Champlain's Visit - Monument & Plaque



Champlain's Visit - Monument & Plaque
near 576 Stage Harbor Rd.
Chatham, MA

The Samuel de Champlain 1606 Voyage Commemoration Monument on Stage Harbor Road was the creation of Carol Wight, a professor at The University of Johns Hopkins, and the husband of Alice Stallknecht (Wight), whose murals hang in the Mural Barn at the Atwood Museum. Their home, and the mural barn as well, were located across the street from the present Champlain Monument location. Wight bought the plot of land and paid for the first plaque. This was probably in the 1930's. The original monument or plaque was stolen, and one or more replacements have been installed.

A historic plaque was installed on this site in 2012 during the celebration of Chatham's 300th anniversary.

Plaque Content:

Samuel de Champlain was a French explorer, navigator, map maker, journalist, artist and soldier. In 1605 and again in 1606 he sailed from Nova Scotia to Cape Cod exploring and mapping much of the coast along the way while searching for a site for a permanent French settlement. In his 1605 expedition, he landed along the coast of Cape Cod at Nauset near the present location of the Cape Cod National Seashore Visitors Center. In October of 1606 he returned, this time visiting the shores of Monomoit, now Chatham. He described the harbor as not being deep enough to start a settlement. Although he stayed for only ten days, Champlain explored the land, described it in his journal and made a map and drawings of what he saw thus leaving us a wealth of information which was so accurate that we can still recognize Mill Pond, Oyster Pond and Great Hill today. He described the land as hilly and wooded with oak, cedar, and a few pines. Wild grapes were common as were beach plums. The harbor and bay were filled with every variety of fish and oysters. Game birds were also plentiful. The natives were not so much great hunters as good farmers. Primary crops were beans, corn, pumpkins and squash as well as tobacco.

During his stay, Champlain traded iron hatchets and knives for tobacco and wampum and the explorers were supplied with fish, corn and beans. Although interaction between the French and the Wampanoag in the beginning was positive, a moment of misunderstanding regarding a hatchet ultimately led to a deadly confrontation which resulted in loss of life on both sides.

Champlain sailed back to Canada and never returned to Cape Cod. In 1608 he went on to found the City of Quebec and became known as the Father of New France.