Proposal to mark 400th anniversary of Champlain’s voyage goes to Ottawa City Council committee

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Ottawa Citizen

Written by David Reevely in the Ottawa Citizen.

Ottawa should commemorate the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s first voyage up the Ottawa River with children’s art contests and special menu items at local restaurants, says a proposal headed for city council’s finance committee next week.

The French explorer and eventual governor of New France headed through what’s now the capital region in 1613, searching for a great northern sea with the help of Algonquin guides. He founded no settlements in the area and turned back at Pembroke that year; he made it to Lake Huron on a second expedition in 1615.

Earlier this year, Councillor Stephen Blais asked city staff to come up with ways of marking the anniversary.The total budget for the proposed celebrations is $27,500, including a $5,000 contingency fund for any clever ideas proposed by others. More than half the money would go for contests in the visual, literary and short-video arts commemorating Champlain’s voyage, aimed at children and youths. The city would also prepare a brochure for tourists and a website listing Champlain-oriented events.

Another $2,500 would go to “Work with Ottawa’s Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) to develop, in conjunction with local restaurants, menu items of typical food served during the time of Champlain.”

According to Champlain’s memoir, his expeditions subsisted on local game and corn, plus peas, cider and biscuits brought from France. Salt meat and fish saw his early colonists through the winter, though scurvy was a problem.

If councillors approve the plan, the money will come out of the city’s 2013 budget.