Gaspé et Percé
Tadoussac, a pied-à-terre
Gaspé et Percé
If Tadoussac was a well-known location, a pied-à-terre, even before Champlain arrived, the same can be said of Gaspé, a port of call for ships crossing the Atlantic.
Champlain stopped briefly at Gaspé. He mentioned in his journal that he noticed Baie des Morues (Cod Bay), Bonaventure Island and Rocher Percé, which he named "Percé Island because it was like a very tall rock, with high sides, with an archway where boats and ships can pass from the high seas."
Perce Rock, Quebec
William James Topley/National Archives of Canada/PA-12986/Detail
He added, "Gaspé, Baie des Morues and Percé Island are the places to fish for poisson sec (dried fish) and poisson vert (green fish)."
What do the terms poisson sec and poisson vert mean? Poisson vert, fished for in high seas, is salted on the ship, whereas poisson sec is dried on the pebbles of the shore or on "vignaux", a type of trellis made from fir branches and hung overhead.
Catch of Fish Strung Up
William James Topley/National Archives of Canada/PA-13061
Champlain dropped anchor for the first time at Tadoussac on May 24, 1603 and arrived at the port two days later.
Geographical Map with Tadoussac's Harbour
Canadian Museum of Civilization/S94-13232
When Samuel de Champlain travelled the St. Lawrence for the first time, the little trading post at Tadoussac, built by Pierre de Chauvin in 1600, was the only sign of a French colony in North America.
Champlain noticed that the port at Tadoussac "was built like a cove at the start of the Saguenay River, where there is a very strange current and tide, because of its speed and depth, and where occasionally the cold brings violent winds."
When he landed, there was a festive mood. The Montagnais, Algonquians and Malecites (Etchemins) were thrilled with their recent victory over the Iroquois. Champlain sat in the company of Native Chiefs and other Europeans who crossed the Atlantic with him. They smoked (see glossary) together.
Champlain joined with the Montagnais, Algonquians and Malecites in their war against the Iroquois. It was a significant alliance from both a political and economic perspective because these nations traded fur with the French.
Historian Marcel Trudel confirmed that Tadoussac "remained the only seaport on the St. Lawrence", from 1600 to 1630.
Anse à l'eau, Tadoussac, Quebec
Jules Ernest Livernois/National Archives of Canada/PA-23841/Detail
It is safe to say that Tadoussac was the first pied-à-terre in New France for Champlain.