What’s in a Name?
Samuel de Champlain, who wasn’t at all shy about naming an entire lake after himself when he arrived in 1609, might be surprised 400 years later to discover just how far that simple act has taken his family’s name. Before his arrival, the vast body of water was called “Bitawbagok” by the early Abenaki inhabitants who had lived in the region for generations. What would Champlain think of the elusive cousin of the Loch Ness Monster—Champ, also the Vermont Lake Monsters baseball team mascot—bearing his name? Or these other Champlain-inspired monikers:
• Next to the 120-mile long lake itself—the sixth largest fresh water lake in the U.S. —the region between the shore and the broad upsweep of land leading to Vermont’s Green Mountains is known today as the Champlain Valley region. The scenic islands of Grand Isle, South and North Hero, and Isle La Motte are collectively described as the Champlain Islands.
• A Google search for Champlain brings up nearly 6.5 million listings to the computer screen. A bit more focus is found in the most recent FairPoint Communications Burlington–Middlebury White Pages with nearly a full page of listings beginning with “Champlain ARC” and ending with “Champlain Yacht Underwriters, Inc. Surprisingly, it is difficult to find anyone with the last name of Champlain in the telephone listings.
• Many are familiar with landmark buildings like the Champlain Mill, a former woolen mill on the banks of the Winooski River, or the Champlain Bridge connecting Addison with Crown Point, New York. Or events like the state’s largest annual event—the Champlain Valley Fair in Essex Junction—that used Champlain’s familiar portrait as its logo for many years.
• At least three U.S. Navy ships have carried the French explorer’s name, including most recently the USS Lake Champlain, a guided missile cruiser. The Champlain is also one of the modern Lake Champlain ferries carrying passengers and cars across the lake daily.
• And then there was the ill-fated luxury steamship Champlain that ran aground on the rocks off Westport, New York, in July 1875 when the captain was high on morphine to alleviate the pain from gout.
• Champlain’s name helps sell fine chocolates, chiropractic services, bowling lanes, parking lots, self-storage centers, apiaries, insulation, antiques, printing services, and more. It’s the name of a chain of convenience stores, hair salons, moving companies, health care centers, country clubs, and schools.
It wasn’t until nearly 350 years had passed since Champlain and his Native American guides entered the northern waters of the lake that the Burlington Business College was renamed Champlain College and moved to the historic Hill Section of Burlington in 1958. Today, college students from around the world enjoy a world-class view of Lake Champlain from many vantage points on campus.
Community Quadricentennial Events
Lake Champlain Native American Conference
Saint Michael’s College
A two-day conference at Saint Michael’s College on the Native Americans in the Champlain Valley and environs in the years 1550-1650.
Champlain’s Lake Rediscovered: Exhibition of Vermont Artists
A traveling juried show highlighting artistic talent around the Champlain Basin of Vermont. Exhibit will travel to different locations through October.
Our Hidden Heritage: 1609 and Lake Champlain
Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
Join Abenaki dancers, 17th-century French explorers, and others in the Flynn produced celebration of the region’s multicultural history.
Celebrate Champlain Burlington International Waterfront Festival
Vermont’s resplendent lakeside city will host an unforgettable 11-day extravaganza featuring music, comedy, film, theater, writers, dancers, new technology, lake ecology, and special events.
Meet Samuel de Champlain
Wearing an authentic 17th-century French costume, historic interpreter Donald Thompson will play the role of the famous explorer of the New World. He will share stories of his exploration of the lake that he would name Lake Champlain and tell about his experiences with Native Americans.
Lake Champlain Maritime Festival
Celebrate the past, present, and future of Lake Champlain and the vibrant Burlington waterfront in this multi-day event with activities taking place up and down the lakeshore park and piers.
August 29–Sep t. 7
Champlain Valley Fair
Vermont’s largest annual event features the biggest and best of the state fair events: animal judging, giant vegetables, crafts, tractor-pulling, 4-H exhibits, fair food, midway rides, and 10 days of entertainment in the Coca-Cola Grandstand.
Festival of Nations/Fete des Nations
Chimney Point , VT, Crown Point , NY, and the Lake Champlain Bridge
Join an intercultural, international and many-nations celebration taking place on both sides of the lake in Vermont and New York.
If you go
Champlain College Quadricentennial Symposium
July 2–5, 2009
Individual registration is $200, which includes admission to all sessions, all conference material, open reception, most meals, Friday night fireworks cruise on Lake Champlain, and Saturday formal banquet and chamber music recital. On-campus housing is also available: $27 per person, per night, double occupancy, or $54 per person per night, single occupancy, for three nights. There is a one-time additional $20 linen fee. To register online, visit www. champlainquadricentennial.com.
Plenary Keynote speeches, July 2 at 4:30 p.m., July 3 at 11 a.m., July 4 at 2 p.m., are free and open to the public. A limited number of free tickets are available through www.flynntix.org. A small service fee will be charged.