Champlain, a Frenchman, gained experience in naviga-tion on voyages to the West Indies and Central America in the late 1500s.
Champlain’s skill drew the notice of the French king Henry IV. Invited by the king, Champlain accompanied a French expedition up the St. Lawrence River in North America in 1603.
In 1608, Champlain returned and founded a trading post called Quebec. Using the post as his base, Champlain traveled on foot and by canoe into the mountains to the south, gazing upon the giant lake in northern New York that bears his name today, Lake Champlain.
In 1615, Champlain traveled through the rugged forests to the west and paddled across the first of the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario. Champlain’s routes were followed by French trappers eager to trade with Indians. As a result, French set-tlements gradually grew in Canada.