Will we one day find the tomb of Samuel de Champlain?

Will we one day find the tomb of Samuel de Champlain?

Will the grave of Quebec's founder Samuel de Champlain ever be found? 400 in anticipatione On his death anniversary in 2035, experts want excavations to begin in earnest to identify his grave.

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Carl Lavoie, an independent professional archaeologist, is one of them. For years he researched various hypotheses about the location in Old Quebec where Champlain died on Christmas Day 1635.

“It's still on my mind. I have been working on this for at least 40 years. I am constantly analyzing the data,” said Mr. Lavoie shares.

Since 1999 no serious excavations have been undertaken with the specific aim of finding Champlain. At the time, the late amateur geologist and archaeologist René Levesque believed he had found a vault containing Champlain's remains.

The location of the church

According to many, all we can do is restore the exact site of the church built in 1636 to house Champlain's remains. A plaque has been installed at 9 1/2, rue de Buade to mark this location, but the consensus of experts is that it is incorrect. The funeral will be held elsewhere.

“This is more than disputed, it is said to be false. We must not forget that this plaque was installed in the 1950s. At that time, we believed there was a church. We never found the church, but we are sure that it is not where the plaque tells us,” Says historian Jean-Marie Lebel.

Mr. According to Lavoie's study, in which the ethnographer Georges Gauthier LaRouche participated, the church was located between the rue du Fort and the Post Office building.

“I am sure of this. You must have good arguments to contradict me,” said Mr. Lavoie continues.

The church was destroyed by a fire in 1640, which took away many valuable documents.

After the fire, the remains of Champlain and two companions who shared the same crypt, François Terre de Grand, Commissioner General of the Institute of Saint-Associés, and Jesuit Father Charles Rimbaud, would have been moved.

Where is Champlain Cemetery located?  Many speakers want the excavation to resume.

Many believe the plaque, located at 9 1/2, rue de Buade, should be removed.

Photo by Stevens LeBlanc

“After 1640, we don't know what happened to the vault in Champlain's tomb. That's where we missed it,” Mr. Lebel says.

For his part, Mr. Lavoie looked no further than the Basilica of Notre-Dame in Quebec.

Hope lasts

By recognizing the location of the church, it will be a step forward, especially in anticipation of 2035.

“The important thing is that there is a real place where we can say: Champlain is buried there. It would be great if we could pay tribute to Champlain where he was buried,” Mr. Lavoie added.

The hope that one day the famous tomb will be found, Mr. Lebel did not lose.

“Until archaeologists tell me: 'We'll never find it,' I continue to believe that it can be found. […] “I haven't closed the casket in Champlain's tomb, and I won't close it until the archaeologists close it,” assures Mr. Lebel.

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The Discovery of Champlain's Tomb: Comparative Significance for Quebec City

Although the discovery of Champlain's tomb has generated significant regional and international media interest, the fact remains that from a scientific and archaeological point of view, the discovery will be of “relative” significance, according to Quebec City.

“The importance of the possible discovery of Champlain's tomb is symbolic rather than scientific. The value of the scientific lessons that can be learned from such a discovery is relative,” said Jean-Pascal Lavoie, a spokesman for the city of Quebec. The latter is not related to the archaeologist Carl Lavoie.

“The information will undoubtedly be of interest, but will not disrupt the knowledge we already have about the lifestyles of settlers in the early days of New France. That being said, it cannot be ruled out that such a discovery will bring its share of surprises,” the city spokesperson continued.

Different opinions

According to the Quebec Historical Society, Champlain was not only important to Quebec City, but to all of North America, even though interest in his burial site had to wait nearly 230 years after his death in 1635.

“To say that importance is relative is a value judgement, and I don't subscribe to that. For me it's not relative. It’s important,” answered Andre Potvin, president of the Quebec Historical Society.

The Ministry of Culture and Communications does not share the same opinion as the city. According to the government, such a discovery would be “of great interest, particularly historically and archaeologically.”

The ministry says it is willing to grant permission to any applicant with the necessary skills and resources to carry out archaeological research related to the search for the tomb of Samuel de Champlain. It is noted that requests will be evaluated based on existing project criteria and funding levers.

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