Learning history while rving

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July 30, 2013

Do you take the time to learn more about the history of the area you are in when you are traveling with your family? We try as much as we can. But right under our nose – at the campsite where we are parked – there was some history to discover.

Actually, I knew abosc1but it. It has been 10 years since we started parking our RV at Logos Land Resort on highway 17, in Cobden, ON. We knew an historical discovery had been made there but I never thought of writing about it. This discovery is linked to the travels made by Samuel de Champlain. Who is Samuel de Champlain? Well Samuel was born around 1570 in France. He was a gifted man who became an explorer, map-maker, write and governor of New France. Starting in 1603, he made twelves voyages to New France. He is credited with starting the first permanent colony at Quebec City. Apparently in 1605, at Port-Royal, Nova Scotia, Champlain started the Order of Good Cheer in order to avoid his men to get bored and restless on long winter nights. Each man in turn was responsible for organizing an evening of good fun. They feasted, put on plays and danced. I think it was a great idea to do so.

Samuel de Champlain is known as the “Father of New France” He risked his life to find new paths to the Canadian interior, mapped the eastern coastline of North America from the Saint Lawrence River to Cape Cod, prepared the first charts of Atlantic Ocean coast harbors as far south as present-day Boston. For more than 30 years, he explored, expertly charter new territories, established a fur-trading network and brought permanent settlers to build homes, farm the land, and practice their trades. He really understood the wealth of Canada in furs, fish, timber, and farmland.

In May 1613, Champlain was traveling up the Ottawa River in canoe. In order to avoid the rapids upstream, he chose a course through a number of small lakes near Cobden, ON. Doing so he lost his astrolabe near the shores of a lake now called Astrolabe Lake and located at the present location of Logos Land Resort.

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It was found in 1867 on the property. It laid there for over 253 years when it was found by a sharp-eye fourteen-year-old farm boy named Edward George Lee while he was skidding logs with his team of oxen. Here’s the eye-witness account of the discovery by Edward George Lee in August 1867, as told in 1919.

“One day we were working just below Green Lake in a bush of mixed hardwood and pine. I don’t remember the number of the lot now, but it was afterwards occupied by John Sammon, father of Mr. Sammon of the Copeland House in Pembroke. When noon came pa sent mapme home for his dinner and when I got back with it he sat down to eat it while I went on drawing the logs with our oxen Buck and Brin, to the heaps where they were being burned. We burned timber those times that would make a man’s fortune now-a-days. There was an old fallen red pine that lay downhill with its top in the little creek that comes out of Green Lake. Pas had chopped the trunk of this tree into three logs and I drew two of them away with the oxen but the third log, just below the branches was not chopped clean off, and I hitched the oxen to it and pulled it around sideways so as to break it off. I had to dig away the moss and marl that the old tree lay in so as to get the chain around the log, and when the log swung around it rolled back the moss like a blanket and there on the ground I saw a round yellow thing nine or ten inches across, with figures on it, and an arm across it, pointed at one end and blunt at the other. Alongside it was a lump of rust that might have been chains or something like that, but I did not pick it up. I showed the compass to pa and he put it on a stump a little ways up the hill. Just then, Captain Roverman (sic) came along to see how the work was going and old Captain Cowley was with him. Pa showed them the compass and they took it away, and pa said they promised to give me $10.00 for it but I never got a farthing now saw hide nor hair of the compass since. Poor pa let them have it, but if I had got it up to the house ma would not have give it to them that easy. The compass was lying about 2 or 3 rods from the edge of the creek. I never saw water enough in the creek to float a canoe.”

In case you are wondering what an astrolabe is let me inform you that it was an important navigational tool that helped navigators and surveyors to find their location from the stars. It is assumed that Champlain probably carried more than one of these instruments with him. The astrolabe that was recovered back in 1867 can be viewed at The Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, QC.

I find it interesting to learn more about history while we are traveling and I think it is fabulous that a piece of Canadian history was discovered at the resort where we are parked. However, it’s sad that the promise money wasn’t given to the young lad who found the astrolabe.  If you are in the area of Cobden to check out this historical discovery, you might also be interested in driving to Pembroke and visit the Champlain Trail Museum and Pioneer Village.   There you will have the opportunity to learn more about the early First Nations of the area as well as the Fur Trade.

What history have your explored while traveling with your family this summer?   Please share with me what you have learned whether you were on the roads in Canada or the U.S.A.

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