Samuel Champlain
1567-1635)

It was in 1613 that Samuel de Champlain met for the first time one of the most famous chiefs of Algonquin, known under the name of Tessoüat, chief of Kichesipirinis or Algonquin of the island.

At the autumn of 1611, once the season of trade of the furs finished, the young man Nicholas de Vignan was authorized to leave with a group of Algonquin, spent the winter in their distance places. This practice to allow a young French to spend the winter with an indigenous group was current thing since that made it possible to the French to obtain useful and important information once returned.

After his stay with the Algonquin of the Allumettes Island to spring of 1612, Vignan came back to Quebec city and afterward joined the crew to sailed to France . He arrived that same year. Once in France , of its pure imagination, he manufactured a story in order to impress Samuel de Champlain. He told Champlain that in the North of Allumettes Island, on the Ottawa River, there was a lake which was emptied in the Ottawa River and which one could find also there with this lake, another river which was emptied in a salted sea.

One will remember that at the time, the explorers sought the passage for Hudson Bay . The story of the young man actually impressed Samuel de Champlain. Supported by a discovery from a third party and with an affidavit of the young man received by two notaries, Champlain met the authorities in order to convince them to finance another trip whose principal destination was the Allumettes Island and the North of the Ottawa River .

Encouraged by the great possible discovery and the passage of a new world, Champlain obtained from the authorities their support to undertake this expedition.

Champlain left Honfleur, March 6, 1613 and arrived to Quebec on May 7 of the same year. He then left Quebec for Montreal . Once arrived to Montreal , Champlain organized a small team in order to go to Allumettes Island , having on board, as a guide the young Vignan.

The small team left Montreal , May 27, 1613 for its principal destination. According to accounts' of Champlain, the voyage to the island, was not one of any rest, he and its team had to surmount several obstacles (reefs, many and difficult bearings, rapids, dense forests, etc) throughout their course. Once arrived at Allumettes Island, some time in June, it is at that time that Champlain met for the first time, one of the most famous chiefs of the Algonquin, known under the name of Tessoüat, chief of Kichesipirinis or Algonquin of the island. Tessoüat was astonished to see appearing Champlain and his team on his island since the situs of their site was to some extent protected from enemies because of the rapids which surrounded the aforementioned island.

Ottawa River

In spite of this great surprise, he was welcomed and received the celebration of honour. It is within the framework of the discussions of this celebration that Champlain revealed to the Chief, the main goal of his trip, namely, that he came to discover the river of the north which would bring him to the salted sea. The imaginary story of Vignan did not at all impressed the Chief and the others aboriginal people present at the celebration since Vignan, at the time of its winter stay, never left the island. Almost hysterical, Tessoüat treatened Vignan of liar, traitor and insisted so that Champlain gives the young man to him so that they could do justice to themselves of these lies. In the hours which have followed this confrontation, perplexed before these two diametrical stories, Champlain met separately with Vignan and proposed two options to him. The first option and with an aim of avoiding incurring more expenses for the company, avoiding wasting more precious time and especially stopping the glimmers of hope wrongfully to have access to the sea via the Ottawa River, Champlain proposed to Vignan that if he tells him the truth in exchanges, he would protect him from the Indians and that he would not file a criminal charge against him, avoiding consequently, to be hung once his return to France. The second option was that the company will continue his trip according to its account, that he had delivered so well and that failing to find the aforementioned passage bringing to the salted sea, that he was going to press criminal charges against him and undergo the consequences of an unfavourable decision. Finally, in order to be ensured to be saved of an unquestionable hanging, Vignan chose to say the truth by acknowledging its fabrication.

Having no more interests to continue his trip on the Ottawa River, Champlain invited Tessoüat and his group to accompany him to St-Louis falls where they would find amply of goods in exchange of their huntings products. The offer was almost immediately accepted by the Chief and this one sent from Allumettes Island , forty canoes filled with furs. Other Algonquin eventually joined the group in the course and they were, on the whole, nearly eighty canoes once arrived in Montreal .

In order to keep a certain control of the bartering with the French, Algonquin attended and barters with the nations of the Great lakes and discouraged the French to ventured higher than the Allumettes Island . Algonquins will preserve their position of intermediary until 1615. After this date, Algonquin of the Island will not be able to prevent circulation on the river.

On the other hand, all those which will cross their section of the Ottawa River, in any given direction, had to pay a right of passage which can reach up to 50% of the goods that they had in their possession.


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