CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Armstrong, Joe C.W.

Toronto, Macmillan, 1987. 336pp, cloth, $29.95, ISBN 0-7715-9501-8. CIP

Reviewed by Adele Case

Volume 16 Number 3
1988 May

Champlain? To most Canadians his is a name to be remembered, but to students he lacks the aura of Wolfe or Montcalm, or the mystery of Cabot or Cartier. Joe C.W. Armstrong's carefully researched Champlain shows this important colonizer as he was: a crucial link in forging the identity of Canada as a sovereign country, French in tradition but European in stubborn determination to put down roots in alien territory. The well-crafted book diligently follows the fortunes of Champlain from his early days as a soldier-adventurer through his active life subduing unruly Indian tribes and fighting enemies both in France and in Quebec.

It seems clear that Champlain was given little credit during his lifetime for his zeal and foresight. He was often hindered by petty bureaucratic wrangles and he frequently had to lobby powerful royalists in France for even minimum support. What is amazing is that Samuel de Champlain never lost his iron determination to carry on.

This book contains appendices that deal with some of the controversial figures or incidents in Champlain's life, as well as biographical notes on many of those who appear in the text. The annotated bibliography, chapter notes, illustration credits and index all bear witness to minute organization of a wealth of detail sifted through by Armstrong in his decade-long preparation of this important work.

Some of the half-tone reproductions are so reduced in size as to be almost unreadable without magnification. This is a pity, as Champlain was a renowned cartographer, and these maps (among the earliest and undoubtedly the most exact made up to Champlain's time) are of great interest and are amazingly accurate. Other illustrations deal with Indian fortifications, or with battle strategy in some of the many broils in which Champlain took part.

If this book shows him more as a personage than as a person, it is no discredit to the author, as Armstrong's work will stand as a milestone among scholarly studies that deal with this early period in the history of New France.

Adele Case, Britannia Secondary School, Vancouver, B.C.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works