From Île aux Allumettes to the Mattawa River
Île aux Allumettes
Île aux Allumettes
This was the last stop for Champlain on the banks of the Ottawa River. Champlain appreciated the way he was welcomed by the Algonquins on the island, in particular from Tessouat, also known as the one-eyed chief, one of the most famous Algonquin chiefs.
Its strategic location allowed the Algonquins to prevent the French from heading west because they wanted to hold onto their position as intermediaries in the fur trade. To do this, they started rumours to pit the Hurons and the French against each other. When, in 1615, they could no longer stop the French from moving towards Huronia, they imposed a tax on all those who crossed their territory. Historians confirm that Champlain was not exempt from this toll!
Indian Encampment on the Ottawa River, Ontario [ca. 1870]
National Archives of Canada/C-45487/Detail
Bones that were recently found prove that Île aux Allumettes would have been the first site in the Outaouais to house people following the melting of the glaciers.
It was in 1613 that Champlain lost his astrolabe, and without it he found it very difficult to find his bearings. Amazingly, more than two centuries later, in 1867, Edward Lee, a 14 year old farmer from the city of Cobden, Ontario, found Samuel de Champlain's astrolabe in the field he was ploughing.
Next, the voyageurs crossed the Joachims' Rapids, submerged following the construction of the Rolphton Dam, as well as the Creuse River better known as Deep River.
Champlain found the region from the Ottawa River to the Mattawa River to be rather wild. He was glad to find many blueberries, raspberries and other small fruits in the area. He noticed the Amerindians dried them to sustain themselves throughout the winter. In fact, it is partly due to these forest fruits that Champlain did not starve on his voyage through Huronia.