July 04, 2008

Happy 400th, Québec!

A good day to remember that the British weren’t the only European people colonizing North America.

On this day in 1608, Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec City, usually, and officially, known as Québec, with the accent. Here’s a sample, from the column, of what was driving and motivating him:
What we might remember today is that Quebec City and Canada grew from another great idea, different from that of the United States, but just as expansive and important, and it too will challenge us for a thousand years.

The idea was Champlain’s, the central figure in New France for three decades, from 1603 to 1635. He had a dream that grew from his experiences in France. As a child in the small seaport of Brouage, he had become accustomed to diversity. As a youth in the province of Saintonge, he lived on the border between different cultures and religions, and moved easily between them.

In essence, Champlain was looking to, in his own way, found “a city upon a hill.”

And, as the column points out, Champlain was the first in a series of French explorers, pioneers, settlers and governors to generally maintain better relations with American Indians — and to attempt more and better understanding and acceptance of them — than their primarily British competitors to the south.

So, Vive la Québec! Vive la France! Vive la Canada!

(For more on the historic city, visit Wikipedia.)

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