In Search of A Face

samchamprifleThere is no known likeness of the founder of New France Samuel D. Champlain.  He did do this sketch in a notebook of himself once, wearing armour and shooting a gun but it reveals nothing about what his face looked like. 


Samuel’s name on a gift shop named after him in Quebec City.

Champlain arrived in Quebec City in 1608 on a ship called The Gift of God and established a settlement with around 30 colonists. As you tour Quebec City you can find many artistic representations of Samuel Champlain.  Each sculptor or painter provides us with their idea of Samuel’s face.  Which one is the most realistic? 

champlain on mural in quebec cityI’m posing here with Samuel as he walks down the street on a large mural called Fresque des Québécois.champlain on legislature building quebecHere Samuel looks down from the very top of the Quebec provincial legislative building. pigeon on champlain's headThis visage of Champlain graces a statue on Dufferin Terrace along the waterfront in Quebec City. It was created by Paris artist Paul Chèvre, a Titanic survivor. 
champlain-by-theodore-usherAt the Musee de la Place Royale museum they show a film about an artist reading Champlain’s journals and trying to create a likeness of him. This painting is the result. It is by Theodore Usher.champlain-at-the-place-du-royaleI took a photo of this version of Samuel’s face in the Musee de la Place Royale. champlain statueThis bronze bust of Champlain by Albert Laliberte was created in 1908 and is on display in the Musees de la civilisation in Quebec City. samuel d. champlain

This sketch of Champlain is also in the Musees de la civilisation in Quebec City. 

There are different opinions about the value of the contributions Champlain made to Canada. Some see him as a great mapmaker and explorer and a principled leader who helped found our country.

Others say he was responsible for destroying the way of life established by Canada’s First Nations people. Either way, he looms large in the history of our country which is why artists have been trying for centuries to figure out what he looked like. 


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Filed under Art, Canada, History, People, quebec city

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