A newly discovered baptismal record for Samuel de Champlain is being shown in public for the first time from May 29 until August 25, 2013 at the Canadian Museum of Civilization
. This is the documents only Canadian venue and it will return to France at the end of August.
To commemorate the 400th anniversary of Champlains exploratory voyage up the Ottawa River, the Departmental Archives in Charente-Maritime, France is lending the baptismal record to Canada. The Museum of Civilization has the honour of displaying the document this summer.
This display is the result of a strong collaboration that will give Canadians access to more information on a key milestone of our history, said the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. Samuel de Champlain is one of the most important figures in our countrys history. On the road to 2017, Canadas 150th birthday, we encourage Canadians across the country to visit museums, to learn from them, and to reconnect with their history.
Discovered in the spring of 2012 by Jean-Marie Germe, a French genealogist, the baptismal record not only appears to resolve the mystery of Champlains year of birth, but also may confirm another rumour that has long circulated about the famous French explorer: he was Protestant.
The baptismal record tells us that Champlains birth year was likely 1574 and that he was born into a Protestant family a fact historians had long suspected, but had been unable to prove, said Dr. Jean-Luc Pilon, Museum of Civilization archaeologist and curator of the Museums 400th anniversary commemorative display on Champlain. However, there is a very slight possibility this document has nothing to do with our Samuel de Champlain, given that the fathers surname on the baptismal record is written as Chapeleau and not Champlain. But we know that spelling rules were very flexible at that time.
On the baptismal record, the mothers maiden name, Marguerite Le Roy, and the fathers first name are identical with the names of his parents entered on Champlains marriage contract. Dr. Pilon and other experts therefore agree that the newly discovered baptismal record almost certainly belongs to the man who became known as the Father of New France.
There is a close symbolic connection between Champlain and the Museum of Civilization because the explorer passed the site of the future Museum when he arrived in what is now Ottawa/Gatineau on June 4, 1613. Champlain no doubt set foot here as he portaged around the Chaudière Falls.
His baptismal record is on display in the corridor to the Museums Voyageurs Cafeteria until August 25, 2013.