Samuel Champlain was born in the seaport village of Brouage, Saintonge, around 1567. Much like the neighboring port of LaRochelle, this coastal town was one of the first European places trading in salt.
Champlain's father was a ship captain. Hence, his world was dominated by the sea and he took to it well. His biography is a litany of voyages and discoveries, trading and negotiations. A map maker, a chronicler, he mastered it all. In all, between the years 1608 and 1624, Champlain crossed the Atlantic twenty times.
From 1601 to 1603, Champlain served as a geographer in the court of King Henry. It was in that capacity that he made his first fur-trading expedition to Canada in 1603. The following year, he took another trip and remained in Canada for three years, a time during which he made maps and explored the area. Soon, his passion for discovery turned into a passion for Quebec. On a subsequent trip in 1608, he and 32 colonists founded a settlement and trading post that would eventually become Québec City. It was never easy, though, and of this first group of colonists, only 9 survived the brutal winter.
In 1610, the political climate in France suddenly changed... King Henry was assasinated and French rule fell to his wife, Marie de Medeci, as regent for the 9-year old Louis XIII. Marie had little interest in New France. Champlain returned to France in September of that year to establish new political connections. As part of it, he married Hélène Boullé, a Huguenot and the daughter of a man in charge of carrying out royal decisions in the court. This was December 1610. She was 12, he was 43. The terms of the marriage contract called for the marriage to be consumated in two years. Although she respected him and even adopted the Catholic religion on his behalf, it would not be a wonderful marriage. She didn't like living in Canada, and remained only from 1620 to 1624. He did not want to live anywhere else.
The Habitation struggled from year to year with a small population until Cardinal Richelieu initiated the Company of 100 Associates of which Champlain was a member. But bad luck still hounded Champlain's efforts of late. In 1629, a fleet conveying settlers and supplies was captured by the British pirate, Kirke as a result of a war that had broken out with the English in France. With a heavy heart, he surrendered Québec to the Kirke brothers, then taken to England as a prisoner, and was not released until 1632, the year of the treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye. The conflict between Great Britain and France was ended. Canada was restored to France and Champlain at once reinstated as governor. In 1633, he sailed out of Dieppe with three well-equipped vessels... destination New France.
Samuel de Champlain lived to see Robert Giffard's first settlement of pioneers take hold in Québec in 1634 and prosper. On Christmas day of 1635, this man considered by many to be the Father of New France died in his beloved Québec. He left no children to carry on his legacy. His wife was in France.
Notre-Dame-des-Victoires was built on the exact location of Champlain's Abitation de Québec in 1688. During the battle on the Plains of Abraham, the church was destroyed by canon fire. A complete restoration was finished in 1816 and the church was rebuilt to resemble the original architecture.