Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
space. For Champlain, the only good tree is a felled one, and the en-
graver proudly includes the stumps in his depiction of an earlier habi-
tation at Port Royal in what is now Nova Scotia, a tangible symbol of
the subordination of nature by culture (235). As Bureau concludes,
'Militaire ... et géographe de surcroît! Un tel alliage de vertus en un seul
homme ne pouvait produire qu'un être totalement dédié à la rectifica-
tion des erreurs de la nature. La ligne droite, le rectangle, l'angle droit
n'existaient pas dans la forêt laurentienne de l'époque. Champlain va
s'empresser de les y introduire; il se fera le prodigieux esthéticien de
l'espace en le soumettant à l'ordre symétrique et inaltérable d'un cla-
vier de clavecin.' (29; A military man … and geographer to boot! Such
an alliance of virtues in a single man could produce only a person to-
tally dedicated to the rectification of nature's errors. The straight line,
the rectangle, the right angle didn't exist in the Laurentian forest at that
time. Champlain will hasten to introduce them; he will make himself
into a prodigious aesthetician of space by submitting it to the symmet-
rical and inalterable order of a harpsichord keyboard.)
Champlain's obsession with the notion of place extends beyond the
garden and the settlement to what he also terms the 'lieu de sureté'
(secure place) where one can anchor a vessel or, even better, have a pri-
vate conversation, a place of communication: 'Le pilote me vint trouver
en un jardin que je faisais accommoder, et il me dit qu'il désirait me
parler en un lieu secret, où il n'y eût que nous deux. Je lui dit que je le
voulais bien. Nous allâmes dans le bois, où il me conta toute l'affaire.'
(132; The pilot came to find me in a garden that I was having prepared,
and told me he wanted to speak with me in a secret place, where there
would be only the two of us. I told him I was more than willing. We
went into the woods, where he recounted the entire affair.) The 'affair'
is the plot to overthrow Champlain, which had been revealed to the
pilot by an informant, who is later brought to the same 'secure place.'
Champlain can also be considered among the first to foster a 'site of
memory,' a commemorative place on the North American continent that
is linked to the New World's own history rather than to that of France.
Convinced that other Europeans were mistaken in locating Cartier's ini-
tial winter quarters at a place now called Sainte-Croix (the name used by
Cartier), Champlain contends that it was a different place, better suited
for anchorage (see 137-140). Undertaking 'exacte recherche' (140), based
on descriptions from Cartier's travels, Champlain finds a more likely
locale near what is now called the Saint-Charles River and indeed un-
covers the ruins that confirm and consecrate that place as Cartier's
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