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des pins, sapins et bouleaux, et des rochers très mauvais, où on ne sau-
rait aller en la plupart de ces endroits.' (129; The entire coastline, north
and south, from Tadoussac to the île d'Orléans, is hilly land and very
bad at that, with only pines, firs, and birches, and very bad rocks, where
one wouldn't want to go for the most part.) Champlain's description
amply confirms Bureau's judgment that 'la Renaissance, par son goût de
la nature dénaturée, fit également peu de place aux forêts et aux mon-
tagnes, symboles mêmes de la nature insouciante et indomptée' (956;
the Renaissance, by its taste for denatured nature, also makes little time
for forests and mountains, the very symbols of uncaring and untamed
nature). 11 Champlain's and his contemporaries' tastes in landscape may
seem anathema to today's painters, and yet, as we shall verify in numer-
ous cases, his vision forms an integral part of Quebec's heritage.
In addition to his utilitarian evaluation of the landscape, when
Champlain observes the 'sauvages,' he is intensely interested in their
agricultural practices and products as well as their housing. Indeed,
Champlain sees agriculture as the ultimate sign of culture, not unlike
his friend from his earlier Acadian adventures, Marc Lescarbot: 'La cul-
ture de la terre, le plus innocent de tous les exercices corporeals, et que
je veux appeler le plus noble … en la Nouvelle-France, il faut ramener
le siècle d'or … afin d'inviter chacun à bien cultiver son champs,
puisque la terre se présente librement à ceux qui n'en ont point.' (813-
15; Cultivation of the land, the most innocent of all corporeal exercises,
and which I see as the most noble … in New France, one must bring
back the golden age … and invite everyone to cultivate his fields, since
the land offers itself freely to those who have none.) From a similar
ideological standpoint, here regarding the less advanced bands among
the natives, Champlain expresses the desire to 'habiter leur terre et leur
montrer comment la cultiver afin qu'ils ne traînassent plus une vie
aussi misérable que celle qu'ils menaient' (39; inhabit their land and
show them how to cultivate it so they no longer drag out as miserable
a life as they have been leading).
Even more than Cartier before him, Champlain, who has far greater
interaction with various First Nations, becomes adept at reading signs,
not only gestures, including purposely misleading ones, which he
nonetheless manages to decipher (100-1), but also smoke signals, ob-
jects, and even tracks: 'Pour découvrir … quelque marque ou signal par
où aient passé leurs ennemis ou leurs amis, qu'ils connaissent grâce à
certaines marques que leurs chefs se donnent d'une nation à l'autre, qui
ne sont toujours semblables' (161-2; to discover … some mark or signal
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