passed the Trois Rivières, a very beautiful country,
covered with a growth of fine trees. From this place to St. Croix is
a distance of fifteen leagues. At the mouth of the above-named river
 there are six islands, three of which are very small, the
others some fifteen to sixteen hundred paces long, very pleasant in
appearance. Near Lake St. Peter,  some two leagues up the
river, there is a little fall not very difficult to pass. This place
is in latitude 46°, lacking some minutes. The savages of the country
gave us to understand that some days' journey up this river there is
a lake, through which the river flows. The length of the lake is ten
days' journey, when some falls are passed, and afterwards three or
four other lakes of five or six days' journey in length. Having
reached the end of these, they go four or five leagues by land, and
enter still another lake, where the Sacqué has its principal source.
From this lake, the savages go to Tadoussac.  The Trois
Rivières extends forty days' journey of the savages. They say that
at the end of this river there is a people, who are great hunters,
without a fixed abode, and who are less than six days' journey from
the North Sea. What little of the country I have seen is sandy, very
high, with hills, covered with large quantities of pine and fir on
the river border; but some quarter of a league inland the woods are
very fine and open, and the country level. Thence we continued our
course to the entrance of Lake St. Peter, where the country is
exceedingly pleasant and level, and crossed the lake, in two, three,
and four fathoms of water, which is some eight leagues long and four
wide. On the north side, we saw a very pleasant river, extending
some twenty leagues into the interior, which I named St. Suzanne; on
the south side, there are two, one called Rivière du Pont, the
other, Rivière de Gennes,  which are very pretty, and in a fine
and fertile country. The water is almost still in the lake, which is
full of fish. On the north bank, there are seen some slight
elevations at a distance of some twelve or fifteen leagues from the
lake. After crossing the lake, we passed a large number of islands
of various sizes, containing many nut-trees and vines, and fine
meadows, with quantities of game and wild animals, which go over
from the main land to these islands. Fish are here more abundant
than in any other part of the river that we had seen. From these
islands, we went to the mouth of the River of the Iroquois, where we
stayed two days, refreshing ourselves with good venison, birds, and
fish, which the savages gave us. Here there sprang up among them
some difference of opinion on the subject of the war, so that a
portion only determined to go with me, while the others returned to
their country with their wives and the merchandise which they had
obtained by barter.
Setting out from the mouth of this river, which is some four hundred
to five hundred paces broad, and very beautiful, running southward,
 we arrived at a place in latitude 45°, and twenty-two or
twenty-three leagues from the Trois Rivières. All this river from
its mouth to the first fall, a distance of fifteen leagues, is very
smooth, and bordered with woods, like all the other places before
named, and of the same forts. There are nine or ten fine islands
before reaching the fall of the Iroquois, which are a league or a
league and a half long, and covered with numerous oaks and
nut-trees. The river is nearly half a league wide in places, and
very abundant in fish. We found in no place less than four feet of
water. The approach to the fall is a kind of lake,  where the
water descends, and which is some three leagues in circuit. There
are here some meadows, but not inhabited by savages on account of
the wars. There is very little water at the fall, which runs with
great rapidity. There are also many rocks and stones, so that the
savages cannot go up by water, although they go down very easily.
All this region is very level, covered with forests, vines, and
nut-trees. No Christians had been in this place before us; and we
had considerable difficulty in ascending the river with oars.
As soon as we had reached the fall, Des Marais, La Routte, and I,
with five men, went on shore to see whether we could pass this
place; but we went some league and a half without seeing any
prospect of being able to do so, finding only water running with
great swiftness, and in all directions many stones, very dangerous,
and with but little water about them. The fall is perhaps six
hundred paces broad. Finding that it was impossible to cut a way
through the woods with the small number of men that I had, I
determined, after consultation with the rest, to change my original
resolution, formed on the assurance of the savages that the roads
were easy, but which we did not find to be the case, as I have
stated. We accordingly returned to our shallop, where I had left
some men as guards, and to indicate to the savages upon their
arrival that we had gone to make explorations along the fall.
After making what observations I wished in this place, we met, on
returning, some savages, who had come to reconnoitre, as we had
done. They told us that all their companions had arrived at our
shallop, where we found them greatly pleased, and delighted that we
had gone in this manner without a guide, aided only by the reports
they had several times made to us.
Having returned, and seeing the slight prospect there was of passing
the fall with our shallop, I was much troubled. And it gave me
especial dissatisfaction to go back without seeing a very large
lake, filled with handsome islands, and with large tracts of fine
land bordering on the lake, where their enemies live according to
their representations. After duly thinking over the matter, I
determined to go and fulfil my promise, and carry out my desire.
Accordingly, I embarked with the savages in their canoes, taking
with me two men, who went cheerfully. After making known my plan to
Des Marais and others in the shallop, I requested the former to
return to our settlement with the rest of our company, giving them
the assurance that, in a short time, by God's' grace, I would return
I proceeded forthwith to have a conference with the captains of the
savages, and gave them to understand that they had told me the
opposite of what my observations found to be the case at the fall;
namely, that it was impossible to pass it with the shallop, but that
this would not prevent me from assisting them as I had promised.
This communication troubled them greatly; and they desired to change
their determination, but I urged them not to do so, telling them
that they ought to carry out their first plan, and that I, with two
others, would go to the war with them in their canoes, in order to
show them that, as for me, I would not break my word given to them,
although alone; but that I was unwilling then to oblige any one of
my companions to embark, and would only take with me those who had
the inclination to go, of whom I had found two.
They were greatly pleased at what I said to them, and at the
determination which I had taken, promising, as before, to show me
328. The reader will observe that this must have been the 28th of
329. Read 1st of July.
330. Read 3d of July.
331. The river is now called St. Maurice; and the town at its mouth,
Three Rivers. Two islands at the mouth of the river divide it into
three; hence, it was originally called Trois Rivières, or Three
332. Laverdière suggests that Champlain entered this lake, now for
the first time called St. Peter, in 1603, on St. Peter's day, the
29th June, and probably so named it from that circumstance.
333. From the carrying-place they enter the Lake St. John, and from
it descend by the Saguenay to Tadoussac. In the preceding passage,
Sacqué was plainly intended for Saguenay.
334. Of the three rivers flowing into Lake St. Peter, none retains
the name given to them by Champlain. His _St. Suzanne_ is the river
du Loup; his _Rivière du Pont_ is the river St. François; and his
_De Gennes_ is now represented by the Yamaska. Compare Champlain's
map of 1612 with Laurie's Chart of the river St. Lawrence.
335. This is an error: the River of the Iroquois, now commonly known
as the Richelieu, runs towards the north.
336. The Chambly Basin. On Charlevoix's Carte de la Rivière
Richelieu, it is called Bassin de St. Louis.
the conclusion of Volume II, Part XXV, Chapter 8 of Voyages
Click here for Voyages, Volume II, Part XXVI, Chapter 9
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